I just want to extend a heartfelt thanks to all the dedicated volunteers for the Behold Conference. My mom and I both felt so incredibly welcome.
The applause, the generous tweets, the kindness of strangers after I gave my speech this weekend, which was part (very) personal testimony, filled my soul. More than a handful of women I’d never met before came to me, hugged me, and shared their tears and heart with me.
One moment in particular stands out. A young woman – probably in her late teens – approached me and said she was struggling with an eating disorder but that she felt more hopeful now.
Another woman emailed me and said she went to Behold on a whim but that she knew why she was there when I started talking since she had struggled with an eating disorder, and it was returning to her Catholic faith that healed her and now allowed her to be a healer for others working as a dietitian.
I also met a mom who poured her heart and hurt out to me because she has a daughter who is convinced she is ugly and has nothing to offer the world. I want to dedicate an entire post to mamas like this to give them hope. For now I’m praying for this mom and her beautiful daughter. It was a privilege meeting people like this.
Likewise, meeting all the amazing volunteers who put the conference together, the beautiful Sister Mary Elizabeth from the Sisters of Life, the talented and funny Marie Miller, and my special, personal helpers for the weekend like Amy and Sarah (if you’re reading, you two rock and made my weekend effortless) was a such a gift. I was welcomed and embraced, and it was a beautiful weekend. I only wish I’d had more time to socialize and catch up with old and new friends. I did have the opportunity to talk at great length with Sister Mary Elizabeth. What a gentle spirit. Sister was funny, too, and she possessed an ageless beauty. I’d never had the chance to have dinner with a Sister, and I consider it a gift that we shared food and conversation on Saturday evening after the conference.
On Facebook, I said the weekend was like a spiritual Red Bull – just the kind of fuel I need to forge ahead on my Lenten journey.
My mom and I returned home feeling tired yet spiritually renewed. We also each came home with the wrong suitcase. I took hers home, and she had mine. She joked that a mistaken bag identity really wasn’t all that surprising considering I’m a “mombie” (a phrase I used at the conference to describe my altered mental state due to chronic sleep deprivation), and she just had brain surgery. When my mom forgot something this weekend or thought we were in Cincinnati when we were really in Detroit, she simply blamed her mental gaffe on her brain surgery. She’s got a great sense of humor.
I did call my mom a bit choked up yesterday. I’m not sure why, but I’ve felt overwhelmed since Monday morning. All weekend long I experienced an almost supernatural calm. Now back in the trenches, it’s been hard. My elevated stress levels probably had something to do with a child throwing up all over our minivan after soccer practice. Fortunately, it appears she was just car sick and that we’re not dealing with a stomach bug around here.
Like I talked about during the conference, sometimes it’s difficult to recognize the loveliness all around us and within us when we’ve distanced ourselves from Beauty itself found in the Eucharist. Or when we’re just too monopolized by all that needs to be done to find God in the mundane details of domesticity and daily living. Re-entry can be tough.
Not that my homecoming wasn’t perfect.
I had a long day of traveling on Sunday after my soulful weekend, but my mom, Thomas, and I survived making not one but two rushed connections and landed in the A-T-L around dinner time. My husband was at the airport waiting for me. He’d dropped the girls off at his parents’ house. We headed there next and when I stepped out of the van, three squealing girls ran down the grandparents’ front steps shouting, “Mommy! Mommy!”
I’ve been jealous of my husband on occasion when he returns from work because he gets such a big reception. I’m always around, so there’s nothing to celebrate. It was good to leave because leaving meant returning home.
I was greeted with dancing girls, flowers, congratulatory balloons, chocolate silk pie (it was Sunday after all), and handmade signs. There were also made-up little ditties. “We love you, Mommy. Congratulations, Mommy. La-la-la.”
I asked Madeline, “Did you guys write those songs just for me?”
“Nope. We just had them in our heads,” she replied.
Behold the table set at Nana and Pop’s in honor of me.
Behold the happy baby brother reunited with his sisters.
Behold the pile of laundry that’s going to keep me busy for the next few days. And I still have two more big hampers of dirty clothes as well as a suitcase (Dad’s coming by later today to make the trade) full of stuff to add to the heap. It’s actually not all that daunting. I’m grateful I was completely caught up on laundry before the trip.
I hope to write more soon. I’m still processing everything, and I do need to get caught up on household stuff as well as partake in extra cuddling and story time with my girls. My husband could probably use some pampering, too. Poor guy didn’t want to worry me, but he ended up with a 102 degree fever this weekend.
Now some random, administrative notes:
If anyone was at Behold and had wanted to purchase an autographed book but couldn’t handle the wait since I was trying to scribble with one hand while nursing a fidgety Thomas (multitasking at its finest), I do have some copies left. You can purchase a copy here. Just write in the notes section of PayPal if you want me to direct the signature to someone specific.
Finally, if any other folks who were at Behold are reading this and have some photos from the event, can you shoot some my way? I was a total slacker and took one single photo from the entire weekend. Was I even there? The laundry pile above says yes, but it really was a beautiful blur.
Hallie, whom I barely had a chance to chat with, has some photos. So does Sarah. Why didn’t we get a photo together? You should have seen her yellow dress coupled with a navy sweater; the ensemble was most definitely something to behold.
My mom has a few photos on her camera, but a lot of them came out blurry. There seems to be a theme here. Maybe, like my wedding day which I did not want filmed because I wanted to remember it like a dream, it’s supposed to be a happy blur in my mind.