Time flies so quickly, and at mid-life it seems to accelerate. It’s hard to believe I’ve already completed Encounter 3, and the first year of the CREST Leadership Certificate Program.

This Encounter, Tightening the Grip on Your Strengths, started a little different than previous Encounters. For one, spring had just arrived (pretty much the week before) and we could enjoy being outdoors, as it was an unusually long winter with an abnormal amount of snow. We also had a few spouses joining us for Encounter 3, CREST allows spouses to participate. So after a few introductions John, the facilitator, introduced what the next few days were going to look like, and then he took us outside for an activity. As we’ve gotten to know John, we’ve realized he doesn’t “play by the rules.” He likes to find a perfectly good game or activity and then do whatever he can to change the rules. He really enjoys doing it, which of course made the activity a little more challenging, especially when he changed the rules right in the middle of it! Following the activity, it was time to catch up with everyone around the campfire.

The next day had us jumping right into the meat of the Encounter as John lead us in discovering our strengths and how investing in developing skills and knowledge around our talents allows us to develop our talents into strengths. Following this, we dealt with engagement and the four pillars of energy management: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Verdeen, our other facilitator and a Registered Nurse, is an authority and a walking testament to how you can change your engagement by living out energy management.

The following day was a very different day compared to all the others we’ve had so far at CREST. It was a day designed more around reflection. It was a day to dream and to synthesize our year. First, there was dreaming, and one of the main reasons why spouses (or another family member) are encouraged to attend. It was an opportunity to dream again. At mid-life our dreams from when we were younger have likely had something happen to them, whether it’s just forgotten through busyness, steeped in failure, or lost hope. We had much of the morning to reflect on the dreams we have and then sharing them with the group. What was interesting was what God was birthing in each person. Already by this time, several of us have had a work-related transition, and others were starting to realize what God may be asking them to do in their second half.

After sharing our dreams, the rest of the day was for us to reflect and synthesize our first year, pulling together our outcomes and take-a-ways from each module. Each of us then had the opportunity to share from each Encounter what was the most impacting. I found this “Synthesis,” and the sharing really interesting as various parts of the program impacted people differently. It was also an opportunity to remember parts of the Encounters that may have been forgotten and I couldn’t help but write down at least one thing in my notes from each of my classmates.

As the Encounter came to a close, I watched everyone leave as I was staying longer at King’s Fold. There was a sense of connection to these people. We’ve been doing life together and sharing with each other things that don’t typically get talked about with people you see every day. With all of them gone, it was exceptionally quiet. Between the sharing, laughter, and the fun of staying up late playing games, we connected. Now it will be several months before seeing them again with the summer being our longest break before the next Encounter, and I start wondering how we can find ways to continue to develop the connection over this long break.