For Will…

Have you ever been a blog stalker?  You know, it’s late at night, the kids are in bed, you’re sitting beside your husband on the couch…laptop in your lap… while he watches something on tv like “Dirty Jobs”, “Survivor Man” or something equally disgusting.  Sure there are several piles of laundry you could be doing.  Or maybe the kitchen counters still need to be wiped down from supper.  But really, all you want to do is lazily sit by the one you love on the couch (even if the man he’s watching on tv did just eat an 8 pound spider…EWW!) and read about other peoples’ lives.  Sound familiar?  If you’re the guy on the couch, probably not.  If you’re the mom avoiding laundry, my guess is you may have been there before.  But the trouble is, all of your “normal” blogs are pretty boring on this evening.  So you start linking to the blogs of your friend’s friends.  And then their friends, and their friends and so on until you really don’t even remember which blog it is that you started on.  Well, my friends, that’s how I “met” Jessica.  I randomly clicked on her blog link and began reading about her fairly normal life in Texas with her husband Will and their two beautiful kids, Carlee Scott and Owen.  I would periodically check in on them through her blog, however I never left a comment so she never knew I was looking, thus making me a creepy “blog stalker”!

Fast forward a few months.  I was reading her blog one day and saw that she had decided to go private with it.  I knew it was time to come out of “lurkdom” if I wanted to continue to follow this blog.  So, I did, and we’ve been blog and facebook friends ever since!

Jessica’s husband, Will, is a chaplain in the army and was deployed to Iraq just before Christmas last year.  I was filled with overwhelming gratitude toward their family that they would endure a separation such as this to protect the freedom of MY family.  The kids don’t see their Daddy and are really too young to even understand what’s going on.  Jessica has become a single parent (which she is handling Beautifully!), dealing with the everyday “stuff” of family life all on her own and missing her beloved terribly, and Will is ministering to, counseling and sharing Jesus with soldiers in the middle of war, loving what he’s doing but missing three very important people like crazy!  They are both so at peace with where they are in life right now.  Fully confident that this is God’s will and that they will be reunited soon.  I have never heard either of them complain, and I’m just blown away by their Awesome attitudes!  It is very clear that they both love their country and love their God and KNOW without a shadow of doubt that these things are worth fighting for and protecting.  And to say that I’m grateful for that is a huge understatement.

Just before Will was deployed I wanted to do a family portrait session for them.  The problem?  They are in Texas.  We are in SC.  I would have loved it, but it just wasn’t feasible.  Well, the family vacations at Kiawah Island in SC every year.  And Jessica and the kids arrived there on Saturday, July 4th.  My parents were spending the weekend at my aunt and uncle’s house at Kiawah that very weekend…Hmmm…No, we can’t do that family portrait seeing that one major part of the family is half a world away, but we COULD photograph those three people that he loves so much and send him updated portraits to have until he comes home in December.  I pitched the idea to Collin, who was all for it, worked things out with Jessica over facebook, and we drove down to Kiawah yesterday to officially meet and photograph this “blog friend” of mine.  It wasn’t until I was sitting in my aunt and uncle’s beach house explaining what we were doing that I realized the whole situation was just a bit weird!  After all, I’ve never met this girl, never even talked to her on the phone!  She was an “internet friend”!  And my Momma warned me about those kinds of people!!!  😉

We met up last night, and I’m very happy to say that Jessica is a very normal, Gorgeous Mommy to two precious little ones (Whew!;) )  We hugged like we’ve known each other for years and the kids played together on the beach like they were best buds.  In fact, Makgill, Clara Beth, and Carlee Scott buried themselves side-by-side in the sand, and a group of women walking on the beach thought they were triplets!  They did look alike with all of those blond curls!

Will…Collin and I are beyond grateful to you and so many others who are protecting the freedom of this country that we love!  We hope you enjoy these images of your beautiful family!  We so enjoyed meeting them and hope the portraits will make your time apart a little easier.  And more than anything, we look forward to next year’s Kiawah trip when we will be able to do a complete family portrait!

Oh, and you want to hear something funny?  Jessica told me last night that when I emailed her to confess my lurking on her blog, she had already been to our blog in a similar “blog stalking” situation!  🙂

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Here’s a slideshow of the entire session…

Collin was also able to photograph Will’s sister’s family.  It was so great getting to know all of them!  Another beautiful family!

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  • staciewoodJuly 6, 2009 - 9:37 pm

    Oh my goodness!! Just ‘stumbled’ upon this after leaving Will a message on FB!!
    How wonderfully you captured Jess & the kids!! Those pics are SO the beautiful, full of life, friend that I know!!
    I LOVE the story behind it all!ReplyCancel

  • ashleighJuly 6, 2009 - 10:13 pm

    I to came to know Jessica as a “blog stalker” of her blog:) The pictures are beautiful. I am glad u finally got to meet her in person..ReplyCancel

  • Linda CannonJuly 7, 2009 - 7:13 am

    I would like to put my thanks in to Will for giving up precious family time to serve our country. You have a beautiful family and I know you miss them. What a sacrifice!! I also want to thank Jessica for having such a good attitude. I know it can’t be easy to raise 2 little ones without knowing that Daddy will be home at night to help. Anyway, I will be praying for your entire family and I hope this time away from each other passes quickly. Thanks again!! And Collin, the pictures are wonderful!! ( from the Mamma who warned about the internet but now sees that good friends can be made there…but you still have to be careful :wink:…..Linda Cannon)ReplyCancel

  • gillianJuly 7, 2009 - 8:27 am

    Collin, the pictures, as usual, are beautfiul! Aron, the story you told was just as beautiful and made me teary eyed! Y’all are so fortunate to be able to share not only your talent but your faith with your clients! The blog world has been an amazing outlet for some many of us “blog stalking” moms, I have “met” so many wonderful Christian women who inspire and encourage me on a daily basis.ReplyCancel

  • Candi SheltonJuly 7, 2009 - 1:16 pm

    Thank you so much for capturing my daughter’s outer beauty which matches her inner beauty and the sweet faces of my precious grandchildren. The beach pictures are the best I have ever seen of them. Would it be possible to purchase a few of these prints?ReplyCancel

  • Will AlleyJuly 7, 2009 - 4:13 pm

    Aron and Collin,
    What an AWESOME surprise it was to wake up this morning to incredibly beautiful pictures of my 3 most favorite people in the world enjoying my favorite place (Kiawah) in the world!! These pictures and the effort you put into making it happen (from the initial idea to execution) means so much to me, and could not have been at a better time. I was just about to hit my “post R&R slump” and this has definitely raised this soldier’s morale! You have done an excellent job capturing the beauty of my family, strength of my precious bride, and the innocence of my wonderful children. I cannot say enough to adequately express my appreciation!! I look forward to meeting you when I return to the States…Jessica said she had a great time and that she really enjoyed meeting you. THANK YOU for being so kind to me and my family! I am THRILLED to have these pictures!!!!

    Blessings,
    WillReplyCancel

  • CaseyJuly 14, 2009 - 12:48 pm

    What a sweet story! I was sort of a blog stalker of your blog but not really since I knew you knew Robby and April. 🙂 I am still waiting to actually be able to meet ya’ll in person though. Hopefully when the Ott’s get back to Florence! Great pictures too!ReplyCancel

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