The phone rang. It was a mom inquiring about a senior session for her daughter. I walked her through the options but sensed hesitation. Then the story came. As the mom poured out her heart, she had no idea she was nominating her daughter for my Beauty Revived Campaign. As the story unfolded, I knew: This would be my girl. I was so excited. I truly believe God led her straight to me! When I told the mom about the campaign and that I would love for her daughter to receive a Beauty Revived Session, the tears came. Her tears…and mine.
Meet Stephanie Edmonds. The moment I met her, I was instantly charmed. She had me laughing within seconds. She’s so gorgeous but wears her beauty with humility. Her sharp wit and sense of humor had us in stitches throughout the session. Stephanie is so unassuming but full of quiet confidence. Her faith in God radiates from her and I was impacted by her in the short time I was privileged to spend with her.
Stephanie’s mom shared what she believes makes her daughter beautiful, “From an early age Stephanie has had an extraordinary passion for both learning and leading, but is humble in her accomplishments in each area. Her academic achievements have taken her to the top of her class and she has earned the highest academic awards possible for each year at River Mill Academy. In terms of her leadership, Stephanie leads by example and by serving, not by “managing” others. She motivates other to achieve individual and team goals by encouraging them, coming along beside and helping her team members and through her example of Christ-honoring, sacrificial love. Despite personal adversity in her life that has included the divorce of her parents, the recent loss of her grandmother to pancreatic cancer and the near loss of her father last year to attempted suicide due to drug-addiction, she has grown to love others with a heart that is empathetic, tender and sincere. Her single-parent family struggles with financial hardship have not afforded her the luxury of a car of her own, yet she works at Chick-fil-A order to offset her own expenses. In a recent note to me of encouragement, she wrote, ‘We have one family, one income, one car, and one God!’
Stephanie is a constant source of life, love, laughter and light to all who have the privilege of knowing her. She is a whirlwind of joy, unbounded energy, spontaneous humor and antics, steadfast commitment to every endeavor and unwavering faith in God. For her 16th birthday, she didn’t ask for a party or even for a special gift. Rather, she asked that her “gift” would be that she would be able to go and serve a day at the processing center for Operation Christmas Child in Boone, NC, in order to pack shoeboxes for needy children worldwide. Her selfless desire to serve others is what brings her joy and is what is most rewarding to her. Through some of her darkest personal moments, she has managed to draw from those experiences and pour hope, encouragement and personal resources into the lives of others who need it most. In other words, she INVESTS in the lives of others so that THEY may thrive, grow stronger and are able to accomplish THEIR goals in life. This is what Stephanie feels that she is called to do… and she lives that. Stephanie is beautiful because she makes OTHERS feel beautiful and she does it with amazing grace … a true reflection of the same grace that her Heavenly Father has shown to her.”
One of Stephanie’s high school friends shared, “Stephanie has overcome so much in her life already and keeps pressing forward with grace and perseverance. She always shows kindness and respect to everyone around her and is a great example for everyone to follow. She is a great leader and helps people to get involved in the school or the community. She does get credit for what she does, but I don’t think people realize how much she actually does behind the scenes and can’t comprehend how much credit she actually deserves.”
I asked Stephanie what beauty meant to her. She replied, “Beauty is allowing myself to be minimized so that God might be maximized and made glorious through His works in me.”
When asked how she makes others around her feel beautiful: “I help others realize their true worth in Christ which is often times contrary to the world’s standard of beauty.”
Yes, Stephanie. A million times, yes.
Stephanie is involved in Student Council, and has been Student Government Association President for the last three years. She’s a member of the National Honor Society and also the President. She’s the Captain of River Mill Academy’s Relay For Life Team, a member or the Varsity Dance Team, plays varsity softball and is the varsity basketball manager. She’s also a member of the yearbook staff. Outside of school, she teaches 5th Grade Sunday School at her church.
Her biggest accomplishments in high school so far have been winning the Miss River Mill Pageant and helping her school raise almost $20,000 for the American Cancer Society though Relay for Life!
Her dream job is to be a traveling journalist, have her own talk show, and/or write women’s Bible studies and host conferences nationwide! After spending time with her, I can honestly say I would buy her books and attend her conferences. Just a heads up, she won the Miss River Mill pageant with her stand up comedy routine! She would definitely have everyone engaged and laughing.
Knowing the trials Stephanie has faced makes her life even more beautiful. Grace under fire. Beauty from ashes. Though outwardly she is already beautiful, her true beauty comes from within and is already touching countless lives, including mine.