Friday, March 30, 2012

Frugalicious Friday. I lost count. :)

Owning your own business. The backstory of how mine originated out of a prayer to be debt free.
Update- now with pics!
Lots of people have asked for my story of how I got to be a photographer and run my own business, Adventure Photo & Design. I know I have not been in business a year yet, but please let me share the blessings and spotlight God's work through my business. This story of God fulfilling not just our family's immediate prayer need but also my heart cries has been an encouragement to several who are in the same place, so why not share it more?
This is long. Grab some toast.

If you were to meet me in person, I'm pretty sure you'd say that I'm a dead ringer for a Microbiologist*.

*INSANE CACKLE LAUGHTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!*

Well, I do have an interest in diseases, I think they are crazy-interesting. I read 3/4 of the Hot Zone, I have what Mayo Clinic called, "An Unspecified Connective Tissue Disorder", and I wear glasses! So lay off! But alas, I earned my business degree and majored in marketing as one of the PROUDEST MEMBERS OF THE FIGHTIN' TEXAS AGGIE CLASS OF 2003- WHOOP!!!!!

This picture is disgusting. But the Fork in My Hat- got me props from the Sec. of Defense, past prez of Texas aTm: Dr. Gates. As I shook his hand he said, "Love the hat, love the hat!" Stick a fork in me baby, I was DONE! Thanks John for making that fork happen on my hat.
Jan. 2004:
I got out into the business world and just knew I'd be in a loft-ish type room maybe with a brick wall and filled with people rocking vests sitting around a table filled with pizza while we are throwing out ideas for ad campaigns while other Gap clothed people blew off steam by playing ping pong in the background 'cus you know being creative is hard work.
Me, coming to, "What? Where am I?" Inner thought: I don't know how to make coffee Mz. Business Lady who's just an assistant to some dude!!!???
And thus, I promptly muppet-walked off with my hands glued to my sides in my best Lerner New York business outfit to find a coffee machine, just so I could totally not put water in the machine and thus set off crazy alarms- literally and figuratively. Oh I learned how to do a day's work, but my creative love and need died inside that day.
I was never able to move to Dallas, Miami, NY, LA, or wherever you go for real marketing purposes. I never tried to move I should say and was talked out of leaving, not by John, my sweetheart fo' life, but by family. And sadly, I listened.
And speaking of John, I'm so very glad I stayed in H'town, Katy, really. That's where God wanted me to be.
I mean, could you really see a doof like me in New York, i.e. Cool People Central? No.

So I temped here and there and interviewed and did all those businessy things. I failed miserably. It was not a good fit for me, that business world. I made a lot of mistakes. And then I was asked to do something unethical at one of my last jobs - what you mean that really happens!?- and I said no and left that afternoon. I know not all businesses are like this, but there was a message in all of it for me:
I wasn't a Christian at the time, or else that would have read:
Oh things would have been easier if I was a Christ follower back then.

The best little blessing happened. We had our little Leelahbug. Then I began work at my current and most favorite job: being a mommy to this little girl. This is definitely the hardest job of all. That's cliche, but very true. I mean that's your heart you just gave birth to and now you have to watch as your little baby heart gets its little tiny heel pricked over and over again? Oh this is just too much I daresay!!!
But what a ride. What love that words can't describe. For her and for John.

Began walk with Jesus. Best decision ever. Funny that this began the hardest trials of my life:
My father accepting Christ, then losing him a month later on Earth (but gaining him in Heaven)
Surgeries and pain, no more children.

Surgeries and no sight, but gaining the best sight of all: His.
No walking and not understanding, but leaning on loved ones.
Counseling for the past and learning for the future.
And the funny part was that these were the times that truly grew me up. I finally understood the underlying job assignment that I couldn't quite place all along: To love others with His love. How else could He have shown me without these trials? For me, there was no other way and I'm thankful for them.

Aug. 2011:
And then Leelahbug grew up enough to go to school. Tears. I had been promoted I guess to a Kindergartener Mom.

Sept. 2011:
I was beginning to realize that my life was not lived out of a doctor's office anymore. I had time to use a planner for fun things. This took a while to get used to. There's a reason why Leelah can't swim, I couldn't really take her to lessons or to the pool for 3 years of her life. What is this normal? Understanding non-medical normal is strange, but God gently shepherded John and I back to living unafraid.
We began to revisit our debt snowball and see that we might be able to start again on the work we began in Feb. of 2007 before all the trauma began.

We now had normal worries, like let's tackle this debt. So I thought, I guess I need to get a job.
I tried applying here and there. My heart wasn't in it. And I felt no peace.

And we decided to pray. John and I did as a team during a routine business meeting. We wrote out our fears, these new normal worries, and asked God to help us find a way. I even asked for a job to help support my family.
I began to long for the creative bent to be realized again, but then shut it down.
For 3 weeks, the Holy Spirit had been urging me to ask God, "God, I want to be creative and use my talents you gave me. That's what really brings me joy!"
So I did. Here's what He said to my heart:
"You love seeing beautiful visions of creativity. Why don't you create those visions yourself?"
Me: "Oh sure, Lord. Just make pictures that are artistic. How in the world do I do that?"
Lord/Holy Spirit: "I made you what you are. Be who I made you to be."
And then I got this feeling, "Like be a photographer and make my own art pictures that I love? I have no idea how to do that. There are so many photographers already. I'm embarrassed! I'm so not worthy."
And He flooded peace into my heart and told me: "I made you this way and it's time to enjoy your gift."

There are some that are scoffing at this. I understand it sounds very foolish and almost comical to you.

I did enjoy what I learned in business school. I loved the idea of running my own business and I LOVED the idea of marketing and branding. The consistency, the creativity, and I love people- particularly little ones.

So I told John what God had put on my heart and honestly, I was embarrassed to tell an engineer that God told me I should be a photographer. John was of course thinking- we don't even have a dslr. So we budgeted for a new one on ebay after I researched- well first I taught myself how a dslr works- and then I researched and settled on one.

I told a select few about God's vision for me all the while feeling embarrassed for one because it seemed to come out of nowhere to them and two- it was a "vision". But really, what glory to God that someone who was eating Ramen noodles completely blinded after one of 10 eye surgeries one year, could be beginning a photography business the next???

So I asked a friend who has one of the cutest babies in existence if I could do a Secret Garden themed shoot for her sweetie pie. And I had tears of joy the whole time I shot her photos of her sweet God-crafted face. Such peace, joy and excitement during the shoot. I read up on how to work my new dslr- not the fanciest but it works- and God took over. Guys. I don't know how but I learned FAST.

I do know how, God showed me. And being a photog, isn't just about taking pics, it's a business you run and a brand you upkeep and put out there. There's the editing. I have always had a knack for figuring out software and programs, but didn't know what to do with that. God had hardwired me to use Photoshop and I didn't even realize it!!! But it makes so much sense to me, it's scary. And I love editing.

I love dealing with the clients and treating them like stars for their big photo shoot.
Getting those genuine smiles out.
Editing the work.
All the details, God has equipped me for and I thank Him.

What does this have to do with Frugaliciousness? 2 things: I did not go into debt to start this business. I started in the black by budgeting for my equipment. I started small. I didn't go all in.
And secondly, now I'm able to help support my family and we are rolling on with our debt snowball. And the fear of debt controlling us is gone and is replaced with a plan to be debt free in a little over a year and a half. All the money I make goes to our debt snowball. Praise Jesus!

The best part is this:
God can be glorified in your work. I pray before every photo shoot, for God to be in control and to bless the photoees with wonderful images for them to enjoy. He then gives me the vision and ideas for what to shoot each time.
I give all the credit to Him for this vision that He has given me. I told John during the tough times in 2010 when I was unable to walk, "Oh I just want to go on an adventure someday." And I didn't even know what that meant. Now my photography company is named: Adventure Photo & Design. God lets me be creative and make art while being nice to people. And I get to give back by doing volunteer work with it to. I plan on applying to be a Red Thread Photographer next Sept. for families that have just adopted children and need family portraits taken with their new God-appointed child. His work is beautiful.

Maybe you are doing a job that was never yours to do. I would suggest praying without abandon to a God that will excite your heart to do what you were made to do. He took Peter and made him a fisher of men, how crazy did that sound to Peter?
Thank you for reading my story, His story.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,"

Colossians 3:23
Here's my new website- please enjoy the Lord's work in my photos at Adventure Photo & Design: Photography with a Vision.

1 comment:

Leigh said...

Gillian you are so real and honest, it blows me away! Awesome story! Thank you Jesus for gifting you in such a way that you could be fulfilled in your work and bless others. Can't wait to schedule my little family's photo shoot!