More than anything I was excited to see Hilary Weeks. She is one of my favourite singer/songwriters. She is releasing her 9th album next week, and every single album is beautiful and brilliant. I've seen her once before at one of these conferences, and not only is she wonderful to hear sing live, but she is side-splitting hilarious in between her performances. She really captures what motherhood is about, infusing the issues and problems with so much humour you can't help but laugh. If you get a chance, have a peek on YouTube at her funny little parodies: "to-do list" "laundry" "my favourite things" "teenage language barrier".
The best quote I heard all weekend was by speaker John Bytheway. He is a Bishop (pastor) in his local church and he had a woman come into his office to speak about some troubles she was having. But instead of off-loading right away, she spoke these words of wisdom: "Instead of telling God how big my problems are, I'm going to start telling my problems how big my God is." Yeah. How amazing is that. If I don't take anything else away from this conference, I will always remember those words.
The theme of the 2011 conference series is "Choose to Become." It's an inspiring theme, because it encourages us all to make some deliberate choices in our lives, to choose to become not only what we really want to be, but also that which we have the potential to be that we didn't even know was there. A quote was given that we often make "to-do" lists, but we never make "to-be" lists. And in the long run, what is more important? Do you want to get to the end of your life and see a long list of completed to-do tasks like laundry and dishes and appointments and tidying? Or do you want to see a to-be list of the amazing emotional and spiritual evolutions within you?
"Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him." (Moroni 10:32, Book of Mormon). We often forget this sequence, and think that we must first be perfect and then we can come unto Christ. I loved this reminder that it really is the other way around, and that the only way we can be perfected (eventually, one day, way down the road int he eternities!) is through Christ. This was a good kick in my self-reliant pants.
I tell my kids all the time, when all three of them are hanging off my legs and demanding things all at once, that I am only one mom, and they are three kids, and I can't possibly see to all of them at the same time. This has really helped them get a little (little) patience, because Colin and Caleb both seem to get that picture. But God deals with each of his children one-on-one each and every day. We never have to wait until he gets to us, or step aside while he deals with something more urgent than our request, or assume that our needs are not important for him at this time. He may be one God, and we may be billions of his children, but his awesome omnipotence means that we can be before him every day one-on-one.
One speaker (and mom) noted that her mother-in-law never asked her kids "what did you do in school today" when they came home. (That never works anyway, at least with boys. Have any of you ever actually gotten an answer to that question? And still I ask it every day, and press and probe and use psychology tricks and even bribe until I can get three or four short words of an answer.) Instead, this mother always asked "who did you help today?" That changed her kids' focus when they left home for school every day, because they began to search out opportunities to serve others. This is a HUGE passion, desire and focus of mine as I raise my boys, and I am definitely adopting this.
Instead of trying to chase away bad or negative thoughts, fill your mind with good and positive ones, so that there simply is no room for the bad ones. How simple yet profound this idea is. It takes so much effort to push out the negative thoughts, but much less effort to simply think good ones in the first place. And what you think is what you become, so if I think positive I will feel positive and therefore be positive. Sound so simple, doesn't it?
Deliberate mothering means that each moment is a brick I am laying in my family and home. I am not just vacuuming and cleaning and training and disciplining and chauffeuring and packing lunches. Each of these acts is slowly helping to shape the lives and character of my children, whether by impacting them as people or creating the atmosphere in which they live. My top priorities shouldn't be speed and efficiency, but my family members, one by one.
Well, it's impossible to sum up a whole weekend in a few short paragraphs, but these are the thoughts I really want to remember. The conference will be coming to Toronto again next June, and I'll buy my ticket as soon as I can for that. I love to be inspired by inspiring people!