Small Business - Big Heart

I am a small business owner.  My company is quite small in the grand scheme of companies, but large in my heart.  Throughout the day I think most about following Jesus, loving my wife, loving my daughter and how to sell more shirts.  That's about it.  I really love selling shirts and for the last ten years I have been able to do it as a part time job.  In 2016 it will officially be the full time job for my wife and I for the first time ever.  That was something that we thought impossible six years ago but with work, dedication, planning, hustle, help, efficiency, some dumb luck and a ton of God showing up, we've been able to do it.

Taken on Small Business Saturday with a stack of orders from Black Friday!

Taken on Small Business Saturday with a stack of orders from Black Friday!

I don't know what the future holds from walk in love.  Will we grow to the level of being a million dollar company or tens of millions or hundreds of millions?  Will we stay right around where we are?  Will we shrink?  Will we survive?  I don't know.  I would love to know but that is impossible.

But here is what I do know.

I do know that there is a God who loves me enough to allow me to design, market, photograph and sell t-shirts every single day.  I know that there are tons of amazing customers out there who give me the ability to keep going, whose love for our product propels us forward.  I know that I have an amazing, albeit small, team of people who work hard day in and day out so that we can have orders shipped, e-mails answered, products to sell and beautiful content to market it with.  

I know that no matter where we go I will never forget the first person who ordered a shirt online - Melissa Patterson (now Melissa Kochan) via MySpace.  I will never forget the LEFC youth group ordering a hundred shirts for the students six months after I started.  I will never forget my little brother's friend, Taylor, selling shirts at school.  I will never forget when my family lugged 300 shirts across the world so every camper in Russia could have one.  I will never forget messaging a cute girl on Facebook to have her photograph the shirts (mostly because I get to wake up next to her every day).  I will never forget when my father-in-law told me that "a kiosk might be a good idea to sell shirts around Christmas".  I will never forget how ghetto our first kiosk was.  I will never forget saving up all my vacation days so I could work at the second season of our kiosk.  I will never forget launching an IndieGoGo campaign to raise money to open a full-time retail store.  I will never forget the staff that worked at that store and had to deal with me figuring out what it meant to be a boss.  I will never forget the phone call that said we had to move our store to another location because a big box store purchased our space.  I will never forget moving that store and everything in it, all in one night with the help of friends and family.  I will never forget the 22 days spent getting our second store ready for opening day.  I will never forget the 4 times I shocked myself trying to get that store ready.  I will never forget the failure that the second store was.  I will never forget the moment Brooke and I decided to close down both stores and move exclusively online.  I will never forget moving into the our new studio with only 4 shelves of product to sell.  I will never forget watching those 4 shelves turn into 16.  I will never forget the first day June came into the studio.  I will never forget the discussions with Brooke on making walk in love. our full time job.  I will never forget launching collections.  I will never forget the models we met, shot and became friends with in California.  I will never forget all the people who helped fold, pack, pick and do all sorts of work for the company I love.  I will never forget the people who posted about our shirts. I will never forget...

I could go on and on about all the great memories that are so large in my heart.

I know that I am just one small business owner out of thousands, maybe millions.  

And I want you to know that when you shop small you are adding to the full heart of memories for every entreprenuer out there.  Thank you for that and so much more than I could ever express in a blog post.

If you want to shop from my small business you can save 30% today with the code "shopsmall" at!  



For the past two and a half years Brooke and I have had the absolute privilege of employing a young lady by the name of Liz Parrett.  Her AIM screen name from back in the day was CrazyLiz827, hence this blog’s title.  If you didn’t already know, Brooke and I recently decided to step away from shooting weddings as a profession and step into the next phase of our professional lives at walk in love.  You can read more about that here if you are interested in knowing why - Seven Years For a Footnote.  Liz also made a similar decision and so she will no longer be under my employ.

So one of the ways I wanted thank Liz for her two and half years of employment was by writing a letter. It’s mostly just for Liz, but I am pretty sure that if you read it you too might be encouraged by some of the great traits and qualities that have made Liz an excellent employee!

Liz, her husband Weston and their son Jeremiah!

Liz, her husband Weston and their son Jeremiah!

Dear Liz,

For the past two and a half years Brooke and I have had the honor of employing you.  We’ve watched you grow as an artist, friend, mother, wife and follower of Jesus and we have thoroughly enjoyed it all, even when you were an angry pregnant lady :)

Multiple times you have expressed shock that Brooke and I actually hired you in the first place. You have gone on to tell us that your work wasn’t that good and blah blah blah.  You are right.  When we first hired you your work wasn’t great.  It was okay, sometimes good, but not great.  We hired you because of you.  You had all the intangibles.  You were passionate.  As a social worker you decided to pick up a camera and say “I’ll try this.”  That is not something you can teach.  We knew that we could teach you new tricks to add to your repertoire, but we couldn’t teach you to have the passion you already had.  That was all yours.  It was your passion that we saw and that is what we hired.

And that passion did not disappoint.

Over the years we saw you direct that passion toward photography and grow leaps and bounds.  You decided earlier on that you were going to be the best photographer you could be and you wouldn’t settle for anything else, and you didn’t.  You practiced, experimented and took risks with your work.  You’d constantly ask Brooke for her opinion because you wanted to get better and better.  In a sea of photographers who are constantly proclaiming they’ve made it, all while bobbing up and down in the middle of the ocean, you were fervently swimming to the shore.  It was inspiring and motivating to watch.

Brooke and I didn’t hire you because of the photographer you were.  We hired you because we saw the photographer you could become. And man-oh-man did you become that, and more! And it wasn’t just photography that you had that attitude.  You had it toward all of life.  As you stepped into motherhood, and started crying a lot more, we saw all that passion take root in new ways.  We saw your desire to be a good mom to Jeremiah and a good wife to Weston.  Your passion is a constant in your life and I know that as you step into whatever is next it will be that passion that carries you.  Don’t ever forget that or lose it.

I will also be forever grateful to you Liz for helping me be a better leader.  You were unafraid to have hard conversations with your employers.  You pushed us to lead better by having those conversations.  You didn’t just sit back and let your feelings fester, while we had no idea we were doing something wrong, you spoke up.  You asked for things that weren’t easy to ask for, and even when we had to say “No” to some of those requests, you responded with respect, grace and love.  Thank you for that.  As I learn what it means to be a boss for future employees I will always remember the lessons you taught me by talking things out.

I could go on and on about all the great and funny things you brought into our company and life but I will end with this.  From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for loving my wife so well.  Whether it was a funny text or stopping by to drop off a gift while she was pregnant, you always were and continue to be such a good friend to Brooke.  For that I will be grateful again and again.  Thank you.

So, Crazyliz827, as you step from one phase of life into the next I hope that you continue to let that fiery passion guide and push you.  I pray that you continue to have those harder conversations both for your personal gain as well as the people around you.  I am excited to be able to watch your life grow and flourish as a friend and not a boss.  I am excited to celebrate victories with you and your wonderful family as well as be there for anything during the defeats.  Brooke and I think the sky is your limit and we are excited to watch you climb.

If you ever need anything we will be there, even if it’s just for a double date to Red Lobster, a morning Starbucks run or a delicious hot dog lunch.

I know I speak for Brooke and myself when I say that we love you and are so thankful for all you taught us while you worked for us.  We are excited to have a front row seat for whatever is next for you.


T.J. (and Brooke) (and June) (and Penny)

Liz and Weston are middle school sweethearts and this photo makes me so happy!

Liz and Weston are middle school sweethearts and this photo makes me so happy!


For the past two weeks almost all the notifications on my phone have been turned off.  The only time my phone buzzes, beeps or rings is if I am getting a text or a phone call.  No snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TimeHop, ESPN, Fantasy Football, or any other app notifications.  You don't see a single red bubble on my phone alerting me to the number of notifcations I am missing.  They are all gone, all turned off.


I don't miss them at all.

Lately I have been so tired of notifications controlling what I am doing.  My phone vibrates and I am eager to check what it is.  I slide to unlock and then 2, 5 or 30 minutes later I am still looking at my phone.  I end up so frustrated at myself for wasting so much time doing quite literally nothing on my phone.

For example, I would be having a conversation with Brooke and my phone would buzz and then I am ignoring her because I am looking at Instagram or checking out what I was doing this time last year on TimeHop, instead of focusing on what I should be doing now - talking to my beautiful wife.

The struggle of technology controlling my life is real and I am tired of it.

Now, I am not the type of guy that is going to tell you to throw out your cell phone and live technology free in a bomb shelter.  I believe that technology, social media and the internet has done, can do and will continue to bring amazing things to life, but all in it's place, all in moderation.  I don't want the buzz of my phone to control my time! I want to check Instagram, Twitter or anything else on my phone on my time, not my device's time.

Now you should know that when I started turning off all the notifications I was feeling a little nervous.  I thought that I would be missing out on something.  Like there was going to be a social media or Instagram party and I would miss it.  I was nervous about missing life on a screen.  HOW CRAZY IS THAT?!?

So, two weeks later and I can tell you that I have missed absolutely nothing about notifications.  I have spent less time on my phone and more time looking at the loves of my life.  I have spent less time checking vibrations (or phantom vibrations) and more time laughing with Brooke. Imagine that, when I am not checking my phone every 2 minutes I am more engaged with life...

It's like when I switched the notifications off, I switched my eyes on.  I am starting to see real life in front of my face and not through the glowing screen, but as it happens, in 3-D, living color!  It's awesome and I really like it a lot more.  I think I let myself believe that I needed to know everything at all times, because that is what made me enjoyable.  What makes me enjoyable is being engaged in the life that I have been given.

I challenge you for one week, a mere seven days, to switch the notifications off and switch life on.  Don't let your apps and phone determine when you check them, you determine that stuff.  Engage with the life in front of your eyes away from a screen.  I think that you will end up in the same place that I am now - not missing them at all, more engaged and fulfilled.

You Can Do It!

The last eight days have been crazy. Or shall I say, cray-cray. The walk in love. Christmas order has been trickling in, a dozen or so boxes a day, so naturally we had boxes on boxes that were filled with thousands of shirts that needed to be folded, counted, photographed and put away.  We had to clean the studio, keep up with orders, take care of June, love each other, eat something other than Saltines and raw almonds, all while Brooke was on voice rest might I add. (Many posts to come about that.)

What we didn't have was a lot of time to get all of this done.  We had six days and a deadline of an event we were hosting with NFL WR David Nelson, founder of I'M ME - an organization trying to end the orphan cycle around the world.  Long story short - the event was amazing and you should definitely take some time and see if you can get involved in what they are doing!

But, anyway, six days before the event the studio looked like this...

Click image to enlarge the MADNESS!

As you can see we had a lot to take care of.  Boxes and chaos around every corner.  Some of you might be having a panic attack just looking at this photo. Well let me add to that panic by saying that what you can't see even in the photo above is all of the bags of trash and boxes already taken out to the dumpster, and the back room/closet equally shoved full of mess.

Here is what I continue to learn while running and working on walk in love.  We can do it.  We will get it done.  We can work hard and take care of the chaos.

And so, this is what I want to tell you today.  You can do it!  You can do the hard things in life.  You can do the things that seem impossible and overwhelming.  Will doing those things happen in one fell swoop?  Will you be able to snap your fingers and finish them?  Absolutely not!  And that is not how we took care of the studio.  We didn’t snap our fingers, hang out for five days and have the event.  We worked, we labored and we gave our time and energy.

We took it one box at a time.

And man oh man that is life! Isn't it?!  There are times in life when all we can do is take it one box at a time.  We have to pick it up, open it, take everything out, examine the contents, and deal with it.  Sometimes the boxes are light and filled with cotton candy and gummy bears.  I love those boxes!  But sometimes they are horribly heavy, gross boxes, filled with snakes or spiders or crap.  Those boxes aren’t as much fun.

But to clean up your life you can’t leave a single box unpacked. So often we, as humans, do that.  I know too many men who have such great lives, but they have a box tucked away in the corner filled with all the lust in the world.  It’s there because they are afraid to open and unpack it.  They are afraid to deal with the contents.  There are people who have boxes that are covered in dust and cobwebs, because they refuse to look at their past and deal with things.  They have those boxes under lock and key because they refuse to let them go.  They want to hold onto that stuff until the day they die.

We all have boxes of crap that we don’t want to deal with and if we keep letting them stack up your life might end up looking like that photo of the studio.  CHAOS. It’s very difficult to work in a studio, or a life, that looks like that.  It’s hard to get around, it’s hard to stay focused and it’s hard to do anything productive.  I don’t want to be at the studio when it looks like that.  I don’t feel creative, inspired or very passionate at all!

It’s the same way when we have so much crap in our lives. We are so bogged down that our lives are filled with apathy, depression and anxiety.  We aren’t living the full and free lives we were created for.

But the boxes aren’t going anywhere until you deal with them.

So this week in the studio, that’s what we did.  We took care of the boxes one at a time.  Open, unpack, fold, put away.  Over and over again.  There was nothing glamorous about our jobs this week.  It was monotonous, grunt work.

And after a few days the studio looked like this…

Because when we work on things progress comes.  It’s when we ignore things that we stay in exactly the same place - usually a place we don’t want to be, because I don’t know about you, but I always want to become better and closer to God, and that is going to take a lot of work and even more grace.

Something else really cool happened this week.  We had help.

That’s what you will need, too, to deal with your boxes - help.  Whether it’s someone to listen to you or hold you accountable.  You will need help.  Reach out to someone and ask them to help you unpack the boxes in your life.  Talk to your pastor or find a mentor.

We didn’t take on the studio mess by ourselves because it was too much for us to handle.  We had help and we are so thankful for that help. When you need help sometimes the first step to attacking a box could be asking for help. Start there.

All week I was reminded by a verse in the Bible that says, "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30).  I love the way the message bible translation says it - “I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

If we walk hand in hand with Jesus He will deal with the root of the boxes.  He will touch our hearts and souls and obliterate some of the boxes that we thought would never move.  He brings dead things to life, He heals, forgives and covers us with grace upon grace.  A few boxes are nothing for Him.  When we walk with Him we end up living “freely and lightly.”  I LOVE THAT!  I want that life.  I don’t want to feel like a cluttered studio that takes the wind out of my sails.  I want to live freely and lightly.  And I realize over and over again that it won’t happen unless I am dealing with the things boxed away in my heart over and over again.  I must look to Jesus daily to help bring those dusty boxes to light, empty them and fill them back up with His goodness.

So if you are reading this and thinking, man I have a lot of boxes to deal with.  I know.  I am right there with you, but I know that as I walk with Jesus I get closer and closer to dealing with them.

And I know if I can keep going my heart will end up looking like this….

9 Tips For New Dads

June is nine months old today!  And it's awesome!  I am definitely not one of those parents who say things like, "I wish you could stay this small forever."  I love that June is growing and developing and it seems like each month she gets older is my new favorite month of her existence.

I received an e-mail from someone the other day asking me if I had any tips for a soon-to-be dad. He said he read my post on marriage and was wondering if I had any tips for fatherhood.  He explained that he was pretty nervous about the whole thing. So this post is for him, other soon-to-be-Dad's and even "old dads", listing nine things I've learned from my little girl in the last nine months. Obviously this isn't an exhaustive list, but it is what I have found to be helpful.  I am also going to include my nine favorite photos of June in the post, one for each point! Because she's so stinking cute.


If you love your wife well, you will love your kids well.  It would be very easy for me to wrap up my whole identity in being a dad.  Kids come in like thunder and totally rock your world.  They take time, energy, patience, endurance and so much more, all in the best way of course!  It would be really easy for both Brooke and I to make our lives and identity all about being parents, all while sacrificing what it means to be a good husband or wife.  Whenever I come home from work, with Brooke and June waiting for me, I usually say something like, "There are the number 1 and 2 ladies in my life."  I want Brooke to know that our marriage and relationship is always a top priority for me and I want June to know that too.  If I can love Brooke well I will give June a living example for how she should be treated by her future husband.  If I can love Brooke well I end up being a better dad because I am serving the whole family, not just part of it.  Don't let your kids become an idol in your marriage.  Don't let them dominate your lives.  Set aside time to talk, enjoy and nurture each other outside of being parents.  June is alive because Brooke and I love each other.  She will grow up well if we continue to love each other well, and that's why I believe marriage is always more important than kids.


The labor and delivery of a baby is the craziest thing in the world.  It is so intense, hard and just incredible, but the intensity of motherhood doesn't stop when the baby comes out.  There is recovery, the difficulty of breastfeeding, living without as much sleep and so on.  I found myself on the sidelines a lot, by default, in those first few weeks.  I couldn't feed June because, well, I can't lactate!  I felt helpless at times, but Brooke said the best thing I could do was encourage her, tell her she is doing a good job and that we will make it.  That's what you will need to do.  Get out your pom-poms and start cheering on the woman you love.  Tell her she is doing an amazing job, that she is beautiful and that she is a great mother.  Remember that one of you just pushed a baby out of your privates and it was FREAKING HARD.  Be filled with compassion toward your wife, serve her, love her and do all you can to make her life easier.  Brooke was on bedrest for the first two weeks of June's life and I had a severely sprained ankle.  We were a hot mess and our lives could have been even worse if I hadn't made a point to be the encourager.  Be an encourager at all times, but ESPECIALLY at the beginning of your journey as parents.


In the first couple of months of being a dad you will be tired, you will get crapped on, you will get peed on, you will get up in the middle of the night, you will have to stop watching TV to help, you will have to wash dishes, do laundry, clean clothes, clean floors, go out for diapers and so many other things.  Most people love complaining about all these things, but I think what has changed my role as dad is to have the mindset that it is all joy!  In the book of James it says, " Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds"  I don't know about you but it was definitely a trial the first time poop ended up in my hair and on my hands.  It is so easy to have a negative attitude about some of the aspects of fatherhood, but why?  It's not going to help you, it's not going to help your wife, and do you really want your little one being raised to see things so negatively?  People always ask if June is "always that happy?", and for the most part, she is.  It might just be her natural personality, I am hopeful that is part of it, but it also might be that since she was born her mother and I have considered every aspect of her a joy, whether it's smiles or giggles or poops that make your eyes water.


I love taking pictures of June, mostly because she is such a cheese ball and smiles for all of them.  I don't, however, want June's memories of her dad to be my face behind the glow of an iPhone screen.  I want her to experience me, all-in, with all my attention.  I don't want to be half in when I am interacting with my beautiful daughter.  Do I always get this right?  No, and there are definitely times when Brooke has to tell me to get off my phone or when I have to remind myself to put it down and be all in.  In fact, June has made me realize how often I check it and I am really making an effort to check it less.  I have turned off all notifications and tell Brooke that she can tell me to put it down at anytime.  I want to be an all in dad and I can't do that if I am checking my phone all the time.


Brooke will roll her eyes at me from time to time as I am sprinting up and down the Target aisles just to get June to laugh.  But honestly, do whatever you can to bring joy to your kids hearts and if that means being a little silly in public, then so be it.  I would so much rather have a bunch of happy kids with me in public because I am a goofball instead of sad kids in public.  Being a dad has helped me strip away another layer of caring so much about what people might think of me. And it's fantastic.  I believe that our heavenly father wants to love us extravagantly.  I want to be that type of dad.


I try to make it a point to offer Brooke time to be by herself so her identity isn't solely wrapped up in being a mom.  I want her to feel normal and enjoy the things that she enjoyed before June.  I try to watch June whenever I can so she can go to Target or Starbucks (really only the two places we go besides our studio).  And when I feel like Brooke wants to be at home by herself to work on a house project, I will try to take June to my parents or on a few errands.  I actually love taking June to run errands because people are SOOO much nicer to you when you have an adorable baby with you.  If you have ever missed the return/exchange deadline on something, take your baby with you! 😂  Make time for your wife to be by herself whenever you can.  If you aren't good at picking up the signals your wife is throwing down, just ask her to ask for alone time, and when she does, oblige!


If your baby is coming soon and you have no idea what to expect in the delivery room I would seriously start to look into it.  Brooke and I decided to go the unmedicated route for delivery and it was intense.  If I hadn't known, at least a little bit, of what was coming I wouldn't have been able to be there for Brooke like she needed me.  Even if the unmedicated way isn't for you be prepared for what to expect.  Find out the steps and processes of what is going to happen in the delivery room.  It's like the wild west and being mentally prepared will help you know what to do for your wife.  You will be able to support and love her better if you are prepared.


We read the book that millions of parents have read - On Becoming Baby Wise.  Literally my favorite book of all time, outside the Bible.  It gives you an idea of what to expect, how to schedule feedings and get your baby sleeping through the night as soon as possible.  Can I get an amen?  I don't know about you, but I love sleeping and after a few weeks of getting up every night I was starting to feel and look crazy.  I don't know how long it would have taken June to naturally sleep through the night, but with the Baby Wise method she was sleeping through the night at 8 weeks and it was amazing!!  I can not recommend reading BABY WISE enough.  Do it!  Just buy it and read it.  You will not regret it.  Also, there will be "Baby Wise haters" out there so get ready for them.  But, I am definitely not one of them.  Who knows... I might even get a  Baby Wise tattoo on my butt.


Like all of my list posts, I like to end by telling you to end with Jesus.  In the gospel Jesus gives us the tools we need to be great dads.  We need to love relentlessly through all struggles and pain.  We need to serve our wives like Jesus served the church.  We need to teach our kids who God is and how He loves them so much.  We will all fall short as fathers, but God never will.  He will be enough for little June like He is enough for Brooke and I.  I will fall short at being a dad in a lot of ways, but my hope and prayer is that I will be able to point June toward Jesus so she can follow Him with passion, purpose and excitement!


1.  Baby Bundle - This app allows you to track feedings, diaper changes, etc.  You may think that stuff is easy to remember but after a few nights of not sleeping enough your brain starts to forget. EVERYTHING.

2. 1 Second Every Day - Allows you to easily montage one second of video every single day.  You will probably find yourself watching these videos after she goes to bed.

3. VSCO Cam/Grid - I decided to upload all my photos of June to my VSCO grid so I could have one place on the web to go to and see them all.  You can see them all here -

I have only been a dad for nine months, but I hope what my advice helps all dads of all ages out there.  I know that fatherhood will bring all sorts of unexpected turns, twists and outcomes.  I know that at times it will be hard and frustrating, but I also know that it is all totally worth it.  I know that with Jesus I can consider it all joy because my hope is in Him and because of that all the rest of life is bonus.  If you try to love your children like God loves his, I think you'll do a great job!

Living The Dream Every Single Day

The new walk in love. collection is here.  It's called Thy Kingdom Come and we are pumped about it!  This was the first collection in a while that we designed in house.  The designs aren't elaborate by any means, but just really simple and bold statements that we believe reflect scripture and the attitudes Christians hope to live by.

One phrase we have that might catch people off guard or make them turn their heads is - "Living The Dream Every Single Day."

This is usually the answer I give to people who ask me, "What have you been up to lately?" or "How are things going?"

And this statement literally has nothing to do with status, money, followers, likes or any outside factor.  The reason I am living the dream every single day is because every day I get to wake up and live with Jesus.  The giver of life has given me life and made me new and that is the dream, day in and day out.

You don't have to look far to find people with "everything" who are miserable, depressed, alone and longing for something more.  Think about all the celebrities who take their lives when to the outside world they have everything they would ever need.  It is always so sad to me because I know that feeling.  I know feeling lost, confused and wandering without Jesus.  Trying to fulfill that loneliness with anything and everything only to find it getting bigger, larger and more prevalent in my life.  It wasn't fulfilled until I truly surrendered all that I am to Jesus.

I don't know if you read this blog because you want business advice, marriage advice or life advice, but I do know that I could give you all the great advice in the world and it would fall short to this - only Jesus will fill the emptiness inside of you.  Only He will give you life and life to the full.  Only He will restore you and make you new.  Only He will give you the ability to pick your head off the pillow and live the dream every single day, regardless of how bad your migraine is or how crappy your body feels.  Living with Jesus is the dream, every single day.