I am a little bit ashamed to admit that I’ve felt like Jesus has been calling me to do this since high school. Although, in high school it would have taken the form of a book because as much as I don’t want to face it, blogs didn’t exist that long ago. It’s a little bit easier nowadays to let your voice be heard. I don’t have to worry about editors and publishers and all of the above. I just write what I want to write and hit the publish button. It’s been so very awesome to see how God has used my blog as a platform to shout His name and to grow my business. I want there to be no mistake that it is a blessing poured out by Christ that I get to do what I love full time. So, friends, here I am to shout His name again as I share very real Jesus stories. The sad part is that I’ve had stories like these to share since high school, and for months after they happened I would rave to all my friends about them. I thought to myself, “I will NEVER forget this one! There’s no way.” Guess where we are now. Forgotten. This is going to be an ongoing post. Obviously, God is continuing to reveal Himself to me daily through all sorts of things, and I don’t want this post to stop here. So, let’s get started.
There are a lot of stories below about my dad. I’m not trying to be morbid or anything. In fact, this is a place to come for encouragement, but the fact of my life is that when I’m going through a tragedy, I feel closer to God than any other time. I am acutely aware of every single way He is working in my life because I’m clinging to Him for every single breath. As time goes by, you’ll see different topics and different areas of my life that God is working in. For now, it’s pretty much babies and my dad’s death, but stay with me as I grow this list of miracles. Anytime there is a new story, I will reshare this post so you can come check it out if you’d like. The first story will be the most recent. As you go through each story, the oldest one will be last on the list so that the new one is always at the top, and you don’t have to dig through all the old ones to get to it.
- We have been slowly telling people over the last couples weeks that I am pregnant with our second little Fothergill. Yes, this is our first online posting about it. A little nontraditional, but we are both okay with that. The very first story in this series (at the very bottom) talks about the story of getting pregnant with Grayson, and how it was divine intervention. Well, this one is going to be the story of how we got pregnant with baby number 2! Well, not how because no one wants to know that ;-), but the way God was working to make it happen perfectly. As I mentioned in Grayson’s story, it’s hard for a wedding photographer to have a baby. Brides often book about a year in advance, and as we all know, having a baby takes 9 months. So, we try to plan it, but planning when to get pregnant is like planning when to get your first gray hair. You just can’t plan it. So, we just hope and pray that when we do get pregnant, we don’t have to refund thousands of dollars. It was January 2018 when Dustin came to me and said he would like to start trying for our second. Grayson wasn’t quite one yet, and I was still nursing him. After a night of sleeping on it, I decided it was time. If we wanted children close in age, it needed to be time. So, we stopped all methods of birth control. I counted out the weeks to when we would have the baby based on when we would get pregnant, and over the next 11 months, there were definitely months that were more ideal than others. In fact, the months that I would be due in April, May and June were STRONGLY avoided because in that time frame, I have 14 weddings booked. Could you imagine refunding 14 weddings? It makes me nauseous just thinking about it. Getting pregnant in April or May, however, would make me due in February or March, which is a timeframe I could work with. April and May came and went with no pregnancy. Then, somewhere around July, I noticed a huge decrease in inquiries. I thought, “What in the world??? I had a steady flow of bookings happening, and now, it’s been crickets for weeks.” When I Googled myself (because that’s what all business owners do when something seems weird), I had completely disappeared from Google search results. I was so confused. How am I just gone? Not only am I gone from page 1, but I’m not on page 2…3…30. That’s when I stopped looking. I reached out to an SEO professional I know. He said this happens occasionally, that he would look into it, and it’s usually a quick fix. A month went by, and I heard nothing from him. Crickets. So, I reached out again and still heard nothing. A month later in September I started getting inquiries again. I Googled myself again, and there I was. Page 2 this time, but I was totally okay with that, since I was at least showing up. It turns out that disappearing from Google for the months of July and August really limited my bookings for July and August of 2019 because, like I said before, brides book about a year out. I didn’t really understand this when it first happened. Then, I started calculating when I would be due if we got pregnant in October or November, and it started to make sense. Getting pregnant in November would mean I would be due at the end of July, which would LITERALLY be perfect. I then realized it was the Lord controlling all this. So, I told Dustin, “I think we are going to get pregnant in November.” He said, “Why? Because that’s our first vacation with the two of us and no kids?” as he chuckled at his little innuendo joke. I honestly hadn’t even thought of that yet. To summarize, not only did the Lord clear my schedule for the due date, but He also provided for the time that we needed to get pregnant with a free trip (thank you to Dustin’s fabulous employer) to Marco Island just the two of us for 5 days. Those 5 days landed right in the middle of my cycle (I know that’s too much information, but hey, it works how it works and that’s a key part of it). It has been so cool to see the Lord’s timing and how He laid out all these little details. I LOVE putting the puzzle pieces together. Now, for a little twist. As if He hadn’t done enough already. When we went to our first ultrasound, the tech said that I was measuring 5 days further along than I thought I was, but that it’s close enough to just stick to my original due date, which is July 29th. I didn’t think much of this until a couple weeks later, standing in our bathroom curling my hair, and I started bawling. A due date 5 days earlier would be my dad’s birthday. So, there’s that. Insert “mind blown emoji” right about here.
- This is one of my favorite stories. If you know any nonbelievers, send them here to read this and ask them to explain this any other way than Jesus. So, my dad died by suicide. He left one letter, and it was addressed to my stepmom. He had one sentence in it talking to his kids, and it was telling Laurie (stepmom) to be strong and be there for me, Leah, and Brad because we were going to have a hard time with this. That was it. I spent days and weeks following his death searching for his letter to me. I thought for sure that he dropped mine in the mail, and it was going to arrive a few days after his death. When it didn’t, I thought for sure he hid it around our house. I looked everywhere. Every day it seems I would think of a new place it could be, and every day I would have such a heavy sadness when I saw it wasn’t there. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t leave me a letter even if it were just to say, “I love you, and I’m sorry.” How hard would that be? For months after his death, I was so bitter about the fact that he didn’t feel it was important to leave me a letter before he left this earth forever. One day, I was talking to my cousin (more like a sister) about this bitterness in my heart. She asked me one important question. Have you prayed for it? I was immediately defensive when she asked that question. Of course I haven’t prayed for a letter. He’s gone now. Jesus can’t just make a letter appear if there’s not one to appear. Can I just tell you friends that “Jesus can’t” is never a phrase that should be spoken or thought. Jesus ALWAYS can. She continued to encourage me to pray for my letter and told me that she would pray for me to have the letter, too. In the back of my mind I knew I should do this, but my flesh was still resisting because I had been let down time after time after time going to search for this stupid letter around my house. I had become comfortable being angry about it. The next day I’m trying to put Grayson to sleep. He’s laying in his crib, and I’m sitting in the glider we have in the nursery in the darkness waiting for him to fall asleep. I start scrolling through Facebook trying to pass the time, and for some reason I get the urge to clean out the Notes app on my phone. I had accumulated over 50 notes and didn’t need half of them. They are in chronological order to start at the bottom where the oldest is. I find saved messages from Dustin at the very bottom that I start reading through. They tickle my heart and bring a smile to my face. I hadn’t read them in so so long. I make my way up the list, and I get to a work out regime that I had saved and done a few times. Then, the next one is labeled “Sometimes” as the title in the summary page of the notes app. I looked at it strangely. What is this? Here is what it read:
Sometimes I sit and think of you and who you are today.
Sometimes I am amazed at what God created, my Amanda May.
Sometimes I look out into the unknown and a smile sneaks on my face.
Sometimes I think that you are the perfect example of God’s Holy Grace.
Sometimes I think of when you move on and how sad I will be.
Sometimes I pray that God will reveal all that he wants you to see.
Sometimes I think of how much I love you and that comes from the heart.
Sometimes I reflect on all that I have sown and you are the greatest part.
Sometimes I hope that you will always know that I will always be there.
Sometimes you may have to remember that dad will always care.
Sometime when this life is over and we are united in heaven above.
Then and only then we will realize the true meaning of LOVE !!!
Love you so much !
I added the bold places to point out just how intricately this letter answered all my grievances and prayers so exactly. What’s really crazy is that I do not remember ever reading this before. It was marked as last saved in 2012 onto my iPhone, but I have no memory of reading this before. I feel so embarrassed that I underestimated our holy, powerful, amazing, almighty Creator, but I’m so thankful that He loves me so much that He forgave me for this fleshly sin and met my needs anyway. I’m also so so thankful for my cousin who reminded me to pray for things that require miracles because it is amazing experiencing the miraculous power of Jesus.
- If you read the post about my dad, I think I already talked about this there, but I want to keep it here, too, because it is such a powerful Jesus story. My dad was dealing with depression in his last few months of life. A very real and awful flare up that ultimately took his life. Just two short weeks before Grayson was born, my dad was able to come to church with Dustin and me. He hadn’t been to church in so long, and he was desperately seeking out Jesus in every way he could possibly find. During the worship section of the service, he lifted his hands in the air and started crying and praying. I specifically remember this because seconds later, he reached his hand over to my belly and prayed for Grayson and me. (This moment and the story below about my kidney stone were the only two moments in my life that my father laid hands on me and prayed out loud specifically for me). The song that was playing was What a Beautiful Name by Hillsong Worship. After he finished praying, we got into such a tight hug and just cried together. It was a beautiful moment that has ended up being one of my fondest memories with my dad. Because of this moment, I asked to have this song played at his funeral where I would end up standing and leading the whole entire crowd in an act of worship as we sang along at my dad’s funeral. In the days and weeks following his funeral, I would hear this song come on randomly ALL the time. You may be thinking, “Well, that’s not a big deal. That song was super popular.” But oh, friends. It is a big deal. I literally never left the house in those weeks because I was only 2 weeks removed from having a baby, and I wasn’t working again yet. So, there were very very few opportunities for me to hear this song naturally. But I did. Every single time I was around a radio it seemed to be playing. Fast forward a couple months later, and Dustin and I are dedicating Grayson at church. At the end of the dedication, our pastor called all of our friends and family up to the altar to pray with us as we committed to raising our child in a Biblical way. After that prayer was over, the worship team plays one last song before the sermon begins. You know what song it was? That’s right, you guessed it. What a Beautiful Name by Hillsong Worship. That day we left church, and I shared about this happening. Chuck, our worship leader, commented on the post to make it even more evident that Jesus was purposely showing me Himself as he said that those were the only two times that they had ever played that song during worship. There’s one other time this song really stood out to me. Exactly one month and one day before my dad’s birthday I was shooting a wedding at Hunter Valley Farm. It was for a couple that so intimately shines the light of Jesus. For some reason that whole day my dad was on my mind. I couldn’t stop reminiscing about him. Even while I was shooting, which I never do, but he just kept creeping into my thoughts. Finally, when it was time for the ceremony, the officiant says that the couple wanted to sing two worship songs as part of their commitment to one another in marriage. The first song was What a Beautiful Name by Hillsong Worship. Amazing, right?
- In 2015, my dad had a horrible plane crash. Before you start thinking that my dad was a pilot, it was a paraplane that he was flying. See the image below for what a paraplane is. He had flown them since 2000 and had never gotten into an accident. Not even close. Well, at my little sister’s graduation party, he had the paraplane out. He took it up by himself and decided it was far too windy to be flying it. So, he landed it and told all the people that he wasn’t going to take it up again unless the wind died down. There were lots of people there that were dying to go up in it and had been waiting for this party to have their opportunity. So, they kept asking him, “What about now? What about now?” Finally, an hour or so later, he thought it would be okay. He noticed that the wind had died down and strapped in his first passenger, Patrick. All the ladies were gathered around the pool. I was in the driveway playing corn hole with a little girl, and I heard the engine fire up. He drove it down through the yard and got the parachute in the air like he normally did. He started back towards the house for the official take off just like he normally did. I heard the engine getting closer and closer, and he was almost to the side of the driveway before he lifted into the air which was WAY not normal. Patrick was on the back with his phone recording the ground when my dad took the brunt of plowing straight into the side of a big tree and nose-diving to the ground. I remember the sounds like they happened yesterday. That engine roaring overhead. That gigantic tree branch snapping like a twig. The contraption smacking the ground so hard. I just knew my dad was dead. Everyone started sprinting to the crash. My husband Dustin jumped the fence like a gazelle and was the first on the site. Another guy behind me dialed 911, and all I could think to do was drop to my knees and pray. The little girl I was playing corn hole with came over to me as I hit my knees, and I reached out, grabbed her hands, and asked her to pray with me. My mind was racing with all these thoughts flooding my brain, but I couldn’t think of the words to pray. All I wanted to do was scream and cry. In a split second, I felt the Holy Spirit give me words. I started repeating, “pump his blood, beat his heart, fill his lungs,” over and over as I looked up to heaven. Holding this little girls hands because I knew that “where two or more gather in His name, there He is with them” -Matthew 18:20. So, here’s the crazy Jesus part. Remember me telling you that Dustin was first on the site? When he got to my dad, my dad was slouched over, completely unconscious, and almost completely unable to breathe. Dustin describes that moment as feeling like he was watching my dad take his last breath. Seconds later after everyone else had arrived to him, he all of a sudden takes a deep gasping breath in like he just popped his head up from being underwater for minutes. Later on, the paramedics tell us that it was in that moment that his collapsed lung re-inflated enabling him to breathe and ultimately survive. Remember those words that the Holy Spirit gave me to pray? Yeah. Talk about prayers being answered instantly. I think that is honestly the only time in my entire life that I’ve ever prayed something and God immediately answered it.
- Back in 2012, I was in graduate school at UT, and I lived in my dad’s pool house. One night I felt like I was starting to get a urinary tract infection. So much so that I actually bought some medicine and cranberry juice for it. I had just laid down to go to sleep when an excruciating pain started happening in my kidney (although, I had no idea it was my kidney at the time). I went into my dad’s house literally hobbling on one leg because I couldn’t even stand on the other leg from the pain. I was hunched over unable to stand up and trying really hard not to cry. I laid down on their couch with a heating pad, and my stepmom gave me a pain pill. The pain was getting worse with every passing second until finally, my stepmom said she was taking me to the hospital. She went to get dressed, and my dad came over and put his hands on my kidney. My eyes were shut with tears streaming down my face, and when I felt his touch, I opened my eyes to see him praying. I immediately thought, “what the heck, Amanda. Why didn’t you think of that?!” and started praying with him. Laurie came back in the room, and we loaded up in the car to head to the ER. While we were on our way, I could already start feeling the pain ease. I still wanted to go to the hospital to make sure I wasn’t dying, but by the time we got there, I only felt the remnants of the torture, much like a bone bruise. The doctor took a scan that showed that I had passed a kidney stone. He asked me how long I was feeling the intense pain, and I told him just about an hour with probably 30 minutes of excruciating pain. He quickly laughed and said he had seen it all now. The fastest passing kidney stone in history. Most kidney stones take hours upon hours to pass with some even taking days to pass. Thank you, Jesus, for answering my dad’s prayer so quickly.
- Getting pregnant can be such a sensitive topic, and I want to share my story of Jesus’ grace as Dustin and I decided to start a family. Please know I am treading this water carefully and cautiously. I know so so so many ladies who are struggling to get pregnant and who are struggling to stay pregnant. My heart and my prayers are with you, ladies. There are going to be two sub-stories within this overarching story. One of Dustin’s and my personal life, and one from my business. When Dustin and I got married, we were in mutual agreement that we were waiting for about 5 years to have a baby. We wanted to travel, buy a home, have as many date nights as possible, stay up late, grow my photography business so I could go full time, move cities, and so much more. About 2-2.5 years into our marriage, Dustin said he was ready for a baby. I pumped the breaks hard and told him that I wasn’t even close to being ready. For almost a year, he would subtly remind me that he was ready whenever I was. Then, we went to one of our community group meetings. Nothing out of the ordinary. The same meetings with the same people we went to every week. Only the topic at hand this particular night was prayer. Someone brought up how important they thought it was to pray for our children or our future children. I had honestly never thought about it until that moment. I instantly felt guilty. “Why have I not thought to pray for my children?!?!” That night I started. It was almost instantaneous that I felt a pull on my heart that the Lord had started towards motherhood. I can’t say that I was thrilled about it. I was kind of fighting, denying, and resisting it actually, but it was there. The next day I told Dustin that I wanted to stop taking the pill (this is around January) just in case we decided to get pregnant that year. At this point, I was full time in wedding photography, so we Googled it and decided that getting pregnant in either May, June, or July would be best for my schedule. I still wasn’t 100% on board, but looking back now I know the Lord was telling me I was ready even though I refused to believe it. I was so excited about growing my photography business that I didn’t want it to be true. If I got pregnant and had a baby, all of my hard work over the past 7 months would be for nothing. It would all come to a screeching halt. As the months passed and we approached May, I still had not booked any spring weddings the next year. I was starting to panic (as every photographer does when they look to their year ahead). I was questioning whether I should have gone full time. Why was I not booking anything? My first one wasn’t until June, and how could we go 6 months without a second income?! So, I continued to pray about it as the Lord showed me He wasn’t allowing my schedule to fill up because maybe, just maybe, I would have a baby then. When May rolled around, I was terrified. Neither of us had ever tried to get pregnant before. We didn’t have ovulation tests, didn’t know the best methods, and didn’t eat any foods that would make us more fertile. We just sat down, prayed together, and jumped in the deep end without our floaties. We told two sets of friends that we were trying. One because we were going camping with them, and I would be having lemonade instead of wine, which would have been a dead giveaway. The other because they are parents to two toddlers, and I desperately needed someone to talk to who had done this recently. Over the next month, I kept telling Dustin that I just feel a little weird. It’s impossible to describe, but I just felt different. I thought I was pregnant, but we were certain that it would not happen the first time. I mean, c’mon. It doesn’t happen the first try for anyone nowadays. Over the course of May, I started getting inquiry after inquiry after inquiry for the following January-May. I thought it was so bizarre that I had had none, and now, there were 6. Every single one of them wanted to meet for more info on booking with me. I told each of them I would LOVE to do your wedding, but my husband and I are trying to get pregnant. If I do get pregnant, I might have a baby and be on maternity leave during the time of your wedding. We should know something in the next month or two if they want to wait, but I also understood if they needed to move on and reserve a photographer. After all, the longer they waited on me, the less likely someone else they like will be available. Every single one of them said they wanted to wait. What?! I was floored. Jesus knew that if these ladies had inquired with me before Dustin and I started trying, I would have taken them on, and then, pushed having a baby to the next year because (in the words of the Grinch), “My shedule wouldn’t allow it” (misspelling intended). So, as the weeks passed, I was super busy. I had several trips to Nashville that month, a trip to NC, and my sister-in-law’s wedding in Bowling Green, KY that was a full weekend event. I really didn’t have time to think about whether or not I was pregnant. At the end of the month, I took a pregnancy test, and it was negative. It was right at the 4-week mark though so it was kind of too early to tell. I told myself as I waited 90 seconds for the – or + to show up that regardless I’m fine. If I am, I’ll be excited, and if I’m not, I’ll just keep focusing on my business. It’ll be great. Then, the negative sign showed up, and I was crushed. I was also confused as to why I was so disappointed. I wasn’t even positive that I wanted this to happen in the first place. I should be happy that it’s negative, but I was so so sad. A week later was Father’s Day. I was driving home from Nashville, Dustin was in Somerset, and I called one of our friends to chat while I was on the road. She got so excited as I was trying to describe some of the feelings I was having and told me I needed to pull over to take a pregnancy test right now! She didn’t know that I had taken one a week ago, and it was negative. I told her she was crazy, and that I can just wait till I got home. She couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to know right then. How was I being so patient? I just couldn’t stand the thought of seeing another negative sign. 2.5 hours later I pulled into the driveway. Unloaded aaaaaalll the bags that come with being a wedding photographer, went upstairs to change clothes so I could meet my dad for a Father’s Day lunch, and last minute decided to pee on my other pregnancy stick. My heart was racing. My hands were clammy. I remember it like it was yesterday. I put the cap back on the end, sat it down, and started getting my things together to go have lunch. That 90 seconds crept by so slowly. I pretended like I didn’t care and wasn’t anxious to see the results, but really, I was counting every millisecond in my head. I took a load to the car, came back in, walked upstairs, and looked. It was positive. I found out that I was pregnant on Father’s Day. I was trembling with excitement (and I’m literally shaking now as I recount this memory). It felt so right and so in the Lord’s timing. This was supposed to happen this way. Dustin was still out of town so I drove straight over to one of our friends’ houses, and with tears in my eyes, I popped my head out of the car and looked at her. She saw my facial expression and knew. “No way! No WAY! NO WAY!!!!!” she screamed as she ran over to hug me so tight. I celebrated for 5 minutes, and then, I had to go meet my dad. How in the world was I going to keep this from him?!?! But I had to. Obviously, I had to tell Dustin first, and Dustin wasn’t getting home for hours. Since it was Father’s Day, I decided to go on a little shopping trip after lunch to get some Father’s Day things to spring on Dustin as I told him that we were having a baby. Fast forward a few weeks. I go to the doctor to confirm everything is good. I take a trip to London, England. When we got back, I contact the brides that were getting married the following spring. I was able to photograph 5 out of 6 of them based on the due date my doctor had given me. I communicated that with them, and all 5 hired me to photograph their wedding! My spring was full, and we weren’t going to have 6 months with no income. Praise Jesus for always providing. Always knowing. But it gets even crazier. Halfway through my pregnancy, two of those 5 weddings got canceled. One was a late April wedding, and one was an early May wedding. I was so bummed. I hardly ever get cancellations, and now, there were two back to back weddings in a time that we were really going to need income to pay doctor bills. But the Lord knew, you guys. Grayson ended up coming a week late and was born on March 1st. I took a little bit longer to heal than I expected and fell so deeply in love with this baby that I couldn’t imagine leaving him in April for an entire wedding day. I also nursed and had a low supply with zero milk stashed in the freezer for being able to leave him for an entire wedding day. I would have absolutely dreaded that April wedding had it occurred, and the early May wedding was an overnighter in Lexington, KY. It ended up being rescheduled to a weekday in late May and was one of the prettiest little intimate weddings I’ve ever photographed. Again, such a blessing. In my head, it was all falling apart and such a disaster when they canceled, but the Lord knew what I needed before I did. I hope so bad that this can be an encouraging story for you in a time that you may think it’s all falling apart.
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