One of the most humbling – but exciting! – aspects of life is how few things go according to our plans. God graciously (repeatedly!) reveals this to us in His Word, as Proverbs 16:9 states, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, ” and again in 19:21, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
Sitting here typing this blogpost is a testimony to that truth. If all Debbie’s plans and dreams would have come to fruition, I probably would have gotten married right out of college and have two kids by now. Or three. Or four. (Raised in a big family = big family dreams.)
Many inquiries have come my way since I have started posting on Instagram & Facebook again under Debbie Dean Photography, and I hope this blogpost gives you a bird’s eye view as to how I am back here today. This will be broad and brief, but I welcome more questions at firstname.lastname@example.org!
I last used this blog in college when I was building Debbie Dean Photography as a CNU student, interning under the Staff Photographer with the university’s Public Relations’ office and booking weddings on the side. (Scroll back through my old blog posts if you so dare. I keep them up here to remind me of the journey photography has been and all the sweet experiences God has blessed me with in using this gift.) Below is a glimpse into the fun of those CNU PR days…
Then, on May 11, 2013, I graduated from CNU! (Wow, who let that happen??) Here’s me as a 22 year-old enthusiastic grad…
And my amazing parents who made those four years possible…
(Sidenote: if you are wondering about my bigger size in these first photos, I wrestled with various eating disorders throughout college, and the Lord graciously brought me out of those the summer after I graduated in 2013. Another post on that will come one day.)
Following graduation, I moved to East Asia for two years. I lived as a university student, taking language classes and diving into the culture and people of that city for the sake of getting to know them and share the gospel. There are a million words I want to say about those two years (some of the best of my life, to date), but contact me individually to learn more. I will just share a few photos below for now…
After those two years in East Asia (2013-2015), God led me to join full-time staff with Cru.
After a year back in Northern VA raising financial support (2015-2016), I moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and began working at Salisbury University in August 2016:
These students were the bomb diggity… Love them!
Small but wonderful Cru staff team! Love them dearly!
The above events lead us to the spring of 2018. During all this time, since I left CNU and headed to Asia in 2013, my Canon 7D camera would come out every now and then, but quick iPhone photos and the craziness of full-time ministry life crowded out any time or desire to schedule photoshoots or weddings. I truly never thought I would go back to the world of photography… I did not even think I would ever leave staff with Cru!
Through a series of events in the spring of 2018, God led me to start praying and thinking about life outside of Cru staff. (Please don’t get any wacky ideas… nothing horrible happened, Cru did not do anything wrong, and I truly continue to praise God for what He is doing through this worldwide parachurch ministry.) I just had never considered the working world or what it meant to bring glory to God in a life lived simply as a faithful church member and woman in the workforce. Also swirling in my head were the many struggles of college students (suicide, depression, eating disorders, etc) that had driven me to the Word to find answers, and I wanted to be better equipped in biblical counseling to care for others. So, in the spring of 2018, God released me in a new way to transition off Cru staff and move in freedom to Hampton Roads, where I had my eye on a sweeeeet church and plans to pursue biblical counseling. After finishing out the school year at SU, I began job applications and moved to Hampton VA in July 2018.
After a few months of job hunting and interviews that didn’t go anywhere, I started to rethink photography. People who knew me and remembered my CNU days were pushing me to dust off the camera again. As the months continued on and involvement in my new church community grew, God brought part-time babysitting jobs, an internship with the church (focused on biblical counseling), and a part-time admin job for one of my pastors. While the sources of income were not looking as I expected, God was providing! My day to day schedule was inconsistent and crazy, but I truly didn’t mind! In taking time to pray and honestly ask myself if I would rather be in a 9-5 office desk job compared to all the various part-time jobs God was knitting together, I came to a place of peace to continue this road as long as God allows. More thoughts, counsel, and prayers specific to photography grew my desire to steward the gift with people and pictures God has given me, and thus, Debbie Dean Photography is beginning its rebirth, of sorts.
Thinking back to 22 year old Debbie running around CNU’s campus photographing sports games and social events, I never could have planned or imagined the life that was to come… two years living in East Asia, joining Cru staff, going to work with students in Maryland, heading off Cru staff, moving to Hampton without a job… and now working a few part-time gigs, soaking up life in my local church, and diving back into the world of photography! I amazed daily that God allows me to have this life, and thankful that it is HIS purposes and plans that prevail. I am excited for what’s to come, and grateful for your support along this journey!