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Coming Home...

Oh, the things we take for granted. Coming home. Most of us struggle with the idea of taking time away from our family for work responsibilities or little adventures. I am preparing to venture off to visit my best friend and although it's been far too long since I have seen her and I can not wait to park my behind on the beach with her and catch up... part of me is stressing that I will be away from my family for a week. A WEEK! It's almost embarrassing to admit that after spending the day surrounded by families... husbands, wives, parents, children who have been away from their loved ones for almost a year! I am an Army Mom. My son was a soldier many years ago and it was so hard being away from him. My little boy flew off and I, for the first time in his life, wouldn't see him everyday. He was not deployed while he was enlisted but I can understand the the absence of a loved one in your life because they are doing great things and serving their country for all of us.

I had a very special lady in my life for a while and her husband was frequently deployed. I was her shoulder to cry on and I felt the pain in her heart as her husband was deployed for almost a year... leaving in the wee hours of the morning after their wedding. Her son and his sweet wife have two amazingly beautiful little boys and he, too has been deployed and away from his precious family. I had scheduled a session with his wife to capture his baby boy's arrival and he managed to surprise her with a trip home to be here for the birth of their son... oh, the tears of joy...

I honor our soldiers. They have a very special place in my heart because what they do is so selfless and what they leave to do that for all of us is something that so many of us can not even fathom. When I was in the planning stages of my photography business I knew that this was something that I had to do... for my heart, for all of the soldiers that sacrifice so selflessly and for the loved ones waiting and toughing it alone, holding down the fort until their loved ones return to them safely. Project Coming Home is my way of saying thank you and honoring our soldiers and the strength of their loved ones holding down the fort at home. For more information on Project Welcome Home visit .

My first homecoming was quite an emotional experience. I've known them both for years. They are amazing women and I am proud to call them my friends. I was a guest at their wedding and I was honored to be there when Laurianne came home after her deployment. Now I'm an emotional mush... Heidi knew that when she handed me tissues that afternoon! How funny... she had spent eleven months apart from her wife and she was making sure that everyone else had tissues!

I called my husband after I arrived and his first words were "are you going to be able to hold it together?" I'd say he is funny but he knows me... I am a sentimental mush. The place was filling with families and most were carrying signs welcoming their loved ones home. There were babies that were so young, they had probably never met their Daddy's, their were parents, wives with gifts and full families just waiting to see their loved ones for the first time in almost a year. I stood quietly... taking it all in and snapping photos of the signs and the family members waiting, excited. When we headed outside to prepare for their arrival, a little guy... maybe four or five... said to me, "You take my picture?" I asked the lady that he was with if it was alright with her, explaining that I was a photographer. It was his grandma. He told me that his Mommy was coming home and he showed me his sign. I snapped a few photos and wiped my tears before moving on. That sweet little guy pulled at my heart... "she is coming home".

Although they were my friends, I stayed back... they deserved their time... they had been apart for so long. I took pictures from a distance and let them revel in the moment... a moment that was theirs. After the initial euphoria of being together again settled a bit, then I managed to get them to look at the camera and capture the smiles and the emotion that had been building for eleven months. This was not the kind of session where I want them to look at the camera... this was a moment to capture real, true, raw emotion and I could not be more thrilled to do that and present them with a gallery of photos for a keepsake of that special moment.

As the afternoon wound down and they were getting ready to head home... home for the first time in eleven months... Sgt Fleming pulled a badge from her sleeve and said, "this is my deployment badge. It's been from Texas to Kuwait and back with me and I want you to have it." I am so honored and touched by this. This badge means many things to her but what it means to me is so amazing... I am blessed to have the means to capture such incredible moments for our soldiers.

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