Wednesday morning greeted me with a coffee bar complete with barista-I had died and gone to heaven at the Oaks. Then breakfast and our morning sessions with Bob and Author, Speaker, and Writers Coach Kim Stuart. I liked her immediately. She was funny, sarcastic but still able to reveal the truths in her message that conveyed her passion for writing and love for Jesus. I have so many pages of notes, some I have yet to decipher, when I write fast and furious, it becomes unintelligible, even to me.
A few snippets I was able to decipher;
Around these short lines, there is so much truth that Bob and Kim spoke into us. So much that in our free time that afternoon, I just wanted to unpack it, discern it, and dream about where to apply it. I spent some time in a beautiful spot doing just that.
That night we had a hayride, surprise! I had never entertained the idea of a hayride at a writers conference before, but I think I should!
Maranatha, are you listening?
We went down to the stables where we met "Farmer Bob's" horses and cows. The guy was just giddy about this life! It was infectious, and we went in the pen with the cows, fed the horses, and I have to admit I felt a little guilty that I had not been this close to our cows, ever. But oh my heart, Craig, can we please get a Highlander???
Amid our Yellowstone experience, we enjoyed a spread of appetizers and sparkling waters elegantly spread out on the lawn. The picnic views were amazing as the sun rested atop the mountains for a moment before leaving us for the day, and we rode the wagon back to the lodge in the lingering light of dusk.
After dinner and another unique session, I wanted so badly to stay by the fire and talk with the others, but I could not keep my eyes open. Literally, "I don't even remember going to bed" was my first waking thought the following day. There was a day when that thought stabbed me with a knife of fear when I would wake up realizing I had experienced another blackout the night before. It's no mystery why those memories creep in so quickly; they were a part of me for a very long time. What a relief to have that moment and be able to quickly brush the thought aside, knowing it was just good old fatigue and jet lag.
The last morning flew by, and how Bob ended our time together will be etched forever on my heart. I don't want to share it just in case you ever go to the Oaks and have the opportunity to experience it yourself. Just know this; it was memorable, impacting, uplifting, and emotional. We ended with some autographs, ours! We all signed his vintage sawed-off jeep with a sharpie! Then he signed our books, and we took a ton of pictures together.
After lots of goodbyes, I got in my jeep and made the drive back to the main road at a languid pace. I wanted to savor the magic and figure out how to take it with me. I look at pictures and my notes and have visual verification, but every day I remember more. It drives me, inspires me, and leads me back to my desk. I left the Oaks with a new commitment, and I pray you will be ordering it on Amazon in the future.
My biggest takeaway from Bob, Sweet Maria (and she definitely is), and Kim, Holly, and the staff;
Love Does, it definitely Does.
*I have been asked more times than I could count since my return if Bob & Sweet Maria are the real deal, and I can answer that with a resounding yes. It is a rarity and a pure delight to encounter and spend time with such good people, and it made me want to be more like them in the time I have here. It is infectious, and I can't help but think it is contagious in the most beautiful way.