This is my 4th time at Ridgecrest Christian Conference Center.
Exodus International rotated the location for its annual Freedom conferences. Every 3rd year, it was held on the east coast, here at Ridgecrest.
In 2005, I came here to attend my 2nd Exodus conference (my 1st was in California in 2004 – I attended alone). This was my first conference as a leader, as I had been the director of Alive in Christ almost a year at this point. Roy and several others from the ministry attended. Because Jerry Falwell spoke that year, there was tons of media attention, and I spoke on television for the 1st time about my same-sex attraction.
I don’t remember much about the interview, except they showed a close-up of my wedding ring, and I was wearing a purple shirt.
We returned in 2008, this time with a 11-month old Bear in tow (my older son’s nickname). I had the privilege of sharing my testimony from the main stage and teaching a workshop entitled “Learning to Walk in Freedom” (sound familiar?). I think I also participated in the forums on youth ministry.
Back again in 2011, Bear was almost 4, and we now had JJ tagging along at 1 1/2. We stopped at my dad’s on the way. It was there I found out that apart from a miraculous touch from God’s own hand, my father would die from cancer.
I again had the opportunity to speak, telling the women this time about “Learning to Walk in Freedom.” It was an amazing conference. I felt as if Exodus had truly been refined by fire, and the gold was truly shining through (many others agreed).
In 2012, I flew out to Minnesota by myself, having been invited to participate in the conference on various ways. It was the best Exodus conference I had been a part of, even more so than 2011.
At the 2013 Exodus conference (which I did not attend), it was announced that Exodus would close.
Recently, Alive in Christ joined a new network, Hope for Wholeness. I spoke at their conference this past fall, and now here I am, at Ridgecrest once again, to speak and participate in the Hope Rising conference presented by Hope for Wholeness.
We arrived yesterday, a day early, because the drive was long, and I wanted to get everyone settled. I am 5 1/2 months pregnant, and didn’t want to be too tired for the events.
I’m used to arriving when the buzz of activity is already in full swing. I find myself here with mixed emotion.
So much history in these hills.
As I process all the emotions that are represented here at Ridgecrest, I choose to focus on the excitement I feel at what lies ahead. I’m thrilled with the connections I’ve made in the Hope for Wholeness network, and am humbled to be part of this new work.
God is still holy. His Word still reigns and is to be obeyed.
God is still loving and good and just and faithful.
God is still able.