Last week was the annual North American Christian Convention, which as you may remember is usually a great and also exhausting-napping-for-several-days-afterwards type of week for us (since the hubs works for the NACC). It really was a such a good week! And such a full one.
Full of walking, trying to find my people (and them trying to find me), working If Then Move’s booth in the exhibit hall, pushing the stroller (and Lucy’s emotional limits- there were a few meltdowns, though all in all she was awesome), full of coffee, cliff bars, and awesome screaming-with-excitement-friends-rushing-toward-each-other moments. (That was mainly with my Aimee and her brood of wonderful people. You figured that, right?)
I was spoiled by Aimee’s giving me a surprise bag of goodies including…
That mug. I can’t even… It just speaks to the core of my being- like if there were a cozy corner in the heart where my soul could sit and read and drink coffee, it would be drinking it out of this mug.
And there were quieter moments that happened- stillness in the midst of the busy buzzing atmosphere all around. Moments when I got to clasp hands with friends in ministry who are struggling with finding beauty where they are and finding purpose when they don’t encounter results. Moments when I got to learn by watching giants of the church love on those who feel forgotten, and when all of us gathered to hear what God has to say about how what, when, and where we speak as the body of Christ.
This year was by far the craziest for me. For one thing, Lucy is much closer to the toddler stage than the infant stage, and therefore requires a lot of entertaining and attention, versus last year when she mostly slept and drank bottles all the time… Then I had guests staying in our home (we stayed downtown by the convention center), which I absolutely love! However, I didn’t register that it would be me- just me- cleaning our entire apartment. You wouldn’t think a two-bedroom apartment would be that big of a deal. But it was.
It didn’t help that the week leading up to convention week, I got sick with some kind of nasty sinus infection-cold-sore-throat thing, which was still hanging on up until a couple days ago. (Yeah yeah, I know I should’ve gone to the doctor. Next time.) So, I ended up trying to do everything in like, two days. Not to mention a vengeful mouse (whom I’ve dubbed “Mitzi”- she’s mad because we’ve already extricated her mouse husband, Ralph) who for months has been pooping and scurrying all over our apartment, waging a passive-aggressive mouse war upon us and our edible goods- including pooping in my purse- MY PURSE, Y’ALL. Good times.
Then I worked the booth with Wendy, which was awesome!!! If any of the wonderful people who came by our booth are reading this, you are our new best friends and we love you! Wendy and I talk about how that’s usually our favorite part of conventions like this- because God gives us this opportunity to overlap the stories of others with our own and let them be woven together.
I loved getting to reconnect and know the girls at the byTavi booth even more this year! Please go check out the awesome work they are doing!! (Not to mention, the faaaaabulous clothes, bags, and designs they create!)
Here is one such fabulous design I purchased:
(This pattern isn’t on the website, as far as I can tell, but I almost bought this fabulous bunny-patterned one- click the pic to go see it better on their website:)
It was a week full of beauty. Not just the beautiful goodies I came home with and the beautiful moments I lovingly store in my heart, but full of Jesus. One of my favorite moments was listening to Jodi Hickerson, when she reminded us that our primary goal, our constant message, our only glory should be in Jesus. She shared about a quote that someone said to her husband years ago- something like, “It’s going to be a long road for you if you try to convince people that you’re awesome and God’s awesome at the same time.”
And she’s right! How Satan loves it when we get side-tracked by all things we are doing for God, by building our own little, crumbling kingdoms than when we concern ourselves with building God’s. It’s Jesus that makes us different- it’s his grace and truth together that set us apart from everything else.
I’m not the best writer, or artist, or mom, or… a lot of things… that’s ever lived. But I was reminded this week that God doesn’t call me to provide results. I’m not supposed to change someone else’s soul. In fact, I don’t have the power to do that. That’s His job. But I am called to show up.
As Rusty George said,
“Tiny beginnings are our business. Magnificent endings are His.”
How appropriate that the theme for this year’s NACC was “We Speak,” and that often the messages throughout the week dealt with how we speak as much as what we speak, when the last day ended with a significant and very polarizing political moment in America’s history.
If we’re not speaking Jesus, if we’re not living in the tension of both his grace and his truth, then we’re not speaking his message. We’re speaking our own.
I hope that this encourages you. I hope it disturbs you as it does me. Speaking all grace and no truth, or all truth and no grace- neither works. Like a rubberband- it doesn’t work if it loses its tension. Plenty of religions out there cling to one or the other of these concepts. Christianity is the only one which proclaims both.
We heard one of the speakers say that the definition of Jesus’ love is this- this living in the tension of grace and truth. May we not hold that lightly; may we never take for granted that we too live in constant need of both.