2016 was an interesting year for Sincere Touch Photography and I can't believe 2017 is a couple days away.  I didn't quite check off all of the things I wanted to see accomplished this year in my photography business, but  I had a successful year nonetheless.  Although I felt like I was being pulled in 17.5 billions directions, I had some incredible clients, captured beautiful moments, upgraded to a Squarespace site, gave Sincere Touch Photography a different look, upgraded my camera, and learned so much about shooting and business behind-the-scenes. 

I also took a last minute, very unplanned trip to Nashville! This was probably the highlight of my year. I wouldn't typically travel across the states to meet people  I've never met before, but in this case I did and it was so rewarding. You see, two years ago I  applied to be a local group leader in my area for Pursuit Community. A different kind of ministry led by Karen Stott, Pursuit Community is a global community of Christian women creatives and entrepreneurs. I found out about Pursuit  five years ago  shortly after I knew I was going to start a photography business. Initially it was a community for Christian women photographers but over the last 6 years  has grown into a community of Christian photographers creatives and entrepreneurial women.

Back to applying to be a group leader—for whatever reason, there was some miscommunication and an email landed in my inbox and I read that I wasn't accepted to be a group leader. I was so upset and didn't understand why. Maybe they saw my website at the time and thought I wasn't professional enough. I began thinking I just wasn't good enough to lead a group in general, but that was nothing short of a lie. Towards the end of October of this year, I had the urge to inquire about leading a group and asked for the link for the application. In my email I told the previous story of how I applied 2 years ago and was denied. A Pursuit staff member emailed me back and  was so apologetic and accepted me on the spot to be a group leader. In the email was written, "God loves you and He knows you and that is more than enough for us. We would love to have you lead a group in your area."  I was over-the-moon excited and couldn't believe that door finally opened.  I kept it hush-hush for a while from other people just until I knew what I was going to be doing.

Since I was a leader now (yay!), I was invited to attend a leaders retreat just outside Nashville the very next month. Now this is the part that I wouldn't typically do. Part of me didn't want to go  because I would be spending 3 days with in the middle of the woods of Tennessee where I've never been, with people I didn't really known outside of Instagram. But something happens when you lay down your comforts and fears and just do it. I found myself booking a flight, reserving a rental car and getting directions to where I needed to go. 

It was about 5:30 when I stepped out of the smallest rental car ever, and stepped foot on the gravel driveway, grabbed my things, and proceeded to walk up to the doors of the lodge where I would soon open the door to a room full of strange ladies. I walked right in and said, " Hello ladies that I have no idea who you are!"  One of the ladies recognized me from the leaders' Facebook group and  immediately ran over to me and gave me the biggest hug. "I'm so excited you're here!", she said.  From that moment, I knew I was where I was meant to be.

I had a great time getting to known each of the ladies as we shared about ourselves, what we do, and the most craziest thing we ever Googled (haha, you had to be there...)  I also heard story after story from the other group leaders of the struggles of leading their groups in their respective areas, the low attendances,  little to no participation in planned events and more.  I started thinking, What did I just sign up for?  I was the only new leader in the group so I couldn't offer and advice or experience from leading a group. So, I listened. I took everything in and thought of ways that I could lead my group of ladies. We shared conversations over homemade dinners, relaxed  on the beautiful property of the lodge and just enjoyed each other's company.

 As I drove off the property driving back to the airport, I was a bit in awe. In awe that God opened this door that I prayed for 2 years go. I began thinking, If I would have been group leader two years ago, I probably would have fallen flat on my face. I  have grown since then, and I didn't know the people then, that I know now that could be a part of this local group. 

 All of us lovely ladies that attended the leaders retreat at the beautiful Five Star Resort!

It wasn't until a few weeks after the leader's retreat that  the Pursuit leadership team made the decision and announcement to dissolve the local Pursuit groups. WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  These are the thoughts that ran thought my head, along with God, why did you open the door for me to be accepted as a group leader, spend a bunch of money to fly down to TN and spend a few days with strangers, just to have the Pursuit groups dissolve and I not be a leader anymore?   I didn't know what to make of this  but it was apparent that God had been speaking to the hearts of the leadership team. It seems as if the mission and  vision of Pursuit was falling to the wayside within the groups as far as  ladies only being a part of the group to get referrals and many were not dedicated to building community and authentic friendships and support. So, Pursuit leadership moved in the direction of "City Connectors" where the  city connector is essentially the  "group leader" and can lead the group however they see fit without the guidelines  and calendar of events that was posed on group leaders in previous years. It takes a whole lot of pressure  off the Pursuit leadership ladies as well as the group leaders. Since they dissolved the groups that were, "Pursuit ( name of City)" groups, they've been pushing for the ladies to join the main Pursuit Community Facebook Group  instead.

I know, I know, this was a long read today- but you made it to the end. I needed to give you the backstory and the why of what I am doing. So, with all of that said, I am SO excited to announce that I am the  Pursuit City Connector for State College and have started a closed Facebook Group for State College Christian Women Creatives and Girl Bosses called: As Unto Him.  I am so excited for what is to come of this group in 2017 and beyond. I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said I wasn't nervous. This is definitely something new for me that I am stepping into so, your prayers are appreciated!

 Also...if I learned  anything from this whole thing it's this:

STP-when we pray quote.png


 Enjoy the first-to-last day of 2016. Make it count.


*** EDIT TO ADD:  As of July 2017, I will no longer be leading the As Unto Him: State College Christian Creatives and GirlBosses After some prayer and consideration, it just wasn't the right time to lead that group. Even though the doors opened, there wasn't enough engagement. However, I am hopeful for the future and what possible things may be in store.