20 Minutes & Lasting A Lifetime

If there was ever a blog I would beg you to read of mine, it would be this one.

14 years ago (this May) my dad underwent experimental treatment for his cancer in Germany.

The treatment did not save his life but gave him a chance to center himself.

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At 4:45 am, the day after returning home from Germany, my father died in his home in Michigan. I can remember what I was wearing, where I was standing and the look on my mother’s face when she gave me the news.

Later that month, as things were being sorted out, this piece of paper with my dad’s handwriting on it was found amongst some German stamps and a bracelet he had brought back for me. On this piece of paper, under another quote he had written down, there lied “Adversity introduces us to ourselves.”. I do not know where he derived the sentence from since it can be found in many places and has an unknown original author.

Since I can remember, I have lived my life with this writing forever engraved on my heart. On occasion, after my good friend Matt began tattooing I spoke with him about having this profound statement tattooed but I needed all the dots to line up. I wanted to have the tattoo completed in the Spring, more specifically, in May since that is when he passed away. It just never worked to be in Michigan at the same time as Matt and during May. I started to think I should just ignore the urge to do this seemingly out-of-character act, especially since my fear of needles is so high.

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A year and a half ago, when I was working through the Bible I came across Proverbs 24:10. This verse which stated, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” immediately struck me and I began and cry. I felt my own dad’s words and love surround me as if he was giving me this fatherly advice for the first time. I KNEW I must have the tattoo I had always dreamt of.

Now, just to make the arrangements for it to happen.

Then came a hiccup. Matt moved 3500+ miles from Michigan to Germany. At the time I did not see the parallel between his move and where dad WROTE those words. It wasn’t until this past January, when I was planning the Euro trip and realizing I could visit this good friend at his new home, that I connected those dots. I was headed to Germany and there was no question what the biggest bucket list item was, the tattoo of a lifetime from a friend who I’d known and trusted for over a decade in a country where it all started.

As I began to contemplate where I wanted it, again I felt it must be symbolic.

These words of wisdom seemed to ground me in difficult moments, they seemed to be a firm foundation for my soul, there was no question it was a place I could set my faith in and rest my aching mind. In addition to all of these reasons, the fact that I was standing when I was told the news of dad’s passing lead me to choose my foot.

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The morning of the tattoo, I ran my 100th day of running (where I ran at least a mile or more each day for 100 days). It was completed just outside Cologne (K├Âln), Germany and tattoo-less. After getting cleaned up and putting on my dad’s high school class ring, we headed to the tattoo shop where we spent only 20 minutes doing something which will last a lifetime.

I know this is much more thought than any one person ever puts into a tattoo, but here I am writing this, choking back tears of happiness and pride.

I am so thankful to Matt for his friendship and to Zach for dealing with my sappiness. This was an experience which I will never forget. If you made it through this lengthy post, I commend you as well. ­čśë

Love to all. May you each allow adversity to shape you.

The Stanchfield Homecoming: A Show Of Strength

While looking over this past year of homecomings and military sessions, one stands out to me. Partly because of the story of how often this particular sailor is away from his family but also because of the family strength which is shown by his wife, Sarah. Sarah is one of the strongest mamas I know. Watching her story as a Navy wife unfold into mama of two was incredible. I knew I was blessed to capture her story because of the way she handles anything thrown at her.

She is someone who rarely takes a breath for herself, but rather puts all her energy into making sure those around her, even strangers, get to be a part of the things that matter in life. From a leader in a women’s prayer group, to super mom, to a runner (now marathoner) and beyond, Sarah considers everyone she comes across “Ohana” and treats them as such. Handling a hectic schedule can be rough on some, for this woman, it is just the tip of the iceberg.

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Rain was in the forecast. An anxious toddler was asking a multitude of questions. The 72-day old baby needed to be fed and fed again. Then add in just walking to the pier; there was a stroller to be pushed, signs to be carried, the cake for the homecoming party also in hand. Cherry on top? Inclement weather rolled in. Homecoming day was here.

It had been 180 days without her sailor at home and the amount of time this mama was required to stand in the rain, with a toddler and a newborn, awaiting his departure from the vessel would be considered overwhelming… for some. Sarah put her excitement in the drivers seat and let the rest of the noise fade away. Her calm and cool character allowed me to capture the best of moments, even in a downpour, with her babies in her loving arms.

No duty went undone or poorly carried out. With a smile on her face and every detail done, Keegan, baby Ryleigh and Sarah were able to watch Ryan step off the ship with great pride.

Thank you for your service, Stanchfield Family! You all are a blessing to this country and also to the men and women who stand with you. May your 2018 bring many blessings.

 
https://lifesongphotographyanddesigns.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/its-a-beautiful-day-jamie-grace-with-lyrics.mp3

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