Everyday Miracles

My friend Zaila visited this morning and insisted that I tell my Shutterfly story. It’s kind of a braggity, brag, braggy story, so I hesitate to tell it. But her insistence along with the introduction of the Canon 5D Mark II dreamboat camera this morning suggests that once again the blogging fates have intervened.
It is indeed a blogging story, a random miracle and an ‘our ordinary lives are beautiful story.’

Last June, the last day of school and a week before Father’s Day, one of my blogging friends posted photos of the Father’s Day book she’d created. It was stunning, perfect. I had to make one for own lovely husband¬†and clicked straight through to Shutterfly.

Gulp. Last day to submit.

So with all the last-day-of-school craziness and at least 35 kids hurtling through the house I threw photos from my computer onto a template and hit SUBMIT.

When the book arrived a week later in all it’s spiffy Shutterfly glory I paged through it and cried.

The last few years as a mother have broken me down. I’ve struggled with Mary, I’ve struggled with the sheer number of people in my house, struggled to get dinner on the table every night. Thinking I could help with our mortgage payment, I started an online store. Running the store shredded my already-faltering self-esteem and made me feel like THE WORST MOTHER ON EARTH. I’d sold the store just a few weeks before but I’d feared that my family was already ruined.

But here was this book in front of me–children laughing, birthday parties, Easter, reading together, washing the car–and clearly, our life was/is beautiful. The past years HADN’T been wasted. And yeah, Erik liked it too.

celebrate everyday

A few days later Shutterfly sent me an email saying they’d noticed the book in production and wanted to feature it in their online gallery. Sure, thanks, flattering.

I set about rebuilding my life and thought nothing of it.

Now you may have noticed I’m kinda into photography(ironically my store had forced me to improve at it). And my cute little Canon Rebel(bless it’s little megapixels) simply can’t keep up with the images I want to create. So Erik, very reasonably, said, “Start charging people; earn your camera.”

Rational, yes, but I was still shell-shocked from my last business. I wanted to enjoy my children, photograph the people and places I loved. And while I am endlessly grateful to the people who did hire me(esp. you Melinda!) I certainly wasn’t ready to promote myself, start a website etc.

Then one morning in July, I opened an email that said,”Shutterfly would like to buy the publishing rights to your ‘celebrate everyday’ book.”

I cried again. After weeks of interviews, negotiations on publishing and online rights(mostly me saying, “uh, huh. uh, huh.”) and an 8″ stack of paperwork they sent me a check for $3000.

Yep, just enough for a spiffy new camera.

Here’s the interesting thing–and possibly the point to this whole longwinded story– when I spoke to the Shutterfly people(and I spoke to several) each one commented, “We loved your book because it felt so ordinary.”

Because ordinary is beautiful. And even when we are struggling beauty is all around us.

You can do a Google search and find 81,500,000 better photographers than me in .13 seconds, so I know this is not about my skills. But it is a small miracle, a tender mercy and a reminder that none us knows the good waiting for us just around the corner.

September 17, 2008
September 21, 2008



  1. stace

    September 19, 2008

    Hi! I am a total blurker and have meant for some time to tell you what a great, insightful and honest blog you have…I love that admist the chaos in your life you have a happy, loving family. And, you are a fantastic writer! Thanks.

  2. Melinda

    September 19, 2008

    You can always count on me to show you the value you’ve brought to me and my family through the photography you’ve done for us. I would never take advantage of your kindness nor your skill. You are gifted and I fully expect a pricing sheet for all to reference when calling on you for your time and talent. My picture above my fireplace is a little piece of you in there when I look at it. You deserve to have these little miracles come to you. You have great value and I hope you see that in the photos you take at minimum.

  3. Linn

    September 20, 2008

    Ruth’s friend here again. You could never imagine how much I needed to read that today. Thank you.

    Please tell your dad we ended up in the town next to Sharon. We only have to drive 30 seconds to get to his town–where he wanted us to live. Please thank him for us. It is incredible here. Thank you again.

  4. Shannon & Eli

    September 20, 2008

    MIchelle—my sister just got engaged (Meagan) and she is looking for a photographer and she was explaining the type of photos she wanted and I told her she must must must go and talk to you so she said she will probably be giving you a call today. She LOVES the candid shots and wants to be able to have someone their the whole day at the temple and the dinner… no reception…don’t know if that is something you would do or not…but she will be calling!

  5. Tracy

    September 20, 2008

    That is so beautiful. You deserve it! Congrats!!!

  6. Annie

    September 20, 2008

    Michelle, That is fantastic! How could they not recognize your talent (read= photographer with great eye and open heart). Can’t wait to see what you do with your new camera…it’s a beauty!

  7. Jan Russell

    September 21, 2008

    You totally stink at bragging!

    That album was FANTASTIC, I remember when you posted it! And I can’t wait to see all the amazing pictures you take with your new camera, too!

  8. Melissa

    September 21, 2008

    I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.

  9. m_and_m

    September 21, 2008

    I’m glad you shared this; it’s a wonderful story.

    I say that this is an Alma 26 kind of brag post — the whole “if this is boasting, then I will boast — in the Lord.”

    This is a beautiful example of a tender mercy.

  10. Life Trekking Mama

    September 22, 2008

    Yea Michelle!!!
    Congratulations…but I’m not the least surprised. You have a-nearly-magical talent! Keep enjoying the wonder and thank you soooo much for sharing =)
    Love Cuz’ A.

  11. Christie

    September 22, 2008

    It is not ONE BIT SURPRISING because you are an amazing photographer. I love the book. Congrats. You totally deserve that 5D!

  12. Denise

    September 22, 2008

    And I love miracles that include lovely people like you. Nicely done!

  13. StubbyDog

    September 25, 2008

    Congrats, honey! That is a wonderful recognition of the way I feel about your blog…you take your everyday life and make it seem magical, buoyant, and beautiful.

  14. Mama

    September 25, 2008

    That is FANTASTIC news, Michelle. I am so proud of you!

Comments are closed.