Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Find Your Fire Theme Reminder

Here is the full-length video for this year's theme: Find Your Fire.


Find Your Fire from MOPS International on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A fresh start and an open heart...

By Taryn Ramsammy

Ever since this Florida girl has moved up north, Fall has been my favorite season. Since becoming a mom, September in particular has always brought this wonderful feeling of renewing and refreshing. September was the month we became parents and accepted our first placement of foster sons, and since then every year that day feels like our family birthday, where we reflect on the past year and dream about the next. Now that our oldest kiddos are school aged we have an even more literal new year starting every year at this time and I think I look forward to it more than actual New Year's. 😝 It's such a blessing to feel like I have a clean slate and a fresh start at whatever I'm striving for, and my hope for this new year of MOPS is that all of you feel that too!

My first year in MOPS, I was a mess! I had three babies, and zero local momma friends. Our family is 1000 miles away. My husband is in exam cycles twice a year. So on top of being tired and stretched thin, what I remember most about that first year of motherhood was the loneliness. Back then I was a newborn photographer, and one of my clients came for a session. I know she had to have seen a little bit of crazy in my eyes because after chatting for a bit she looked at me and said, "It's time you join MOPS." Y’all. She was so right. I set my alarm and was probably the first person registered that year. I was desperate. But it turns out I was also real proud.

Either the crazy was still in my eyes (very likely) or maybe I had HELP ME written on my forehead (also entirely plausible) because from the first meeting I was surrounded with so many offers of support—from women I had just met. It was so foreign to me! I’ve always been a talker, so sharing at my table came natural. But I think that’s where I expected it to stop, because that’s how I had been going for so long—vent on the phone to my sister about whatever aspect of mom life I was particularly struggling with that week, then hang up and make it work on my own. So wasn’t the meeting just going to be another vent session? NOPE. These women didn’t want to just hear my struggles. They wanted to help me through them. But again I was too proud.


That whole year outside of meetings or play dates, I stuck to myself. In my head accepting that offer of help was admitting that I was failing the mom game hard. If I was taking their help, then clearly they were doing way better than me because I definitely wasn’t put together enough at that point to be offering anyone help. (Turns out the real reason I wasn’t offering was because I had NO FRIENDS to offer help to. #humbling 😂🤦🏻‍♀️) But honestly, I had prayed and longed for motherhood for years. God had finally fulfilled this deepest desire of mine so shouldn’t I be eternally grateful and just put my big girl britches on and figure it out like all of them seemed to have done? That's the headspace I was in. That's how I thought it was supposed to be. But y’all. God does not intend us to walk this road alone.
And let us consider how to stir up 
one another to love and good works, 
not neglecting to meet together, 
as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, 
and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

-Hebrews 10:24-25 

Motherhood is hard y'all. Really dang hard. Especially in these little years where we're losing more sleep than we did in college, where we're usually covered in at least one other person's puke (there's another college connection there--but honestly I'm just too tired to come up with it), where our privacy has evaporated and we go hours and hours some days without any adult conversation. We may be out of control of most of that. But that last part is up to us. We might not be in charge of how many diapers we are going to change that day or how many questions we will have to answer about the inner toddler workings of the world or how many LEGO’s are going to get crushed into our feet. But we are entirely in control of how we are going to fill our soul, of who we are going to surround ourselves with, of how we are going to strive to focus on the blessings before us. For me that comes in large part through fellowship. 

I so regret sticking to myself that first year, for in the few that have followed when I have allowed myself to let my guard down I have gained so much. I have built such amazing friendships. I have experienced the grace and love that comes from not only receiving support but also giving it. I have learned from women who have broadened my faith and made me a better mother, wife, and over all human being. So my prayer for you all this year is that you don’t waste the time I did second guessing yourself or feeling less than or unworthy of support, for we know those anxieties are of the enemy’s making. Instead I pray that you would come into this year with an open heart. Allow yourself to open up to your table, or to the mom you meet at a play date or in line for breakfast. Share your heart and take advantage of the support God has put before you. Surrender daringly, and breathe freely here for you are fearfully and wonderfully made and we are so grateful to have you. 💛

Monday, January 29, 2018

Before My Eyes

By Cassie Glubzinski

On Thursday last week my daughters and I had an epic start to our day. My oldest is in kindergarten, and she rides the bus to school. I live right off of a traffic circle, but our neighborhood is not usually busy. Often I let my girls run ahead on the sidewalk, but on that day I told them to wait for me for some reason, and I quickly discovered why.

There's a young man in our neighborhood who attends high school. He's a good kid, but he is most definitely not known for his exemplary driving. Thursday morning was no exception.

As my daughters and I approached the edge of the inner traffic circle and prepared to cross the far side of it I saw this young man's truck coming way too fast (and getting ready to cut the circle by going the wrong way) toward us at the same time as I saw a dump truck coming the other way.

I literally grabbed both girls tighter and jerked them back toward the center of the landscaped area of the circle, and we stood less than twenty feet from a head on collision.

Thankfully, no one was hurt, but my heart would not calm. I frantically looked down checking to make sure both my daughters were okay. By the exclamations coming from their mouths I could tell that they were, but I felt far from alright.

"Mommy! That truck crashed!"

"Yeah! He didn't go the right way!"

I had to walk my children around a crash site just to get my daughter on the bus.

As I walked I found myself holding tighter to their little hands, to the point that my youngest asked me to let go because I was hurting her. I apologized and picked her up, but I wasn't willing to let her go.

Once I got Gemma on the bus I walked back and checked with the two involved in the crash. They were taking pictures of the damage to both vehicles.

As I approached them my first question was if they were okay. They both assured me that the only damage done was to the vehicles, and that they were fine. Upon further questioning I found out they had not already called the police, so I took the liberty of doing that myself.

The teen who had caused the accident was literally shaking once I got off the phone with the police.

"Are you alright? Are you cold? Do you need another jacket? Or would you like to sit in the cab of your truck until the cops arrive?" I asked him.

"No. I'm fine, but my dad is on his way, and he's going to kick my a*%^," he told me while I held little Evolet in my arms.

Of course, she informed him that was a bad word, but he didn't apologize. He just walked away.

When he walked back after I had given my name and number to the other drive in the event that they needed a witness he sharply asked me, "What do you mean you were a witness?"

"I was walking my daughters to the bus stop when you had the accident. You almost hit us, but I pulled them back in time to keep them from getting hurt," I told him.

"Well, the cops and my dad are on their way, so I think you've officially done enough, don't you?" he smarmily replied.

Wow. Attitude much?

I'm surprised a fly didn't make its way into my mouth with how low my jaw was dropped. After a moment of getting my bearings I opened my mouth with my own rude retort...

"Hey. I know you're upset and scared, but you broke the traffic laws. They are there for a reason, and you should be grateful that you get to learn your lesson without anyone getting hurt and without any casualties, because that could have very easily happened."

Wait! Were did my own snarky retort go!?!

Actually, scratch that... Thank goodness for the Holy Spirit taking the words right out of my mouth and placing a better response upon my lips.

He just looked at me. Stunned.

Then he turned without a word and walked around his crashed truck.

I was fuming. Standing there a waiting for an apology from this kid who nearly killed my children.

He nearly killed my children! All for an extra two seconds in a traffic circle.

And that's when God whispered in my ear, "My Son was killed. Actually murdered. And even though some who are to blame have apologized, many others have not."

Oh. My. Goodness. Me.

I stood there looking after this punk kid who had caused this accident, and I was angry and frustrated and downright mad, and God was telling me to forgive and let go. Even though this teen hadn't asked for the forgiveness, I needed to extend it.

What an incredible morning, right?

But even more amazing: what an incredible God. Am I right?

His own Son was beaten, mocked, scorned, humiliated, and left to die. Murdered really. And even while dying his thoughts were not of himself. He said, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."

My translation of that on Thursday morning was, "Forgive him. He's just a kid who thinks he invincible and untouchable. I'm still working on him."

My kids are totally okay. They had an exciting story to share with Daddy when he got home, but I had some serious heart work to do with God that day. I had some of my own resentfulness and bitterness to release and lay at the foot of the cross.

Forgiveness is hard. Especially when it is deeply personal. But keep in mind, nothing could be more personal than the murder of child, and God knows exactly how that feels. And He gives the most amazing example for us to follow in it.

So, to the young man who attends high school and lives somewhere in my neighborhood. I forgive you.

And to the God who gave everything to have a relationship with me, forgive me for my stubbornness and pride.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Fishing for... What?

By Cassie Glubzinski

The holidays are a time that bring back fond memories to me, and this year the memories are ones of going fishing with my grandfathers.

My mom's dad (Papaw Larry) took my cousin and I fishing infrequently. I remember he would use Wheaties cereal as bait. To this day it cracks me up that Wheaties is my favorite cereal.

[There you go, ladies. With one cereal you can catch a pretty decent sized bass as well as a man who helps with the laundry and dishes!]

Now, my dad's dad (Papaw Roger) lived on a large piece of property, and his house had a deck that overlooked what we called the lake. Really, it was more of an oversized pond, but to a kid it's a lake. He would show my sister and I how to hook a worm, how to cast a line, and then how to wait...
And wait...
And wait...

Patience is a virtue that was generously granted to many folks in the world.

I'm not one of those people.

Seriously.

So waiting has never been something I was good at, but I've always had a fondness and an affinity for fishing. I've just changed my bait.

Here's how I now fish:

Me: "Ugh! I'm pretty sure I gained ten pounds since I last went on a run! My jeans are so tight, and I officially have a muffin top."

Friend: "No way! You look fantastic! You've maybe gained an ounce, and that's being generous."

Fished for a compliment, and I got it.

And another:

Me: "My kids are completely insane. Sometimes I just look at them and say, 'Seriously, who is your mother?'"

Friend: "Your daughters are incredible! And you're such an amazing mother!"

Fished for affirmation, and I got it.

And one more for the road:

Me: "I have no sense of style. I seem to only be able to wear yoga pants and a tee shirt. Every. Single. Day. Jeans if I am feeling a bit adventurous."

Friend: "You always look so cool and put together! I would never say that about you!"

Fished for a bit of self worth, and guess what? I got it.

Here's the deal, friends, I do sometimes feel down and out. There are days when I feel I'm the worst mother on earth, days when I feel I'm the ugliest creature to walk, and days when I don't think I am worth the love and affection my family (especially my husband) and my friends bestow on me. And so when those days and moments come, I start fishing.

And I'm impatient for it, too. I will repeat my comment multiple times until I hear the words I think I need to hear; the words I think I deserve to hear.

As our family has been going through this time of advent together leading up to this holiday I was struck by how the Lord was working in my heart. Ponder this with me for a moment: God, the Creator of the universe, chose to send His Son, His only child, to earth. Not to be a king in the earthly sense, but to die, a horrible, humiliating and degrading death. And He did it all for us.

For me. For you. For all of us.

Whoa.

Here I am going fishing, and God sent His Son to die for me.

I have some really whacked out priorities.

Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't encourage one another. We absolutely should! God designed people to be with other people, and we need to be lifting one another up in the Spirit.

But I was not designed to fish for compliments, for affirmation, or for human-given self worth. He has already provided me with all of that. When I'm fishing for these things I'm only trying to bring myself up a bit from my inner slump. I'm simply trying to be impressive.

I have been reading great book this week that my sister gave me called "Loving My Actual Life" by Alexandra Kuykendall. In one of the chapters she quotes her pastor saying, "I stopped impressing people a long time ago. I figured out that when I'm busy impressing them, I'm too busy to love them."

Wow.

In my selfish quest to fish for worldly encouragement and love I have completely missed the mark on loving the people God has placed in front of me.

Jesus was not interested in impressing anyone. He loved them. He was the son of an unwed virgin mother and raised in a humble carpenter's home. He sought out the broken and down-trodden. He befriended the ostracized and outcast. He became a brother to the single orphans and a friend to the friendless. He was, and is, and always will be, all about love.

And here I am, fishing for some sort of affirmation, some bit of self worth, some snippet of a compliment.

Get your head on straight, Cassie.

Jesus himself had actual fishermen follow him. He told them, "Come, and I will make you fishers of men." In other words, "Your casting your net the wrong way. Let me show you how it's done."

How powerful would it be if I simply fished for people to love? What if I chose to fish for the outcasts and the ostracized? What if I started fishing for ways to serve and love on others, rather than ways for them to serve and love on me?

Don't get me wrong, this is a really tough pill for me to swallow. But I need it. I need it everyday.

D.L. Moody was quoted saying, "You impress from afar, but you impact up close."

I know Jesus never tried to impress anyone. He was too busy loving them because of the love he was showing his heavenly Father. But nonetheless, Jesus was impressive. He did many miraculous things, he spoke with great oratorical ability, and he told stories like none other. From afar, he was impressive to many without even trying. And if I'm honest, when I stop trying to be impressive is when I am actually told that I am impressive. Make sense right? Because when I'm not living for me, God shines to bright, and He is the impressive One. Just like Jesus.

Jesus was so very impressive from afar.

But man oh man. He really impacted up close.

So this holiday season I'm going to try to be more like that. I'm going to fish for others, instead of fishing for myself. I'm going to give of myself, because Christ gave me all. I'm going to realize my worth is found in him, and I don't need compliments, I don't need affirmation, and I don't need self-worth that is given from people. It won't last. It never has.

When I realize my worth is found solely in Christ, I'm awestruck by how permanent that can be. I'm praying you will be awestruck, too.

So, what do you say? Wanna go fishing?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

No Stolen Joy

By Cassie Glubzinski

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and December is well underway. But this holiday season has been a particularly rough one for our family...

You see, my husband's family lives in Michigan, and my family is spread through Indiana and Kentucky. Our typical Thanksgiving get together with my father had to be cancelled this year due to his recent job change and move. But this turned out to be a blessing none of us could have predicted...

Now, I know my posts are typically laced with some of the hilarious shenanigans my kiddos have been known to do, but tonight I feel the Lord calling me to be open, raw, and honest in ways I've not yet been.

You see, my husband and I had been trying for baby number three for a while when we found out we were expecting in July of this year. We were truly heartbroken when that baby was miscarried at only six weeks in early August. However, we still wanted to try again, and God granted our prayers.

We found out we were expecting again in early October. It was a very busy time with school beginning and my husband's internship underway while he still took classes, but our excitement was there all the same. God was giving us another baby!

Through the pregnancy I was struck by how good I felt. I had rough pregnancies with my daughters (nausea, vomiting, morning sickness that lasted all day), so this felt like a breeze! I was beyond excited to go to my first appointment the week of Thanksgiving, and exactly one day before I hit nine weeks.

A few days before said appointment, however, I received a call from my father telling me that my grandfather (his dad) was in the ICU back home. He had several ailments that were reeking havoc on his body, and my dad was travelling to Indiana to see him. I asked if I needed to come, and his response was immediate: "Stay where you are. I'll keep you posted. You just keep you, your family and that little one inside you healthy."

The day of the appointment the doctors and nurses were sweet and kind. They took my vitals, they weighed me (that's our favorite part, right?), they ushered me into the exam room, and I sat on the table with my eyes locked on the ultrasound machine. I was anxious for my grandfather, but I had a horrid feeling about what I might get told. Perhaps because of our recent miscarriage? But I had done all the doctor had asked, and my husband and I had been given the go ahead to try again. Everything should be fine, right?

I watched with bated breath as the screen illuminated with a picture of a little circle, and I immediately thought this isn't right.

"Are you sure of the first day of your last cycle?" the doctor asked me.

I assured her that I had told her correctly.

"The baby pictured here is only showing exactly six weeks of development, and there's no heartbeat. I'm sorry, but unless you miscalculated, you will be miscarrying soon. I'm truly so sorry..."

Every other word was lost to me. The week of Thanksgiving, and my husband and I would be mourning the loss of another child.

The doctor and nurse left so I could get dressed, and I found myself taking deep breaths in order to not start crying. I was so grateful to have left my youngest daughter with a dear friend while my oldest daughter was at school. As soon as I was able to get the car the floodgate opened, and I drove away from Walter Reed with tears streaming down my face.

I called family as soon as I was able to do so, and I wept upon my friend's shoulder that afternoon. The next day I received a call from my father that my grandpa had been moved to Hospice. I had to use that conversation to tell my dad that the bleeding started. My Thanksgiving week was spent in and out of the ER, with my phone in hand waiting for updates on my grandfather's condition.

And despite all this Thanksgiving turned out to be completely wonderful. I kid you not, it was an awesome Thanksgiving day. My husband, daughters and I spent a lazy day together watching the parades and football, and eating a frozen pizza because that's what my kiddos wanted. Despite the physical and emotional pain I was feeling I found neither could even begin to steal away the joy God placed inside me at being with the family in front of me.

This was not our first miscarriage...it was our third. And we name every child. As I sat curled up with a blanket and my trusty Wonder Woman cup I looked at my family and God spoke silently to my heart as a Comforter in my time of sorrow.

My babies, Alex, Indy and Kestrel, will never have to skin a knee. They will never break a bone, they will never have a broken heart, they are never even going to have a paper cut. Their only memories will be ones of heaven, and what a gift that is for me as their mother, and for A.J. as their father. My babies are not lost. They were never lost. They are tucked safely in the Savior's arms, and one day I will hold them close.

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving my grandfather passed away, and while my heart grieves for my grandmother with whom he was married for sixty years, I rejoice in knowing my three babies have another amazing great grandfather to smile and laugh with until I can join them in heaven someday.

And even now, as I write this, with tears on my face, I am so joyous. I have such hope. I rest in such peace. And I am so very thankful... first for the God I serve, second for the husband He gave me, and third for the girls He granted me the privilege of raising with A.J.

The song 'It Is Well' has been on my mind so very much. The words speak so greatly to me even now..

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
"It is well, it is well with my soul"

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend
Even so, it is well with my soul!

We will have peace. We will have sorrows. But only with Christ in our hearts can we ensure that nothing, NOTHING, will ever steal our joy.

I challenge each of you reading this: whatever you are facing, whatever trial or triumph, do NOT let it steal the joy you have found in Christ Jesus.