Be Brave Little One.

When we were kids, we were fearless.  We climbed up, jumped down, ran fast, skinned our knees, and rode our bikes until our little arms were covered in sweat.  We played tag with kids we just met at parks we were visiting for the very first time. We yelped in excitement as our parents pushed us higher, and higher on the swings and were totally amazed when they somehow ran under the swing while we were still in the air.

But, then something happens.  We grow up, ride our bikes a little less, and stop hanging from monkey bars all together. Outside of a little head nod or "thank you" when someone hands us our change, we rarely communicate with anyone we don't already know.  Our lives get closed off as we get older.  I don't know why it happens or how it happens, but it does. Some of it's unintentional, some of it's because of hurt, some of it's because of laziness.  Whatever the reason, it happens nevertheless, and we trade those fearless child-like feelings in for more of the mundane.

I was feeling this in my own life.  I was feeling myself become more and more closed off to the world around me.  I was tired of putting myself out there only to get shut down or ignored. But, then I had a baby... that grew into a toddler, and she has taught me how to play again. How to run again. How to be brave.

Several nights ago, at a local park, Brooke shot family photos for friends of ours, while I followed June around and kept her busy.  She was fearless - running down the long concrete paths, up the little bridges, and over mounds of grass to pick up her favorite rocks.  I just let her run wherever she wanted, helped her up the more difficult stairs and made sure she didn't face plant when her momentum got the best of her.

At one point during her exploration, she walked towards the largest set of stairs in the park, which we have gone up and down a few times before.  She paused for a brief second, looked back at me with a small grin on her face that said, "Do you see what I see?!? These look fun!", and then took off running to conquer the stairs. Up and up she climbed with her little body, and when she reached the top she looked at the large hill still in front of her with the same excitement as the stairs she had just conquered, and we continued our climb.

Upon reaching the very top, I turned my little lady around, held her hand and we ran down the hill we had just climbed. Our running was filled with little June giggles and happy screams.  After the hill I grabbed both her hands and swung her down the stairs, while yelling "1...2....3...JUMP!!"

As June's father, I want her to experience these brave moments.  I want her to see a set of monkey bars, or a big hill, as an exciting challenge. When she finishes climbing a hill, or steps, she almost always looks back at either Brooke or I with a look of "Did you see that?"  She wants to share with her parents and be acknowledged that she has done good work.

As I see her do these types of things, over and over again, I am constantly reminded of the wild, fearless, wonder that I am afraid I have lost as I've aged.  And while I am definitely one that likes a good challenge, at times I can be a little hesitant to talk to a stranger, or even exchange more than pleasantries with the person behind the register at Target.

Learning to acknowledge that this child-like wonder has decreased in my own life is only part of the problem.  Acting on it and fighting for it is the other part. So, if you happen to drive past June and I at a playground you will probably see me hanging from monkey bars, climbing through tunnel, and (as long as my ankles allow it πŸ˜‚) jumping from obstacle to obstacle with a sheen of sweat over my brow and arms.  I want to feel that child-like wonder in my life again, and I don't want it to ever go away.  When it comes to the strangers in my life, I want to be more like June and approach them because they are new and unique. I will start a conversation.  Ask them about their kids, their lives, where they are from, what excites them.  If they think I am a weirdo, so be it, but I never think people are weird for engaging with me on a personal level.

I don't think, as a Christian, I focus on this verse enough in my life:

β€œTruly I tell you,” Jesus said, β€œunless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

I want, no need, to become like a little child when it comes to my faith and approach God with the awe and wonder He truly deserves. Because how much more does my heavenly Father love me than I could ever love June? If I stumble He will be there.  If I make it to the top He will be there.  If I need a hand halfway through, He will be there.

If you find yourself in a similar place, go do something out of the ordinary.  Go hang on monkey bars, run down a hill or play tag with your kids, or your adult friends. (Try it. It's terrifying and exhausting).  Do anything to capture that out-of-breath-wonder and remember that feeling - never forget it! And then, with a new found sense of bravery and wonder, look at the God of the heavens and earth and simply stand in awe, like a child.

My three month summer vacation

The title of this post could be a little misleading, but that isn't my intention. I didn't take an entire summer and sit on a beach with a drink in my hand, while the water slowly lapped up onto the beach, but I did take the summer off -- at least my version of off. Let me explain...

I have written about it before, but I will say it once again.  For the past seven years Brooke and I have been professional wedding photographers.  That meant when everyone was out enjoying the great weather on a beach, or their annual summer vacation, we were inside editing wedding photos, e-mailing brides and gearing up for another weekend of shooting.  After June was born we decided to retire from the wedding world, move on and focus on our other business - walk in love.  So, we finished up a few final weddings in the summer of 2015, enjoyed the fall season, enjoyed winter, got tired of winter, and were really looking forward to spring.  Toward the end of our photography career we stopped shooting between November and March anyway, because it was too cold and the sun set at 3:00pm - which just meant that during those fall/winter months (October - April of 2015/16) it hadn't really hit us what life without weddings would be like.

Then as the weather began to change, we noticed that we were home on those early spring weekends.  Then it happened again, and again, and again! With each weekend that passed, we were amazed how much we noticed.  Then May turned to June, and we were going to the pool on SATURDAYS and following that up with trips to go out to eat and long evening walks. There were even Saturdays that we did yard work. YARD WORK!  And we were excited about it!

It was about half way through the month of June, with our front porch scattered with pool towels, bathing suits, and sunlight, that Brooke turned to me and said, "I feel like we are on vacation."

We actually didn't have a vacation planned for this summer.  Financially we couldn't really make it happen and so we decided we would skip a traditional summer vacation in lieu of saving money.  What happened was not a week at a beach house, but was nonetheless incredible... and I was totally missing it, until my wife pointed it out in that moment.

We were having a summer worth of vacations. Not the traditional kind, but the kind we had given up because of the career path we had been on.  For the previous seven summers we had missed bar-b-q's, pool parties, 4th of July fireworks, last minute dinner parties, and all because of weddings.  And this was the first summer that we were able to do it all.

So, back to that moment on our front porch: I realized then that I could cram another summer full of work. We could put the pedal to the metal when it came to walk in love. and use all of our newly given time working... or we could take a breath, a beat, a pause, and take a summer vacation.  A summer vacation made up of all the previously missed summer vacations.

And we did just that.  We didn't announce it to the world or even to each other.  We just let God lead us into a season of life where the waters were calm.  Where we could focus on living the type of life, at the type of pace we always hoped for, but for a bunch of reasons couldn't afford, grasp, or weren't brave enough to take in the past. And that didn't mean life wasn't happening or we weren't engaged.  We just took it with deeper breaths and more stillness before it happened.  We focused on what brought us joy instead of what needed to be done right now.  We let go of things we didn't need or couldn't afford -- both financially and emotionally.  We did flips off the diving board, ate grilled cheese every Tuesday night with friends, celebrated birthdays and new business ventures, watched parades and nourished new friendships, kissed June and each other and shopped at Target a hundred times.

Maybe you are reading this and thinking that I am full of crap.  Maybe you think that you can't have a time of calm waters because of this, that, and the other thing.  I used to live there.  "We can't ever stop weddings because we can't pay our bills." "We can't ever slow down because then we will have slowed. down.!"  Well, all our bills were paid this summer.  We certainly made cuts in the things we did, but all our bills were paid.  Maybe you are telling yourself that you can't because you have more kids than I do.  Well, I would counter by saying maybe a season of calm waters for you is enjoying your kids and ALL that they bring. Maybe it's learning to enjoy them when they want to run around all day and not stop.  Maybe it's enjoying them by not trying to schedule every second of their free time and instead actually giving them free time to build forts, dig in the dirt and climb a tree or two!  Maybe it's enjoying them by not demanding so much from them.  I don't know, but I had a toddler all summer with her teeth growing in, and yet my summer was more peaceful than ever before.

There are a lot of reasons never to take a breath.  Our society seems to be 24 hours, 7 days a week, and if you want to keep up with the Kardashians or the Joneses or the Whoeveres, you have to do this and this, and your kids have to wear this and this, and so on.  It will never end until we put our foots down to end it -- until we give our lives the space it needs.  It doesn't take long to realize that a non-stop, always moving, lifestyle is damaging both physically and emotionally.

Summertime worked for me to make that space, but I know that autumn or winter wouldn't.  Maybe your life is the other way around. Maybe you can take a breath when it's freezing cold outside and you're inside because of snow anyway.  I don't know, but I think it's important to recognize right now, with whatever season you're in, that it needs to happen. And probably soon.

My summer vacation is over.  I realize that now I have some serious work to do before the end of the year, and honestly, I am really looking forward to it.  I would never want to be on vacation forever, because we aren't wired that way.  I am excited to get back to the grind.  Actually a better way to say that is, "I am more excited than I have ever been to get back to the grind."  And that's because I took time.  I took space and I let God move in my life during a season of calm, so that I can move into a season of "chaos" knowing that I can handle it.

When we go, go, go and never stop, we never let God use the stillness to speak.  Most of the time God speaks in the Bible is in stillness, in quiet, in peace.  Yet, we try to hear His voice when the noise is turned up to 11.  And if you think God doesn't speak in stillness, just remember how He gave His son to the world.

I challenge you to take some time, maybe it's all summer, maybe it's a month, or maybe it's 10 minutes every morning before anyone else wakes up in your house, to be still before the Creator of the heavens and earth.  To be still and listen. To be still and know. It will never be time wasted or regretted.  

I will never look back to the summer of 2016 and think, "Man, I am so upset that I took a summer to take a breath and re-focus on what matters."  It's because of this summer I have been making it a point to wake up early and spend around 30 minutes in the silence of the downstairs to read, listen and pray.  Brooke has already said that she has seen a difference in the way I handle the day, handle my moods and handle stress.  Try it.  Take a mini summer vacation every morning without ever leaving your house to listen to the Spirit of God.  Maybe He has been speaking to you for years, you've just never given Him anytime to actually hear what He is saying.

The Rest of SUMMER 2016 looked like this!!

I think the funniest part about this summer is that we ended it by actually shooting a friend's wedding.  It was in Bermuda so no complaints here!

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. - Psalm 46:10

I Am Voting For Jesus.

I watched about 10 minutes of the presidential debate the other day and couldn't take it. This morning I unfollowed anyone who talks election on Twitter. If you show up in my Facebook feed talking about either candidate I will unfollow. I just can't take it anymore. It's the election that will never end and so I am ending it for myself.

I heard on the radio yesterday that people are drilling holes in their new iPhone 7's because of a prank that tells them "Apple forgot the head phone jack" and all you need to do is drill through the metal and it's there (seriously, just google it.) When I hear something like that that it's not hard for me to see how we got to these two candidates.

I can say with a lot of confidence that no matter who wins in November we are in for a weird, rough and bumpy four years fueled by hate, name calling and he said, she said, they said, I said type of rhetoric. Both candidates are terrible. Even, if you want to go third party - both of those candidates are terrible.

But, let me ask a question. Does the president determine how you love your wife or your children? Does the president determine how you serve Jesus? Does the president determine your spiritual walk? Does the president determine your joy?

I think, throughout this never-ending election cycle, it has become pretty apparent that many want the next president to be their God. They want either Donald or Clinton to save them from whatever victimization they identify with. Well, people, it's not going to happen.

There is only one who can save and His name is Jesus. There is only one who can give life and His name is Jesus. There is only one who is worthy to be a king and His name is Jesus.

Not all, but a lot of Christians during this election have been obnoxious. They are eager to accept that these two candidates deserve more praise and attention then the actual King of Kings. They believe that making America great again is more important than making Jesus' name great again and it's hard to watch.

Since finding out that Donald and Hillary were the two choices I have struggled with who I am going to vote for. I looked to 3rd party for a little but even the Libertarian candidate is a big government nut. So, here is what I am doing.

I am writing in the name of Jesus.

I understand we are going to be stuck with one of these two for the next four years and their policies might affect generations to come, but guess what? I believe in a God of eternity. I believe in a God past the United States and past any other countries that rise up after the U.S. I believe in a God that has no beginning or end. So, I don't care who the next president is. It's not going to affect the way I love like Jesus calls me to love, it's not going to affect the way I love my wife, my daughter, my family or my community.

The next president might put me out of business. They might make my taxes so high I end up living under a bridge but I don't care because I will count it all joy. I will trust in the one who is more powerful than every president combined. I will trust in a Jesus who conquered death so that I may have a life to the full.

I am writing in the name of Jesus in faith. Faith that my little attempt to call out to Him on behalf of a sinking country will bring revival and healing. Only Jesus can save the individuals in this country. Only Jesus can save Donald Trump. Only Jesus can save Hillary Clinton. Only Jesus can save black lives. Only Jesus can save your life. Only Jesus can save and so I will be voting for that this November.

I will write in the name above all names. And until I write that name in I will pray for His kingdom to come and His will to be done.

Maybe you think I am a fool or that I am wasting a vote but I try to read a book every day filled with stories of fools who did the impossible because of a great God.

Boost Unavailable

Balance is a Moving Target

As kids we loved to practice our balance.  We were quick to jump up onto a ledge, curb or railroad track, and tight-rope walk, using our arms to sway from side to side all the while doing our best not to fall.  Sometimes our balancing ended in triumph as we made our way all the way from one end of the railing to the other!  Our balancing skills were something to be marveled at. "DID YOU SEE THAT?" we'd say if we made it from point A to B successfully, or if we had siblings, "I bet you can't go the whole way."

Other times our balancing left a lot to be desired.  We would teeter and totter on the ledge, frantically swinging our arms back and forth as fast as we could, trying hard to regain our balance, only to end up taking a defeated step or jump off the ledge. Other times, when we didn't give up early enough, that step down or jump off would turn into an embarrassing fall, because we held on one second longer than we could afford.

I have a lot of embarrassing stories about losing my balance.  I grew up with a head larger than most, and I always joke during my stories that this led to a lot of my life issues.  Well, I actually can say that I think it did led to most of the stitches in my chin. I don't know the exact count, and I am sure my parents might have a record of it in my baby book, but when I could finally walk without falling over, I had accrued around 36 stitches in my head and chin, mostly in my chin from falling down stairs, off car bumpers or just straight to the ground.

But even so, it (my large head) didn't stop me from balancing on ledges, tracks and parking spot dividers.  I loved it as a kid.  It was such a challenge -- move too quickly and you would probably fall.  Too slowly and you would probably fall.  Think about it too much and you would probably fall.  Think about it too little and you would probably fall.  Occasionally a sibling feeling ornery would push you and you would fall.  There were a loads of ways your balancing act could come to an end, but that never seemed to stop you as a kid.

Somewhere in life balance shifts from a game we play with ledges to a way we walk through life. It becomes more stressful and less playful as we start balancing our faith, relationships, job, free time, resources, money, kids and so much more. And whether you are balancing on a ledge or balancing all the aspects of life, I think we could all agree that balancing is hard.

Currently, June (17 months) is walking and running around like a little maniac and I love it.  You can tell though that she still is working on this balance thing.  She will run from one room to the next, stop and then awkwardly shuffle her feet to turn around and come back.  It isn't the most fluid movement you'll see.  The same can be said the first time you jumped up onto a ledge.  You probably didn't make it from one end to the other without an error.  It took some time to understand the speed at which to walk, what to focus on, how high your arms should be lifted up, etc.

The same isn't said about balancing life.  Sure, your parents might have eased you into adulthood by giving you tasks and responsibilities as you grew, but there is still nothing like the first time you realize you are an actual adult, with no more school, just paying rent/mortgage, working a full-time job, shopping for a car, getting married, having a kid, paying off school loans, etc.

That moment hits some like a ton of bricks and it can be difficult.  Adulthood can end up making you feel like your life is a swirling vortex of chaos and you'll never check everything off your list or have time to take a shower again.  You feel like people will judge you because you aren't doing enough and you feel guilty about relaxing.  Others simply ignore the idea of adulthood altogether, and never stop acting like a kid, wasting their life away doing nothing, only to complain in five years that your peers actually have.

For those of you who really want to get balance "right" and want to stop feeling like you are in a chaos vortex, I understand.  I used to feel guilty pretty often when I would leave a task on my list and instead do something outside of work.  I used to feel that if I didn't do A, B + C every day I wasn't working hard enough, and if I wasn't working hard enough, I didn't deserve what I have.

And it was all because I lacked balance.  As I was walking on the ledge of life, I was leaning so hard one way that I was constantly feeling frustrated, and constantly off target.  I felt like I was stepping off the track every fifty feet with miles to go.  But that's what happens when we lean to heavily to one side while balancing, we fall.  There is no way around it.

I love my job and love what I do, but even with that, I was finding myself in constant stress over it. It was weighing me down to one side so heavily I was off balance.  And this is where you might expect me to say, "So take time to relax and do your nails" because that's how we look at balance so often.  If we lean too heavily one way, we need to add more to the other side, so we even back out.

But I found that when I would try to do that, "relax", I'd only end up feeling like I was wasting time. It was like I was on a tight rope and had a giant pole in my hands.  When I felt like I was weighted too heavily to the work side, I would add more relaxing stuff to the non-work side, but all of that was only leading a heavier pole in my hands. I wasn't actually balancing, I was just evening the scales by adding more weight.

I think the thing we might actually need to do is take away -- from both sides.  Instead of balancing 500 things on our scale, trying to make one even out the other, maybe we need to strip our lives down to the basics and just balance 5 or 10 things really well.

I have already written extensively on my blog about why Brooke and I made the decision to shut down our retail stores, close our wedding businesses, and find what truly brings us joy. To live a life of actual balance. And as we stripped away the layers of weight we had added onto our fake balancing act, we realized a few things.  One is that we are happier, and I think all humans would be happier if they focused on what actually brings them joy and not what should bring them joy.

The other was that when your life is easier, it is easier to balance. We obviously noticed that we made less money by going the route we did, but we quickly realized that when we made less money we had less to spend, and we could focus on buying the right things.  We made less money this year than we ever have while being married, and financially, this has been the least stressful year of our marriage.

We also realized that when you have less stuff to balance you have more time to balance.  We realized that while one day we might need to work harder to get some things done, we could use the next day to spend as a family for balance.  It wasn't werk, werk, werk, and then maybe do something as a family.  It was so much more doable because we created space to do it.

We also started to look at balance as a moving target.  I think too often we believe that we have to work this many hours of day, pray this many hours a day, read this many hours a day, eat this healthy every day, and spend this much, or little, money every day.  We try to make every day a carbon copy of the last, but no day is the same.  When Brooke and I started to look at balance as a moving target, it gave us room to give ourselves and each other grace.  When one day was spent enjoying our family and not working, we knew that the next day might be more heavily spent working.  When we spent too much money one day because a friend invited us to a lunch, we knew that we could find balance on another day by cooking all meals at home.  When I got an itch for a buffalo chicken sub or a doughnut, I knew that balance could come tomorrow when I ate a salad for lunch.

I think when we try to balance all the things, all the days, we feel frantic the minute our day changes its routine.  But that simply isn't life! Things are always coming up and true balance is being able to navigate those changes without going crazy.

During my one-on-one sessions, or my live Periscope show, I almost always get a question about balance, because we all want it.  We really haven't changed much from that kid walking on a ledge. We just want to make it from one end to the other without falling, so we can turn around to those watching and say, "Did you see that?"

But the thing about life is that you won't make it from one end to the other without a few falls. You won't make it without waving your arms frantically, leaning back and forth like a weirdo. You won't make it without having to step down, or by pulling a grape lady and falling off so hard it knocks the wind out of you. And that's okay.  Hopefully when you fall you have people around you to help you back up and dust you off.  If not people, then hopefully you have Jesus to do just that.

I've learned that I find it much easier, and graceful, to balance on the ledge of life when I have less of everything else and more of what matters - my God, my family and my health. That instead of trying to carry it all to the end, I just carry what matters.

How We Used My Birthday To Break Our Single Day Sales Record!

Last Friday, June 17th, was my 31st birthday and on that day we broke our single day sales record for walk in love. Previously, our single day sales record was just over $24,000 and was achieved on Cyber Monday 2015.  This past Friday, however, we did just under $28,000 in sales in a 24 hour period.  It was incredible! And exactly what I wanted for my 31st birthday!  If you are a first time reader of this blog you might be surprised that I share our exact dollar sales number.  I find that transparency is a stronger teaching tool than ambiguity.  You could end up on this post and think to yourself from the title, "Well what if the single day sales record was only $100 and he broke it by selling $101 worth of product?"  I share the actual numbers as a way to show you that the advice I am about to give you might be worth taking, because our sales for a single day of selling t-shirts are pretty good.  I love helping businesses, so if my advice helps you break your sales record of $100 to $101 on your birthday, that is awesome!  If your numbers are higher than ours, and some of these tips work, then great!  Don't get caught up in comparing your single day sales records to ours.  Compare yours to yours. Again, the only reason I share the actual dollar amounts is to show that I have had some success and hopefully sharing that succsess will help you have the same!

 So, here is how we used my birthday to set our single day sales record.

A photo posted by walk in love. (@walkinlove) on

1. We Set a Precedent.

For the past few years we have always had a special sale on my birthday.  Up until this year it was always the percentage off of the age I was turning.  So, last year it was 30% off (because I turned 30), and we had a great day of sales, around $8,500.  The reason I like "the birthday sale" is that you don't really have to compete with anyone else for sales.  Every Black Friday we are competing with every other company in the world. Same with Christmas time, back to school, Memorial Day, etc.  But on my birthday there really aren't any other sales going on with other companies.  So, if we have a great one day sale on this "random" day in June, people might be more inclined to jump in because they aren't being bombarded with sales and offers from everywhere else.  This was the 3rd or 4th year we've done the birthday sale, and I don't know if people ever wait for it but they might start to!  This year, on your birthday, try to figure out a clever sale you can do based on the age you are turning.  Start this year and maybe in a few years you will be breaking your single day sales record as well. 

A photo posted by walk in love. (@walkinlove) on

2. We Have The Sale On My ACTUAL BIRTHDAY!

Birthdays are awesome!  People love to celebrate them.  Ask any parent if they are going to have a birthday party for their kid and the answer is almost always YES!  It's exciting to celebrate the day someone came into this world.  It brings back memories of your best birthdays, your friends birthdays, your kids birthdays. You will always be able to find a few Debbie Downers who hate on birthdays, but for the most part birthdays conjure up feelings of excitement and joy!  The birthday sale taps into those feelings and that ultimately leads to more sales. Someone who is, say, on the fence about buying a t-shirt might be more inclined to buy one on my actual birthday, because they are now doing it for themselves and also kind of for me.  Just like a real birthday party, it's for the person celebrating their birthday and it's also for everyone they invited. The birthday sale was for me, but it was also for everyone we invited, which were all our current and potential customers via social, e-mail and our promoted Facebook post.

A photo posted by walk in love. (@walkinlove) on

3. We Made The Sale Too Good To Pass Up!

A big part of the record breaking day was that we gave one of the biggest discounts we've ever given.  We made all tees or tanks 2 for $31.  The age I was turning! So clever, right?!?  That is honestly the best deal we've ever had, so we could have probably done that any ole day and had success, but I think tying it into the birthday gave it some extra umphf!  I knew that after last year with a 30% discount we were finished doing a "percentage off for the age I was turning" and we would have to shift the sale idea to something else. We threw around a bunch of ideas, but landed on the 2 tees/tanks for $31.  If you want people to get on board with celebrating a birthday sale, make the deal extra special.  Since it's only 1 day they will be more likely to pull the trigger and buy.  The fact that we were pushing it out all day as a  ONE DAY ONLY sale wasn't as annoying because birthdays are only ever one day.  It pushed people to act fast without actually being pushy, because a one day birthday sale just makes sense.

A photo posted by walk in love. (@walkinlove) on

4. We Set Ourselves Up Well.

Recently, we switched from Shopify to Shopify Plus.  Shopify Plus is geared toward e-commerce sites that do over $500,000 in sales a year.  They provide extra services and account management, which you don't get with regular Shopify. The best part of Shopify Plus is that they offer a feature called "scripts", giving you the ability to run sales and have deals that are automatically calculated without discount codes.  So, when were planning this sale we realized that we wanted to simplify it for our customers.  We didn't want to require a discount code, nor did we even know how we would make a discount code that would work correctly.  If someone added a $28 and $25 shirt to their cart, how would one code make them each $15.50?  It wouldn't. So, we needed Shopify Plus to make that happen.  It's pricier than normal Shopify Plus, but it already paid off in one sale.  We even received a few texts and messages from friends and fans of walk in love. saying, "It was so cool that my cart just knew how much to discount!"  We agree, it was super cool!

A photo posted by walk in love. (@walkinlove) on

5. It's Authentic.

Anytime people ask me what I want for a birthday or Christmas I say, "I want you to buy all your birthday gifts or Christmas gifts for other people at walk in love."  I really have more than I will ever need and I really just want my business to be successful.  I want to turn my company into a multi-million dollar business.  So, I really mean it when I say something like, "Get me a birthday gift by buying yourself a t-shirt."  And those people who have been following our company, or Brooke and I, can see that.  We aren't these fake people just trying to make a quick buck.  We are invested in what we do and I think our authenticity shines through.  Without that authenticity, a great sale to celebrate my birthday would fall flat.  Be authentic in what you do.  It's easy to see right through it if you aren't.

I know the birthday sale isn't for everyone and if it's not for you, no biggie.  But, if it is for you I hope that you take some of my tips to heart and start the birthday sale precedent this year.  Who knows? In a few years you might be breaking your single day sales record, which if you are a business owner, is really the best birthday gift ever!

To all who purchased on my birthday, THANK YOU!  It was amazing and I can't say thank you enough.  I am honored to have so many customers believe in what I do and purchase products from walk in love.  I love seeing the posts on Instagram of you wearing shirts and the Snapchats you send me of you walking to your mailbox to get your package!  It makes me so happy!

6 Things I Do To Check My Personal Brand + Keep Jesus First

Yesterday, I went out for breakfast with my friend Garret Barbush.  We try to have breakfast once a month so we can catch up, share ideas and refresh.  Both Garrett and I are in charge at our jobs. He is the director of Men of Iron, an amazing non-profit and I am in charge of walk in love, selling the best t-shirts in the history of the universe... I mean, might be a touch biased...

While I ate something called the Mega-Meat Omelette, we began to speak about personal brands and how to grow them, why to grow them, but mostly we discussed the balance between following Jesus, being humble and growing a personal brand.

Garrett was asking me how to do it in a way that "doesn't make it all about you." I am guessing that Garrett and I are not the only people in this world who struggle with that idea.  We both want to grow what we do, because we believe that it's what God has called us to do, while still living in a way that is honoring to Him.

And we are both small potatoes.  When I start to think about christians like Tim Tebow, Steph Curry or anyone a national stage, I think the struggle to stay humble and yet keep reaching and striving for your personal goals must be a difficult walk.

I thought I would share a few ways that I try to keep myself in check when growing my personal brand, all of which have been helpful in the last few years.  Obviously I am not an expert on this topic and I don't know the perfect answer to having a personal brand and living like Jesus, but I am trying and learning.  Hopefully my tips will help you in some way!

1. Have a personal brand mission statement. (Even if it's just private.)

Mine has been private, until the following sentence.  I want my personal brand to encourage people to live passionately for Jesus while making them laugh and hopefully selling a few extra t-shirts along the way.  I have three goals when posting on Instagram, my blog and my Snapchat - (1) show that Jesus has changed my life, (2) make people smile, (3) and promote what I do for a living, which is selling t-shirts.  Have I ever mentioned that?  Well, in case I haven't, here is a link to buy some of the softest t-shirts in the history of time or space -!

2. Have people that will keep you in check.

I run everything I post or create by Brooke.  She keeps me in check and is honest with me if my caption is to arrogant, vain or obnoxious and I am so thankful for that.  Obviously, I only see the world through my eyes, which I am trying to align with the way Jesus sees the world, but I am nowhere close to that, so I need a new perspective.  I ask Brooke to check everything to make sure that it goes along with the heart of my brand, which she knows.

3. Don't take it all too seriously.

Sometimes I am about to post something I know won't be the most popular type of post.  I can get into my head and think about the likes, comments, engagement, etc.  But I always ask myself, is this part of the mission statement that I have? Will it inspire one person that follows me or make one person smile? If I can answer yes to that, then it is worth it even if it loses me a few followers, likes or whatever other metric is measurable. In the end, my personal brand doesn't matter at all if it doesn't push people toward Jesus.

4. Take criticism well, but ignore the crazy.

I read all the comments and sometimes I take them to heart when I feel like they are on target with something God is trying to change into me.  When someone calls my business a "whore of the devil", I tend to just ignore the crazy.  It's easy for me to ignore comments and shrug it off as internet trolling, which most of the negativity is.  Sometimes though, there is actual criticism I need to take to heart, and I try my best to have the vision to differentiate between the genuine criticism and the trolls looking for a fight.

5. Know that it's okay to change it up!

I had this idea that I would record 52 YouTube videos this year - one a week.  Well, turns out that didn't work in my life this year, maybe some other time, but that's just the way it was. I could have kicked myself for that "failure" and spent time either trying to make it work against the grain of my life, or just moved on and changed.  I shifted and went to Snapchat and a live Periscope show, which works better for me.  Be willing to change it up if you need to, so you can keep things fresh and exciting for yourself.  I was also posting a daily blog for a few weeks in a row, but realized that that wasn't the best way to write for me, so I shifted and went to once a week, or when I feel like I have something worth saying.  Find what works for you, for whatever season of life you are in, and lean into that.  I know that by being open to that changes I have discovered new avenues that I never would have tried if I had been so set in whatever arbitrary rule I made up.

6. End with Jesus.

I want everything I do personally to end with Jesus.  Whether I am singing on Snapchat about my food or writing a post about personal brands, I want to use it all to glorify God through the gifts and reach he's given me.  It can be challenging because our human nature wants so badly to make what we do all about us, but we must fight that, and make it all about the only one who is worthy to have it all about - Jesus.  I will fall short of this and make it all about me when it shouldn't, but I must continue to fight, claw and push to make it all about Him.  You can sell something that you create for the glory of God.  You can sing a song you wrote for the glory of God.  You can parent your children for the Glory of God.  You can build a personal brand for the glory of God.  Keep Jesus at the center of your life and always try to have whatever you do end with Jesus and more of Him in this world!