And it continued the next day. We got up at our leisure and made our way to the hotel's continental breakfast, before heading next door to check out The Cracker Barrel's famous gift shop. I have to say, that is a great place to find something to take home to a 10-year-old boy! Treasures galore! Spy glasses! Exploding pop bottles! All sorts of toys that make endless amounts of noise! All I needed was some piece of Red Sox memorabilia and Connor's souvenir needs were met.
The daytime agenda for Friday had been a trip into Boston for shopping and sightseeing, but the tropical storm was apparently barrelling down upon us, so our wise bus driver and tour leader made other plans. They found a mega-mall in Burlington, MA, that easily satisfied this group of ladies, all with purses full of credit cards and US dollars waiting to be spent. Tracy and I spent the majority of our time at Justice (a little girls' clothing store), Crate and Barrell (beautiful things, but a waste of time when you only have one suitcase) and Macy's, where we found some awesome deals on children's clothes (including that important Red Sox t-shirt). We met the rest of Tracy's gang of girls at The Cheesecake Factory for lunch, where we wisely ordered our cheesecake to go. Afterward we spent 45 minutes chasing down a few other favourite stores before we hopped back on the bus to head back to the hotel. We passed a lazy couple of hours in our hotel room with our cheesecake and a quart of milk, and then got ready for the main event, the Living Proof Live conference.
I know I've mentioned Beth Moore and the awesome Ladies' Bible Study group I left back in Fredericton. We have shared many hours and many tears with Beth over the years. I was so excited to finally hear her speak in person. She always seems to know exactly what I need to hear when I need to hear it. God has certainly used her to get through to me on a number of occasions, and I wondered what He was going to show me through her this time.
When Beth announced the passage we would be studying for the weekend, I was surprised to find that it was Luke 2, the Christmas story. But it was the particular verse that she was going to expand upon that touched me. It was one of my favourites: vs. 19, "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." I have always loved this verse, especially since I've become a mother. I love to think about Mary just sitting back and treasuring all the wondrous things that were occurring in her life, and really digesting their significance in the grand scheme of things. The title of Beth's message was "The Lost Art Of Treasure". I can't think of any better way to share what it meant to me than by listing her eight main points.
- There are treasures out there! This really hit me from the very beginning. I remember thinking: She means there are treasures everywhere. Even in London.
- They're not my treasures until they make it past my defenses. Hmmmm... That one hit it's mark! For six months I've been quite conscious NOT to call London home, not to start loving anything about it, not to let it reach my heart. I'm not going to experience any treasures here until I let them into my heart.
- Treasures strung together can bring healing. It is finding those treasures that is going to ease the pain of being so far from home.
- Most people will miss the treasure entirely. Of all the people who experienced Jesus' birth, Mary is the only one who took the time to treasure it. I want to treasure the special things about this time in my life, and in my children's lives. I don't want to miss it because I'm bitter about not being in New Brunswick.
- The fine art of treasuring got lost in the same trash as our time. As someone who has been a working mother in the past, I understand lack of time. But that can't be my excuse now. I have plenty of time to treasure the great things God has to offer me here and now.
- Where there is one treasure, there could be many. Really, it isn't that I haven't been treasuring anything lately. I have been very thankful for the gifts that I have recognized: our trip to Indiana, Tracy's surprise visit, our parents' visits, our trip to NB in the summer, seeing Peter Pan at Stratford, having the Moores visit us on Labour Day weeknend, my trip to Toronto next month with Julie and Denise, and this trip to Boston with Tracy. But I know there are treasures in the every day here. They are the ones I need to appreciate.
- We'll minimize our treasure if we look past the hardship and pain. Beth said: "When you go through things in life that you think should have killed you, but they don't, you know it's the all-surpassing power of Jesus Christ to save you. Treasure!" I remember a dozen years ago thinking I didn't know how people live through multiple miscarriages. I believe I treasure my children in a completely different way than I would have had I not experienced heartache in trying to have them. Not that I love them more than I would have, or more than other parents love their children, but in a very different way, on a different plane of understanding. Well, I never thought moving would kill me, but I did think I'd be pretty much miserable. And I often have been, but that's my fault. I haven't allowed God to pull me out of my funk and show me all the treasures He has to offer me here. And those treasures will be so much the greater because of what I had to go through to get to them! I think it's time.
- When you feel like you've lost the treasure, look for Jesus. I have always known where I need to go when things don't make sense. Every major challenge of my life has been overcome by taking it to Jesus. He is faithful. He has all the answers. And He holds the treasures in His hands.
I headed to the front doors with Tracy, and said goodbye to her and her sweet friends that I had gotten to know that weekend. Then I went back inside for a bit to avoid the traffic, look at some of the books and CDs for sale, and see if I could find any of my BM girls from Fredericton. I was lucky enough to catch Kandy and Carol on their way out, and I had already had a nice chat with Janice and Sandra at break time. It was so good to see their familiar faces and share some warm hugs! Then I was on my way.
The trip home was much less eventful than the trip down on Thursday. I got to Buffalo at 10 p.m. as scheduled, fueled up with some English Toffee Cappuccino at an American Tim Hortons, and started the 3 hour trek home in the rain. After I crossed the border I put on a CD that I had gotten at the conference of Beth Moore speaking at another conference. She certainly knows how to keep you awake! This time her message was about desire, and she finished speaking just as I pulled into my driveway, happy to finally be home, and ready to treasure everything about it.