This weekend was our women's conference at Dayspring. Every fall, we have either a women's retreat at a state park lodge or a hotel....or we have a conference at church. (We alternate between those two options.)
A few days ago, I was writing in my Beth Moore devotional book. The question was, "Think of a time when you sensed the power of God 'come upon you' in a moment of crisis, or worship, or perhaps on an otherwise ordinary day. What was it like, and why do you think He chooses when and how to reveal His presence so tangibly?"
at first, it seemed that all of my remembrances of when I really felt close to God, felt his presence, had to do with childbirth, pregnancy, motherhood. Whether through a 'coincidence' to big to be a coincidence, or through feeling him near when we would be at the altar praying for Little Guy or Vaya while we were waiting for God to bring them home to us...or a thousand little things about being a mother.
Then I started thinking of other times that I felt His presence, felt His nearness, felt His hand...and nearly all of my list happen at women's retreats or conferences...
--the wreath of flowers I made and wore during my prayer walk
--the words of prophecy and encouragement spoken to me under the veiled canopy
--the communion of smores around the campfire last year as I burnt pages filled with the hurt of the past that I've finally been able to acknowledge
--the arms of a sister I never met before around me as we both cried together
--the words of comfort 'spoken' to me when I was hiding in a restroom stall, crying for Mammaw's death, feeling very alone
Sometimes, it is the message shared during the retreats that speaks to me, changes me. Sometimes it is the fellowship of women that I cherish most. This year, I think it was the fellowship that was most meaningful, though I did need the message to refocus myself. I've been sliding into a slump over the last couple of weeks, not focusing where I needed to focus, feeling like a failure, and looking for any means of 'escape' from my daily life that I could. This year's theme was "On the Dot". I want to remember each day, that the little things do make a difference in my life and in the life of my family members. Sometimes its so discouraging to wash the dishes, clean the kitchen, sweep and mop the floor....and by the next day the efforts of that labor seem to have been for naught. Its easier, and more appealing, to give up, surf the web....do whatever. but that only leads to me feeling frustrated and inadequate. And then school with Sweetling and Little Guy starts to slip....and we've started this downward spiral. "Hour by hour I commit my days to you." I don't need to be Susy Homemaker or Martha Stewart. I just need to be me, to be the wonderful woman God created me to be....to love and teach my children and care for my home and family. To write and draw and dance and sing. To not give up just because things aren't perfect.
But, I digress. I love being with the women at Dayspring. I can be myself. I can stick pink feathers in my hair. I can stand on a chair. I can sit in a room of women blowing bubbles with the rest of them. I can hoard the chocolate kisses (yes, yes, I did share them....but someone was trying to "clean them up" after lunch....I had to save them from that fate.) I can scoot to the edge of my chair, and three women around me will be encouraging me to stand up and share my thoughts, knowing that I'm considering it, but was hesitating, just by the subtle shift in my posture. I can walk down the hallway singing. I can wax poetic. I can tease and be teased. I can laugh and cry and hug and share with them.
So, I have pink feathers in my hair today. The chairs were decorated with tulle bows, some of which had feather puffs. Yesterday, I took two of the bows, and placed them on the heads of two of the young girls at the conference. One of the other women put a puff of black feathers at the top of her short, blonde, straight hair. Today, several of us were wearing bows and feathers in our hair. We were enjoying ourselves, enjoying each others company, enjoying our time of renewal and refocusing.