Allume began with the greatest gift. God graciously gave me an entire day by myself, just flying and hanging out in airports. From 9 am until 5 pm, I read, wrote, crocheted, slept and breathed. Last year I knew two people on my first flight. We gathered conference attendees in “snow ball” fashion until a group of 20 ladies boarded the hotel shuttle. But God knew my needs differed this year.

Finding myself

Each leg of my trip I felt closer and closer to some semblance of me. Once I made my way through the crowded ballroom to a table full of lovely Godly women, “Heather” was back. The Heather who loved to engage in conversation, to meet a new face, to find out more about you, to hear your dreams and encourage you to pursue them. The Heather who shamelessly walked over to Phil Vischer’s table and asked for a photo…for my boys (btw…Phil Vischer’s life story is uhhhh-mazing, he wrote about it in his autobiography, “Me, Myself & Bob”.)

The deep belly laughter in the smilebooth felt wonderfully familiar. I think I’m slightly addicted to the awesomeness of these picture-making machines.

Soul-sharing friends

More than once I shared how I haven’t felt right. More than once another mom understood. Moms of 3 kids, moms of 4 kids, a mom of 6, or even a mom of 12 kids, all had walked the overwhelming/anxious/ Who knows why so many experience symptoms of postpartum depression. Whether it’s a chemical imbalance or a too many kids-to-mom issue, talking about “not feeling like myself” confirmed I’m not alone.

Praying with a relative stranger to feel comfort & peace amazes me. My favorite moment occurred when we said “Amen” and I said, “Thank you. I don’t even know your name.” God-connection. When the Holy Spirit in me sees the Spirit in her…

On Friday morning I worshipped with the women who encourage me to rise early…my #hellomornings crew. We love Jesus and laughter (apparently I didn’t get the “this pic we are going to smile pretty” memo)

Allume was a “restart”. A chance to be with women who remember “me” from last year and expected that same girl to walk into the hotel. So I became that girl, the girl I missed. Then I brought her back to Dallas to great 4 smiling boys.

Own my life

The resounding message from this weekend came the first night & echoed through the rest of the sessions: Follow God’s Call & Keep your Life.

We can’t just write and not live. We are ministering to others through our words (just got a comment from a mom of 3 boys living in France who found my blog & it inspired her to parent with the power of the Holy Spirit…so cool!). But I also have to live my life…with people I see face to face.

Over and over I heard, “have a purpose“(Nester)…”write out 8 family themes”(Tricia Goyer)…”cut out 8 activities you do to look good or please others” (Tricia Goyer)…”choose small, tend large” (Mary DeMuth)…”let go of good for the sake of great” (Mary DeMuth)…”create white space” (Nester)…”don’t say ‘yes’ to a stranger & ‘no’ to husband & kids”(Nester)

Saturday morning, Sally Clarkson poured hot Christmas Morning tea out of a delicate porcelain tea kettle. She served sweet treats and free books for a small gathering of moms. Then she challenged me to “own my life”. To enjoy the life I have now…not waiting for it to change or wishing it could be different. To put in place “anchors”…friendships, time with God, marriage building. She encouraged me to make a list of what is stressful right now & a list of what I enjoy.

God is not trying to “squeeze” everything out of you and make you miserable. It is a fallen world…we have to “mount up” in a fallen world. –Sally Clarkson

A wise woman builds her life. Sally encouraged me to put “fun” back into my schedule. To schedule regular time with friends. Because Satan wants to discourage me and keep me isolated.

Coming home to my life

Coming home I felt a calm joy. I would own my life. Before I had even left the plane, over the phone, my husband said, “Let’s sit down tonight and make plans for GodCenteredMom.” How awesome is he? AND he took care of 4 boys for a long weekend…he’s the real deal.

The moment the Surburban door opened and 4 sweet faces smiled back at me (my husband by my side), I burst into happy tears. The rest of the day I couldn’t get enough of the blessings of my life. Quade’s precious gift on my side table. Price’s hilarious joke. Watts’ unsolicited “I love you mommy” as I kissed his soft, round belly. Knox’s giggles at his brother’s silly faces.

I watched Price swing with joy & abandonment wearing his favorite cowboy boots. He is owning his life. Enjoying it fully. May we choose to do the same!

What steps can you take today to “own your life”? What activities do you need to say ‘no’ to because they detract your life? Define your purpose. Your family themes. Share in the comments if you are willing.