put on by MOPS, the Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers organization
a “mom getaway, discussing every topic you care about as a woman, mom and leader”
This year it was in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s theme was “Find your fire” from Romans 12: 11.
There were 5 main sessions and 6 times for workshops. In my own words, here is a summation of the big message that was conveyed:
You are a beloved child of God. Your identity and worth are rooted in Jesus. Nothing can change that. Ditch all the mom guilt and ditch society’s rulebook. Be bold. Be a blessing in the world.
I went to MOMcon thinking there would be a lot of content. That I’d learn how to be a better parent through learning about the psychology of children and other parenting tactics.
There wasn’t much of that.
But I suppose they’ve chosen the better thing. They’ve chosen inspiration and rootedness in Jesus. The speakers wanted to make sure we are in love with Jesus. Because you cannot love your kids well and find joy in life if you don’t have Christ as your source.
This week I got to worship with my full heart. I was not responsible as the pastor for any parts of the worship service. And that was nice. God met me in a variety of ways…
I encountered God through the worship.
Those words in the music that remind me of God’s great love and beauty
I encountered God through the many dinner invitations from strangers
The women who learned that I was alone at the conference and wanted me to have a friend
I encountered God through the speakers and workshop leaders
Their testimonies of Jesus being our sustainer, forgiving us, loving us just as we are – to our core – with nothing we can do to increase or decrease that fact
I encountered God through communion
A partaking of Jesus body and blood, sitting side by side with 3.000 other young women – selfless, struggling but strong Mamas who love Jesus too
I encountered God through the gift of friendship
The God-ordained placement of kindred spirits near me so that I didn’t have to be in a strange city alone
The list could go on. It is GOOD to know God and to know I am loved.
I hope you know it, too.
More personal stuff…
Going as a loner
It wasn’t my plan to go without friends, but I went to MOMcon alone. I had several friends I tried to recruit. They all said no. I was so certain when I bought two tickets months ago that I would be able to convince a girlfriend to go on a girls trip with me. I knew I’d benefit tremendously from the messages and worship. And I wanted a bonding time with a friend.
But it didn’t work out.
All weekend I was told I was brave to come alone. I’d meet ladies and start chatting. They’d ask, and I’d admit no one was with me. They said they wouldn’t have been able to do that.
The truth is, I almost cancelled. I told God I wouldn’t come if I could find someone to buy my tickets from me. But they weren’t taken, and I already had the airline tickets and rental car and childcare lined up. It was almost more work to cancel than to go. And I knew I’d still get something good out of the conference.
I started to believe that God really wanted me to go. God had something for me in Louisville.
So I went – and with the self-doubts still in my own head – I made my way to the Louisville Convention Center.
And here’s where I want to give props to the conference organizers: As a part of the schedule, there was an opportunity for a meetup of all the ladies who walked into MOMcon by themselves. We were encouraged to gather in the exhibit hall at 4pm on the first day.
And 9 of us did. Only 9 women out of the 3,000 came alone.
It was awkward at first. We were trying to figure out what to say to each other. Several of us gave excuses as to why we were alone. We wanted to make sure the others knew that we weren’t alone because we had no friends or were weird.
One of the ladies – a MOPS volunteer coach from Dallas – had come with a group. But she decided to meet us loners because she had a dinner reservation for 10 at Spaghetti Warehouse but her friends had to work the conference and couldn’t go. She invited all of us. God bless her.
That dinner is what solidified our coming together as a group. I probably would have tried to invite a few of the ladies to dinner had she not already made all the plans. But I’m so glad she led us. Because by the time we finished our little meet-up in the exhibit hall, we were still a bit awkward around each other. But by the end of a long dinner over carbs and marinara sauce … we were new best friends.
We sat together at worship and continued to find each other and eat dinner, explore, and dance together the next days. Seven of us – all from different parts of the U.S. – were very glad to have each other.
One of the girls told us at our last dinner together that from the moment she met us, she hadn’t felt alone at all during the conference.
We’ve already discussed booking a suite together at the next MOMcon. (It’ll be in Orlando!)
So here’s a shout-out to my conference sisters… Jacqueline from Florida, Kristen from Virginia, Stephanie from Indiana, Amanda from Virginia, Tara from Pennsylvania, and Francine from Texas. Miss y’all already!
Here’s another thing people told me I was brave about: I couchsurfed. That means I stayed overnight in the house of people I didn’t know. They had a guest bedroom – so I wasn’t literally on their couch. But before this trip, I’d never met them.
This was the second time I couchsurfed. Both experiences have been great. These people are so open and warm and practice hospitality in ways that put us Christians to shame.
I found Josh and his girlfriend’s profile on couchsurfing.com, sent them a request, and got a message back saying I was welcome in their home. He was incredibly accommodating (I got to their house after 1am the first night!), he lent me a key to come and go as I please, and I stayed there for a whole five nights. They don’t ask for anything in return. I did get to take the two of them out for sushi one evening, and I had fun learning about their lives. You really cannot find a kinder couple than those two.
I could have afforded a hotel room. And a hotel would have been more conveniently-located. But because I was going alone, I wanted to make friends. And my hosts were amazing. Their house was comfortable. And I have no regrets!
Time away from kids
This was the longest I’ve been away from my baby. I’ve had to pump breastmilk every day multiple times a day. Each time I videochatted and saw my 12 month-old, she got emotional when she saw me. That’s a little hard. But I know she and her brother are in the best hands possible (my husband’s and my mother’s). And having some time away is good for us all.
The baby actually slept through the night. By my second night away, she stopped asking for milk at 2:45am. Amazing. Let’s see if that lasts or if she’ll know I’m home and start crying again.
And as for me, I am grateful for the time to feel like my old self … an individual with my own desires and self to take care of … not as a mother who has to be self-forgetting for the sake of little ones pulling on my skirt. This is important to my own self-care.
The MOPS organization is a great one. I encourage all moms to find a group near them. You can never have too much support in this time of life. We will never have too many friends who can relate to what we’re going through. And you can never have too many people praying for you.
Question for you: When was the last time you got away from your regular routine and focused on self-care and personal growth?