To have the honor of being selected as a national photographer for Beauty Revived is an honor in itself, but to get to photograph my own child as one of 50 Beautiful Children across America... that just made my year.
Beauty Revived is a national organization dedicated to showcasing the inner beauty in individuals and publishing the photographs and stories in the national magazine to be published and viewed all over the world.
Below is Braeden's story and the photos from his session with me. :)
When I think about Beauty Revived and the word beauty, I think about pure kindness. I think about joy, laughter, and a complete and genuine love for life and everyone and everything in it. A child almost always has those characteristics, the ability to see people and things in the purest of form. Using that unconditional caring and drive to give back to others, is the truest form of what love and beauty to me is all about.
When my husband and I first started trying to get pregnant we were told our chances were slim, that we most likely would never get pregnant or carry full term. Despite what we were advised medically we continued to try anyway. We got pregnant and lost our first child half way through the pregnancy. Feeling disappointed we decided to try again, and in June 2012 this precious nine pounds and twenty-one inches beautiful baby boy made his grand entrance three weeks early. Braeden was healthy in every way and smiled at us at just three days old. From the moment I first laid eyes on him, I knew he was something special and a gift that I had been trusted to raise to one day become an incredible human being.
Braeden, who has insisted on doing everything early, is now six and says when he grows up he wants to be just like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He says he wants to spread kindness and teach people that it does not matter what color someone is, who they love, what they wear, or where someone is from; all that matters in love and being kind to one another.
He also says he wants to be a paleontologist, and a superhero like his dad, (dad is a professional firefighter a.k.a. superhero). Braeden plays soccer, basketball, and karate. He loves dinosaurs, matchbox cars, his two dogs Layla and Lillie, and playing tickle tag with his brother and dad.
When you ask him HOW he will make a difference, he says “it’s simple, just be nice.” So, at six years old, Braeden partnered with my non-profit Shades of Love LKN and adopted a poverty school providing 450 brand new pairs of shoes to children in need, he has bought groceries for homeless families with his allowance that he worked for, he has fed the firemen in our community by asking local restaurants to donate food, he baked cookies for our local police department, and for Christmas this past year he decided he wanted to make hand made “kindness cards” to give out to all of our neighbors, and strangers during the week of Christmas. Him and his brother (age 3) hand painted 300 cards and they walked door to door throughout our neighborhood handing them out, as well as when we went to dinner they also handed them out in the restaurant or stores we may have been in. He said that people just needed to know someone cared, so this was an easy way to remind people.
Braeden has always had a huge heart, and being his mom is the absolute biggest blessing I could have ever been granted. The way he treats me, always up for helping me in any way I need and his brother by always teaching him new things, playing with him, and loving on him is the most amazing gift to see. He speaks up for friends at school, he recognizes needs for people and rather than just turn away, he tells me about it and we brainstorm because he wants to truly help people and make a difference.
When I ask Braeden why he tries so hard to constantly spread kindness and teach others, he says that he just wants to make me and dad proud. He wants to set good examples for his brother, and he wants to grow up with people who are nice. The irony is, when he was born, my husband and I made the promise that if we could not do anything else in life right, we would love our children unconditionally, set good examples for them, teach them how to be decent human beings, and hope that one day they would grow up to be proud of us as parents. He is far beyond his age in wisdom, and the seeds he is planting in our community already at such a young age is completely inspiring. I know as a child he is learning from me and my husband as parents, but we learn so much from him and to be that is what the beauty in life is all about.
“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” -Angela Schwindt