Birmingham, Alabama. 16,000 students and leaders. 10 hour bus ride. 5 speakers and 5 musicians. One conference.
The Motion 2017 conference was a trip of a lifetime. My local church, Wellspring Church, brought 89 middle and high school students and 16 leaders all the way to Alabama on two charter buses. We knew that God had big things planned but we all were still blown away by every experience we had.
Wednesday morning, after lots of hugs, pictures and final goodbyes, we pulled out of the parking lot and were on the way to Alabama. With high school on one bus and middle school (guess which bus I had...LOL) on another we were making great time and had decent weather...until Georgia. Roofs were leaking, clouds were looking a little too much like tornado funnels and the middle schoolers kept spilling drinks. We finally made it to Alabama and had dinner at Cracker Barrel (seating 105 people at one time...y'all, Jesus take the wheel!) Arriving at the hotel was a whole situation from making sure the bus was at least somewhat clean (remember this was the middle school bus), getting the luggage off and ready to grab (thank you 6th grade boys!), and of course keeping 50 kids occupied and entertained while rooms were being assigned and keys were being distributed (let's just say Justin Bieber and the bus microphone got involved). That night was nothing short of crazy from kids running around, slamming doors and of course the "fun, party people" a couple doors down that gave our hallway an illegal odor, if you catch my drift. You gotta love it.
Thursday was the beginning of the conference for us. I kicked off the morning with a 5:45am wakeup call and workout with some of the other leaders (they know I love them for this!). We all grabbed breakfast and the much needed coffee and went to the Danbury Retirement Mansion...I mean home! We all had a blast interacting with the residents by enjoying a donut, having a bible study, playing Bingo, or being schooled by a elderly woman in chair volleyball (these folks don't play around!) Afterwards it was lunch and then a fun afternoon spent at the Treetop Family Adventure fun park where we could ride go carts, play putt putt, laser tag and all the arcade games we could play. I may have gotten a strike bowling backwards...skill. After all the fun and games we were finally ready for Motion!! The night was kicked off with Highlands Worship and a great sermon from Christine Caine* about passing on the "baton of faith" (see verses at the bottom). Late night party was rocked with Hillsong United who played from their new album which was AMAZING. (Y'all. "Oceans" live was a game changer.)
Friday was Motion ALL. DAY. LONG. And it was epic. After main sessions we split up into community groups (middle, high and leaders) to have age specific discussions. Did I mention the leaders group got snacks? I'm talking all you can drink coffee, a free for all for water bottles (these things were $4 in arena - that's more than Disney World), all you can grab candy (from Skittles to Reese Cups), and of course the most amazing DONUT WALL!!!! We heard from Elevation Worship, more Highlands Worship and the night ended with, my personal fav, Lecrae. I'm pretty sure all the moms on this trip are now "cray cray" for Lecrae (who can blame them?). We heard amazing sermons from Pastor Chris Hodges, Pastor Rich Wilkerson and his wife DawnChere, and Pastor Steven Furtick*. These people brought the word of God like no other. They reminded us about who God is and who He says we are, key points when it comes to relationships, and that God is with us in the middle of EVERY event we face in life, good and bad, and will use our weaknesses as weapons for Him. This was personally one of my favorite nights because I love seeing students feel God's love and feel safe enough to break down walls and let Him in. It is a powerful, emotional, and breathtaking moment when you see 16,000+ people lift their hands up in glorious, fearless surrender. Gives me goosebumps just typing about it.
Saturday was our final day at Motion but it still was nothing shy of great. We heard from Passion band and Pastor Jason Laird* spoke on the power of a moment. It took all of us back and made us remember all the moments we experienced over the past 48 hours and that a simple moment with God can change absolutely everything. Leaving Motion was hard, to say the least, because none of us wanted to walk away from the safe place that we had found in that place and with each other. But y'all, when I say these students are going to do big things, that doesn't even begin to cover it. We don't give their generation enough credit or hope and they feel that, hard. What I saw in them and the other students that were there is fearless, determined human beings that know what their ultimate job here on Earth is. You could see it in their eyes that they had all been impacted, even if just minor. And that's what it is all about; to see the seed that gets planted within them. Other people's seeds might be more developed but some might have been put into fresh, healthy soil for the very first time after those few days. 1 Corinthians 3:6 says it best, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow."
This conference was for me, and all the leaders, as much as it was for our students. I was poured into and to see my own tribe girls (we have "tribe" groups - GOLD TRIBE FOR LIFE) come home with a different attitude was a beautiful God moment. I have been telling people that after Friday's afternoon and evening sessions with Pastor Rich and DawnChere Wilkerson (relationships) and Pastor Steven Furtick (God is with you in the middle) I found a new freedom. I explained it like this: "My chains were unlocked but I still wore them on my wrists. After the messages my chains fell off and I walked away from them." Guys, that's only the work of Christ in me that led me to true surrender. No other reason behind it. Again, I can't tell you how amazing of a trip this was for me and so many others!
Quick shout out to the people that made this trip special. Eric and April, y'all know what leading students of all ages is about. Thanks for making it happen and for truly loving and wholeheartedly serving our church's youth. Trey and Danielle, without you two we would have no church and no youth program. Thank you for being the leaders and role models to both me and all that pass through Wellspring's doors. (Also, thanks for trusting me with your children while y'all went to London - it was awesome!). Keith, Matt and Brian, you guys are the three musketeers that held our boy groups together. Y'all kept the laughs coming and the support you give is indescribable, thank you. Beth, Kim, Jess, Staci, April and Amie you ladies are absolutely amazing. It was a blast dancing, leading, worshipping and just hanging out with y'all. The relationships I have with each of you are deeply treasured. Thank you for all you did that trip and for all you do for me! Lastly, Carla and Lauren. You two are my other mothers and treat me as such. You care for me, pray with/for me, teach me and just love all over me. It was an honor serving with y'all for Motion but it is an even greater honor and privilege to lead our Gold Tribe girls each Wednesday together. Thank you doesn't even begin to cover my gratitude.
Those 15 people, are my people. It's as simple as that and if you made it this far, YAY!, you actually read my long thank you list (I would never make the cut with the time frame at awards shows!). Motion, as you can tell, was awesome and next year it is going to be even more incredible.
**Bible Verses from Motion**:
- Colossians 3:13
- Romans 8:15-16
- Romans 15:5
- 1 John 3:1-2
- Psalm 59:10
- Matthew 22:34-40
- Philippians 1:6
- Ephesians 2:10
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
- Isaiah 6:8
Thanks for reading, XO!
(If you are interested in Motion 2018, comment or shoot me an email and I will get you information!)