This will be the last blog post from FarFromBeale. With nearly 17,000 visits I am so glad to have been able to share my words, feelings, thoughts, and heart with people over the past couple of years! So, before you start tearing up over this loss (ok, I may be exaggerating a bit…), NEVER FEAR! I have a new website in the works that will better explain what I am doing here in Orlando and how you can continue to be involved. It will be cleaner, prettier, easier to access, and with beautiful photography.
This morning, I had the immense privilege of spending some time in Dickson Azalea Gardens with Mrs. Lizzie Randazzo. I met Lizzie at our church Christmas Party this past December. Her husband, Marco, and I work together to bring church services to the men and women in the Orange County Jail every Sunday through Summit Church. Marco is a pretty funky guy as well as an incredible musician, so I knew his wife would have to be just as talented and amazing. I was right. Lizzie captured me with her smile and effervescent spirit from the moment I met her and I knew I wanted some time to get to know her better.
So, when I needed beautiful photos for a new website, I knew I wanted Lizzie to be on the other end of the camera. In addition to photography, generosity, and just being awesome, Lizzie is also the owner and founder of Market Colors, a “handmade impact” business that sells absolutely gorgeous jewelry, scarves, accessories, and more crafted by men and women in different parts of Africa. Lizzie and her team work closely with the craftsmen and women to give them hope and income amidst severely impoverished communities.
Lizzie asked me to meet her at 8:30 this morning at a beautiful park near Downtown Orlando. I had some ideas I wanted to incorporate in the photos – most notably red balloons. To me, red balloons symbolize whimsy, innocence, and hope. In some dream interpretations, red balloons signify a letting go of something in life that has been holding one down or back.
I was nervous and excited about this morning. I went to bed early last night and woke up early so I wouldn’t look sleepy. I spent hours by myself and on the phone with my mom stressing about my body, my insecurities, and what I could wear that would look somewhat professional, not too stuffy, and maybe even flattering. This all may sound a little vain, but having photographs taken is hard for me. I have gained weight since grad school and have been very insecure about my body lately. I almost had Lizzie take photos of someone else for the site, but then I decided to put on my red lipstick, my big girl pants, and do it myself. Someone else’s face wouldn’t capture my hope, passion, and enthusiasm for helping people. Someone else’s hands wouldn’t convey how much I need support to sustain my counseling ministry. Someone else’s eyes would not tell the story of a woman who has met great pain in life but who now introduces hope into the lives of others.
So I showed up this morning with my red balloons, my mason jar full of change, and no idea what would happen over the next hour or so.
I was immediately comforted when I pulled up and saw Lizzie’s face. Her smile and encouragement are purely contagious. I loved walking around the park with her, seeing her artistic eye, and asking her questions about her professional life as well as her personal life. I felt comfortable and beautiful and seen all at the same time. Lizzie was aware of my hesitancy and insecurities, and I feel like she knew what I was going for and how to capture the idea of hope in a picture.
I can’t wait to see the photos, but I am more excited to see what unfolds as I get to know Lizzie better. She truly as a servant’s heart, a great sense of style, and is just an all-around beautiful woman.