I just returned from Sally Clarkson's MomHeart Conference in Denver. Attending a conference focused solely on encouraging women in motherhood rejuvenated, inspired, and encouraged me. First, simply being around other moms who are all going through the same stuff reminded me that we are not alone. I am not the only mom struggling to figure out how to handle housework, homeschooling, and a baby. At the nursing moms table where I sat, that seemed to be one of the biggest issues we as moms of multiples are working through right now.
One of the messages of the conference was that when we are alone in our homes, we can feel isolated--like we are the only ones struggling with some big issues, such as discouragement. But when we are in fellowship with other women, we realize we are not alone. We can share our burdens, pray for each other, and receive much needed encouragement to make it through the week.
Not only was it encouraging, the conference was also inspiring. The heart of the conference focused on building a family culture and training our children to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. What does this look like? Mainly, figuring out who God created your family to be, and intentionally doing the things that affirm your family's unique identity and calling in this world. We fill our child's hearts, souls and minds by "feeding them the best," as Sally said--the best literature, the best music, the best art (and the best times around the table too). (See this post of mine for more on intentionally creating an intoxicating family atmosphere). Hearing all the stories and ideas for creating a home filled with love and encouragement inspired me.
Listening to the talks certainly rejuvenated my spirits. It was like warm rays of sunshine shining down upon my soul. There are certainly areas where I can do better in my mothering, such as encouraging my children more and more. The conference also drove that home. Sally shared that if we are harsh with our children, yet teach that God is love, they will not have a reference for understanding what that looks like. On the other hand, if we are patient with them, instruct gently, tolerate their childishness without losing our cool, cuddle up with them and read them stories, give them lots of hugs and kisses, and make time to make them feel like the most special children in the world, then they will better understand God's love and purposes for them, because they see it in action in our hearts toward them every single day.
It's a high calling. We don't achieve any of this in our own strength, but only through the power of Christ working in us. We absolutely need to make time for prayer and fellowship with our Father every single day if we want to come anywhere close to being the wives and mothers He wants us to be (and we want to be). As Sally said, we can't give out what we aren't first taking it. She stressed the importance of daily quiet times. She also shared in all these noble pursuits, we live between ideals and reality. How true that is.
As the conference closed, I felt great...empowered to be the most fabulous mother of all time for my children. Then we got home and the boys started fighting like little wolf pups, the baby who is teething fussed most of the day, Play-Doh from creative pursuits spread everywhere, milk spilled not once but twice and spread like a river all over the kitchen floor, and as I tried to read aloud from a good book, the boys were most interested in being rowdy than listening. The laundry is still in the suitcase...in the middle of the kitchen floor.
Though moments like that (or a series of them) threaten to rob my joy and steal my peace, I am trying to remember everything I learned and the inspiration I took away. This is the stuff these little years are made of. They pass quickly. Let's shape our hearts with, in Sally's words, goodness, truth, and beauty. In turn, we can shape our childrens' hearts out of the outflow of our hearts with gentleness, grace, forgiveness, as we train them in gracious manners, language, and courtesies, always learning how to overcome evil with good. (My friend blogged about it here as well; a great post).
Because it boost my spirits so much, I would like to encourage you to consider attending a MomHeart conference (or any other conference near you focused on empowering you to be a great mom). There are two upcoming MomHeart conferences in California and Texas. There are also Above Rubies retreats across the country (under the teaching of Nancy Campbell). Just as professionals attend conferences to stay on top of their skills and learn cutting-edge techniques for their trades, doesn't it make sense to find a conference to help you excel in your field of motherhood? Give it a try. I think you'll be so glad you did!