This past January, we wrote about our word for the year: Surrender. It's been written in dry erase marker on our bathroom mirror ever since. This year, we have practiced keeping our hands open & hearts listening to the Lord's leading. (If you haven't read about how the Lord moved us to choose the word, "Surrender", click here!)
Before we go too much further, we want to acknowledge, that everyone's story is different. The Lord chooses to make us all walk different paths & not one of them is the same. We remember graduating from college, getting married, being more in love than ever, & looking at the great big world with wide eyes! We asked ourselves, "Where will the Lord take us? What does He have for our story?"
Fast forward to our move to Greenville, SC in 2013 & we felt the Lord move in our hearts to love others through photography. Little did we know that He had something great in store for us. We have moved slowly through this little business venture - truly believing that slow growth is healthy. Building a company takes time & SO much energy. Every time we had a question or concern, the Lord answered & always provided. But this past winter left us exhausted & burned out. We looked at one another, unsure of what 2017 held, but knew we couldn't keep up the rat race for much longer.
This year we have grown our team & learned about outsourcing. (Praise the Lord for others who's gifts lie in the same space where we are weakest!) But there was still a gap. A gap of not letting go & truly surrendering - trusting the Lord with our everything.
In January, I wrote:
I (JP) can't quite tell you exactly how it happened, but it was an early, cold morning & I was going through my normal morning routine, when I felt the Lord nudge me. It wasn't uncomfortable. It wasn't even hurtful. In fact, it was so gentle, I almost missed it. I felt the Lord ask me, "Why? Why JP? Wouldn't it be easier if you let me take care of you? Wouldn't it be less exhausting if you didn't have to do all of this on your own? Please let me help you. Fall into my arms. I love you! You will have far more peace & joy than trying to do it all on your own. Surrender."
We were white knuckling - white knuckling our time, the success of our company & our family's future. We did not make time for talking about when we wanted to have children, because goodness, who has time for that when you are running a company together?
Ryland, gently & softly finally approached me one afternoon. "Dear, what are you afraid of? What is holding you back?"
"Oh my love. So many things. How can I love you & a baby? Is my heart even large enough for that? How can I balance loving those around me & a baby? What will time look like? What will it feel like to be pregnant? Does it hurt?"
So many thoughts of pride & selfishness that I continued to bury deep inside of me until the one who loves me, saw right through me & broke in.
"JP, we are in this together! It's not all on you! Let me help you. Let me take care of you when you are sick. Let me take on a few more tasks for our company. Let me love you when you have nothing left!"
A few months later, we finally let go. We wept & asked the Lord to provide a baby in His timing, not ours. It was a Friday morning when I felt it. I was so sick - & not the kind of sick that I was used to or had ever felt before. Ryland had left early for work that morning & when he came home, I threw the pregnancy test at him! I was shocked, scared, sick, & overwhelmed. (Not the beautiful picture you have in your mind about how that moment will unfold!)
"You did this to me! It's all your fault!" I spent the next hour weeping in his arms. Weeping for joy. Weeping because I was scared. Weeping because I already felt my heart expanding to love another - our baby. And it hurt & was wonderful all at the same time.
We walked in a fog over the next few weeks, too shocked to tell anyone! It was our little secret to keep & for the first time in a long time, it felt good to have one piece of something to ourselves. Slowly, we started sharing the news with our friends & family. And here we are 17 weeks in & finally having the courage to share with you all - our dear friends & followers - the gift that the Lord has given us.
It will be one year from the time the Lord asked us to surrender - January 2018, that Lord willing, we will welcome our first child into the world. Are we scared? Um, yes! Do we know what we are doing? UM, NO! Walking by faith is THE scariest & we are not pretending that it is easy. But we are here, resting in His plan & not ours.
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for following along, for loving us & supporting our company. We look forward to serving you as a family of 3 in 2018! Praise be to Him who is ever faithful & will never leave our sides!
Ryland, JP, Scout, & Baby Rainsford