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I would not classify myself as a photographer. It’s not something I’m striving towards and was never on my radar. But through trying to capture my children, I’ve noticed my mind beginning to think like a photographer: ‘what if I shot it from this angle instead’, ‘oh, the light is better from here’. I’ve started capturing life in action, rather than always striving for posed smiles. Some of my favorite shots have been ones of my children running, where you can’t even see their faces. It’s capturing the moments of unfiltered life that is so beautiful.

My mother is a photographer. Not by trade, but she definitely could make money doing it. She just does it because she loves it. She found a year long photography challenge called Dogwood 52. Each week, there is a theme and the challenge is to take 1 picture that fits within the theme each week. My mom decided to do the challenge to help sharpen her photography skills, and I have decided to join her. Partly to help me further discover my photography talents and partly just as something new to do. Since there is always a story behind every picture, and I want to push myself as a writer as well, I’m taking this challenge one step further and vowing to write a post to tell the story behind each one of my Dogwood 52 pictures.

This week’s theme was ‘self portrait’. On his site, he says that the goal of a portrait is to capture the true essence of a person. I want to approach this challenge with complete humility and a vow to be honest. So although I was tempted to paint my face with makeup even though I rarely wear it in real life and try to capture a gorgeous picture of myself radiant and happy, I chose to be vulnerable and capture where I’m actually at right now.

The truth is my life is hard right now. For the last 4 days, my husband has been struggling through a Bipolar episode. When this happens, he pretty much isolates himself in his office. We have 3 kids 5 and under who demand everything of me all day long, and even into the night, as the 1 year old still refuses to sleep.

I am tired, I am stressed, and I am sad.

But my life isn’t entirely sad. Mixed in with the hard is so much good that I don’t know what to do with it all. I am married to my best friend. We have 3 little girls who are the best things to ever happen to us. We have a wonderful extended family that saturates us with love and support, though I know they don’t fully understand what we’re going through. We have a God who has been taking every step with us and who has promised to never leave us.

Our life is hard and it’s sad but it is also beautiful.

So I allowed my self portrait to capture the essence of me, down in the muck and mire where we all live.

I am forever tired.

I live life with tears just behind my eyes.

BUT–

I am happy.

I am content with where I’m at because I have learned that just because I am sad sometimes does not mean that there is something wrong with my life.

I AM FULL OF HOPE, because I know that God has good planned for us.

I am sad and beautiful, all at the same time.

Dogwood 52: Self Portrait

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