Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Princess Story

I had the privilege of spending last weekend in sunny Orlando, Florida with some of the best company from miles around. Getting somewhere good takes planning, a little stress, and a lot of effort. But once you're on that jet, a sigh of relief exhales as you look forward to the destination. That describes how I found myself at the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) Convention, 2010.

Last year, when I first attended this event, I found myself crying like a baby as we drove to the airport. It was hard to leave my kids for 5 days--had never done that before. I felt broken and numb, as the reminders of 'mothering' were everywhere--all too soon for me in losing my own mom. But, God was doing some healing in me while I was away. I traveled with 2 friends who were solid as a rock and kept me going through the weekend. We had tons of fun and came back with our suitcases bulging and our hearts overflowing. We shopped 'til we dropped and soaked up all the music and training that we could while were in hospitable Nashville, TN.

It was necessary for me to experience my first Convention in that way. I had gained a bigger perspective of what we do, as a MOPS group, and how important mothering is in making this world a better place. This time around, I went with 2 friends who were the 'newbies of the group'. It was fun to see their reaction to everything taking place. We had so much fun together--I have to say that nothing is better than being poolside with friends who are like-minded--who love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and have a passion for reaching out. It was refreshing to invest in each other with no distractions--no kids, no schedules, no demands of home life. I really didn't want to leave!

I felt like I was in Heaven, for real. The Gaylord Palms is one of the finest hotels in the country. The whole place is beautiful, with its conservatory environment: plants, waterfalls, rock formations and wandering paths, ever where...excellent restaurants, entertainment and fabulous pools! You feel like a Princess from the moment you walk in. There was a well-dressed man, passing by the line of women, waiting to get their room keys. He had a silver platter with individually-wrapped chocolates and candies for all the moms, as well as sweet compliments on how we have the hardest job in the world--so true. There were the fanciest lemonade stands I ever saw: glass and brass containers with golden spickets--how cool is that. Complimentary refreshments that spoke volumes to each of us, on our true worth.

What would be my favorite part of the event? It's too hard to pick just one thing. Since we had a smaller attendance this year, it made it easier to get through the lines and meet the speakers and musical artists that were there. We met our favorite local band, 'Go Fish', worship leader Christy Nockels, and saw Ritchie McDonald(former lead singer of Lone Star) as well as many authors and speakers. The worship time was incredible. I only wish every Sunday morning, back home, had as much volume as we experienced each day, there. Wow.

I was surprised to see Don Miller--author of a favorite book('Blue Like Jazz') be one of the speakers. What a neat guy he is. I love his perspective on God--definitely an 'out of the box' thinker. I love hanging out with people like that. Margaret Feinberg, another excellent writer and speaker, inspired me with her correlations between scripture and nature. She has taken the time to get to know people who take care of sheep, keep bees, and tend vineyards--and how God has used those analogies to give meaning to our every day lives. I just had to show her pics and video of my butterfly who could not fly. I knew there was a reason why I brought that footage along with me. Isn't it awesome the way we are prompted and directed?

The Resource Fair has continued to be a blessing in my life. Last year, I was given a small pendant that had the number 23 engraved on it--as in Psalm 23. The vendor noticed the necklace I often wear that belonged to my mom. She wanted me to have something like it, from their company. I was touched and lifted up by that small gesture. This year, I came back to Union 28, a company that makes 'marriage apparel'--that would be T-shirts(not something else!) carrying unique designs that incorporate phrases like, 'My Husband Rocks' within the logos. I decided that I would buy a shirt for me and one for Troy. The woman at the booth recognized me from last year--we started chatting and in leaving, she wanted me to have one of her CD's--even though I didn't purchase the amount set to get one for free, she said she felt led to give one to me anyway. Wow. Awhile later, I happened to pass by a booth for Care Net--the umbrella organization that has helped our local Crisis Pregnancy Center get up and running. The women who were there knew our CPC director and have been talking to her a lot. I also discovered that Care Net is looking to form partnerships with local MOPS groups so we can together serve women who need support. And we were just talking about doing that, at our last Steering Meeting! God is so good.

Probably the best encounter I had, with new people, was in meeting one of the women from MOPS international. I had heard, last year, that she was battling ovarian cancer. I wanted to meet her, but it never happened. I was just finished getting one of my books signed when I turned around and there she was, right in front of me. I introduced myself to her and asked how she was doing. I went on to tell her about my mom and recap our story through her illness. It was a teary moment that I will never forget. Then along came her daughter, our MOPS emcee for the weekend. I was able to meet her as well and get a picture taken together. I am amazed at how God knows the desires of our hearts and grants them when the time is right. I pray and wish Carol and Kendall, all the best in their relationship together as mother and daughter--that they will have many more years together as a family.

And then the clock struck midnight: our beautiful surroundings would soon be turned back into pumpkins--time to go home! I think all of us were exhausted, getting on that airplane. Sometimes the home-going is not so pleasant. Had to have a little 'heart to heart' with our airline when I got home. Guess what I discovered? I really do have it in me to stand up for myself and for what is right. One of my biggest struggles in life is in handling conflict. I learned, this weekend, that 'God is not afraid of conflict'. In fact, it is a part of life that needs to be had in order to make things better. Duh, right? Some of us learn this more slowly, I guess! I don't think I had ever felt more righteous anger towards anyone--or company--let alone what a suitcase can do to my emotions! But so be it. I learned something and intend on grafting into my life so that I can move forward with no regrets.

Ok, this is hilarious. Speaking of 'pumpkins', we are growing them in our garden and while I was gone, Adrian picked a big one that had already turned orange. Troy sent me a picture of it, on my phone, a day before we left. So when he came to pick us up, at the airport, there was that proverbial pumpkin--sitting on the floor of the van! Hmmm, somehow I find that very significant. Yep, we are back to our little pumpkins--no more Cinderella--until next year!