2021 Bold Beautiful Perfect: Irene R
“True beauty is what God has given you, so love yourself. You are beautiful not just in my eyes, but in God’s.”
Tell us about yourself, Irene!
A small-town country girl is what I like to call myself. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, MS, the middle child and only girl in my family. After two failed marriages, I gave it all to God and prayed like I had never prayed before. And that’s when God sent my wonderful husband, Douglas Ralson. We’ll be married 10 years in June. We recently relocated to Biloxi, MS with our four children.
The path to motherhood was a bit of a challenge for my husband and I. At the age of 40, I had to have surgery to remove my right ovary. We were told by my doctor that it was possible for me to get pregnant about 3 to 6 months afterwards. I remember us looking at each other saying, “If that’s what God wants.” Sure enough, I became pregnant. However, the experience was a terrifying one.
At 28 weeks pregnant, my water broke and I was placed on bed rest at the hospital. Ten days later at 29 weeks, I was rushed to labor and delivery, given an epidural, and prepared to deliver my baby girl. Things took a drastic turn as I was rushed to have an emergency Caesarian section. I was terrified for myself and for my baby.
When my body began to shut down, my husband was rushed out of the delivery room. My baby (Judy Adale) was safely delivered, but I was rushed to the ICU and placed on a ventilator. On the third day of being on a ventilator, God woke me up. All I could do was thank Him for giving me the breath of life and allowing me to live and raise my child with my husband.
Judy is now 6 years old, and we have been blessed with three more beautiful children. My step-daughter Emily is 17, our adopted son Ian is 13, and Douglas, Jr. is 6.
In addition to being a mom, I hold many titles. I am a pastor’s wife, Vice-President of the North Woolmarket Middle School Football Booster Club, cake decorator, florist, and social media promoter. All of these roles allow me to display my passion for loving, caring, and giving to my family and others.
How did you come to understand your inner beauty?
It took a long time for me to see my beauty, and over the years it has come in a variety of forms.
Growing up in a small town was not easy for me. I was bullied in school from first grade until my senior year of high school. I was called “white trailer trash” and other names, all because I had friends of a different race. My mom always told me, “You have a huge loving heart and a giving soul. That is who you are. That is your true beauty.” It took me a long time to understand that, but eventually I did.
True beauty is what God has given you. My beauty is not what is reflected back to me when I look in the mirror. God has given me an inner beauty that is displayed through the love and compassion I show for everyone in my life. God has given me an inner beauty that allows me to lift up my sisters in Christ and love and care for one another as He would want. My beauty comes from showing others what God has given me, what he sees in me, and what I do each day to prove my own love for him. I will forever give God all the praise for the love and beauty he has given me.
This project is all about inspiring women to see their beauty. What parts of your story can you share to help women to understand their own beauty?
No matter what others say about you, never forget who created you. God gave you your beauty both inside and out. Don’t let the storms of life change who you are. Be bold and courageous in your life, and always let the beauty that God has given you shine. Love yourself as God loves you.
Tell us about your experience with the photo shoot.
I have never been involved with a photo shoot such as this. Kasper made me feel glamorous and beautiful, while Brandi made me smile and laugh as she caught the twinkle. She captured my personality to the T! I was totally pampered and enjoyed every minute of it! The work these two did to make me even more beautiful, just added to the work that God had already put in me. This photo shoot allowed all of my inner beauty to shine outside of me. To have total strangers treat me with such care in making me feel like a queen for the day was awesome. I truly enjoyed every minute of it.
This shoot meant so much to this small-town country girl. Not only did it make me feel glamourous, but it also made me feel special. It was amazing to be able to show my daughters that it is okay to be confident in themselves because GOD created them to be beautiful, inside and out. This was a blessing for me in that I was shown that my life was indeed inspiring, and that I have been a blessing in other’s lives.
Always love yourself. You are beautiful not just in my eyes, but in God’s.
You are stronger and more beautiful than you know!
To book your own fabulous Portrait Session, contact us through the inquiry form below.
International 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.