Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Last Saturday


I'm never cryptic just for the sake of building mystery.

When I asked you to pray last week for our big/little plan we'd hatched for Saturday, I didn't mean to be coy or get anyone too keyed up. I was just feeling shy about things. I didn't want to jinx it by saying too much. Our idea was a bubble in our chests - a fragile, quiet thing. pop! (<< - That's what I was hoping to avoid.)

I had a handful of friends who emailed or sent texts or grabbed my arm in person after reading my post and said something to the effect of, "Hey, what the heck are you doing Saturday?" I got all blushy and spilled it. Now, it's your turn.


A year ago, we had the idea to offer free family pictures to our neighborhood. I'm not sure what inspired this, other than two simple realities 1) My husband takes pretty pictures and 2) Many of my neighbors might not have the opportunity (for lots of reasons) to do this thing that we take for granted.

In the end, we ran out of October. The dreamy light retreated and all the leaves turned brown underfoot. Blerg. Maybe next time.

It came up again this September. Here's how the conversations usually went:

Me: We should do the picture day this year.
Him: Yep. Let's do it.
Me: Okay, when?
Him: I don't know. We'll have to look at our calendars.
Me: Our month is busy...
Him: I know...
Me: But we should at least try.
Him: I agree.
The end.

As in, we never got anywhere. We never actually did anything.
We talked and yammered and hemmed and hawed but the simple task of sitting down, picking a date, and marking it in pen was apparently too much action for all our good-minded chatter.

Here's the root of it: Once you write it down, you're accountable. Even if it's just to yourself.
The truth is, we were scared. I'm not entirely sure why.

Our instinct was to micromanage every single detail and every possible pitfall in advance. We wanted it to be perfect. We believed if everything was exactly right, the odds for success would bend in our favor. In fact, our obsessive planning for a perfect family picture day guaranteed that not a single family would smile for the camera.

It might not be perfect. Maybe the weather would mess with us. Maybe no one would trust us enough. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

What were we really so afraid of?
What did we have to lose?

Cory put together a basic, bi-lingual flyer and walked door-to-door with the kids. They passed out 50.

A few days later, I typed up my SOS blog post while butterfly wings flapped in my chest.

Friday was gorgeous. The picture-perfect October day. Things were looking up.
Then Saturday dropped by over 20 degrees. Rain fell all day, and we'd turn to each other and shrug. We knew we'd obeyed. We had done our imperfect part. It was alright that the day was already a flop.

We showed up when we said we would.
Cory framed his shot. We hopped back in the van and waited while the windshield wipers laughed at us. Uh-uh. Nope.

No one came.

I drove home with the kids, fielding questions from the backseaters. "Why did we keep waiting there? Why didn't anyone come? Why did Daddy stay?"

I don't know why I felt so happy. I wasn't sure why "failure" made me grin.
I thought of you, about how I'd tell the whole truth: obedience is worth the risk of failure.
We've got to come to the place where we fully believe our life and our days and our DSLRs are not our own. If we can't trust God to send us out, how can we call ourselves followers?

And then.

My phone buzzed with a text from Cory.
"A family just showed up!"

There they were, 2 parents. 8 kids. A mash-up of bloodlines and heartstrings and "you belong to me"s. These were people who knew a thing or two about what makes a family.

In puffy coats and matching nothing, they squeezed close and smiled.

We planned all week for this!
We've never had a family picture.
We switched weekends with their mom so we could all be together.

And I cried the whole way home.
Because one is enough, guys.
I promise you, it is.

They came in the rain and we were so close to bailing.
We were so close to a different ending, one where they planned all week and zipped their coats then showed up at an empty park, forgotten. Again.

Of course we didn't change their lives with a free 8x10.
But ours changed more than a little.

Thanks so much for your prayers.
It was a raging success.

81 comments:

  1. What a genius idea! Well done Martin fam.

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  2. Oh I love this! Every part of it. And now I need to go find a tissue...

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  3. hallelujah!! amen!!
    I don't know why I felt so happy. I wasn't sure why "failure" made me grin.
    I thought of you, about how I'd tell the whole truth: obedience is worth the risk.
    We've got to come to the place where we fully believe our life and our days and our DSLRs are not our own. If we can't trust God to send us out, how can we call ourselves followers? YES YES YES!

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  4. This makes me so happy. Do it again, 'kay? As people learn to trust you, they will show up.

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  5. I'm dripping quiet tears too. God is so good!!! One IS enough!!!

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  6. so great! all you had to do was show up...

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  7. I love you.
    Thank you for making a difference.

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  8. Love. Made me cry (not that that is tough!) So thankful that the family got a group shot together! There's something solidifying in seeing yourself all wrapped up in a picture together.

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  9. I almost Just only said Amen. But, I have to add a great big Hallelujah!

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  10. I love that God will launch an elaborate plan for one. One is always enough to Him. Love, love, love your obedience to His promptings.

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  11. That is obedience. Wow. So crying and I have never even visited your blog before!

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  12. Did I tell you that taking family pictures for families in my neighborhood is my favorite-st thing ever? I love it. And I love this, and y'all, and Cory waiting just a little longer. LOVE!

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  13. This is FANTASTIC!!!! As part of the large mission group from my Cincy church that lands in NOLA each summer, there is a Photography team. Their job is to capture the sweat on the job sites, the giggles from Bible Camp and most importantly, the families of the neighborhoods served. In this situation, those families have been rebuilding/documenting glimpses that were lost in the aftermath of Katrina. But the smiles...the candid shots while lining up...the final, frame-worthy photo at the end... It's all good! I'm so happy for your one family to be the start of a great thing!

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  14. This is beautiful - obedient hearts beating to the time of His for these special ones that he loves just that much. Oh...love...

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  15. This is redemption. This is love. This is beautifully told. So glad you shared.

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  16. You know what??? This gives me courage and I am confident that others will have the courage to walk in obedience even when it sounds outrageous...just because you did. I too, have had the idea of taking pictures of families in the little trailer park where I visit frequently, just to hang out, but i do not have a fancy camera, nor am I a gifted photographer. But so many of these families have no memories of their past, except in their minds. Thank you for being obedient. May we all take courageous steps because you have set a beautiful example before us but more importantly ...because God is worth it!

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  17. Gah! Just when I think I couldn't possibly love you more... LOVE love love this! What a gift!

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  18. What a great idea. Just one family is enough to make you smile. I'm sure so many people have never done this before. And in this age everyone has a phone that takes pictures that never get published. I would try again as Christmas pictures. It could be just a snapshot. It will mean a lot to them. Someone I know that is a photographer set up several props outdoors and took pictures. I was surprised how cute it was. I will try to get a picture of it for you.
    And, I'm sure you might say that some can't afford a cell phone. My son just found his birth mom. She lives in a run down, old, one bedroom trailer. She has no running water and heat and guess what....she has an I phone. I don't have one.
    Great way to connect with your neighborhood.

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  19. So awesome, friend. And I love that you showed up. Believe me, people were peering through their closed curtains wondering if you'd really do what you said you'd do. They noticed. They'll show up in the Spring.

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  20. The best thing everrrrr!!! Thank you for being brave!! You inspire me to be brave too!

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  21. This made me cry! One IS enough. I'm so glad you stayed! Thank you for including us in this small miracle by inviting us to pray.

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  22. This makes me cry...sob. This was so amazing.

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  23. One is enough! (stop making me cry). Love you.

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  24. A great idea and you made one family very happy!

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  25. Like everyone else, I'm crying!

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  26. Makes me think of the time we took pictures of our empty blankets, empty picnic tables and a grill with 80 hotdogs. "Hosting" a neighborhood barbecue, where no one showed up. We too smiled and took the pics to remind us that it is more about obedience than it is about numbers. Then we saw a group of teenagers across the street and Vaughn went over and begged them to let us feed them. We're continually being reminded that it's less about our "plan" being successful and so much more about being faithful! We get you! Love you and love your faithfulness!

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  27. What a wonderful post- thank you for sharing!!

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  28. Thank you for showing love to that one family! Yes!!

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  29. I'm tearing up because I so get this....life is in the details. The small things move us the most. Those tiny moments change us for the better. It happened the day we gave out our first basket of food from the farm, nothing more than a few pounds of food, but two elderly women, in the food bank parking lot changed me forever. With wrinkled, aged hands, they graciously accepted some summer squashes and I cried. If I do nothing else in my life, that moment with those women, made all the difference. And I am forever changed.

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  30. It's posts like this that make me a faithful follower...teary eyed as I write this - again, because God's LOVE shines through you!

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  31. This made me tear up a little...

    It is totally the random acts of kindness that bless people. And it blesses both sides. Good on you and Cory, Shannan!!

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  32. Tears are falling. I love stories of obedience even in what may seem like small things. If we are to be like Christ, we have to be about loving the one. Thanks for sharing this encouragement.

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  33. Oh, friend. I love this. I sent a text to M's mom and dad yesterday and told them we were taking one big family picture, their first with all three home. I am stupid giddy.

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  34. I think that dream ended exactly as it should have-- it enabled you to write this post and encourage us to do it afraid : ) The reward of obedience is the same whether we reach 1 or 1,000.... I'm smitten...♥

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  35. This is beautiful....I am crying now. Thank you for your obedience :) God Bless you and your family.

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  36. Oh my gosh. I love, love, LOVE this story!! In so many ways!! I am starting something new in my life too, and I'm so worried about failing, but I keep telling myeslf, "I'm obeying. I'm doing my part. All I need to do is just show up", but still I'm a bucket of nerves. So happy for this outcome. Again - LOVE IT! Oh! and, you MUST know about this thrifting thing: http://www.blitsycrafts.com/2014/10/when-blitsy-and-thredup-come-together.html?utm_source=responsys&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=14-10-29-Blitsy-Cross-Promo

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  37. A RAGING success indeed!!!!! We got to participate in Help Portrait one year and were BLOWN away by the impact. I never knew there were so many folks who had never been photographed, either individually or with their families! Can't wait til you do it again!

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  38. "Remember that year when that family and those kids passed out fliers and we took that family photo? This photo right here. Man, that was a cold rainy day. Suzy had a cough and Billy didn't like sitting on his sister's lap after we piled everyone in the car. But, it was worth it. I still smile at that photo. What was that family's name again? That little girl liked dressing like a rainbow. Hmm. I can't remember. But, good people. Different, but good. Something special about them."

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  39. This is so amazingly beautiful!

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  40. I would usually cry at this story, but instead it put a HUGE smile on my face :) I can't wait to hear what happens when you do it again!

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  41. i've already had a beyond-emotional day...
    and this has tears pressing at the backs of my eyes.

    friend...
    you're an inspiration.

    thank you.

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  42. Thanks for the details! I prayed for you. How amazing!

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  43. Thanks for the details! I prayed for you. How amazing!

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  44. I think my heart just exploded!

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  45. I can hardly breathe for the awesomeness of this! Our church works extensively in the projects and inner city and this would be such a great service to those families!

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  46. i'm joining the league of cryers here......this story is so meaningful! you made more of a difference in their lives than you think. ;)

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  47. You just made me cry. I'm a foster mom and have seen how important having pictures of family is to children. Our foster children have proudly shown us the one photo they have of a loved sibling in another home or in another state. They have shown us a photo of them as a baby, and beamed when we told them how cute they were. They love it when we want to take their photo or when they can take ours. Someone wanting a photo of you means you matter, someone loves you and thinks you are important enough to be remembered. We all matter. We all need to be remembered and honored. We have few photos of us as a family with the kids who are part of our family while they are with us. We don't always have someone around who can take the picture. I'm trying to be better about this and try to remember to offer to take these pictures for other foster families we know. Last time I said a final goodbye to a little guy who had been with us a short time I moved heaven and earth to get pictures printed for him of his dearly loved stepsister and him together. He is likely never going to see her again but he loved her deeply and they had a strong bond. Our system failed their relationship but my secret hope is that one day these pictures, with her name written on the back, may help him find her again. Thank you for offering this service to that family who did show up! Please try to do this again. You are telling these families that they do matter.

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  48. Awesome! What a sweet way to reach out and be a blessing! We are a family of 8 kids and 2 parents, and I totally would have shown up! That is, if I didn't live oppo-coast.

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  49. We are stepping out a bit in our "hood" tonight. My husband has put so much heart into this and I'm afraid of the "failure" as well. We are having a free hotdog and coffee stand in our yard for all the trick or treaters and the parents who come by. We're preparing for 100. A hotdog, a cup of coffee, a card with with a little love and a little "God loves you too" on it. You've made me realize that if only one comes by it will be worth it. We will be eating hotdogs for supper for 99 days but it will be worth it.

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    1. How did it go Felicia?
      What a beautiful way to give back to your community, even if it is stepping out and facing your fears.

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    2. It was awesome! Over 100 came.God is so good!

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  50. Sweet, sweet, sweet. Here I am, down in Texas, crying like I do when I see God's hand move. I love the simple truth in this, and the reminder to be obedient. Bless your sweet family and your good intentions!

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  51. This is a cup of grace that fills the thirst of one of His dear ones! This brings glory to Him and fills up the heart of so many! thank you for reminding us and for your obedience and your simplicity...this is Joy and Life!

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  52. "Because one is enough, guys." Amen, amen, amen. Happy tears here:)

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  53. Not a crier but your beautiful, joyful obedience brought tears to my eyes.

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  54. Wonderful. You have no idea how much this just encouraged me. Thank you.

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  55. beautiful words and such a beautiful story. thanks for sharing! so honored to link to you over at inspowoman.com. thanks for your heart and for your bravery in sharing your story. what a lesson. think, love, DO.

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  56. sweet how things have a way of working out just as they are supposed to.

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  57. Oh. My. Word. Thank you so much for sharing this! It was an encouragement to my soul today. Thank you.

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  58. I can't tell you how much I love this. I feel humbled. Just show up. Just obey! What a precious gift for that sweet family.

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