[before you judge me]

Sometimes you need to sit back and realize you don't need to be "perfect". I grew up giving myself so much pressure to be the "perfect listener" the "sweet" one the "nice" one". After all these years, I still wake up realizing I want to be liked loved and accepted for me. I want people to understand that my severe dyslexia plays a role in my life in a major way, that I'm more emotional and feel with my heart more then most people do.
That I cry over "silly" things on a daily basis and that's ok. I take things personally and I don't deal well with most jokes and that's ok. That's me, the real me, I wear my broken heart on my sleeve, I live with a lot of pasts wounds and scars (something I'm working on getting past day by day) Why should any of us pretend? I've gone out and "put on a face" more times then I can count the last ten years.
Every time I seem to open up, someone seems to think its a fun time and talk about me behind my back, someone had the nerve to tell me my dyslexia wasn't as "bad" as I was "letting on". It makes me beyond hurt and angry that someone can make that judgement of a life they've never experienced, dyslexia has different forms, some worse then others, mine happens to be the worst on the list.
But that's exactly why I "put on a face" the looks, the judgments, the hurtful words, it makes me want to run and hide. Then I crawl back into my shell, put up my walls and work another day at being "perfect" maybe someone will accept the "fake me" if they can't deal with the "real" me. I've been harshly judged all my life, I've had dyslexia since I was born, I wasn't diagnosed until I was eleven years old.
I went through all those pre-teen years, being the butt of jokes, being made fun of when someone found out I had a crush, being humiliated when they knew I couldn't read a chapter book at 13, being made fun of because I couldn't spell words like "wonderful or amazing. Basically only half of my brain works, there's no "cure" no "magic pill". Some people have a better time of it ( not saying it's not still hard) mine effects my every day.
Effects the way I speak, weather the words will be jumbled or make sense when I say them, I never know, but boy is it embarrassing when they are. The best way I've found to cope has been my photography, I started at eleven (when I was diagnosed) it helped me feel like I could be in control of something, I could control the frame, the lighting, the editing, it's been my biggest therapy.
Maybe that's why I love it so much, it's gotten me through the hardest, cruelest times of my life, pushed me forward, gave hope to a hurting woman with a past she wishes she could forget. I have a disability, it controls my brain, and most everything in my life, my thoughts, my words, and my emotions. I have no control over myself about 90% of the time, when the 10% comes I feel "whole" for those few minutes in a week I get.
I've gone my whole life with being judged left and right, being misunderstood, being abandoned by those who were once my "friends" being told I was "too emotional" , dumb, stupid, not good enough. The list goes on. So please know, this is why I do the things I do, this is why I react like I do, why I get defensive at every turn, this is why I get hurt easily, I have my guard up 100% of the time. This is me, the real, hurt, battered, emotional me.
It's your choice to love me, to accept me, judge me, to talk about me behind my back, but every time you do, please know your wounding an already broken heart, you don't know my battles, you don't know the hurt I've already been through in my 26 years. Please chose your words wisely, we're all fighting our own battles. Every word hurts. EVERY one.


Picking up the pieces of my past

Yes! This is the cry of my wounded heart. It was so hard, and not one "civilian friend" or family member "got it" no one got the depression or anxiety, no one understood the multiple phone calls daily, out of loneliness. No one understood all the rules and regulations to being "the wife" having to be perfect 24/7 was beyond exhausting. 

No one has gotten that living overseas was hard as hell and the most hellish time I've had in my life, yes It was "Italy" but it was horrible. It was the place my identity left me, the place where I "let go and gave up" gave into food for comfort to my loneliness. The place friends were scarce and family was invisible. 

The place I had to grow up way too fast and never experience what it was to be a newlywed, there was no "honeymoon phase" for us. We got shoved to harsh reality. The place where I got pregnant and miscarried my baby soon after. I've not been happy since that time in my life, those hard trials, the piercing gazes and harsh judgments from those who barley knew me or my story, the looks of disproval and comments on the way I dressed. Those horrid words still stick with me. 

We moved three times in three years, picked up the pieces of making and losing friends. Today I pick up the pieces of my life, a day by day process, the process of learning that today will be ok, that it's ok to defend myself, it's ok to be hurt, it's ok to be emotional and react emotionally out of protectiveness for myself. 

It's ok to have hard days, it's ok to BE ME. It's ok to have severe Dyslexia and it's ok to let others know I'm not "normal". It's ok to have severe anxiety and be "different" then others. It's ok to move on and to learn to let go of it all. But also understanding that those horrible memories won't just "go away". Today I smile, today I laugh, today I am Happy, my circumstances have been hard, horrible and depressing. But today I chose happiness ( witch for those who don't understand is hard to do in depression) 

Today I am thankful for my husband, he stood by me in my weight gain, my depression my name calling, harsh words and divorce threats. He loved the horrible, broken, sad, angry, mean, hurt, struggling me. That ladies and gentlemen is Unconditional love, the sacrifices and trials he's been through just being married to me are what make most men walk away. But chris is faithful, loving, patient, kind, self controlled, sweet, amazing wonderful and he's put up with me through everything. As much as I lied to myself and told myself this pain and hurt was God's fult, that God walked away, I know I'm the one who walked away, it's on me.

I've recently re-dedicated my life to Jesus. I know he rescued me in my hardest times, he helped me get healthy and get help right when I needed it. I am truly grateful to God and his love for me, the angel he's assigned to me, and his son who's constantly at my side showing his love for me.


[My ONE 2015 goal]

I hate resolutions, they almost always fail. We say every new year what we will do better, we work on it for a few months and give up. Last year, I made a goal to get healthy, It went well for awhile, but the last month and a half (before Christmas) I gave up. My motivation was squashed. I stopped working out, stopped eating right, and just didn't care. And who would have guessed, I gained the 20 lbs back that I lost last year.

Talk about frustrating, one of the things I realized about myself the last year, If I'm not eating well at least 5 days a week, and working out consistently, I gain weight like crazy. I also gain when I'm stressed. And I'm always stressed. I've learned a lot about myself, and I am thankful for that, but this year, I really DO want to get healthy, I want to get fit, gain muscle, and abs. I started using 'myfitnesspal" again and I forgot how much I love it! You track what you eat, and It tells you how many calories you have left for your day, track water, snacks, and even weight. There's food ideas as well.

All that to say my ONE goal for 2015, is to truly get healthy, to eat right, to have the determination and the drive to lose 50 lbs this year. I'm gonna need to kick my butt into shape, I need to stop the excuses, when it hurts I need to push the most. I am humbly asking for your prayers that I can do this, I ask for your encouragement, when I'm down or don't feel like working for it. Chris and I are doing this together, he's also working on getting healthy again, and dropping 20 lbs. I'm proud of him. We started FocusT-25 last night, starting round two over. It was so hard, and I pushed myself a little too hard.

We went shopping last night, got lots of fruits, veggies, spinach/kale, chicken, peppers, juice, working on only eating healthy 5 days a week, and on sat or Sunday we can have that dinner out, and have that dessert. I'm thankful for those who support me, and understand that I have to do what works for ME not what others think should work for everyone. I never grew up being obese, this whole ordeal and weight gain has been extremely hard, most have no idea what it feels like, or the depression it causes. I've started seeing a chiropractor recently, and that's also been a huge help, I've had insomnia since I can remember, and since I got adjusted I've pretty much been able to sleep through the night for the first time in over ten years.

Keep me on your prayer list if you don't mind, health is so important to me, my goal is be 150 by January 1st 2016.



It's "that" time of year again, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and Christmas is only 28 days away (you're welcome) I'm super excited for the Holidays this year, because I'm home to say, we have a house, we've put down roots, and we've started a new life. All the years leading up to this we're depressing, I was overseas, or in a different state while the rest of my family spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and New years without me. I cried a lot. It was hard "not" to think about it, there were photos put up of snow, hot cocoa, sledding, wrapping, decorating, and I missed it for 3 years in a row, not because I wanted to, not because we couldn't afford to fly home, but because we didn't have a choice. 

This year, is different, Chris is out of the military, and they no longer make our choices for us, no longer run our lives. We moved home in August, it's truly been amazing. We stayed with my parent's for 2 and a half months, while we house hunted. Chris had a job interview the first week we arrived and got the job the same day. God has been all over this from the beginning, weather it went our way, weather there were signs and convinces we knew it was time to "move on" from that life we'd lived. Funny, because it wasn't in the 20 year plan. We we're planning on doing the full 20 years retire early, with a pension. But we realized that life wasn't for us. 

Chris and I found this house in a lovely area and a lovely neighborhood (after making an offer on another house, and being told no) This one was 30+ years newer, had nicer rooms, updated woodwork, jet tub, open concept space, master bedroom +walk in closet, and many more features. It really fell into our lap, and we jumped. Mind you it's 40 minutes from my family, and that was a bummer, but I think the distance is also a good thing, makes me all the more excited when I see my family every couple weeks. I'm so excited for Thanksgiving, It will be my first with my family since 2010 and I'm really thrilled. I'm making my mashed potatoes and bringing rolls. Yeah for food, so much yummy food, really looking forward to that coma ;)

There's no place like home for the holidays, how true a statement. We're buying a Christmas tree next week, and I'm so excited to decorate and set it all up. I love having a home here in Minnesota where we belong with our families. Chris is so happy to be here, we had his family thanksgiving last week, and that was such a blast. I'm so thankful to be Home, to be with Family, and friends. I love looking out my window at the snow, It's falling rapidly right now, it's supposed to go until six o' clock tonight and then again tomorrow. We already have 4 inches or so, it's so fun watching Molly run and jump in it, she just loves the snow! I love Thanksgiving, not just for the food, but really to be with my family. They are so easy to take for granted, this time of year is truly about Family, and being thankfull, praising God, the one who has Blessed us with all we have, our skills,  our Children, our lives . May you all have a Blessed Thanksgiving tomorrow! 


New Home!

The stairs to the second floor, looking into the Kitchen 

This is the living room, view from the hallway next to the kitchen 

The guest bedroom is super blue, painting it next week! 

View into the Master, we have a walk-in closet, and a bathroom right outside the bedroom door. 

Another view with the pretty window. 

This is the 3rd bedroom/office space. Super excited to set up our office today. 

Really pretty wood floors

Extra room in the basement, gonna use it for a sitting room, nice carpet too

Part of the 2-car heated garage. Love the windows! 

Lots of storage too! 

Excited homeowners! 



Sweet baby.

Sweet baby, I only knew you for a day, then you went and slipped away. You took my heart with a start and I didn't know what to do. I wake up every day, knowing you've slipped away, my heart feels empty. Sweet baby, I'm so sorry I was too stressed to keep you alive, but I know your alive with Jesus and that's far better. Sweet baby, there's not a day that goes by where my heart doesn't ache for you, I imagine how you'd look, daddy's eyes, mommy's nose, ten fingers and ten toes. Sweet baby, I imagine the sent of your hair, the smile on your face and how you'd feel in my tight embrace. Sweet baby, you'd be almost two, walking, talking, and trying to run away. Sweet baby, I miss you every day, and in every way.

Sweet baby, there's a gap in my heart, I don't know where to start. Sweet baby, It's been two years, I long to hold your hand, to make you smile, and to hear "Mommy" coming from your lips. Sweet baby, the ache won't go away, I miss you every single day, thanks for all your love for me to see. Daddy and I are trying to have a baby again, I never imagined how hard it would be, to miss you in every way. Sweet baby, you'll never be forgotten, you've left your footprints on my heart for all the world too see. Sweet baby, my heart hurts, it longs for your touch, I can't wait for the day, I can hold you in my arms and never let you go. Sweet baby, Know you're wanted, your missed, and I wish you could be kissed.


[Healing through the hurt and heartbreak]

            I never knew I could love someone so much I could burst. We're coming up on our fourth Wedding Anniversary in February, and I just can't grasp how fast the years have flown by. Each year has been hard, not flowers and rainbows, but heartbreak, hardship, depression, weight gain, fights, sleepless nights, misunderstandings, tears, screams, frustration, and disagreements. The first year was the hardest for me, I was depressed, gained 50 lbs, I was obese, food was my way to cope with living in another country. People think "Italy" and they have this huge romanticized thought process. Heck, I'd love to go back on an actual vacation, but I'd never put myself through the hell I went though all over again. I don't wish it on my worst enemy. The views aren't worth the pain. It was beautiful yes. But that's all. 

            No matter how I explain my past, my trials, my horrible memories that I can't seem to forget, I know no one understands, and no one will. I don't need another "I know what your going through". I'm so beyond sick of that phrase, and honestly, I think it was made up for those who don't know what to say, or how to handle that kind of situation. But that is not the right thing to say for someone who just needs to vent, to let go or to just let off some steam. Friends sometimes just need to listen, yes I know it's hard, you don't want too but sometimes life is hard. It's unplanned, your dreams have vanished, no longer of importance and you feel alone. Sometimes I just need a friend, someone to listen, to care, to say "I love you, and I'll be here for you". It would help if you keep your word. 

          Back to the marriage part, I love my husband with my  whole heart, He's been there with me, held my hand, held me tight and let me cry until all my tears were spent. He reminds me of his love every single day. He knows when to break the silence, he knows when to crack a joke, he' lets me vent. He loves me through it, through my darkest, my deepest pain and heartbreak. He's loved me happy, he's loved me sad, he's loving me through every day, every mistake, every failure, and he excepts me for the true, imperfect me. Through all the fights, tears, doubts, he's loved me still, through the pain of lost friendships, judgmental people, harsh and hurtful words and "advice". 

 In my silence, he's loved me, when I wanted most to run away, he's loved me, through my brokenness, my questions about God, my heartbreak of misunderstandings, old fights, and flashbacks, my reality of anxiety, (hot flashes, small spaces, big crowds, not being able to drive (for now) and him not being able to touch me, my gripping fear of judgement at every turn) I'm broken, I'm bruised, I'm living out of my deepest wounds caused by my deepest hurts in the deep places of my heart. My husband has stood by me, remained faithful to me, to our marriage. Through my struggles, Chris has stood tall and protected me, sheltered me, kept me safe, held me close. He's reminded me every day of God's never ending love for me. That God has the best possible things in store. Sometimes days are just hard. The realization, I'm not perfect, the living day to day, trying to live up to my own standards, realizing that it's impossible. Realizing that God didn't make me to be the "perfect wife" or the "perfect daughter" that it's "OK" to make mistakes and it's OK to have flaws. Hurts. Struggles.

             My husband realized these things long ago, and he's been the quiet reminder, of Christ loving the church, with his selflessness and his faithfulness, his big sweet heart, and giving spirit, his grace, and understanding that I struggle more then most people. I hurt very deeply, and I have a hard time forgetting the deepest hurts in my heart . He accepts me for who I really am. Here's the facts. I'm Beautiful. I'm flawed. I'm perfectly imperfect. I'm wounded and hurt. I'm loved and excepted by God who came to rescue and save the brokenhearted. I'm God's and He's mine. I'm worthy. I'm saved. I'm scared. I'm free. I'm me. Beautifully flawed and perfectly imperfect. Created in the creators image, to be his love, his joy, his daughter. 


[Kelliana Grace]

I got to photograph a fun session of my sister Kellie the other day, she's such a wonderful model, and lots of sun to shoot! :)



[Home sweet Home]

It's been a month since we've moved home, time has flown, like it always does. It's been a good month, and it's wonderful how everything has worked out. Chris got a job three days after arriving, on his first interview. I'm so excited for him, and he LOVES it, gets along great with his co-workers. We're living with my parents, while we're waiting for our house to Close next month.

We're going to be living in Farmington, about a half hour from my family. It's a two level home, two car(heated) garage, 3-bedroom, two bathroom (with a jet tub) and a big walk in closet, really great kitchen, and pretty paint colors. I'm really feeling Blessed, God has been in this from the beginning (back in January) It's all worked out as smooth as can be.

We're so grateful to my parents for letting us live here until we have our house closed (next month sometime) I've been stressed, and I'm ready for my own space again, I can't believe it's been 4 months since we've sold our home, since we've had no place to "live" that was truly ours. We are so happy to have our own place again, living in transition has been so hard. But I'm so thankful my parents are letting us live with them and it's helping us save  money as well as have a place to sleep and eat.

We're excited for this new life together, and starting over from scratch with family and friends. We're so happy to make our own choices, and lead our own lives without the military involved in everything we do. We feel so happy we made this decision together, and look forward to what comes next.


[Talking about the hard stuff] and some thank yous!!!

I can't believe this weekend is finally here. After almost four years of this life together, Chris is finally getting out of the Military. I look back and see how silly and naive I was saying "oh yeah, we'll be in the full 20, no biggie" boy oh boy, was I dead wrong. This lifestyle has been the hardest thing I've ever been through in my almost 26 years of life.

With the being overseas (witch caused severe depression, marriage problems, binge eating, 50 lbs weight gain, anxiety, and worsened my already bad dyslexia) that was just the beginning. The day after days of tears, sitting in a dark room, wondering If I'd ever live by my family again, the days of eating to cope with my life situation, that I had no control over, the days of praying God would make it all go away, and I'd just be home again.

I went through some very tough things (some I won't get into) but some I will. I had a miscarriage in 2012, I wasn't far along, and only found out the day before it happened, that was gut wrenching, and the most painful experience of my life. I'm not over it, I don't know If I ever will be. I remember that day so clearly, we we're gonna Skype with my family and tell them, and I took two more tests and it was negative, and then the pain hit, and I spent the next hour in the bathroom. (I won't get into details) but those that know that pain both mentally and physically, understand.

After that, I swore off babies for at least a year, and got back on bc. Now sit there a moment, and tell me, would you want to go through that alone? imagine going through that overseas, no mommy to hold your hand and cry with you, no friends to hug, Yes I had Chris, and as wonderful as he was, it's not the same as my Mom. It's been two and a half years, and I've mostly "moved on" but I will never really move on.

Fast forward, a year later, Chris and I moved to New Mexico, had a brand new house, and a new chapter, we decided to try for a baby, we tried for 8 long months, those months turned into what felt like long years, years of negative tests month after month, of tears, of deep sadness, with so many questions. I hit my almost 9 month mark, and I couldn't take it anymore, I was at the end, I didn't want to see another "one line" test, no more meltdowns, mood swings, and drawn out fights. I was exhausted.

So we stopped all together, and I got back on bc. I look back now, and I see the last three and a half years, and I know, I've been a depressed, stressed out, anxiety filled mess, with mood swings, anger towards God, towards Chris, and towards my life circumstances. But I see now, that I've honestly been living out of severe stress, every single day, that I think my body has not been letting me conceive, my body couldn't take it (the reason for my miscarriage) I've never dealt with stress well, I've never learned how, I kinda take everything, upon myself, even things that have nothing to do with me.

I need to stop that, others people's problems, aren't mine, I can care, but I have to stop letting that control my body and emotions. I take baths, read books, light candles, take a nap, that's how I "deal" with it. I've been to counseling, and that was super helpful, learned little tips, but that doesn't stop panic attacks. I've had two in the last three months, and they are scary as heck, you feel like you can't breathe, you start losing air, your heart and back feel like your being stabbed at the same time, and you always think, your gonna die. I was all alone, for both of them.

All of that to say, these three and a half years, have been the hardest of my life (these details are only a little glimpse) some are too personal to share, but I want others to know, I've been there, and you do get through it, but you don't "get over it". I've had a hard journey, I' hated the first two years of it, yes, I HATED Italy, (If you went through as I call "my living hell" you''d understand) But for me, New Mexico has been a new chapter, it's helped me cope from many with many of my horrible experiences, and I've gotten some help.

Now it's our last weekend in New Mexico, and I am sad, I'm sad to leave this place, the place that's so plain to some, but beautiful to me. God made beauty from my pain, my thorns have started to die, and my rose is starting to bloom. I'm still not "close" as I used to be with  God, but I'm working on it, day by day. Life as a Military wife, hasn't been easy at all, even the few benefits, never made it worth being away from my family, it never gaped the distance, never made me "happy" like Minnesota does, like my family does.

So in all honestly, I am glad to move on, I'm happy for this chapter of my life to be over, once and for all, to be a civilian again (yes technically I am, but, it's different when you live this 24/7 7 days a week) We're so happy to move on, and get to be "normal" again, to have choices, to voice our options, to hold hands anywhere, no matter what, to kiss in public, and even get to have some PDA. It all sounds silly, but you wouldn't believe some of the rules.

I'm looking back and I'm grateful for the lessons, and happy I won't have to be "that" person anymore. I can't wait to just be stress free, care free, and happy. I'm happy now, but I mean, Truly happy. I'm thankful for my friends who I've made the last few years. Tiffanie has become my best friend, and true sister.She's been through my depression, and weight gain, miscarriage, weight loss, and so much more. I'm so sad to say Goodbye, but God knew what he was doing, Tiffanie is from Wisconsin, and they visit once or twice a year, so we will get to see them again. It's been three and a half long years of spending almost every week with each other. I'm gonna miss you most of all

 My sweet friend Morgaine, who's a total sweetheart, and always let me say what was on my mind, or even cry, I love my sweet friend Rose, we met at her Baby shower almost a year ago, a week later, I took her birth photos (most amazing experience of my life) and we became instant friends, we have the best "girl times". Lindsey, we haven't known one another long, but your a sweetheart, a wonderful mama, and good friend. Shauna, you and I have been been through the thick of it, I know God will get you through the hard times, I thank you for your encouragement, and selflessness, I love how much you love kids, and want to teach them about God.

Manda, It started off a session, you became one of my best friends, the one I could tell anything too, I thank you for not judging me, but showing me my worth, and that I should never be taken for granted. Thanks for answering silly camera questions, making my logo, letting me hang in your house, and trusting me to take photos with you. You've really helped me bloom into who I am as a photographer, I look up to you as a woman and how your dealing with your MS, and not letting it control you, but kicking it's butt, and still living your dream. I also look up to you as a friend, and mentor. Thank you. Love you Lady