Thank you for those that prayed for us. We had a wonderful day! We were planning on bringing Eliana and at the last minute decided it might be better for all of us if she stayed with her Daddy instead. She was dressed really cute in a new dress with hearts on it. A baby gift from a sweet friend (thanks Karin!).
Rebecca and I went to the Washington Duke Inn - very nice! It's on the golf course and is a huge hotel. We went back to where the boutique area was located. There were other "shops" there. There were various vendors - with at least 4 of them also selling jewelry. We didn't walk around and look at much (though I did buy some gifts from one of the vendors - won't say what as I haven't given them yet).
We worked at the booth for about 30 minutes or so before lunch. We were seated at the "head table". Things were beautifully decorated with peonies in the center of the table and gifts for each woman in her chair. Included in the gift bags were a Vera Bradley cosmetic bag, cookies, a bracelet made by Rebecca and more - so very nice! Rebecca and I were seated with the main speaker, Amanda Lamb and her friend, two gals who that had dh's working for Fresh Point (supplier of fresh fruit for the week-end) and two gals from the Duke Development office. A fun table!
One of the gals asked when we sat down if I were the speaker. I said no and indicated that Amanda Lamb was the speaker. I told her that I was speaking only for a short time as the mom of a Duke patient. She told me that this was always her favorite part of the lunch. That she found these talks encouraging and inspiring. I began then to wonder if I could even measure up.
We were served our first course (the food was wonderful!) and then shortly afterwards, I was introduced. I wasn't too nervous - I do actually enjoy talking to people. This talk was probably the easiest in some ways - I knew the topic inside out. LOL It was also emotionally the hardest topic I've ever spoken on. I did get teary and a little choked up at points, but didn't cry. A good thing I think.
I began talking about the things I didn't know before Eliana was born. (See my blog post on 11/15/07 for more on this). I used this as a starting theme. I'm not sure I followed it though as then I just began telling our story. I shared the challenges and the victories - all things that I've shared here.
Towards the end I shared that I could often remember seeing other moms handle difficult things and think I just couldn't do it. They must be stronger and more special some how. As a mom of a special needs child that has walked through trials with her, I find that I'm just a regular mom still. A mom that just does what needs to be done - just like other moms before me have done and moms after me will continue to do. Most women would do anything for their child - learn, adjust, struggle and rise to meet the challengs. When you see that "special mom", know that inside she is just like you - one who loves her child and will do whatever it takes. She is one that has been tested in a different way perhaps or perhaps she is someone with whom you identify.
The gal that organized our involvement in this event (thank you Robin!) told me that she had admired the way that I had handled all that we had been through with Eliana and that my comments reminded her of thoughts she had. I am encouraged whenever I hear that people can see strength as I know it isn't me. God is good. I remember early on having someone say to me that I would have a story to tell. I argued with God and told Him that I didn't want a story to tell. I just wanted a regular life. Well, a little further down the road and I'm thankful that I have a story - and thankful too that people are interested in hearing it. It's really quite humbling.
I shared that even though this is not a path I wanted to walk, that if I had to do it over again, I would choose the same path. Any other path would not likely include our sweet Eliana. I have been able to walk this path due to God leading me - often carrying me; family and friends supporting and encouraging me; strangers also reaching out to walk this journey with me. It has been an incredible journey - one we are just beginning. Even though Eliana is not the child I asked for - she is the one I wanted and just didn't know it.
I feel like I'm rambling. I spoke for about 10 minutes. It was encouraging to me to look out over the audience and see women identifying with my statements of faith as a part of our story - or seeing tears when I spoke of the difficulty. When I sat down, the main speaker told me that she was glad she didn't have to go right after me. (Lunch was in between.) It was a sweet thing to say to me.
I wish I had taken pictures of the day - but I don't have any. :( Poor planning on my part. Here is one photo of Rebecca with the jewelry she had to sell.
Rebecca sold over $300 worth of bracelets in addition to the $1250 sold for the bags for each woman attending. I need to update her totals, but she should be at about $7000 so far (I think).
While we were at the luncheon, there was also a golf tournement going on and a Kids Zone for the children. We didn't attend this on Sat, but went back to it on Sunday. It was great fun. There were games of all sorts and the children won a ticket when they played. These could be traded in for prizes of various values. It was interesting to see how this affected my children. One earned lots of tickets, used 2 of them for a special beanie baby, and then donated the rest for someone else to use. Another was focused on earning as many tickets (and prizes) as possible. I did convince him to donate some to other children there.
A little funny to share. At the end of the event, Isaiah and I walked over the golf course. I had heard that they were selling Duke t-shirts there and I wanted one. For those that don't live in this area, there are 2 universities just 7 miles apart - great rivals. Roger works at UNC, the other is Duke. As we were at the t-shirt booth, Isaiah asked me (very loudly) why I was buying a Duke shirt if I was a Carolina fan. I laughed and told him that we liked Duke - they healed Eliana's heart at Duke!
This event was so well-done. We were said to find out that after 35 years, this is the last year of the Duke Children's Classic. I am thankful that we were able to be a part of it this year. It was an honor and privilege to be able to share our story. I am thankful that God continues to provide opportunities to tell about how He is good.
I hope this isn't too disjointed. I wrote most of it a couple of weeks ago, and finished it tonight. Sorry it was so late in coming. Thank you for your prayers. If anyone knows of a site where we might have a booth to sell bracelets or another opportunity to sell some of Rebecca's jewelry, please let me know. :-)