Last week, I posted what I learned at Orphan Summit in May. So if you're looking for something deep, thoughtful and encouraging, I suggest you check out my recap of Francis Chan's keynote or my summary of Corey's panel on transracial adoption.
Because today? Girl just wants to have fun. I have to share the bits and pieces of my trip to Southern California, because honestly, there was so much more to my visit than information.
First, have you ever been to Saddleback Church? It graciously hosted Orphan Summit this year. (Summit is at a different host church every year, did you know that? Next year, it will be in Nashville at Brentwood Baptist.) I was super impressed with Saddleback's volunteer staff. They were warm, helpful and personal. I think they would surprised many a megachurch critic with their authenticity.
And Saddleback's campus? Oh my. It is something to behold.
That is the youth building. It has a waterfall. (Say it with me: "Only in Southern California.")
Actually, water features are abundant on the campus, something which pleased my little water-loving heart to no end.
A brook running through the grounds.
A waterfall pouring down the stairs that lead up to the main sanctuary.
And the landscaping, which was as colorful and abundant as I remember it being in Southern California.
All this outdoor decor makes double sense when you consider how much of the church's space is open air. For example, the Summit's exhibit "hall" was in the courtyard commons. Meals were eaten outside. Even a few sessions were outside. (Hola fellow Summit bloggers!)
I don't have a great shot of the main auditorium, which wasn't as large as I anticipated.
But maybe I was just fooled by all the natural light? Two walls are made up of windows. I loved that.
Because Southern California used to be our home - and in many ways, it still feels like home, a fact Corey and I discussed endlessly between sessions - I was also able to sneak in a few visits with friends.
I already told you I took the train to San Diego our first day in Orange County, so I could see my brother and niece and nephew. But I didn't get to show you pictures, which is a tragedy.
That's my nephew. He's four, and we had so much fun crashing cars down hallways and taking goofy pictures of ourselves on my phone.
And that's my niece, who turns three today. It's not a great picture, because like most two-year-olds, she's a blur of activity. But oh my word. She's a beauty. This was only the second time I've gotten to spend time with her, which breaks my heart. Sometimes it sucks to have family spread out across the country.
On my last day in California, I met up with two bloggers who've become close friends - Laura from Hollywood Housewife and Jen from Blah Blah Blahger. My request of them was that they show me the real Los Angeles, a city I barely visited during our decade of SoCal living, despite being just down the 5.
And did they ever meet my expectations. Jen picked me up at my hotel in Irvine and drove me to Los Angeles. We talked nonstop and she drove like a true Southern Californian, which made me want to weep with kinship. (How long must I endure your slow drivers, Minnesota? How long?) We met up with Laura and she drove us all over Hollywood while regaling me with stories. Then she took us to brunch at Eveleigh, on Sunset, which was warm, chic, friendly and glamorous all at once, classic Los Angeles.
I had a meal I will request in heaven.
Avocado toast topped with espelette pepper (Jen and Laura turned their noses at this, which was awesome because more for me), boiled eggs gribiche and frozen yogurt with granola and strawberries so ripe I can still smell them. I can't tell you about that drink, because I'd have to kill you. Sorry.
I think we sat in our booth and talked without stopping to catch a breath for at least two hours, if not three. Then we walked down Sunset, pretending to shop, but really, we continued to talk without stopping to catch a breath.
I love those girls. It was the best day.
Corey picked me up after his Christian Alliance for Orphans board meetings, and we drove through the heart of Los Angeles in a mad dash to get to LAX on time. We made it. Barely.
And as we flew home, I watched the super moon rise over the Rockies.
All in all, not a bad trip.
Let's do it again.