amy | breathing me to life

It's no secret I struggle with seasons of deep and paralyzing depression.  Whether it's in my genes or caused by my sensitive soul, who knows.  There are seasons of life that feel like walking through mud to get through.  

I'm a lucky girl to be surrounded by amazing people that champion me on and who tell me "You're doing your best!  Don't be so hard on yourself!  Give yourself grace."

One evening I left my chaotic home to slip away to a girls night at a local restaurant and I showed up frumpy, hair unbrushed and thrown in a bun and an aching heart.  

That's when Amy saw me.  

Amy is a friend of friends that I knew casually and who happened to be sitting at the other end of the table on this particular night.  Somewhere at the end of the evening when many had trickled back to their homes, I just burst into tears and said, "I just suck at life."  Many hands touched my back and comforted me and told me "No you don't, Helen Joy.  We love you."  

But Amy looked at me and saw me and in a beautiful confidence she said, "I will help you."  

We decided to do a trade.  Pictures for coaching sessions.  

The first day she came we sat on cushions on my messy living room floor, we walked through the kitchen with left out peanut butter and jelly and crusts left over from the school morning rush. We sat on those cushions and I cried and Amy listened.  Then came her first,life giving breathe.  She said "I believe you can be better."  Said so lovingly and compassionately, not discounting the work ahead.  She did not clip my wings and say, "Be thankful!  You're doing the best you can!"    

She heard my longing and she gave weight to it.  

I told her the silly longings that seemed so out of reach and she didn't blink.  She said, "Why not?!"  She didn't flood me with cheesy quotes about motivation or steps to achieve my goals.  Every week she came to my messy home and sat with me and listened and she gently lifted me to the sky.

It started with little things like finding shoes the night before and packing lunches in the evening.  Things that come easily for most people but to me seem like mt everest.  She came over one day and stood in my laundry room with clothes up to our waists and we sweated and worked for hours and found a system that works well for ME.  

Little by little tiny bricks have fallen into place and I feel more and more comfortable in my own skin and in my own home.  It's like a ripple has started and I don't even know where it will reach.

This doesn't tie up in a bow.  I still struggle getting out of bed in the mornings, my laundry room is up to my knees because I've been editing this week but I am not paralyzed by it.  

Amy, these pictures show just a hint of your genuine warmth and the love you so beautifully give.  

Thank you for seeing me.  

To contact Amy, go to www.amybracken.life

selah | the drawing in of family

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12b

This verse rings so true to me about the Dugdale family.  

Ever since I met Katie and her four young children I was drawn to the gentle way she fostered a strong relationship between them.  I would sit back and watch in awe as they played together and protected each other.  They quickly became one of my very favorite families to be around and truly they have given me such an inspired vision for putting family first and protecting that special bond.

In January, after weeks and weeks of migraines it was discovered that Selah had a golf ball sized tumor at the base of her brain.  At this point in time my children were in the Dugdale's home twice a week and Selah who had increasingly felt worse and worse would spend the times holding my Lucy Miller's hand and playing dolls with her.  A winter storm was fast approaching when Katie texted that she and Selah were taking an ambulance from her MRI to Charlotte to have immediate brain surgery that night.  

Mindnumbing.  Baffling.

I see several posts a day about children with cancer and even though my heart breaks a little more every time, this was one of our own.

They were able to remove the entire tumor and thankfully the cancer had not spread anywhere else.  Still weeks of radiation and months of chemo in  a different state were to follow.  

I have watched this family over the months and no matter what the trial or hardship of the day, they are forever drawing their family in.  Together.  

It was such an honor to capture just a little of that drawing in a few days before they left for the summer.  The girls honored me by posing for my sacred roots project.  

If you would like to help out the Dugdales financially you can donate here:

www.gofundme.com/selahsjourney

You can also follow their journey here:

 www.caringbridge.org/visit/selahdugdale

 

Source: selah

laura and her boys | san clemente, california

Dear Laura,

Thank you for working till the wee morning hours to finish your paper the night before.  Thank you for packing up your boys for a 2 hour early morning drive.  Thank you for bringing them in their well loved shoes and their pants meant for playing in the dirt.  Thank you for taking the time to kneel down and look at their rolly pollys and their lady bugs.  Thank you for loving your oldest so tenderly and so vibrantly.  Thank you for seeing the beauty in weeds clutched in chubby hands and in dirty knees.  Thank you for the gift of your trust and your belief in my art.  Thank you for not giving up when things got tough and not only that, thank you for letting us all see you with your three strung behind you like beads, climbing the mountain, one step at a time.  Thank you for enveloping them in your arms so fiercely and so protectively.  You love them so well.  Thank you for inspiring my mama heart all the more.  

You are breathless to behold.