I know its late to write about, but back in June I had the incredible opportunity and privilege to go on vacation by myself.
And it was so much fun, and so relaxing, and so refreshing, I have to blog about it so I can look back and remember what a true luxury it was.
It all started when a friend mentioned The Gospel Coalition Conference in Orlando, FL coming up in June. Her hubby is deployed and she thought she might leave her kids with her inlaws and go soak in the good news of the gospel at the retreat. The idea sounded so good, I mentioned it to Nick, and he unhesitatingly agreed that I should go.
In fact, he insisted. Despite the $$ cost of the conference, lodging, food, and travel. He wanted me to have the chance to get a away on my own, without the kids, and to renew my faith and outlook on life, and to sit under pure and beautiful preaching of God’s word that I so often miss while keeping kids still in church etc. etc.
And so that settled it. No way was I going to argue. I’d just been handed a 5 day vacation to Orlando, FL with a good friend (we actually invited many more friends to join us, though it ended up just being the two of us). Take it! My hubby arranged to take 5 days off work to stay home with the boys, which was no easy task (both in getting the vacation time, and in surviving three little bundles of energy for 5 days) and sent me on my way.
We drove down to Florida on a Thursday. It was a 9 hour drive, but the time in the car flew by. My friend, Becky, and I talked the entire way. Catching up, sharing life experiences, mulling over deep questions, and meditating on the Lord. And literally the time flew by. We couldn’t believe how fast the trip went. Or how easy it was to make stops. All we had to do was see a Starbucks, run in, get our lattes, hit the bathroom and jump back in the car. None of the unbuckling, rebuckling, “hold my hand,” walk across the parking lot, “no, don’t jump on the chairs,” “please stand still in line,” “oh I wish this Starbucks had a drive thru, and “oh no, this bathroom only has one stall.” Nope. Just in out and in 5 minutes. So easy, I almost felt guilty.
The Women’s Gospel Coalition Conference started on Friday afternoon, so we checked into our Double Tree Resort, and lounged at the pool both Thursday evening and Friday morning. I don’t know that I have ever (???) sat poolside and just relaxed like this. Perhaps I did a few times before kids were born, but just sitting and swimming and reading at the pool, without worrying about anyone of my kids drowning was such a luxury.
After a leisurely morning and an incredible breakfast at the hotels restaurant, we headed off to the conference. And had our hearts willed with gospel message after gospel message. It was incredible. It had been a long time since I’d heard so much uninterrupted solid preaching and teaching. Literally, we attended 18 one hour long sessions filled with the gospel, gospel, gospel in the course of 2 and half days. It was truly incredible. We heard from John Piper, D.A. Carson, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Tim & Kathy Keller, Noel Piper, Paige Brown, Jenny Salt, and many other influential authors, teachers, and preachers.
I think what I was most amazed with, was how solid everything we heard was. For a women’s conference, I had expected there to be more fluff. More touchy feely kind of feministic type stuff to have worked its way into a conference for women. I mean, wouldn’t you? I also kind of expected it to be more light, instead of true solid exposition and profound teaching. And isn’t that the stereotype anyway? That women want to hear about women’s issues (marriage, parenting, homemaking etc) instead of the gospel message and expository preaching? I fell prey to the stereotype and was OVERWHELMED with how good, uplifting, refreshing, and amazing the pure gospel message is. And oh boy, I needed to hear it. I needed to be there, to soak it in, to drink it up, to renew my faith and purpose and reason for living.
No, I do not live for my kids, for homeschooling, for cooking culinary masterpieces, or gardening the best garden, I live for Christ because he died for me. And the gospel needs to be at the center of all and everything that I do. ALL and EVERYTHING.
One of the simplest and best take home messages I received was from Don Carson, the president of the Gospel Coalition. It was just a small part of a large exposition, but it hit home. He said, “People may not remember anything you said, they may not hear your preaching or your sermons etc, but they do remember what you are passionate about—so what are you passionate about? What do you care about most? Is it the gospel? Does it exude from you? Does it influence every statement, comment, Facebook post, and interaction you have with others? Are you known for the gospel? Or are you known for your big house? Your gourmet cooking? Your stories about your kids? Your political views? Your business savvy? Or are you known as one who is passionate about the gospel?”
Oh man, it was a beautiful convicting thought provoking message that I hope I’ll always carry with me. I thought about my day to day interactions, how I talk and speak with my kids, friends, husband and family, and how they are so rarely filled with the gospel. Do my children know me as one who loves the gospel? Or do they think I’m most passionate about them sitting still in church or putting their shoes on the right feet? What comes out of my lips more? What do I teach and discuss and tell them about all day? Is it how to be obedient (law) or is it that Jesus saves sinners (grace)? Of course they need the law, they need to learn to obey, but they need the gospel more. They need to know that Jesus died for sinners like them, for children who can’t obey. That there is hope and redemption in Christ for lost and foolish people like us.
I could go on and on. It was such a good conference and time away.
I sure missed my hubby and kids though. It was so sweet to come home, refreshed and renewed and to be greeted at the door by my four favorite men. Praise God!
After we ate dinner together and relaxed a bit, I poured out my heart and experiences and learning to Nick. I told him I didn’t realize how tired and apathetic I had become, how lazy and disheartened I was, or how much I needed The Word of God to dwell in me richly. And by contrast, how uplifted and encouraged and zealous I was again for the Lord and for His work after hearing God’s word preached so faithfully.
Nick was so delighted by the new light in my eyes and the encouragement I received, he told me he thought I should get away every year for something like this. And what am I, crazy? I didn’t argue!!! I just gave him a big huge kiss. I don’t know about every year, but just that he wanted to give me this opportunity again was an incredible thought. Especially because my next getaway will involve him watching 4 little boys on his own.
Brave and wonderful man of mine.
* you can listen to all the lectures from the conference online at The Gospel Coalition