I’ve attended Created for Care retreats for the last few years and have walked away from each one excited, refreshed, equipped, encouraged, inspired, moved, restored, nurtured, and connected. This year was no different. My experience, however, was very different from previous years. Since the 2013 Create for Care retreats I joined the core team and the last several months have been full of planning and anticipating. I can’t tell you what a joy it is to watch a dream/idea/vision unfold before your eyes as you get to be a part of it from the very start. I remember the early emails as we (the team) prayed over the theme, the verses, the breakouts, the schedules, the speakers, the panels, and more. To watch the fruit of our labor come about in incredible ways was just amazing. So what did last weekend look like for me?
It looked like dumping my suitcase in my room on Thursday afternoon, then running to the conference area to help set up the C4C store while admiring the incredible design work Candy did on the merchandise.
It meant placing hundreds of pens in cute pink mugs after Jenn tore the plastic off of them.
It meant running back to my room to change out of my sweatshirt just in time for our annual agency dinner in the restaurant downstairs.
(we completely took over the restaurant and I feel a little bad for the waiter who had to attempt to get our orders while we were in non stop chat mode)
It meant staying up until 3:30am while doing lots of little tasks… stringing yarn around the stage set up (another brilliant design by Candy), placing 60 tea lights in mason jars, downloading hundreds of pictures (then getting kicked out of gmail at 2am because of all the downloads), uploading slides, videos, music, and more to pro presenter, and a bunch of other little things with the rest of the C4C team and volunteers.
(^^that’s what it all looks like before the magic happens… and below is my little corner of the world for the weekend – the A/V booth!)
It meant early mornings to prepare for the morning sessions and to direct you insane people who got up to run a 5k in the freezing cold!! Then having one of those crazy running mamas yell out to me that my family story had been put on God Vine that morning (whaaa??!)
It meant getting to be good pals with Dennis the sound guy and then trying not to freak him with my super choked up self when he told me that he accepted this gig last minute and had no idea what kind of event it was. As the retreat started he figured out that it was an adoption thing… then told me that he was adopted AND that he and his wife had just begun the adoption process. Only God…
It meant googling a bazillion different pro presenter tutorials so it would all run smoothly, and then breathing a huge sigh of relief when I didn’t mess it all up for 500 people!
It meant getting quiet one on one side conversations with people I am in awe of, like Beth…
It meant being so busy all weekend long that I didn’t have time to be nervous about teaching my breakout session on Saturday.
It meant sitting around a box of kleenex after teaching the infertility and loss breakout as women opened up about their broken hearts. It meant crying together, nodding with each other in compassion and sisterhood. It meant watching the healing process start in some wounded hearts. It was holy.
It meant late nights, silly pictures, lots of connecting and hugs, and wishing there was more time to talk to each of the women I’ve grown to love over the years.
(^^ AGCI picture… yes Andrea and I were being silly – that is not a serious pose!)
( in my husband’s words, “girls are crazy when they get away together!”)
It meant a super fun 8 hour drive home with three ladies who make me laugh until tears are pouring down my face… and then belting 80’s love tunes because we’ve gotten a wee bit silly in our exhaustion… and then coming up with an even crazier idea for our mini retreat (more on that soon).
(^^ Virginia mamas — our fun carpool group!)
I loved every second of it. I can’t get over what a joy and honor it is to serve in this capacity. About 3am on Thursday night, well actually Friday morning, I remember turning to Andrea and telling her that if she had told me a year ago that the best way I could help the C4C ministry was to come and scrub toilets I would have gladly agreed! But I am slightly thankful they have lodge staff for that!
Speaking of toilets… those of you who noticed the signs on the back of the bathroom stalls… no, you cannot catch HIV from a waste basket. Don’t worry – a group of us are putting together a little something to send to the company who made those signs (a gentle reminder that a little education goes a long way and the misinformation being spread by their signs only increases unfounded fears and terrible stigmas in our society.) But that’s a post for another day…
We’re gearing up for March’s Created for Care in just three weeks and I for one cannot wait!!!!