A new season is coming,
one that I’ve alluded to for almost a year. I wanted so badly to transition more quickly (don’t we all?), but I’ve come to learn that you can’t rush your way through a season and still receive all from it that God intended. I attempted to give explanations to others before I had them in full, but I did the best I could to help others understand. Most people close to me have gotten bite-sized snippets of my transition and new vision because that’s the best I had to offer at the time.
Even though I was tempted to take a quicker route out of this transition season, ultimately I chose to remain in my wilderness season seeking the purposes God had for me in it. Trusting that any challenge He brings me to, in the fullness of His time, He will send me out with His power and love.
When I first began writing this post out late last fall it was likely one of the hardest posts I had attempted to write. Not because what I’m sharing is difficult for me to share, but because I deeply want to communicate as much as I can about my story (God’s story) and why this transition is happening without leaving anything important out, and most importantly, while pointing to how incredibly good God is! One thing I’ve learned recently is that successful decision makers always have a story to tell in the process of making big decisions. So here’s my story…
For ten years I was a wedding and portrait photographer.
I built my business while in high school, college, marriage, and transitioning into motherhood and while raising our two boys – now five and almost three. We moved twice, my husband changed careers, we walked through losses in our family and close friends’ families. We gained family and friends and community in such amazing quality only God could have dreamed them up for us.
When I was a teenager with zero business experience and wild-eyed wonder to entrepreneurship I dreamed of owning a “cute” studio in downtown Westminster. Mostly because of my desire to “be successful”, but in the seven years of that dream growing in my heart the realization of how it would serve my clients and better suit the dynamics of my growing family became the main reason I continued to pursue the dream, not for how I thought it would reflect on me. It would just be a cherry on top to have a beautiful space. This part of my story is about God teaching me what true success is and how much He delights in fulfilling the desires of our hearts, even when they’re in-part immature.
About seven years later God blessed me with a beautiful studio space that I share with my dear friend Marcie. (It’s only beautiful because of her!) This gift was literally dropped in our laps through blessing and divine favor. It’s one God story after the next! Here we are almost three years of enjoying that beautiful space and serving our clients there. But, my absolute favorite part of having the Studio on Center Street is the community. We had the ability to host gatherings for our women in business friends and do REAL community there. That inspiring space was the holy ground that God met with us. And our friends were able to enjoy it as much as we did. We laughed, cried, grew, and healed there TOGETHER.
God taught me that the blessings He’s poured out on me are not just for me and my family, they are for others… my people.
True success is getting clear about your values and honoring them in everything you do. I’ve learned what success IS and ISN’T for me. Success is internal – it’s being obedient to God and living in His Kingdom (which is righteousness, peace, and joy) and success is NOT having all the things on the outside that the world deems to be “the good life”. Success to me is choices now that reflect an eternal perspective and building a legacy for my family, the Body of Christ, and future generations. And it’s NOT striving for the next rung on a never-ending ladder to nowhere. In the area of my business, success has looked like putting my family ahead of work and stewarding my blessings both for my family and others by freely inviting others into my blessings. Nothing is really mine anyway.
Last summer (2017) I had a semi-major health crash due to Thyroid disease, stress, and a less than ideal diet which pushed me to cry out to God for a change. At the point of my desperation I was finally ready to listen to what I had already felt was coming for a few years. Last summer God told me to stop taking wedding inquiries, clear my calendar of obligations for 2018, and walk in faith. For anyone who is a service provider you know how major of a leap of trust that is. Weddings were my main source of income for almost ten years. My last wedding was in October of 2017 and it was the perfect one to end off on! The couple, the family, the team, the weather, the location… everything was dreamy and lovely and so bitter sweet.
Ultimately, my health was not the deciding factor in leaving weddings, listening to God’s leading was. It just happened to be the thing that finally pushed me to the end of myself. I’m incredibly grateful for the 10 years I had in wedding photography, for God’s abundant provision through everything – between pregnancies, injuries, and major family circumstances, I was always able to show up to do my job. I’m SO grateful for the friends I’ve made, both clients and creative industry peers.
Another reason I’m grateful for the past 10 years of business experience is because of the incredible lessons learned. There are way too many to list here, but that may be a good topic for a blog series one day ;)
God is shifting my mission and vision for my life and my business, which I will be sharing about VERY soon! For now I can share that I will no longer be photographing weddings, and will likely only be photographing newborns and families for a season. Honestly, I’m unsure how short or long that season may be. So I am still taking newborn and family photography clients for the time being if or until I hear from God that season is over as well. I’m excited to be able to pour more of my heart, time, and talents into families and moms and celebrate one of God’s greatest gifts – life and family! There is another BIG piece to “what’s ahead” that I will be sharing very soon!
To everyone who has supported me in one way or another for the past almost 11 years I’m grateful beyond words!
My family, friends, and clients-turned-friends mean the world to me. From either trusting in me to photograph your wedding, family, or simply encouraging and praying for me in my journey – each piece that you’ve trusted me with and encouraged me in has helped to build the woman that I am today.
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:18-19
And with that I will leave you in suspense until the reveal of what’s next! In the meantime, you can stay connected the following ways:
Instagram: @jennashriver https://www.instagram.com/jennashriver/
Facebook: @JennaShriverPage https://www.facebook.com/JennaShriverPage/
To inquire about newborn or family photography:
I’m excited to share some of my favorite portraits taken recently by my dear friend Beth Toblewski of Beth T Photography
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