I was able to attend the Northwestern College day set apart for Women yesterday. I had such a great time..filled with relaxation and renewal..it was just what a needed. I'll be honest. I don't always enjoy conferences of this type. I love to sign up for these things because I love to be with my friends and I don't want to miss out on anything they are doing! But, I think I have a bit of social anxiety and anticonformity issues that counteract my desire to enjoy myself amidst a mass crowd of people. When everyone is going one direction, I like to go the opposite way. At these conferences, everyone often seem so put together when I am just hoping that I won't stick out having just had enough time in the morning to take a shower and race out the door. Many speakers intimidate me if they appear to have all the answers to life's issues. I often think.."if they only know what I have been through." This conference was so different and so refreshing. The keynote speakers were two of my favorites...Carol Kent and Lysa Terkeurst. They both have stories that are filled with the painful and life changing situations that have impacted their lives for ever. Each of them shares how God is using those experiences in a beautiful and powerful way for Jesus Christ.
Carol Kent's book, When I lay my Isaac down, gave me such insight into how we are to respond to the "unimaginable" in our lives. Carol's only son, a successful Naval Academy officer had committed murder in a situation too long to describe here. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Her only child.
When someone who also had a child with a disability first suggested this book to me, I wondered if I would have anything in common with this situation. It was clear from the start that my situation as a Mom to children who were born with difficult special needs had all too much in common with Carol's situation. And it was then that I understood what Abraham may have been feeling when he walked up that hill to lay his Isaac down before the Lord. Sometimes we are asked to relinquish what we love most. And that is a painful and incredibly freeing journey to be on..
Carol now has a new book entitled A new kind of Normal, as she continues her journey in a life that is not what she had expected. I am just beginning to read this one and am loving it. I recommend both books highly.
I loved this quote from yesterdays talk:
We can hug our hurts and make a shrine out of our sorrow or we can offer them to God as a sacrifice of praise. The choice is ours.Richard Exley
We were also able to hear other speakers with inspiring stories to tell. Listening to Erin Wipf tell her journey through the birth of her special needs son and the subsequent transracial adoptions that made their family complete was like listening to some one else tell my story--our experiences have been so similar it was a little like an out of body experience! She had such a message of hope in life when takes a course that we had not "planned" and certainly don't feel equipped to handle. Her message had a common thought--will we choose comfort or obedience?
What a challenge to all of us.
I had a such a great day with my dearest and longtime friend by my side. We have shared such similar experiences in life and it seems like we have been alongside each other most of the way. We have cried together, laughed together and then laughed some more together. What an incredible gift I have been given to have a friend like this.
Sometimes I don't know what I need when I need it. I didn't think I really "needed" this day...filled with lots of sitting and listening when I had so much to do at home. It was exactly what I didn't know I needed and I am so thankful for this day of renewal.