Friday, September 15, 2017

Hello Freedom, it's nice to meet you!


Ahh, a new year of MOPS has begun! Yay! Welcome everyone! I hope the first meeting was as refreshing for you as it was for me! It was so nice to be surrounded by friendly faces, hot coffee, and hot food! Okay, I have seriously ended every sentence so far with an exclamation point. I am just THAT excited about this MOPS year! On Tuesday we watched a video on this year's theme, Free Indeed. Here are a few things that stood out to me:

  • We will let love be the loudest voice.
  • Your scars are a roadmap to another woman's freedom.
  • We will go first in order to set other captives free.
  • We will proclaim that fear, worry, anxiety, and comparison will not win.
  • We are committed to fly and this is the year we stretch our wings.
  • Take to the skies and be free indeed.


For me, this theme couldn't have come at a better time. God's timing is perfect. I imagine that's the case for most, if not all of us. Don't we all need freedom from something? I've been held captive by my own thoughts of not being good enough as a wife, mother, friend, sister, or as a person, fearing that I woudn't know what to say in a conversation, or that no one would like me (the list goes on). In reality, that is so not true. Believing these lies about myself only kept me in my cage. Now that I'm accepting myself, opening up, and being vulnerable, I'm experiencing freedom for the first time; and well, it's freeing. I've started to see that sharing what we've gone through or are going through can make way for meaningful relationships. Of course I'm still human and I still get weighted down sometimes, but God is faithful and gives me the strength to lift my head up and walk on. I also have this amazing community of Mamas who are so encouraging. We have each other. We are not alone. We all have hurts and struggles. Sharing ours can not only be good for us; it can benefit those who hear it. It could give someone else the courage to do the same.

I came across these verses a couple months ago that made me think of MOPS, and was going to post them, but haven't yet. So here they are now (:

1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Proverbs 12:25 NIV
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

Can't wait for our next meeting!

-Heidi M.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Ode to MOPS



There is a little group of gals who hear me when I share.
They listen to each complaint, and heart ache and never seem to compare.

Although some mornings I can hardly muster up the courage,
I know as soon as I join them my heart will be encouraged.

God has blessed me with true friends, even when I felt alone.
You see four years ago, I moved back and hadn't a friend to call my own.

One morning I prayed and asked Him for some friends that were honest and true.
He said "Go to McDonald's and just you see what I will do".

Uhhh..Okay Lord, that's weird...but off we went to play.
Sitting with my burger I noticed the place was packed that day.

A Tuesday afternoon and so many beautiful and witty women.
Surely they wont talk to me, they have so many children!

Slowly but surely, I let down my guard and said "Hey, Hi there, Hello.."
They happily accepted me and told me about a place where I should go.

The following week I walked into a Venue I'd never even seen,
I bet no one notices me, and some may even be mean.

But one by one they started to smile and even remembered my name.
Ate a hot breakfast without a child, hey maybe I am still sane.

Life moved on just as it always seems to do,
Babies, friendships, illnesses and depression crept in too.

 My God was ever so faithful and I didn't feel so alone,
I had this squad of Mamas making sure I left my home.

We never know where this life will lead,the ups and downs the flips and flops.
But I do know He helped save me through a place called MOPS.


-Summur


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Brave

First of all, wow. What a morning full of open arms and open hearts! Thank you Maribeth, Yesi and Dana for having the courage to share your beautiful stories with the rest of us this morning!

I heard so many times this morning how God used your brave and raw words to speak truth to other moms. Each of us were born into this world with an incredible story ahead of us. The mountains and valleys of our story have helped mold us into who we are at this moment...and nothing suprised God. He knew every laugh, every stumble, every tear we would shed before it was even caught in our throat.

For so many years, I saw the hard days, the struggles and downright gut wrenching, heart shattering moments as times when God was reminding me I needed him...maybe even a little
bit of punishment for the poor choices I had made. And though part of that may be true, I now fully believe that these moments where I tried so hard to control and fix and erase away, were
precious moments of God molding me,showing me grace, building me up and creating in me a person He could use for good and glory. But hindsight is 20/20 right? John 13:7 “Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”

MOPs has become a wonderful place to be who YOU are, exactly where YOU ARE. And sometimes that isn’t a great place. Sometimes that’s between a rock and a hard place, but they say that diamonds are made under great pressure.
I’d like to say that the past 6 years I’ve been a part of MOPs, I’ve been open and real, but I’d be lying to both of us. There were years where I played the “I have it all together” card really well.
I had the usual motherhood complaints that come with the territory, but nothing that I would bare my soul for. But then I got lonely, and overwhelmed and maybe even a little depressed. So I opened up. I started going to MOPs and I let my freak flag fly. I couldn’t do this motherhood
journey alone. I can’t do it alone. We shouldn’t do it alone.

You only have to be brave. Brave to step out of your comfort zone and talk to that mom who wouldn’t normally fit into your “category.” Brave to open open and share your struggles and raw places and then to feel totally normal when you realize you’re not alone. Brave to try that new egg dish you saw on Pinterest on your turn to bring breakfast, and to be okay if it doesn’t turn
out. I guarantee that if you allow yourself the chance to be brave, good things will come. So, that being said, here is my moment to be brave. My husband and I are fighting tooth and nail for our marriage. We are in a deep valley. A hard
enough place that by the world’s standards I could call it quits and no one would think the worst. But I am not a quitter, and even on the days where I can’t seem to lift my head off the pillow or
even fathom feeding my family, I can see the light at the end. God has opened my soul to see that He is creating in me a better story than I could have ever written myself. Thank you Jesus for grace. Our marriage WILL be stronger, better and faithful through this. Just like the coal
that is pressed on so intensely, almost to be smothered out, only to come out the other side a diamond, I’m putting my complete trust in God that He’s going to make a fantastic diamond out
of our lump of coal.

I almost didn’t register for MOPs next year. I didn’t want to not have it all together. Wasn’t feeling brave enough to slump through this valley amongst other women. But then a couple of dear, precious friends I have made in MOPS, reminded me that this was exactly the place I needed to be. Surrounded by women who love Jesus and would in turn love and encourage me. Like I said before, MOPS is the perfect place to be WHO I AM, right WHERE I AM.

-Mallory

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Friendship

"What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins & griefs to bear, what a privilege to carry, every thing to God in prayer."

Jesus can be our best friend but it's clear through scripture that He still calls us to fellowship & community in earthly friendships with messy people. 

Heather Blass shared about an early messy friendship and what God taught her through that and where He brought her because of that. 

Close friendships are amazing and beautiful but we need to be sure they are healthy and growing as well. Sometimes we stuff things down over and over in a relationship but eventually it's going to blow up and possibly cause irreparable damage. Also God may be pruning that relationship for His purposes and plans but we may not see why He's doing what He's doing. 

Here are some components of a healthy friendship:

1. Grace - We need to give grace. We don't always know what people are going through so assume the best about one another.

2. Truth -Be willing to face the truth.

   a. The truth about myself - be who you are and be willing to share how you feel, always speaking the truth in love. Be willing & humble to hear the truth about yourself too.

   b. Share what you are going through (in proportion with who you are with). If it's a brand new friend you don't want to spill all your guts but be willing to "go first". Sometimes this can cause an instant bond because of common issues. Don't stuff your stuff!

 c. Let others share their ugly stuff. Let's not put each other on a pedestal because we are human and we are going to blow it. 

"Friends love through all kinds of weather". Proverbs 17:17 (a) Let's not be just "fair weather friends" but also friends through the storms of life. 

3. Trust - Be a trustworthy friend. Do I keep confidences and trusts? Can I be counted on to keep private what should be private? 

"A perverse person stirs up conflict and a gossip separates close friends". Proverbs 16:28

4. Forgiveness - Do we forgive? Sometimes that forgiveness takes a while but we are the ones suffering if we do not forgive. "Love prospers when a fault is forgiven". Proverbs 17:9 God can turn a bad situation into a good & healthy relationship. 

We can't lose ourselves in other people - our spouses, kids or friends. We must be whole in ourselves. We need to know who we are- each one of us is special & unique with our own passion and talents. Our identity can not be all about being someone's wife or someone's mom or someone's friend. The only One we can lose ourselves in is Jesus because He is perfect.

Jesus is grace, He gives 2nd chances, He speaks truth to us, He is trustworthy and the original Promise Keeper. He forgives - He paid the price for our forgiveness.  

We need to beware of social media - it can be used for good and it can also be used for harm. How thoughtful am I about what I share or post? 

Comparison kills contentment!

Community is so important and everyone has something to offer. We need to learn from one another and beware of becoming isolated. No mom should be or feel alone. We can change the world by how we raise our kids. Are we intergenerational? Becoming friends with someone outside your age group can offer rich rewards. Be sure to tap into your mentor moms - they choose to be in MOPS for you, as ones who've experienced much and as prayer warriors. 

Challenge: 

You get as much out of friendships as you put into it. The more you put in, the more you get out. You need to be able to share - be authentic. Put judgements aside & instead look to understand someone and what they are going through. Have grace and understanding. (Maybe they're in a hurry because they have diarrhea!) 

We as the church need to care for each other - we are not perfect or always happy but let's be genuine and strive to be in harmony with one another. 

"You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common". 1 Corinthians 1:10(b)

You've got a friend in me! And better yet, you've got a friend in Jesus!
-Ginny

Monday, April 3, 2017

I Get So Emotional Baby!

During our last Mops meeting, we watched a video on the topic of anger. It had many amazing tools to teach us how to deal with our emotions, or our “Super Power” as she called it. We can use our anger for good or for evil. And I can sooooo relate to that. I am a passionate person. I love deeply and am very sensitive to others. But I can also respond in anger swiftly. I am not one to hold my feelings In. Whereas my husband is calm cool and collected and holds everything in until it all comes out. I don't know if one way is better than another, and I definitely see our different emotional responses in our children and how they deal with their own big emotions. It's just like a mirror up to your face of your own sin and ugliness. Ouch! Generational sin is some powerful stuff.

I am highly on guard for getting out of control with my kids. We had some major emotional, verbal abuse in my house as a kid. (I think that's why when I had so much anger after having my last baby, I knew my brain was not working correctly.)

But you guys, I have been so on edge last week analyzing my every move. Am I raising my voice too much? Oh crap, I sighed at my kids fighting, will they think I don't  love them wholly for every essence of their being? My husband came home and was in a good mood, and I was in a grumpy mood. Will he think I am an angry old grump? I was literally freaking out over every exasperated sigh and exhale.
It is highly important to be self-aware and have practical tools to aid us in controlling our anger. But we have something better to help us!

This morning I read my devotional and was again reminded that no matter how hard I try and try to do what is right in my own power I am going to fail, no doubt about it. But we are free from the bondage of sin. Praise Jesus! I can analyze myself all day long, or I can give it over to the one true God who has me

"I have been liberated,
Set free,
and given new life,
New hope,
New motivation,
and new peace,
Of heart and mind.
No I have not been freed
To walk my own way,
To write my own rules,
OR to do what I choose.
No, I have been given
The best of freedoms.
I have been freed,
Not from God's rule,
But from my bondage
To me.
Following,
Obeying,
Serving,
Submitting to God
Is the thing I was created to do,
So it is the place where
True freedom is to be found.
Rebellion never gives life.
Self-rule never brings freedom.
So grace has worked to rescue
Me from me,
So that I can know the true freedom
of serving Him." Paul David Tripp

-Summur

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Conquering Relationship Challenges

Our Tuesday morning Mops meeting was one that got me thinking a lot about my relationship with my husband.  Since we got married eight years ago, we have had to work hard on our communication.  I realized quickly that when I would ask too much of him, he would shut down.  I attributed this to the way he was raised and figured it had nothing to do with me.   Boy, was I wrong.

My husband is the sweetest man I have ever met.  Because of his size people become hesitant, but after a quick Harvey laugh, it is realized he is hilarious and light-hearted.  Things don’t ruffle his feathers and he has the ability to go with the flow.  Our beginning vacations as a married couple consisted of riding by the seat of our pants.  At times we would find ourselves driving up to Kirkwood in the dead of night or meeting up with friends in a faraway place at the drop of a hat.  It was fun and always an adventure.  His flexibility and sense of adventure is attractive and exciting.   I like reflecting on that time when decisions didn’t feel heavy.

Life progressed to beautiful children and a lot of necessary communication.  First of all, raising kids involves a lot of talking, planning, follow through, revisiting and repeating.  The fun is and will always be in our relationship, but having to talk business is a chore.  I find we get offended easily and in turn we don’t want to talk about it again. And, hay, who wants to deal with the un-fun stuff anyway?  Adulting in general is hard and I was not surprised to hear that the majority of problems in a marriage are not the big ticket items.  In fact, it all relates to how we communicate with each other.  Come to find out it is not all related to the way we have been raised; it has to do about the way we act towards each other.  It should be simple.  Here I am madly in love with my husband trying to be a good partner, friend, lover, and wife.  Aren't we all working towards that goal?  But things get in the way and riffs happen. 

Fixing those small things that bug us about each other have a simple solution.

Number 1: Examine the way we question our partners.  Day in and day out I ask why.  Questioning is part of understanding and it is what I do.  I thought that asking why was helping our communication.  My husband is not one to readily spew out details, so asking why seems like a way to get more information.  Asking why is okay, but the way we ask may change the results of the conversation.  My goal is to try to ask why in a way that does not assume that he has not thought through the situation.  Remembering that he makes choices by considering all options will make my questioning come out prettier.  My hope is he, in turn, will not attribute my asking why to nagging.

Our partners crave respect.  Showing respect can be as easy as a simple thank you. 

Number 2: Say thank you.  It is time to start noticing those small things and thank them for it.  I tried it last night, and it brought out a smile.  I am not just thanking him for the things I ask him to do, but for things he usually does.  My goal is to thank him as much as I hear I love you, which is an awful lot!

Finally, the racy part. 

Number 3: Our partners want to feel close and connected to us.  Women can feel this closeness and connection through many different outlets, like a heartfelt conversation, but men need it in a physical way.  Although it is so hard to want to make love when you are bugged, it may be something that will help the communication.  That physical connection is the antidepressant for him and may make the situation feel lighter. 

In our marriage we have grown and are continuing to learn how to empower each other.  Our pitfalls should not be considered a road block.  Working on communication by speaking kindly to each other, respecting the choices we make and connecting emotionally and physically can help bring both individuals back into alignment.  Being on the same page will make conquering our challenges together easier. 

- Amanda