I got to attend Time Out For Women (TOFW) this weekend. WOW... talk about an amazing, wonderful, spiritually uplifting experience!!! I have been to TOFW in the past, but I thought this one was even better. The spirit that was there was so tangible. This was a fun, two day event. I went with Mary and two women from her ward. We all got to stay at the Marriott down on the Seattle waterfront and enjoy some good girl time! THANKS JAY!! On Friday night we ate an early dinner at Kel's Irish Pub. They have some really amazing Irish food! Then we headed over to Benaroya Hall for the Friday night part of the conference. It was crowded and there was a really good turnout.
We got to hear one of my all time favorite musicians... Hilary Weeks!! Then we got to hear Ardeth Kapp speak and listen to a lot of musical numbers by the very talented Jenny Oaks Baker. We also had the privelege of hearing Sister Kristen Oaks (wife of apostle Dallin H. Oaks, who is the father of Jenny Oaks Baker). She was wonderful! All in all, a very uplifting night which left us wanting a whole lot more! Thankfully, we had all of Saturday ahead of us.
On Saturday morning, we got up early, got ready and checked out of the hotel early. Then we drove the car over and parked in the Benaroya garage. Saturday was so wonderful. Hilary Weeks provided all of the music for the day (along with very healthy doses of humor and a good measure of spirituality!) The speakers included:
Emily Watts who spoke about parenting and appearances. One of the key things she said that just stood out to me and sang to my heart was this: "Heavenly Father loves my children as much as I do." I know that sounds so obvious, but there was something about the way she said it that just created an "aha" moment for me. Another thing she said: "Sometimes Heavenly Father allows difficult circumstances in order for us to become the people He would have us be." Wow. Talk about being grateful for the trials! She also shared something really profound that she realized and it was something I personally needed to hear: "What if the parenting experience isn't about how my kids turn out but how I turn out?" She also discussed another little principle that my heart needed to hear. She said that things get better, even when we don't actually see them getting better. One day, we just look at a situation and realize it's better. Her daughter said it is like the hour hand on the clock. We don't actually see it moving, but it is. And each time we look at it, we can see the progress. And looking at my own life, I see the truth in this.
Some days it seems as though whining never ends. And then one day you look and realize that the kids have aged a little bit and the whining has diminished. One day they are just a little more cooperative. One day they are just a little more engaging. One day you realize you aren't quite as tired as you were before. And while we can't pinpoint when these changes occur, they do and it's wonderful to make those realizations.
Hilary Weeks told many little stories in between music sets and other presenters. One such story took place when she was a teenager. She woke up early for seminary and pulled her car out of the garage and didn't realize her dad's work truck was parked there (in a place he didn't typically park it). She ploughed into so hard that she got her car stuck to his and couldn't get them separated. Of course she panicked and didn't know how she was going to tell her dad. She climbed out the passenger side and went into the house, where everone else was still asleep. She strategically decided to tell her mother about the wreck, knowing her father would be very, very angry. Her mother woke up her father and said, "Hilary wrecked both the cars!" Nice. So they went outside. Her dad surveyed the damage and then climbed in through the passenger side and got the vehicles separated. He then opened the door for Hilary and said, "Try again." She stood, bracing herself for a lecture but it never came. She has always remembered that. He had every right to lecture her. He had every right to be upset. But he simply opened the door for her to try it again.
And so it is with our Heavenly Father. We often do things that upset, frustrate or disappoint Him. And often we deserve a lecture. But instead of lecturing us and making us feel bad for our mistakes, He instead shows unconditional love and in a sense says, "It's okay. Try again." How blessed we are to have a Father in Heaven who loves us so much!