September 22nd, 2016 I walked into the Arvada Campus for my very first MOPS meeting. I'd sent an email to the coordinator that said something along the lines of "Can I have my money back if this turns out to be a husband bash-session?" I was holding a three month old baby boy and about 15 more pounds than I was accustomed to (heading back that way now!) I'd sent pictures to my sister the night before of what I intended to wear and walked in after praying the entirety of my car ride from Lakewood that lives would be changed, relationships would be forged, and mothers would be equipped. I didn't know what to personally expect but I knew women would be impacted deeply by this ministry, so that's what I decided to pray. I couldn't have fathomed just how much God intended to make well on His promises and the answers to my prayers that morning. I surely couldn't have imagined he would transform ME so personally by my MOPS journey.
I took this picture, sitting by myself at an empty table before the meeting started and resolved to keep my hands and heart open for whatever the year could bring.
That small boy is now almost 2, and I'm wrapping up my second year at Red Rocks Church Arvada MOPS. My first year was jam-packed with wisdom from speakers but truly, I believe I came to find Julia Hopkins and to uncover a gift for speaking as God prompted me to share my testimony for the first time.
At the close of that first year I was approached by Nicole Espy and asked to prayerfully consider serving on the steering team for the second year. A year that would be marked by the theme of becoming 'Free Indeed.' THAT was a message I could get on board with.
From the very start of this year in my role on Steering, I began asking God to reveal to me who He wanted to raise up as my replacement after my two years were finished. This is what we are called to do- serve God wholeheartedly while keeping our ear to the ground for who He wants us to encourage on their own journey of growth. THAT is disciples making disciples and yes, "The Great Commission" applies at MOPS, too. It's with an excited heart that I can say God brought Jordan Stiller-Garner to my mind very early, when I didn't yet see that He was calling me to only serve on Steering for one year instead of the typical two year term. You are in such amazingly capable hands with her for next couple years in the role of Publicity.
This year has been marked by growth at every turn but when it comes to our Christian faith and our deepening relationships with the Lord, growth can often brings growing pains with it. Clutching our shins in the night when we ache with discomfort and sleeplessness as a result of pulling and tension we didn't invite. This year I have watched so many women not only embark on, but openly invite these seasons of discomfort because they knew what awaited them on the other side.
This year, women have knowingly faced the ache of harsh truths and the vulnerable blood-sacrifice required to be set free.
Sisters, I have personally sojourned at your sides through my own growth this year, and it hasn't always been pretty. I'm thankful that there is not a single place in the scriptures where growing gracefully, without pain or discomfort is either promised or expected of us. More than ever, this year has shown me that being poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3) is actually the great emptying necessary for us to be truly filled by God and His purpose for us. I will not always perform righteously, I will sin time and time again, I will unintentionally hurt people, I will misspeak, I will fumble through learning more about who I am but in the middle of all of that- there are a couple things that cannot be shaken:
I am a King's daughter, and I am FREE, indeed.
So when we are downtrodden, discouraged, ashamed, and uncertain ALL that matters is that you're in conversation with the One who created you- seeking Him before and after conflicts and obstacles, growth spurts, and break-downs. Asking Him to sift off the worldly chaff so you can receive what HE's giving you, not the world.
As we strive to 'Find our Fire' in the coming year please know that without HIS breath on us, we can't even spark. Don't recoil from that in fear of insufficiency or inadequacy- instead hold tightly to the fact that you wouldn't be here reading this if it weren't for His breath in your nostrils, the spark He ignited in you to spread your specific brand of fire and warmth in the world. He ordained you, He has called you, He created you on purpose for a purpose with a JOB to do here. (Eph 2:10) So seek God first and always- and if you fail, fail loudly, if your feelings hurt the feelings of someone else, express it and seek peace, if you're feeling pulled to do something but a small voice says "you're not equipped" or "what if they think you're making this about you" cite the source and eliminate it if it isn't HIM.
May you be surrounded by women who expect nothing more of you than to be your broken self- the only prerequisite necessary for freedom. Women who'll cheer you on as you stumble and fall through the discovery of your calling and identity in Christ because even if they're pretending to fake it otherwise, it's all they're doing as well.
Thank you for such an incredible year of growth at your sides. I can't wait to see where God takes RRC MOPS and each of you personally. I'll be attending BSF next year on Thursday mornings but look so forward to remaining in touch and hopefully coming to visit. If you forget everything from this year, remember this: you are fiercely loved... first, by a King but also by a fellow sojourner named Mollie.