Around Christmatime, when Dan told me he was asked to speak at the ’09 Orange conference, he mentioned that he’d love to see if we could figure out a way for me to come along and experience it with him. I got lucky, because we worked it out.
Knowing my kids were being totally loved by their out-of-town grandmothers, I was able to leave. Really leave. Not worry. Relax. Know that my kids were not someone else’s hassle or responsibility, but Grandma and Lou’s daily joys.
Being joined at the hip to my husband was almost awkward (simply because it hasn’t happened since we birthed our first child almost 6 years). And it was blissful. I used to make fun of couples who hold hands while eating lunch, and still would if given the chance, but not of being able to sit so close that our knees touched while we ate a meal from START to FINISH! Staring into each others’ eyes over pasta salad with feta in the speaker’s lounge…ok, well, let’s get back to the subject at hand…
Yes, I had to wear an orange T-shirt (not my best shade, but I must admit that I OWNED it thanks to a hand-beaded necklace from MCF, Kenya), hand out hand-outs for breakout sessions, build signage using a small tool (hee-hee, sorry Brad, couldn’t help myself!), give directions in a building I’ve never been in before, drink some gosh-awful coffee (and some totally amazing “Land of a Thousand Hills” coffee–yum!), and suffer for Jesus eating Chic Fil A, Cheesecake Factory, and PF Changs a few times over.
At first, I felt out of place. Tag-along. Out of context and not needed. But Re-Think staff seriously treated me like royalty. Even though I have no name, no paid staff position, church-cred, and probably had no reason whatsoever to be at Orange, they were so excited to have me there. And because I am a PARENT, I belonged. That was hugely affirming to me.
Being able to worship with authentic leaders standing next to my loud-singing American Idol, grab a piece of floor and listen to amazing giants of faith share about their highs, lows, journeys of failure and faith, the importance of parents and intentional parenting, community and church poured into my soul, filling what I never even realized was desperately empty.
I needed to be there. Paradoxical because I had no business being there.
Although I probably will not wear anything consisting of the color orange for at least the next 6 months, you can believe that it’s giving purple a run for it’s money as my new favorite color. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I ❤ Orange.