Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pursuit31 Conference

We all have times in our life when we know we have to do something. We are compelled, there is a tugging in our spirits that cannot be ignored. When, earlier in the year, I heard about the Pursuit31 Conference, I felt that tugging...but I looked at the cost and sadly pushed the idea aside. My husband is a full-time Seminary student and working to support our family and my business is still in the early days. We moved just a year ago and sometimes I feel like we are still trying to find our new rhythm and help our children navigate the changes in our life as well as deal with them ourselves. I had taken work as it came, but my business was not able to be a top priority.

A few weeks ago I was again reminded of the conference when one of the speakers sent out a Tweet. We had been going through some things in our family and I was feeling a little more fragile than I normally allow myself to be...and I cried. (I probably should have warned you at the start of this post that this is way more personal than I normally get)! This conference seemed like exactly what I needed and once again that tugging was there, that I could not ignore. When I told my sweet husband about it, he was bound and determined that I should go. My stomach was literally in knots as I looked into flights and tried to figure it all out.

The week before I left he told me that friends and family were helping to send me. He had set up a Facebook group and these amazing people in my life had given...some a little, some a lot, some had prayed, so that I would be able to go. I was humbled beyond belief and grateful (and I'm ashamed to say, I was also embarrassed). Who was I to deserve this? I would never have dreamed of asking others to help in this journey. For me, this made all the difference in the world, it confirmed to me, so clearly that I was truly meant to go.

So, last Sunday, my alarm woke me at 4:30am(!) Yes it hurt, but there was reason to my madness. I had a plane to catch. I was heading to Atlanta, GA and (huge bonus) would get to spend the evening with dear, dear friends from England who I had not seen in eight years. Trevor and Tracy Atkins met me at the airport and we caught up on the years we had been apart. They were the same friends from all those years ago, we picked right up where we had left off. It was so wonderful. The next day they showed me more aspects of their life and ministry and introduced me to Chick-Fil-A then drove me out to Rome, GA to the Winshape Retreat Center.

I really had no idea what to expect. The facility was beautiful and peaceful. The staff were genuine and kind and seemed happy to serve. Yet I walked in, full of my lifetime of insecurities, I felt alone and nervous. A tiny seed of an idea was in my head, that I was a fraud, that I had no place being there, that my business was not successful enough to get me there on my own. I knew it was a lie, I knew I was meant to be there...and I needed to push through.

I won't say that from then on out it was all sunshine and roses (in fact it rained our first two days there) but I will say that I did not leave in that place of defeat. I slowly made connections, I realized that there were other women there with businesses at many different stages, other women who knew nobody else when they arrived, other women with insecurities and struggles of their own. This can be a lonely business, fellow photographers are seen as competition, but at this conference there was support and encouragement as we came together. We had a common thread outside of our photography; our faith! I didn't know what that would mean, what it would look like, but it broke down walls. Our speakers, well known, successful photographers, led by example and they were amazing; they were open and painfully vulnerable. I shed many silent tears, freely, as each of them shared their stories. I was open in a way I have not been for many, many years. It was not what I was expecting. I thought I would gain valuable skills for my business, maybe marketing advice and learn new strategies, all of which I did, but what happened this week went so much deeper.

Away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Away from the laundry and the cooking and cleaning and school runs and constant attention needed by my family (which of course I am happy to give, they are my priority), I was able to slow down and be still and hear what I needed to hear and feel what I needed to feel. There was a freedom. A lot of what happened was on a personal level and a spiritual level and it is hard to put into words but I will say that I left, different than I arrived.

The ladies - photo credit Pursuit31

I wholeheartedly recommend this group and this conference to any other Christian Women Photographers out there. If you are wondering if it is for you, take that leap of faith, I don't think you will regret it.

For those of you who were a part of sending me, thank you, thank you, thank you! Those words seem so inadequate as I type them, but they are truly heartfelt. I am amazed by the love that you showed me and your support and generosity. I am so incredibly grateful!

Thank you also to all the sponsors who helped to make the conference even more special.

Kelly Moore Bags
Jo Totes
Lena Lime
Think Tank
Black Rapid
Foto Strap
Organic Bloom
Black River Imaging
Heartworks by Lori
Blessed Mama Designs
Knits and Knots
Upsy Daisy 
Zella Shop
2 Dancing Danes 
Tello and Rose 
Windsong Knits


  1. loved reading this. loved meeting you. can not wait to get to know you a little better. it is always a little easier for me to open up over email :) xo

  2. I cried reading this...I am so glad that you got to have this time and opportunity to reflect and be changed.

  3. So so glad that you made it to the conference! What a sweet husband and friends to send you as they felt led! :) It was so wonderful to meet you and I'm glad we were in the same small group. I hope the Lord continues to build upon what He spoke and changed in your heart while at WinShape. :)

  4. Amazing!!!! Amazing!!! Amazing post! Thank you for sharing! What an incredible experience the Pursuit 31 conference was for us all...! xoxoxo!!! ~ Dawn

  5. Alice, thank you for being such a wonderful friend and for being a part of the 'sending'.
    Rachelle, Dawn and Kristin I am so glad I got to meet each of you and that you were a part of this amazing experience...let's keep in touch :)

  6. I love this so much. I am SO glad that James set up that facebook group. Our contribution came in on weaver time (fashionably late) so I told James you should spend it on photography gear or a date night! Love you SOO much.