The Gathering Conference (Nov 11 – 15, 2008)
Anona United Methodist Church, Largo, Fla

Anona Church campus

Anona Church campus

“What an experience!” Joining with hundreds of fellow Christians of many denominations to hear church movement leaders such as NCD founder, Christian Schwartz, speaking about his insights and developments with NCD over the past 12 years.  Church pastors and lay leaders shared their experiences, both successes and lessons learned, motivating the rest of us who are still beginners in serving our home churches in the Natural Church Development (NCD) process.

Everything was so perfect – the speakers, the topics, the environment in this beautiful Anona campus, the fellowship among those attending, and the special bonding that I personally experienced with our own NJ team attending.  The weather was warm and sunny (unlike back home in NJ where it was cold and rainy), with the night lit up with a beautiful full moon.  And the shrimp for dinner every night was delicious for this shrimp lover who was in his glory near the Gulf of Mexico (literally we were just yards from that beach) and its daily harvest of fresh shrimp.

To find out more about this exciting process (currently in use in over 70 countries around the world and 57,000 churches) for improving the health of your own church, visit the NCD web site (<– just click on the NCD link here)

"ME want COOKIEEEE!!!" Even the “Cookie Monster” trip down . . .

… was a delightful experience.  This “cookie monster” (<– click here to discover that a CM is) found himself sitting next to a fellow CM on the flight from Philadelphia to Tampa.  This is not unusual since as you would have read in that linked chapter explaining the CM phenomenon, cookie monsters just naturally gravitate to each other in any setting, whether that’s a large party or in this case, seats next to each other on a flight to Florida.   Of course my window partner didn’t know she was a CM, but she passed the test when asked the “secret question” “Are you a cookie monster?”  You see, despite having no idea what this stranger (me) is talking about with that term (CM), a cookie monster naturally expects the best in people and so will answer (however tentatively), “Yes…” and then asks, “What’s a cookie monster?”  A non-CM person just says no (even though they have no idea what it is either), being overly cautious and expecting something negative from any stranger.  Its all a matter of personal philosophy of life.  A “cookie monster” is someone who expects life to be good, filled with “free cookies” – those unexpected nice things that happen to us every day that are undeserved but so appreciated by the true CM.  A “free cookie” could be as simple as someone letting you pull out into the intersection first, for example, and a CM collects those throughout their day and celebrates them in telling others of the “free cookies” in their day.   For a deeper discussion use that link in the top line above.

Anyway, that’s how we got to talking and I met this wonderful conversationalist, Dolores, from Hatfield, PA who in her working life is a hypnotist!  She runs her own conseling business using hypnotism to help people deal with challenges in their lives, like weight loss, smoking cessation, stress management, etc.  You can learn more at her Advanced Hypnosis Services web site (<– click to visit) and if you call, tell Dolores that you heard about her being a “Cookie Monster” on this blog site – she will most likely start laughing at that thought.

So here I was coming south for a church conference, and sitting/chatting with this fellow CM (newly discovered) coming down for a training conference on hypnosis and NLP.  Small world that it is between CM’s, NLP has been a fascination of mine for the past 20+ years.  I can’t wait until we get together for lunch in a few weeks to share our conference experiences.  Stay tuned and I hope to share that conversaton on a future blog posting here.  For now just let me say that for both of us it was the fastest two and a half hour flight to Tampa, both of us surprised when the plane touched down, seemingly minutes after we had taken off and begun this energy filled chat.

Safely back home . . .

… as with any trip, it was so good to arrive back home (despite the couple hour delay due to the terrible Philadelphia weather of fog and rain) and have Pam waiting with that welcoming smile and open arms late Saturday evening.  We enjoyed an overdue supper at the nearby Spaghetti Warehouse, even using a coupon for a free entree that kept a night out like this to a very reasonable expense – the best of both worlds.  “Ah, home sweet home!” and that soft, warm bed (no hotel room bed, no matter how luxurious can be as welcome).