The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Thursday – 7/6/07 a.m. –trip for ICRS Conference

This is the first time in awhile I’ve actually had a (working) computer with me while traveling, so I thought I’d share with you a bit about attending ICRS. ICRS used to be called CBA– Christian Booksellers Association. Now it’s the International Christian Retail Show. (Some booksellers aren’t particularly thrilled with that but hey, now the Veggie Tales booth is more legitimate for the trade show.)

Last year I was honored to be able to join and attend a 3-day meeting right before ICRS for Advanced Writers and Speakers (AWSA, for those of you who need one more acronym…) It’s a writers organization for Christian women and speakers and where you get to eat lunch beside people like Carol Kent (When I Lay My Isaac Down) and Marriage expert, Pam Farrell. It’s an invigorating time of prayer, renewal, relationships and encouragement. I’m excited to get to return and see familiar faces this year and meet more people.

I was to leave Friday morning (4 a.m!) and I was up Thursday night until about midnight. I thought I’d use some traveling time to actually listen to some podcasts, so I downloaded about 40 podcasts of sermons and some Christian mom encouragement. In the one year I’ve had my ipod I’ve listened to just a few sermons from my church on it so this was a technological success!

I finished packing: 3 suitcases: 49 lbs, 49 lbs and 47 lbs. My husband kept weighing them and say "It’s 3 lbs over" and I’d take out a pair of shoes and weigh them and say "This one is okay now."

What’s in them? Books, (to sign and give away), a cart to drag it all around in, sugar-free chocolates (you know, just the essentials). And oh yes, a few skirts to actually look like I am a "professional"–not someone who has been known to work until 1:30 in the afternoon in jammies and doesn’t even apologize to the UPS guy anymore. (He told me the woman down the street works in her jammies even later than me so not to feel bad…)

Before bed I wrote a sweet card for my husband, and printed out coloring pictures of race cars, airplanes, etc to put in daily envelopes for my son to open 1 each day while I was gone. By midnight I collapsed into bed. The airport shuttle picked me up at 3:55 a.m. The shuttle driver (a woman) lifted my bags (she didn’t even groan) and said, "I used to work for FedEx and come to your house all the time! I feel like I know you!"

6:20 a.m. Bags are checked, I’ve got Starbucks. I’m on my second breakfast. With all the extra prednisone I’m taking I’m STARVING. I’m praying, "Lord, help me pull this off." (The trip – help me pull off the trip, but actually the extra half-inch the biscotti will add too, now that I’m thinking about it.)

10:30 a.m: Arrive for a stopover in Denver. I get off and get a sandwhich. There won’t be any food on this plane ride either and I’m going to need fuel to keep going. A girl could starve between Denver and Atlanta you know.

11:15 a.m.: I’m so tired I can’t read because the words are blurring together so I figure out how to listen to a podcast. Meaning, I ask a teenager nearby "how do I work the volume?" and he smiles and shows me how. I pick one program with a guest on a radio show type of program, some woman who wrote a book on being an organized Proverbs 31 mother. The Lord knows I can use help there! –literally. Because I feel a jerk and realized I’ve dozed off and the podcast ended a long time ago. It was interesting while I listened. At least I didn’t drool.

1:30 Arrive in Atlanta. What a relief. All I do is keep thanking people and apologizing "could you please get my computer bag down from the shelf? I’m so sorry I just ran over your toe." I wait 20 minutes for an elevator because my knees are stiff and I’m not risking escalators much anymore. I don’t want to make any grand entrance on a stretcher. All the people in wheelchairs look at me like I’m confused and must have missed the escalator signs. I finally get on the "train/tram" to go 18.2 miles to find the baggage claim area. Just kidding, it just felt like it as two other women and I crashed into each other because we are too short to hold onto the straps above.  One is carrying a MOPs bag, another one a Group bag. We’re all Christians. We’re all here for ICRS. We can laugh at ourselves. It’s going to be okay.

So… Do I find my luggage on the claim belt and just watch it spin or find a cart?  I can’t LIFT my luggage onto a cart, so…  I find a compassionate-looking man and explain I need help with 3 bags that are 50 pounds and I need to get on a shuttle to get downtown. I’m going to spend more money in tips today then the rest of the week, but he takes good care of me. All my bags are loaded onto a shuttle and someone says it will leave in 20 minutes, and for me to sit on a bench outside where it’s "cool." (In other words, I may actually melt but not evaporate.) A sweet African American woman in her seventies tells me she likes my purse (she thinks it’s some expensive brand name, but I tell her no, it was a 50% off Kohl’s special) and we have a good rapport. She likes a sale too. She says she can tell I have a gentle spirit. As she leaves I hand her my brochure for her sister who is having a hard time with lupus. Ministry has started…


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