This Is To Have Succeeded

I had originally planned to title this post "He Stole My Heart" but after thinking about it, I realized that isn't really what this story is about. And anyway, the truth is, I handed it over willingly and I know in my  heart, he treasures it.  I've been wanting to write about it for a long time but several things kept getting in the way and I kept pushing it off until I could give it the proper attention.  It always surprises me how, when the time is right, it  just comes together effortlessly.  I'm so thankful for that because in many ways it has allowed me to rest in the knowledge that when it is needed, it will flow and that I need not fear those times when I feel as though I am wandering in the dry and barren desert.  Oh how I needed the reminder this week.  

People tell me all the time that this is my gift: the writing, the photography, the artwork, and the ability to pull it all together in a way that speaks to others and encourages hearts. What I want to tell you today, is that I am only able to give back, what has been so generously given to me. And that I believe in doing that, I've finally found a way to make a difference in this life.  That is where the gift lies for me.  It's not about money.  It's not about fame or recognition.  It's not even about ambition or anything other than the fact that I suddenly find myself gifted with a purpose driven life, and that in the deepest part of me, I find true meaning in that.  I've been all too poignantly reminded of late, of a quote by Maya Angelou that says, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel."   Let me tell you about  a little boy who already knows this and lives it well.

Andrew came into my life, nearly 3 years ago now, when we moved into this little house on the river that had not seen any love in quite some time.  My youngest son is good friends with his older brother and before long, it was a common sight to look out my kitchen window and see all the boys dreaming up adventures and carrying them out between our yard and theirs on a regular basis.  It always made me smile, because I had this romantic notion that the house could feel it and was finally happy again. They have such wonderful imaginations and they were doing everything, from creating a fort in the big tree out front with just some rope and a few boards as swings, to selling lemonade in the summer and hot cocoa in the winter, in their little roadside stand down by the mailbox. They were pirates collecting treasure from homemade maps one day, to ghost hunters and capturers, the next.  But my favorite scene has always been a very simple one.  The one that happens when they head down to the river's edge and quietly talk to each other while tossing rocks into the water and tracing lines in the dirt with sticks, their hair gently blowing in the wind.  Those simple moments are so precious, aren't they?  My life is made up primarily of little moments like that and they are my fondest memories.  It is those times when I would occasionally wander out and take pictures of them.  Andrew is particularly inquisitive and I enjoyed the way he stopped to ask questions and talk about photography with me.  He was so little, and so curious, it always blessed my heart.  It wasn't long before I realized that he was developing a real passion for it and when he wandered over with a new camera and a real lens, I thought, ok... this little boy feels what I do, when he carries around that little black box and some glass and points it at something.   Wow.  To find your passion at such a young age is quite remarkable.  He is only 8.  I can only imagine how far he is going to go. 

One day, Andrew came inside while I was shooting Reverse Lens on a tripod.  He wanted to learn how to do it, and I thought...well, why not?  We started with a peacock feather and that was pretty fun, but I have always found my real photographic joy in flowers and so we gave that a try.  Very quickly, he picked up on how to do it, and so began a journey for him, and for me, that has brought joy not just to us, but to many others.  His enthusiasm is incredibly infectious.

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Andrew won first place in his division for 4 flower photographs he submitted to a contest called Reflections.  (I smile again at how appropriate it all seems.) One of them was taken using the Reverse Lens technique he learned right in my own kitchen.  I was standing in the middle of the lobby at our hotel in Niagara Falls when the email came in and I was jumping up and down like a fool, I was so happy and excited for him.  What a moment!  What a wonderful, life affirming, beautiful moment for this precious little boy, for his parents, and for the woman they've chosen to share him with.   How incredibly special for me, that they couldn't wait to share that moment and that in doing so, it was almost like I was there.  This is what I value.  This is what matters to me.  This is what lends my life meaning and purpose.  I hope as he gets older, he will really come to understand what he has given to me.  And I hope his parents already do because who he is today, is largely because of them.

I could write a good deal more about this little boy and his impact on my life.  Yet I've always loved the verse in Luke 2:19 that says, "But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart."  I think I'll follow her example and save some of them, just for me....   

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:21

*Incidentally, my little friend and I worked on an image together and it is part of the collection available with Eat Art.  You can order that image and read more about this powerful cause here:

Eat Art: The Kingdom of Heaven