Typically, here in Belgium, your first point of contact with other families is through your children's school. Wendy and I have children at different schools, so our friends don't always cross. Last year, I heard this family's name over and over again from Wendy, from many others and of course, through Facebook posts. I had hoped that one day our paths would cross. I tell you - it never ceases to amaze me how God puts people in your lives at just the right time.
Instead of having birthday parties, my girls hold a fundraiser each year for a cause that touches their hearts. Last year's fundraiser was a talent show, whose proceeds benefited an organization called Autism Europe – which works to improve the quality of life for people living with Autism. Autism has touched our family through my nephew. He is now an adult, speaks very few words, but has a spirit that's more kind than anyone else I know in this world. When I see him, I am a person who puts life's demands aside and just enjoys the beautiful person that he is.
While planning the talent show last year, I received the kindest of Facebook messages, along with a generous donation, from a very lovely lady. Not everyone understands Autism. There are so many misconceptions about autism, but in a short conversation, it was very clear to me that this woman understood Autism and many other differences that society has labeled as "disabilities. She. Got. It.
I had to share a few of her words (about her sweet daughter) from a Facebook conversation because they are so powerful and true:
I always feel that part of my job is to help people
understand that people (regardless of age) with disabilities have a lot
of abilities that are not always obvious. [My daughter] has
many amazing abilities, one of which is keeping us grounded as a family
even through frustrating times.
Fast forward almost a year after after our initial Facebook conversations and we finally got to meet (totally by chance) at lunch with a mutual friend. Thanks, Brandi! Just a short time later, I got to meet the rest of her family through the talent show fundraiser that my girls' put on this year to benefit "Anti-Bullying" programming. Her oldest daughter came out to perform and stole the show with a beautiful version of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep." Before the show, I sent out an email asking a few friends to help with the final touches and in true "Giver" form, she invited me over to pick up a crate of wine. That's when I met her other half and was introduced to their amazing wine cellar – wait until you see it!
What a delight to photograph this family! It sure didn't feel like a photo shoot - Good people. Good wine. Good fun. Good music. Great girls. Great family. Shirley, I'm so glad you and Wendy are friends and that I now have the pleasure of getting to know your family better as well!
Meet a wonderful family! I'm sure you'll enjoy them just as much as WE do.