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!

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