This picture itself isn't anything too special, but it brings back wonderful memories that inspire me. It was taken almost exactly 2 years ago at the Annual GEMS Leaders Conference in Asheville, North Carolina (this coming Fri-Sun is this year's conference in Minnesota, but we're not making the trip). I had just gotten to the top of a hiking trail with about 30 other GEMS leaders. It was a unique hike because while we were on the trail, we were not allowed to talk to each other. We all hiked in silence, thinking our own thoughts and praying our own prayers. It was a great experience -- being surrounded by others yet being alone in my thoughts. I could stop whenever I wanted to look out over the hills and think about the vastness of God.
The rest of the conference had been tough for me. I was really hoping to experience a "spiritual high" like I had at other conferences I'd been to during high school. I never got there, and it was disappointing. I tried not to desire it, but the feelings came anyway.
During this hike I learned to appreciate God in the simple things. The hike didn't give me the "high" I wanted, but when I got to the top I felt refreshed. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I'd learned that experiencing God didn't have to involve that high feeling. And that's encouraging and inspiring to me now -- I don't have to go searching for God; He can meet me in the simple things.
And of course this picture reminds me of GEMS, and right now I'm getting really excited for leading our group this fall. :)