visalia photographer

The Accident That Changed Us...

 

Recently my family went through a life altering experience that we are just coming out of only 4 months later... While I've never really shared what happened, I was covered in prayer, help, encouragements... people I didn't even know sincerely prayed for my family just because they decided to care. That's really huge if you think about it. We don't always choose to care for people, but so many did and I am thankful. Here's what happened…  

A truck hit their car. It rolled numerous times. Wedged on it's side between two light posts on Main Street, my kid's daddy raised them up and out of the car through the window which was now above their heads and busted open. I have terrible visions still of them suspended by their seat belts, just hanging there covered in fear and blood waiting to be saved. I'm shaking just typing this. I wasn't there but that's the picture I made up from the details the kids have shared with me. They said some people just stood there and watched. Some jumped in to help. To the lady who quickly grabbed a towel from her trunk and cleaned the blood off my sweet son's face and kept him calm while the others were getting lifted out of the car, THANK YOU. I wish I knew your name so I could hug you. 

The impact was on my daughter's door. It shattered the window glass into her face and forced the door into the car somehow thrashing her foot. The boys walked away with some scrapes and a traumatic experience that would stay with them for some time to come and poor Lily nearly lost her foot. Their dad is an EMT. He handled it, with all the fear and adrenaline, he handled it. I'm so thankful that it was him and not me. The moment I heard him tell the ER Doc that he, "put it all back in..." referencing Lily's foot, I was incredibly grateful that it wasn't me in that position. 

He called me from the ambulance and with panic in his voice ordered me to the ER. I didn't ask questions, I just flipped my car around and drove stupid fast to the hospital. This would also be the day I stopped nursing my 18 month old and our first night apart, we weren't ready for that. When I got to the hospital, the boys were separated from Lily and their dad, a nurse kept them company while they waited for me. As you can imagine, the second I walked in they exploded into tears and folded into my arms like limp noodles. In that moment they were babies again and never needed me more. It was in that moment that I remembered what I was made of. I've never been a mom more than that night.

We were in a busy hospital, first responders lingering everywhere to make sure we were all ok, doctors in and out, nurses poking, and checking, and monitoring... It was crazy chaos. All I could think to do was to take control of the atmosphere in the room so my boys would feel safe. I put my biggest smile on, tempered the mood of the room with distractions and juice boxes and held them tight until I could get in to see Lily. And then, I had to do it all over again. She was cut up, bloody, and her foot laid there exposed and dismantled. I couldn't look. I just held her. 

Most of the evening was made up of comforting my babies and quick trips to the bathroom to let my tears out and catch my breath. It ended with a 12am trip to Valley Children's in Fresno for surgery and a long stay. Lily's treatment continued with 2-3 trips each week to Valley Children's, additional surgeries and procedures and now 4 months later, she's out of the wheel chair running and dancing. It's an experience I'll never forget. I won't forget how I felt in my chest watching my daughter endure pain at levels I've taken epidurals for. I won't forget my boy's faces when I walked in the ER or the nights that followed when they had flashbacks and couldn't sleep. And I'll never forget how lucky we are that everyone is alive and well, every time I look at Lily's scars I'm thankful. 

Her foot will never be the same. She's had skin grafting so most of her foot looks like a burn victim. It's brought us into a lot of conversations about beauty. We decided that her scars are reminders that she was saved for great things. She's worked through the embarrassment already and is now ready to let it be seen so she can proudly tell her story when asked. I'm so proud of her. 

 

This is my take away from all of this. No one is immune to tragedy. No one is promised anything or any day. I have also been reminded of the hard truth that IT'S OK WHEN BAD SHIT HAPPENS. When you have an eternal perspective, you can walk through hard things, unfair things, life changing things with a different mind set than you would if eternity wasn't promised to you. This place is temporary. The stuff that goes down here may mess us up, shape us, teach us, rearrange  us... but it doesn't change the trajectory of where we're going if we believe in Jesus Christ, Father God and Holy Spirit. I hate the hard shit. I get a lot of it. But I get to choose how I show up in it and after it. That's important. 

So hug your babies. Forgive people. Laugh as much as possible. Don't sweat the small stuff. And have lots of kitchen dance parties with your kids before they turn into 15 year old jerks! That's my plan anyway ;) 

Zack + Saskia | A Vibrant and Modern Kingsburg California Wedding

After an adventurous engagement session in the Cambria Mountains, I knew this wedding would be a great one. But it was more than that. This wedding was absolutely breath taking. Amazing details, fabulous vendors, and the bride and groom of course were stunning. It took place on the Kings River in Kingsburg Ca. in the beautiful backyard of the groom's parents. The most memorable detail was an oversized circular swing covered thick in florals and foliage. It was epic and made for some amazing photographs. Take a look at all the goodness from Zack and Saskia's vibrant and modern river side wedding... 

Emily + Bryce | Bakersfield California River Side Wedding

KelliAvilaPhotography-898.jpg

Emily + Bryce

A timeless and romantic wedding set in Bakersfield California.

When I met Bryce and Emily it was at a Starbucks in Visalia. I had all 4 of my kids with me, including one infant, one 4 year old who is still in his terrible 2's and the older kids who are usually reliable when it comes to knowing when and where to act like an animal. I set them up with snacks and Frappuccinos, an iPad and books.... The consultation was going, well until the 4 year old who was still in his terrible 2's, decided he needed to use the restroom. This is the moment I new that Bryce and Emily were my kind of people. Bryce volunteered to escort my pee pee dancing son to the little boys room so I could finish my conversation with Emily. At that point I new I would most def be hiring them as my clients but I was not confident that they would be hiring me as their wedding photographer. I mean, their wedding consultation included 4 children, lots of interruptions, and an escorted trip to the restroom by the future groom. But, I was wrong. With in a few weeks we were shooting their engagement session and I couldn't have been more thankful and happy that my life did not intimate them. They embraced me as a persona and as a business. I'm so glad they did because look at the magic we created.... 

Hair & Makeup: Alivia Daniels

Dress: Ladies and Gents Formal Wear

Cake: Gimme Some Sugar Cakes

Cup Cakes: Elizabeth Monroig

Coordinator: Morgan Landry Strong

Florals: Sun Country Flowers


Kennedy McClain | Visalia California Senior Portrait Session | Visalia Lifestyle Photography

She is as lovely on the inside as she is on the outside. She's the daughter every mother dreams their little girl will grow to be. It was a privilege to capture that in a few photographs. 

Kennedy McClain...

Carly and Mark... together forever | Central Valley California Engagement Session | Visalia Wedding and Lifestyle Photography

Together forever, that's what we sign up for when we say yes to marriage. It's not an easy road but it's a good road. If you asked me how the H... two imperfect people can even do that I'd tell you this... Love well and be lovable. Respect and be respectable. Do this, and you'll be golden. 

These two say yes to forever this fall. I'm excited for their adventure together. 

x- kel