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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!



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



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!? 😎



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 be a job that was contracted out by the military, but not officially “in” the military. He would work two months overseas, and then be home for two months. It would also mean we could live wherever we wanted, which was a HUGE deal for me. You don’t get to choose where you go in the military, and are often thousands of miles away from family. So this was huge. The thought of him being home for two months at a time was also super intriguing, because with his current job at the time he would be gone for months on end, back to back.

So, he sent his resume in, assuming to hear back — but never did.

We then found out that some guys didn’t hear back about their resumes for 2-3 years. So naturally, fear started to creep in on my end about what was going to happen. 😅 We started exploring what it could look like for him to transition into the National Guard, but in a full time position. (I really wanted him to have a job where he didn’t deploy.) Turns out, he’d have to deploy with a Guard position, and we’d have to live in Kentucky. After living away from family for four years, I was way past living in a completely different state. So still, no peace about anything yet.

I remember looking at Clay and saying, “Remember those words our Pastor spoke to us years ago?” He knew exactly what I meant, and was just thinking it, too. (That’s when you know you’ve received divine revelation.) #praiseGod

A few days later, I vividly remember Clayton walking through the door, and the first words out of his mouth were, “Well… I got orders. It’s Cannon.” Cannon is the ONE place everyone prays not to get orders to. We both looked at each other and laughed in a “you’ve got to be kidding me,” way. We sure as heck weren’t going there. So I guess God made the choice pretty easy for us in the moment, out of the military it was.


A 2020 Update to our Vision

We both knew in our hearts, we wanted nothing more than to finally plant roots. And we knew we wanted it to be near my parents. For the last year, we’d been dreaming of building a house on the back part of their property. They have 21.5 acres in the country, and the back portion has a field that a house would sit perfectly on. And my Dad said he’d be more than happy to deed us that land, so we could start our lives together near them and finally have some solid ground.

So in my free time, I began drafting up house plans, researching meticulously on all things “building a farmhouse.”

I knew I wanted a modern farmhouse, with tons of windows for natural light. I wanted a U-shaped floor plan, and a breezeway that connected the house to the garage. I wanted both a front, and back porch made out of concrete. I wanted the house to be white vinyl, with a black roof and black industrial accents. I also knew I wanted the porch ceilings would be painted a light, haint blue. (It’s a southern tradition.) I wanted the master bedroom to be on the first floor, and wanted it to have a clawfoot tub and a large rainfall shower. I wanted a kitchen with marble countertops, a large rectangular island, tons of storage, a gas range and a big farmhouse sink. I wanted an open floor plan between the kitchen and living room, with a double-sided fireplace, that connected to a dining room on the other side. I wanted two, or three, additional bedrooms and a three car garage. And I wanted it on some land in the country, so I could see deer out my window while I cooked and cleaned.

Since our minds were set on getting out, one of Clayton’s teammates mentioned a job to him that he may be interested in. It was for a company called T3i; and was yet another job that was contracted out by the military. But the problem was, there were only locations in either San Antonio, TX or Arizona. So again, we wouldn’t be able to be near family, which was quickly becoming one of my top priorities. But for fear of not hearing back from any of the other jobs, Clayton went ahead and submitted an application. At this point, it couldn’t hurt.

As our departure date off island grew closer, my anxiety wasn’t taking the transition as easily as I’d hoped. I’d like to act like I had it all together and trusted the Lord, but I was scared. Fear took over more times than I care to admit, and my emotions tried (and succeeded,) to control me time and time again. The enemy tried again and again to make me doubt the goodness of God, because I couldn’t see or feel it yet (in the way I planned to.) 🙈

As a type 6 on the enneagram, I’m a type-A planner. And I simply couldn’t plan for what was ahead.


Chapter 3: Uncharted Waters

A few weeks after arriving in Texarkana, and getting off the “my little family is finally back and safe and re-united during this pandemic” high, fear started to creep in harder about what Clayton’s future would hold; on the career-front in particular. We still didn’t have any answers, and we hadn’t heard back from any of the places he had submitted resumes to; (Clayton is INCREDIBLE on paper, like… next level,) it literally made no sense.

I realize now it was just God’s way of saying, “Not yet. I have something better for you. Trust me.”

We were staying with my parents during this transition, which was such a blessing; both physically and financially. I was making enough to sustain both of us financially, but I didn’t want to have to. We’d been comfortable being a dual-income household for so long, and we have so much more to give when we are.

One afternoon, Clayton finally received a response from the company his friend had mentioned to him. After months and months of hearing nothing, we were SO excited. It was a glimmer of hope.

Originally the company only had available positions in San Antonio or Arizona, but they were in the process of trying to get a contract approved for a city that was much closer to Texarkana. The only problem, he couldn’t work for them living in Texarkana. We’d have to relocate to Little Rock. (Granted, Little Rock was only 2.5 hours away, but I think I’d had my mind so set on getting to live in Texarkana, and that’s what I thought God had planned for us.) Emphasis on, “I” thought. 🙈

We thought long and hard about it. It didn’t seem like a terrible option. But our pastor said “home,” and home was Texarkana. So could this still be God’s plan? Even if it’s not the home we thought?

… I now realize he specifically said, “Don’t be afraid to COME home.” Not, “Don’t be afraid to come home and STAY home.”

Whoops. 😂

We talked to family and friends, and they all came to the same consensus: we’d be crazy not to take it. I was fighting it, because after living thousands of miles, (it took two days and three planes just to get home,) I just wanted to be in the same town as my family.

I knew we’d be looking at having children in a few years, and I just wanted to be close to family during that season of my life. It’s all I really wanted, and I didn’t feel like it was too much to ask for. (For Clayton to have a normal job where he wasn’t gone all the time, and for us to be in the same city as my parents.) But I was starting to realize it may not be a possibility with Clayton’s job experience. There just weren’t any jobs available that he could use his skill set for in the tiny ole’ town of Texarkana.

So we decided to pray over it, and ask God to shut the door if it wasn’t of Him. The more we prayed, the more peace we had surrounding the idea of him taking a job in Little Rock; even if it meant he had to travel back and forth to Texarkana.


Keeping in Line with 2020

But the catch? The contract wasn’t approved for the job yet. So it wasn’t a “sure” thing. It was just a possibility. An option. At this point in my emotional journey, I wanted stability. I wanted concrete. I wanted “for sure.” My heart couldn’t handle much more “unknown” after the last three years. My spirit was tired.

The communication between Clayton’s contact for the job became sparse, and we’d go weeks not hearing from him when he said he’d be in touch soon. I started to spiral. I asked myself, “God, if this is of you why isn’t there more movement? Why isn’t it happening yet? We’re SO tired.”

I’m a control-person, (if you can’t tell 😂) and I was wondering why Clayton wasn’t moving. Why wasn’t he submitting more resumes? Making more calls? That’s what I’d be doing, exploring ALL my options and making. something. happen. Right!?

Well, Clayton felt differently. Regardless of the lack of communication, his spirit told him this job was going to work out, and we didn’t need to stress.

If you know Clayton, you know him to be:


      1. Hard-working. I’ve never seen him do anything halfway. He is the person who is so thorough and works so diligently, it’s inspiring. He’s the first person you’d want to call if you needed something done.


      1. Calm. He works remarkably well under pressure. He’s the person you’d want to be with if the world was ending. Even just his presence is calming.


      1. God-fearing. He is a man after God’s own heart, just like King David. He has chased the Lord and followed Him since his childhood, and He’s followed the call all over the world; through the barren, war-ridden wasteland of the middle east to the quiet countryside town we now reside in.


There’s a reason God designed the hierarchy he did, for husbands to be head of household; and by God, I am THANKFUL for it. Clayton is the greatest leader I could’ve ever asked for.

God used Clayton to carry me through this hard season, and it isn’t the first he’s had to get me through.

Praise be to the Father for His blood covenant, and the beautiful, transforming gift of marriage.


Chapter 4: Jehovah-Jireh; God will provide.

Clayton finally received the call, after a month of hearing nothing. The job was a go. The position was to be posted online soon for him to be able to apply, and they intended for it to be a direct hire. He was who they wanted. The contract was officially approved.


God created a job for Clayton out of thin air. It didn’t even exist until he inquired about it.

Divine favor.

For the first time in a year, I felt like I could breathe. Pretty soon after praising God, I was moved to worship. And the first words out of my mouth were, “Jesus, forgive me.”

I felt so deeply sorrowful for not trusting God all that time. For saying I did, but living as if I didn’t. For being a woman of little faith. That’s not who I am, and I saw how hard the devil fought for my mind and heart that season.

But God.

God didn’t punish me for my lack of faith. He didn’t get upset with me. He just showed me grace upon grace. He’s truly a good, good Dad; and He’s never not been faithful to me.

There’s still so much more to come, this was just “Part One” of my 2020 life update. In Part Two, I’ll be sharing about how God’s plans are better than our own — and can’t wait for you to read all about that!



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


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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4 Ways To Share Your Faith In Your Business

Do you ever struggle with sharing who you are in Christ in your brand?


You care so much about your work, and you know you wouldn’t be where you were if it weren’t for Jesus – so you want the world to know He’s who gets the credit. But the only issue you’re having is, how


I remember the pull. I remember feeling like God had placed it on my heart to do photography, and it was so much more to me than just taking pretty pictures of people. 


It was more than a job, it was a calling – and I was determined to do it well



faith in your business



Fast forward almost five years, and I’ve managed to build a brand on purpose-driven photography and educational resources for women of faith.


Now mind you, I didn’t figure out how to share my faith through my business overnight. It took time. It took tears. And it took a lot of “God, do this through me” kinda prayers. But over the years I’ve managed to find a balance that works really well for me and blesses each and every client I work with, (as well as the people who follow me!) 


But before we officially dive into the top four tips on how to share your faith in your biz, I wanna cue a record scratch.


Before you can bloom and start sharing your faith well on the outside (through your business,) you have to make sure your roots are healthy on the inside. 


“Okay, so what does that look like Jess?” 


Well, it’s spending time in the Word. Spending time in prayer. Talking to Jesus regularly and asking Him the best way for you to be sharing His good news, and serving those around you with your business. He’s gonna have the best recommendations around! 😉 


The truth is, your life preaches a better sermon than your lips ever will – and the way you treat the people you work with, and for – will say a lot about who, and Whose, you are. When you’re focused on the health and well being of your faith on the inside, it can’t help but radiate on the outside. Remember that city on a hill thing…? 





1. Pray before your sessions. 


This isn’t technically something you’re doing on the “outside” – BUT God will show up and show out through you in your work when you get your heart right, and eyes fixed on Him. There is so much power in prayer, and it shouldn’t ever be a last resort.


I pray before every single one of my sessions, (because truth is, sometimes I still get nervous to shoot!) You can pray before your sessions, client meetings, consultations – you name it.


Because I do this… Jesus always calms me down and allows me to end up with an amazing couple or brand – and I’m able to provide them with incredible images because I know God is at work both in and through me. “All to Him I owe.”


2. Weave wise words into your website copy & social media accounts.


An obvious way to dip your toes into sharing your faith is to weave words that other Believers would recognize throughout your website copy and social media accounts. You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones we hold really dear to our hearts. Here are a few to get your wheels turnin’:


{ Called, calling, answer the call, kingdom-focused, purpose-driven, purpose, mission, on mission, grace-filled, grace, steward, redeem – ya feel!? }


This helps you speak to what’s called your “ideal client.” And if you’re speaking to your ideal client, then it won’t be as awkward to share your faith – because they’ll likely be believers too! 


Ever heard the sayin’ “your vibe attracts your tribe?” Your kinda people will pick up what you’re puttin’ down, and those who don’t – won’t. (It’s a good thing, promise!) This is more or less a form of attracting and repelling, and boy do I wish I’d have done it from the start.


3. Change the way you share your client’s work.


If you’re a photographer and are typically sharing sessions on social media by saying something like, “Kristen and Travis’ epic anniversary shoot is on the blog, check it out,” then try instead to elaborate on who they are as a couple and how beautiful marriage is to you, or what it means to you. Here’s a screengrab of a caption I shared of a couples anniversary shoot, that weaved in some faith-bits throughout.


faith in your business


faith in your business faith in your business


4. Fuse your faith into the works of your biz


We all know that faith without works is dead, right? So, how can you do the work and actually be Jesus’ hands and feet in your biz? 


Well, there are a few ways. But one of the most important? By extending grace, even when you don’t feel like it. When you do get that difficult client (‘cause there’s one in every crowd,) give them grace. I don’t mean let them walk all over you, I just mean react in a way that Jesus would, and do what Jesus would do. You know what integrity is – operate by it. 


Another way to put faith to work is by sharing what you know – for free. (I’m not saying you have to share everything for free, all the time, but it’s a surefire way to make sure you’re keeping God first and are not only tithing financially, (which is super important too,) but tithing of your time as well. Be the person for that new biz owner that you wish you had when you started; and if you did have her, take that torch and pass it on. 


So let’s do this. Let’s run on mission. Let’s make this industry as beautiful as we know it can be. After all, we’re all just creatives meant to serve the ultimate Creator. 



Once I finally decided to embrace who I am as a whole, (the love I have for photography/education, and the stance I have on faith,) and put them all together under one brand – I’ve seriously never been happier. I just felt stifled and inauthentic when I tried to keep my faith underneath the surface and not show it. But now, it truly feels like chains have broken off and I’m able to share what’s most important to me, while also connecting with other believers in business.   


Are you struggling with sharing your faith in your business? Feel free to drop your questions or concerns below. I’d love to chat with you and encourage you!



Wanna work with me 1:1 to get my eyes on your photography business, and help you fuse your faith into your biz?


You got it, friend! Click the link below to schedule a discovery call to see if we’d be a good fit to work together! I’ll start prepping your strategy in a Google doc now! 😉🥂


faith in your business


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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Why You Should Stay In Your Own Lane To Grow Your Business

Here’s the tea, sis. ☕️ The best thing you can do when building a photography business is to stay in your own lane, with your eyes down – and DO the work. But what does that actually look like? How do we avoid comparison and create a business that’s all our own? 


What about when you want to stay in your lane, but you’re scared… because you can’t see where it’s actually going!?


It’s easier to stay in your own lane when you can see the end of the road, right? But when you’re in the thick of it, driving through the fog… sometimes it’s overwhelming. You may become tempted to take someone’s else’s goals and ideas and make them your own, (even if it’s unintentional.) Because they’ve defined that as success, and they’ve said it works… so it must be what will work for you too… right


Wrong. So unbelievably wrong, friend. But we’ll get there.  





If you’ve been around the JVP blog for any amount of time, you’ve likely seen that I’m not your typical photography educator. I operate my business from a very specific standpoint, one as a child of God. If that doesn’t vibe with you, you may not wanna take biz advice from me… because there’s gonna be a lot of faith-based advice up in hurr. 


So, here’s your chance to go find some other type of blog post about staying in your lane, I guarantee there’s a billion.   


Still here…? 


Okay, sweet. 😎 


Here are my top tips for staying in your lane:


1. Get quiet with God. Ask Him what HE wants for your life and business. Then be still, and listen. (Yes, even when it’s quiet and awkward. Keep being still.)  


It sounds simple… but how often do we actually do this? How often do we ask God what HE wants from us, instead of telling God what WE want from Him. (I’m guilty too, friend. 🙈) I’m so quick to word-vomit my business plans and goals to God, without taking into any consideration His plans for me. So this step comes first, always. Whether it’s for your photography business, or an upcoming decision in your life. Do. This. First. (Please!)


At a loss for what to even say? I gotchu. Let’s do this together. (Yes, I’m really doing this right now.) Repeat after me:


“Lord. Thank you so much for all you’ve done for me in my life and business thus far. Even though I’m not where I want to be, I know and trust that I’m exactly where YOU want me to be, and where I actually need to be. 


I forget that the “next-level” that I sometimes pray for, I may not even be able to handle yet. So thank you for your protection and divine direction. Thank you for existing in the future, and for all of those unanswered, tear-filled prayers. 


Sometimes it’s just hard, because I get so caught up in all of the noise and messages that are spoken to me through my emails and on social media, that I need to do this, and be this, and implement this before I’ll get where I want to be. 


But today I want to take a stand — with You. Today, I choose not to move until you say – “move.” I choose not to listen to another voice, or a “you should be doing this” until I know it’s sent from you. Because I now see that they’re not on the same path as me. They don’t have the same life as me. They don’t have the same calling as You’ve so graciously given me. 


So Lord — speak. I give you all authority over my life and business, and ask you to tell me what next step YOU want me to take. Help me to drown out the noise, and help me to see clearly the direction you want me to move in. And when I hear the direction, *you may need to repeat this a few times because let’s be honest I struggle here* – but when you do give the instructions… help me to have the courage to actually follow through and do it. Whether it takes faith, monetary resources, or a combination of both — help me be bold in spirit and do so with intention. Help me follow through. Help me craft a business that’s built on the solid rock — one that’s built on You, Jesus. Forgive me for my lack of faith, my lack of courage, and my lack of action. This is the year, the exact moment in time, I’m surrendering my business to you, Lord. Let it be. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.”


Because the well of that direction, all of that content preached to you from your left and right, all of it — sister it’s gonna run DRY. 


Heaven’s well; well… it won’t.


You don’t need to do anything right now. You don’t need to be anyone else. Shut the noise OFF. The only voice that matters is God’s, and the people He chooses to speak to you through. You’re right where you’re supposed to be. Inhale, exhale. 😉



Now that we’ve gotten our hearts in check, let’s chat about why Jesus wants you to stay in your own lane.


2. By staying in your own lane, God is able to give you the set of directions that were meant for you.

You aren’t concerned with following a path that wasn’t ever intended for you… therefore your “detours” and “exits” are actually specific to you and the journey He has you on.


You’re not taking wrong turns. When you route from “your current location,” to “the location you’re headed,” those instructions are specific to YOU. If someone else were to route to that same location, they would get an entirely set of different directions, because they’re both starting and coming from a different place. So why do we think our journey in business is any different…?


If the end goal is heaven’s gates, (once you’ve accomplished all God has laid out for you,) — then I guarantee the way in which you get there will, (and is absolutely supposed to be,) different than everybody else’s. Rest in that, friend. 💕



3. When it comes to both life and business goals, everybody has, (or should have) completely different ones. 


Let me demonstrate the issues of building a business with someone else’s blueprints. 


As a photographer, I know you see some of these “insta-famous” photographers, and wish your business was as successful as theirs. They’re traveling the world, booking out a year (or more) in advance, and creating work that makes you stop in your scroll every. single. time. You save them as inspiration and try to replicate them, and sometimes crumble in tears because you feel like your work will just never get there. 


But maybe you have children and a husband that you so deeply enjoy spending time with. The weekends you’re not working are spent with them, and you cherish every single moment. When asked what your top priority is, it’s them. Being a wife and a mom and raising little warriors of the Cross.


So would you actually be happy with all that traveling the world, booked up and busy would entail? Because you’re only seeing the glamorous side on the ‘gram. You’re not seeing the kids that wish they could see their mom, but “she has to work” again. And some moms that do that have children that are grown, their children are at an age that they’re doing their own things; so it fits better into their lives at this point. 


See how that’s a calling that may not be a good fit for the season you’re in right now? And you’ve already stated that your top priority is your family… so that blueprint doesn’t actually fit in with what you want out of life. 


… But because this instagram era has defined “that” as what’s successful… you think you need that too.


But you don’t. You only need to be, and do, what God has called you to do. That’s it. Because that is the ONLY journey that is truly going to satisfy. He is all that will satisfy.


I pray that this encouraged you, strengthened you, and helped you simply take a deep breath. 


I pour out my heart to you through this, because I spent a long time chasing dreams and goals that weren’t even a good fit for me. I adopted other people’s strategies as my own, and wondered why every single time I felt discouraged and frustrated that I wasn’t getting the same results as they were. Then I figured out it’s because I wasn’t supposed to. 🤯 


It sounds simple, but I truly think this narrow road… this is what it’s all about. This is where we’ll find true joy, and the success we’re seeking — and it’s where we should be focusing our efforts and energy. 


So here’s to staying in our own lane, staying in communication with Jesus — and letting him take the reins of our life and business. Here’s to breaking the mold, and re-routing. 


( loading the proverbial GPS “rerouting screen” )


It’s time to take the scenic route. This is gonna be good. 😉


Did you read this post and just about die over how accurate it was for where you’re at, and what you’re feeling? 


Well I tried hard to do that, friend. 😉 And I could, only because I’ve been exactly where you’re at. So, if after you’ve prayed that prayer, and you felt led to reach out to me to figure out where you could learn more… start with downloading this little puppy. It’s my “4 steps to becoming a successful and confident photographer,” freebie, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt — it’ll change your business. 


Here’s to new beginnings, friend! ✨


grow your photography business



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!? 😎🥂


a website for your photography business


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How I Changed My Money Mindset (and grew my bank account overnight.)

This isn’t easy for me to talk about if I’m being honest. I never knew I had a messed up money mindset.

I guess I kinda thought everyone did? I’m not sure. But I’m gonna admit – I did, and God wrecked it.

(Yes, this is definitely faith-based coaching, so if that’s not your vibe you’ll wanna move on!)

Now – this is NOT prosperity preaching. Please don’t get that confused.

I don’t believe in telling you that if you follow God you’ll become rich.

That’s not what I’m saying, and if that’s all you get from this – well, you def missed the point.

What I can do, is give you the truth: a real, raw story of my very own on how God wrecked my view on money, (and not just my view on money, but on who He is and what He actually wants for me and my business.)

And honestly? It’s a heck of a lot easier to act like I have my life together and not even bother speaking on this topic, but I don’t believe that’s what God wants from me. So here I am, being vulnerable and showing up with my real problems and messed up mindset – in hopes that you’ll be cured of it if you suffer, too. 





I heard a few things about money mindset here and there, and with each resource I read, the more I realized: my money mindset sucked, and I needed to do something about it, (or forever be a victim to the limiting beliefs I had.)

However, I can’t jump into sharing my limiting beliefs with you without sharing WHY I had them in the first place. So, here’s a little background.

I grew up with AMAZING parents. Literally incredible. And I was so blessed to have been born into a family that worked very hard their entire lives in order to provide me with the life I lived. I never went without, and I was (and still am,) blessed far beyond what I deserve – and for that, I am eternally grateful.

However, growing up in the South, (or at least where I grew up,) I always heard the words “money doesn’t grow on trees,” or “that costs money,” or “it’s important to learn the value of a dollar.” And while I believe ALL of these are beyond true statements, and I completely agree with them; it’s the tone in which they’re usually presented, (more times than not,) that carries a negative connotation with it.

I’d always viewed money as something we all needed more of and something that we’re all desperately trying to get, and that we’re constantly working hard to receive – in order to make ends meet. This is life for most of us, right?


My photography business beginnings:

After graduating from high school in 2012, I went straight to college and worked hard for four years to receive a bachelor’s of science in Mass Communication and Marketing. While I was in college, I decided I wanted to try to start my own photography business and dabbled in learning all that I could, (while I wasn’t studying for college.)

After shooting several family sessions and senior sessions, as well as my first wedding, I’d decided. This was what I wanted to do. Whatever I needed to do to make it happen, I was going to do. So I launched my photography business Facebook page, set my prices, and started charging. I’d never been more excited for my future, I’d finally found something that lit me up when I did it.

A year or so into owning my business, I remember hearing through the grapevine that some people had said I was too expensive, and that that’s why they didn’t book. (Please know this is actually totally okay, because not everyone is meant to be your client.)

But, I remember someone saying to me, “Do you really have to charge that much? Some people do it for less so that everyone can afford it. There are good people who want those kinds of pictures, but can’t afford them. Don’t you want to be that for them?”

And it got me thinking, “Is God upset with me for what I’m charging? Am I wrong for charging for my work? I know that God has given me this talent, so am I actually supposed to be doing it for less, where everyone can afford it?”

(HINT: We know as Christians that the devil LOVES to lie to us. It’s his favorite thing to do. He loves to tell us that we’re unworthy and unqualified; that we’re not good enough or smart enough, and especially not talented enough to be paid what we deserve for what we do. Please know that whatever the limiting beliefs are that you have towards yourself; they’re sent straight from the father of all lies himself.)

So I prayed and prayed, and I didn’t feel conviction for my pricing. I continued to grow in skill and in talent, and raised my prices to match, (as well as covering my costs of actually running a BUSINESS, not an expensive hobby.)

I graduated from college in May of 2016, and had about 6 months where I was working on my business and preparing to move to Florida in December after Clayton and I got married. As planned, after we got married, I moved to Florida with him and we prepared ourselves for the big move to Japan in May of 2017.

During the time I’d graduated college and was preparing to move to Japan from Florida, I wasn’t able to work on my photography business the way I’d wished, (as in actually being creative and shooting.)

Instead, this preparing season led me to focus on the back-end of my photography business, (the stuff that nobody could see.)

Therefore, I was spending more money investing in my education than I was making from shoots, (and that’s okay, but I believe this was the season of my life that the scarcity money mindset started to take root.)

I hadn’t known what it was like to not be profiting in a long time. From the moment I started my business, it took off – because it was different than what anyone around me was doing at the time, (this was in 2014-2015.)

But then, after all of the popularity my business had attracted, God had me take a backseat and build up a foundation that would be able to withstand what He would bring to it in the future, (although I didn’t know it at the time.)

Back then? It was hard. And I didn’t understand. I was angry that I had built my business to a place where I had clients pouring in, and was pumping out killer images with raving reviews to match, yet I was going to have to uproot everything and start over again. Then, it felt like moving to Florida, (and only staying there for six months, then having to move to Japan,) was wrecking it all, and I was SO hurt.


But God had a plan.

He knew what He was doing. And He also knew the hard seasons that were yet to come. (Those are another story for another time.)

Fast forward a few years, and God has brought me from glory to glory, time and time again. He has always been faithful.

I’ve also never stopped working on my business, (in some form or fashion,) regardless of what season it’s been in. Every single day, for the last five years I’ve poured my heart and soul into building this very brand that you’re now interacting with from somewhere else in the world.

This past winter was a slow season for my business. It was weird. (We all get them, although I can’t say I’m a huge fan of them.) 😉

But in January, I was confused as to why things were so slow. I know now it’s because God has called me into a season of serving and stewardship, (one in which I’ve been in for about a year and a half now.) But in January, I was burnt out. I was tired of working SO hard every day, and serving every day, and not seeing in return for it what I’d dreamed of. (I got BIG God dreams ya’ll.) Granted there was totally stuff coming in in return, I just wasn’t seeing it the way I needed to.

Here’s actual proof of this season, and how I was feeling back in January:

Do you struggle with your money mindset? Come see how I fixed my mine, and started operating out of a place of abundance instead of scarcity. Do you struggle with your money mindset? Come see how I fixed my mine, and started operating out of a place of abundance instead of scarcity.


Yup. I’m always transparent about what I’m going through with you guys, and this was tough in January.

The next day, after I’d gone out to the field (literally) to go talk to Jesus, I came back into the house, got something to drink and went upstairs, sitting down at my desk with a loud exhale.

Clayton was playing his Xbox, and looked over because he could tell I was troubled.

He told me he wanted to tell me a story.

When Clayton was a kid, he used to help his Dad out on a farm. His dad would farm crops, which meant that in each season; he was doing something very specific in order to eventually reap a harvest.

One season called for tilling the soil. They had to prep the soil, and that was their one and only goal during that time. They were prepping the soil for the next season, where they would plant the crops. (Meaning, there wasn’t anything financial coming in during this time.)

One season called for planting the seed. They had to plant the seed, and then wait for the next season.

One season called for simply waiting. They were still waiting on what they’d planted to grow.

One season was the harvest. All of the hard work was now visible, and they would reap the benefits, (physically and financially,) of all of their hard work throughout the year. They would harvest it at the right time, and the cycle would repeat itself year after year.

One season called for rest. There wasn’t much work they could do during this time, so they rested and they waited for the next season in which they could do the next thing, (which was prepping the soil for the next harvest to come.) 

We go through seasons in not only our lives, but in our businesses too.


By the time January was coming to an end, I was back in Japan and was digging back into my business workflow. I was finding areas I could cultivate and grow in order to (hopefully) make the season change come quicker.

Something I hadn’t done was set super strategic goals for my business each month. And I don’t just mean “make more money, or “book more shoots”, or “grow my email list.”

I hadn’t been setting revenue goals.

But worse, I hadn’t even asked God to help me make “x” amount of money.

Why hadn’t I asked him…?

Well, for some reason I thought maybe he didn’t care how much money I made. I don’t know. For some reason, it felt like I couldn’t go to Him and ask him to increase my revenue. I didn’t want to bother Him with that. It felt selfish and kinda un-Christianlike.

(When I say it aloud, I’m like DUH JESS, you know better than this.) But for whatever reason, I was subconsciously brushing off going to Jesus about it.

I was in group coaching in a program called Revelation Wellness, and boy, did God have me in it for such a time as this. My sweet, sweet friend (and pastor,) Heidi said that she had a word for one of us, and that she didn’t know who it was for, but the word was simply this:


God is not holding out on you. What He has already done is enough.

I immediately started crying. I knew that Word was for me, I felt it deep in my bones.

I’d been living and believing that God had been holding out on me; that He was holding all of these blessings from me until I was “ready.” I believed I had to do more, strive more, and please Him more; to be as obedient as humanly possible before He’d decide to give the blessings to me.

Friends, this goes against everything I believe and stand for as a Christian.

… But the devil knew if he presented it to me that plainly- that I’d catch on. He knew he could hide it with something as simple as money.

  • “For we are no longer under the law, but under grace.” – Romans 6:14


  • “For by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9


I didn’t have to strive for it. I simply had to ask for it, and do the work on my part while waiting for the harvest, believing in FULL FAITH that He would do what I asked.


  • “You have not, because you ask not.” – James 4:2


  • Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. – Matthew 7:7


  • “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” – Mark 11:24


  • “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” – John 15:7


The devil wanted me to not even bother asking God to bless me. He wanted me to believe it was selfish and “un-Christian-like” to ask God to bless my business financially. What even is that!?

I remember sitting down and contemplating the entire concept of asking God for an increase in finances… and this verse came to mind:

“So it is with your prayers. Ask and you’ll receive. Seek and you’ll discover. Knock on heaven’s door, and it will one day open for you. Every persistent person will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he needs. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.

Let me ask you this: Do you know of any father who would give his son a snake on a plate when he asked for a serving of fish? Of course not! Do you know of any father who would give his daughter a spider when she had asked for an egg? Of course not! If imperfect parents know how to lovingly take care of their children and give them what they need, how much more will the perfect heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit’s fullness when his children ask him.” – Luke 11:9-13


If I have an earthly Father who would do everything in his power to make sure that I succeed at what I do, and who would give me anything that he had that I needed – how much MORE will my Heavenly Abba Father be capable of helping me!?

I SERVE A GOOD, GOOD FATHER. His plans for me are GOOD. He only has plans to prosper me and give me hope, and an abundant future containing much, much more than I can ever think, ask, or imagine.

One day while I was working at my computer, I heard:

“Do you want to continue building your business – or are you going to let me do it?”

Whew. Wrecked.

Guys, could I do this by myself? Maybe. But would it go where God wanted it to? Maybe not.

And I didn’t want to have to find out the hard way.

So I decided to stop having such a messed up money mindset. I decided to stop feeling like God was holding out on me and my finances, and that He didn’t want my business to prosper in the ways I dreamed of. I decided to believe that He wanted more for me than what I could even imagine, and that it WAS coming.



After the money mindset switch, a few things were on my heart to implement. There were some things I wasn’t paying close attention to, so I started there. 

Some things I’d been neglecting in my business:

 –    Truly being a good steward of my finances (canceling unnecessary business subscriptions, stopping buying useless things or things I “want,” but don’t truly “need” to run my business, setting a business budget, etc.)

–    Setting intentional/strategic revenue goals

–    Asking for God’s help with every single thing in my business

These were things I could do on my end for the time being, and I knew they’d be beneficial to my long-term success.

So I went for it.



At the beginning of February, I decided to set strategic/intentional revenue goals for my business. 

But I didn’t just decide to set revenue goals, I set strategic revenue goals. (Yes, there’s a BIG difference.) 

For the first time, I walked through a process for how I would make “x amount of money by x date.”

So, I set an overall revenue goal, like “I will make (insert amount of $ here,) by April 1st.” (I set my revenue goals by the month, so ideally I’ll shoot to achieve them around 30 days from when I set them.)

But the goal didn’t end there. I took it a step further.

I then said HOW I was going to make that amount of money.

So my “how” usually looks something like this:

“I will make X amount of money by selling x Mina Marlena preset masterclasses, booking X photography sessions, getting X HB signups, and booking X mentoring clients – through utilizing my Instagram, facebook, email list, blog, and Pinterest strategies.

Guys. I don’t know if you realize how much this changed the game for me.

How could I expect to increase my revenue if I wasn’t even setting goals to work from!? GEEZ.

But even still, the goals didn’t end there.

I dove in and built a strategy for how I would meet each “mini-goal” inside of that over-arching revenue goal. So, there was a strategy for how I’d sell those shop products and book those sessions, etc. 

Then, there was a tacticwhich was one of the things I’d do in my “day-to-day” to-do list that would help me reach that strategy, which would then help me reach that goal. 

So in total, there was:

  • The overarching revenue goal 
    • The strategy for how I’d meet that revenue goal (the individual services/products that would help me meet the overall number) 
      • The tactics I’d implement to reach their prospective goals (for each individual service/product) 


However, it’s important to note that the final, and MOST IMPORTANT part of this process – I prayed over the numbers. 

I prayed that I would make the amount of money that I set out to make and that Jesus would help me to do it. That God would bring me the sales and the inquiries – and most importantly, that each one would change each person’s life, in big or small ways. I prayed that I would be able to meet my goal, and then be able to tithe from it – and give it back to whom it belonged to in the first place – Jesus.

I made Jesus the center of the goal… changing people’s lives the focus of the goal… and money the means to do it with.

Therefore, money was now just a means to an end, instead of the end result.

Money no longer holds the weight, or the power – it’s just a transaction.




The results:

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wake up to several new random sales and inquiries THE VERY NEXT MORNING after I sat down and ironed this stuff out.

Ya’ll… I hadn’t even had the time to implement the goals, strategies, or tactics I’d set!?!?!?!?

The only thing I did have time to do…?

Decide what I needed, pray about it – and go to bed.

Can I get an amen!?!?!

God showed up and showed out THE VERY MOMENT I decided to hand the reins over, humble myself, and tell Him I needed His help. 

Why do I think He did it before I had the chance to implement anything…?

So He could show up and say, “I’ve got this. Trust me. You can put in the work, and please do – I encourage you to. I want you to work, but know that the harvest is only coming because I’ve sent it. And I WILL SEND IT. Stop worrying, child.”

Sometimes the issue isn’t with your actual finances, but in your money mindset towards them.


By mid-February, money was pouring in and it was on my heart to truly be a good steward of my finances.

I went through and paid very close attention to the following:

  • Every single transaction going in and out of my business account, (and that had gone in/out over the past year)


  • The subscriptions I paid for, (and determined whether or not they were truly necessary, being sure to cancel those that weren’t)


  • Tracking every single income/expense in a Google sheet spreadsheet, (to be more mindful and involved in my numbers)


By keeping a close eye on these, I was able to truly see the ROI (return on investment,) for the new marketing strategies I was implementing, (the ones I had created from my revenue goal breakdown.)

I had a conversation with Jesus, and told Him that WHEN He brought the harvest this month, I wanted to send the first actual tithe from my business. (Instead of the time to time donations I’d been doing up until this point.)

I could go on and on about financial stewardship, but we’d be here all day.

In short, I got a hold on my money and started honoring God with it.


By March 1st, not only did God send the harvest and help me to actually ACHIEVE that over-arching revenue goal… He allowed me to surpass it, and see a 300% INCREASE in my revenue from end of January to end of February.

I’m still processing how He did it, and I’ll probably never know in full.

But, I can tell you I’m going to continue praying over my finances and setting strategic revenue goals for a long, long time.

… And I’m never going to feel like I can’t ask my Abba Father for help again.


If you need help building, growing, and/or systemizing your photography business, totally reach out and book a free strategy call with me. Helping you flourish is what I do best. 😉 

Do you struggle with writing instagram captions? Do you stare at the blinking cursor with intimidation? Click here for tips on writing better captions!



If ya liked this little gem, you’ll LOVE this guide on how to create a photography business with zero competition. (Cause that’s what we all want, right!?)

Do you struggle with writing instagram captions? Do you stare at the blinking cursor with intimidation? Click here for tips on writing better captions!


Wanna stick around and stay learnin’? I knew I liked ya. 😉

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!? 😎🥂    3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Photography Business


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How To Stop Comparing Yourself To Other Photographers

It’s so easy for us to get caught up in the comparison trap. In fact, it seems almost inevitable. When I ask other photographers what they struggle with most –  comparison never fails to be mentioned; usually in the form of, “How do I stop comparing myself to other photographers around me?” And it breaks my heart.

It breaks my heart because I’ve been there, and I know exactly what it feels like to try and operate, both physically and creatively, from that place. And the truth is, it’s a black hole.

You want so badly not to fixate your eyes on it and just stop comparing altogether, but it’s so hard to look away. It’s everywhere you look; on social media, in the women you pass by in the grocery store. There’s this constant nagging thought, “she’s more successful than me, she’s prettier than me, more people like her and want to hire her over me, God has blessed her more than me,” blah blah blah.

If you don’t shift your mind away from someone else’s life and calling onto your own – you’ll forever be stuck in the comparison trap – and that’s exactly where the enemy wants you.

Truth is, I can preach all the feel good, confidence building, women empowerment words out there. But comparison isn’t a surface level issue girl, and it takes some deep rewiring and rooting to get rid of.

So this isn’t going to feel good at first. It’s going to wreck you, but we’re going to get rid of this green monster for good, friend. Because you don’t have another day to waste focused on someone else’s calling or journey instead of your own.

Disclaimer: this is a faith-based post, (Christianity is at work here, friends!) So if you’re not a Believer in Jesus, this may not be the info you want, and that’s totally okay! 💕


Are you constantly comparing yourself to photographers around you? Click here to find out how I stop comparing myself to others using my faith.


I want you to visualize the followers of Christ you look up to most. Whether it be Lisa Bevere, Christine Caine, Tasha Cobbs, Havilah Cunnington, Sadie Robertson, Jenn Johnson – whatever woman (or man) of Christ you look up to most. Think about them and the fruit they bare.

Now, imagine if they spent their life stuck in the trap of comparison. 

You’d never know who they were. They are who they are because they’ve chosen to walk in THEIR purpose, stay in their lane, and live for God alone. Not that being “known,” is important whatsoever – but that’s a pretty solid example of the importance of staying in your lane; it determines the course of your life.

God can and will do HUGE things through you, but you’ve got to stay in your lane. You have to keep your eyes fixed on Him and who He has called YOU to be.

So, let’s dive into some actionable, practical ways to help us stop comparing ourselves to photographers around us.


1. Fix your eyes on Jesus.

He tells us to fix our eyes on Him, because just by doing so – we won’t fix our eyes on things unworthy of our focus.

We won’t fix our eyes on:

  • more Instagram followers
  • more money
  • to get more clients
  • more happiness
  • more gear
  • more material things
  • to get more done
  • to be better than others
  • to be perfect
  • (insert your greatest desire apart from Him here)


When our gaze is fixed completely upon Him, He lines all the rest up. He’ll help us stop comparing ourselves and focus on what truly matters.

Jesus, give us a one track mind for You. Give us tunnel vision for You. We don’t want what the world wants, we just want You.

So let “her” win the imaginary race or competition you’ve mentally come up with, (that doesn’t even exist.)

You are without rival because He has created you for a unique, divine purpose- for such a time as this.


2. Ask Him to help you.

I think sometimes we forget it’s really this simple.

It’s as simple as saying,

“Jesus… I’m really struggling.

I’m struggling with comparing myself to women around me and women in the same field as me.

I’m struggling with thinking they’re further along, better off, and more qualified.

I’m struggling with feeling like I, along with my art, aren’t good enough.

Help me to only care about You, and what You think of me.

Help me to grow in my craft and make an impact on people, for the better, with it.

Help me to stop comparing myself. 

Help me to be so on fire for You and wrapped up in Your heart and purpose for me, that I can’t even see what’s going on around me.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

If you want a more in-depth prayer to be able to pin, print out, and read daily at your desk, this one’s been highly requested and is loved by many! God gave it to me in a season where I was fighting this very thing, and I still read it aloud from time to time to check my heart. 👇🏼🖤



Are you constantly comparing yourself to photographers around you? Click here to find out how I stop comparing myself to others using my faith.


3. Seek first the Kingdom.

Remember that God tells us to “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33

Friends, “all these things” covers a lot of stuff.

It covers your wants, needs, and desires, – (quite honestly it covers much, much more than just those,) but it’s a good starting point for your mind.

  • John 15:7-11 – “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”


  • Psalm 37:4 – “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.


Rest easy in knowing that all you need to do is seek Him and His face, and He’s gonna work all the details out. He’s going to propel you into your destiny like you’ve never expected – just trust in Him.  


4. Cut it off at the root.

Satan is the father of all lies, he’s the voice in your head telling you:

  • You’re not good enough
  • She’s better than you
  • She’ll go further in her business than you’ll ever dream to
  • People want to book her over you
  • She has more clients than you and is more successful than you
  • She’s the go-to photographer in your town
  • You won’t ever be as good as her


What do we do with leaves that are dead that are still attached to our plants? What do we do with weeds that are taking up space? We uproot them, and we cut them off. 🙅🏻‍♀️

And that’s exactly what we have to do with Satan’s lies that are taking up space in our mind and heart. Ask God to help you cut these dead parts off, and replace them with His truth. Scripture can, and will, take root in place of the lies, and you’ll start to both see and feel a beautiful, Holy transformation take place in you. It is through this, and only through this, that you will truly be able to stop comparing yourself to those around you.



5. Separate your identity from your purpose.


Remember that you are who you are, NOT what you do.

You are a child of God. Period. Nothing more, nothing less.

We have a calling and a purpose and all that fun stuff, but at the end of the day – those things aren’t your identity and they shouldn’t be treated as such.

If you put your calling and purpose before your identity, you’ll forever wonder why you’re not measuring up.

You aren’t meant to be the best this, or the greatest that – you’re just meant to love and be loved by God – everything else is just a bonus.

Separating yourself from your work in this sense is so freeing. Your work isn’t your baby, it’s just an extension of you; how you see the world and how you love people. That’s it. Remind yourself why you do this in the first place, and just start having fun again.

Remember, everyone starts somewhere, and if you feel your work truly isn’t as beautiful as the photographer next to you YET, it’s because she’s further along in her journey. You don’t just start an expert. If I were to compare my work from when I first started to my work now, it wouldn’t be fair to my previous self. I had to grow and learn to get here, and that process was actually the most meaningful part. It means more than just the quality of work I create now. Embrace the journey.

Above all, it’s not a competition. It’s a process and a journey, and it can be a lot more beautiful than we’re making it. 🖤

Use these practical, biblical truths to help you stop comparing yourself. Eyes down. Focus set on Him. He’ll line all the rest up, friend.

Have any q’s about this, or just need to reach out about making these things concrete in your life? Drop me a comment below or shoot me an email to (whatever you’re more comfortable with,) and I’ll be here, coffee in hand, ready to help!



If you need help building, growing, and/or systemizing your photography business, totally reach out and book a free strategy call with me. Helping you flourish is what I do best. 😉 

Do you struggle with writing instagram captions? Do you stare at the blinking cursor with intimidation? Click here for tips on writing better captions!



If ya liked this little gem, you’ll LOVE this guide on how to create a photography business with zero competition. (Cause that’s what we all want, right!?)

Do you struggle with writing instagram captions? Do you stare at the blinking cursor with intimidation? Click here for tips on writing better captions!


Wanna stick around and stay learnin’? I knew I liked ya. 😉

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!? 😎🥂    3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Photography Business





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