January 25, 2012 In life

note to self: what i know now

[this piece was written on december 26, 2011 as a guest post for a blog called 20-somethings. it’s not online yet there but will be soon. it was really fun to have the challenge of a structured topic: “note to self.” enjoy.]


every year for the past five years, i have left a simple little note to myself on the huge tupperware we store christmas supplies in. hey jamie in december 2006: you’re sixteen now. congrats. hope you’re doing good & that you learned a lot this year. you’re fun. every christmas season i pull the container out of the storage room & without fail, the note catches me off guard. hey 21-year old jamie. i don’t know what this year held for you: but i pray that it was full of growth and joy and life. love, 20-year old jamie. i love silly little milestones. thinking back to who the girl that wrote december 2010’s note was… and who the girl reading them is now.

due to the unfortunate laws of time [he’s always in a rush, won’t slow down for anything] the only girl i can write for is next year’s jamie. but wouldn’t it be a gift to draft a letter to my sixteen year old self? oh, the things i could share with her over an americano. not tea. an americano, because she recently taught herself to like coffee & she’s on a roll.


dear sixteen-year-old-jamie,

merry christmas. you’re almost halfway through your grade eleven year — the year you swore you’d never make it through. staring at two more full years of high school in september seemed overwhelming — but you’ll be glad you persevered. your last couple years on that private school campus, with it’s impressive-looking brick buildings and the bustle of plaid kilts in the hallways will soon be a distant memory. you are starting to realize that you are different than the others… the thoughts that consume your brain aren’t on the minds of other teens. the launch of your photography business, longing to travel the world, wishing for the year where you could wake up and organize your time how you felt like it. it feels like a lonely road… and it is. some days will be harder than others. i understand why you count down every day of put on my uniform, grab my books, see how much class i can appropriately skip, wait until three o’ clock. desperately longing for your graduation date of june 2008.

life will start when i graduate. that was the thought you held onto — and although many well-meaning people will tell you these are the best days of your life! responsibility and hard work comes after graduation! enjoy the teen years! they were wrong. your best days did start after high school and surprise! responsibility & hard work are not to be shied away from… but as you envisioned, they are to be enjoyed, celebrated, as you steward your God-given gifts.

the photography business you will start six months from now, in june 2007, will flourish beyond what you could imagine. you have a small dream right now — i see you reading forums and books for hours a day, soaking up every bit of knowledge you can find. keep at it. you will enjoy the process of determining what success is to you — not what it is to your friend circle, within the photo industry, or even your parents — but what success means in the context of how you feel called to live your life.

for the first two years, you’ll work too much. graduating at seventeen, you’ll spend your first summer building your business full-force. you’ll breathe your business, the photography industry, the “next step.” but soon, some incredible photographers will become a part of your life — women like sarah barlow and kristen snyder — that inspire you, challenge you, balance you… in a way that you have never known before.

nineteen will be a year of change. you’ll make the difficult decision [but such an incredible one] to move churches — a big step, but one that will be confirmed in your spirit with every passing month. it will be a year of building true friendships… and you’ll learn to stop hiding your differences. yes, you’re type-A. yes, you can be a little intense, a little analytical — but these friends will love you and sharpen you and challenge you. no, they won’t be like you [praise the Lord for that, sometimes i feel like two of our personality would be too much] but they will accept you.

get your bible & journal ready; be prepared to soul search. in 2010, God will start breaking your heart for the things that break His — and you will never be the same. your years of businessbusinessbusiness thinking will quickly turn to ministryministryministry, as you grasp that He is the only thing worth living for. it will be a giant pile of paradoxes: beautiful & ugly, enjoyable & frustrating, difficult & effortless — as God shapes your heart from the ages of nineteen to twenty-one.

growth is not achieved through comfortable situations. how could God point us to Him and Him only if everything was turning out exactly the way we always imagined? we wouldn’t need Him. look upon hard situations & unideal outcomes in light of His plan: His plan that is beautiful beyond our dreams. in His incredible goodness, He will allow trials into your life: criticism of your character, unforeseen challenges in your business, relationships conflicts, big life changes.

face these trials with the wisdom spoken of in James 1: when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. for you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. so let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. you’ll learn that you can have great joy regardless of your circumstances. as you cling to joy, you’ll learn that God delights in ordaining peace for you [Isaiah 26:12] — and peace is the greatest gift.

sitting at starbucks with a coffee, thinking about the boxing day wedding i am about to photograph this afternoon… i suppose it’s time for me to wrap this letter up. [and yes, isn’t that great that we get to drive alone and make decisions like showing up at starbucks at 8am on a holiday before the world is awake just because we feel like it? your day is coming.]

my final piece of advice: don’t rush your teenage years — i won’t claim being sixteen is better than being twenty-one — because it wasn’t. but i will promise you that God is good, His timing is perfect and where He has you right now is where He desire you to be. as you walk through the walls of your high school, look outside yourself. i know it’s hard — you have your own plans — and compassion is not your strong suit, but get your face into the Bible and ask God to transform your mind with His Word. pray for the people around you that don’t “get it,” even if many of them are Christians in claim — but they don’t understand the life and joy and love and peace and salvation we have in Jesus.

God has some beautiful things ahead of you, sixteen-year-old girl.
and some beautiful things ahead of me, twenty-one-year old woman.

choose joy. He is soooo faithful.

  • http://theofficialblogofelishab.blogspot.com/ Elisha

    hey you!! I awarded you on my blog(duh!!) (:

  • http://jillsamterphotography.com Jill Samter Photography

    Jamie – this was beautiful! As a mom of a 17 yr old waiting for her life to begin at college next year – every word you shared resonates deeply with me. God is so good and beyond faithful. As a woman who is about to turn 44 – there is so much wisdom to share with you – but I will simply pray that as you seek God’s heart and will for you life – you will become wise beyond anything you ever imagined possible. I will pray that your heart for His people will blow your mind tenfold over and over again. I love your heart and who you have become already since I learned about you 2 yrs ago. Well done His faithful servant. Photography is NOT who you are. It is a gift and talent – that will never define you. Much love and blessings – Jill

  • Brielle

    That’s a neat idea. It must be neat to see how much youv’e changed over the years. Very cool……I know what you mean about school never ending. I really want to graduate but i’m only in grade 9! Ahhh i’ve barley hit high school-:)

  • http://www.webbfocusphotography.com Keaton

    Jamie. Delaine. You NEVER cease to amaze me through your writing. I’m a teenage boy at the age of 15, attempting to dive into photography, and this “blast to the past” message was EXACTLY what I needed. God is soooooo good!! Just switch every “16” to “15” and every “girl” to “guy” and it’s almost like you’re talking directly to me. Keep up the astounding work, Jamie. God’s got great plans for you. :)

  • http://manyrandommusings.blogspot.com Hannah

    LOVE this, Jamie. I’ve loved following along for the past couple years and seeing how the Lord is working in your heart and life. You’re doing good things for him, girl! Encouraged by your words.

  • http://www.fromthesightofacitygirl.blogspot.com Nadine

    It’s funny how you wrote this to your 16 year old self, but my 22 year old self needed to hear it. :)

  • http://www.driverphotoblog.net Amanda Driver

    Love this. How mind blowing are God’s plans, and how much better than our own! So good to reflect on where we once were and where God has lead us today.

  • http://arrrshley.tumblr.com/ Ashley


  • http://ameliareneephoto.blogspot.com Amelia Renee

    this line? “but i will promise you that God is good, His timing is perfect and where He has you right now is where He desires you to be.” I needed that so badly today, and God used you to hit that home. thank you, Jamie. I’m struggling with patience but more than I want certain things, I want HIS will & plan for me. So, I’m going to continue to rejoice in where He has me. Today, and tomorrow, and every day after. :)

  • http://www.meganmusephotography.wordpress.com Megan Muse-Schutt

    Girrrrrrrrl… YOU. ARE. BLESSED!!

  • http://www.SidneyMorganBlog.com Sidney Morgan

    Wow, your words are so beautiful. I am 17 and in the same position. I am hoping that things get better than they are right now. This whole high school thing is driving me crazy. You are amazing, Jamie.

  • Maria

    I love this. Thanks for posting Jamie. :) Be blessed.

  • http://www.loveisthethingwithwings.blogspot.com Kimbelry

    Oh, I just love this post so much! I really speaks to me about how much God transforms our minds year after year. I can truly see His hand working in my life.
    You are an amazing writer.

  • http://www.christahannphotography.com Christa

    You’ve outdone yourself. One of my favourite posts ever. You a wise beyond your years 21 year old Jamie. God bless you.

  • http://www.taliahleighblog.com Taliah

    Wow. Jamie I LOVE this. Your words always seem to blow me away. Such a beautiful post.

  • http://www.kimkalynphotography.com Kim Spears

    Just beautiful Jamie :)

  • http://20-somethingsblog.blogspot.com/ 20Something

    Jaime thank you so much for being apart of this! Your words are simply beautiful and inspiring. Can’t wait to post this on the Blog(it’s now up and running :)

  • http://psychologyforphotographers.com Jenika

    Beautiful Jamie! I hope it’s still online whenever I have a daughter so she can read it when she is 16. ;-) I’m so happy you’ve created a life you now love and are moving with God to create amazing things.

  • Arnold

    Thanks for sharing your story Jamie, it’s a blessing :) be blessed!

  • http://www.twitter.com/michiec87 Michelle

    Such a lovely piece, especially how you said “Growth is not achieved through comfortable situations.” (I wrote it onto a sticky note and taped it to my notebook as a daily reminder!) I’ve only just discovered your blog recently, but your writings and photos have inspired me.

  • http://lydiaphotography.com Lydia

    Love!! I know you bless so many people online with your writing, but I bet the young people you work with are especially blessed!!

  • http://www.hopescribbles.wordpress.com Elisabeth Allen

    Thank you so much for sharing your perspective – it’s a blessing!

  • Sam

    Wow. This is beautiful. God is so faithful! I almost cried reading this… And I’m a guy…

  • http://www.augustawind.tumblr.com augusta

    wow. I cannot believe I didn’t comment on this the first time I read it. Came back to read it again and it totally hits home. “compassion is not your strong suit, but get your face into the Bible and ask God to transform your mind with His Word. pray for the people around you that don’t “get it,” even if many of them are Christians in claim” Yes. A thousand times, yes. Thanks, Jamie.

  • Holly

    Wow. I don’t really even have words. It’s so cool to read this knowing that we are the same age. It must have been really therapeutic and comforting writing the last bit!