Thoughts By Natalie

Sunday Sessions: On Finding Your Niche

The following is a guest post by Mary Beth of Annapolis & Company—a blog about creativity in the everyday. She likes rainy days, Starbucks coffee, vegetarian food, abstract art, foreign countries, family time, Sunday worship services, the ocean, and all things stripy and nautical. I hope you enjoy her guest post and make some time to swing by her beautiful blog!

I am an artist.

Not the traditional kind…with a paint brush and a blank canvas. But an artist with my camera. With styling and lighting. Clothes and ingredients. Interiors and thrift store finds.

It’s been a long road coming to that realization and then coming to terms with it. But I’m here…finally. Living in my own skin and I can’t tell you how good it feels. How nice it feels to be a child of the king, wife to my husband, mother to my children…plus a creative.

For the longest time, though, I was searching. Searching to find what it was I was supposed to do with my life. Of course, I had a plan. Get married. Have children. Fix up a house and live in it. Travel. See the world. But as a young 19-yr-old saying my vows on my wedding day, I had no idea that life has a way of happening in unexpected twists and turns. That plans are really the frame work. That one day you’ll wake up and say to yourself, “What is going on? How did I get here? No really. How did I get here?”

And I just want to give my 19-yr-old self a hug and tell her, “You don’t know it yet, but it’ll all be ok.” I almost want to give her a heads up and tell her about the rough patches. The patches where nothing goes to plan. Where your finances are struggling. Where you’ll lose one of your babies. The patches where your marriage will be on rocky ground. Your kids will be in difficult seasons and you’ll wonder if you’re a good mum. The patches where you’ll move to new places and you’ll start over again. All over again. And you don’t feel like you’ll have the strength.

And I want to tell her. You will struggle. You will wonder what God is doing. Maybe even shake your fist at Him in bitterness. But don’t stay there.

“Why?” my 19-yr-old self will ask.

Because God is in the process of changing.

Changing you.

Changing your family.

Changing your heart.

And it’s for the better. Nothing amazing happens when you hold back. When you hoard pieces of yourself from God, thinking they’re your life plans. And your dreams, and you’re afraid He’s going to take them away.

And I would tell her, with lips quivering and tears rolling down my eyes…

“He doesn’t take your plans away, honey. Not at all. He gives you something better. Something you could never dream up on your own. Something you could never have planned.”

Sunday Sessions: On Finding Your Niche {by Mary Beth of Annapolis & Company} //

And it’ll be messy.

This whole process of a 19-yr-old girl becoming a 25-yr-old woman. The process of figuring out who I am and what I was meant to be. The process of sloughing off all of my preconceived ideas. The process of getting over my insecurities. The process of dying to myself and wanting to be remade new.

But it’s for the better. And I wish I could’ve seen that at times. Not known it in my head, but seen it. And believed it.

Sunday Sessions: On Finding Your Niche {by Mary Beth of Annapolis & Company} //

My journey of becoming a mother to three children in three years, moving with my husband to the midwest, becoming a blogger, a food and architectural photographer, attending a Presbyterian church, working at Anthropologie, homeschooling my children, living in a rental house, starting some entrepreneurial endeavors with my husband.

Well…I could have never envisioned this life we’re living.

I get asked – frequently – how I knew to pursue this. This blog. My photography. My creative side. And I want to sit people down and tell them my messy journey. The wake up calls God has sent me over the years. The seasons of rain and the seasons of dry spells. The times God told me to wait. Just wait. And soak up my season of nursing newborns and smeared peanut butter. The times God told me to let my dreams go, so I could focus on my marriage, and healing from bitterness and a miscarriage. The times God told me that I needed to follow my husband and support his dreams, my dreams getting put on the back burner.

And during that waiting time, my dreams were being developed. As I held back from pursuing my blog, so that I could focus on other things, as I held back from writing, so that I could process the changes in my life, the Lord began to show me my passions. Unexpected ones. Right in my own home, with three little kids running around. I began to see the things that drove my soul, the things I thrived off of.

I loved to cook and began photographing our food, quickly falling in love with the entire process. I loved watching my children, drawing life lessons from their simple take on life, and the writing became easier for me again. I loved any and all things editorial, and I began learning Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

I focused on that. Being the best that I could be, with what I had.

And things began dropping in my lap. Opportunities. Collaborations. And for the first time after a long period of waiting, I heard God say, “Go! Go after that!”

Sunday Sessions: On Finding Your Niche {by Mary Beth of Annapolis & Company} //

And I want to tell people about that too. That God can do things we never thought possible. That He can surprise us beyond all measure. That He can take really weak, imperfect people, and use them. For good.

There is no perfect story to tell. There is no light bulb moment. There is no powerful and moving moment I can describe for you. The truth? I began this blog 2 years ago under a different title and a whole different flavor. I didn’t know the first thing about aperture or f-stop. I didn’t know how to insert page numbers in Word, much less insert text on a photo in Photoshop.

But I knew I was an artist. Deep down, I think I knew. And there was some sort of pull to get that out. Somehow. Someway. And I used what I had, with where I was.

I have such huge dreams for this little blog. For my writing/photography. For our family travels. And I have no idea if they will ever come to fruition. If they are the types of plans God will say, “Go!” to. But this I do know: God has beyond all measure surprised me. And really. I’ve told my husband, if I never get to do anything more, it’s all been so great. The people that have walked into my life. The freelance opportunities I’ve been handed. The family I’ve been given to pour into. And I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I’m in my niche.

Many of you have told me that you are struggling. Struggling to find your niche. That you’re in the middle of the “long road” part that I know so well. That you want to find the thing that your are passionate about. That drives your soul.

And can I say?

Hang in there.

Keep plugging away.

Don’t be afraid. Of other people. Of failure. Of trying new things. Of going a different direction.

The process of discovering yourself. How you were made. What you can handle. What gifts God gave you. What things you want to pursue and what things you put on the back burner….

You’ll find it. You’ll find your niche.

It may be right where you are. It may stretch you to places further than you’ve ever gone before.

Sunday Sessions: On Finding Your Niche {by Mary Beth of Annapolis & Company} //

But then again, I kinda like stories like that. :)

Apparel | Scarf: Urban Outfitters | Blouse: Ann Taylor | Belt: Vintage | Pants: Pilcro, by Anthropologie | Sandals: Gap

All photos via Ann Bennett Photography.

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