Tennessee to Texas

Lakin Stearns Photography

For me, spring has always brought on a season of change. After months of the cold and dreary winter months, I am always keenly aware of even the subtlest changes around me. The little green buds on trees catch my eye, and the first signs of life excite me. However, this spring brought even bigger changes than normal – my husband and I moved to Texas!

Some may say this move was inevitable, and some may say it came as a surprise. I would say it was somewhere in between. If you have known me over the course of the last two years, you would know that Texas was actually where I thought Austin and I would start our life together. Although, the Lord’s plan was different.

Side note: I am normally not one to divulge into too much detail about my personal life, but I believe it would be selfish not to share how the Lord works.

In December of 2015, I interviewed with DFW YoungLife (a non-profit organization that allows college students and adults to walk alongside high-schoolers in hopes of leading them to Christ). For several months prior I had been a part of YL student staff, which allowed me to realize and understand my calling to full-time ministry. It was not a decision I came to immediately or easily. At first I was reluctant. I was going to receive a marketing degree from a great university (Go Vols!), and I had every intention of using it, until the summer I spent interning in London, England. I had a marketing internship that quite frankly, I was not very fond of. It took me a while to realize why I did not enjoy it, but I finally realized it was the connection with people that I missed. I wanted to be able to engage with people in a genuine and authentic way. I wanted to know their heart, and hear their story – and I just was not experiencing any of that in the business world.

Coming to this realization was difficult. For 3 years I had been pursuing this degree in hopes of landing some big time marketing job, and now I was asking myself “now what?”. That is when the Lord reminded me of an opportunity – student staff with YL. It did not take long for me to realize that the Lord was directing me to ministry. Fast forward a few months, and I am interviewing in Dallas for a position on their YL staff. The interview went well, and I was beyond excited. A few days later I got the call that they wanted me on staff, but per their process, it would just be a few months before I got my placement (school/location). As the months passed, I continue planning – wedding planning, house browsing, you name it. In March of 2016, I received my placement, and I was over the moon about it. I visited the school, met the fellow staffers, and continued to dream of what life would look like after Austin and I got married and moved.

However, that is when things began to get a little tricky. We soon realized that some things just were not lining up – the location of where we needed to live, Austin’s job situation, and other little things that I never thought would matter. Then, to my disdain, we realized that moving to DFW right away might not be the best plan for us. Thankfully, the Lord paved another path for us. That path just so happened to be to Nashville, TN, and I was devastated. I felt like something had been taken away from me for no reason. I was bitter. I was frustrated. Most of all I was just confused. Leading up to that decision, everything had felt so clear and right. MY plan was perfect, so I thought.

I do not want you to think it was all bad though, because it was not. The Lord provided Austin with his job in Nashville, and then a few months later I was offered a student ministry residency at an incredible church in Franklin, TN. I had never dreamed of working at a church, I loved parachurch ministry too much. But, the Lord had other plans – and I would slowly realize that is what mattered the most.

If I am being honest, which that is the goal here, I was a little bit resentful about being in Nashville for a while. Okay, probably over a year. It wasn’t until sometime last summer/fall that I surrendered to being there. At that point we had finally found true community, I had began to think that maybe church staff was where I was supposed to be for good (after my year of residency, I was offered a full time position), and I disliked the city of Nashville a little less. I finally stopped dreaming of reasons to leave Nashville, or looking at houses in other places. I had finally stopped being angry about being there.

So, what does this have to do with us moving you ask…. hang tight, I am getting there.

Towards the end of last year, there was a shift in Austin. He would come home from work feeling discouraged and unsettled. We began to have conversations about why that was, and what we could do together to overcome those feelings. After a few months of praying and lots of conversation with family, we decided that the Lord was leading us elsewhere. Of course, my immediate thought was Dallas – but, I knew that I needed to guard my heart in this process. Honestly, I did not think us moving to Dallas would work out. I mean, you saw what happened the first time. This time though, it was different. Things started to pan out. Austin and I were both very encouraged about the whole possibility, especially the thought of being close to his family that is also in the DFW area. Austin was eventually offered a great job in Dallas at a great company, which he accepted. I however, did not know what I was going to do job wise. I knew that I could look for marketing jobs or another position at a church. And, I did that for a while. I searched and applied, and searched some more. I had a few interviews, but nothing played out to be a great fit. So, we ventured here just a few weeks ago, and I was jobless [I will come back to this in a moment].

This whole story may seem a little crazy and long winded, but just all the twists and turns have a purpose. If you have not already noticed, the turning point of this story is when I finally surrendered my anger and frustration. It was when I finally gave in to trusting the Lord with my story. You see, I came to know the Lord at a very young age. I grew up a believer, walking closely with the Lord. However, during the past two years, I experienced the gospel in a whole new way. As part of my residency at the church, I participated in a discipleship group that would eventually become one of the most beneficial and eye opening experiences for me. I journeyed with other women who were in relationship with Lord, and we were vulnerable with each other. We shared hurts, and we spoke truth into each other. I began to experience what true community was like. I began to understand what it meant to truly connect with people. Which, if you remember from early, is exactly what my heart longed to do.

Lakin Stearns Photography and friends

So, as I have been reflecting on the past two years, I have realized how extremely intentional the Lord was and always will be. There was a reason He steered us toward Nashville before we ended up here in Texas – it just took two years to figure it out. I wholeheartedly believe that the Lord used that time to teach me what true community was, to allow me to learn more in depth about how I was uniquely wired, and to better equip me to connect with people. All of which played into the decision for me to (drumroll, please)… TAKE THIS LITTLE BUSINESS OF MINE FULL-TIME! This decision was/is a big one, that is honestly a little nerve wracking. However, I am choosing to surrender my doubts and trust the Lord with this decision.

A couple of things that I have learned recently is that vulnerability is important, and community is a necessity. So, that is why I am sharing this story. I need to admit that this is a big step of faith, and I need to ask you all (my clients, my friends, and my family) for all the support I can get!

Lakin Stearns Photography, Dallas, Texas Wedding Photographer

If you made it to the end, props to you! Seriously though, thanks for journeying with me! If you email me before the end of April and mention this post, I will give you 15% off your next session (lifestyle or family) as a thank you!

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  1. Oh what.. what an incredible story…. Trusting the Lord with your future and your plans can certainly be tough, but he always provides and always protects! Good luck in Texas… Ive only ever been once and it was to Dallas, boy was it hot!

  2. I am SO excited for you and this new journey. Texas is lucky to have gained such a talented and faithful photographer, that’s for sure!

  3. Lakin,
    This story is amazing journey that has only begun. If you remember some time ago (which I learned from you, your mother and father), that God’s plan comes in different forms &/or times in one’s life.
    I’m so happy for you too but most of all so very happy for this journey that God has put before you two .
    You are an amazing woman and a God sent to me for all you’ve taught me. If you think the past 2 years has been an a whirlwind, the next decades to come will in your marriage will only become more important and fulfilling as you encounter more life changing events.
    You’re a blessing and beautiful woman, I’m so proud to have you in my life. God bless you two on this journey… ..