Monday, April 9, 2018

MOPS March Highlights

Spring is a time to start anew, and that's what we tried to do this month. We kept our sights on new beginnings, new friendships, new babies, a renewed sense of God's presence in our lives. Here are a few highlights from our March meeting and events:

Devotional: Jenny P.

A couple of weeks ago I was in the car with two of my daughters, and somehow the topic of fear came up. “I’m not afraid of anything,” declared my four-year-old, but quickly paused. “Well… except tigers.” Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I laughed. Tigers? This isn’t a child growing up in the Indian jungle. Tigers pose absolutely no danger to her whatsoever. It seemed like a silly, kind of arbitrary fear. Some kids are afraid of scary dogs, or spiders, or bad guys. Things you might actually encounter here in Anderson, South Carolina. But, silly or not, our conversation got me thinking.

What are you afraid of? What “what ifs” are swimming around in your head?

What if…  my family’s financial stability crumbles? What if my spouse loses his job? What if one of us has an unexpected health issue?
What if… I never lose the baby weight? What if I never again love my body the way I did before I had children?
What if the new pregnancy I’ve hoped for ends in miscarriage?
What if I can’t get pregnant again?
What if my children are bullied at school? What if they are the bully? What if they choke on a hot dog I failed to cut into small enough pieces? What if they text and drive? Or drink and drive?
What if someone hurts my child?

There are a lot of what-ifs. And while I think I do a pretty good job of keeping my fears at arm’s length most of the time, they’re there, and they’re real.

MOPS: The Next Generation. 
Fear is powerful. It keeps us up at night, sometimes, but more often it holds us back from becoming the people that God wants us to be. Back in the fall, Kelly Pfifer, who spoke at one of our meetings, talked about our instinctual fight or flight response when faced with stressful situations. When we feel afraid, our response is to run away from the problem, to freeze in indecision and avoidance, or to lash out in an attempt to protect ourselves and our families. Think about this. How Christ-like are these responses?

Do you remember the story about Jesus calming the storm? “37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

Harsh words. But I love this story. I think about the disciples, who were imperfect, just like us. The storm came up, and like any rational person would, they feared for their lives. The danger of capsizing was very real. And yet, here’s the Messiah, in the boat right beside them. The savior of the entire world - and these men believed that - was right there, and they still were afraid.

Here’s what this story says to me: It doesn’t matter who you are, or how strong your faith is. It doesn’t matter if the physical body of Jesus Christ is literally sitting next to you. Humans are creatures of instinct. Fear is going to happen. So the expectation isn’t that we will shed all fear, that we will live a life free of anxiety and worry. I think that what Jesus wants is for us to trust Him enough to follow him through the fear, and to see what’s on the other side.

I’d like to give just one example. When I was twenty-two, I was living in St. Louis. It was a Saturday afternoon, and I walked through the park across from my apartment to go get a coffee from a nearby cafe. I was talking on my phone, not really paying attention to my surroundings, when three men stepped out from behind the stone archway that marked the entrance to the park. They were trying to steal my bag. One of them yanked it, trying to get it off of me, but the strap wouldn’t break. I went skidding across the sidewalk, my phone flew out of my hand, and I just screamed in rage as I reached for the nearest man’s ankle, wanting nothing more than to trip him. Gosh, I was angry. After a kind stranger (let’s call him a good Samaritan) pulled over to help me, and the men walked away into the park, and I had called the police- that’s when the fear really hit. And I admit, it took some time for me to feel safe again.

For a while, when I would pass a man on the street who looked like the ones who mugged me, my pulse would race. I would fight the impulse to cross to the other side of the street to avoid him. I had to make a conscious decision that I would not be afraid of every stranger I came across. I cannot love my neighbor if I also fear him. And Jesus wants me to love him, every time.  

To bring this back to what this means for us as parents, I consider what it must have been like for my mom when I called her, hysterical, to tell her what happened. She knew when I moved there that St. Louis had some dicey areas, and she’s an anxious person anyway. (Probably because she’s a mom.) Still, I don’t think she wanted me to walk around afraid all the time, even after this incident. None of us wants that for our kids. In fact, when they are afraid, we don’t encourage their fear, do we? We try to make it better. Our Lord and Father, he doesn’t want that for our children either. He doesn’t want that for any of his children. And guess what - that includes us.

Fear does not prevent calamity. Fearing for our children does not mean that they will never come to any harm. So I think the best we can do, as women who profess to follow Jesus, is to ask ourselves if our fear is bringing us closer to God. I can tell you that for me, the vast majority of the time, the answer is no.

The phrase “Do not be afraid” appears 67 times in the Bible. (The word fear appears 515 times.) For me, that’s proof that God knows how often we need to be reminded.

“Do not be afraid,” he says, “I am your shield.”
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”
“Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.”
“do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
“Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Speaker: Lisa Fields


Lisa, always a favorite of our moms for her practical and humorous presentation of information, gave us some key tips for teaching our children responsibility at an early age: hold them accountable, set clear expectations and boundaries, ands give them "practice money". All great suggestions!

Lisa Fields, founder of Heath's Haven, captures the group's attention.

Craft: Spring Wreath

Thanks to Hillary for sharing this photo of her wreath! 

Mom's Night Out: Dessert at Sullivans

We had a great turnout for dessert at Sullivan's. Talk about a sweet night out!

MOPS on the Town: Easter Egg Hunt

Look for more pics in the next issue of Anderson Magazine!

We hope to see you all at our next meeting on April 12th!


Monday, March 5, 2018

MOPS February Highlights



We hope you all felt a lot of love in February! Our Couples Panel was a huge success, thanks to our three lovely couples: the Asbells, Beatys, and Prays. We enjoyed hearing their insights on marriage, parenting, and maintaining a strong relationship with God. And did you know that these beautiful notebooks you all helped decorate will be donated to Foothills Alliance, a local organization that works with victims of sexual abuse? Thanks to Anderson MOPS, the children undergoing counseling there will have new journals to use on their road to recovery. 

Journals for Foothills Alliance

The Prays

The Beatys
The Asbells

Thank you all again for taking the time
to share your stories with us! You are a blessing!




Tuesday, January 30, 2018

January Highlights

We rang in 2018 at Anderson MOPS with 'Casual January' as a reminder to ourselves that God always wants us to come as we are. As usual, we indulged in a scrumptious breakfast spread while discussing one of the most aspects of our role as mother and wife: the management of our household budget. Some of our other highlights this month include:

Devotional from Margaret B.


Here are a few key excerpts from Margaret's message about finding financial freedom:


In the fall of 2009, my family began one of the most terrifying, humbling, and faith-building experiences we had yet to face. I wasn’t sure we wouldn’t become one of those divorce statistics in the process! After my husband suddenly lost his job, I found myself standing in line at the DSS office to apply for government aid. I was 4 months pregnant with our second child. But I held a college degree and another child on my hip. My husband had a Master’s degree and an above average credit score. We had never missed a payment, on anything! But at the start of the Great Recession, those credentials wouldn’t prevent our house from sitting untouched on the market for 31 months. The fact that we were both raised in educated, middle-class homes wouldn’t help the fact that it took almost a year to secure full-time employment again. Which is what brought us to the Upstate and how I found Anderson MOPS! I won’t dwell on the struggles we faced when we could barely find the money to pay our mortgage most months, but I will say that those years strengthened our faith immensely and looking back, I wouldn’t ask the Lord to spare us from that heartache because it was during that darkness that we had to rely on Him and Him alone. We were doing all that we could, but it wasn’t enough. I’ll never forget crying out, “Lord what will we do?!” and almost audibly He answered so clearly, “YOU don’t have to do a thing, just trust me, I will take care of you!”

... But we trusted him when he said in his word, “…do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food and the body more than clothes. Consider the birds: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than birds?...but seek first his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12: 22-34

Craft: Paint Chip Calendar



MNO: Calligraphy Basics with Tamara






MOPS on the Town: Publix Backstage Tour










Hope to see you all at our meeting on February 8th!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

MOPS December Highlights


While we took December off from our MOTT and MNO activities (isn't the season crazy enough without adding another event to the schedule?), we enjoyed celebrating with our mom friends at our December meeting.

Devotion from Brandi M.

Please give me grace this morning as I share with you something on my heart. This is totally out of my comfort zone!

Good morning! I hope everyone has had a stress-free morning! Yeah right, huh? With children, we all know that we are prone to those mornings, days, weeks where life can seem to drag on and be riddled with stress. Today I would like to encourage you as we look in the Word.

First, let me walk you through a typical maybe day for me…

I wake up from a semi-good night’s sleep to an alarm clock blaring music where I quickly punch- I mean nudge- my husband to turn it off for just 5 more minutes…first mistake… as normally we both fall asleep to wake up rushing around to get ready for the day.

Cue both kids waking up and STARVING. Like I never feed them. Ever. Then the breakfast choices…Cereal, no. Poptarts, no. Oatmeal, no. Waffles, no. Eggs, no they are so gross. Toast, no. Chocolate, yes…do I cave? No. Second mistake. Now they are mad because I am denying them the best breakfast.

After breakfast, we pick out clothes. Normally not an issue, but occasionally there is a time where there is unrest. Like when I don’t have a favorite pair of underwear washed and they try to put it one. Eww. Just wait, mommy promises to wash them today. But, of course the pile of clothes is ridiculous in the clean pile and dirty pile. How can 4 people generate SO much laundry? Why am I the only folder of laundry?

Finally, we are dressed, fed, and ready to go to school. All but mommy…so yes I throw on those PJS to take my kid to school because I have run out of time. Don’t judge…

I drive my oldest to school at break neck speed- not over speed limit of course…well maybe sometimes. Drop her off normally right on time or close to it- better late than never right?

Then, I drive back home with my littlest one and begin the day with cleaning the house, doing laundry, cooking supper, the list goes on and on. I remember a time when I worked and would come back to a clean house. Now, the house gets cleaned and trashed again before the end of the day. I definitely need that sign: my house is a mess because we live here…

Go back to get my daughter from school in the afternoon smack dab in the middle of nap time for my littlest. That is always a good plan! Not…

Come back home to homework, dinner, baths, devotions, prayers, snuggles…and oh yeah, who is this guy? He is handsome and he lives with me!? Oh my love, he is my best friend! I crave time with him too. But it is late…

By the end of the night, I am beat and tired. Exhausted is more the word I am looking for because I have given and given.

Why did I tell you all of these slightly embarrassing facts of my not so perfect life?

As you can see and you all well know, time in this season is limited friend. With so much that comes with motherhood and life in general, we are tapped out. We give until we have nothing to give and then continue to give with an empty “cup”.

Is your cup empty? Fill it up by making time for God!
Can I ask you something personal? Where is your God time? If you are like me, it is wherever I can fit it in and if I don’t get to have that time, it’s ok right? God understands this season right? Yes, he does but, my friend, let me encourage you that this thinking can get you to a very empty state in your walk with Him. It is vital that we as mamas get our cup filled every day so we have something of quality to give. If we are full of Him, we will reflect that. We will ooze with patience, love, understanding, be slow to anger, be quick to forgive. I find that when I am not full of him, I tend to be impatient with my kids, quick to get frustrated and not understand them.

How does this relate to the Christmas season and giving? God gave us the ultimate gift in His son Jesus. Let’s look at Luke 2:4-14 for that awesome day!

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”


My friend, may I encourage you today to get from Jesus what he has to give you and what he has already given you? What are you looking for today?

Peace

Psalm 29:11: The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

Comfort
1 Corinthians 1:3-4: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Joy

Psalm 16:11: You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.


Strength

Isaiah 40:29: He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Love

1 John 3:1: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Understanding

Psalm 111:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

Salvation

Psalm 18:2: The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Grace

Hebrews 4:16: Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Go to Him and He will give you all you need in Him. Thank you!