Grace for the Journey Conference 2012

Sufficient Grace Ministries hosted our first ever conference for bereaved moms on October 13, 2012 in Harbor Springs, Michigan. It was quite a jaunt to the northern region of Michigan, but a beautiful drive, speckled with autumn’s colorful splendor. It’s always most beautiful the week before the anniversary of my mother’s home-going, beauty straight from the Artist’s hand unleashed on the Earth He so tenderly created. Thoughts of her were ever close as we traveled.

We left on Thursday, October 11th, in the late afternoon. Holly (and Evanee, of course!) along with her cousin Jillian met me after picking James up from school. We loaded the plethora of goodies donated by some dear friends (including my favorite pulled pork from barbecue extraordinaire, Santos Melchor, owner of Just Like Dad’s BBQ and filled cupcakes from Rachel’s Cakes) into Holly’s van and off we went.

It was about a 5 hour drive to the beautiful cabin in the woods of northern Michigan Holly’s family co-owns, and generously allowed us to make our home during our trip. I was pretty sure there had to be bears lurking in the shadows as we made our way down the long sandy road, deep into the woods to the cabin.

We were all pretty tired, and I feel asleep quickly in the tiger-themed room, even though I didn’t have my husband’s snoring to soothe me to sleep, my “sound machine” that usually does the trick.

The next morning, I awoke to see the beauty surrounding us, the breathtaking sight of the lake that had been hidden in the dark when we arrived the night before.

The view from the balcony of Holly’s family cabin…

 

Although the air was crisp and cool with autumn, I had to get outside to worship. Filled with awe and peace, I bundled up (in Holly’s coat, since I forgot mine!), grabbed my bible, gratefulness journal, and some hot tea and headed out onto the patio to sit at the feet of Jesus awhile before starting our day.

We ate some delicious cinnamon rolls with home made icing, thanks to sweet Holly, and made our way into Petoskey to meet with the OB staff at McLaren Hospital. The drive was spectacular, and we caught a glimpse of Lake Michigan when we arrived at McLaren.

I had some delightful Lake Michigan fish at the family diner we chose for lunch, and we met with the hospital around 3pm. We spent the next hour or so sharing our stories briefly and telling about SGM, as well as hearing about the ways the folks at McLaren support grieving families. We left them some information about SGM and a Dreams of You package.

On the way back, Holly and I had to stop at this little gem of a store, named String of Pearls (reminded us of Laura Huene’s organization, also named String of Pearls, a fellow supporter of bereaved families). We vowed to return the next day, and when we did, we picked up a couple items for the SGM building, including a gorgeous clock we both fell in love with, and Holly generously donated to SGM for our new building. She also brought one home!

 

We had supper at the Big Buck Brewery, and although the beer cheese soup I ordered was delicious, the migraine and car sickness prevented me from fully enjoying it. Which was a bummer, since I’m typically a food connoisseur! Holly and I did take home a big jug of home made root beer, though. And it was delicious!!

 

 

We stopped to take some pictures of the lake by the cabin at dusk. I thought the lake was called Lake Otsego, but I think Holly called it Blue Gill Lake. Have no idea where I came up with Lake Otsego. Whatever it was called, it was beautiful…

Saturday morning was another busy one, as we scurried to get ready to meet Jenny Ross for lunch and to prepare for the Grace for the Journey Conference. It was great to hug sweet, beautiful (and very tall next to my short!) Jenny, mommy to Isaiah, in person for the first time.

We sloshed through the rain in our heels to unload the mountain of items we brought to set up for the conference. I was missing my men/boys, who always seem to be there to prevent me from carrying heavy items. I realized how well cared for I am, and how grateful I am to have been blessed with my men who would never allow me to get all soggy with my heels sinking in mud! After some computer glitches and other minor issues, we were ready to greet the ladies who made the trip in the rain for our little event.

 

Thank you to Just Like Dad’s BBQ and Rachel’s Cakes for the delicious food! Everyone loved the cupcakes and proclaimed the pulled pork the best they ever had!! (I’m not surprised!)

 

Thank you to Beth Morey from Epiphany Art Studios, Stephanie Dyer from Beyond Words Designs, Lynnette Kraft, Sueann Chavez, My Forever Child, Rest in Hope, Payton’s Precious Memories, and Holly Haas for donating our prize items, in addition to the Dreams of You Memory Books, Comfort Bears, and other items we brought from SGM.

 

I spoke first about our family’s testimony and finding hope through grief’s journey. There were some mothers and a few cargivers in the audience.

Jenny shared next about her son Isaiah, and the importance of offering compassionate support to grieving moms.

 

We took a break for some yummy food and fellowship. One of the most important parts of the gathering was the sharing that took place freely among the women.

Holly spoke next about honoring the memory of our children.

One of my favorite parts of the conference was during our panel discussion about sibling grief and other topics. It was so special to hear each mother share from her heart. We shed tears and nodded with understanding. It touched my heart deeply when Darci said, “It’s safe to talk and cry here.” I thought of how quietly so many mothers carry this weight of grief, and this sacred remembering of babies while most don’t welcome the mention of their names. Her words and the words from all the mothers in attendance, made the drive to northern Michigan worthwhile, even though I wish more mothers could’ve joined in the blessing.

 

After some more fun giveaways, we ended the evening with a candlelight ceremony, since since the rain put a damper on the Lantern Release we had planned. We each held a candle and said the names of our sweet babies as we lit them in the quiet room. We prayed together and sang Amazing Grace. It was simple and precious…and just right.

It was great to meet Rachel from Still Standing magazine…

And Madge…

And to share the evening with these amazing ladies (Madge is taking the pic in this one!). The caregivers who attended also not pictured here.

 

I loved laughing with these beauties…

The next morning, we visited Jennifer’s church, where we somehow didn’t take a single picture of our cute display. Jenny shared a bit about SGM and we talked to several mothers who passed and stopped to share their stories, including a NILMDTS photographer who is getting started and looking for memory items. We were pretty tired when we arrived back at the cabin to pack up for the ride home, and so grateful when we found Jillian had already folded the towels, washed the bedding, and made the beds while we were gone. What a blessing!

We saw this rainbow on the way home…

 

We would love to host more events like this one, and now that we have a building to use, that just might happen in the near future! Thank you to those who joined us, to Jenny for inviting us, to Madge for all your help, and to all who helped us make this possible for these mamas. It’s important to gather and remember…to encourage one another and share the sacred places of our hearts in a safe place. We were never meant to walk alone!

Coming soon…some more updates, and our October 15th Remembrance Day and Lantern Release…

Comments

  1. Thank you for making the trip up North! You wrote this post so beautifully…… I didn’t know that you saw a rainbow on the way home!!!! I’m speechless! I had an overpowering feeling of Isaiah that morning, and now it has been confirmed…… He was watching, and proud of his mommy. (sigh) <3

  2. What a wonderful trip. I hope next year I will be closer to where the event will be and I can attend as well.

  3. Hazel Flint says:

    This looked like a wonderful time, so wish my ride hadnt let me down

  4. It was such a great time and blessing!

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