When I started Best Captured in 2015 my goal was not to turn a hobby into a monetary project. My goal was simply to find an outlet to share a few things I enjoyed: writing and photography. With balancing a typical busy schedule that seemed regimented in many ways I was itching to find a way to release my more artistic roots. Best Captured fulfilled this and quickly my personal side hobby became a fun interest that was now more enjoyable because both Jo and I were invested in it. The Lord was good to us during this season of our lives, allowing us many unique opportunities to venture the world through missions, work trips and leisurely vacations. Best Captured served as a motivator, if we even needed to be more motivated, to explore, to adventure, to appreciate more of creation, to meet beautiful people from various cultures, and to experience the goodness and diversity of many parts of this earth.
What began as a mere hobby and outlet quickly began to escalate. We were being asked about our photography, had people reaching out to US asking to be guest writers and opportunities arose to advertise both products and companies on our site. We truly believe that God’s hands were behind this progress and with that we had a great responsibility to steer the direction of the blog in a way that would honor him.
That is precisely why, in 2018 we decided to take a step back from the hours we were pouring into Best Captured. It was during this season that we felt God truly calling us towards something different and to dive whole-heartedly into a new chapter of our lives.
During this season, I began to feel that it could be the right time to pursue grad school. Years prior, I had a desire to pursue a Masters Degree in School Leadership and due to multiple factors had put it on hold. But, with this tugging for change that both Jo and I were experiencing, we questioned if this could be a direction we were being led. Additionally, we knew our 20’s would be coming to an end in just a few years and that we would likely be settling down a bit more than we currently were (aka: not travel as much, maybe purchase a home and stay in one spot for a longer time span, and have children if that was God’s will). Because of this reality, we even considered taking a full year to travel while working remote and truly soak in the theme of Best Captured.
Isn’t it amazing how He works!? If you had told either of us six years ago that we would be living in Massachusetts and that I would have a masters degree from Harvard University and that Jo would be excelling at his job in a leading, world-wide robotics company I’m sure we would have laughed. In fact, when I opened my acceptance letter from The School of Education (which I only applied to as my “impossible school” choice) we celebrated and chuckled at the fact that they had ACTUALLY accepted me and then thought it would be a great story to tell the grandkids about one day.
After we had both agreed that traveling for a year wasn’t our direction, I just knew that staying in North Carolina to pursue grad school was the obvious next step. All of those little feelings over the past few years that we were supposed to be somewhere else couldn’t possibly be related to grad school, and certainly couldn’t be pointing us towards somewhere like Massachusetts, could it?
Initially, it was Jo who pushed us out of that comfort and reminded me of that little tug we had been experiencing. His adventuresome spirit pushed us to seek out more about the option. So, we very seriously and intentionally decided to pray daily for an entire month asking God for clear guidance and wisdom about this decision that we had to make in a quick turnaround time. At the end of that month, without having discussed the matter at all during that time, Jo and I sat across from each other over a traditional southern breakfast of grits, eggs and bacon and we silently wrote down our top three directions we felt we were being called to next. Almost word-for-word our top three choices were the exact same, in the exact order. It was suddenly clear what we felt called to pursue next.
Looking back we often laugh because with every decision and step after that breakfast we did question whether we had heard God incorrectly. We actively waited for him to close doors; with Jo finding a job, finding an apartment close to school quickly, the finances, all of it. We lacked full faith that God could possibly want us to move that far from our safety nets and from the only things we have ever truly known to pursue this. But, we shouldn’t have been surprised that the God who can calm storms, part seas and rise from the dead, can in fact make all things work out perfectly in His timing if it's His will. Every single door was opened, but many of them were opened in ways that could only be attributed to God. This was, in fact, the direction we had been feeling and praying about for years. So, needless to say, we found ourselves on a hot June morning loading a U-Haul surrounded by close friends and family, and closing the door on our cozy Raleigh townhome and ultimately that chapter of our lives.
Fast forward, as we sit here in the present day, we are unable to accurately depict how precious our time and experiences have been over the last few years. We are still in Massachusetts and truly thriving. Every day we express gratitude that God directed us here and for the boldness to listen. We fully believe that life is a series of chapters, stages, experiences, decisions and opportunities and these shape us in many ways.
When Jo and I look back years from now, likely living closer back to family, miles and memories away from our lives here, it will feel like a quick moment in time. A quick glimpse at a distant life that seemed to fly by quickly. But, those images will be associated with a smile at all the memories, all the growth, all the experiences and the times that we shared together in a beautiful place that God knowingly led us to.
That doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been challenging at times. We had to completely start over and leave behind our comfort and many people that we love, and at times we have received push back from people for leaving North Carolina. We understand that to some this doesn’t make sense and that ultimately it’s not the life they would have chosen. We respect that God calls us all to have a variety of narratives. We are given different paths for different reasons, but God calls us to be obedient to Him (Isaiah 1:19). Trust me, we were just as surprised about being led here, but we have no doubt it was exactly what we were meant to do.
During this season we have grown not only as individuals but as a family. We have fallen in-love with a local church plant and have been challenged and strengthened in our walks with Christ during our time here. Jo fell into a job that has been such a blessing to him and to us. It gives him the opportunity and freedom to display his talents and gifts, while being innovative and challenged. I finished grad school and virtually received my diploma while boasting an eight month, ready to pop pregnant belly in the midst of Covid-19. We welcomed our first child, a bit of a surprise in timing, but the most wonderful gift we could have ever been given. A beautiful, healthy baby girl who fills our days with such joy and who forces us to be even more intentional with our time and efforts.
As for Best Captured, it’s still here. We update it occasionally. We still enjoy sharing our stories and photography with you all. However, we’ve also found other joys that we choose to invest more of our time in. I used to boast about the fact that I could multitask so well. The true curse and gift of being an elementary educator, right? I still have the utmost respect for all of my fellow multitaskers, and I still have this tendency to try and juggle as much as I possibly can at one time. However, a specific lesson that this season is continuing to teach me is that some things shouldn’t be multitasked. Sometimes the most beautiful memories and experiences are ones that we’ve intentionally sat still for and fully soaked in. Like grad school, or a brief season in a new region of the Country, or how about parenthood and marriage? Life, with all of it’s stresses and sorrows, is also a beautiful thing and such a gift. Our time is short and should be used wisely.
With that, I simply want to end this post with a thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read through this update on our lives and where we currently are physically mentally and with Best Captured. We hope you will continue to check-in every now and again to see new updates on places that we visit, and opportunities that we have the joy of experiencing. While the posts may not be as frequent, you can be assured that our time is being blessed and that we are soaking in this season of life fully.
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.”
1 Chronicles 16:34
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*All photos used in this post are the sole content of BestCaptured*