One Thirst by Bethel from the Be Lifted High album is one of my favorite songs at the moment. It speaks of a wholehearted devotion to seeking His face and the song just seems to take me to that place where everything else fades away.
I was struck today that really, everything that we do is for the purpose of drawing us closer to God and to making His name known on the earth.
With that in mind, I started to wonder how God views what we do. Is He as concerned about all that we accomplish as we are? There are so many people who are trying to figure it all out and who are afraid of ‘missing it’ or making a mistake. The way I see it, God loves to partner with us in the things that we enjoy and our passions, with the end result being…. that we draw closer to Him and make His name known on the earth.
What I love about this concept is that it takes all the striving out of what we do. It releases us to just do what we love because as long as what I’m doing draws me closer to Him….. well, you get the picture.
Kari Nichols is a photographer, an exceptional photographer. I first met her eight years ago and have followed her since then through her blog and FB page. I have enjoyed observing her life unfold as she married, relocated and started her business.
Her professionalism and talent is what first caught my attention but I’ve noticed something else.
She exudes joy in everything she does.
I asked her to share today because I knew that there had to be a deeper story behind the decisions she has made, and the success she is enjoying. She is doing what she loves to do and I have seen in Kari’s life and photography a partnership with God. I see her pursuing Him and using her photography as a means to knowing Him and making Him known.
Here is Kari’s story:
It was 2007. We had only been married 5 months when my husband and I began to feel discontented with our situation. Not the kind of discontentment that you can live with, it was the kind of discontentment that had us praying for the Lord to guide us in a completely new direction.
We were both stuck in dead-end jobs and felt like we needed a career change and a change of location. After much prayer, we decided to step out in faith and start our own respective businesses.
So we quit our jobs, packed up our belongings, and moved to Hot Springs.
We moved with no clients, no place to live, and very little money. We knew it was where God was telling us to go, so we knew He would provide. Caleb opened a residential window cleaning business, and I opened a photography studio. Caleb trained me in window cleaning, and I trained him to be my second photographer at weddings. We gradually built our businesses to where we could live comfortably.
As months passed, we realized we liked window cleaning less and less and loved photography more and more. We prayed that God would give us an opportunity to sell our window cleaning business, which was a big step because we weren’t able to live off just our photography business income at the time. After that prayer, our photography business just took off, as in, EXPLODED! We went from 18 weddings our first year to 28 weddings our third year. Then God sent another window cleaning company into our area, and they offered to buy our clients from us. We had again stepped out in faith, and God paved the way for us to just be photographers.
After that, we were able to dive in head first into photography. We both love the industry, the relationships we get to have with our clients, and our ability to be together 24/7. It’s such a rare thing in this day and age to be able to spend so much time with your spouse and actually enjoy their company. In 5 years of marriage, we’ve spent more time together than the average couple spends together in 15 years. God has used our business and our location to strengthen our marriage. He paved the way for the whole thing. All we had to do was step out in faith that He would take care of us.
Earlier this year, we again felt God telling us to step out in faith. Our business, originally named ‘Kari Nichols Photography’ implied that it was more my business than Caleb’s, which is just not the case anymore. (It’s really difficult for me to admit this because I trained him, but he’s actually a better photographer than me now….AHH!) We felt that the new name should be something that represented our personal and photographic styles. We decided on ‘Cottonwood Studios Worldwide’. There are a lot of problems you can run into when re-branding a business. You can lose clients, fans and followers that have been following your work for years. You can lose potential clients because they’ve never heard of the business. And you can lose vendor connections because they don’t realize you’ve changed your name. I cannot describe to you how smoothly the transition happened. God obviously approved of our name change, because in the first 6 weeks under the new name, we booked 8 new clients. Caleb and I were BLOWN AWAY! It was better than we could ever have imagined.
We’ve been encouraging other married couples to listen to the Lord and not be fearful of change. When He starts calling you to a new job, new city, a new direction then you absolutely NEED to follow the path He’s laying before you. Do not fear. If He’s calling you into the next step of your life, He’ll pave the way! We are constantly amazed by His goodness and provision.
We’re always waiting, looking and listening for the next plan He has for us… because undoubtedly it’s just around the corner, and it’s always an amazing adventure.
Guest post written and submitted by Kari Nichols
Kari and her husband Caleb are the owners of Cottonwood Studios Worldwide, a photography studio that has been featured in numerous magazines and was recently featured as one of the 12 best Arkansas bridals of 2012 in ArkansasBride. Like them on Facebook.