This blog post is the crazy story of how life comes full circle. These photos aren’t the “normal” senior, family, engagement, or wedding photos you’ll see on my blog, but there’s a crazy, God-sized story here that I feel is worth sharing. It’s a story you probably know well within your own life from years of living… but, if you’re curious, allow me to add my own version of a “full circle” experience to the blogosphere.
You see, it all began ten years ago, when I was 16 years old. I had just completed a few months at my first job as a lifeguard at our local community pool. But after Labor Day, there was no more need for lifeguards guarding outdoor pools (hello, Pittsburgh!), so I started searching for job #2, which landed me a job as a lifeguard at my local YMCA: the Rose E. Schneider Family YMCA, to be exact.
Being a lifeguard was the perfect job for high school Jenna. I’d spend 20 minutes guarding one pool, 20 minutes guarding another pool, and then 20 minutes either cleaning, or doing homework, if there was no cleaning left to be done. For an introverted people-watching achiever, it was the dream!
During these breaks from cleaning and homework, occasionally, my boyfriend would come and visit. We hadn’t been dating for too long at the time, but he would bring me a Starbucks drink (#keeper) and we would put our feet in the hot tub and talk for the remainder of my “break.” We kept this little tradition going for the six years I worked at the YMCA.
As we both grew, we stayed together and started forming deeper connections - talking about our dreams, hopes, and aspirations. I remember one day telling him: “I think I want to be a photographer.” Of course - like the encouraging boyfriend he was (and, spoiler alert: like the encouraging husband he is now!) - he helped me run with that little dream, telling me he would support me however he could. (Ladies, that’s the type of boyfriend you want to have - one that will support you, dream with you, and act on what he says! Words don’t mean very much unless there’s action to back them up, and I’m thankful that Nick was, and continues to be, a man of his word!)
Six years after I had started working at the Y, I decided I needed to resign. I loved the job so much, but I was in school full-time, trying to hold down a part time internship, working another job as a banquet server, and trying to get my little fledgling business off the ground. It was time to resign, so I threw in my whistle and towel and wondered if I would ever come back through the YMCA doors to the community and building I had grown to love.
Fast forward four years after I had quit. That boyfriend who visited me at the Y? Now we’re married. And now we feel God calling us to something new. Something that would require leaving the familiar and comfortable for a new season of unknown. We tried to ignore the stirring in our hearts, but we’ve both learned through this season that we can only ignore what God is pulling us towards and laying on our hearts for so long before we have to act. And that action for us? Nick, looking for a new job, after working in the same place he had poured his heart and soul into for 8 years.
After we came to the conclusion that we had to put action behind what we felt God was calling us to do, Nick started pursuing other employment opportunities. But the hard part? He wasn’t just switching jobs. He had to switch careers, out of the “church world” and into the corporate world.
One day, as we were driving home from getting groceries, we were passing the Rose E. Schneider Family YMCA, talking about potential job opportunities. I half-heartedly said: “Hey! You should see if there are any job opportunities at the Y - I loved working there!” Neither of us thought seriously about it until Nick saw a posting for a job as a director online as he was searching for jobs. Soon after, he realized that he had a connection there that might even be able to help him get an interview. And he did get an interview. And against so many odds… he got the job!
Then, a few months into this new career, the Y contacted me to take some photos for them of their facility and members for their new website.
And I can’t help but think back to the teenagers, drinking Starbucks, dipping their feet in the hot tub, dreaming about what the future held. Me - wanting to be a photographer, not realizing that I would have the opportunity to take photos at and for that very YMCA I was employed by a decade later. Nick - thinking his life was, for sure, with 100% certainty, heading in one direction. Little did we know that God was providing a foreshadowing of what was to come… and neither of us knew it at the time.
It totally blows my mind.
God makes a way where there seems to be no way. He puts doors for us to open that we didn’t even believe were a possibility. He puts dreams and desires in our hearts, and in his time, brings them to fruition. And he simply asks us to trust him. To follow him. To pursue him. To love Him, and to love others. In the mean time, he’ll light our path and give us the next step.
And then, years down the road… sometimes he lets us experience that “full circle” moment. And it’s the perfect opportunity to remember his goodness, his faithfulness, his omniscience.
Without further ado, here are a few photos from the Rose E. Schneider Family YMCA photo shoot!