This weekend we went back for our first trip to Seattle. Even though we have only been in Atlanta for two months, we had a church planting retreat already planned back in Washington, so we brought the boys with us for a visit. I tried to think about the highlights of the trip and realized that every day offered a few. Nonetheless, here are some highlights of the highlights:
* The church planters retreat itself – We always are inspired and learn so much, but the real value of these retreats is spending two whole days with amazing people. There are the other church planters, people like ourselves who are embarking on a very unknown path, and everyone is able to encourage and empathize with each other. And there are “coaches”, the leaders in our district who love us for who we are, and not for the church we are going to plant or anything we have to offer. Just for who we are. I feel valued and heard more than I do in most arenas, and we got to stay in a stunning hotel for a night without kids. Hey-o!
* Going to church on Sunday at MC4 – I have never been part of a church I love so much, and as a church plant from MC4, I know we will always be family with them. Sitting in worship, praising God, and pausing to look around and see person after person who brings me joy was one of the best feelings I’ve had in a long time. That’s where I feel most at home. I know it will change, slowly, but for this trip, it was just nice being home.
* Spending time with my sister Jenifer – I married into this sisterhood, and after ten years our relationship is so much different than it began. I have always looked up to her and admired her, as I still do, but I love that the term “sister” is now not just a description of how we are related, but how deep our friendship is. We drove up to the outlet mall to go to (where else) Restoration Hardware Outlet, and as we drove she simply said, “I have really needed this.” I don’t know if she knows how much those words meant to me. We need to talk to each other, get advice from each other, vent to each other. It’s a big deal to have a relationship with someone you love be reciprocated.
* A play date with two of my best friends, Hillary and Libby. You know those friends that you can sit on their couch from 8 am to 4 pm and not really feel any urge to go home? You don’t think about what else you have to do, where else you need to be, or trying to find a way to politely say you need to leave? And in that time of sitting, and drinking coffee, and taking turns going upstairs to “check on the kids,” you also find yourselves sharing the deepest of life with each other? It’s so natural. I also kind of hope our kids get married so we have an excuse to spend lots more holidays with them.
* Girls night – There is a group of friends I have had since I first moved to Seattle, and every once in awhile we have an excuse to all go out together. We ate a lot, laughed a lot, and most of us wore heels because it’s the only time we don’t have a diaper bag or a person to carry. At one point I looked around the table and couldn’t help but smile. Really, God? You gave me ALL of these women as friends? One or two would have been enough, but you gave me more than enough. That’s the kind of God you are.
Looking back, the common theme in all of these highlights is relationships. Not activities, or things, but people. Relationships are the most important things in life, bar none. They are the only things that last forever, the only things we get to take into the next life. They are the most important things to God too. He cares, above anything else, about having a relationship with you.
So how are your relationships? Do you have people who love you for who you are and not what you can offer? Do you have someone who reciprocates your need for them? Do you have friends whose couches are as comfortable as yours? Do you have people you get to wear heels with? If you do, you must know how lucky you are. Take a minute to let them know, and tell God thanks. And if you don’t, find them. Easier said than done, I know, but a great place to start is with the people of God. We aren’t perfect, by any means, but we do tend to be good with relationships because our whole understanding of life is based on one.
We’d love to have you.