Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Flawed but Free

Oh MOPs, how I’ve grown to love you. I never would have thought I’d be part of a “mom group”, but now I can’t imagine my life and motherhood without it.

I’ve loved so much about this year’s theme Free Indeed.

I have moments when I’m gutsy, and moments when I hold back. I have moments when I let love be the loudest voice, and moments when I don’t. I have moments when I go first, and moments when I don’t go at all.

All that is okay. Even if you haven’t ‘Gone First’, ‘Let Love be the Loudest Voice’, or ‘Been Gutsy’ yet, you still can! We may be starting a new theme next year, or even a new adventure, but we can still take away from this year.

I may not be free from what I consider are my difficulties and flaws, but I can be free from tearing myself down about them. They’re there and it is what it is right now. I get to choose to be kind to myself and move forward. Whatever circumstance I’m in or ‘problem’ I’m having, God can use it to transform my heart. My attitude towards my life has a huge impact on how my day goes. No lie, it’s hard to have an attitude of glad-itude over an attitude of mad-itude sometimes; it can be hard to just have a positive attitude over a negative one. But for me, when I have a negative attitude, it makes everything worse and no good comes from it. It doesn’t help to tear myself down. It helps to build myself up in Jesus and in who He says I am. That brings me freedom; that yes I’m flawed because of sin, but I’m a child of God and He loves me, He created me for a purpose, and He’s going to continue refining me until I’m home with Him. I can embrace the good qualities I’ve been given and work with what I’ve got.

I really loved Racquel’s idea of writing out the unhelpful lies we believe about ourselves and things that are true of us and TEARIN’ up them lies!

I wrote something like:

I AM WORTHLESS AND DON’T DO ANYTHING RIGHT

Then I wrote:

I AM FUNNY
I AM KIND
I AM TEACHABLE

Sometimes I see myself becoming beautiful in different ways, even where I would’ve never thought I was beautiful before. Of course then in moments when I fall, I see parts where I’m still flawed. But that always just takes me back to my need for Jesus. Oh how needy I am for Him and how thankful I am to have Him in my life!

I also loved Dana’s analogy…. It was an analogy, right?... Lol. Anyway, whatever it’s called, here goes my paraphrase… I loved the analogy of the $20 being crumpled up and torn but people still wanting to use it. We can see ourselves as broken, worthless, or hopeless, but God sees us as His beautiful children He created. We are loved. And we are wanted.

Lord, sometimes I think You have Your work cut out for You with me and my issues, but then I remember that You’re God and nothing is impossible for You; not even me. Thank You for Your grace and for loving me while I’m a continual work in progress on this earth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

-Heidi

Monday, May 7, 2018

Encourage One Another

Last MOPS was my favorite meeting of the year. Three Brave and beautiful mamas got up on that huge stage with those bright, shiny, sweaty lights, and stood in front of over 100 women and poured out their hearts for us. I love these three gals so very much and I am blessed to call them all friends.

When I think of these gals it reminds me of what brought me to MOPS 4 years ago. It was to find some friends. My husband, 3 little girls and myself had just left a ministry we were working at in TX after finding out that it was corrupt. We left quickly and moved back to Modesto without a home or a job for Matt.
We started back up at our old church but I wasn't able to click with the women there.

One morning I woke up feeling very sad and alone, my heart ached for some girl friends...even just one. I read my devotional and it just so happened to be about friendships. I got the girls out of my brother and sister in laws house, where we were staying at the time, and took them to the local McDonald's. Took a book with me because it was 11am  and it would probably be slow. I was looking forward to some quiet time.... afterall it was a Tuesday. We walked in and the play area at the Pelandale McDonald’s was brimming with toddlers and some intimidating mothers who seemed to all know each other. I told myself to just sit in the corner and keep my head down. After some play time, Riette had to pee and ran to the bathroom barefooted. I chased her in there and a Mama of twins was also in there. She asked if I was a part of MOPS....
"Umm no, is that some sort of government program?" I naively replied.
Regina ignored my stupidity and brought me back to the group introducing me to some amazing Mamas...Heather, Amy, and Melanie were so kind and they invited me to MOPS. Amy even knew my husband and we all knew many of the same people so I thought maybe it wouldn't  be so bad.

My first MOPS meeting I walked in blown away by all the perfect looking Mamas and felt a bit uneasy..but Jennifer spoke to me in the breakfast line and put me at ease. My table just happened to have one of my friends from church and a sweet gal named Sarah there too. There was only a few meetings left that year but I kept going...I had feelings of not belonging and awkwardness but every meeting someone would suggest to keep going and not give up.

So the next year I came back, Amy was my table leader and she was such an amazing support for me. She listened to me at a time I felt like no one would. She allowed me to feel like a normal mom and not the label I was putting on myself as a "Failure Missionary". I came for friends and I got healing.

Gosh you guys, I could go on and on about all the things that MOPS has done for me. Provided friends, given me a place to serve and feel appreciated, and my orange table holding me up during Postpartum Depression.

I am in total agreement with Amanda, Riane, and Caryn when they shared that they didn't know before they joined MOPS why they needed it..but y'all know who knew! Our mighty savior Jesus! He knows what we need, He knows how to use us in each other's lives to be His hands and feet. I bet all the ladies whom I mentioned above do not remember these conversations they had with me, or never thought that what they said to me on those days had such an impact. But God knew I needed to hear those things.

I'm so thankful for each and everyone of you at MOPS! Thank you for coming and being real. Thank you for smiling at a Mama you don't know. Thank you for leaving your house when you feel a little depressed. Thank you for being brave enough to say I need help, I need prayer. Thank you for being Jesus in the flesh to one another.

Encourage one another and build each other up.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

-Summur

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Raising Salt and Light

        Our last meeting was one of my favorites. Rhonda Stoppe spent the morning with us and came in to share on a talk titled "Mentor Me to be Free" and ended up sharing from her heart. Her words were words that I know I needed and I hope they touched you ladies as much as they did me. It took me many nights of prayer and starting over to get this blog written because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to share in a way that I felt would do our time with her justice. So, I am going to keep it real and do my best.

         Rhonda talked about keeping it real being more than being blunt. It is being vulnerable and allowing others to come alongside of us. I am going to be vulnerable with you ladies. I feel like I am not enough. My husband is working long hours daily and I have 4 little girls that all want an equal piece of mommy. We have what feels like 5 million things to do and a laundry mountain has eaten my couch. I know that some of you momma’s have it way worse and I hope that some of you can relate. Mom life can be so busy and sometimes overwhelming. I made it my intention this year to not end my day counting down to bedtime and I was failing miserably.

         Rhonda reminded me that my peace shouldn’t be coming from how the kids behaved or what my circumstances are. My peace is in Jesus and that He’s got me! I had to remember that there are little eyes that are watching and little people that I am helping to mold. Rhonda described mothers as the architects of the next generation. WOW! We are raising the salt and light of the earth ladies! How cool is that?!

        She also talked about raising kids that are not just good people but that are passionate Christ followers. I often worry that when I’m gone that my girls won’t get together or be there for each other. All the fighting right now makes me wonder if they like each other some days. Rhonda shared with us a story about her children. She was on a cruise with her husband and when they got back to port, and she turned her phone on, she had tons of text messages. Her daughter had a miscarriage and her children had come together to help her. She said that moment made her realize that they didn’t need her anymore. Ladies, I was in tears hearing that. That is my dream that my girls will offer prayer to each other and rush to be together when life gets rough. 

        We can be so tough on ourselves, especially when it feels like our struggles are too hard. We have to remember that we are warriors raising warriors. You were chosen for this position and for these babies. You are doing an amazing job! Thank you, Rhonda, for reminding this mom that I can handle this and I am exactly where I am meant to be!

-Ana

Friday, March 16, 2018

Going First


I don’t know about you gals, but I truly enjoyed this morning! Like a lot! The casual atmosphere in the room, the laughter, activities, and blessed flow of coffee! There are not many MOPs mornings where you get the chance to chat with ladies from all over the room (and walks of life), so this morning was refreshing! 

Racquel, our fearless leader, full of grace and humility, showed true courage by stepping on stage and sharing her heart and struggles with making friends. Thank you Mama for going first! 

Now, don’t take this the wrong way, but women can be mean. Then you throw being a fierce mama bear in the ring and the mud can fly! Women have always been bombarded with contradicting messages and agendas; how we should raise our kids, maintain our homes, what we should wear, how our body should look, to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, even down to how our life “in the bedroom” should look. It’s exhausting and discouraging and then we finally think we have it figured out and we think we have to find other moms with exactly the same way of life to make friendships. 

Makes you want to crawl into a closet somewhere.

But don’t be discouraged, BE BRAVE! GO FIRST! 

Be first, to look at your life and be okay with how you are doing, because Mama, you are KILLIN’ IT! Then turn to the mom next to you and give her a pat on the back, because guess what....She’s KILLIN’ it too! You both may be on completely opposite sides of the motherhood spectrum and could very easily be disagreeing on everything there is to argue about, but instead you can let it go and watch an awesome friendship flourish! 

I have this awesomely awkward ability to strike up a conversation usually with anyone who comes within 10 feet of me. Sitting at the DMV, I’ve had some hysterical conversations with persons of wild character and we pleasantly passed the time in bored comradery. That old lady in the grocery store watching my kid throw her shoe across the aisle always has the best advice. And yes, I see you super awkward teen boy with your headphones on in line at Taco Bell, we gunna talk and you ARE going to respond. Awkward meet awkward. Are my conversations always met well? Nope, but that’s okay because I was brave and went first! 

Now, striking up conversations with strangers throughout your day may not be your thing. And that’s okay! But, maybe there are things that you could share with those friends and acquaintances in your circle that maybe are difficult to share, but would beautifully deepen your relationships. When you step out in faith, knowing that yes, you could get burned, you are being courageous! You are taking a chance, and dear friend, the God who knows every hair on your head, knows your every fear, but also exactly what you need.  

There are a couple very precious women in my life, who if I hadn’t taken the chance on them and went first, our friendship wouldn’t have left that moment and I would be out a couple very dear friendships.  

Thinking about going first and being brave and making friends reminded me of a blog I wrote 4 years ago where I laid out a bunch of mom confessions in name of being authentic and “Going First,” and the list really hasn’t changed 🤦‍♀️
😝😳
So I thought it beard repeating. 

“I've read a lot of blog posts, Facebook comments and heard many fellow moms talk recently about the desire, no, the DESPERATE NEED to connect and be real with other moms who are in the same boat as themselves. I strongly agree! It's hard enough keeping our tired unwashed heads above water without feeling like we should be walking on it to! That's Christ's job.
So, I thought I'd "keep it real" by posting some good old fashion mommy confessions...
1. I rarely, if ever give my children vitamins
2. Instead of gathering and drying everyone off, I've peed in a pool
3. My boys have had frozen chicken nuggets 3 meals in a row
4. There are days I don't brush my teeth...Coffee & gum works wonders
5. While potting training, instead of washing the poo filled undies, I throw them out
6. I have left Target on more than one occasion and have no idea how much I spent.
7. I have continued scrolling Facebook even as my boys are beating the tar out of each other.
8. I've never made my own baby food
9. Goldfish crackers and chocolate granola bars make great dinners
10. I've spanked out of anger
11. I didn't say anything as my child continually licked water off the park playground
12. I nap. A lot.
13. One vaginal birth was enough for me. I loved my C-section, and I haven't heard any complaints from either child.
14. I've be very prideful when I win the "my baby weighed this much" battle
15. I've probably forgotten your birthday
16. While running errands I think bribery in the form of candy or Hotwheels is totally acceptable
17. I've passed gas and blamed it on my son
18. We watch a lot of TV
19. While cuddling with my boys, everything else can wait (even the forgotten boiling pot of pasta)
20. I have played the Mommy Battle game, both winning and loosing and I am truly sorry

Here's to ending the battles and instead lending a helping hand, a fresh cup of strong coffee and a friendly compassionate and GENUINE smile to your fellow Mommy whose just trying to make sure her kids turn out "ok" too.”

SO, confessed I have.  Now it’s your turn to GO FIRST and step out in the name of friendship! Let a little bit of your wall down, share a bit of awkwardness and watch a friendship grow!
You won’t regret it! 

Love you, dear Mamas! 

-Mallory

Monday, March 12, 2018

Freedom in Recovery


When Heidi reminded me that morning that it was my turn to write the blog, I was super stoked! Then I realized the topic was recovery, not a light hearted topic to sit with, let alone write a blog about.   

It’s now a week later and I’m still sitting in front of my computer wondering what in the world to type out. I’ve prayed asking God to give me words, to show me which direction I should go in. So I decided to do a little word vomiting....I apologize in advance. 

You see, for the first time in my life, the recovery process has become a very personal and very real part in my life, in my husbands life, and in our marriage.  

In the beginning, It was my husband who needed recovery and to be part of a community who understood and could support him. Then we’d go to counseling together and hash out all the hard stuff, trying to get ahold of our life. Then God started pointing out areas in my own life that needed grace and some light shone into the darkened areas I had been avoiding in myself.  

God showed me that I couldn’t control my husband’s behaviors and I definitely couldn’t change him. That man of mine, I had to leave him in God’s hands. But He did expose some areas in my life that I could be allowing Him to work on and walk me through. 

The first step to recovery is that moment when you come face to face with your own struggles and hurts and weakness and knowing you can no longer keep up the facade that you are “okay”.  Not an easy thing to admit or sit with, especially if you are a mom. This world has created this idea that moms have to have it all together; do all the things, be all the things, and never stop being strong for your family, for your children. 

To sit in a moment and admit defeat, who has time for that?! Who has the mental energy to sit with someone you trust and ask for help? When the world demands so much from us, how can we completely reprioritize our lives to fix what we thought was perfectly hidden and contained?

Oh, dear Mama, we NEED to make that time. The time to sit in our struggles, time to look deep down into the heartbreak and pour our hearts out to Christ. Allowing the Creator of the heavens and earth to heal our hurts before they are passed down to our precious next generations. I want to do everything I can to encourage my children to be the best version of themselves and bloom where God has planted them! That means starting with myself, digging deep to understand my own perceptions and expectations both good and bad; slowing down and giving thought to my words and actions, and living my life for Christ! 

Then, we need to be courageous and step out and ask for help from those fellow women who want to come around you, encourage you, keep you accountable and be there with a hot cup of coffee and quiet companionship when you have no more tears or words left to share.  

I beg you mama, not to take your hurts, your secrets, your burdens lightly. This comes from a mama who recently had to come face to face with my own broken heart, fears and weaknesses. I came to the end of my strength and all that was left was Christ, and it was a beautifully difficult place to be. Facing my need for recovery, my need to let others into my hurt, was and still is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But, oh friend, it is so worth it.  

Thank you Suzi for being brave and transparent in sharing your story with us and opening the door to recovery. 

-Mallory

Thursday, February 22, 2018

POPS at MOPS


           Our last MOPS meeting had to be one of my favorites. What woman doesn’t want to know what is going on in a man’s mind?! C’mon ladies you know we’ve all said, “What was he thinking?!”, at least once…a day. There was a lot of valuable information shared. I am going to try my best to cover a few good points that stood out to me.

1. Love Language
If you haven’t taken the love language quiz do it now! I can’t be the only one that assumed that my husband's love language was physical touch, right? We took the quiz together and, although that was one of them, there was more that he wanted from me and physical touch is more than I thought it was. Showing love for our husbands can be easier than we thought. Physical touch can be holding hands, sitting close together, cuddling, and yes ladies “other stuff” too. A husband that feels loved by receiving gifts can feel special when you make your weekly or daily (no judgments!) Target trip and you come home with his favorite snack or some new shirts because you thought of him and knew he needed them! Quality Time and Words of Affirmation are self-explanatory, but they should not be overlooked. Mallory’s husband gave us all a good reminder that we should make time for one another as a couple because in the day to day hustle of life our marriages can be overlooked. We all need that time to decompress and be together.

2. Nagging
A lot of our questions were about how not to be a nag. One of our Men’s Panel members told us a story about how he left the heater on in an empty house overnight. His wife called to let him know and she made a joke out of it. How we approach situations can help our husbands feel encouraged, loved, and respected. Do you have a husband that can’t disconnect from his phone or from work while at home? Invite him to join in on some family activities like board games or movie nights instead of mumbling under your breath about how annoying that habit is. Encourage your husband. Let him know how much his help means to you. He might not understand that by serving the kids a bowl of cereal while you race to get dressed he is making your morning smoother. Let him into your mind. There were so many good quotes during this meeting. One of my favorites was “expectations are premeditated resentments”. We expect sometimes and then we are angry when things don’t happen our way. I’m totally guilty of this. “Why didn’t he switch the laundry to the dryer? He was home all day, he heard it too.” Remember to give your husband grace. God does that for us daily no matter how many times we fall. Why would we think that our spouse isn’t just as deserving? Communication is so important but remembering to be kind while communicating is huge!  

3. R-E-S-P-E-C-T
You know what it means to him or maybe you don’t. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church, and wives submit to your husbands (Ephesians 5:22-25).  Did you know that your husband's highest need is to feel respected? I had no idea and it really made me evaluate what I have been doing. Am I disrespecting my husband by challenging decisions in front of the kids or making jokes about things that he may feel insecure about? We have to be a team. I think almost all of the men on stage stated that they felt encouraged and loved most when their wives had their back. Our words and actions have a big effect on the leaders of our home. Let them know you trust them and respect them.

4. Physical Intimacy
Yes, we are going there ladies. The biggest point I took from this topic was to not use sex as a weapon. Don’t refuse it because he said something you didn’t like earlier and you feel he doesn’t deserve it. 1 Corinthians 7:4 says “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife." Although you may not be in the mood for it give it a shot. Your mood may change in the process. Also, ladies it is important to remember that sex is more than a physical act. It is a spiritual, emotional, and physical act. If your sex life is off evaluate all other aspects. Maybe there is something that can be worked on to improve your physical intimacy level.

Over all what I kept hearing in my head as I wrote this and prayed about it is that we all want the same thing just in different ways. We all want a happy family, a loving marriage, and to grow old with our best friend and biggest supporter. I feel that it is easy to forget to nurture our marriages in the business of motherhood and sometimes our hubbies can be left feeling a bit neglected. I challenge you all to do one thing pertaining to your husbands love language and remind him that he is still the only one for you!
-Ana

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Cover Girl!


When I heard Fashion was the topic for last week's MOPS I was so super pumped I even wore a hat and shoes with a heal.

I love all the clothes, literally all the styles and all the looks. I am a greeter at my church and I spend Sunday morning saying...."Wow you look great", "nice shirt", "great skirt", "love your shoes"...sometimes I say people smell good too, but that freaks them out, HA!

When I was a 20 something single gal I got accepted in to FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising). I never went because it was like 20 g a year, but I dreamed of being a fashion designer as a child. I would only play Barbies to dress them in different outfits, and of course Barbie Fashion Plates were the raddest! My favorite outfit was my unicorn sweater, jean ruffle skirt, and pink cowboy boots. So cool!

 As an adult I have a hard time dressing myself. I am drawn to all the colors and all the prints, my closet basically looks like a clown threw up in there. I shop mostly Target clearance and Thrift stores so that doesn't make it any easier.

When Kim Nowland walked on the stage in her leopard print pants and amazing statement necklace I knew everything she said would be fashionably on point. I was surprised when what really sunk in to the depths of my heart was her wisdom about who we are, not what we wear.

She spoke on what is the heart of true fashion, it's style. Style is how God has uniquely made us. We are to robe ourselves like the queen we are in Christ. My favorite advice she gave was "it wasn't very good until Eve came on the scene"...isn't that so true? We as women add that special extra touch, the simple detail that makes things very good.

It is so easy to throw on the "mom outfit" of yoga pants and a t shirt with 3 day old spit up on it. But when we dress in a way that makes us feel good about ourselves, we feel better. 

When I had depression one of the things my dr. told me was to get dressed everyday. It is so true if I stay home in frumpy garb I feel frumpy. If I put on some jeans, a cute top, earrings and lipstick (I never leave the house without lipstick) then I feel pretty, confident, and able to tackle my day.

Dressing our bodies is so hard after motherhood…I used to be able to grab any size 8 and rock it (also I went braless all the time like some freak from an 80s music video, but that's another topic). Now I have to try on jeans from a size 12-16, one may fit, if I'm lucky. But we have to remember to dress the body we have not the body from 10 years ago. And it isn't our bodies problem, it's the clothes. Our bodies are strong and capable and we need to embrace where we are today.

It was so funny I had a girls night the other night with some other MOPS Mamas and we all had on the recommended style from Kim; pants, cropped jacket, and statement necklace. It really can be that easy. Find what works for you, find what makes you feel good, and you will look so fabulous Mama!

"Fashion fades, only style remains the same." Coco Chanel

-Summur