The Power of Team

I am an introvert.  It is natural for me to want to be alone, a lot.  I’m sure there are others like me around, but I don’t know anyone else who enjoys being alone as much as me.  Ha!

I do work with others quite a bit in the ministries I’m involved in.  And don’t get me wrong, I totally enjoy it.  But sometimes due to my nature, I tend to get on a streak of being alone, planning alone, thinking alone, analyzing alone, and carrying burdens alone.

Today my MOPS teammates and I worked together on a Facebook party for our MOPS communities and it was like a lightbulb turned on for me.  Time alone and working alone can be good for me – but I can also tend to isolate myself too much.

I saw so many positives in the collaboration and teamwork we had today.   It is a great reminder (and probably a much needed one) that God has called us in most circumstances to partner with others in our work for Him.

Maybe you also need a nudge to be less isolated or to accept more opportunities to work alongside others?

I know the following list is probably not really new to you – and not to me, either.  But today was just such a good example of these benefits of teamwork that I can’t help but share.  I don’t want to forget, and in case YOU need a reminder – here is the “power of team” that I saw today:

  • We can encourage one another to step outside of our self-imposed comfort zones.
  • Our ideas and effort, put together, have synergy – meaning that the result is more than each of us could have accomplished alone.
  • We can step in for each other’s weaknesses.
  • Working together can ignite a spark of motivation and energy in a teammate who needs it.
  • We can learn from each other.
  • We can learn about each other, and about ourselves.  Learning more about our teammates draws us closer together.
  • Working alongside one another gives us opportunities to provide more personal support and encouragement to each other.
  • We share the burden of the work.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 – Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. (New Living Translation)

 

 

 

 

Why “What Impact Am I Having?” is the wrong question.

Yesterday I returned home from MOMcon 2016 in Milwaukee.  Oh, what a sweet, sweet time of communion with Jesus, learning new stuff, and serving moms and MOPS leaders from all over the world.  It is good for the soul!

During our MOPS Volunteer Staff training before MOMcon began, we were challenged to spread kindness by writing notes and leaving them all over where people would find them and be encouraged.  Here’s an example:

amazing

This was so much fun!  Writing them and wondering how the person who found it would react, or finding one yourself and feeling your heart smile.  I think I may just continue doing this randomly around my community!

Anyways, this morning as I was driving my kiddos to school I was wondering to myself what impact all of that had not only on the women who attended MOMcon, but also to the people of Milwaukee.  My thoughts turned more inward-focused, to the question, “what impact am I having in the ministries I’m involved in?”.

And then I quickly realized that’s the wrong question to be asking.

Since I have no power to change lives – only Jesus can do that – why am I asking about it?  As I thought more and more about this, I decided that THESE are the questions I should be asking myself:

Did I seek God?

Did I do what He told me to do?

Did I give it my best?

Because the bottom line is that the results are ALWAYS up to Him.  My job is simply to listen and obey.

I’ve blogged about this before here, but I think of Moses as he approached Pharoah, asking Pharoah to let the Israelites go.  What if Moses over-analyzed after the first, or second, or even eighth time of asking Pharoah, and thought: “well, this whole thing is not having the impact I thought it would so I’m going to give up”?

So often I tend to analyze what I’ve done or been involved in, trying to figure out if what I’ve done has had “results” or has been “successful” (and too often in my mind that is directly linked to, “did it go well or smoothly?”.  But the fact is, God’s ways are above my ways.  He is still working even when things down here don’t look like they are going well.  And truth be told, we don’t even have the capacity to know the full ramifications of the actions we take!

THAT is why we walk by faith and trust in God, not by sight.  As Mandy Arioto (president and CEO of MOPS International) said this weekend at MOMcon, “we live by faith so the world knows that God can be trusted.”

So here’s to walking fully in faith, keeping my eyes on Jesus, and asking myself only if I’ve listened to Him, followed and obeyed Him, and given it my all.

 

His mercies are new every morning.

So today I spoke at a local MOPS group about anger.

You guys, I can’t even tell you what an amazing God we have.

There was a mom there who I felt was the reason I was there.  I could just tell by the look in her eyes and some of her comments that she is where I was years ago.

Prone to anger and wondering how she became an angry mom.  Asking herself and God why controlling herself when she feels angry is so hard.  Feeling like a failure as a mom.  Filled with guilt.  Probably shame.  Hoping against all hope that she hasn’t messed up her kids too badly.

But God.  God was there in that room with us.  By the grace of God alone have I been changed, and by the grace of God alone am I able to share my story.  And it’s not just my story, but it’s really His story.

A story of grace, mercy, forgiveness, love – beyond explanation.

I shared lots of practical tips.  But that’s not the important part. The important part I shared is that if as a mom you struggle with anger – you are not alone.  And there is hope for change.

That hope comes from God alone.  Nehemiah 9:17 says “…you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.”

Any change in me has come from getting to know and understand and FEEL and accept God’s love for me.

He is forgiving,

gracious,

compassionate,

slow to anger,

abounding in love.

When we get closer to Him, we become like Him.  We can become forgiving, gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love for our kids.

I have struggled with anger – which led to guilt and then depression – for years.  I would make imperfect progress, but it was so, so slow.  At times I couldn’t understand why God wasn’t bringing the change in me that I hoped for.  The thing was that this struggle was more about my growing in my relationship with Him than it was about my relationship with my kids.

And all of the sudden this year, I feel like the “morning” has come and the dark cloud of night is gone.  God’s mercy is new.  For the first time in probably 12 years I feel like I have a measure of victory – all because of Him.  And I say that knowing full well that I still need to rely on Him every moment.  I can’t explain His process well – but I know my part in it was seeking Him over and over again, not giving up, and continuing to surrender myself to His will.

And today I’m just amazed at His mercy, grace, and faithfulness to me.  Over the years I have always stood on Romans 8:28-29, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”  I didn’t know how God would use this struggle for good, but I trusted.

All along as I’ve made slow progress in this area, I’ve known that He was pulling me closer and making me more like Jesus, as it says in verse 29.  But seeing Him today use my struggle to encourage and point someone else toward Him was more beautiful than I could ever ask for.

God is so good.

MOMcon 2015

As I type this, I’m sitting in the Baltimore-Washington airport on my way home from MOMcon (formerly known as MOPS Convention) in Indianapolis.  It was amazing, as always.  It really is an experience that is not duplicated anywhere else.

I am so blessed and privileged and thankful to serve this life-changing ministry and be able to hear such skilled and godly speakers.  I always learn so much!  The days are always filled with God-moments. And this year as never before, my team just had a blast together.  I really can’t remember when I last laughed so hard.

I just wanted to quickly share some quotes/ideas that resonated with me.  And by resonate, I mean that they are in tune with the stirring of my heart that God has already been doing this year.  I share because I hope that they might help you find the beautiful notes of God’s story working in your life, too.

Bob Goff –

  • Live in grace, walk in love.
  • Love lavishly- give it all away.
  • Don’t make it about you, make it about Jesus.

Jen Hatmaker –

  • We are loved children with a love-sick father.

Margaret Feinberg –

  • Noticing goodness is fighting back with joy.  Pursue joy.
  • Marinate in the truth of God’s love for you.
  • Remain suspicious that God is up to something good.

Arlene Pellicane-

  • Ask yourself if technology use is drawing your family together or driving it apart.  Act accordingly.

And lastly I’ll leave you with this.  Several times over the course of my time at MOMcon we sang this song -Holy Spirit.  I’ve decided this is going to be my anthem for the rest of 2015!  It truly is the prayer of my heart.

image

Regardless of whether you were at MOMcon or not, what is God stirring up in your heart these days?

what’s been happening around here

I totally feel like I have to rewind here.  I haven’t posted in a while – we have been so busy!

So let’s start with some summer stuff…

We started a fairy garden, just for fun.  It looked pretty pathetic for most of the summer, but by September, the ground cover we added had grown and now I’m thinking it looks pretty cute.  It’s a fun summer activity for little ones – even more fun if you make an event of searching your backyard for things to use in it (pebbles, rocks, wood pieces, bark, moss, ground cover, etc.).  Search fairy garden on pinterest – you’ll be amazed!  Here’s a pic of ours:

Fairy Garden

I also bought this secretary at Goodwill in August… and finally painted it the first week the kids were in school.  I’m loving how it looks in the kitchen.  I had hoped that it would solve the problem of papers piling up on the kitchen table, but apparently you have to actually put things in it for that to work.  ha.

Secretary

Then school started.  So far, so good.  Kids have been doing well, with the slight exception of one phone call home regarding a 10-year-old boy who talked too much.  I guess that’s normal boy stuff – but definitely a first for me.  I hope it’s the last.

Let’s see, what else?

This seems to be the year where I have officially become the mom taxi.  Kids have activities three nights a week.  Then you add in my activities and my husband’s… and we are running around a lot.  But they are all good things – Bible quizzing, irish dance, MOPS, etc.

One of my oldest daughter’s activities are advanced math and science classes (for which she is actually getting college credit!) at the local community college.  I must say it felt weird to drop my 7th grader off at a college campus!  She has started rolling her eyes at me when I remind her not to talk to strangers or go anywhere alone every time I drop her off.  But I still do it – ha ha!  After all, she IS only 12!  But I’m finding a fabulous side effect of all this growing up she’s doing – she no longer has to be woken up!  she gets up on her own!  and showers every day without reminders!  Let’s just say I’m a little happy about that.

Then in October came MOMcon (previously known as the MOPS Convention) in Kansas City.  As always, it was amazing.  I got to see/hear Beth Moore, Jen Hatmaker, Lysa Terkeurst, Ken Davis, and more.  It is always a spiritually refreshing few days away for me.  The challenge is letting what I heard sink in and change me.

Halloween came and went, and my littlest was just the cutest thing ever – Madeline:

Madeline

She thought no one would know who she was – but so many people commented and loved her costume.

Then our computer hard drive crashed and all our files were unrecoverable (is that a word?).  Sad day, people.  Because even though you KNOW you should back stuff up, like all those precious photos of your little ones, do you really do it regularly?  Well, we did not.  Over the years I’ve been pretty good at actually printing our photos, which I am thanking God for.  I hadn’t gotten any 2013 pics printed, though, so I’m pretty bummed about that.  Not to mention all our other files besides photos!

My P.S.A. for today – back up your files, you never know.  

 And so November is here now, with Thanksgiving right around the corner.  I love this holiday and everything about it!!

The kiddos and I will be doing this week-long “giving thanks” activity from Ann Voskamp.  I think this is great for older children who can write – it stretches out the thanksgiving for all week!

http://www.aholyexperience.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/7Gifts.pdf

And a nice little video how-to for folding it into a little booklet are here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQGf3y6nFww

So now your turn – what’s been happening in your neck of the woods?

MOPS: Lonely No More

Very often when my family and I are out and about, we run into women I know but my family doesn’t.

Next from my kids comes the questions, “Who is that?  How do you know her?”

 

Last week this happened again.  I chatted with the woman for a few minutes and shortly after we parted, the questions came.

This time, however, before I answered, my oldest said, “Nevermind.  MOPS, right?”

I had to laugh.  Because she was right.  Nine times out of ten I know the person because of MOPS.

 

MOPS is short for Mothers of Preschoolers.  Not familiar with MOPS?  Go here to find out more.

 

Seriously, if you are a mom of a preschooler (a child that hasn’t started kindergarten yet), and you’re feeling lonely, find a MOPS group.  It’s funny how as a new mom especially, you are with that little person 24 hours a day, but you can feel painfully lonely.

 

The link above takes you to the MOPS home page and then click on “find a group” near the bottom of the page to search for a group near you.  You’ll meet lots of other moms in the same season of life as you.

 

And it may take one meeting or ten.  But I promise you, you will make lifelong friendships that will enrich your life and leave you lonely no more!

My Monday Mess – 5/20/13

We had our MOPS Volunteer Staff leadership training this weekend, and I am now even more in love with next year’s MOPS theme.

BFul-Mess_Logo1

Moms live in messes. The toys, crumbs, and spit-up are their natural surroundings. Moms often feel like a mess. They are exhausted, under-showered, and hormonal. Their past and present circumstances and decisions can leave them feeling inadequate for God’s love and purposes.

A Beautiful Mess — reminds moms that beauty can come out of their difficult spots. The grime of mothering young children brings the beauty of motherhood. The bruises of life can bring God’s redemption.

Embrace Your Story — reminds moms that their past, present and future can be used for good. God knows where each of us has been, where we are today and has set in motion where we are headed.

Theme Verse – 

Ephesians 2:10 (New Living Translation)

For we are God’s masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

God created us, He loves us, and we are precious to Him.  No matter what.  And he can use ALL things for the good of those who love Him.

And one of the things we’d discussed in leadership training is being authentic as a leader… because no one you lead will be more real with you than you are with them.  And I really think that pretty much goes for ANY relationship you have!  How can we grow closer without sharing the messy parts of our lives?  If we don’t, we’re just building a relationship on a facade.

(seriously, I just have to say how much I love MOPS – where else can you get leadership opportunities and top-notch leadership training with babies on your hip??)

With that in mind, I’m thinking I might just post some Monday messes from here on out.

Here’s today’s mess – that will hopefully get cleaned up today, too!

I present to you my kitchen table in all it’s present glory:

100_1669

Aaack!  And I’ll also say that this is not necessarily atypical!   🙂

Feel free to share a picture of your Monday Mess in the comments!!