Monday, July 25, 2016

Looking for Lovely Weekend Recap

So this weekend was incredible-one of the best I've had in a while. But I have to go a little further back than this weekend to give you some history. I've been stalking following Annie Downs for a while now, and I relate to her as she shares with vulnerability and truth but also with a good dose of humor. She is an amazing woman who loves fiercely, that is evident in the stories she tells and the people who surround her. Her writing forces you to wake up and pay attention to the life God has given you, moving you from tears to laughter within the pages of each story she pens. I've been joking for a while that I was going to be her BFF if we ever met, and y'all, after this weekend, I feel so very welcomed into her story and her heart for Jesus and His desire for us all to truly enjoy this one life we've been given.

I found out about this weekend early on as a part of the launch team for Looking for Lovely, and I knew I go. My sweet husband encouraged me to go, even if it meant I were going solo, and bought me the ticket for an anniversary gift. (He's pretty much perfect.) Because I was born in Nashville, we still have family friends that we are in contact with, and I knew I could stay with my sweet friend, Ms. Anita who used to babysit me. :) I asked around when I first got my ticket, but was unable to find a buddy to accompany me. "Oh well, guess I'm going solo," I thought to myself. Then in June, I reached out to a girl I had met just once to see if she wanted to go to coffee. She and I are both in young married small groups at church that meet on Tuesday evenings, and we had met at a joint gathering back in the fall. Since then we had become friends on Facebook and begun following each other on Instagram. I saw that we liked some of the same things and that she blogged, too, so we met up for coffee and clicked so well! We discovered our mutual obsession love for Annie, and she bought a ticket within days. Moral of the story: GOD IS GOOD AND BIG AND AWESOME.

This weekend was no ordinary "women's conference"- it was an event of great proportions that far exceeded my expectations. When we arrived on Friday evening, we were welcomed into the fellowship of Forest Hills Baptist that had been decorated with such care and intention. There were lights and round tables, inviting conversation and the start of new friendships. We were served a BBQ meal that was so good it made you want to slap your mama, then welcomed by Annie and her team. There was so much laughter and anticipation in the air as we all waited to see what the night would hold. After dinner and a little intro, we were treated to a mini-concert by the amazing up and coming trio, Post Monroe, and then worshiped with the beautiful Meredith Andrews. Annie's own dad gave a sweet and hilarious introduction (even though we all already knew how awesome she is).

Annie shared a little bit of her heart with us on Friday evening, inviting us into her story and the heart behind her book and the event. We learned that when Jesus does something, we need to throw a party and tell people about it. That's something I can get behind. After a wonderful time of worship and listening together, we all got in a receiving line and got a picture with Annie in the photo booth- so fun!

Saturday morning we met and walked around Radnor Lake, a beautiful trail in a state park. We then headed back to do an awesome workout with B. Fab Fitness. Think Zumba, cardio dance, and a whole lot of sweat. I absolutely loved it. I love me some Jesus, but I also like to shake it. Ain't nothin wrong with that when He uses it to bring you confidence in who He's made you to be.

On Saturday afternoon, we enjoyed another delicious lunch at The Sutler and heard the story and heart behind Fashionable, an amazing company that makes absolutely gorgeous products to support women by providing sustainable income and giving them a leg up out of poverty. I've been following them since they were a part of Mocha Club, and I'm quite the fan, so it was neat to hear their heart as well. We then loaded up our awesome coach buses- affectionately named after Annie's three favorite beverages- and were on our way to the adorable 12 South district for some shopping. Each store was unique and fun, and we found little treasures to take home as reminders of this truly lovely weekend.

I've been to various women's conferences and events, and this one was by far one of my favorite experiences. There was a perfect balance of fun, faith, and food. :) We were able to meet new people, interact with our favorite author, and learn about how much Jesus loves and cares for us. All ages and stages of life were represented, which is a huge credit to Annie's reliability and her ability to allow others into her story, regardless of where they are. A huge thank you to Annie and her team for having the guts to take on such an undertaking and for all of the hard work that you did to pull this off and make us feel so loved and welcomed. Every little touch- from the handwritten tags on our awesome swag bags to the silly names for the buses to the heartfelt hugs- they all counted and made this weekend one I'll never forget. And on this Monday, as I'm back to the daily grind, I've had my eyes peeled to the lovely all around me, and God has come through, just like He always does.

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