Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What's Next for MOPS?

Four years ago, God called me to start the North Shore MOPS group at North Shore Church. Four months from now, my youngest will graduate Kindergarten, and I will no longer be a "MOPS Mom".  Considering this status change and after much prayer and reflection, I will not be coordinating North Shore MOPS come fall of 2014.  With change comes some uncertainty on What's Next for MOPS?  However, I believe that it is in God's plan to continue this ministry at North Shore and He will provide the insight, resources, and leadership necessary to do so.  As I near the conclusion of this phase of my life, I wanted to share with you my testimony regarding MOPS, its impact on my life, and its potential as an ongoing ministry.

What is MOPS?

For those of you not familiar, MOPS stands for Mothers Of Pre Schoolers, and by preschoolers it means kids from birth through kindergarten. MOPS connects moms in their own neighborhood, who meet together to laugh, cry and embrace the journey of motherhood. MOPS rallies women to be more honest, to feel more equipped and to find our identity by journeying along side one another. MOPS are moms, and we believe that better moms make a better world.

My MOPS Journey

I moved to Menominee 9 years ago. I moved here with a six month old baby. I knew no one. I had no idea what I was doing as a new mom. I was alone and isolated in a new town with a new baby. A friend invited me to a MOPS meeting at Faith Baptist Church in Peshtigo.

I went to that first MOPS meeting. Since that meeting, I have not looked back or ever considered NOT going to MOPS.  I even went to MOPS meetings while vacationing in Florida. It was wonderful! Here was a place that had other moms! I got to meet other moms in the same or similar stage of life as me. Other new moms who, like me, hadn't quite figured this mothering thing out, yet. I loved that I could get a break from my baby and talk to other moms. And oh, how I learned! MOPS had speakers that applied to me as a mom, woman, wife, and friend. I am who I am today because of what I learned from those MOPS speakers, moms, and leaders. I got involved in the leadership of that MOPS group. I learned new skills and honed others that I already possessed in order to continue offering MOPS to other moms. That nurturing and development led me to that place four years ago when three fellow MOPS veterans and I started North Shore MOPS to bring the amazing and wonderful world of mothering together, MOPS, to Menominee.

NSC MOPS Leadership Team, 2010

North Shore MOPS 1st Meeting, September 2010

MOPS takes effort, a great deal of effort.  It takes leaders to plan the meetings, and lead the table discussions, it takes volunteers to watch the kids, it takes others to decorate and make the food we all enjoy.  So why do we happily go through all the effort?

MOPS Provides A Bridge To The Church

We all know family, friends and co-workers who, we pray, might begin their journey of faith.  Many of us have tried to get such acquaintances to come with us to church, but they won't.  It is often difficult to convince someone to take a leap of faith and give it a try.  It's also a challenge to keep inviting them after initial rejections.  It's not uncommon for those without a church home or church background to be nervous and reluctant to step inside the church on a Sunday morning.  MOPS provides another setting and another, perhaps more comfortable, way to come through our doors.  It places them immediately in a relationship building setting, allowing for a foundation of trust to be built and fears to subside.

MOPS also reaches those we don't even know.  Even if we were 100% successful at persuading others we know to take their first step of faith, we don't know everyone.  MOPS can break through such barriers by providing invites in the halls of the YMCA, in the packets of new resident mailings, through a national website query, or in the folders of pre-school children.  MOPS has ways to reach others the church can't.

MOPS Addresses the Priorities Set By Leadership

Pastor Travis recently shared with our congregation North Shore Church's mission to do the following: Connect, Grow, Serve, and Go. MOPS is a ministry that eagerly addresses all such segments.

Connect: MOPS connects women. Moms in the early stages of mothering, when our children are under the age of 5, are in a very unique situation. Many times, it is our first child. You have a new baby and really no clue what you are doing. You are with this child all the time yet, you are lonely. MOPS meets this need for moms to connect with each other. Moms need to see that they are not alone. Other moms are doing this and feeling this, too. 

Grow: MOPS is for ANY mother of before school children, no matter where they are in their faith, career, or point in life.  I have never met a mom who didn't care what kind of mother she was. MOPS connects moms and shares how to become better moms together. MOPS helps to grow moms through various presenters and guests, through table discussions and prayer.  We also grow moms as they step out into leadership in MOPS. North Shore MOPS is a local group led from within. Leaders can receive training from MOPS international. Leaders grow through planning meetings and sharing our own experiences with the moms in our group. Our leaders have done things they never thought they would ever do before: speak to the entire group, be on a couples panel with their husband, share some of their own failures so that other moms can learn from them. MOPS grows moms and we grow future leaders. 

North Shore MOPS Leadership Retreat, Summer 2013
Serve: MOPS is a great launching place for serving one another. We serve each other at every meeting! The tables each rotate taking their turn at providing the food for the meeting. Our MOPPET teachers provide a valuable care-giving service to the moms each and every week. MOPS moms serve our MOPPET teachers by providing thank you gifts and an end of the year appreciation lunch. We serve one another by making meals for moms who have had a new baby or just had surgery. We bring in outgrown clothes, toys or baby items from our kids to offer to others who may have kids getting into those stages.

Go: Through various relationships, we also have the opportunity to serve the world community. One of our tables is supporting a child through Compassion International together. After coming to MOPS, a mom can't help but go out into her world better. Better moms make a better world. When a MOPS mom has learned something from a MOPS meeting about being a better mom, she goes out and puts that into practice in her life & home. Perhaps her husband or children sees or notices that change & then they change. As her children grow up, they remember how their mom was at mothering. The ripple effect continues on and on into future generations. Better moms make a better world.

NSC MOPS Red Table, October 2013
I look ahead to what is next for me in my mothering. I am a little scared and unsure. I trust that God will guide me. I know that He has something for me to do in this next stage of life. I also know that I will be surrounded by the friends that I have made over the years. Would you be surprised to know that most of them are friends that I have made through MOPS?
I hope that this inspires you to pray for North Shore MOPS.  I hope that if you are a mom who is feeling alone even when you have a child with you 24/7 that you will come and check out North Shore MOPS.  We have a seat for you.  I hope that if you are a MOPS mom and feel that you may want to step out and try leadership that you would contact me or one of the other leaders.  We will equip you.  You may be what's next for MOPS.