Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Atlanta reflections

Well I was gone from home for approximately 72 hours and now it's been approximately 72 hours since I arrived back home.

After two days of looking online at the flight status of my plane out of Cedar Rapids, and seeing that Tuesday's and Wednesday's flights had been canceled, and then Thursdays was delayed due to "needed crew rest," I was wondering what kind of troubles I'd have with my Friday morning flight! But thankfully everything went very well. In fact, that first flight, from C.R. to Detroit, was probably the best ever flight for me. I was tired, and pretty much wanted to be left alone, and that's what I got! I had a seat by a window, and as we took off from dark and gloomy, rainy C.R., I rested my head back and rested. And then I got to see the most amazing thing. We were flying over miles and miles of a beautiful blanket of white, puffy cotton balls, and off in the distance I saw a little orange ball begin to appear over the cloud-horizon. Due to the fact that we were going 500mph, give or take, and heading east, the sun rose more quickly than it would've, and it was simply a glorious sight for my tired eyes!

Landing in Detroit, I was rather bummed because in the past day or two I had gotten a wild hair about having Bino come to the airport during my layover, so we could finally meet and just spend perhaps 5 minutes together, but we had both come to the conclusion that that probably wouldn't work in such a busy airport. I knew I was so close to him, and yet so far! (But Ohio is coming soon)! And right after I got on the plane I was extra bummed, because they announced that the flight would be delayed an hour, due to heavy rains in Atlanta. But then within a few minutes we moved out to the runway and we ended up being only 15 minutes behind schedule.

I was greeted in Atlanta by John Fincher, who, along with his wife Donna were VERY cordial and hospitable to me throughout the entire weekend! I'm so thankful for friends like this! And to think we've only known each other through our blogs, for about half a year! John drove me to his home, south of the big city and we had some really great conversations about God's grace and all that jazz. Later in the afternoon we came up to the city again, and grabbed a bite to eat at a mall near the hotel where the Radical Sonship Conference was being held. Then it was over to the hotel, where I caught my first glimpses of Ryan, Jamie and Matthew! Some tears were already beginning to be shed as I approached Jamie and we had a big ol' hug! You have to understand, although I've known Jamie for a fairly short time (since last summer or fall), she has become like a very close sister to me. This may sound strange, but I was adopted by very wonderful parents and to me Jamie looks somewhat like a cross between my birth mother (who I've met), and what I imagine my biological father looks like. In other words, it's as if she's my birth sister that I never had. =D But so much more than all that, the conversations and the grace we have shared, along with all the other brothers and sisters in our little grace community, have been such a great thing in my life!

And then I got to see Matthew face to face and hug him for the first time as well! There is such special affection in my heart for Matthew. "Brother" fits the bill perfectly, and I guess I've also sort of felt like an "uncle" or something as well, perhaps due to the fact that I'm almost twice his age. :) We've known one another since the summer of 2007, when Matthew was very new in his grace walk, and it has been such a thrill to be a part of his life as he's grown, and as I've grown right alongside him. It was sweet meeting John, and then Matthew and Jamie, as well as Ryan, who up till that time I'd not had a whole lot of interaction with, but yet I felt I really knew him through Jamie. To be standing there with these four people was very surreal at first! My mind couldn't comprehend it all. But it didn't take long before it began to feel so very natural and real, and I felt like we'd all known each other forever! We all seem to fit together.

Then right before the first session of the conference began on Friday evening, I looked over and saw Gary Kirkham, along with his wife Sherry! I went over to them and was able to share in another long awaited hug with Gary. Again, having only known Gary through blogging, it was incomprehensible to my mind to be standing right there chatting face to face with him!

We were also able to chat briefly with Paul Anderson-Walsh, who came over to us as I think he recognized me through previous online interaction that we've had. Paul has such a welcoming, loving presence. He doesn't just preach it, it truly comes across as he interacts with others. Later, I think after the first session that evening, it was also a pleasure to chat briefly with Steve McVey. I bugged him about coming back here to Waterloo/Cedar Falls, and he said he'd give Pastor Dan a call. The Vineyard church here in town, which my family has been a part of since early 2000, has had visits from Steve ever since the mid 90's, I think. Anyway, we chatted briefly about that, and about our blogs... and Twisted Sister even came up in the conversation! ;)

And there was morning, and there was afternoon, and there was evening, and then there was Part 2, yet to come... :)


  1. I was there, but I can't wait for part 2!!!!

    Please don't tease us!!

  2. You are right about Paul. He seemed genuinely interested to meet me, even after I told him who I was!! LOL! But he is very humble, given the fact I view him as a celebrity! LOL

  3. Also, I remember checking Facebook over and over to see John's status. I remember reading "The Breeze has landed" on his profile and getting nervous/excited at the thought of meeting the Breeze-man. It was SO exciting!

  4. Joel,
    Great Part 1 of this review!!! Thank you for sharing! Indeed, I am truly so happy you guys and gals all got to meet and spend time in person together!

    ~Amy :)

  5. By the way, the only reason this is in more than one part is because I happened to get more wordy about this than I thought I would, and also I ran out of time earlier when I was writing this. :)


    Yeah, it's fun thinking back and remembering it all, and putting it into writing. I'm looking forward to writing Part 2!


    Yep, Paul is becoming one of the "famous" grace teachers... LOL. But it's very obvious that none of his knowledge and understanding and celebrity has gone to his head. A very humble man indeed!

    This whole 'event' has been so very exciting. As I landed in Atlanta, I remember thinking, "Wow, John's right out there and I'll see him in a matter of minutes!" And then when we were coming into the hotel, it blew me away thinking "Matthew, Ryan and Jamie are in there!"


    It truly was a great time, being able to meet and spend time with these great friends!

  6. Oh Joel! This is sweet! I am just smiling and crying all at the same time :) weird!

  7. No, not weird, Bino... sounds normal to me. :) I've gone through those exact emotions!