Colin: Where's Mommy?
James: She's at Time Out For Women this weekend.
Colin: Why? Were they all naughty?
No, we weren't naughty. We were just 1200 women taking a "time out" to be emotionally and spiritually refreshed. This is the second time this conference has come to the Toronto Area, and even with a nursing baby, I knew I wasn't going to miss it. (Benjamin came with me, and was not only good as gold, but charmed every one of those women there! Someone even told me that he was by far the cutest baby there. Again, it's that charming smile of his that he doles out to all who pass by.)
There were speakers and singers, laughter and tears, and a whole lot of motivation and inspiration. Even if I had had a free hand to take copious notes, I'm not sure I would write them all here. Rather than a simple diary of who I saw and what they said, I'd much rather simply record the impressions I was left with, and a few of the ideas born in my mind.
The theme of the conference was "Infinite Hope." One speaker, a survivor of the terrors and wars in Sierra Leone, Africa, spoke of the power of hope. Hope is something that can stay alive always, as long as you believe in it, cling to it. I cannot recall the historical person of whom this story is about, but this person was a medical researcher of sorts. He devoted his life to finding a cure for a disease with which his mother was inflicted. Someone once asked him: "what will you do if the day comes that you realize you cannot find a cure?" He replied: "I don't know, because that day will never come. I will never stop trying."
There is so much pain and suffering in the world, that at times it seems there is so little I can do. Not only that, but I feel that I simply don't have what is needed to effect any change. But of these five things, I have infinite of them to give:
a cheerful greeting
These five things have power in them beyond what I may recognize. It may be a small sacrifice on my part, and yet in imparting this of myself may give someone a greater gift than I could ever understand.
We often hear of the parable of the lost sheep. Jesus will leave the 99 sheep to go after the one little lost lamb. But what of the 99? What of those who continue pressing forward in faith their whole lives, never straying too far from the fold? Though we may feel His attention is unnecessary because we are not lost, it is important to recall that we are still His. He still loves us, knows us, speaks with us, guides us, hears our prayers, and answers those prayers.
Mediocrity comes from a latin root meaning "halfway up the mountain." So if you feel that your life is one of mediocrity, remember that it means you've already climbed half way up! You're not at the bottom, staring up and saying "it's not even worth trying." Don't give up!
Often the question is posed: "have you been saved by grace?" But perhaps the real question is "have you been changed by grace?"
There are thousands of conferences that happen every year. People often pay lots of money to attend them, in hopes of learning new things, changing themselves, finding new paths, and a thousand other reasons. But surveys show that almost no one who attends a conference like this actually changes their in in any way afterward. And so we were encouraged not to overwhelm ourselves with goals and in the process give up at the enormity of the task. Instead, we were asked to just pick a few things and really and truly try to do something about it. Here are my ideas:
1) share my love of learning with Caleb by doing one of the 365 activities for pre-schoolers with him
2) give Colin five minutes at bedtime, once he is in bed, to just talk freely about all those thoughts that fill his mind just as I'm about to turn off the light.
3) have meaningful talk with James. With him, not at him. With the intention of sharing my ideas and hearing his, not trying to sway him over to my point of view.
And now I have yet another two books to peruse through. I have put a self-imposed moratorium on buying books until I read those that I already have!
Things sort of fell apart Friday before I had to leave, and so I apologized profusely to James as I left the house in a bit of a disaster, knowing that he would also be on his own with the boys for Friday night and Saturday. But once again I can brag about having the best husband in the world. When I returned home at dinner time, happy yet exhausted, the house was tidied, the dishes done, the bathroom cleaned, the floors swept, the children dressed, clean and happy, and dinner plans taken care of. And he even entertained family Friday night and had a friend and his girls over Saturday morning. If ever doubt creeps into my mind about James' ability to "handle" things while I'm gone, I will pull from my memory the moment when I walked in the door and beheld what had happened while I was away. He is the man!