First of all, I would like to start off by saying that this post will be very personal for me as well as one of my best friends in the world Julie Story. As some of you know, this weekend she announced her engagement to one of the most humble, beautiful men I have ever met Sir Andre Lamothé. The love and support that Julie and Andre received have been overwhelming. I even received congratulatory texts! Haha. People are so excited that God’s princess has finally found her Prince! It’s a real life fairy tale, but it always hasn’t been this way…
Julie and I met at a very challenging time in both of our lives. We were both in the middle of divorce. Trina a friend of mine sold me a Canon 20D camera and I was looking to start a Wedding photography business. I know I had the drive and a bit of an eye but I needed someone to guide me. I needed a Mentor. I started to speak up to everyone about my dream and brought the camera everywhere with me. During Thanksgiving in 2010 I was invited to go to my Pastor’s mother’s house to have dinner. I separated from my husband earlier in the year and I didn’t want to spend Thanksgiving alone so this was a perfect opportunity to get to know people and have awesome company for the Holiday. There were many kids at the celebration, but two of the children present caught my attention. A little girl with the deepest dimples in the world that when she smiled it’s like it swallowed her tiny little precious face. And a little precocious boy with the deepest blue eyes that loved to chase the other kids and loved to giggle and smile until he couldn’t anymore.
Kairos and Leilie November 2010
I took my camera out and started to photograph them. As I fired away taking pictures of those little babies I struck up a conversation with their father. We chatted about photography and design and I mentioned that I was trying to get serious about my craft. He recommended that I reach out to his wife at the time for mentorship because she was a photographer and that she could help me. I was excited to talk to her, but at the same time a little apprehensive because he informed me that they were going through a divorce. It took me about a week to reach out to Julie on Facebook because I’m not going to lie it was awkward… My first message went a little like, ” Hi Julie, your husband referred me to you because I want to get into the photography business and he said you’re really good.” I waited and waited and didn’t hear a response. 1 hour had pass and began to get nervous. This was before Facebook had the “Other” folder for messages so I know she had to have received it. I was thinking “Oh my goodness she’s going to think I’m crazy and now I’ll never hear from her because that message was wack and I’m the mayor of Wackville for sending her that!” after 3 more hours had passed I decided to send her another message. I can never tell anyone what I said to her in the second message because it’s private, but she replied to that one with her telephone number. That night I called her and we talked on the phone for 3 hours and that was the start of our beautiful friendship.
The next year was rocky for both Julie and I. Not in the sense of the way we related to one another, but in our personal lives. We would share our frustrations our disappointments with ourselves and our failed marriages and the lonely road that was up ahead. People have this weird notion that the one that initiated the divorce has the most power. Quite the opposite, Julie and I were just as broken up about it regardless. Divorce isn’t pretty. There are no victors in divorce no matter how toxic the marriage was. You can listen to all the women empowering songs in the universe, You can blast Beyonce and Taylor Swift super loud, but when the music stops the brokenness is still there. You’re still alone and you’ve been downgraded from the prestigiousness of being called Mrs. to Miss again. You don’t belong to anyone on this Earth anymore, you belong to yourself. It’s a lot to take in. I was having a hard time, but one thing I didn’t have to do was walk this road with children which makes it 10 times more difficult. Julie had to walk that path and I could do nothing to help her. She had to walk solo on that part because I just couldn’t relate. It was foreign to me.
After the divorce, the fear of unknown started to set in. You would think that the high of divorce would kick in but boy there was a lot of floundering on both of our parts. Since my divorce, My dating life has been more comical than cool. I married the first man I’ve ever been with so getting into the dating game was a shock to me. I didn’t know there were so many people out there looking to exploit you. You mean not everyone is looking for a long term relationship? Yeah I found that out real quick. I was naive and I really needed (and still do) someone who understood my struggles of feeling inadequate and insecure. Julie was there. But as we were navigating through these rough waters I saw a huge change in Julie. She was on to something so I stood back and watched…
Julie started to figure out that her desire to know Jesus intimately was greater than her desire to have a companion again. Jesus was calling her and she was obedient. She started to attend Legacy a church and bible school in Riverview, FL and there she learned things about herself and her God. There is where she met Andre and you can see their whole story here. Their dating process seemed archaic and out of touch with reality to me at first. They were very careful about being alone together and they hung out mostly in groups of people from their church community. Their leaders played an integral part of their courtship and they were accountable to these leaders.
When I first met Andre at Julie’s house party the first thing I noticed was his humor. I know, I know some of you are looking at me like “Are you Blind? That man is Fione!” <— Yes I meant to say ‘Fione” cause that is how New Yorkers say it. But I’m a sucker for funny dudes. It’s true. I had zero reservations about him. He made me laugh my ugly laugh and in that moment I decided that he could stay around… I’m glad I didn’t have to jack him in the throat and hem him up in the corner cause that would have ruined the party. My inner gangster stayed tucked away because all jokes aside Andre radiates the love of Jesus. Not in slick televangelist way, but in a meek, authentic way.
To Andre: I now know when Julie has her moments where she doesn’t feel her best she can look at you and when she’s prostrate on the floor bawling her eyes out you will be there to lead her to Jesus. I see the way you look at her, but most importantly I see the way you look at her children. That means the world to me.
Things come full circle you know. When I was asked to photograph their pre-engagement photos I was so honored. The person who taught me the difference between Aperture and ISO. The person who introduced me to most of the people that I call my photography community today is getting married to man of her dreams. My Mentor, My Designer, and My Confidante. You deserve this Julie. We deserve this.
Photo by Lecia McDermott
To Julie: Don’t worry I’m finally taking your advice. Even though it’s the struggle of my life, I will wait on God just like you did. Many people see cupcakes and glitter, but I saw the broken dreams and a tear stained face and I tell you when I think about your story this verse comes to mind:
“But he knows the way that I take, and when he has tested me I will come forth as gold” Job 23:10
Some of my favorite shots from Julie and Andre’s shoot