Sunday, October 15, 2023

Antonietta & Anthony | One Year Anniversary

This shoot was so much fun to photograph because it was my sister and brother in law's first year anniversary! I loved photographing their proposal and engagement and now here we are one year already married, where does the time go?! Here are my favorites from their beautiful portrait session.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

His Unending Mercy: My Father's Story

My phone rings around seven in the evening and I see my brother's name pop up, "Barbara-- I just called 911, Daddy is not okay, I didn't know what to do..." I hear my mom frantically screaming in the background as I tried to take in what my brother had just told me. 

That night was only the beginning of what would become several weeks of hardship--and circumstances that would test our faith beyond what we could ever imagine.


On October 11th, 2022 my dad was rushed to the hospital. He fainted multiple times and after hours of waiting in the emergency room we were finally able to see him. He was a bit confused but was stable. Grateful that he seemed okay and responsive, we all went home praying that he would be discharged the next day. 

And then everything changed.

We received a phone call early the next morning that my dad was in critical condition and admitted into the ICU. The hemoglobin in his blood went down to less than 4g/dl-- a miracle that he was still alive considering men are to have more than 13g/dl. He had lost most of his blood overnight and was now intubated and unconscious. 

Our lives had turned upside down overnight.

Over the next few weeks my dad would undergo several procedures including over 20 blood transfusions, 2 endoscopes, 4 intubations, endure respiratory failure, fight septic shock, and finally the last major surgery that would determine if his intestinal bleeding would come to a stop. 

The days were filled with fear and the unknown whether my dad would ever make it out alive from the hospital again. I could still hear the beeping sound in my dad's ICU room and all of the anxiety and tears come rushing back in again. 

"How could this be happening? God why did you allow this?" We continued to plead with God for our father's life. Could this really be the end? My father was only 57 years old, he still had so much left to live. 

I constantly had to remind myself that if I said I truly believed everything that God said He was in His word, and that He works all things together for those who love Him and for a purpose-- I had to trust that God was also working this out. It didn't matter if we couldn't see the ending-- we served a God of the impossible.

Day after day, my family would take turns spending hours at the hospital speaking to the doctors and fighting for my father-- hoping, waiting, and praying that the circumstances would change. There were days that seemed all would be okay, and then there were days that it seemed like my father's life would come to an end at any moment. 

But during that time, we experienced God's indescribable presence around us. We saw hearts all around me breaking for their family members in the ICU. We gathered together with our hands linked and prayed with strangers in Jesus' name over the circumstances surrounding us.

And it served as a beautiful testimony that the name of Jesus Christ was being glorified even in the hallways of a hospital. 

On the night that my father was taken into emergency surgery, the surgeons told us they would do the best they could. At that moment, we had to surrender all to God, knowing that this situation was out of our hands. 

Hours went by as we waited and looked at the screen which displayed my father's name and the status of his surgery. Some of us sat in silence, some of us read the Bible, and some of us cried and held onto each other as we prayed any words that would spill out. 

Fours hours later, one of the surgeons emerged and we all we ran to gather around her, clinging onto one another, praying that it would be good news. As if everything was being said in slow motion, the only words I heard coming out of her were, "The surgery went well, your father is going to be okay..." And then we all leaped and cried for joy. God had done the impossible through these wonderful surgeons. 


This photo of the empty ICU hallway was taken during a moment where it was still unknown how my father's story would end-- but in the stillness and that light streaming in, I saw a glimpse of God's goodness. I took the photo as a token that one day if God willed and my father lived... I would use it to tell of His unending mercy towards my family. 

And here we are. There's so many more details that happened in this story, but truthfully that's not the point. 

The last day he was in the hospital, a few of us went back to the little chapel on the first floor we had spent so much time pouring our hearts out in. We thanked the Lord for all He had done and prayed He would do the same for everyone in need of healing. And so on December 5th, after 6 weeks of being in the hospital and 2 weeks in rehabilitation, my father came home.

We had later learned the night that my father was admitted into the ICU, the doctors told my uncle who was also a doctor-- it wasn't likely he would live past the night. 

But God.

But I serve a God that isn't limited to man's knowledge and power. It wasn't the doctors who had the final say in my father's life. 

It was the One who heard our fervent prayers and cries and promised He would never forsake those who love and follow Him. 

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. ~James 5:16

This story could've had a tragic ending had God's will been different -- but I'm so grateful that it was full of mercy and joy. 

How could I not speak about all that He did and praise Him?!

I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. ~ Psalm 9:1

Through all of this I've come to understand that God knows the end of the story way before we could even see a glimpse of it happening-- but He promises that if we trust Him, He'll never leave us. That God cares about our hurts-- but He knows that sometimes even though He allows situations to happen to us, we need to endure the pain so that we could become more like Him. If only we would hold on until the end-- there is always purpose in the pain. 

Sometimes God waits until all we have left is Him. During this time period, I held onto the Lord and His word as if my life depended on it-- because it did. He was my oxygen. This story ended with life, and if the purpose was for us to trust in the Lord no matter what and then glorify Him-- it was worth it.

And so I'm here to encourage you, friend. That no matter what you're going through, no matter what anyone says-- The Lord has the final say. Fervent, relentless prayer from a person that is right with the Lord--- He will always hear and act according to His will. 

I pray that you see God in every circumstance in your life, and trust that no matter the obstacles, He works all things together for good to those who love Him.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. ~ Romans 8:28

Thank you to my family and friends who were checking in on us everyday, praying with us, and were there beside us on when we didn't have the strength to say anything at all.

And Thank you to my LORD, for the mighty works you have done in my life and family-- I will forever continue to praise You. 

The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. ~ Psalm 34:17