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??
(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.)