I remember when I first dove into weddings, shooting at the Historic Mankin Mansion was on my #goals list. I was so honored to have the opportunity to shoot here for a second wedding, this time with Kristina and Spencer! From her details, to her dress, to the love these two share that legitimately radiates effortlessly, it was the perfect day.
How's everyone feeling that my vague Instagram posts are OVER? I know I, for one, was ready to blurt the news out on day one, but for many reasons I needed to be patient. After all, I felt a tug on my heart that I tried to ignore over a year ago, and it just hasn't been a process to rush.
Like any other time my hands have met the keyboard for a fresh blog post, I wanted to take the time to write this from my heart in hopes that it encourages someone to take their own leap of faith, and if anything, have more faith that God truly does know you best.
If you've met me through my business, you may or may not know I'm a triplet. It used to define me, and now it's more of a fun fact. With that meant that our lives were mirror images for almost 18 full years. Over the years I've been the smartest at times (book smart, that is), the most sarcastic in others, the most rebellious, and I've even earned the meanest, which honestly followed me around for way longer than I'm proud to admit. What they meant was most willing to stand up for myself, right? Thankfully, most of those I've outgrown. But, I've always been the most independent from the perspective of if they were doing one thing, I was doing the other because well, I could. Right, wrong, or indifferent, I went away to college and they stayed home, I put off starting a family to pursue my career where they scaled their's back either partially or fully to be more present at home.
All of these things have brought both good and bad "side effects", if you will. I'm admittedly the most spread thin, though I feel I juggle it all relatively well. I always said I could never stay home full time, and not because it isn't a worthy challenge in it's own way, but because I enjoy making money and I enjoy the part of my identity that is being an accountant and an entrepreneur. I don't know when it happened, probably in line with my current job, but I became a lover of money and title, and I'm not proud of it. However, I have a lot of pride in how it contributes to our family as a whole. I found a lot of joy (read: pride) in being able to introduce myself as Taylor, a Financial Reporting Manager. It was different, I had made something of myself, and for all of the hard work it took to get there/here, I was (and still am) so proud. And then in the in between of it all, I still love this business so much, and that's only grown over time. So, I've been Taylor, a Financial Reporting Manager, photographer, mom, wife, sister, friend and sure, because our world often confuses busyness with success, pride took over in my life, and pride is ugly. But you know what else happened? Anger, resentment, discontentment, and the list goes on...
This is way too much information, but this is also the very reason I wanted to build a personal brand. I'm determined to share the hard truths when they need to be told because a year and a half ago I knew God was preparing a testimony worth sharing. I knew that wholeheartedly, but had no idea what it was going to look like, and to be honest, what actually happened blew my mind, too. I'm sure it took longer than it needed to because sometimes God needs us in full surrender and that's about as hard as it sounds. I found it easier, as most people do, to continue to pull a large paycheck because you know what's more fun than fully surrendering control of your life? Making a lot of money. Financial security. Spending money freely. It's not fun to admit, but I know I'm not alone.
Over the last six months, my husband's work schedule has become increasingly more demanding. If you saw what our schedule looked like the past few months, you might cry with me. Our marriage was being neglected because we didn't really get to see each other, and the only real solution was for one of us to sacrifice something in our careers. On paper, it financially makes little sense for that to be me and that's the faith factor in all of this, but we've made a decision in full confidence that this is exactly the path God has called us on. We can do nothing but have faith that He will provide what we need, when we need it, as only He can.
You know what's not fun? Marrying someone that you never get to see. Having kids that you rarely get to love on. Working 7 days a week, most weeks. Making a lot of money you barely even get to spend because you're working all the time. Ugh, my heart has been hurting and you may or may not have even realized.
All of this is really, really uncomfortable to admit, but if we took a poll and people were really honest, I think we'd see the ugly truth that this is the majority of most households even if the details look different. I actually sat in a small group of women from our church recently, and I'd come every meeting with my heart on my sleeve that I was unhappy with the way life was going and unhappy with not having more time at home, but I was scared to even pray because I was scared of the answer. That's telling, right? One friend even spoke up and said what I needed, but didn't want to hear, "I think that's probably your answer." Sucker punch to my pride-filled gut.
This is the problem. For a while, I found myself choosing to stay unhappy to save face with my pride than find true contentment with my family at the expense of money and title. WHAT? Yeah, in words and on paper that sounds ridiculous to even me. Now, I won't tell you that I left that small group and immediately put my faith back in God to handle this for me. I'm human, and even though I knew that's what I needed to do, I still came to work every day, doing very little in my free time to explore possible solutions. But..... God.
I was approached by a family friend about an opportunity that quite frankly interested me very little at face value. But, I figured I had nothing to lose now that the door was open. What I learned was that they just wanted me, for who I am as a person, and while they had organizational needs, this was ultimately a blank page opportunity. Here's the short of those (really long) conversations:
"Here's what I want to do.
Here's how much I want to work.
Here's how much I want to get paid.
And while we're at it, I have a pretty successful photography business that I don't want to sacrifice and my end goal with that is pretty ridiculous and maybe impossible, but I'd prefer not sacrifice any of that."
"Okay.", they said..... HUH?!
So, while I'm sure many of you assumed this was going to be a blog post to announce that I'd be staying home full time, I'm actually continuing to work which is probably anti-climatic, BUT I've never been so sure that God's hand is totally over my life, and THAT's the exciting part. I never wanted to be a mom, and sacrifice my career. And I never wanted to go full time with photography, and sacrifice accounting. What I wanted most was to find the perfect balance between all of it, which I all but gave up on for quite some time because I just knew I was seeking the impossible. For the last year and a half, I've sat behind a desk and accepted life as is assuming what I really wanted - to work part time - just wasn't an option for what I wanted that to look like. But, God. HE knows, and He promises to fulfill the desires of our hearts if we'd just meet him in full surrender. So, starting later this month, I'm trading five days in office for three. I get to cherry-pick my schedule, the work itself, and the best part? I get to be a better wife, mom, and business owner because of it. Sure, it's a pay cut. But, you couldn't pay me enough to miss any more quality time with my people and I've found insurmountable peace with exactly this. God.... he is SO, so good.
If you're wondering exactly how this ties in to my business, I'll be taking weekday sessions ONLY on Wednesdays and Fridays this year, and of course weekends as available. I'm excited to get some normal business hours in, and not have to sacrifice all of my free time during nights and weekends to continue to make this dream a reality.
2018 has brought me the freedom I've desperately wanted and needed to be able to be fully present and in control of every situation, and my goal is to be intentional with my time to ensure this leap of faith wasn't made in vain. What I hope you take from this is that nothing is impossible with God. Nothing. And no matter how hard you try to do this alone, His plan is so, SO much better.
At the end of the day, my son and future kids will never thank me for working hard if it comes at the expense of our quality time together. At the end of my life, my God won’t say well done because I hustled hard at the expense of pouring my best self into those I love most. At the end of all of this, what I want YOU to know is that comparison steals a lot of joy if you let it, but you’re still the one in control of how it affects your life. If you’re existing by the standards set by everyone else and choosing to not show yourself grace in these seasons, what and who is being neglected to make that happen?
Sometimes, when you least think people are watching, they are. At the time, I was still struggling to develop my style and to execute it through each session consistently. I was extra frustrated with myself because I could picture it, but I couldn't bring it to life 100% of the time. I was proud of my work, I was proud of the fact that I was self taught and that I had turned a girl with a passion and a camera into a tangible reality, but I was also full of self doubt and just kind of angry with myself. She just wanted to know what body + lens I'd recommend, but what she didn't know is how timely she was in asking.
It’s been a month since my last blog post, and I’m ashamed. Not because I gave myself permission to just be, to not have a jam-packed schedule for one month out of the whole year, to just go to ONE full-time job instead of two, to let my e-mails sit for more than 30 minutes, to enjoy four, short weeks of something other than go-go-go. But I’m ashamed because things got ugly, and I went silent. Because I chose to ignore the hard truth and fall of the face of the Earth because it felt much easier than letting others in.
I was fortunate to spend the evening with this stunning family on Thursday and I cannot tell you how many times Ive been able to step back in awe of how God has used this business to connect me, and in this case, re-connect me to many people. My sister used to help Whitney out every so often by watching Logan when he was a newborn, and now he's this big 'ole five-year-old. I remember when we'd all stop by for our baby snuggle fix and just a few days ago he was talking to me about his dirt bike and all the fun things he's been up to lately. Crazy1
I met Kat a little over three years ago at a tanning salon she used to work at when I was trying (keyword: TRYING) to get some type of color before my wedding. She said "you look familiar, are you engaged to Brad's brother?" and I still laugh thinking about it because if I had a dollar for every time someone told me I look familiar, I'd seriously be rich. But, she recognized me because my husband and his brother look A LOT a like despite a 7 year difference, so luckily it wasn't that I had a 5th (or 40th) sister somewhere - not this time at least :)
This was simply to say thank you. Thank you Austin, for risking your life for me so I don't have to. For my son and future kids to grow up with real life heroes working to keep them safe. For very little pay, no respect, stupid hours and a lot of time away from your own people. Thank you Kelly, for being a Godly wife that the world needs to see more of and supporting Austin when it's hard and when you maybe didn't want to. Baby Landon seriously has two of the most selfless and incredible parents this world has ever seen and I cannot wait to meet him.