The Beautiful Mess…Of Summer by Ericka Southcombe, MOPS Coach





As the weeks of summer grow nearer, I wonder what these weeks will hold and what we will hold onto at the end. When it’s over, I want to reflect on this summer feeling refreshed as a leader ready for the duties ahead; having built sweet memories with other moms and lasting memories for my kids.

Will we fill summer with lazy mornings or rushing off to camp? Embark on new adventures or revisit places full of great memories? Stick to “tried-and-true” or stretch ourselves and our kids with new freedoms and responsibilities? Connect with friends and family we don’t see enough or get to know the new family in our neighborhood?

Because of MOPS I am surrounded by a community of moms passionate about molding and shaping summer plans just right for their family. Moms who work to discover what motivates their child – what makes their eyes light up with pleasure. They are committed to making meaningful moments…even when initial plans don’t turn out and they have to persevere through plan Q. They rescue moments that seem like disaster and encourage the inner strength in their kids and the other moms around them. They coordinate with other moms to foster community, share interests, develop leadership and through laughter, encouragement and tears, they lighten the load of motherhood.

These moms keep themselves supercharged for long summer days. They take the time to invest in and nurture themselves so they can continue to pour God’s love into others’ lives. They mold and shape the world around them through everyday acts of kindness. They carve out times of solitude and create dynamic community. They are amazing mothers and I am so glad we get to journey together – finding beauty in the mess that mothering can sometimes be.

How can we chart a course through summer allowing us to walk alongside our child, other moms, and fellow leaders? Below are some MOPS Leader tested ideas. Pick a few to incorporate into your summer plans as you look toward growing as a leader and deepening relationships with other moms and your children.

Ideas for the Leader
Stop and put your feet up (yes, we know you may get restless after 30 seconds, but keep practicing!)
Gather your leadership team for a park playdate to get to know the other moms and their children
Carve out time for solitude, regular prayer and Bible reading
Invite your MOPS Coach, ministry contact or coordinator to coffee
Memorize or do a word study of the Be You, Bravely theme verse: Isaiah 43:18-19
Connect one-on-one with another leader (peer, mentor or mentee). Be creative in how you do it!
Spend some business-free time with another leader – enjoy each other as women
Find a service activity your team (and even their kids) can do together (trash pickup at the park, creating packets for the homeless, collecting food for the local pantry)
Feel empowered in your new ministry position by surfing the Leaders’ section of Start with our New Leader Onramp.
Enjoy some time to grow as a leader by checking out the on demand training options.
Connect with a mom you respect with kids a few years older than yours
Ask your church if your leadership team could love on your church in some way this summer (cleaning nursery toys, have a paper shredding party, put up new bulletin boards, paint a classroom, bring lunch to the pastor)
Take time to dream about MOPS and Be You Bravely (using our Group Experience Kit online or our Idea Center)
Read a short article. Hello Darling, The Fridge Door, Spark and MOPS Leader Topics are great resources!
Read a leadership book. We think Just Lead by Sherry Surratt is a great place to start – download the intro and 1st chapter to check it out for yourself.
Take some time to journal
Go enjoy a local speaker to encourage your leadership (ask your ministry contact or mentor for suggestions)


Mom-To-Mom Fun
Meal Swap or create a mom’s night and make dinners for the week together
Commit to regularly share kids with a friend so you each get a few hours on your own
Commit to regularly exercise together with other moms (a simple neighborhood walk, enroll in a class together, or tap the expertise of a personal trainer for a workout that fits your unique needs)
Plan a spa day (or hour) together with your girlfriends
Do a Summer Book Club (If you haven’t already read Alexandra Kukendall’s The Artist’s Daughter using the questions in the back of book.) We have some ideas for hosting book clubs!
Use the articles from Hello, Darling to spark conversations over coffee or set up a more formal summer study club. Use our questions or develop your own.
Join a Bible study at your church or hold one of your own at your house.
Plan a “Mom Only” playdate to an amusement park
Enjoy a local hike with other moms
Get a team together for a local marathon, triathalon or 5K
Gather some friends to enroll in a local summer class (cake decorating, a foreign language, fencing — the options are endless)
Create a pinterest board to share summer fun ideas with other women in your mops group
Take up a new hobby for the summer. Learn something new on your own or in a group.
Plan a few hours each month to gather with moms and work on capturing those summer memories (download photos, scrapbook, etc.)


Mom-and-Kid Fun (either just your kids or meet up with some friends and their children)
Create a summer bucket list with your kids – sharing your summer dreams together and then figure out which ones you can make a reality
Create a random act of kindness bucket list – list everything kind you could do for others (anonymously or not) and then pull one item out a week to focus on.
Poll your MOPS group for local “hidden” activities they have found
Run needed errands topped off with a special lunch treat or ice cream outing
Cook together
Lay on the grass in the park and look up at the sky (day or night this can be a great way to grow appreciation for God’s creation)
Explore a local water park, theme park or zoo
Try Letterboxing or Geocaching
Check out Kathi Lipp’s new book on summer plans.
Go on a nature hike
Have a scavenger hunt
Visit extended family or, if they are too far away, make something to send off as a surprise (video, pictures, handmade gifts)
Make a summer treat to share with your neighborhood or plan a block party!
Find a way to serve your community together
Make a bouquet for a local nursing home and deliver it together
Schedule regular cleaning and help your kids learn new chores
Laugh, giggle and dance
Participate in a local church summer program (VBS, etc)
Create a gift basket for another family and secretly deliver it
Plant, tend, and harvest a garden
Hold a photo shoot – see how many crazy poses your kids can come up with
Create a rhythm band with household objects (pots and pans, cups of water, etc) – join some friends and parade through the neighborhood
Get a jump start on your Operation Christmas Child box shopping

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