There is no way I could do justice to all I heard in those two days, but there were a few major take homes for me. None of it is earth-shatteirng; and honestly a lot of the lessons were things I knew, things I had probably told others even, but they impressed something new on me.
First was the truth that God has given this life to me at this time, the husband, the children, the friends, the church, the work, and all else. He's promised that the light He's placed in me will "light up the house." (Matthew 5:15). And the emphasis there that's so important for me, is that He is the light - the light isn't because of some work I've done or some righteousness I've achieved. (John 8:12). It's His light, for his ultimate glory. (Matthew 5:18). For the glory of His Name. (Numbers 6:27).
All of that segues into letting His light shine in and through me as the person He has made me to be. Not the person I want to be, not the person I think I should be, but the person I am. And as I walk in that truth, recognizing that my highest calling is not as a wife or mother, but as a child of God to bring glory to Him. The good things He's given me can easily become counterfeit gods when I lose that focus. As I live that out with my girls, the shape life takes as we do it together will teach them what no Sunday School class ever will.
There is a situation in my life right now that is teaching me a very different lesson from the one I expected. I am starting to see (being forced to see?) that the earthly places I put my trust and my hope will never fulfill in the deep places. The things I expect to make me happy or to make things in my life right, are truly peripheral. Though they may be good things, things to be thankful for, things to love and cherish, they will only fulfill my needs to a point. Placing my focus and maintaining that focus on the One who is central.
Those places that I've walked away from, the places that have held disappointment and yielded results other than the ones I dreamed of, are often the precise places God will use most to speak Truth and Life. In my life and the lives of others. That can sometimes be very humbling and even embarrassing, but the gain more than makes up for losing face in the eyes of those close enough to see.
Especially lately I find that I am re-learing lessons I thought I learned a long time ago, lessons I have since taught to youth kids in different churches, lessons I've talked with friends about.
(Almost none of the words or ideas in this post are my own, and though I can't attribute each line, the bulk of it comes from Angela Thomas, Angie Smith, Vicki Courtney, & Priscilla Shirer)
Beyond those amazing lessons I'm still trying to sift through, I had fun! It was great to be Allison and her friends. As always, I end up leaving saying that I have to figure out a way to spend more face to face time with Allison, she's a phenomenal friend, encourager, and speaker of truth. I need as much of that in my life as I can get!
Oh, and on a completely unspiritual level: the Duggars showed up unexpectedly! They were all in Birmingham for some other reason and were staying at the hotel where the conference was being held. They were minus Michele and the baby, who were in Israel.
I had a chance to run into a group of the kids and the dad in the lobby of our hotel early on Sunday morning. I don't watch the show, but the genuineness and truly kind nature of all of the kids and their father really struck me. Jim Bob was so gracious as lots of people came up to say hello and only excused himself to go talk to Michele on the phone when she called him. I was also struck by the "normalness" of the kids that I interacted with; had I not known who they were, I would have just thought they were four brothers hanging out at a hotel together. Joking, laughing, picking on, and helping one another.