I wasn't there for my wife when she was pregnant with our first child. I was half-way around the world deployed to Afghanistan as a part of my military career. Through the gift of many miracles I made it home within two days of Stella's birth.
Three months later I had to leave them again as a part of my military duty. I was gone four months.
I'll never forget the moment I had to leave them. My wife was at our front door holding Stella. I ran back to them for one more hug, one more kiss, one more time to hold both of them.
Stella was wrapped up in a small blanket. It was white with pink flowers on it. I took it with me so I could have something that smelled like her. I would lay it over my pillow at night to help get me closer to her while I slept.
While away and feeling the sadness that comes from missing your family, I was overwhelmed with another feeling...anger.
I was angry at myself. Angry because for almost twenty years I had a dream of being a photographer and for twenty years I didn't do one thing about it. And now my wife and daughter were paying the price as well.
One night out of desperation for an answer, I knelt along side my bed and laid out that same blanket. I reached for a Bible that was given to me and did the typical, "Oh God, please let me open it to page that you want me to read, that will provide me with your help!"
Well I got that page. It was Romans 7. Towards the end it summed up what I felt was my entire life. It talked about how we are two people. The person we are and the person we know we have inside of us, that highest version of ourselves. It talked about the struggle between them and how life is about making those two people the same. At least that's what I gathered from it.
At that moment I made a promise. I made a decision that I will always move towards that second person. I will become that highest version of myself.
I will do this for my family.
It was also in that moment that I found my life's purpose. I found that I could use my passions to help others realize that second person in themselves. Through art I could show people who they truly are, inspiring them to be who they know they could be.
This has become my life's mission.