I was really excited to go to Break Forth in Edmonton this weekend. I haven't been in a couple of years, and now that TEC has petered out, I really wanted a chance to spend some quality time with God. And boy, did I ever... :) I also got to spend a lot of quality time with Trevor, which was really nice. Usually when we go to retreats we end up doing our own thing and don't see much of each other, but this time we had a few electives together, and were able to meet up for all of our meals as well, so that was really nice, especially considering that he left today to go to another conference all week - this one in Texas. (Where it's warm!)
It took me a while to get into the 'retreat experience'. We got there early for a change, and found good seats close to the front, and since there were only four of us together, that made things a lot easier then in the past when I've been organizing a big group. The first speaker was Erwin McManus, and he was a really good, funny, honest speaker. I'm actually not really sure what his overall theme was, but the part that stuck out for me was about dreams and it was really good. We're going to order the DVD to show the youth group. Brenton Brown led worship, but it was a bunch of songs that were all new to me, so it didn't really do a lot for me. Mercy Me did the late night concert, which I was looking forward to, but Break Forth had a new company doing sound this year, and it absolutely blew chunks. The bass was SO overpowering my jeans were vibrating, which was a really strange sensation. If I hadn't thought to bring ear plugs along, I would have had to leave. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy it a whole lot!
Saturday morning started off with worship with Matt Maher, which was cool, and the speaker was John Eldridge. He talked about listening to God, and walked us through an exercise right there, involving asking God a question and then just waiting to hear what He would say. I couldn't relax enough to listen but I did ask "what?" As in what do you want, what next, what should I be doing with this year - just what. I didn't hear anything, but I wasn't too worried - God has this habit of popping up in my life and getting my attention when I least expect it. :)
Then Trevor and I booked it over to McDougal Untied, this gorgeous old church with stained glass and fancy pillars and creaky pews for a worship service with Brian Doerkson, which was good. Brian Doerkson has this thing for the psalms, and he did a lot of meditative-type ones. And it was just him on his guitar with a piano and some handheld percussion. It was really relaxing. Then we had lunch with Jennifer and that was cool - we haven't seen her since before she moved to Kelowna, and since we're not going to be out that way till May, it was really nice to catch up a bit. She was telling us how she was going to give up tv for Lent, and I thought that was pretty brave of her. Tv has become a big part of my life!
Then Trevor walked over to Mother's Music to buy me better earplugs then the cheap foam ones I'd been using (isn't he nice?), and I went to a session where they were supposed to be teaching the new songs that were in this year's update for the Break Forth music binder. Sadly, the leader of the session was pretty chatty, so we didn't get through many of the songs, and most of the ones she picked to go over were ones that I already knew. So at least I know now not to sign up for that elective next year!
After that, Trevor went to a guitar clinic with Doug Doppler (who he loooves, partly because Doug was taught by Joe Satriani, who's Trevor's Guitar Hero. :) For my elective I went back to McDougal United for a worship session with Brenton Brown and Matt Maher, which was totally awesome. It was less crowded then Brian Doerkson's session, so I was able to have some space to myself and write a bit. They were really funny guys, and had a good rapore. They talked about the song writing process a bit, and they were just really genuine and cool. They seemed like the kind of people it would be fun to hang out with. Anyway, I was scribbling down some lines for a new song, and Brenton starts praying that the people in the room would be blessed with songs and creativity and all these things, and I'm going "Thanks...it's not the creativity that's the problem, it's the lack of MUSIC skills that's the problem!" From the last 7 or so years I have about 40 songs in various stages of development, and nothing to do with them when they're 'done'. Sometimes the lack of a creative outlet makes me want to stop writing altogether, but like I heard this one worship leader say at Break Forth a few years ago, "When God speaks, you'd better get a pen". So I HAVE to write, but I sure wish I knew what to do with that!
The evening main session was with Paul Baloche (who wrote "Offering", which is one of my all time favourite songs) and the speaker was this guy from Hawaii named Wayne Cordeiro, who was SO funny. To be honest, I don't really remember what he talked about, I just remember laughing a lot.
After that, we went to another worship session with Brenton Brown. It wasn't very crowded, so we got near the front and Trev got some good photos. It was a really good session, and I finally heard God speak to me, and He said to cancel our cable subscription. This is something that Trevor has mentioned to me every once in a while since we got married, but I have my few shows I like that I haven't wanted to give up. But I had just spent all day pondering to myself about dreams and what I want to be doing and how to spend my time, and how to spend more time with God, and tv is definitely getting in the way of those things. So I turned to Trevor on a break between songs and said "God says to cancel the cable". Being very wise after 7 years of marriage, he didn't say anything like "that's what I've been saying for years!", he just said "are you sure?". Yup, I'm sure. The more I think about it, the better of an idea I think it is. It'll give me the time I've been craving to spend with God and write, and more time with Trevor, and more time to read. The shows I really like I can still get on DVD, a lot of them from the library for next to free (a $12/year library card is a lot less then a $60/month cable subscription!) and anyway, if I can't live without tv in my life, that's just pretty sad, especially considering I grew up without it. And so we've decided to save that extra $60/month and pray about how God wants us to spend it, which is pretty exciting. I can't wait to see what happens next!
Anyway, worshiping is about my favourite thing possible to do, so I could have kept singing all night. Brenton was trying to end the session, and people kept calling for more. Finally he was like "You Canadians...you like your winters cold and your worship sets long!" which made me laugh. He has no idea how long I'd like my worship sets! :) It was a lot of fun, and made me feel grounded in a way I haven't felt since I came back from Israel.
Sunday morning I went to a session on small group leading, and it was a real disappointment. The presenter started off by saying "If you don't have the spiritual gift of teaching, don't even bother trying to lead a group, because you won't be able to do it." I thought that was pretty harsh, and it went downhill from there. She talked alot about the way she does things, and her experience and what she thought was best, and talked about how you have to control things as a group leader and that you have to stomp out any spontaneous conversations about anything else, even if they look like they're going somewhere deep. And she didn't have any scripture to back up anything she said, so I was pretty cheezed and glad when it was over. I was hoping for resources and questions and things to help me be a better leader, not be 'law-d' at like she was doing.
Then I went to a really excellent session about making time for God in your life. The speaker (I wish I could remember her name - it was Connie something) talked about six ways to make more time for God, and guess what the second one was? "Turn off the tv"! :) The third one was to spend less time online, which I'm going to work on. Although this blog post alone has already taken about an hour almost solid, so...
The final session was supposed to be with Frank Peretti and Brian Doerkson, but sadly, Frank Peretti is in some kind of life threatening situation. They didn't elaborate, but it's really upsetting. Frank's books played a major role in my spiritual awakening, and while I know where he's going should he die, it would be nice to read a few more of his books before he goes! Anyway, Phil Callaway spoke instead, and he really is QUITE funny. He also talked about having less tv in one's life...are we seeing a reoccurring theme here?! Brian Doerkson did one of his new songs that's going to be in a musical he's writing about the Prodigal Son, and it was really powerful. It had a really driving drum beat, and it was sung 'by' the older brother character, lamenting the famine in the land and asking "how long Oh Lord" with just this really plaintive cry that actually made me think of the Israelites in captivity in Egypt. I'm really looking forward to hearing the finished product.
Then we had dinner with the friends with whom we stayed, and headed home, listening to the new Brenton Brown cd, which has both mine and Trevor's new favourite songs on it. We didn't get in till 9:30, and I'm SO tired, but it was an awesome, amazing, phenomenal weekend, really. I can't wait for next year! Yay God!
And now I really should get back to work...eep! This took way longer then I meant for it to, but I really wanted to blog about it while everything was fresh in my mind...