In Full Family / Full Hearts/ Heart Strings/ Uncategorized

Sweet Sharon ~ A Lasting and Loving Legacy

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There are times when I leave a photo shoot and am completely inspired and overwhelmed by the people I have been able to work with…where I leave changed and encouraged and humbled. Often this is after I have witnessed incredible strength and courage, kindness and authenticity, joy and gratefulness and/or true humility…sometimes a combination of all of these and typically when current circumstances wouldn’t necessitate those attitudes or qualities. Relationships are richer and more meaningful and life is not taken for granted in these situations. Sometimes I cannot believe I get a front row seat to this. Really. For me, it is always a perspective check. It is not uncommon for me to sit in my car to process what I just was a part of, sometimes I tear up and I always pray for the families I get to work with.

This is the part of my job that I love the most. This is the part that makes photography more than a job for me.

I want to share with you a little bit about one women’s legacy. A legacy is defined as “something – tangible or intangible- that is handed down from someone in the past.” I am guessing that most of us have spent some time trying to map out aspects of our lives…realizing later that any true control over how things actually materialize are in many ways not in our hands. However, have you ever considered that the daily choices you make and the priorities you establish are creating for you a legacy? They are like little deposits into how you will be remembered and what others will learn from you – regardless of how uncontrollable circumstances play out. YOU WILL pass on something to your children and grandchildren. The way you live matters. Will you live intentionally or arbitrarily?

I didn’t know Sharon well at all. I knew of Sharon, but I did not have a personal relationship with her. I had heard about her from her son (who is our completely amazing pediatrician). I love that he shared about his mom because I was able to pray for her! She lived with a diagnosis of breast cancer for a long time. This is always something very personal to me. My mom also had breast cancer many years ago and went through surgeries and treatment and thankfully is still alive today. Both of my grandmothers, my dad’s sister and other relatives have had the same disease. It isn’t something foreign to me ~ but is something I feel a strong connection with. This is when I first heard about Sharon and began praying for her.

I knew she had started a company that marketed dog grooming products to the dog show world. The name was Vellus Products, Inc. and she became known all around the world and developed distributors in 32 countries. This is a company that is still thriving today, now run by other family members.

I know that she and her husband Bob have several kids, many grandkids and even some great grandkids. I was able to spend time with all of them when we had our photo shoot. What a sweet and lively bunch they are! See some of them in the photos above.

Most importantly though, I knew of her love for the Lord and her devotion to Him…her trust and faith in Him. 

One of her grandchildren, Emily, said “She was such a prayer warrior! I knew she prayed for her family daily. She was friends to everyone and shared Jesus’ love. Some of my most favorite memories were baking cookies, talking about birds, and homeschooling at Vellus!”

Another grandchild, Amanda, said “When I think of my Grandma, I think of Love! She loved Jesus, she loved her family and she loved life. She always managed to make me feel so loved, every time we talked and every time we were together! She had such an impact on everyone she met. Whether it be her family, the cashier at Giant Eagle or her great granddaughter. Everyone felt that love. I was honored to be able to assist in caring for her in her final months here on this earth. Even during that time she managed to pour out love onto her family. That’s just one example of the incredible woman she was. Her legacy lives on, even though see is not living on this earth with us. I miss her daily but thankful she is enjoying life with Jesus in her forever home.”

Her daughter Teri shared “The most important thing mom taught me, she didn’t teach me per se but showed me by how she lived her life every day ….was what it looks like to love The Lord with all you heart, soul and mind and to love others as yourself. To love unconditionally and to forgive easily. To give grace generously. To trust God for the big things and the smallest things. To trust Him in good health and in times of suffering. To Praise Him for all things. To pray continually. To see the best in all people. To have compassion for others. To love people from all around the world. To share Jesus.” {What a list! It blows me away.}

Teri also shared this memory “I was not permitted to date until I was 16 years old. At that time I also got a job at a fast food restaurant, Arthur Treacher’s Fish n Chips. I was feeling down because there were no boys asking me out on a date, and I had waited so long….haha!! My Mom came to see me at work and she saw Dave (my husband) and prayed that the Lord would put it on Dave’s heart to ask me out, but only if it was the Lord’s will. Well, a couple weeks later Dave asked me out for Pizza and red pop. The rest is history. Mom never told me this until a little while after we were married. Always the prayer warrior with such a joyful spirit.”

And one of her son’s Kent remembered that “her joy was being with family and sharing Jesus with others!” He always loved how she referred to her family as her vitamins.

I know I am far from perfect and make many mistakes. If I can learn to be intentional in my words and actions and less reactionary…If I can be honest and apologize when necessary…If I can give grace and accept it too….There are many ways we can choose to show people God’s love and create a meaningful legacy. Sharon is a wonderful example of that and I am so grateful I was able to pray for her, meet her and capture memories of her precious family.

One her favorite verses and good advice for all of us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7. I know I want that circumstance-surpassing peace. ♥

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