Overwhelming Thankfulness

This year was one of our tougher, yet most rewarding, years we have had. This year started with a lot Health issues within our family. A hospitalization with heart issues that went unresolved, a cancer diagnosis that came and went faster than we could even process, and a few ER visits for some other family members this year. It was honestly really hard for us because our family is everything to us, but watching each of them walk-through those storms with grace was super encouraging and pointed us back to the Lord every single time.  We are thankful that each of these family members are healthy, and thankful that those issues and diagnosis's are behind us!

Soon after all of the health scares, my brother-in-law got married in March and gave me us one of the sweetest gifts — my girl Jacy. Our family is seriously the luckiest to get to call her a Nichols, and I’m so excited to walk through the rest of my life with her by my side as my sister. Thankful doesn’t even begin to cut it. 

Last year I struggled with loneliness & honestly a little bit of depression. My best friend who I spent most work days with moved to Kenya (ily Casey Mae), and after she left I realized just how quiet and lonely my days were. Last year, I earnestly started praying for deeper friendships that would span over the years, not just seasons. The Lord gave me that and immeasurably more this year through some sweet new friendships, as well as fostering old ones. A huge praise and something my heart needed so deeply. 

I spent a lot of my weekends photographing the most beautiful wedding days for the sweetest people. JNP had the honor of serving 25 couples this year & I am forever grateful for these sweet people that were brought into my life this year! JNP also started an associate program earlier this year, and it was one of the best business decisions we made. I learned a lot as a business owner — what works and what doesn’t, how to build character & leadership, and how to foster relationships within work. We served 10 sweet couples through our associate program, and it was so fun to watch Courtney love and serve these couples, as well as see her growth as a photographer.  There’s lots in the works for JNP moving forward & I'm so excited to slowly share more information this upcoming year.

We had a ton of fun traveling all over the United States. Our trips spanned from Orlando, Newport Beach, Amelia island, Anna Maria, San Francisco, and we will finish out the year with a trip to Whistler, Canada. I am such a homebody at heart, but the other side of my heart absolutely loves to travel and have new experiences. Having the privilege to travel as one of the greatest gifts and something I truly don’t take for granted.

Our family is expecting a baby, not Braden and I haha, but his parents!!! A sweet baby boy will be joining the Nichols fam and making our family complete in March of 2019. The age gap we will have is hilarious (28 years), but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our lives are about to get so much more fun & we can’t wait to meet him!

We are rounding out this year with a few new praises. Braden started a new job this month, something we weren’t searching for & honestly fell into his lap. We loved his old company, but felt that the Lord clearly laid out this new path. My girl Kylie Anne has been stirring my creative heart, creating stepping stones for JNP for 2019, fun new things I can’t wait to start sharing. I’ll just tell you this, you’ll be getting a lot more glimpses into our real life — the good and the bad, the trials and the triumphs, as well as some other fun personal projects! 

And last but not least, I feel like I have personally reached a point of TRUE gratitude. I struggle with feeling content, always striving and always wanting more. Right now, I just feel overwhelmed with what’s before us and also behind us this year. So, so thankful. It’s been a hard year, but also a super rewarding & has propelled us forward in many new ways. Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

Psalm 105:1-3

Tuesday Tidbit: Practical Ways to Practice Intentional Rest

Last month, I was a guest speaker on some of my dear friends podcast, Behind the Bliss Podcast. Behind the Bliss aims to create a space for women o share stories and the reality of what life is really like behind the bliss. They seek to show women there is so much more than what we see on each other’s highlight reels, as well as sharing in vulnerability & the power that brings. Being asked to be a guest speaker was such an honor, and honestly, it was so freeing to share and revisit why taking intentional rest is so important for our mind, body, and soul.

When Rachel first reached out to me earlier this year to speak on building a photography business, I was honestly in a place of burn out. I didn’t have the capacity or willingness to share on business, because truly, I wasn’t in a healthy place within my business & work life balance. She’s been a dear friend of mine for a few years, so she was a safe place to share my “why“ behind why I didn’t feel like it was a good time. She gracefully accepted my decline, and we both agreed we’d revisit this in a few months.

Fast forward to October, we scheduled to record an episode, but this time, Rachel challenged me to speak on rest. Only the Lord can write that perfect timing — the month I was taking a sabbatical from JNP would also be the month I’d be speaking on intentional rest. Only God.

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episode 19: practicing intentional rest.

To listen to the full episode, visit Behind the Bliss Podcast episode 19 here, or click on the image to the left.

I share bits and pieces of what I’ve learned over the past few years about true rest, what it looks like (practically and spiritually), and how we can practice intentional rest in our everyday lives to avoid burnout and frustration.

If you joined us on the podcast, you heard some tangible tips on how I practice intentional rest & what steps I take to avoid burnout. I’d love to share those here, so you have a resource to come visit to feel encouraged & to find tips on how to practice rest.

1. Find a study or devotion you enjoy.

Set aside time each day to have your quiet time. Create a habit of spending time with the Lord to sit and worship, pray, journal, etc. I absolutely love doing a study because it gives structure to my quiet time. Recently, I have loved New Morning Mercies. In the past, I have also enjoyed the If Gathering Study: Enjoying Jesus, Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen, and The Proven bible study by Jennie Allen.

2. Take your email off of your phone.

Game! Changer! I’m the type that if there’s a to-do list or a message waiting for me, I want to tackle it full on until it’s complete. I don’t like to have anything looming over me or waiting for a reply. In business practice, that’s awesome, because that means that I have a quick turnaround time and very rarely do I have clients waiting to hear from me. In real life practice, this creates a work schedule that never really ends each day. Always being available & always replying back immediately started creating stress in my life. Our community group challenged me to simply take my email off of my phone, only checking on my computer during office hours, and I haven’t looked back!

3. Have set business hours.

Speaking of business hours, these need to be set in stone friends. For an entrepreneur, this is easier said than done. The hustle never really stops, but creating healthy boundaries with office hours is super beneficial. This keeps me from working into the late hours of the night, as well is creates a healthier work life balance. I’m no longer working when Braden’s home from work, which also enables us to have more quality time. When you leave work, you’ve left work.

4. Go for walks just to enjoy pretty days.

Going for walks is easily one of my favorite ways to relax and unwind. Sampson and I go for a walk almost every other day just to enjoy the weather. I enjoy the quiet time as well as getting in a little exercise. Win win!

5. Set aside time to enjoy cooking / meal prep.

Every one has their thing, the little household chore that they actually enjoy haha. Mine is meal prepping, I love getting all of our meals prepped for the week so it’s one less thing on the daily to do list. I am more disciplined with this in different seasons, but setting aside this time on Sundays allows for so much freedom during the week. I don’t have to worry about what we’re cooking, what I’m eating for lunch, etc and that frees up some headspace as well.

6. If you have the time, take a sabbatical from work.

I know that this isn’t practical for everyone. But if I can encourage you in anything, it’s to set aside an intentional period of time to truly rest and take a break from work. Over the past two years, I have taken one full month off from work, and it has been one of the most life giving things I have ever practiced. It allowed for more quality time with Braden, my family, alleviated stress and anxiety, and created a healthier space for me. Read more on my “why“ and “what I learned“ behind taking a sabbatical.

7. Learn to say yes to your best yesses.

We love filling our calendars, can I get an amen? I find success in being as busy as possible sometimes, and wow, that burns me out quicker than anything else. We don’t have to find our worth in our hustle or our busy-ness. Only saving yes to your best yesses can be so freeing. As Lysa TerKeurst asks in her book “The Best Yes,” are you living with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule and aching with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul? If your answer is yes, I’d love to recommend this book & putting this into practice!

Putting each of these items into practice has truly been so life giving for me. I am more disciplined in certain seasons than others, but doing my best to put these into practice has become a constant. In doing so, it has allowed for me to share in my family and best friends life moments, as well as created a healthier work life balance.

Friends, take care of yourselves — your physical well being, your mental health, and your soul. Your worth is so much more than your hustle, it’s okay to take a step back and truly rest.


* All photos provided by Kiley Lauren Photography, and all jewelry worn is Milk & Honey Market!*