Category: Family

Letting Go

By , September 9, 2012 10:07 PM

Fly Away

My heart is breaking and I care not who knows.

You want not my advice.

You are on your own.

My prayers go with you.

Fly safely, my children.

On the wings of love.


Reasons to Stay Married

By , September 7, 2012 8:15 AM

My paternal grandparents … married until “death do us part”.


A quarter of a century –

Twenty-five years

Of marriage, he and me.

Tears, fears and many beers –

We have evolved


Into a couple more

Than each of us is alone.

The divorce rate makes me

Shudder and wish to advise

Persevere! For you know not


How soon marriage might

Become life-long friendship.

Shelve criticism … for

Despite gray, thin, and fat.

Only my husband knows my journey.


The mirage is, “in love”

If only you knew –

Those who persevere learn –

Infatuation morphs

Into something much

More enduring.


Copyright 2012 Brett Valentine Winn

Poem: Untitled

By , June 5, 2011 8:55 AM

This is my son when he was a little boy. This photograph depicts the essence of who he was, then.

Hat and Pup

Today he is 23, and as unique an individual today as he was then. If you wish, you can follow his blog here.

When he was around the age of the hat and puppy phase, he, along with his siblings, memorized 1st Corinthians 13.

A couple of days ago, he wrote this poem in his head while bringing in bags of duck and dog food for me from the car.

I truly love it. It is so “him”.


Love is latent, love is blind;
Does not lament what’s left behind.
It’s never rude, but only crude
In light of first intent reviewed.
It seeketh not a selfish way
To show itself in vain display.
It simply trusts, that time will tell
What never ends, was started well.

May your Lord’s Day today be blessed!

Iron Pour

By , November 6, 2010 11:33 PM

My son, Val, is an art student at ECU in Greenville, NC, studying Graphic Design and Sculpture. Tonight was the Sculpture Guild’s Iron Pour, which I’ve not been able to attend in the past. These are a few of the photos I took … it was spectacular!  This photo is of the furnace that melted the iron.

Art students have a great sense of humor. This furnace has a face!

A cool shot of one of the men working tonight … I think Val said he was a grad student. That’s rain on his visor.

This is Val on one of his pours.

Val from behind, with his personally stenciled fire proof clothing ….

I’m not exactly sure what they were doing with this pumpkin, but it sure was fun to watch!

And to photograph. By this time I’ve climbed inside the ropes put up to keep people like me out. I was grateful that none said anything to me and that the my camera lens and the sparks did not make contact!

Ahhh.  Art.

Cleaning out the furnace towards the end ….

Putting out the fire.

The End.

Duke University

By , October 5, 2010 11:00 AM

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to tour the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, with my son, my sister, and my nephew. Not only did I get to spend the day with my sister, but the tour really opened my eyes to just what engineering is all about. These are some of the things we saw:

This is one of the residence halls.

The architecture at Duke is truly beautiful. Everywhere are arches, stone, beautiful wood.

This young man is demonstrating a radio controlled car that he built in one of his classes … from scratch. He told us about a car some other students built that was powered by the pitch of one’s voice … they sang into a microphone to make the car go. That must have been something to see/hear!

These little robots were built and programmed by the students. They have multiple sensors … some detect barriers, others light, others sound.

This is my nephew, David, talking to the grad students who were demonstrating the robots. David is a candidate for a full ride scholarship to Duke next fall, and I’m not one bit proud of him! He’s been building and competing with underwater robots for the past four years. This year, his team won the world competition.

Duke is awesome: a rich learning environment where the students appear to enjoy learning more than partying, and the entire environment is designed to make your experiences there challenging, exciting, and rewarding.

My prayer is that David gets accepted (I *think* he’s applying for early decision) AND gets that scholarship! Go, David!

The Last Wedding

By , September 20, 2010 8:14 PM

You may or may not know that I am a “retired” wedding photographer. I put “retired” in quotations, because I’m not old enough to be retired, but I have chosen to be so none the less. I photographed weddings for our family’s studio for about five years, logging in around a hundred weddings. It was a season in my life, and I really did enjoy it, but the day came when I knew I was finished with that season. I wanted my weekends back, and I (if the truth be known) hated, hated, HATED the responsibility I felt for someone’s “once in a lifetime” event. I never had a wedding that didn’t turn out (thank GOD!) but the fear that such might happen to someone on my watch, one day, kept me awake at night. Literally. So a few years ago I called it quits.

But. There are certain people. Special people. And you find yourself getting called back in.

This has happened a time or two.

Such as this occasion.

(Photo is as the bride is getting ready.)

How do you NOT photograph the wedding when the dog you bred is also a participant?

So Saturday, the Real Man (who is also the Real Photographer of the family) and I drove to Atlantic Beach to photograph the wedding of my best friend from college’s daughter, Morgan.

ANNOUNCEMENT: this is my LAST wedding!! From here on out I intend to be part of the celebration as opposed to the the recording of said celebration.

(The Real Man aka Real Photographer, can keep on trucking!)


I must say, this wedding was a blast. (There have been VERY FEW IF ANY events associated with this particular friend that were anything other than a blast, FYI.) I was present at HER wedding, and expected nothing less.

This is my friend, dancing with her son.

Don’t you wish she were YOUR friend? She is as delightful as she appears.

This is the bridal bouquet she made her daughter (held here, by her second daughter, the maid of honor). This bouquet is comprised of buttons and costume jewelry from the bride’s grandmother and great grandmothers’ collections. Is this not the MOST stunning thing you have ever seen? Trust me, my photos do not do it justice. It makes you want to cry just to look at it.

Official “hands” photograph, taken my the Real Man aka Real Photographer, with ambient lighting only.

My contribution. One of the getting ready shots (the bride to be had not seen this bouquet until this moment).

A nice infrared shot of the bride and her maids.

Did I mention a good time was had by all?

Sorry not to share more, but beyond this, I truly feel that the recipients of the photos, currently honeymooning in Mexico, have the right to see them first!

Thanks for peeking with me!

Randy’s Homecoming

By , September 16, 2010 12:05 PM

Such was my brother-in-law’s greeting as he WALKED up the front steps of his home on the Outer Banks of North Carolina yesterday afternoon, for the first time in ninety-nine days. (Honestly, some people will do anything to avoid tourists at the beach in the summer!)

It was a heartwarming homecoming.

I’m one of those people who endures tragedy with stoicism but who cannot watch my favorite win the Kentucky Derby, or read, in Lassie Come Home, how Lassie crawled the last few feet to the school-house gate to meet her young master, with a dry eye. It’s triumph that brings tears to my eyes. Fortitude. Honor. Stuff like that.

All of which was in ample supply yesterday afternoon.

All along the by-pass, from Nag’s Head to Kitty Hawk (and probably beyond) the locals rolled out the red carpet.

There were many others, but these were the ones that I saw.

These are the Boy Scouts of troop 116, Kill Devil Hills, of which Randy is Scoutmaster, who gathered immediately after school yesterday on the road in front of Randy’s house, to salute him as he returned home.

This photograph is of Randy’s two sons, saluting. (Photo taken by Lisa Vercauteren.)

The partial effect of love, freely given.

Stepping out of the car …

Approaching the steps …

Entering. His. Home.

Three months ago it was unknown whether Randy would live, let alone eat, speak, think, walk.

Whatever your struggles in life might be, never, ever give up.

Appeal to He who created you, who designed each moment of your life for your benefit and His glory, who “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think”….

We don’t always understand His purposes. “For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face ….”  We can, however, rest assured in His trustworthiness.

It wouldn’t be called “faith” if we could touch it and see it.

“For faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (Ponder that for a few decades, lol!)

To God be the glory!

Randy’s cat is glad he’s home, too!

Welcome Home, Randy!

By , September 15, 2010 9:21 AM

Today is the 99th day since my brother-in-law/heart, Randy, suffered his initial brain bleed that led to a burst aneurysm, where his carotid artery also ruptured just as they were finishing the aneurysm repair surgery. It is an amazing, miraculous story, and you can read about it in full, see photos, etc. here.

Randy is making a full recovery.

Today is also my husband’s birthday … I’ve been so torn, usually my husband isn’t able to be home for his birthday, but I realized this morning I so want to be there when Randy comes home. The dear Real Man … who is also a Real Soul-Mate … said, “Honey, I would consider it the best birthday present ever if you would go and be there, and take photographs of his homecoming so I’ll feel like I was there, too.”

So, I’m off in a few … tomorrow I’ll share his homecoming with you!

Randy is pictured almost a week ago, walking with a four pronged cane and his physical therapist. He has since graduated to a one prong cane, and can walk unassisted!

What She Said

By , July 30, 2010 11:13 PM

This is a photograph of my sister and her family that the Real Man took a couple of years ago that served then, as their Christmas card photo. The man in the photo is my brother-in-heart, Randy, who has, for the past six weeks, been fighting for his life following brain surgery, first in ICU and more recently, in a “step-down” room. The latest news, is that he has “passed” his “swallow” test, and is now allowed to eat thickened liquids: puddings, pureed soups, etc. This is HUGE, folks … none of us have ANY IDEA how much we take for granted on a daily basis!!!

This is a post my sister put on Facebook this morning. Thank you, Rachel, for saving me from having to think up something to blog about today!

She called this, “The Story BEFORE the Surgery”

“Randy has touched the lives of so many. And I realize more every day just how many of the people who have joined in with prayer and good thoughts have never met him. My family and I cannot thank you all enough for the support and love you have shown us. It occurred to me the other day that it may be helpful to share a glimpse into our lives for those of you who do not know Randy or who maybe do not know him as a family man.

Randy and I met in June of 1986—he had just graduated from Currituck County High School and I was on the Outer Banks visiting my sister. We started dating a month after meeting. I was his first girlfriend, and he was the perfect boyfriend. I have literally thousands of examples in boxes in our storage room…love letters and mementos (including the Lucky Charms box he filled entirely with the marshmallows because he knew I loved them). I have always wondered how I got so lucky as to have Randy come into my life.

We were married November 7, 1987 and lived in Manteo for three years before building and moving into our home in Kitty Hawk. We spent many evenings after work (and when I was pregnant) working on our house until late into the night. Katherine was born in August of 1990, David in November 1992, and Daniel in June 1996. Daniel’s birth coincided with Randy leaving the Ford Dealership in Manteo where he had been for ten years and opening his own Automotive Repair shop in Currituck. Customers came, the shop did well, and we were again settled into the routine of raising our family.

Randy has always been a wonderful father. The kind that takes time to play, to read stories, and attend all things important—from tea parties with Katherine (and that one time when he was the center of attention amid eight ten-year-old girls making icing flowers together for Katherine’s birthday turns out Randy makes great icing roses!), to baseball games, karate ceremonies, countless school functions, dance recitals, and so many, many more. He’s been a coach, a mentor, a friend, an advisor, Mr Fixit, a leader, and a champion to our children. He is my best friend.

Randy has also always worked hard. Harder than anyone I have ever known. When the children were little there were frequent nights when he would come home for supper, help with bath, stories, and bedtime then go right back to work. Then there were our special nights when the kids were tucked in and we would pull out our huge scrabble board, watch a movie and have popcorn. We have done this through so many years and even have a notebook dating back to 1999 when we started keeping track of our scores, wins, movies watched, and the date.

We really have lived the fairy tale. We love each other deeply. We are simple people. We don’t party, drink, smoke, do drugs, and we rarely curse. A big night is dinner out and a movie with the kids at the Cineplex. Sometimes we go out alone to the same movie theater and often to Owens Restaurant down the beach. He always gets prime rib….I get the coconut shrimp. He will take a weekend off and go skiing with the boys…giving Katherine and me girl time. Once in a great while we will go away for the weekend….just recently we realized that we can do more of that now that the kids are older. We’ve gone twice since March, the last time being an overnight trip to Edenton only days before Randy’s first bleed. We walk on the beach often in the evenings holding hands. Last summer we walked on the beach in the early morning and looked for sea glass. We never got to do that this summer.

We have always tried to eat supper together every night. We play games together, take pictures on the beach, celebrate birthdays. We get excited about a rare snowfall and oh-so-happy when Randy stays home from work for a snowball fight, snow ice cream, and to pull a boogie board around as a sled. Randy has volunteered in the classroom and helped with math superstars. He has gone on field trips and attended poetry nights. He always wanted me home with the children….and he has always been happy to come home to fresh baked cookies.

Randy loves his scouts and has been involved with them for eleven years…always in some leadership capacity. Sometimes he would get frustrated when work took the time he needed to organize something. He never wanted the boys to suffer because he was busy…but he always did his very best to take the time. Always. In fact, I cannot think of a finer example for the scouts to look up to than my husband.

When you look at Randy’s life as a whole, it’s amazing to see how many roles he has played. Husband, father, son, brother, cousin, uncle, friend, citizen, coworker, boss, scout leader, volunteer, and a million more—and in every single role, always willing to dig in and help out with anything or anybody in need of help, always willing to repair what needs fixing, always willing to offer a smile or a handshake or a hug or a joke or an explanation. It’s hard to understand why bad things always do seem to happen to the truly good and well-loved people in this world. It seems so unfair. However, this summer, I have seen how far Randy’s influence has reached in his 42 years, and it touches me deeply to see how many people from all the facets of his life have offered support, encouragement, love, and prayers for Randy and the rest of our family. Thank you all so much.”

Randy’s “update” website is: … please do bookmark it, check it out, and add him and his precious family to your prayer list!

There but for the grace of God go each of us.

Thanks and much love to you all ….


PS … If you are up for another poignant read, check out my niece’s most recent blog entry at Quotelation!

PPS … This is no ordinary niece … this niece is going to be spending her fall semester in Sussex, England, studying children’s literature, and she’s going to have the opportunity to visit the “for real” Winnie the Pooh’s 100 Acre Wood. Does it get any cooler than that? I think NOT!


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