There and Back Again – My Journey at MOPS Convention – Part 6

(If you just started reading my blog, you may want to read Part 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 of this story first.)

Saturday evening – always an evening of mixed feelings at MOPS Convention for me. On one hand, so sad that the weekend is over and convention is just about over. On the other, I’m missing my family and just exhausted from the events of the weekend, so going home sounds great. The final General Session was going to be exciting. Worship with Travis Cottrell, a performance by Steven Curtis Chapman, and Mary Beth Chapman sharing her story of life since Maria’s death.

Steven Curtis was amazing. I’ve always wanted to hear him perform live, and he didn’t disappoint. His performance was all acoustic, without his band, which made it intimate and he talked between songs and just kept it real. He started with Dive, one of my favorites that I love to sing at the top of my lungs when cleaning the house or driving down the road when I get those few moments by myself. Just a fun song that reminds us to follow by faith. He told the story of One Heartbeat at a Time. It’s a song he wrote in honor of his wife and the hardships that mother’s endure. His new song Do Everything touches mothers, father, everyone – reminding us that whatever we do, do it to the glory of God. I think there was another song or two, but then as he started the first chord of Cinderella, there was almost a commotion in the audience as you heard thousands of women diving for their bags and purses for that elusive kleenex. Not a dry eye in the house as he performed what is probably going to be known as his signature song (despite his comprehensive catalog). And then he introduced his wife.

Mary Beth Chapman is an amazing woman – the fact she has walked in the valley of the shadow of death and lived every mother’s worse nightmare – she didn’t cry the entire time of her speech. She peppered it with humor at first and yet, there was a real vulnerability to her as she talked. It may have been three years since little Maria went to be with Jesus, but to her, it was only yesterday. And as she talked about her faith, and how it was the only thing that kept her going during the darkest days, she made no bones about the fact that her life was shaken and that there is a hole in her heart. She has good days, yet still has very bad days, and she still talks to God frequently about her loss. And it just reaffirmed to me the epiphany I had the day before about my prayers after my miscarriage.

She shared about how she and God have had so many raw conversations and yet, He’s remained faithful. And she explained about the title of her book Choosing to See and how the word SEE became a lifeline to her family during the days after Maria’s tragic death. All of us in the audience were blubbering idiots during her talk, yet she was stoic.

Steven Curtis stayed on the stage with her the entire time, sometimes silent, sometimes contributing. When she finished her remarks, she turned, somewhat quickly I thought, and he jumped up from the stool he was sitting on and wrapped his arm around her and walked her off the stage. To me, it was as if she was about to lose it after recounting this story yet again, and the love was so evident as he supported her both physically and emotionally. So uplifting and what a blessing to hear this family’s story.

Then, the final worship set and during this time, I again started to feel that empty feeling – what had preceded all weekend as I was about to learn another. And I just thought to myself, “Really, God? What NOW?!?” And is was as if after this huge display of a husband supporting his wife that I had just witnessed, God said to me, “Talk to Eric about your struggles. You cannot heal until you share with the partner I have given you for this life you live.” And I was done wrestling with Him… I said Yes, and I knew it was going to be okay. And I felt healed and knew I could truly worship. And by this point, it was down to the last song. Travis and his band were out there and Steven Curtis Chapman joined them and they sang the song In Christ Alone and it was a-m-a-z-i-n-g and I literally got goosebumps it was so powerful. Jesus was definitely in the house!

What a tremendous way to end Convention. That night I spent some time sharing and laughing with my friends. And there was a sneak preview showing of the new movie from Sherwood PicturesCourageous. It is AWE-SOME!!! You must see this movie. If you don’t go to any other movie this year, this decade, go see this movie. The acting is great, the special effects, the script, everything. It is a must see movie for families. You’ll laugh and cry and laugh and cry. The trailer is at the bottom here, so watch it and make plans to see it in the movie theatre!

Thanks for letting me share and get this out. I’m sure I’ll have a follow-up or two as I continue to be amazed by God’s grace and love and am just beginning to fully understand that He delights in us, his children. What a wonderful thought, no? I will still struggle with my weaknesses, but I have support from my husband (our talk was fabulous), my friends, my family, my church, and a wonderful organization called MOPS International. Thank you MOPS for allowing me to have a life changing weekend. I can’t wait to see you all in Dallas in 2012!

For Readers Edification: Published from My Little Corner of the Internet: http://mandilivingston.blogspot.com/. Unless otherwise notated, all written content is the intellectual property of Mandi Livingston.

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