I once took a class from a very amazing and talented teacher (who I greatly respect) who said, basically, “What’s with the tortured artist concept? Just make art and be happy about it!” And I responded “Yes. The tortured artist is an unhealthy and probably not very productive approach to life. Definitely. BUT, if you are asking people to really SEE artistically (which was also a large part of the class), don’t you think that, to be fair, some ugly shows up with the good? And maybe, if you’re really seeing everything, you’re going to FEEL it, sometimes, too?” It’s heart month, and I’ve been really honest out here on social media. Uncomfortably honest. For me and for you, probably. It’s a little bit because, yes, these experiences are emotional for me and writing them out is therapeutic... but it is also because I am passionate about being real. Someone once commented to me, “It must be easy to take such beautiful pictures when you have such cute kids as models!” It was a harmless comment, but it made me think—and I’m not making this up: “What if life WASN’T so picture-perfect? Would I have the guts to try to capture it and share it, then?” Well, guess what? Life got very real. And I had to make a choice. Was I going to just post what was pretty and ideal, or was I going to be real?? In the last twelve months, I’ve learned a lot. But one thing I have learned more than anything is that I LOVE my kids. And I literally would not trade any of them for the world. Another great truth I have learned is that there is good in hard. Beauty and ugliness live side by side, and each helps you appreciate the other. I know it has been heavy around here. But otherwise, how could I post a picture like this and convey with depth and complete sincerity how much these people and this year have blessed my life? What would that mean to anyone? I don’t have to share the backstory—for a million reasons—I could just say it and move on. But I am inviting you to know how deep it goes when I say I love these humans and being with them is worth every. hard. thing; that this life is BEAUTIFUL, even when it brings me to my knees. That God is REAL and His ways are higher than our ways and ultimately will lead us where we need to go, if we let them. 
I hope that when I post pictures of things in pretty light—because that’s what I do—that they’ll mean a little more, now. That having shared some of the hard honesty (which isn’t something anyone HAS to do, and certainly isn’t for everyone, I know) will allow all the gratitude and depth and yes, beauty and grace that come with those pictures to shine through. Because THAT’S what’s real. We’re not superheroes over here. We’re not models or a tv show. We’re human. And that’s significant. #thebeautifulhard#wouldntchangeathing

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