I woke up the Saturday morning of Pursuit feeling both excited and nervous. I hadn’t slept too well — probably because when I went to bed I was both excited and nervous. I knew Saturday was a big day for me, and I was still reeling from all the awesome things that I’d seen and experienced on Thursday and Friday.
I showed up on the Focus campus a little after 7:30 a.m. This was easy to do, since I basically rolled out of bed, threw on running clothes and shoes, put my hair in a disheveled ponytail, grabbed my bag of Important Conference Papers and Other Top-Secret Stuff, and headed out the door. My friend, sidekick, assistant, gopher and encourager, Julianna, had grabbed me a coffee (bless her heart!), so we walked to the race start and took in the scene.
The weather was amazing, the sky was amazing, the vendors were already set up (literally amazing), and everything was buzzing for the soon-to-be-first-ever 5K run on behalf of Boundless.org and Focus on the Family. It had been a dream of mine to do, but I had never assumed it would become a reality. Yet here I was, standing in my “Run Like You Mean It” shirt, ready to see my dream become actual people, shoes, music, tents and motion. Surreal.
I started early on a few radio interviews. We were still trying to encourage folks from the community to jump in at the last minute, so local radio station KBIQ-FM had me on about every half hour to talk up the event. Then our local FOX affiliate showed up for an interview. Runners started arriving, so I chatted with folks, checked out the port-o-potties, took photos with fellow runners, and generally dreaded running the 5K course that I knew would be half uphill (there was no way I was gonna tell all the lowlanders that).
The gun went off, and I started running with Jake from our social media team at my side, his forehead-mounted camera aimed straight at me. It was such a thrill to be in a pack with over 300 other runners, running on behalf of families worldwide. There were even a few puppies that ran, which was not kosher, but I didn’t know about it until after the race. Due largely to the fact that I busied myself by cheering folks on along the way, I forgot about the hill and actually ended up running the whole 5K. Miracle. Of. God.
Then, it was to the stage with Pursuit 2014 speaker Brant Hansen to hand out awards and generally goof around. Congrats to our winners (I was not one), most of whom were Pursuit attendees. The first-place prize (male and female finishers) was a $100 gift card to Colorado Running Company. Woot!
One of the highlights of my morning was before the awards ceremony when our DJ asked if he could play The Cupid Shuffle as people gathered. I said, “Sure,” and — no kidding — at the first note people ran to the center of the parking lot, formed lines and started dancing. It was a blast.
I hit the showers at Focus, grabbed some lunch, then planned my attack on the afternoon of crazy free time. I knew I couldn’t do everything, but I wanted to check in on as many events as I could. Here’s a sampling of some of the things that went down:
- Screenings of the films The Song (in theaters Sept. 26) and Irreplaceable — This is where people went who needed a break from the sun. Or who were flat-out exhausted from the 5K. Word.
- Behind-the-scenes tours of Adventures in Odyssey and Focus on the Family — I heard the AIO one had 100 people!
- Workshops with Boundless founders Steve and Candice Watters and our Boundless bloggers. These were super popular, too. There was no shortage of things to learn!
- A photo booth where you could capture a memory with your new best friends.
- Affinity group meet-ups. These were off the chain. Attendees could plan a meetup, schedule a room and announce it via #pursuit2014 or on a white board near our public info table. Who met? Oh, Southern Californians, Midwesterners, 30-somethings, Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans, swing dancers, fitness buffs, and the black women’s natural hair group. No, for real. I wanted to go to that one, but missed it. Next time, sistas!
At some point in the afternoon, I went up to my desk, crawled under it, and took a nap. I needed it. Then it was time to change and look over my notes for my closing talk that night.
The evening resumed with a wonderful seated dinner, giving attendees yet another opportunity to connect and reflect on the weekend. Then it was Abby and team back to lead worship. Her sessions were truly one of the highlights of my weekend. I even learned a couple new songs. (She sang nothing by the Gaithers.)
Next thing I knew, I was backstage, and Candice was introducing me. I started crying — not the best when I had to give an hour-long talk in, oh, three minutes — but it was beautiful. I returned the favor by calling her and Steve up on stage, and I had the privilege of presenting them with a book that our attendees had filled with handwritten notes of thanks and appreciation for starting Boundless 16 years ago and investing in it ever since. More tears.
I then began my talk. Those there know that there were a few more tears as I shared my journey with singleness as someone who hopes for marriage. I also “kept it real” by providing four ways to prepare for marriage right where you are. There were hopefully a satisfactory number of Lisa-isms sprinkled throughout. 🙂
I made the challenge to the audience to take the GEN3 Promise, a pledge that says that whatever the future holds, our investment in godly marriages and families starts now. I prayed for everyone in closing, and just like that, Pursuit 2014 was over. Kinda.
First, people milled around FOREVER. Awesome. I made my way to the back and stood talking to a growing line of folks for almost two hours. Talk, picture, picture, talk, talk, tears, talk, picture. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Second, Pursuit wasn’t really over. Many attendees went out in groups that night (Do you people not sleep, ever?), and many more stayed in Colorado Springs a couple more days and did everything from rafting to hiking to horseback riding to trips up Pikes Peak, and more.
Third, Pursuit still really isn’t over. Folks from the conference are staying connected (we created a fun way to swap info during the conference), and social media is going strong, too. At least seven dating couples that I know of have come out of the event (way to make it happen, guys!), and too many friendships to count.
Maybe next time I won’t run a 5K, host awards, do media interviews, participate in free-time activities, and give a keynote address all in the same day. Note to self. That said, there are no regrets. I loved every minute. Thanks, friends, for making my conference experience such a life-changing one.
What was your favorite part about Saturday?