Wednesday, November 29, 2017

MOPS November Highlights

As we counted our blessings this month, we certainly counted our MOPS community among them. Here are some of our goings-on this month:

Devotional from Elizabeth K.

When you think about the holidays, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For me, it’s love and joy, but then comes the lengthy list of “to-do’s” that become less and less exciting every year.  Gifts to buy for SO MANY people.  And the MEALS.  And the calendar that doesn’t have one blank square left by Christmas day…and I have to ask myself, “Is this what God wants for my family?”
So as the holidays approach, let’s rewrite our priorities for the season, and let’s love our husbands and our children and ourselves in a way that’s different from the expectations of society.  Let’s show our love by giving the gift of rest, SIMPLE joy, and genuine connection.  And most importantly, let’s quiet our minds to hear from God our Father, and let’s give our children space to grow their wonder for the season, and awe for their Creator.
Elizabeth gave a stirring devotion.
All of these phrases sound nice, but really, how do we create that simple joy?  What activities bring about genuine connection between parents and children, us and our Creator?  AND why is this necessary from a Biblical perspective?  I’ll answer that question first.  Here are two reasons:
  1. First, Ephesians 5:15 states, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but wise, making the best use of time, because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  We need to be in constant prayer about how we spend our time.
  2. The second reason is that amidst the bustle of the holidays (and let’s face it—any day of the year in the age we live) we cannot nurture own spiritual lives and cultivate those of our children if we are constantly distracted by an excess of activities and the beeping of our devices.
Satan is the god of this world as revealed in 2 Corinthians 4:4. We as mothers need to be vigilant in protecting our homes from the culture.  I’m picking on technology because it is one way that culture gets into our homes…now technology has many wonderful uses, including spreading the Word of God, but we are being na├»ve if we think that Satan is not also using technology to try to poison our minds, or at the very least, distract us from spending time connected to our Heavenly Father.  
We also need to evaluate the activities that we are involved in.  Having things on the calendar isn’t bad, but not all activities are beneficial.  Are our commitments overwhelming our children? Are they keeping us from having quiet time?  American culture has taught us that you never have to be bored and that down time can actually bad.  And we’re teaching those principles to our children.  Is that godly?  How can we hear from God if we never sit down?  In the book, Mitten Strings for God, Katrina Kenison writes that, “just as our children depend on us for three meals a day, they also need us to prepare peaceful spaces for them in the midst of this busy world…I do not want them to be bombarded with noise, information, and media messages, to be pulled along on a current of activity and stimulation.  They need time to stop and exhale, time to feel centered, safe, and whole,” p.21.  And as we look to shape the mood for the holidays she states, “Instead of racing from one holiday chore to the next,” let’s “take a cue from nature and accept the earth’s invitation to slow down,” p. 22.  “Let home be… A place where we can nurture our inner lives without distraction.  The soul speaks softly.  And so I guard our quiet times.  Creativity flourishes in these spaces; grace and peace reside here too,” p. 33.
Anderson MOPS newest member soaks up the message.
The Holy Spirit also often speaks to us softly.  And we are often too distracted to hear it.  Let’s accept the gift of God’s presence and his Word and spend time in the quiet, with Him.  Reading, contemplating, memorizing His Truth.  Letting Him guide us by his Word.  Psalm 90:14 says, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”  The phrase “in the morning” is there on purpose. Morning is usually a quiet, distraction free time.  Many times in scripture we see in the example of Jesus, getting alone to spend time in the quiet with His Father.  Mark 1:35 states, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he (Jesus) departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”  When we are connected to God, we are able to love our husbands and our children more fully.  And when we take care of our own spiritual lives, not only can we be more effective mothers, but we will find more joy in the roles God has us in.  When we feel overwhelmed or just plain inadequate during the holiday season, maybe we need to take an example from Jesus and connect back to our Heavenly Father.  Let’s pray for these opportunities.  And as we accept this gift of intimacy with our Father, our families will benefit.  
Finally, how can we display love through connection to our children?  Kenison suggests, “In, truth, a story told from the heart and shared in flickering [candlelight] is more nourishing to a child’s soul than another practice, an audience with Mickey, or a pile of birthday gifts,” p. 4.  Now we all want to give our children good gifts, but in a world where “more is better” and where media puts so many expectations on us to perform, let’s not be fooled that these things are more important than the simple heartfelt moments we have with our children.  Let’s love our families louder than the noise our culture projects during the holidays.
Two things: Don’t go home and erase every commitment from your schedule.  Every family has its own rhythm and level of busy-ness that it’s comfortable with.  The point is to examine the to-do list and minimize the activities that are going to end up making you and your husband snap at each other as your children lay on the floor laugh-crying from overstimulation.  Secondly, don’t let the adhering to this idea become another thing on your to-do list. The idea is to think simple, genuine.  For example, instead of reading your normal book at bedtime, pick out a holiday book or make up a special story to tell under a blanket with a flashlight.  Or move dinner outside.  Charlotte Mason, an educator from around the turn of the 19th century firmly believed in finding ways to spend as much time outdoors as possible, to connect with God and with each other.  “Meals taken [outdoors] are usually joyous…All the time too, the children are storing up memories of a happy childhood.  Fifty years hence, they will see the shadows of the boughs making patterns on the white table cloth; the sunshine, children’s laughter, hum of bees, and scent of flowers are being bottled up after refreshment.”
I invite you this season to free yourself from the expectations of our culture; to love your family loudest by giving them time to encounter that which can only be experienced in calm.  Moments with family and God’s calling us ever closer to Himself.

November Speaker: Kelly Pfeiffer

Kelly shared some ideas about how to care for ourselves and avoid "fight or flight" parenting situations. See Kelly's website or her Facebook page for more information about positive parenting solutions!

Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us, Kelly!

November Craft and Craft Night:

Ornaments were our craft at the meeting.

MNO crafting fun!

MOPS on the Town: Electric City Gymnastics

Thanks to all who came out!

Hope to see you all at our meeting on December 14th!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

MOPS October Highlights

This month we embraced all things autumn. Here are a few memories from our group's activities this month:

Devotional from Tamara M.

Motherhood is a Trap! ----- this is why you are, this is why I am here - hear me out. Talking about freedom involves talking about the opposite of freedom –slavery/captivity. But let’s go to the scriptures for our learning & comfort: In John 8:31-36 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." Using what we know about captivity and slavery let’s explore.. freedom.. but in motherhood AND in freedom in Christ.

Exploring slavery as we know it, through stories of those that have experienced it, books, movies and even the residual effects still felt today…. We can overcome that feeling of entrapment that motherhood sometimes seems to give us. How? By honesty, avoiding isolation & learning from others.. working to sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron.

Here’s my Honesty – a little of it

My own journey into motherhood started as a quiet, forlorn teenager still at home with my loving parents (who had their share of relationship problems) and younger sisters.  So, there I was with this cute little baby boy who I eventually started to raise by myself. But not really all by myself…. My parents encouraged me to go and finish a college degree – which I am grateful for. They cared for
him while I traveled home on any weekend I could to make sure he knew I was his mother. I had the help and support of my family and some from the church & community I grew up in If I’d not had that support there’s no telling where I & my oldest child might be. Though at times, all I thought I wanted was to do it my way – it’s less probable success will be reached on my own as stated by the prophet Jeremiah: O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. – Jeremiah 10:23 

I’ve wondered… am I even qualified to be somebody’s mother? Did playing with baby dolls qualify me? Or did babysitting a few dozen children, or having a 2-parent home, or dreams of motherhood, reading romances? Pshaw! Probably not.

Somewhere between having my son and meeting my husband I wondered about this salvation that has been offered…. And thanks be to God, accepted that call that our Lord Jesus sent out when he so graciously paid for with his own life. I wondered about how my Creator loved little ol’ me so much, he had a plan to save not only me, but the world. Others like me, like you and I. Then in his great mercy, gave us little people who would need saving also. Little people that start off oh-so-cute but evolve into sometimes moody, sometimes mouthy and sometimes downright (you know).. But little
people that we also hope will embrace the good news of salvation one day.

Some days, (teenage years, maybe even toddler years) we will need to remember that mercy we once received and still receive daily, in the raising of these little people. Also, to remember He chose us to be mothers, not we ourselves – he knows that we can do this! Even if it’s not that perfect picture of motherhood we’d like it to be. This is not a trap afterall.. It’s actually something for our good! What love has been bestowed upon us!

And take comfort, that if we sin/mess up, just remember to repent, seek help (if it requires it), and walk in that grace (through our advocate with the Father, the Lord Jesus) offered to those who accept it. Be merciful to yourself… that same mercy we give to one another.. Be merciful to yourself.

All of us here, have come into motherhood – some as single, some by marriage, some by  adoption, some now single, and some widowed. But we all still are Somebody’s Mother (awesome poem – look it up). And that is a beautiful calling, one our common adversary seeks to cloud as a trap….. but it is a beautiful thing – we are Mothers, nurturers, nurses, coaches, chauffers, butt wipers, hair stylists,
story tellers, tear wipers, tantrum tamers, chefs, housekeeper, etc… you get me.

Remembering slavery/captivity as we know it, let’s keep in mind that freedom can be threatened - by outside or inside forces. But if we are vigilant, honest, avoid isolation and prayerful we can make it out valiantly – we may even become someone’s Mentor Mom – maybe even our own children’s!

Remembering what we know from slavery, as we know it – ways also have been provided for us to overcome (cope) where we are. Anxious – You are probably not singing enough! In a letter written to the Ephesians at 5:19 we are encouraged to speak to ourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs – singing making melody in our heart to the Lord – to give thanks ALWAYS for all things to God, the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus. SING – cleaning that toilet, cooking dinner, folding those clothes, driving that bus/car, or fitbitting to keep gravity at bay. Don’t worry if you can’t sing – let everything that has breath Praise the LORD.

The Caged Bird by Maya Angelou – last stanza

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

So.. Mops Mamas – Reach out to another.. accept the help offered when possible. And then you will no longer feel so isolated. You’ll be free to grow in grace and learn from one another, in the season of life you are in – in all it’s challenges. It is only for a moment – 2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

And don’t forget to: Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free,[a] and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1

Walk in your calling – love . And you too, may gain much more than you anticipated – but mostly in the growth of your heart.


Fall Craft

MOPS On the Town: Berry Acres

Thanks to Katie C. for hosting our October MNO! 

See everyone at our next meeting on November 9th!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

MOPS Kick-Off 2017!

Our 2017-2018 year is off to a phenomenal start! Here are a few highlights:

"Free Indeed" Centerpieces

Meeting Devotional from Sydney H.:

Freedom and motherhood seem like a bit of an oxymoron to me.
   For those of you breastfeeding – enough said.
   Uninterrupted sleep has become far off memory
   Sleeping IN even farther…
   We now share our most private moments in the bathroom with little fingers slipping under the door.
   Sometimes all we seem to do is repeat our self. Then repeat our self again. And again. And again. And again.
   We basically live under house arrest after 7 pm unless we make prior arrangements. Then we have to make arrangements for the arrangements so everyone is alive when we return.
   And the list goes on.
Motherhood, especially in the little years, is one of the most self-sacrificing seasons of life. So then, how can we truly live free indeed during this most precious, and exhausting season?
I thought about King David from the Bible. He spent a lot of years in the pasture with the sheep before he became King of Israel. To me, it was not unlike motherhood! Many of his days were spent in obscurity. Dirty. Tired. Alone. Self-sacrificing – all for the welfare of the smelly little creatures that were entrusted to his care AND for the glory of the God whom he loved.
But, it was in those days of obscurity that God shaped him and prepared him for the great future ahead of him.
One story that tells of God’s work in David’s life is in 1 Samuel 17 -- David and Goliath. You may know how it goes -- David was a boy, a shepherd, and Goliath was a big bully that had been taunting God’s army every day for 40 days. David just happened to be bringing some cheese and snacks to his older brothers who served in the army and he was in the right place at the right time to hear Goliath shouting taunts to God’s people.
The mockery didn’t sit well with David and he had to do something about it. He spoke up, faced some opposition from his jealous brother, but ultimately volunteered to fearlessly take down this tyrant. King Saul opposed his plan, but because of what God had done in David’s heart in those obscure days in the pasture, he was ready for this moment. 1 Samuel 17:32 recounts David’s appeal to Saul.
“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”
“Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”
But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”
I love this story because we don’t just see David as a warrior or David as King. We get to see into the process that God used to shape him.
Because he spent so many days with those sheep out in the pasture, David knew who he was and WHOSE he was. He knew the living God and had seen him come through time and time again.
In other words, God let David practice in the pasture.
He practiced faithfulness.
I believe God, in his mercy, does that for us too. In his loving way, God sometimes puts us in seasons of obscurity or the mundane – not because he’s punishing us or because he’s forgotten about us but because he loves us and is transforming us to be like him. He’s letting us practice. He’s giving us the tools, courage and deeply rooted identity we need to do what he has set out for us to do….to be who he has made us to be and to RAISE the people he has entrusted into our care.
So... where is freedom in this season – this season of motherhood?
Friends, freedom is right in the middle of it. Why? Because Jesus is in it with us.  We are His. And He never leaves us. And where the Spirit of the Lord is...THERE is freedom. We know that whatever he is working out in us will not be wasted and he desires for us to be truly free.
Our job in the midst of the pasture is to turn our eyes and hearts toward the author and perfecter of our faith and BELIEVE Him when he says he loves us and that he has a plan for our lives.
So, maybe you find yourself today somewhere out in the pasture of motherhood.
Are you free there?
If not, what are the areas where you need God to set you free? Is it freedom from
I believe God has ordained you to be here today to hear these words because there is work he wants to do in your heart. He wants you to be free. Truly free.
So, let today be the day that we take a step in the direction of the freedom God has already granted to us. May we say YES to God’s ways, humbling ourselves to whatever process or season he has us in because we know he is working all things together for our good and his glory.
Let us stand firm in the truth and in the Spirit...
And then we will truly live FREE INDEED.

Goodies For the Residents at Calvary Home for Children:

Your generosity toward our first service project gave these children something to smile about!

MOPS on the Town and Mom's Night Out Events:

See you at our next meeting on Thursday, October 12th. Bring a friend!


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Introducing the 2017-18 MOPS Admin Team!

Free to Be...The Admin Team

Call them our President, VP, and Secretary of State... but much better-looking. These ladies devote their time and energy to the running of our organization. They don't shy away from the dirty work of getting done what needs to get done to ensure that our moms receive all the benefits that MOPS International has to offer. We are so lucky to have them leading the way to freedom, indeed this year!
Anita W.

Anita Wood

Steering Team Responsibility:  MOPS Coordinator
Ages of Children: 2 girls ages 6 & 4
I feel free when I... Focus on MY mission in life instead of the mission God has given other people.
What I'm most looking forward to about MOPS: Creating new friendships and strengthening the ones I currently have!

Elizabeth Kunkel

Steering Team Responsibility: Treasurer and Record-Keeper
Ages of Children: A 3 y.o. boy
Elizabeth K.
I feel free when I... Can get outside and enjoy God's beautiful creation with friends and family!
What I'm most looking forward to about MOPS: Meeting new moms and enjoying time with friends!

Sydney Haskett

Steering Team Responsibility: Fundraising and Steering Team Care
Ages of Children: 2 girls ages 3 & 4
I feel free when I... Get to ride in the car by myself on a cool day with the radio up and windows down.
What I'm most looking forward to about MOPS:Locking arms with other moms in the trenches as we encourage one another toward God's best for our lives...true freedom!
Sydney H.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Introducing the 2017-18 Moppets Team!

Free to Be...The Moppets Team

Of all the responsibilities taken on by Steering Team, one of the most important is making sure our sweet babies are well-cared for during our meeting times. These four ladies work with our MOPS Kids volunteers, plan fun activities, and allow the rest of us mamas to breathe easy. Read more about them below!

Tamara M.

Tamara Merriwether

Steering Team Responsibility: Moppets Coordinator
Ages of Children: 3 boys (16, 5 & 3) and 1 girl (4)
I feel free when I... Create art of some sort.
What I'm most looking forward to about MOPS: The growth and encouragement MOPS inspires.

Shawna K.

Shawna Kempf

Steering Team Responsibility: Room Manager
Ages of Children: 2 girls ages 3 & 1
I feel free when I... Am in God's creation; walk around holding nothing; share my struggles to a friend; my planner is empty.

What I'm most looking forward to about MOPS: Friendship and serving others.

Brandi M.

Brandi McAlister

Steering Team Responsibility: Curriculum Manager
Ages of Children: A girl & a boy (4 & 2)
I feel free when I... go barefoot on the beach!

What I'm most looking forward to about MOPS: Building relationships with other moms and cultivating my relationship with the Lord.

Faith Nesbitt

Faith N.
Steering Team Responsibility: Room Manager
Ages of Children: 1 girl aged 20 months & a baby boy due in December
I feel free when I... Get to go out on my own and take my time!

What I'm most looking forward to about MOPS: I'm looking forward to the many friendships this year. As a stay at home mom, and with my child not old enough to be in school yet, my life seems pretty mundane and endless when it comes to chores, diapers, and parenting.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Introducing the 2017-18 Hospitality Team!

Free to Be...The Hospitality Team

When you walk into a MOPS meeting, what makes you feel most welcome? Is it the friendly faces? The smell of food set out on the serving table? The beautiful decorations that let you know that each monthly meeting is a celebration of women and motherhood? All of these things fall under the Hospitality Team's umbrella. In the words of "Beauty and the Beast," these ladies want you to "Be Our Guest"!

Megan Bates

Steering Team Responsibility: Creative Activities Coordinator
Ages of Children: 2 boys (10 & 7) and a girl (4)
I feel free when I... Stop comparing myself to others and just enjoy the little people that I have a hand in raising!
What I'm most looking forward to about MOPS: Building relationships with other mamas! And let's be honest....two kid free hours with food!

Crystal Bryant

Steering Team Responsibility: Giveaways and Service Projects
Ages of Children: A girl (2) & a boy just a few days old!
I feel free when I... Am outside!
What I'm most looking forward to about MOPS: Meeting new moms and helping them get connected! 

Katie Curran

Steering Team Responsibility: Giveaways and Service Projects
Ages of Children: A girl(6)& a boy(3)
I feel free when I... think about the blessed life I have been given.
What I'm most looking forward to about MOPS: Sitting at a new table with moms I know, some I don't and building friendships throughout the year with them.

Brittany Kephart

Steering Team Responsibility: Kitchen Manager
Ages of Children: 2 girls (6 & 3)
I feel free when I... Remind myself I'm not in control, God is.
What I'm most looking forward to about MOPS: Spending time with my friends and making new friends.

Jessica Heller

Steering Team Responsibility: Kitchen Assistant
Ages of Children: 6 children- 4 y.o. twins, 13, 14, 15, 19
I feel free when I... I am doing something adventurous! And when I truly allow my yes to be yes and my no be no!
What I'm most looking forward to about MOPS: Growth in all areas, specifically deeper & more authentic friendships. I'll can't wait to  dig deeper to find a honest relationship  with ourselves!  I'm looking forward to seeing all of us Moms shed some layers this year and to walk more confidently as woman, mothers and daughters of Christ.