We sat around a large wooden antique table in the middle of a formal dining room that looked more like the White House than our house. High-backed chairs with arms rests covered with patterned upholstery. Striped papered walls all around. A white wraparound mantle surrounding the fireplace. A painted portrait of a young woman looking down on us. A china cabinet catching glints of light from the one small window behind us. We looked to our left. To our right. Then we stopped. To pinch ourselves. Because all around, in every direction, were some of the most well-respected and influential wedding photographers and educators from across America. Ones we’ve admired for years, dating back to our elementary school teaching days, before we even knew that a camera body and lens were two separate pieces, and people we just recently met but quickly fell in love with. Friends who have turned into family. The us from five years ago could’ve never imagined this scene. Us at a table like this? We probably would’ve laughed at the idea of it. It was a surreal moment. There’s really no other way to describe it.

You can do this. We did. And here’s how.

And, in it, we couldn’t help but remember two feelings we had five years ago: First, a hopeless one. We were slaving at two full-time jobs and one part-time one, teaching elementary school during the day, coaching soccer on the other side of town at night, and running our business late nights and long weekends, chasing a dream that at times we thought was possible, but most of the time felt unreachable. That’s where the second emotion enters: gratitude. Raw, vulnerable, unashamed, never-ending gratitude. To the people at that table. To our left, and to our right. There were ones sitting at that table who, years earlier, who reached through our computer screen with their words and grabbed our hearts. We were two people they’d probably never even meet or know were listening, but they said, “You can do this. We did. And here’s how.” There were faces of people who inspire us now. With their work ethic, their hearts, their character and their
commitment to friendship, no matter how far away we might live. It’d be no exaggeration to thank each person for changing our entire life and family tree forever. In high school, when we were just eighteen, after only dating for a few months, we made a pact. No matter what happens in this life, we have two goals: love the Lord with our whole heart and maximize the amount of time we get to spend together on this earth. To bear witness to each other’s life. Every possible waking moment of it. Within a few years of being married, though, we’d drifted from that dream and found ourselves in the 9-to-5 rat race that everyone warns about. And we felt trapped. But the people around that table — and others just like them — inspired us. Showed us not just an escape hatch, but a life we’d forever sprint to (and through) and never want to run from again. One we couldn’t get enough of. And we can’t.

Because of them, we’re doing what Kathy Lee Gifford told her kids to do before they left for college, “Find your stone. Then throw it hard and throw it well.”

And that’s what we’re doing now. Throwing our stone. Hard. And as well as we can. As full of life and love and optimism as two people possibly could, and with more thankfulness and humility than we could ever explain — because we know we don’t deserve it. God’s just blessed us with it and we’re trying to steward it so more people know His goodness. Because people have poured into us, we’re so strongly convicted to do the same for others.

So, when we we invited to attend the Showit Spark Summit in Middleburg, Virginia, we booked the first flight out. We love everything Showit stands for. A software company who believes that we’re all created to create. That success comes from being brave, working hard and not giving up. That we’re better together. And that we need the tools to be able to creatively represent our business in a way that makes us proud.

The Spark Summit is a leadership retreat that was designed with one goal in mind: invest in the people who are investing in lots of people, and equip them to encourage and empower more people. And oh, friends, we couldn’t have needed this more! We just wrapped our sixth workshop of the year (a full recap to come later this week!) have been coaching like crazy and are about to head into a full-force wedding and conference season.

We stayed together at an estate in the middle of the country, secluded from the culture of constant that controls us too much of the time. We had deep discussions. We shared lots of laughs. We were challenged, stretched and poured into. We made memories together over painting our pets and walking through a vineyard — all of which reminded us that getting from where you are to where you want to be isn’t a pre-made frozen dinner in a microwave. Just like wine, it’s sowing, watering, waiting, harvesting, refining, barreling, bottling, and then tasting. A process the label can’t come close to fully communicating. But a worthwhile one that starts over every season with wine that gets better each and every time. It’s a lot like life, if you ask us.

Wherever you are today, friends, whatever you’re doing, and regardless of where you’d rather be or what you’d rather be doing, we want to reach through this computer and let these words penetrate your screen and pervade your heart like they did ours.

If you have a dream, don’t give up on it. Hang in there. Fight like hell. You can do this. We are quite literally living ours. And we want to do everything we can to show you how to make yours a reality… and cheer for you every step of the way.

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We l-o-v-e traveling! Wanna catch up with our adventures around the world? You can do that here!

International: Ireland • England • France • Spain • Italy • Greece & Turkey • Anniversary Photos: Venice

Domestic: Nashville • Denver • Phoenix • Vancouver • Seattle • Vegas • Atlanta • Santa Barbara • Florida • Virginia • New England/New York • Sedona • San Diego • Nantucket • Boston • San Diego • Virginia • Arizona

2 comments
filed in: Events, Personal, Travel

    Jill

    YOU TWO are those people for so many photographers, just like those in that room were for you!! Your encouragement is life giving and like a huge breath of fresh air!!

    Amy & Jordan

    Jill!!! Thank you SO much for this comment, friend!!! It seriously made our day :) Bless you!