The house is finally clean and the laundry is finally done (but not all put away). I swept up enough sand to create Beach Chaney in the back yard and enough hair to donate to Locks of Love. I know, gross, right? Take into account that I did not get to go through my pre-trip cleaning routine so this week's round of cleaning was after having guests and after having been gone for four days. That pre-trip routine preserves some of my sanity even though that may seem contradictory when preparing to go away on a trip. My philosophy is that if I clean and do laundry before I leave, I come home to a clean house and only have to take care of the mess and dirty clothes from the trip.
So this week we (I) cleaned and then Addie and I did nothing for two days. I felt it was deserved considering all we had done, the parting of ways with any type of schedule for over a week and because it has been raining and dreary here all week. The latter justified, even more, our staying in. Even after two days of laying low Addie and I were going a little stir crazy by today. We were ready to go out.
But, I digress. The real focus of this post is to recap our trip to Atlanta last weekend. We said goodbye to our Illinois friends Thursday morning and headed out on the church bus with a group of 20 (including the three of us) to Atlanta for Forward Conference.
Hosted by Jentezen Franklin, Forward is something our kids from our church have been involved with since before we moved to Wewa. Sabian was able to go the first year we moved here but I was back in Illinois for a friend's wedding and didn't go. Last year we'd just had Addie and our pastor and his wife took the group, so this year it was our turn to go. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. First, I was pretty sure Addie would be fine but you never really know with kids, right? Especially after a few fun days already with friends, and then a trip right on top of it that I knew would be nonstop, I was a little wary. While we did have our moments, she did really, really well the whole weekend. It also helped having so many other arms to hold her when she (or we) got tired. I think by the second day she realized she'd have to grab naps whenever she could and managed to snooze through louder than loud worship services and here and there on the bus and various other places. It helped, too, that she was such a great sport when it came to wearing her ear plugs. She was awesome.
Aside from that, I was really impressed with the lineup of speakers at the conference and enjoyed hearing from some new voices. Some around here may not believe it but I'd never really listened to Jentezen Franklin and a couple of the other speakers were unknown to me. They were all good. What a simple word to describe it but that's just it - they were good. Really good. I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed hearing Judah Smith. If I can find a link to his service I will post it - it really is worth hearing. I appreciated his style, what he said and how he brought it all together. Reggie Dabbs is always good and Steven Furtick and Christine Caine were awesome, too.
Sunday morning we rounded out the trip by attending the service at Jentezen Franklin's church, Free Chapel. I'll be honest - I was a little skeptical. I tend to be this way somewhat when it comes to televised pastors and "mega churches." I wasn't sure what to expect but again, I was pleasantly surprised. Pastor Franklin preached a sincere, applicable sermon and the church itself wasn't as "mega" as I supposed in my head. It was good to be there and I'm glad we had the opportunity to attend that morning.
While we were in Atlanta we were able to visit the Georgia Aquarium. Sabian and I had been there before when we spent a week in Atlanta with our youth group in Illinois on a missions trip. We were excited to take Addie so she could see all of the "fishies."
Exhausted and in dire need of some alone time by the end of the weekend I am glad we were able to go to Atlanta. It was good to spend that time with our kids and just to be part of the conference.
I'm thankful we had a good, safe trip!