Friday, April 27, 2012

Las Vegas Retreat - And a Worthy Cause


Last weekend, our family took a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas so I could attend our 15th Power of Moms Retreat, which was organized beautifully by Tiffany Sowby and Becky Fife.

We started out with a Friday night Mind Organization for Moms session at Becky's house . . . and after sitting in the car for seven hours (which should have only been 4), I showed up 15 minutes late--with barely enough time to change my shirt, since I'd spilled my lunch all over myself. (Totally typical.)




Everyone was so nice, though, and they didn't even comment on my wrinkled clothes or my "car hair."  That's what I love about Power of Moms friends.

The following morning, we gathered back at Becky's for a full day of training, small group discussions, and delicious food by Rachel's Kitchen.





Becky is such a champion for motherhood.  Look at this cute welcome sign she made:


That melted my heart.

I'd only met Becky once before, but she treated me just like a sister.  What a talent it is to make someone you barely knownfeel totally at home.  I have so much to learn from her gracious, warm style.

Tiffany Sowby, Becky, and I led most of the training sessions, and though I didn't take nearly enough pictures, Becky and her niece let me borrow some of theirs for this post.

Our keynote on Saturday morning was Stephanie Waite from the blog, "A Daily Scoop."  I've gotten to know her through her blog over the past several years, and it was such a privilege to get to meet her in person.  






She reminded us to enjoy motherhood now--even when it's a struggle.  And she shared some beautiful analogies about appreciating contrast in our lives--as we would appreciate the light and dark in a piece of art.  It's the hard times that help us enjoy what's truly going right.

Stephanie lost her little girl Camille about four years ago, and the perspective she has regarding motherhood is such a treasure.

Throughout the day, we had lots of group discussions:








To see women gathered in small circles, talking energetically about the family-strengthening ideas that mean most to them, is breath-taking. Our first discussion group focused on the joys of motherhood.  What brings the most joy?  What are the "joy suckers"? and How can we bring more joy into our motherhood?

I walked around and listened in a bit, and the feeling in the room was simply beautiful.  These ladies savor the small moments.  They know how hard motherhood is, but they feel the joy, as well.  They've caught the vision.  They're dedicated to their families and will do anything for them.  I feel empowered by their devotion.

And is it not just so fun to see little babies there?  They are our inspiration.


I snapped a quick picture with our new friend Beth before she had to head off.  Her family lives in Illinois, and they just happened to be vacationing in Las Vegas at the same time we were holding our Retreat.  Her husband sent her for a relaxing day away with The Power of Moms and took the children swimming at the hotel.  Oh, I appreciate supportive husbands (mine included).  And Beth had so many great things to add to the conversations.  GREAT to finally meet her!


Last weekend was my first time working this closely with Tiffany, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  She is one of those "solid" mothers . . . funny, kind, smart, and so focused on what really matters.  (She'll be with us in Park City, if you'd like to meet her on Mother's Day weekend!)

This is the one photo I do have of Tiffany, Becky and me.


I want to go through my notes and record all my ah-ha moments from the weekend because I learn so much at each Retreat.  One thing Becky said that really stood out was that professional athletes, no matter how great they are, only "succeed" somewhere between 30 and 50 percent of the time.  (She brought out a life-sized Michael Jordan cut-out to emphasize her point.)

Even if we, as mothers, only do 30% of what we want to do, that is amazing.  We can consider ourselves professionals.  My husband keeps reminding me of that fact whenever I feel like I'm not measuring up.

A huge thank you to everyone who made this Las Vegas Retreat possible.  It's always sad to say goodbye after a Retreat.  My only consolation is that we can meet again soon.




***

And as for the worthy cause I mentioned in the title of this post, my dear friend Chrysula, who is one of the most kind-hearted women I've ever met, is working with the United Nations Foundation on a campaign called "A Shot at Life."

They're raising funds to provide 1,000 immunizations to children by Mother's Day.  This is definitely something I'm willing to support. (Suggested donation amounts start at just $5.)  

I am incredibly grateful for good people in the world.  It is a privilege to get to associate with you.  Thank you for helping me to be a better mother.


Love,
April

Monday, April 16, 2012

Never Meant to Be Alone

I'm feeling incredibly humbled and very grateful this week. My article at The Power of Moms, "Your Children Want YOU," has had more than 310,000 likes on Facebook and about a million views, and it's been difficult to know how to respond.

I've read every single one of the nearly 800 comments, and oh, the love I feel for the mothers of the world.  I smile when I think of their sweet experiences with their families, and my heart aches for those who are struggling.  I have felt the comfort extended by those who have lost (or are losing) their own mothers, and I feel so impressed with how willingly mothers rally around each other with encouragement.

We are all on the same team.  We need each other.

In fact, the main theme of this week, for me, has been that we were never meant to go through this life alone.  Our relationships our central to everything.

The Power of Moms is more than a website to me.  It's where I gather with other women who want to be their very best.   My dear friend Saren and I have been working on this community for nearly five years--with the help of our sweet husbands and a devoted board of more than 30 volunteers who have believed in The Power of Moms from the beginning.  (They jumped in and worked for hours and hours this week to keep things running.)

About half of of our board members are pictured here:


It's these women, in addition to the incredible members of our community, who inspire me to be present and deliberate in my own home.  They refine my vision of who and what I can be.  They are my online family, and any deliberate woman in the world is welcome to join us.  I love this organization.

My heart is also full of appreciation for my husband and children.  They've been my rock this week--reading the comments with me, taking on extra housework so I can respond to the massive influx, and dancing with me in the kitchen when they can see I need a break.  I know I'm lucky to have them.  Very lucky.

And there's one more thing that has become absolutely clear:

God is here for each one of us--even on those days we think no one can possibly understand what burdens we are carrying.

The emotions I've felt this week have consistently taken me to my knees and to the scriptures.  I can't begin to describe the details, but I have come to know with undeniable certainty that our Lord is aware of each of us.  He has a perfect love, immeasurable power, and a beautiful grace that can sustain us when we feel we have nothing left to give.

I already had a great love of the Lord, but I have come to love Him even more this week, and I can't not be a witness of that love.  He never leaves us alone.

Thank you all for your support.  My prayers are with each of you, and I am grateful for these online connections--when our lives can touch--if only for just a moment--and we can inspire each other to remember what, really, is most important.

Much love,
April



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