Sunday, March 12, 2017

Hope When It Hurts

By Rian Ryan

I am a worrier.  An anxious person. I feel ALL THE FEELINGS deeply and outwardly, barely containing them.  Since having kids my tears can come at the drop of a hat.  I probably need a pill (seriously).  At times, I wonder why I’m on edge and snapping at my family for no apparent reason.  But then I look inside and see some deep (or maybe not so deep) distress that is eating away at me, exposing my raw nerves.  There are so many things in this world that can do us in.  So much heartache around us that we can easily be overcome. 
Lately I have felt a deep sadness in my very core at times.  I feel as though so much is crumbling around me.  I can’t take in anymore hurt, despair, loss, anger, fear, or hatred.  Because when I do, when I let my brain process ANY of it, I’m weeping again.  That familiar, stifling disquiet starts in my chest and threatens to consume me.  But I still have to make dinner.  I still have to read to and play with my kids.  And I still have to fold laundry…or at least put all the clean stuff in one basket.  And some days I even have to shower.  Crying in the fetal position doesn’t facilitate these activities.  So, I put up a tiny bit of a wall.  Enough to get through the moment and move on with my life.  Enough to read a gut-wrenching headline and not start hyperventilating.  And when the tears come anyway I try to keep them brief so I can wipe them away to see where the next brick needs to go.  And it’s protective and that feels better.  Until it doesn’t.
Building up walls comes with a price.  You see, my walls don’t discriminate.  They are equal opportunity barriers to sharing my heart, whether with a stranger’s heartache, or the attempts of my husband to reach me.  In my place of worry, the place where I shield myself, I’m missing out.  I’m missing out on the love and hope God wants to show me.  I let my fear harden me when I slap mortar on another brick.  And it makes me closed to the good things that can come from the God who loves me, loves this broken world.
I don’t want to miss the goodness of things that bring us hope (with a little “h”).  Instead of carrying the hardness into everything, I can let goodness soften me.  I can choose to get lost in the laughter of my kids instead of keeping that edge, that wall, in front of me. I can choose to marvel in my three kids wanting to have a family snuggle on the couch that miraculously still holds us all. (By the way, a family snuggle in my house looks a lot like a wrestling match with feet kicking someone’s face and at least one person falling off the couch.) I can choose to let joy and hope fill me in those moments, leaving my worry behind, at least for a time.  I can remember the despair of this world is not mine to shoulder.  I may feel things deeply and that’s ok – God himself gave me my emotions.  But I can’t let the circumstances of the world or my emotional response to them rule me.  I need to let Hope (with a big “H”) reign in my heart.  A Hope that comes from the God who formed every person and every piece of space dust in this universe.  The God who has given himself for you and me.  The God who laid down his life for us.  And for this hurting world and everyone in it.  And oh yeah, he ALREADY WON.  Love HAS WON.  Like, it’s done!  All the anguish in this world, every horror, has been paid for and cannot compare to the glory to come.  And when I think of that Hope, the tears come again.  But I don’t put up another piece of wall against these tears.  Instead I let them wash some of that wall away.  As it turns out, I’m a lousy mason in comparison to God’s goodness.
Recently on WGTS, Jerry Woods shared something one of his Facebook friends told him.  I was driving so I tried not to cry too much in response - just a few tears escaped my lower lids.  He said, “The older we get, the more Heaven looks like home, not Earth.”  Amen and AMEN.  YES!  That’s the Hope.  This place IS broken, and I long for a place where my heart is not anxious.  A place where peace reigns.  But for now, I’m here.  And if I open my eyes to the hope God has put around me, I see it’s not all dark.  I realize I hurt with this world because I love it, and I love God’s children.  And God has given us so many good things in the midst of all the yucky stuff.  Are we looking around with expectation and hope?   Are we seeing the wonder in the mundane?  Recently I was folding laundry (applause are welcome) and grabbed my seven-year-old’s shirt.  And it was huge.  Like, how did my baby become large enough to fit in this shirt?  And I felt the blessing of being his mom weigh heavy on my heart.  And, you guessed it, the tears flowed (as they are now…Lord, help me!).  What had I done to deserve this gift?  Nothing.  And this giant green polo shirt filled my heart with hope in a way I’m still struggling to express.  Maybe it’s the hope of a better future?  Maybe it’s just the hope that comes with watching a child grow up.  I don’t know.  But it was a beautiful thing. And I let it wash over me.

My husband knows me.  He knows my struggles.  He knows despite my belief in what Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-34 (look it up, it’s good stuff) I am still anxious.  I still feel ALL THE FEELINGS that come with the weight of sin in this world.  So, when I verbally spewed my worries at him as we were about to put dinner on the table last month, he wrapped me up in his arms.  I often choose to surround myself with my sad little wall in these moments because, if I’m just being honest, it feels safe to stay inside there and reject comfort, stewing in my mess.  But this time, I just let go.  I felt my worry dissolve and I was melting into his embrace and I felt at peace.  And that wonderful man started singing to me.  Now, he doesn’t have a crooner’s voice…he’ll admit it.  But his rendition of Bob Marley’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” was a salve to my weary soul.  And I even laughed a little.  And it gave me the Hope I needed to carry on in that moment.  If I’d kept up that wall I would have missed that moment of God’s Hope for me.  I think my wall-building-and-destroying battle will go on.  But I’m hoping to follow the example of my five-year-old and spend more time on the demolition side, embracing the goodness and Hope around me.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

March MNO and Play Date Information!

**UPDATED**

February has been quite the warm month, eh?  I have no idea what March holds weather-wise, but MOPS will be bringing some fun activities~

**Update** March is crazy and snow is coming...new date for the MNO below!

Mom's Night Out - Game Night and Mom Clothes Swap!
Monday, March 20th, 7:30 PM
Join us in the sanctuary of the old building at DBC for a fun game night!  Bring a favorite game to play AND bring some clothes that you no longer wear and would like to swap.  It will run the same as the totswap (you bring 4 items, you take 4 items, assuming sizing availability, obviously).  Please bring nice (not stained, torn, etc) clothes that another mom would like to wear.  Light refreshments, drinks will be served :)
Playdate - St. Patrick's Day Green and Growing Scavenger Hunt
Friday, March 17th, 10 AM
Brookside Gardens - 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD 20902
$7 per child. You MUST register early...for more info and to register, go through this link:

http://www.montgomeryparks.org/events/st-patricks-day-green-and-growing-scavenger-hunt/

Hope to see you at our events!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

February Mom's Night Out and Play Date Details!

Reminders: The January Mom's Night Out is tonight, January 26th, and the Play Date is January 30th at the Germantown Soccerplex...

February is coming fast, so put these dates on your calendars!

Play Date: February 14th - Valentine's Day Free Play and Crafts!
10:30-12:30
DBC
Nicole Yeh is heading up this month's events and has booked the DBC auditorium for us!  She has planned Valentine's Day crafts for us and there will be plenty of space for our kiddos to run around and burn off some energy.  YAY! You can even bring some ride-on toys if you like.  My kids always enjoy these play dates - room to run and be crazy! Feel free to bring your own lunch and picnic on the floor :)

Mom's Night Out: February 26th - Oscar Party!
8:00 PM
Nicole Yeh's House

Enjoy a night hanging out with the ladies, snacking, watching the Oscars, and a a playing game for guessing the winner of each category - whoever gets the most right will get a prize!  This will be a fun, relaxing evening.  I thought about glamming it up by wearing my wedding dress, but since it doesn't fit anymore that wouldn't be very fun for any of us to see ;)  Feel free to wear sweat pants.  Or your pajamas.  Seriously, this is super low-key!

We look forward to seeing you at our February events!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

In Silent Awe of God

By: Emily March

I once knew a girl
Who stood by the sea,
And witnessed a great storm.
She was captivated by the mighty power that was portrayed.
The power of the angry sea.

I once knew a girl
Who walked along in the night.
As she looked to the heavens,
She was struck by the vastness of the sky;
For she could not count the number of the stars.

That same girl studied the sky.
Alone,
On a cold night,
In a lonely place on the opposite side of the world.
She was comforted by the faithfulness of the stars;
For she recognized every one.

I once knew a girl
Who witnessed the setting sun over the African plains.
She was captured by the fullness of color
 displayed across the sky.

I once knew a girl
Who felt new life forming inside her.
And when her baby was born,
She was amazed at the perfection she saw
As she held her little once close.

That same girl was walking along with her child one day
When her child stopped
Stooped down
And peered at the most vibrant caterpillar she had ever seen.
The girl and her child were both astonished
At the variety of creatures this world holds.

 One day
This girl stopped
 and recounted the moments in time that caused her to pause…
the power of the angry sea
the vastness of the night sky
the faithfulness of the stars
the colors of the sunset
the perfection of a new life
and the variety of creatures in this world

Then she sang praises to her Creator
For she knew that His creation
Is a reflection of Him.

He is more powerful than an angry sea,
Larger than the night sky,
More faithful that the stars above,
And more beautiful than a sunset.
His perfection creates new life,
And His creativity is displayed in every living thing.

And then
This girl knelt
In Silent Awe
Of God.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Resolutions

By: Nancy Kohut, Mentor Mom, Awesome Woman

Same you, new beginning. New Year’s resolutions – many of us make them in hopes of a new and improved version of ourselves by year end. I tend to shy away from making resolutions. Because they’re too much pressure. Because I have unrealistic expectations. Because I fear failure. Because I want to improve all aspects of myself, all at once, and I know that’s crazy. Because when the calendar flips over to February and I’m still desperately trying to tell myself that I don’t need sugar every afternoon at 3pm, and I still haven’t cracked open the book that three friends recommended to me, and speaking of friends, why haven’t I made an effort to have coffee with any of them yet?  I’m not feeling so motivated about my resolutions any more. So no resolutions made = no resolutions broken, right?

But something my daughter, Amie, said convinced me (again) that I learn just as much, if not more from her, than I teach her. At a rest stop on New Year’s Day, my husband explained to Amie how some people like to make New Year's resolutions and what that meant. He gave her some examples of typical resolutions. We then asked her if she wanted to make a New Year's resolution and awaited her answer with curious anticipation. Matter-of-factly (as only children know how), she said, "I would like to do two kind things each day." What? I seriously thought she was going to say “two kind things for the year”, which still would’ve impressed me for a six-year-old, but “each day”? That’s nearly imposs-…no wait, why hadn’t I thought of that? That’s so doable! 

While I don't know if she's actually going to follow through on this, it made think about how most of our resolutions are tangible, measurable, and self-focused – lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, spend less money, get more sleep, spend more time with friends, read more, and so on. These resolutions presume that we have to fix something about our every day, and often involve overcoming mental hurdles to alter our lifestyle. And though I believe it is worthwhile to improve ourselves by instilling good habits and letting go of bad habits, these changes take time, sometimes much longer than a year. Maybe we could all benefit by adding something that is a little less daunting to our lists, something that is “other-” and "love-focused".  Being kind is something we can all do, right now, every day. No monthly membership fee, special equipment, or app needed - just your heart. We might be out of practice and it might feel strange at first, but I think we all know how to live it out. Choosing a gentle reminder over a harsh word, showing patience over an eye-roll, giving a friendly smile to a stranger, sending a quick text message to a hurting friend, and even forgiving yourself for falling behind on that New Year’s resolution. 

Who will you be kind to today?