Photography by Jessica Uhler Photography
Meet Tarah. She is Beauty Revived.
What do we mean when we talk about beauty? Too often we default to an idea of beauty that is purely external- the perfect body, hair, wardrobe. But that beauty is fleeting. Beauty that lasts comes from a heart that loves and serves others. True beauty has more to do with being refined through struggle, being polished and chiseled like a fine gem, reflecting the light.
Tarah is one of the most beautiful women I know. She is definitely one of the strongest. When I first met her over a decade ago, she was a single mama to two little babes. She had come out of an abusive relationship and was trying to figure out how to survive on her own. Even in the midst of that hardship, I rarely heard her complain. So much of her story has been redeemed- she is currently married with four children. But it certainly hasn’t been easy. Her current husband has been deployed to war zones for almost half of their 7 year marriage.
It’s been an unconventional journey, to say the least. Every three of four months she and the kids have to say goodbye to their husband and father. While he is away, Tarah shoulders the burden of their household and tries to hold everything together. Having survived one year-long military deployment myself, I know it’s not easy emotionally or logistically. What blows me away is that even in these seasons of great need, Tarah is always looking for a way to serve others who’s needs are greater than her own. She has taken active roles in a local ministry called Network Tacoma which supports families transitioning out of homelessness. Caring for four small people is certainly a full plate, but Tarah often eagerly volunteers to serve friends and strangers alike in her community.
Another way Tarah has poured herself out in service is through a local group called Dope Church. They meet weekly at a local hotel well known for drug activity and prostitution. The group provides food and hygiene items to those in need and builds relationships week over week with people who need support transitioning out of that lifestyle. This is a picture of redemption in Tarah’s life- as a woman recovering from sexual abuse, she stretches out her hand to other women being exploited for their sexuality and femininity, offering them a taste of the freedom she is finding.
Being the mother of four young children does not leave much time to pamper oneself, or even stop to recognize what makes us feel beautiful. It is my hope that her session serves as a way to remind her that she is not only a mother and wife, but a woman, a daughter of the King, a Beloved sister and friend. Because she was made in the very image of God, she is worthy to be loved, worthy of time and attention, worthy of being seen and known. When we are deep in the trenches of caring for children and running a household single-handedly, it is so easy to lose sight of our identity and value.
Tarah and her family are on the brink of a whole new adventure in life. Her husband has just left again for 7 months, though this time not to a war zone. He is training for new federal job that will most likely move them away from the community she’s been a part of for her whole life. Even in the face of all this uncertainty, Tarah’s heart beats for those who she can help. She is starting a new business called Two Tunics, which will fund a ministry to help people who want to get off the streets and get clean. Tarah uses her creativity and resourcefulness to repurpose vintage finds and furniture into unique works of art.
About her new venture, Tarah says “Two Tunics started with a dream in 2012 of starting my own non profit business that would put my abilities and resources to good use and allow me to give of what I have to help others who are in need. Two Tunics began in its first form 3 years ago as a clothing bank at Network Tacoma, a non profit organization that provides temporary housing to homeless families.”
I have been with Tarah as she’s walked though some very dark circumstances. Sometimes the darkness seemed like it might crush her. But even in the darkest places she has searched for Light, a glimmer of hope and Truth that she clings to. She says “It is because of the hard times that I realize the value of hope. I’ve seen some pretty dark days, but they have given me an understanding of struggle that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. What God has taught me through my experiences is that by helping others we show love and plant hope, and we should do so because everyone has value, regardless of their circumstance.”
About the Photographer
Jessica Uhler is a family and wedding documentary photographer in the Seattle/ Tacoma area. Her goal is to show you the beauty of your real life and everyday moments in a way that leads you to gratitude. Her background as a poet and writer helps her see beauty in the mundane and capture her subjects in an artful way. She is one of the founding members of Sham of The Perfect- an international Collective of photographers capturing families in an honest way. She wants to tell beautiful stories, but also believes in living a beautiful story with her husband, four kids, and dog in their 100 year-old home.