Daddy Daughter

I don't even really know how to begin writing this post. I guess I have always known that as an artist we take what we see in the world around us and we give it form, we express its heart, we give a platform to the stories that are forever being told. And we as artists are called to simply be open, to be observant and to cultivate a spirit of curiosity and reverence. It is such a blessing and such an incredible way of life that my job is to simply marvel at God's creation all around me. To stand in awe and point, saying "hey, look at this over here! Did you see it? Don't miss it. Isn't it just beautiful." This past weekend was full beyond all measure.

With my camera in hand I was fully immersed in my cousin Alaina's wedding to the man God made for her, Jeremiah. We moved throughout the day with simple ease and anticipation for what was to come. I marveled at the details of a blushing bride, the wind catching her sash and setting it gently to flight for a spell, the sun dappling through the limbs of oaks and palms, a moment between a mom and daughter beneath it's soft shadows. In a historic hotel ballroom I soaked in the sights of a groom unable to take his eyes off his bride, hands intertwined, tears being dabbed from cheeks, the afternoon sun softly brushing through the curtains and resting on the wooden floor, and the significance of a man laying down his right to himself and becoming a servant husband for his wife. It is exactly what Christ modeled for us 2000 years ago. Christ took the church as his bride and laid down his life for us.

The next morning I woke before the sun and made my way to a clearing in a nearby state park to gather with a sleepy-eyed group of believers craving to celebrate that sacrifice. Nestled amongst the pines and creation all around us the moon set to my left and the sun rose to a breathtaking brightness to my right as the word of God, the story of Christ's sacrifice and resurrection, literally echoed off the trees all around us. All of creation spoke of his love. 

I marveled at two marriages this weekend. And my heart was full.

Which brings me to the point of this post. The thing I am trying to grasp onto, to express. As we sat in the ballroom gazing upon Alaina and Jeremiah's marriage journey beginning, there was something, someone, missing. Alaina's dad, my uncle Dennis, didn't make it to walk his daughter down the aisle that day. He found out that he had terminal lung cancer last summer and six months later, on December 9, 2012, he passed away. Just one month earlier, on November 9th I had the blessing to be able to capture a dance between a daddy and his daughter before he became too weak to dance with his girl. Alaina, wearing a borrowed gown from her pastor's wife, her dad, her future groom and family gathered in a ballroom. And they danced while I stood in awe of a dad with his daughter in his arms, the exchange of knowing glances, joy and heartbreak in the the emotions of the family members gathered round, a hand around a waist, a man hugging his bride of two decades in a final dance together, love. Four months later family and friends came together at that exact spot where daddy and daughter swayed to the tune of "My Girl" that fall day in a bittersweet moment where Dennis' daughter became a bride. The below video, my labor of love, was debuted on the wedding day this past weekend to family and friends with not a dry eye in the house.

After the dance in November we ventured outside and I marveled through my lens at a family loving and losing and clinging to one another. What a cherished memory. What a bittersweet moment. What a gift it is to be an artist and be there to stand in awe of it all.

It is a gift to stand in awe of his people, in awe of their hearts, in awe of His creation, in awe of the sun rising up over the trees to shed the warmth of its light on us all. The resurrection changes everything. And it is because of Christ's love for us, His laying down His life, that marriage, that we will one day be re-united with my dear Uncle Dennis, and there will be dancing, I am sure of it. 
Love you Uncle Dennis!

Though it was online for family to preview we kept the daddy daughter dance video private until it's debut this past weekend at the wedding. On Sunday night I flipped a switched and texted my Aunt Brenda to let her know that she could now share the video with her friends and then I stepped away from my computer. Come the end of the day on Monday Dennis and Aliana's dance had over 15,000 views and I was receiving messages from media agencies across the globe about featuring this story. What a blessing it is to know that my family's story touched the hearts of so many people. And that my Uncle Dennis' story is still being told.