That’s more or less how I am feeling about this year’s Legacy Grandparenting Summit, which just took place in Birmingham, Alabama. I am the conference director and to use another food metaphor, you don’t really want to know how the sausage got made with this one. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
Our conference theme was wrapped around the idea of 20/20 vision since it was going to be held in September of 2020, but you know what happened in 2020. Reluctantly but optimistically we postponed the conference to March of 2021. We also decided to make some changes in the program to accommodate live-streaming the conference during the daytime hours only. I had to essentially re-book our speakers and talent, and un-book a few as well. But as the pandemic worsened during the winter months, we were forced to postpone the conference a second time. We chose a date in October of 2021, hoping that because of the availability of the vaccine, the pandemic would be behind us by then.
The pandemic was still with us in October, but the numbers had been falling for several months. We went ahead with the conference even though many people were still skittish about traveling and attending inside events with a lot of other people. That would include me. I was very concerned, even though I had been vaccinated. I really didn’t want to travel to Birmingham and bring back a souvenir in the form of a positive Covid test.
Our original goal of 15,000 attendees was not realized but with a last-minute surge in registrations, we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 who came to more than 100 remote locations across the country. The 500 or so who attended in Birmingham provided a responsive audience for our speakers and talent.
In the days leading up to the conference, the details seemed overwhelming at times (I am not a detail person) but I did the best I could. My biggest worries had to do timing and technology. Due to the limitations we had on time and the need for a lot more digital media, I was afraid things would come unraveled rather quickly.
But as the conference unfolded, things went very smoothly. Thanks to a very skilled and easy-going tech crew at the host church (Shades Mountain Baptist), the first day went without a hitch. And then the second as well. All of our speakers were excellent and none went overtime (at least not much). Our musical talent (Fernando Ortega, Scott Wesley Brown and the Isaacs) were just the right touch. And we had some good laughs with David Pendleton and Ken Davis. Some said this was the best Legacy Grandparenting Summit so far (this was our fourth.)
Someone commented to me that each speaker, each element of the program seemed to build on the other, resulting in a very powerful overall experience. “Did you plan it that way?” he asked. It was all I could do to keep from laughing. If he only knew. From speakers who backed out because of the postponements to last-minute changes in the program to a clueless conference director (me), this thing could have easily been a colossal disaster. It was then I realized that God had gifted us with lemonade. What could have been a bitter disappointment turned into a very sweet outcome and (I trust) a great blessing to a lot of grandparents all over the country. There was no way I could take credit. It was all God’s doing. To him be the glory.