Nine o'clock at night found me slumping into my squishy old recliner, sighing so that Clay heard me from the other room. One more bedtime routine had found me at the limit of my patience. As I looked at the landscape of the months ahead, I just felt an overwhelming feeling of, "I don't think I can make it. I am so tired, so drained, so weary. I just wish I could have a break, a rest, a time to regather my ideals."
Clay walked into the room and said, "What happened? Why the tears?"
"Motherhood is just so hard. I feel so alone and so responsible without help, affirmation or companionship in all of my ideals as a mom. Mainly, I feel so alone and unseen."
This was the context in which we decided to start our mom's conferences so many years ago. I thought if I needed encouragement as a woman, that others might, too.
Now, during this very challenging time of history, when Christian values and commitments seem to be falling apart, gathering with like-minded women is more important than ever before. I have been preparing my talks for this year's conferences and am really excited to share my heart of encouragement with as many of you as are able to attend a Renew My Heart conference.
The last 20 years, we have hosted more than 40,000 women at our conferences. But this year, I wanted to do something even more focussed, more personal, to seek to provide a mentoring weekend. I As I enter a new season of ministry to moms, perhaps the final lap in my race with God, I have an even deeper desire to mentor, teach, and encourage women in their profoundly important roles as moms and life-givers. I want to help women from every role in life understand more deeply what it means to have faith in Christ and grow in that faith as His follower.
I find my heart focused on what so many precious women I have ministered to through the years have shared with me about the challenges of motherhood and life, and their need to be constantly renewed by God. And that is what I hope to do this year, and for as many years as God allows me to continue speaking, through the new Renew My Heart Getaway. It is on my heart to renew your heart. I hope you will join me as we start a new journey with God in 2017.
The new Renew My Heart Getaway will be a different kind of event. Many women through the years have told me they would like more of me, more time for interaction with other moms, and more time for reflection. After the final Mom Heart Conference in February 2016, I thought and prayed about “what’s next?” and discussed it with Clay and my Mom Heart leaders. It became clear to all of us that the next season of events needs to be slower, more personal, and more interactive, focusing less on topics such as how to be a “good mother” and more on how to be “God’s mother.” We want to strengthen and renew the spiritual life of all women. After 32 years of parenting, I’m convinced that being God’s mom is the most important factor in being a good mom, spouse, and friend. And to be God’s woman means you need to continually renew your heart by His Spirit. That’s the vision and purpose of the Renew My Heart Getaway.
It has been amazing to start our podcasts and to find that thousands of women join me and Kristen Kill each week to share a space of encouragement, the same kind we will be sharing at our conference this year.
The theme this first year is Hope Changes Everything: Think Different. Live Different. Make a Difference. In all my years of ministering to and mentoring Christian mothers and women, a common thread of comments has been, “This is so hard. I don’t know if I can keep going. I am so discouraged.” I understand those feelings. There were many difficult years when I, too, was tempted to give up, not just on motherhood but on getting through life itself with all its challenges, changes, and choices. My faith in God was always my strong foundation, but the thing that energized my faith was hope–biblical hope, our “anchor of the soul.” Hope renewed my heart so I could move forward in faith. And that’s what I want to share with you in this first year of the Renew My Heart Getaway–that no matter where you are in life, if you have hope it will make all the difference.
My newest book Different (2017), co-authored with my 27 year-old Nathan, is the catalyst for my thinking about heart renewal for the 2017 messages. On the surface our book is about what it was like to be an “outside-the-box” kid, and the mother of one. Underneath, though, it is the message that no matter what curves, potholes, and speed bumps you encounter on the road of life with God, there is always redemption and hope. I will also be drawing on my other recent books, Own Your Life and The Lifegiving Home, to explore the hope that we all need as moms and women after God’s heart.
After well over two decades of ministering to Christian moms, my heart still beats with a passion to give them hope and help for their strategic role in God’s plan. My mind is alive with vision for how to reach and help more women—the Internet; Mom Heart groups; Spanish language materials; “Mum Heart” in the UK, Canada, and AUS/NZ; ministry in China; and more. Every time I’m with special friends like you it is what fuels and helps to fund that vision, but even more it is what fuels me to continue in ministry.
What can you expect from the new Renew My Heart Getaway? It will be both familiar and also new. As always, I will share my heart with you in several key messages (just me this year; the kids are all out in their worlds). Clay and I have partnered for all these years, and he will still lead us in worship. Our book table will be smaller, but we’ll still offer the best of our best personal recommendations. We’ll share a lovely meal on Saturday, and have plenty of time for warm fellowship and friendship. It will be a getaway and get-together to get renewed. I hope you can be a part of this new event as we take hold of the hope that changes everything so we can make a difference. That’s what I’m here for. That’s what we’re all here for. Join me.
In His heart,