Monday, March 31, 2014

Affirming + Reflecting // week 11

I had the opportunity to join Zachary and a bus full of other BBC students for a conference on church growth at Northridge Church in Rochester, NY last week. A good conference is one of my favorite things. I loved school and I still love to learn. Conferences allow me the opportunity to pack in a lot of education on very specific topics along side other people of a similar focus in a short amount of time. I have never gone to one with someone I knew, in fact rarely have I even known people who will be at them, so it was a new and delightful to share the conference experience with Zachary. We found ourselves resonating with the familiar ideas presented to us at 16:5, found ourselves saying, "They think how I think!", and rather than coming away with new information we were simply affirmed in our current vision and direction. Encouraging and invigorating, it certainly fueled the flame for future ministry that the Lord has put within us.

My car full of belongings was parked at BBC while we were over in Rochester. When we got back I drove it to my new home in Wallaceton, PA. Zachary's mom has the gift of hospitality and when she heard my host home had fallen through she opened her own home up to me and invited me to consider it my home indefinitely. Wednesday was too cold to unpack my car, affording me a day to rest and reflect on the conference. With the wind dying down and the sun coming out the following day it only took three loads to get everything unpacked and moved into the side of the house I'll be living in.

Flying to Dallas early in the morning on Friday to attend Hope Spoken. A two hour wait for a shuttle ride provided time to relax in the humidity and shade of a lovely Texas day. As I had done for the Influence conference, I connected with some gals I had never met before over Twitter and we booked a hotel room together for the conference. The three of us were able to chill in our room and share stories for two hours before registration began. I had anticipated recognizing a lot more attendees than I did and the sense of community established through shared experiences like these looked different for me than it did for my roommates. We were assigned to a small group and, excepting one other girl, were the only individuals in the group that hadn't come with a friend. Dynamics for connecting change so much when you come in pairs rather than independently. I've found that connecting with people is pretty simple if you're brave enough to get a little vulnerable, all it takes is sharing your story and being curious to hear about theirs.

The Lord had spoken something to my soul Thursday night that He built on, rooted deeply and sealed during Hope Spoken. Similar to Zachary's and my experience at 16:5, much of what was shared at Hope Spoken was familiar to me. It wasn't because I had heard the speaker's stories before, because I hadn't, and it wasn't because the truths spoken were elementary, they were actually deeply profound in the most simplistic ways, it was the heart behind them, the hope within them, the common thread of Jesus throughout them that is so familiar to my soul. The Lord spoke a lot to me during the weekend. I found myself withdrawing to journal frequently. The women I felt most akin to and connected the most naturally and deeply with over the weekend were the speakers. I watched Jesus breathe life into hundreds of women's hurts and brokenness and it was beautiful. I took 30sec of embarrassing bravery and obeyed when He gave me specific words of affirmation to deliver to the musicians who shared their gifts and led us in worship. I sat in the sunshine and I went in the pool. In my soul was the calm of deep waters and whether at the conference, in the airport or settling in back in Wallaceton, I knew He'd be continuing the work He'd begun. I was happy to be there. I was happy to come home.

As an added treat I was able to connect for lunch with an old classmate of mine who lives in Dallas. Sharing the visions that the Lord is casting for each of us and the ways He's led us along since we parted ways four years ago was refreshing and invigorating. A culmination of 16:5, Hope Spoken and my life in the land of adventure, I flew home mentally sharpened and emotionally refreshed but physically very tired. My voice is almost gone so today I'm not processing, just reflecting + resting.

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