20 Dec Unexpected Gifts

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

The music… the decorations… the cookies… time with family…  presents! All reminders of the best gift we could ever receive. A baby laying in a manger who would grow up to rescue the world and save us all! I love Christmas and I love giving gifts. I especially love finding gifts that are memorable and meaningful. Getting a new article of clothing, a gift card, or a home-baked treat is always fun, but there are some gifts that stand out because they mean something. They have significance and what they offer can never be outgrown, break apart, or come to an end.

Gifts like treasured memories, lessons learned, time shared with loved ones, inspiration, and hope do not come wrapped in paper and bows, but they stick and they last a life-time. These are my favorite types of gifts. Sometimes they come at Christmas but they often come at various times throughout the year as we connect with others and engage in our everyday lives. 


There is one time of year, I am guaranteed to receive some of these memorable, lasting gifts mentioned above. And, it’s actually not Christmas!

Each year, I attend the Orange Conference in Atlanta and each year I leave with lots of gifts! Some are physical gifts (books, merch, and other goodies), but most are gifts that shape who I am, how I think, and who I want to become.

The Orange Conference provides opportunities to spend time with others who are engaged in ministry, make connections, learn, grow, and be inspired. But I think my favorite gift I receive each year comes in the form of a challenge.

The Gift of Re-Thinking

The Orange Conference has a theme each year and all of the programming, teaching, and experiences revolve around that theme. For me, the theme gives a big picture idea that challenges me to think about my current views, practices, and ideologies. It encourages me to open myself up to new ways of thinking, new ways of implementing strategies, and new ways of viewing the world around me. 

Here are a few themes from Orange past:

  • Say Yes to the Next Generation
  • It’s Just a Phase
  • For Our Neighbors
  • One Voice – We Can Do More Together

Each of these themes (and more – I’ve been to all but one Orange Conference), have helped me grow as a ministry leader, as well as, in my own personal faith journey.

Gifts For 2019

I’m sure the 2019 theme “It’s Personal” will continue to challenge me and grow my faith. The OC19 webpage gives a peek at the focus of 2019’s theme. Here’s a small snippet that packs a powerful punch!

I am looking forward to learning about how I can make a greater impact in my world by being more like Jesus and making it personal. I’m sure the 2019 Orange Conference will not disappoint and once again, I will leave gifted with stretched thinking, new ideas, inspiration, community with other ministry leaders and of course – many moments of pure fun!

Gift Yourself

As we go full steam ahead into this season of giving, maybe consider giving yourself something this year. 😉  Something that you will not keep for yourself, but will share with the the world around you as you are changed by it. Consider giving yourself the gift of OC19! Tomorrow is the last day to sign up and save $70 off the regular price! It might just be the best present you receive.

I hope to see you there! Merry Christmas!