I am not sure what I thought it would be... but it might be more honest to say that I had some strong ideas about what it would NOT be. For years, I had been encouraged to attend the National Hearts at Home Conference which is held annually less than two hours from my house. For years, I had politely said no and in my head pictured a small, cute little conference attended by women who were just not me. I knew I had a lot to learn about parenting but, I must admit, I felt like I had to learn it all on my own. It was a lonely place but what choice did I have?
Then, Jill Savage was booked to come and speak at the MOMs Group I have helped to run for almost 10 years. I knew that Hearts at Home was birthed from the vision God had given her to help women professionalize motherhood, but I had no idea how simply meeting her would effect my life. Jill arrived at our group with boxes of books, contagious enthusiasm and a quick smile. We chatted a bit about Mom's Groups, speaking, adoption and parenting. Her passion for Hearts at Home was clear and I knew I would have to check this conference out for myself.
It was perfect timing in my life. I had recently gone from three kids to four and I felt like the juggling of the schedules and the needs of my children was truly consuming me. I booked a couple hotel rooms and corralled three dear friends to head to Hearts for a weekend get-away. I was still unsure so while they all booked the two day option, I booked only one. I looked forward to a dinner out with friends, coffee and facials in the hotel room, but the conference? I didn't know.
I am not sure when I realized how wrong I had been but maybe it began with the multiple phone calls from my friends, already at Hearts, to me... still at home. Maybe I began to see that Hearts at Home was something that would really matter to me when I walked into an auditorium, complete with thousands of seats and a couple of balconies PACKED with women, thousands of women. Maybe I began to realized that this was something I needed when I sat down in one of those balcony seats and Sara Groves' little boys took the stage to introduce their insanely talented momma and then found tears welling up in my eyes as she sang:
"He looks like an angel when he sleeping... There's a little bit of Heaven where he lies..."
Pictures of my boys as babies came quickly to my mind and I could see their sweet, peaceful faces while they rested in their cribs... And I felt suddenly overwhelmed with nostalgia and shocked at the tears that blurred my view of the stage. Sara continued...
He looks like an angel when he's sleeping... But he looks like Charles Bronson when he cries!"
And there I was cheeks wet with tears of remembrance and then, suddenly, laughing out loud at the sight of it... the truth of it... the common truth that I shared right then and there with THOUSANDS of other women... who all were getting it, just like me.
When I talked to Mark that night, I told him that I saw every kind of mom I had ever imagined there... moms in sweats and moms dressed to the nines... moms who were quiet and moms who laughed loudly and with abandon... moms who looked like they could do it all and moms who looked like it had all been done to them. I told my husband that night that the one thing we all had in common was a tiredness that showed around our eyes. They were not something unfamiliar to me... they were me! And from them, the speakers and the moms who came to hear, I would learn and be encouraged and face the reality that is parenting for all of us.
Sometimes I think this is lonely work. Sometimes I find that I hold back what is happening in my life because I am sure no one will understand. I am grateful for a place to be reminded, gently and with great compassion, that the road is hard, that the journey does not happen as the crow flies, and that all of us will fall along the way. Sitting there that night, I suddenly realized that when that happens, I do not have to claw my way up alone. God is using the hands of thousands of women to help me find the way.
That weekend, recharged my batteries in really important ways. My challenge has been to find smaller, regular ways to do that all throughout the year. What about you? What helps you to feel a bit more ready for whatever today will hold? What do you do? Where do you go? What do you EAT? : ) Leave your comments below (I changed the settings so all can comment) and be sure to leave your name. Your comment is your entry for today!
Next post... a glimpse into the sectional that eased my weary soul...
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