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California Dreaming

My West Coast Adventure Part I.

A few weekends ago, I spent a Saturday night at the David Crowder Concert. You can read about that here. While packing at midnight, I was blessed with an alert on my phone informing me of a winter weather advisory. Are you kidding me!!! After a fitful three hours of sleep, I drove to the airport at 4:00 in the morning in a snowstorm. Muttering to myself, "really, it's barely November; why can't you just go to a local conference like everyone else?" Well, I wouldn't be me if I did things the ordinary way, nor would I have had the experience I did in California.

I muttered that same line about the local conference the next day as I drove into the mountains. Destination? The Oaks Retreat Center. My host? Bob Goff! I knew the white knuckle drive to get there would be worth it as the highway turned into a winding road with incredible views.

The last ten miles turned into a competition as signs Slow Drivers must use turnouts popped up every few miles. Not happening! I was in the front of the pack, and with my Mario Andretti mentality intact, I was determined to stay in the lead. When I saw the sign for the Oaks and put my blinker on, I realized I was sweating, and my Apple Watch asked if I had finished my workout. Point made.

I am guessing it was about a mile, maybe a little more, to get to the ranch once I turned off the road, helpful signs like "almost there" let me know I was heading in the right direction on the bumpy gravel two-track.

After checking in, I changed for the first group activity, a hike. It was dusk as we wound our way up a trail with Bob in the lead, hurrying to catch the sunset. I didn't know anyone else, so introductions were made while attempting to keep my breathing sounding normal. Speaking of breathing, the beauty at the top took my breath away. I was awestruck and completely understood why Bob wanted us to start here, with the latest artwork from our creator on display for us. He spread his arms wide and prayed over us, and in that beautiful moment, I knew God had something incredible in store for all of us these next few days.

We made our way down in the dark, and we were warned to watch our footing. I was doing that, but a lot was going on. I'm in a conversation with a new friend, trying to listen to what Bob is saying just a few feet in front of me and watching for rattlesnakes. That's three things going on at once, and I guess too many for me; it was a perfect setup for…

You guessed it, I fell.

I reflected later that it wasn't so much the fall that was spectacular. It was the comeback. I went down hard on my left knee and right hand but sprang up within seconds, once again wondering why I didn't make cheerleading in high school. When I bounced back up and declared, "I'm fine," the only thing missing was the ponytail and pom-poms. I quickly brushed off the concern of those around me along with the dirt. I did not want my MO to be "the woman that fell on the hike with Bob Goff!" With one more "really I'm fine" to my new concerned friends, we continued.

Next up was dinner, so I went back to my room to "freshen up," aka check out my injuries. The good news was no Lulu Leggings were harmed in the accident. The bad news? A swollen and bleeding knee and a hand full of gravel. There was no way I was asking for a band-aid after my "I'm fine" declaration, so I cleaned up the best I could and went to dinner with toilet paper wrapped around my knee, held intact by my leggings.

Dinner was incredible. Best salmon ever! I asked Bob if he had caught it that day, and he jokingly answered, "Why yes, and then I ordered a harpist for you to enjoy after dinner."

With full stomachs, we headed over to the "theater." Not kidding, that is what it was!

There on stage was a, you guessed it, harp! We were incredibly blessed by Megan Tibbits that night and in the days to follow. This sweet ball of entertainment fire was a Michigan girl who grew up traveling the country with her family in an RV with her family's band, Living Truth. We later discovered they had sung at my stomping grounds, Sandy Pines and Maranatha, over the years. She might have had a little extra spark in her, being that she had just gotten engaged the previous weekend! It was so fun to connect the dots with this talented Michigan girl.

That evening was our first session with Bob; he is an incredibly motivating speaker and encouraged all of us to "shoot good arrows." I guess you had to be there for it to make sense. Still, it was super interesting (and entertaining) how Bob used the physical act of shooting arrows to illustrate how to connect with our readers. We ended the night by hearing everyone sharing what they hoped to learn these next few days.

When my turn came, I said I was looking for clarity in my writing and community's next steps, She Surrenders. I don't care how old you are; those moments bring you right back to middle school! The urge is to say something impressive with maybe a little humor sprinkled in there, but that's not why I was there. However, I do appreciate the guy that said, "I just wanted to meet Bob Goff!" Pretty sure he spoke for all of us!

After that, I talked to Bob for a few minutes and shared my book with him and he accepted the copy I had for him like a kid at Christmas. I can't tell you how it felt to have my book in Bob's hands. I just can't. Maybe surreal? All kinds of emotions for sure.

After that, some (meaning those not from the east coast) stayed up by the fire to continue the conversations. I and a few others were struggling with the three-hour time difference and went straight to bed. I also had to change my toilet paper (on my knee.) I went to sleep, no longer anxious about being here but in anticipation of what Bob had in store for us tomorrow.

To be Continued!


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