The 2013-2014 MOPS year at FBC, Midlothian has truly been unprecedented! Moms from all over Midlothian and surrounding cities, women from various backgrounds and church denominations, eagerly came together for support, encouragement, fellowship, and fun! MOPS members gladly invested more than 36 hours in 18 meetings over the course of 9 months exploring the “Beautiful Mess” that comes with mothering small children, and learning to embrace the fact that, “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.” Ephesians 2:10.
This MOPS year saw a tremendous growth in our group! In fact, our membership nearly doubled as our rosters filled-up with an average of 60-80 registered moms, a fact that necessitated the creation of a waiting list for moms needing childcare in the amazing MOPPETS program. What an honor and a blessing it has been to know that our MOPS group is a ministry that is so appreciated, so needed, so desired, and so beneficial to so many women and children in our community!
Over the course of the year, MOPS moms took turns providing scrumptious breakfast foods at each and every meeting. MOPS members appreciated the opportunity to sit with friends and slowly savor a meal made just for them. In addition to a hot meal, MOPS moms also enjoyed the many wonderful door prizes that were given out at every meeting. From jewelry items, free dinners made by the Steering Team, handmade wreaths, and certificates for hotel rooms, haircuts, and even free laundry service, the door prizes were certainly something to get excited about this year! Much excitement was also generated by the ice-breaker games that often had moms laughing and being silly at every MOPS meeting. From hula hoops spinning on hips, to plastic balls whizzing through the air, to competitive quiz show games, MOPS moms had fun playing together and learning more about each other at the same time.
Throughout the year, MOPS moms also enjoyed hearing from several special speakers who shared their thoughts on a wide variety of topics that were relevant to mothers of preschoolers. We were blessed to hear from Amy Marcontrel who shared about her journey through breast cancer. We welcomed author Angie Nichols who shared her thoughts on what it means to be the Bride of Christ. Brooke Mann came and shared her financial tips for living debt-free. Tracy King took time to share her testimony of serving on the mission field with her family. Back by popular demand, Ben Condray bravely and openly shared helpful marriage advice and insights. MOPS member, Melissa Tidmore, thoughtfully spoke about her ideas on submission in marriage. Pastor Bruce Prindle visited our group to talk about the hope that is found in the Easter holiday. And let’s not forget the three MOPS members, Stephanie Ramirez, Jennifer Bankhead, and Julia Oldham who each shared their beautifully messy stories at the MOPS Tea and Testimony meeting. Each of these special speakers contributed important truths that helped our members grow as mothers, wives, friends, and followers of Christ.
When the MOPS members weren’t busy learning from special speakers, they were treated to a variety of crafts easily created and finished during the MOPS meetings. The wonderful crafts moms enjoyed creating this year were flower pens, duct tape key chains, decorated manila folder money envelopes, multi-colored flannel fringed scarves, handmade pillow case dresses that were donated to girls in Haiti, string art wall décor, personalized date night jars, decorated ceramic tiles, bird nest jewelry pendants and button bracelets, and preschool busy bags. The creative activities offered at MOPS meetings, have always given moms a chance to relax, to try something new, and even to discover hidden talents all while enjoying the fellowship and encouragement of their table group friends.
This MOPS year, moms also had the opportunity to participate in several fundraising events. MOPS members spent last summer submitting recipes to be included in a MOPS cookbook. “Recipes from Around the Table”, the first cookbook ever created by our MOPS group, sold out within a couple weeks! Then, MOPS moms enjoyed a silent auction fundraiser in which they got to purchase donated items, as well as items from local vendors. A highlight of the silent auction was a raffle in which one lucky mom won an entire week of meals cooked by the Steering Team members and delivered right to her door. MOPS moms also donated items to be sold at the MOPS booth at the annual Home for the Holidays event at FBC, Midlothian. And these wonderful MOPS moms showed the same generous spirit when they donated dozens of baked goods to the MOPS bake sale fundraiser at the Heroes of Midlothian event in the spring. Altogether, MOPS moms helped raise more than triple the amount of funds generated in previous years! All money that was raised during these MOPS fundraisers helped to fund the costs of MOPPETS childcare, craft supplies, door prizes, and all other costs associated with providing such a wonderful program for MOPS members to enjoy.
In addition to the fundraising events, MOPS moms were given the opportunity to express their compassion and generosity by participating in very special outreach projects throughout the year. MOPS members made generous donations to two gift baskets that were donated to the King family to help them raise funds for their missionary work in Haiti. Then, MOPS moms showed their generosity and thoughtfulness once again when each table group sponsored at least one Angel Tree Child for the Gloryland Express ministry providing shoes, clothing, and toys to local children in need. In the spring, MOPS members reached out once again to help others in the Midlothian community by donating much-needed canned food items to help Manna House restock their food pantry shelves. MOPS moms not only showed their concern for others in the community, but they showed their generosity toward each other by making use of the Free Table that was available at every MOPS meeting. MOPS members frequently filled the Free Table with items they no longer wanted or needed, but thought other MOPS moms might be able to use. Furthermore, MOPS moms showed their support and caring for one another when they offered prayer support and made meals for other MOPS moms who had recently had a baby, a surgery, or an illness. It was inspiring to see the ways in which MOPS moms shared with each other and provided for each other in times of need. MOPS moms truly lived up to the classic MOPS motto: “Better moms make a better world” when they supported not only each other, but also when they took the time to bless local children and adults in the community outside the MOPS meeting room.
MOPS moms also made time to meet together frequently outside of MOPS meetings. Table groups met for playdates and moms-night-out events. Some MOPS members even opened up their homes and invited other moms to come and learn new skills such as preparing freezer meals, making homemade sour dough bread, and making fresh pasta from scratch. Playdates and MNOs were also scheduled for the whole MOPS groups to gather together to enjoy each other’s company and to nurture friendships. MOPS moms met at coffee shops, local restaurants, parks, and even gymnasiums, thoroughly enjoying the chance to play and talk and laugh with one another.
The 2013-2014 MOPS year will long be remembered for the friendships that were nurtured, the welcoming atmosphere and the acceptance that was shown to every mom, the laughter that was shared, and the tears that were shed. It was a year of growth, of learning to love and accept our beautiful messes, of learning to share our stories, and learning to listen to the stories of others. It was a year spent connecting with other moms, and finding strength in each other as we grew in our faith and in our relationships with Jesus Christ. It was a year of striving to ensure that as much as possible, the other MOPS motto, “No mom alone”, is a blessed reality for many moms in Midlothian.
Written By Elisabeth Espinoza