“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matt 11:28
I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived in the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. Â I knew only of the vision God had endowed Ginny Corbett and I with months earlier. Â I had my ideas as to what I needed from Father, what I desired to receive from this experience, and what I was going to need to be for the attendees. Â Most of the time leading up to FTL was spent considering the latter. Â This being my first time teaching at a workshop, I spent much thought and energy attempting to be as prepared as possible. Â I felt I needed to appear that I had it all figured out, I mean let’s be honest, $2000 is no small price. Â But I was not prepared for what happened in the days and nights to come. Â To say the least.
I arrived on the mountain and I got to quickly meet the three guys who would be attending the workshop, J Mizzle, Stick and P Tang. Â They are also known as Jason Mize, Chris Luk and Glendon Tang, but they are heretofore known as I have named them. Â Guys made up about 0.5% of the total workshop attendance, help included, so I knew this would be interesting. Â But in all sincerity, I was excited that I would get to spend so much time with the guys in a small group setting. Â I just didn’t know how late those sessions were going to go!
Everything started out fairly smoothly that first evening with a “get to know each other” dinner and a game of Catch Phrase, but afterwards we had a time of worship, and looking around the room, I really had a sense of heaviness. Â There were faces that read of burdens long carried. Â Weary faces, ladened with fatigue. Â God was about to do some amazing things. Â I stayed up with Ginny and Lauren until about 1:30 am that night. Â Initially we began talking about the weather for the next day, as it was supposed to be cold and rainy on the mountains, and we were deciding what to do. Â That conversation lasted a short time before God intervened and we ended up praying for each other and worshiping for maybe 2 hours. Â A work had begun in Lauren that night. Â You really should read her take.
After leaving The women’s cabin at 1:30 am, very tired after a day of travel, meeting new people, and of hours of prayer and worship, I entered my cabin exhausted and ready for bed. Â Not so much. Â I cleaned up (see: bathed) and as I was getting ready for bed, there was the sound of an elephant stampede. Â That was merely the sound of our very loud cabin though, as I went out of my room to see how many people had fallen down the stairs and what amount of luggage was laying on top of them at the bottom, I saw P Tang. Â I asked him what he was doing, and he said that he and Stick were upstairs talking. Â So I went upstairs, as I really hadn’t had much opportunity yet to get to know either of them. Â That was 1:50 or so. Â We talked for a while, but I just loved them instantly. Â These were my peeps. Â I got to bed around 3:30 that morning.
The next day, I was to teach. Â I love to teach. Â I fear public speaking. Â But in a “He is made strong in your weakness” way, it went swimmingly. Â I prattled on and on and while normally, I would feel like I was wearing out my welcome, I began to feel very at home. Â REALLY at home. Â As the workshop went on, I found myself as free to be myself as I had ever been. Â I never felt the pressure to know everything about photography. Â I don’t. Â I was allowed to simply be myself and make no excuses for it. Passionate, loud, silly, crazy, sometimes ridiculous, ALWAYS over the top, me. Â This was what I had told myself I needed to be, but I feared this because of the vulnerability necessary to do it. Â It was quite liberating. Â Funny thing about being yourself. Â You can do it, and I almost always am, but it is a VERY different experience when the people around you are doing the same. Â There was an authentic spirit here. Â An honesty and sincerity that permeated the entire mountain.
It wasn’t all peaches though.
On Tuesday morning I got an ear infection due to a sinus infection that had lingered for two weeks. Â It was quite painful, and I couldn’t hear much if anything out of that ear. Â That night, I found out the house Destiny and I were going to close on on the Monday when I got back home, appraised for 20,000 less than our already agreed upon price. Â With an FHA loan you cannot buy a home for that much more than the appraised value. Â The seller, it appeared was not going to sell us the home at the appraised value. Â We are currently in a rent house, and due to the fact that we were closing on a house on Monday, the owner of the rental property found new renters, and they are scheduled to move in the following Sunday. Â At this point, in less than two weeks, my family would not have a place to live. Â The next morning my other ear got infected as well. Â Later that day, the woman who was selling us the house decided that she would agree to sell the house to us at the appraised value. Â Yay, right? Â Except that she will not pay any closing costs any more due to the amount of money she is going to lose on the house. Â We were not expecting that, and now if we go though with the purchase, we are out an extra $9,000. Â The next evening at around 4 am while hanging out with the guys, my laptop craps out. Â It won’t turn on. Â The next evening while shooting outside and doing an off camera lighting demonstration, my flash falls and cracks the mount.
And yet, there was this peace. Â Phil 4:6-8.
Not everything went according to plan at FTL. Â Well, let me restate that. Â Not everything went according to OUR plans. Â Prov 16:9.
But God did some miraculous things up on that mountain. Â Chains were broken, wounds were healed, people set on the path He has for them. Â But this was only the beginning. Â There were connections made. Â Real connections. Â Everyone left there with many new friends. Â I certainly did.
My ears are better. Â My laptop needed a new logic board. Â There are 81 days left on the three year apple care plan i bought for it. Â No charge. Â The house? Â We are moving in on Friday and Saturday this week. Â I booked two weddings and sold an album after we decided to go for it. Â But whatever. Â I would rather have a broken laptop, two ear infections, and no place to live in a few weeks, than to give up even one second of the time spent in Father’s presence up on that mountain with my new friends.