I wrestled back in forth if it was appropriate to share this on our “business” page. The truth I know is Andrew and are passionate about photography because of the word “legacy”. We are passionate about not just giving our clients photos to give to the generations to come but also making an impact that will last. When Andrew and I are no longer here I hope that there is some kind of legacy left behind. Our business challenges us in that. We want our children to know that dreams are worth fighting for and giving up is never in order. We hope the words we speak to people we come across through our business are ones they can remember or be challenged by. The story I am going to share with you is just that. It is legacy in FULL PLAY. A little over a week ago Andrew and I received word that one of the young people we got to spend time with during youth ministry had passed away. It was a moment that felt unreal. Andrew and I spent the day trying to sync our minds to our heart. We would look at his pictures online and cry. It shook us. The moment we found it felt like something bigger was happening in our heart. Giovanni was diagnosed at birth with Cystic Fibrosis. We knew his condition was not great but he always overcame. He would get a cold and overcome. He never wanted to talk about his health and pushed forward in everything. He worked out, played hard, and lived life completely full. Our greatest memories with him have something to do with him being physical.. like playing Dance Dance Revolution in our living room, riding roller coasters with Andrew, racing in the swimming pool, four wheeling, climbing something. The kid never lived in fear and paid no attention to his diagnosis.

More than anything he had a deep faith. His family astounded us. They had faith to take Gio off of medication and watch God move in Him. They had faith to claim healing. They prayed and prayed and prayed. Relentlessly. Always giving God the glory. When we found out about Gios condition originally we were shocked. We had spent lots of time with him and wondered why he coughed and had a harder time with certain things. They started to share more with us as we got closer. It didn’t make sense how a kid so full of life, joy, and stubbornness (haha).. could be battling something so big. I remember the day we found out. Andrew and I went home and begged and pleaded with Jesus with tears we couldn’t see through. We were heart broken. We wanted faith like them to not worry. We asked God why and we shushed and started praying like them.

I became a little protective and Gio didn’t approve! Lol! He would get so agitated with me and constantly tell me he was fine… “Gio! You need to stop running! You need a break kid!” —- “No! I’m going to win! I got this” —- Him and Andrew drove me nuts when they were together! We were freshly married and this 16 year old boy had stolen our hearts and all the food in our house. He’d travel from West Virginia to spend the weekend with us and have all the video games too. He’d make all the girls in youth blush and was the highlight in whatever room he was in. We traveled to stay with his family a few times and one being his graduation. We loved our time with them. Their faith always moved us. We would struggle to understand how they trusted and believed so well.

Gio almost moved to heaven in 2013 but it wasn’t time. He went to college after in Tampa at River Bible Institute. Andrew and I hadn’t seen Gio since 2012 and in 2016 we were on vacation in Florida. Gio drove to our hotel and spent a few hours with us.  It was like no time had passed. He was excited about the children’s ministry he was working with and he was excited about what lied ahead. I asked about his health (of course because I can’t help but be a mom) and he was like “I’m so great! I feel good and Gods got me!” He never hesitated and wanted to move on to the next subject pretty quickly… which was how he always was! I remember watching him walk away and then drive away and I prayed as I watched him. I didn’t want to take my eyes off of him. I followed that car until I couldn’t see it anymore. My heart hurt and I thought to myself.. “when will we see him again?” I worried that whole day like I used to. The kid always did something to my heart being around him. He challenged me spiritually in multiple ways. He was so stubborn (Lisa, girl you know this haha). I look at all my tough convos with him and the talks andrew had with him and I see how he changed us. I see what God did in us. We were the ones supposed to be making an impact but he was impacting us. His life caused us to have a faith we didn’t have before.

Gio moving to heaven has been hard to comprehend. Every day I see more grace and understanding. I start to wish things were different but the Lord has gently shown me his grace in it all. Understanding that Gio lived a full life, fuller than most well aged people… helps. Though it was only 25 years here… it was so much more than most of us. Though he didn’t get married and have children… he isn’t missing anything in heaven. His families faith through out this transition of losing him… is unbelievable. We have never seen faith like this in a time of mourning. They know what a waste it would be to not use this for Gods glory. They know it’s hard but they know God won. Death isn’t the final word.. eternity is.

Andrew and I can’t seem to shake losing him and we think of it often. What we know is Gio would be stoked at what God is doing in our hearts through his story. He has to be cheering us on and excited that God is still using him though he isn’t present. Gios life lives on because a life like his doesn’t stop at death. Legacy is in full play now and his life still echoes through the world. His smile, his stubbornness to push through and not give up, his faith, his hope… it’s all still here. It may be a fraction of what he had but I see it on our hearts. We feel challenged to do more with what God has given us. We feel challenged to strive even more for our legacy. I pray we live our life and run our business like Gio, giving God all the glory and trusting Him every step of the way.  We love you Giovanni! We can’t thank you enough for impacting our lives and making a difference for us in heaven. Jesus used you in our lives to bring us closer to him. Your impact doesn’t stop here. We can’t wait to high five and hug you in heaven.

 

Sharing, serving, and celebrating,

Andrew + Chrissy