I tossed my suitcase onto my bed and began looking through my outfits, unsure what to pack for the Georgia weather. Anxiety was filling my gut, like a rock in the pit of my stomach invading my body. I was checking off to-do lists, packing lists and feeling overwhelmed by everything I choose to procrastinate until this moment. As I my list became shorter the house became quieter, my entire family was sleeping peacefully while I counted the minutes that passed by. Finally around 1:30 a.m I laid down for a 2 hour nap before my alarm began buzzing at me, I stared at the clock once again cursing myself for my procrastination in preparation for this trip. I sat in the quiet eating my cheerios, the sound my chewing was deafening! As I continued to wait for Lauren to arrive, I thought of everything that led me to this conference. I went back to every moment and every choice and every single time I fell hard on my knees and every single time I lied and said “I am fine!”
I am going to be honest and share thoughts, experiences and moments of failure that most entrepreneurs wouldn’t want you to hear. I feel that to share this experience, I need to get very personal. I need to share my heartbreaks and sadness (professionally and personally) as well as my belief and faith in God.
I started my photography business officially in the fall of 2007 and in 2008-2010 my business grew exponentially. I felt so blessed by God and finally felt I was living my dreams. We bought our first home and had the “perfect family of four” but my heart yearned for another baby and in July 2010 I found out we were expecting again! Within a couple days I began to experience symptoms that led me to the emergency room, I was miscarrying our baby. Jason comforted me and a few months later in early 2011, I became pregnant again! After a routine check-up at 8.5 weeks my midwife advised an ultrasound to determine my due date. It was in this appointment that I received the news we were pregnant not with one but with two little babies. At the end of my appointment the on-call doctor discussed some issues with one of our twins and explained it was possible I would miscarry it. I asked “but what will happen to it?” and he said “it will simply disappear, it is not uncommon in twin cases and often happens before the mother knows she would have been pregnant with twins…” my heart sank and the tears began to flow. I cried and prayed that God would protect both babies. After two long weeks of waiting, I went in for another ultrasound to check on the twins. Prayers were answered when we seen on the screen two babies healthy, growing and out of the woods.
Hannah Brencher was amazing and closed her session by asking: 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 should not be light, pouring through the cracks of darkness in this world? Who told you not to be the girl on fire? And finally the lovely Jane Johnson shared one of the most intimate journeys in her life. Her story shared friendship, fatal illness and such deep loss that I know every single woman was leaking puddles by the time Jane closed. Jane also closed with three beautiful songs that night, this one was my favorite:
Lara Casey (heard of Southern Weddings ya’ll?) was one of my favorite speakers, she led two sessions. The first she led with Emily Ley, together their words were encouraging, heartfelt and sincere. On the second day Lara was joined again with Emily and also with Gina Ziedler. I was excited to attend their mini-Making Things Happen seminar that was filled with knowledge to empower and encouraged us to look within ourselves and find what really matters. Halfway though the session Lara, Emily and Gina split into three groups. Each group made a large circle on the lawn. Lara stood in front of each one of us and asked vital questions, questions that needed honest answers no matter how hard it would be to admit. Lara wanted us to reveal our ugly, she advised we strip down and be real. Each one of us stood with our feet firmly planted on the soft grass and our palms facing upward and outward. One by one, Lara would face us and ask…
Life is too short… to not live 100% in every moment I am given
My life is too short… to not enjoy every moment possible with my children. To cherish the small things because they are most important.
I’m saying no to… putting my business first. To not being the mother & wife my family deserves.
I’m saying yes to… this BIG beautiful family that God has blessed me with.
Lastly, Lara asked us to see ourselves maybe 5 years in the future and tell us what we see—to share who we are—
I am… surrounded by my children, kisses and hugs. My husband holding my hand.
Many of us were crying by the end of this experience. I am certain every single one of us had been holding in all of this ugliness and feared what would happen if anyone else seen it. I thought this journey would help me as an entrepreneur but this experience has brought me closer to God and has made me realize how much I want to be an amazing mother.
I am so honestly grateful to my husband, my grandmother and my mother and step-father in law for pulling together and caring for our children while I was gone for a week on this adventure. I thank you Karen Stott for your vision, your mission and obeying God’s plan in your life to touch each and every woman who is involved with P31 (specifically this conference). If you are a Christian Creative Professional looking to connect with like minded ladies, please take a peek at Pursuit 31 and also Pursuits Facebook Page.
Mary photographing the beautiful couple…
One of the last days I was able to walk around Winshape’s beautiful property. I admit, I fell in love with Georgia right then and there!
Overlooking a small portion of Berry College…
Our Community Sanctuary, a place of love and worship…
One of the afternoons we were able to spend time with the wonderful Katelyn James, she photographs details in such a lovely way and very throughly I might add!!
A hand-written note with beautiful calligraphy from the lovely Jordanne …
Thank you to our lovely sponsers for a boatload of goodies:
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