These past few days I was able to get away to go on a retreat with some women from my church. I’ve been looking forward to this time away, to be with friends, to make new friends, enjoy some downtime from the daily routine, and to enjoy the meals that I didn’t have to cook or clean up after. This was my plan. However, I am so grateful that I have a God who loves me and desires to trump my agenda. I did spend time with my friends, met new ones too, but I never anticipated the impact that these relationships would have on me. Lately, I’ve been very guarded in my friendships with others because I want to protect my heart from being broken. This is a very unnatural feeling for me and an exhausting attitude to maintain because I desire to be authentic, vulnerable and transparent in ALL my relationships. This is simply me. I feel like I have been out of my comfort zone for quite some time now, which isn’t exactly negative in all aspects but definitely a reason to be guarded. If I said I didn’t have any reservations about this upcoming retreat, I would be lying.
I am so grateful for the women that I got to spend time with this weekend! They were authentic, they were vulnerable, they were transparent, they were encouraging and loving. It wasn’t just the women that I spent time with, but the women who were courageous enough to share their testimony. These stories were heart wrenching, were deep, and were traumatic…..but….so full of grace, promise, hope, mercy and love. They were a reminder of God’s love for us….for me….and the relationships I struggle with, the issues that nag at me, the fears I face and the challenges that I can’t defeat on my own. I left the retreat feeling renewed, refreshed, loved, hopeful, encouraged and ready to be victorious over the trials that weigh me down….knowing that I don’t have to face them on my own, but proceed with the strength that God has equipped me with and wisdom and guidance that He will provide for me.
So, as I cull through all these pictures, choose the ones that I want to share, my tendency is to fix all the imperfections before I posts them for the world to see. But as I let this thought enter, I quickly reminded myself that life isn’t always perfect. Life is full of trials and triumphs, heartache and healing, bondage and freedom, fear and faith, loss and hope, weakness and courage. As I look at the faces, my heart is filled with warmth because I vividly remember the smiles on the other side of the lens, the love for one another, the deep belly laughs and the heart that desires to encourage one another and walk alongside through the peeks and valleys of life.
I realize that what I am sharing isn’t photography related. Just like photography embodies many of my passions… my faith and relationship with God is an extension of my heart and soul. I want my life to reflect my heart and soul. I am so thankful to the women who planned this retreat, who prayed in advanced, who shared their testimony and heart and for this opportunity to spend this time with God and His beautiful glory. Here are the reflections of this time. Enjoy.