Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Being Brave...To Become the Mom You'd Always Hoped You'd Be

As our speaker this week took the stage, she casually removed her wedge booties, able to move about the stage freely. A few sentences in, she removed her blazer and confessed it was from Forever21. She's 53 and shops at Forever21; can I be her when I grow up?

But jackets bought at trendy mall stores and the coolness of removing her shoes on stage were soon overshadowed by Rhonda Stoppe's obvious gift for speaking. With passion and faith, she didn't just give a talk, she gave a sermon.

She began by reminding us of the importance of our work as mothers: we are architects of the next generation. Our children are our mission field. What we do, and how we do it, will change the world. Will we remember that our children are the thing we are here for? Or will we get caught up in the nonsense that the world tells us we need in order to be a good mom?

The fear set in here. With panic, I wonder if I've been preparing for my role in my children's lives. Or if instead I've been caught up in other things, reacting instead of having a plan. Why have I not studied more when I felt I was lacking, or sought guidance when I didn't know what to do? Instead, I let the night come, and another rushed morning go by, and my life is now a series of nonsensical sound bites.

 I am not alone.

We say in unison, and maybe some of us believe it.

I admit, sometimes I feel alone. The reality is that motherhood is a breeding ground for isolation. Or at least it is in our culture. But in the Church, it just should not be.

I am not alone.

We say it again, and I think we begin to see the truth in it.

Did you feel alone when you were struggling to get out the door for MOPS? When your 2 year old refused her breakfast, or your baby spit up all over the only clean and presentable outfit you could find in your closet? Did you feel alone when your husband asked you to make his coffee and you felt like you could just explode if one more person demanded one more thing from you?

The truth is, we all feel this way. And you are not alone. I am not alone.

Not only do we have friends (you really do!) who are ready and aching to help, but we serve and love a God who is full of grace and power, and He longs to help us when we feel like we're on the battlefield facing a giant.

He is there. He is with us.

I know this, don't I? Why don't I often feel the truth of it?

Because motherhood can isolate us, drain us of our rest, mess with our minds, and break down even the strongest of relationships bit by bit.... If we allow it. Or we can claim he truth.

I am not alone.

And instead of believing the lie that you are without help and without hope, call out for it. Find your brave and call a friend. Pray to the One who has the strength when you do not.

I am at a place in my life where I feel very alone. I feel lost, and I'm not sure how to navigate the terrain before me. It's a scary place to stand, especially when you have little eyes (and future mothers) looking at you, waiting for you to guide them. Waiting to see what you do.

And with each passing day, I only seem to tally more failures than successes, and discouragement threatens to take me down to that dreaded place and a trip to the doctor for a Zoloft prescription.

And then I go to MOPS during Thanksgiving week, feeling stressed by my dirty bathrooms, but ready to forget that life isn't super cool right now for just these two hours.

And God brings a speaker (preacher) like Rhonda, who makes you want to fall in love with Jesus, because He is our help. Our love for Him transcends our list of fails and wins we have tallied in our heads, and He offers us grace, and the power to offer grace to our children.

As you head into the holidays, I wish you overflowing love, buckets of grace, and big moments of brave.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and corageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Monday, November 17, 2014

Be You, Bravely, Because You Are FREE!

Lili sharing her testimony

Our very own, Lili, bravely gave her testimony this past Tuesday at MOPS. She got up before her peers and talked about who she used to be, and how Jesus took the broken pieces and completely transformed her. As she hashed over the painful choices of her past, she boldly debunked the lies she once believed and beautifully claimed the truth in scripture. You could’ve heard a pin drop while she was talking. There was only the sound of quiet sobs while truth was proclaimed. Lili stated, “That was my past. I don’t live there anymore.”

How freeing.

I recently listened to a great talk by Jenny Allen. She’s a Bible teacher and author who loves Jesus & has a heart for women. During her talk, she showed a picture of a group of women she ministers to in a maximum-security prison. Here they are singing to Jesus. 

Here’s what Jenny had to say about them:

“Honestly, let me just tell you, they are more free than most people I meet in churches…Let me just say what’s so powerful about this and why they feel so free.

It’s because they’ve been caught.

There’s no pretending. They have nothing left to prove. Nothing left to earn. Nothing left to protect. They long for heaven, because as far as they know they may never get out of this place until Jesus. They love Jesus. They know what forgiveness is. They know what it means to be saved. And here’s they thing, guys. I think sometimes we just need our heads lifted to go, ‘You know what? I am broken. I am messed up. I need help. I need God.’

It feels so vulnerable, and then you say it and the other person says, ‘Me too!’ And then, all of a sudden there’s a freedom that comes…There’s something about being caught. It’s like, ‘Yep! Messed up, need God.” (From Momcon - "Be You, Bravely  - Because you are His - at 1:27:25)" 

After Lili’s talk, the room buzzed with conversation. One of the gals at my table said that Lili was so brave - SO BRAVE – that she just wanted to give her a hug. I agree.

Within 30 minutes of testimony, Lili reminded us of the freedom we have in Jesus. We were reminded to breathe in His grace and let go of the former things that have held us captive. We were reminded that we could break the chains of our pasts.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

I loved how Lili encouraged each of us, whether we have an “exciting” or “boring” testimony, Jesus can use it all. 

I want to be like Lili – open, brave, and free. We have an amazing theme at MOPS this year. I hope each of us can be brave in our own ways. I’m hoping we can be brave with each other and hear that “me too.” I hope we remember how recklessly our Jesus loves us. Look at how He pursued Lili! May we not only say, "That was my past, I don't live there anymore," but boldly live it out. And, because of His love, His forgiveness, and His mercy, we can shine in a dark world. We can be brave because we are His. 

Pssst...Watch this:

Love, Jenn 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mentor Moment #1 - Chayote Squash - By Carolyn S.

Our first Mentor Moment is brought to you by Carolyn! She has a wonderful recipe to share with us that was passed down by her Grandma! Thank you, Carolyn, for giving us something special to add to our recipe boxes! 

Chayote Squash


3 Chayote Squash yields 6 servings
1/2 pkg 8oz chopped ham
1/4 lb ground turkey or beef(your choice)
1 lb raw shrimp peeled (small)
All fresh seasonings should be chopped as small as possible.
1/2 stalk celery
1/2 green bell pepper (small)
1/2 yellow onion (small)
1 stalk green onion
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
2 tablespoons garlic powder
4 whole dried bay leaves
Italian breadcrumbs


Boil chayote squash until tender, about an hour or more. Check for tenderness by sticking a fork in largest end of squash.

While squash is boiling prepare other ingredients. Chop all seasonings and place in bowl. You may add dry seasonings to fresh, as all seasonings will be added at same time. Put aside until later.

Rinse off ham
Peel and clean raw shrimp
Separate amt of ground meat to use
Put aside in separate containers

When squash is tender, pour off hot water and add cold water until cool enough to handle.
Take each squash in hand and slice down middle beginning at the largest end placing the knife between the largest end that looks like lips. Slice in half. With a tablespoon scoop insides of shell carefully cleaning out as much as you can without tearing the outer shell, as you will use shell again later. Continue this process until all shells are cleaned out. Line up cleaned shells in pan to bake in after stuffing complete.

Put all cleaned out squash in large skillet. Allow to fry. Do not add oil of any kind. You will fry squash until most of the water is absorbed. Add chopped ham and ground meat to mixture. Allow to cook for 2 min stirring often. Add all seasonings to mixture. Allow mixture to cook for 3 minutes stirring often. Add shrimp allow to cook for 1 min. Add breadcrumbs to mixture as it may have more water added from shrimp. Add breadcrumbs to dry mixture a little. Do not dry too much, but you don't want it running either. Taste for salt and pepper to see if you want to add more.
When squash cooking is complete using the same tablespoon used to clean out shells, restuff shells with squash dressing. Stuff to your liking. Place stuffed shells in pan sprinkle top with breadcrumbs.
Bake in oven uncovered at 375 degrees until top is brown.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

November Mom of the Month!

Our November M.O.M (Mom of the Month) is...

Stephanie E.

1.) Who's in your family?
I feel fortunate to be married to my best friend Scott who is a very kind and soft spirit. We have Allison who is 9 (my bonus daughter),  Jillian who is 3 and Benjamin who is 1.5.

2.) What's your favorite things about MOPS?
My favorite things about mops are the swap and shop, & definitely breakfast and play dates.

3.) What's your favorite Thanksgiving dish & favorite Thanksgiving memory?
My favorite TG dish is a toss up between mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. My favorite TG memory is always going to my great aunt Doris' house and seeing cousins that I would only get to see on this holiday.

4.) Describe a fun childhood memory.
My best childhood memory was traveling to Costa Rica when I was 9 and seeing monkeys and toucans.

5.) What advice or encouragement can you offer the moms in our group?
When you feel alone in the middle of the night with a crying baby or sick child, there is most likely one of us awake too. You are not alone! It will pass. Also, I think reading to your child as much as possible, even when you are so tired or tired of the same book, is one of the best gifts you can give to them.