We're back in Kansas, Toto !

Last week, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend the Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, dontchya know. I knew we had truly arrived to the land of ten thousand lakes when the sweet elderly couple, who sat next to us on the plane, exchanged the following words: ( use your best Minnesotan accent as you say it ) Honey, can you get my beg? Oh, I s'pose so. Yep! We weren't in Kansas anymore Toto! All accent kidding aside, we had a wonderful time away. Minnesota greeted us with a blanket of Fall color and we were more than happy to drink in all of the beauty.

Our flight arrived in the early evening on Thursday, so we ventured around a little bit before finding our hotel. Now, I have to admit, I realize that hotel accommodations should not be the most important part of a conference. However, I dare say, there was possibly, just maybe, quite certainly a man in charge of approving the hotels on the list, wink wink. But it was okay-- we slept very soundly and were very grateful for a roof over our heads.

Friday morning, I caught my first memorable glimpse of the Mississippi River and we explored the Mill Ruins area. It was beautiful. After lunch, we headed over to the conference hall, registered, and went our separate ways for the first three pre-sessions. I had the privilege of listening to Carolyn McCulley, Sally Lloyd-Jones, and Elyse Fitzpatrick. The theme of the pre-sessions was 'Seasons of Life'; McCulley spoke on singleness, Lloyd-Jones spoke on 'The Child, The Parent, and The Story', and Fitzpatrick spoke on grandparenting. All of these sessions were so challenging and helpful. I hope to share a few of my favorite takeaways in my next post.

Friday afternoon, I stole away from the panel discussion and met up with my blog friend, now real-life friend, Beth. Oh my goodness. Remember this? Well, I was given a second round of real life, pen pal friendship this last week. And friends, these pen pals of mine do not disappoint! I can't really express the  huge amount of encouragement that I found during the short hours spent with Beth. Recently, someone asked me about my "blog friendships". They questioned whether or not these gals could really challenge me since they don't see me in the every day, the down and out, through the ups and downs of this life. I knew the questioner's intention was good, but I couldn't help but shed tears when I tried to explain how much these pen pal friendships challenge me, encourage me with their good counsel, and strengthen my faith. I realize the value of local friendships too, but in a day and age where we have these windows to connect to the body of Christ abroad, I want to capitalize on those opportunities. Beth and I were discussing, via text message, ha!, that it's strange to briefly meet someone and then deeply miss that friendship a few days later. But that is the beauty of true Christian fellowship, is it not?

I hope to share some takeaways from the sessions and a few more pictures over the next week or so. We were so, so grateful for the opportunity to get away and so very thankful that our boys were home safe with Nana!

Happy weekending to you!


  1. Sarah, I love the way you describe the value of penpal/blog/remote friendships and how they, too, can be super helpful in pointing us to truth. I find that in you, friend. Someday, let's become real-life friends, too! : )

  2. I am so glad you had a great time!!!

  3. I *might* have just shed a tear (or two). I've been praising the Lord daily for such a timely visit from you. The spiritual encouragement was mutual and I'm thankful that in our seasons of 'waiting' God was good to us to give us this face-to-face.

  4. Oh, I soooo agree with you about blog friendships!!! I was able to meet up with a blog friend a couple years ago, and she was and has been such an encouragement to me. We've only been able to see each other in person a few times, but every time we do get together I miss her afterwards.

  5. Though it was tempting, I can honestly say I wasn't jealous of your meet up with Beth only because I knew how wonderful it was going to be! But I will say it did spark an idea in my mind...that next time...it could be a picture of the three of us! :) But I must ask (you and Beth): Were you nervous upon the build up of meeting each other? Because I was SO NERVOUS with meeting up with each of you. Not a "will they like me?" nervousness. But a "THIS IS MY FIRST TIME IN NYC" kind of nervous excitement! Just wondering...

    And like you said, Sarah, NYC never disappoints. ;)

  6. So glad you found the mills - isn't a fun area?! I'm sure you took way more pictures than you posted. I had a great time there this summer with my soon to be brother in law. And must agree with everyone else that the online/distance/voxer/phone call sister's in Christ are so essential to our faith - but the balance is tricky. Oh that God would also bring such strong relationships into our everyday physical right here lives too!

  7. Oh my. I don't even know how to respond to the comments on this post-- I definitely think we all need to get together somehow!

    Shanna, as I was writing this post, I was plotting how we too could meet :) I love Nashville, I know you love Portland-- let's do this-- and soon! Thank you so much for your friendship-- even though it is a remote friendship, it brings me so much joy and encouragement that it almost feels like you live in my town :)

    Jules-- it was wonderful! I'll call soon so that we can catch up!

    Beth, I am so, so, so very thankful for God's timing in our meeting. It is amazing to me how God can bring two people through similar times of life, yet allow them to draw encouragement from each other in the midst of what others probably would deem dire or discouraging circumstances. I am so grateful for God's working in your life and for the opportunity to have met you. Looking forward to the next time!!!

  8. Amy,
    I know, I KNOW! It's crazy wonderful, isn't it?

    I love your honesty and comparisons :) I have to be honest and say that I was nervous to meet you and Beth until the moment that I saw you. Then, I KNEW it was okay, that it was going to be so great. You both put me immediately at ease and I will be forever grateful for our meetings in person! Yes! Next time, let's plan for all three of us--next summer!

    Katie--I echo your comment. I wish we could meet up for coffee in your neighborhood and talk it through because there is so much there! When I pray for God to further my relationship with ladies here in my area, I often think of you too. I am still so encouraged by our conversation last year! Come visit! And, yes! I have about 1000 more pictures haha! :)

  9. Yes, yes, yes! Blog friendships, Desiring God conference w/ Elyse Fitzpatrick and Sally Lloyd-Jones (Lucky you! Btw, do you have her new devotional book for kids?) and the lovely city of Minneapolis! My Phil was just offered a job there and it was oh-so-difficult to turn down. We were just there (again) and LOVE that city to pieces! Looks like a wonderful trip.


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