I want to show you something… take a look at this picture. IMG_3713

This is my most recent family photo. It was taken in May of 2015.

Now look at it again. Look closely at my face… IMG_3713 copy

It’s covered in sheer glee — oh wait, no, that’s manic panic.

The picture was taken the day before my first appointment at The James. We knew I had breast cancer, but we didn’t know yet exactly what that meant.

Think I handled the cancer issue well? Take a look at my jaw-line in this picture with my husband… FullSizeRender

I’m covered in stress and by the look of Saul’s eyes, he’s covered in weariness.

How about this one? IMG_5047

Totally adorable picture of my youngest son playing with my hair. You can’t tell from this picture (because my eyes are closed), but those eyes are filled with tears.

And this one… IMG_5045

If my chin were lifted another half an inch, the tears would be obvious. The photo session had just ended. I held my friend and photographer, Ann Fredricks, tightly for a moment and then I went to explore a ditch with Ben. I had let down my guard and was overcome with emotion. Ann picked up her camera and captured the moment.

Ann hates these pictures. Her professional brain sees lighting and… whatever… I don’t even know. She keeps asking me for a re-shoot and I keep telling her no. These pictures are perfect. They tell a story of a terrified family who put on a brave face and battled cancer. They are the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen.

But I hope you know me well enough to know that I’m not showing you these just to brag about my cute little nuclear family. No. I’m showing you these, because I want to pull back the curtain and urge you, please don’t compare yourself or your life with what you see on Facebook or Instagram or any other social media outlet. Heck, don’t even compare yourself with people when you see them in real life. What looks all put-together and Pinteresty on the outside may tell a whole ‘nother story once the protective layering is peeled.

I love you and I want you to love you, too. So today, please remember, looks can be deceiving.