Sunday, December 3, 2017

Not Our Plan, but HIS Plan

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Game changers…we all have them. Those times in life that change EVERYTHING. I want to share my game changer with you ladies. Her name is Maya Elena and she is one of the best surprises that Jesus has ever blessed me with. I thought that our family was doing well, but we were missing out on so much. We were settling for doing okay and our girls deserved better. I remember taking that pregnancy test and crying and asking why. I mean c’mon God, my life was perfect, what am I supposed to do with 4 kids?! After telling my husband and crying more and talking to friends and crying even more, we ended up at church. We were never religious people, but we were both asking God, "what now?". Our 4th baby girl (yes people, 4 girls!) changed EVERYTHING! We gave our lives over to God, and my family, my marriage, my friendships, and my life will never be the same. I was so scared and felt so helpless and once I learned that this baby was in God’s plan for us all along, my perspective changed. Yes, I still cried every now and then, but after I was done I got up and prayed. That hole in my life was filled and I no longer was alone in my anxiety. I learned through that situation just how loving our God is. He never stopped pursuing us, and for that I am so grateful. Seeing my daughters worship or my husband pray still brings tears to my eyes even now. God knew exactly what He was doing when He blessed us with Maya. I just needed to learn to trust His plans. How amazing is it that we have a God that wants nothing but beautiful things for us?
Amber and Luke Grover had a game changer too. Her name was Olivianna Grace. Olivianna only lived 11 minutes, but she is still touching lives to this day. After she passed, Olivianna’s Closet was started. The goal of Olivianna’s Closet is to provide necessities for parents or guardians in need and to share with them God’s Word. We can help this ministry continue to bless parents that may be feeling overwhelmed or fearful by donating items or even our time. They accept gently used and new items for babies and up to size 5t. Amber and Luke had faith in God’s plan for them and through Him they created something beautiful. We may sometimes feel overwhelmed or even alone, but God never abandons us. He is with us in our misery, our fear, our mess, and He is creating something beautiful out of it all.  So ladies, let's bless these families. Who knows, maybe these babies are God’s game changers in motion bringing these parents to a place where they can hear about Him!
If you would like to donate items, feel free to drop donations off at any time. There is a crib located next to the nursery that you can place your items in.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

MOPs Mentor Mom Panel

First, I want to thank our fabulous mentor moms for being willing to sit before us and be vulnerable; for stepping out of their comfort zone to share their wisdom, their mistakes, and their journey through motherhood!  You were such a blessing to so many of us moms that morning and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

I love that we have mentor moms! And no, their job isn’t just to show up and bring an egg dish.  Our MOPs group is so very blessed to be able to have so many different mentor moms from so many different walks of life with a multitude of tried and true tips and tricks!  Sitting on the stage before us was a fantastic testimony of God’s work through the variety of amazing women who are still walking the motherhood journey, just a little further down the road from us.

With all of the hundreds of resources online available to us (sometimes feeling shoved down our throats) it is easy to feel like you are alone and lost in the sea of information, or feel like you “got this” mother thing and don’t need any help from anyone.  I definitely relate to the first one by the way.  Either way, we have lost the apparent need for community and relationship and mentorship. 

I feel like our generation was given two roads of motherhood: the first being well worn and smooth with clearly marked hazard signs and the second being a dense jungle with no warning signs of dangers ahead, and you better have a freshly sharpened machete or you ain't goin’ nowhere very quickly! 
That first smooth path with the occasional bump is the one where we are looking ahead to the women who have gone before us! We learn from their mistakes, take in a bit of their wisdom, and when in need of help, there are tea shops lining the path!  
The second path, jungle dense and full of booby traps, is the path a lot of us have felt the need to take.  Alone and without a clear idea of where the path should even go.  Well meaning parenting techniques bombard you from every side and you no longer can make a confident decision about what your child can eat because apparently everything will give them cancer. You scour the internet and books and magazines trying to make a plan of attack, trying to understand what will be best for your family and you feel like you are drowning and alone.  

Meanwhile, your fellow motherhood sisters are making their way down the clearly marked path lined with tea shops where they stop once in awhile gaining wisdom and snagging tidbit tips left from the moms who have gone before them.  Sure there are still struggles and bumps and full on middle of the grocery store with a full cart tantrums, but at least they feel prepared and surrounded by fellow moms sharing in the same hike.  

Which path are you currently on? Which path do you want to be on?  

As for me and my circus, the path well traveled and tested is the one for me.  Sure, not everything will fit our family, and maybe I’ll try something that totally flops, but I will know I am surrounded by friends.

And remember, while there are those freshly showered moms with their second cup of hot coffee in hand just ahead of the mothering journey from us, there are also those who are just behind where our trail marker stands.  They are the ones with the sweet smelling newborn in their arms, blissfully unaware of the grocery store meltdowns but are bleary eyed from only getting two hours of sleep last night.  There are the moms who can’t seem to see the light at the end of the toy packed tunnel and if she steps on one more LEGO in the middle of the night she will lose her mind.  The mom whose special needs babe takes absolutely all of her waking moments and some of the sleeping ones too, who feels alone and misunderstood.  

Last Tuesday morning we all walked away with bits of wisdom and hope from our mentor moms, but I also hope that it will remind us to pause and look around at the other moms near by.  Who’s the mom you can ask for help from when you are stuck in a tough parenting situation that she’s already been through?  Where is the mom right there next to you on the path that you can reach over and pat on the back as you both drag your flailing toddler out of the store?  And who is the mom just behind you, who needs to be shown a little hope amidst the growing piles of diapers and handed a hot cup of coffee?  

We were not created to do this motherhood journey alone.  We were beautifully and intricately made by a God who favors the relationship.  

This week my prayer would be that we remember that.  

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.” -Romans 15:5
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”-Hebrews 10:24-25
“3 And here’s what I want you to teach the older women: Be respectful. Steer clear of gossip or drinking too much so that you can teach what is good 4 to young women. Be a positive example, showing them what it is to love their husbands and children, and teaching them to 5 control themselves in every way and to be pure. Train them to manage the household, to be kind, and to be submissive to their husbands, all of which honor the word of God.”  -Titus 2:3-5 (voice)


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Let Love be the Loudest Voice

It's pretty loud in my house right now, so I have relaxing nature music on, on YouTube haha. Annnyyyway, I'm really not sure where to start on this post. As I've been thinking this week about what I might write, I haven't been able to get out of my head that love has not been my loudest voice throughout my life. Irritation, impatience, whining, selfishness… these are some of what my loudest voice has been, and it hurts to be typing this. While it bothers me that I've lived like that, it stirs in me the desire to keep seeking the Lord for help to keep growing through it and past it. Oh, I'm so weak on my own. 

In her testimony, Love used the term "generational dysfunction" to describe unhealthy repetitive patterns that are present in a family tree. I do not want to pass my generational dysfunction on. I want it to stop with me, and I want a new (functioning) pattern to start with my family.

Love is hard for me. In my eyes, I'm hard to love, and it's hard for me to show love. Honestly, I don't know why. But thankfully, I don't have to. What I do know, is Jesus loves me and He is working on my heart and refining me day by day to be more like Him. I struggle, but He meets me there and gives me the strength to try again. And again. Him showing me love and grace is teaching me to show love and grace. 

Something that has been encouraging me is… when my little Abby was learning to walk, I would tell her, "Stand up and walk, stand up and walk", and I remember God teaching me through that, really the same thing; to "stand up and walk". To trust Him and get out of my comfort zone and try things I've wanted to try but never believed in myself enough to. That, if only I knew the goodness that awaited me once I "started walking"; I would try. Being her Mama, I knew Abby could do it and that once she did she woudn't stop. I believe it's similar to having a relationship with God (with the exception that I'm wee lil' me who doesn't know much, and He knows everything). He's the Father, and He knows what goodness awaits for His children. I hope all that makes sense!

Psalm 37:23-24 NIV
The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Mark 10:27 NIV
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

-Heidi M.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Love & Marriage

So my lovely Mama friends, I have been wracking my brain with what to write from the marriage talk on last Tuesday because I came out of that talk honestly not really thinking about my marriage, but about my relationship with someone more important than my husband; with Jesus. If I am really honest, my relationship with God has gotten swept under the rug a bit for other relationships lately. After Michelle's talk, I came away convicted about my devotion & prayer life; or lack thereof. 

I mean, I feel like my relationship with my husband is pretty good, and I know that is really annoying because marriage is hard and I know a lot of people are going through some hard things. But when things are good isn't that when we start to forget about God? When things are hard it is really easy to cling to Him.

We have had some hard years. I swear the first year was all yelling and slamming doors. I mean, this guy was not meeting all my needs exactly when I wanted them met! What is wrong with him? (Can you guess who the selfish one is in our marriage?)

So in 11 years of marriage, I feel like the only advice I can give is the number one rule of marriage....grow in your relationship with Jesus. The closer we are to Him the easier it is to see when I am being extra selfish, extra prideful, and extra "fun" to be around.
When I am focused on Me and My marriage it is easier to see all of Matt's mistakes, when he left his shoes on the floor, or all the cabinets open. (Why do they do that, ladies?)

When I draw near to the Lord, He draws near to me. God is not a band aid and won't fix our issues over night, but he slowly prunes us and grows us. And when we grow, our relationships do too, especially our marriage.

I am so thankful that we have a gracious Lord that gently reminds me when my heart begins to wander from Him. And I am so hopeful to see my marriage grow as my relationship with Jesus deepens.

If you need help in your marriage call Michelle Williams on her cell (209.581.2789) and she can get you into her Marriage 911 class.
Don't be ashamed, we all need help at one time or another.


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.