Ten.4.Tues. { Mistakes I’m glad I made }

Okay, so just to clairfy… these are things that I wondered at the time if they would be a mistake or could have been a mistake or that others have told me would be or generally are a mistake. So, read on and you'll see what I mean. 

1.  Apprenticed instead of working a real paying job

I walked into the most popular photography studio as a teenager and told them I wanted to be a photographer and that I'd work for free if they would let me watch and learn from them. And so began my training as a photographer. The manager there at the time is now a big time photographer in california and gets featured on shows like Platinum Baby on WE. I don't really need anything, but it's nice to know that if I needed some connections in the world of photography I have them. I also spent a summer homeschooling 5 kids in Arizona in exchange for their mom training me in portraits and darkroom experience. I learned so much, not to mention I saw a godly woman balance life as mommy, wife and photographer, something I wasn't realizing I was learning at the time.  One of the best summers of my life!! I don't think I got a consistent paying job until I was 20 something. But the training and experience far outweighed what money I would have made. 

2. Went to "trade school" Vs. College right after highschool. 

Many people just assume that college is immediately what you do after 12th grade.  I left 2 months after I graduated for Cosmetology school in Indianapolis. I can't tell you how glad I am that I was trained for a skill prior to going through college. I was able to work a great paying flexible job and pay for most everything through college. Though my college experience was priceless and was where I met my husband and many others, it wasn't a place that had a lot of opportunities to gain experience in the professional world while going through school.  So I guess, my philosophy in this area would be to make sure your child has a working skill before heading off to spend 4-5 years in a classroom. At the end of college, even if they are a year or two older than most, your child then has a wealth of working experience which added to a degree is VERY helpful in the job market. I also found there isn't that pressure to make your college degree the end all for what you're going to do in life. 

3. Spent a summer on a whim. 

 A friend's husband was talking to me and mentioned that there was this camp being started up for kids and that I would be great at it. So, on a whim I signed up to be interviewed and got accepted to be on the team with Centri-Kid's first summer of camp. Now, I was one of the oldest on staff… about mid summer I realized why it was helpful to start younger…it was HARD work.  But that summer.. I discovered so much about myself being around 20 others who were also in the process of figuring out life. I had 20 styles of music to listen to, ( <3 they might be giants to this day!) 20 personalities to mesh with, 20 ideas to consider in almost everything since it was such a new program, 20 people who had 1 goal that summer… show Kids the love of Christ.  Little did I know that I wouldn't go on to be some big church's children's director like I had hoped at one point, but that I WOULD meet one of my best friends that summer and so many other amazing friends. Little did I know that I would suggest another friend to sign up the next summer and he would end up meeting his wife there. This summer had really nothing to do with what I was to do the rest of my life but WAY more about who I was to become.  *sidenote: This camp is an AMAZING camp to send your kids to. a little pricey but VERY Top Notch!!  

4. Fell in love with a man who I knew could become my spiritual leader.   

Of course every woman is taught  to date/marry someone who can already lead her spiritually, I was no different. That was probably first on my "list of requirements". And biblically it's something I think women should strive for.  I met Dan just weeks after he became a believer and I was pretty confident he was the one for me. However, each time we would get to the defining talk in our relationship he would aknowledge that he wasn't at a place where he could lead me biblically, and he was probably right.  But just the fact that he was able to admit that, made me know that he was someone that was on a quest to figure out what that looked like and how he could grow to be that man….and his actions proved so. During this time God was definitely working on me in many areas that I would have to change in order to become his wife….. so, he married someone "in the works" as well. But when I look and see who Dan is today and who he was when I met him…. I'm in awe of God's working in him. He leads me so well and his knowledge of God and His word is vast and ever growing. Honestly, I could never have actually known for sure what kind of leader he would be when I married him, there was lots of unknowns… and to say that God gave me a hunch would be kinda silly… but somehow I knew and God had given me wisdom and a peace in my soul that this man, was to be my husband. { thank you for loving and leading me so well Dan, You are a beautiful picture of Christ to me.  I love you with ALL my heart!!)  

5. Got Married with Debt   

Okay, so I don't recommend this to others on a typical basis, but hear me out. Dan and I both had debt when we got married and neither of us really knew how to handle finances well. We knew bringing debt into the marriage wasn't wise but it was such that we either didn't get married for a LONG time or get married and figure out how to get out. For about a year after we got married I discovered that I had been making getting out of debt an idol in my life and my marriage. I was horrible to Dan on many occassions because our finances weren't where I wanted them to be. Finally, something clicked and I was convicted of that, and I realized that God wanted to use this journey of learning how to use our money and possessions to glorify Him not to aquire comforts or desires. I don't know that I would have had that really sink in had we not had such debt.  Almost 6 years later now, we are still working on becoming debt free but we have learned so much and think that once we are debt free the temptation to go back will be far from us due to this journey… and we'll have God to praise for providing and getting us through. (Also, it was AMAZING and only an Act of God's people that we who were in debt were able to afford to bury our son and adopt a little girl privately in a few months time…Only God!!! we can't take the credit.)  

6. Had friends live with us for a year  

When we had two friends who were looking for a way to simplify their living situations and we had extra room where we lived, we invited them to come live with us. Now, if you would have asked me a while back I would have told you that it probably would be a mistake to have 2 single girls move in a live with a young married couple. But nothing could be further from the truth. It was such a great time of fellowship with them and honestly, I think i
t brought out the best in both Dan and I as well. They were so helpful in housework and always seemed to know when we needed someone to visit and talk with and also when we needed some space… of course when living with singles, they are almost always on the go so you are usually wanting them around more often than less.  Dan and I really got to know these two gals so much better and I love them very much and so enjoyed watching God work in and through their lives that year.  Would I live communually again, you betcha! Anyone, want to come live in a small apartment bedroom?  ;o) 

7. Didn't choose the closest church to home 

 In college I visited 12 churches before deciding on a small country church almost an hour away. I drove there often twice a week and sometimes more… normally staying all day on sundays. But that church, and those people there impacted my life in a major way. I learned so much there about loving people…where they were at, not ness where I wanted them to be. I learned about endurance and watched God change and grow lives over a period of years….and still am watching. They brought out best in me in so many ways. for that I'm grateful.  Then Dan and I decide to be a part of a church plant in Raleigh but we lived in Wake Forest… thus another 30+ minute drive. But that was okay. it was worth being there from the beginning. (more about TCC in #10)  Now, we live in Fort worth and drive almost an hour to get to church. Why, so many ask, when there are churches by the dozen nearby. yes, but already in the short time we've been at the Village we have grown there, and been taught and exposed to scriptures in ways we've never been, ways of doing ministry that we've never seen, and really have thought through why we have chosen this church and this group of people. I really believe that those things will be priceless when it comes…if it comes time for Dan and I to be in ministry in the local church as a vocation. But for now, and probably for the first time in my life, I'm totally content with being a very small part of the whole and feeling the freedom but also the responsibility of being just  a church member. 

8. Made my best friends my business partners 

 I've mostly been a one-woman show when it came to business. But when I started in Wedding Photography I realized I couldn't do it all by myself. So, I recognized a talented eye in my best friend and quickly snapped her up and taught her as fast as she was willing to learn… which was FAST! Then my other best friend borrowed my point and shoot one week and when she returned it I was looking through the pics she took and knew she had a look that both Ang and I were missing.  I thought "I've never heard of a 3rd shooter at a wedding" but that didn't stop me and soon the duo became a trio. And we've had an amazing 4 years shooting together! Now, at times it would have been easier to have a person come in that was already striving to be a photographer and one that wasn't so emotionally connected to me, so that when corrections needed to be made or moments get tense and stressful on the job it would just be business as usual. I think that's what most business people would tell you to do. But I'm so glad I didn't do that because I know these girls so much deeper now than I ever did before and we share a love and lots of experiences that we'll be laughing and talking about for years to come.  I can't wait to see all God's going to do in their lives with this amazing talent of theirs for capturing a moment in time and displaying it beautifully for the world to see and enjoy. 

9. Moved into a "bad" area of town 

It was a small bungelow on Seawell Ave in Raleigh….. the next street over was Idlewild and it was definitely wild! It was a struggling area that is trying really hard to restore the old abandoned houses and build bright colored ones in their place. That didn't stop the prostitutes from walking our street or the drug runners from riding their bikes up and down many times a day. But we moved in and thankfully had wonderful friends living right next door who had already gotten to know the area and it's inhabitants well. Never in my life would I realize how much I would miss such a "bad area" when we moved away from it.  I loved living there. I made "friends" with those who walked the streets and fed those who rode their bikes.  It was home. Once we moved here, searching for a house to buy was really challenging because I had that scene fresh on my mind… could I make it in these perfect suburbs? The need for Christ is still there it's just not often on your doorstep needing a bath and food.  We ended up not buying for many reasons and I'm okay with that. I still have in my heart that there are areas here, if God keeps us here longer, that I'd want to invest my life in, areas that others would classify as a "bad area" of town,  but an area that I could call home yet also reminds me daily that this world will never be our true home.   

10. Shared my deepest sin struggles and heartache with close friends and pastors.  

I know from growing up in the ministry that sharing and being open about sin and struggles and weaknesses can really bite you back. The church isn't a place that a lot of people know as a place where weakness can be exposed and others can encourage but not judge you.  But when Dan and I found ourselves like most marriages in a place where we couldn't see rightly and didn't know how to climb out of a pit of sin and baggage and idols in our lives, we thankfully were in a church that we knew would embrace us yet help us to kill sin and to fight for joy in our marriage and home. Dan is one of the most open and honest people I know when it comes to submitting to leadership and confessing sin he is being convicted of. So, his example of this really gave me freedom to be open and transparent about my pride and pain. Our church, our friends have embraced us, loved us, cried with us, prayed for us (this is HUGE), kept us accountable and most of all empathized with us as those who also fight sin and temptation and a constantly battle for who will be God in their lives and in their moments.  It's not popular to look and confess to being weak…especially when you're in ministry positions. But I can&#3
9;t tell you how freeing and how helpful it is when you don't have to fake the Christian life and act like things are fine when they aren't.  We all need this in our lives, I'm just so glad we needed it sooner than later. And, to know that even on our "best day" we still need God's grace and the accountability and love of His body, the Church. 

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