Day 3201 – Things Learned Over Seven Years Of Blogging Every Day

I started this blog to help grow my wedding photography business. I saw it as a way to share stories from our marriage to connect with potential couples, and to share the message of the importance of marriage until death do us part. I love that I have blogged seven of the almost nine years we’ve been married. I’ve learned a lot about myself, my marriage, and what is possible when you show up every day to do something. Here are a few of the biggest lessons that have come out of this blog for me.

Showing up every day adds up to something you never could have imagined at the beginning. I never would have guessed that I would stop photography, or take four cross country road trips, or that I would share one of my biggest secrets.

You never know who you will impact through your posts. There have been countless times I’ve gotten messages from folks who said a post impacted them in a way I never would have expected.

You never know who is reading….every….single….day. A few times, I’ve had people say things like “I saw that on your blog” or know little details about me from reading my blog daily. It is a good reminder to really think about what I’m posting.

You never know where your life will take you. I’ve experienced a wealth of things over the last seven years. From moves to new jobs to leaving old jobs to new friends to new adventures. I’ve experienced extreme heartache as well as extreme heartoverloadgoodness.

Whatever you’re working on daily that doesn’t have foreseeable benefits – keep going.

Whatever you’re dreaming about and afraid to start because the plan isn’t clear – just start.

Whatever book you have buried in your heart – even a few lines a day will add up to a book in time.

Thank you to every one of you who has been here from the beginning or started following this week. You make me continue to show up, every day.

I took this picture at the moment I had the idea for this blog. I was so moved that I had started to cry. For some reason, the picture was flipped upside down. I’ve kept it this way because sometimes what we think will be the end product is so far from what we expected, but it’s better than we could ever have imagined. I can’t think of a better way to describe this blog.

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Day 3199 – Why Are You Putting Off Your Dreams? – repost

I’m a big pusher. I love this about myself. I love to push people to be better, to follow their dreams and to do things that make them happy. Once I figure out how to make that quality in myself into a source of income that makes sense for my lifestyle, I will be a very happy camper.

But just as a photographer really sucks at taking photos of themselves, their family and friends….AND printing them out. I suck at pushing myself. It’s easier for me to just give advice to other people and not give it to myself.

I have had a dream to publish a book for years. I honestly have no idea how long. At least 10 years. I am pretty sure as a kid/young adult, I had dreams of writing a book. I watched countless videos, went to seminars, heard many people say how easy it is to publish a book today. I knew it was possible and it did sound pretty easy.

But here’s the thing, I still dragged my feet. It took a lot of arm twisting for me to hire a proof reader/editor. I did and I know my book is so much stronger because of the changes and general clean up that my editor did. She even made a few changes that made my formatting for Amazon a ton easier.

I also delayed a while after the manuscript was done. To be fair, I was stuck on the title. It was so hard to say what the book was about. I had so many competing voices and advice. Do this, do that, you HAVE to do this, DON’T do that! One day, I finally turned everything off and just talked to God. I said tell me what you want YOUR book to be called. Because really, the book is what God has to say about work….not me. It was a big step for me, I figured out the title and everything clicked after that.

I met some resistance in getting things set up…buying the ISBN, designing my cover, uploading to Amazon. I realize now, it was mostly a “I’ve never done this before and I’m putting things off” type thing.

But now that I’m done, I can’t get over how easy it was. Not only to put publish the ebook but also the paperback (I’m still waiting for approval from Amazon, keep checking the link if you want to buy a physical copy). I had a little trouble with the cover design….but Amazon has a great program to catch any mistakes on the book.

I will be a major pusher to others who want to write a book now. I will also push affiliate marketing as well. Through people clicking on the link to my book, I’ve already made affiliate sales. Basically, if someone clicks on one of my affiliate links and buys either the product I’m sharing or something completely different, I get a percentage of that sale (at no additional cost to the purchaser). I’ve made more in the last few days through my book than I have in a few months of having an affiliate account. (If you have to shop on Amazon, follow the link to my book in the footer to make sure we get credit!)

So as I marinate over the fact that I am now a published author, I am struck by the thought “why did I put this off for so long?” It seems silly now…especially since I’m a big supporter of “go do these things that make you happy. Go take that cross country trip. Quit your job and take a chance on your own business. Get rid of all your stuff and live out of an RV.”

Why are you putting off your dreams?

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originally posted 12/18/16

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Day 3198 – Listen To Your Past Self – repost – With Updates

I am getting SO close to finishing one portion of my major blog project (editing old content with my affiliate links, and cataloging my good stuff for ease of sharing/updating later). I have less than a year left in the posts I have already marked as needing my attention. The post below came up in today’s update. It’s wonderful how some themes repeat themselves in your life over and over again. I feel as though I’ve always been different and one who embraces being different. When I was younger, I think I was embracing and flaunting my differences to gain attention. But now, I embrace who I am, the choices I’ve made, and the things I say no to because I see how healthy it makes me. I wear my cloak not to stand out and say “look at me! I am different and weird and I love it!” But it now says to me “I am comfortable in this because it’s warm, it takes care of a need, and it is a reflection of me.” (which fun fact, my cloak is about 20 years old). Where before I would wear a fun shirt or wear sparkles to stand out, now I wear them because they make me genuinely happy.

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Originally posted 12/4/16
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One thing I try to do regularly is journal. I’ll listen to sermons and jot down some notes. Sometimes I’ll write a little more if something is pressing on my heart. My journals are a conversation with God, talking like I would to my best friends. I’m nearing the end of my current journal and was searching for an empty journal. I found a book I received while rocking out at Cornerstone (a huge Christian Rock festival) 10 years ago. Sometimes I write notes to myself in books and this book was no different. Here’s what I wrote on 7/8/06

“This theme of being who you are meant to be has been haunting me for months. Maybe a year. This week though, it is evident in everything I do. It screams at me through the songs, the speakers, even the lines on the other side of this page. Every part of my being is aching to deepen this journey. To seek and find all that I truly am in Christ. I am excited, elated. I want to scream it from the rooftops. Yet, I feel the battle beginning to rage. The evil of this world already fights against me. As it always does when someone strives to be who they are in Christ. To let go of what the world and even Christians around them tell them to be. It is ok to be you. If you are keeping Christ as your central theme. Christ’s personality is so vast yet so precise. There is room for all of our personalities there. How glorious, how wonderful, it is ok to be you.

I must write this book. People need to know.”

I’m not sure what my theme of that book was. I’m not sure if it was even remotely about business since I had been photographing weddings for less than two years. But the desire to write a book has been in my soul for a long time. I can’t believe that I am so very close to putting my devotional on Amazon. I can’t believe in a short amount of time, I will be able to say – “Hello, my name is Jennilyn, I am an author.” I should have listened to past Jennilyn much sooner. I can only hope that this book will help more Christian business owners trust God more in their businesses and life.

For laughs, here’s me driving to the festival and goofing off. Somethings never change. 🙂

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Did you like what you read? Here’s some ways you can support us and this blog!
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Day 3174 – An Alcoholic Christian – repost

It’s been a while since I shared this, but here’s a snapshot of my alcoholism journey. I’m still working on my book about my alcoholism and now that I have a better idea of the direction and framework, I’m really rocking it out. Stay tuned!

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originally posted 1/10/16
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Today I finally shared my testimony at church. It went SO well. I’m grateful for the process to get to the stage, all of the people who gave me advice and listened to me practice. I only cried at one part (more so in the first service!) which surprised me….but it was always the part I cried when I did cry.

It will be a few days/weeks until the video is online, but I figured there are some who have been waiting to hear the full story. Here is the text of what I shared.

“I am a recovered alcoholic. Not a typical term that you hear, I know. But I didn’t really like “recovering alcoholic” as if I will forever be a sober person struggling to stay sober, not changed completely by God’s work in my life.

I felt God prompting me to share this, even though this isn’t the “easy” testimony. I’ve thought about sharing this in some form or another since about a month or two after I quit drinking.

So why am I sharing it now? I think that what I have to say may help someone realize that if God is telling you to do something, He will give you the strength to walk through it. To fully understand how I got to this point, I have to take you back about 9 years.

I was working a retail job in 2006 and nearly every Friday night, I was out with my co-workers, getting drunk. I didn’t really drink a whole lot before this job, so for me to be going out every Friday night was not like me. But it happened so gradually, I didn’t notice.

In the fall of 2006 I was driving home from another late night at the bar. As I was driving home, I was texting someone saying “man, I should not be driving right now.” I say that and just shake my head at myself. Texting and driving AND drinking and driving. Well, thankfully, I was pulled over before anyone was hurt. I was arrested for a DUI. Having to call my mom to get me out of jail was probably one of the most humbling things I’ve had to do.

I had a few drinks in the weeks that followed, but my lawyer advised me to stop drinking. So I did. I was sober for a year after that. I went to court mandated group meetings and classes. Even sitting in the group, I didn’t think I had a problem. It was just a dumb mistake I made.

When my year of probation was over, I went out and celebrated with some friends….how? By drinking. Again, I look back and shake my head.

In the years that have followed, I haven’t been arrested again, but I have done some really stupid things.

I was so hungover at my best friend’s wedding, that she held MY flowers right before walking down the aisle so I could go throw up.

I’ve thrown up in my friend’s bushes during a party.

I’ve locked myself in the bathroom, at another friend’s house sobbing for nearly an hour because of a movie.

I’ve gotten drunk with clients two days before their wedding.

I’ve gone to church severely hungover.

I’ve snuck hard liquor and not told Bret how much I had to drink.

I’ve drunk cooking wine.

Up until I stopped drinking, on all but one of my getaways with Bret, I would drink myself silly, which cut the trip short and ruined the time.

I’ve missed several opportunities to witness about Christ because I had too much to drink to think clearly.

On the last night I drank, Bret and I were supposed to do evening devotions, but we didn’t because I was so intoxicated.

After many of these humiliating moments, I would swear off alcohol. I would be ashamed of myself. How could a Christian act like this? I’d tell myself I won’t drink again. I would journal and ask God’s forgiveness. Many times, if not every time, this verse came up:

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8

Every time I read it, I’d mentally agree and think “this is it. I can do this.”

But then a few months would go by and I would think, “Oh it’s our anniversary,” “Oh, it’s so and so’s birthday,” “Oh! It’s Tuesday!” And there I was again, right back where I was before. It would start slow and then would be a full blown problem again. It was an endless cycle.

My breaking point was not that big of a deal, comparatively. I was watching TV with my mom, and because of the alcohol content, I drank essentially 7 and a half beers….in two hours.

The next morning, like many mornings before, I felt terrible about drinking that much. I again journaled my regrets. Again, “be sober-minded” came up in my devotions. But this time, I really started thinking seriously about it. Previously, I would swear off alcohol right away, but it wasn’t a serious commitment because I really didn’t think it through. This time, I weighed both sides and thought through things for several days.

I finally took my sin seriously.

I reasoned that what I lost by not drinking ever again was not even worth comparing to what I would gain. I finally admitted to myself that I had a problem. I finally admitted I couldn’t do this on my own. I finally surrendered myself to God’s way. I have been sober for about a year and a half.

Here’s what I’ve learned – God very patiently told me to quit drinking, but I didn’t listen for a long time. A VERY long time! When I did though, He very richly blessed me. I haven’t had a craving for alcohol. I haven’t been tempted to drink. I can be around people who drink. I haven’t second guessed my decision. I have found strength I didn’t know I had, His strength in me. It has become an easy thing. I listened to God’s command and I was blessed.

It breaks my heart to think that I have lost out on chances to share my faith with others because of drinking. It stinks that I showed a terrible witness of a Christian to those who didn’t know my Savior. But here’s what I know. Christianity is not about a bunch of perfect people who live perfect lives. It’s not about people who stop sinning when they’re saved. It’s about totally messed up, imperfect, screwed up people coming with absolutely nothing that makes them worthy, throwing up their hands and admitting that they don’t have it all together. It’s believing that Christ was a real person who was fully God and fully man, who came and lived a perfect life that we could not, and died a death to pay for the punishment of our sins, and rose again to defeat death.

The number one response people give when they hear I struggled with this is – I had no idea you dealt with this! It’s easy to hide sin, especially sin you’re ashamed of. I am not ashamed of my sin anymore. I’ve been excited to share because I know what it’s like to be ashamed of sin. I know how it feels to walk into church with downcast eyes. I know how it feels to think you’re the only one who struggles with something. Trust me when I say, you are not the only one who struggles. But I can now more fully say I understand forgiveness. I can more fully express that God is waiting with open arms to take us back. Even after we’ve fallen for the second time…the fiftieth time…the thousandth time.

Now that alcohol is not in my life, there’s room for God to be the most important thing. I now love to be near God, I have such a desire for him and his word. Because I’m not hungover, I can listen to sermons nearly every day and have clarity as I listen. Do you remember how I missed out on evening devotions with Bret? Well, now he’s listening to most of those sermons with me. Our faith is the number one thing we talk about now.

I am now able to be more alert, all the time, for opportunities to serve others. I am aware of the spirit speaking to me – now that he’s not muted by alcohol.

So while I had a terrible witness for 9 years because of drinking, because Christ paid for those sins I am now worthy to stand before a holy God.

2 Corinthians 7:9-10 says, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

The God that made a way to forgive my sin is the same God that gave me the strength to finally give up a sin I’ve struggled with for over 9 years. He is more than able to give you the strength to finally give up the sin you’ve been struggling with.”

Thank you Daryl for taking this photo!

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Did you like what you read? Here’s some ways you can support us and this blog!
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Day 3157 – Guest Post: Bret Sharing About Faith In Moving Out And What God Has Done So Far – repost

I had every intention of posting about one of a few topics that have been floating around the past few days. From an amazing book I’m reading about a Christian alcoholic, to how epic our day was yesterday, to my ever deepening love of my spouse, to books I’ve currently reading. But as I was working through my morning checklist (ha ha, this afternoon), I came across this post Bret wrote a few years ago. It was such a great reminder of God’s grace to us during that time. It was a great reminder of where our finances are now (which is another blog post floating around).

This post stopped me in my tracks and had to reshare. It sure it fun being married to not only a fellow business owner but also a fellow writer.

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originally posted June 3, 2015
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I heard a story about certain military training. Supposedly it includes carrying a pack, performing exercises and challenges, and might even take place over a few days. As the participants get near to what they believe is the end, they can see the finish. They are relieved, thinking they are almost done. However, their leaders keep walking past the finish line, and tell the participants that they are half way done, because they are doing another lap. After days of enduring, it is at that point that many give up. They were able to keep going just a little while before, because they thought they only had a short way to still go. After many have given up, and the remaining participants have walked only a little ways further, the leaders then tell them that they passed, and are done. The test was not just about how far they could physically go. The leaders wanted to know how many would keep going when things were tough, when they didn’t think they could keep going.

I liken this to having faith in God. Jen and I recently moved out. Not so I could have a shorter drive to work. Not because of any specific people in our lives. Not because we were tired of living with other people. The main reason Jen and I moved was because I felt God telling us to move, specifically because of some issues in my heart. You can read the post about moving out here. I didn’t want to move out, because I was enjoying growing fellowship with two of her brothers, and even her mom, but God told me that my relationship with Him was more important. I also didn’t want to move out because of the increased expenses it would bring. Still, God said if I did not move out, He was going to turn my life upside down, because He loved me enough to bring discipline if needed. I could look back and see how God had been having grace with the sin in my heart. I was reminded of Romans 2:4 – Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

See God had been being patient with me, and was telling me He was going to change how He was dealing with me. I was then reminded of Revelation 3:19 – Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.

Another similar verse is Hebrews 12: 5-6: …My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.

He brought to my thoughts other people whose sin had negatively affected their whole life, even the lives of their loved ones around them. He was going to start doing whatever it took for me to take my sin seriously. I literally put my hands up during prayer and said, “Ok God, I give up, I’m sorry for delaying. We’ll go.” The next day we were looking at apartments and two days later, we were signing the paperwork.

So what am I getting at? This is what Jen wrote on the original post: “So at this time, while we’re not sure where all the money will come from and where God will lead us, we’re excited and having faith to see what He has for us, and the growth that will occur during this next part of our journey. Especially in Bret’s heart.”

See, our expenses were going to be at least 400 dollars more than our income, every month. Still, I knew that if God was telling us to move, He was going to provide. If He didn’t provide, then we would use up all the money he gave to us from the insurance on the truck when it was in the accident (another amazing story of God’s grace, we’ll tell you about another day). Instead of seeing that money as something to save, I saw it as something God may have provided before we would need it. If we went through all of that money, then went broke, I would still have faith that He had told us to move out.

Here is the awesome news: only 1 month after moving out, Jen noticed a mistake she had on the budget. She hadn’t included a huge chunk of monthly income, which would allow us to not just afford to live here, but even continue to save money. I believe God had kept our eyes closed to that fact, so that when we moved, it was in faith in God, not in the money. And now we look back, thankful that God gave us the faith.

There is a difference in asking God if we can be sure if He will keep His word, and asking how He will keep His word. When John the Baptist’s dad, Zechariah, heard the angel tell him his wife would have a baby, he asked, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years” (Luke 1:18). Because of that, he was caused to be mute until John was born. However, when Mary was told that she would give birth to Jesus, her question was, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34) Zechariah was asking how he could be sure God would do something He said he would, while Mary on the other hand was asking how God would do it.

I didn’t even care how He would provide for us financially, I just knew that He would. The cool thing, we were only tested for 1 month (during this specific situation). It reminds me of those people who kept going, even when the end looked so far away. Their instructors knew they really only had to keep going for a little further. The instructors had a reason for what they were doing. If the participants had known they only had to keep it up for a little while longer, and had kept going, it wouldn’t have shown their will. If Jen and I knew God was going to so quickly provide, or if we had the money before we moved, it wouldn’t have shown our faith.

This faith doesn’t just apply to going through something, it may apply to not having something you want. I have seen people who felt God calling them somewhere, even to a ministry, but they didn’t go because they valued something or someone more. Then, after they decided to follow their own heart, it was shown that they would have had to only wait a little while longer, and God would have provided them a way to have the other thing or person they wanted also. Instead, they didn’t go where God had been calling them, and prematurely chose to pursue what they wanted. How tragic!

If you don’t know how you are going to get through something, keep having faith. If you want something that God is not giving you at this time, have faith. If you don’t want to go somewhere He is calling you, have faith. Here is one thing Jesus prayed for His disciples in John 17:13-18 – I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. And one final verse, Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

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Did you like what you read? Here’s some ways you can support us and this blog!
Join our Facebook group, Planning an Epic Road Trip on Any Budget
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Check out our resources page.
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