Thursday, February 25, 2016


We’ve spent the better part of the last week in Orlando, FL with CFA - my most favorite company in the whole world. Every year, they bring all Owner/Operators (John’s official title), their spouses and all corporate staff and their spouses together. It’s like a giant CFA pep rally, and they take the time to pour into us with many opportunities to learn and fun events as well.

Every year is slightly different, but I always appreciate the time and effort that goes into planning an event of this magnitude. It is work, but it is such a valuable getaway, and I’m so thankful for the ways that CFA takes care of us. Here are my favorite things from this year in no particular order.

1.  Time with John. Without our children.

I love our children dearly, but it is invaluable to have time away from them for John and I to be able to see one another more clearly. We can complete sentences and eat meals all without interruption.

2.  Time with CFA friends.


Being part of CFA is being part of a giant family 5,000 people strong. The setting can be overwhelming, because the company is growing quickly, and there seem to be people everywhere you turn. But, NEXT serves as such a great time to reconnect with friends we’ve made along the way. Our lives have so many parallels because of the unique roles we have, and it is life-giving and encouraging to spend time with people who completely understand the pressures, challenges and joys that our normal life contains. We got to compare notes with so many people walking similar journeys, and that is truly a blessing. Plus, we laughed a ton. I didn’t take nearly enough pictures of people this year, because I was usually too busy running my mouth.

3.  The content.

I’ve had a hand in planning events, and I know that getting good content that pleases a wide range of people is a near impossible task. While not everything that I heard was pertinent to me (or even necessarily to John), I have so many great takeaways. I got to hear Lysa TerKeurst and Rebeckah Lyons, both of whom were excellent and inspiring. On the last day, a violinist who has played with Shania Twain and Celine Dion spoke and reminded me that “This is What I Signed Up For.” Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in the mundane minutia of my little life, but I willingly signed up for all of it. I signed on for four kids and two restaurants, and not only do I believe that I signed up for it, I believe that God has placed those things in front of us as gifts and callings. It means that there are a great deal of challenges, but to do motherhood and wifehood well, I need to be obedient to the Lord in all of the things that I signed up for while following him. He will give me the strength. And as Louie Giglio reminded us the first morning - he doesn’t call people that have it all together. He calls people that are insufficient and need him. I can raise all my hands for that.


4.  The food everywhere.


Y’all. CFA knows how to keep us well fed. Everywhere you looked there were new treats to be had. You just finished a large dinner that included a giant edible chocolate tree in the middle of your table? Great - here’s some swiss chocolate as you head back to your room. Breakfast was 1.5 hours ago? You must be hungry again - here are some hard-boiled eggs, 5 kinds of donuts and a sampling of fruits. You just finished lunch? Make sure you grab some candy/granola bars/any drink you might possibly want on your way to the bus!

5.  The vulnerability.

This year, perhaps more than others, I found a lot of vulnerability that I truly appreciated. Both from the stage and from friends, people were honest about the struggles they face professionally and personally. Knowing you are not alone matters. Knowing that other people don’t have it all together helps me breathe a sigh of relief. There was a genuine lack of pretense that was so refreshing, and I’m so thankful to be in business with people striving to do their best while admitting that some days are really hard. Just like in our life.

CFA Next 2016 was a three day gift that will last much longer as we head back into our normal lives.