MOPS – Developing Relationships

Have you ever really thought about what MOPS means to you, besides being a mother of a preschooler(s)?  As we start to wrap up another year, I got to thinking why I attend our MOPS meetings, why this group is important to me.   I think the most I took out of this year was in developing my relationships with some of these amazing women who I believe God has placed in my life to help me grow as a mom, a woman and a friend.  Even though my attendance wasn’t very regular due to illness once again in my family, I always felt welcome on the nights I did attend.  Yes, I liked having dinner made for me, wait I actually loved that.  I liked making the prayer dice (which is the only way our children don’t fight praying at dinner now, thanks!), and learning how to make my own laundry soap and how to be resourceful with coupons.  I even enjoyed learning how to knit.  Who knew knitting could be so challenging yet rewarding? Thanks MOPS for helping me learn many new things from, and with other women.

When I look back on the year I think about all of our outreach to the community we moms provided.  I keep thinking about the many things our group was able to do for other moms in need, even if they weren’t regular attendees of our meetings.  It was nice to see us provide meals to moms who just had babies, sick moms with sick kids and even teen moms we didn’t even know.   The heart and women in our ministry collectively, as each one does a small part, has been what has made us successful.

Another great thing about this group is that I know I can put a prayer request out there and have moms praying for our family or me praying for others, as God is always ready to listen.  I praise God for the work he has done in Leland MOPS and even in the lives of women outside of our ministry.

I have to tell you, before this year I would have said I liked the learning, speakers and crafts more than the developing relationships part of it.  This is because meeting new people and “letting people in” has been so far out of my comfort zone and was risky to me, sometimes even scary.   But, over the past five years of being in Leland MOPS, God’s work in my life with answered prayers and guidance, and the women in this ministry, I’ve learned how to develop relationships with some of these women; I’ve learned to trust again.  Praise God.  I have met some really great women, mothers, leaders, and friends, some all rolled into one, at this MOPS group.    Do you have a success through MOPS or praise for God?

I believe God has provided MOPS as part of my “survival” in this life so far.  We mommies need to stick together and reach out to more moms.  No one knows another mom’s story until we reach out to her.  That mom that looks like she has it all together on the outside might be broken on the inside.  One would never know if we don’t bother to ask.  Have you ever pretended or put on that everything was just fine in your life, when really you needed someone so desperately to confide in?  When we start to grow in relationship with each other, we grow as a group of moms, friends.  There is strength in numbers and all of us offer each other something different.  Some offer advice, some encouragement, and some prayer.  Some offer a shoulder (or an ear through the phone) to cry on, some babysitting services, and the list goes on.  We have such an important job raising these little people God has placed in our care.  And to be good moms we have to be healthy women; physically, emotionally and spiritually.

     I’m learning God designed us to have relationships with each other, more than just “ how are you?” and not really expecting more than a” fine” or “good.” Our Creator wants us to live true, in depth lives with one another, even though sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zone and risk getting hurt.  We need each other as strength and support against the schemes and lies of the devil.  I’ve learned more than ever this year how important it is to reach out and lean on other moms for strength and wisdom, no matter how difficult it seemed at the time. To help pick each other up when we have fallen or encourage when we have succeeded; to build relationships.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:8-10

As we approach summer, most families’ busiest time of the year, it is important that we maintain some of the relationships we have started to build this winter.  It is important that we spend our time here on earth wisely, with the people dearest to us and our family.  So I challenge you this summer to be purposeful in spending time in relationship with friends and family, as we never know how much time we have here on earth.

Dear God, I am so thankful for the women and relationships you have brought into my life and children’s lives.  I know I fail at relationships sometimes but I pray you help me through my struggles, as I am not perfect.   I am thankful for all the answered prayers this year in our MOPS group.  I pray that you help moms reach out to each other through good times and bad and that your hand in this ministry continues to be present and help us grow not only in numbers, but in faith and love for one another. Please give the moms that are a part of this ministry and those that will become part of it, wisdom and peace on their mothering journey.   I pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Have a great summer- Kim Gordon

Spring Cleaning

Oh the dreaded spring-cleaning, or maybe you enjoy it, either way it has to be done!  I have started to notice the sun streaming in through the windows at home, and while I like the sunshine, it is bringing with it a very unpleasant truth…my house if full of dust and fingerprints!  I don’t just mean on those high shelves you never see, but on my cupboards, coffee maker (although it is used everyday), walls, kitchen chairs, etc.  This sunshine is starting to stress me out!  Every time I sit down to relax and look around the room I see more dust and finger prints.  I struggle with anxiety and worry as it is, and this messy house thing stirs that up and makes me crazy!  I can’t relax until I get rid of the dust I find, or wipe away the fingerprints left behind on just about every surface.  I even get agitated when I clean something off, and then the next day I have to do it again…that darn sun, it is all its fault right?!  I stumbled upon a passage tonight that I have read before, but it struck me differently this time, it was more personal this time.  It reads:

Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.  – Matthew 23:26

 

It made me think about what is inside of me. Do I get so upset at how things look on the outside because of way I look on the inside?  Wow.  If I could clean up my insides by letting go of my anxiety and cast it on the Lord as he instructs me to do in 1 Peter 5:7, what would that mean for the outside of me (my relationships, my self image, my house)?  Would I still get upset over such simple things?  Has anyone in my family ever died due to the lack of dusting the house or removing fingerprints on the door of my fridge?  Of course not!  For me this year’s spring-cleaning means more then just cleaning my house, I am working on cleaning up what I hid in the inside.  I am going to get to the bottom of my struggles with anxiety because I know God doesn’t want me to worry.  I can’t fully glory Him if I am caught up in worry and what-ifs.

 

I hope this spring-cleaning season brings you more than just a clean house too!  – Cris

Home – Building a Foundation


image courtesy of Master Isolated Images

Kim shares:  I have been listening to a series on WLJN from Pastor Chuck Swindoll over the past few weeks, and it has been so insightful into the life I live, and the marriage and family life I have.  One of the most powerful questions I’ve heard from him was along the lines of, if your house was to burn to the ground, would you still have a home?  This made me think about the relationships I have with my husband and children.  If our house was to burn to the ground, would my family fall apart because we’ve lost all of our “things” or would we draw together  with what we share and the home life we have created?  It helped me realize how important this journey of developing relationships is and how important it is to first start at home with my husband, well after God of course, and children.  I’m learning that people are the most important “things” here on earth, and that some of building up our “home” includes giving my husband respect and creating a oneness with him, and the willingness to grow, which all eventually builds up our children.

At our last MOPS meeting Pastor Matro talked about respect, and he said our children learn respect mostly from us, as we are their parents.  What better way for me to build my relationship with my husband than to learn how to show him respect, as this is also showing him love, all the while teaching it to our children?   I’m learning that respect means to honor his decision, especially in front of the kids, even if I don’t agree with it, but talk about it later.  That respect means to listen to what he has to say and not view it as less than what I think my point of view is worth.   I’m learning that respect is also part of accepting him for who he really is, faults and all, and loving him anyway.  This is definitely a work in progress as sometimes Mike tells me I am being disrespectful and I don’t even realize it, or I catch myself after it’s too late. However, we have gotten to a point in our relationship that instead of him getting angry and yelling at me or me getting defensive with him for pointing out what I am doing wrong, God has given Mike calmness and a forgiving heart and me the wisdom to listen and see life through my husband’s eyes.

By listening and respecting what he has to say and his position as a man has helped our marriage a great deal.  As now there are two points of view instead of just mine.  This has also allowed me to understand and connect with my husband on a more intimate level than ever before.  I can see his confidence as a husband and father growing.  Also, by giving him a chance and seeing how he responds to situations, before me jumping in, has made me see how smart and capable he truly is.   However, I’ve had to say many prayers and ask God for the words to speak to my husband in ways for him to understand and feel respect and not be offended, and courage to pray for him and forgive him even when I didn’t like him.  I’ve also prayed for God to lead me and help me to be the kind of wife Mike needs and to help Mike be the kind of husband I need.   And God has been faithful.In

Genesis it talks about wives cleaving to their husbands.  What does that mean?  Well Chuck Swindoll put it in a way that made it so clear to me.  He said, “the bible does not say cleave to your mother or father and the bible does not say cleave to your son or cleave to your daughter, no it says LEAVE your mother and father and cleave to your wife.  Two shall become one.  They were naked together and felt no shame. Genesis 2:24-25   Wives your husband should be the most important, not your children, not your mother, not your father.”

Since I’ve heard this, I’ve realized how important it is to build up and love my husband as number one over our children, since essentially our souls carry a connection.  Two shall become one… and be naked and feel no shame.  Wow, I look at my marriage so differently now.  I always knew that we were on the same team, but now I can view my husband as being part of me as his life affects mine and together we affect our children.  I see that it is ok and right to be so trusting, open and vulnerable.  Naked with him not only physically but also emotionally, and feel no shame as he loves me, broken past or not.   Even though trusting people is an extremely difficult task for me, it’s time to move forward and trust my husband as one, and  I have faith that God will help us through it.

Also I believe one of the biggest building blocks to our foundation is our openness to grow.  Mike and I have almost been divorced, three times actually, and we still have “issues” to work out.  But now that I’ve opened my heart up to working on myself and growing and healing from my past, it is amazing to me the things God has been showing me.  Once again I have said that things need to change, the only difference between this time and last is that I can see that I am part of the problem.  I needed to learn to respect, to trust, to listen, and show unconditional love to my husband as well, not just our children.

As for my marriage, I’ve always looked at it as Mike needed to change.  Granted sometimes I still feel he does, however now I can hear God when he says, “Kim it’s time for you to grow and work on yourself instead of trying to change your husband.  It’s time for you to heal.”  Chuck Swindoll says, “It’s your job to love your husband and God’s job to make him good.”

I need to “ Love’em and lead’em,”  both my husband and children.  And it has been so worth the hard work of healing and growing, and leading my family on this spiritual journey. It has been so worth the many months of praying for God to work on my husband and soften his heart and then waiting for answered prayers.  Some still unanswered.  But, for the first time in years I can say “I love my husband (and myself) with all of my heart.”

Mike and I are the foundation of the “home” we are building. I’m finding out that the stronger we are, the rooms of our children and the rest of our home becomes naturally sturdy.  I can admit my marriage and family life isn’t perfect, and I am still learning how to listen, respect and love my husband and two very different children.  I’m learning how to be one with my husband and grow in our marriage.

I’ve seen Gods work in me and Mike, and also our children and it gives me strength to continue this journey through the difficult times.  God has helped me to see new things.   I see more love, happiness and fun in our home.   I see support and encouragement, and best of all I see more of a family unit.  I also can see a terrific man as my husband and as a father.   I can write this with a happy and content heart because of where my marriage and family life has come over the past six months even, but the journey continues.    I like to believe that if our house was to burn to the ground we would still have a home.

1 Peter 3:1-2  Wives, follow the lead of your husbands. Suppose some of them don’t believe God’s word. Then let them be won to Christ without words by seeing how their wives behave. 2 Let them see how pure you are. Let them see that your lives are full of respect for God.

Genesis 2:24-25  24 That’s why a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. The two of them will become one. 25 The man and his wife were both naked. They didn’t feel any shame.

Mango Salsa and Asian Spaghetti Recipes

Tracy shares:

I have two totally unrelated recipes to share with you this month. The first is the mango salsa that I brought to our most recent potluck, the second is an Asian spaghetti that is supposed to be a side but I will give you some ideas to turn it into a quick and easy meal. When I share a recipe with you I always like to give ones that the majority of the people in my family like, we have different tastes and I figure if we all like it we have hopefully got most of you covered as well. I can tell you that all six of us really enjoy both of the following recipes and it is my hope that you and your family will too.

Mango Salsa

Ingredients

2 medium mangoes cut into ½ inch pieces
2, stemmed, seeded and chopped jalapeno peppers
1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Place all ingredients in mixing bowl, gently fold together until mixed. Refrigerate, covered for up to three days.

I really like to make this salsa in the winter because it contains a lot of vitamin C, which we all know is important for our immune systems. It is found not only in the mangoes but also in the peppers. When I make it I do not take the time to squeeze limes and oranges like the recipe suggests, I buy it already squeezed and I think it is still good. I do however use fresh peppers though I imagine the canned ones would probably also work and save you a bit of time. On a side note, did you know that aluminum cans contain BPA? It is found in the lining, I have to
admit though that hasn’t stopped me from buying some things in cans, I use glass when I can but it is not always an option. Not trying to scare you, just inform you.

Asian Spaghetti

Ingredients

8 oz. uncooked angel hair pasta
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup fresh snow peas
¾ cup shredded carrots
4 green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Preparation

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms, snow peas, carrots and onions in oil in a large skillet until crisp- tender. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.

Combine soy sauce, sugar and cayenne in a small bowl. Drain pasta. Add pasta and soy sauce mixture to skillet and toss to coat. Heat through and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

When I prepare this as directed I like to serve it as a side to fish but I have also added shrimp to it for a complete meal. If you do this just, remember to sauté the shrimp with the veggies or it will be chewy. It would also be really good with some chicken or stir fry beef. When I use beef in stir fry I usually just grab an inexpensive steak to cut up, it is much more cost effective that way. This is supposed to be enough to serve 5 people when used as a side but you can very easily make more or less by using more or less veggies and angel hair pasta, that is very important in my family, I feed a lot of people and need food that can be versatile.

Sweet Valentine Crafts – To Pin For Next Year!

Kristin passed along these sweet Valentine Day crafts well before the special day of love, but I neglected to post them here on time for you to try them out.  Never fear, with our dear friend, pinterest, you can keep track of these for next year!

 A Sweet Shovel: This is a quick, fun gift you can use for teachers, grandparents and friends.  The shovel can be switched out for whatever tool might be appropriate – a ruler for a teacher with the saying “you measure up!”, or a little hand-held fan for grandparents with the saying “I’m your fan!”. Use your imagination and have fun! Hop on over to Family Fun for complete instructions.

 

 

Sweet Necklace:  You can have fun creating this necklace with your child for her friends and siblings.  Hop on over to Family Fun for complete instructions.