I'm officially ready to walk out the door in a couple of hours to make the drive over to Bloomington, IL for the National Hearts at Home conference.
My bags are ready.
The last minute details are taken care of or will be shortly.
Most importantly, my heart is ready.
I wanted to post a blog about all the things I was hoping to see/learn this weekend. All the things that I knew God would show up and do.
But I can't.
I'm already so emotional. I'm already so overwhelmed with expectation.
I know God is ready to show up in a BIG way. I know that because He's already here.
I'm ready to get lost in the crowd of 6,000 other women wanting and needing a fresh outpouring of encouragement and hope. I definitely can't wait to relax, laugh, and just let the weight off my shoulders for a couple of days. More importantly, I know that God has something big to show me.
I'm confident of that.
Some years the workshops I've been assigned/chosen have focused on marriage. Some years it has been on getting through a particular rough spot in parenting. Some years it has been just about a boost of encouragement after being weary. One year, it was about finding the courage to battle through the emotions of losing Dad.
This year, it's about a bigger picture. It seems like instead of "one" focus or one "need", God has placed me in the position to absorb what I need in MANY areas.
I'm hungry with anticipation. I'm ready for an outpouring of His Holy Spirit.
I'm even ready to be broken. For that means that He can rebuild and repair in the way HE needs.
I'm thrilled to finally see Jill Savage on stage talking about the information in her incredible book, "No More Perfect Moms". These last several months of working behind the scenes on her book launch team has been something incredible for my heart. Instead of just being able to promote her book and try to get it in the hands of as many moms as possible, it changed me instead.
I do admit....
I'm a wee bit nervous. OK----- a LOT nervous. I like to blend in the crowd. As an introvert, I just want to soak in and be alone. I already know that God is pushing me out of that box more than I'm used to.
I also am nervous because I know He's going to challenge me in ways that I'm not sure I'm ready for. It's like postponing reading a book because you know it's going to challenge the way you think about things. Kevin and I have been praying specifically about some direction we need to go as a family, a couple, and as individuals. We've been praying for this weekend to be a time that God can reach in and talk to me so that He can actually be heard above all the craziness of normal life.
I'm also just speechless with gratitude. This is the VERY first year that I am attending without guilt or concern about the cost of registration, hotel, spending money, etc.. I actually can spend some time shopping with a little money in my pocket at the expo. The first several years, we couldn't justify spending the money to attend and my heart ached. That next year, Kev bought me the conference to go as a Mother's Day present, but we couldn't afford the full conference. I finally was able to go in person other years, but it took some major planning and saving. At times, I felt broken watching women spend money left and right....and I couldn't. We would even drive back and forth because we couldn't afford the hotel. I was so thankful that he would take the time off work to drive us back and forth and spend time with the kids. It was a BLESSING beyond words to attend, but it was a sacrifice of something else to do so. This year, because of the gift of being able to provide childcare and having focused intently on paying off debt the past couple of years, there is NO guilt or regret in spending the money to make it a fun weekend for all of us. God provided! I'm thankful and appreciative. Kev and the kids have a fun weekend planned as well. They will get some incredible family time while my heart is getting what it needs!
I've heard it often, and continue to do so, that I'm crazy for loving being home with my kids, homeschooling, and then taking on extra little ones to love on part time and full time. We prayed consistently for months before making that decision. I wasn't for sure if I could handle the responsibilities of my own and home education requirements AND then to add more! However, God put a peace in my heart and confirmed constantly that this WAS the path He chose for us. The results: He has provided abundant, overflowing joy. Energy. (Now, don't get me wrong....many days ARE FAR from perfect and exhausting!) Laughter. Grace. Above all, focus and accountability has created such a family dynamic that we are happier, healthier, and more connected than we've ever been before. As a matter of fact, today my youngest completed his last regular assignment for 1st grade. Just a couple of weeks ago, my oldest completed her 10th grade year. My middle son will finish in 10-12 days. This is the FIRST year that we've completed the year without having to go well into summer AND we've finished VERY early. All I can say to that is that God knew what He was doing. He equipped us all with what we needed and continues to do so! This mom is thankful.
This mom is ready to see what He has waiting for us! It may not be what I "think". It may not be what I "want". It may not be what is "comfortable".
I do know it will be what is RIGHT.
Ready to go soak in some encouragement. Ready to listen to His voice. Ready to respond to that voice!
I'm just ready....
(And for those of you that know me well----YES----I did have to get a new notebook/binder just so I can take LOTS of notes. Yes, I did buy some more of my favorite pens (FRIXION pens make me smile because I can erase and not get upset when my "perfect" page has scribbles!) . Of course my binder and bag are damask. Yes, my need for organization did overtake: I did color code my paper according to workshop. Yes....I packed an extra pack of tissues. Yes, I do have back-up pens in my Bible case for JUST in case. Yes, you can officially laugh at me! Though SOME of you get it, others of you think I'm crazy! :) That's ok! )