Thoughts from the Road – Hearts at Home National Conference
Motherhood, Life Lessons, Adoption

Thoughts from the Road – Hearts at Home National Conference How a hot mess beginning leads to a faithful ending …

The trips are starting to take their toll. It seems as the weeks pass, I find myself falling further behind in life. My kids miss home cooked meals, my friends are questioning my existence and I am tired. However, when you KNOW that you are living out your purpose, it is all worth it. It IS worth it. This weekend was a beautiful confirmation that I am exactly where I need to be.

My trip to Peoria, IL started with me sleeping through my alarm and rushing around to get to the airport. Once at the gate, I patted myself on the back for getting there on time. Realizing that I actually had a few moments to spare, I called a friend to catch up. I got so engrossed in our conversation; I didn’t even notice that everyone had boarded the plane except for me (please say you can relate). I quickly hung up and busted onto the plane like a bull in a china shop. The tiny plane was packed and all eyes were on me. Now, I am not a shy girl and was pretty sure I could handle the attention. However, when my carryon wouldn’t fit in the overhead bin and I sliced my pinky finger in the attempt, my confidence began to waiver. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the most lovely, well-put woman shaking her head at me (with a big, “bless her hot mess” sign flashing).  I fumbled to the front of the plane, dripping blood from pinky and informed the flight attendant that my bag wouldn’t fit. She encouraged me to just tuck it under my seat. As I headed back to do just that, I saw the same lovely lady flash a perfect smile and softly say, “I am pretty sure, if you just turn the wheels, your bag will fit in the overhead bin.” I was in a full blown sweat at this point and with a smirk on my face, I asked the flight attendant if she would like to try and turn my wheels and get my bag properly stowed. Of course the bag didn’t fit and I shoved it under my seat. As soon as I got comfortable in my tiny spot next to the window, I realized that I didn’t have my headphones or journal. The man next to me had already closed his eyes, so I quietly leaned forward (and sideways) to get to my bag. Again, I looked over and the Ms Lovely was now shaking her head with a little more passion. Without harming my neighbor, I retrieved my headphones and journal, took a deep breath and settled in for the flight.

After gathering my luggage and greeting the driver, I turned to meet the other speakers who were on the same plane. Oh yeah, you guessed it. Ms. Lovely… she was there. She was speaking on fashion at the conference. Of course she was.  It was actually a very funny moment when she realized that I too, was one of the speakers. Without hesitation, I let her know that I would not be speaking about having it all together and in fact I began every talk I give with, “Ladies, know this about me… I am just an imperfect, hot mess sharing my journey of motherhood.” I went on to tell her that she should consider herself lucky that she was able to experience this hot mess first hand, before anyone else at the conference. We had a good laugh and I am pretty sure we are on our way to becoming dear friends. She really is a very lovely lady and Shari Braendel, if you are reading this… I am getting my hair colored chocolate brown tomorrow morning! I adore you and want to be more like you when I grow up!

The rest of the weekend was filled with amazement. The Hearts at Home staff runs a conference better than anyone I have ever seen. From the communication beforehand, to making sure their speakers are cared for, pampered, supported, and rested, and providing an inspiring weekend for participants, everything was above and beyond. Seriously, Hearts at Home staff and volunteers, you deserve a vacation in Tahiti filled with foot massages and naps in the sun. Well done! Well done!! Thank you, Jill Savage for having a dream and seeing it through. You are changing lives! Your team is changing lives. I am beyond grateful that I was allowed the privilege to serve with some of the most amazing women I have ever met.

For two days, I enjoyed sharing my messages of Making Motherhood Count (without getting swallowed up) and My journey of Adoption. I had the opportunity to hear some of the participant’s stories, as well. Beautiful stories. I have been humbled by the emails, texts, FB messages and calls that I have received. I am thankful my barefoot, free spirited self didn’t scare most of you and I am beyond grateful that God can use a hot mess momma like me to inspire and encourage others.

3 AM came early (and Rob Thomas was no where to be found) on Sunday morning. My flight home was a lot less eventful than my flight to Peoria. I sat next to Laura Petherbridge, another beautiful soul who spoke on the stepfamily at Hearts at Home. We shared stories of our journey and quickly found ourselves in need of a catnap. Plane landed, luggage located and as I began to drive north towards home, the exhaustion and gratefulness of the weekend collided. I cried and prayed, asking God what He had for me that Sunday morning. I wouldn’t get my sweet kids back until late that afternoon, so I had some time to kill. I decided to drive to the lake, feel the sun, and journal about my weekend. After my time in the sun, I met my dear friend and her daughter for a quick lunch before she headed back to TX. This is when God decided to put an exclamation point on my weekend. As we were getting ready to leave the restaurant, I heard someone call out a name to an employee, a name that had a significant meaning to me. Her name was the same name of the mother to a little girl I had known as my own for three years. We called this little girl, Phoebe. Not sure what made me do it, but I whipped my head around to see if I could sneak a peak at this lady. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was her, it was Phoebe’s mom. I had dreamed of meeting this woman for five years. I had yearned to find out how my Phoebe Joy was doing. Could this be real? Yes, it was. I was able to meet, talk with and share my heart with this beautiful mom. I saw pictures of Phoebe and she looked great, really great. I encouraged Phoebe’s mom and told her how much we loved HER daughter and how we would enjoy seeing her daughter again. I wanted her to know that I supported her, believed that restoration is always the right thing and Phoebe was exactly where she needed to be. We hugged and I left that restaurant completely overwhelmed. I sat in my car and sobbed big, ugly tears. I cried so hard I could hardly breathe. Wow. What a beautiful way to end an amazing weekend. This weekend started out with a reminder that I am a HOT MESS and ended with a reminder that God is not. I drove away, reassured that God has us. He has this hot mess. He has my precious Phoebe and He has YOU. Rest in His faithfulness.

You can still register for the 2016 North Central and Southern Hearts at Home conferences. Please do whatever it takes to show up, you won’t regret it. I look forward to seeing you there.