The festivities kicked off on Friday night with a masquerade ball. It was so much fun getting to dress up and enjoy a lovely dinner with some of my team, while we were introduced to the theme for next year.
It was especially heart-warming to see the Hands of MOPS award for 2017 presented to Linda Perkins, who has been a great support and encouragement to our Tuggeranong MOPS group as the ACT Region Leader. She has served MOPS as the Mentor of the Northpointe group for 12 years. We were all surprised (most of all, Linda!) to see her husband Randy show up – from a 3 hour drive away – to stand by her side as she received her award.
There were many elements of next year’s theme that came out in the theme launch activities on Friday night and Lexia Smallwood’s keynote address on Saturday, and here are just a few of the points that really connected with me:
- As MOPS leaders, our lives should exhibit the kind of freedom that inspires other Mums to seek what makes us free, that is, Jesus Christ.
- Letting love be the loudest voice means letting the truth of God’s word really penetrate our hearts.
- There are many things we can seek to be free from in this life, but the freedom that Jesus brings is more and better than average freedom. God’s freedom both releases us (from sin and death) and then welcomes us in.
By far the most touching and inspiring part of the conference, for me, were the testimonies. Jodie Neich shared how she came to know Jesus through her local MOPS group and encouraged us to remember that even if we only reach one mum, that will have a much bigger impact and ripple effect than we can imagine. Belinda Robson shared her experiences of being a Coordinator over four years, highlighting that each of us leaders bring something unique and important to the role.
At one point, we divided into table groups to discuss how to avoid the traps of people pleasing. As we talked about the desire to look like we could handle everything, we entered a discussion about managing a difficult child (we all seemed to have one). Kathy – a mentor from Oran Park MOPS – shared with us about one of her sons who was quite a handful as a little child, and had her reading all the parenting books and applying every tool she found. She told us that he is now an adult who is kind and patient and loves the Lord. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief in confidence that persevering with our difficult children would pay off in the long run.
With the thought-provoking talks, the lovingly created décor, delicious food and spontaneous – but deeply important – discussions, the conference felt like all the best parts of a MOPS morning spread across a weekend. It not only recharged me as a MOPS leader, it also inspired me to think about how we can better serve the mums in our group each time we meet.