It was several days before I knew that we would be leaving for Charlotte North Carolina. My daughter, Shelby had brought to my attention last January about attending a conference called She Speaks in the North Carolina Well you, see when you say the word North Carolina, I’m already in. It is one of my favorite places in the whole world. We started going there when our son was only four years old. Why? Because he loved Thomas the Tank Engine. Thomas, you know, the “real” and very big Tank Engine was going to be at the Smoky Mountain Railway. We set out on a new adventure, never having been to North Carolina. What’s in North Carolina you say? Mountains and pines trees. I am a pine tree fanatic. I love trees and I might or might not (wink) have planted 250 pine tree seedlings with a four month old baby secured on my back. That’s how much I love the Carolina mountains because they have the prettiest pine trees. So when Shelby mentioned going to the conference, I said, yes go ahead and sign up and we can make this our Mother/Daughter get away. We said we would chose one thing to do or to go to each year. In the mean time, I kept wondering what will I do while she’s at the conference. Weeks later, Shelby said, “Mom, why don’t you just go to the conference too”. I told her that I had been thinking the same thing too. So, she signed me up and paid the money. As time was nearing, I was getting a little anxious about how we were going to get to North Carolina and who would be driving and such. The last time went to North Carolina, we had had 3, yes 3 separate instances with semi’s and a kid almost plowed into us coming off of a ramp and crossing three lanes of traffic almost slamming into our car. He had headphones on and it scared him so much that he pulled completely off the road. There was screaming and crying, it was so bad. The van was swerving back and forth so badly, I thought for sure the we were going to lose control. I can’t even believe with all the traffic no one was around us in any lanes at that point. I really believe God saved us by having his hand upon our car that day. So, the least to say, I was really, really, dreading the drive. We were leaving the boys at home this time and you know all the things a Mom thinks about…..my mind was going there for sure. The what if’s. I had been praying for a couple of months about what God would do at the conference. Mostly about what He was doing in my daughter, Shelby’s life since graduation.This conference was actually part of her graduation gift from us. She had loved writing since she was a little girl. She had kept piles of journals all through her younger years all the way through college. Her second grade teacher approached me one day and told me that she was submitting Shelby’s little illustrated story. In high school Shelby had been Editor for The Potter’s school online magazine and also spent several years editing and submitting for Devo magazine. When she entered college for writing and English, she had a teacher that was very discouraging, so much so that she changed her major. It had been a traumatic experience for her when the teacher had lost a written portion of her test. She had been very confident in the written portion of the test. She distinctly remembered putting her name on both pages front and back. She emailed him several times with no answer. Then she went to his office twice and he finally told her that he couldn’t find it and that he would give her a percentage of what was handed in. This professor’s study guides for test were 27 pages long. I won’t go into further detail, but he seemed to make the classes so hard that instead of guiding and encouraging, it was completely the opposite. It makes me sad that if not for his two classes and her grade, she would have graduated with honors. She still graduated with honors in psychology, but I feel that you pay so much money to go to college it should be a truly learning experience with professors that build you up. That’s what they are there for and what true education is about. She tried and tried to work with him and he never would offer any help, but the bad grade. This was so disturbing to her that during the summer break, she decided to change her major to psychology. She was devasted by this professor. How could this be after writing for several years and winning two scholarships with Scholastic. She was invited to New York City for her awards and she had a year long class prepping for Advanced Placement in English Literature. She had taken 2 or 3 English Literature tutorials classes and had always been an A student. Not only did this professor lose her test and give her 50 percent. She had gotten the worst grade she’s ever gotten EVER in school. This was a discouraging time. So Shelby put her writing in a corner. She had been very hurt and walked away from writing for two solid years.
But God…..God was working on it. God always has a plan. Don’t you love that about our God? Phil:1-6 Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. So this year when Shelby graduated, that verse was our theme. I had her write it out in big letters on the biggest, prettiest, chalkboard that we could find. Hot pink neon pink letters. Amen! So praying before hand I asked God if it was his will to redirect her back to Him, to see if he had writing in mind as her God given talent. I believe that verse with my whole heart.
When we arrived at the conference, as you walked in you could feel the excitement, the joy. Everyone was smiling! Shelby and I had signed for different classes and a few of the same. The main conference where they had set up big round tables for the ladies is where we met first beginning with praise music. Then we had none other than the main speaker of Proverbs31 Ministry, Lysa Terkuerst. I have been following her ministry and listening to her tapes when she was speaking for MOPS International. Some of these ladies from long ago inspired me to be the Mom I have become today. So exciting to see her in person! Shelby and I had seen her in Springfield last fall at a conference and she was so funny. So, we were really pumped to see her again. If anyone can make 1 Samuel an entertaining and funny, it Lysa. I love the way she tells the story of Nabal, David, and Abigail. She’s such a good storyteller. I love the way she brings you into a story that you can relate to. It was such an honor to get to experience so many willing and sharing hearts. Hearts that have been through alot. Being able to relate to people is so important and I was very blessed. I took a couple of classes with Karen Ehman, I found her to be very delightful, very down to earth. She is a very good teacher and shared a wealth of good information on the writing process. She is a New York Times best selling author and some of her books include Keep It Shut, Let it Go, and Pressing Pause. I had read her first two books mentioned here and enjoyed them very much. We also got to meet Shauna Niequist, author of Present over Perfect. Her talk was very funny and we learned very valuable nuggets to take home with us. We also got our picture taken with her just in the nick of time before she was wisked off to the airport. Shelby read, underlined, highlighted and wrote all over the sides of the page with Shauna’s book, so I think I’ll have to get my own copy. The most memorable talk that we went to was Wendy Blight, author of Hidden Joy in a dark corner where she tells the story of being assaulted in her apartment one day after graduating from college. She along with speaker Micca Campbell, author of An Untroubled Heart. she also had a very inspiring story. These two ladies gave us so much more than a talk or class about writing. They took the time to annoint each one of us with oil and prayed over us. It was not hurried and they allowed the Holy Spirit to move as he desired, they gave everything they had and declared God’s annointing over our lives and over the gifts and talents that He has given each one of us. Wendy Blight had written an Armor of God prayer that we all read together at the end. It was so powerful and so humbling. I will never forget that day as long as I live. We also got to hear Nicky Koziarz and a little bit about her book “The 5 habits of a Woman who doesn’t quit in which I read on the way home. The sweet spirit of Jesus was all through this day and I am so thankful for the willingness and the sharing of these sweet ladies generous hearts.
We stayed in a bed and breakfatst called Cedarwoods in Davidson, North Carolina. It was the neatest little college town with the prettiest house I’ve ever seen in my life. Tom and Sue were our hosts. They served the best breakfasts each morning, and were the sweetest people. I didn’t realize getting so close to Charlotte, they were more like little coastal towns. The crepe myrtles were in bloom everywhere. Every home has a sun porch or sun room. Most people have a separate garage and little cottages and sheds that connect to beautiful little gates and courtyards. I was loving this so much just driving around and taking pictures of the houses. The countryside with horses and beautiful gardens everywhere. Little churches splattered here and there as we drove along with our windows down. Yes, windows down in July, it was such a nice break from the hot and humid summers of southern missouri. I did not want to come home, then I never do when in North Carolina, but missed my boys and my little Jovi.
The next day we headed on over for 2 hour drive to Boone North Carolina for a photo shoot with Shelby and her new friend Ashley. Ashley’s parent were such lovely people. I just love the south, the people are so friendly there. Here at the Moses Cone Estate where you can meander among the many acres where they have fishing, horseback riding and trails among the wildflowers with the mountains as backdrop, well, it’s a place you can spend many hours. They even have an antique apple orchard. We usually stay in a log home rental called Maggie’s Place, but wasn’t available. I like to know where I’m staying. I’m kind of picky that way, so staying some place new was a concern for me. At the end of the day we in which it was almost dark, we needed to get on up to our place for the night. We found it in the dark, and yes we were at the top of a mountain. Like I said, I had be worried that we wouldn’t like our place, we’ve had some adventures with mountains in the past. But we got to our place and underneath a bell it said “Angel Ridge” and underneath the entry doorway, it said, “Love generously, Praise Loudly, Live Fully. Upstairs in the cabin was a loft like sitting area. In the corner there was a bookshelf full of christian books. I did notice that the people from North Carolina are very proud of their very own Billy Graham, a lot of christian authors from around that area know him personally. I was just so amazed that God lead us to this peaceful cabin. I was so touched by the scriptures hanging on the walls and the little angels sitting around here and there. I remember hearing a sermon by John Lindell a few months back and him saying “God wants to bless us”. I know sometimes will all of the hard things that happen in our lives, it’s hard to believe that sometimes. But, He really does want to bless us and he blessed us on this trip. He wants us to live fulfilling lives.
Walking away from the conference, here’s what I learned. Karen Ehman spoke on living intentionally. That really spoke to me all weekend and even after we had come home. I think sometimes, when certain trials come along in our lives, we can get off course. The enemy can distract us and we stop living intentionally. We’re get so distracted with just every day life and we don’t focus on the right things, on Godly things. I have been loving this verse so much lately that I bought a water colored print of this verse. Phillips 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think such things. So this was a reminder to start living intentionally again. To live my hearts calling, to live intentionally for God, with my husband and my family. I knew my direction the whole time I was homeschooling and raising trying to live a righteous life and trying to raise a Godly heritage. But the enemy wanted to take that away too. He hates family and marriage. In the last few years, we had some really hard stuff to bear. I mean hard and very sad stuff. Losing my husbands Mother and sister within 4 months of each other and our son going through an illness for a year, I got off course, I was barely getting by and all this while my daughter was falling in love. Bittersweet! I had to remind myself daily who’s I was and who I should keep my focus on. So this living intentionally was like a fresh dip out of the watering pail.
Like I said in the beginning of my post, I was anxious about the driving, the traffic, leaving the boys to fend on their own, my garden and the heat, my sweet kitty, Jovi and where we would be staying. I just needed to trust God. And God surprised me with His goodness at every corner. It was absolutely perfect from start to finish. No, things don’t usually go that way. But, oh when it does….it’s so special. You know you are His and that He loves you. I am so grateful and so thankful that God filled me up so much more than I could have ever imagined. He had everything under control. Oh yea of little faith. Yes, I’m still a work in progress, but the journey is where it’s at. Right girls? I am thankful I got to be with my sweet one. I love seeing her grow and what God is doing in her life. I know she was very inspired by all the authors and speakers. I believe this verse for her with the teacher in mind that sidetracked her only for awhile. Joel 2:25 “Then I will make up to you for the years the swarming locusts has eaten. the creeping locusts, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust. My great army which I sent among you. Here’s to you sweetheart that God will continue to bless you in your writing he started in you and that someday if He will’s it, you will continue in your writing endeavors for God’s glory. This my friends is exactly why I don’t mind meeting with God in the mountains.
Blessings to you!
Thank you for reading my little Carolina travel. Many blessings!