Last weekend, a friend and I headed up to Birmingham to meet up with my mom and sister for the .MOM conference. We really didn't know much about it - other than that it was the first .MOM conference Lifeway had ever put on and that there were going to be some very dynamic speakers! Well, needless to say - I was so blessed during those 24 hours of worship, teaching, testimony and practical "mom tips!" I thought I would share briefly what I took away from each of the sessions.....now please keep in ind there were over 30 break-out sessions offered and each mom could only choose their favorite 4 to attend! There were so, so many wonderful teachers and sessions, but I was very pleased with the four I chose to attend. =)
We started off with worship led by former Avalon singer, Melissa Greene. She sang at Olive a couple years ago and we all thoroughly enjoyed her heart for the Lord and her passion for engaging others into worship. She was awesome!
Angela Thomas was our first Main Session sepaker and she spoke on "Being a Light" as a mom. She emphasized the importance that Jesus is the only one who gives us light and therefore He is the only one who can truly offer light to our children. Mt. 5:16 - Let you light shine before men....(children) so they can see Jesus daily! We must be a reflection of Jesus to our children. We must also remember as Acts 1:8 states that we are called to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth spreading Jesus' light. But, let me emphasize here the importance of FIRST starting in Jerusalem (our home). Our husbands and children is where we must begin and make top priority! We must fan the flame to others and keep the darkness out of our home. We must care about God's approval more than our children's/friends or others approval. Such an awesome reminder how how important my precious time with Isabella is each and every day..........I pray the Lord will use me to light the fire in her tiny little baby heart!
The first break-out session I attended was a panel with Priscilla Shrirer, Amanda Jones (Beth Moore's daughter) and Angela Cottrell (Travis' wife). It consisted of various women of young children asking various questions on parenting, family time, potty training, meal times, friendships etc. The main theme I took from this session was just to pray through every decision and make the best decision for my children as the Lord leads me! It's so important not to compare with other moms/parents in their choices for their children. Every child is different and the Lord has gifted every mother different and the most important thing is that we are parenting the way the Lord calls us to specifically for our individual children. (Always cool to hear such dynamic women who love the Lord speak this truth to confirm it in my heart.)
Then, we went to a session led by Angela Cottrell, "Teaching Biblical Truths to Your Children & Grand-children." She was so down to earth......shared her weaknesses, challenges and ideas with us! She started off with Deut. 6:7 - we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, min and soul and we must teaching these truths to our children every day - all day! As busy mothers, we must seek out time with the Lord - time to meditate, learn, reflect and memorize. When we are filled with truth, then we must speak these truths to our children. For example.....her family turns off the TV M-Fri in order to prioritize time for each other and the Lord.....and time to be kids & be creative! I LOVED this. =) We must constantly be sharing God stories with our children....what He is doing in our lives! We must remember that our family/lives day to day are going to look different than those around us...and that's OK! She gave tons of practical ideas for teaching the Bible to our Children....I will bullet these for my sake in the future!
-Hook them in the morning
-scripture cards (read one over b'fast)
-Pray in the car and be silent
-Create prayer placemats
-Creat prayer picture albums (kids pray for family/friends by name & picture)
-Bible coloring/activity pages online
-Creat puzzles on paper from scripture
-Music - "Seeds of Faith"
-Blue Letter Bible
-Children can play and act out stories
-Prayer book - children color pictures to interpret scripture & prayers
-Jewish Storybooks (lots of cool details)
-The DK Storybook Bible
-One Year Devotional (for older children)
-Nest Entertainment - Animated Stories from Bible Series
**She also suggested reading a Proverb over your children every night.
Our next large group session was with Angie Smith. She shared her testimony....for those of you who haven't heard her powerful testimony - I will share with you briefly. She had 2 children and then got pregnant with her 3rd. They found out that this baby had severe problems and would not live outside the womb. She shared her struggles......and challenges through this journey. She shared holding her baby for just a few hours after birth and then giving that baby back to Jesus. As you can imagine, there was not a dry eye in the room. Powerful testimony of the Lord's faithfulness through dark times......and reminder that He walks beside us every step of the way.
Saturday morning, we started our day with a session with Vicki Courtney. She talked about the story of Jesus' visit with Mary & Martha. She emphasized the importance of recognizing when we tend to become a "Martha." Three qualities that Mary had and we should also: 1. Make time to sit and listen (block out "white noise" of this world - facebook, twitter, busyness) 2. Aim for enough in life rather than too much (service, ministry, extra-curricular activities) 3. We must make Jesus our primary, essential affection (what is your primary affection?) She shared with us some of her deepest challenges through raising young children. Sometimes, it takes pulling your Bible out and sitting right next to the baby in the swing (just so the baby can see you).....whatever it takes - make time to be with Jesus.
My third break-out session was with Esther Burroughs, "Moms...creating legacies, traditions and fun for children and grandchildren. She suggested the book "Jesus Storybook Bible" & the songs from "Teeny Tikes." She was a wise lady in her 70's who just shared her heart with us young moms! She reminded us that God created the family unit first THEN the church and we must keep that always in mind. She reinforced the importance of having family worship - praying over each child. She reminded us not to get so overwhelmed with parenting books....but that the Bible is all we really every need. She challenged us to pray for a Godly mentor....not a program...but a relationship). She told us that the one lie of this culture is busyness....and we must NOT believe it! She shared with us one idea that her daughters implement and that is one night a weekend "No one goes out...no one comes in." (family night)
Our third break out session was led by a counseling group from Nasvhille and the session was titled, "Modern Parents with Vintage Values." This was targeted toward older children dealing with techonology etc, but I'm glad we went so we can be proactive with our younger children! Pretty much, parents much do their homework on technology and set boundaries. They also suggested having a community of other parents who you trust their boundaries also. They deiscusses the issue of children feeling entitled to things. We must raise our children to know the difference between a need and a want - giving our children opportunities to raise money to buy things. We must model gratitude. Then, they spent time discussing the following character qualities that are so important to instill in our children.....Respect, Forgiveness, Confidence and Responsibility.
Our last big session was with Priscilla Shrirer and she focused on Luke 5. She talked about how we as mothers need time for margins and time to be "lazy" - time not doing something! We must have friends who can help us "wash our nets"......helps us with challenging times etc. She reminded us that we all have strengths and weaknesses and that Jesus sees our weaknesses and allows the to be used for His glory. She also reminded us that the major character building and refinement may be during THIS season of our lives! We need to use our experiences - even struggles to help encourage others. He wants us to cast our nets (have faith) and say "Yes, Lord!" (willing to use us)
Ok....so that was our weekend! And...I'm glad I took the time to blog this - that way I can always refer back to it on down the road! =)