“God is Good. He is evn there win yor sik.” These were words penned, or should I say “colored penciled”, by Moriah during her second stay in the hospital, just a month after being diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She was 5 years old. It’s hard to know how much she really understood about the disease and the 2-1/2 years of treatment that lay ahead of her, but she seemed determined not to let cancer take her infectious smile, cheerfulness, laughter, and spirit. It may have taken her curls for a while, but even they are coming back and making up for lost time! Today, Moriah is 8 and cancer-free! Shortly after treatment ended, she reflected to her grandma, “You know, it feels good to feel good again!” Moriah was a bubbly and seemingly healthy girl when she celebrated her 5th birthday in April of 2014. A few weeks after, we welcomed a new baby into the family. While her dad and I were at the hospital, she stayed with Grandma and Grandpa. She started complaining of strange pains in various parts of her body and running a mild fever. I called our pediatrician, largely to put Grandma at ease. I didn’t really suspect anything beyond a virus that would soon pass. After all, my kids were all healthy, generally, and illnesses like cancer existed only in stories I had heard from a distance. The pediatrician agreed that it sounded like something that would probably just run its course. The spring and summer following, we were busy with transitioning to a family of 7 and Moriah’s symptoms came and went, repeatedly. We went to the doctor a few different times but her symptoms were really hard to pin down and theories ranged from viruses associated with her frequent cold sores to growing pains, to iron deficiency (revealed by a blood test), and even adjusting to a new sibling. But cancer was still nowhere in the list of possibilities. She seemed lethargic, temperamental and didn’t want to play. She slowly began to get increasingly pale, and finally got a fever that stuck. One night, I was afraid to go to sleep because she just seemed too sick. This fever was unlike the others and her breathing and heart rate were elevated. We took her to the ER and were immediately transferred to the UIHC. It was at that point that I remember my husband telling me that it was very serious. I had still not made that jump in my head. That night we were told it was most likely leukemia.That was the beginning of our journey. We had no idea what it meant in terms of prognosis or treatment. I remember the emotion and tears of sadness. It was a road we didn’t want our girl to have to walk. We didn’t want her to hurt. But I also remember an overwhelming peace that made absolutely no sense considering our circumstances and that peace has carried us through. We are now done with 2-1/2 years of treatment and the beginning of our story feels like a lifetime ago. There were bad days, sick days, hard days, and discouraging days along the way. We have also been blessed with great days, fun days, joyful days and days where the love that has been shown to our family is overwhelming. The love we were shown came from so many sources: friends and family, doctors and nurses, and complete strangers who decided that our struggle mattered to them and chose to walk along with us. We are so thankful for the hope and joy that was brought into our journey even at its darkest times. It has been a crazy 3 years and we are truly blessed. Our girl is growing up into a joyful young lady who loves to sing, dance and play. May all the glory be to God! “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22-23(Moriah is the elder girl, twirling with her curly hair and dress. Her parents, Michelle and Joshua haven’t had professional photos taken together since their wedding.) – Mother Michelle
Hey!! I’m Stephanie Watts, an overly-enthusiastic destination wedding and boudoir photographer based in Iowa. See that picture of me? It was taken on the fly – running across a busy highway in Joshua Tree, California, dancing around the desert with my friends, having the time of my life. This is exactly how your photography experience should be; unposed, authentic, and fun. I capture connections you can feel with your eyes, even if it means making a total fool of myself. Be forewarned – I’m a huge goofball and I’ll probably give you the biggest bear hug when we meet.
I met the love of my life on Match.com and was smitten on our first date. Picture this: his photo on Match was a selfie in his parents kitchen with sunglasses on making the duck face. (I STILL laugh about this!) We are newlyweds – married on October 21st, 2016, and had the most memorable wedding experience – which is great for you! I love helping my wedding couples plan their big day with tips and vendor ideas along the way.
I’m a proud University of Iowa Alumni (GO HAWKS!) and United States Air Force veteran, and hearing “The Star Spangled Banner” always brings happy tears to my eyes.
My passport is my best friend, but I rarely go to the same far-off destination twice; unless I fall head-over-heels for their sunsets… or their scuba diving… or the french fries.
I feel incredibly blessed every single day to live my dream of being a wedding photographer and photographing couples and families in love in all parts of the world. Even after over 5 years of being a professional photographer, I still get so giddy when I book a wedding and family session, and can’t believe people trust me with the most important moments of their lives. WEBSITE FACEBOOK