Image via www.mops.org
Raising a family is beautiful… and hard. It’s important to know you have support and that you are not alone. Are you a mother of young children looking for some help? Maybe you’re in need of a mom who’s been there and done that and can offer some advice and encouragement? Maybe you simply need to connect with other moms and have some honest, real conversations, listen to some insightful speakers, or just dig into a good craft with others like you? Then you might find yourself right at home with lovely ladies at Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers (MOPS). Read how Sara Lewis’s experiences with MOPS changed her life, helped her find balance, and provided her with an opportunity to strengthen and support other moms.
By: Sara Lauren Lewis
Three years ago I would have never imagined this: myself, a mother of three, leading a whole group of woman as we journey together on this adventure called motherhood. Although, we’re more than a group; we’re a community. We are all in this together, shoulder to shoulder in these fast and furious stages of life of resolutely raising children. We love each other and we love Jesus, and I’m somewhere at the front of the ship trying to encourage and hug and challenge each mom that wanders aboard. That’s what MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is in its essence.
On a Spring day of 2014 I wandered into a local coffee shop to sit in on a MOPS leadership meeting. There had been an open invitation to everyone to see the innerworkings of our group and, of course, to peak interest in becoming involved. Honestly, I wanted an excuse to get out of the house, have some coffee, and listen to adult conversations. As an exhausted mom of two toddlers these three things were a desperate need. All of the meeting I just sipped my coffee and listened, until the last few minutes when I did something unexpectedly brave that would change the course of my life.
“We still need someone to be the coordinator for next year.”
The six or so ladies at the table were silent.
I spoke for the first time that meeting, “What exactly do you have to do?”
All eyes focused on me.
After a brief explanation and promises of help and support, I made the declaration, “I’ll do it.”
That’s it, three words and a head dive into the unknown waters of leadership.
So began my unconventional journey into bravely leading this community of women who proudly call themselves mom. And the women at that table not only held to their promises of helping and profound support, but meaningful friendships blossomed. One of these dear women, Laurel, has walked by my side for these past years as a confidant, a sounding board, and a well of seasoned advice. I’m pretty sure I would not have made it this far without her. Then there’s Lesley, a steadfast Mentor Mom, that has prayed with me and for me, brought me meals, held my babies during meetings, and been an key person in keeping everything running.
As the coordinator for MOPS there’s a good deal of planning involved to make sure that our twice a month meetings happen! In the first year there was a definite learning curve for me with organization, pre-planning, and delegating, but fortunately (as with all aspects of MOPS) I was not in this alone. My team of leaders helped keep this ship afloat.
After the first year of coordinating I charged rather fiercely into the next because I was energized and emboldened by the woman surrounding me. I saw a need for this type of community, for these connections in the lives of these incredible moms. MOPS motto is “You belong here.” That echoes in all of us. It is essential as moms, as women, to know we are not alone, to know we are heard, seen, and appreciated. To help create this space where moms can develop these friendships, to feel important, and understood, it inspires me to continue in this ministry.
Being a MOPS leader has helped me see it’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to have a mess, and I’m not the only one that doesn’t have it all together. It has helped me give grace to myself. In being a leader it has shown me reservoirs of courage I didn’t know existed within me. It has highlighted that my core strength comes from my Lord, and that I can’t do this on my own; I need to be renewed in Him daily. I can’t and shouldn’t try to lead and do life or motherhood alone. There is a God given strength in this mom community. Yes, it takes vulnerability to cultivate this type of community and dive into heart-deep friendships. But, speaking as someone who has experienced excruciating betrayal, this vulnerability is far better than the bitter walls of solitude. Being in leadership has made me a better wife, a better mom, a better woman; it has exponentially changed my life in the most treasured way possible.
This may have started as a blind leap, but continuing to be an encourager, a hugger, and a challenger has become intentional. I have flourished in this role and have no doubt that when women invest themselves into serving and bettering other women that we will see gardens of hope and kindness arise where deserts used to exist.
Learn more about MOPS here.