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Wonderful Wednesday – Exciting and Exhausting Weekends

February 1, 2012

I could describe this past weekend using a number of different words and phrases – wonderful, exciting, exhausting, uplifting, provocative, refreshing, and more.  It began on Friday afternoon as I traveled west to Birmingham, Alabama.  I was there for the North Alabama UMC Children’s Conference, Contagious.  I was both honored and surprised to be the main speaker for the conference.  A big thanks to Laura Cox for throwing my name in the pile and to Beth Sanford and her team for taking a chance on this young children’s minister.  Friday night was fun, with a meet and greet where I was able to sit and talk with a few of the children’s ministers from the conference.  It was great to learn their stories, hear about where they serve, their challenges and their successes.

Saturday began early and got running quickly.  The morning began with worship and then the first breakout session.  Then, for the hour and a half before lunch, I was up!  I split my presentation into two sessions, one before lunch and one after.  I created my presentation around the conference theme – Contagious.  I talked about creating a contagious children’s ministry that contains both the Gospel and our tradition as United Methodists.  I discussed the race for the cure or creating a vision for our ministries.  I brought up different aspects of ministry, from creativity to challenging ourselves and our students to taking advantage of case studies, or what other churches are doing well.  Overall, I felt really good about my presentation, and I hope the attendees learned a little bit and felt refreshed and re-energized when they returned to their churches.

The conference ended with another breakout session and closing worship featuring the fabulous Mary Margaret Douglas telling the story of Jonah and the story of David and Goliath.  Check her out on youtube – she is adorable and a great storyteller!  Here’s a link to one of her stories: Story of Jonah.

I returned home on Saturday night and quickly got to work finishing up my sermon for Sunday morning worship at Azalea Estates, a local assisted living and retirement community.  I ended up preaching on the Deuteronomy passage from the lectionary just to spice things  up a bit.  I really enjoyed being with the folks on Sunday morning – and only 4 of them fell asleep!  Chris counted for me, haha.  A big thanks to Tom Robinson for playing piano and for all the great greeters that came to share some love and care with the folks at Azalea.

We finished up at Azalea a little before 11, so we managed to make it to church for the 11 a.m. service.  It was nice to actually sit in the pew with Chris, since I never get to do that.  And, the Men of the Mill, Starr’s Mill High School’s a capella group participated in worship.  They were amazing!  And, Mark’s sermon wasn’t too bad either 😉

Sunday afternoon brought the LaGrange District Training.  Thank goodness Chris Mucha offered to drive down – I’m not sure I could have made it alone.  He and I served on a children and youth ministry panel during the training.  Not quite as exciting as the conference on Saturday, but still a privilege to serve as a leader in our district.

Sunday night was filled with episodes of Big Bang Theory while lounging on the couch in sweats.  A perfect ending to an amazing weekend. And now, it’s back to the grind, counting down the days to Israel!

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