I don’t post personal stuff on my blog very often, but since I have this beautiful platform of a blog I feel compelled to share about this week I spent in Oregon attending a Christian photographer retreat called For the Love. I was blessed to attend the first workshop in 2010 in Tennessee and the vision of this retreat put on Ginny Corbett’s heart has flourished! This was the sixth retreat and I was not able to attend the others because of wedding conflicts, but God set aside this time for me and blessed me with a clear calender. I signed up for the retreat back in August just feeling like God was promising me rest and that this week would be a part of that rest. I don’t really know where to begin so I’ll just tell you about the premise of the retreat from Ginny’s heart: “When you come to For the Love, you will become renewed and inspired by creation, discover a safety net of fellow Christian photographers, and leave with a refreshed heart and soul for photography.” It was an incredible week of freedom that renewed my soul. After coming through a rough time personally, my heart and soul have been very heavy and through the work of God in my heart & learning more about Him, His character and goodness over these past 2 weeks, I feel so much joy & freedom now. I was reminded of God’s great and unfailing love for us and the work He has done to make a way for us to have a relationship with Him through Jesus and this is good news to my soul!
Our mornings and evenings were spent in uninhibited worship led by Jonathan & Melissa Helser — we didn’t really have a strict timetable or agenda for worship, so it was a beautiful and free time to pray, read the Bible, & worship the Lord in song. The Helser’s are gifted worship leaders who are a source of truth & wisdom and are people that are walking in step with the Lord and because of that, they have so much love, grace & truth to share out of the overflow of the work God has done in their hearts. Their words in teaching are still stirring in my mind and I was blessed to hear them. We also spent time talking with one another over well-crafted and creative meals planned by our chefs for the week — the meal time was a sweet time of fellowship where you’d hear conversations about The Lord, ministry, the mountains & travels, families, photography and our businesses. It’s amazing how you can gather a group of 40 strangers and have them all feel their spirits knit together through these times together. The Workshop also offered creative photography assignments, classes on pricing, marketing, business and we did a shooting workshop one afternoon as well led by Erin & Jeff Youngren. We also spent time doing whatever we wanted to do: there was a lot of freedom in this workshop. I enjoyed walks down by the river, listening & dancing to music in my cabin, reading the Bible and just hanging out by the fireplace with others. We also had small groups to pray with and to share trials and blessings with. It was great to be able to pray for and with one another throughout the week. I feel tied to many of these sweet people and know that the Lord will bring them to my mind in prayer for an unknown amount of time. I’m still close with some of the people from the first For the Love Workshop and many of them have blessed me and encouraged me over these past 4 years. I was greatly encouraged by these new friends through their prayers over me and on my behalf, through their sharing of scripture and their kind spirits. I think it’s safe to say that almost everyone who came to For The Love was weary, worn out, heavy-hearted, tapped-creatively, in a place to seek the Lord and were trusting to hear from Him through this week. It felt like in a way God used us to all in each other’s lives by helping to heal, encourage, lift up and inspire one another so that we’d be better equipped for to rest in the Lord, to seek Him, to serve our family & friends and to serve our clients well this next year.
A few of us stayed a couple of extra days to continue our rest and adventure and so we rented a beach house near Cannon Beach. It was wild for it to be snowing on the beach — but the weather was just crazy all week. Thankfully photographers are adventurers and don’t care — we had an amazing time having snowball fights in the streets, running around state parks taking pictures in the rain and enjoying fun games, great food and chill time together. The last morning on the beach was the most glorious! The sun came out, we played with a Frisbee on the beach and took pictures at Haystack Rock. I wrapped up my week visiting one of my college roommates in Portland and enjoyed some amazing time catching up and dining at great placed in Portland.
Needless to say, Oregon holds a special place in my heart now. While in Portland, I bought snow/rain boots, so now I’m totally equipped and ready for more adventures in Oregon! It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited and I was constantly in awe of God’s creative work through the mountains and the beaches. It was refreshing and a great time of rest and retreat. I’m definitely looking for an excuse to go back soon and explore more of the state. I hope you enjoy some of these photos. I took some with my canon 5D Mark 3 and a ton with my Olympus OM-D (especially the “selfie” series where you’ll see how it just kept getting colder and I had to layer up — haha).
Just want to give a shout out to some of the fun & fabulous and talented friends from the trip: Ginny Corbett & Erin & Jeff Youngren (who helped plan and teach on the trip), Jeremy Hess (And his crazy-awesome team of photographers: Lauren, Amber & Mark), Erin Kass, Tessa Swarthout, Allison Ballinger, Kelly & Joe Hornberger, Todd Pinckney, Jaime & Chase Williams, Kristin Wall, Sara Davis, Cindee & Tony Re, & Brittani & Kevin Gardner.