MOPS International puts on a convention every year for their leaders. They bring in speakers, have break out sessions that relate to being a leader/mom/wife/etc. It's a way of training, but also a break from life to be poured into.
This year it was in Milwaukee (hello, motherland!) and I got to go! Actually 15 out of our 16 steering members went. The church where our group meets really invests in the program and it's leaders. So while I did have to pay for my plane ticket and a small portion of my registration fee, the rest was taken care of! Both Michael and I knew this was an opportunity for me that we didn't want to pass up!
We left very early Thursday morning! We were all on the same flight. We landed in Milwaukee a little before 10 AM, and we headed to our hotel and the registration lines.
We went to a fun little pub right on the riverwalk for our lunch. Then we headed back and went to a fantastic session on being an unNatural mom. It was all about how you are the perfect mom for your kids, and how we all have different personalities/strengths/weaknesses and we need each other. So it's OK if you are x, y or z, because somebody is counting on you to be you.
She did a mom personality test of sorts, and each personality was a tree. I was the boxwood, and I can honestly say that no results have ever matched me as well as this one.
After the one afternoon session on Thursday, we headed to dinner as a group. Which was paid for by our MOPS group. Hello, cheese curds!
|Sierra and I waiting for the evening session to start|
Then it was time for our evening session. To say it had been a long day was putting it mildly. I woke up at 4 AM that morning, and our evening session didn't even start until 7:30!
But it was worth it! We had praise and worship with I Am They, and then Lisa Harper spoke and she is hilarious! One great quote from her was, "To be a good Mama, you must first be a good daughter (of the King)." Oh--and she homeschools. ;)
Friday was full of more sessions. Seth Haines spoke in the morning general session, it was a lot about being real and vulnerable and honest about our struggles. It dug a lot deeper and was a lot more serious, but I think it's what is needed in our sometimes fake world.
I went to some great break out sessions, but my favorite was Loving My Actual Life. This whole talk is exactly what I've been working through in my own personal life. I didn't buy her book there, but I think I might have to pick it up. I took two pages of notes, and it is exactly what I needed to hear!
Friday's evening session was from Chrystal Evans Hurst (Priscilla Shirer's sister). She was also pretty funny. The general sessions kind of went light, heavy, light, and then heavy again. She just kind of kept it real, and spoke about the story of Ruth and related it to being a mom. Oh, and guess what... she homeschools too! :)
Most of our group getting ready to head out for dinner. How much Kendra Scott can you find in one picture? Ha ha!
Our dinners were usually late and took a long time because of the size of our group. But it was nice to get to know the girls I'm leading with a little better. I ended up sending Michael a selfie to pass the time.
Rebecca Lyons spoke on Saturday morning. It was a lot about the struggles that today's mom has. She shared a quote that 1 in 4 woman today take medication for anxiety or depression, which is 400 times higher than in 1988. Wow! I can't help but think that is has in part to do with all of the pressures we are putting on ourselves! Her talk was a lot about mental health and freedom from guilt and that it's ok to need help. A great quote from her was that the enemy is bound by two things--Christ's blood and the word of our testimony. And that the nature of God is for wholeness and healing.
I couldn't be in my home state without getting some cheese curds. Of course, I had already had them fried twice at this point... but still! Mmmmm!
The last session of the event ended with a message from Mandy Arioto, who is MOPS CEO and Natalie Grant. There is nothing like worshiping with 2700 other moms and Natalie Grant's beautiful voice!
Then it was out to one last fancy shmancy dinner (minus two girls who stayed back).
Some of the group had early morning flights on Sunday, but for those of us who had later ones, we walked around the Third Ward.
When we first started talking about the trip months ago, people were like "Milwaukee? Who chooses to go to Milwaukee?" So I wasn't sure how this was all going to go down. But I was pleasantly surprised by all of the things people loved -- the weather, the architecture, it was clean, it had super cute shops, and on and on. I guess Milwaukee isn't so bad after all. ;)
I mean, who doesn't love cheese... and beer?! Oh the irony that the girl who grew up in Milwaukee has never had a beer in her life!
But I did get a Sprecher cream soda!
Overall I had a fantastic time! I am so happy that I was able to go, to learn, to fellowship, to have a break from my day to day, and to just be Bethany instead of Mom.
Oh, and my kids were living it up at home with Boppa! So it was a win/win for everyone!