From the Front Porch

The day my husband and I bring home our rescue dog, Lars, we snap a picture on our front porch. He is young and healthy, and so are we. After nine months of long-distance marriage, full of smiles and potential, we're finally together in our first home. 

I decide to take a picture on this day every year as a way to chronicle the story of us, the story of our family. 

So each year around our dog’s Gotcha Day, we find someone in our neighborhood or a visiting family member to take our picture. The second year, I’m wearing maternity clothes and by the third year, our daughter Charlotte is almost 10 months old. In the fourth year, my husband has grown a beard. In the picture taken one month after my son Isaac was born, my eyes are barely open from squinting in the sun, and you can tell we’re all a bit sleep deprived. As the kids grow, there’s less room for the dog, and we all have to squeeze together on the porch steps. 

Each year, I’m reminded of how much these steps have witnessed. For the past ten years, this porch has seen our coming, going, and growing. This porch has held us and welcomed us. It’s been a source of refuge and strength. It's provided a place to land through busy seasons and quiet afternoons. It's been transformed with hanging baskets in the spring and red ribbons for Christmas. It's been the gathering spot for trick-or-treaters, carollers, and neighbors dropping off fresh produce. 

On this porch, we've opened the door to friends and family. We've looked out to witness the seasons changing. We've carried our children as newborns through the door and posed them for pictures on the first days of school. We've watched hummingbirds feed, children play at the park, and neighbors walk to worship.

We've loved. We've laughed. We've cried. We've rejoiced on this porch.

We've become a family here.

A few days ago, my husband surprised me with a handmade photo frame with all our porch pictures from the last ten years. He used wood from our neighbors' discarded fence, a tangible connection to this place and community. Showing our kids, now nine and six, Isaac asks, “Where were Charlotte and I in the first pictures?” 

My first response was to tell him, “Those pictures were taken before you were born. It was just Daddy and I then. And Lars.”

But now I wonder if a better response would have been: You were there all along, our loves, just waiting for your time to enter the world. You already existed in our hearts. 

Maybe you do something similar. Or maybe you haven't had a chance to snap a picture of your whole family in ages. Regardless, there's a family story being written on your heart. And from me to you, I hope this month provides you with a moment to take a snapshot of your life right now — the joy and love and hope. It’s all there, wherever you are right now.