Friday Morning at MOPS Convention opened up with the first General Session. One of our ladies, Nikki, insisted we all have some coordinating outfits, so we coordinated black with some girly, ribbon-adorned flip flops and flowers in our hair. Better than last year and rather itchy, pink boas. Honestly, I often rib Nikki about her little convention projects for us, but it really is cute, we get lots of compliments, and perhaps one day I’ll see the group picture she had taken of us (hint, if you read this, Nik!)
Shelly Radic, President of MOPS International (and she’s awesome by the way – love the influence she’s had on the organization), welcomed everyone and she introduced us all to the MOPS theme verse for the year. I was quite familiar with it because we really focused on it at our planning retreat, but Shelly is remarkable in her passion when she talks about 2 Timothy 1:7 – God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but BOLD and LOVING and SENSIBLE. She reminded us that we need to realize what our gifts are and if we don’t use them, we grieve God. And she’s 100% right, and I’m looking forward to exploring that topic more with our steering team and MOPS group.
Now, I’m already out of my comfort zone with frilly flip flops and a hair flower… but every year I am taken of out my comfort zone at MOPS Convention. See, there is a pretty well known fact among our MOPS group, especially steering team girls. And that is this: Mandi isn’t really big into being touched, hugged, etc. I’m just not one of those touchy-feely type people. So, my friends love to give me a hard time about it, and it’s all good. Immediately, the first speaker Lisa Harper (well known in the Christian women’s conference circuit) has us all stand up. Okay, I’m cool with that. Then she says to turn to our left. I can do that, too. Then she says, “Put your hands on the shoulders of the lady in front of you and give her a shoulder rub.” OY! Already, I have to touch someone and someone has to touch me! Everyone in our group made some comment about me during this time. See, they know me so well! Then, she had us turn to the right and rub those shoulders. I was a bit uncomfortable, but at least I wasn’t sitting next to a complete stranger just in the middle of two friends.
And believe it or not, God started working in my heart during this time. This symbolic act of providing comfort to another person reached down into the depth of my soul and I started to realize that I cannot do life without letting others in. I need these women in my life – not at arms length, but shoulder to shoulder walking together toward the same goal. And God clearly told me that if I were to get over the funk I had been in and truly work toward being in the center of His will, I needed to share my struggles. Specifically, I need to share with Melissa, my friend who is co-coordinating our MOPS group with me this year. How can we be partners in ministry if I’m not real, honest, and transparent with her.
So, I tapped her on the shoulder and asked her if we could have a bit of time later that day and talk. She had no clue really why – she probably thought it was MOPS business, but she was more than happy to talk and so I felt a bit better – a piece of my jumbled up puzzle of a life was falling into place.
General session that morning was amazing. Lisa Harper reminded us that God Delights in us. He is Divine, yet he Delights in us. How beautiful is that thought? She said, “You can’t walk boldly if you don’t believe God delights in you.”
Travis Cottrell led worship, and I say it every year, but there is nothing like worshiping with thousands of other women believers. It is amazing and it literally gave me goose bumps as we sang songs of praise to our God!
The Field Leaders in MOPS were amazing and symbolically passed the light and vision of MOPS from the Board and Staff and themselves to those of us in the crowd. The room was darkened, little flashlights were shining and then passed throughout the crowd – like little stars twinkling. I know after my time of coordinating is done, and that’s totally up to God, I feel a call and have a real desire to step into field leadership. I would love to help other groups grow and reach out to moms who need a sense of community and need to know that God delights in them, too!
The day went on, I attended some workshops, and finally, Melissa and I got a moment to ourselves, and we sat down on the floor of the Gaylord just outside the convention space. And what I thought might be a 30 minute conversation turned into a 2 hour discussion. God has blessed me so much with the friends I’ve made in MOPS, and specifically the ladies he’s brought alongside me to coordinate our MOPS group. Melissa sat there and let me pour out my struggles to her, and likewise she shared with me some struggles in her own life. And it was just one of those bonding moments in life, and as scripture says about two or more are gathered in Christ’s name, He’s in their midst, well, that was evident. He was there as I finally decided to share my burdens and allow someone to help bear it with me.
Melissa told me that she and Danielle (who was also on this trip) had both felt an urge to pray for me all summer and that they had several times met and prayed for me. Neither really knew why, but God had laid me on their hearts, and they were obedient to him.
And in talking to Melissa, I shared my struggles with prayer. Not just the recent struggles, but the struggles I had had since miscarrying in 2007. And while explaining all this, I had an epiphany about prayer. As you know from reading part 1, my miscarriage shook so much of what I believed. And I thought I had lost faith in prayer for a time, and I thought I had stopped praying during that time. But as I explained to Melissa how I would tell God exactly what I thought of the situation I was in and tell how how much anguish and pain I was in and how confused I was, I realized this: I probably prayed more after my miscarriage than I ever did before or maybe even since. Prayer is talking to God. It doesn’t have to be a formal prayer with an open, a petition, a thanksgiving, a close, forever and ever amen type thing. Prayer can be simply when we are talking to our Father and sharing with him and opening our hearts and being real. And in those months of pain after losing my baby, I repeatedly did that.
And so here I was 4 years later, thinking I had learned everything I could from that situation, and God showed me that I still had so much to learn. And the struggles I had been having these past few months praying just melted away.
Melissa prayed for me such a beautiful prayer as we closed our conversation and quickly headed down to the next General Session to meet up with the rest of our group. I walked into that session feeling much better than even the night before. Things were getting sorted out in my head and in my heart. But God wasn’t done yet. There was still one more day of convention to go…
NEXT: The Most Awesome God-Moment in My Life E-V-E-R
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