From the Heart: A Year in Review

Oh my, how much can change in one year...

2016 - What a year!  As I sit here and reflect over the last twelve months I feel a range of emotions.  It's been a good year with plenty of ups, downs, challenges and accomplishments.  If you know anything about me, you know that I became a mother this year.  By far, it's been the most profound change I've ever been through in my life.  Becoming my William Blaine's mother has shook me and changed me to the core.  It has pulled me outside of my comfort zone in many ways and has forced me to look at life through a different lens.  And more than anything, I've had to lean on Christ and trust that He lead me through this season of life because (on more days than not) I feel like I have not a clue what I'm doing.  

This is not the first time I've ever felt this way - this longing and need to fully put my trust and faith in God in order to bring me to the place He has purposed for me.  If you realllllly know me you would know that ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher.  My great-grandmother taught in a one room school house and the stories she would tell inspired me to be just like her (but I would drive a car to school instead of riding a horse). ;)  I graduated high school, went to Ball State to get my teachers degree, came home and jumped right into teaching.  I started with preschoolers, moved on to teach elementary (which I must add, I taught the same students for two years and those babies still have a huge piece of my heart), and moved on to teach middle school.  During this time I also put the time and finances into earning my Masters degree.  I was set!  Great job, amazing coworkers, financially stable... Perfect, right?  Well, something didn't seem right.  Have you ever felt something on your heart that you couldn't necessarily put into words? A little something in your spirit that keeps nagging and whispering to you until you finally listen to what it has to say?  That was happening to me on a daily basis but I couldn't put my finger on it.  In my heart, I knew that God was at work.  I knew He was pulling me in a different direction - a direction that I knew nothing about and was too scared to go towards.  But He was relentless.  

After a lot of reflecting, praying, journaling, reading and having long discussions with my husband, family and mentors, I decided to take a year leave from teaching. So at the end of the school year, I packed up my classroom and walked away from the only career I had dreamed about since I was a little girl.  I had no idea where I was going or what was next from me, but I had faith that if God led me to the end of one road He would steer me down anew. 

Over two years have passed, and here I sit thinking about how I got to where I am now.  It's been a whirlwind.  I can say with 100% certainty that it's been God that's paved the way to where I am now.  Me, the timid, self-conscious worrier... start a business?  I don't think so, God. That's not for me.  Me, the girl who has always been a perfectionist with my work and nervous about speaking her mind... You want me to create art for families and share what's on my heart?  No thanks, that's too scary and I'm afraid of what people may think.  But God has had other plans for me.  His plans have been far greater than anything I could have imagined or dreamed for myself, and mostly because it's all been way outside of my comfort zone.  He knew that my tendency to be complacent and settle would keep me from following what He had in store for me, so He pushed and poked and nudged until I took that first step into the unknown.  Because I put trust in the One that writes my story and gave Him full control of my life and what's to come, He has poured blessings upon my family and myself that could never have happened if I kept my feet stubbornly planted where I was comfortable.  God works best when He gets us outside of our comfort zones because that's when we NEED Him.  That's when we realize and admit that we can't do it alone and that our feeble attempts to plan and control aren't enough.  But He is.  And when we hand over our worries, fears, and weaknesses to Him, then He is able to work His most beautiful plans out for our good.  

So tell me - have you ever felt a nudge or reoccurring whisper in your heart that won't go away?  What's it saying? Why haven't you moved?  Maybe it isn't something as major as making a career change.. Maybe it's a conviction in your heart telling you that it's time to forgive someone or to mend a relationship.  Maybe it's time to reevaluate priorities and start making more time for yourself, for your spouse, your children and family.  Maybe it's time to make a lifestyle change. Maybe it's time to start sharing your heart more often.  Maybe it's time to try that church, start volunteering, or join that mom group to make new friends and get out of the house.  Maybe it's travel, adoption, a new home, or simply making the decision to go outside for a walk today.  Friend, don't think for one second that just because you're not doing something major in your life that God isn't at work and doesn't have big plans for you.  Don't for one second think that He isn't talking to YOU and whispering to your soul.  Because you my friend... you were made for great things.  And great things means something different to our Creator when it comes to the plans He has for you than what you may think.  Whether you're at home with your babies, at the office making big deals, retired and adjusting to a new chapter in life or still searching for where you're "supposed to be" - you're right where He wants you and has lessons to teach and blessings to pour out.  Be still. He'll meet you right where you are.  Be quiet for a moment and just be.  Listen, and you'll hear Him. It may not be a strong voice, but you'll feel it in your heart. Follow.  

I know, the unknown is scary.  But nothing great ever came from comfort zones.  And remember that stepping outside of your comfort zone may look a lot different than what stepping out of mine looks like.  We are all different but I can promise that we've got a lot in common.  We are both loved and cared for by a Father that wants to give us far more than we could ever imagine, if we only offer our open hearts and seek Him.  And I can assure you that you'll be just as grateful as I have been for stepping out and giving up the control that's oh so easy to hold on to.  I believe you can do it, friend!  It's a daily process and takes time, practice and holding on to the faith that God's plan is greater and His timing is perfect.. But you won't regret it. 

This year I have met amazing people with beautiful, kind hearts.  I've been blessed to share treasured moments with families and have been able to document memories to be preserved and passed on to children, their children's children, and so on.  I have watched babies take their first breaths and witnessed engagements and love stories unfolding.  All that I've seen this year has reflected love at it's truest form, and that's what has kept me grounded.  I have found hidden lessons of love and grace with every family I've had the honor to work with this year, and it has continued to shape me into the woman I am today.  For that, I am forever grateful and could never thank my clients enough for the gift they have given me by opening their hearts to me, even if it were for just a short period of time.  Those lessons I've been able to take back to my own home and have helped me become a greater wife, mother, and person.  And it's all because I step outside of my comfort zone each time I pick up my camera and meet a new family.. and I know for a fact that's God's doing and not my own. 

To all my past clients - thank you.  Thank you for your support and giving me a career I love with all of my heart.  Thank you for sharing a bit of life with me and trusting me with your memories.  I'm forever honored and thankful. 

Here's to a new year with new adventures, lessons and blessings.  Cheers, friends!