Mothers of Preschoolers: “Learning to Be Myself Bravely”

by Sarah Wittkamp, MOPS attendee
At a time in my life when I could not see into the next moment, there was a very bright light.
Just when I thought I might remain alone in the darkness and pain of losing our oldest son and that my younger children would be stuck with a lowly mess of a mom … God then told me “no.”
mops-logoWhere deep covers deep, God handed me an instrument — an instrument designed by Him to save moms from believing they can’t.
This life and faith-saving instrument is made up of many remarkable, gifted, loving and lovable women — MOPS, an acronym that God surely has inscribed on the palm of His hand!
During just the one year that I have been blessed to be a part of Immanuel’s Mothers of Preschoolers group, I have learned that there are no perfect moms.
What a relief!  This world would have us believe otherwise, causing us to hold ourselves hostage to the ideal of perfection. Knowing our lives and families are perfectly imperfect is more liberating than mere words could ever define.
The overall message for me was that we are enough, even on our worst days.  There is not only hope for tomorrow but for the time in between.  MOPS has shown me motherhood and acceptance. It was a message, among many given, that I desperately needed to hear; to realize that I am not messing up my other children by grieving the loss of our oldest son, brings me to my knees in praise to our amazing Father and His graceful ways.
I thank God daily for building this beautiful community of women, moms and friends, who have held me in prayer and surely in their hearts. MOPS has given me the opportunity to see outside of my own tragedy and to focus on the needs of other moms, be it in prayer or in deed.
I feel free from the façade of being the perfect mom and from the notion that we should really have it all together! It is a beautiful mess, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
Be you bravely MOPSInstead of fearing that what I am doing isn’t the right way, I can now embrace each moment, right in the middle of this beautiful mess, where God would have me.
We are together on the front lines, raising our amazing children and becoming the moms and women that God has so lovingly created us to be while forming friendships, nurturing one another in every way, hand in hand. By this instrument of grace, faith and love we are held, and as this next year of MOPS draws nearer, I can hear Him whisper, ”Be you bravely.”

 

MOPs begins September 2014! Learn more about or register for Immanuel MOPs here!

Mothers of Preschoolers: “MOPs Raised Me as a Mom”

With three little ones younger than 2.5 years old, Danielia Mateja came to her first Mothers of Preschoolers meeting out of sheer desperation.

“I was almost in a comatose fashion,” Danielia said. “I wasn’t looking for friends; I was just in survival mode. I used MOPs as a place to go, and a place to breathe. For awhile it was just to survive.”

Motherhood wasn’t what she expected, Danielia explained.

“I thought I was going to put our kids in daycare, but my husband wanted me to stay home,” she said. “So I said, ‘Sure, I’ll try it.’ In my naiveness, I thought I would play games and read with them … but motherhood ended up being a lot of function without a lot of connection — there was endless diapers and cleaning and feeding. When one would end, the next would begin.”

A depression of sorts set in for Danielia as the reality of caring for so many small children at once showed itself day in and day out.

Mops2014log“Yes, there were adorable and sweet moments,” she said, “but a lot more often it was just working at keeping them alive, clean and safe. And all of that was blowing my mind. I felt like a zombie walking around, and I didn’t savor the moments like I wish I would have because I was  always looking at the next thing coming.”

At MOPs, Danielia didn’t just find a break from the chaos of motherhood {children are cared for onsite in the MOPPETs program}, but she also found women on a similar path who poured into her life, offering friendship, wisdom and practical help in her motherhood journey.

“MOPs helped me refocus my expectations so I could enjoy that season of motherhood simply because then my expectations were more realistic,” she said. “And there were other women who felt this way. I thought ‘Wait! I’m not alone!’ I thought I was the only one with a chaotic life.”

Danielia found great guidance from the leaders of MOPs, too.

“The MOPs leaders and speakers helped me see that {motherhood} was a beautiful thing I was doing, that this was what God had planned for me,” she said. “After {motherhood} had felt so icky, it went from stressful to beautiful … MOPs has really helped raise me as a mother.”

Now further into her mothering journey with children ages 13, 12,11 and 3, Danielia volunteers as a MOPs contact mom who enjoys investing in women’s lives at this stage of motherhood. She encouraged moms — no matter where they are on their journey — to come experience it for themselves.

“Part of the beauty of MOPs is that can be whatever you need it to be in the beginning,” she shared. “Women come in with all different kinds of needs but they connect at the same place {of motherhood}. There’s not a lot of places where that happens.”

MOPs begins Thursday, Sept. 5 for group one and Thursday, Sept. 12 for group two.

For more information about MOPs, please contact Dani Halverson at delcomrocks@gmail.com or Katie Lind at ktlbc95@gmail.com.

Or learn more about Immanuel MOPs here!

The Marriage Course: A Perfect Gift

by Marcus Wolfe, Immanuel attendee

We committed early in our marriage that we would do something for our marriage every year to keep it strong — be it a conference or speaker, a retreat, a book read together or a seminar.  While we have not quite managed to do something EVERY year we have done things many years, and several years ago that something was The Marriage Course offered at Immanuel.  We did this not because our marriage was in trouble but because we wanted to keep it strong.

Our typical week was to do our homework for the course together on Thursday evening and then go to the class on Friday night.  The Friday night get-together became a glass of refreshing water in an otherwise hectic and busy week.  It was something we looked forward to each week — both the class and our time together doing the homework.  We carved out date night for 7 weeks, compete with food, drinks and quality time together.

marriage course logo NEWEach Friday night when we arrived, very friendly greeters gave us name tags and took our drink orders for later in the evening.  Then we were free to mingle for a little while and enjoy the scrumptious appetizers and beverages that were provided each week — and each week was different!  Soon we would make our way into a room that was filled with small tables, decorated with tablecloths, candles & small vases of flowers. Each couple sat at their own table.  This was important, as it created an intimate and a very non-threatening environment.  We would then watch a video of a couple from Britain with a charming accent, along with short interview clips of other couples who had taken the course or people interviewed on the streets about the topic of marriage for that week.  Often the video was quite entertaining as well as informative.  While we have been to quite a few marriage seminars and classes in the past, this course offered some new insights and some old information presented in a different way that helped make it new again.

A couple times each evening, the video was stopped to give us all time to work with our spouses on the topic of the evening.  We all had workbooks to help guide the conversations.  Sometimes the dialogues could get a little challenging, and other times they were pleasurable.  But they all helped us learn more about our spouses and helped us understand their background, point of view and desires better.  And again, none of this was performed as a group exercise….  Every couple discussed things as a couple and everything was kept private between the two.

During the last section of the video for the evening, delicious desserts and gourmet drinks were brought around for us all to enjoy.  Again, each week was a different treat — how did they do it week after week!

Each Friday evening we left the church with food for thought about our own past and current behaviors, as well as those of our spouses.  We were armed with methods for discussing difficult topics with our spouse and for breaking down barriers that may have once stood in the way of intimacy.

If God is nudging you to take the course listen to Him.  He knows what is coming up and what you need.  For us,This course came at an especially stressful time for both of us, and it actually strengthened our marriage. Later in the year we were stretched even further as a couple as we faced foreclosure on our home.  We went into that scenario a stronger, more committed couple because we had just finished The Marriage Course.

God has had us both on a whirlwind of growth the last two years, but as we look back on it we recognize the time really started when we agreed to listen to that still voice calling us to this course.  From there we went on to do Vantage Point 3, a spiritual journey together in the Fall 2011 and Winter 2012 and Jessica went to Mexico on a short term trip in the Summer of 2012.  All of these have strengthened us, but they have also required we step out in faith and obedience to what we felt God was calling us to do.  So we encourage you, if you are feeling this MIGHT be for you – then IT IS!  Listen to God’s calling and invest in your marriage.

Click HERE to register for The Marriage Course! The next session beings January 18, 2013!

Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to partner with God in His work of transforming lives. Thank you!

The Marriage Course: A Perfect Gift

by Linda Hawn, Immanuel attendee

Whether you’ve been married for days or decades, The Marriage Course can benefit and strengthen your marriage; I speak from experience.

marriage course logo NEWWe’d heard quite a bit about The Marriage Course during Sunday services, and I was very curious about it.  At the time, we’d been married 28 years and everything was going well, but I’m a medical laboratory technologist and I’m analytical by nature; this was an opportunity to focus on our relationship and see what we could be doing differently or better to keep our marriage healthy.  My husband Paul knew I wanted to sign up and, since it was early February, he agreed to it.  Happy Valentine’s Day to Lin from Paul!  Shopping done, and no gift wrap needed!

Here’s how a typical Marriage Course evening went for us.  We were greeted by members of the Marriage Course team and orders for specialty beverages were served with dessert during a class break.  Music played as we headed into the lobby and a delicious spread of hors d’oeuvres awaited.  Here’s a tip – you don’t need to eat supper before you go to class.  Every week has a different theme.  It was fun to see what was waiting for us.

After grazing and chatting, we moved into the classroom.  It was filled with tables for two, complete with flowers and candles.  The course involved watching a DVD and was interspersed with breaks along the way, which gave us a chance to talk just the two of us using questions, quizzes and exercises from a workbook to direct our conversations.  There was no group discussion.   Whew, sigh of relief.

The DVD series was produced in the United Kingdom so we heard lots of English accents.  What is it about English accents that’s so intriguing to us Americans?  Anyway, I digress.  I had told Paul that if he was bored during class he could draw up a tic-tac-toe board, and I would play along.  We didn’t need to play tic-tac-toe.  Paul found that the video and workbook facilitated the discussion periods and led us into conversations we’d never had before.  There were a few times when our jaws dropped and we were looking at each other in surprise, saying things like, “Really?” and “I never heard that before.” and “I’m sorry, I didn’t know …”   I won’t share those moments of enlightenment; no group discussion, remember?

The topics of the seven classes are:  Building a Strong Foundation (we considered it Shoring up our Foundation), Communication, Resolving Conflict, Forgiveness, Family – Past & Present, Good Sex and Love in Action.  During class, it was just the two of us at our table.  There was suggested homework to do and date nights were encouraged.  The team supporting the sessions created a comfortable environment, and they put a lot of effort into making each week special for the couples.  We were really catered to.

The Scriptures have a lot to say about the sacredness of marriage and how our unions are to reflect the oneness of Christ with His church.  In a world where evil tears good things down, please consider taking advantage of this opportunity to get some new tools to build your marriage.

Click HERE to register for The Marriage Course! The next session beings January 18, 2013!