All three of my kids stayed up too late the other night because they asked me if they could.

And sometimes it’s worth saying yes in those moments. They didn’t have school the next day and they wanted to know if they could just fall asleep watching a Disney movie and I said, yes.

Yes to comforters on the couch and chocolate chip cookies at 8:30pm and yes to their baby sister hanging out with her brothers, too late for her tiny self, but too cruel to make her quit all the fun they’d rounded up.

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Yes is such a powerful word. Invitation is such a powerful gift.

When we invite people into our moments and onto our sofas and into the memories made at 9pm on a Tuesday night we’re telling them – you matter.

Last week I was invited to spend time with moms from MOPS (listen in on the first 10 minutes of my talk here) and creatives from the Influence Conference. Four days of being around women who teach, who inspire, who create, who laugh loudly, who savor being able to go to the bathroom alone. It’s good for the soul.

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And on the last day there was this beautiful moment I wanted to share with you guys.

A friend and I had snuck into the auditorium to hear Jen Hatmaker speak. The place was packed out – 5,000 women full.

And we spotted a few seats in literally the very last row.

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As we were making a beeline for them the sweetest woman stopped us. She was all dimples and smiles and incredibly excited to learn it was just the two of us, that we weren’t attending the conference as a part of a group, and then our personal Santa said the most fun sentence. She said,

Our group has seats right up at the front. And a couple of our girls left early. So I thought I’d come find some women in the very back row and invite them up to the front.

And you guys, IT WAS THE NICEST THING EVER!

It was completely unexpected. It was unrelated to anything we’d done or not done. It was pure gift. And the giver was just as excited as us.

As she lead us closer and closer to that giant stage she was bubbling over with excitement at being able to bless two total strangers with such joy. We laughed and introduced ourselves and met her delightful group of moms. We did the wave with them. We laughed and cried and clapped and cheered together through Jen’s talk. We worshipped side by side and quietly wiped away tears.

Right there in the front right section of the MOPS convention we were invited when we least expected it and welcomed when we were planning to lurk in the back.

And it became a bubble of joy that lodged under my heart and came home with me.

I was tired when I got in. And cranky. And overly-snappy with my kids. Pete left the same day I got home and he’s been gone nearly a week. But I keep thinking about that woman and how she got up from her seat in front and walked to the way way back to find us. And how she took such delight in inviting us into her row.

Simple right? But also, profound.

I’m so grateful to those women for the reminder that’s hung around with me all week – we get to choose to invite people into our right now, our front rows, our minivans after car pool, or a few stolen minutes on the front porch.

We get to. Not that we have to.

We get to.

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