I don’t even know where to begin.
Just about a month ago, I had the immense blessing of getting to attend the MOPS International leadership conference in Milwaukee, WI; otherwise known as MOMCon.
As I prepared for this trip, I prayed often that God would open my eyes to whatever He had to teach me, and honestly that He would keep the planes from crashing (anyone else absolutely petrified of airplanes?). Amidst my packing, I found myself feeling excited, but not necessarily overcome with excitement. This trip meant leaving my kiddos for a great length of time, leaving my husband as well, and having to organize a lot of different factors so that everything and everyone would survive my absence.
But the morning of our departure, as we all climbed into the vehicle headed south to the airport, I began to feel my excitement grow. Surrounded by some of my closest friends, I caught a glimpse of what God had planned for the days ahead, and I didn’t want to miss a minute of it.
After a rerouted flight and some extra travelling time, we found ourselves in Milwaukee. Stumbling to our hotel rooms, we were bleary-eyed and exhausted, tossing ourselves haphazardly into beds. Upon waking, we chose to explore a little and stock up on snacks. Passing the time until registration opened was hard as we all were itching to go see what this was going to be about. Out of the five of us on the trip, not one of us had ever been to MOMCon before.
So wide-eyed and ready to absorb it all, we crossed the skywalk and found ourselves amidst hundreds of other women.
As I watched these women from all over the world, I found it interesting that during that first day when we all arrived and registered, everyone was content to stay with their group. Even as we meandered the halls of the hotels and walked the avenues closest to the conference center, we would see others who were obviously other attendees, but would feel too nervous to interact. That first day, I watched as we all kept mostly to ourselves. And as we attended the first large event of the weekend, known as the first Gathering, I nervously danced to the upbeat and exciting music, as did most of the other mommas there.
But something happened between days one and two. It was as if everyone woke up on Friday morning just desperate for interaction. Suddenly I found myself making fast friends with the women around me. It didn’t matter where we were from, what our position in MOPS was, or what the life we’d left at home looked like. We all had one core thing in common:
We were all moms.
And so this four-day weekend came and went. We were filled to the brim with God’s own Holy Spirit as we worshipped Him over and over. We were taught critical skills and poured over with encouragement as we attended the different workshops. On Friday night, we were encouraged to have a “girls’ night out” and those from my group headed out to a local arcade and were beaten horribly at go-karts by our head mentor mom. It was fabulous.
As the weekend drew to a close, we delighted in each other and the women that we were meeting. Our own personal relationships grew stronger, and I realized even more how God has blessed me with the friends I have.
I laughed like I had never laughed before. I cried like I had never cried before. I felt enabled, equipped, and empowered to do the things that I was afraid to do, the things that I was meant to do.
And then we danced like fools at the 80’s-themed Mom Prom. What a perfect end to a most perfect time.
I learned a lot while at MOMCon, that’s for sure. But there are two things I want to hone in on.
First of all, when women gather together and keep their walls up, it’s easy to be fearful. What a shame it would have been if we’d all shown up for this conference and the only ones with any spark in their eyes were the speakers and the leaders. If all of us had just stood alongside each other with our arms glued to our hips, our eyes facing forward, never daring to laugh or cry or dream. When you’re so fearful to be known and loved, and you allow it to govern your response to something uncomfortable, you are missing out on all that God has willed for you. He doesn’t want us to live in fear; He wants us to be vulnerable. Known, loved, and cared for.
And second, when moms gather together in the name of Jesus Christ for the sake of reaching moms everywhere, amazing things transpire. I walked into that first conference room completely unsure of myself and what I was about to hear. When you minister to moms out of a ministry like this, it’s easy to feel removed from the big picture vision. But as I watched leader after leader, speaker after speaker, get up and share about loving moms and reaching moms and showing moms the way to Jesus, I felt such a sense of excitement over God’s working in this organization. We all walked out of that final room feeling encouraged and spurred on to go back to our own groups, ready to love them and care for them, equipped in new ways.
I have two encouragements for you upon reading this.
One, if you haven’t joined a MOPS group, or a group that is similar, do it. Please. Do it for your heart and soul, and for the hearts and souls of others who need to meet you. Plus, there are women there waiting for you who are just dying to love on you and meet you right where you are. And two, be willing to open up your heart. It’s absolutely terrifying. I’ve been there, and even after years of serving in mom’s ministries, I still find myself insecure. But there is nothing that compares to opening up your heart to someone and hearing those two simple words that diminish so much of the fear, “Me too.”
I will be ever thankful for this experience and being a part of a ministry that shouts to the world, “We love moms!”