(This is the last in a series of posts recounting my experience at Story Chicago. Read Part I here, Part II here and Part III here, Part IV here, Part V here.)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week-long Story recap as much as I have writing it!
Ok, I know that’s a lot to ask. But, thank you for indulging me.
In this final post I thought I’d share a few of the odds and ends that didn’t make it into the other posts, but still made an impact on me. Like, one of things that was so fun about Story was meeting/seeing online friends in-person. My friend Sonny, who I first met in Nashville at Donald Miller’s Storyline conference, greeted me with a big hug when I saw him. He loves hugs. I love hugs. We work well together. I also got to meet Tony and Katie Alicea. Two amazing people with hearts as big and as beautiful as their smiles.
At lunch on Thursday, I tagged along with Sonny and a small group of people. At one point I realized that Rachel Held Evans was sitting two spots away from me. “Whoa…cool,” I thought to myself. (Rachel’s presentation was awesome, by the way. You should totally buy her book coming out soon.)
And then this guy, Matthew, introduced himself. He seemed like a good guy who liked to talk. And he did it well. Then, as we got up to walk back to the conference, it hit me. “Is that Mathew Paul Turner?” I asked Sonny sheepishly. He answered in the affirmative. Then I felt stupid. At least I wasn’t star-struck, I suppose. (Let’s talk sooner than later, Matthew! hehe)
At one point on Thursday I was talking to Ben about how I’d like to speak more, especially to kids, and he said, “You should go talk to Kyle. He speaks to youth professionally and I know he’d love to share his experience and help you however he could.” So, being an introvert, I worked-up the courage to go start a conversation with a stranger, approached the table and asked, “Is one of you Kelly?” They all looked at each other strangely. “Um…no, no Kelly here,” one of them answered. “Hmm, youth speaker?” I mumbled. “Ohhhh, Kyle. Yeah, he went to get something, but he’ll be back soon.” So, that went well. I ended-up going back a while later and did get to speak with Kyle Scheele and Ben was totally right. Kyle is awesome. I learned more from him in a half hour than I knew what to do with. You should checkout Kyle’s other baby, Ridiculo.us, and buy his book.
Funny story about his book. I brought it with me to read while I waited at Lou Malnati’s for dinner and when I got to chapter 2 (Everything You Know Is Wrong), the lady next to me grabbed it away from me and goes, “Everything you know is wrong? What kind of book is this?!” Mortified, her son growled, “Mom, what are you doing?!” I explained that it was a humorous book about living better stories with our lives and she gave it back. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure what I would have done if she didn’t give it back.
Now, I readily admit this next part is going to be super mean, but I’m going to do it anyway. On Friday as things were winding down, Ben Arment had some previous Dream Year participants share their stories. One of them was Ben Nockels. Ben lives in Oklahoma and two years ago started the 111project.org to help meet the needs of the foster care system in his state. Basically, the idea is to have the foster care system and faith community to work together so that no child in the entire state needs to stay in a shelter. “I believe this is an idea whose time has come,” Ben says. Let’s just say that as I watched the video and listened to Ben talk, something was happening inside me. And when I presented my experience to my wife when I got home and said, “I don’t know what this means and what we’re supposed to do with it, but here’s what happened,” she had a story that one-upped mine. I’m not going to share that part now, but I will say this: a seed has been firmly planted in our hearts and I’m terrified, yet excited to see how it grows.
111 Project from Shawn McEntyre on Vimeo.
Lastly, at the after-party there were all kinds of cool things going on. Nitrogen infused ice cream, a non-alcoholic mixed drinks bar, a keg of orange soda, amazing desserts and even a DJ. As I said good-bye to Ben and thanked him for putting together an incredible experience, he goes, “Oh, by the way…the DJ has one hand!” Um…WHAT? So, I went and timidly met Michael, gave him an LOH card and asked if I could get a little video of him for the blog. Even though he’s at least three levels of cool above me, he said yes.
Thank you all so much for reading. I hope it’s been insightful and inspiring. Thank you, also, to those that helped get me to Story. I’m forever grateful. And thanks to Ben Arment and all the speakers and performers for making a lasting impact on my life. See you next year!
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