Oh my, how do I even attempt to sum up such a wonderful day? Words will not do it justice, but I'll try my best. I'm even skipping my self-mandated Sunday afternoon nap to bring you this update.
You're welcome :)
Well, let's start at the very beginning...a very good place to start.
On Friday my awesome friend IBL (In Blog Land) and IRL (In Real Life), Lisa, flew up to visit. She just really wanted to see me. And perhaps, attend the Mom's Day Away hosted by Faith and Family Live. I'm not really sure why she came, but she brought cookies and had me at hello! Though it was more like "HELLO!!! Ahhhh, so great to see you!!!" She's friendly like that.
We talked the night away (well until 10:30 when I was about to pass out from exhaustion) and boy does she have amazing stories to tell. She has lived through more crazy experiences than anyone I know - what a hoot! On Saturday morning we woke up early (Lisa was amazed that our kids woke up at 5:30 am - no need for an alarm clock!) picked up another friend and headed to Stoneham, MA. It was just over an hour drive. St. Patrick's Church was BEAUTIFUL. Go here to see pictures of the place.
There was an hour for registration and coffee/pastries first thing in the morning. As soon as we walked into the main room, I spotted Kate Wicker (Momopoly), and yelled out, "Kate Wicker!" and luckily she recognized me, and gave me a hug. Our pregnant bellies bumped :) I was so excited to see a "celebrity" blogger and soon-to-be author (her first book is due out August 1st), and she was so nice and friendly and just so great.
My friends spotted out Danielle Bean, whom at first I didn't even recognize because she was so teeny! I ran up to her to say hello, and this is what came out:
Geesh, I'm real smooth when I get super excited! She was so gracious and even signed my copy of her book that I had brought.
As she was signing it, she said, "I know you...you're Colleen from Martin Family Moments!" I was floored, how could my hero know me? Does Justin Bieber know my adoring niece? Does Julio Iglesius know my smitten mother? Does Peter Kreeft know my idolizing husband? No! But Danielle Bean knew me!! I'm sure someone tipped her off as to who I was, but don't tell me. I want to live in this fantasy world for a few more days :)
Then we took this picture:
Lisa, Kate Wicker, Danielle Bean, and a very-pregnant-me!
(And yes, Lisa and I were dressed as identical twins!)
This was Danielle, happy to finally get away from me ;)
Actually, she was the first speaker, and gave an amazing talk "One 'Yes' at a Time" - full of funny stories and great advice. The best thing she said was that we shouldn't compare ourselves to other people. She said what we tend to do as women is to compare our interior to someone else's exterior. We look at all the great things a person portrays publicly and compare our innermost turmoils and struggles with that. I found this message so inspiring, and a great reminder, especially when I read other people's blogs and see their "perfect lives" that they are willing to show. Nobody wants to show off their dirty bathroom, so they post a picture of their freshly painted family room instead. Anyway, it was great!
Then during a quick break, I went over and introduced myself to Hallie Lord, who many of you know as Betty Beguiles:
Then, Jennifer Fulwiler from Conversion Diary gave the next talk entitled "How Letting Go of Fear Can Change Your Lives". She gave some great advice on the negative impact fear has on us, and steps to take to overcome it. These are her five steps:
1) Put prayer first.
2) Do a radical act of trust by acknowledging your limits.
3) Let go of fear-based humility and acknowledge your strengths.
4) Remember that God always brings good out of evil.
5) Take it one day at a time. Reject fear each and every day.
Jennifer is also pregnant with her 5th child, and had to give this talk on only two hours of sleep, with a cold. Poor girl! But she was perfect!
In between talks, we were able to have small group discussions with the people at our table. We were blessed to sit with Cari Donaldson, from Clan Donaldson, who was so funny and charming. She is also a mother of five, with her oldest being eight, just like me!
Cari and Lisa
Rebecca Teti, who writes for Faith and Family Magazine (and online) also sat with us.
She is the mother of three boys and one girl (sounds familiar!) and was by far the most popular writer at our table!
Another wonderful woman sat with us that has 8 (yes, eight!) children and her last two were twins! She told me that all of her married life, she was fearful of having twins, even though her kids prayed for them. She thought, "Nope, God wouldn't give me twins because He never gives you more than you can handle." Well, turns out she can, and has, handled twins! She says she received so many graces from having the twins, and was truly an inspiration.
In the middle of the day, we
ate feasted on a delicious lunch of chicken, salad, hummus, potato salad, and freshly baked rolls. It was so yummy!
After lunch, we had Adoration and a Spiritual Rosary which I have never prayed before. You hear a gospel passage after each Hail Mary that pertains to the Mystery, and is a constant reminder about what you should be meditating on during the Rosary. I loved it!
We also had time to take more pictures:
What an amazing group of Catholic writers! I was so happy to meet Melanie, whose blog I found after introducing myself online to her husband, Dom, who is also an FUS grad. They live in MA, her husband works for the church, and they have lots of young children. (The similarities never cease!) And Simcha is one of the FUNNIEST bloggers I have ever read. Seriously, you must go check her out.
Then it was Rachel Balducci's turn to talk about how "You Too Can Be a Saint!". Her three steps towards Sainthood include:
1) Be Yourself
2) Love Your Life
3) Desire to be a Saint
Rachel: Do you have any boys?
Me: Ummmm, we think this one is a boy...
Me: Oh, yeah, and I have three more at home. Whoops!
Rachel politely smiled and nodded, and wondered who this crazy fan is.
She was great!
We also scored some great swag:
This day was so wonderful, and I truly came home feeling refreshed and renewed. I hope it becomes an annual event, and I promise not to act so star-struck next time ;)