Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 23:4-5 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

Read through those one more time.

GOD will meet all your needs.

Cast but a GLANCE at riches and they’ll fly away.

We should fix our hope and our focus not on our money or financial state of being but on GOD, who richly supplies us with things for us to ENJOY.

I’ve tried to live my young life so far according to these verses. I grew up in a home where there was never really any extra money lying around. Like ever. But I never heard anything about money problems. It was never a huge point of stress for my parents (at least from what I could see as a young child), and we still ate three meals a day… had a roof over our heads… and I had a bed to go to sleep in at night. That was really all we needed. When we lived in Indiana, I got all my clothes from garage sales and Salvation Army and Goodwill and I really didn’t know any different. Our combined household income was probably something like $30,000… if that. But I had a happy, fulfilling, wonderful childhood and so many memories with my mom, dad, and sisters that it really makes absolutely no difference how much extra “comfortable” money we had.

So it’s understandble why I’m not really worried about money today as an almost-21-year-old. Don’t get me wrong… I try really hard to be responsible when it comes to saving and spending my money. I chose an in-state school close enough to home where I could commute and cut my college costs by more than half and not have to take out ANY student loans (shout out to my mom + dad for having a modest college fund of $40k for each of us girls). I’ve worked during almost all of my winter and summer breaks since graduating high school. I fostered a hobby that I really didn’t ever expect to make anything over a couple extra hundred dollars a year doing that eventually snowballed into a business. And I made the commitment a LONG time ago to save at least 70% of every dollar I ever earn. If I got an $800 paycheck, $650 would go straight into savings and I’d work with the $150 in my checking account for the next two weeks. I’ve made it a point while I’m young to save, save, save as much as I can for as long as I can while I don’t have very many serious financial commitments. I honestly didn’t know what to spend my money on, so I sat on it until I’d get brave enough to invest in something like a new lens… a new camera body… usually always something to do with photography. And a couple times a year, I’d treat myself to one really nice vacation and several cheaper, shorter trips away within driving distance. This has been my way of living for the past 3 or 4 years between the photography jobs here and there and my steady paychecks when I did have a part-time or full-time internship during school or on break.

Last Fall was my last semester as a junior in college, and I really didn’t believe that I could possibly ever do JUST photography without another job feeding me that steady paycheck. I had only booked a very small number of weddings that year, and I just didn’t want to take the next step of investing in the professional equipment I knew I needed to take my business to the next level. So I chickened out. I shot a few weddings and portrait sessions, blogged a few of them, shared on Facebook here and there, but in my mind had decided that I was going to use my business degree to climb the corporate ladder just like every normal college grad does. I attended a job fair on October 4th, had a few bites, and interviewed for a couple of positions. Unexpectedly, I received a job offer just a week later. And not just for a summer internship… they were offering me a $55,000 starting salary after graduation. As a college student wondering how post-college life was going to be… I was pretty blown away. $55k right out of school?! The interview I had gone in for just for the purpose of having my own interview practice had ended up looking pretty impressive!! I was going to be working retail, but for $17.50/hr for 10 weeks, oh well, right?

Flash forward 7 months to a week before I was supposed to start this internship. I had just shot my first DESTINATION wedding. I was shooting with my dream camera (5D Mark III) and L series lenses that I would have never imagined I’d even hold in my hand. I had just booked my 12th wedding since the turn of the year, and I was recieving inquires for weddings 10 months, one, two years down the road. I had attended a photography retreat where I cried my worst fears out in front of an incredible group of girls. And I was living my dream.

God. Did. Something. Amazing.

My deepest, innermost, wildest dream of being a world-traveling photographer was somehow starting to come true. And I was about to find out that this train was boarding NOW… and it’s an all-or-nothing ride. I knew I was supposed to be at my internship. I didn’t know how long, but I knew I was supposed to learn SOMETHING. It only took me 5 days to realize that if I’m going to pursue this dream of mine… I need to throw everything I am into it. I’m either going to climb the corporate ladder or blaze my own trail off the beaten path. I can’t do both. It took me less than a week – less than a day, really – to come to terms with that. And then I walked away from my internship and the promise of $55k and into the unknown because, well, I still could.

I had a choice. God always gives us a choice. I knew He was going to love me unconditionally no matter which path I chose… just like my dad, who told me “I love you bunches and support you in whatever you decide to do,” or my boyfriend who said, “Are you leaving this for photography? Good. Now go DO IT.” Or my best friend who told me I’m too passionate about taking pictures to let it go. Or my amazing mentor who gave me a hug and told me she admired me when I told her through tears that I knew this was what I knew was supposed to do.

So now, I may not have that guaranteed $55,000 annual income at the moment… but I do have this:

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THIS is what I love. THIS is what sets my heart on fire and gets me out of bed in the morning and puts a smile on my tired face after a week of sleep deprivation and exhaustion. THIS is what made me cry tears of joy this past Saturday after a week of hospital visits and devastating news. THIS is what had me wiping away tears and laughing because of the absolutely ridiculous level of contrast between how I felt in this wedding day moment and how I had felt all week on my 10-hour internship shifts. I laughed and cried as a peace came over me and I just knew that THIS is where I’m meant to be as 20-year-old me. I am still so young and so blessed to be able to soak in all this season of life has to offer me. And I’ve never felt such overwhelming relief than when I walked away from a place where my heart was not. And once again… I have food on the table, a roof over my head, a comfy bed to fall asleep in at night, and people who love me DEEPLY and believe in me more than I could ever believe in myself. THESE things are what make my life RICH. Not the promise of tomorrow’s exact dollar and cents amount. I am free to be the person I WANT to be… and I will continue to live freely and with a passion and love for all I do for as long as I possibly can.

Life is short. Chase after God by nurturing the desires He’s placed in your heart to glorify HIM and HE will take care of all the details in between… I made the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life this past week. I was brave and took a leap of faith. Now it’s your turn.

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