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Arkansas Small Intimate Wedding

Ashley and Erubiel had their fair share of obstacles when it came to wedding planning during a pandemic. (Can you imagine!?) But, even still — they persisted, and created the most charming scene to exchange their vows in. Their Arkansas small intimate wedding; nestled in the woods at Erubiel’s parent’s house, was one of the most perfect days I’ve witnessed. 

 

The Backstory:

Ashley & Erubiel met while working at Tamolly’s. She had just started the job a few weeks before Erubiel had come back for summer break. (He was schooling at HSU in Arkadelphia at the time.) But, their first impression of each other wasn’t even good! But as time passed, they became really good friends. For their first date, Ashley was working a double shift that day, and they we went to wingstop during their break. (Sounds like a perfect first date to me.) 😍

They officially started dating on November 22, 2015. One of their more memorable dates was when they went to dinner along the river walk in San Antonio during the holiday season, but their favorite will probably a weekend trip to Dallas. They had just bought their first home together and in celebration, (and NEED of relaxation) they took a mini getaway. They went kayaking together for the first time, and Erubiel was so good to her, (well… except when he kept trying to tip over their kayak. Ashely didn’t like that too much.) 🤣

Later, they got engaged on December 22, 2018. Ashley & Erubiel LOVE Christmas, so they went to Garvan Woodland Gardens for a date night. They ate at the purple cow (which is one of their favorites,) before going to see the lights. Following, they were walking around and he found a spot that didn’t have many people and he told her that he loved her, and then got down on one knee and asked if she would marry him. (He’s the sweetest ever.) 😭

 

Wedding Planning During A Pandemic

As time passed, they crossed obstacle after obstacle when it came to wedding planning. They had originally planned a large wedding at a venue near Texarkana, but because of the state of uncertainty regarding large gatherings. Alternatively, they opted for a smaller celebration instead. Looking at these photos, I don’t think they regret it one bit. 😉 (In fact, I recommend small celebrations over large ones any day!)

 

The Engagement Session:

For their engagement session, we opted for an adventurous waterfall session at Lake Catherine State Park. It was the perfect setting, because they LOVE water. Previously, she had mentioned on her questionnaire I sent over that she’d love to get in the water, so I made sure it happened. 😉  In addition, I asked them to tell me what they love most about each other. Let’s see what they answered! 💕

What Ashley loves most about Erubiel:

His gentle touch, his sense of humor, and he has a HUGE heart. He cares deeply for those he loves and it shows. I know you said 3 but he is also a family man and it just makes me excited to think of him as a future dad.

What Erubiel loves most about Ashley:

Her personality, her laugh, and her drive to get shi* done. (LOL)

 

Without a doubt, I’ll think they’ll be a pretty good fit for life. 😉

 

So without further ado, I introduce to you Mr. & Mrs. Erubiel Basurto! 🥂

 

Bride and groom arkansas small intimate wedding

 


 

Arkansas Small Intimate Wedding | Ashley & Erubiel:

 

A huge thank you to all of the family, friends, and vendors that made this day possible for the Basurto’s! 🥂

THE CREATIVE TEAM:

bride’s dress: justin alexander at gracyn elizabeth bride • bridesmaids’ dresses: lulu’s • cake: sugar and spice catering • furniture rentals: twin city conference and event center • groom’s tuxedo: gracyn elizabeth bride • groomsmens’ tuxedos: gracyn elizabeth bride • hair: brittni layne • invitations: tori frey • linen: twin city conference and event center • makeup artist: kimberly bearden beauty • officiant: shawna watkins wedding coordinator:  •  yolanda chism  •  floral design: albertson’s

 


 

Planning your own small, intimate wedding or elopement in Arkansas?

Or anywhere for that matter? I’d love to help! As an elopement and intimate wedding photographer, I do a LOT more than just take photos. I can help be your outdoor guide, makeup artist, and professional bouquet transporter to the top of a mountain. You name it, I’ve probably helped do it. 😉  Just click the button below to get the conversation started! 🎉

 

 

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JVP Business Update
What I've Been Up to This Year

2020 has been a year hasn’t it?! Thanks for hanging in there with me on this rollercoaster ride of a life update! I’m excited for you to read my final life update because I’m sharing what’s been happening on the JVP end! If you missed the first two parts, you can read them here: our journey back to the states & our house hunting  adventure. Ready for my JVP Business Update?

 


JVP Business Update


Chapter 8: New Seasons in Business

The past seven chapters covered January through August, it’s currently the last week in October as I’m writing this, and you’re finally reading this in November. So, what else happened? Glad you asked, because now I get to share all about my JVP business update. 😉

I was finally able to get into a workflow after SO long. I’d been working a ton, don’t get me wrong. But, I would finally be able to have my own office and not be dealing with the dog-tango situation, so I could make major progress on the big project I’d been working so hard on. (More on that in a bit.) 😉

A few weeks after moving into the new house, I got a message from my virtual assistant of two years at the time. She told me she was going a different direction with her business and was letting me know this would be the last month she’d be able to serve me, (and all the rest of her retainer clients for that matter.) She’s transitioned into becoming a copywriter/brand message strategist over the last year or so, and wanted to go full-time with that, which I totally understood. I’d been feeling about a month prior that I was going to need a VA that could do more for me, and provide more hours for me to use.

However, it was disheartening considering I’d be gearing up for a big launch in January and needed ALL the help I could get. It felt like the bottom was falling out from underneath me, and that I didn’t have time to replace her or figure out where to go from here. After crying it out, and talking to Clay, he said it was going to be okay. God was in control of this too, and we’d figure it out.

I remembered a company I had wanted to reach out to back when I was in Japan called “Rock Solid Virtual Assistants,” that specializes in pairing you (the business owner) with the perfect VA using their proprietary matching system. I knew I wanted to use a company that had it all together, and I knew this one did. (Plus the owner was a Christian, which really put me at ease.)

The only problem? At this point, I was SO completely booked that I couldn’t take on more work, because of the building of a program I’d been working on for the past year. Therefore, I couldn’t get more money coming in to hire a new person at the rate it would cost, until after my big JVP 2.0 launch in January. Clayton said,

“I want you to do whatever you’ve got to do, and I’ll help however I need to to make sure you have help for this big project.”

(This man was sent from heaven, ya’ll.)

I reached out and set up a call, and after speaking with Tracy, I knew I’d made the right decision. We had so many “God moments,” and I had so much peace surrounding the whole thing. A few days later, she messaged me that she’d paired me with the perfect person, a girl named Janine out of Navarre, Florida. (That’s the exact town I used to live in when I lived there, strangely enough!)

After mine and Janine’s first call, I was in awe. She had the sweetest spirit, and kindest heart. She’s a go-getter that thrives off of helping other women succeed, and she LOVES the Lord with all she’s got in that tiny Italian frame of hers. 😉

Again — God knows my best.

He knew that for the substantial growth my business would be seeing in 2021 and beyond, that I was going to need more help. He knew there was a perfect person out there to come alongside me, that would share the vision and values of my company, and help to see things through. He knew I needed Janine, and He made the space necessary for her to come in.

Simply put, she was the girl for the job — and He made it happen.

I just had to trust him with my JVP business, and my life. Easier said than done sometimes, but after the year I’d had, I knew He’d come through for me. He’d done it too many times already. 🙌🙌🏼

So, without further ado — meet Janine! The new set of helping hands over here at JVP. You’ll be seeing and hearing from her here and there. Most of what she does for me is behind-the-scenes, well… for now anyways. 😉🥂

 

JVP Business Update - My VA Janine

 


Chapter 9: Preparation for A New Purpose

Remember the part where I said I’d been working on a huge project all year long? As of now, October 29th, it’s been over a year in the making.

Last August, I hired a business coach and met her in Bali to work together. (She’s from Atlanta, but she was going to be in Bali for a few weeks, and it was much cheaper for me to meet her there!) Plus, Clay and I had wanted to visit Bali at some point anyways, so we just made a vacation out of it.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

The specific purpose for our working together was to come up with my “signature offer.” A signature offer is essentially your “thing.” I knew I’d wanted to teach other photographers (and had been already doing it for two years at that point,) but I didn’t have a system in order to do so. I didn’t have a framework or a curriculum built out to use, and I needed one. There are so many things you can do with a framework once you have it, and I knew it was the next big step.

The problem is, you’re just too close to your genius. It’s extremely difficult to pull the good stuff out of your mind, because you already know it all. So, the best thing you can do is hire someone that specializes in doing just that — pulling out your genius and helping you package it into a premium offer.

I worked with Maya Elious, and it was the best decision I’d ever made.

In two days we extracted and laid out a framework that I was PUMPED to teach. What she did for me in two days, I couldn’t have done for myself in months, or maybe even years. It was the jumpstart I needed to really do this. I was shooketh.

 

JVP Business Update

JVP Business Update

JVP Business Update

JVP Business Update

 

You see, most photographers that offer mentorships to others don’t have a plan. They charge you anywhere from $500-2000 for a day (or even half a day,) just for you to pick their brain, and ask any questions you may have.

The problem with that? You don’t KNOW the questions you need to be asking. You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s just left up to you to ask them all that you need to. And, if you come up with a question later that you forgot to ask, good luck! 😬

I knew I didn’t want that. I wanted true support for my clients, a roadmap they could follow, structure, and proven results. This became the standard for the program I was building for photographers.

Due to being home for the Holidays in December of 2019, and spending January of 2020 with my mom and aunt in Japan, I didn’t get a chance to officially start building the program yet. February was spent packing and preparing to move back to the U.S., and in March I was getting the dogs and myself back to Texarkana. So, I was finally able to start building the program out in April. I haven’t looked back since then, and I’ve spent every week writing the curriculum for it. (Sometimes 60+ pages a week!)

I’ll announce what it’s called, and all that it includes really, really soon. 😉

 


Chapter 10: The Purposeful Pivot

 

Throughout the three years I’d spent in Japan, the biggest lessons I learned were:

 

  1. My role as a wife to Clayton, and what God wanted for, (and from,) me in my marriage.
  2. The way God intended marriages to be, and how we’ve gotten it so wrong as a generation. Clayton and I got married the way we did for a reason, and I wanted to share that with others.
  3. How to slow down, and stop glorifying busy. How to truly be present in the season of life I’m in, and not constantly wish my days away for what’s to come “tomorrow.”
  4. How to truly trust God with all things, especially my business. He’s the best CEO there could be.

 

These lessons had taken such deep roots in my heart, because I walked through them myself. I had to do hard things, and learn hard lessons. But it was necessary for me to be able to fully understand what God was teaching me, and one day share it with others.

In October of 2019, I’d started to feel misaligned with my business and brand overall. The visual representation (my branding and website) was no longer “fitting” for where I was going. There was a misalignment, and I just couldn’t ignore it any longer.

The lessons I’d learned in Japan needed to take their place in my business, and I didn’t know how… but I knew they had to. It was just too big of a shift in perspective.

I told my biz-bestie, and we began brainstorming on a new brand for me that would fit the new direction. We came up with one, and it was beautiful, but after some time we both came to the conclusion, this one wasn’t it. Something was missing. We had gone too far to the black-and-white editorial side, and we needed something “out of the box.” Something that hadn’t been done before. There wasn’t quite another brand or site like it out there, it just simply didn’t exist yet.

So, we started from scratch. This time, I gave her complete creative control, and when she showed me what she’d drafted next — I was speechless. It was it. And we’ve been heading in that direction since.

An all-new JVP brand will surface in January, (EEEEK! 🎉) and it’s the brand I’ve always dreamed of.

My current site, (the one you’re on,) I loved for a season… but I always knew there was something more out there for JVP. This new brand has been a LONG time in the making, and we’ve come across so many obstacles, but I can’t wait to share it with you all very soon. 🥂

The new brand will tell my story, and reflect my heart for life, marriage, education, and photography. This time, I’m chasing the call God’s placed on my life with reckless abandon. I’m holding nothing back, and I’ll be calling you to do the same — too. Because it’s worth it, and it’s why we were put here in the first place. ✨

I’ll be over here continuing to put my head down, and I may not surface on social media for a bit longer. It’s been a really good year of “doing the work” over here, and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. 😉

 

Until I surface from under my rock *again*,

– Jess

 


IF YOU’RE REALLY STRUGGLING IN YOUR BUSINESS, BOOK A FREE CLARITY CALL WITH ME, (NO STRINGS ATTACHED,) FOR ME TO HELP YOU PINPOINT YOUR BIGGEST ROADBLOCKS.

Then, if you decide it’s a fit and you NEED us to work together stat, we can totally proceed with mentorship and get this education party started! 🥂

I wholeheartedly believe that if you’re here and reading this page, it’s not by accident, girl. I’ve been praying for this years mentoring clients, and for God to truly equip me with the knowledge and resources, tailored just for you, to project you into your next season and help you to be more confident – because THIS is your year.

It’s time. No more excuses. Let’s do this, and rise up to who God has called us to be in both our lives and businesses. 🙌🏼

a photograher

 


LOOKING FOR MORE HELPFUL PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS? FEEL FREE TO BINGE ON THESE BLOG POSTS, OR PIN ’EM ON PINTEREST FOR LATER! 👇🏼

If you’re short on time, follow me on Pinterest – and you’ll get these kinda tips delivered straight to your feed! You know… when you’re scrollin’ through Pinterest with coffee in hand, ready to take on the day… or, procrastinate.

Whatevs. Pinterest biz sesh, anybody!? 😎

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Personal

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God’s Plans Are Bigger – 2020 Life Update
What I've Been Up To This Year

Last week I broke my social media silence and let you in on how 2020 has been going and what I’ve been up to this year. If you missed that post, you can catch up here! 😉 This week I wanted to take you along our journey of house hunting and what happens when God’s plans are bigger than the ones we have for ourselves.


 

God's Plans Are Bigger - A 2020 Live Update


Chapter 5: The Living-Quarters Predicament

We’d been living with my parents for about 4 months at this point, and it was GREAT. Well, for the most part. The only issue we had was that our two huskies, plus my parents’ two dogs were all in the same house. And it wouldn’t have been that big of an issue, except for the fact that they didn’t all get along. (Like, major fights would break out if the crossed paths.) So we were constantly playing dog-tango. And due to the fact that my dogs couldn’t just be “let outside” since we didn’t have a fence, they had to be taken out on leashes every single time they needed to use the bathroom, (which is a lot.)

I was struggling with getting any work done, because I was constantly being asked to take my dogs out, (because Keira, my female husky, ) is such a territorial thing that she wants to pee on anything that smells like another dog. 🙄 She would take it upon herself to mark my mom and dad’s border collie, Shasta’s, bed. So annoying.

Aaaaanyways, I was getting really tired of not being able to have uninterrupted work days. I started thinking, “what could we do to have our own space?”

Clay and I had decided that we’d wait to relocate to the area, to see if he liked his new job first. By staying with my parents, it would help us to accumulate cash much faster, and really be able to save for building our first house. We were so excited to be able to plant roots. I really wanted to stay and build in Texarkana, so we began thinking,

“What if I stayed, and we worked on building the house we’d always wanted, here?”

It was only two hours, so he could commute back and forth weekly. With this job, he was able to make his own hours, so he could leave on a Monday morning, and be at work by 9am, and then come home on Thursday night and spend the weekend with me there. My dad did that for 8 years with my mom, (quite literally the same thing, he commuted to Little Rock for his job,) so I knew it was doable.

So we decided, Clay would commute back and forth and I would stay here and hold down the fort with the dogs. We’d be able to save money and get started on building our house. My dad had a travel trailer Clay could use and live out of while he was on the road, so we wouldn’t have to spend any money on it. Clay was fine with it, and honestly he can live in any scenario. (He’s had to sleep under trucks overseas for crying out loud, so this was livin’ high on the hog.) 🤣

So that solved the issue for him. But I was still having such a hard time working or getting anything done while at my parents, so I started to brainstorm options for an office space that wouldn’t require me driving all the way into town and renting a building. I really needed to be focusing on what God was calling me to do in my business, and it became increasingly hard to make any progress on the project He had me working on.

So I had an idea. I could get one of those portable buildings that look like a tiny farmhouse, and could use it as an office space while I was there. This would give me a space separate from the house to be able to get into a workflow in, and would also allow the dogs to be able to be with me there, so there wasn’t as much chaos. I could also have a fence built alongside it, to be able to let them in and out throughout the day. Bingo. FINALLY.

I began researching, and found some that I loved. (They were the same company that built the shed that now lays on the grounds of Magnolia in Waco )It would be around $20k to do, so that became my first goal to save up for. A plan. YAS.

But the more I thought about it, the less peace I had about it. I had convinced everyone around me that it was a good idea, and honestly they all agreed; because it was. I measured the grounds and came up with numbers to have the dirt laid to level it. I figured out what the electricity would cost to do, and came up with solutions for the internet. All of it.

But there was no ignoring it, I didn’t have complete peace. My heart longed to be with Clayton, all the time. I mean, we’d done long distance for 7 years, and a bunch more while married in Japan. I was tired, and I couldn’t ignore it.

I was driving home one day, and I heard God say in my spirit, “Just because your parents did it… doesn’t mean you have to.”

He was right. Just because my dad did the commute from Little Rock, and my mom and him did long distance for years, doesn’t mean we had to.

So my next question was, “Okay God, but how can I be with him?”

We didn’t want to plant roots in Little Rock by any means, so we started thinking… “what about a portable home?” We had friends who bought travel trailers/fifth wheels that were super nice, and lived out of them to save money while they were being stationed all over the U.S. It didn’t seem like a bad idea.

We could do that, get a really nice one, and be able to take it to and from Little Rock, and everywhere else for that matter, when we wanted to. That way, the dogs could be with us and we could all be united.

This became the new plan, and I scoured the internet for days at a time to find the perfect one. (Can’t you tell I am a go-getter and love making plans!?) 😂 #icrackmyselfup

I found one I loved, and wanted it super bad. The only problem? We’d need to get a loan, (it was super pricey,) and Clayton’s paychecks from his previous job were cutting off in a couple of weeks. In order to get a loan, you need 30 days of pay stubs and a history of two years being employed. So if we didn’t do it now, it wasn’t going to happen. I was trying SO hard to make it happen. I began to get desperate and cry out to the Lord, “why is this SO HARD!?” I remember trying to get Clayton to hurry up and fill out the application to get a loan, and none of it working the way we wanted.

There was no peace.

But I was ignoring it because I wanted a solution to all of our problems, and I wanted it NOW.

After Clayton had talked me down and calmed me, I began to realize something. God doesn’t rush, and He doesn’t pressure. He doesn’t add stress to your life. He is stilling, reassuring, and calming. His path is always the path of peace, and I didn’t have even an ounce of it with this.

I knew it wasn’t God’s plan trying to get us to buy that fifth wheel, it was the enemy.

As I started coming to my senses, I realized… fifth-wheels depreciate the moment you drive them off the lot. You can’t ever get your money’s worth out of them, kind of like cars. So although we thought we would be getting out ahead financially and be making a smart move, we really wouldn’t.

Back to square one.

 


Chapter 6: God’s plans are greater.

I surrendered. I said “Lord, what do YOU want? … Because obviously what I want is totally not working out, so I give up.”

It took me a solid year to get there, but I did. Thank God for His patience and for dealing with me. 😂

It was memorial day weekend, and we had just spent the weekend visiting with family that came in from out of town. I remember crawling in the bed with Clay that night, and asking “What if instead of getting a fifth-wheel, we just bought a house there? You have to be in Little Rock anyways, and if we had a fifth-wheel, we’d be there anyways. What are we fighting? We have a VA loan we can use because of your service, we really could do this.”

In case you didn’t know, it’s way easier to use a VA loan to buy a house, than to build one. VA construction loans are hard to come by, so this was just an easier process to go through, all around. Plus, building a house is a whole thing, and would take up to 2 years to do. (The opposite of easy.)

Clayton told me that he wasn’t opposed to it. That he hadn’t been feeling peace about us getting a fifth-wheel either.

It was me. It was me fighting planting roots. Little did I know, that by me fighting what God wanted for me, I was making my life harder.

I wasn’t pursuing God’s best for me. I was pursuing what I thought the “best for me” was.

Only GOD knows my best, and His plans are bigger than any I could have on my own.

I mentioned it to my mom, and at first; she seemed a bit upset. (Rightfully so, considering we had planned to finally get to be together again. My mom is my best friend, and Okinawa was HARD for us.

But after just a few minutes, we both knew. She started to come to, and mentioned, “Two hours really isn’t that bad. We can do this.”

I knew it. This was what God intended, and I had to go. Again. At least this time, it wasn’t as far. It was only a two hour drive, and I’ve lived a nine hour drive away in Florida, and a three-plane trip in Japan. Two hours, I knew I could do.

So I started looking for houses online. Zillow became my best friend. (Don’t act surprised. 😂)

Before too long, I found a few I loved. I could really start to see myself living there. They were in the Benton/Bryant area, which was on the closer side to Texarkana, and about 25 minutes from Little Rock. I started to get my hopes up, and showed them to Clayton. He ultimately just wanted me to be happy, so he was honestly fine with whatever at this point. God love him. 🤣

We reached out to a realtor, and set up a showing for both of the homes we were interested in. They were exactly the same price, so we’d just have to see what we thought when we got there.

I remember telling Clayton about a week before we went to see the houses, “I don’t want this to be an “up-and-down” roller-coaster kinda thing. I don’t want to constantly get my hopes up, and then get let down because a house sold out from under us, or we didn’t qualify for it, or whatever.”

We decided the best route was to get in touch with a mortgage broker, and find out how much house we could even qualify for, so we weren’t wasting anybody’s time. Long story short, every house I was interested in, we did in fact qualify for. YAY. Crisis averted.

I kept searching, (because buying a house is a huge thing, and I didn’t want to miss out on anything. There were SO many options.) But I also didn’t want to spend forever doing this, because I wanted to get into a home asap.

I ended up finding another house before our showing date, and when I saw it— it felt different. This one really felt like I could live in it, for a long time. I just felt something in my spirit when I stumbled upon it. It quickly became my favorite, but I didn’t want to say anything to sway Clayton. I wanted to wait until we saw them in person and could really make a decision and weigh the options. It was about a 40 minute drive from Little Rock, so I wasn’t sure if it was too far out or not, (but I sure was hoping he’d be okay with it.)

I showed it to my mom, and she said, “Oh yeah. This one’s just different. I love it. It’s SO beautiful.”

I emailed our realtor and asked if there was any way we could add this house to our showing date also. It was about 35 minutes from the other two houses, but we were starting our day early; so I figured it could work. She said she’d be able to show us this house as well. Yay!

My mom and I continued talking that night, and she mentioned a few things that she was looking for when her and my dad were house-hunting, years ago. She said she wanted a house with character, a house that had a story to it.

That really stuck with me, and I realized that was something I wanted, too.

 


Chapter 7: House Hunting

Clay, my mom, my aunt, and I all headed out for Bryant early on the morning of May, 30th. Our first stop: a cute, new-construction home in Benton.

When we first pulled up, I realized the house was much closer to other homes than the pictures made it seem. Once we made it through the door, everyone split up and started to check things out. Eventually I made my way back around to Clayton, and I noticed him inspecting things in much more detail than I had been. (Totally understandable, because he’s a super detail oriented guy.)

He pointed to a door-frame and said “This is crooked.”

Uh oh.

He found so many issues with the house, it was pretty much a no-brainer. It wasn’t going to work. Remember that part I said about Clayton being super thorough and doing everything to the best of his ability? Yeah, he expects that out of others too. (And especially for houses at the price range we were looking at.)

So, we were on to the next one, and I was okay with it. I knew my favorite house was last, but it was still disheartening to see the issues with the first new-construction home. I hoped the next, and the last, wouldn’t be the same.

We arrived at the second house, another new construction, and thankfully; it wasn’t as bad as the first. The kitchen was stunning, and it overlooked a shared lake. However, it had carpet all upstairs, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. (I have two huskies, remember?) It was also in a neighborhood that had an HOA, which I also wasn’t crazy about. (Again, huskies. They tend to let out a “call of the wild” in the morning and in the evening, as well as when we leave the house… really thinking about starting the Kona Chronicles.) We also noticed an unfinished basement-situation, that was collecting a ton of water underneath the house. We definitely didn’t feel so comfortable with that.

 

 

 

Unfortunately, this house was also super close to the ones next to it. Having grown up in the country, both of us realized we didn’t want to do the whole “neighborhood” thing. We love to sit out on our front porch in the mornings, drinking coffee and reading our bibles, and it would be really hard to do that with cars buzzing and lawn-mowers running and all the things that come with neighborhood life. (Seriously, once you live in the country you’re spoiled. There’s a reason people don’t retire and move to the city.) 😂

We liked the second house, and definitely were more drawn to it over the first. But I knew the last one was still going to be my favorite, I just hoped it would be Clay’s too. He primarily just didn’t want to see the issues with this next house that he saw in the first two.

The One: God’s Bigger Plan

We pulled into the driveway, and it felt like pulling into a little slice of heaven. There was a peaceful presence in and around the whole house — it was just different. As we were walking through and touring it, I couldn’t help but see how much character, intentionality, and personality this house had. It was designed immaculately, paying very close attention to detail. This house was a custom build, and the first two were new-construction. Let me tell you, there’s a big difference. I realized the first two houses felt so “cookie-cutter” in comparison to this one. Like model homes… with no life in them. They were gorgeous, don’t get me wrong. But nothing could compare to this one; again, God’s plans are bigger.

After we’d looked all throughout the house, we’d fallen in love with every corner and crevice. Clayton could tell a big difference in the quality and build, and was much more pleased all-around. As him, my mom, my aunt and I were all standing in the kitchen, my aunt made the statement,

“Now see, this house is a home.”

She was right, the others weren’t designed by a mother who wanted to raise a family in them, they were just builder-grade, cookie-cutter designs. I was so glad my mom had mentioned that she searched for a house with personality and character, because that very concept was at the forefront of my mind now during the house-hunt.

As we were leaving the house and heading back to Texarkana, Clayton and I kept talking about how much we liked this last house. It was a cottage-style house in the country, on 5 acres. With the other houses, you could basically touch your neighbors house from your yard, but this one had space and room to breath around it. It was in the woods, outside of city limits, (so, no HOA.) The house lay on the outside of a small, quiet town in Grant County. There truly wasn’t anything about this house I didn’t love, not one thing.

We didn’t get but maybe 15 minutes down the road, and we’d decided. We wanted to make an offer. Was it crazy? Maybe. We just couldn’t deny the peace and the “easiness” of it. So we called our agent and told her what we were thinking, and what we wanted put in the offer. She helped us decide on what we could ask for, and we had an offer placed that night. The next day, they gave us a counter-offer, which was extremely close to our original offer, so it was just about perfect.

We’d reached an agreement, and the “buying a house” festivities began. (Ecstatic was an understatement.) However, we had to do an extended closing, because we had to have 30 days of pay-stubs from Clayton’s new job in order to officially “close,” and he’d just started. So from the day we placed an offer, to the day we moved in — it was a total of 70 days.

I spent 69 of those 70 days at Kirkland’s, Target, and HomeGoods. Kidding. (Or am I?) My mom and I had a BLAST visiting all the flea markets around, (that’s kind of our thing,) and picking up things here and there. We shopped non-stop the entire time we had to wait to move in, and it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. My mom is so good at decorating, and I enjoyed every minute of that time spent with her. We even went as far as driving to Shreveport to pick up a MASSIVE highland cattle cow portrait one day, it was definitely one of my favorite shopping trips. 😂

The day finally arrived for us to move in after what felt like centuries, and as we pulled up to the house I couldn’t even believe it was going to be ours. (Spoiler alert: I’m lying in bed right now writing this, and I still can’t believe it’s ours.) My mom still feels that way after 20+ years about her house, so I think we’re onto something good. 😉

Oh, and just in case you wondered…

It’s a modern farmhouse, with tons of windows and the most beautiful natural light. It has a U-shaped floor plan, and a breezeway that connects the house to the garage. It has both a front, and back porch made out of concrete. It’s exterior is white vinyl, with a black roof and black industrial accents. The porch ceilings are painted a light, haint blue. The master bedroom is on the first floor, and it has a clawfoot tub and a large rainfall shower. The kitchen has marble countertops, a large rectangular island, tons of storage, a gas range and a big farmhouse sink. It has an open floor plan between the kitchen and living room, with a double-sided fireplace, that is connected to a dining room. It has three bedrooms, a bonus room, and a three car garage. It’s on some land in the country (5 acres to be exact,) and I regularly see deer out my window while I cook and clean. God’s plans are truly bigger.

 

He truly cares about the desires of our hearts.

If there’s anything I’ve learned this year, it’s that God knows my best. And if he says “No” at the time, it’s because He’s got something way, way better in store. He’s a really good Dad.

 

We’ve got one last update for you coming next week! I’m catching you up on all things business, and let me tell you- I am so excited and cannot wait to share it with you!

 


IF YOU’RE REALLY STRUGGLING IN YOUR BUSINESS, BOOK A FREE CLARITY CALL WITH ME, (NO STRINGS ATTACHED,) FOR ME TO HELP YOU PINPOINT YOUR BIGGEST ROADBLOCKS.

Then, if you decide it’s a fit and you NEED us to work together stat, we can totally proceed with mentorship and get this education party started! 🥂

I wholeheartedly believe that if you’re here and reading this page, it’s not by accident, girl. I’ve been praying for this years mentoring clients, and for God to truly equip me with the knowledge and resources, tailored just for you, to project you into your next season and help you to be more confident – because THIS is your year.

It’s time. No more excuses. Let’s do this, and rise up to who God has called us to be in both our lives and businesses. 🙌🏼

a photograher

 


LOOKING FOR MORE HELPFUL PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS? FEEL FREE TO BINGE ON THESE BLOG POSTS, OR PIN ’EM ON PINTEREST FOR LATER! 👇🏼

If you’re short on time, follow me on Pinterest – and you’ll get these kinda tips delivered straight to your feed! You know… when you’re scrollin’ through Pinterest with coffee in hand, ready to take on the day… or, procrastinate.

Whatevs. Pinterest biz sesh, anybody!? 😎

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2020 Life Update

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A 2020 Life Update (What I’ve Been Up To This Year)

Turns out, I haven’t posted on my Instagram since May. Whoops. But given the year it’s been, I think you probably understand my absence from social networking. 🙈  So today, I’m sharing a 2020 life update from all of us over here at JVP. (Okay, me & my husband Clay, my dogs, and my virtual assistant.) 😂

I wouldn’t be the first, (or even the millionth,) to say this year has been quiiite the year, and most of us are beyond over it. But to be honest with you? I have a SUPER unpopular opinion about 2020.

2020 has actually been one of the most rewarding years of my life. 🙈

Now, I wouldn’t say it was the “easiest,” by any means. Clay and I had some cards dealt to us this year that most won’t deal with in their lifetime. But we’ll get to that in a bit!

 


 

A 2020 Life Update


 

To start this 2020 life update, you should know that for the past three years I’ve been living on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean called Okinawa, Japan. My husband is in the military, and we got orders to this small archipelago in October of 2016. Funny… because we were both sooo sure we’d get orders to North Carolina. Turns out we couldn’t have been any further off. 😂

SO, we stepped off the plane with bags in our hands, (and equal parts fear and excitement in our hearts) on May 28th, 2017.

Living in Japan, alone, (well, with just Clay, but no friends or family for thousands of miles,) has been the wildest, hardest, and most challenging… (yet simultaneously the most beautiful and most fulfilling) adventure of my entire LIFE.

We actually spent the first years of our married lives together there. We got married on December 16th of 2016, and had about six months together in Florida, then took off for the journey of our lives.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and in case you wondered… I miss it terribly. Which brings me to my first 2020 life update.

 


Intro: The Tropics & Tractor Buckets… (wait, what!?) 

The year was off to a great start. Phenomenal, really. My mom and aunt flew all the way from Texarkana to Japan to visit me! I couldn’t believe it, considering my mom hasn’t ever even been out of the U.S. (Well, except for Mexico, but that doesn’t really count.) 🤣

After three years of no family or friends visiting me or knowing the world I lived in, I was SO ecstatic to get to share the island I’d been calling home with those I love most.

I spent every day taking them to our favorite restaurants, and taking them to all the hidden gems only locals knew about. It was a BLAST. We drove every ounce of that island, laughing and eating our way all the way through it. One day we got to drive up Mount Yaedake and see the Japanese Cherry Blossoms in their prime bloom, head to a waterfall, and finish the day off standing on the cliffs of the edge of the island. It was remarkable.

 

2020 Life Update: Exploring Okinawa

2020 Life Update: Exploring Okinawa

2020 Life Update: Exploring Okinawa

2020 Life Update: Exploring Okinawa

2020 Life Update: Exploring Okinawa

2020 Life Update: Exploring Okinawa

2020 Life Update: Exploring Okinawa

2020 Life Update: Exploring Okinawa

2020 Life Update: Exploring Okinawa

2020 Life Update: Exploring Okinawa

2020 Life Update: Exploring Okinawa

2020 Life Update: Exploring Okinawa

2020 Life Update: Exploring Okinawa

2020 Life Update: Exploring Okinawa

 


 

Unfortunately, the time came for them to make the two-day journey back home. I went back to working, and tracked them through “find my friends,” the whole way home. I’d noticed I never received word from my mom when she landed and arrived at the house, which I thought was strange.

I texted her and she responded pretty short-winded. I knew something was up. Before too long, she was calling, and the first words out of her mouth were, “Your dad is okay, but a tractor bucket fell on him and he had to be rushed to the ER for emergency surgery.”

Long story short, he was helping a friend use his tractor for something and the bucket fell and pinned him to the ground, cutting through his leg deeply. My dad and his friend are both in their mid-60’s, so his friend couldn’t pick him up.

My Dad told him, “You better get this bucket off of me. You have to, or I won’t make it”.

His friend finally mustered up the strength and got it off of him, and when my Dad saw how deep the cut was, he called one of my aunt’s to come get him and take him to the hospital. They agreed not to tell my mom, because they knew there was nothing she could do, so, they took care of it and he was home and recovering when my mom walked in the door.

As my Dad reflected over the situation, he realized there were two propane bottles that were holding some of the weight up and off of him; which kept the bucket from slicing his leg off completely and him bleeding out. (Totally a God thing.) My mom said had he not been wearing the type of jeans he was wearing (the tough, Duluth fireman-proof jeans,) the rust from the tractor bucket would have likely infected him, and it would’ve been even worse. (Also God.)

So, 2020 started off interesting, to say the least. I figured that situation, and God’s faithfulness through it, would be my “story of the year.”

Little did I know — I was in for much, much more. 

 


Chapter 1: An Intercontinental Move, Amidst A Pandemic

As if an intercontinental move isn’t stressful enough in and of itself, we also happened to do it at the height of a worldwide pandemic. *Thanks Covid.* – in the voice of Alexis Rose. Fun fact: Covid actually hit us in Japan before it ever affected anyone in the U.S., thanks to a cruise ship.

I vividly remember calling my mom, and being like “So this is going to sound really weird. But for whatever reason people are buying up toilet paper and hand sanitizer like crazy. 😂 So if you need any, I’d go grab some now to make sure you aren’t out. And maybe a bit extra to be safe.” I kid you not, two weeks later you couldn’t get it anywhere. It was ridiculous. 🤣

But the problem was, because we were trying to travel across the world… in the middle of Covid… we hit some major roadblocks. We had originally planned for me to fly back to Arkansas a month before Clayton, so I could be there to pick the dogs up from the airport when he sent them.

But because of Covid, they placed restrictions on all military personnel traveling, and they shut down all travel two days before my flight was supposed to depart. I was flying on what’s called the Patriot Express, a plane that flies between military bases and commercial airports to transport military members and their families. There weren’t any travel restrictions for flying commercial at that point, but we wanted to save the $2,500 on a plane ticket since we were shelling out so much for the dogs already. (We’ll get to that later.) 🙈

Thankfully, because Clayton was permanently separating from the military, and not just transferring to another duty station, we were among the VERY few that were allowed to still leave. So I was able to board the flight and made it through, but it was tight. All of my friends I’d made in Okinawa had to stay a whole ‘nother six months.


 

2020 Life Update: Leaving Okinawa

 


 

Then, a few days after I’d left, Clayton had the dogs ready to fly from Naha, Okinawa all the way to Houston Intercontinental. You see, in order to ship your pets across the world, there is SO much you have to do; paperwork, rabies tests, favn tests, more paperwork, fees, etc. Then, you have to use a third-party pet shipping company if you want to not completely lose your mind, (or worse, risk doing it wrong and your dogs being stuck in customs and denied.) 😅 We decided to use a pet shipping company both to get them there, and get them home.

We were familiar with the process from importing our dogs to Japan, (which cost us a hefty $7,000 to do.) But then, we had to do it again in order to get them back to the U.S. This time it was around $6,500. And that’s just for the plane tickets, so in total, including all the vet bills and tests, we probably spent around $16,000. 😅 (Yes, we call them the million-dollar pups. LOL.)

I’m always an emotional basket case when my dogs are traveling, (or when they’re in the care of anyone else but me or Clayton to be honest.) Koda and Keira are both Siberian Huskies; (re: escape artists that don’t come when they’re called and if they get out you’ll likely never see them again. #gonewiththewind) Kiera escaped our house the first day we got her, and Koda has escaped numerous times.

When we lived in Florida, Koda dug a hole under our fence and then proceeded to dig a hole under two of our neighbors fences, and created a path to play with both of their dogs. (Thankfully our neighbors were okay with it and left the fence posts down, and it was a blast!) 🤣

Koda also managed to break out of the dog board-training school in Okinawa while we were home in the U.S. for the Holidays, and an Okinawan policeman rescued him. I was freaking out, of course — but God was watching over him. 😅 I’m thinking it’s about time I start a blog called “The Koda Chronicles.”

Anyways, back to the dog transport situation. They flew from Okinawa to Tokyo, stayed the night in a boarding facility, and then flew from Tokyo to Houston.

 

2020 Life Update: Shipping the pups

2020 Life Update: pups home

2020 Life Update: Shipping the pups

 

Wildly enough, not TWO days after the dogs landed in Houston, ALL pet transport from Japan to the U.S. was cancelled. Banned. Stopped. Halted. Done for. And there wasn’t any way around it.

Hopefully you can tell from this first chapter of my 2020 update that God truly was ordering our steps, you guys. I give all the glory to Him.

 


Chapter 2: Leaving Active-Duty Military Life, For Good

Military life is all Clayton and I have ever known. (Well, he’s been the one in it, I’ve just been supporting behind the scenes on the home front.) We were in a long-distance relationship for 7 years, because of his military involvement and training schools all over the world. We were able to end the distance once we got married, because I was finally able to go with him.

I vividly remember one morning when Clayton was home on leave during the Holidays. We were at church and were talking to our pastor after the service. He said something that neither of us have ever forgotten. He said, “Don’t be afraid to come home.” At the time we didn’t fully understand what he meant, but we never forgot that statement.

After being in Okinawa for about two years, we started to think about what our plans were going to be once our time there was up. Clayton was on a three-year tour, but not only that, his enlistment contract was up. So he either had to re-enlist, and we’d be sent wherever the military wanted us to go for the next four years (which could’ve been overseas again,) — or we’d jump ship; out of the comforts of a guaranteed job and steady paycheck.

About a year before we left Okinawa, Clayton’s leadership started asking what our plans were. They needed to know in order to start processing it, whichever decision we made. We weren’t sure yet, because of the severity of what each choice would mean. If we chose the military route again, we’d be sent who knows where and for who knows how long. If we chose to get out completely, he’d be ending a 10 year career that he’s shed blood, sweat, and a whole lot more sweat over. (The job he had in the military only 5-10% of the guys who trained for it ever actually made it through!) He’d also be jumping into the unknown, and in a major “what now” situation.

We thought long and hard, and ultimately decided we’d see what his orders said, when we got them. We knew he’d be due for them soon, so we waited and simultaneously started exploring other options outside the military. We landed upon one that interested us quite a bit, it would be a 4x pay raise, and would