Archive for 'Personal'

August 28, 2014
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Two people expressing their love for one another is always special. You can often witness this love at the park, a quiet restaurant, or even at the local grocery store. This time, the love I witnessed was halfway around the world in a quaint little town called Nin.

Nin, located near the Mediterranean Sea, is a fascinating town, rich in history.  The city centre is linked to the mainland by two stone bridges erected in the 16th century, and is within walking distance from the beautiful beaches which abound in this locale. Just imagine the romance that can be found in a place like this! When I travel, I always love meeting and staying with the locals. No Travelocity review can truly allow you to experience cultures the way you can with the locals, and I happened to know the locals perfect for this experience.

I met Tome and Bernarda online, and we quickly became friends. So when I traveled to Zadar it was only natural that we should meet in person.  Our arranged spot was the Old City Centre in Zadar and from there, we traveled to Nin.  A secret spot, known only to the locals, was our destination. We drove a few miles down a road that barely was large enough for a car, which ended at an overlook of the sea with the most amazing sunset.

The entire experience was magical — two people in love, an exotic location, waves crashing below a perfect sunset — it just doesn’t get any better than this!

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous

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November 26, 2013
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I have many, many things for which I am thankful, and I feel truly blessed for my family and friends. In observance of Thanksgiving, I would like to highlight my appreciation and admiration for an amazing and Godly couple who have made such an impact on so many lives.
I have known Kim and Brad for three years, as they are our Sunday School leaders at First Baptist Church. Wanting to do something special for this couple, to show my love and appreciation, it was in my heart to do to a photo shoot for them. Thankfully, they were receptive to the idea, and jokingly mentioned I needed more “old” people in my portfolio.

Married 33 years, Kim and Brad have been the couple I’ve turned to, day or night, knowing they’d always lend a listening ear and provide encouraging thoughts and prayer. Regardless of life’s calamities, they would provide me with a calming atmosphere, spiritual guidance, and a faith-filled way to approach my dilemma.
When I think of my own marriage 33 years down the road, I can’t help but want it to be like theirs. The happiness, laughter and love they share is undeniably apparent not only in the images I shot, but in their day-to-day life.

When asked the secret to their happy marriage, they both agree that putting God and their faith first is the most important. As Kim explained, “It has been our foundation, strength, and lifeline.”
Next on the list is putting each other first. “It gives me so much joy to see Brad’s happiness,” she further stated.
And last, but not least, is laughter and fun. “We laugh, play and pray together,” said Kim. “And knowing that God brought us together, we do our best to honor Him in our marriage.”

I can’t think of a better recipe for a happy marriage —  especially, when I can see it at work, day after day.  I believe that God puts people in our life to help us grow in love and faith, and I’m ever so thankful He placed Kim and Brad into mine.

Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

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June 05, 2013
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Like many Americans, I become emotional when I think about our military. Flags blowing in the wind, soldiers standing at attention, elderly veterans saluting, and children’s eyes filled with tears upon seeing their parent after a long deployment, are guaranteed to bring a lump to my throat.
Many of the younger children of servicemen will never remember the big homecoming when Daddy returned from overseas, but regardless, that event will be told and retold throughout the years until it becomes almost a subconscious memory they will carry with them through adulthood.
I know.
I grew up as an Army brat at Fort Benning and Bragg. It never occurred to me that most Dads were home for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. Although there for my birth at Fort Bragg, my Dad celebrated my first birthday on an air assault in Grenada. Later years saw him miss birthdays, graduations and more holidays as he was deployed to Afghanistan, Central American, or Southeast Asia.
No small wonder these soldiers hold a soft part of my heart, for as I see each one, I’m also seeing my own Dad returning home once again.

As I traveled through Gaffney, SC, on the morning of June 4th, prior to the return of the South Carolina National Guard who had spent the last nine months on a deployment to Kosovo, the scenes about town immediately started my emotions flowing. The local fire department extending the ladder truck with the stars and stripes catching the breeze, the countless residents lining the street with their lawn chairs, the flags, the excitement — even the sign at the local McDonalds that simply read ‘God Bless America.’ An entire town waiting for the moment to welcome home their troops.

Driving to the armory, where the soldiers would greet their families, I was amazed at the crowd. Hundreds of flags, ‘Welcome Home’ signs of all descriptions, and anxious faces that told the story of families about to be reunited. One little girl in particular, was about to meet her Daddy for the very first time.

Six-month-old Avery Elizabeth Locklear was born just four months into her father’s deployment. While SFC Bo Locklear of Rock Hill, SC, had seen pictures and videos via the Internet, but had yet hold his daughter. Along with her mother, Claudia, and older sister Maddy Kate, little Avery was adorned in a onesie that said, “I’ve waited my whole life to meet my Daddy,” and she was grinning from ear to ear.

As the parade formation neared the armory, I’m certain I’m not the only one who felt my eyes pool with tears. A long line of vehicles from the Gaffney Police Department lead the way with flashing lights, followed by three buses of soldiers, accompanied by an escort of veterans on motorcycles. The excitement was tremendous. As the troops disembarked, I saw Claudia’s eyes searching the formation for her husband, I saw Maddy Kate holding tightly to her sign standing on tiptoes trying to catch her first glimpse of ‘Daddy Bo,’ I heard a little girl atop the shoulders of her grandfather screaming, “Daddy! Daddy!”

As soon as the soldiers were dismissed, it was a rush of happiness as loved ones reunited throughout the armory. Where a few short moments ago, the soldier’s protocol was standing stiffly at attention, eyes to the front, it was quickly exchanged for hugs, kisses and tears.

It was almost like a slow-motion movie when Claudia and Bo spotted each other from across the room. He ran toward her enveloping both her, Avery and Maddy Kate in a loving embrace. And then, it was like time stood still — his eyes met with the daughter he had never held, and she gave him a big toothless grin. As he lifted her in the air, Claudia said, “It was like Avery had known him all her life!”

Everywhere around me, were the sounds of happiness, joy and gratitude. Old veterans mingled with the young, husbands and wives reunited, children jumping with excitement — it was the stuff that truly makes your heart happy and gives you renewed love for America.

After the joyous homecoming, I returned to my car, and watched as the soldiers loaded their belongings into the family car and prepared for the trip home. I saw so many infants and toddlers clinging to their ‘Soldier Daddy’ and it brought a rush of a long ago childhood for myself. I looked toward the flag and uttered the words that I was too young to say for myself all those years ago, “Welcome Home, Dad.”

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Above Parade Image Courtesy of Tim from the Gaffney Ledger

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