We are back from Forward Conference.
Last year I wrote about our trip to Forward - it was my first year and I was really pleased with the overall trip and the conference itself. This year a few of the same speakers were in the lineup and I felt like I went into the trip more prepared, knowing what to expect. We had another great trip but I'm pretty certain I came back to Wewa more tired this year than I did last year.
Discovering Addie had an ear infection the day before we left wasn't necessarily a setback, but it wasn't good news, either. Knowing how jam packed the weekend is, and losing an hour on top of that, I had a feeling the trip might be a little rough. While she did pretty great, we did have our sticky moments. She sat well through some sessions, not so great through one (resulting in letting her stretch her legs all around the convention center) and we skipped two evening sessions. I had planned on skipping one, recognizing that my girl just needed some down time, and decided later to stay back the last night, too, as it was apparent she needed a nap and some time to just be Addie.
Judah Smith was back in full force, as was Christine Caine. I really enjoyed their sessions and I heard the other sessions with Jentezen Franklin and Carl Lentz were great, too. Simply put, I felt encouraged and challenged by what they had to say. We spent Sunday morning at Free Chapel, which, again, pleasantly surprised me in the way they make their large church seem small. Addie spent the service in the awesome children's church program (run like a well-oiled machine) and the message we heard was painfully applicable. I don't see the message on their website yet but I'll try to remember to post it when I do.
I think one of the things that strikes me the most about being at Free Chapel is that it is obvious from outward appearances that they are a "successful" church in the areas of growth, etc. As a result, what they do, they do well, partly because they have the means to do things excellently. But, it's not just about having the money to do what they do - I see the humility beneath all that is done there, the sincerity and the total reliance on God and then giving it back to Him. That is obvious, and that is what shines through the slick videos, beautiful buildings and awesome music.
Forward Conference is much the same. Everything is run with excellence, professionalism and is extremely attractive. But through all of that there is a genuine quality to all of it.
But, after four days of fast food for every meal and existing on little sleep, it was nice to be on the road home. To be honest, I didn't feel great most of the trip. Between the migraine that unexpectedly popped up late the night before we were to leave, the food we were eating and the general go, go, go of the trip, I just felt a little yucky the whole time. One night when Addie and I were hanging out at the hotel, since we had no transportation, I loaded her up in the stroller and we took a walk to one of the little shopping/restaurant areas near the hotel. I (hallelujah!) found a Panera where I could get something other than fries and with our salads and sandwiches we headed back to the hotel. As soon as we got back, before I could dive into my food, my stomach let it be known there would be no eating of any kind taking place. Rather, it seems my Five Guys burger at lunch, loaded with grilled onions and mushrooms, instead took over. But, by the time 11 p.m. rolled around and Sabian came back to the room with my Waffle House waffle, I was good to go.
|Happy Birthday Destiny!|
|Toby Mac - we got there late and had to sit BEHIND the stage. That's what happens when you're running late and there are 12,000 people in the arena.|
|Playin' it cool.|
|Either listening intently or waiting for the session to start or...sleeping with their eyes open.|
|On a "break" from the session going on inside the arena.|
Oh, and did I mention Toby Mac was the opening concert of the conference? Toby Mac and I go way back to his DC Talk days. Still reigns as one of my most fun concert experiences (1994?) and brings back good memories of good times. Toby, you still got it.
It was a good trip but it is good to be back in our own beds and on our own schedule. The house got cleaned yesterday, the laundry got done and today Addie and I made it to our local library to stock up on some new books for the next week or so.
I am thankful for a good trip, safe travels there and back and to be readjusting to our normal everyday activities.