I have been thinking a lot lately about the wonderful way that God has orchestrated my passions and purposes in life. As if often the case, it is only in hindsight that we can marvel at His work and see His guidance and clear direction. But most recently, it has clearly moved me in new directions. It's as if puzzle pieces are slowly falling into place.
A quick recap of the first puzzle pieces.
About 15 years ago I became a high school English teacher and field hockey coach at The Hill School. I absolutely loved being with high school students, but never really felt the classroom part of it. I loved connecting with teens, guiding them, building them up, spending time with them- but I hated grading papers!
On a great side note, I met my husband at Hill (he was/is also a teacher)!
Flash forward a few years, and our family went from two to three, then four, and finally five. I stepped out of the classroom to be a full time mom and loved it! My children were truly my passion, my greatest joy, and I loved being home with them. People would ask if I missed teaching and I would never hesitate. I never missed the classroom.
But I did miss the students.
As more years passed and my babies grew, I discovered a new passion- portrait photography. I won't bore you with the story, but I quickly realized that this was what I longed to do with my professional life and that I was pretty good at it.
More than anything, I loved capturing the beauty of those around me, and I loved showing people how amazing and precious and beautiful they were.
And then the two pieces came together and I realized that God had given me these two passions to fit together- portrait photography and high school seniors. And the match was made. And I loved it!
It has been an awesome gift for me to spend time with teens (without having to grade papers!) and to bring out their beauty, their power, their confidence. Capturing their spirit in portrait helps me empower them and show them how amazing they are. With each high school session and with each senior portrait, I love this journey more and more.
Most recently though, I have had a new puzzle piece enter the picture. My own children are growing and my oldest is entering his "tween years". And as I watch him and all of his friends and classmates get older, I am realizing that this time of life is just as special, just as important, and often just as hard as the older teen years. This is a time of great uncertainty, often of awkward physical changes, and a time when these kids are starting to wonder "Am I beautiful?".
And where are they looking for the answer to that question? All too often it's the media, the teen magazines, the TV shows that tell them what beauty is "supposed to be". And all too often, they feel they're falling short.
I so love it when God puts things like this on my heart and guides me into new discoveries like this. Because the more I think about this and the more I watch it with my own precious children, I realize once again, that God has brought two major passions of my life together, in an awesome connection to the overall puzzle.
What a perfect addition to my work with high school teenagers to begin reaching out to tweens! What a wonderful way to show this age group what real beauty is- not from some magazine, but from their own images! What great lessons I can teach them about being authentic and themselves, that they need not be anything but who they are and they will be amazing!
And what better time to embrace this new path than now, as my own children approach this age!
I post this blog today as Part 1 of a multi-part blog series. It is the story behind the new vision for Jen Lebo Photography. To be sure I am not leaving my passion for high school portraiture behind! No way! Instead, I am adding to it, making it better, connecting with young kids as I have always loved to do.
And I begin with an amazing group tween session planned for this week. I cannot wait to take this vision and put it into practice, to share with everyone my desire and my passion to empower these young tweens with the right views on beauty and confidence, with the best message I can think to teach them.
They are amazing, just the way they are!
And keep smiling!