Monday, April 04, 2011

Faith and family Mom's Day Away

Hallie Lord 
 I didn't sleep much the night before,  I was worried about having a backache when I drive (turns out I was right, four hours on the road gave me a bad backache), and, knowing my daughter set the alarm for 6AM, I shut if off, intending to sleep in and arrive late. But my guardian angel had other plans, for at 5:30 AM, I was awake, walking out of the house by 6:15. A major accomplishment, though Christina did pop up in her bed like a piece of toast. Why is it that on school days, you could run the INDY 500 through the bedroom without waking her up, but try and sneak past her on the weekend, and she's wide awake? Gabbi took over for me, and I grabbed a coffee and ran for the car before guilt keep me home. I needed a retreat to restart my Lenten fervor.
 I was on the road as the sun was clearing the horizon, and at a pit stop, I found my John Denver CD (the one that makes the teens roll their eyes) and played it, full blast, singing along to "Country Roads";my day away was off to a roaring start! I was greated in St Patrick's Church in Stoneham by two friends from CT; Robyn Lee and Lynn Wehner, and I knew that the conference was going to feel more like a reunion than a roomful of strangers.Soon Rachel Balducci came over to say hello, and I felt like I was at a family reunion.
I found a table near the sun-filled window in the most beautiful church auditorium I've even seen, with Palladium windows and vaulted, timbered ceilings, thinking it was as pretty as a church (that's only because I hadn't seen the church yet, it was breathtaking).
Though most of the women at my table were stranger from as far afield as Martha's Vineyard and Maine, thanks to plenty of breakout sharing sessions in the day, we shared from the heart about our stuggles to live  as holy moms and wives. By the end of the day, we took a group photo and promised to look for each other next year.
When Pat Gohn began singing "Come Holy Ghost, Creator Blest" I knew this was going meet my high expectations. The Holy Spirit indeed was there, in the loving embraces of women who met online and were now meeting face to face, the fervent prayers during Benediction and the Scriptural Rosary in the gorgeous church, and the beauty of women's voices lifted together in traditional eucharistic hymns. There was a perfect blend of fellowship and sharing, quiet prayer and funny speakers, good food and perfect take home  gifts (each attendee received a lovely chaplet from Melanie Gillespie from Trendy Traditions and her choice of Noah's Ark or Jesus and the disciples toy set from Bible Toys). Three women from my table won prizes, handmade necklaces, Mystic Monk coffee and lovely hand cream and goat's milk soaps. We felt pampered in body, mind and spirit.
I enjoyed the reminder from Danielle Bean that we can ask God for help in every minute of the day.  She was in rare comedic form, explaining how a simple trip to the post office to mail a tricycle can lead to a lesson in learning to trust God in the little (or no so little) things. Rachel Balducci reminded us to offer God even our frustrated desire for prayer, as she described circling the parking lot of the adoration chapel unable to find a spot, while precious time to pray before the Eucharist ticked away. She gave us the takeaway line, "Love inspires more than the law requires", to remind us to give love the more difficult people in our lives without counting the cost, so that we too can be saints.
Some of the bloggers at "Faith and Family Live" pose for a photo
  Jennifer Fulweiler's talk centered on how fear can keep us from getting closer to God, we fear that He will not give us the grace to do what he asks of us. The common theme was putting prayer first, beginning our day with ten minutes for Our Lord, and remembering Him throughout the day, to keep our daily routine centered in His will. Hallie Lord, aka Betty Beguiles(see her at the podium in the first photo) was the picture of femininity in her red dress and platform shoes, balancing her baby as she spoke to us about her terrible night in the hotel room with a sleepless baby. It reminded me of the time American Life League was giving me an award for this blog, and Gabbi, Christina and I stayed in a hotel in Washington DC the night before the ceremony. Christina had a stuffy nose, and I took a taxi at 3 AM to find nasal spray. No one slept much, and I felt awful when it came time to give my acceptance speech. Such is the life of a mommy who blogs, these ladies do it with such grace and sincere love, that the 'comparing monster' was nowhere to be seen. We were swimming in a sea of love.
Pat Gohn said we should ask God to speak to us through the speakers of the day, and my message from Our Lord was to start the day with ten minutes for Him. I have been getting better at a daily rosary or Mass, but still, there are days when God gets my last ten minutes, as if He were on my to do list. We reminded each other in our sharing time at the table, that a day given to God is a day which has peace and order, and goes better than when we do it alone. If Jennifer Fulweiler can find time to pray the Divine Office with little babies, then certainly I can get up ten minutes early and give my day to God in a morning offering and short meditation.
Thank you Pat, Danielle and my new friends at my table (last photo) for a wonderful day which has me happy to serve God right where He has me; wife, mom,and a  blogger.

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Lynn Wehner said...

So great to see the smiling face of a CT friend as our day kicked into gear. We were blessed to have you there, Leticia ... I'm praying for you for your upcoming talks. God is surely smiling on the beautiful work you're doing for His children :)

Melissa said...

Such a nice recap of our beautiful day away! Thanks for posting the pictures, too! -Melissa S.