David and I had a wonderful time. It really was an amazing weekend - SO just what we needed. Both as a couple, as a ministry team, as a pastor & his wife - it was awesome. We got up there late Wednesday night (it's about 1 1/2 hours away - we left after band practice that night) and got checked in to our hotel. the hotel was beautiful - and we had the biggest hotel room I've ever stayed in! Big king size bed, on the very top floor - it was lovely. Too bad we weren't going to be there very much! We had to be up at the conference the next morning at 8 am. We did our run that morning in the hotel gym, got ready, grabbed breakfast at Subway (which was surprisingly good...I'm a sucker for a good breakfast egg sandwich!), and then headed to the church.
For those of you interested in what we did while we were there, the conference was held at 1st Baptist Church in Spartanburg - what an amazing church! Incredible facilities, amazing people - it was just great. It's put on by Choral Festival a wonderful company (similar to Lifeway) that churches can order their music from. We had probably 10 different "reading" sessions. This is when each publisher has a packet of music they've put together for you, and you start singing through all of the new music - to hear what has come out and what it sounds like. It was SO much fun - being in a room of 1000 musicians and getting to sightread through all this new music. It was like All-state chorus again - except without all the high school drama and with REAL musicians! :) They also had some devotional speakers (Henry Blackaby - author of "Experiencing God" & Rev. Cliff Barrows - the man who led Billy Graham's music at all his crusades) and a hilarious George W. Bush impersonator!! (Totally hilarious - the hardest I've laughed in a LONG time!) We each got to pick 3 (out of 45 choices) workshops to go to. I was "sent" to 2 of them (on David's behalf - he wanted to be at about 25 of them!!) and got to pick one of my own. They were incredible. The one I picked was by Pam Andrews (she writes a bunch of children's musicals) and it was about new ideas for worship with children - I loved it...and am going to be using it VERY soon...more on that later. The other two were on Blended Worship in 2010 and Developing your Worship Team beyond music - that one was by Laura Story (she wrote "Indescribable" that Chris Tomlin recorded). That workshop was the BEST! My absolute favorite. All about how to invest in your worship team not ONLY musically, but spiritually and relationally too. it was great and just what we needed to hear.
Each night they also premiered a full Christmas musical so you could see what those would be like. Alot of the music we were singing through was Christmas music - since everyone there was working on putting their Christmas concerts together. They had concerts each night - the first night was Travis Cottrell...need I say more!! LOVE it - ALWAYS! The second night was the choir from the church in GA (can't remember the name right now) that has been behind Facing the Giants and Fireproof movies. Their next movie is called "Courageous" - and it's about the importance of fathers! Sounded great - their choir was awesome and I loved that concert too.
Our days were completely packed full. We would get to the church at 7:45 AM and not leave until after the concert was over at 9:30 pm each night. They fed us WELL and we got so much out of it. It was really cool to get the meet these people who have written and published all this music - to know that the people whose names I've grown up knowing and singing really are the real deal - they mean what they write. It was also so very encouraging. To know that we were in the midst of 1000 other people that know exactly what we're going through in our ministry...and have probably been there before. One speaker referred to us as "front-line ministry" - because the music guy tends to get the hits first along with the senior pastor. It was such a great time of encouragement to remember what we are called to do, why we are ministering where we are, and what our main focus is. We loved it!
The one thing I did NOT love was my long run on Saturday morning. I was tired from the week - tired from the very full schedule of the conference, and we had NOT a clue where we were running to. Spartanburg is very hilly and it seemed everywhere we turned we were looking at another big hill. Ugh. It wasn't the best run of my life, but we got it done. Poor David!
Mom literally has been to this very same conference for the last 20 years. She had prepared us well (even down to telling us where to eat breakfast - at this little hole in the wall diner that only takes cash!). I sent her text messages throughout telling her what we were doing because I knew she would know EXACTLY what we were doing! She loved seeing all my notes and hearing about the weekend.
Then David pulled out all the music and showed her the ones he really liked - and she got out her notepad! She said she felt like she was getting the benefit of knowing about the new good music (from David's recommendations) without having to sit through the whole conference! :) It was really fun getting to share it with her!