"Never have I felt less worthy and more privileged
to be a part of a group of people."
~ Lindsey Nobles
"I’d been looking forward to this past weekend for as long as I can remember and I came home feeling humbled, amazed, grateful, inspired, and exhausted.... To be among people who took time out of their daily lives to write words that have ultimately led to impacting 5,000 lives. It’s humbling and it makes me want to do more and to live a life with purpose."
~ Melanie aka Big Mama
I still have his message saved from January 26, 2009, Shaun's initial call to me about traveling with Compassion International as a Compassion Blogger. I couldn't believe it then, and I think I can't bring myself to erase it now because that keeps it real. And maybe that's creepy, but really, is it any creepier than sleeping with people I met on the internet?!?!
The thing is, this is my normal. This is a lot of people's normal. And it makes me oh-so-happy that Al Gore invented the internet bless his self-delusional little heart.
My initial reason for traveling to Birmingham was a Compassion Blogger's reunion planned for Saturday night. But then Amanda put on her thinking-and-doing cap and arranged for all of us to attend Deeper Still, a conference led by her mom, Beth Moore, and Kay Arthur and Priscilla Shirer. Oh, my...I'll try to put that into words soon but many thanks are in order to Amanda, Lifeway and DaySpring for treating us so well.
After dinner, Steve Jones (the guy who used to be Shaun's boss with Compassion) let us know 5,000 children had been sponsored through the six blogging trips that began in Uganda and continued to the Dominican Republic, India, El Salvador, Kenya and most recently Guatemala. Joining the 37 bloggers who've traveled are 1,100 others who lend their words for the benefit of children, to release them from poverty in Jesus' name. Feel free to add to those numbers.
A few other highlights in addition to seeing and/or meeting every stinkin' person in the picture above--truly, really, they ALL have inspired me, even if I'm not callin' 'em out here~
- Shaun Groves' hair--it's a conversation piece. Don't miss his recap post--he took the time to identify everyone in the picture above and introduce readers to 'em...and it's where I stole what inspired my post title.
- A gift from Compassion, a calendar masterpiece featuring the artful photography of the amazingly talented Keely Scott. I wish I could give one to every person I know. It's gorgeous.
- Meeting Dan Woolley, a stranger and Compassion staffer I prayed for following Haiti's devastating earthquake. How odd it must be for him to hear over and over "I prayed for you!" by people he didn't know existed. A few minutes' conversation made me realize God trusted him with this story for a reason.
- Getting to know Molly Piper. Most of the women I hung out with I already knew--extended time with Molly was unexpected. Over late night conversation and breakfast before departure, I got to know her well enough to miss her, daggum it!
- Meeting the DaySpring staff. Everyone had encouraging words to share about (in)courage and it's obvious they read and support the site. I was impressed with their kindness, generosity, attention to detail, professionalism and joyful countenance from their president James Barnett to sweet Katie I-don't-know-her-last-name, a wonderful navigator!
- Seeing Patricia (my India roomie) and Steve Jones again and especially meeting their daughter Isabel. Her sweet spirit floated all around her :)
- Seeing Shannon-who-used-to-blog, one of my oldest stalkees, and one of my wisest online friends. I just didn't get enough of her!
- Café Dupont. Good gracious, our dinner was fabulous! I hear rumors their cornbread--served only at lunch--is to die for.
- And I sat across the table from Beth Moore while she noshed on Pumpkin Pie cheesecake. But I don't wanna say too much about that because a) gratuitous name dropping much? and b) that whole puttin' people on a pedestal thing. But people--BETH! MOORE!! I met her unexpectedly when she and her daughter Amanda walked off their plane, and I'm pretty sure between then and dessert Saturday I tangled my words and said things like, "I know you don't know me, but you've been my BFF for years..." and other such things I'd much rather forget...!
Compassion Bloggers Reunion/Deeper Still conference, Part two of three, to be continued...