Conference time at last – the culmination of months of prayer, planning and craft nights. It was stretching for the team; not quite like an ancient pair of leggings that have lost their shape. More like the comfy jeans that are a perfect fit for you. Each of us eventually found our niche. We had a great day setting up together, creating a space of organic, understated beauty. Let’s face it, we live in clutter and it’s nice to get away from it! I loved that our WA Area Coordinator and the Managing Director demonstrated servant leadership and were alongside us all, setting up tables and décor.
Cherie, our Area Coordinator, introduced the theme to us, reminding us that God is the Artist creating the masterpiece in us. Her term “glorious unveiling” brought the image of a gallery launch to mind. The rich velvet drapes around the new work being drawn apart and the crowd responding with wonder. Yet they are only seeing the finished work, not the mess to create it; the crumbs of plaster on the work bench, the splashes of paint on the floor, the curls of wood planed off to smooth the edges.
I am really looking forward to reading Alexandra Kuykendall’s book, “The Artist’s Daughter”, having heard Cherie and Alexandra unpack it a little. The key concepts “Am I lovable? Am I loved? Am I loving?” are a useful reference point for everyday life. In the busy, in the boring, in the heartache, to take the opportunity to reflect on and answer these questions seems a wise idea. I feel that the answers will help shape my perspective.
In her keynote address, Margaret Sanders discussed how when we set our affection on the things above, we have God’s perspective and become like a butterfly, soaring with a distant view; instead of a caterpillar, overwhelmed by the height of blades of grass in front of us. She added that “as a result of being loved, we are lovable…it is our responsibility to be loving.”
Perspective seemed a bit of a theme for conference. Guest speaker Von Kilpatrick also dwelt on this as she talked about discovering and sharing our stories. She said “sometimes we’re so close to the action, we can’t see the big picture…we haven’t grasped our stories.” Von also lovingly censured us not to hold back sharing our story because it was “too ___” (fill in your own blank!) I think we as MOPS leaders really need to hold on to her opening and closing statement, “embrace your story – you may be the best story some Mums will ever read.” This rang true for many at the conference, one of the mums saying “I was really motivated to know my story and be ready to tell my story to Mums.”
As one of our country-based coordinators shared, the conference worship was a time to “enter in” to God’s presence, an opportunity sometimes missed back home. Thank you for joining together with me and the worship team to intentionally step towards God, offer Him praise and thank Him for creating something glorious out of the ruins and mess of our lives.
Those involved with MOPPETS received training from Kay Rutty which I’m sure was of great value. The remainder of us were privileged to hear from Karen Wilson, one of the seven influential people on my Life Map, an activity led by Cherie the night before. Karen shared (LOL – WA ladies, you know you want to) from her own experience and from “Gifted to Lead” by Nancy Beech on our journeys as women in leadership. The phrase that resonated for me was “you at your worst with God at his best is what the world needs.” With the miniscule amount of sleep I had the night before, I was certainly at my worst, but I am thankful that God filled me afresh with His Spirit and used me for His glory. We couldn’t finish the day without singing “all I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife, but He made something beautiful out of my life.”
I’m thankful for the efforts of all those involved in putting the conference together, for those mums from our Whitford group who served us on the day, and for each person who made the effort to take time out from family to draw near to God and His purposes for their MOPS group next year. Can’t wait to see the works in progress!
Publicity, Whitford MOPS, WA