This past weekend I was very blessed to have attended the Hearts at Home conference in Normal, IL, which -if you're not familiar-is a conference for moms. New moms, old moms, moms with one child, moms with 19 children, moms with tattoos, moms-to-be, moms who have outside jobs, moms who stay home, and every mom in between. This is the fourth time I've attended this conference, and each year when it comes time to register I always wonder if I really need to go..to spend the money...to take a weekend away from my family, etc. Do you know the feeling of not knowing you needed something until you had it? Well, that is exactly what I experience as soon as I sit down on Friday night in that huge auditorium with 5,000 other women - entertained, uplifted, and encouraged by great speakers, comedians, and musicians.....all there with the purpose of affirming the job of motherhood. I suddenly realize how much I need to be there. But I'll tell you what my absolute favorite part of the whole thing is: When all of those 5,000 women-all mothers with struggles and joys and heartaches and stories of their own- lift their voices to worship God. It is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world, and I weep every time. I do believe it's a taste of what heaven will be like.
In addition to these huge sessions, you get to choose from many, many workshops to attend...all with different topics...and you can choose to pack in as many as you can or take it easy and attend just a few. The first year, I packed 'em in and picked all workshops that I thought would "fix" various issues.....how to deal with a strong-willed child, how to have a perfectly behaved child in five easy steps, how to have a deeper spiritual walk, how to be a perfect wife, how to organize your home.....are you getting the theme here??? HOW TO...in FIVE EASY STEPS!! Of course those weren't the actual names of the workshops, but that was pretty much what I was hoping to get out of it. So I came home from the conference to my loving husband and proceeded to, in GREAT detail, tell him everything I learned from every speaker and how we needed to implement all these great tips and ideas and "how-to's"....and NOW. Can you imagine his bewilderment at what I was asking him to do, and my utter disappointment that he didn't share my desperate enthusiasm?? Ahh, the clarity of hindsight. Over the years, I've learned to maybe attend ONE workshop that focused on a "problem" issue. I've learned to take the easy schedule and enjoy having an hour and a half to eat lunch....SLOWLY. I choose my favorite speakers, no matter what topic they're speaking on, because I know whatever they have to say will be encouraging and insightful and honest. And I come home rested, rejuvenated, encouraged.....ready to be a grace giver. (And I don't puke everything I experienced all over my husband within the first hour of my returning home....I actually wait until it FITS into a conversation over the course of days and weeks! I may quite possibly be becoming LESS of an emotional freak of nature! But I'm going to ask that you not hold me to that statement.)
Hearts at Home not only renews the love I have for my husband and children, but it also reminds me of the gift of having so many amazing women in my life. Women who put up with me, for starters.....who listen to me verbalize every single thought and bit of minutia that passes through my brain (I really do wish I had better control of that particular idiocy-oops, I mean idiosyncrasy), who inspire me, who encourage and challenge me, who remind me of God's truth, and who sometimes have to thump me upside the head. That they are willing to love me despite all that's messy about me is a humbling and beautiful picture of Jesus, and I am so thankful for each of them.
One of these days I'll post something short and sweet.
But it probably won't be tomorrow. Life is just too full of good blog material!! :)