Photograph by Joe Lowery “Because I love you…”
I don’t even know how to start this post…
I am so tired of death….
I know it comes for all of us at some point in our lives. But we have had too many relatives and friends pass away in the last 6 years starting with Lauren. Most of these are”young” people…friends of my kids in their early 20’s and those I still consider “young”…our friends in the 50-60 yr range. With the average life span in the US being 78.74 years you expect or hope most of your family and friends to live to somewhere around that age or maybe even longer. If you make it to around that age everyone considers that a “good, long, full life” or at least long enough to experience most things in life that you wanted to. Our friends and family have left us from accidents, illness and cancer. A few of them have been in that “long, full life” category and we are thankful to have had them that long. It is expected that the “elders” will go before you…although scripture says “our days were numbered before we were even formed in the womb” and only He knows the number. Of course loosing Lauren is the biggest, most painful loss but our hearts hurt only a bit less for the loss of our friends and other family members. We are thankful that these friends and family knew Christ as their Savior and now reside with Him in Paradise. But we sure miss them here on Earth…where we can have daily interaction with them…to laugh together…to share a meal…to hug each other. I know I should be rejoicing that they now reside in a stunningly more beautiful place with no more pain, sorrow or tears. But I am greedy and wanted them to be here longer with me.
Our friend Joe Lowery walked thru the pearly gates of Heaven on June 8th after a battle with cancer. He was one of a kind…a man of faith, wonderful sense of humor, generous with his time and talents, an outstanding photographer with an eye for God’s beauty, a coffee lover, deep thinker, loyal friend to many, a hugger and just a sweet, kind soul who would laugh or cry with you whatever the situation warranted.
Joe called Bryan a week or so after Lauren’s service and invited him on a photography trip to the Hill Country for a few days. Joe had asked him many times before but this was the first time Bryan went. I told him to go with his friend…I knew he needed that time with Joe. It is a 5 hour drive to get to that area and Joe had favorite locations for wildflowers that he checked out each year. So they spent more hours in the car driving through the countryside and small towns to reach those destinations. Joe would get up real early to catch the sunrise for his pictures while Bryan slept in. But they had plenty of time for deep, meaningful conversations about life and I will let those thoughts stay between them. After Lauren’s death we started staying in the Hill Country, for 6 months at a time, in our RV and Joe would pop in on us thru the last 5-6 years. We told him “his room” was ready when we bought a little bungalow in Fredericksburg last year…but Joe didn’t get to stay with us. Oh and ask Bryan sometime about a hunting trip with Joe…where he loaned Bryan his gun…his bullets…and then cleaned the deer because Bryan isn’t really a hunter…lol. Joe cared…about us and many others…that is just how he was. In the program for his service this is a paragraph that really stands out for me. Joe was a peacemaker and the epitome of 1st Corinthians 13:4-7. “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love bears all things, hopes all things and endures all things”. We were all the beneficiaries of that love and generosity. If he didn’t love you, he just had not met you! Truer words have never been spoken.
Joe also graciously donated a picture for the first fundraiser we had just 3 months after Lauren passed away. We met for lunch and he let me pick from half a dozen of his pictures. I picked the beautiful picture above…the white church in a field of stunning wildflowers. He said I thought you would pick that one. He had it made and framed for auction. I named the picture “Because I love you….
because God loved us he created this beauty for our pleasure… because of our love for Lauren we created LAF to continue her legacy of helping others… because Joe loved us he generously donated this picture.
There was a bidding war and Joe said he would have a second one made if we both paid the last bid amount. He helped us raise over $6000 with his generosity.
Bryan, Joe and Valena Spradley
Joe was named by Texas Highways Magazine as one of their top 25 photographers of all time. He was collected by many private and corporate collectors. He was featured multiple times on the cover and inside Texas Highways and other magazines. His photos appeared in calendars for Texas Highways, Sierra Club and Barnes and Nobles. First Ladies, Lady Bird Johnson and Laura Bush sent notes of admiration for his Texas Wildflower pictures. He would always say, “I just took the picture, God put on the display.” We always enjoyed getting his Christmas cards with winter scenes and fitting scripture attached.
Lauren loved sunrises and sunsets. This was taken on the last morning of Bryan and Joe’s trip.
After Lauren passed away Joe told Bryan, “You will never smile as big or laugh as loud.” And those words are even more amplified with his passing.
As you enjoy his works please pray for his wife, son, mother, brother and the rest of his family…biological and those he “adopted” into his family…his friends.
These are a few of Joe’s photos I have. Love you Joe…forever in our hearts.