A Day at the Arts Conference

I may have mentioned before how much I like the Willow Creek Arts Conference. There is something amazing about connecting with people doing ministry in churches that cut across geography and denominations. One of the best parts is getting to talk with people about their ministry settings and the struggles and joys they encounter. For me, it is a good reality check on the pulse of what is happening across the country.

Dan Schoedel has been with me on this trip, and I couldn't have asked for a better teammate. He lives and breathes the type of work we are promoting. We've laughed that we never let him leave his computer because we can't afford to. In this case, we couldn't afford not to. He knows all of the stories of all of the projects. It has been cool to hear him tell them.

With the connection part being my absolute favorite, there are some other highlights definitely worth mentioning:

1) Melody and Tony Lenox were here at the conference. (Melody Burleson back when I was in high school.) Melody was part of my high school youth group and it was cool to meet the "grown up" version of her and find out that she is still the same dynamic juxtaposition of down-to-earth and full-of-light. It was also fun to get to meet her daughter Bethany who was able to give me some counsel on a personal branding transformation I'm considering.

2) I stood in front of the Sermonspice.com booth for a long time trying to decide if I was willing to make a sacrifice for David-the-Artist-Pastor. A T-Shirt and $50 worth of free video and/or graphic content and all I had to do was eat a raw jalepeno. The problem? Duh! I had to eat a raw jalepeno. However, this Texas girl did it. And with no small amount of pain thank-you-very-much. Enjoy the videos Wahlstedt, I'm keeping the t-shirt!

3) I had a conversation with a woman in the ladies room and wound up going to her session. Whoa. The content was unexpected. I heard things I'd never processed before that will take some unpacking. This one deserves its own post and I'm way too tired to think it through tonight.

4) Jim Kumorek--my editor--and I grabbed real Chicago-style pizza at Gino's--a place John and I actually saw in a special on the Travel Channel for the best pizza. (Sadly, neither of us had a marker to add our name to the walls.) Normally most of Jim's and my conversations have to do with deadlines, so it was fun to catch up and cover more random topics like where our industries are going and the realities of living your faith in the day-to-day world (which morphed into some fairly deep theological discussions). Thanks Jim, you helped me clarify some thinking on a lot of things.

Well, Jay Leno is talking in the background. (On the television that is part of my bathroom mirror and kicks on when I walk past--still can't figure that one out.)

John, Chase and Bethany....I miss you. I've been traveling too much these past two weeks and can't wait to be home.
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall