IF:gathering

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the details & story around last weekend are a testimony of so many sweet things. so much so that i find trying to find the correct words & use adequate adjectives relatively overwhelming. and i love it when the lord does just that. overwhelms us with exceedingly more than we could dream & imagine on our own.

i remember as 2013 wound down wondering if 2014 could top it.( yes i realize we’re now in 2015. hang with me) not in some financial way. not in some event way.  not that each year we live we just expect things to get better & better ( whatever that even is) or that we should even dare to dream that. but sometimes it just happens. i never want to take seeing god in the big, and even more so when i see him in the little, for granted. i don’t want to just bust from one thing or event or even moment without the wonder of gratitude. nor do i wanna over spiritualize something that’s ordinary but sometimes that’s exactly what it is. a divine encounter disguised as an every day moment. an epiphany packed in a simple thought or a “what if?”. a sweet friendship that develops into a life long treasure.

so turns out that 2014 sorta did exactly that. it was an epic year. sure we had family issues & we had cancer and bills & days of feeling blue and yuck.  but ya’ll, i saw god’s glory in his mercy and his compassion in the big & in the little. in the grand as well as the mundane . i saw his glory in his character which is gentle and loving. i saw him wrap me up in his arms and carry me. amazing life time events & encounters yes. but i saw him in his tenderness most profoundly. and i saw him tenderly orchestrate details that would unfold into 2015.

last summer on a hot dusty day in rwanda, jennie allen invited me to come shoot at IF. i don’t tell you that to make myself look like some big deal because i’m most certainly not. i’m not a legit event photographer for pete’s sake.  but i longed to attend the IF:gathering. i longed to hear the teaching. i longed to see several of those sweet friends & life long treasures as well.  i knew god was going to need to move some mighty big mountains to make that dream, that invitation, that longing, a reality.

several of the girls from our trip were going. some were speaking. as they purchased their tickets, booked their flights & made hotel reservations, i sat quietly on those group texts.  just a few weeks prior to IF i laid my desire to go at his feet. i just laid it down. i’d love to tell you i always nail that whole “if it’s your will, so be it” dialogue but i apparently prefer to worry and fret instead. so anyways, that night i just said “lord, i give it up. i know in my heart that if it’s your will you will get me there and square away the details. & if not, it’s okay”. ( i’m also an extrovert trying to not live a life with the fear of missing out mentality)

well. he made a way.  and i don’t say that lightly. i don’t say that flippantly. before i left, i spent time on my knees and thanked him for doing just that. i prayed that i’d go with a heart of service. i prayed that i’d go and even if i spent all the sessions shooting images and missed sitting and listening and corporately worshipping that it was what he wanted me to do. and my heart overflowed.

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to say every thing about the IF:gathering was nothing short of amazing is not an over statement. it was nothing short of beautiful.  it was nothing short of powerful. it was life giving and precious. it was laughter through tears. it was face time with women i respect. it was the finally meeting of some precious friends. it was good. it was so very very good.

it was a gathering of humble speakers who were not there to give themselves any glory.  it was all for HIM & all for his glory.  all of it. all of it pointing to HIM. 

 

i ended up spending about half the time shooting/working & half the time listening. and you guys, i felt his presence the entire time. i don’t know how to explain it and honestly what might seem simple & sweet to even explain would be a distraction so i’ll just leave it like that. but i felt him tell me he saw me. i felt his hand on me as he blessed me with some sweet connections, with some sweet spoken blessings & some sweet moments. i felt him love & affirm me. i felt him say i love you. i felt him remind me to be brave and courageous. while sometimes we think the brave & courageous is for the big, for the next big thing or for something epic and many times it is. i felt him tell me to just be brave & courageous in the next thing. whatever it is. the next thing each morning. the next thing right in front of me. so many times i find myself be looking way ahead for the next thing way out yonder. i feel for 2015 he’s called me to love well with a servant heart and with humility. just the next thing. nothing mountain moving. just the next thing. that’s all.

so i wanted to share a few of the images from my weekend with you. and let me also say this. i have two, TWO, images on my  phone of documented times with my friends. ( these are all from big girl camera) for all you guys who are team “just enjoy the moment” let me confess to you that i did indeed enjoy every single moment. but for this visual girl. for this visual girl who loves a tangible reminder of time with sweet friends, most of which do not live anywhere near me, this kills me. i can honestly tell you that i can enjoy the moment and take a quick shot simultaneously.  i can. and it’s just a heartbreaker that while i will hold in my heart many hugs & neck squeezes with many special people, that i don’t have an photo. insert teary emoji here. ha.

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also wanted to let you guys know that IF has a digital download available! be sure & check out the entire IF website as there are so many resources for you! so here’s to just walking it out, one step at a time, to the next thing, with a heart of humility. (and perhaps the ability to grab more smart phone shots with friends!)

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February 10, 2015 - 1:29 pm

lissa - beautiful beautiful beautiful images by a great photographer! LOVE!!!

February 10, 2015 - 4:22 pm

Sarah Harmeyer - Paige! I was a lucky one that got to meet YOU! I’m in the same boat – Jesus wrecked me and I don’t hardly have a picture. Haha! So much love to you. XO

February 11, 2015 - 7:58 am

Susan Hood - Love your words. Love your servant’s heart. Love your openness and honesty. Love you, my friend! Thank you for sharing this today. Lunch meeting today to try and put words to what we experienced at IF:Mauldin this weekend. I will be sharing your post with my friend. XOXO

February 11, 2015 - 12:07 pm

christina - beautiful post, paige. and … oh all those airplants! got my package when we got back from sedona on saturday. thank you thank you. thinking that silver bangle might have to go with the beaded cuff i got … hmmm and it will probably work very well with all the turquoise i picked up last week in az 🙂

February 11, 2015 - 2:16 pm

bethanie - I love this post Paige…I followed so many of you thru IG on this weekend. I know it must have been an honor and privilege. I’m so thankful for “The Grove” here in Atlanta so we have a taste of this experience!

February 11, 2015 - 7:24 pm

Mimi - I saw you there Paige but I didn’t speak to you because you were so busy shooting pictures I didn’t want to interrupt. I did smile your way though. : ) It was a wonderful weekend experience. I’m still wrapping my head around it all.

February 12, 2015 - 11:41 pm

wynne - i was so blessed to get to spend time with you friend. love your heart, your humility, your passion and YOUR WORK. goodness beautiful images!

February 13, 2015 - 3:20 pm

Michelle - Gorgeous photos! The spirit of the Lord and at the event are shining through your amazing work, Paige. I would love to attend IF someday.

February 14, 2015 - 1:44 pm

Meredith - Love these words!!

February 18, 2015 - 9:28 am

Nanci - Love your style and family where do you get your clothes and the girls too