I’m not one to document my whole life online. I guess you can say, I’m kind of reserved in that way. Yet, I also know being a business owner in this day and age, people really do want to know the person behind the curtain. With the New Year ahead, I decided to do some reflection on the last couple years of my life since so much has changed.
Last year was one of the best years of my life. Going into 2018, I was scared and unsure of the journey ahead. We had just packed up our life of nearly 30 years in California and set off for a new state, with only a month and half before our daughter would arrive. It was nerve wrecking to say the least. Looking back over the year though, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Whether you read the full scoop or skim through the highlights, here’s a peek into my life and how everything unfolded!
A Reflection on 2017:
In order to understand 2018, you’ll benefit from knowing some backstory from 2017. From the moment my parents decided to move to Bonney Lake, Washington, a city unknown to most, I knew God was already orchestrating a huge plan. Within about 2 months, my parents went from just toying with the idea of finding a cheaper area to live, to my mom and dad putting down a deposit on a brand new house in Washington and selling their Californian home of nearly 26 years. I not only had to come to terms with the fact that I needed to say good bye to my childhood home; I had to say good bye to my parents. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m super close to my parents and the thought of them leaving seemed crazy to me. How would life be without them just 25 minutes from my place?! Then to put an even bigger twist on things, a couple months after they sold their house, I found out I was pregnant! I had a few months with them while their house was being built, but eventually August came and they headed up to Washington.
By then, Nick and I had already been praying about a move up north as well. With my parents, Nick’s parents and brother already in Washington, it only seemed logical to be close to family with our first baby on the way. However, the means to get there just weren’t lining up. As I finished up my wedding season in the Bay Area and Nick closed out his baseball season with MLB Network, the biggest thing we needed in order to move was a job! Nick sifted through job sites over and over, but just wasn’t finding anything in his field. Finally, in November we got our first blessing from God. A family friend, who JUST so happened to live in Bonney Lake as well (seriously, very random, but also divinely ordained) got in touch with Nick for a job opportunity. He worked in HR for a school district about 45 minutes away from my parent’s house and encouraged Nick to apply. Nick was apprehensive at first because the job didn’t really have anything to do with his line of work, but desperate and with a baby on the way, he sent in his application.
From the moment he sent that in, I was on pins and needles! Every day I waited with anticipation and anxiety about whether or not this would be the thing to get us to Washington. We hoped and prayed it would be, but had our fair share of waiting. By mid-December it had been a month and Nick made it through the first round of interviews, but was STILL waiting for an offer. Most days I felt like I had a ticking time bomb in my belly instead of a baby during that time. We needed to know, one way or the other so we could plan! It finally took a lot of courage and the realization that the Lord would provide for us if we trusted Him. So we did! The job wasn’t secured, but we had savings to live off of and my parents welcomed us with open arms to their new home. It was just a matter of packing up our apartment, securing a moving truck, tracking down a storage unit, getting new car and health insurance, and finding a new midwife for our delivery! No big deal, haha!
A Reflection on 2018:
With just days before our moving truck would arrive and we’d officially say goodbye to California, Nick was offered the job in Federal Way! It was such an answer to prayer! While we were still set on moving in with my parents for the time being, we were so thankful we wouldn’t have to deplete our savings and could in fact start adding to it. The trip up north went as smooth as could be and we were so grateful to have so many friends come help us pack and send us off. Just days after the move, we had our first appointment with our new midwife (who we LOVED) and Nick started his job the following day. It was a big transition to say the least! I slowly adjusted to the rainy, overcast weather that I feared before the move and realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought! It was sad to leave behind my whole life in California, but I did my best to stay focused on getting through the last month and half of my pregnancy. I filled my time with nesting, traveling to Tacoma for my weekly prenatal appointment, getting my website updated before maternity leave, and going on weekend adventures to explore Washington with Nick before baby girl made her debut.
Before I knew it, on Feb 28th I woke up at 5:15 AM and BAM, my water broke! I really didn’t expect it to go down that way. I truly thought (and read) your water breaking first only happened in the movies! I guess my birth was a bit more rare than others, in more ways than one. I didn’t have to rush off to a hospital, but instead stayed cozy in my pajamas and labored at home. With an amazing support team, including my husband, family and two midwives, I felt confident in delivering at home. After 19 hours of labor (and FIVE hours of pushing), I delivered by water birth and Elise Mercy was finally here! I was exhausted and so relieved. Pushing a baby out is no joke, guys. Praise the Lord she was healthy, strong and I had no complications. In fact, I surprised myself that even though it was hard work and painful, I never once regretted my decision to go without drugs or delivering at a hospital!
Having a baby is a surreal experience. It’s like, one day you’re one person with a big belly and the next day, you’re two people. A whole new life has entered the world and she is completely dependent on you. It’s wonderful, tiring, emotional and crazy all at the same time. That first month was rough. I was dealing with intense hormonal changes, difficulties breastfeeding, Elise wasn’t gaining weight fast enough and had to get her tongue clipped due to tongue tie and I just felt like a mess. I missed our home in California more than ever that month, mainly because I craved something familiar and everything felt so foreign. Thank God we had my parents by our side to help us navigate everything that being new parents entails.
Edging into April, life started to feel a little more settled. Nick and I started to go more regularly to Calvary Community Church; a church that felt very similar to the one we left behind in California. One of the main things I dreaded leaving behind before our move was our church and our amazing community of friends. With family in Washington and a job where I could work anywhere, the hardest thing to leave was our tribe of people who loved and supported us for so many years! But just like in every other area, God showed up. God showed up big time, in fact! Calvary offered us many different ways where we could connect with people and we dove in headfirst. I wanted to meet other moms and luckily our new church offered a group that met regularly with yummy food, friendly moms, and childcare (if needed)! It was a great jumping off point and helped me feel welcomed and loved right away. Then only a week later, Nick and I decided to join a couples Life Group where we formed instant friendships!
Finding Calvary was not only a way to form a new community of friends, it was God’s way of showing us his faithfulness. Having only been at the church for 6 months, Nick got offered a job on staff that fit him to a tee. It couldn’t have been more obvious that God was handing this job over to him, especially since Nick didn’t even seek it out. It was simply a matter of Nick wanting to volunteer to run the soundboard during weekend services and suddenly a friendship blossomed with the worship pastor. Production director was a new position they needed to fill and it was clear that Nick was the man for the job! Nick had previously worked 2.5 years at our old church in a similar position, but it was never in the budget for him to go full time there. So for this full-time job to just land in his lap at Calvary was something only the Lord could orchestrate. He has loved working there and has grown a lot already.
A Reflection on My Business:
It’s been an interesting transition since moving. Unlike other photographers who go on maternity leave, I wasn’t able to book anything before the move because it was such a last minute decision and I hadn’t planted any seeds in Washington yet. It was hard to turn down wedding after wedding in California because I was so unsure of what the future held and the thought of traveling with a new baby to shoot a wedding just wasn’t going to work. So coming to Washington felt like I started at square one in a lot of ways! I felt so established in the Bay Area and then I moved and I felt kind of lost. Luckily, I had a few networking opportunities before Elise was born and was blessed by booking a handful of second shooting gigs here and there for the summer ahead. (Big thank you to Jenny Storment for taking a chance on me!) The rest was up to me to make a name for myself. I did some footwork with my website SEO, blogging, and social media but in reality, once Elise was born, it’s been HARD to keep up with everything like I used to. Being a mom and working is one thing, but being a mom and trying to work from home is a whole other challenge! Juggling emails, social media, editing, blogging, taxes, and contracts between nap times is seriously hard. To all the other stay-at-home-business-owner mamas out there, GOOD JOB! I feel for you and you aren’t alone in the hustle. It’s a struggle to say the least. Doing it all in my own strength isn’t just hard, it’s impossible. Cue another blessing from God!
Remember when I said my parents moving to Bonney Lake was all part of God’s grand plan? Well, moving in with them was the best decision yet. I can’t say enough how thankful I am for the help I get from my wonderful mom everyday with my daughter. It’s been amazing to have the extra set of eyes and hands to help take care of her and also to have the emotional support when parenthood just feels overwhelming! More than that though, moving to this community has been huge in helping grow my business. Just like when God led us to Calvary to find other Christian community, He also placed us right next door to a wonderful family and a mom who has become a dear friend. Right around the end of April, our neighbor Stacie realized our temporary living situation turned into a more long-term stay. Having two kids herself and a handful of mom friends all within walking distance, she began inviting me to play date after play date and introduced me to everyone she knew! It was beyond generous of her. I felt immediately welcomed into this neighborhood and forged friendships I never would have expected. Because of how tight-knit this community is, I was able to book multiple shoots within the neighborhood and then more because of referrals from these dear friends! What I thought would be a huge uphill battle to book anything in Washington turned into another testament to the Lord’s provision over my business. I was so busy in the fall with portrait shoot after portrait shoot; it was incredible!
Now that the busy season has died down and engagement season is upon us, I’m hoping more than ever to book some weddings this year in Washington. In all honestly, I still struggle not knowing what’s ahead for my business going into 2019. It’s been wonderful to see how everything has unfolded so far and I’m excited to see what God has in store for us next year. I’m grateful for each and every blessing and I know God is not done yet. I just need trust and let go of the control because if the last couple years have proven anything, it’s that HE has everything planned out perfectly for us. It’s been a fun ride. Looking forward to more to come this year!