My good friend, Bryson and a new friend, Lee, and I headed down to Atlanta on Friday for the annual Promise Keepers conference. Bryson had gone last year, here in Nashville, and invited me to go.
Atlanta is only 4 hours away. You would think if we left at 10am CST we would have plenty of time to get there by 6:30pm EST - the start of the first session. We left a little bit late, 10:30 or so. We still had plenty of time. We stopped for a light lunch, Bryson and Lee also had Java Chip Frappuccino's at Starbuck's on the way. Notice, I did not partake in the frap party. This boy was sticking to my SFL plan. While Bryson and Lee sucked down the calories, I meekly drank my water, in the back seat. Poor me. Nobody gave me any sympathy.
We leisurely arrived at 3:30pm and checked into our hotel - The Stone Mountain Inn by Marriott in Stone Mountain Park. I believe the hotel is the original hotel in the park. This hotel offers a beautiful view of the mountain. We enjoyed that view on Saturday and Sunday mornings especially. We enjoyed our stay there.
Anyway, after freshening up a bit, we made our way to Promise Keepers, which held its event at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. All was going well in the drive until we made a couple of key wrong decisions which led to our being 45 minutes late to the event! Yikes! Before we arrived at PK, we had already been all the way to the other side of Atlanta, travelled through the city and back out east again until we finally reached our destination. We missed the first worship session and the first speaker.
Needless to say, we were a bit stressed and not relaxed that first night. We arrived just as the George W. Bush imitator arrived (can't remember his name). He was funny. The best speaker was Josh McDowell. The event was running late and he decided to cut his message short. We were disappointed only that he didn't continue. It was a great talk! Very inspiring. (I bought the audio from all the speakers).
The next day, we started off bright and early with our first meeting at 9am. We knew how to get there this time. We were actually a few minutes early. My favorite speakers of that day were Richard Blackaby, Bishop Larry Jackson, Dan Seaborn and Comedian Cleto Rodriquez. Bishop Larry Jackson's message was particularly convicting. Bryson, Lee and I had a really memorable conversation over lunch about his message. It prompted us to have an honest, real talk about issues we deal with personally and as guys in general. We prayed for each other. It was an important moment of our weekend. Dan Seaborn was very good - his imagery of us as guys carrying around our wheelbarrel was very impactful. Cleto had us laughing our heads off.
That night, we shopped for shoes. Bryson and I got great deals on shoes - I on tennis shoes, Bryson on cool brown running/walking shoes. It was tax-free weekend. I think I paid $12.50 for mine.
That evening, we watched a fantastic laser light show at the base of Stone Mountain. I thought Sandi Patty was going to explode when she was finished singing her version of the Star Spangled Banner. I kept thinking this would be a great place to share with my family on a long weekend.
That night we played a heated game of Phase 10. Whoever won, was to be served breakfast the next morning by the loser. It was close, but I ended up winning and Lee ended up losing. The next morning, Lee went over and above the call of duty by serving both Bryson and me.
That last morning, before we headed home, we ate a huge breakfast - especially me. I love buffets. I was so full! Right afterward, we headed up for a hike up Stone Mountain. It took Bryson and Lee 20 minutes. It took me 22. I just couldn't keep up. A combination of me being out of shape and having a full belly. Anyway, the view was spectacular at the top. We enjoyed that for about 30 minutes and headed back down.
As a reward for our hiking, we jumped into the hotel pool and cooled off. I looked like a redneck with my jean shorts and underwear - I forgot my swimshorts. Soon after, we checked-out and headed back home after taking one last shot in front of the engraving on Stone Mountain.
On the way, home we each shared 3 things we were going to do differently as a result of our experience at Promise Keepers. I'll share mine here:
1. Take this week to spend 2 hours at the end of my day in focused play time with the boys - whatever they wanted to do. This is their last week before school begins next week. I've paid special attention to them this week. We've played Phase 10 together (not without fights), practiced punting, passing & kicking the football together (Alex is going to compete in that this fall), played some video games together on the computer, played chess together, read books together and just enjoyed some good conversations. Today, we're going ice skating at Southern Ice Arena and tomorrow, we're going to a Nashville Sounds game.
2. Spend more focused time with God throughout the day. This means being in relationship with Him. Feeling His love for me. Talking to Him. Hearing from Him in prayer and silence. And, just being in reverence of Him more. I believe I've done that. I've been listening to Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper as well.
3. Daily showing and telling my wife what I appreciate about her. Finding something to encourage her with. Pray with her more. We've had lots of good prayer times. Also, not criticizing her at all. Instead, praising her, trusting her and showing my appreciation for her. I think she's noticed the difference and it's helped us in our marriage this week. I feel closer with her than ever!
Thank you, Bryson, for inviting me to come with you this weekend at PK. It was a weekend to remember for me. I can't wait for PK 2009!