I've been both dreading this post and looking so forward to it.
When our family decided to move west, back to Colorado, I began to pray over the future of Jen Lebo Photography. I had no idea what God wanted to do with my business, and whether I should continue with it, particularly since I would be heading back to teaching. A new job, a new community, a whole new world for our kids. I knew my focus needed to be elsewhere, and I was feeling led to put my camera away.
But several weeks into settling into our new place, my heart began to stir. I wanted to keep shooting. But it felt different. It wasn't the business I was missing, the excitement of sharing posts, or having clients love my work. It was the connections that God allowed me to make through my camera, particularly with teens, especially with teen girls.
The more I prayed, and the more I spent time drawing near to God, the more I felt Him assuring me that He had given me this gift of photography, but that I had been misusing it for the past few years. I had not been seeking His will, but my own. I had been listening so closely to what the world told me I needed to do to succeed in my business, and not listening at all to what The Lord had planned for me.
I began writing down all the Scriptures that God put on my heart as I prayed over my work. Seek firstthe kingdom of God, commit your ways to Him, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Write down the vision. Wait patiently for the Lord. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. My ways are higher than your ways. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as for the Lord, and not for men. Walk by faith, not by sight.
I came to realize that my work is not for me. It is not for my glory or my pleasure. And it is not even for my clients, or my subjects. My work- every facet of it, from the session, to the sharing of images, to the blog posts- it's all for God. And it's for those who I long to love through my work.
Now as amazing as a revelation like this is, it brings with it some doubts. My mind quickly went to places like "You're doomed. No one will want to read or hear about stuff like this. No one will want to be in front of your camera anymore. This is too much." It also went to places like, "You have no one to photograph in Colorado! No one knows you! You aren't good enough to start again. You have too little knowledge, expertise, experience, talent, business savvy, fill-in-the-blank. You are not good enough to be used for God."
And it's true. And at first it all scared me to death.
But then I was reminded of another wonderful truth. Yes, I am absolutely flawed, completely unequipped to succeed at photography, or teaching for that matter! I'm filled with shortcomings. But my many weaknesses point straight to my God, who is made PERFECT in my weakness. Because when I do anything, it is with His power.
So I am stepping out again. But I am stepping out on His terms, and in His timing. I'm not sure yet what that all entails. But for now I know it means this:
* Focusing Jen Lebo Photography on the photography, not the business. So I am not "hanging out my shingle" just yet.
* Focusing on high school senior and teen portraits. I believe God has given me a heart for teen girls and their struggle for truth in a world of lies- about their beauty and their worth. This is where God wants me. I will gladly shoot other types of photos if and when the need arises, but my heart is for teens.
* This will be the last post on this blog. But a new blog is in the works, complete with a new brand, and a new JLP! Jen Lebo Photography will focus on blogging for teens girls, and ladies of all ages. My prayer is to encourage, uplift, and bring joy and hope and love to anyone who comes across it.
* Fun. Authentic. Shine. These are the three words that I want to embody with my work, with my photos, with my writing, with my life. This is what Jen Lebo Photography will be about. I'm finished trying to run a business based on what the world tells me. It's time to be authentic and share my photography the way God has always planned it.
I am well aware that such a shift might mean that no one else ever reads my blog again. That I never photograph another subject, that any hopes of restarting my business go down the drain. But that's ok. I'm not in it for me, or even for you (and I hope that's not harsh). My blog posts are for God. Everything I write or shoot, I now do so with the thought, "Father, how can I glorify You with this?". So if He's the only one who ever reads another post (besides my mom- Hi Mom!), then that's absolutely ok with me. He's the one I'm doing it all for anyway.
If you've read this far, then thank you! And I apologize for being so long-winded! You know me! And if you want to join me for this next phase of JLP, then that's fantastic! I'm working to combine my JLP website with a new blog so that it's all in one place. www.jenlebophotography.com will soon be the blog and the website.
I'm looking forward to following The Lord down whatever path He leads me, with my photography, with my teaching, and with everything else. I sure hope you'll join me.
Keep smiling! There is so much to smile about.
I'm so excited to share the news that our family is moving back to Colorado Springs. After lots of prayer, and lots of patience, we have found ourselves moving right back to the school we said goodbye to seven years ago. And we could not be more excited about it! One of the most beautiful places we have ever seen, Colorado Springs is a place where we can experience life and joy with our kids, and where we can live every day to the fullest.
We are counting the days!
I am excited too, to be continuing my passion and my business out west. It will only be part time (I'll be back in the classroom a little bit myself), but it will be fantastic.
I only wish I could take all of my clients with me. It will be so sad to leave some of the greatest families I know. I've photographed the most beautiful families, the most wonderful teens, the most precious babies from birth to elementary school. I'll miss my clients so much.
I will not be taking on any new clients in the months leading up to our move, but I will be honoring any JLP gift cards still out there. Photo session slots are limited so if you have a gift card to redeem, please contact me ASAP.
Thank you again and again to all the amazing clients I've photographed, who trusted me to capture their family memories. I've loved being part of your lives.
It's been an unforgettable year. As I was approaching 40, I had my heart set on making this the most epic year of my life. I had NO IDEA that God had the same plans, although in such a different way.
My life changed abruptly on Mother's Day Weekend last year. Nothing tremendously dramatic. No health or family issues, nothing that tragic, thank God. But I was about 800 miles away from home, in a van with a group of friends, running in the "adventure of a lifetime", when God used my pride, my ego, and my self-centeredness to break me. He stripped me of a lot that weekend and brought me home with the realization that I had put EVERYTHING above Him.
I spent the days and weeks after that weekend crying a lot, but from the pit, God rescued me from myself, showed me my heart, and began to change me. I will forever remember that weekend as the most amazing weekend of my life. I have come to cherish that weekend as one that saved my life.
Slowly through the months that followed, I dove into the Word of God, and drew closer to the Lord. My hunger for Him took over my life, and everything in it. I wanted everything in my life to center around Him. My marriage, our family, my fitness, and my work. I began to see my life as not mine, but as a tool to serve the God who loved me. I have never felt more fulfilled.
I specifically began praying for a way to use my work to serve God. I love being a photographer and I especially love working with teen girls. It's a wonderful thing to capture the beauty in a young lady, to show her that beauty at a time in her life when, as we all know only too well, it might be hard to see in herself.
As my desires changed, God poured into me wonderful plans to start a Bible study for teen girls, which we call Unfading Beauty (based on 1 Peter 3). This study has been such a wonderful experience for all of us. It is still going on, and it's open to all teen girls any time!
But I wanted to create. I wanted to express God's love and His promises with my camera. And as this desire grew, I felt the Lord plant the seed of a project in my heart.
It's called "God Within Her", based on Psalm 46:5 which says "God is within her, she will not fall".
With this project, my hope is to use portraits of teens coupled with God's word to bring encouragement and hope to girls everywhere. My prayer is to create a resource for teen girls to find hope in Christ, a resource filled with beautiful portraits, encouraging Scripture, devotionals from older women who have walked the path before them, and a safe place to share prayer requests, struggles, and questions.
Often in the past few months I've heard the voice in my head say "How ridiculous! What could a 40 year old lady possibly have to offer to help teens! You're too old! You're so out of the loop! You have no idea how to do this!"
This all may be very true.
But if I've learned one this this year it's this: this life is not about me.
I don't have all the resources, but I have a God who does. I don't have all the words, but I have a lot of Christian sisters who can help. I don't have all the answers. But I have the power of a mighty God.
So I'm stepping out in faith.
If you've read this far and you're not asleep, bored, embarrassed or offended by this blog post, then I thank you!!! And I ask for your prayers.
I also ask for those who might feel led to come alongside me in this to contact me. I know this project is not one intended for me alone. I hope in my heart it is intended to pour God's love and His word into women young and old everywhere. Or maybe, just maybe it's intended to pour into just one heart, just that one heart that God is pursuing today. Maybe it's you. If it is, know that I've been praying for you.
Stay tuned for updates here on the blog.
A "God Within Her" Instagram page is coming.
A "God Within Her" blog is coming (I pray).
And don't forget the "Unfading Beauty" Bible study. You're all invited!!! CLICK HERE for details.
Finally, I will be having model calls for seasonal photo shoots to create the images like the ones you see above. So if you're a teen girl who wants to step out in faith to be a face connected to God's word, let me know.
This year is truly the EPIC year I never really understood I wanted. I'd love it if every single one of you would join me in it. There's PLENTY of EPIC to go around!