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Debriefing My (in)RL 2014 Experience - or My Trip Reflections

2014 (in)RL Henderson, KY Community
One of the things I love at our church, that when a mission team returns from a mission trip, (whether it's within or outside the U.S.), they give a report of that trip to anyone that wants to hear about it. It's called the "Trip Reflections." It's perfect to hear their hearts, what God did on the journey and how He is using those lessons to change our lives TODAY. They debrief, assess what they've gone through, and move forward.

Going through any event can warrant needing a time of debriefing, reflecting, assessing. Even conferences. Even (in)RL! It will impact you, so It's great to allow yourself the space to process and reflect on the event, and share how it's changed you... and others around you. For me it's necessary!!

This is the third year I've hosted (in)RL in the areas I've lived. The first year, I was living in Henderson, KY and I'd hoped for a big group of women from church, so I reserved a room there and set it up and was disappointed that we only had a total of 4 of us there - myself, my daughter, a young girl I've mentored (my daughter's age) and a woman I hadn't met face to face, even though we went to church together (it's a big church, so that's not unusual). What we lacked in crowd, we made up for in conversation... two nearly 30 moms and 2 empty nesters - a perfect connection! I think the biggest impact was seeing the difference that it made for the younger women to connect, and us older gals too! Meeting there opened the door for us to connect on line, and in person, and I gained a great friendship, and saw the other bloom!

The 2013 (in)RL Fayetteville Community
Last year, I had the luxury of living in NW Arkansas, and a few connected to DaySpring attended, or inspired a few others to attend. I think we had 9 women, from early 20's to maybe 55 years old.  We met at an off site church office that was conveniently located next to a great little coffee house. :) The fellowship was sweet, and God created many new friendships and connections. (You can read about that event here.)

My memory of that event was that diversity was good. I was concerned at how different we all were - single, married, older and younger, professional and stay at home... but I think that for every area of diversity, there was at least one other woman who could relate. It was sweet, since the topic was "Staying in Community" - and here we were, all in different ages/stages of life and able to connect despite differences. 

Then we moved back to Henderson and the huge church we love. I signed up to host, and rallied a friend to co-host with me (she hosted last year at her house here in Henderson). We had the option to meet at the church, but it seemed that it was going to be a small group again, so I opened our home instead. Brave of me, I know, to invite strangers in to our home... but it was perfect!

We had wondered who would come... hosting is always a mystery. I don't know why people hesitate to RSVP, and there seems that others will back out at the last minute, life happens, and that happened again this year. Still, we had a GREAT turn out, and a GREAT time! There was a perfect mix of old and new friends, younger and older, and the right size for good conversation (and not a TON of leftover food!). I wish that more had come, but it worked out perfectly for my swag bags that I'd prepared (everyone got one, and the extra went to a daughter that had planned to come, but couldn't make it).

I loved that we were able to use different rooms to do different things... It's not a requirement for sure, but it was nice to do the craft in the dining room (we actually watched the craft video, and started the session there), then step away from there to move into the kitchen to get our food, and then living room to eat and watch the videos, and talk. Having to move also gave an excuse for us to break - to get up and stretch our legs, use the bathrooms, etc. 

The conversation was sweet, and despite starting late, we took the time to take in the questions and discuss them. I'm SO grateful that the (in)courage team puts them together! It worked out well to keep the conversation focused and on track... something hard to do when you get a group of girls together!! :) 

I think that we did that "best" - talking. I'm actually still processing all that went on. When the group dwindled down, there was some really sweet sharing that took place... and I want to keep praying through that. By me holding back, it allowed others to step in and minister... and that was beautiful. Open, honest sharing is so lovely, even when it's painful. I've experienced being "that girl" - wearing my heart on my sleeve or stepping in to be the comforter, but this time I sensed God holding me back, and what I witnessed was amazing. By not being in the middle of it all, it allowed time for prayer and observing the body of Christ work as He designed. Perfectly.

I'm sure that we could have each taken our time and told our stories to each other... this wasn't the time to go into such depth. I'm praying that I have a chance to connect with the women and provide the time to hear each of their HIStory, what He is doing and has done, and what they have learned along the way.

I had hoped to do more intentional things, like having each woman write a note on their postcard about what impacted them from the main session, then mail that postcard back to them in a month or so... but with people having to leave at different times, it just didn't work out to do that. That's ok! I'll keep that in my memory (ok, reality: I should start a list!) of things to do next year.... yes! I'm already planning on next year's gathering, whether I host or attend someone else's - it's an annual event on my calendar!! 

I DO wish that we had the option of 2 weekends to do it; do it wouldn't have to be the week after Easter (it isn't always), or to choose the date more, since this weekend had SO many BIG regional events going on... if it was next weekend, I think we'd have had more women attend. Still, saying that, my prayer all along was that God would bring who HE needed to be here... and I believe that's what He did!

I don't have a date for the "next event" on my calendar, but I'm hoping to be more intentional about that this year, since there were new faces over here. I had a shoe cutting party for Sole Hope a few months ago, and I think that this would be a great way to bring the ladies together again, and to bring the women together that came to that, but didn't come to (in)RL. Everyone loves to get together, and we don't have to have a set agenda to do it... we can just meet and have one thing in common... Serving God by serving others!!

So, if you're in the Tri-State area, and missed out on (in)RL this year, please contact me!! I'd love to invite you over to join in on whatever we do next - or just to meet for coffee!! And you can purchase the dvd's from any of the past (in)RL content to view and be encouraged... and it always makes for a great time to gather with friends!!


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