Wednesday, February 23, 2011

So fun I would need a Thesaurus to begin to describe it all...

I just got back from spending the weekend in Dallas attending Sally Clarkson's Mom's Heart conference. It was a WONDERFUL conference and the weekend was extraordinary because of the friends I shared it with. So many laughs were had and inside jokes created. It was a weekend that this mommy needed big time. And that is not because I am so stressed over my many children or the responsibilities of homeschooling. I DELIGHT in being with my chickens all day long. I do not HAVE to have a break from it. But it was a BLESSING for it to me given to me. And I am a better momma today than I was when I left Friday.

The conference itself was a gift from a friend and my hotel room was a gift from my brother, Jack. What a blessing!!!

We started off bright and early. It was exciting just to get to the meet-up point because our dear friend, Alicia, who had moved away in September, flew in to come with us. Not too much gets me jumping up and down at 7:30 but having all of my sweet CK moms together again was truly exciting. Plus, our sweet Tiffany brought her sister, Tori and our friend, Amber came too.These are truly amazing women and so so fun.

Fist stop was Cafe Express for lunch. Last year we got such a kick out of "smoking" the bread sticks. I know, aren't we hilarious? We had to revisit the fun this time too.

 Amy K. refused to smoke hers because she had her baby there. Is she above repraoch or what? ha.
By the way, if you are already rolling your eyes thinking we are ridiculous then you better just go ahead and stop reading this post. Because our hilarity only gets more ridiculous.

After lunch we went to the hotel, showered, and went down to the conference. If you have a group of 10 you can reserve a table, which we did. However, due to a mix up our table had not been reserved. I don't know about other women's conferences but at this one, if you don't save your sear early you are banished to the back. The conference staff apologized profusely and we picked a table in the very back right next to the door. This was a good move for us. We giggled so much last year that Tiffany, when reserving our table, put it under Amy's name! Too funny. So we set up shop in the back.
And I suppose i should apologize right now to the Mom's Heart staff and Sally herself for all the giggling coming from our table. My guess is that they are used to it but on the off chance you thought we were rude or uninterested in what was being discussed please know that couldn't be farther from the truth. The conference was truly inspiring. We are just goofy like that.

Here are some of my dear friends...

Alicia and Andrea
 Tiffany and Tori
 Rachel and Amber
 All of us... (and I found out just recently that Amy really isn't holding Mary in this picture - she is just holding blankets - creee-py)
We skipped out a little early to go to dinner so that we could have plenty of time to enjoy our meal and each other. We ate at La Madeline's and the manager told me that we are getting one here in OKC. I hope so. It is yum-o. I spend most of dinner talking to Alicia. She updated me on her crazy life and I updated her on mine. I feel kinda badly that I kept her immersed in a serious conversation when the rest of the group was in uproarious laughter for most of the time over Amy T's hilarious stories. Woof.

Back to the conference for Sally. Let me tell you - if you want to be motivated and encouraged in your calling as a mother then just read or listen to Sally Clarkson. She is amazing and so real. It is a delight to my soul to pour over the things she says. I went back to my room a little early because I was just SO tired I could barely stand it.

I shared a room with my forever friend, Andrea.
 And we had adjoining rooms with Amy K. and sweet baby Mary!
Last year we all had our OWN rooms and it was truly delightful. Such rest for the body and spirit. This year we all had a roomie and still, the refreshing effect was just as full. It was certainly different but truly such fun. And since little Mary was there this is what we all ended up doing so much of the time...

She is such a little doll. The joke is that looking at her made our wombs ache (except for Rachel's whose is already full with twins!). Several times we laughed noticing how all of our heads would be cocked to the side while we ooohed and aaaahed over the tiny babe.
Day two brought more challenges from Sally, a catered lunch and some time for reflection. Well, the conference didn't schedule the time for reflection but we did. We skipped out on the session after lunch so that we could sit in some quiet and think, pray or talk about all that we were processing. Andrea and I retreated to our room where we sat in our window seat with lots of pillows and pulled together the curtains so that we had a fort of sort. Being the mature adults we are we even knocked on Amy's door and ran to hide in our grown up fort. :)
 (I tried to do a serious face with my serious journal but look more like I am about to sneeze)
Andrea and I talked about the legacy we hope to leave. Think about this... what 5 adjectives would you want people to use to describe you after you leave this earth?

After a while we all gathered in our room for a few more laughs before heading back down. I have a posed pic but this one is more realistic because we truly were laughing almost constantly.

The conference wrapped up around 5:30 and we headed to Southlake for dinner and shopping. It was delightful to not have a schedule! We could go where we wanted when we wanted and didn't have to be anywhere at a specific time.

Here we are waiting for a table for dinner

And these hilarious girls all started clapping and hollering as an entire wait staff of this Mexican restaurant comes singing and clapping to bring ME a birthday dessert. Lovely. Why is it that I find teenagers annoying? Seriously - we are worse.

And after dinner Andrea gave us a little show through the window from outside. The entire restaurant laughed as she channeled her inner Michael Scott. What a hoot!

We had to get Cheesecake from our favorite place after dinner to take back to the hotel.

Once we were in jammies and eating cheesecake the fun began. From inside jokes to performing our hidden talents from high school to funny stories - we LAUGHED until it hurt. The poor people who had rooms anywhere close to us - We are so sorry!!

This is what the weekend sounded like...

On Sunday everything started winding down. Some had to get back early, some had to get to the airport. A few of spent a leisurely morning at the hotel. Amy K, Andrea and I got lunch at La Madeline's again and then went back to Southlake. After a little shopping and getting groceries at Central Market we hit the road. On the way home the three of us had great discussion and listed to a sermon by Paul Washer on reforming youth evangelism and discipleship.

There is something truly wonderful when people from all different walks of life (different cultures, socio-economic statuses, different stages of life, moms who work and moms who stay at home, families that send their kids to public, private, or home schools) can come together and be unified in Jesus Christ. It is a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ. But there is also something truly wonderful about sharing time with people from your exact walk of life, those with the same desires and struggles, the same calling and the same challenges. There is such comfort in that mutual understanding of one another and such joy that is then shared in our Lord. I think both of those setting reveal to us a glimpse of heaven - where people from every tribe and every tongue and nation, rich and poor, slave and free will gather together completely unified and obsessed with ONE THING - our Lord Jesus Christ - and making much of Him forever.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Princess Pips

As I was buying a birthday present yesterday I realized the party I was preparing for would be Piper's FIRST birthday party. I mean, she's been to parties but so often our circle of friends do family parties or parties where all the children in a family are invited. And I really do love that. But I was excited to think that my baby Pip would be going to her first tea party birthday. My how she's grown!

So we broke out the dress up and got all ready for the celebration.

 And, of course, she had to wear her sunglasses. Umm - How was I so unaware that she was growing up?
She really is the princess of this family. Hope she has fun at the party!

A Valentine's Visit

I was so glad that snow did not keep my brother, Jack from visiting us this week. We were all so excited to see him. The children swarmed in like vultures, surrounding him at all times. They love their Uncle Jack. The kids wanted to have a Valentine's Party with him and so Jack decided they would have an "I love Uncle Jack Valentine's Party." (did I mention he's clever)
So, they made sugar cookies in the afternoon and he took us out to dinner (treat!). The next morning he came over for breakfast and he and the kids all had hot chocolate and then iced (and ate) their heart cookies. The LOVED it. And so did Jack.

The kids also got Jack to put the Hey Tell app on his phone so that they could send him voice messages. And Jack showed them his app that takes a picture of someone and then makes the look fat. They thought that was hilarious.

It was great to have my brother here, even for just a short time. He is so fun and funny and generous. I am pumped that he is going to get to visit a lot more this year!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A charge to a 13 year old girl...

One thing I really wanted for Madison as she entered her teen years was to be charged, by godly women who love her, on different topics. I had thought about doing something like this when she turns 16 but then considered that we don't know what our near future holds and that we may not live here or have these women in her life 3 years from now. So, why not do it now and we can always do again when she's older. I asked the other mom's in my co-op to charge her on specific topics - they are all so gifted and have so many strengths to draw upon.
We met at our house for birthday cake. Jason took the other rug rats out for ice cream so that it would be peaceful. My friend, Rachel (whose topic was hospitality), brought me all the things for table - to make the room so pretty.

I think Madi enjoyed hanging out with the "ladies" while we waited for everyone to arrive. Once we are together we sat down for chocolate cake.
(one without me)
(one with me - thanks Rach)

After cake and coffee we gathered in the living room and me precious friends poured out their hearts my daughter on the following topics....

Rachel spoke on the biblical mandate for hospitality and how doing it well honors others. She encouraged Madison to open her home to others one day and be helpful when we do it now. Most importantly she reminded her to never get caught up in the details like Martha but to cling to Christ like Mary.

 She gave Madison beautiful little serving bowls.

Amy K. spoke to he about the biblical mandate to honor your husband and how honoring your parents now will prepare you. She spoke about how at the heart of honoring a husband, or parents, or siblings is love. She drew upon I Corinthians 13 in her charge and promised that the Lord would supply all she needed. 

Amy T. spoke on the biblical mandate to treasure God's Word. She gave her 3 sweet gifts that went along with her points. One of them was a journal to write her memory verses in (which she started filling up the next morning). She encouraged Madison to remember that God's Word is complete and can fully equip her for everything she needs in life and godliness.

Tiffany charged Madison on the biblical mandate to love your children and how loving her siblings now will prepare her for that. She praised Madison for the loving behaviors she has seen in her already and encouraged her to pour herself our in the service of her family.
She gave Madison a beautiful silver heart necklace that says "love always" on the back.

Andrea had the daunting task of addressing purity; how the biblical mandate to be sexually pure starts in the heart and mind now. She wrote a beautiful story comparing two potential wedding days for Madison -one filled with joy and ready to offer her entire self to her husband and one filled with regret and fear because she had already given away her heart and had it broken. It was a beautiful encouraging letter reminding Madison that sex is not bad - it is beautiful and fantastic but only within the confines of marriage and how it can be most treasured when she has saved all of herself, body, mind, and heart for that one special man.

She also gave Madison a little gift - a bracelet with a little heart charm.

My heart was so full at the end of the night. Full of love for my daughter who is now a young woman and full of love and gratitude for the precious women God has put in my life. I think the night meant a lot to Madison and will always be a special memory.