The Epic Road Trip – Columbus, Ohio

Our epic vacation began where all epic vacations must begin… at the Southern Baptist Convention.


Now, before you dismiss that as some sarcastic opening to the recap to end all recaps (which it so totally is), I’ve got to be honest and tell you how much I personally LOVE going to the Southern Baptist Convention.  Wes and I went to New Orleans in 2012 and Houston in 2013, and we were so sad when conflicts with summer programs at the church kept us from heading out to Baltimore in 2014.  Why do we love the annual meeting so much?  Because we get to hear, firsthand, what’s happening in the churches, at the seminaries, and on the mission field, and we get to be encouraged and challenged by others who are walking the same road we are in ministry.  It’s such a great time to reconnect with friends from seminary, friends from the mission field, and friends from past pastorates. 
It’s also a whole lot of fun to hear from the nuttier members of our great big Southern Baptist family.  And we hear from them again and again, because every year without fail, they seem to be the only ones who speak from the floor.  Which is super entertaining, as we get to watch the megachurch brethren on the platform try to genuinely speak to the issues that one guy that everyone eagerly waits to hear from (you know who I’m talking about) has out at his church in the sticks.  It’s a bonding experience for us all, as the regular pastors and their wives out in the crowd witnessing it all collectively grin and shift in their seats, tweeting it all live, as we clarify to one another in whispers, “Did he really just say…”  Yes.  Yes, he did.  (I think the highlight this year was when that particular gentleman made a recommendation for the president of the SBC to run for president of the United States.  Pretty sure no one saw that coming.) 

The annual meeting is even more of a bonding experience when all the pastors there affirm together, from the megachurch guys whose names are printed for the whole world to abhor to the small church pastors who faithfully serve in difficult communities, that we are people who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and that we won’t back down no matter what the culture around us does.  Not that my own amazing, godly pastor would back down from sharing the truth, even if all the world was against him, but I know that he stands stronger in his resolve when he has that moment to stand with the rest of the convention, knowing that we go into this together.

The Southern Baptist Convention has always been awesome, in other words. 
I didn’t know how having the girls with us would change things up this year, but when the grandparents gifted them airline miles to get them to and from Columbus so we could all be there together, we decided to make it as exciting for them as it always is for us.  We signed them up for the kids’ programs and told them that it would be EPIC.
The epic part looked doubtful when they began the whole shebang by literally and accidentallly banging their heads together in the excitement they were feeling about it all.  They’d spent all morning talking through it all as we drove from our hotel to downtown and into the convention center.  All those Southern Baptists together in one building, the missionaries coming to talk, the kids’ worship music, and BAM!  Right in the heads!  Only our kids, y’all.  I’m not even sure how they managed it, but we’re lucky that no one was concussed in the process.  Our convention experience, for the first time ever, began with tears.  So many tears.  Sigh.
Thankfully, it only got better from that moment on.  
As the girls went to their awesome kids’ programs where they sang praise songs, listened to sermons, met other kids, and got to jump in a bouncy house, Wes and I were doing the very same thing down in the general sessions.  (Well, minus the bouncy house.  Which, you know, might make the convention even more exciting and all…)  We’d meet up for meals, heading out of the convention center and onto the city bus heading for different parts of Columbus, thinking that the girls would relish the time spent out and about with dear old Mommy and Papi, but each and every time we were met with, “We have to HURRY back because Mr. Chad is gonna eat fried chicken covered in chocolate sauce at one o’clock!”  Only the Southern Baptist Convention, y’all.  (And again, I think the general sessions would be more exciting if we’d do what the kids were doing.  I’d pay to see the seminary presidents race to see who could eat a donut hanging from the ceiling the fastest, you know?)
Ana and Emma did come back at the conclusion of each day with some deeper thoughts about missions and serving Christ.  The stories we tell and the experiences we share with them are great, but meeting real missionaries themselves and hearing their stories was very meaningful.  And they were absolutely thrilled to tell me that “all the other girls in our class are pastors’ daughters, too!”  It was an eye-opening experience for them to find their own unique place in what our denomination is doing in the world and in their role as ministry kids, making them feel like they’re part of a much bigger whole.  They did, however, prove that you can take the pastor’s daughter out of Texas but you can’t take Texas out of the pastor’s daughter when we walked into the exhibits hall and Ana asked, “Well, where are all the goats?”  To which I responded, “This is not a livestock show, you hillbilly.”  But even that statement, given that we are the SOUTHERN Baptist Convention, probably unified her with at least half of the other kids present.  There were probably kids all over the place looking for goats, cows, pigs, and sheep.  Maybe the SBC should look into booking a petting zoo for next year.  That’ll get more traction than the health screenings, I’ll bet. 
We’re so thankful, as always, for our sweet church and for their willingness to let us go to the SBC.  Wes and I left the meeting feeling refreshed and encouraged, and the time we were able to take talking through where we are in ministry and where we’re going was invaluable.
After the annual meeting concluded and we got one last night of rest in Columbus, we woke up early, did a switcheroo of the rental car for the convention to a rental car for the epic road trip, and pointed the car northeast to Canada, where Emma risked deportation again and again, we got soaked every day, and a Canadian police officer made my entire year by saying “eh?” no less than three times in the ten second conversation I had with him.  EPIC.  (And did you know that all of the police officers in Canada are super cute?  It must be a law or something.  I giggled like a middle aged schoolgirl for the rest of the night, which just thrilled Wes.)

Look for that next post soon, eh?

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