Reconnecting * Recovering * Reflecting

by sarahmfry, April 19, 2008

After 5 years of being squirrled away in the deep south during IHC, I was very excited to get to go back. My excitement was dampened by the fact that my better half was home teaching and studying and thus I braved the elements alone with three monkeys.

The stage was set after a busy week of getting over (I thought) a 10-day sickness on Sunday, rushing to Cincinnati Sunday night for my mother's surgery, rushing back on Monday night, teaching on Tuesday, running errands and packing on Tuesday night, Teaching on Wednesday, running errands again, jumping in the car with all the kiddos and driving as fast as my husband allowed me all the way to Dayton. I was unspeakably proud of myself for not making one single wrong turn all the way from Frankfort to 5th street!! Those of you who know me understand what a miracle that is. Thank goodness for Mapquest.

The real fun started as I made the journey from the parking garage to the Crowne Plaza lobby with 3 kids, a double stroller a large suitcase and a diaper bag. Everyone around me received a lesson in patience as my stroller stuck in doorways and the suitcase stuck in the elevators. The kids could not WAIT to find some cartoons. After dressing everyone, we actually made it to the service in one piece. I was blessed to the tips of my bones as the choir powerfully sang:

"Under his wings, under his wings. Who from His love can sever? Under His wings, my soul shall abide. Safely abide forever."

I was reminded of who I am and why.

But by Thursday afternoon, my pressed and curled children were coming apart at the seams. So we found a dark quiet room and they all slept. Gloriously. Then the four of us split one $8.00 convention dinner plate and were refreshed. Until.....the evening service. Five minutes after we sat down, Kayla has to pee. Had there been a husband on the scene, that would have been only a mild irritation. However, I had to repack the diaper bag and haul 3 cranky kids in front of 3,000 nosey people. Two minute potty break. Then repeat the process.

So about 30-45 minutes later when the sibling relations reached the point of WWIII at an embarrassing decibal level, we gathered our stickers and coloring books and slinked away behind the black bleacher curtains. (It's really spooky back there, by the way!)

We crashed Thursday night at Mom and Dad's house full of happy memories, then on Friday we gave Mom a full report and enjoyed a lazy day of playing in her gardens.
ON RECONNECTING: I felt this year like I was reconnecting with a whole new batch of friends. Many of you I have gotten to know through blogging, and I have looked forward to seeing you in person. And of course there are the old friends...

(I missed those of you who watched from home. It's bittersweet, eh?)

But I have to tell you that I left feeling like I'd had two days of relational fast food. Don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for a hot & salty 99 cent small fry. But after a day or two of that, my body starts longing for a baked potato and broccoli - something of a little more substance.

I am not slamming the fellowship. I loved it. I'm already looking forward to next year. But I value your friendships so much, it made me dissatisfied with a 30-second greeting and hug or a quick escalator conversation or a 5-minute nursery discussion about chilbirth options. It made me hungry to sit and linger and laugh. To have one of those midnight table discussions where we laugh like a bunch of idiots until our sloppy joes are digested (precious memories, Melodie).

Or to watch our kids play together in a park while we find out how life "really" is.

And I know that for many of us, email will have to suffice. But please know that your friendships are gold to me. And when I say "It's SO good to see you." I mean it. David and I have learned over the years to deeply value these friendships when we find a family who gets life the same way we do and pursues the same values and has a passion to raise children in love with God. This is the fleshing out of the 2nd great commandment.

Which brings me to my IHC prayer this year. I never missed an IHC until I got married and moved off to Mississippi. So I've heard my share of reflections and comments about the whole Dayton phenomenon. Some say it's just a fashion show. Some say it is a Bible College competition. Maybe for them it is. But not for us. Before I came this year I realized in such a beautiful way that it is a wonderful opportunity to fulfill God's top two priorities for my life:

Love Him more and Love You more.

And so I prayed that He would help me to do both. And He did.

So until next year, let's BLOG, baby!

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