Because of this past weekend, my sometimes crooked pictures took on a whole new meaning. Julia and I experienced our first Mother-Daughter Retreat—and I use that word “retreat” VERY loosely. My friend, Jessica, and I managed to make a 3 hour road trip into a 4 ½ hour one. The conversation was good and we liked I-45 just fine. We eventually made it to the camp in the “wilderness” as the girls called it. I think my saying that the first session started at 8:30 –PM- speaks for itself. Bingo was scheduled for 10 p.m. followed by a marshmallow roast and so the schedule went on from there for the next 48 hours. In ONE afternoon we played in the sand, rode paddle boats, went horseback riding and rock climbing, attended a tea party with cookie decorating, and gave our girls manicures and pedicures. Oh—dodge ball right before lunch too! The bookend for the night was a hayride and a fire for s’more-making.
I have to say, besides just having all sorts of fun with Julia, another highlight for me was the “Just for Moms” early morning devotional with our speaker, Sally Clarkson. It was a casual time of this devoted wife and mother sharing her heart about family, motherhood and raising “wholehearted” kids. I don’t know that one sleep deprived momma missed this “optional” pre-breakfast time. This lady has wisdom from the Lord oozing out of her. I don’t need to rehash her words because she is just a click away in the internet/blog world. Read and be encouraged, affirmed, and challenged. (Her blog link is in the right hand column somewhere over there. Check out the Dallas conference in February.)
During the Saturday morning devotional she said one of those things that you can’t just let go—a word picture so loud that you can’t turn it down.
“So many times as Moms, we spend so much of our time straightening a picture on a wall when the whole house is burning down.”
By His grace, I feel my house is far from burning down but I knew all too well what she was communicating. How many days go by that I have corrected Julia and Brighton for this and that or reminded them to do this or that, but haven’t spent even 10 minutes nurturing their hearts, investing a little of myself in them? What irritation and frustration they must feel on those days. What kind of person do I seem to them on those days? Thankfully, as I sense the Lord directing my parenting even more closely, I feel like I am getting the bigger picture—His picture. It’s truly all encompassing- our calling as Mothers. It’s a giving up of our selves and our own agenda every day in order to invest pieces of eternity into their hearts.
I cannot forget my role of helping shape their view of our Good and Mighty God, of leading them to treasure God’s Word in their hearts, of teaching them how to choose between a good choice and a bad choice, and of modeling how to respond to God and others in difficult circumstances. This has to be my focus instead of the do’s and don’t's and the this and thats.
So if you ever stop by, see my pictures (which are hard to miss), and find one ‘just a little to the left’, it might be one I missed with my handy sticky putty stuff, or it might just be crooked on purpose.
She did great on the rock climbing wall. She made it to the top and spun the owl's head!
Her first horseback ride on a old horse named "Ace", which she thought was funny name for a horse, was perfect. We had to tug and pull his reigns and kick him a little because he kept wanting to snack on the way.
She loved the cabin with all the girls along with many daddy long legs. After seeing her first one and finding out that they were harmless, she threw her share OUT of our cabin.
The cafeteria experince was one of her favorite things too. Fun drinks and dessert every night was almost more than she could handle.
When I ask her what her favorite thing was she says, "When you painted my finger nails AND my toe nails!" (You might can tell from her smile (?) in the picture.)
Probably my favorite discovery was when I called home and spoke with Brighton. When I was about to say goodbye he said, "Where's 'Juuuya'? I want to talk to her." And talk he did. Julia just listened and smiled. I realized it was there first time apart-- for this length of time. They gave each other big hugs on Sunday afternoon.
When we dropped the Cheek girls off, I got back into the car and found her crying. She had held it together long enough. She was worn out. I asked her why she was crying and between her sniffles and sobs she said, "I am sad it's over."
Momma was too.