There were stage curtains and beaming lights and microphone systems, almost overwhelming me as I stepped backstage at the 2015 Hearts at Home National Conference two weeks ago.
But most of all, there was prayer.
As the countdown began for the morning’s beginning and the attendees settled excitedly into their seats in the auditorium, the small group of the conference planners and the main session speakers quietly gathered together in the back, held hands in a circle, and gave everything to God. It was so, so powerful.
And it gave me the peace I needed to step onto a stage in front of thousands of fellow moms.
I spoke for close to 3 minutes (the perfect length for public speaking in my personal opinion!) and it was a version of this story.
“We all have our own expectations and dreams, and many times, that may not turn out like we have planned. But maybe we just need to step back a little to see things for the beauty that they DO offer. When we can see the beautiful in the unexpected and the different, that is when we learn to find joy and celebration in what IS, instead of grieving what isn’t.”
(Side note: I’m such a bad judge of crowd numbers. I told someone after the main session “I think I just talked to about 500 people.” Later, they were going over the number of attendees – which was much, much higher than 500. I looked up the auditorium capacity… 3,400. Maybe it’s good I didn’t know that )
I felt absolutely, completely out of my league – following up my speech after the KEYNOTE speaker Dr. Gary Chapman. He’s the author of the 5 Love Languages books, which I coincidentally just read a couple of months ago (and LOVED) and he was just phenomenal.
But all fear and intimidation aside – it was amazing. So very humbled by such an incredible opportunity. This is the other mom I spoke with – Amy Logan. She’s fantastic, and her book A Girl with a Cape is wonderful! It tells about a little girl who makes a huge difference in the world simply with her kind words and caring actions…and how we all have that capability within us as well.
A Girl with a Cape comes with this adorable scarf (because the girl in the book wears her mother’s scarf as a cape!)… and Brenna immediately claimed it for herself.
On Friday, I got to attend many of the breakout sessions and spend a lot of time with my cousins, who also came.
I think a lot of moms come home from the conference with a renewed sense of purpose, less mom guilt, etc. For me, this year, I realized what a pushover I have become. Too often, I let the kids dictate our days instead of being the authority, even down to picking the music in the car. Dr. Kathy Koch’s breakout session about motivating kids was such an eye-opener for me, and when she emphasized “whining is disrespectful and manipulative and should not be tolerated,” I felt like she was talking directly to me. No more whining. We’re working on it over here
Dr. Kathy also said “stop with all of the rewards systems! Kids need to learn how to motivate themselves, how to want to work toward something because of intrinsic motivation.” Motivation is starting to be a battle in our house, and it was nice to hear that affirmation too, to strive to teach plain obedience and the value of hard work.
Another exciting event for the weekend was that my agent Blythe flew all the way from Colorado to attend on Saturday with me! We had some meetings, did some shopping in the vendors’ area and attended some of the speaker sessions – and it was such an encouragement to have her support!In the mornings before my speech, I prayer for composure. There was one song in particular that the worship band played that made me cry every time, and sometimes I tear up when I talk about our family – I did not want to lose it on the main stage!
It’s hard to believe that in three years, God has lifted us up from a tiny NICU pod with our critically sick daughter clinging to life and led us to step out onto platform after platform to share… to share how He showed up for us and what He has changed in our hearts and in our world. How to find His amazing beauty in so many unexpected parts of our lives.
A very special thank you to Jill Savage for inviting me up on her stage, and for her daughter Anne and her team for making this an unforgettable experience.
On this beautiful Friday, let us all step back a little to see some of the hard and different things in our life for the beauty that they do offer…
To receive weekly blog updates, subscribe to my email list.