This weekend my mom, daughter, and I went to Time Out for Women and Time Out for Girls San Antonio.
We stayed downtown Thursday and Friday nights. We ate a late lunch Friday at the Rainforest Cafe. The chef came to talk to us about what we could eat that was gluten free before we ordered. It was delicious.
After lunch we made our way to the Convention Center.
We were early and just happened to be at the right place at the right time when John Bytheway arrived. I got to speak to him and told him how when I was a youth, we’d drive long distances to multi-stake dances regularly. We often listened to some of his talks on the drive. I told him that I, too, can draw both my first and last names in Pictionary. He gave me a fist bump (twice). It was truly awesome getting to talk to him.
After waiting in line for well over an hour, we got into the ballroom and grabbed seats on the fourth row right to the left of the stage. Soon after, Time Out for Women, day one, started. We began by listening to GENTRI. They are truly incredible. They talked to us and sang some more between the speakers and at the end.
Emily Watts spoke to us about the gift of an imperfect mother. She was so funny. She reminded us we don’t have to be perfect as long as we are trying and doing our best. My favorite part was where she talked about helping her grandson put together a Lego kit. After 30 minutes, she was getting frustrated and figured it would be easier for her to just put it together for him. Then she realized it wasn’t about the perfectly completed Death Star. It was about the process and learning and growing on the way to the end product. Just like everything in our lives.
John Bytheway spoke about charity. He was just as awesome as I remember him from when I was a teenager. He began by telling us that as a kid he wondered if charity, the pure love of Christ, was love for Christ, love from Christ, or love like Christ. His answer? Yes. He reminded us that while we have our to do lists (and I do love my to do lists), we need to have to be lists. In among this he told the story from a book he read, Mafia to Mormon (I added that one to my to read list!), and was just so tickled with himself when he told us he had just given his oldest son’s e-mail address to the 350 girls in the Time Out for Girls room (Ani e-mailed him, he e-mailed back… he’s a good sport even when pranked by his dad).
We were up not-so-bright and early Saturday morning and headed to the Conference Center for the second day of Time Out for Women. We got seats in the third row to the left of the stage this time. 1500 women were in attendance.
Our day started with a performance by Mercy River. Their music is beautiful. And Whitney made me realize that, like her, I’m Dance Party Mom. Impromptu dance parties with the kids are the best! They continued to sing and talk to us throughout the day between the speakers.
Elaine S. Dalton spoke to us about becoming an elect woman. She was the Young Women General President when Ani turned 12. She taught us to be PROS. Pray morning and night every day, reading in the scriptures at least 5 minutes a day, be obedient to the standards, and smile, first thing in the morning, at yourself in the mirror. We are the virtue ladies!
Lisa Valentine Clark talked about how we’re all in this together. She told us our biggest strength is in our differences. Her brother is the lead guitarist in Maroon 5, another brother is a doctor, and a sister has been on Project Runway twice. Pretty impressive, but their talents and what they bring to the party doesn’t in any way diminish her own. Each of us are important. After all, the woman who figured out how to add clearanced Halloween candy sealed in number 10 cans to her food storage is going to be pretty popular at the gathering after the apocalypse. The most important thing we all need to ask ourselves is am I doing the best for me and my kids. If so, we are doing the right thing whether or not someone else seems more amazing.
S. Michael Wilcox spoke on the majesty of forgiveness. He was, by far, the most serious of the presenters. His talk had so much in it. He told the story of Susannah Cibber and Handel’s Messiah. At the end of the amazing performance given by this scandal-ridden outcast of a woman, Reverend Patrick Delany jumped to his feet and yelled, “Woman, for this be all thy sins forgiven!” He, like the Savior, saw the woman, not the sinner. He begged us to do the same for all our fellow men (and women). He reminded us that after forgiveness has been sought or given, we should bury our weapons of the past and never dig them up to wound ourselves again.
We had almost an hour and a half for lunch. We went to Fuddruckers. They give the option for a burger on a bed of lettuce (which I got) or on a gluten free bun (which Ani got). We managed three days and two nights away from home without getting glutened! I think we’re getting the hang of this gluten free thing. When we got back, Ani filled out a tag with a promise for what she’d do to make the world a little bit of a better place (you know… decrease world suck). Mommie and I had done that on Friday. We got to choose the color of ribbon we wanted to tie our tags up with and they gave us little dandelion pins to wear.
Early in the day Hank Smith had asked that we appoint someone in each of our groups to be the designated person to get us back to the ballroom on time after the lunch break to be sure he wasn’t speaking to a room full of nobody. He congratulated us on the success of that assignment. He spoke on experiencing our plan of happiness… even when that plan changes or varies from what we wanted or expected. Happy people surround themselves with other happy people, choose to be happy, spend money on others, laugh, have deep in-person conversations, exercise and have a healthy diet, unplug and go outside, use the power of music, get enough sleep, and take time to meditate. He reminded us it’s all about our attitude and accentuate the positive. I’d never heard of him before this weekend. I am SO glad we got to see him. He was definitely one of my favorites!
The final speaker was Emily Freeman. She talked about finding God’s fingerprints in our lives. She reminded us that instead of asking God why, be willing to go through the fight. It might be our preparation for whatever God wants us to do and become. She told us we are evidence of God’s hand in our lives and we are living proof of His fingerprints everywhere.
Speaking of fingerprints, on Friday evening in that mass of glowing, beautiful women, we ran into a women I grew up with in Maryland (her family moved to San Antonio about the same time we did). She was with her sister and mother. Our moms hadn’t seen each other in about 10 years and were so happy to see each other again. About 3 years ago, Jamie was on travel to the city where my friend’s sister lives and the sister fed dinner to my husband one Sunday. How cool that we all ran into each other!
After we wrapped up the day, I noticed the women from Mercy River were standing near the front so my mom and I went over to talk to them for a couple minutes and take a picture with them. Nice wrap-up to an incredible weekend!