Although I have not had time to process all that I took in and took away from my weekend at the Raising Generations Conference, one thing is certain: I am equipped to better face the challenges that come my way.
I know that to be true since life "slapped me in the face" upon my return. What once would have stolen my joy and rendered me unable to cope is now mere trials to face and conquer. I may drift with the waves and the rough waters may toss me about, but I will not be pulled under. I will not sink beneath them.
I drove home Saturday evening excited to see my family and anticipating my warm welcome and loving embraces. I walked in the back door and dropped my bags. No welcoming committee-not even the pets. Hello!?! Did anyone know I was home? Did anyone care?
As I made my way through the house and up the creaky, old stairs, there he was. The man I love, in the middle of a work zone, strategically placing tiles on the bathroom floor. You see, he didn't greet me at the back door because he was busy doing a labor of love for me, for our family and for our little fixer-upper home. At the moment, I was frustrated. Couldn't he have taken a moment to come welcome me? And, come to think of it, it had been a while since I had encountered a ladies' room and we have this ONE bathroom in our house. Ahem. Although this project was what I had asked for, I was inconvenienced and irritated.
Reflecting on that moment, I see that it wasn't at all about the construction zone of my bathroom. It's about the construction zone of my heart. I needed to get over myself. I needed to look past the mess and see the beautiful new sink and floor tiles that my husband was working so hard to install. I needed an attitude of gratitude.
A couple hours later found me talking and giggling with that same man and our beautiful daughter over dinner at our favorite local restaurant and a great night of sleep in my own bed. (I love a getaway but there's just something about your own bed, yes?)
Then came Sunday: my day of rest-a day to catch my breath before the start of a new work week and an opportunity to put my new found "mothering knowledge" to use. But, Sunday didn't go according to MY plan either. I once again, left my husband and daughter home without me.
This time I found myself sitting in a stiff chair in a small room of the Emergency Department gazing simultaneously at the numbers on the monitor and my father lying in the bed. I won't go into great detail, but I'll leave you with this: it's just a minor setback in some ongoing health issues and he'll be alright; watching your parents age is simply no fun; enjoy them and love them while they're here.
Upon my return home, I enjoyed dinner prepared by that hard-working husband of mine, sunk into the sofa nestled under my fuzzy blanket and dozed off. A little rest would surely make everything better. Or would it? You see, upon awakening, I was overcome by a wave of nausea. Yes...I was falling victim to the dreaded stomach bug! Again, I'll spare the gruesome details.(To all the other conference moms who were affected-I feel your pain and am praying for your recoveries.)
The trials I was facing left me exhausted, but not defeated! You see, as Brooke McGlothlin & Stacey Thacker stated in their session on Saturday, hope is a choice. As I sat in the quiet of my empty house during my sick day from work on Monday, rather than cursing my illness and my troubles, I chose to hope. I chose to believe that perhaps there was a message in all of this.
That stressed-out, pre-conference girl who felt like she was at the end of her rope and that is was fraying as she tossed clothing straight from the dryer to her suitcase at the last minute and was short with her child just moments before departing...that girl who so desperately needed to escape reality...that girl who was reaching out for hope but finding it just too far away...she was being called to the stillness to rest, to be renewed and to stretch just a little more to finally grasp tight to hope.
In between the chaos of life before and after the conference, was an amazing, fun-filled getaway with some great women and without the worries of everyday life (i.e. work and home responsibilities). I wish I had more photographic documentation, but aside from a few photos and a little Facebook surfing from my hotel bed Friday night, I tried my best to "unplug and recharge" and not be as attached to my smartphone as I usually am.
Highlights of my little getaway include:
Walking into a shoe store on Market St. and finding 1 pair of perfect, tall, black boots...in MY size...ON CLEARANCE. Thus ending the 2 year search for new boots.
Spending girl time with a good friend.
Proclaiming ourselves to be the The Best Mom(s) ever!
May I remember in the moments that I feel like a failure that I AM the best mom ever because He has chosen me to mother my precious girl and will equip me and guide me to do just that (even - and especially - through these teenage years.)
Seeing old friends and meeting a few new friends...purchasing some books and winning some books...laughing, learning and SO MUCH MORE!
As the design on my conference swag bag states, "Life is a Journey."
I can't wait to see where the rest of my journey takes me!