My journey into fulltime business ownership was something like the changing of seasons. It all started in fall, my absolute favorite time of year. The colors burst forth from all sides. The air is crisp and wonderful. There are warm mugs of cider, tea, or hot chocolate shared around the campfire. When I started into fulltime business ownership, it was much the same. The colors were brighter; this was something I had dreamed about for years. Ever since my early weddings, I knew this is what I wanted to do.
Those first few months were wonderful. We photographed amazing couples, I attended one of the biggest wedding conferences in the world, I slept in (after I got over the belief that I had to get up when “everyone else did”), I saw friends during the day that I never could have seen otherwise. I even went to the daytime Bible study at my church. Bright oranges and yellows and reds, everywhere.
As with the seasons of the year, it slowly crept into winter, so that when I sat up and noticed it, I couldn’t believe where I was. By January, I realized that while I had gotten inquiries and had consults, I hadn’t booked anything substantial. I was under this assumption that now that I was fulltime, I could merely increase my prices to reflect that it was my fulltime job and people would pay. It wasn’t until I stopped to think over the past months that I knew I had priced too high, too fast, and way above what we were worth at the time. My pride took a big hit.
Isn’t that how most winters of our souls go? We are so caught up in other things that we don’t see the change in ourselves, how far we’ve fallen, and how much we need God. Isn’t it a time of God showing us a way we need to grow? Moving us away from our sinful nature and more into the nature of His Son? The winters show us how utterly desperate we are. This one was no different for me.
Around this time is when we started praying before each consult. This change softened our hearts and made it easier to hold each opportunity with hands held open to God. He gives and takes away, after all. Everything we have is God’s, whether we admit it or not. I think the sooner that we realize this and live our lives like this, the sooner we’ll see success. I’m not talking about monetary success, even though it’s sometimes part of it. I’m talking about seeing success as how God is working in you.
Through this winter, the biggest thing we came away with, the thing that made me realize I needed to write this book was this fact: God defines success differently than we do. In the context of our relationship with Him, our success was a closer walk with Him and a deeper prayer life with each other. This was a very tough financial time for us, but God always provided just what we needed when we needed it. God made such a big change in us that friends of ours now reference us when giving advice to someone about a tough financial time. “Go talk to Jen and Bret about finances. They have a lot of experience and good advice.”
While it’s nice to be seen as an “expert” in something, and there is a part of me that takes pride in it, I can’t. There is no way I could have navigated that dark winter on my own. There is no way that I could have orchestrated my life to fit as well as it did in all those circumstances. Every success goes back to God; He is so wise to let us go through winters in life. If it weren’t for the winters, how on earth could we appreciate the spring?
Spring bloomed gently around us until there was overflowing joy and rapturous beauty. We started booking weddings again, with wonderful people. Things were clicking. The machine was working. The floodgates were open with blessing.
When summer rolled around, we were ready for the hot and sticky situation that met us. Bret was fired. His part-time job had been the main source of income we had over the summers. His military college benefits and monthly stipends only occurred in the nine months he went to college. On the bright side, there was only one day that we really freaked out. It was bad. You would think that after all that we went through in the months leading up to this point, we would have responded differently.
The next thing I knew (only four days after he lost his job), I was attending a life-changing conference for women and Bret had found a job that would provide enough money to cover expenses until he went back to school.
This excerpt is from pages 73-77 in Buy my book, Trusting God With 2 Cents: 22 Days To Becoming A Successful Christian Business Owner (this is an affiliate link to my book. This means we’ll get a small percentage of what you order, if you choose to order something on Amazon).
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