I could feel the tension sink out of my muscles as just the change of pace from my daily routine brought refreshment. I love and adore my Mousekins (Mickey age 4 and Minnie 20 months), but WOW do they wear me out. Mind-numbing...really. I envisioned myself as an energetic mom that swooped up my kids and went on fun-filled adventures everyday. My reality is that sometimes I let them take baths for no reason except that they are contained in one place for an extended time and the house will not be torn asunder!
So yes, I am a firm believer in refreshment, time away and education to reach my full potential as a mother. This is the ultimate weekend for such rejuvenation. It is for all mom's with children still at home--Stay-at-home Moms, Working Moms, Blended family moms. I refer to the Hearts at Home Conference as Continuing Education for moms.
So after our van ride, checked into the hotel--okay its kind of weird to suddenly be staying in a hotel room with other ladies that you don't know all that well, but fun! Since our group of ladies is from the middle of nowhere, it was a HUGE highlight for us to dine at some great restaurants. Stop 1: Biaggis!
This has nothing to do with the conference but now that I wrote the word Biaggi's my mind is fixated on the amazing food so I just have to write it so I can go on. Fettucine with Lobster Cream Sauce, Tiramisu, Bananas Foster.... (don't judge me the fact that I mentioned two desserts--we shared!) I did have a bit of an embarrasing moment when I asked the waitress, "Excuse me, could you tell me where your restaurant is?"
I meant restroom of course.
Okay then we went for our first part of the conference called "Mom's Night Out". This was a less intense night with a "mom comedian", and incredible music. It felt good to laugh, and laugh hard and to share it with other moms.
Saturday rocked my world.
I felt stunned at the revelation and illumination that hit my heart. The first speaker Jill Savage (the founder) talked about how to use our words to build and shape our children.
affirming words--You are so special to me and I love you.
accepting words--letting our children know that their opinions and thoughts are heard and accepted by saying things like--"tell me more about that", "what a great idea!" a
appreciating words--having sincere gratitude towards our children. praising their character and good choices...
We were asked to do an honest assessment of our own lives to see how we could clean up the condition of our own hearts. Bitterness, Hurt, Resentment, Anger, Judgement, Pride, Revenge, Hate, Unforgiveness--a cluttered heart cannot receive love fully.
After that first session where several thousand moms sat together in one auditorium at the Illinois State University, we then dispersed around the campus to take the classes that we had signed up for--geared for our particular interest. (organization, marriage, spiritual, emotional health, teen issues, life after loss)
My first class was called "Fresh Brewed Life!" by author Nichole Johnson. I have many many notes scrawled from that class. But the thing that she said that really smacked me in the face was this, (paraphrased from memory)
"Your children only have one mom, you are IT! You are the face that will forever be in their mind when the word "mom" is spoken. Are you the face of love? You owe it to your families to be the face of love."
Immediately my heart broke as I thought about all the frustrated faces and annoyed eyes that I put before Mickey and Minnie. And now that I am home, I have become so aware of my expressions, my tone, my words. "The face of love"... I hope that sticks with me. I plan to order her book "Fresh Brewed Life" soon!
My favorite class was called "Growing Grateful Kids" by author Susie Larson. I barely even caught a glimpse of the speaker as I was taking notes so vigorously. I now own the cd AND her book by the same name. Here are some some of her thoughts that she taught:
"you cannot impart what you do not live" ouch. I consider myself a better teacher than a do-er. I think that is a recipe for a hypocrite. If we want our children to be grateful, the we need to have gratefulness flowing out our hearts. Here are some little tidbits:
Each day let your child hear your gratitude in simple things. (wow, God thank you that we can just turn on the faucet for running water!)
Regularly AND spontaneously ask your children what they are thankful for--keeping their antennaes perked for the blessings they have been given and acknowledging them.
Ask God to give you a heightened sense of what your children's addictions or low defenses are so that they do not get sucked into things that control them.
Take time to play: build a fort with your kids, crawl inside and ask about their dreams!
Model humilty and how to handle mistakes. Children need to see their parents do the following:
1. own and admit your offense
2. humbly ask for forgivness
3. humbly make restitution
Psalm 139-- words of wisdom for grateful and humilty for the whole family.
Pray daily for those hard to forgive.
Pray continually to rid yourself of any unforgivness.
after disciplining our children, recast a Godly vision-- example: "Mickey, you were very unkind to your friend today, but I know that with God's help that you are learning to be a good friend and to use self-control. And I know that you will learn from this experience to make better choices next time."
Also to always introduce your children and attach their positive character traits. Never say, "this is my son--he is quite the trouble-maker." Let your children hear your speak positively about them!
A huge blessing for me was that my friend Danielle met me at the conference. We used to pour our hearts out to each other at coffee shops in Fort Wayne, IN.. and now we try to get a decent phone call in--which is very hard to do with our small kids demanding our attention and turning into VNK (very naughty kids) the moment they notice we are on the phone! So not only was I enjoying new friendships, I was basking in sharing these moments with an old friend--just like old jeans--so comfortable and wonderful!
And one of the final speakers took us through the life of her oldest son and how heart-wrenching it was to release him as he joined the Marines. For some reason, the floodgates just opened here. I had tears continually flowing down my cheeks.
I am not a "crier" so this an unfamiliar feeling. I think it just HIT me that in so short of time, my children will be gone and independent. Sometimes now I feel smothered by their needs and wants, and it was so contrasted by the speakers anquish of having no contact with her son for a time after he enlisted. It made me want to cherish each snuggle, each kiss that leaves me with a line of snot, each picture lovingly made.
Oh great, NEW tears are blurring my ability to type. Not that any of you are still reading after this MARATHON of a blog post. Now I don't want you thinking that this conference is all about crying and tears. These speakers are downright funny. so funny. In fact I marvel at how funny can one person be? And I am a sucker for funny people, I love to laugh. So it was a very balanced time. Much laughter, much learning, so much still churning in my heart.
Another speaker reminded us of how we parents are Cathedral Builders--building for a lifetime for the future--without the glory. After all, hardly any of the great Cathedral builders get credit or are even known, and most never saw their work finished. We are shaping our children daily with our love, our words, our correction, our time.
So we got back in the van and headed home after a delicious meal at Flat Top Grill and Cold Stone Creamery. Of course, the girls trip had to end with a little drama with Nichole's Jeep mysteriously missing. A quick phone call to the non-emergency public safety and our mystery was solved in no time. This of course was much prefered to the drama experience two years ago at Hearts at Home where I was summoned out of my class due to my sister being hauled away in an ambulance. I really did not get a whole lot out of the conference that year!
I have enjoyed reading a few other blog posts about Hearts at Home. Here are a few of my friends:
Danielle(friend from Fort Wayne) Anne and Donna (Nick's cousins)--so fun to see them!