This is a page now on the blog, but I wanted to post it for those of you who might not browse around enough to find it...for some reason it's important to share this today. So many of you ask, so here it is...the long version. If you ask me during a session you get the short version.
I'm just amazed at what God has done in my young life. This is my journey as a believer and pursuer of God's will.
After high school I attended my "last choice" college. I remember hunting and applying for schools. I remember the disappointment of a promised track scholarship, falling through. At this time in my life I remember very clearly my parents declaring that I should trust in the Lord.
After an entrance to Clemson University as a wildlife biology major, and barely passing my first biology course, I quickly switched my major to graphic communications. I'll never forget how easy that transition was, and how well I did in gc. So well, that I continued through summer school and headed straight for my internship.
It was at this time that I saw a major shift in God's plans versus my plans. I was 2.5 hours away from home, working in an unfamiliar place, staying with another intern who I had never met. I can say that because of all the new circumstances I was in a place of desperate need. To be reminded of God's promises of comfort and peace. It was during these 5 months of internship that God was shaping my heart to be more like His, shaping my mind to see what He wanted for my life. At this time my path crossed with a dear friend that I've barely talked to since, Heather. Thank you Heather for being a shoulder during a difficult time.
So, I was interning and HATING it! My job was technical writing in a cubical all day. I wanted to be in the design and graphics department, but that wasn't part of the job they had outlined for the intern. I met some great people and maybe it was this that helped me finish strong.
During this time my high school boyfriend and I went our separate ways. I can remember being so mad, not understanding God's plan. At this very low point in my life God did major work on my heart and led me to truly the most exciting time in my life. Thank you "high school boyfriend" for breaking my heart, I truly mean that, not sarcastically.
In these interning months, I also had the opportunity to take my first overseas mission trip. We went to help construct a youth camp in Paraguay. This CHANGED my life forever. I'll never forget those long hot days working with Maria in the kitchen, preparing tortillas first thing for brunch. Cooking with her from fresh ingredients...I mean fresh...from the market...cutting up the chicken. Taking siestas on the orange tile floor with the fan blowing in our faces, somehow it was comfortable. I'll never forget the ring I was given by Gustavo one night under the stars, unknown to me that it was a ring of promise. A promise of a return which I never kept. I'll never forget that awesome night of devotion where God spoke to my heart to share, a night that I later learned changed the heart of a man.
After the trip and internship, I returned and finished one more semester at Clemson, in early childhood education, switching my major because I hated my internship so much, then transferred to the University of Nations, and studied in New Zealand. This discipleship course ruined me for everything ordinary.
The experiences I had while studying the bible for 3 months with 30+ other students from all over the world was indescribable. From here I went to China, back to NZ, to a fun 2 week hitch-hike around Australia (stupid when I think of it now, thanks Jarrett), then back to South Carolina. Those 6 months did something to my heart. Changed it forever. Gave me new direction. New desires. Bigger dreams. More passion.
From South Carolina I traveled to study in Norway, Ethno-linguistics and Culture. The teachers and leaders of this course have since been incredible encouragers in my life and examples of following Christ no matter the cost.
After 3 months in Norway, I thought it was God's plan for me to work on the Amazon, in the area of language. So I made the trek to the small base of Porto Vehlo. After just a few weeks I knew I wasn't where I needed to be. If you know me you know I like to rough it and tough it. I struggled with why things weren't working out. Why I wasn't feeling peace when God had provided the way.
It was before this trip that I had met, my now husband, Scott. I struggled with the fact that maybe I just wanted to return because I missed him. After a lashing from my leader, concerned about my intentions, a long talk with a couple other teachers about my sincerity and honestly desiring God's will for my life...and much prayer, I called my travel agent to change my return ticket for that week.
Another low point in my life. I was devastated. That's the only word I can find to describe it but it was really so much more. It was like that moment when you are so disappointed but know that they'll be peace if you can just make your way through all the despair. I was sitting in the airport and saw an outdoor photography magazine. I bought it and started to flip through it's pages, just needing a moment to see something beautiful. Reading every inch trying to kill the layover time, I ran across an ad about how to start a photography studio. It's funny when I think about it now, that all of "this" came from that one moment, that one ad, that one disappointing return...but then I think it really came from so much more. The long trail of circumstances, chance meetings, God's plan and path that I had been traveling.
As soon as I was back home, I approached my sister-in-law and asked if she would like to start a studio together. We both had cameras and loved to photograph. She was also working in graphic design. I shared with her that my desire was first missions, but that I could see where photography and having our own business would give me the opportunity to be more involved in missions.
So we began the studio, Captured Moments. We were part time for a couple of years, and during that time I married the most loving and trusting man I've ever met, Scott. He has from day ONE always supported me and my crazy ideas. Right after we were married we went to Norway together, where we helped with the Ethno-Linguistics and Cultural Studies course. Three months was a long time for Scott who had never been overseas before, probably a bit much for his first trip. He hasn't been out of the country since, but his day is coming again, I know.
Not long after these events my brother and his wife finally had their miracle, Molly. It was with the birth of Molly that Julie decided to be a mommy full-time and since I've changed the business name to Tiffiney Photography.
In between, our honeymoon mission trip to Norway and now, I've had many opportunities to travel overseas with my local church. I've had other opportunities to travel back to Brazil. Some that have worked out and others that have fallen through. In the mix of all of this I've had various opportunities to speak about what God has done in my life and what He is doing around the world.
This brings me to NOW. It's been a busy summer. Busier than normal. Every year my business grows and I'm thankful to God who is the inspiration of it all. As my business grows I can see its purpose grow. There is a bigger purpose for my photography, I am convinced. I'm learning that His purpose may not be my idea of purpose. Everyday I trust God to show me what he wants with my talents.
Sometimes I think of this journey as a disappointment to those who ask...sometimes I desire to say I always knew I would grow up and be a photographer...but that's just not the case. I had no idea that this was the path God wanted for my life, but I am so thankful that he has blessed me with a gift that I can share with the world.
I can't begin to describe the incredible people God has put in my path since opening the studio. I was just talking with Scott the other day that I can't imagine my path not crossing with you guys, my clients, who have become such a special part of my life. I love watching you marry, watching your family grow, your kid's parties, and even the sad moments. To be a part of your lives is a very special gift that God has given me. To talk with you about your dreams of a beautiful wedding celebration, to the struggles of trying to conceive.
I wouldn't take nothing for this journey. No wealth or worldly fame.
I'm standing on the promises (thanks Chucky) that God is going to do even better and new things.