“MomCon” is the catchy new name for the annual Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPs) international convention. Every year it’s in a different location and features incredible speakers, inspiring workshops, and a marketplace filled with books and clothes and other fun things to buy. And every year, it’s UH-MAZE-EENG!
This year, I attended convention for the second time with four other moms from MOPs @ Big Valley Grace. We spent many harried days packing and cleaning and grocery shopping and list-making in preparation for leaving our families behind, then kissed them goodbye and piled into our fearless leader’s
swagger wagon minivan. Since we had a crazy-early flight, we stayed in San Francisco the night before to allow for at least a little bit more sleep. See, anytime you get a group of moms together, away from their normal responsibilities, it’s a bit like a sorority slumber party… endless chit chat, a little junk food, and lots of delirious laughter.
We skidded into Kansas City just in time to have a lengthy run-in with a cranky front desk guy and no chance of making it to our first workshop. We politely expressed our concerns to management, and scored Concierge Level access for our troubles. That’s fancy talk for “hot breakfast and evening appetizers.” And boy was that breakfast worth its weight in gold! See, MomCon is not what one would consider an intimate gathering. More than 3,000 women descended on the city – and the city didn’t know what to do with all of us.
There just isn’t enough space in all of blog land (nor the time or energy) to accurately describe the impact of all we learned, and the bonds that were formed between the five of us. It’s taken me more than two weeks to even work up the gumption to attempt it. So let me just say that if you’re a MOPs mama, start saving your shekels pronto, because next year promises to be just as life-changing. Here’s the (long) short version…
I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize that a few families are forever changed due to some unforeseen events. On the way to MomCon, a carload of ladies got in a terrible wreck. One immediately went to be with Jesus, one is in medically-induced coma, one sustained a foot injury, and another (who’s five months pregnant) walked away without a scratch. Several other ladies from their group, traveling in other cars, witnessed the horror of it all. So the whole weekend began with a stunning candlelight tribute to those ladies and their families. Not a dry eye in the house…
The thing I love about MomCon is that it’s not just a weekend full of lessons about how to run a successful MOPs group. It’s an opportunity to grow as a woman, a wife, a mother, a Christ-Follower, so that we can return to our normal lives and be better-equipped for whatever awaits us – including ministering to the gals in our groups. So we sat through workshops like “Good Girls Can Have Great Sex” by Sheila Gregoire, “No Ordinary Marriage” by Justin & Trisha Davis and “More Mama, Less Drama” by Kasey Johnson. There were several other options, those were just the ones I chose. 🙂
We also had the opportunity to hear from heavy-hitters like:
who (passionately!) encouraged us to use what we’ve been through to minister to others. She reminded us that our God is a faithful, unchangeable city of refuge, and we are called to remain anchored in Him. And:
JEN HATMAKER, yall!!! She challenged us to raise true disciples. Brave children who will love people to Christ. How do we do that? We are to dillegently, not fearfully, lead by example… Step outside our pretty little Christian circles and get mixed up with some of the world’s unlovely people to show them God’s love instead of preaching at them about it – and involve the littles in the process.
And then there’s:
who is SO much fun! We’ve been hearing the phrases “Share your story” and “Be authentic” since our MOPs year started in September. But Kathi took it a step further by proclaiming that “Just sharing your story is not enough. Share your story of brokenness… and then share what God has done with it. Out of your brokenness will come your greatest ministry. The thing that nearly killed you can be used to save someone else’s life.” Yes, and YES! THIS is what MOPs is all about.
We were also blessed by messages from MOPs President Sherry Surratt (Dream + Courage + Trust = POWER), Ken Davis (Life doesn’t have a winner’s circle, only a finish line… and perfection is not a requirement to get there.), and Alexandra Kuykendall (We’re imperfect beings, loved by a perfect God who redeems.). Elisa Morgan urged us to find the beauty in the broken. To realize that “I’m a mess of a mother, saved by grace, and loved by God.” She also delivered a message I’ve heard before – and needed to hear again – about Mary of Bethany and how She Did What She Could (which I highly recommend reading). I also really enjoyed Lysa TerKeurst’s practical tips regarding having better reactions in times of conflict in order to maintain better relationships. (If you were at our last MOPs meeting at BVG, you saw a toned-down version of this message.)
An official trailer for the upcoming movie “Moms’ Night Out” hasn’t even been created, but we were treated to a short clip and a brief visit from the movie’s leading lady, Sarah Drew. Sean Astin, Trace Adkins, and Patricia Heaton are also in the film, so clearly this is a chick flick you will NOT want to miss!
We shopped till we dropped (several times) in the MOPs Marketplace that included a billion great books, kids games, jewelry, homeschooling resources, and photobooths like this one:
We got totally groovy in a far out way for MomProm circa 1973 (in honor of MOPs’ 40th anniversary). Tons of great (loud!) music, afros, and more pregnant prom-goers than you’ve probably ever seen in your life.
… and met Darrell (aka Charlie), a gentle giant who totally redeemed our opinions of the cranky people of Kansas City with his humor, kindness, and fast friendship. We even found out he went to college in Modesto! 🙂
Sweet Darrell (father of TEN, grandfather of 24!!!) shuttled us to and from the Crown Center mall where we made some new friends, grabbed a little caffeine, and indulged in some delicious (and cheap) KC BBQ.
Glad to be back in SF, we were exhausted but our hearts (and minds) were very full.
Three weeks after our return (yes, it took me several days to finish this post – don’t judge!) I’m still reminded of our experiences as I go throughout my days. God’s teaching me a lot through MOPs this year, and has blessed me with some incredible new friends. Here’s to doing what we can, sharing our messes, and loving people to Jesus!