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Friday, March 4, 2016

Conference Recap -- Day 2!

My heart is overflowing...tears of absolute gratitude to God, my Father for blessing me with an incredible day and showing me countless experiences of true, genuine love that my brothers and sisters-in-Christ share for each other. I'm a poor, poor sinner, constantly in need of God's grace and mercy....and He's pouring all these blessings to ME?!? I cannot fathom God's love and oh! If only....if only I can show this kind of love to others. Right now, I'm totally feeling St. Peter's idea during the Transfiguration "let's pitch tents, Jesus! And stay up here forever!" But deep down, I know I'll have to return to my ordinary life in Naperville in just a few days! Aww! But God has me there for a reason. Fortunately I still have PLENTY of excitement left in these final 3 days. Anyways....back to today...Friday!

  • Surprise, surprise! I overslept for the morning Mass, oops! But I had a nice shower and got myself ready for the day, which began with a talk by Jimmy Akin. In all honesty, it was quite informative, but a bit on the dry side since it was about the historicity of divorce, and most of the content I already knew. 
  • During the break after his talk, I met a girl my age sitting in front of me and it turns out not only did we attend the same college, but graduated the same year as each other!! And we're just now meeting all the way out in San Diego! Small, small world! 
  • Next was Dr. Roebuck's talk about the sociology behind marriage, divorce, IVF, etc. Again, a lot of stats and stuff I pretty much already knew, but decent enough talk. 
  • In between talks, I got to meet Timmerie Millington who co-hosts my other favorite radio show, Hearts & Minds with Trent Horn and I gushed about how truly blessed she is to be able to chat with Trent on a weekly basis about all things Catholic/pro-life! 
  • For the first time, CatholicAnswers offered a separate lunch session just for young adults featuring my fave Trent Horn as well as the newest apologist from Cajun Land, Karlo Broussard. They discussed faith & science as well as answering atheism (Trent's speciality). Huge huge blessing right there to have small group time with those two!
  • Then I got a double dose of Trent Horn since he gave a talk right after lunch about the relational & conjugal views of marriage. Love love love him! 
  • Then, what I've been most excited about, the LIVE TAPING OF CATHOLIC ANSWERS LIVE!!! And yes, I managed to get myself a front row seat and more or less lost my voice from my manic screaming lol I even got to ask a question at the end of the 2nd hour and (soberly) admitted to a million-person audience that I'm a CatholicAnswers-aholic...Patrick promised to get me into a 12-step program lol oh how wondrous it was to get to SEE my beloved radio show produced right before my eyes! *spazztime* 
  • The final activity of the day was an appetizers and drinks mixer where I chatted with a few people who complimented me on my enthusiasm. I got to have a heartfelt chat with Rose Sweet, who's been a guest on CatholicAnswers Live several times, then I bantered around with Patrick Coffin and got to meet Chris Check (the president) as well as Karl Keating (the FOUNDER) wow wow wow!!!
  • Throughout the day, my now-good-friend and head of the marketing department, Jon Sorenson helped me get all my CA swag autographed (apologies to Trent Horn who probably now has carpal tunnel thanks to me lol)
Ultimately, the thing that chokes me up and amazes me most is that just yesterday, I was on a plane wondering what it would be like to encounter my beloved CA apologists in person. I'm not as insecure as I used to be as a teen, but my confidence is still lacking...but now, I'm on a casual first name, bantering basis with all these people. Not that I'm trying to put them on pedestals, but I've had such a deep admiration/appreciation of them from afar. I was scared that maybe they wouldn't be as genuine in real life...but they are the real deal! God is so so good!


Trent Horn's large group talk!

Now from San Diego....CATHOLIC ANSWERS LIVE!


Jimmy Akin

Trent Horn's small group young adult talk

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Catholic Answers Conference Recap -- Day 1

WHOOOOO!!!!! What a day!!!! I'm so exhausted yet so exhilarated! Let's start at the very beginning (someone once said that's a very good place to start) And I'm doing this bullet point style because I'm way too excited to put together coherent paragraphs.

  • Plane ride was awesome! I enjoyed some white wine, honey roasted peanuts, and watched The Sound of Music and then listened to Phantom Planet's song, "California here we come" (theme song of my once-favorite-show-now-I-can't-fathom-how-I-watched-it, The OC). SO excited to finally be in California for the first ever!
  • Got my overpacked suitcase from baggage, found the free shuttle to the hotel and was super relieved to this time check in to my room and have time to get situated BEFORE Conference registration (when I went to the FOCUS Conferences in college, it was stand in a loooong registration line with all my luggage then finally get to my room with only a few minutes before the first talk)
    • Listened to both hours of CatholicAnswers Live while getting situated (what's with it being on at 3 PM here in Cali?? I'm sooo used to it being 5-7 in Chicago yay time zones!)
  • Usual-Margo was exhausted and wanted to stay in the super comfy bed plus I had a dumb headache but I pushed myself to go downstairs and get myself registered
    • Met Jon Sorenson (Marketing director) in person; he's the staff member I've gotten to know best over facebook and he's a super cool, chill guy! He showed me the "Vendor/Margo-going-broke-too-much-awesome-stuff" room and I came face to face with Dr. Ray Guarendi; first instance of many star-struck encounters; bought his book, "When Faith Causes Family Friction" and he signed it yay!
  • I was starving so I went to find someplace to eat, ended up at some sports bar place, got a Gilmore Girls inspired drink (one of Lorelai's usual Friday Night dinners -- Martini with a twist) and a bacon-chicken sandwich
    • I totally had a Holy Spirit encounter, where the mid-age guy I was sitting next to asked me what brought me to San Diego so of course that led into discussing Catholicism, turns out he's a fallen away Catholic who never really had any of the reasonings behind the teachings explained (it was just a bunch of rules to him) so I told him about Catholic Answers as well as shared part of my testimony. Praise God! The funniest part was that Trent Horn was sitting at a table nearby with his in-laws and yes, at first I was sooo tempted to call him over to "help me" then I decided to be a grown-up and trust the Holy Spirit to work through me
  • Back to the main ballroom for the Evening talks...I got a seat in the 2nd row....and got spotted by THE Patrick Coffin who was like "Margo....it's you...I'm not ready for this!" And I dished it right back "Too bad! I'm here!" and I got a nice hug from him
  • Before the talks started, Pat did some announcements and some weird magic trick thing (cuz he likes to show off his "super cool magician tricks")
    • Oh yeah, one of the announcements was for two award winners: one for the very first person to sign up for the Conference and then the other was for some crazy-obsessed-fan girl who pressed the "like/love/haha" button on Facebook 10 million times for CatholicAnswers and has been slightly excited for this Conference...no idea who that girl was ;-) 
    • When Patrick called me up to the stage he asked all the single guys to stand up (there was like 2 or 3 and I could barely see them...that wasn't exactly how I thought things would wind up, but whatever)
  • Okay....Dr. Ray Guarendi followed by Fr. Larry Richards = TOO MUCH ENTHUSIASM/ENERGY/HILARITY (especially when they both teased each other relentlessly during their talks) No videos cuz my phone was dying but CatholicAnswers will eventually post the Conference talks online
  • Back to the vendor room where I finally got my selfies with my faves Patrick & Trent
  • Now I'm about to pass out
Thank You, Jesus, for an absolutely epic first day!! Let's see what You've got planned for the rest of this adventure!
In the words of Patrick Coffin - "BE A SAINT...WHAT ELSE IS THERE???"

THE man Patrick Coffin

Trent Horn
Goody basket for my Facebook stalking!

Dr. Ray Guarendi