I had the absolute honor of shooting my awesome friends last year. The journey this family has had is heartbreaking however, they come out stronger and closer to God every time. Here’s a little excerpt from what happened to them around Thanksgiving:

“I’m sitting here tonight on a hotel computer. I haven’t been in my own bed now going on 15 days. There is a stranger sharing the same room as me as I type this. Almost every meal I have eaten in the last few weeks has also been shared with people I don’t know. Every time my baby girl tells me she misses her bed and wants to go home, I smile at her and tell her it’s only a little while longer. The look I get from her after those words leave my mouth are enough to tear the heart from my chest. I feel helpless. I feel angry. I feel hurt sometimes beyond the point of mending. I am utterly and completely broken. I can’t describe to you how it feels sometimes. It’s like suffocating and clawing your way up to try and get a breath that never comes. I am supposed to be strong. As a father, husband and protector, I am supposed to be able to handle these situations and put the pieces back together. The only problem is, I don’t know how. By my nature I am prideful. Very seldom have I ever been confronted by a situation that has intimidated me. When I was told I would need to have emergency heart surgery or I would die, I grit my teeth, pulled up my boots and met it head on, but this is different somehow. Helpless is the only word that comes to mind. A car came crashing through my house and very nearly took the two most precious things I have on this planet away from me….and there was nothing I could do about it. In that moment heavenly father took my family in his hands and protected us in a way that defies all human logic. The car in those last few seconds was careening toward mine and Michelle’s bedroom window and had it stayed on its original path, would have hit myself and Michelle in bed, then crashed through the wall and hit Baily in her bed. 4 feet to the right. That’s the difference between a status update and an obituary. There are times I feel my heavenly father around me so close I swear I could almost feel his arms around me. Then there are times like tonight that I feel alone. Like he couldn’t be further away if I hopped in my car and drove as fast as I could in the other direction. Even now as I type this, my fingers rebel against me. We don’t talk about our weaknesses. We don’t talk about our hurts or our deep pains. It’s not in our nature to show the weakness in our armor. well here’s mine folks. I’m sorry if some of you are disappointed to find out that Dan Hartman isn’t always making light of serious situations or can laugh off any situation. It’s my defense mechanism. If I pretend everything is OK and nothing can hurt me, I feel safe. The only problem with that mentality is, at some point you have to confront what happened and deal with it. The last few days have been just that. I’m staring down expenses I have no way of paying on my own. I have two scared and confused girls waiting for me upstairs that are looking to me for strength and I have non to give them tonight. When I finally get to go home I have no furniture to go in my house. I have no earthly idea how I’m going to be able to sleep in my own bed. I can’t get the sound of my wife screaming in terror out of my head or the look on my daughters face as we passed her to people we didn’t know just to get her out of the house we thought was on fire. I don’t know how to have a normal Christmas after this. I know I am blessed. I know nothing happened to my girls and for that I am so so so grateful. People have been helping in ways that astound me, from bringing us meals, to bringing our tree to our hotel, bringing Baily Christmas presents, helping financially and praying their guts out. This is why it’s so freaking hard to keep having to ask for help. How do you keep asking for help when so much has already been given? I don’t know how to do it. My mind doesn’t work in this way. I am a helper. I am a fixer. I am a healer. I am brave. I am strong….but tonight I’m none of these things. I’m just a scared man looking for answers to a million questions I don’t know the answer to.”

Here are some of my favorite shots from their session:
(P.S. Oregon State University- I’m looking at you for a promotional gift for this family for representing the sweatshirts…it’s only right)

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