Feeling the Love (and not) at Edel ’14
This is the story of how I felt beloved (and not) this past weekend.
Many of you have heard me blabber about the Edel Gathering, a conference for Catholic women giving us the opportunity to “refresh, connect and enjoy” as women of God. It was a weekend I’d been looking forward to for a long time. A very, very long time.
Tonight reminded me that the Catholic Church is full of beautiful, faithful, unique and really funny women. #edel14
— Kathryn Whitaker (@kwhitaker96) July 26, 2014
There were the table centerpieces for Friday and Saturday evening that I created. Those things were a blast to design. Even when I was sweating from steaming off all the beer bottle labels (because helloooo, Catholic women love their beer), I was smiling because I knew the weekend had all the makings to be fabulous.
There were the awesome women who I convinced to stay at my house. Bonnie, Alisha, Deme and Susan (and Joey!) made the best roommates. As Scott said just before the weekend, “So, let me get this straight. All the women staying at our house you’ve never met.” Yup. I mean, they existed in my computer so I knew they were totally legit. And they were.
We even took babies. To a bar. Surely Reece Witherspoon would be proud.
There were the promises of hugs from old friends, sweet blog readers and trusted women of faith. We made good on that promise.
There was Tex-Mex and BBQ to be eaten. Friday Night Lights film locations to visit. Sonic happy hour. A Capitol to adore. Check, check, check and check.
There were thought-provoking, humorous, lovely speakers. Massages. Makeup consultations. Beautiful jewelry. A quiet mother’s lounge. Killer swag bags. Lively conversation. It was all just so beautiful, except this.
Gianna had one of her seizures halfway through the Saturday afternoon festivities. And, y’all. I checked out. In the midst of my beautiful conversations and warm hugs, fancy dresses and time away from the crazy, my sweet two-month-old got my attention. There I was, in the stunning Capitol Ballroom at the Omni Hotel, sitting beneath a lovely chandelier and surrounded by some Catholic women who inspire me and Gianna freaked out. I caught the eye of her Godmother and Susan, who was sitting next to me, grabbed my arm. I took a deep breath and just focused on inhaling and exhaling and cuddling my sweet baby.
Shortly after, one of our speakers began talking and I just had to get out of that ballroom. Out. I managed to make it to the hallway, find a chair and dial Scott’s cell number before those tears hit my eyes.
Dammit God. You knew what this weekend meant to me. You knew how badly I needed this community. You knew my heart.
And then I hung up with Scott and had to laugh at the irony. Yes, God did know that and look at the 200+ women he put in my path. All there to support and laugh with one another. It reminded me that sometimes I need to look up from the pity party to see the beauty around me.
On a day when I needed community the most, God delivered. Thanks @hallielord @conversiondiary #edel14 — Kathryn Whitaker (@kwhitaker96) July 27, 2014
A group of us then walked downstairs to the hotel bar and just chilled. Me with my fancy Dr Pepper and them with their not-so-fancy, but very tasty, Austin beers. The rest of my evening was spent in one-on-one conversations with a few ladies, some pretty darn good hotel Tex-Mex, a half eaten apple empanada and a hell-raising speech by Jennifer Fulwiler. While the ballroom was rocking with Kelly’s karaoke version of Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” and mommas dancing with babies in Ergos, I was content to nurse a baby in peace, call it an early night and head back to the casa with my housemates.
We enjoyed some laughs, some Blue Bell and lots of hugs.
My Edel experience is probably vastly different than the carefree dance party, the crazy shoe contest and the relaxing massages and makeup consults of other women. But perhaps God just wanted me to sit my a$$ down, relish in the hallway conversations and just be. My pace was different. My station in life required it. And that’s okay. This year, it was just good that I was here, in all my imperfections, right Hallie?
The words from the loving Dominican Sister, Sr. Elizabeth Ann, in her letter to us on Saturday evening summed up my weekend oh so beautifully.
Thank you for the gift of self you give that no one sees, no one appreciates, no one recognizes, and no one seems to care about. God sees. God knows. God cares. I want you to know that our Sisters “see” and care, too. Now, we don’t see everything, of course, but we see a lot, perhaps more than you realized. And we are inspired by you.
As I dropped off the last of my house guests at the airport, I drove home feeling at peace. Feeling thankful. Feeling renewed. This weekend afforded me the rare treat of having one-on-one conversations with so many women. My soul desperately needed not only their wisdom, but their counsel, their faithful attitude, their friendship and their honest hearts. Something happened to me this weekend and it can only be from the Holy Spirit.
Gals, we aren’t floating on this island of motherhood alone. You didn’t have to attend Edel to know that you are beloved, honored, revered and supported. Raise a Dr Pepper with the mom next to you and let’s get to it, shall we?
Thanks for letting Dom and I crash your Capitol tour. It was such a blessing to run into you and hear some real history of the building and what has happened there. So much more meaningful. You are a powerhouse of Texan hospitality and just what I needed in that moment.
Oh, I’m so glad we ran into y’all! Texas forever.
What a great reflection. I really hope I can go next time. The money and the time just weren’t there this year, but all of the things I’ve read have told me that I need this.
so glad you got what you needed and when you needed it.
My Sweet Friend,
Oh how I wish I was there. Not just to be with you when Miss Gianna decided to do her little dance, but just to be in a room with other Mama’s needing some love and encouragement. I really could use a dose or three myself right now. As I was reading your post, I cried for you and your sweet little one. My Courtney just finished having a seizure and is now sleeping peacefully. I have lived that moment many, many times over the years. It never gets easier for your Mama’s heart, but it does get easier to calm your girl and handle the public scene. Trust me on this. Not that you will have to worry about that. I pray each day Miss Gianna’s little seizures will go away as she get’s bigger. Of course it is all in God’s hands. It always has been and it always will be. Hugs from Virginia my friend. Know you are loved and prayed for each and every day. Blessings…
Mary, you just keep moving on, right? I know you have significantly more experience and I also know that the lesson I learned with Luke is that life goes on, no matter what. You continue to be an inspiration. Hugs to you and Courtney.
Kathryn, I met you briefly and probably gave you awkward smiles from afar. I had no idea sweet little Gianna was having any trouble, but here is just another reason why I look up to you so very much (If that makes any sense. I guess I would have been such a terrible disaster and here you are seeing God and love). All I remember, throughout the weekend, was seeing you with a warm smile. Thank you for your warm smile. Thank you for your beautiful motherhood. And, thank you for sharing. Praying for your sweet girl and for your mama heart!
We met on Saturday night, over the crazy karaoke right? I hope my brain remembered that correctly! Next time we must chat longer.
Sounds like a lovely event. I’m glad you were surrounded by love and support when you needed it most.
My husband uses wall paper paste remover to remove the labels from beer bottles. It seems easier than steaming labels off. He just mixes the remover in a bucket of water, lets the bottles soak a bit (20 min or so?) and the labels slip right off. I’m sure it’s pretty safe because when he’s done the bottles get cleaned, sanitized and filled with beer. I’m sure you’ll never need to do this again, but just in case I thought you might like a tip.
Oh, that’s smart Kathryn! Actually the steaming didn’t take as long as I thought it would and it was pretty darn easy. The next time (HA!) I peel off that many labels, I’ll keep this idea bookmarked. Thanks!
I’ll do that – I’ll raise a toast. To friendship and support from other women. And I’ll lift a prayer of thanks for your story and that it turned out well.
Oh my gosh! I had no idea this was going on for you on Saturday. Such a heavy painful cross for a mother to bear. I wish I could have been helpful in whatever way you needed help. Electronic hugs & prayers!!!
Nell, visiting with you did my heart good. It was so fabulous to meet you.
I just loved this so much. Thank you for sharing. I wish we could have met!
Oh, me too! Next time.
You are super awesome……..admire you to the moon and back 🙂
Kathryn, Prayers for continued peace and comfort. I hope I can bridge the gap between being an online friend to a real, live, in-person friend next year at Edel. Keep fighting the good fight, girl! Oh, and can we talk about those beautiful centerpieces?! You’re something else. 🙂
The more I have read about this beautiful gathering, the more I am committed to seeing it for myself someday. And I’d love to listen to your tour. I haven’t been to the capitol since I was in elementary school. (I grew up in Menchaca.) God bless to you and your little one.
[…] by how powerful, healing and calming it could be to pray for other people, beside myself. Then, Edel happened and I had my “a-ha” […]
[…] Y’all may remember that horrific scare we had in July. Then, she did a doozie again at the Edel Conference I attended. She had several more in August and September and my post-NICU mom heart almost broke. Initially, […]