Monday, May 4, 2015

taking the leap: how God turned a disaster into a delight



About 11 months ago, my wife called me at my office.  At the time, my office was only about 300 feet away from our home, but she was stuck there with two sleeping toddlers, so she picked up the phone instead of walking over.

She had just taken a test, the kind you don't have to study for, the kind you just have to take a trip to the pharmacy and drink a big glass of water for.  Despite not studying, she aced it, and she was calling to tell me the news.

It took a while to sink in.  Longer than it took with the other two.  We were a little exhausted, from job changes and moves and miscarriages and babies and surgeries and life.

I had just signed a renewal contract with the college where I was working.  No raise, but I had done work that I was proud of the previous year, and I was confident that I could do even more in the year to come.  My ear was out for other opportunities, but the right thing would have had to lure us away.

When my boss wanted to move our August 1 meeting off campus, I knew something was wrong.  He liked me, but after the initial "gain your trust" period where he used to buy me breakfast when he first started, I hadn't seen a free meal since Christmas.

I decided not to tell him at the table that my layoff date was right at the beginning of Lindsey's second trimester.  It just didn't seem like the right day to witness someone having a heart attack for the first time.

In September, I flew 4,000 miles.  Boy, were my arms tired.

Two headhunting agencies had lined up three interviews for me at churches in Colorado, Texas, and California.  I met wonderful people, but we all got the sense that my heart was somewhere else, despite my heart also being very much against impending homelessness.

After I got the phone call from the third church, we had a decision to make.  Now what?  More road to nowhere interviews?

Our photography business had done well last year.  It was a great way to make a small private college salary seem not so oppressive every time the kids needed diapers.  But was it enough to take the leap?

Lindsey and I agreed that we would go as long as we could pay rent.  If business slowed down too much at any point, I would look for a 9-5 somewhere.  To be honest, I kept waiting for it to happen.

I've heard many creative professionals say, "You have to bet on yourself," but that always seemed like fortune cookie wisdom for people who consider ending up destitute in a van down by the river as "great life experience" or "where I found myself."

Thankfully, I had a wonderful wife who bet on me, and she was pregnant, so really, she doubled-down.

A few friends picked opportune times to "refresh" their family photos, but then a bizarre thing happened.  The phone started to ring.  Metaphorically of course, because everyone e-mails these days, but there were buzzes, chirps, and notifications to rival that week when all my friends discovered Candy Crush.  (Thankfully not followed by the silence of the week where I blocked all the Candy Crush people.)

The other strange thing that happened is that I started, um, what's the word for it . . . smiling!  It turned out that I loved working for myself and getting to do creative work.  I loved running a business, taking risks and seeing reward, and growing as an artist everyday.

I was a little disappointed at first that I wouldn't be working in a church, but it turned out that I could give my time to our church for free (and not have to show up at the office everyday).  Then, I started doing communications work for a local church as a part of our business.

God has blessed us incredibly over the past seven months.  I remember writing a pathetically small tithe check to our church last October, the kind where I wondered if someone in the church office was going to see our check, multiply times 10, realize how broke we were, and drop groceries on our doorstep, but it felt good because it was the first one I had written in a while.  Tithing is one of the only areas where God encourages us to test His faithfulness.  While I don't believe that God wants us to give so He will make us wealthy, I do believe that God wants us to trust Him and that He likes making good on His promises.

As we start booking clients for 2016, I'm in awe of what God has done with our leap of faith this year.  I know that He would have taken care of us another way, maybe in another place, but it has been a joy to watch Him blow our minds repeatedly over this past year.  We can't wait to see what He does next.

(P.S. If you want to check out our business, head over to http://www.lullaphotography.com.)

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