The last seven days have been a bit of a whirlwind for me. The weekend was spent in Seaside, OR for our annual church ladies retreat. I got home on Sunday afternoon and repacked my suitcase so I could take off early Monday morning for Coeur d’Alene, ID. Our pastoral team attended our network’s Annual Conference there. While I don’t want this to be a pregnancy blog, it’s hard not to mention how being pregnant played into these two trips. First off, people treat you differently when you’re pregnant. Going away to the beach with 90 ladies made for a few awkward moments for me. Everyone means well, but I had some crazy moments. It’s hard to not feel like yourself and then to not be treated like yourself. Overall, the biggest downside for me was that I didn’t have enough energy to keep up with the schedules and the hopping from retreat to conference was just a little too much. Lucky for me, I have no plans for today! It’s been a total recovery day! I’m staying in my pajamas and catching up on recorded TV shows. Of course, I’m doing laundry, but I’m letting the house wait until tomorrow.
Starting off with ladies retreat, the theme this year was “Dare to be:____”. The purpose was to fill in the blank with whatever you felt that the Lord was laying on your heart. I was really stressed about filling in this blank, because honestly I had no clue what I was going to put there and at the end of the conference you were supposed to turn in a card with the blank filled in. My perfectionist side knew I had to come up with something because just like a homework assignment I couldn’t leave it empty. I had joked with a friend that I should put dare to be a mom. It was just a joke but then I found myself being pressured to put that answer, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want a word that would put me in a box. I’m a little tired of being put in boxes. It’s too hard to define me by one aspect of my life. It’s too multi-layered. After a lot of thinking and praying, I came up with this: Dare to be defined by God alone. It was perfect! I have been feeling the weight of my many roles lately and wondering how I’m going to add “mother” to the mix. It was overwhelming me. I decided that I’m done being labeled. I’m done trying to fit into boxes. I’m done trying to be one thing or another. I’m ready to just let the Lord speak to me and have his love define my life. To him, I am more than I what I can offer people. Seriously, let that sentence sink in, I am more than what I can offer people! I live my life thinking about how I can serve my church, serve my family, serve my husband, serve my friends, and now serve this little life growing inside me. But who am I apart from these things? When it’s just me and Jesus? I needed to be taken back to that base level relationship where I am just me. Being just me is okay with God. He loves me and made me this way. He wants a relationship with me because I am his special creation – no other reason! It’s time to make things simple.
Annual Conference was held in Coeur d’Alene, ID this year which is a beautiful lake side city I visited over a decade ago and loved. I was so excited to return there! The only downside is that the conference was held all day and then the evenings were filled with dinners out. By the time dinner was over it was usually between 8-9pm and I had been going for 12+ hours. All I wanted to do was go back to the hotel and go to bed. This conference could have happened anywhere because I didn’t really do much in Coeur d’Alene besides attend the conference, eat and sleep. I was so tired after the late nights at the ladies retreat and the long days, that I was a bump on a log most of the time. Darn pregnancy energy level. Annual Conference is meant to inspire pastors and propel them forward in ministry. This year was hard on me. As everyone is dreaming of plowing forward in ministry, I’m contemplating scaling back so I can raise a family. I still plan on being involved in ministry -I’ll continue to teach and lead beside Jeremy, but I also plan letting some things go. My biggest fear is that our child will feel second place to our jobs and I don’t want them to hate the church and hate God as a result of that. I want to be intentional to put my family first. Honestly, I don’t know how that looks yet. I’m not sure what things will work for our family and what won’t. All I know is that my life is going to look different. It was hard in an environment where everyone is pushing forward to know that I’m going to be pulling back. There can be some guilt that comes with that. Logically I know that raising a family is an extremely spiritual endeavor and that I’m going to be more accountable for raising my kids than leading a ministry. My head and my heart struggled with priorities and where I am going and what my life is going to look like.
I could have gone into detail about the weather and the hotel rooms and the food we ate, but I thought I would get to the heart of the matter. This week away brought up more within me than I expected. It was rough stuff at times as I processed, prayed and sought the Lord for direction in my life. I wasn’t a social butterfly,which I felt bad about, but this year is different. I’m in a different spot and my life is going to keep changing in ways that I can’t even expect or imagine. There is nothing wrong with where I am at and I know that many ladies have been in my place trying to figure out that same balance and wondering how they can do it all. I’m realizing that I probably won’t be be able to do it all, but that is okay. As I let myself be defined by God alone, I have a feeling that there is going to be amazing freedom to just me! I’m excited for that! Praying I can walk in that daily and let go of all the other definitions and expectations!