MOPS International Convention
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Saturday, October 04, 2008

What’s the matter with Lynne Spears? I’ll tell you what’s the matter with her: She’s a mom, who is a lot like me.

Britney this, Jamie Lynn, that. Who isn’t sick of hearing the drama? When I saw Lynne Spears' new book: Through The Storm, on the shelf at Borders, I cringed. it was a one book that I, (the confirmed, compulsive book buyer) was not even tempted to buy. To be honest, I never even picked it up. The media has told us enough, hasn’t it? Besides, I’m not into the whole “fan girl thing” or the "tabloid thing".. so what could I get out of it?

At least, that’s what I thought until this morning.

This morning, Lynne Spears came to MOPS. There was an audible gasp as Lynne, Elisa Morgan and Lorilee Craker (who co-authored with Lynne) took seats on stools - together on the stage. Elisa asked Lynne about her book…Lynne graciously answered. I smiled when I heard the mother/daughter similarity between her voice and the voices of her daughters I’ve heard on TV. Funny- I sound just like my mother, too. I was surprised, she seemed so, “normal”.

Then, Elisa asked Lynne “ Lynne, a lot of us mom’s have the idea that if we follow some “formula” then things will work out… How do you respond to that?” Lynne’s voice suddenly sounded as familiar to me as my own. “I had a plan... I had a perfect little plan….but, I’ve learned that you can’t control outside influences…and that you do the best you can and hang onto your faith.”

My heart stopped. I didn’t see “Britney and Jamie Lynn’s Mom” anymore. I saw: “A mom.” In her voice- I heard my prayers. That voice that had at first sounded so much like her famous daughters’ voices- now sounded just like mine. Because- I’m one of those moms too.

I had a perfect little plan…I taught preschool...I tried to follow a formula, hoping I could control how my life- and my kids lives turned out. 20 years of marriage and 19 years of mothering have taught me the same lesson as it's taught Lynne Spears. You can’t control outside influences…and that you do the best you can and hang onto your faith. The only "formula" in parenting is the one in a bottle that leaves indelible stains on burp cloths.

“You do the best you can and hang onto your faith.” Lynne’s words resonated from my head to my feet. They were the things I’ve learned in my nearly 20 years in MOPS. No mom is perfect, no kid is perfect…“You do the best you can and hang onto your faith.” Suddenly, I knew the answer to the question that I’ve heard so often in the media- and in conversation.. “What’s the matter with that family?” I can tell you what’s the matter- she’s a mom, just like me. With kids making their own choices. She's doing the best she can and hanging onto her faith.

As I sat in the beautiful ballroom and continued to listen to other speakers, my guts twisted. How many times had I thought to myself- “Those Spears girls need MOPS!” I've joked a few times about sending a few MOPS books to the Spears home. They could use them, right?

All the harsh words I'd heard and said- came back in a rush. As I heard them replay in my mind, conviction set in.

I am all about reaching, EVERY MOM… I have felt passionate about it for years. I’ve devoted almost 19 years to reaching moms through MOPS. But, somehow, I had given up hope on “those Moms.” They just seemed too far away. Too different. Too far removed. And then Lynne Spears came to MOPS. As she spoke, I found out she’s not all that different from me. I felt a connection. I met a sister, even though stage and lights and life experiences separated us.

I wonder how many other moms I make the same assumptions about? Who else have I written off too different or too far removed for me to reach out too? The chances are- those Mom’s won’t have the amazing courage that Lynne Spears had, to come to MOPS, and tell her story. Chances are, they will just continue to feel judged and isolated.

As I sat in the beautiful ballroom of the Grapevine, Gaylord, I wondered how we can bring those moms to MOPS. A place where they could be loved and accepted and welcomed the way Lynne Spears was today. I wracked my brain for answers. I had none. I was asking the wrong question. What if we stopped trying to get them to come to us...what if we went to them?

This morning, I made a decision. I am not going to wait for moms to come to me. I will go to them. I will just love them. Every mom. I will do what I can, wherever I am. (Ok- so every mom, I meet) I will set aside my prejudices, my fears and my ignorance, and I will go- to where they are. Will you?

I wonder what would happen if each one of us did. Scratch that- I know what would happen if we did. And so do you, it’s simple. We would make a better world.

I don’t know about you, but I’m up for a better world. For my families sake and for generations to come.

Lynne - I’m sorry you had to come to me, I appreciate your honesty courage and authenticity. I’m sorry I judged you. I promise you- from here on out, I will go to every Brittney, Jamie Lynne and Lynne that I can find. Lynne- I'm praying for your family- and am enjoying reading the book I never thought I'd buy. Thank you for coming to MOPS this morning. I'm so glad you were here!

Living the adventure with you-
Tracey Solomon- Ministry Advancement Coordinator- MOPS International.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Jaci & Nic

At the second General Session, moms went crazy for Jaci Velasquez and husband (Salvador front man) Nic Gonzalez as they bantored back and forth and showed off their young son Zealand in his first "on stage" appearence. They both sang a few new songs and Jaci performed her hit "On My Knees." It was fabulous!

Audiences also enjoyed noting a very cute baby bump on Jaci :)

jaci & nic

Thursday, October 02, 2008

MOPS International Convention- a sense of "we"

The "what ifs" rang through my brain, as I boarded my flight to Dallas... "What if I don't connect with the women I'm rooming with? What if I snore..or what if, when I'm sleeping.. I accidently, put my icy feet on my bedmate's legs, like I do at home with my hubby? What if something happens while I'm gone? What if I've heard it all before?"..

The what ifs were quickly followed by the "should I's".. They marched through my mind like a circus parade. "Should I really be spending this kind of money on.. *gasp* myself? Should I really trust my family to fend for themselves for this long? Should I really be going at all?" Finally... the hardest question shot through my mind like a flying human cannon-ball of fear..."Do I really belong here?" I turned up my Ipod to try and drown out the noise in my head.

Finally, The plane landed. I boarded the shuttle and headed to the Gaylord. The shuttle was full of MOPS Vendors and ministry partners and leaders. I met MOPS girls from California and Florida. We talked the whole way to the resort. When I walked into the resort, I saw signs that read... "Welcome, MOPS International Convention" "Hey... that's ME!" I am MOPS!" I thought. I'm sure I looked weird, standing there, grinning at the sign.. but I didn't care. (much) I felt like someone had been preparing for me. Because they had been.

On the way to my room I met 4 or 5 other moms in the elevator. (I could tell they were MOPS Moms... they were carrying MOPS bags (the secret sisterhood of MOPS official emblem-along with possibly baby puke stains somewhere on your ensemble.) I smiled. They smiled back. "Where are you from?" That was all it took, the chatter kept up until I nearly missed my floor.

I crashed in my room and had a few minutes TO MYSELF. (I actually got to go to the bathroom without being interrupted! Not quite spa like.. but for a mom of three? It was a TREAT.) Then, it was time to go to the opening session. Nearly 5000 mothers gathered in the Gaylord.. you could nearly reach out and TOUCH the estrogen. Women smiled.. they called out to each other..they introduced themselves to each other. Then, the lights dimmed.

Huge screens lit up with fireworks. Music roared. In .032 seconds women were on their feet. Together we sang, we worshipped, we listened, we laughed, our hearts touched- we shed a few tears. (A rollercoaster of fun, excitement and information that even my "I don't DO coasters" kind of self, LOVED.)

Somewhere along the line..in all the smiles.. the stories I heard that I could not just relate too- but have LIVED...the "What if's", the "Should I's" And the terrible "Do I belong here?" questions all fell away....The questions about ME were replaced with a sense of "WE".

We are in this together. We are not alone. We can make a difference. WE.

This.. is just the first day.. I can't wait to see what tomorrow holds!

Tracey Solomon- Ministry Advancement Coordinator, Zone 29 Michigan- Live from MOPS International Convention, Dallas, Texas!

MOPS International Convention Thursday- Day one


Make sure and check back everyday to hear about MOPS International Convention experiences- and check out the MOPS Convention flickr group to see pics and quick videos!