I've saved the best for last but that's just because it was the last thing we went to that day. Candace & I were in line by 1:45 for this 2:30 event and I felt very sorry for the conference that was actually attempting to go on while we were all lining up outside. Anyway, we got in the junior ballroom a little after 2 and found it quite hilarious at the people trying to track down the various Duggar children for autographs and pictures. Bless their hearts, they were trying to do their jobs! They were trying to pass out a few goodies to us all -- a picture of the family, a 2-sided sheet that had information on one side on the difference between flattery and praise and how to appropriate praise our children and on the other side, a chart of different character qualities they try to stress with their children. There was also so information handed out on the plan of salvation and some information on the curriculum they use from a place called "The Advanced Training Institute" or ATI. About 2:15, Jim Bob Duggar was spotted and a line quickly formed. They started relatively close to on time (surprising for Duggars, if you watch their show!). Jim Bob introduced his wife and then Michelle took the stage. She opened with prayer and then encouraged us to pray for her because she said a crowd this size made her weak in the knees (she joked how she's used to speaking to groups of about 20 -- ha ha!). Then she told a story that I know will stick with me forever. She asked if there was anyone in the group that 2 or more children under the age of 6 and lots of hands went up...then she moved on to 3 children under 6, 4 children under 6, and 5 children under six. There weren't many hands left up at that point but then she asked if anyone had 6 children under six. I think she counted 2 hands....Then she recounted how she had 6 children under 6 and was pregnant with her 7th when she had a spiritual moment that changed the direction of her life. She was up at 1 AM doing laundry when she began sobbing, mostly from exhaustion. And she said God the Father spoke to her and asked "Michelle, it's easy to praise Me when things are going well. Will you praise Me when things aren't going well?" And then, she said, she threw her hands up in surrender and the only thing she could think to say or do was to sing "The Joy Of The Lord Is My Strength" which she sang for us (she has a lovely voice!). 6 short hours later -- at 7 AM -- they were at piano lessons. She made sure to tell us all to never schedule piano lessons for 7 AM! Anyway, while falling asleep during piano lessons, her children's piano teacher asked if she was okay and, long story short, this sweet piano teacher has come to do their laundry for 13 years! Michelle's point was that God knows what we need and when we need it and if we're surrendered to Him, He'll give us or somehow send us the help we need! QTS (question to self): How often do I actually live my days surrendered to Him instead of trying to work things out on my own? She talked quite a bit about surrender -- perhaps we need to surrender our idea about how much sleep we need (boy, that hit close to home!) or perhaps we need to surrender our idea of a perfect family or perfect homeschool.... She interjected the need for a schedule with the thought being that they don't always meet their schedule but at least there's a goal, at least they have something to shoot for. Then she moved on to anger and talked about another "epiphany" (my word, not hers) of teaching her children about meekness. She, feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit, apologizes to her children (still 6 under 6 at this time) for yelling at them and makes the commitment to whisper when she feels the urge to raise her voice. And then she told the funny story of this new-found commitment being tested almost immediately. She was changing a diaper when an older child asked if they could have the half a can of pineapple left out on the counter for snack. "Yes you may," she tells the child, "but you have to wait on Momma to get it for you." That child didn't wait on her and tried to help his/herself and ended up making a GIGANTIC mess. Instead of yelling, which was her gut instinct, she asked the child to go wait for her in the bathroom while she thanked God for giving her such a huge mess to clean up so she could calm down before "chastening" (her word) that child. And she made the point that when we're tempted to yell "WHAT DID YOU DO?!?!", we should stop, keep calm, and instead ask "What did you do wrong?". Make sure you get the child to acknowledge what he or she did that was wrong so you can make sure that child understands because, in this situation, when she asked what that child had done wrong, the child replied "Spilling the pineapple and juice" when the real issue was the disobedience of not waiting as he/she had been told. (Personal interjection -- for more info on getting to the heart issues with your children, read "Sheparding Your Child's Heart" by Paul and Tedd Tripp.) There was another thing that she brought up and I desperately wish I had been taking notes -- she talked about having one-on-one time with her children and always asking 3 questions, of which I can only remember 2. First was "How are you?" and the 2nd was "Is there anything you haven't told Momma and Daddy that you want to tell me about now?" I really wish I could remember that 3rd question. Such a great idea when you're alone with your kids, things I've never thought about.
This was such a blessing! I was soooo convicted at some of her points, especially concerning surrender and anger, and I cried quite a bit (although I managed to not blubber like a baby which is what I usually do once I get started) so I probably wouldn't have been able to take notes after all! :) If I ever get the chance to hear her again, I know I'm going to jump on it! Our culture needs much MORE women like Michelle and far FEWER strong-willed and outspoken women, amen?