Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Derwood MOPS and Covid-19

Because COVID-19 has impacted and changed almost all aspects our lives right now, we expect our MOPS year (at least the beginning) to be impacted as well.  But, coronavirus or not, we all still need Jesus, our community, and other mamas who are walking through this stage of life with us.

Our Steering Team is planning and preparing for a unique MOPS program next year.  While the restrictions and requirements for social gatherings in the fall remain unknown, we plan on starting in September with whatever meeting form that the county, state, and CDC guidelines allow – whether that be large group, small groups, and/or virtual meetings.  Staying connected and relying on Jesus is crucial at all times, and more so, during a pandemic, and Derwood MOPS strives to be a place for that to happen.

Due to the unique circumstances surrounding our meetings in the fall, we are changing registration a bit this year.  To be officially registered for Derwood MOPS, please register at MOPS International and pay the $32 non-refundable fee.  Once we know exactly what meetings will look like in the fall, we will reach out with information about childcare and additional chapter fees.  If finances are an issue, please reach out to us at derwoodmops@gmail.com and let us know – we’re happy to work with you!

Over the summer, we plan on offering virtual and small group opportunities to meet other mamas of MOPS and start building and reestablishing the community that MOPS, and particularly Derwood MOPS, is known for.  If you have any questions about summer events, or are interested in being part of this amazing community, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Finding Marital Connection During COVID-19

 DOROTHY LITTELL GRECO SELF

We all know that we need to nurture our marriages. Thanks to COVID-19, date nights are off the table and frankly, most of us are so physically and mentally exhausted from what this season is asking of us that we can barely muster the energy for a hug.
But given that we have at least another month of confinement and disruption from our normal routines, how can we make sure that we don’t end up completely disconnected?
When I’m in crisis mode – which aptly describes this season – I tend to become very businesslike. I’m efficient, but not exactly gentle or warm. That can leave my husband feeling distant from me.
Frankly, we can’t afford emotional distancing at this time.
I need him and he needs me.
The psychic toll that the climbing death rates, the uncertainty of who’s carrying COVID, and the daily interruptions in our normal life have left us both feeling vulnerable and scared.
And the truth is none of us are immune from the external and internal turmoil caused by this microscopic virus.
Though all of our scenarios are slightly different, there are common ways that we tend to respond to chaos and disruption. It might manifest as trying to micromanage your household. I actually asked my husband to ration his almond butter consumption last week because we are almost out and I feared we wouldn’t find any more! We might self-medicate by consuming more than normal amounts of comfort foods or binge watching Netflix.
Eating an entire bag of chips in one sitting is much easier than giving voice to the panic that has washed over me on several occasions during the past few weeks. But in addition to the extra pounds that are surely accumulating, coping behaviors  won’t necessarily help me to meet my spouse’s needs—or get my own deeper needs met.
If we can identify what we’re feeling and what we need from each other and then communicate these discoveries to our spouse, we’re more likely to find points of connection and move toward each other.
Some of those needs might be simply logistical. Given that the boundaries between work and home have blurred, what do you need to get through your day?
My husband and I need the exact opposite environment in order to get our jobs done. He’s a drama teacher who leads worship on the weekends. He thrives on social interaction that borders on chaos, mess, and constant give and take with his colleagues. I need quiet, order, and to be left alone. Our first week of shelter-in-place was not pretty.
Now, four weeks in, we have a brief “production meeting” every morning to make sure we don’t interrupt each other at the worst possible moment. (I chose to make myself a fried egg the other day thinking he was done leading worship for his school’s chapel on Zoom. He wasn’t. The smoke detector went off thirty seconds before he needed to start the final hymn. Oops.) We also delegate day-time chores (which I normally take care of) and cast lots for who goes grocery shopping.
Finding the time and energy to connect as lovers has been much more difficult. (And we only have one almost-adult child living with us.) As I talk with my friends who now have young kids at home all day, they concur: not much is happening between the sheets other than fitful sleep.
In an effort to be intentional, my husband and I actually decided to abstain from sex until after Easter and direct our energies to prayer (see 1 Cor. 7:5). This has felt deeply meaningful—though at times quite difficult. We’re also choosing to hug more often and longer and make sure we snuggle most nights before bed. None of these meet the same needs as sex but they are keeping us connected which is important.
Though we are not necessary meeting each other’s sexual needs at this time, we are working hard to connect emotionally and spiritually.
We’re praying more. And we’re regularly coming to a full stop and asking each other how we’re doing. Putting your devices away, holding hands, looking each other in the eyes, and giving your spouse your full and undivided attention for fifteen minutes does wonders to help ease any aloneness or feelings of frustration. (And do be honest with each other. This is not the time to pretend you’re doing well if in fact you’re struggling.)
Hopefully, we’ll come out on the other side in another month or two. In the meantime, don’t waste this opportunity to learn news ways of loving and supporting your spouse.


Dorothy Littell Greco is the author of Making Marriage Beautiful and the forthcoming Marriage in the Middle. She’s also a photographer, mom, and wife. When she’s not working, she loves to walk in the woods, bike on flat surfaces, and kayak slow rivers. She lives with her husband of 29 years and their fluffy cockapoo outside Boston.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Same Team

The Same Team || Mary Carver | marycarver.com
My husband and I spent our 13th wedding anniversary with a marriage counselor. It was more romantic than it sounds. And while I can’t tell you we have a perfect relationship now, we will celebrate our 20th anniversary this year in a much better, healthier place than we could have imagined on that day seven years ago. What helped us most was our lousy counselor and the knowledge that we were on the same team. At first our counselor seemed nice, but eventually we came to the conclusion that she was actually a terrible counselor. She asked bizarre questions, focused on the least important part of our discussions, and assigned us ridiculous homework. And each time we met with her, we had to remind her about our background, our problem, and our progress. So the counselor we saw wasn’t great, but coming to that conclusion with my husband, though – Kind of great. Throughout our relationship, the thing that glued us together was the mindset of “we’re in this thing together; we’re on the same team.” And we’d forgotten that. Being on the same team meant we fought together, not fought each other. It meant we recognized the true enemy (hint: it wasn’t either one of us or even our counselor!). For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. - Ephesians 6:12 After years of unmet expectations and disappointments, we’d unknowingly worked ourselves into a combative relationship. It was me against him, and neither of us was winning. When we took time to reflect on our relationship – the good and the bad parts – we remembered that the times we felt the closest were when we worked together on a project, when we faced a common “enemy,” when we cheered for the same team. Nothing changed our attitudes faster or led to more healing than when we realized that the team we needed to cheer for was us. As teammates we began talking more, problem solving and coming up with ways we could fix our mess together. We turned back toward each other, linking arms and leaning on our faith, becoming as strong as a cord of three strands (Ecclesiastes 4:12). I’m not telling you that everything was roses and sunset walks after that. It was certainly a process and something we still have to remind ourselves occasionally, so we don’t fall back into old habits and turn on each other at the slightest provocation. We have to remind ourselves which team we’re cheering for. I’m thankful for that counselor, even though she was far from what we initially hoped. I’m grateful our sessions with her reminded us that we were in this together – and that we are fighting for this, for us – together.

DEEPER DISCUSSION: • What helps you remember that you and your spouse are on the same team? • What do you need to say or do that will make your team stronger?

Mary Carver is a wife, mom, writer and recovering perfectionist who lives for good books, dark chocolate and television marathons. After a lifetime of trying harder and doing more, she’s finally learning to give up on perfect and get on with life. Read more at marycarver.com

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Hospitality- Accepting Others' Invitations

Accepting Others’ Invitations || Alexandra Kuykendall | alexandrakuykendall.com

A blanket on the floor. A few cookies, goldfish crackers and carrot sticks sitting on a mishmash of plastic dishes. It all looked a little familiar. I knew where those cookies had come from and wondered how this little hostess managed to get to the package stored high up in the cupboards. Most important to this familiar scene was a girl dressed in her finest ragged princess dress thrown over the day’s regular leggings and long-sleeved T-shirt, wearing her most important accessory: a smile stretched across her face, proud of the picnic tea party she was offering. I’ve lived some version of this invitation many times in my house. I’m raising four hostesses who have spent some magic preschool years creating a “feast” and setting a table with me in mind. They’ve then approached me with “Mommy come see!”, “Sit with me!” or “I made this for you.” Turning down their invitations was never an option. I always needed to sit and admire all they had done, verbalizing my appreciation with every bite. To not, would have been to minimize their hard work in setting a space for me. Hospitality is a spirit of welcome - a posture of inclusion. It can be carried out in practical ways that often involve nourishing our bodies through food and a place to sleep. We see Jesus experiencing hospitality throughout his short life. He accepted many invitations of the mishmash sort, meals specially prepared, and places to lay his head. In most of these stories he was not the host, but the invitee accepting the gracious, yet imperfect invitation of others to welcome him in. As we consider the idea of setting the table for someone to come and join us, let us not forget to accept the invitations our neighbors offer as well. Because when we do, we acknowledge their hard work and their efforts to set a space for us. We see the special trouble they’ve gone to, no matter how humble the offering, to make us feel at home. Accepting others’ invitations is as much hospitality as offering them. Because it is the spirit of welcome we all long for.

DEEPER DISCUSSION: • When is it difficult for you to accept a neighbor’s invitation for hospitality? Why do you think it is? • Who would you like to spend more time with? How can you say “yes” to their invitations with more frequency? • How has Jesus set an example for you to accept others’ invitations? How can you bring your spirit of welcome to another’s space?

Alexandra Kuykendall, a trusted voice for Christian women, speaks on issues of how faith impacts everyday life. She is the cofounder of The Open Door Sisterhood, a community of women working to be world changers for good right where they are. She cohosts a podcast and retreat under the same name. Alex has authored four books, her most recent, Loving My Actual Neighbor. Alex lives in the shadows of downtown Denver with her husband, Derek, and their 4 daughters who range in age from 16 to 7. You can connect with her at AlexandraKuykendall.com.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Perfect Advocate

Jesus – The Perfect Advocate || International Justice Mission | ijm.org

In Luke 4, Jesus returns to Nazareth to begin his ministry. In the synagogue, he reads from the words of Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. - Luke 4:18-19 We have no better model for advocating for the oppressed than Jesus. In everything he says and does, he champions for all of us; we all need rescue, redemption and love. On earth, he was never afraid to confront leaders on their shortcomings. And he willingly acted against laws that oppressed the poor, like not healing on the Sabbath, and criticized religious leaders for misusing the temple. Jesus lived a life of radical love to all those in need of a savior. His challenges to authority led to his death, but he never strayed from his message of love and justice. Christ is the perfect defender and advocate. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

- Hebrews 7:25 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. - 1 John 2:1

Let’s pray these things together: Pray against the powers perpetuating injustice and preying upon the poor and vulnerable. Praise God for his promises to bring freedom and restoration through Jesus Christ. Ask God to show you how to be his hands and feet for preaching good news to the poor, proclaiming freedom for the prisoners, and setting the oppressed free.

• Think about places in the Bible where you see Jesus as an advocate for the needy, the afflicted, the outcast and the oppressed.
• Read Luke 10:25-37 and think about how this story teaches us how we should stand up for the vulnerable.
• In what ways did Jesus model advocacy for the poor?
• How can we model the balanced attitude of justice and love like Jesus?


This study is based on a devotional created by Jessica Horner, an IJM Church Mobilization intern. Used with permission.