This Is Who I Am | Final Thoughts

At the beginning of 2017, I asked the Lord and prayed for a project idea that would be filled with purpose; He gave me the idea for the This Is Who I Am Project. Little did we know what this project would become and mean to people. The stories shared by these eleven women have woven a tapestry of beauty. They have walked through many different hells, conquered their fears, and shied not when asked to share their stories. These women have shown true courage in their vulnerability. They have challenged me, and hopefully some of you, in the drive to rise above the ashes. I am so honored to have photographed and heard their stories. I want to thank them once again for giving of themselves in such a powerful way and for standing in the gap so that others could see strength, hope, and run to it. So to end this beautiful life-touching project, I've chosen my favorite images from each session paired with a moving statement from each woman. If you haven't read all of their stories yet, I encourage you to do so (click on their names to check out their tales). You will be moved.

Thank you, again, ladies!

Megan | January

"Embrace the hard moments and look back to find the light in it. Because it’s there. I whole heartedly believe that the negativity we experience through our lifetime is purposeful and exactly planned by God. Not the event itself, because we get to choose and then we have consequences, but I just whole heartedly believe that it’s so purposeful and if we don’t look closely, we’ll miss the light in the situation. And that’s what I would tell people. Don’t miss the light."

Aisha | February

"I pray my story helps you to find who you are, recognize what you have been through in your life, and face your pain. Not to run from it or hide from it, but allow your pain to create in you your story and beauty. To realize you can’t change the things you have been through, you can’t change what has happened to you, you can’t alter it or take it back, so you might as well grab a hold of it and allow it to help you and other people....Your story may not be the same as mine but I hope you recognize the power of women. That in this life we have to stick together and support each other."

Mary | March

"Once you know what you value, I think it’s your obligation to cast aside everything you don’t. Because everything else is just temporary. Things and stuff, the things we’re chasing. I think when your family is your core and you get joy from having them, then you should keep it. Chasing things in other places might make you happy but it’s relationships that last."

Danyelle | April

"A lot of the time there is not a clear delineation between good and bad, but most of the time it’s about your perspective. So having had experiences and growing past the pain has helped me realize the worth of going through all of that. A bad situation or experience may not always be bad. I’ll be able to look at it as something that transformed me or had a step in transforming me and coming to something better. Pain sucks when it happens and it may make me want to give up in that moment, but coming to realize that everything has a purpose is important. So to acknowledge pain, and not to just sweep it under the carpet, is one of the most important things. Especially as Christians, people like everybody else who deal with emotions, depression, anxiety, things like that, it’s really important to give that it’s proper place and recognition. Rather than trying to hide it or belittle it as something that doesn’t matter, because it does, and sometimes it matters more than the good things because it makes us who we are."

Kristin | May

"I think the most growth happens during pain and difficulty, or afterwards especially. Because you realize it’s not the end of the world and that it’s not going to get the best of you. There’s hope and growth to be had, some sooner and some later. So I think it’s shaped me into a much more insightful person. Because I see when I’m going through something painful that I can approach it a little bit differently and know there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not just dark and damp and I’m sitting in a cave crying forevermore with no way out. I just have to get up and walk out of the cave. "

Abigail | June

"One of my biggest things is you can’t choose what happens to you but you can choose how you answer. There are a lot of things that people can do to hurt us and there are a lot of things that people can do that we feel take away our worth, our beauty, our validation as a person, but at the end of the day it’s not about who we are but about Whose we are. I couldn’t have a story without Jesus. It would be a story of a lot of sadness and bitterness, but with Jesus I was able to find that there was something more. So to those reading this, Jesus has something more. Whether you’ve gone through something little or something big, God always has something more for us and there’s always hope in Him."

Ali | July

"I would also say you’re always going to be going through pain. Don’t assume you’re going to have a pain free life and don’t assume that because you haven’t had these big upheavals in your life, that you have a pain free life. Everybody has pain and everybody’s pain is real, and everybody’s pain hurts, just differently. And the good thing is the foot of the cross is level. We all come at the same level. So the way that you deal with your pain needs to always come back to that. So it’s important to remember that even if you think your pain isn’t as great as someone else’s, you still have pain. And that’s still validated and I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we have pain and I’m sorry that the pain creeps in and separates us. But it also is beautiful, it’s a binder, it’s a glue."

Barbara | August

"I think the scars I walk through do add to my beauty. Beauty is different for everyone but for me, coming out of a bad situation and being able to say, “Hey! Here I am. I’ve been through this, it happened to me, and I’ve grown from that.” So that makes me feel like I’m beautiful. And it shows that I can go through anything and no matter what, you get a scar, and it’s okay. It’s okay to get a little dirty because you’re still you on the inside. So all of it has pushed me more to see who I am. Regardless of whether things were painful or bad, I’m thankful for everything that happened because it helped me to become who I am now and helped me grow. I don’t think I would feel so beautiful or feel like I have something to offer if I didn’t go through those things."

Jen | September

"Pain helps you understand others and enables you to relate with others. There’s a verse that talks about how sometimes you’re brought through stuff so that you can comfort others. Honestly, pain is what helps you know that there is more to life than just living and dying. Pain in many ways makes me appreciate this life more because going through hard things makes you really think and reflect and search for the answers to the questions we all have about our purpose. There is purpose in our pain. And there’s purpose in living and I’m not sure if we would be able to grasp any of that if life was just easy and some kind of fairytale."

Christina | October

"I don’t think that any pain is bad, I just think it hurts. I think it’s just as important to hurt as it is to feel joy because that’s what balances you. I think life is balance. Pain is perspective. Your pain is different than my pain but we’ve both felt pain. No one can say which is worse or better. It’s how you define it, it’s what you do with it but it doesn’t have to define you if you don’t let it. Pain is good if you allow it to be. Like trying to understand what it means, understand why it feels that way. Because there is always a why, there’s always something behind it. There’s always a lesson in it. So if you look for that, then you can make sure you’re not in that place anymore."

Corie | November

"I would say to those reading this, you’re not alone in pain. You may feel like you are or that you’re the only one who has felt it or experienced it, but the truth is you’re not. First and foremost, you have a Savior that loves you so much to heal you from that. We’ve all walked through some sort of level of pain and heartache and if you haven’t yet, I’m sure you’ll walk in it at some point in life. So my hope is, whether it’s a similar circumstance you’re walking through in your marriage and you feel it’s broken with no hope, or if it’s any pain, God can bring you that hope."

Thank you all for following along with this project. It was so worth all the work put into it.

As 2018 draws near, lets draw together in all circumstances with the resolution to rise above our pain and find beauty in the most unlikely places.