I was driving up today thinking about the last decade of my life and how catalystic this time every year has been in my life. In the eleven years that Recreate has existed, I think I have attended nine times. I've made some major decisions about my ministry, my personal life, and my spiritual life here in Franklin.
I didn't grow up with a lot of traditions. However, the older I get, the more I long for a sense of rhythm and pace that allows me the opportunity to be reflective. My drive up today gave me some time to reflect and here were somethings I recognized:
- I have served at three different churches since I started attending.
- I have personally paid to attend this conference three times.
- I was one of three women the first year I attended who had a similar job to mine.
- I had no children the first year I attended - I now have a 4 year and an almost 7 year old.
- I have attended at times on the verge of quitting ministry altogether only to be encouraged and cheered on by my friends and the conference itself.
- I have attended at times afraid to return home because of what was ahead in my life that I would have to face.
- I have attended starving for some sense of belonging because I was so insecure or unsure of myself and feeling so lonely.
- I have attended with regret at lost opportunities over the previous year that I never saw come to fruition.
- I have attended with excitement when I thought about the future and the possibilities that were waiting for me after the conference.
The key here is that I come every year. This is a safe place for me. I hear things and see things from God and from others that I never hear or see any other time of year. There is a sense of familiar here that draws me in every year. I see people that I may not talk with any other time of year and the moment we see each other, we pick up right where we left off. I love the new faces that I see (especially all the women!) and I look forward to hearing their stories.
Recreate 11 has begun. I've already laughed, talked, listened, and learned more than I thought was possible in a few hours time and we have a whole week left. Who would have guessed that the Worship Pastor who gave me one of my first job interviews would end up creating a conference that would impact me as much as this? Thanks, Randy and Chris...there are not words.