at home and forever...HE IS ALIVE

it's another one of those nights.  geez they are frequent lately. 

we went to church tonight in lieu of tomorrow. 

but honestly, we haven't been to church in quite a while.

no, we aren't one of those, "only go easter and christmas families," but for various, and complex reasons, we have not gone - in too long. 

we listen online....and on the radio to many pastors and messages....

but tonight, BEING there, and feeling the Holy Spirit in the presence of the place, moved me so much....about 10 tissues full much. 

the music, the authenticity, the truth, the honesty of what christ did for us - His children...

as chris (our pastor) was talking about the crucifixion of jesus and the details...i looked for my notebook that i always carry in my purse.  i'm a "write it down or forget it" kind of girl. 

i couldn't find it so i pulled out my phone and typed into my notes..


 

a month or two back, our bill, had undergone major surgery.  he had at least 3 HOLES/drains in his back to let out, ugh - i guess what needed to come out.  

one sunday afternoon my mom called, asking me to rush over....when i got there...bill was seated, with his back exposed in the the bathroom.  i will never forget what i saw.

to keep it simple, he had a hematoma, it had erupted and was releasing through one of those holes. 

the blood, the fear, the intensity of the moments....and bill sat quietly.  allowing us to dress his wound to get the hospital while reassuring my mom.  

as i  helped him, i remember thinking..."he can't do a thing!  he is relying on us.  he has NO REASON to deserve this.  the ONLY thing(s) he has ever given my mom or her children is love, support, strength.....WHY????   why is he suffering and bleeding like this so much?"

you know what i realized that day?

no matter what physical hardship i have faced, BLOOD has made it more real than ever. 


so back to chris at church tonight.

yes, Easter... Jesus on the cross. 

mary magdalene, His closest friend among others...peter, john...his mother.....all had to sit and witness that horrific suffering and blood.  

blood being poured out.

suffering...

of someone they loved..who had nothing but love on them and EVERYONE.  

blood being poured out...

because He chose to put Himself there.

for you  - for me.

when all He ever did was love and give. 


 

i know what my heart felt watching bill, who is a father to me on earth...

can you imagine watching jesus...a father to all ?


 

it brought me back  ONCE again to the red velvet couch....

my mom stroking my hair...

my dad mixing and adjusting the sound to the song...by don fransisco... dancing...hands raised, fingers pointed to heaven....

"HE'S ALIVE."

my mom and her sisters went on to perform that song at many concerts for years to come...

but this song , my memory and its message made the act and purpose so clear....

and now with bill...and tonight with chris...i see it in a new way.

a way relatable to all...but sensitive to he hearts of those that see and hurt....

and tonight...i'm so grateful that HE IS ALIVE!

 

 

falling and flying

last night something happened to me that i won’t forget for quite awhile…like probably a week and a half :)

kindly step into my world for about exactly 6 minutes if you will.  


i was at my studio for most of the afternoon getting some things done.  

charlie had cooked pork chops and i looked at the time…

i would have enough time to run home, scarf down a pork chop

(why does pork chop sound funny?),

then get back to the studio in time for a meeting i was having. 

 

i had on my jeans…

you know, the only ones that i have bought in the past year - so they both FIT and are “in.”

 

about the time i parked on the side of the house, it started POURING….the kind of pouring that even with your windshield wipers on full blast it’s hard to see…

 

i had this oh so convenient pretty pink umbrella….blah

i look over at the 60 feet i need to cross from the car to the home door, and make my move.

 

popping up the teensy umbrella, i DO NOT RUN. 

i walk briskly and my convenient umbrella becomes useless. 

it gets blown upside down…

with the wind and falling water whipping my hair….

and i had my hair done for the meeting….

and THEN….

 

the toe of my boot hits the heel of my other boot.

and i became alice in wonderland…falling down that ugly rabbit hole.

i do this "running man thing" while screaming (why am i screaming?),  

“i’m gonna fall…i’m gonna fall…i’m gonna fall.”

this lasted for about eight run-steps, propelling me forward, then

BAM

pushing me full force onto the brick and gravel walk.  in the pouring rain. 

 

i’m spread eagle - arms AND legs…

face down in the gravel with that dang umbrella next to my cheek. 

i couldn’t move!

i started crying…(i admit it)

could my girls have heard me fall? (on the brick and gravel???????)

would they miraculously come to my aid?

 

thinking fast, i think…”no!  i need to get to them!”

but i can’t, because everything hurts so bad!

(i once had a theater scholarship….it so comes in handy every once in awhile as i draw out drama with my words)

i’m crying…

looking for my purse thinking, " i can text them!!!"

but where is my purse?  

i can’t see because my now drenched hair is in my face and my tears plus the rain have me in what looks like the underside of a waterfall…

 

so i start to scoot…surely and slowly….to the door…..then bang on it.

 

my poor jordy had no clue what she was looking at!

i ripped my only pair of nice jeans (that fit), i had rocks embedded in my hands and forearms, and i fall to the chair…

jordy and london each get a boot, and i cry some more…

i disrobe in my kitchen….(we have a ton windows but who cares)….

i check out my knees…my arms….my back thighs (how they got injured i do not know, for i had landed face down remember?)

and then i ask…

 

“girls…sob sob….my hair….is it ok?  i have a meeting in 30 minutes.”

they looked at each other, then back to me, london bit her lip, and jordy shook her head “no.”

and they helped me upstairs.

 

 

i only had time to clean up my face, fully blow dry my hair, (no flat iron because NO TIME)…

i ate a few bites of the pork chop, and hobbled back to my studio.

my clothes still wet.  

who am i?

the joelle i know, smiles all the time, laughs, is WAY too graceful to fall on her face

(I’ve tried before but have been miraculously saved…but that is another story for a laugh)….

the joelle i know, owns SURELY at least 5 pair of jeans…

does not go to doctors to help me cope and smile, and would never attend a meeting with ONLY hair dryer blown hair….

 


 

but this joelle is different.


i sure have found this in the falling…and yes, the flying my heart does.

 

reading over a text tonight…i can’t help but stand in awe

i read a text from a loving, dear friend, who i met not even two years ago,

as a mother of a bride of a wedding that i was shooting…

she cared about me enough to point out signs of depression that she saw in me,

lovingly but boldly encouraged me to get help.

she sent me cards…texted me…loved on me…

 


please do not let me minimize something….


i NEVER KNEW how many people cared about me

about my heart…about helping me, loving me, encouraging me…

for no reason at all -

until i started falling.

friends from grade school, middle school, high school, church, relatives across the country and friends at home…

our family that even in their own struggles, have reached out and selflessly given, prayed and helped me.

 

falling in so many ways has been utterly humbling…

ladies…its’ like the feeling of when you give birth…

and you have NO control over how you look, lay, push, are strapped down…

who looks, touches, and how you sound….

falling…my falling has been this similar…

 

but the hope, the prayers, the friends, and love….

 


and oh yes, back to that text tonight…


she finished off that text with this:  

“you bring a smile to my heart….i love you forever.”

my client first, companion and confidant later.

 

and i recall another special person in my life who once wrote me this:

“it takes strength to be emotionally honest - 

to show pain - 

but even though you are in pain, you stay the course - 

you continue with the course set before you -

you do what needs to be done for others even though quitting would be easier for you…”

 

 

this is me -

resolute.

humbled…loved on…hope filled…sore :)….

 

as i fall….

and

as i fly. 

 

 

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. "

-Hebrews 12:1-3

 

a short time left...looking nowhere near dubois!

typically i hate the dreary, muddy days of the coming spring....

but driving by one of my favorite locations i saw the coming spring in a new "light."

i've always loved the LIGHT in the air of this time of year, but mix it with dead branches, dead grass, and style (this sounds superbly enticing does it not?), i realized that i could shoot a look that looked nothing like pennsylvania.  and as much as i ADORE our PA, i equally adored this look that we can grab for a short time.  

pre-teens, teens, and seniors, if you would love this look, it is here for a matter of weeks! 

get in touch with me NOW and we can set up a super shoot special that has you looking like you're on a magazine and no where near dubois, pa!

a few of gorgeous alyssa!

he watered my peace lily....and things look different

i've been quite honest on social media the struggle that i have been going through with depression.  

i never ever EVER could have know what was stored inside the heart and mind of one suffering in a depressive state. 


now i know…


its black...

thick...

pulling  you down under...

its like dying and letting go of all you thought lived and breathed in your life before. 



today, in our daily chatter, charlie mentioned...

"i watered the peace lily"

oh that lucky peace lily!

it sits at the landing on our main staircase.

and like much, much, much in my life, it has been neglected.

 

 

lately, as i pull myself up those 110 year old stairs, and weakly get to the landing, i notice...but really don't care...

brown huge leaves hang onto the steps. 

those steps that desperately need swiffered.

i notice the brown dead leaves and feel a comradership with that sorry plant.

it's dying...and i'ts a PEACE lily...

and i brush by it as it dies...


in the mornings i walk down those steps...to the same landing where it sits....

the steps i walked down to my husband to be over 16 years ago. 

that plant that stands where i paused on my journey down the stairs, to look over all my loved ones gathered to witness our love....then for my soon to be husband to walk up to meet me, kiss my hand and walk me the rest of the way down to be his bride. 

that plant stands where charlie and his family carried me up up up, as we laughed ,in our new old cast iron bathtub to be installed....oh the excitement!

the plant that stands where our immense stained glass window was placed, until we recently removed it for repair.  that same stained glass window that one late evening charlie noticed a self portrait in the glass...a self portrait of the builder and prominent first owner of our home...

the plant that stands where i walked my babies....1, 2 3 to their beds.  sleepily walked them downstairs during the long nights they stayed awake.  the evenings that we carried them over our shoulders playfully to tuck them in bed or to race them to the bathtub....

the plant that stands where my kids must pause for me every christmas morning for the "oh my gosh, look what santa brought," picture.

the plant that sat there -  that kept dying...

even in the perfect light....

in front of us all....

in the spot that had so much meaning in our home and lives....

"you watered the peace lily?" i asked him almost in amusment...

(charlie really doesn't care about houseplants....)

"yes", he said, "and i trimmed off the dead leaves...it looks like it is springing back already."

 

i crawled in bed tonight with those thoughts on my mind....and not unlike most moments of the days and evenings lately, i burst into tears.

the signifigance

depression has a way of making you feel dead and but still slowly dying at he same time. 

it makes you feel hopeless...

everything you see about ME feels and looks unrepairable...ready to be cast out.

 

just like that peace lily

yet, someone- that someone who happens to be the man that i love, stopped, watered it, nurtured it, pruned it...and it is comping back alive. 

 

and i ponder....


am i coming back to life?


it doesn't feel like it yet....well, at moments...precious, scared moments, i get to breathe air that feels possibly life giving.

yes, moments that i snap out of it and laugh with my kids, and kiss them and feel pride...

moments that i lay my head  on my husbands lap for him to soothe me and love me in any way he can to help me.

moments, that i feel loved...moments i am prayed over...

moments i feel important...

unfortunately, unlike the peace lily, the life isn't emerging as quickly....

the pruning, the sunlight, the water...it is healing that poor neglected plant much more quickly than my unsettled heart.

so tonight, as i crawled into bed, and started to wipe my tears away, i thought of the peace lily, and it beginning to thrive again. and i had to shove back my favorite fluffy comforter and just had to come back down to my desk and write about the hope that those greening leaves are bringing to me.

soon, i know,  beautiful white flowers will bloom, and we will brush by them on that landing as we hurry through our daily tasks.  

my prayer...as my heart and life begin to start to bloom again...

may i never brush past what miracle of life has happened...

because i know it is happening and i know it will.

even if you see me...with tears running down my cheeks (as they do anywhere and everywhere i go lately), just know, as i do....i'm being watered, nurtured pruned, loved,...and somewhere deep deep down, i just know those hopeful soft, yet strong white blossoms are starting to sprout.

 

 Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.  Philippians 1:6The Message (MSG)

the words in my valentine...

i received a valentine yesterday.

handwritten.

with a special chocolate (or two!)

but what touched my heart MOST were these words...

"all that makes you fragile

and fierce

and clever

and powerful

and wounded

and creative

and layered

and thoughtful

and moody

and insightful

and moody

 and damaged

can be described in one single word 

LOVELY."

oh  my, this is how i live, 

see others, 

and shoot.

if you do too...

it is time to book.

If you haven't heard yet,  Joelle Watt Studios was voted by YOU, as the best photographer in the Tri-County area.
As a special "thank you", we are extending our offer,  CANCELLING SESSION FEES for shoots booked from now until December 31, 2017

 

WHAT SPECIAL MOMENTS WILL YOUR YEAR HOLD?
Do you need an updated headshot?
Will you soon have a 2018 Senior in your home?
Are you due for a new family portrait?
Are you expecting a new baby in the family?
Will you be getting engaged?
Would you love a portrait of your parents to cherish?

Contact Joelle Watt Studios today
to save up to $329 on your session!
It's our special thank you, 
for your continued love and support.
This offer ends, this Saturday, February 18, 2017

the tears are too thick in my eyes...a father

a confessional?  a prayer?  i do not know.    it's only my heart. 

i don't hide my feelings or emotions well at all. 

 you can tell immediately by looking at my face, and my posture...what is churning inside my soul at the very moment.  the past few years...where oh where is my smile?

i  cry.  i cry a lot. 

when i'm happy, blessed, sad, angry...tears flow for it all.  

i talk. and i write.

it usually does not take much for me to share my soul with you...if i feel i should.  i won't ramble my thoughts (or dirt for that matter!) to anyone or everyone.  but if i feel to share, i will.

i'm not proud.

i will release my faults and failures with little hesitation.  i hate not succeeding at something, even though it is my own blame if i don't.  

i carry huge burdens. and it affects me. this is the one thing that i desire, plead with God, want to change.  the way people hurt, strikes my soul so deeply that often the pain that i feel, it paralyzes me. i hate this i hate this i hate this. know why?  because other's pain intercepts to the life that i live.  i try to carry the pain for others through the way that i hurt.                                                                                      

i'll stop with my self proclamations now because this post isn't about what i am or what i do.

it is supposed to be about all of my mind rattlings and  in what i have witnessed in a life preparing to leave.  

it's been 10 years since my daddy went to heaven.

how does that happen?  10 years... flies by my eyes and my heart in a swoosh.  

10 years since i saw his smile and since he kissed my hand.  

10 years since he whispered his pride for me and his love. 

10 years, this past december 6th.  

DECEMBER 6th. 

the life i knew and had lived for 32 years, ceased existing... only to live a life now without my daddy.  life would never and will never be the same. 

but december 6th changed other's lives that day.  lives that i had no idea how would intersect with mine.  

my family had known bill and fran kunisky for years.  we attended the same church and fran was the "attendance lady" at DAHS.  bill worked for the city of dubois, and was a well known volunteer fireman in our town.  my in laws had been great friends with the kunisky's.  

on the same december 6th that my own daddy passed away, bill's wife fran passed away as well.  

two families...

a few years later...

my mom, over the years has held a multitude of ailments.  her and my daddy had divorced in 1992, and she was a single mother and woman.   during a serious illness, after bill had lost his first wife fran, bill simply looked at my mom and loved her.  a hospital bed, pain medicines, and a wheelchair...they fell away as he decided to step in and boldly love her. 

and boldly love her he did.  

he married her... only weeks after he set his heart to love.  

i'll never forget the moment he told us, and our mouths dropped open for what seemed like days. her children didn't even know they were DATING!  

but bill knew what was right in his heart.  he loved her.  

again, love her he did. 

over the course of 8 years, we have watched bill love my mom like a woman would dream to be loved.  his hand steadily on her back, rubbing it with assurance, ALWAYS.  protection, strength and love

his heart giving to her.

letting her redecorate his home with her style.  bill's taste is simplicity.  my mom's taste is not.  but my mom's cares and needs come first.  bill loves his much larger and redecorated home.  :)

bill adores my mom's cooking. 

his favorite foods now...all the ones my mom makes. 

my mom loves to shop.

bill is more than content driving her to shop, and patiently, waiting for her, even in the car.

my mom loves to host friends and family. 

bill loves to help her prepare for them and tend to their every care.  

my mom is a neat freak.  bill is more. :)  they compliment each other well.  

after more than a few years of caring for my mom and her recoveries from surgeries, and illness, bill got sick.  

cancer.

as everything else, they fought it together.  simply, quietly and with faith.

this year.  so much worse. 

it's sickening.  

but still.  bill's hand on my mom's back,  back and forth back and forth.

but still.  babies born, holidays celebrated.  get togethers at mom and bill's.  bill sits in his chair...quietly. 

you know, there is so so much to learn from one who is dying.  

there are things to see in dying that you don't get to see in living.  

but maybe...maybe it's only my perspective.  

because i've been here before with my daddy.  

this was the first time i got to witness a feat such as this...  

lately, all i can do, is see...the living. 

love.  

quiet.  steadfast.  supportive.  

-a strong quiet man.  bill would move heaven and earth to see my mom's happiness. 

caring. loving. seeing.  

-my mom's needs, cares, and wants come before bill's own.   i am 100% certain that bill is grateful that this is him in the sick bed, rather than my mom.  but i am 100% certain that knowing she is pained deeply, grieves him beyond what he can express. 

giving.  believing. preparing.  

if i could write the things that my mom and bill have given...i could not.  simply because the tears are too thick in my eyes.                                                                                                                                     for years.  the deepest needs their children could have...they have been quietly served and meet.  each time they do, it brings me to my knees.  what they give to me and my family...humbles me...grieves me...uplifts me.  and i am only one of their children. 

believing.  watch bill and my mom live out their faith.  grateful hearts overflowing.  steady hearts trusting.  wounded hearts, trusting.

i've had the honor to watch bill prepare to have my mom taken care of.

a new addition to the home.  a new roof on the house.  whatever may happen in the future.  maintenance, care, love...anticitpating the needs she may have when he can no longer fulfill them. ...it is honorable...humbling...i don't have any more words.

as a child, to see this done for your mother...no words

the past few months have been really bad for bill. 

one rarely survives from being septic or from e-coli.  bill has.  too many times.  

yesterday was the worst.  

the worst operation.  (over 11 hours).

the worst findings. 

what they found in our bill, seems obscene to me. the level that cancer has invaded his body, to the lining of his precious heart...it was- is sickening. his lungs.  the breath that keeps him going.  strong...steadfast.  

his heart... so quiet, strong, vulnerable, precious....rarely seen.  what they did to prolong his life, I'm grateful for.  i think...

what he is experiencing today, what they revealed they found today...i need to be sick.  

our bill.  

i had...and i will forever have, my own very special daddy.  love love love.  talk talk talk.  emotion emotion emotion.  fun fun fun.  my childhood.  my young adulthood.  my memories. more than any words....near perfection!...love love love...

but bill...i will forever have as a father.  drop the -step.

present. steady. giving.  very very few words.  

actions that speak louder than anything he could say.  over and over and over.  

 

it "undoes" me.  oh DANG IT.  

it's always back to me.  

all i described myself as in the beginning.  

it's what i am.  

i'm a mess.  i don't think i'm a HOT mess....(wait, does hot mess mean you are hot and a mess or that you are a steaming pile of crap mess?....if crap-mess is the mess, then i most certainly am a hot mess.)

i'm crying.  sleeping.  hurting for me and everyone else, withdrawing... and am really stinking at everything i should be being "good" at.  

it's not just bill.  

it's been life...continually...for years.  and NOW bill. 

a sinkhole.  

praying, then logging into fb today, i see a video by natalie grant (not to be confused with my  amy grant:)).  

i listened. 

i wept. 

i confessed this.  

and i'm trying.  deeply. wholeheartedly, i am trying to release to THIS.  

...and bill. certainly, with tubes, medicine, doctors, prayers and yes cancer...he LIVES.  

and I get to witness all of this.  

and i pray.  with questions, but with resolve.  with heartache but with hands opened wide as the tears, and the crumblings of the things i have let the last few years steal from me slip through my shaking fingers.  

i keep trying to cry, write, and carry all that inflicts me and the people that i love.  but it's not mine.  and it's not what i was designed to do.  

strong bill.  quiet, deep, steadfast, loving bill.  an example for all, and i see it clearly in this "living" he is in right now.  he's done what he promised to do.  he's been what he set in his heart with jesus to be.  and even through these tears...i can see he and my mom as they keep their eyes on the king.    

 "King of the World"

I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep you safely inbetween the lines
I try to put you in the box that I've designed
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye

Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I'm strong enough
When you're the one who made me from the dust

When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world