I came back from my week in Nashville feeling like I felt when I got home from camp as a teenager. I was so sad it was all over and knowing that coming back to the real world was going to be hard.
I had been at two events in one week: The Bethany Annual Leadership Conference and CAFO (Christian Alliance for Orphans). I left feeling so incredibly blessed. Here's why:
1) I love being a part of something so big (Bethany) that is doing so much good in the world to serve God and children. Over 100,000 children served each year in 15 different countries and 36 states in the US. A team of over 1400 people work together to pursue our vision with vigor: Bethany envisions a world where every child has a loving family. Hearing the stories of coworkers around the world and how lives are changed daily is awe-inspiring. And it is clear that it is done for the glory of God.
2) Even if it was just for a few minutes I had a chance to connect with people from my past and present who I love very much at CAFO. Friends from college, friends from here in Minnesota, my friends who I have gotten to know through REFRESH (a conference in Redmond Washington every February). I could tell you stories about each of these people, but when I come to a place where so many people I know and love gather together, I am reminded me of the incredible relationships that have colored the tapestry of my life over the years. Daily I am amazed at God's blessing to me in the form of friendships and incredible people over the year who are still a part of my life.
3) I recognized how much I have changed over the past year. A very new Regional Director a year ago, I have learned so much in 12 months. I have studied leadership, learned through hard times and good times, and continue to be amazed at how much more I have to learn. Being able to see progress is a good thing.
4) I hope he never sees this, but my Assistant Director at Bethany, who is also one of my best friends, made the trip even better. I had been excited for him to meet people we had talked with, about, and to over video conferences and phones for the last six months. I knew that he would impress him and that they would love him, and I was right. We had a great time and it was fun for me to watch others recognize the brilliance that I've seen in him for a long time. (and if you know him, and happen to be reading this, please don't tell him I said any of this or it will totally ruin my reputation :-)
5) Finally, I am feeling blessed by the incredible depth of love that I have for my coworkers at Bethany. Both here at the local office, and Bethany natural, there are people who I have grown to love so quickly. I know there are many folks who have jobs where they work hard and too much. I have one of those jobs. But I also have four things on top of that: I have a job where God is first and where everything that we do we do for Him; I have a job where I get paid to do what I am passionate about; I have a job that changes the world, and I have a job where when I say goodbye to my co-workers I hear the words, spoken or unspoken depending on the person, "I love you."
It just doesn't get any better than this.