Michael worked full time as the high school youth pastor for a year and half and then our lives started to change. It was a hard change. My business was booming… and I’m so thankful… but what that meant was that I was gone… A LOT. Our first year of marriage, I spent over 25 weekends away from my husband…. that’s half a year! In 2011 I shot 30+ weddings and really started to launch the teaching side of my business. Most photography businesses that do a large amount of teaching AND shoot over 30 weddings a year are not run by one person… but I’ve been doing it by myself and it’s not easy. So while I was struggling with my business, Michael had his own struggles. Last spring he was completely overwhelmed. He was juggling so much and on top of that, he was still taking seminary classes!! It got to the point that we had to cut something out in order to just survive…. and so he went to part time. Throughout the spring and summer we started praying and seeking wisdom from people who are older and wiser than us because we were really unsure of where we were headed. We love ministry… we LOVE these kids… like, REALLY love them…. but we were so confused about what God was doing with Michael’s job.
While we were trying to figure out what Michael’s next step was going to be…. I was having mini meltdowns because I needed to hire someone… ANYONE! I needed help…. big time. I needed someone who loved to serve people… who enjoyed second shooting….someone who would love to travel with me on the weekends and someone who believed in my dreams for this crazy business. I needed an office manager, an organizer and someone that would help me accomplish BIG goals. This person needed to have a flexible schedule, they needed to understand that my business is also my ministry and the needed to be permanent because I didn’t want to retrain a new college intern every 6 months. As Michael and I stayed up one night on a marriage retreat… crying and praying about what the next phase of life was going to look like for us, it hit us…. like a ton of bricks! I needed HIM. I needed a partner and the most ideal partner in the whole world would be my husband. Here I was trying to figure out how I was going to pay someone to work with me and how I was going to find the PERFECT person and the answer was right in front of me. We didn’t decide on this decision immediately…. we took 6 full months to pray about this, seek wise counsel and talk to those that have done this and have done it well. The Lord is so incredibly faithful because over those 6 months, we had the opportunity to sit down and receive advice from the three husband/wife teams we look up to the most…. JD & Jasmine, Justin & Mary, and Zach & Jody. I don’t even know how that happened… but it did…. and it was so encouraging. It was encouraging because we realized 3 things:
1. Ministry isn’t determined by a paycheck…. Ministry is about how you give your life away for the sake of Christ. That can be done as volunteer youth leaders AND as small business owners. How silly of us to worry that we would have LESS impact in our teen’s lives just because we weren’t on the payroll. God doesn’t work like that.
2. We were created for this. Michael’s gifts and his passions are much different than we thought they were 3 years ago. He loves to serve, he loves to equip leaders and he loves to manage things behind the scenes.
3. Life changes…. and that’s ok. Things change… and sometimes our plans are not God’s plans. This is not what we envisioned 3 years ago…. it’s far from it actually!! We were so set in our own vision for our life that when God started to move us into a new direction… it completely and totally rocked our world.
So after almost a full year of discerning and praying and seeking out what our next step is…. Michael is officially my business partner. We’re a husband and wife team…. a package deal if you will. :) We’re excited…. and scared…. and PUMPED…. and intimidated…. and yet so ready for this. We’ve been trying this out in 2012. Michael shot 14 weddings with me this year and we’re about to shoot two back to back weddings this weekend… one in DC and the next in NYC (see why I need help?!!). We’re excited to spend weekends TOGETHER and to take this business to the next level. Someone asked me what’s in store for KJP in 2013 and I couldn’t give them an answer…. because I have no idea what we’re capable of together! I’m not by myself anymore…. and that’s SO empowering!!
Michael and I are still really involved with our youth group. We’re the annoying volunteers that show up to EVERYTHING!! :) We just adore these kids and while Michael isn’t on staff, we know that right now, as a young married couple with no kids, the youth group is where we want to give our free time and it’s where our heart is. These teenagers are our FRIENDS! We love them and we’re so excited that we’re staying in this same community. If you didn’t see before, we’re building a house right outside of shortpump and we’re pumped to have BIGGER Tuesday night dinners, sleepovers where girls aren’t crammed 4 to a couch and parties galore! (To our future neighbors, we’ll have sound proof walls, I promise:).
Michael and I are incredibly blessed with awesome mentors, amazing parents, really cool siblings and an unbelievable church family both here in Richmond and at home. We’re so thankful for all of you… especially those that have been so supportive as we’ve fought through this whole process this past year. We know we have a lot to learn but we also have A LOT to look forward to in 2013!!! Thanks Jodi and Kurt for the image!