We don’t do many personal posts on our photography blog – but this is so very near to our heart. Just over a year ago, our son, Josiah, was diagnosed with autism at age two. To say that our world was turned upside down and that the last year has been the hardest of our lives doesn’t even begin to paint a picture of what our family has gone through. To have other children avoid our son because he is “strange.” To walk through a department store and to have our little boy struck by panic and fear as he struggles to understand and drops to the ground in a panicked tantrum – and to have so many people who walk by mumble at us and glare at us with a look that screams “why can’t you control you kid – what kind of parent are you – what a bad kid.” To sit on the ground, holding our child, fighting back tears for his struggle and whispering in his ear that its “ok.” The world we knew has been shattered. But for all the pain, sorrow, and struggle – the last year has not been without hope and love and joy, as we seek each day to reach the heart of and grow with our dear and precious little boy. As we celebrate each and every effort he makes to say simple words or learn a basic life skill. As we share snuggles and hugs and kisses with a little boy who seems to understand that he is so very loved.
April was autism awareness month, and many families with children who have been struck by autism have marked it by wearing blue shirts, the blue puzzle piece that has become the symbol of autism, and many have replaced their porch lights with a blue light. Each family hoping to bring awareness and light to the struggles and pain they face with few or no answers as to why. The statistics are shocking – 1 in every 80 boys in the US will be afflicted by autism in this new generation – 1 in every 120 girls will be afflicted. And there are almost no answers to the causes. In the US it seems to affect every ethnicity and income level. This is a disability that is taking hold of a huge number of children in this generation.
So today, at the end of a month dedicated to the many children and families that are trying to find their way forward and who have embraced, loved and found strength in one another as they face this disorder – I want to honor my son. Josiah is simply the bravest little boy I have ever seen. When other kids participate in everyday activities, Josiah faces a mountain of uncertainty, anxiety, information processing struggles, sensory disorder, and a difficulty to understand and communicate. But oh how he rises up – oh how he fights to understand and to learn – oh how he loves and embraces and smiles and laughs in spite of the fear. He is braver than I shall ever be. His spirit and his heart are more beautiful that I can grasp. We do not know what life has for our family and what the path will be for our precious little boy – but we are inspired and find hope in the bravery and courage of our Josiah.
If you know a family who has an autistic child, say a prayer for them today and perhaps write them a simple note to let them know you remember them – autism seems to draw loneliness into the families it afflicts – let them know that they are not alone. And the next time you see a mother with a child that seems “out of control” please be slow to judge, you may be witnessing the patience and grace of a mother who’s child has autism.
We are so thankful for our little boy – today is for you Josiah.
Just wanted to wish my beautiful wife a very happy birthday today!
Jaci is the most amazing woman I know – the strongest most courageous and most loyal heart I know – she has loved me and our three kids selflessly – and I honestly count myself among the most blessed men that she would choose to spend her life with me! Happy Birthday Jaci!!
And what is a good birthday wish without a really embarrassing picture to go along with it Here is Jaci in one of our Fun Booths goofing off as I was testing the flash and lights.
Gingerbread, eggnog, Christmas music, bundling up the kids to go out to pick a Christmas tree, getting to spend some much needed time with my beautiful wife and being reminded of the many things I have to be thankful for. Needless to say, this is my favorite time of the year! I just wanted to say Merry Christmas to all of our wonderful client, friends and readers – may you find and be surrounded by so much love and joy this holiday season!
Ok, today’s post is a bit outside of my norm, but I thought that it could be fun to post something different. I grew up with my father being totally in love with old corvettes- I am definitely not a “car guy” – heck, I drive a Subaru Forester because its safe for kids and I can take it out camping and not care if it gets dinged up – So maybe it’s a nostalgia thing, or simply the admiration of something that comes with your father’s love – but when I see old corvettes, well, I cant help but stop and stare.
So when one of the couples we shot a wedding for were going to leave in a classic corvette, I had to take a few moments to get some fun car shots! If you are a professional motor vehicle photographer, I’m sure you could pick these apart – but that is not my specialty so I’m posting these for the fun of it – cheers!
I love the smell of 4th of July! Every house for as far as the eye can see has a plume of smoke rising from the BBQs in the back yard and the air is filled with the smell of hamburgers and hot dogs. It’s a smell that takes me back to child hood – when lighting a firecracker was thrilling and “dangerous” and you could play out in the backyard late into the night while the sky lit up with bottle rockets and roman candles.
This year, my kids are a bit young for firecrackers – but to relax with my wife and play with my kids – this will make for a very special day!
So in the spirit of nostalgia – here is a little 1979 Gabriel action – I make Winnie the Pooh look good!
Father’s Day is all about honoring fathers who love, pour into, protect and provide for their children – but today, as a father, it was on my heart to honor my children – because it is my kids who inspire me to be a better man, a better husband, and a better father.
This post is especially personal because of the challenges facing my kids – recently, our oldest son, Josiah, at two and a half years old, was diagnosed with autism and sensory disorder. There is no hurt or heart break I’ve ever know that can compare with what I felt when we were given the diagnosis. I was overwhelmed with what it meant… that my son may never speak or say “I love you” – might never be able to have friendships… and that I might not ever be able to teach him how to throw a ball, teach him to drive a car or see him fall in love and get married. It’s so hard to even type all this. My heart has broken more deeply than I ever thought possible.
And so on this Father’s Day – I first honor my son Josiah! When my heart has wanted to collapse – it is Josiah who has started to rise up – it is Josiah who has brought courage back to my heart in so many ways. In the last few months of meeting with therapists and specialist, Josiah has pressed through many moments where he was so afraid and has continued to overcome one challenge at a time — he has already learned a sign to communicate with us – he has struggled to learn to make eye contact, even though this is so very difficult for kids with sensory disorders, he is working so hard to learn important skills – and he has made progress in a thousand other ways. I see the charecter and strenght in my son – and it drives me to be a better man! Jaci and I believe greatly for our son – we believe he will overcome this and we believe for his healing! I am honored to have such an amazing son and he has taught me to love in ways I didn’t know I could.
Our twins, Hannah and Benjamin are next to be honored today. We were not expecting for Jaci to become pregnant so soon after Josiah – and we certainly didn’t expect twins — to say our world changed is a gross understatement. We were suddenly outnumbered by our kids – three different sleep schedules, constant diapers, weeks on end with virtually no sleep for Jaci and I — there were moments I honestly wondered if I had what it takes to meet the needs around me. But, for all the new challenges that come with twins – there is an expanding of the heart to love more greatly that can not have come to us in any other way! Hannah and Benjamin bring the completion of our family, a fullness and a joy to the lives we will all get to share together. Hannah is so very beautiful and strong and she has already been instrumental in helping Josiah with social interactions. Benjamin’s amazing persistence and his desire to be close to us never stops reminding us that in the midst of all the busyness, we need to take time and be together and love one another. These two precious little ones are gifts greater than I could ever deserve!
I know there are difficult times ahead and I cant help but wonder in my heart if I am strong enough to face them. There are more questions than answers. But when I hold my kids – when they look and me and kiss me – when I consider the lives ahead of them - there is a hope and a strength that rises up inside me – to believe for great things – to strive to be a great father worthy of these three beautiful kids.
To close this post – I guess I just wanted to share how thankful I am for my children today – how thankful I am to be a father.
Happy Father’s Day.