Throughout my life I have known many influential spearheads in the Christian community and world in general. Few have actually impacted my life personally quite like these two.
I met Dr. Richards and Mrs. Sandra at my Alma Mater, The Baptist College of Florida, in January 2009. I scheduled a tour of the campus that month and my parents and best friend and I toured the campus on our way home from a vacation in the mountains. We arrived and I was immediately excited and felt at home. Because I was touring in January, I had missed the deadline to apply for the school's Spring semester and was planning to apply for the Fall. Mrs. Sandra, however, somehow managed to process my application and we got me in and set up to move to Graceville just a short two weeks later.
After that, I relied on both of them more than I ever could have imagined. My college years were anything but smooth sailing for me. While the education aspect was not something I was failing in, I was struggling with so many other aspects of who I was and who I was called to be. I changed my major FIVE times in college, three of which were at BCF.
Throughout my struggles and my victories, both Dr. Richards and Mrs. Sandra were in my court cheering me on. They never gave up hope for me and they always pushed me to do better. I got to a point in college where I was quite depressed and dealing with some serious inward battles and even then, instead of letting me walk away and quit, I received phone calls of encouragement.
It didn't just stop with kind words though. They provided me with campus job opportunities where I learned about admissions and marketing and finances and accounting and mail processing. They showed up to the hospital and stayed with me when I broke my ankle on the Volleyball court. Dr. Richards even heard me say "I feel so trippy" when they pumped me with some serious pain meds.
There are so many examples of love and forgiveness that I could share with you all regarding these two.
I had the pleasure of photographing their son and daughter-in-love's wedding last year and reconnecting with them was such a sweet time for me. When they reached out again this year to book a session with me, I was elated to get to hug their necks again! Little did I know- this was not a simple portrait session.
Dr. Richards and Mrs. Sandra were celebrating their 40th Anniversary and when they arrived they told me that when they got married, their photographer had some issues arise and they never received images from their wedding day. They had been in college and got married quickly after meeting and within two years, they had babies (a set of twins) and life pretty much never slowed down after that. So, Dr. Richards told Mrs. Sandra that for their anniversary he wanted to give her the photos they never got. (I was choking back tears before the first frame was ever even captured)
For FOURTY YEARS these two have been a team of encouragers and a beacon of hope, love, and most importantly, Christ to all who meet them. They take on the challenge of leading hundreds of college students, teaching them, loving them, and protecting them (Mrs. Sandra is packing- y'all) and all along they find ways to only grow closer together.
I told them that I hope the day comes where I get to celebrate 40 years with my husband and that when that day happens we are both as in love with each other as they are. These are true #couplegoals, right here.
Dr. Richards and Mrs. Sandra- I can't thank you enough for everything you've done for me over the years but I hope that I have many more opportunities to give back to you!