Saturday, March 13, 2010

Simply Youth Ministry Conference- Chicago

I had the opportunity to go with Aaron to his youth ministry conference this year. Aaron LOVES to soak in new information at these conferences, and always comes home from telling me all the fresh ideas he has learned. It was SUCH a joy to get to attend this conference with him, and talk about everything God was teaching us at the same time. Aaron and I went to some sessions together, but for some smaller sessions we went to different seminars that interested us. For instance, I went to a 2.5 hour seminar one day called "Raising your kids while in youth ministry." Oh my word, I was in a room with 100 women in my exact life situation. It was awesome. We had lots of small group discussions around our table, and it was so cool to see what all we had in common. We all had husbands in youth ministry and small children. We had SO much to talk about. I learned a WHOLE lot from some older women who were at my table. They will never know just how much they encouraged me! I really feel like God used them to speak some BIG words of truth to me that I needed to hear that week. I also went to a seminar on "Girls ministry and mentoring." I sometimes feel inadequate as a youth worker now that I'm so busy being a mom, but I was very encouraged through that seminar that even though I may be chasing Korben around at youth events, I can still mentor girls by taking advantage of every small moment to try to be a loving, godly influence on their lives. I could write a small book about everything God taught me and reminded me while at the Simply Youth Ministry conference in Chicago.

It wasn't just the conference that was awesome. Just getting away with my man was awesome! It was truly QUALITY time together! The sight-seeing in Chicago wasn't so bad either! It is actually one of the coolest places I have ever been. I love all "downtown" areas, but I have never been in a downtown that was quite this enormous and busy as well as beautiful, clean, and safe! If you go, you have to have Giordano's pizza. Of course, Chicago is known for their deep dish pizza. We tried the three biggest competitors, but Giordano s was so good that we had it two more times. Best pizza I have ever had!

We actually skipped out on our Sunday morning conference session and drove to visit Willow Creek church in Northern Chicago. Willow Creek is one of the largest churches in the nation, and it was educational in its own right to see how they operate there. We learned a lot from attending their worship service as well as the youth service that morning. Unforgettable experience.

And some more added perks for me were going to the gym in the morning, having unlimited hot water, and maid service. These are all silly things that I would have never cared about a few years ago, but I consider them all luxuries now. Ah, seasons of life!

Here are a few pictures!

Whether you agree with anything Oprah has to say or not, there is no denying that she is an American Icon. Her studio was in a convenient location, so I had to get a picture in front of the Harpo sign. Her show has been on the air as long as I've been alive. Crazy.

The "magnificent mile" at night. Truly magnificent. Endless stores that are several stories high. Christmas lights in the trees. Just magical!

Yes, we did attend the conference! :) There just weren't very many things to take pictures of while we were there!

Gotta be careful!

The coolest thing about downtown are the waterways that just go all through the middle of the city. I wish my pictures captured how beautiful all of this really was!

In Millenium Park

This is called "the cloud gate." It is an amazing architectural structure that is basically a big mirror of the city. I think I could have walked around it and stared at it for hours...maybe if it wasn't ridiculously cold!

Pretty little skating rink. Didn't skate. Too cold. Gotta keep on moving!

Millenium Park Amphitheater. Obama gave his acceptance speech somewhere out here.

The Field Museum. I've been a dinosaur lover (nerd) since I was a kid. This is "Sue" the largest, most complete, T-Rex in the world!

Me with my very favorite type of Dinosaur. The Brachiosaurus. They eat plants, not people!

On the steps of the Field Museum with part of the sky line behind us! So pretty!

Aaron insisted on taking this picture outside after we saw the Diamond exhibit at the Field Museum. Y'all, this was a very cold moment. I have never been so excited to get in the car away from the cold wind!

The trip was perfect. I got to enjoy being with the man God made for me, while enjoying His beautiful creation. In the meantime, the Lord taught us how to better minister to His people. Awesome.

The Birthday Boy's Big Day!

My baby boy turned 2 last Wednesday! I have a zillion new stories I need to share, but for now I only have time to post pictures of his very special day. I will also post pictures soon of the birthday party he had last weekend when I can, but these are just pictures of "A day in the life with the birthday boy."

8:00 a.m. Woke up and played the drums (from Poppy) until Mom got breakfast ready!

8:30 Big breakfast and Birthday Cupcake #1

9:00 Played with tool set from Uncle Dustin and tent from Uncle John and Aunt Tommie Sue

9:30 Outside in the gorgeous weather! Played in the swing, wagon, and then went on a 1 hour stroll to see the horses down the street!

Compare the next two pictures! The first was taken on Korben's birthday last year when his friend Brayden came over.

12:30 Completed lunch and Birthday Cupcake #2

5:00 After a 3 hour nap (must be a myth that sugar keeps you from sleeping), had dinner and the FINAL birthday cupcake!

5:30- All ready for church. Have to get our yearly (okay, well, I've only done it twice) picture with Geoffrey. Compare with the picture below. I don't know why the picture below is so small, but you can still tell just how much he has grown since his last birthday!

Check out Korben's awesome shirt from Mopppy. SO him!

He had the special privilege of practicing the drums with Adam at church! SO much fun for him!

Korben with "Binda" (Linda Cain), one of his favorite people in the whole world. She might as well be family!

Since he turned 2 that day, he promoted to the "play room" at church, and happily kissed "the baby room" good bye! You can see what a ball he had in there!

So, that concludes a day in the life of a 2 year old! Pictures from his birthday party to come!