For the last weekend of January, my family and I headed down to Arizona’s sunny capital known as Phoenix. You may also already know that the Super Bowl this year was held in Phoenix, and on that very same weekend. Needless to say, traffic was insane. However, we didn’t go down for the Super Bowl, we went for the Southwest Family Vision Conference held at the Mesa Convention Center. This was a two-day conference of sermons and fellowship with other believers. And you guys, I just have to say that it was the best weekend I’ve had in a long time. It was just so, so perfect. Hence, the blog post.
First, though, I have to mention that it was not sunny. Or warm. It was raining all of Friday, and chilly all of Saturday. This turned out to be a predicament for me, as I had only packed sandals and desert-worthy clothes. Thankfully, though, we were staying with some wonderful friends who let me borrow a pair of leather boots and a sweater. (I am forever grateful.)
I did find it rather funny that the Seahawks happened to be in the Valley when it was raining.
Anyway, about the conference. This organization was made up of four or five churches, one of which was my church. Therefore, about 90% of my church headed down for the weekend and stayed at various hotels and host homes. My family stayed actually stayed with the one family that originally started our church in the beginning. Unfortunately, this family had to move to the Valley last year (a very sad move for everyone). I was so excited to stay the weekend with them, and it turned out to be a huge blessing. Being able to spend all our extra time with this family for two days was simply wonderful. Early morning routines, hugs, breakfast together, encouragement, late-night discussions, and more hugs. It made my heart smile.
Beside for the overwhelming hospitality, the conference itself was great. While I definitely enjoyed sitting through the sessions and listening to the talks, the best part for me was catching up with old friends. I say “old” friends, but most of them are fairly recent (as in the past year or two), I just don’t have the opportunity to see them very often, so the term “old” feels appropriate. Some of the absolute best moments from the weekend was time spent with a family I met at last year’s homeschool convention. As you may remember, I’ve had a booth for selling my book at our last two homeschool conventions. Last year, there was piano technician with a booth across from me (Jedin Bianchi), and his sister and I became super great friends. This family vision conference was the first time I’d seen them since July, so we spent a lot of time together. It was so much fun getting to know them better and becoming even closer friends.
There were other moments about the conference that were wonderful as well. Filling a restaurant with numerous families from my church, trying fish tacos for the first time (YES, the first time. They were delicious!), meeting the sisters of my book designer Perry Elisabeth (though I’ve never actually met her in person), jaywalking as a family through Phoenix streets at night (what can I say? We Risings are a tad rebellious), catching up with people I haven’t seen in years, deepening friendships with a few close friends, and more.
I haven’t mentioned this yet, but the keynote speaker of the conference was Voddie Baucham. Perhaps you’ve heard of him, perhaps you haven’t. He speaks boldly on controversial subjects, and I can’t help but admire his fire and passion for the Lord. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, but it’s hard to disagree when he’s speaking in such a convincing manner. It was a definite blessing to hear him teach multiple times during the conference, especially considering he and his family are moving to Africa.
Even though the conference ended Saturday night, the weekend was fantastic all the way through Sunday. That Sunday happened to be Vision Sunday at our church, which is a special day for us. It’s a day the leaders of our church take once a year to discuss what happened in the previous year, what we’re doing now, and what our plans are for the coming year. It began with a fellowship breakfast and then transitioned into the service.
There was a moment while at church that touched me the most: a longtime friend of mine stated that she had missed getting together with me and wanted to be proactive about meeting together. This particular friend just had a baby back in November, so she’s been understandably busy and distracted. Thus, it really touched me (or perhaps melted my heart, I’ve heard it both ways), when she approached me about wanting to spend time with me.
Later that day, it was time for the Super Bowl. My family was last-minute invited over to a party which one of our church families was hosting. Even though I don’t particularly care about watching the game itself, I love Super Bowl parties. They’re always just so much fun with the food, people, games, commercials, the half-time show…. It was a fantastic time. Four things really stood out to me:
–Turning off the half-time show and singing hymns instead. Thrilling, right? (<<That was sarcasm.) Actually I was a bit bummed because I like half-time shows. However, I watched Katy Perry’s show the next day and let me just say that our hymn-singing was such a better use of our time. This is purely my opinion, but Katy Perry’s show was disappointing and ridiculous. Thus, I’m thankful the host of the party saw fit to turn off the T.V. and lead in singing hymns instead. That’s much more memorable anyway.
–Trying sushi for the first time. Someone brought sushi to the party, and as I had never eaten sushi before, I thought I’d be adventurous and just go for it. Oh my word, it was the most disgusting thing ever. Ugh. Just thinking about it turns my stomach. However, I heard it was just that sushi which was bad, because there were multiple people there who normally LOVE sushi but were disgusted by it. Figures that would be the sushi I’d eat for my first try, doesn’t it? Haha
–Another friend coming up to me and stating that we should get coffee sometime soon. That makes two friends in one day who initiated a conversation with me along the lines of wanting to spend time with me. I don’t know about you, but this really, really touches me. It doesn’t happen all that often, so it was special.
–Conversations with good friends. Lots of laughs and great fellowship. I know this seems like such a simple thing, but it’s the small things that matter the most to me. ♥
As you can probably tell, the weekend was a whirlwind, but an absolute blessing in every way. (Except perhaps trying the sushi. Still, that created a fun memory with friends so it’s a good thing!)