Yesterday as I was waiting to get the oil changed in my car, I overheard two men speaking about ministering to a big congregation and how nerve-racking it can be. They talked about the things that can go wrong with technical equipment and how could you stay in your momentum with such a big distraction. It made me think of how even when we do great things, that we have done time after time, we still get nervous about the what-if's. I'm like that before a wedding. I plan for traffic, pray for no accidents or a flat tire. I need to be early because early is on time by my definition. I make sure to pray before every job but I pray a little extra when it's a wedding. There's no rescheduling, no re-do. This is it.
While they were talking, I was going through weddings I photographed for marketing materials, seeing what spoke to me, when I happened upon one of my favorite memories. It was at a small wedding held at a home in Stafford, Virginia.
It was an outdoor wedding, under a tent, during one of the those monumentally huge rainstorms. As I pulled up to the house, I saw rain pouring from the top of the tent like a waterfall. I exited my car and immediately sunk about three inches down into mud. At first I thought it would be moved indoors. There was no way she would make it outside in her dress and wedding shoes. When I entered the house, everyone inside was calm and joyful. I had not even met the bride prior to the event because I was hired by her mother. I entered the room where Meredith was getting ready. She was beautiful and so happy. She laced up her boots for her walk through the rain and mud. I immediately knew I liked this young woman.
What made it my favorite was this moment and this person, the way he impacts my life and the lives of others. The moment was special because this bride and groom wanted to pray together before their ceremony but they also didn't want to see each other. They called the Pastor to come and pray with them and that's when I saw him, Pastor Todd Gaston. Whenever I am at a wedding, it is a delightful surprise when he walks through the door. I know God hears my prayers but when Pastor Todd walks through the door, I think to myself, "Thank you Father." My heart immediately stills and a peace comes over me. I know the presence of the Holy Spirit is in that place. The anointing on his life is undeniable. That's when I knew that it was going to be a very special day.
Erick and Meredith each stood on opposite sides of the door, holding hands with each other and Pastor Todd. I quietly prayed with them and for them while also capturing this moment that touches my heart.
Suddenly the rain didn't matter anymore. It almost made it even more beautiful.
After the ceremony and portraits everyone was to head back into the house. Shoes were soaked and some covered in mud. One by one, Pastor Todd held the door and allowed every guest to go into the house while they removed their shoes. Pastor Todd continued to stand at that door until even I was safe under the cover of a dry house. He treated me like a guest even though I was a vendor there to work. That simple gesture still stays in my mind to this day, nearly three years later. You never know what acts of kindness can do and how they impact another person. I know I said thank you that day but thank you again Pastor Todd for the dignity you show to others. You are an example of a Godly man.
It's my prayer that I continue to have that moment of delightful surprise when I see Pastor Todd in a place when I wasn't anticipating it. I pray that I walk into a room, maybe even a little nervous about the rain or whatever else may be going on and know that not only will it all be okay but that it will be a wonderful day. Thank you Pastor Todd Gaston and the Gaston family for the sacrifices you make everyday. I can only imagine what it would feel like to wish you could just run to the store really quick, unnoticed and get back home. Instead you choose grace, grace for others who love you and can't wait to see you walk into a room. May you all be blessed the way you bless others.
Beloved Photography Heather Kampans Portrait and Event Photographer