Overcoming Addiction and Finding God Again with Shawn and Laura – Dallas Frisco Family Photographer – Me Ra Koh
We love the peace that flows between Shawn and Laura as they gaze at each other. You would never guess what this couple has had to overcome.
MEET SHAWN AND LAURA
We would like to introduce you to two of the most resilient humans we’ve ever met. Shawn and Laura have epic life stories — full of twists and turns with struggle and victory, that have lead to an epic love story.
Their lives and their love story continue to bless and inspire those around them!
TRIUMPH OVER ADDICTION
Both Shawn and Laura know what it’s like to hit rock bottom. Each having their own story about battles with addiction, they now have an ‘other-worldly peace’ about them that is firm and unyielding and felt in every room they enter. Through arrests, rehab and prison, Shawn and Laura now live life in a way that connects, inspires and creates immense JOY. They understand the fierce desperation of clawing your way back out of ‘the hole’. Where many have given up and given into their addictions, Shawn and Laura know what it is to look addiction in the face and say, “you will not own me”.
They are fierce in how they do life and love.
MIRACULOUS BLENDING OF LIVES AND FAMILY
Laura is in awe when she thinks about how far they’ve come, not just individually but together as a family. Shawn and Laura each have two children; Shawn’s children are teenagers while Laura’s are a bit younger. Blending a family always brings its own challenges, but the way Shawn and Laura love each other is evident in how seamlessly their family has blended together. They’re strength of character and spirit resonates in their children and in everything they do.
Laura says, “It’s miraculous, the way our lives have come together and the way they mesh. It makes me feel proud of us and like we can accomplish anything.”
AN ANCHOR FOR SHAWN AND LAURA
For Laura, the goal of these portraits was to create an anchor for them…one that pulls them back together and reminds them of how fun and deeply connected they are. “His eyes show how INVESTED he is.. this is a visual reminder of his investment and mine into him. We’re doing this and we’re not going to give up. There’s so much more to look forward to!”
HOW LAURA SEES HERSELF
Humble – Laura understands the importance of humbling yourself and asking for help when needed. She believes reaching out comes down to a willingness to ‘do the work’.
Empathy and understanding – Laura is always trying to see things through others’ eyes. To gain understanding, it’s important to be able to shift your point of view. It is in this way that Laura feels connected to others. She has very much been a diplomat for her entire life and it has helped her greatly.
Recovery – Laura tries to give herself grace and not be too hard on herself. She’s in recovery. She and Shawn both are. Laura owns and operates a women’s house and she’s always looking at 12 steps for her and for others. Being able to be open to other’s journeys is critical and understanding what works for them vs what works for her is what allows her to grow deeper in her connections.
“It takes a lot to hold space for patience, love and tolerance for those going through their 12 steps in overcoming addiction. But then I realize I deserve to hold space for myself too. This is how I find God.”
Connectedness – “At first, when getting sober I shut God out. Then, I started with the small things: connecting with others, simple joys, moving out of survival mode.. all of this was my first concept of God. After 6 months of sober living, I began to feel peace, believing ‘God loves me. I am worthy of love. I am okay.’ This was my psychic change moment.”
“In my room, all by myself at Sober Living, I felt forgiven, loved and like I matter. I had a clean slate.”
WHAT LAURA WOULD LIKE TO SEE
We asked Laura what she would like to see in these portraits and her response is breathtaking and completely relatable:
“I operated out of fear for so longer. I want a reminder of how far I’ve come. How far WE’VE come. I felt so unworthy, so much guilt and shame. I want these (portraits) to be a reminder that ‘it’s going to be okay’ and then I can say, ‘Let’s do this!'”
When they arrived, Laura sent us a photo! She said “I feel beautiful every time I look at them!” YAY!!!!
These portraits are in their master bath, which is a refuge for Laura. We love how they help her re-center when she needs to escape, gets upset or needs to collect herself. Keep reading to see what they did with all the rest!
WHAT LAURA HAS TO SAY ABOUT THEIR MARRIAGE
When describing their marriage, Laura gave these 3 words: Growth, FUN, Satisfaction. Laura says it’s been challenging but they’ve had to get comfortable with each other. When you choose to do the hard work, there’s a kind of intimacy and authenticity that goes with it. She says that when she looks at Shawn, she sees his choices, that he’s there and willing and actively doing the hard work. This means everything to her.
Shawn and Laura are ACTIVE and through these activities, comes the FUN! They both do Spartan Endurance races. They’ve been lost in the middle of the night. Literally leaning on each other, Shawn will ask Laura, “What do you need? Trailmix? H2O?” He takes care of Laura and her appreciation shines through her like sunshine. In that moment, they are deeply connected.
Laura loves Shawn’s big smile! She says, “He smiles with his eyes. Any time he sees me coming to the finish line, he cheers, ‘I’m so proud of you!’ This makes me feel AMAZING! I notice a lot in his eyes; the focus, determination and he’s invested.” She jokes that she’s 5’2 and he’s 6’4 so she’s “always looking up to him!”
WHAT IT MEANS TO SEE HIS INVESTED LOOK EVERY DAY
“I LOVE having a visual reminder of how invested he is in me, but also how invested I am in him. There’s so much to look forward to! These portraits give me hope, motivation and determination. It’s also good for our kids to see a model of what a healthy relationship loos like. You take pride in what you invest in because you put so much hard work into it.”
WHAT SHAWN SAYS ABOUT LAURA
When we asked for 3 attributes that Shawn loves about Laura, he couldn’t narrow it down so he gave us 4! He said he loves her compassion, tolerance, how she loves other folks and he said she is BEAUTIFUL.
He loves how much FUN they have together! Their marriage doesn’t feel like duty or work. They travel, talk openly and just love to be with each other.
We LOVE that Laura talked about Shawn’s eyes, because when we asked Shawn to describe Laura, the first thing he mentions is her eyes! Laughing, he says she talks with her eyes, they are so expressive. He exclaims, “There is so much joy in her eyes!” He also loves that she is decisive and puts great thought into detail. She runs the household and is super organized.
“Life is just better with her. I was never going to get married again, but the feeling I feel with her…when I’m with her, it’s just a natural love. It’s not complicated. I just want to be around her.”
ACTS OF SERVICE
Shawn starts each day showing love with doing something for her – he makes her coffee without turning on the lights or making noise. He also ends each day with making her tea. We also find out from Carla, Shawn’s mom, that Laura makes Shawn’s lunch for him every day without fail. We love the way these two show their love through the love language, Acts of Service!
WHAT CARLA SAYS ABOUT SHAWN AND LAURA
Fun little backstory…
Carla reached out to us a year before Shawn and Laura came. She wanted to give them a significant gift certificate to have their own Rising Phoenix Experience! Every month, she made payments until it was time to surprise them! Isn’t that AWE-mazing?!
Truth be told, Shawn and Laura weren’t sure what to think! They’d never heard of us or the Rising Phoenix Experience. But through the calls, they started to discover the transforming power of this experience.
Carla, Shawn’s mom, says, “I’m crazy about my daughter-in-law! She likes me. She’s a gift to me.” Carla shares how Shawn and Laura balance each other well. She is so proud of Laura for all she’s overcome and even though Laura once was a resident at a sober house, now she owns it. She’s a hard worker and is so good to Shawn.
Through tears, Carla says, “She truly loves my son. She lets him be him. He’s crazy about sports and his races and she not only lets him, but encourages him and participates with him! They are a good crazy together.”
Carla is also very proud of how Shawn and Laura have been able to blend their family. They’re doing a great job supporting the kids, though this blending hasn’t been easy. Laura’s children’s father died from an overdose not long ago. Shawn goes out of his way to bring levity and fun when he can. He once shaved his head for Halloween to go as Gomez Addams! We love that!
3 attributes about their marriage that Carla admires: Patience, Communication and Stubbornness.
3 attributes about Laura that Carla loves: She is a great mother. Carla says, “I really admire her and the major things she has overcome. And she’s an amazing mother.” She admires Laura’s strength, resilience and steadfastness.
Carla hopes these portraits remind Shawn and Laura of their LOVE and admiration for each other.
INSPIRING THE WORLD AROUND THEM
Shawn and Laura are such a joy to be around. Their stories are bringing light into the darkness and life where others can’t find any. We want to say THANK YOU to this amazing couple for having the vulnerability and authenticity to share both their struggles and triumph. Overcoming addiction is one of the hardest things a human can do and coming out the other side, finding God and love in life afterward is nothing short of miraculous inspiration. We wish you all of life’s happiness and truly hope these portraits will remind you of all you have been through, all that you have overcome, and all you have to look forward to with each other by your side.
It was our immense honor to witness and capture your love story as it unfolds.
THEIR BEAUTIFUL PORTRAIT BOX
Shawn and his mom, Carla, both want to celebrate Laura’s overcoming story with gorgeous wall art. Look at what they did with all the rest!
BEGIN YOUR FIORIA EXPERIENCE
How has your marriage and family fought hard for the relationships you have? At FIORIA, we focus on discovering what is most meaningful to you. What brings meaning to the Shawn and Laura may be different than what brings meaning to your marriage and family. Every family has their own words, their own story. We capture the resilience of you and your family–your Rising Phoenix within.
No matter how hard the world tries to discourage, disappoint, or overwhelm us, there is something in each family member that helps each other rise above it all.
If you’re not sure what it is for you or your family, let’s begin the beautiful journey together. Your FIORIA experience starts with our Signature Discovery Call.
Schedule Your First Discovery Call by filling out our Inquiry Form. We are so excited to take you on an unforgettable journey.
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