Today, eleven years ago, Chris and I got married. Here is some of a post to social media I made on our one year anniversary:One year ago today some of you out there thought I’d finally lost all common sense. I started getting to know a guy online. We almost didn’t even cross paths, but it was in God’s plan that we did! Even though we’d only “known” each other for just a few weeks, he was already my best friend. We talked for hours on end, daily without fail – messaging, texting, skyping and of course actual phone conversations…From the moment he asked me to “be his girl”, just 24 hours after our first face-to-face meeting, I knew my heart would never be the same…. For almost two months we rotated weekends, every other weekend I’d make the two hour drive down. He’d get me a hotel room and we’d spend our days with my three munchkins driving around Jacksonville. The more time I spent with him the harder it was to leave/see him leave. The feeling (thank God) was mutual! So, there we were, not quiet two months after we met online, sitting in a courthouse – repeating our vows…. God deserves all of the credit of course!! We look back and talk about it from time to time, how we almost didn’t “meet” at all. How everything just fell into place. How God’s fingerprints are all over it. Now, here we are, one year later. This past year has been one of the happiest of my life! I never imagined that I would find someone that would love me as completely and passionately as I love them.If you’ve talked to me extensively then you know our story and just how much God’s hand was in it and while this post is about that – in a way, it’s also a little different. I want to give this part of my testimony – to show how God took me from where I was to who I became and am continuously striving to be.It all started when I was 12 and began crushing on a guy in school. Yup, that’s right, a totally different guy because back then I had no clue who Chris was, we could have been on separate planets! Let’s skip ahead to my freshman year in high school, which was two years – I was 14. Still majorly crushing on that same guy only he finally seemed to take notice and think of me as more than a friend. I was absolutely smitten, but he broke my heart after a few months. You may have recalled that I’ve mentioned in past posts about having some mental health issues, well that depression and OCD made me feel things, oh, so, very deeply. Over the next few years I still had a huge crush for that guy and we shared all the same friends. I was one of the only believers in the group. Yeah, you know what’s coming, don’t you? Instead of sharing God with them, I got too caught up in hoping that said guy would return what I felt for him. As I grew closer to him I fell farther away from God.Skipping ahread again, this time to 17. I moved out and in with some friends and was dating, you guessed it, that specific guy. Over the span of two weeks he gradually moved in with us. We lived together for two and a half years and at 19 I married him. It was not the best relationship obviously, in fact most of the time it was down right horrible. We had issues on each side and I won’t go into his because it’s not my place, but I can tell you mine. I was insecure, in our relationship and in myself. I knew deep down he didn’t want to marry me, but he did it because he didn’t want to lose me, I think. I never felt loved, and I wasn’t completely, not in the way I deserved. Again, mental health issuses that were going untreated and over time untreated physical illnesses as well.Fast forward to 27. Recently divorced (I can go into more detail about God speaking to me about this in another post.). Fasting. Crying out to God. I’d moved back in with my parents. I made a few online accounts to met people. THIS is where God took all of my pervious horrible-un-Godly decisions and turned them around. The very day I was deleting all of my accounts I got a short message from Chris. I felt a tug on my heart and after seeing a picture of him with his dog, Frankie, I responded. God used Frankie to be the initial pull and because we were trying to put God first, God lead us to that day, eleven years ago where we made our vows to one another.Here’s the biggest reason I love sharing our story and how we got to it. God took my rebellion and the pain I caused myself and made it worth everything it was. God took my shame over being divorced and made it into something absolutely beautiful, something over time I’ve learned through Him – not to regret. God took what satan tried to use to destroy me and HE built me up from the ashes. God taught me many valuable lessons during the season that I fell away, but I couldn’t see them and I couldn’t hear Him for a long time. I suffered immeasurable pain in my rebellion and I know it’s not what God wanted for me, but He used it to shape me into the person that I’ve become. I’m here to tell you first hand that God will take what the enemy means for evil and He will make it good. Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or where you are, God can change your LIFE, but you have to let Him in! I’m here if you need someone to talk to!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEK6_rz26z0w Diona WilliamsDiona is fueled equally by passion and coffee. She spends her days with God, her family, her farm animals & the beauty of nature. In her free time she loves capturing moments that make you wish you could freeze time or at the very least, slow it down!
You cannot escape knowing of the things taking place in the world today. You turn on the television or the radio and it’s there. Any form of social media, it’s there. Covid, Afghanistan, hurricanes, floods, fires, the list goes on and on. It can be so easy to get wrapped up and feel hopeless, but what this world needs and what we need more of is God. I’m going to jump off subject for a second, but you’ll see that it’s really connected – stay with me, I promise it’s going to come together! My son started second grade this year. His entire first grade year he would walk to the front of the school once I dropped him off and dance for all the other car riders. The staff plays music every morning, so he let loose and just danced his heart out. every. single. day. My husband and I, both on separate occasions unbeknownst to us, each asked him why. His answer was simple, but it melted our hearts. “To make people happy. To make them smile.” My son is much like I was as a child in that he loves to love on others. (I’d like to think that maybe I had a little to do with it, but we all know it’s God not me!) Back to this year, I’ve noticed that he isn’t dancing. It took a while for him to tell me why, but after finding out that another child wasn’t being nice to him, he told me that is why he stopped dancing. My heart cried out in my chest, but we had a conversation about how this child has something going on in his life to make him lash out — it’s not our son’s fault and he shouldn’t to let his light be snuffed. Afterwards I asked him if he was going to go back to dancing. He looked at me and said sadly, “I miss it, but I don’t want to make anyone mad.” When I say that hurt my heart, ya’ll I’ve never known that kind of pain before! Days later my husband and I both spoke on the issue with him. At the end, he said he would think about dancing again, but then said that it only makes the adults happy. My husband made such a remarkable statement to that, “Most of the times it’s the adults that need it the most.” It floored me because, how right that is! As adults, so much of the time, we lose that light. We become so jaded and worry so much about what others are going to think of us. How dare someone – anyone – take that away from my child! A few days ago, on the way to school, I talked to my son about God being the light that shines through us to others. I explained to him how God is our HOPE. We talked about how some people, after this world gets ahold of them, sometimes they lose hope because they forget that or they run from God. Quick sidenote – he knows about depression although he doesn’t know that’s what it’s called because my husband and I both suffer from mental health issues. He understands that sometimes people can get so sad for no real reason. Unfortunately, he too, deals with this a bit already. Thankfully, because my husband and I both fully understand, we have good cuddle time and talk when he comes to us and says he’s sad-sad and doesn’t know why. (Sad-sad is his way of saying super sad.) We continued our conversation and he promised he would seriously consider dancing again. I let him know that we don’t care what he decides about that, but that it broke our hearts that he was letting someone take his joy from him. My seven year old is smarter than some adults – sometimes that adult is me! Now, hopefully this is when all of that above ties together. GOD IS OUR HOPE. PERIOT. When you turn on the news, radio or pull up social media on your phone and your heart is heavy, you need more of God. Turn to prayer, turn to his word. This is for me just as much as for anyone reading this. It’s time for His people to take a stand. It’s not about what other’s think of us. If we want our children to be true in Christ then it has to begin with us. We are living in a time where there is more evil lurking about than there has been in a very long time, who knows – maybe ever. We are in the days that were prophesized in biblical days past. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. -Matthew 24:7 The time has come to make a stand. The time has come to make a choice. Are you going to let the world steal your salvation or are you going to step up and stop being lukewarm? (This is a great article: 10 Signs of a Lukewarm Christian to read if you are unsure what being a lukewarm Christian means.) Look, I struggle more than I like to admit, but as part of my journey to step up – I’ll admit it right here and now. I have an extremely hard time with rebellion, stubbornness and have brought so much useless hurt and pain into my life by thinking that I know what is good for me. I struggle with control issues. I struggle with being humble and peaceful and quiet, BUT I am SICK AND TIRED of it. Would you like to join me in this journey? Send me a message, a text or give me a call. I’m awkward as heck, but I will love you through it all. I’m not giving up on me anymore. God made me for a reason and a purpose and through Him I will learn exactly what that is. God will use our trails and our pains and bring us out stronger and closer to Him. I have such a long way to go, but I look at my child and know that if it’s what I want for HIM how much more does our Father Lord in heaven want that for us. Learn to be dragon slayers Christians for there are very real dragons in this world – in so doing, you will show your children to be slayers of those very dragons! (An article on Teaching Our Children to be Dragon slayers.) “Never feel sorry for raising dragon-slayers in a time when there are actual dragons.” – Unknown Diona WilliamsDiona is fueled equally by passion and coffee. She spends her days with God, her family, her farm animals & the beauty of nature. In her free time she loves capturing moments that make you wish you could freeze time or at the very least, slow it down!
A few weeks prior to February the 13th, I got a text from a long-time client turned friend. One of her husband’s co-workers was going to have a surprise wedding and he wanted to know if I was available and open to the idea. For a second I was a little unsure. Of course, I’ve seen surprise weddings happen in the photography/videography industry, but how many didn’t happen because the bride wasn’t into it. I decided to say yes and she gave him my number. After some conversations with the groom and realizing how confident he seemed about the whole surprise, something told me it would all work out!The groom, Jerry, had everything all planned out down to the smallest details! Now in this industry, I’ve found that the grooms don’t normally get too involved with the process so this was amazing and I definitely began to look forward to it! He made arrangements to have it at a resort in Ponte Vedra. He told her they were just having a weekend away with a few friends. What I didn’t know was that the year before they had done something similar with their friends on Valentine’s weekend in Fernandina, so she didn’t think too much of it. This year they were going to dress up and do pictures – here’s where I came in! She knew about the pictures, so we started off with both couples. We slowly walked along and set up some shots.Once we got over the first bridge and into view of those waiting at the gazebo their song came on. Stephanie was shocked, “That’s our song!” she repeated a few times, looking over at Jerry and smiling. I told them that since someone was playing their song we needed to take advantage of it and keep walking for the pictures. They agreed. We stopped halfway for some more intimate couple photos. After I shot these we were close to the bridge, their friends snuck past and Jerry told Stephanie to pose for some headshots. While we did this he walked over the last bridge. I talked with Stephanie for a few moments while I took some photos. She began to tell me about her story and meeting Jerry. Suddenly she looked and saw their friends and family on the other side of the bridge. The ceremony was amazing, it was filled with so much raw emotion and after hearing some of Stephanie’s story I even got completely wrapped up in it. Watching the shock and surprise on her face give away to pure love and happiness made me tear up! After adding some images from the ceremony I will share a write up they did to share their love story with everyone. ❤ A countdown to Love – Jerry & Stephanie – Sunday, March 31, 2019 845am, T-minus 8 hoursStephanie woke up that morning, her mind set on celebrating what would have been her anniversary with her late husband of 24 years, who passed 5 months prior. She headed to the beach with the last few beers he left in the fridge, with plans of riding horses on the beach and spending the rest of the day lounging in the sun and reflecting on everything that happened over the preceding two years…cancer is brutal1145am, T-minus 5 hoursJerry answered the phone after another long restless night, it was one of his closest friends calling to check on him, knowing the divorce proceedings that were two years in the making, of a 34-year marriage, were wearing deeply on him. Dave: ” Why don’t you and I go to the fish camp and have some lunch and a few beers”345pm, T- minus 1 hourAfter a horseback ride on the beach, a long day of remembering in the sun, it was time for Steph to leave the solace of the beach and head back to an empty home400pm, T- minus 45 minutesAfter a long lunch at the fish camp, Jerry prepares to bid his friend a thank you for “getting me out of my head”415pm, T-minus 30 minutesSteph loads up from the beach and begins to drive home.. 430Pm, T-minus 15 minutesDave…” I’ve gotta get back home bud, are you going to be okay?”…440pm, T-minus 5 minutesSteph sees the fish camp coming up and thinks to herself, “ We would have totally stopped here for a beer after leaving the beach..”QUICK…A HARD TURN RIGHT INTO THE PARKING LOT!!442pm Stephanie parks and walks across the parking lot443pmHe sees her, she walks up the deck stairs and around the tiki hut444pmShe leans in to order…David offers her his seat as he leaves 445pm……LIFTOFF!The conversation started as raw and honest as any 2 strangers could be with one another. 5 hours and volumes of light, as well as deep, conversation later. The bartender advises, “Listen, you two, we don’t care where you go, but you can’t stay here.”Two years and many healing moments later, they continue to journey…explore…and heal…together Diona WilliamsDiona is fueled equally by passion and coffee. She spends her days with God, her family, her farm animals & the beauty of nature. In her free time she loves capturing moments that make you wish you could freeze time or at the very least, slow it down!
but God but: conjunction: used to introduce a phrase or clause contrasting with what has already been mentioned. “he stumbled but didn’t fall” preposition: except; apart from; other than. “in Texas, we were never anything but poor” adverb: no more than; only. “he is but a shadow of his former self” Ephesians 2:4-7 English Standard Version4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. I find these two words continuously resonating within my soul, but God. As I draw closer with God intently, I see the wonderous works He is making in my life. Not only has He directed our paths and blessed us overabundantly to place us where we are, but He is steadily turning dreams into reality. Almost six years ago I was wondering if I would ever be a mom and honestly, it was so hard not to give up, but God. I never thought I’d be able to have a farm again, but God has blessed us with land. I didn’t think I would have chickens again, but God! We have nine hens and a rooster plus nine new week old chicks. Cali, our oldest hen, went broody and hatched nine cute little firecrackers! Here we are building our dream house when I got overwhelmed with the idea of selling and building, but God. Last year hit my photography business hard because I only did a handful of shoots. It was absolutely my decision (GG and I are both immune-compromised) and I’ve found myself sometimes wondering if I would ever be able to bounce back, but God. Within 24 hours last week, I booked not now, but two weddings! I’m not sharing any of this to brag, because NONE of it was me. Every single blessing we have in life is because of the love of God. We may not always see God working, but He sews the threads of our lives together. Even when we can’t see the beautiful image unfolding, God sees the picture in its entirety. So, let go and let God be your “but” when you think things are hopeless. You may say it isn’t possible, but I’m here to tell you “BUT GOD.“ Diona WilliamsDiona is fueled equally by passion and coffee. She spends her days with God, her family, her farm animals & the beauty of nature. In her free time she loves capturing moments that make you wish you could freeze time or at the very least, slow it down!
I’ve been lost; depleted; defeated; tired. I cannot... Diona Williams Diona is fueled equally by passion and coffee. She spends her days with God, her family, her farm animals & the beauty of nature. In her free time she loves capturing moments that make you wish you could freeze time or at the very least, slow it down!
Tonight day 8 of RV living is coming to...Diona WilliamsDiona is fueled equally by passion and coffee. She spends her days with God, her family, her farm animals & the beauty of nature. In her free time she loves capturing moments that make you wish you could freeze time or at the very least, slow it down!