I'm sitting here alone at a desk in a hotel room.
I'm happy about it.
I'm alone and I just sat here while someone else made my bed and cleaned my bathtub.
That was a treat!
I also didn't have to be on a schedule this morning. I have no commitments, no work, no responsibilities.
I need this break.
I took photos Monday for a local event being held for adult men with special needs.
This was a volunteer thing.
I was so excited to do it.
I love being able to help out in the special needs community.
But, this experience became more than just an opportunity to serve.
I learned a lot.
I learned about a great local program that serves our children with special needs when they are no longer, technically, children.
What happens after high school?
What happens when it's no longer the sweet and good thing to help your fellow classmates, but now they are adults in your community. Now you're not expected to give these adults your attention or go out of your way to be their friend. We're adults, we don't have time to talk with a 35-year-old man about My Little Ponies and Harry Potter.
For 2 hours I had the opportunity to look into the eyes of 21 men.
That's what you do when you take photos.
You look into their eyes.
That's how you capture them.
It was hard not to shed a tear behind the lens.
I saw joy, hope, fear, sadness, excitement, and triumph and that was just in one of the faces.
Some could talk.
Some could walk.
Some had parents there with them.
I am not sure if some of the older ones have parents who are alive.
I would show each subject their photo after I took them and they would be so excited to see themselves on camera.
It made me wonder if we don't give special needs people opportunity enough to have their pictures taken.
Especially those who don't have a "typical" face.
Is it because we worry they'll be mocked or shied away from.
Or are we the ones that would do those things.
What is beauty?
We are trained to look at a person's face.
That's where we make our first judgement.
Right or wrong. It's what we do:
"What happened to them?"
"Are they a model."
"Where are they from."
"Do they not have any money?"
"They're probably really snobby."
"Are they OK?"
"Were they born that way?"
Now this is not one of those posts where I am going to tell you not to judge a book by its cover.
This one is different.
I'm not going to ask you to change what is instilled in us as natural curiosity.
This post is about going beyond the first impression:
"I'm going to smile at him."
"I'll open the door for them."
"Maybe they're staring at me because they hope I will say 'hello'."
"What can I do to bring happiness to this child of God?"
A child of God.
We are all children of our Heavently Father, our God.
We are all here for a reason and a purpose.
What will your purpose be?
Are you the one who was chosen to be the teacher or the student?
Sometimes I think I am the teacher.
Sometimes I think I am the student.
I'm willing to accept both roles.
If we can all look at each other and think "That person is a child of God. They deserve my respect. He/She is the Son/Daughter of a King."
It makes me cry when I think of the love and peace that would happen between people if we all treated each other with so much respect.
It was a humbling honor to take photos of these special sons of God.
They brought so much joy to my day.
And so much fear.
My children will be in a situation like them one day.
All three of them.
Will they be surrounded by people who treat them as who they are?
Children of a perfect God?
I can only pray that Marc and I can outlive our children or that they can be surrounded by earthly angels their entire lives.
I want to share these photos that my kids actually, willingly, allowed me to take since I was taking pictures of their friends at the time.
I cry when I look into their eyes because I am so grateful for them.
They're tough to raise.
They are one of the reasons I need this time to be alone with my thoughts, but they are also the reason I am excited to get back home.