The last weekend in September I got to be apart of photographing a women’s Christian conference in Wilmington, North Carolina. My sweet friend Emily Vermeer is the founder of the Fueled By Faith movement. She shared her story on how God called her to create Fueled By Faith to create a community of women to lean on each other, pray for one another, and encourage them in their day-to-day life for living for the Lord.
It was truly an honor to be the one to photograph the event, but if I am being completely honest, leading up to the event I didn’t feel confident in myself to do it (lie #1). As the week of the conference approached I thought I shouldn’t do this… maybe someone else needs this opportunity more than me (lie #2).
Friday Morning came around and it was my first stop of the event schedule to meet the VIP ladies and photograph them with two of the speakers Holly Pickerel and Gina Sevey. Little did I know that the Lord was preparing my heart to share something so sacred to me among these ladies.
Later in the evening, I headed downtown Wilmington to where the conference was being held at. Friday night was something else! I got to witness many women being moved by the Holy Spirit, and to see a lot of them showing their vulnerability in front of others. I was moved by the strength they had to just let it all out. This was another way the Lord was preparing my heart.
Saturday morning, I arrived back to conference for a full day of covering the event. I was exciting to photograph the other speakers and to see how God was going to move the room on that day. Again, this is me being totally honest, I was pretty focused on capturing everyone else and I didn’t really think God was going to place anything on my heart, but boy was I wrong…
The last thing on the event schedule was the VIP dinner. This is where (lie #3) began to creep in… I began to think to myself that I didn’t need to attend because I was tired and I had a lot of editing to do. All throughout the event I was hearing the lies from the enemy trying to tear me down and make me believe I didn’t need to be somewhere that I truly needed to be. Thankfully, I didn’t listen to those lies because then I wouldn’t be writing this.
Me and some of the VIP ladies headed next door to the beautiful renovated house by Katrina & Co. where we will be ending the night with a VIP dinner. While we were waiting for everyone to arrive me and some of women began chatting and getting to know one another. As I was listening to these women tell a little bit of their story and life, I began to hear God speak to me, all he said was “get ready”. You’re probably wondering what does “get ready” mean? Well, I knew exactly what “get ready” meant. God was telling me it was time to share something that was on my heart for a very long time. A matter that I have kept close to my heart and only very few really know about. It’s a matter that I view is sacred and I honestly hate talking about, but the Lord knew that I had to speak about it so I wouldn’t let it become a place in my heart that was harden.
I began pushing it aside and telling God and myself, “nope, I’m not talking about it”. God has a funny way of working through others… Let me introduce you to a women named Cassie. Cassie came all the way from Canada! Cassie and Emily have know each other and are good friends. She came down to help Emily with the event and I talked to Cassie here and there during the Fueled By Conference. Cassie attended the VIP dinner and told us that the Lord has placed something on her heart to share with each of us individually (super cool by the way!). When Cassie told me what the Lord put on her heart to share with me… no lie the first sentence she said made me cry! I just met these ladies and here I am weeping in front of them because of the words Cassie spoke over me. I could feel God’s presence so quickly in that moment telling me once again, “get ready”. I thanked Cassie for sharing the words she had for me and gave her hug. I didn’t go into detail of how much that meant to me.
Dinner was over and we were all sitting around the table chatting. Emily mentions how she would love if we could go around the table and share what was on our hearts and what we learned from the conference. This was my worst fear… hahaha. Talking in front of people, everyone looking at me, and on top of that God’s still telling me to “get ready”. After what Cassie spoke to me, then Emily tells us to share what’s on our hearts, and God telling me “get ready” I knew it was going to happen but I didn’t want it to.
It was my turn to speak. My heart was pounding. I could feel God pushing me, and pushing me to say what has been on my heart for so long and that I didn’t want anyone to know that I was hurting from it. Sure enough I said it. I said it all. I let myself be vulnerable in front of these women that I just met. My fear of being looked at like I was different or feeling ashamed was just another lie that the enemy wanted me to believe. Instead I was met with love, grace, and encouragement. I felt the weight leave my soul that I ignored was there for so long. I don’t like crying in front of people or anyone for that matter but those women let me cry because I needed to.
That weekend the Lord was preparing my heart. All the while, the enemy was trying to destroy that from happening. Before this event, I knew God was with me every single day, but God also knew I needed to know that he was going thorough the heartache with me. He knew I needed to lean on a group of women and for them to pray over me. The one thing that He wanted me to know was that I was not alone.