Hello and Welcome! My name is Amy. I'm honored that you decided to go deeper and read more about my story. My story is like yours, long and much more complicated than it seems on the surface. If we're going to swap stories, it's only fair that I tell you mine. So sit down. Relax. And enjoy the short, but sweet and condensed version of my first 40 years.
I'm the first-born of two public school teachers, with one younger sister and one younger brother. We lived in a small town and did fun family things like take bike rides, fly kites and go for picnics at the park two blocks from our house. Sure, tough things happened to us like my dad getting diagnosed with skin cancer and my grandma passing away when I was 10, but for the most part, life was simple and good.
Looking back, I can say with certainty that I thrived in a small-town environment where everyone knew my face, my name, and my family. Life was predictable and comfortable. I was involved in ALL the extra curriculars, and got along with everyone so much so that I was named Homecoming Queen my senior year of high school. I often look back at that girl with awe. Was that really me? So social. So involved. So fun. So carefree and all she could be.
I began taking photographs when I received my first camera at age 9, and began writing for fun when I received my first diary at age 12. Photography and writing were "far out there" careers I considered among an assortment of traditional career paths, including nursing, medicine, psychology, ministry, teaching, physical therapy and occupational therapy. In the fall of 1994, I began college with a major in speech-language therapy.
It was there, in my first year of college, that I met my college sweetheart and soon-to-be-husband, Seth. I graduated in May of 1998 and we were married just one month later!
Immediately after our wedding, we moved to Indiana where my husband worked full-time for the United States Olympics, and I went to two years of full-time graduate school for speech-language pathology. It was a crazy and stressful time and one I would never want to relive, but hallelujah, we made it through!
After I received my graduate degree, we promptly moved back to Minnesota in an effort to be closer to family when we had children. We found a nice apartment in the suburbs of Minneapolis, and I landed my first job doing speech-language therapy home visits with families and children 0-3 years of age. Seven years later, I resigned and opened a small private practice where I served children 1-12 years of age, continuing to provide therapy in the comfort of families' homes.
For 14 1/2 years, I gave my ALL to my speech-language therapy patients, their families and caregivers. It was good work, and I'm honored to have impacted their precious lives in such meaningful ways. But looking back now, I see God at work, molding me and preparing me for my future work as a writer, photographer and storyteller. Doing home visits taught me how to develop a quick rapport and deep, meaningful relationships with people I'd never met before. Working with families and children with special needs provided me with a hearty dose of reality. Does joy come quick and easy? For some, but not for all. Are struggles, pain and hardships overcome with a snap of the fingers? Absolutely not. Life is a journey. Our stories are continuously unfolding. We wake up, day after day, only to begin again, with hope afresh. Yes, those 14 1/2 years of speech-language therapy created in me a love of STORY, an ability to enter into peoples' most intimate spaces, understand where they'd been, where they wanted to go, and relate right then, right there, right now, right where they were.
During my 14 1/2 year career in speech-language therapy, Seth and I had three children, Cooper (14), Elsa (11) & Maisie (5). I won't even dive into motherhood right now. Because let's just be real. Motherhood is life changing. I've never been the same since I had children, nor will I ever be the woman I used to be. Mothers unite, right?!
We moved into a house, then into another house.
My husband worked at an agency for 10 years, then at a Fortune 500 corporation.
Life was unfolding so perfectly, so precisely. But the truth is, after we moved into the houses, after we landed the jobs, after we had the kids, life started unraveling and quickly became complicated.
My dad got laid off from his job as a band director two years before retirement. A propane tank fell on my mom's hand and broke her finger. My sister moved to Los Angeles, dealt with SIX SUBSEQUENT YEARS of significant addiction and mental health issues, and gave birth to two children, one who had a serious medical problem requiring surgery three days after birth. My brother got in a major accident. My dad had a heart attack. My husband got eye cancer. My dad was diagnosed with a rare lung disease which, over the course of years, lead to a lung transplant. My mother-in-law had a heart attack. I experienced several years of chronic bleeding with multiple doctor visits and no answers. Our kids had lice three times. There were other diagnoses and discoveries we kept private because some things are well...private. To top it off, I experienced a 10-day period of panic attacks in December 2016, which were followed by yet another significant life-changing event mid-January 2017 and my grandfather's death in late January 2017.
Somewhere early in the mess, I began to sense a strong call to write. The call began in early 2003 shortly after our oldest child was born, and peristed for nine years until 2012. I continued working in speech-language therapy, all the while documenting my far-fetched writing dreams in private journals.
Finally, after years of dreaming and feeling called to write for someone other than myself, I launched my first blog, Divine in the Daily, in July of 2012. It was a success by most measures. I wrote faithfully in that space - 439 blog posts to be exact - from July 2012 to December 2016. During those 4 1/2 years, I wrote and photographed my way through life-changing mission trips to Haiti, Dominican Republic and Kenya. I left my 14 1/2 year career as a speech-language therapist to pursue writing, explore professional photography, and spend more time with our children while they were still somewhat small. In December 2016, I left my blog of 4 1/2 years to launch a new site, THIS WEBSITE, a space where I can merge my love of writing, photography and missions for the long haul.
So here we are.
As you can imagine, there are a million details I neglected to mention in this retelling of my story. But I'm pretty sure you get the point. I know you understand because you've lived quite the story yourself.
Today I'm thanking God for His story, for the story He's writing through each one of us. I'm hoping, believing and trusting that my experiences, my life, MY STORY will help me tell YOUR STORY with more heart, greater authenticity and deeper understanding.
Thank you for visiting. Thank you for listening to MY STORY. Thank you for giving me the great honor, privilege and opportunity to hear and tell YOUR STORY with words and with photographs.
May we leave a legacy of beauty, authenticity, strength and passion. May we listen, attentive and alert. May we see with eyes bright and clear. May we be truth tellers, never discounting our pain and our past for the sake of putting on a good face. May we live wild and free in the awkward tension of reality and redemption. May we know without a doubt that our story matters.
Know without a doubt that YOUR story matters.
See the significance of your story.