Today I was honored to visit the fabulous MOPS group at Central Church in Collierville, TN. I’m always excited to speak to any group, but I admit I’m a little partial to mothers groups – particularly MOPS.
If you haven’t heard of MOPS, Intl., it’s a non-profit Christian organization based in Denver, Colorado. They provide support for mothers of preschoolers and recently extended their ministry to mothers of school-aged children.
Eight years ago, I wrote a poem. Caving to a dear friend’s persistance, I reluctantly submitted the piece for a MOPS writing contest. Within a few weeks, the generous minds behind MOPS blessed me with a wonderful opportunity to write for the organization (which I continued to do until last month). I feel extremely lucky that one simple poem led to a freelance writing career – and then to my first published books.
But MOPS not only allowed me to fulfill my dreams of becoming a writer (also allowing me to work from home during my children’s early years), they also helped me find a church group, friends for our family, playgroups, and tons of support in every city we’ve called home over the years (except Oxford).
The thing I love most about MOPS is the feeling of complete open-mindedness. Every MOPS group I’ve ever visited includes an eclectic group of mothers from all socio-economic backgrounds, many faiths, and every ethnicity you can imagine. It was the only “church” setting I’d ever been in that made absolutely every woman feel completely comfortable and accepted – no questions asked. Teen moms. Working moms. Stay-at-home moms. Single moms. You are all valued. You are all loved by God. And you are all welcome at MOPS.
I also very much appreciate their focus on the important role of motherhood, and their ability to draw MOPS Mentors (mothers who have “been there/done that”) to share their own wisdom and experience with mothers my age - who are frequently separated from extended family members by thousands of miles.
The group at Central Church was a fabulous group, and I enjoyed my time with all of you! I was touched by your personal stories that some of you shared with me in private – stories of children you have lost, children who are struggling to overcome medical or developmental challenges, and children who make you feel crazy/happy/grateful/loved.
I particularly enjoyed hearing your feedback about parenting, and I’ll never forget the MOPS Mentor who shared her own advice after mothering a child with a learning disability. “If it helps you to worry, worry all you want. If it doesn’t help – then don’t worry.”
We can all relate to worries! But she emphasized the fact that if we teach our children when they’re young that worry is wasteful, then they can move past the useless habit.
One of her suggestions to help your little realists overcome fears is to give them real solutions and answers. If they’re afraid the house will catch fire, explain your specific plan for escape. Afraid of a robbery? Point out the neighborhood watch program and your alarm system.
The truth is – whether real or imagined, fears can all be conquered. Just help your child put words to their feelings, understand the emotions they are experiencing, and face the fear head-on. Plus — give them a solid faith that God has put them here for a purpose, and that the world really is a beautiful, wonderful place.
Thanks for your generous hospitality — and for helping me place nearly 70 books in the hands of children today! I will always treasure my time with your special MOPS group, and I hope I have the privilege of visiting you again soon!