For those of you who like a quick wrap-up:
1. The God I serve is so awesome.
2. A weekend with the man I married reminded me why I married him.
3. Beth Moore and the LPM staff are truly servants of God.
4. I'm glad I live in Idaho.
For those of you who need more and have time for the long version, read on.
It was even better than I'd hoped. My weekend in Houston for the SMT Celebration. I don't even know where to begin to tell you about it. Maybe before it even began.
Last January I was so excited to do this memorization challenge on the LPM blog. But I couldn't get any of my friends to join me. I didn't let that discourage me - this was something I wanted to do. It got hard, picking verses, trying to remember the ones from the beginning (although that got easier because I said them so many times by the end of the year). Then, Beth put the dangling carrot out in front of me. Those who finish get to celebrate together in Houston. It renewed my resolve.
I enjoyed reading other ladies verses, sometimes picking theirs for mine the next time. I read a couple of blogs of fellow memorizers. Then I found one that so touched me, so inspired me that I keep going back to it almost daily. Lord, I prayed, if it is at all possible, I want to meet this woman in Houston in January. I just want to hug her. I don't know how many women will be at this celebration, but I'd really like to do this, Lord, if it's possible.
All through the year, I'd keep asking my friends to join me in the memorizing. I'm sure that by August the thought of remembering 24 verses was a bit overwhelming. So I started asking Steve if he'd like to go to Houston. He actually was very excited about going with me. This was before he found out that fishing in January in Houston is about the only off-season. But he said he'd go anyway. I made plans to have my mom stay with the kids (she lives in Phoenix) and got the plane tickets and registered for the celebration.
Fast forward to Thursday, January 21, 2010. Steve and I fly to Houston for the weekend. First impressions: flat, lots of trees, difficult to navigate the roads. Why are all of the traffic lights sideways? Never did find out. The weather was beautiful, sunny, warm. The hotel was gorgeous. We tried to find a BBQ restaurant that first evening, but the conceirge gave us directions to a cafeteria that was closed. We ended up eating at some fancy restaurant at The Galleria, which is a huge mall. It even has an ice skating rink inside! The food was good, but I don't remember the name of the restaurant.
Friday we visited Johnson Space Center. Had a little trouble finding it. We were thinking by this time that the $15/day charge for a GPS would've been a steal. Steve is excellent with directions but something about this city was sooo frustrating. Not enough signs and the ones we did see were poorly placed. Anyways...the Space Center was so cool. I wish the kids could've been there for that. They would've loved it. We spent most of the day there. Oh, we did make a stop at "the world's largest tackle store". Since all/most of the fishing there is salt water, they had lots of tackle we'd never seen before. And it was big. I'd love to see what some of those arm size hooks bring in. We found a BBQ place, but were disappointed. They used a lot more vinegar than we are used to in Idaho.
Then it was time for the celebration. The church was huge and the hospitality was warm and welcoming. There was a celebration banner, a program printed and lots of pink boas. (Someone suggested we wear pink feather boas to recognize each other around town, in the airport, etc.) There were 507 women with index card spirals ready to celebrate. We represented 42 states (even Alaska and Hawaii) and 5 from Canada. We were connected because of the LPM blog and more importantly, God's word. You could feel the excitment in the air.
I've been to two LPM Live conferences in the past. Beth Moore does a great job making it feel smaller than 5,000+ people at those gatherings. But, this. This was special. I felt like we were personal friends of the Moores. Travis Cottrell was there to lead worship music with his iPod band. He is amazingly talented. Then Beth started teaching from Psalm 119. It was hard to tell she had major surgery last month for all her energy. It was a timely teaching. I know I should say more on the teaching, but I am still processing it, sorry. Afterwards, there was a short time of meet and greet in the lobby. And chocolate cake, Texas sheet cake, to be exact. So yummy.
I was talking with some other ladies, waiting in line to meet Beth. I turned around and there she was. No, not Beth. The dear sister whose blog I've been following. She walked right past me and I reached out and said excuse me. I asked her name and her blog and then my memory goes a little blurry with what exactly all else I said. I'm sure I sounded like a complete ninny. I gave her a hug. She walked away with a friend. I turned back around in the "meet Beth" line, OVERWHELMED. My God had done this for me. For me. It was a barely whispered prayer and yet He made it happen. Listen, there were 506 other women there. Only one woman that I talked with Friday night did I see on Saturday morning. And He did that for me. I still tear up at the memory of it.
I'm waiting in line to meet Beth Moore. There are six people in front of me. One of the LPM staffers came to the group of three I was a part of and said, "you get the amazing opportunity to practice grace right now." They were cutting off the line right before us. They were taking care of Beth as she is still technically recovering from surgery. And you know what? I wasn't even upset. Sure, I wanted to meet Beth and tell her thank you for all she's done in her writings. But my God had done this other "meet" for me and I still couldn't get over it. I went back to the hotel and got on my knees and with many many tears gave Him thanks and praise.
Saturday was more singing, teaching and the chance to say our verses to each other. There was a Q & A time with the Moore women and another chance to meet them. By this time I was so emotional (hadn't really slept good for three nights due to my hubby's cold - coughing, snoring, blowing his nose) I couldn't think what to say to these amazing women, (kinda intimidated & insecure - can't wait for Beth's new book, So Long Insecurity!) so I left to find my husband waiting for me. We went to Pappasitas Mexican for lunch. Delish!!! I wish I could go back. Also, I did get to eat at Chick-fil-a. Want one in my town.
It was an awesome weekend. I am still processing much of it. But I can say I am glad I memorized those 24 verses. I am glad I went to the celebration. I am glad my man went with me. I am humbled by God's love. I am glad to be home with my kids, how I missed them. I made new friends who I hope will be signing on to do memory verses with us this year (yes, Leslie and Karlys, I mean you!). It was an awesome weekend.
P.S. I am new, really new, to blogging. That's my disclaimer here. I can't get my pictures to upload where I want them to. I may be putting the pics on a different post. *sigh*