Bold Beautiful Perfect: Tonya
Bold Beautiful Perfect
“To me, true beauty is peace. Peace comes with knowing that even when your world is completely out of your control, God is still in control.” – Tonya
Hello! My name is Tonya LeMoine and I’m just a simple Southern girl. I was born and raised in a tiny little town where everyone knows everyone else AND what’s going on in your life. After years of desperately trying to match everyone’s expectations for me, I am figuring out how to live for myself and what truly makes me happy and fulfilled. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the way I was raised, in a Christian home by a strong, beautiful, independent woman. I wouldn’t change a minute of it! I recently turned 46, changed jobs after 15 years and moved to a new town. I work in the banking industry and love it! I help develop products and services to help our customers make the most of their finances. I enjoy the challenge of balancing the features and functionality of a new service with the safety of our customers’ privacy and financial security.
How did you come to understand your inner beauty?
It is a never ending process! We all want the compliments and appreciative looks from our circle and from the people we interact with in our lives, but those are typically all about how we look on the outside. True beauty comes from within… we hear that all of our lives too, but it’s true. I know some extraordinary women that would never be picked to be on the cover of a beauty magazine but when they smile… oh! the joy and peace and beauty that just fills their eyes. Coming to understand that we are all beautiful and perfect in God’s eyes…that He created us, inside and out, to be the perfect image of Him that someone in the world needs to see, has been a life long journey for me but I pray that I can hang onto that and be what He needs me to be.
What parts of your story can you share to help women to understand their own beauty?
Find your peace. I have been on a journey searching for peace the last 10 years or so. My precious, beautiful, strong mom was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in April of 2011. She was always the one that took care of everyone else, that made everything okay. In just a few days, I had to become that person for her. My step-father was in too much shock and couldn’t be that person for her in that moment. We were so fortunate that he was able to be at every treatment and appointment with her, but I became the one that did “all the things” – pay the bills, grocery shop, work with her doctors, work with hospice, etc. She left this world to be with Jesus on February 2, 2012.
Grief is a horrible thing and so hard to express; however, the “things” still had to be done: write her obituary, plan the funeral, take care of her estate and the other legal aspects of that. Then in 2013, my step-father (my dad since I was 8) was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and the whole cycle started all over. Somewhere in the midst of all of this, peace became the thing that I craved the most. Peace of mind, peace from fear, peace from anger, peace from guilt. I clung to the verse John 14:27: “Peace I leave you, My peace I give you…” There were days when the only thing I could pray was the word peace over and over again.
To me, true beauty is peace. Peace comes with knowing that even when your world is completely out of your control, God is still in control. It comes from knowing that after so much pain, my mom is at peace, and that after so much grief and guilt, my dad is at peace. Life is so short and a lot of us spend it trying to make everyone around us happy or live up to their expectations for us rather than finding our own true peace. Search for your peace, whatever that may be.
What was your experience with the photo shoot?
I was totally shocked that I was selected. I live in Central Louisiana, and to be honest, I had not heard of Brandi or the Bold, Beautiful, Perfect project. One day my boyfriend and I were driving along the Mississippi coast and her portrait studio page kept popping up in my Facebook feed. I looked at her beautiful pictures and then the questionnaire for the project came up. I normally would never fill anything like that out, but for some reason I didn’t even hesitate. I am so glad I sent in a response! It has been a blessing in so many ways and I can only pray that my story inspires at least one woman.
I was so nervous to meet Brandi! I’ve never truly had my photos professionally taken or my make up and hair done, so I had no idea what would happen. Brandi and Kasper (my fabulous make up artist) made me feel so comfortable and so well taken care of. Kasper was so good at helping me relax and feel at ease. I truly felt pampered and like a princess. Working with Brandi was so easy and fun. She has such a peaceful and graceful presence. From helping me pick out my clothes and jewelry to teaching me how to pose, she was patient and kind throughout the entire process.
Do you have peace knowing that your are made in the image of God? You are beautiful, and I’d love to help you see it!
Award Winning Portrait Photographer
Brandi Stage is an international award-winning portrait photographer based in Bay St. Louis, MS. She creates an exceptional magazine-style photo shoot and timeless heirloom portraits for women, men, children and pets in her studio or on location.