Blog posts like this are probably my favorite of any kind. There’s just something about pausing and reflecting on a year, God’s faithfulness, lessons learned, and sharing them with you.
Last year I made a post just like this (read it here) and my favorite part about it was being able to go re-read it a year later and see growth in myself, new lessons learned, and God’s hand present through it all.
This year (like last year) was AGAIN a year full of transition!
Through it all, I learned so much about myself and about living a balanced life. I could probably write a whole book on it, but I’ll spare you. I wanted to at least share a few of the biggest things I learned in 2019, and maybe you can glean something from it, too.
As I said in last year’s post, this one is a bit lengthy, but worth it! And if no one reads it, that’s ok. It’s more for myself to be able to look back on and remember God’s faithfulness.
This one is first on the list because it has probably been the most dramatic lesson this year! I’ve always been a consistent giver. Thanks to my parents, tithing came easy because they instilled the value in me early. When I started my business, I had no problem tithing off of my income because it was just a part of who I am. Well in July while visiting our friends’ church in Nashville, we watched a video testimony of a family who was struggling financially and God challenged them to give more than what they already were and watch what He did. God’s faithfulness to provide for them through their challenging financial times was incredible!
The thing about a testimony is that it encourages others to grow closer to God. For me, that family’s testimony stirred something in me. My photography business was thriving already, but God spoke something so clearly to my heart that day. He challenged me to give more than I already was and watch what happens. I always want to make sure I’m at a place where I love and chase after God more than money. The tricky thing with money is it gets more attractive the more you get. At that moment I decided to double my giving. Not only did I want to see what God would do with it, but I wanted to be sure I was always keeping Him first in my heart and in my life. Matthew 6:24 says you can’t serve both God and money, and it’s so true! Our house chooses to serve God.
In true God fashion, He blessed that extra giving. The second half of 2018 was incredible and I knew it would be hard to beat. My goal this year was to just hit what I did that time last year. Making more than that would be a bonus. When I went back to look over my numbers at the end of the year, I realized that in July-December I made about DOUBLE what I did that time last year!! I didn’t change much, except I was giving more. When we are obedient to things God asks us to do, He honors that!
In Malachi 3:10, God actually says to test Him when it comes to giving and watch what He does. We don’t give to be blessed, but when we do give cheerfully, God blesses that.
Last year, I worked my butt off. I was in my first year in business starting with zero client base and ended the year having served over 100 families throughout the year! But man…it was exhausting! Looking back, I didn’t do a good job of resting. In the fall I was very pregnant and shooting pretty much my entire weekend. Then during the week it was back to work at the church. Rest? Non-existent.
I knew for 2019 that was going to change. But it wouldn’t be by accident. It would take intentionality to protect my rest time. I was very strategic for when I scheduled photo sessions. I tried my hardest to only shoot one day each week instead of the whole weekend. I turned down more people than last year, but I still made more! Because I was rested, I was a better version of myself. Not just as a photographer, but as a wife, a mom, and a youth pastor. My family and the families and students I serve deserve a rested Rebecca!
Ashlyn Carter of Ashlyn Writes talks about working from a place of rest, not hustle. I’m so proud to say that I really lived that this year! I shot 13 weeks straight of mini-sessions this fall. The best feeling in the world is knowing I did my best and wasn’t exhausted at the end of that season!
It’s no secret that having a baby is super hard. And honestly, the first 10 months or so is all about surviving. I just listened to the most real podcast about being a mom in the newborn phase by Jenna Kutcher. She described the first year as living in a fog. Everything is about the baby. Feeding. Changing. Sleeping. Repeat.
Even though my business and ministry continued to grow with my newborn because God is good, I was in survival mode. The house was hardly cleaned. Social activities were hard because I was sleep-deprived. And don’t even get me started on laundry! Routines I had before disappeared and I had to find a new normal. (It’s safe to say I didn’t do much reading for growth during that time.) It took about 10 months for me to really feel like myself again. To feel like I could set goals and keep a routine that didn’t revolve around my baby.
That season of survival was absolutely ok. But I think the biggest lesson for me was that every season comes to an end, and when the newborn fog lifted, it was time to buckle down and get moving again. The easy thing for me would have been to continue on without routine, leaving the house a mess and the laundry in piles. But the survival season was over and I couldn’t us it as an excuse anymore. Instead, I worked to figure out routines that would work for me in this new phase of 2 littles. Thankfully I’ve got it in place now and I feel MUCH BETTER!! It’s been about 3.5 years since I wasn’t pregnant or in that newborn fog, so I’m really looking forward to this upcoming year of being myself!
This one’s for my fellow business owners. If you’re like me, then spending money in your business is hard! I am a budgeter and reallllyyy have to need something before I spend money on it for my business. Throughout this year I learned that it’s ok to spend money if it is done wisely and brings a return. Investing in paid advertising, outsourcing, and education have been some of the best decisions I’ve made this year. I’m happier, my business is healthier, and we saw growth because of it. Don’t be afraid to invest in something that will bring a return!
This year I feel like I’ve really learned the value of amazing friends. As an introvert, making new friends has always been hard. But thanks to photography, I’ve been able to meet some incredible women who share similar passions as me. My husband tells me that I’m always talking about new friends and he can’t keep up with them. Naturally that has never been easy for me, so it’s really cool to see the friendships I’ve built over this year through photography! I’ve gotten to travel with friends, had countless coffee dates and video chats talking life and business, and I’ve loved every minute of it.
Another thing I learned was that God always brings people into our lives when we need them. My inner circle has always been pretty small. This year that inner circle was rocked when our best friends moved out of state. It was super hard to all of a sudden not see them every week. Thank goodness for technology and FaceTime! Now we get to chat with them AND cheer them on as they’re chasing their dreams.
With God’s perfect timing, He brought new friends into our lives around the same time. Not as a replacement, but an expansion to help fill the void of our local friends being gone. Those new friends are so near to my heart and were truly an answer to prayers in so many ways. I value my friends more today than I ever have, and I thank God for them constantly.
This one may seem a little funny, but at least I know myself! I am horrible with being on my phone. I find myself mindlessly scrolling way too often…surely I’m not the only one!
This year I learned to set limits for myself (because there isn’t anyone there to set them for me). When we’re kids, our parents set boundaries for us. As adults, we don’t have anyone setting those boundaries. It’s up to us to know ourselves and set limits where we need them. For me, I needed to limit my social media usage.
iPhones have a super cool feature on it called Downtime. Not only can you set times during the day for Downtime when apps you select get deactivated (mine is from 8pm-8am), but you can set time limits for specific apps! It was so easy for me to go in and set time limits for Facebook and Instagram, and my phone lets me know when I’ve hit the limit for the day. It helps me be really aware of my time on social media and spend my time more wisely.
I could talk on this ALL DAY! People ask how I manage to run a thriving photography business on the side. The short answer? Automation! This year I automated lots of my processes so I’m able to spend less time working in my business and more time working on my business. I’m always looking for new ways to automate so things can run in the background. Now, of course there are some things that can’t or shouldn’t be automated, but you better believe I’m automating anything I can! (I’ll probably do a blog post on this later, so I’ll leave it at this for now.)
Running a business is hard work! Running a growing business on the side while working a full-time job is even harder. My time is extremely limited as you can imagine. This year I learned the power of a team. I am blessed with AMAZING teams at the church and in my business. A team that functions well together can accomplish anything!
I have so much to say about my team at the church, but for now I’ll just hit on my team for my business. This year was the first year I hired help. I hired a launch strategist and conversion copywriter, a virtual assistant, a private editor, and a CPA. I also contracted a few photographers to help with shooting during busy seasons. I can’t stress enough how life-changing it has been! Knowing I can pass off parts of my business to people who do it better than me is a huge relief. I don’t have to worry about whether or not things are getting done. Because I know they’re taking care of things for me, I have the freedom to REST and then do the things only I can do. The more I do that, the more my business continues to grow. Now that is the power of outsourcing!
Overall 2019 was an incredible year. I’m SO excited for what 2020 holds!! I already have some amazing opportunities in the pipeline that I can’t wait to share, and some huge goals to strive for along the way. I’m so excited to see what God does!
If any of this resonated with you, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a comment below!
Wishing you the best year in 2020!
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