We are so blessed to have so many of Lesa’s California/Oregon family members visiting us this week!
We did some exploring today around Hershey and Harrisburg and it was so fun to show them our world, our lives here.
I began a new chapter in my life this week – moving from unemployment/temporary work to a new, “permanent” position.
I had a difficult time in the weeks leading up to this new beginning as I was unsure of whether or not I should have accepted the position. It didn’t have anything to do with the job or the employer itself – it had everything to do with a “fear of commitment” in regards to jobs that I didn’t know I had developed. It had everything to do with past scars caused by some awful supervisors that I’ve had in the recent past. And it also had everything to do with the fact that this isn’t my “dream” – this isn’t what I feel so passionate about, and I was afraid that taking this job would prevent me from further pursuing that which God has placed in my heart. Essentially, I was afraid of what might be around the corner and I was afraid of making the wrong decision.
From the very first hour of my new job I began to see that the negative things about my past job are nonexistent here. From the smallest to the largest things, God has redeemed my employment situation. I also began to see that I had built a wall around my heart during my last job that was preventing me from being excited/feeling blessed about where God has brought me now. I didn’t realize that I had done this, but God is using new experiences each day to slowly remove one brick at a time, which is showing me just how high the wall had become. Still, even now, I am having a hard time letting myself be excited and letting myself just accept that God has brought me to a place where I am needed, wanted, affirmed, empowered, treated with respect, included…
Looking back (hindsight is 20/20, after all) over this past summer, there is no doubt in my mind that everything God allowed to happen was incredibly intentional:
May 17, 2013: Laid off from HE&R (SO THANKFUL!!!!), beginning a time of solitude, reflection, unknown, and healing.
At the same time, Brennan and I are beginning to feel that we shouldn’t be “regular relief houseparents” at the Milton Hershey School anymore due to family/church circumstances…we begin praying.
June/July: Able to do photography for Christian Retreat Center‘s camps because I was laid off, reminding me of my love for photography.
June 25: Jon Acuff sends out an email/blog post/tweet about joining him on an adventure and I accept.
Brennan and I decide to try to become “emergency relief” at MHS which would allow us to be home each weekend (unless called) and would allow us to still be involved with the students.
July 15: “The START Experiment” begins…my risk was to focus on self-discipline after several months of not-so-subtle nudging from the Lord…
July-August: I realize through the START Experiment and the accompanying community what my dream job really is and I begin to pursue it. I start Essential Harrisburg and begin sending my portfolio to potential organizations.
I also interviewed for this new job at MHS in August.
We are told that we wouldn’t be allowed to be “emergency relief” due to the number of couples already in that status. I also find out from HR a few days after my interview that I cannot accept a potential job offer from MHS if we are still “regular relief” because of the number of hours I would be working.
We are faced with an incredibly difficult decision to either quit or stay on as “regular relief”…
One Sunday, while covering a student home, my supervisor “just happens” to come by and I am able to pour my heart out to him regarding all of this and our desire to stay on with the school as houseparents.
We find out on September 3 that we have been granted “emergency relief” status…and an hour later, I am offered the job that I later accepted.
September 12-17: I had the incredible privilege of attending “The START Conference” in Nashville, TN and finally got to meet some of the amazing friends I made through “The START Experiment” and was able to further clarify my “dream” and made some connections with professionals in that field. AMAZING. I came home filled with energy, excitement, peace, and even more trust in what God is doing behind the scenes.
Our God is not a God of coincidence. Nothing that happened this summer is a coincidence.
If I had not been laid off…if I had not accepted Jon’s offer of adventure…if…
This new chapter of life is still very new, and my future is still very “fuzzy” and obscure, but I already feel so at peace.
I know that God has placed the dream in my heart to travel around the world, taking pictures and telling stories, and I have no doubt that He will bring that to fruition in His timing. For now, I am going to do my best here, at a job about which I am passionate, telling the story of Mr. & Mrs. Hershey and their incredible generosity and legacy, while waiting for whatever God might have in the future.
“Don’t ask what the world needs.
Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Tonight I attended a meeting of the Harrisburg Social Media Club after being invited by a fellow Start Experimenter who lives nearby. I went on behalf of Essential Harrisburg in hopes that I could learn more about how to utilize social media for my “business” and do some networking.
I assumed that it was going to be like a class where we all sit quietly and learn. I had no idea that they would ask us to introduce ourselves and our organization! So, in front of 30 strangers, I introduced EssentialHarrisburg.com and gave a brief description. That was slightly nerve-wracking – but not because of the public speaking element. Up until that moment, my website had existed only on Facebook in “safe” circles: friends, family, and the Start Experiment community. Now, there are strangers–businesspeople in the surrounding area–who know about it and could possibly check it out. And in the moment, I briefly questioned whether or not I even belonged there…whether or not my idea had value in the world. Fear strikes at the most inconvenient times. 🙂
This is exciting, but it also reminds me of how much work needs to be done to generate quality content. Also, I need to get business cards. I wrote that down on my to-do list last week and spoke with a friend about creating a simple logo for me…now I am very aware that I need to get those done as soon as possible so that in moments like the one tonight, I have something tangible that I can hand out to keep the idea fresh in the recipient’s mind.
I also sent my portfolio and an application to a missions organization tonight to possibly help them out with photojournalism. I’m pretty excited about this organization because they offer very unique service opportunities that would be perfect for Brennan and I to do together.
This thing is real. It is actually happening.
It begins again: 24 days of focused and audacious dreaming and risk-taking. Round One of The Start Experiment brought me such freedom and courage, and I am beyond excited to see what happens next.
My risks for the first round were focused on self-discipline (physical and spiritual), and I am going to continue those elements through this next round (and hopefully for the rest of my life). I will continue to eat clean, exercise, blog, and spend time with God each day.
As a result of the connections made in Round One, I was able to focus in more on what my dream is and what it is going to take to make it a reality.
I asked myself this question: if I could do anything at all for the rest of my life, regardless of whether I made money or not, what would that be? And the answer is this: I would travel around the world and take pictures in order to tell the stories that need to be told (i.e. missions, disaster/response, capturing God’s Creation, etc.).
That led me to create Essential Harrisburg. I realized that, through this new blog/website, I have an opportunity to grow my skills, increase my audience, share my city with the world, and use this as a way to serve the city in a new way all without having to fly anywhere. I needed to Start somewhere, so I decided to Start in my own backyard.
This leads to what I am risking for round two. The theme is “Audacious” and we were encouraged to be radical, to be risky and do something that really scares us. So, here’s what I’m going to do:
The next 24 days are going to be amazing…I just know it. I can’t wait to see what God does through this!
On July 30, 2012, I put a note in my brand-new smartphone (my first one) about a new project that I thought about starting:
One year went by, exactly, before I thought about this idea again. I totally forgot this note existed, and I only found it because I went to leave a note about the same thing.
One thing that the Start Experiment has taught me is that procrastination needs to no longer be part of my life. This is a huge example! A year ago I had an idea to jump-start my “dream” and I totally forgot about it. Who knows where I could be right now if I had Started right then?
Essential Harrisburg is now up and running, and I have probably a year’s worth of content already lined up! I’m trying to find my style and my voice, but I didn’t want to wait until it was perfect to Start. I can always go back and edit along the way 🙂
Please check out EssentialHarrisburg.com and “Like” it on Facebook! Follow it on Instagram #essentialharrisburg 🙂 Spread the word! Send in ideas for content (must be locally owned and operated places only–no chains). I’m so excited to spread the word about my community and learn even more in the process.