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3 Goals that Led us to our Dreams

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I wrote this post back in January but never published it.  Today I came across it and thought about updating it in light of our announcement on Monday, but I don’t think I can.  Instead, I think there’s a bigger story here.  I’ll share that at the end.

January 2015
Yesterday at 12pm I was chopping peppers, my daughter was running around pretending to be Elsa, and my husband walked in the door for lunch.  We’re chatting, laughing, and generally having fun.
What the heck?  Seriously?  On a Thursday afternoon my whole family gets time to hang out, eat, and giggle together?  Is this my real life?  Yes, yes it is.
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Us in Greenville, SC – 2010
I’m crazy thankful for it, and trust me, every day is not like this.  But it’s pretty awesome when it does happen.
We’ll be celebrating 9 years of marriage this summer and it’s kind of crazy to think about our journey to get to where we are now.  Six years ago I was in a job that I hated.  My co-workers were great, but the actual job was just not something that inspired me.  It was 100% commission door-to-door sales in Atlanta.  I can’t even begin to tell you how difficult it was.  The economy was terrible and it was the first full time job I’d found.  At least there was a chance of making really good money there, and my boss was nice.  I still kept my pizza delivery job on the side.  A few months later, Josh started working there, too.  Did I mention that we shared a car?  He was a gentleman and let me use the car, so that meant he was doing door-to-door sales on foot, carrying everything he needed for the day.
We needed business clothes– suits — so we went to Goodwill and stocked up on everything that fit.  Did we look awesome?  Not really, but we did the best we could.  Because Josh walked everywhere, he went through shoes like nobody’s business.  It was crazy!  And nice business shoes are expensive.  Again, we did the best we could.  We both wore shoes until the holes just couldn’t be patched anymore.
It was in those days that I knew I wanted the future to be different.  I didn’t know when or how, but I knew that we couldn’t move forward in life unless we were promoted or got a different job.
Two years and one state later, we sat down at a Mexican restaurant in Columbia, SC on a Sunday afternoon.  Josh played keyboard for Newspring Columbia that day and I had recently started a new job through a temp agency.  We had just paid off all our debts (and bought Josh two new suits!) and we started dreaming.
— Side note:  My best friend in high school’s parents were dreamers, too.  They’d say, “We’re going on a drive!” and the kids would all sigh because they knew that meant their parents were dreaming up big plans, and it almost always involved moving.  At first I thought they were overreacting– until they moved across town a few months later! —
Us?  We’re exactly like that.  And on this particular afternoon, I had an uneasiness in my heart.  I knew God was about to do something big and it was probably going to be scary.  I mean, we hit our goal of being debt free, so that meant God was just going to give us something else to occupy our time. :)
And sure enough… before I even realized what was happening, I said, “I think you should quit your job.”
— Another side note:  I like safety and stability, so quitting a job isn’t really something I would ever EVER suggest. —
Josh protested at first, but by the time the food came, he had decided.  He knew I’d never suggest that for my own benefit.  He put in his two week notice that week.
I told my friends at work.  They were pretty shocked considering it was a temp job and I could literally be relieved of my work at any moment.  But I knew we were doing what God had told us to do.
Ten days in to his two week notice, Josh got a call from Waters Edge Church.  Two months later we moved to Virginia and he started his new job.
Moving a photography business to a new state wasn’t the most ideal thing in the world, but it worked.  And it’s clear we are meant to be here.  I worked another job while building my client base back up, and it was a thrilling day when I was able to turn in my notice there.  It was also sad, because I truly loved my boss and co-workers, but they knew that day would eventually come.
I hope our story inspires someone out there.  Yes, your job may be awful, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t live your dreams.  Each day moves you forward, and each step puts you a little bit closer to your goal.  And that job that I hated so much?  It absolutely taught me many of the skills I need to run Fowler Studios.  Six years ago I had no idea this was my goal.  All I wanted was to not have to work 50+ hours a week just to make ends meet, and I wanted a kid.  Sure, those goals seem low now, but at the time, they were quite lofty.  And the funny thing is, we still work just as much, but we enjoy it now and it doesn’t seem like work.
If someone had told me back then that I’d be a wedding photographer in Hampton Roads, Virginia, I would have just sat down and cried tears of joy.  Heck, I kind of want to do that now!  But six years ago that seemed so far away– so impossible.  And now?  It’s reality.

——

Now let’s fast forward 7 months to this week.

Oh the irony of that post!  At that time we didn’t know where this year was going to lead.  We didn’t know that in May Josh would be turning in his resignation and October would mean we’re both working full time for Fowler Studios.

I can boil it down to a few key goals that have led us where we are today.  To a place where we’re able to keep our living expenses low and place a priority on family time.  A place where we don’t mind going to work because it’s a thrill and an honor.  This isn’t a formula for success or anything, but it’s what has helped us get this far in life:

1)  Trust God.  For some this is easy, for others it’s the hardest thing in the world.  I waver back and forth, but the one thing I know is that every time we’ve truly felt Him calling us to do something crazy, we’ve always landed on our feet and had an incredible support system come out of the woodwork.  It’s hard to listen, but when you really start to work on it, you’ll discover some incredible things!

2) Live simply.  Our friends go back and forth between loving us and hating us for this one!  We are big fans of Dave Ramsey and being debt free.  Sometimes that means going to the park for a picnic instead of a dinner date, but the payoff is always worth it.  When we lived in Atlanta, our co-workers went out every Thursday night to a restaurant, but our food budget was $20 a week and there just wasn’t much wiggle room!  We often just got water and left a few dollars for a tip.  We also drove my high school car up until this summer.  It had 320,000+ miles on it and when we bought a new one, we were able to pay cash for a Nissan Cube.  We had a few people who acted as if we were rolling in money, but the truth is, when you drive the same car for 14 years, you tend to save enough money to cover the cost!

3) Focus on what is important.  Josh & I have wildly different goals in life, but we both agree that family is incredibly important to us, and if we don’t have that, then nothing else will be worth it.  When we write our goals, we start with what we really want– what is most important to us.  Often I’ll say, “But that’s impossible” and Josh looks at me and says, “But what if it’s not?”  For me, it’s terrifying to set a really big goal, because what if we don’t reach it and get super discouraged?  But Josh is right… what if we never set the goal and never even try?

I don’t have an awesome way to wrap up this post, but I do want to encourage you today.  You absolutely can reach your goals– even the huge ones that seem out of the question.  One day at a time.  This journey for us really started 8 years ago.  I’m so excited to see where the next 8 years lead us!

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