When I first heard about Beauty Revived, I fell in love with its mission. Beauty Revived was started two years ago as a way for photographers to use their lens for good and shine light on the real beauty that was happening in our communities. In the last 2 years, more than 500 women, girls and children have been featured on their website and magazine.
As the deadline was approaching to apply to be one of the 50 photographers for this year's children's campaign, I hesitated. "Here I am about to put myself out there only to be rejected." Then I remembered this was not about me and to just go for it. I even I convinced myself after I hit the send button that it would be a good learning experience even though I probably would not be chosen. Can you relate? (Why do we do that to ourselves?) A week later I got the email saying I had been selected. To say I was giddy with excitement is an understatement.
When the thought of 50 Beautiful Children came up, I already had Maple in mind as the child I would photograph. I wanted to shine a light on her life and the faith of her family. I had lived just down the street from them in the sweetest neighborhood in Rome, Georgia. Becca, Maple's mom, and I were both pregnant at the same time, she with Maple, me with my second son. Becca and I grew close as we walked our neighborhood roads and the pregnancy road together. Her story became much different than my own as she and her husband discovered after an ultrasound that Maple would be born with bladder exstrophy. Essentially Maple's bladder and surrounding organs would be formed on the outside of her body. As Maple's due date approached, I watched as countless doctors' appointments were made, opinions and options were given, and rugs were pulled out from under them. It was an anxious time of waiting. But, their faith remained steady, focused on the One who was creating Maple and knew her every need.
Maple came into the world and I became more in awe of God's grace and mercy in their lives as they learned how to adapt and live with Maple's condition. She went through some pretty major surgeries that I couldn't imagine walking through with my own children. I remember seeing baby Maple in her purple cast that reached from her armpits to her toes after her first major surgery when she was only two months old. (Two months old.) After recovering, two other major reconstructive surgeries ensued within the next 5 years.
(Becca recorded their journey of those early years in her own blog here.)
Maple is now six years old and just as spunky and beautiful as ever. She and her younger sister Sailor are a delight to watch. Becca is also expecting her third child. It's another girl! I was thrilled that our schedules coincided at the beach this summer and I could take photos of Maple and the whole family. Not only is Maple living a remarkable story, but her parents have lived a beautiful faith for their children, family, and others.
My hope is that as you look at this gorgeous family, you would remember to ask people their stories. Engage with them. There would be no way of knowing any of the things this family has gone through by merely looking at these images. We all have stories to tell. We have all seen beauty revived in our own struggles and stories. Each one deserves to be shared.
I asked Becca to contribute her story for the Beauty Revived feature to go along with these portraits of Maple and her family. You can read that here:
This is Maple and her family. They are beauty revived.
Maple's story will also be featured in the Beauty Revived magazine set to be published August 20, 2018. I'll provide that link once it becomes available.