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Welcome to our blog! We are a husband & wife photography team based in Madison, Wisconsin who document weddings & anniversaries for joyful couples who believe in marriage. This blog is a journal about real love stories, marriage & our own adventures along the way. We are so glad you're here — please stay awhile!




A Letter to Myself | Personal Post | Why Are You Doing This?

August 8, 2014

I am so thankful for Vivian. If you know anything about me, you know my love for dogs runs deep + specifically, my love for my own dog maybe gets a little weird sometimes ; ) Her adorable face, little tiny tongue, paws, + belly, + excitable, happy personality bring me so much life!! Ironically, this post has nothing to do with Vivian.

Today, I was thankful that Vivian, lying so sweetly on the floor beside me while I worked, forced me to cuddle with her (not really but how could I resist?!?) for a few minutes on the couch next to my desk. Because in those moments, I was forced to stop working, take a break, + really reflect + FACE the emotions + feelings I’ve been experiencing lately:


Stressed. Anxious.



Burnt out. Worried. Tired.

“Why God, am I feeling this way? I’m in the peak of wedding season + this business is flourishing!! You have provided clients + business for me beyond my wildest dreams!! My wedding day–the most looked forward to day of my life, what will surely be one of the greatest, if not the greatest day of my life–is just two weeks away. I am healthy. I am surrounded by friends + family who have been praying for me, willing to help in any way possible, encouraging + loving me so well!! Why do I feel like I’m drowning? Why don’t I feel overwhelmingly thankful + joyful? What is wrong with me?”

And He responded:

WHY are you doing this?

Why? What is the purpose of your business? WHO are you serving?

Whoosh. It all comes crashing down + I am overwhelmed with tears. My focus has been ripped from what I know to be my calling + I am consumed by the world. I am consumed by the pressures that can be felt from this industry. I am NOT living for You alone. I am living for myself. I am living for the approval of others–other photographers, blog readers, viewers, clients. I am not serving You but here, in this moment, find myself a slave to what I believe the world is telling me is right + good.

How many followers do you have how many Facebook likes how many weddings booked for next year how may times have you gotten published how good are your images compared to this photographer or that photographer how many page views on your blog how do you compare to others how successful are you how much work are you getting done how fast how good?????????

And again:

Is this what I have called you to?

No. No, no, no!! I don’t want to live for the world–for other’s standards, for their approval, for worldly success, numbers, + ratings. Are these things bad? Is being seen as “talented” by others a bad thing? Is getting your work published on a popular wedding blog wrong? Are getting more Facebook likes wrong? Of COURSE not. But what’s wrong is when these things become your WHY … your motivation + your purpose. It’s only a downward cycle from there; one in which you will never, ever find satisfaction.

So today, I’m bringing to light these emotions + feelings–they are distorted + it’s time to take them out of the darkness. I’m writing a letter to myself in case I ever find myself in a place similar to this again–and trust me, I don’t think it’s a very far-fetched thing.

Dear Maison,

Remember in the very beginning, right before you decided to start this business? There was a crazy, divine series of events that occurred, leading you to the point where you were either going to start a photography business or begin applying for jobs. Remember when you KNEW you were supposed to start the business? That GOD was calling you to do it? Remember how excited you were knowing that despite the many unknowns, you were certain God had a plan? You couldn’t believe it was photography–this passion of yours that was SO life-giving for you. It was going to be your job full-time!! This was IT. ALL you cared about was glorifying Him. Starting + running the business in a way that pointed others to Christ, that made His name great. HE was the boss–you checked in with Him every morning to make sure you knew what HIS agenda was for the day. You didn’t want to waste your life + you knew that without Him, it would surely be so. Your business was HIS tool. 

Today you’ve found yourself so far from those beginning foundations. Your life is a whirlwind + you feel so lost in it all. That’s OKAY, Maison. You are human. You are sinful + following Christ is NOT your immediate go-to response. Rather, you want the approval of others, you want to be known, you want affirmation + to know you are doing a good job. Again, it’s normal + okay to want those things–but they MUST come from Christ alone. Seeking them elsewhere will never, ever, bring deep + lasting satisfaction. Remember that you are known by Him, you are cared for + in fact, everything in your life has been + will be taken care of by Him. He provides, remember? HE has done all this. It’s time to refocus. He’s right here + He will help you. Remember WHY He’s called you to do this.

You are gifted–it’s from Him. You can love + serve your clients so well by the nature of your job. You can help them, ease their burdens, bless them, encourage them, befriend them, “capture + give life” to them. You can capture split-second moments in their lives–great, unforgettable, life-changing moments—that without your help, they may easily forget. You can allow them to remember the real EMOTIONS they experienced on their wedding day–love for each other, love from family + friends–that can be so valuable for them to look back on + RELIVE 20 years down the road. Your camera is a tool of Christ–to provide these memories for those He allows you to come in contact with. It’s a tool that can help strengthen marriages down the road … help remember people who have passed … help make individuals feel + know they are beautiful. The possibilities are endless. But don’t forget, THIS is your purpose. God has created you to be YOU. He has a plan + a design specifically for YOU as a photographer, business-owner, + soon-to-be wife. He wants you to live out HIS plan. That’s it. Simply. Humbly. Graciously. Focus on Him. And when you forget, come back to this letter. Refocus. Remember, you’re human.

Don’t be so down on yourself. GOD is calling you to great things! Do them through Him + for Him. 


Image from: http://godisheart.blogspot.com/2013/10/god-has-not-called-me-to-be-successful.html.


  1. Molly Cabaj says:

    Beautiful post, Maison! I’ve often wondered what it’s like to own your own business and I can imagine that it’s incredibly stressful and fast-paced…leaving you exhausted and anxious. You clearly have a close relationship with God and a deep understanding of what His plan is for you. I have no doubt that you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing…and while I know the stress can probably cause you to question your path, you should know that you really have a talent for capturing PEOPLE. You don’t only capture an photo that’s pretty to look at…I think you capture the root of what makes each person who they are. Anyone can take a photo…but only some people have a way of bringing someone’s spirit through for the world to see. Keep going, Maison! You’re incredibly talented…don’t forget it!

    • Maison Gustke says:

      Molly 🙂 Thank you for affirming me in this journey–you have been such an encouragement to me all along the way–from comments, to likes, to notes like this one–they mean more than you know!! To forever capturing those real moments + PEOPLE …. 🙂

  2. Leah Dobrinska says:

    Thank you for this, Maison. It’s a beautiful reflection, and I found it incredibly applicable – even substituting "mom" and "motherhood" for every instance you used "photographer" and "photography business." Your perspective is refreshing, and such an important reminder to all of us living our day to day vocations. Thanks for your inspiration on this Friday, and thanks for filling my Facebook feed with beauty and love on a weekly basis.

    • Maison Gustke says:

      Oh, Leah! So true. We ALL have a calling specifically from God + it can be so easy to forget what that really is!! Would He continue to use us to glorify Himself + love those around us! Thank YOU for your encouragement + love today 🙂 xoxo

  3. Diane Brolin says:

    How wonderful that you know God so intimately. You are a such a beautiful woman. I am very proud to know you and to kinda be your neighbor. About that dog…I love her also. How can you not. She is so darn adorable. You are gonna be a beautiful bride and wife. You are wise beyond your years girl. Sending prayers and Thanks to God for you.

    • Maison Gustke says:

      🙂 Diana–you are so sweet. I love running in to you + Snickers when we’re home! I’m sure it won’t be long until we cross paths again 🙂 Thank you for the prayers!! Sending lots of love your way!

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