in the next couple of weeks i will be posting some wrap-ups about the convention. there is so much for me to process from this year that i want to take the time to do it justice, to do justice to what my heart and head are feeling and saying about it, and honor God in it as well.
early day… very early day… 7 a.m. early. but this morning, not only were we on time, but there was breakfast… a great way to start a really long day! this was the final day of the convention, which translates to winding down a-team activities and packing-up getting ready to ship out to Pittsburgh.
the team that i worked with took on most of the packing duties because i had a last minute meeting scheduled for this morning. we gave away the last of the snacks and treats that we had, took down the posters that so many youth workers created to honor fellow youth workers, packed everything up in the boxes and tubs they came, stacked them on a pallet and then i waited for the wrapping team to come in and wrap it all in super-duper plastic wrap.
we headed over to the book store and jumped in with that team to help pack it all up. luckily youth workers like to shop, so the number of books was less than what we started with.
when we were done i began to look around at everything, and it was sad. staring at the room that just a few hours ago was filled with the beautiful sound of brothers and sisters gathered worshipping has been transitioned to a pack-up state where even the fabulous disco mirrored ball was being packed away. it was all going away. it was all going to Pittsburgh and then on to Nashville.
but for Sacramento… it is done.
new late night option at the national youth workers convention… youth worker speed dating.
i was there, i tried it… a friend pushed me into going… literally pushed… he came too, but left a short while later…
that’s all i’ve got to say about that.
today was a pretty mellow day for the team. we helped out with the women in youth ministry lunch and did a seminar break in. we also organized some stuff, hung some stuff, affirmed some people and did some other things. i took some time today to walk through the hall ways. no agenda, no destination… just walk.
i saw people talking on their cell phones, people walking very quickly, people checking their email, people sitting together having a meal, people in deep conversation, people laughing together, people napping and people in prayer. all of it was so random, yet it all seemed to make so much sense. it all seemed to be natural, something that was expected instead of something that was so out of the ordinary that it seemed weird.
it always amazes me when i am in a place where i see all of these things and they all feel so natural. but i do remember when i didn’t feel so natural to me, in fact it felt kind of odd. i remember that point in my faith journey where praying in public or even talking about Jesus was such a forbidden subject for me. it wasn’t because i was afraid of people’s reactions, but it was more of something that just felt odd. it felt as though this was such a personal thing for me that i need to keep it just that… personal. i felt as though it was something that i didn’t need to share with anyone. i remember walking down the street or somewhere else and seeing a couple of people praying in public and thinking it was really odd.
the place i find myself now is full of relief and expectation. my relief comes from the place that i really don’t care what people think when i pray. yes, i do pray a lot in private. yet, at the same time it does not really matter when i do pray because that is me talking to God. either offering up a prayer for someone on their behalf or for myself, i am talking directly to God.
my expectations are full of wanting to see others be so comfortable with their relationship with God that they are willing to pray at a drop of the hat, no matter where they are or what they are doing. the see a need, hear about a need or meet someone in need, they pray.
i saw all of this today while strolling through the halls of the convention center. two people praying with each other, someone finding a quite corner in a busy convention center to catch some time with God, a group lifting up one of their own because they are going through some rough times… all of this brought a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart.
wow… what a day today has been! not sure really where to start, so let’s start with the beginning. i reported for duty at 7 a.m. … ok, it was really like 7:10 a.m. and we got a standing ovation when we walked into the room. nonetheless it was really early! we began the day with prayer. we ventured around to the different locations for the convention and prayed over the areas, the people staffing the areas and the ministry that will be happening in the area this weekend.
it is so good to be a part of group where you are a volunteer and only with them for a short time, yet are truly treated like one of the staff. it’s been really great to be apart of this, and will walk away with great memories.
the rest of the day went by quicker than i think any of us really anticipated. we set up the registration playground, walked around affirming people, did our first seminary break-in and set up the affirmation station. it is truly a blessing to see someone in a hall way, who is not smiling, and then by handing them a bouncy ball, the instantly light up. it’s as though i made their day by giving them a bouncy ball with a smiley face… the only place i know this happens is here.
content wise, the convention is off to a great start and is deserving of an entire entry on it’s own. so far, a lot of the things that have been said, i will be revisiting them because they have already had an impact on me.
what a day, what a day. so this is probably the most mellow day that we as a team will have. i am sure the next three days are going to be long, tiring, exhausting, fun, exciting, full and… well apply any and all adjectives here.
we began the morning gathering with everyone, and i was late. i know shocker. (well, it maybe a shocker for the people who don’t really know me… but for those of you who do know me… it’s no surprise) i claimed my place on the floor and we began going around in the circle saying our names, which team we were on and finishing the following sentence: “by the end of this week, i hope…”
these moments sometimes are scary places from me and i need to truly examine the situation before i can speak out an answer. there is a fine line between sharing where your heart truly is and just being way to out there for everyone to know everything about you. i strive to be transparent, yet at the same time respect my boundaries as well as those unspoken boundaries of large groups like this. and this time, i think that i succeeded in respecting everyones boundaries.
i realized that i have a lot of hopes for this week. i hope to find a job, or at least a few good leads. i hope to meet new people, and take some new friendships home with me. i hope to have a great time. i hope to laugh a lot. but setting all this aside, here is what i shared:
in this week, i hope that i can just be and enjoy the moment. i also hope that at the end of the week i can sit down and write a long list of things that God did this week, that i have the privilege and blessing to be witness to.
in my adult life i have learned not to live by my hopes, but to put them on the back burner and not expect them. as a Christian, i know that i need to rest all of my hopes on the cross and be open to what God will do with those. numerous times i have said to people that in no way did i ever think that God would bring me to this place and give me the passions that He has given me. i am constantly shocked and bewildered by what He is doing in my life, with my heart, the gifts He has given me, the talents He has blessed me with and the passions that he pours into me.
needless to say, my over reaching hope it to see God this week. it’s to be in His presence with brothers and sisters, worshiping our Creator. it’s to be with the one who knitted use together in our mother’s womb and knew every part of us even before our parents did. it’s to rest in the assurance that we are all wonderfully made and beautifully created in His image. it’s to feel that our sins have been forgiven by the blood shed on the cross for us, by His one and only son. it’s to see the His grace is sufficient for all of us.
ok, so we really didn’t do a-team stuff today. but we did do store stuff… meaning stocking book shelves, folding t-shirts… you know, typical stuff. we had lunch at la bou (one of my favorite places in sac!) and then headed back to the hall for a team meeting. we sat in a big circle… very youth group style… and shared. we told our stories.
i sometimes forget that we can all come from different places, have different experiences, different trials, different joys, different hopes, different expectations and yet still be able to connect on a very familiar level. from bad church experiences to allowing wedges to be put between ourselves and God to feeling beat up, we all have very different stories, but can all be called youth workers.
i won’t lie, i enjoy the fun of convention. i enjoy the laughs, the music, the worship and the serious ridiculousness of what happens at the convention. but i also enjoy the worship, the speaking, the looking and seeking the Lord. i enjoy the fellowship. i enjoy knowing that although my story is different, there is still some similarity with the people who i share a convention hall with during general sessions.
i am here with my people, my tribe. i am here with people who are going through the same things that i am or have gone through them as some point. i am gathering with a people group that identifies with each other on a level that i have never experienced before. in a lot of ways, i wish that this could last… oh, let’s just say forever. this is fun. this is exciting. this is a safe place. this is a place that i know that i will meet God. this is a place that i know i will be able to focus on Him.
yep, that’s right folks… i am on the a-team. no, it’s not a remake of the classic 80’s tv show in which a group of misfits run rampant all over the country posing as “robin hood” types being chased by the law. (btw… i loved that show as a kid. when i went to universal studios for a family vacation, there was a weird a-team easter egg hunt happening and the main character came of of the red sea wearing a dinosaur costume while smoking a cigar… needless to say, this non-church going kid was a little confused about the parting of the red sea event for a while after that vacation)
this a-team is a little different… we are the affirmation team for the national youth workers convention in sacramento. basically we get to go around the convention and affirm people all day long. most of the time we will be throwing in a ton of fun, but there will also be the times when we will be prayerful and supportive for people who need it.
i am excited about this for several reasons…
i get to have fun! (i ain’t gonna lie)
I will be able to celebrate youth workers and all that they do
i get the awesome privilege of affirming youth workers and let them know that they are making a difference in kids lives, the lives of parents, the lives of people in their churches that they are serving, the lives of people in the community and many, many more
stayed tuned for the further chronicles of the a-team.
i impressed myself today… i was more ready than i normally am when leaving for a stay away from home. i was late for my morning breakfast, but that was about it. went to work, got a lot accomplished for the short amount of time i was there, jumped in the car and headed north.
on my way up today i was thinking about expectations, and it occurred to me that i was bringing my own set of expectations on this trip. i realized that as i had my packed bags in the trunk of my car, i had me packed expectations in my head and my heart. here’s a little of what i packed today…
i expect to meet God this week
i expect to meet brothers and sisters this week
i expect to do some heart exploration this week
i expect to laugh a lot this week
i expect a lot of this to feel very natural
those are just some of my expectations… my list of hopes and dreams for the week is much more exhaustive, intimate and detailed.
no matter which way you cut it, my expectations are running deep for the national youth workers convention this week. i do promise a full report at the end of the week… but also keeping up-to-the-day reporting of the shenanigans i will find myself in the middle of. ok, really it will be the shenanigans that i will be instigator of.
the wizard, the wonderful wizard of oz. ok, not really… but that’s what popped into my head just now… and i went with it!
but i am off, off to the National Youth Workers Convention in Sacramento! A fun filled week running throughout downtown, wreaking havoc all over the convention center… it should be fun.
here are just a few of the things i am looking forward to…
- meeting new people
- seeing good friends
- having fun
- a week away from modesto, in sunny sac town
- spending time with God
- being with my peeps, my tribe
- and a lot more that i can’t seem to think of right now, due to my excessive tiredness… can we say starbucks for the drive up!
stay tuned for more mad-cap-adventures… i’ll be blogging all week!