Warm Beach events...

Last week was the culmination of months of meetings, of planning, for the annual conference of the our national church body (the AFLC). Sometime last fall, our pastor had emailed me and asked me to consider taking on the "decor" for several events at the conference, to be held at the Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center. After praying about this "opportunity," and recruiting a couple of friends to help me, I said yes.

Since most of the churches in our national association are located in the Midwest, the annual conference is rarely help out here on the West coast. In speaking with my pastor, (who is a very creative guy by the way!), we decided the decor should reflect the rustic beauty of the Northwest in some way. My mind immediately went to my husband and his saw mill...rustic log rounds to highlight our Evergreen state of Washington, and things from the sea to showcase our beaches and beautiful Puget Sound. Pastor Mark volunteered to take care of the banner needed for the main conference hall, with the theme, "A Watchman."

 Pastor Mark's artistic banner...(with Pastor Steve Snipstead speaking, photo by Ruth Gunderson).

Pastor Mark's artistic banner...(with Pastor Steve Snipstead speaking, photo by Ruth Gunderson).

I was responsible to add "decor" to the main stage, a dinner event for Rekindle the Fire (evangelism), the Main dining room, a women's luncheon sponsored by the WMF (Women's Missionary Federation), and a Pastor and wives banquet. My budget was limited so I knew I had to keep the decorations fairly simple, make several things, and beg/borrow things we needed from friends!

For the main stage, I asked my husband to make four pine planters with "live edge", and then I white washed them. We found some birch branches in Plain and I ordered white lights with clear strands (lights.com)...very simple, but they gave the stage a little texture and color.

For the Rekindle the Fire dinner event, I had really wanted to do something with candles, but candles were not allowed due to fire codes, so I came up with using sticks to depict a miniature campfire....again, pretty simple.

The dining room overlooks the Puget Sound so I wanted to do something that reflected the beach. I wanted to use old wine/sparkling water bottles wrapped in twine for vases, with shells glued on them. After trying several types of glue and wrapping the twine by hand, I resorted to a glue gun, still doing each one by hand...a long process. My husband, aka "MacGuiver," came up with a much better system! He grabbed his screw gun, stuck a nail in the end and plunged it into the cork at the end of the bottle, and as I squirted the hot glue on, he kept the bottle revolving with the screw gun and guiding the twine onto the bottles...about 5 minutes a bottle verses 15-20 minutes a bottle! I should have taken a little video for YouTube! My son also helped out and we managed to get them all in done in a couple sessions. 

My photo is not that great... in the rush to get everything set up with help from friends, I only had my iphone picture. By the next day, the alstroemeria blossoms (a type of lily which is the best and longest lasting cut flower!) were open and perked up so you will just have to imagine that...sigh. Again, no candle flames allowed so we filled the IKEA lanterns with shells. 

My friend, Lois, had recruited me to sing in a trio with her and our friend, Lori, for the Women's day at the conference. Arriving at Warm Beach, I caught part of the opening devotional by Debbie Gyles, a missionary to Ecuador and Mexico. She spoke of "divine appointments," when God brings a certain person into your life for a specific purpose...or...when you are used by God to be a "divine appointment" for someone else. She reminded us that in order for this to happen, we need to be in tune with God's spirit...listening, and acting when He calls us.

Another speaker that so touched me was Wendy Westlake, an artist. As a video played showing her painting a watercolor of flowers with contrasting lights and darks, she read from Ephesians, where Paul contrasts the things of darkness to living in the light. She spoke of the darkness being necessary sometimes, to draw us into the light. If you are interested in seeing her art work, you can look here and here. I love her work!

And yes, here is our trio, singing away...

 Lois, Gracia, and Lori...(Ruth Gunderson photo)

Lois, Gracia, and Lori...(Ruth Gunderson photo)

Lois did a wonderful job, incorporating the theme, "Redeeming the Time," with her table centerpieces for the WMF Luncheon. Using old books and a variety of teapots from her own collection and friends, little clocks from IKEA, and flowers from the Everett Farmer's Market...the result was so lovely.

 WMF Luncheon centerpiece...

WMF Luncheon centerpiece...

I somehow missed taking photos of the Pastor and Wives Banquet. I simply used blue Ball jars, wrapped with a little twine, and baby's breath on log rounds. 

It was a long week...lots of 40 minute trips back and forth to Warm Beach...setting up and taking down...slivers in my hands from log rounds (!), ...but it was a fulfilling week too. I so enjoyed visiting with several former pastors and intern pastors we have had over the years. I'm so thankful for friends who helped me out, like Lois (and her extended family), Pam, and Lori. As the conference drew to a close, I was reminded of the verse from Isaiah 52:7, 

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" 

 Sunset at Warm Beach...(Ruth Gunderson photo)

Sunset at Warm Beach...(Ruth Gunderson photo)

Let's determine to encourage and uphold in prayer our pastors who faithfully bring the good news to us and serve our congregations in so many ways. In His Keeping, Gracia