My leap of faith, part one

*Today’s post is part one in a two-part series by my friend LaTresha Woodruff-Johnson. I’m thankful God places inspiring, compassionate women like her in my life. Stay tuned this week for part two.*

I love the LORD; I am not afraid to say it.  In fact, I’ll take any opportunity to tell people that I love the LORD.  But when you say that to some, they ask, “why?”  I say things like, “because HE first loved me,” or “HE gave his only son that we might have life.”  But more importantly “because HIS grace and mercy is new every day, and HE has done so many things in my life; HE’s made a way out of no way.” 

I have so many stories of what HE’s done for me, how HE’s changed my life, but there is one in particular that I find myself telling people over and over and over again.   You see, it’s a timely and timeless story about my “Leap of Faith.” 

I have always sought the LORD’s guidance before making decisions, so when I started feeling my soul moving in a new direction or yearning for new direction, I thought to myself, “It’s time to leave the news business, put down my microphone, step away from the camera, the people/fans I’ve met in my 14 years as a reporter.”

LaTresha's last day as a reporter for Fox 16.

LaTresha’s last day as a reporter for Fox 16.

So I did what I do? I got on my knees and prayed to my heavenly FATHER.  I asked for guidance, I wanted to hear a clear word from HIM on what I should do.  I felt he was leading me to find something, a job allowing me to be more available to my husband, my church and my community.  I waited and waited and waited but heard nothing!  To me that meant it just wasn’t the time to walk away.  With that, I threw myself back into work. I changed my attitude and tackled each day head on; I started it by telling myself to, “Expect Good things,” and not to allow others to determine how I am going to feel today.  I took back that power.  Soon that burning desire to leave news reporting went away.

But GOD wasn’t done with me on this issue.  Two years later I got that desire in my soul that I was not where I needed to be.  I wrestled with it for a few weeks saying to myself, “I’ve gone through this before–it’ll pass.”  Well it didn’t, and I found myself on my knees one night praying to my Heavenly FATHER again.  But this time when I got up, there was a strange feeling that came over me.  A feeling of peace–my soul seemed to be at ease.  So I talked to my husband, and he supported my decision to resign from my reporting job.  That was April of 2010, but I didn’t have a new job. All I knew is that I had heard from the LORD, and I was following his will.  I ended up staying four more months because the news department was so short-staffed. Yes, I prayed about that, too, and the LORD moved me to stay and help out.

August 27, 2010, was a bittersweet day, bitter because I was leaving what I considered in 7th grade as my dream job, what I was meant to be, thought I’d retire from a big reporting/anchoring gig from CNN.  But it was sweet because I had faith that my GOD would supply all of my needs.  It was one of the happiest days of my life.  I did a great story, a child who was kidnapped but returned home safely.  What a happy ending to a great career; for me it was one of the happiest days of my life!

I gladly tackled this strange life of not constantly going and going from one end of the state to the next in one day, writing stories behind the eight ball and constantly being on alert.  Yes, my days were filled with sleep and thoughts of learning to cook, but they were just thoughts!  This all lasted about three weeks, and I was ready to get going.  See, as a reporter, I was always tackling numerous things at once, never an idle moment.   I started to get a little uneasy, and the LORD started dealing with me again.  I believed HE was saying, “LaTresha your idle time has come and gone; it’s time to get to work.”  By work I believed he meant, find a job, one that lets you help people, find time to volunteer, and honor Me through your works.

I ramped up my volunteering with one agency and became “a Friend” of two other non-profits.  While I started getting that feeling of fulfillment, my tank wasn’t quite on “F” so I started with Big Brothers Big Sisters and became a friend of Habitat for Humanity and Conway Cradle Care.  While I enjoyed being involved with these organizations, there was still something missing.  I could hear that sweet still voice of the Lord saying, “I want more for you. I want you to do more.”  So my job search kicked into HIGH gear.  I attacked the search ferociously!  I set my sights on what are called “Public Information Officer” positions.  I can’t tell you how many times as a reporter I interviewed Public Information Officers from various agencies and thought, “I could do that job with my eyes closed.” 

I applied for about 20 PIO positions; I had 5 interviews where I felt I had “knocked it out of the park!”  Slowly I started getting word that the positions had been filled.  Soon there was just one position left, and I thought, “This is the one.”  After all I had made it to the 3rd round of interviews. I didn’t even know there were 3rd rounds.  I just knew I had this one in the bag, so much so that I didn’t bother God with it anymore.  I remember the day that I got the call about the position, I had decided not to get up early and search the internet for jobs because I was so sure I was about to get this job.  The phone rang. I fumbled for it, cleared my throat, looked at the caller ID, and sure enough it was the hiring manager for the agency.  My heart leapt. I thought, “Here goes, about to enter the working world again,”  and I was excited.

You cannot imagine the heartbreak and devastation I felt when I heard the words, “We have offered the position to a more qualified candidate.”  It was all I could do not to start sobbing right there on the phone.  He went on to say things like, “You possess all the qualifications and would have done an excellent job but…”  And that’s the point I stopped listening.  I can’t even recall saying goodbye and hanging up the phone.  My pity party went on for the rest of the day.  I didn’t even get out of bed. 

It was only the next morning when I forced myself into the shower that I started thinking clearly.  Sitting in the shower I realized that I got ahead of myself.  When things looked like they were going in my favor I didn’t ask God if getting this particular job was His will.  I left him out of the equation.  He’d been there leading and guiding me through it all, but I decided I could handle it from here. When I put my hands on it, God took his hands off.  It was as if He was saying, “If you think you can do better than your Heavenly Father, go ahead give it a try, you don’t need me.”  I asked my heavenly father’s forgiveness and gave in to what I already knew–that He would take care of me no matter what.  I knew He didn’t bring me this far to leave me! 

So my journey continued. 

Day 15–Loving what I do

Sarah and Jordan Crowder of Phoopla Photography & Design

Sarah and Jordan Crowder of Phoopla Photography & Design

*Thanks to my sister Sarah Crowder for writing today’s post about how the love of her life has supported her in her journey to do what she loves for a living. Check out her photography business home page and her Facebook page, too.*

I am grateful for every single day. When he tells me all he wants is to see me happy, I know it’s true. So today like every day for the last 12 years, I am eternally grateful for a beautiful family & an amazing man whose love & support knows no bounds. Today as I celebrate the 1 year anniversary of one of the biggest, most exciting & scary steps of my life, I’m taking a moment to think of what I’m grateful for. To start, what is the definition of Gratitude? Wiki says : Gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness or appreciation is a feeling or attitude in acknowledgement of a benefit that one has received or will receive.

I have a lot to be grateful for in my life but especially in this last year of new beginnings. When you’re married with two kids, your family is taking that big step, too, so I guess I should say our biggest, most exciting & scary step.

One year ago today I turned in my two-week notice to the corporate job I had held for eight years along with all the stresses & all the securities to pursue my passion for photography as a full time job! How was I able to do this & why would I do this?! Let me tell you a story about a great man – my husband. He’s not only the best father to our two girls; he’s also the most supportive husband I could ask for! His love for all us crazy girls never ceases to amaze me. 12 years ago, I was a single mom struggling to make ends meet, my daughter’s birth father was no part of her life, & I had lost my faith in men. Then I met Jordan. He loved me & most of all loved my little girl. I could go on forever about how he restored my faith in men and how he loves & accepts our daughter as his own-how biology plays no part in this family. But back to me quitting my job!

The Crowder family

The Crowder family

After dating for years & a long engagement & finally a beautiful wedding, we were blessed with a second beautiful baby girl, Lola Belle! I loved getting photos made every month of my older daughter but dreaded the beat down of the commercial photo studios. When Lola was born, for my first Mother’s Day, Jordan bought me a professional camera and told me to follow my dream to capture all the special moments we were experiencing as a family.

One of Phoopla's action shots

One of Phoopla’s action shots

Soon friends & family were requesting we take photos, cover weddings & capture their special moments! It’s been quite a ride of long nights, years of working 6/7 days a week, numerous sacrifices and he’s been by my side the whole time, assisting me supporting me & even through the tough times still cheering me on (not to mention telling me to quit the job that was killing me!).

I love my job now. No more dreaded meetings, conference calls, belittling bosses….  I don’t even like to call photography a job because it’s truly my passion! I love having more time with my family & capturing special memories for other families! Having the freedom to work from home alongside my husband is something I am grateful for every single day. When he tells me all he wants is to see me happy, I know it’s true. So today like everyday for the last 12 years I am eternally grateful for a beautiful family & an amazing man who’s love, & support knows no bounds.

Willingly out of work

Snuggied up at EDS, 2008

Since I began tutoring a boy in our neighborhood at the age of 13, I’ve been employed. I tried my hand at the fast food industry, bussed tables at a fish house, scooped ice cream at a small town diner, and handled deposits and light accounting work for McDonald’s. In college, I found other part-time jobs to bring in enough income to gas up my car for frequent road trips and fund my concert t-shirt fund. I worked in a church nursery, managed a room full of babies in  a daycare, taught gymnastics, hosted birthday parties, and led a youth group. After college, I moved on to full-time employment, and worked full-time without more than a week off at a time until I began working part-time last fall. I’ve lived my life taking complete care of myself (and others along the way). So this week, it feels a little like jumping off a fast-moving train, trying to adjust to the pace of walking beside the tracks.

With the Weaver munchkins at Weaver Family Medicine, 2011

This is my last week as an employed person for at least six months. I’ve never NOT worked for six months. It feels a little strange. What if we don’t have enough income to make this work? What if I get incredibly bored? What if I feel like I’m mooching off my husband?

Despite these fears that flit in and out of my thoughts, I’m mostly filled with gratitude. Were it not for the support of my husband, I’d have to continue working full-time for the rest of my life and leave my baby in the hands of others to raise. If it weren’t for our conscious decisions to live way below our means, we wouldn’t be in the financial position to make my unemployment feasible. Being off work for the next six months will allow me to nearly finish my Master’s degree without as many distractions and with considerably less stress. It will also give me the opportunity to clean the house obsessively in preparation for our baby’s arrival and to help out with multiple home renovations.

I’ve always hoped that if I had children, I could do it the way I wanted to do it. I knew I wanted to stay at home with them, at least for the first few years. I knew I wanted to give them as much of myself as possible. I just didn’t know if I’d be able to. I’m so grateful I am.