momcon

Visionary

I just returned from a weekend at MOMcon which always leaves me feeling encouraged to write more.  One of the workshops I attended was called Express Yourself by Amena Brown  (she is an extremely gifted “spoken word” poet, look her up).  She gave us some writing prompts about shoes and they almost immediately went to an emotional level, for all of us.  There is something about being given a limited amount of time to write on a specific topic that gives you a freedom not to overthink.  It is when your brain doesn’t work too hard that your heart shines through.  There was an open mic where we were encouraged to share our writing and I felt tears prick my eyes after nearly every one because I love to hear stories and perspective from other women in the same stage of life I’m in.

The week leading up to MOMcon was a busy one (as they usually are when you are preparing for a trip away from your kids/home).  I had to pick MG up early from school and happened to catch her at the end of lunch.  She was sitting at the far corner of the cafeteria with a table full of girls.  There was one little, petite, open seat beside her and Bea happily filled it, while I kneeled behind, waiting for her to finish.  The first thing I noticed was that she was the only child not eating the school lunch.  I know I would probably pack a home lunch anyway if given the choice, but it made me sad that she is not given the choice.

This doesn’t seem to affect her social standing though, as the girls that surrounded her were happy to tell me about how they know her and collectively shared a story that had happened to her earlier that day.  MG told me their names and I tried to memorize their faces so I could have context to the stories she tells me in the evening.  “_____ has a cat but she’s a mean cat.”  “_____ has a princess backpack just like me.”  “One time _____ hit _____ but she’s never hit me.” She has always been prone to grace.

It’s picture day and that is obvious by the choice clothing and perfectly kept hair. They all look so pretty with their curled hair and big eyes.  They stare at me attentively in between stories, and I feel like a queen visitor.  I am reminded how much I love preschoolers.

I love observing my girls in social situations.

This month has been a growing one since the loss that accompanied last month.  Just recently, N and I feel like God has given us a vision for our future and our hearts are set on attaining it.  In some ways, it is hard to keep my feet grounded because my head is in the clouds, thinking, wondering, hoping, how and when we will accomplish this.

MOM con always gives me a taste of what God is trying to teach me and a chance to meet with Him without distraction.  This year MOPS is focusing on a theme verse (which I pitifully can’t remember), but the three tenets of it are Notice Goodness, Celebrate Lavishly, and Embrace Rest. The one that I felt continuously sticking out to me was the last one.  At first I felt defensive of it; I am an intentional “rester”!  When I need sleep, I take a nap.  When I am overstimulated, I sneak away to be by myself.  I guard my energy level. But as the weekend progressed it became clear to me that it was my mind that needed to rest, not my body.

Fear and worry sometimes plague me into cyclical thinking before I even realize it.   Do you know what I also learned?  The number one predictor of anxiety in girls is anxiety in their parents.  That is one trait I wouldn’t wish on my sweet, curly-haired girls and if it’s out of my control, then I will have to teach them the power they can have over it.

-smk

Reflections on MOMcon

At the beginning of this month, I said goodbye to the fam and headed down south with 4 other ladies for 3 nights away.  Our destination was Momcon, a national conference for MOPS moms, this year attended by over 2,000 moms and notable keynote speakers like Angie Smith and Shauna Niequiest.  Since I joined my local MOPS steering this year, I was invited to go with several of the other ladies on steering.

To be 100% honest, spending so much time away didn’t really sound desirable at first.  Writing “sub plans” and all of the packing and headache that is involved with trying to make sure your kids are cared for the exact same way you do it is….stressful.

On the other hand, I knew this would be a unique opportunity to get to know and develop  deeper relationships with the other ladies that were going.  Sleeping 5 to a hotel room is definitely a quick way to that route ;).  And still being a “newbie” I need to take all of the opportunities I can get 🙂

So I said yes….but…as the day of departure grew closer though, I felt more and more reluctant to go as the strain of responsibility piled up.  On top of that I was quickly burning out.  This has been a stretching year for me in many ways but namely with moving twice and also opening up an Etsy store to sell my handiwork.

Going into MOMcon weekend I felt empty and spread thin.  I was ready to give up on my brand new store, this blog I have been loyal to for almost three years, and the rest of my beloved hobbies just to have some peace restored back in my life.  Prior to leaving, I prayed a lot that God would show me what direction to go in for these things and that He would grow also my relationships with the other ladies.

I had full confidence that He would show me, speak to me, or even just give me some sort of vague indication of what I should do.  I had no idea how vividly He would answer my prayers.

Not only did He give me the courage the press forward with my shop but He directly encouraged my writing through an old acquaintance I ran into there.  I walked away from the sessions feeling so “full” and encouraged. Full seems to be the best word to describe what I was feeling.  I felt so near to God through the constant cycle of ordained words and worship.  My brain was on fire with all of the challenges and ideas and my heart was ablaze with a desire to start.

On top of the group sessions we also got to choose 4-5 workshops to attend independently.  In one I was admonished by Emily P. Freeman to chase after the things that make me come alive (art, hobbies), in another I learned the meaning and Biblical importance of rest and found some practical ways to recharge.  A different workshop led by Angie Smith  helped me to battle the ever plaguing fears of my mothering heart and another gave me very practical advice on my journey to becoming a better writer.  Art, rest, fear, & writing…those are like my ever present cycle of thoughts and conversation.

Sometimes we need a weekend on the mountain top to come back and fight the battles in the valley.  MOMcon (and really more specifically the speakers, worship leader, and the important conversations going on around me) revived my ragged spirit in a way I didn’t see coming.

Some of the practical steps I took away from it: I have started waking up earlier than the girls in the morning to both read my Bible and exercise before the girls get up; I will continue on with my passions: art & writing and be open to where God takes me with them; I am praying through my days and allowing “margins” for God to move in them and not being bound so tightly to my agenda.  And I am reading Shauna Niequiest’s book Bread & Wine (with a few other books highlighted this weekend waiting for me at the library) and by spreading them out, I hope to carry on some of the lessons I learned and re-learn them down the road.

I share all of this hoping that it will encourage you to take the time away to pursue your relationship with God…whatever that looks like to you.  AND MOMcon is in Indy next year, so perhaps consider going with me??

-smk

(if any of these lessons sound intriguing, I highly encourage you to check out the MOMcon page I linked to in the beginning.  It has all of the sessions streamed on the main page and they will be up until the beginning of November.)