when healing looks different than you thought it would

Find the song to accompany this post by clicking here.


I wanted to get out of the house, take some pictures and seek some beauty together. But I think what I really hoped for was to twist open the release valve on my thoughts. I needed this pressure inside my head to release. 

I mentioned to Jonathan that, "Maybe could go to the park?" It would be golden hour. Perfect for pictures and a bit of breathing room before the delving into the bedtime routine we've been struggling so much with. But as he finished up supper and helped get Behr ready to go, I watched as the valley's rim thirstily drank up the last of the day's sunshine. All that light I'd been counting on was sinking  into the grey clouds and my heart right along  with it. This isn't how it was supposed to be.

We hurriedly loaded both kids in the car and drove over to the spot I had in mind, all while I swallowed my disappointment and adjusted my vision to reconcile it with reality. We unloaded from the car and stepped out onto the cold, green grass. I gasped inwardly at what I saw.

This isn't what I thought it would look like, it was better. 

I'd never seen a sunset like this one. A thin veil of fog curled delicately from the ground like a bridal veil. The sky was blending and changing; a beautiful dance of pink and yellow spires. Even though the sun had disappeared behind the hills for the night, this felt in every way like a sunrise. 

It's been two months since Scout slipped from my body into the world. Two months of rejoicing and adjusting and trying to figure out one another all over again. It's been a happy time, but also a weird mix of conflicting emotions. 

The truth is, I'm still trying to reckon with the fact that nearly a year of our life got sucked into the growling belly of a monster called antepartum depression. And not only that, but I also spent months bedridden from morning sickness and multiple viruses while Jonathan worked the most overtime he's ever had and Behr refused to sleep normally.  Our marriage, my relationship with Behr, our church life--all of it--was switched into survival mode during that time. Head down. hunched shoulders against the wind, one foot in front of the other. Just. Get. Through. It. 

I've never known loneliness and despair like that.

 I guess in a wayI'm just now mourning what took place. It was the hardest thing we've ever endured as a family. It changed us. The ground shook as the plates of our familiarity shifted. And honestly, we're over here still trying to find our footing. 

Our visit to the park was wrapping up, bedtime was waiting to be attended to but we just couldn't leave. At least not yet. As the sun sank lower into the West, we watched amazed as the sky grew increasingly vibrant. Color leaked from the clouds and splashed into the valley like a rose-shaded waterfall. Pink was everywhere. On the brim of our hats, tangled up in Behr's curls, kissing Scout's round cheeks. The was earth blushing at the scandal of this sort of unexpected beauty.

And I couldn't believe that right when things were supposed to be turning their bleakest was when it all became the most glorious. 

I know from past experience that God never allows hardship into our life without purpose.  That doesn't mean we can't feel disappointment or confusion over the fact that they had to happen in the first place. This world is broken and it's ok to be angry alongside the heart of God over that. 

As Ann Voskamp once wrote: "You don't judge your feelings; you feel your feelings--and then you give them to God."

So this is me giving my (frustrated, disappointed, hurt, sad, scared) feelings over to Jesus; trusting full well that His love is big enough to hold me while I struggle through them and strong enough to speak healing truth into me when dark emotions overwhelm my spirit.  

And, regardless of what I feel, the reality is I'm not the One holding the pen that's writing our story, Jesus is. And like any good Author, He's been weaving a much more intricate, exciting outcome than I could ever hope for all along. Here's to remaining faithful  while reading through the hard chapters of our life, amen? 

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from who every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more than we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, forever and over. Amen."

-Ephesians 3:14-21


and now i see

For the longest time I walked blind through my own home.

It was as though I moved in this drunken stumble with my hands splayed out at the end of my arms in a pleading gesture, Can someone please show me how to turn on the light? The light. Honestly, I didn't want to turn it on because I was afraid that what I might see wouldn't be what I'd always wanted

Sometimes what you have is exactly what you've sought after all along. You just have to remember to open your eyes. 

You see, there's this boy here. Or rather, he's not a boy anymore. Choosing me, this life of ours, every day has grown him into a man. I'll always love him for that.  It was just us for a long while and it was good. And then we thought, Can this get any better? We tried to answer that question and nine months later Behr was born.

So, here we are, two years deep into parenthood, living in that same house I thought we'd be far away from by now. We're breathing alive, warming the spaces next to one another and learning new steps to that dance named Love. We stumble a lot. See our bruises here...and here?

I don't know when it happened; when the blight healed itself from my eyes. But there's a distinct difference from Before All This and Now. I started realizing that sunlight sings gold through these cracked window panes the same way she does every other house. I became captivated by the little-not-really-little-at-all things: the rise of my husband's chest heaving like ocean tide. The milky cream of Behr's skin. How my baby may sprawl out of my arms like a wild growing sapling, but he's still small enough to fit inside the hollow above my heart.

These days look like asking questions and wrestling out answers. Especially in regards to what we want our life to look like, where our photography business fits in, and what God wants us to do with our small handfuls of time on this planet. There's lots of behind-the-scenes work happening and, honestly, it's hard. But like anything good, we see the worth in making these sacrifices.

I can already feel a shift in my perspective. Just look at the images in this post. They're some of the best we've made yet. Why? Because we're seeking to pull back the layers deemed 'ordinary' and reveal the magic present here. And when I look through these pictures, I see just that. I see the juxtaposition of mundane and marvelous. Right here in our under-lit, unfinished, un-perfect life. I see the miracle. Really, I see God. 

I can't be the only one who's lived blind and missed out on His glory in my ordinary. I can't be the only one who struggles to be madly in love with the life I have--not the life I want. What's that, you too? Maybe you're reading this, nodding your head and saying, "I've been there (am there)".

So, what do we do now?

We're taking deep breaths and entering the sacred fight for joy. This post is to share that we're on a journey of sorts (as metaphorically dramatic as that sounds) and we're asking you to join us. We're asking you to be brave.

Perhaps if I could start this post over, it would go something like this: I'm an empathic writer married to a kind photographer and, by the grace of Jesus, we've discovered how to really and truly love our life. Sure, we're still growing in this, we still struggle. But we know that living together in these--his diaper needs changed, do you want me to fix you some eggs, can you hold me, would you mind to sweep, see all the stars buddy, i'm sorry for being a jerk, i love you, i love you too--days is really us walking on holy ground. 

And now, we're doing everything we can to use the avenue of Light & Letter Photography to help you do the same. Tell me, wouldn't you love to see just how grand your life already is? We can't wait to show you.

ps. as always, the comment section on my latest Instagram post is wide open for you to connect with me about anything that you related to in this post. See you there!



the year long storm--on postpartum depression & healing from it

"I know it's not hopeless, but it feels like it is." Tears pooled in my eyes as Jonathan pulled me into an embrace and just let me cry. Later I thought, How can life feel this heavy when everything is ok?

This has been an all too familiar scene in our house over the last eighteen months. I knew the transition into motherhood wasn't going to be easy. I braced myself for the exhaustion and change in lifestyle. I knew it would be hard. What I wasn't prepared for was the wave of depression that would descend on my heart. The funny thing is, I'm just now realizing it was there because it's finally starting to go away. I've tried my best to find a way help others understand how this felt for me. All I've come up with is that it's like suddenly bursting above water, gasping oxygen into my lungs and realizing I was underwater this whole time and didn't even know it. It wasn't constant, but it did heave in and out of my heart like some storm surge on the ocean. Sometimes I could stand it. Sometimes I went under. Never once did Jesus let me go.

I look at that first picture up there--the one with a tiny Behr wrapped on my chest--and a lump forms in my throat. That version of me was nervous and shaken up. She was just beginning to be able to stand or sit for long periods of time without pain because of the painful episiotomy she had during birth. She carried big emotions like weights around her ankles and, really, she was just so very tired. I'm writing this for her, the woman I was then. She needed to know all along that she would make it. That eventually, everything would be alright.

Before Behr was born, I was aware of the 'big, scary' hormonal shift that sometimes happens right after your baby comes. I expected it. But this was darker and heavier than what I was prepared for. I remember feeling completely undone when we brought Behr home. I was overjoyed by my son, over how our life had changed for the better, but I was an emotional wreck. One night that first week, I broke into sobbing, chest-heaving tears over how ashamed I was of the fact that I'd ended up getting an epidural. I stood, half dressed on one side of the bed weeping and apologizing to Jonathan for it over and over. It took him kindly (but firmly) speaking truth to me to calm me down. That was one instance, but I could list twenty more just like it. Things that should have been mildly upsetting overwhelmed me. It was scary.

It didn't help that I lived life severely sleep deprived for months on end. I became a shell of myself. I lost too much weight. I had sickening dizzy-almost-fainting spells. I got very angry over trivial things. Our home was in a constant state of chaos and clutter. And as much as I'm terrified to admit it, I didn't want to be mother at times. It breaks my heart all over again to re-live those emotions. It's still an open wound for me. I'm still healing from it.

And maybe one of the hardest parts was feeling like I was the only one in my circle of new-mama friends to feel overwhelmed and emotionally fragile nearly every day. One by one, I'd connect with my friends after they had their babies, expecting them to have similar stories, but everyone else seemed to be handling new motherhood so much better than me: "Sure we have our bad days but overall we're just fine!" or "I keep expecting to have some big, emotional crash but I'm actually doing really good!" I'd sit there after those conversations, wracking my brain in the hopes of identifying why I couldn't seem to get a handle on things. Why did I cry (sob) everyday? Why did I feel this underlying current of hopelessness dragging me down? Why couldn't I be like them? What was wrong with me?! At times, I felt like I was drowning in loneliness and isolation.

Allow me to mention here how faithful and patient my 'village' was through all of this. Firstly, my husband was present, loving and a needed voice of truth. I honestly can't articulate how grateful I am for him in a way that would do it justice. He was the steady hand I needed as I stumbled through the first stages of motherhood. I love him more than ever now for it. My mother and sisters were basically on call night and day to let me rant, cry or just get laugh if I needed it. I'll always be grateful for that. Jonathan's family would show up to bring food, clean the house, hold Behr and be there for me when my family wasn't able to be. I wasn't without resources, but this was largely a personal battle; one that crippled me for a season and changed me forever.

I realize maybe others reading this might take it as me just complaining about icky things we all go through "My recovery was awful, mom life is hard blah, blah blah..." But please, please don't take it that way. I don't want to complain. God is still (so very, very) good. I love our life, really. But going through postpartum depression changed me. I'm in a season now of finally being able to process and open up about it. Going back to my underwater analogy: I'm able to breathe again and it feels so good, praise Jesus.

Just last month I finally made an appointment with my midwife to try and get some answers. After getting some blood work done, it turns out I had developed a severe Vitamin D deficiency which had led to a nasty little bacterial infection and, possibly, my case of mild depression. I take Vitamin D every day now and I'm scheduled to go back in three months for more blood work to see if there's been an improvement. I can say that I notice a difference already. I feel motivated, confident, lighter. I feel like myself again.

If you follow me on Instagram, I hope you're not shocked by me revealing these things. I never tried to hide what was going on but, as I mentioned before, I'm just now realizing how dark things got because the lights are finally coming back on. Does that makes sense? It's why I'm sharing so openly about it now. And furthermore, I was in pure survival mode for over that first year (right when I made my account public) and Instagram was an outlet for me. It gave me a reason to write again, to craft and curate beautiful images that brought hope into others' lives. It was a daily exercise in focusing on the good and a tiny affirmation that maybe I wasn't failing at everything.

The first year was a swirl of heavy and confusing emotions that have just started clearing in the last few months. But after all I went through, I can say that I'm thankful for the last eighteen months. Truly. Of course, I'm glad things are easing up a bit, but I'm grateful to have been brought through such a sanctifying trial.

Let me say here that absolutely none of this diminishes the love I have for my child. I'm being completely honest when I say Behr has brought a deep, satisfying joy into my soul despite how hard things got at times. I'd willingly do it all over again because now I see how God used it in my life. My heart is tender and compassionate toward others. I'm slower and more aware of how I weak and dependent I am on Jesus Christ. I'm appreciate, now more than ever, the powerful truth of the Gospel.

So why write about it now? Because I needed to do it for myself. It's as simple as that. Writing brings about healing for me and I've found it does the same for others. Learn from my story and let it empower you. I know I didn't do everything right. I know I chose to believe lies and give into the darkness some days. But I can also see that it wasn't all my fault. I've given myself the same grace Jesus extends to me for that. PPD is a real thing and if you're reading this and thinking it sounds like something you're experiencing, you don't have to stay that way. Don't be ashamed. Don't hide it. Throw out your pride and say those three simple, freeing words: I need help. Please listen to me when I say it won't always feel like this. His Light will find you and heal you again. The storm that's beating down on you today will clear in time and you'll realize how strong you are for surviving it through His mercy.

And finally, know this: God is faithful. He always sees and pours wild amounts of grace over your situation. Seek out and apply His truth as you would soothing balm to a wound. Then, lean hard into the thrumming beat of His love and let Him heal you, sister. You are never, ever alone.

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, "You are the God of seeing," for she said, "Truly here I have seen Him who looks after me. -Genesis 16:13
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. -2 Corinthians 4:16-17