Day 3068 – My Journey Into Full-time Business Ownership – or – Portions Of The Last Chapter In My First Book

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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Day 3013 – World Mental Health Day – and – Another Peek In My Alcoholism Memoir

Today is World Mental Health Day. From the Days of the Year website, here’s a little bit about the day – “Mental health problems, ranging from issues like depression and anxiety disorders to conditions like schizophrenia, affect millions of people around the world. In fact, according to current statistics, 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem during their lifetime and many more will see friends of family members affected.

What a staggering statistic! And one that I believe is pretty darn accurate. There are so many things that the people we know struggle with that they keep hidden or think they should keep hidden. Today is a good reminder that we’re all not perfect, and to take some time to get to know those around us. And that if you struggle with something, it’s ok, and there is much freedom in sharing your struggles with someone you trust.

In a bit of serendipity, I was working on the chapter about being a Christian with a drinking problem in my memoir today. Let it encourage you to go deeper with those around you. And let it serve as a reminder that we’re all facing battles that aren’t seen on the surface.

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A friend recently asked how long I’ve been a Christian. They thought maybe a new belief is what caused me to stop drinking. I’ve been a Christian my whole life – which makes the fact that I had a drinking problem as a Christian more confusing, and hard to believe. But here’s the thing – no one is immune to struggling with things. I think being honest with yourself is a big part of knowing when you have a problem. It wasn’t until I was honest with myself, acknowledging that I couldn’t drink ever again, that a change was finally made. It wasn’t until several months after I was sober that I could acknowledge that I was an alcoholic.

I didn’t look like what you might think an alcoholic would look like. I went to church, I was homeschooled K-12. I got good grades when I went to college and graduated with honors. What you didn’t see were the times I hugged the toilet. What you didn’t see were the hysterical crying fits I had. What you didn’t see were the puffy eyes and bloated body the next day. You were surprised when you heard I was an alcoholic. You had no idea. I had become a master at hiding my drinking problem. Whether it was sneaking extra glasses of wine when you weren’t looking or sipping cooking wine when the alcohol was gone. And yet, I never thought I had a problem. Yea, maybe I needed to think about things, maybe I had too many drinks when I drank….but there always seemed to be an excuse to drink.

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.

Here are a few entries I’ve journaled about my drinking over the years.

1/1/06
Maybe these dark times are to show me what God has saved me from. A taste of what the worldly Jennilyn would be.

I didn’t realize I would end up being worldly Jennilyn when I was arrested only eight and a half months later. I didn’t realize I would cross that line – or how easy it would be.

So when did I know I was an alcoholic?

Probably in the few months after my last drink. Here’s a snapshot from my journal.

September 29, 2014 (first day sober)
I do enjoy it and I have had some great times, yet I’ve quit so many times. Can I really not control myself or am I trying to prove to myself that I can? Am I holding on to sin? Should I cut it loose? Do I need to cut it out completely? Truly? Forever? Is it standing in my way?

On October 3, 2014
Thank you also for the clear “it’s time” to quit drinking. Thank you for the strength already against temptation. Let it open doors to honest communications about how Christians aren’t perfect.

Another factor to this time being different was I took a few days to make the decision. Other times, it was a quick decision. It used to be a way to placate Bret – “Don’t worry babe, this is the LAST time.”

Looking back, I think it has been so true – that it opened lines of communication. People are shocked when they hear about my sobriety – “but you’re a Christian!”

Thinking back to the months following this moment, I remember thinking that there is almost more stigma against people who don’t drink than people who do. I was more embarrassed and nervous to say “no thank you” to a drink, then when I was downing bottle after bottle.

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My very last margarita!

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Day 3007 – Sneak Peek From My Alcoholism Memoir

This excerpt is from the chapter currently titled “Change.” It’s funny, I wrote the following months ago, but I find myself here again today. I did very little writing today. I’m at the point where I HAVE to write about my experiences. I have to dig deep into the things I only briefly shared in my testimony. I shared about being hung over at my friend’s wedding, in two sentences. But in the book, I shared a full paragraph. As I’m opening the door to the memories, they are flooding back. I’m remembering when I threw up in my mouth and had to swallow it. I’m remembering getting drunk, multiple times, in Vegas. I’m remembering get togethers where it really wasn’t appropriate to drink as much much as I did. I think at one such event, I drank at least 1 bottle of champagne myself, maybe even 2. My reason? There was a lot extra and it would be thrown out if not.

So it seems appropriate to share the following. Still no idea when it will be ready, but I might have a better idea after I finish the work on the experiences. Oy.

“I am very happy being sober. I’m glad I don’t drink anymore. But there’s something that happens to me. I can get down after I read about my sobriety, or read about another’s story of sobriety, or I engage in conversations about it. I sit here after a great conversation last night with another sober blogger. I find myself this morning very pensive and thoughtful. I feel sad. It strikes me that though I think I’m ok talking about my alcoholism, going deep into those memories and writing about them isn’t easy. I am the type of person that leaves the past in the past. If I think there’s an acceptable time to move on, I do. I try to live in the present. So why does it make me so sad? Maybe I’ve changed so much from that person I used to be that I don’t want to deal with her anymore? Through my learning about business, and life in general, I know the importance of the people you spend time with. If you want to grow, you have to be around folks who are a step or two (or ten) ahead of you. The Jennilyn of the past used any excuse to drink. She kissed a guy who had a girlfriend (before she met Bret). She drove after drinking. She broke the law. She could have killed someone while driving drunk. She needled her way into talking Bret into driving so she could drink many times. I want to leave her in the past. I don’t want to share her with the world. She isn’t worth my time. And yet, she is still a part of who I am. She is a Jennilyn I can measure my current self against. She lets me see how much I have truly grown. She shows me a person I never want to be again. And she can be a person to show others how much change is possible. She may not be my favorite person, but I wouldn’t be who I am today without her.”

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Day 2993 – I’m Not Hungover Today!

Last night, I was chatting with Bret about my alcoholism memoir. We were talking about a time when I was so drunk I didn’t notice something I should have. I mentioned how much I love not having the “morning after” conversations with him anymore. Oh there were so many of those mornings. So many times I would tell Bret I quit for good, when it was just something to say to diffuse the situation. As we were talking, I just threw my hands up in the air and I said I’m not hungover today! I love being sober!

I never want to get over the wonder of this fact. I never want to take it for granted that I was completely transformed. I never want to forget how much I’ve grown.

And thanks to YOU, yes YOU dear reader. If it wasn’t for you being interested in my alcoholism stories, I would never have thought to write a memoir about my alcoholism and sobriety. It has been a great process so far.

What is something you take for granted you can be thankful for today?

I was sooooo intoxicated in this photo…..though, I’ll make that face stone sober. 😀

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Day 2983 – The Power Of Consistency

I love checklists, especially since I started highlighting my progress instead of marking. There are lots of methods to encourage growth. Some things motivate better than others. For three areas of my life, checklists have had a great impact. The first is flossing. I have flossed every day, except two days, for almost a year. Since Bret’s last dentist appointment, he hasn’t missed a day either.

The other checklist I have is for working out and for writing. I haven’t been as consistent as I would like, but the last seven days have been successful, I only missed the weekend last week, and did a full week the week before. While I’m doing short workouts and only about 5-15 minutes for my writing sessions, I’m making forward progress.

What helps you to be consistent?

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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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