What a month it’s been! Full of fun and excitement, inspiration and learning which puts me in my happy place.

Today I’ve come down from the clouds and am settling back to reality.
It had to happen sooner or later- I held out until the absolute latest.

And I’m exhausted. I have no idea why.

I guess too much fun will eventually wear you down? Filipe has appointments every evening this week so he came home early and is currently cooking dinner. Oh how I love him.

So, how was the cruise? I’m sure you’re just dying to know.

AMAZING.
WONDERFUL.
INCREDIBLE.

It really was a great first-cruise. We talked about it (& saved for it) for nearly two years. Filipe did all of the planning over the past six months, and he did a great job. Our experience was top-notch.

We flew to Tampa, FL to get our cruise ship. Once aboard the Jewel of the Seas, we:

  • spent a lot of time relaxing by the pool (w/ a book)
  • enjoyed afternoon naps
  • took advantage of free room service.
  • got a couples massage.
  • managed to work out a few times (to compensate for the room service).
  • did a lot of reading. (I read John Ortberg’s Who Is This Man? Melanie Shankle’s Sparkly Green Earrings)

Our first port stop was Grand Cayman where we rode jet-skies to Stingray City and did a little snorkeling. From there we went to Cozumel, Mexico where we went on an ATV tour and then to a beach resort for some more snorkeling. (We had an “it’s a small world” moment when a couple on our ATV tour/cruise was from the city in SC where I grew up and was friends with some of our friends there.)

I think my favorite part of a cruise vacation is it forces you to disconnect (no email/phone/anything). This is SO good for us. Here’s a few pics. I’m sure Stacie will post some better ones soon. 

561870_10152722311470262_1552145716_nThe Jewel of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

cruise_formalFormal Night

Cruise_DinnerOur dinner crew. We ate together every night & got to know these great couples from Ohio.
So much fun!

Four days after we arrived back from the Caribbean, we loaded up the car and headed down to the Catalyst West conference with thirty other staff/leaders/volunteers from South Bay.

Catalyst is always a big highlight for me. It pushes me further, keeps me reaching higher. I’m amazed how every year it never fails to disappoint. It has a way of reviving my heart and helps me stay strong in ministry.

The morning of the conference we arrived just as Joel Houston began leading worship. By the time we got to our seats, tears were streaming down my face.

The presence of God was so evident, I couldn’t sing.
I could barely stand.

There’s just something about 3,000 pastors/leaders worshiping together that reminds me of why we do what we do. One day we as the CHURCH will worship HIM together as ONE. This was a glimpse. I spent much of Thursday being emptied of myself and filled to overflowing with the Spirit of God. Words cannot express how incredible it was.

In addition to the worship, the speakers were amazing as usual. I have plenty to wrestle through and I’m excited to start applying it to my personal life and areas of leadership. Here’s a snapshot of the tweets I tweeted earlier today. They are the quotes that struck me most.

catalyst_quote_2

catalyst_quotes

On a fun note, David Crowder made an appearance and for a minute it felt like the early 2000’s when I was a young twenty-something. So fun! Oh and did I mention, Kid President and Rainn Wilson (Dwight from the Office) showed up?!

Well, that’s about as much fun as one post will allow. Stay tuned for an adoption update coming soon.

 Mandy