Windy, wet and wonderful are the three words I'd use to sum up our fabulous five days in Wales last week. Our twelfth annual Word Alive... a week jam-packed with fun, friendship, live music and incredible bible teaching. We took a group of fifty from church and everyone was just so happy to be there, it made for a wonderful week. All four of us had a fabulous time - the girls toddled happily into their groups every morning and loved spending their afternoons running across the green with their little friends chasing seagulls.
The weather may have been bad, but I think it will stand out as one of my favourite Word Alive's ever...
Here are my top ten memories...
I am in awe of these guys. Families Together is a mini-service which is interactive and geared at families with children under 7... packed full of craft, songs, activities and just incredibly creative ways of teaching biblical truth to small children. The girls both named this as one of their highlights from Word Alive this year (which is saying something - according to Ava, it ranked alongside swimming and the slide into the ball pool... that says a lot for a 2 and 3 year old!)
The Swimming Pool Slide
Which brings me nicely onto the swimming pool slide. Ava loves the pool and is always a fan of the slides. Heidi is initially the more cautious of the two. Not so with the swimming pool slide. She would throw herself down it, fly up into the air and plop into the water at the end... without waiting to make sure that Papa was at the bottom to catch her! Every time she dunked right under, and every time she came up coughing and spluttering but with the biggest grin on her face as she cried out "again!"... just one of those priceless parenting moments. Honestly, that girl is fearless!
"Romans" from David Cook
Dave and I headed to the great marquee every morning after dropping the girls off for the daily morning teach from Romans. Romans is often one of the first books you are often recommended to read as a christian, so it wasn't new territory for us... but oh my! I felt like I saw new layers unfold, truth hit home - I was challenged, encouraged and reminded that the Bible is so unique because however many times you read it, there is always, always, always a new nugget of gold to be found that you never saw there before. Utterly fabulous stuff.
Rallying together in the wind...
There was some seriously windy weather last week. I'm not talking mild wind, I'm talking whistling past your window, door-frame shaking, can't-get-to-sleep, four-out-of-five-marquees-damaged wind. On Monday night, we sat in the Great Marquee, the wind howling around us, huge speakers swinging dubiously from the rafters, with steel beams creaking before they decided to evacuate us. It was a nightmare for the grounds staff (who did a fabulous job!) but for us it was all rather exciting! When we awoke the next morning, it was to the news that 4 out of the 5 marquees had been damaged in the night, and so the whole program was being relocated. There was just a general jolliness around the place though - like you get on snow days when no-one can get to work; just everyone rallying together and laughing about it.
Hot Chocolate Mountains...
Hot chocolate... marshmallows... a huge dollop of whipped cream. Enough said.
Church leadership training... just absolute gold-dust from a team of fabulous leaders who challenged, encouraged, rebuked and helped us to see how we can be better leaders in our local churches. Dave and I spend Saturday afternoon looking at what that means for the ministry we head up at church. So exciting to have your vision re-aligned and your enthusiasm re-motivated. God greatly used these guys to impart so much wisdom last week, and we are so grateful.
Late night catch-ups and good friendsThere is something about being away together, and hanging out late at night, and those deep and meaningful conversations that deepen friendships and remind you of your uni days. Just that. Precious times with good friends who have now become even dearer to us. And so wonderfully excited to see friends who are new christians so excited and thrilled about walking with Jesus and all that they were learning. It doesn't get better than that.
Word Alive is always an opportunity for us to get to know some new songs, bands and get ideas for arrangements and song ideas. This was my favourite this year... go on... give it a listen!
Easter Egg Hunt - the adult edition
On Wednesday afternoon, we ran an Easter egg hunt for the kids, tweens and teens from our church. The weather meant we were confined to two chalets as the search area, but it didn't seem to bother them. They had a fab time and were thoroughly pleased with their prizes, but came up with their own suggestion... an Easter egg hunt for the adults. They dutifully ran off with all the plastic eggs and re-hid them before returning and inviting one adult representative from each chalet to get hunting.
The result was hilarious.
When children hunt for easter eggs they are giggly, excitable and eager.
When adults hunt for easter eggs, they are competitive, desperate and manic.
I think there's nothing so thrilling about being a group organiser that coming home and hearing countless stories of how God has worked in people's lives through the week. Literally everyone who came with us was just full of all they'd learned, full of thankfulness at the opportunity to go, and full of a renewed love for Jesus.
And THAT is what Word Alive is all about.
See you there next year!