Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Faith's Garden Reborn

For those of you who have known Dave and I for the past two years you probably know the story of our Faith. Our daughter Faith was born into heaven on March 7, 2005. Her 2nd birthday is coming up and I've been thinking more and more about her recently, I think especially as March approaches.

Today I went to a networking breakfast with a good friend of our family. I know a seemingly unrelated topic, but this is where my story begins.

As I've been working on getting my new photography business up and running I've been looking for (inexpensive) ways to promote my business. This networking breakfast seemed to be a great opportunity! So I went to the breakfast, met some wonderful and fascinating women and look forward to seeing them again next month. (Thanks again for the invitation, Lorraine!)

As I drove off from breakfast toward work (only 5 or so days left... I can hardly believe it), I got to thinking about other ways I could get my name out there. I realized that it seemed like the door to real estate photography was closing when the realtor at the breakfast said that these days with digital photography they take all of the pictures themselves and just throw them into this program at work. Easy peasy... well where do I, the professional photographer come in? Maybe I don't.

So my mind started wandering down this path... I started thinking about what do I really want my business to be about? What's important to me? What audiences and clients do I really feel I could connect with? Where would I find my niche?

Then my mind started down another path... my daughter Faith and her upcoming 2nd birthday. Then somewhere along Farnsworth Road these two thought paths merged...

I thought about how I wished when we were in the hospital having Faith I would have had the knowledge and gift of photography that I have now. Or I wish someone would have been there to take the artistic photographs that I’m now capable of taking. I mean we have some snap shots, but now thinking back I wish we would have captured in more detail her tiny little hands, her teensy little ears, used more flattering light than the hospital fluorescents, etc. etc.

But I also know I can’t dwell on it. We did the best we could with the resources we had at the time. God has preserved the memories of her and I think I remember her more for her spirit. That wonderful little kicker in my belly. Our precious little girl. And that’s ok. But had I been given the opportunity to have someone capture those things I don’t think I would have passed it up.

Here’s where I feel God revealed his plan to me and his real intention for Faith’s Garden. Some of you may remember the inspired beginnings of “Faith’s Garden”. After Faith was born we received so many beautiful flowers and I knew they wouldn’t last. So I took pictures of them. Many people told me how beautiful they thought the pictures were and encouraged me to continue.

From there hobby has grown to passion. I know without a doubt that photography is the unique gift that God has both blessed me with and called me to. Somehow I knew God had a plan for Faith’s short life and I knew from the beginning without a doubt that I was going to have the distinct privilege of being God’s ambassador though this situation. I just had no clue how it was all going to play out.

In the beginning I thought Faith’s Garden was going to be the name of my photography business, but I guess it just never really seemed to fit for me. Then my business name became LaMichelle Photography – a combination of my nickname LaLa given to me by some of our friends’ kids and Michelle, my middle name. Plus I thought it sounded fancy. I pictured the Eiffel Tower in my logo. But again, I liked it, but it just didn’t feel quite right. I think I’ve finally landed on a winner – Illuminate Photography. (You can read about how I came up with the name here).

Even though I’ve landed on this name that I really love, I still couldn’t let go of Faith’s Garden. At one point I thought maybe I would have a collection of Fine Art pieces with that title, or notecards maybe. You can see the collection here. Turns out I think God has a different plan.

So as I thought about how I wished that I had had someone to take pictures of our daughter during her short visit with us. And I thought about how now I possess the skills I had been lacking at the time. I believe here's where God revealed to me the fact that other people don’t have to miss out on this opportunity. I could be that person for them!

As I spoke with Dave about it tonight I really don’t think any person who hasn’t been through this situation could even think about pursuing this… opportunity? career? niche? ministry? I guess taking a step back if someone had come to me without having stood where I was standing I would think them a monster for wanting to profit from my loss. But I truly feel that God has called me to this. To minister to people who have lost something, the most dear thing a person can lose… their child. I have stood where they stand. I understand the pain, the loss, the anger… the list goes on and on. But I believe that God has also shown me that in the valley He is there. In the darkness He is the light. And I pray that I can show that to the people that God will call me to minister to.

I don’t know all of the details yet. I’m thinking I can give my information to the nurses at local hospitals and in the event of a loss I would be able to visit with the parents, share with them a little of my story, listen to them, and lastly offer them my services… to photograph their child, any flowers they receive, the memorial service if they choose to have one, favorite toys and stuffed animals and even the nursery if it was ready. They don’t have to view the pictures right away, never if they choose. But the photographs will be available if and when they are ready to see them. I was thinking I could even help them assemble a professionally printed memory book.

I’m so overwhelmed with a feeling of compassion thinking about this whole thing! I even got to thinking that maybe one day I could compile these photographs, stories, poems and Scripture verses that I collect. Anything that might help others through this process, into a book. What an amazing thought.

I really feel like this is the vision for Faith’s Garden. God does have an amazing plan for my life and I’m really looking forward to the journey. It’s going to be an amazing ride… I just know it!

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