The air in Tampa today was sticky hot but a blazing sun broke through and vanquished the waves of tropical rain sheets that dampened the streets the and travel ambitions of the RNC conventioneers.
My visit to the convention that will formally nominate Governor Mitt Romney as the GOP presidential candidate was short and very productive. The highlight for me at political events has never been the pomp, circumstance or entertainment. The value lies in the people who are there and the relationships I have been blessed to have over the years and the new friendships as they grow.
In a short time period I was able to connect with old friends like Saul Anuzis, the former Michigan GOP chairman and committeeman. Saul set me up with credentials after the “Abbott & Costello” routine I had to go through to get through the security perimeter so I could get the pass to get through the security perimeter.
Seeing former colleagues like Senators Robertson and Kowall and Representatives Haveman, Knollenberg, Kowall, Opsommer, and others was a blast. The stories contained so much drama and similarities to the disputes while I served in the legislature and at the same time were fresh and passionately described.
At national conventions there are some cool things that happen. One of them is the fact that everyone there is a “big shot” by name or title, so the national figures are relegated to the same lines and facilities as the attendees. Seeing Dan Rather, Senators Mitch McConnell & McCain, Frank Lutz and others offered chances for good conversation.
The one part of the convention I did not expect and certainly welcomed was the chance to talk about what I am now doing for a living. It did not occur to me to take the initiative to announce things and I guess I have just been focused on the work. My discussions with former Gov. John Engler, Congressman Bill Huizenga and Attorney General Bill Schuette made me understand that letting my friends back home know what is going on is important because they seem very interested in helping to learn more about the work of Justice Fellowship.
For my friends that may stumble upon this blog entry from my Facebook post, I have had the blessing of being asked to take the post of acting leader for Justice Fellowship nationally as our President, Pat Nolan is taking leave to focus on healing from an illness. Pat is a wonderful man, extremely talented and knows more on the subject of criminal justice than I could learn in twenty years. He is missed and I hope you will keep him in your prayers.
Being called on to serve in this capacity and with such a well respected national organization is humbling. In the past I would consider this differently than I do today. Seeing the reaction of my old acquiantances led me to the quick conclusion that I in fact have nothing to be proud of and instead have everything to be thankful for in the One who so fantastically is making use of me today.
How cool is that?
I guess in reflection over the last 24 hours the sense of purpose I have spent a life looking for set in fully. Not a sense of purpose defined by the job I have now but rather a purpose to serve in manner beyond my own will and designs that has given me such passion and truly extraordinary ways to be of use to others.
As I fly home I am thinking about how nice it will be to spend a the next week without travel. My thoughts are also on what will come of the remainder of RNC Convention. I had the privilege of Gov. Romney asking for my help several years ago in a cause for serving our country. I was glad to help him then and over the years until I began working in a nonpartisan job. I ran in to Mitt’s niece’s husband at the airport before I flew out and was again reminded of how humble and genuine the entire extended Romney can be.
For my friends who might wonder why I am flying home before the speeches, I have two good reasons. The first is I have a horrible head cold and miss my family. The second is- just like the Superbowl- some things are just as good on TV!