8.5 years was the last time we have had professional photos done which was our wedding! They hang around our home and bring such joy to my heart but we were babies back then….those photos sing of our youth & love. Over the past 4.5 years of struggle and hardships I’ve longed for new pictures to fill our home. Yes I have the snapshots from our trips & a bazillion instgram snaps laying around, but I didn’t have professional shots to hang up. I longed for new family photos but I always justified in my head…”I know we will have a baby this year and then we will have new family photos done.” And I told myself this every single year. Year after year has passed. Here it was 4.5 years later and I confronted my reality–why am I missing the now & putting off things I want for the future? In recent months I made the decision I wanted to get new photographs done but my mind filled with negativity— we look stressed, I am too white, we need to wait till we lose 15 Ibs first, I need to look how I used to…… I wanted to wait for pictures when life felt “normal” again. When we felt happy. When the stress of life wasn’t worn ragged our faces. These words filled my mind as I pushed back the desire to get our pictures done.
When Xiomara contacted me for her family photos I knew I wanted her to do mine. I knew I needed to stop procrastinating and put a date on the calendar. So I did, November 2013. When that date was made, little did I know what God would do in my life in the weeks leading up to that day & how significant these photos would be for me.
A year ago our lives dramatically changed. We sold our house without a plan for our future. We made job changes & moved to the other side of the city.
One year ago we re-started life.
Settling into our new part of town I began exploring & came across this amazing scenery in the hills of Forest Park. Evenings & weekends were filled with hiking the many trails through the hills of Portland. Overtime hiking those hills became my healing place this past year. The days life was so difficult to breathe I would escape to those hills & cry out to God. When I did not want to face the onslaught of realities I would run to the hills and pour out my heart. When the pain physically hurt my body I would hike those hills, step by step, as a picture of preserving.
In the hills of Portland He whispered.
The forest is my place where I go to hear, to cry, to heal.
He poured down grace through the trees, in those majestic hills. In that forest God sustained me- He filled my heart with hope day after day.
The tall trees stand strong & grand. A visual reminder. My eyes would look up, small me in the middle of glorious creation. Reminding me, He is God and I am not.
He is creator & sustainer.
Hiking those trails weekly began a healing within my soul that I longed for.
Restoration happened in the hills of the trees.
When I made a plan with Xiomara I knew exactly where I wanted these photos. In Forest Park–as a reminder. A memory stone where God has found me the last year. I didn’t care what I looked like or my expectations–I just wanted shots of Branden and I in walking together as a reminder of this journey we are on. In 10 years I want to look back & see reality, I want to see the wrinkles of the stress of life, the weight infertility added to me, the pain & joy of following Christ. In years that follow, I want to look back & see how far God has taken us & proclaim, I have tasted and seen the Lord is good. Through sufferings and pain He never left me. He pursued me, he held me, he loved me through it all.
The weeks leading to our shoot I encountered Jehovah Rapha- The Lord who Heals. When you experience the living God- you walk away forever changed. Though when I planned these photos, I thought they would be a symbol of our past. But they became more than just a symbol of the past year–they marked a place in our story of moving forward.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
These photos now hang around my home as a visual reminder so I may never forget, God whispered to my soul in the hills of Portland. Through the majesty of his creation on those paths he strengthened me-changed me-filled me with hope to keep on this journey.
Thank you to my sweet friend, Xiomara Gard of Imago Dei Photography for capturing my heart-my life-my love.