I have avoided sitting down and even attempting to put into words what a gift Jumping Tandem was because here's the thing:
I can't even know yet.
It just keeps unfolding and expanding and is that not just how things work in the Kingdom?
As Chris Caine says, it just keeps getting Betterer and Betterer!
I feel like I can't comprehend All the Feels yet and I could simply just copy and paste the hashtag that I normally reserve for Alia Joy and just say:
and you would maybe get me.
If you follow me on Instagram (or Facebook or Twitter) then well, you probably already know.
But here is maybe something you couldn't really tell from just following the feed:
This was a Retreat in the truest sense of the word.
While we are in this modern age and obviously - selfies were happening, y'all! - I can't explain to you how many whites of eyes I was able to gaze into this weekend, for extended periods of time!
That's no small miracle, people.
And then there was all this gorgeousness to take in, too:
The gift of the atmosphere that Deidra and her team were able to create resulted in this: We were all present. We all stayed present... engaged... connected... (and not in a 4G kind of way - but in an invested, I hear you/me, too kind of way and it was wonderful --wonder filled, even!)
Obviously, I could go on and on...
I could start with the admission that just getting myself there was all kinds of Brave - but it felt like normal life. I had never traveled on my own before. I am a small town girl who fell in love with a traveler at 21. Everywhere I've gone, he has been by my side (...at least if it required airfare!) And yet... peace felt as if it was quite literally exuding out of me for the entire trip. As if it was --He was - emanating out of me. Fear never found a way in!
I could talk about the keynote speakers and the break out sessions... seriously, each one was amazing. I will say that I took classes from Alia Joy, Amena Brown, and John Blase... what? --Plus Grace Sandra, Helen Fagan, Michelle DeRusha, Laura Boggess... and the gloriousness of De and her girlie together... oh my! Don't even get me started on the amazing worship and communion!
Plus - this happened... Yeah - that is real life, y'all!
(Alleigh and Anna and Elsa at Jumping Tandem!)
I could share the quiet corner conversations, the one on one real connecting, the rocking on the porch in sweet sister silence, the 'chance' chats where God showed up and spoke through and moved mountains and brought perspective and showered us all with Grace... but some things feel too sacred to speak of. With some things I will just be like Mary, and ponder them in my heart, letting them sink in deep!
I know, right? I can't even... with Lisha Epperson!
My roomie... and oh the talks we had!
She is this adorable - in real life - ALL. the. TIME!
However, you know I am not gonna leave you hanging... I can't possibly leave you high and dry, so here are three take aways that I brought home with me from Nebraska.
#1- Deidra truly is a Disco star
(because Rockstar isn't exactly accurate... she's so much more than that!)
It took me until yesterday to be able to put a finger on it but it is this: She ran the Jumping Tandem Retreat the way we want to run our new church! That was such a gift to see it operate and unfold. Sustaining it long term will be tricky (maybe) but to see that it is possible was over the top encouraging!
What I mean by this is that she surrounded herself with a team and asked them what they loved to do... and released them to do it. The whole 'team with the freedom to move in their individual giftings' approach set an atmosphere that was inclusive and affirming... that was family and open and from the moment guests stepped foot on the grounds, they were loved on and released from pressure and performing.
She left the details up to God and oh my, how we serve a God who is more than able to connect the dots and make everything flow together. (Not that there was not a TON of work that went into it... way before, during, and I am sure afterwards too! But as a guest, I was in awe of the peace and trust that was present that created safe spaces to simply be!)
This is our prayer... that our church will operate like this... that the atmosphere will be one of teamwork and family and freedom to do what you love - not just what is needed... that it will be God (not the devil) in the details and we will let Love and Grace flow freely in our midst.
#2- Poetry is a Thing...
I know... but honestly, I hadn't given it much thought! I have been feeling a pulling towards it for months. I even started writing a tiny bit, because - spoken word requires it and as much as that thought terrifies me - it also stirs me up and makes me cry and Emily Freeman has ruined me for ignoring such things now.
While Amena was talking, I had a flashback of being in 2nd or 3rd grade, and having to pick and memorize poetry and recite it in front of the whole class... and I LOVED that! Even as shy as I was, I really loved the power of the written word and that is what made me want to write. So this pull has been in me all of my life. I remembered this in the midst of a session with 5 other people (one of which was John Blase... no pressure!) and AMENA BROWN, teaching Spoken Word... What? Crazy!
So - this love of poetry and stringing together beautiful words to paint pictures has always been in me. I just didn't notice... or didn't know what to do with it... or how to give it room to grow! But I am noticing it now... and giving space and time to break up the fallow ground.
Then I took a class with John Blase on how we are to bear the burdens of nouns and there is just no going back!
#3- Different Starts can bring Different Endings...
I'm not sure if you've heard (insert sarcasm font) but My Honey and I are doing this Thing... we are starting a church. As in, this Sunday. If you would have asked me a month ago, I would have laughed at you and said, "No way!"
But you know how the story goes... "But, God..."
In the telling of this news, I was starting to feel the Heaviness of the Hard!
When we tell people that we are starting a church, their first sentence is always something (exactly) like this:
"That is SO exciting... and scary, and it's gonna be so hard!"
Thank you. Thank you for that!
But God reminded me that while there will be 'hard parts' because sometimes family is messy and hard, we are doing it differently, so it's OK to expect different results! That took some of the weight off!
In fact, for part of my 'free time' on Saturday afternoon, I found a quiet place under the trees and I did a little Listening Prayer to help lighten the load... I prayed, and He answered.
He said, "Yes. This is big... but don't make it bigger than each moment and each step. Let Peace be your Umpire and let Love be your Guide. Others are right, it is big - and it will have hard parts, but rest assured that I go with you and before you and behind you and We are doing this Different... so you don't need to pick up worry or fear or old stories of how it goes... It's never 'gone' this way before, so take heart and continue to let Me take the lead... and We will dance! Oh how We will dance!"
So, all in all, Jumping Tandem - the Retreat 2015 is still unfolding... it's still getting Betterer and Betterer, and I've already told D that I would totally return to Nebraska, and as I said to her, "That ain't nothing!"
For it turns out God resides there, and it really is the Good Life!
P.S. I'm linking up with these lovely writers:
The Community over at #Small Wonders
Holly Barrett for #TestimonyTuesday