Matthew 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these."
Sunday was pure joy for me as I set out to give a gift to my neighbors in my community. The Front Steps Project was founded by Cara Soulia in Needham, Massachusetts. Inspired by her vision, I began to get excited about the idea of doing the same thing right here in the Johnstown/Milliken community. I shared the link on Friday evening to see if there would be any interest. While jogging on Saturday morning, I prayed about how I could do my part for the Kingdom. I felt the overwhelming desire to speak life into families during this quarantine -- from 6-10 feet away, of course. I find comfort in following the rules; it is part of my Type A personality. So please hear my heart when I say that I did research about how to honor CDC guidelines for social distancing in order to be compliant in all things. Honestly, I did follow all the rules!
I believe more than ever now is the time to be a light. On Saturday I decided I was going to be part of this project! I reached out to my local neighbors, encouraged them to invite their neighbors, and sought families that wanted to join in on the fun. Originally I thought I would use late afternoons during the week to photograph families. But as news of possible tighter restrictions trickled in, I felt an urgency to start immediately.
After more thought and prayer about the project, as well as advice and encouragement from our church family on line, I felt motivated to step out in faith and begin photographing my friends. I started preparing on Sunday after lunch and hit the ground at 3:30pm. Sunday was beautiful and the organized vibe for the day was sidewalk chalk art.
I had 15 families including mine scheduled every 15 minutes! Some neighbors had very little notice, but their willing spirits proved that anything can be done when a community comes together. I tried my best to organize by neighborhood and whether the home was facing East or West. This proved to be harder then I thought, but I only had to back track once. I had to advise a couple of families to wear sunglasses, because there was just no way to avoid full sunshine.
I drove from address to address with my music loud, singing along with delight. What an opportunity to pray over our town and bless families from the sidewalk! As a culture we want to be heard. We want to be seen. I hope that the families I photographed on Sunday feel seen. I am so grateful to have a camera that allows me to provide a memory that will spark a story and bring emotions to life from this crazy time in our lives.
I did very little prompting and held back the desire to move a plant a little to the left or ask Mom or Dad to move the chair out of the shot. Most of these families are my friends. As a result of wanting to reach the most families possible, some of these folks are new friends! I stood on the sidewalk, waved, and introduced myself, giving them a quick rundown of what to expect. Three images - standing, sitting and a family hug.
I love how each family got creative with the project. I was able to ask some of the families to make a sign for the session. It could say anything they wanted, as long as it included “#thefrontstepsproject.”
From Barefoot, Beer, & Babies to families in pajamas everyone’s interpretation was unique. On one block the neighbors were cheering and bantering back and forth across the street.
This project for me represents generosity. I want to sow seeds of kindness and be a giver. I want you to see these smiling faces and know that God is good.
I get to serve those around me by providing a family picture that documents an unprecedented time in history. It will represent a strong and resilient nation, a country that can chose compassion. Truthfully, I wanted this project as part of my testimony, images of my own family to show that God is in control.
Sometimes a testimony is formed when we are challenged. Well, photographing a family sitting on their front porch while the sun is high in the sky challenged me. Other than the obvious health and safety guidelines, the only rule I set for myself was to keep the family on the Front Steps. I spent 5 minutes in front of each porch and did my best to set the camera up quickly all while interacting intentionally with the happy faces smiling down at me. It was so worth it! Maybe if I do it again, I will find a charity participants can donate to, so we can also be a financial blessing to others.
I often ask myself, “What can I do?” Now I will ask you the same question… “What can you do?”
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