This past October, I visited PhotoPlus Expo 2017 in New York City, held at the one and only Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. It was my second visit to PhotoPlus Expo but one I will never forget because this year, my wife also came along, and we met the most incredible, wonderful people that I can personally ever have the honor and pleasure of meeting. Right from the beginning way before my wife and I ever arrived, we were greeted and made sure that we would be welcomed and supported in whatever we needed by Mr. Scott Heath, and then another incredible person who his kindness, support, and generosity to assist us in anything we needed, Mr. Lou Desiderio, President of PhotoPlus Expo. These two individuals assisted us with getting so much of the footage that we could not have even dreamed of getting otherwise. Not only have these two individuals introduced us to all the incredible staff of PhotoPlus, but they have treated us with such professionalism as well as become now personal friends to whom we can’t fathom the blessing we have acquired. And to you both, it is because of the people in my life that I am who I am today, that now you are a part of that many thanks.
I would also like to take this moment to say a special “THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU!!!!” to all the people that helped make our trip possible to PhotoPlus Expo, as well as took the time to give appreciation to the many people who allowed us to interview you, and helped make these interviews possible: My Wife, Best Friend, Partner and Assistant-Alana Waters, The Day Family, Zenfolio Staff and Administration for partnering with me since 2012, Scott Heath, Lou Desiderio (Synergy Communications), Administration Staff, and Volunteers of PhotoPlus Expo, Gnarbox, Joel & Amy Grimes, Zenfolio, Skylum Software, Palm Springs Portfolio Review, Mike Gangel, Theresa Rafetto, Manfrotto, Drobo, White Wall, B&H PhotoVideo, and the City of New York.
First of all, I give all credit, glory, and praise to God. Without God, I wouldn’t be here today and have the incredibly amazing, beautiful, very patient, and supportive wife that I do. I also thank our families and Grandparents, for the endless love and support that you have given us both. You gave us so much love even when we didn’t always recognize it. It is because of that love and support that we match so incredibly well. You pushed us when we ran out of “umph” and just a low tank. You reminded us that God will always be there and never leave us or forsake us. You gave us the courage, motivation, and challenged us to be bigger and better than we are, and not to settle, but excel and persist even when the world might laugh in our faces. You loved us unconditionally and instilled God into our lives. You showed us that money isn’t worth anything if you don’t have love, and money cannot buy true love. You not only showed us, but you demonstrated it.
Granny Jean and Granddaddy Pete Waters, I love you both so incredibly much and I will always treasure every moment I spend with you. You both loved me and gave me more support and love than I can ever deserve. You supported me and believed in me when people said I was a lost cause. You drove me to my Dr’s appointments, picked me up from school and took me to school rather just to go, or when I didn’t feel well, and then took (Granny) me to Taco Bell (Not an endorsement) because Taco Bell always made it all better. Rather it was going to the rental houses, getting up at 5am in the morning and being woken up by an ice-cold wash cloth in my face by you grandad, having breakfast cooked by my amazing Granny (then given coffee with lots of sugar and milk even though my parents didn’t want you to), and going to feed the cows and goats, or going to the rental houses, to riding in the dump-truck and pulling the levers to dump the bucket, I knew that I was well loved, appreciated, supported, and that you believed in me. You both took me to all the bluegrass festivals where I still heard about God and Jesus through Gospel music, you cheered me on when I was in band, and everything I can remember, always had you in it, or a part of it. And I want the world to know how amazing and incredible people you are. I love you both so very much and so blessed beyond imagination that ya’ll are the grandparents that God gave me. The love I show others is a reflection of the love and support ya’ll gave me, demonstrated, and reminded me about what is right and good, and to always be honest and truthful. It’s because of ya’ll that my handshake is my honor and my word, that I will always treasure and hand down to my own children. And every time I see a dump-truck or Taco Bell, or goats or a cow pasture, or even when I drink coffee, that I will teach them about you and tell them all the stories of my life growing up, and the love ya’ll gave me. I love you both so incredibly much and thank-you for making me the man I am today.
Dad, you worked so hard. I definitely had a very hard, difficult time understanding your love and your endless hours you put in for my brother and I. You sacrificed willingly for my brother and I, so that we could have so much that we did. I know you love me and now know and understand that you loved us the best way you could, and the only way you knew how. You sacrificed a lot of time with us because you were determined to keep food on the table, gas in the car, and a roof over our heads. I can’t imagine the frustration and sometimes lonely moments you had with my brother and I. We just never understood everything. We were young. But now, I see and can truly appreciate just how much of an incredible father you were to us even when we didn’t appreciate it, or show appreciation. We have been through a lot, you and I. It has been a long road, but you always loved me even when I didn’t recognize it was love. It’s because of you, I am the man I am today. I love you, Dad.
Mom, words cannot begin to describe the love and support you have given me. You understood the softer things, the things emotionally I was going through, trying to be a big brother, a son that you and my dad would be proud of, and trying my best to raise my brother and support him the only way I knew how during all the craziness we were going through. I knew you loved me and supported me and believed in me also when the world told you to put me away into a special home, and that I would never excel, or learn past a certain level. Ya’ll told them to screw themselves and pushed me to become greater, bigger, better, smarter, braver, bolder, and to stick up for myself against the bullies that would come into my life. You prepared me and even tried to hide how much you were hurting as a single mother, and then a very abused mother by the idiots you had to deal with until you met the man-child incredible loving, crazy, supportive, but mature and hard-working step-dad and now husband that you have. I love Brent with everything in me and could not imagine anyone else more supportive and demonstrative role-model as a father, and a friend. But the many places we lived, traveled the couches we slept on, rooms we lived in, apartments, and still living on a very small income and trying to afford the food, rent, and transportation. You always pushed me and believed in me in so many more ways than I still will ever know. And I know that Granny Ruth and Granddaddy Russ would be so incredibly proud of you if they were still here, and I know for a fact that they are now as they look down. They loved Brent so much and I know they were happy that you were with him.
Granny Ruth and Granddaddy Russ. I know you aren’t here, but I miss you so incredibly much and want to say how much I love you and appreciate all the blessings, support, and love you gave me. You always reminded me how much Jesus loves me and that He died for me because He loved me so much. You reminded me the love my parents have for me even though things are crazy and they are separated, you never failed to express how important it is to remember that love and support, and to always honor my father and mother, even when I don’t feel they deserve it or feel that they love me if I am in trouble, that they discipline me because they love me and want to see me become what you always knew I would become. Ya’ll prepared me for the world and the lies and deceit, the hate, and never-ending criticism that would come. Ya’ll gave me the heart to see past what I see with my eyes, and to see people with my heart, the potential, and see the pain and confusion, the hurt, the loneliness, but also how to love them even when others say they don’t deserve it, because we didn’t deserve the love God gives us and gave us when He gave Jesus, His only son, to die on the cross for us. Even if the world calls us outcasts, Jesus will always love us and love them. It’s because of you also, that when there is a need, I without hesitation can give so easily even if that person already has money, because I know I have no clue who that person is, where they come from, what they are dealing with, or the battles they are facing behind that smile. You showed me that the world isn’t bad, just confused, mislead, and hurting in need for love and a savior, an answer, a solution, and purpose. Through you both also, I learned just exactly what Christ did and who He was, why He did things, and how He approached conflict without anger most times, and was able to get His message across without directly hurting people, but allowing them to feel the conviction and do what was right by giving them the option, and knowledge of what is right, then leaving it up to them to determine if their own actions reflected that message of what they themselves also knew was right or wrong. Through all the letters, calls, and photos, even though I didn’t see you very often, I will never forget you for as long as I live. I know that you both see Alana, and know that you helped me and guided me even now from so far away, through Christ, you are right next to me. I love you both so incredibly much and will never forget your love and support you both gave to me and my brother. I miss you and wish so much that my wife could have met you and known the incredible people I know today. Plus, she loves to travel, so I know that if you were alive today, we’d be up there more often than I can fathom. She definitely gives a new meaning to the word, “Adventure.” And I thank-you for the many adventures I will have because of your love and support, and never-ending demonstration through your love for each other.
To all my family and friends that have stuck by me through the years, I am so sorry I don’t name you by name, but I thank you for the support and guidance in my life. You all are a huge and major part of who I am and what I have become. You gave me hope, faith, and joy, in my life that I needed even at the hardest times when I think there was no chance of moving on. You were there for me and always in my mind and heart throughout my life. Even when I almost called it off with my now wife in the beginning of our relationship, not because of her, but because I’m an idiot sometimes and when things get scary or serious, or even weird, because of history, I came close to running. You know who you are a few of you.
My Victory Church family:
Peter Pearson & Family, Amanda Gross & Family, Pastor Glen & Rhonda Procopio, Pastor Randy Brock, Pastor Wayne and Tim Blackburn & Families, Victory Church Administration & Staff, Victory Church Tech Team & Volunteers, Victory Church Christian Academy, and all the many members of Victory Church who are my family and have been now since 2001.
I cannot stress how much love and support I have felt from you all. You are a true reason also that I am here today and where I am today. You are why I am the man I am today and how I can be the Man of God I am today to my wife I have waited for so long for.
All the amazing administration, faculty, and staff at Southeastern University, all the amazing professors that poured so much into my life, I wish I could name you all. You all have poured so much into me and my life, helped me through the toughest times, and believe in me when no one else did. You encouraged me and fought for me to finish. When I was low on hope, your prayers, love, kindness, smiles, and support, gave me the motivation, faith, hope, and strength to keep pushing. It took me 10 years, but it was among the best 10 years of my life. I cannot imagine my life without you all.
And then there is my Disney family. You all some of you get on my nerves at times, but challenge me, support me, make me laugh when I feel I can’t laugh anymore, and laugh when I want to cry, and cry when I need someone I know I can trust and just be me and can’t deal with it on my own. We all have so much baggage in our personal lives that its so hard to come to work and just be “professional” all the stinkin’ time. With ya’ll, I know that you are there for me, you believe in me, support me, and are not just my friends, but my family. Ya’ll have been the closest thing to me these past few years which have been among the hardest I have had to deal with, and there is no way on Earth I could have done so much without you. I thank God for you each and every single day. And even though a few of you aren’t “religious” or have the same beliefs I do, rather you understand this or not, YOU are the proof that there is a living God, and a Christ that died for us all. He provided me with ya’ll, a crazy, fun, supportive, real family that there is no chance of luck or coincidence that can ever have any amount hope to have people like you in my life. So rather you believe it or not, God has worked through you and shown me love, and the presence that He will always provide and never leave me or forsake me. Your character, no matter how crazy, and your love, respect, kindness, and respect of confidentiality to allow me to pour out to you so much of my junk, is exactly the image of Christ. And I truly thank-you for just being who you are. It’s that very character and just the amount of variety and diversity that apparently, I need in my life. And that’s why I have you bunch of nuts. From my managers, to my crews, thank-you for all that you have done for me, helped me with, pushed me, motivated me, corrected me, and believed in me. You are my family forever. I love you all so much. From entering backstage gate, to Tech-6, to walking through the park, the cafeteria, different stages, parks, areas, departments, you all each have been a light in my life that I will miss so much in the coming months when I eventually depart (date unknown). So, thank-you all.
It is because of all of you that I have mentioned and so many more unmentioned, that I am who I am today, where I am today. Through you, Christ has worked and made me who I am today. Because of you, it is that every-time I meet someone knew, that character and integrity I have shines through and the image of “Nathan” reflects the image, the people, the love, the support, the guidance, values, strength, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, humility, kindness that I extend to others as you have to me.
To every-one else I am to eventually meet, I am who I am because of those many God has placed in my life that have shaped me and molded me into who I am today. I would not be where I am, or who I am without them.
And to this, I close, with my love, humility, and many thanks for all that you all have given me. I will never forget you and pray that I can make your proud of me.
Sincerely with Love,
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