Well, I’m semi-coherent, so I thought I’d update you on the OCCWC (the conference I was at this weekend). It started early (well, for me) Thursday morning. Had to get up at 7. I survived. This is a testament to the Lord’s goodness, and I am not being facetious. My friend, April, and I got on the road by 9 o’clock and down to Garden Grove by noon. With three crock-pots in “hand,” we began the daunting task of trimming, cutting, and sorting 20 lbs. of chicken chests. The vice-president of our ACFW chapter was holding the faculty reception at her home, so we used those three crock-pots, plus one of hers, and started crock-pot chicken marsala. Note: I adapted that recipe to include about 4x more garlic per pot than the recipe calls for, and I highly recommend adding about 2TBS onion powder. Oh! and fresh, sliced mushrooms instead of canned/jarred. Just sayin’.
Then April and I dashed off for lunch (Chipotle!) and a trip to the Daiso store where I bought cool stuff for my launch team. After check-in at the hotel and a nap, we changed clothes and rushed over to the house to finish the marsala. Note: I took the juice out of the pan, added a tiny bit of water to the corn starch, stirred it in, and then balanced it with a bit more cold water if it got too thick. Monday’s trial run failed to thicken in the crock-pot as the recipe claimed it would. By the time it was done, the OCCWC had officially kicked off. The house was full of industry professionals, ACFWOC members, and well, they were all hungry. The rest of the ACFWOC chapter provided salad, cookies, drinks, broccoli–let’s just say we had a yummy meal, shall we?
April woke me at 7:00 on Friday. We had been expected to be at the conference BY 7, but alas and alack! NOPE! EIGHT! I cheered. After a few hiccoughs (not enough half and half for coffee or ice to chill the sodas and water bottles), the day began. People keep asking me what I learned, so I need to clarify something. I went to help. It was my main purpose in being there. Once I saw the volunteer list and how many places people were volunteering while still trying to take classes and make appointments, I decided not to try to “network” deliberately or take a class. I just was there to make sure people had food to eat and things to drink when they needed one or the other of those things.
Kathy Ide (the director of OCCWC) did a PHENOMENAL job of organizing this thing. Seriously, the woman is amazing. She set up the program as a split between “mentoring tracks” (closer to a personalized teaching and working workshop rather than a series of lectures you bounce between) and a resource room full of industry professionals there to help you. GENIUS. I was in the resource room all day both days, so I got to watch how this went. I saw people nervously sit down, try to begin, and move from nail-biting nervous to energized and excited as these encouraging professionals helped people take their dreams and find ways to make them realities. They encouraged, gave gentle, critical advice, and sent the attendees out energized and ready to “do this thing!” Seriously, if all conferences were like OCCWC, I’d go every year just to watch. It was beautiful.
Antonio (the other head guru of OCCWC this year–can’t remember his title) was wonderful as well. Every time I said, “I need ice” or “we didn’t have enough tomatoes” he was on his way to get me what I needed. Always with a smile, no matter how much I know he probably wanted to bean me over the head. He even grinned at me when I missed a pan of spaghetti noodles and people had to wait for them! He didn’t bite my head off when I served the hummus crackers as “croutons” for the gluten-free folks. OOPS!
All day, if you had any prayer needs, someone was in the back, ready to pray for you behind a private wall. Just knowing people were back there praying for each other and the attendees, faculty, and volunteers at the OCCWC is what made this such a beautiful conference. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and won’t forget it soon.
As for me? I made friends. We had a lovely young student from Azusa Pacific who was ready to jump in with a smile and ready to help at the blink of an eye. I had to make the girl get off to her class before she missed too much. And when April and I wanted to duck out a bit early, she was ready to break down the coffee bar for us so we could go. So sweet. Loved talking with her.
I got to know author Cathleen Armstrong better as well. She’s a member of the ACFWOC group that I am a part of, and I had her as my “Secret Cupid” this year. I didn’t know her, so trying to be fun wasn’t easy but I think it worked out all right. Getting to know her better this weekend told me I didn’t totally botch it. That woman spent hours working with us. And as she did, I got to learn about her books. Can’t wait to read the first one which is FREE on Kindle. Welcome to Second Chance.
Additionally, I met Carla–last name escapes me–who is passionate about history and has written curriculum. I can’t wait to find out what novel is lurking in all that knowledge. Can you imagine? EEEP!
Susan Beatty, a hero of mine for decades (she’s been the head of CHEA for as long as I can remember), and I chatted about a book idea which, much to our mutual dismay, will necessitate a trip to England. Mourn with us. Susan is ALSO a huge part of why this conference was such a success. Just sayin’.
Lori Freeman has stories in several of Kathy Ide’s “21 Days” books, and we chatted for a while. This woman is seriously funny. She was open, welcoming, and really encouraged April on her book. Of course, now I”m pulling out those books to check out what she’s writing.
Kathi Macias was there as well, and sent home a big surprise for my Challice. I can’t wait to tell her. (Challice, that is). I bought People of the Book for myself because I wanted it last time I met her, but they were all gone. 🙁 Watch for my review!
Do you see how amazing the OCCWC WAS? I mean, c’mon. I talked to a young woman, Larae, who just got out of an abusive marriage and is eager to write an encouraging nonfiction book about OVERCOMING in Jesus. Now THAT is something that makes me want to shout! Not just, “coping” but OVERCOMING! WOOT!
I’m forgetting people. It’s all just a jumble in my head. I talked to so many people, RAN more than I’ve run in the last six months combined, carried so many heavy things that my arm muscles are seriously perturbed with me for typing, and my feet look like I’m nine-and-a-half-months pregnant in July.
But you know what? I did it. I went to my first conference. I talked to a TON of strangers. Sure. I made a fool of myself with my mouth running non-stop. I do that. But that’s okay. It’s who I am. April is still speaking to me after being stuck with me for three very long days, so I consider it a success. I went into this conference determined to tell Kathy, “I’ll do anything you want me to do next year, but I don’t want to have anything to do with meals.” Now? Now I WANT that job. I know what we need. I know what’ll work. What didn’t. How we can improve and make it the best thing ever.
So, as soon as my feet quit squishing when I walk, I’m off to learn how to make gluten-free, dairy-free, out of this world custard or something like that for the 2017 OCCWC conference. Of course, then I have to talk a caterer ito making it. Baby steps. Baby steps. We’re going to ROCK THIS!