Friday, April 15, 2011

Time Out For Women recap: Friday

Wow, what an incredible weekend - last weekend, that is!  I knew Time Out For Women was going to be good, but I didn't have a clue what treasures truly awaited me.  It was, in a word, perfect.  All of it.  Perfect.  The program is without question an inspired one.  Just when I felt as though one presenter was my favorite, the next would get up and blow me away.  I kept thinking, "How did s/he know I needed to hear that?"  It was as if God was speaking directly to me.

This year's TOFW theme is "Choose to Become", and while each presentation possessed its own individual topic and charm, they all came back to the same idea of choosing to become what our Heavenly Father would have us be.  Beautiful messages were shared, and I only wish my mom and mom-in-law (and all of the other amazing women in my life) could have been there with me to partake.  In the midst of a healthy combination of laughter and tears (trust me, there was plenty of both), I took about 7 pages worth of notes.  There was so much more I wanted to document and remember, but I'm not a very fast scribe.  :)  I wish I had a recording of the entire program so I could listen to it again and again.  And I wish I could somehow capture that spiritual energy I felt and keep it in a bottle to open up and inhale on the days ahead when I might need a boost.   

Friday evening's speakers included John Bytheway and Kris Belcher, and music was provided by Michael McLean.  Here are some thoughts and quotes that stuck with me from Friday's portion of the program.

"Nothing is particularly difficult if you divide it into small jobs." -Henry Ford

Being the somewhat uptight-with-perfectionist-tendencies kinda gal that I am, I get overwhelmed pretty easily.  Most of the time the problem stems from the fact that I view my tasks as a whole and not in portions.  I'm impatient, wanting results NOW.  And because I'm so focused on crossing the finish line, I fail to endure the journey reasonably - one step at a time.  This quote by Henry Ford is so basic yet so dead on.  It gave me comfort to realize that even some of the big tasks with which I am faced really aren't impossible if I just have the right perspective and game plan.

Bytheway also referenced the common saying, "An apple a day keeps the the doctor away", and in speaking of the power of a simple apple, he likened the concept to our spiritual health, presenting this question, which he challenged us to ask ourselves: "What is the one thing that if I could stop doing today would make the biggest difference?"  He then asked the same question but this time replacing "stop doing" with "start doing."  And finally, in keeping with the TOFW's theme, presented this question, "What could I become if I did this each day?"  What a hopeful message this conveys, and what countless possibilities await us all if we ask ourselves these questions and then act on them.

John Bytheway has been around for a long time.  I've heard a talk or two of his in the past and read bits and pieces of his various books.  One of them, which I have, is entitled, 'How to Be Totally Miserable'.  The guy is just plain funny, and while I've always known this, I didn't really appreciate his humor, knowledge or spirit until I sat in the same auditorium as he.  He is truly inspiring.

Kris Belcher was pretty dang awesome too.  She was also hilarious, and I think I laughed during more of her talk than anyone else's.  She is legally blind as a result of a recent battle with cancer, and has experienced much in her life.  Yet she herself said, "It's okay to laugh, even when it's serious, heartbreaking and horrible."  The topic of Kris' talk was 'Living Vertically'.  She said, "The winds that are blowing, if we allow them to, will blow us to the Savior."  In other words, our trials and tribulations, though excruciating at times, will take us to our sanctuary if we allow them.  The title of one of her books, 'Hard Times and Holy Places' really sums up the theme of her message.  And while I'm sure I experienced this long before last summer, it was during Neil's time away that I for the first time recognized this happening in my life.  It was awful having him gone, and while thousands of women do it every day and I know my situation didn't even hold a candle to theirs, I still struggled.  I also found, however, that it was in those moments of loneliness, uneasiness and confusion that I fell to my knees - mostly because I didn't know what else to do.  And it was through falling to my knees that I found my "holy places", with God.  It really is a beautiful concept.

Here are a few other thoughts Kris shared:

"Turn your frustrations heavenward, into prayers.  Focus your feelings upward."  She spoke of Nephi, who encouraged us, before doing anything, to pray and promised that God would consecrate our efforts for our benefit. 

And finally, she said this:

"Try living vertically.  See if your rough edges are not smoothed out."  I especially loved this because I, as most women probably do, feel I have many rough edges.  Too many to name, in fact.  But to know He has the power to smooth those rough edges, to make our weaknesses our strengths, is a very encouraging and real truth.

Micheal McLean provided music between Bytheway's and Belcher's messages, and while it took some time, by the end of the evening he had grown on me. It wasn't so much his music, style or personality, but the spirit he carried that really got me. I wish I'd jotted down more of what he said, but his overall message was that of encouragement and hope, reminding us how truly exquisite we are in the sight of God.  He reminded us that God knows us each so well, and takes more interest in our day to day things, thoughts, feelings, challenges, experiences, etc. than we can even imagine.  He played a song about adoption entitled, 'From God's Arms, To My Arms, To Yours'. Even though I have not had a personal experience with adoption I have been touched by others' stories, including a good friend of mine who has adopted two boys. And, well, I think as a mother it's impossible to not be moved by the lyrics of this inspired piece. I'm sure it's more fitting for a woman to sing, but I found this on YouTube, and since this is how the song was first presented to me, I'd like to share it with you.

I left Friday's program already feeling edified and renewed.  And I could hardly wait to see what Saturday had in store for me.  More on that soon...


paulak said...

I LOVE THAT SONG...NATURALLY. Thank you for posting that.

The Goulds said...

I can't wait for ours!!!! It's not until Nov :( Last year was amazing & after reading your post I think this year will be just as good if not better!

Wendy said...

Sounds like a very spiritually gratifying experience, and I'm so glad you had the opportunity to go. I wish we could do something like this together! Love you.