I’m pretty excited to share something I’ve been working on for a while now. Actually, it’s something that’s been brewing in my spirit for years, long before I had ever even heard the term “heart mom,” and I think it’s pretty incredible to look back and see what God has always been preparing me for. I’m not sure how to summarize such a deeply seeded desire, but I will do my best!
Most people know that for the last many years, I have had my own traveling wedding photography business, and it has been my complete obsession. Photographing weddings, traveling, spending so many days making art while also meeting new people (HELLO, I’m an extrovert, let’s be friends), it has all fulfilled me in such a deep way. Photography has become, for me, not just a creative outlet, but a way to connect with should-be strangers on a very personal and deep level. Those connections make me love our Creator more and more every day, because when I get to know strangers, I get to know Him, and I get to know myself in a new way. I’ve always tried to bring with me to shoots and weddings an air of calm and positivity. I smile, I don’t get stressed out over conflict or bad weather, and I GENUINELY get so, so happy for these couples starting their lives together! I would consider myself an optimist to a fault—definitely too trusting at times, but WHO CARES because at least I’m smiling. My mom tells a story about this time we were in a grocery store when I was around 4 or 5: Apparently, this mean, old, grumpy man came over and chastised (threatened?) my little sister because she was crying loudly in the cart. After he walked away, my mom said, “Well he wasn’t very nice,” and I replied “Well maybe he was just having a bad day!”
I’ve always felt that way, as long as I can remember. When I was really young, probably about the same age I was in that story, I would pray for the devil to “turn nice,” so that we could all be happy and love each other. And I’m definitely not saying this to brag—this overly optimistic quality has bitten me in the butt many times over the years, and made me look pretty stupid from time to time. I won’t give examples, because well, it’s embarrassing, but suffice to say being too optimistic can sometimes be just as bad and isolating as being too pessimistic. Somewhere in the real-but-hopeful range is where you typically should land, yet I’m usually found way up in the pink and fluffy clouds of rose-tinted reality.
A phrase that has been my mantra for the past several years has been “Write With Light.” It’s been so very HUGE to me, that I even made a little logo for it. I write this phrase everywhere. Not only does this phrase literally mean photography (photo-light, graph-write), but it embodies what I always try to do in my everyday life — Writing with light to me looks like leaving the world a little brighter than how you found it. It looks like taking your story and forcing it to be full of good. God calls us to be a light to the world, and for me, this is how I do that; By being “too” optimistic in crappy circumstances (Maybe even so optimistic that people think I’m nuts).
All this to say, while I definitely can overdo it at times, I hope to leave behind an example for my kids (who doesn’t?) of how to keep going, how to stay bright and happy, when life isn’t perfect. No one has to look far to see that my life isn’t perfect. A year ago, I had two healthy kids with one on the way, getting ready to build my dream home in my hometown, while running a pretty successful photography business in which I got to travel all the time…And now, I’m not working, my family is healing from a traumatic year of hospitals and separations, we’re MOVING, definitely NOT building a dream house….I could go on. But honestly, truly, I LOVE my life. God has filled in the gaps, as He always does, and provided JOY. He has written light all over this roller coaster of a life we have, and no matter WHAT happens to my babies, to my husband, to me—He will always write light over all of it, and make it more beautiful than any photo I could ever hope to “graph.”
So for the past few years, I’ve been patient, but I’ve always known that I wanted to do something with this phrase. I wanted to do something for other people, to serve others somehow with “light.” I’ve been patiently (sometimes impatiently) waiting for God to guide me in how to move with this — But I’ve always hesitated because of this insecurity: WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK OF ME? How can I possibly spread positivity to others when my life has been so easy? Then our family was blessed in the strangest way possible: with an absolutely gut-wrenching diagnosis. And we were thrust into the heart world. I’ve seen things now that I will never unsee, heard noises that I still sometimes hear at random times, and felt grief and pain and even sheer joy all at the same time. While we are still relatively new to the world of grief and sickness, and all of the super-high ups and super-low downs that come with that, I can’t ignore that I have a job to do in teaching my babies how to write with light in the darkest days. And I’ve been looking for a way to share that with others. While on a small scale, I’ve started what I call the “Write With Light Project.” I hope it will be the first of many opportunities I have to spread just a tiny bit of beauty in the world. What I’ve been doing is gathering diagnoses from different heart moms, and trying to illustrate the beauty in their specific child’s heart defect. I am definitely no watercolor artist, but I think there is something very sacred about the incredibly unique intricacies of these anatomies. I had no idea that the heart was so complex, and seriously GOD designed something amazing and super-complicated (slow clap for the LORD). For example, did you know that two kids, both with Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome, can have completely different heart anatomies and even different surgical plans? A series of defects can make up HRHS, and that series can vary from kid to kid. When I found out how unique each heart is (like freaking SNOWFLAKES, these hearts!) I just fell in love with the way God put them together, even though our world is sometimes too broken to support what was made. I have only done a handful of these watercolor hearts, but I would like to do 110 (since CHD is 1 in 110 babies), and I hope that by reaching out to 110 families in this public way, maybe we can raise some awareness for this wide range of afflictions. I don’t know where it will lead, but I do pray that it will give other families some hope. When I received Sunley’s diagnosis, it really didn’t seem like I would be allowed to ever be happy again. I would love to be able to reach the newbie heart moms by doing this little watercolor heart for them (obviously for free), and hopefully give them a little ray of joy in what will be some dark days for them.
So, I guess I’m asking, will you please join me in my Write With Light project? If you know someone who has a child with CHD, or has had a child pass away from CHD, support them by asking them about their baby’s unique anatomy—BE interested, and ask questions. And please get us in touch so I can complete this project of 110 perfectly beautiful, unique hearts!
To join the Project, please visit www.WriteWithLightProject.com . It’s such a small idea, but I’m hoping that by taking the first tiny step, I can at least leave the CHD world a little brighter than when I came into it.
Below are three of the hearts that I’ve done. I have 4 more that I am currently working on, and I will post them when I’m finished!