I had the incredible privilege of attending the MOPS International Conference (called MOMCON) in Louisville, Kentucky last Thursday-Sunday. It was a really awesome experience and I'm so so thankful for my local MOPS group and the hosting church that covered my cost to attend. I would not have been able to go without their support. I learned a lot, I cried a ton, and most of all I laughed. It was definitely a weekend I will not forget and I can't wait to share with my MOPS group everything we learned to make us even better at what we do!
Can I just add, that before this conference, I was feeling so overwhelmed with life. I really had/have a lot on my plate and I could't understand why I wasn't able to juggle it all. I thought, "something has to give. I'm spending too much time away from my family, I can't finish everything, I've got so much to do." And I thought, "I can't do MOPs anymore. It's just for me anyways, it's not benefiting anyone else in my family, like Girl Scouts benefits Rylie, so I should just drop it"......
And then I went to conference and I realized that MOPS isn't just for me, it's not even just for mothers, it's for everyone because it can start with a mother. She can go to MOPS and fill up her cup and then be empowered to go out and fill the cups of others around her and it hit me, this is the best thing for me and our family and I'm not going anywhere! And honestly, no paying job I've had before has sent me to an international conference out of state for a long weekend, cost-free, where I could meet some incredible people like Angie Smith, Jennie Allen, and Lisa-Jo Baker to name a few. And I no longer feel guilty for doing things like this for myself and no longer feel like I'm not doing enough as a "stay at home mom" and no longer feel like my family isn't first priority. I am enough and I'm not just a stay at home mom. I'm a leader and my family is why I'm a part of MOPS and it only makes me a better wife and mom.
Now here's a lot of photos from my trip!
The sign in the airport when we arrived
Our hotel room view
I was so blessed to attend with 2 awesome ladies from my MOPS group!
I thought it was so special that Louisville put these banners on the lamp posts!
Our first session, we were in the way back! Did I mention there were 3000 moms that attended?!
Amenda Brown did a very powerful opening. I'm still hunting down the video of it. She was great!
Meredith Andrews and her band did all the songs at each session. She was GREAT!
AND she is 1 month from her due date with her 3rd child! I mean, seriously! She was belting out those songs and jumping around. I think everyone in the audience held their breath, wondering if she'd go into labor this weekend.
Kendall Parkhurst, who works on the events team at MOPS International, did all the introductions of our speakers.
Mandy Arioto, Director of Marketing and Leadership at MOPS International
Sherry Surratt is the President and CEO of MOPS International
Hilarious improv comedy show after our first session Thursday night!
Then we waited in line to get Sherry to autograph her new book to bring back to our MOPS group! Her book goes along with the theme this year, Be you, Bravely!
Friday morning, second row! We kinda figured out how everything worked after the first night ;-)
Kendall opening the session
Melissa d'Arabian from the Food Network!
She talked about smoothies and gave tips and recipes for quick smoothies in the morning! I really wanted to meet her and buy her "10 Dollar Dinner" cookbook, but she didn't do a meet n' greet :(
Meredith Andrews again!
Jennie Allen spoke next
From these photos, it looks like she was smiling and talking all upbeat, but she came out crying and was really heartfelt the whole time. Of course I bawled during every speaker, but she really hit it hard.
Ran into the Colonel while out at lunch!
Workshop with Lisa-Jo Baker, author of "Surprised by Motherhood" which is on my to-read list! She talked about letting go of anger in parenting. It was packed, so apparently there's a lot of angry parents lol But yall, some days I feel like all I've done is yelled at my kids.
Our next session Friday night had Lisa Chan speaking. I was honestly so tired, I don't remember much of her speaking. I didn't even take a photo of her, oop! She also came out crying and her voice was very monotone, soothing, and she talked way longer than she was supposed to so I was nodding off a little lol They did post the videos of each session on our MOPS leader page, so I'll go back and rewatch her.
4th Street Live was a fun area a block from our hotel and we went there for dinner.
We ate at Gordon Biersch and it did not disappoint! We were actually having too much fun eating a meal without kids and getting to take our time that the table next to us "shhh'd" us! For real.
Saturday morning, we went to the early worship with Meredith Andrews before our session.
She had a cute outfit :)
Shauna Niequist spoke, and she cried too! Seriously, didn't know I'd cry this much attending this conference. They should've had tissues on every chair!
After that session, I got in line to meet Meredith Andrews and get a photo. She has a little boy named Remy (short for Remington, and yes they spell it our way for some reason). Bless her for doing this conference that far along though, seriously! Her husband is the drummer, so he was there in case anything progressed!
Then I skipped lunch and sat outside the room for my next workshop so I could get a good seat for Angie Smith! She has been on my list of blogs I read on here for several years! I truly admire her and it was a dream to be present for her workshop, but even better......
I was sitting on the front row waiting for her and she just walked in said "I'll sit right here" and sat beside me! I told her thank you so much for coming and she hugged me and was so humble and was more thankful that we were there to support her! I had to get a selfie with her, of course!
She was the cutest thing. I couldn't even see her when she stepped behind the podium lol Her workshop was about "Battling Fear in Parenting" and it was the most influencing workshop. I took 3 pages of notes! It really had the most impact to me.
Then I raced over to wait by the doors for our last session to get a good seat because Angie Smith was our keynote speaker for that!
I got us front row, baby!! Woohoo!
She was just as cute as ever. She really is a talented writer. I love reading her blogs (when she writes them! ahem!) and her books. It made my weekend to get to meet her.
Then they kicked off MOM Prom! It was a 20's theme, which I LOVED! The girls I traveled with weren't as into the theme, so I didn't want to dress up by myself.
I waited in line to get Angie's autograph on the "Audrey Bunny" book I got the girls for Easter and I bought her newest children's Bible for the girls there! (Shh, it's for Christmas!) It just came out last week and was already on back-order online, so I was glad they had copies there! Her sweet twin daughters were with her and signed the book too.
And another picture before she was off!
We had dinner in our hotel restaurant that night and I had a yummy Derby Pie for dessert (above)!
Then we peeked into Mom Prom. It looked like a lot of fun! We stayed a few songs then went back to our room where we laughed and laughed for hours. It seriously hurt my stomach so bad and yet I couldn't stop laughing. The ladies with me are the funniest gals and I loved being with them this weekend. It's definitely one I will never forget!