PS. Dear Instagram,
Thank you for making the life of the every day blogger infinitely. . .
well, better, in every way.

This morning, I was packing sack lunches with as much satisfaction as I’ve experienced in the entirety of my life (in sincerity).

Tears of gratitude streaked across my face as my soul joyously proclaimed, “What else matters, but lunches?!” (Yes, this description truly necessitated the ridiculousness of language like, “joyously proclaimed,” so get off my back.:))

In that messy moment, not a thing in the world mattered to my heart more than the mouths those lunches would feed. Not a thing.

“Our shadow by day” is a line from a hymn that I love. (Read the lyrics here or listen here: verse 3, where the men bust it out a capella??? Woooooooosh.)

Our shadow by day. . . I never realized the significance, until I moved to the desert. The difference between the shade and the beating heat of the sun, can very literally mean the difference between life and death.

The spiritual parallel is astonishing.

You see, I’ve felt so broken. So disoriented. So utterly small and completely overwhelmed.*

Then, I stepped into the shade. I stepped into His rest. And nothing has been the same.

As I actively seek my Father in Heaven, I find him. As I actively seek that spiritual shade, so to speak, my life is more fulfilling in every way that truly matters (and in most of the ways that don’t).

My brown paper sack at 6 in the morning . . . my shadow by day.

No matter how you slice it, God is there, and He is great.

(Psssst. You matter to Him, SO MUCH, by the way.)

*These feelings are part of the path we walk, those of us “who know.” All of these feelings are lingering symptoms of the journey through grief. That said, they are also symptoms that come as the result of other overwhelming, life shattering, circumstances faced by each of us every single day. Please don’t think that I’m EVER trying to compare battle wounds. Because I never am.

The first time, I worried over what to wear, how to sit, what to say. What colors would be most flattering? Should I cross my legs? Which statistics would pack the most punch?

I’ll be honest. In the very beginning it was fun. For a total of about 33 seconds.

Then you remember what you’re doing it all for. You remember what it felt like to kick and scream and pray and bargain and plead. You remember what it felt like to put your child in the ground.

Yes, you remember why you’re here. And you stop caring what you’re wearing or how it will look under the lights. You stop caring if you’re eyebrows look even or if you brought the right color slip.

I remember after Raleigh was born, I’d fantasize of a full night’s sleep. I’d imagine how wonderful it would feel to go to a hotel room, all by myself, climb in to bed. . . and wake up in the morning. UNINTERRUPTED SLEEP. Oh. The. Glory. Now? I’d give exactly anything for Gavin to interrupt my sleep. Heck, I’d be perfectly happy with that arrangement all the way until he turned 18. Where do I sign?

I’m only an hour from home, but it may as well be 4,000 for how lonely I feel. I tucked the boys in to bed, and I’ll likely be back home before they even wake up in the morning. Even so.

Hold them close. As hard as it is, the sleepless nights, the changes in your body, the new dynamic as husband and wife, the laundry, the messes, the MADNESS, it’s such a gift. Every bit of it.  I hope you NEVER have to learn first hand just what a BEAUTIFUL gift it really is.

Yes, I’d love to be home. In my husband’s arms, with a bed wetting toddler in the room next door. But yet, here I am. All alone. Wishing to be anywhere but here. Anything but this. But on the other side of all that pain, I’m so happy to be doing this. So willing to be making this TINY little sacrifice of time and emotional energy.

. . . Because babies are still dying. And every time one does, I think, “AREN’T YOU PEOPLE LISTENING?!”

I don’t know how to make my voice loud enough. I don’t know how to say this all in the right way, in the way that will STICK. In the way that will inspire ACTION. So I’ll just keep on saying it, over and over and over again. Hoping and praying that the right people hear.

4:45 am call time over at ABC. Time to tuck myself in. Wish you were here Rich. Love you millions.

Good night, all.

xo,

N

PS. The title of this post is mostly for me. . . we sang a song in church today. . . one of my very favorites. One of the lines is “the blessings of God on our labors we’ll seek,” and I suppose that’s what I’m doing. . . my very best. Seeking His blessings along the way. Knowing I’m not enough on my own. Knowing I can’t make a dent in this big bad world all by my broken little self. Praying that HE hears my voice and somehow amplifies it in ways that only He can.

POST EDITED TO INCLUDE: 5:35 am. I did the interview for the 5:00 hour. It was by FAR the worst interview I’ve ever done. I felt so blindsided and unprepared. There was a breach in communication as to my expectations and what actually happened at ABC this morning. Then. . . my story was bumped from the 6:00 hour because of breaking news of a house, car, apartment fire in the area. That’s show biz, baby. But here I am, back in this lonely hotel room. Quite certain that I am the reason the story was bumped and that the fire was the cover. Bleh. Anybody have a time machine? I’m ready to go back to my real life. . . where babies are healthy, and mommie’s are frazzled because of being up all night, not because they woke up at the crack of dawn to botch morning show interviews at ABC.

A few months ago, I was sitting on a curb at the boy’s school, watching them hi ya their way through Karate class out on the soccer field.

A beautiful blonde woman came and sat near me. I’m not sure how our conversation began, but within 45 seconds (it seemed), we were both in tears. Her daughter, Kalyn . . . was dying. And there wasn’t anything anybody could do to change it.

Two strangers. . .

Sitting on the curb. . . in the middle of the desert. . . relating on such a personal and intimate level. Never try to tell me that God is not meticulously mindful of his children.

The two of us, through tears, spoke of love and loss . . . of faith and hope. We spoke of fear and courage and submission to the perfect(ly terrifying) will of God. We only had moments together, before we were surrounded by noisy boys, ready for their momma’s undivided attention. Through misty eyes, I quickly told my new friend that I would be more than willing to photograph Kalyn’s funeral when the time came (at that point, she was optimistic that they had as many as 6 months to go, if not more).

Lisa and I lost touch for a couple of months after our “chance” encounter at Karate that day. 2 months later, almost to the day, Raleigh came home from school and told me that a little boy in his class had lost his big sister to cancer. I immediately knew it was Kalyn. I tracked Lisa down, and 2 days later, I found myself facing the most challenging shoot of my career. How would I even BEGIN to know how to approach this? I turned to Heavenly Father and essentially said, you got me in to this mess. . . you certainly better help me out of it. :) Not really (um. . .yes, really).

Today is Easter, and as I spent some time preparing this slideshow from beautiful Kalyn’s funeral, I was reminded of the astonishing POWER of the atonement and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

POWER OVER DEATH?! When we say “glory to God,” GOSH! We certainly mean it.

I’m so thankful for my understanding. I’m so thankful for my relationship with God and his son, Jesus Christ. I testify that EACH of us are KNOWN and LOVED by our Savior. He is our literal spirit brother, and he is EVER mindful of our welfare. He is ever accessible. As we cast our burdens upon him, they are made light. This is TRUE. And always so.

Happiest Easter!

Without further ado, sweet Kalyn. She was loved DEEPLY by all who knew her. . . her family, very most of all. So thankful to know, that because of Jesus Christ, their separation is only temporary.




Remember this BEAUTIFUL SONG written for us by our (now) friend, Ryan Tanner? It’s dripping with love. I couldn’t find a THING that was more fitting than this.

(Thank you, Jon, for giving me the courage to do this in the first place. You taught me what a real treasure these images can be. I’d say it again, but you already know how very much I love you.)

Sometimes, the missing* rolls in. Like a wet, heavy fog across the desert.

And it fills EVERY PORE OF MY BEING—every crevasse of my parched heart.

I look around. Everyone with their perfect babies, and their perfect pregnancies, and their perfect families. And my heart cries out. Tears stream down my cheeks and fall shamelessly upon my chest.

Life continues. PEOPLE continue. Continue to laugh, and smile, and love. . . and breeeeeeeeed.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. I WOULD NOT HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY. AND—

And the line between my joy for them and my ache for me. . . is at times, imperceptible. My family is still broken. Signs of grief, pain and overwhelming devastation still float to the surface from time to time. Often, they’re overwhelming, other times, they are tender and sweet. . . either way, they keep us connected to what’s true and real about the world, connected to the things that matter most. Connceted to our God and sealed to our faith in His plan for us.

I want to heal. I want to BE healed. I want my family to heal, my children to be made whole.  I desperately want these things. But healing prematurely would equate to lessons lost. And I want the lessons more than I don’t want the pain. As bitter as those words taste leaving my heart, they are true.

Because I don’t just want to live. I WANT TO LIVE!!!!!!! I want to FEEEEEEEEEEEL. I want to BE—alive in my heart, in my understanding, in my influence. I want to be alive in my integrity. I want to say—”LIFE IS GOOD, GOD IS REAL, LOVE IS ALL AROUND US,” and when I do, I want to know it. In every pore. In every breath. In all of me.

I WANT.TO.LIVE.

*Dear You, The line between missing, self pity and overwhelming fear, is often imperceptible. THAT IS OK. Please know that. Sweet you, out there missing, hurting, wishing to be anywhere but here. It’s OK. YOU are OK. I do not judge your hurt. I do not ask you to quiet your pain, or to hide (from) your self pity, or self loathing, or from your desperation (wishing that it could all be different—willing to do anything you can to make it so). “Wherever you are, be there.” This wisdom comes from a heart that knows. A heart that would never judge you. Not ever. Don’t you dare judge yourself. You wake up every morning, and you breathe in and out all day long. Don’t you see the miracle that you are? Are you so clouded and confused that you are incapable of seeing what you are doing? You are walking on water. Despite it all, you breathe in and out all day long. In and out. All day long. You are a miracle. Just as you are. Do not judge that. And know, He “will go before your face . . . on your right hand and on your left, and [His] Spirit shall be in your hearts, and [His] angels round about you, to bear you up.” There are better days ahead. There are.

Today alone, I was contacted by 3 separate families expressing concern over a Whooping Cough outbreak here in Arizona. One friend received a notice from her children’s school, another told me of her coworker’s 8 week old baby being admitted to the hospital after being confirmed positive for Pertussis (Whooping Cough), and yet a THIRD messaged me seeking details about the cough because she was concerned over the health of her granddaughter who may have been exposed.

And while we’re on the subject, we were on national news. We didn’t even know until this evening. Go figure. I have no idea when our story originally aired on America Now, but the footage is from an interview we conducted for KHON2 News in Hawaii back in 2010. Seemed fitting to share today. Parents, play it safe. Get your Tdap (adult and adolescent Pertussis booster shot)—ESPECIALLY if you are anti vaccinations as it relates to the little ones in your home. You can’t afford not to. Trust me. I understand the cost, and you can’t afford it. No one can.