1. Let's face it. It's always good to leave town for a few days of evaluation, encouragement, challenge and soul-nourishing.
2. It's always fun to hang out with people I like spending time around, including my buddy Bill Rath, who's fortunate enough to have an awesome wife who works for Marriott hotels.
3. It's always cool to win free stuff. Well, I didn't win any free stuff. But lots of other people did. One of these days I'll win an iPod.
4. It's always awesome to reconnect with folks. Had lunch on Saturday with a friend; she and I were in the same youth group growing up and haven't seen much of each other since high school days of yore.
It's the end of a long day, so I won't write many details about the conference, but here are a few memorable moments:
- Meeting Kurt Johnston, the junior high pastor at Saddleback Church in Orange County. He's shorter than I thought he'd be. And for the record, he said I'm taller than he thought I'd be.
- Hearing YS' Marko and David Crowder discuss (on stage, in front of 3,500 people) who was the peanut butter and who was the jelly in this "peanut butter and jelly sandwich" relationship between YS and the David Crowder Band.
- Having Doug Fields remember me. OK, I'm sure there's SOME kind of pride issue here that God needs to be working out of my system. But come on, I've been in youth ministry for less than 4 years and Doug Fields remembered me. That feels good.
- Eating lunch with Josh Griffin. Oops, that one DIDN'T happen. Oh well. For the record folks, Josh missed someone ELSE buying lunch for him. Don't think that happens too often.
- Seeing comedian Ron Pearson pull his "balance a ladder on my chin" stunt. I knew it was coming; I saw the video blog from my friend Evan Mattei. But STILL, I was amazed to see him do it in person.
- Walking into my 8-hour critical concern session an hour late and finding out we were ONLY on page 2 of the notes. This was a highlight of the weekend, hearing some life-giving truths and ideas from Dan Webster. Well worth the drive down and the extra cost.
- Driving 6.5 hours in my car alone while listening to "Good to Great," written and read by Jim Collins. I decided a book on CD would keep me awake better than my iPod music. Another good investment that fed a weekend of new thinking and new desires in my heart.
- Spending a few days almost completely disconnected from my computer and the Internet. I should do that more often.