“What are you so afraid of? Has He ever let you down before? What makes you think
He will? Where are you getting your perceptions from? Who let you down that you
can’t let go of yet? Who told you that you couldn’t be salt? Who told you you should not be
light, pouring through the cracks of darkness in this world? Who told you not to be
the girl on fire?
And then hear God speak through the mess of those questions. Hear Him whisper:
I made you for my good. You are not junk. You are not rubbish. You are not second best. You are
not used goods. I made you for dancing—for words too eloquent to say with more than a
whispered voice—for tinsel delicately strewn on the branches of baby evergreens—for icing,
thick and sugared on the tops of every little thing you touch.
You… You… Every bit of you is precious cargo. I can’t stand to see you dance so hard in a world
that doesn’t understand just what it took to make you.
You are my salt. You are my light. You are my passion live out loud. You are my mustard seed,
my little pencil. I gave you the melody, the pitch and tone was made perfect for you. Don’t you
come to me without having sung your song.”
I flew to Atlanta a week ago today not knowing what to expect. I figured I would learn a little about running a photography business, enjoy some worship time, and hear some awesome speakers. I wrote about being scared to fly, scared to meet these industry greats, scared to be surrounded by two hundred women that I knew only through some Facebook chatting. I went in wanting more out of my life and my business. I wanted to come out of my introverted shell. I wanted a stronger relationship with God. I wanted community.
I got all of that.
And so. much. more.
I want to convey to you the impact this conference had on me, but I’m not sure I can do that in a short blog post. I’m sure going to try though.
Let me start by saying that Winshape is a magical place. There are bowls of Chik-Fil-A mints everywhere, ice cream is available on tap 24/7, and there is around the clock access to sweet tea and cranberry juice- my two drinks of choice. The staff is just indescribably kind. They aim to serve you in any way they can. I even got in trouble for pouring my own drink at lunch. It was Karen Stott that said it truly makes a difference when the staff of the resort loves the Lord as much the people staying there. She could not have been more correct.
We were spoiled from the start with bags of inspiring materials when we arrived and prayer cards to remind us of the big picture for the week at every meal. There were so many great speakers, and each shared with us some hard-hitting messages.
Bob Goff told us to stop agreeing with Jesus, and do something for him. He told us to love people, love God, and DO STUFF. That man was hilarious and so inspiring. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you read his book, Love Does. Promise Tangeman told us that when we really sink into what we are doing, we won’t only love what we do, but we can love others with what we do. Lara Casey, Emily Ley, and Gina Zeidler asked us if we were chasing God’s dreams or our own, and taught us about Making Things Happen. They took us outside and had us stand in circles. We completed the following sentences:
I am saying NO to….
I am saying YES to…
It was during this exercise that the light bulb in my head went off. I was meant to do this. Standing still, with my palms up, I told everybody that I was saying no to following everyone else’s expectations of me, and yes to following the path God has given me.
Hannah Brencher followed those lovely ladies and her story moved me to tears. She ended her talk with the words that opened this post and will always play over and over in my head. Mary Marantz told us about those times when God says, “Wait.” She explained that there are times when are asked to wait for what we are asking for, because He knows the timeline better than we ever will. Katelyn James spoke about how much happier and more successful you will be when you hand your business over the Lord.
(In true photographer fashion- most of these are iPhone photos!)
And then, there was Jane Johnson. To be honest, I don’t remember all that Jane talked about, because it was the first time during the conference that I put my iPad down. I stopped typing, and just listened. She shared many scripture readings, and a lot of her own story of her walk with the Lord. At the end, she played a few songs and asked us to spend about 15 minutes praying and worshiping. What I do remember is two minutes in, when I started crying, and couldn’t stop.
I told the girls in my small group that night that I got more than I ever expected out of the week. That I needed it. Wendy asked me what it was that I had needed. I had to think for a minute.
I needed the community of Pursuit 31. I needed the support, the encouragement. I needed the freedom to learn. To ask questions. To know that it’s okay not to know everything. I haven’t shared a lot of my faith on this blog yet because honestly, I don’t know how to. My story will have to be another post another time (because this is already getting lengthy), but the short version is this: I’ve always known who God and Jesus were. I’ve always believed. I’ve just never quite known what I was supposed to DO with that belief. I never knew how to have the relationship that so many seem to have. After this week, I have a better understanding.
Those four days at Winshape changed me. They changed the way I think about God, my marriage, my life, and my business. To say I’m not a little scared of where this is all going would be a lie, but I have more faith than I ever have that I’m heading in the right direction, for the right reasons, with the right people.
If you’ve finished this whole post, thanks for sticking around and reading about where my heart is now.
Here are a few more photos from my week (mostly instas and iPhone shots):
Thinking about attending next year? You can learn more about the conference here!
Also, a HUGE thank you to all of the amazing sponsors at this year’s conference!
Epiphanie | Think Tank | Kelly Moore Bags | JoTotes | LowePro | FotoStrap | Black Rapid | The Organic Bloom | ProPhoto Blog | Justin & Mary | Jeremy Cowart | Michelle Moore | Ashley Barnett Mitchell (Jen + Ashley) | Hannah Brencher | Jasmine Star | Galer.ee | Beautiful Photo Props | Kraft & Jute | MyPhotoApp | SiteHouse Design | Southern Wedding Magazine | Totally Rad Actions | Blogstomp | Fiducia | Bob Goff | Gina Zeidler | Katelyn James | Denim + Grace Magazine | Chic Critique Forum | L&S Lockets (Lukas & Suzy VanDyke) | The Mason Bar Company | PASS | Pixifi | Jordanne Marie Paper and Design Boutique | Mandipidy Art & Design | Daane Promotional Products