In July- when I originally posted the article below, I had no idea that was God preparing me for what Erwin McManus would be sharing at MOPS Convention. Saturday morning… He spoke from his new book “Wide Awake” The story he shared was so parallel to my own experience that I have to respond. I was shaking when I left that session, tears flooded my face (Mental note- always wear waterproof mascara- to general session I forgot mine- I was a mess) — I can no longer pretend to ignore the dream that haunts, delights and compels me. I can’t keep running up to the edge and stopping just short of jumping to my dream. I have to trust that God will catch me. I have to try. I pray that as I share this re-post- that it will resonate with you the way Erwin’s story resonated with me…. Thank You MOPS International and Mr McManus- for giving me the kick in the butt- that I desperately needed to finally jump.

After reading here- I hope you’ll pop over to the MOPS International Convention Blog to read how Lynne Spears (yes- Lynne- the mother of Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears she spoke during one of our general sessions ) visit to MOPS Convention has impacted me and other moms- It was incredible.

When standing on the edge of… oh, ….ANYTHING. I get that stomach flip flopping, hands sweating, heart thumping- kind of feeling. Not the “Ohhhhh, I’m in love” feeling- it was the other one- FEAR. It could be a bridge, a cliff, or the top of a steep set of stairs. Not quite panic— but fear. The fear is manageable… but I don’t like it. It makes me feel  just a little too human and frail.

Recently I stood on the very edge of my fear. I was on vacation. We were camping and went to the biggest falls in Mighigan. It was a crystal clear Norman Rockwell type waterfall/swimming hole, complete with waterbugs of all ages, jumping into the rapids, heads bobbing up through the foaming water with grins from ear to ear. I carefully walked out to the edge of the falls- to take a pic.  I had not intention of jumping.  But as I watched… my heart yearned to get past the fear. I was missing out on half the experience. I sawthe beauty of the rushing water-but I couldn’t FEEL it.

Was I afraid of the waterfall?

No. Not a bit- In fact, I was so enraptured by it- that I totally forgot how short my legs are when I bent down to snap a pic— let’s just say I ended up a “soggy bottom mom”. It wasn’t the waterfall that had me afraid- it was the JUMPING , that worried me.  What if I got hurt? What if I looked like the pudgey mom of three I know I am- and people watched me? What if I never came back up from the river bottom?

I watched as child after child jumped and swam… I watched as adult after adult proved the safety of the jump, by bobbing back to the surface. I watched as my own friends and family rose out of the rapids- aglow with joy.  A tiny bit of courage started to well up in my soul. I wanted to do it.  I wanted to jump.

I took my camera to the rivers edge and asked my college boy to hold it- and told him NOT to miss getting my pic.  I warned him it could be the last.  He knows his mother- he was shocked I was going out there. I carefully edged out toward the middle. I looked down into the swirling water….I walked back to shore. I handed my camera/security blanket to my oldest, and told him I was going to jump. His jaw fell open and nearly hit the shore. I told him to make sure and get the shot- there would only (probably) be one take.

I made my way to the centerpoint, my feet slipping on algae covered rocks. I stepped aside as 2 9-10 year old girls jumped into the deep. (Ok so maybe it was 4 1/2 feet) I plugged my nose… I unplugged it. I stepped back- I stepped forward.  I finally went to the edge–my heart racing… then I stepped down just one rock lower (No need to make it scarier than it already was!) ….I plugged my nose. I made eye contact one last time with family and friends (just in case) .. and then? I jumped.

The water seemed to jump up to catch me. It was not at all like the tearing, torrent that I’d imagined. It was cool, refreshing. Embracing. I sank to the bottom, and my feet found a foot hold on the riverbed.  My legs, automatically sprang me back to the top. . My head broke the surface-I screamed-” I did it!”  I was grinning like a mascara streaked, madwoman. And I did not care what anyone thought. I DID IT! I JUMPED!

I climbed back up the rocks, and then? I did it again, and again.  What had been so fear filled- had become joyfilled. On the way back to camp-  I started to wonder. How many times have I stood on the edge of fun- and  joy filled experience, paralyzed by a fear? There have been hundreds.

I’ve missed a lot more than waterfall jumping adventures.  I’ve felt the same adrenaline rush as I stood at the top of faith leaps- watching others leap- while I stayed on the rivers edge- in fear.

I’ve been afraid to try, for risk of failure. I’ve been afraid to trust at risk of trust broken. I’ve been afraid to jump- at risk of falling… but all I’ve lost- was the joy of being caught- by much stronger arms than the arms of a river.

The waterfalls in faith leaps aren’t always as tame as the Ocqueoc Falls, that I jumped into on vacation. (and honestly- they are TINY— but it’s the biggest we have here in Michigan:P) . They can be truly dangerous. For some reason- God allows them to be. There is risk in trusting God. There are few guarantees.

But- today, as I look back at my vacation pictures… I wonder- how many guarantees do we really need- beyond this one:

Matthew 17:20 (New International Version)
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Are you standing at the edge of a waterfall of faith? Is fear keeping you there? Are you watching as others leap into the deep and are lifted up as God catches them, jump after jump? Stop standing there.  Stop going tot he edge and chickening out. Plug your nose if you have to… but do it-  JUMP!

The risk is worth the taking:)

PS- yes- the terribly unflattering jumper in the pic? that’s really me…on my second jump-caught by my college boy :)

The coffee had not kicked in.  My eyes were drooping and  my stomach growled.  But, when the music started, those things didn’t matter. Together- nearly 5,000 Moms started singing.  An incredible sound.  We sang imperfectly.. in pitch and in something entirely DIFFERENT from pitch. (that would be ME) Some knew the words- others needed the screens to help us sing.  Some had hands raised, some swayed, some danced, some quietly standing- but each but each one entering into a place of worship.  Together.   All colors all backgrounds, all different experiences that led us here-  We focused on God… not the kids.. not our chaotic lives or the pain we live with.  Our voices lifted up and pulled our eyes to a new perspective,  a focus on God.

Just when I thought my heart was full…the band started playing the quiet and comforting song:  Amazing Grace.  That’s when something happened. It was no longer, just “singing”.  I listened.  I heard the voices and hearts of nearly 5,000 imperfect and messy and complicated mom’s that were being filled with the grace that God was pouring out.  It was no longer SINGING about grace- it was HEARING grace, in action.

A simple definition of Grace- is when we receive the opposite of what we deserve- I for sure- do not deserve a special experience with God- but he gave me one.  And I believe he offered one to each mom in that room. And offers one to each of us no matter where we are. he longs to have us experience his grace.

What a way to start my day.  Here are a few of the faces of MOPS- in worship:

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I hope you’ll check out the flickr group pics... so you can see what convention is like… from the inside out…and maybe- next year- you’ll join us for MOPS International Convention.. and share in the experience that God is already planning.

Make sure and check the MOPS Convention Blog– to read Mom’s stories of their experiences at this years Convention- Live blogging- from Dallas Texas! Also make sure and check out the flickr group- you can see all the crazy and wonderful things happening in Dallas RIGHT now! Make sure and click the videos too- for a taste of the event!

My hands trembled just a bit as I buttoned the pink silk blouse.  I felt like a busty- rebel.  For a nursing mom- DRY-CLEAN ONLY was not just risky– it was downright DANGEROUS.  (Just how dangerous I was about to find out. The Hard way.) This day was special. I was going to a MOPS event, just over the state line. (A regional event in Toledo- Ohio) I was looking forward to entire day devoted to building up MOM’S. That’s ME!  It was within driving distance and more importantly, within the range of security for a nursing mom.  (Just over an hour from home.)  A Mom’s day out- a Mom’s day of refreshment..  The first since my second child had been born.. I needed it– BAD. I’d been planning and pumping extra milk for days.  But, now?  I was nearly ready.

I stepped back to take a look at the over-all effect.  “Not too bad”  I said to myself.  Black dress pants.. pumps… pink silk blouse, full make-up AND hair  both washed and styled on the same day (*gasp* amazing…I know!). I grinned at myself in the mirror.  I double checked that breast-pads were in place and well secured and hidden in my NON-NURSING BRA.  (… a bra without flaps– this was truly a big day out..) I made sure I had an extra set in my purse.

I checked my watch, “Just enough time, for one more nursing before I leave.”  I grinned at my preparedness.  For a nursing mom- “empty before leaving the house” is just as important as for a mom getting a potty-training toddler into the car for a long ride..

I tiptoed into the baby’s room sat down in “our” chair and we both enjoyed one more for the road….quiet early morning nursings were some of my favorite times.   When we were done- I took him in to a sleepy daddy, I kissed them both.. then went to the kitchen to go over my list one more time.

1) Pumped Milk in freezer- check.

2) Formula and bottles on the counter in case of emergency- check.

3) Diapers- clothes and necessary baby supplies phone numbers and instructions – out and visible so daddy could find them even if he were truly..blind.. check.

4) Cell phone charged and ready.. check.  (this was an old school cell phone- about the size and weight of my current laptop.. It’s been a while)

I was as ready as possible.

Time to go.  I felt a twinge of sadness as I pulled out of the driveway. I headed over to meet my girlfriends – and we drove on together.  Guilt and giddiness fought for control of my postpartum emotions as we crossed the state line. Giddiness won. I was out for petes sake!

We arrived on time.. (something rare for a groups of nursing moms) We took our seats- and enjoyed the entire day.  There were laughs… there were happy tears as I heard things that reminded me how much I love being a mom… and a few happy tears of relief as learned I wasn’t “the only one”.

The day offered up everything I’d hoped for, and needed.  Fun- encouragement-something to challenege me and make me think,  girlfriend time and mommy time.  I missed my guys- but was relieved that everything went so well.  My check-in calls (oh, probably enough of them billed one minute at a time..to fund the current economic crisis relief plan…) revealed that the frozen milk supply was holding out.. and the diapers were too. Added bonus- I didn’t hear crying in the background. (much).  SCORE.

When my girlfriend asked if I wanted to stop on the way home to eat… I should have known I was pressing my luck.  But- I was having sooo much fun….. and I had everything “covered” with my preparedness…and things were well at home…so I figured, “why not?”

There was one thing I hadn’t counted on.. A newborn baby crying at the restaurant.. and the power of milk-let-down on a pink silk blouse.  The baby’s cry sounded like “Danger, Danger Will Robinson!” But, it was too late. My milk let down like a bad levy.

HELLO.  DRY CLEAN ONLY?  More like GARBAGE ONLY.  There were not enough extra breast pads in North America to soak up that mess. When that tiny baby started to cry– my Mom-ness kicked into overdrive. In record time- I drenched the entire front of my blouse, which- promptly turned see through.  I was now busty- (a bonus to nursing)  and see through-    OOPSY.  Not the look I was going for.

I ran into the bathroom- “”GREAT.. no papertowel”  Save the trees, but soak the moms” I thought to myself..I  aimed the hand dryer down my blouse in an attempt to dry up the mess.. it didn’t exactly work.  I made powdered milk.  Yuk.I hadn’t planned for this.  I didn’t know what to do… My tears flowed just a little slower than the milk.

The moms I was with, found a sweater for me in someone’s bag.. and together- they brought it into the bathroom for me. (Friends, don’t let friends, drive soaked.) I slipped it on.  It wasn’t my sassy pink dry-clean only– but it was DRY.  That’s when the silly began.  The other moms had all been there- or somewhere like it in the land of Mom…They rolled out breast feeding horror stories that made us all laugh until breasts weren’t the only thing at risk of leaking….the bathroom turned into an impromptu MOPS Meeting...

It didn’t take long before I felt better.  Soggy- but better.

We drove home still laughing.. and talking and giggling… I wondered if my hubby would notice that I had changed my top.. (He didn’t,of course.) I arrived home to a hungry baby.. and plenty of milk to feed him. (apparently it doesn’t take THAT MUCH milk to soak the front of a silk blouse..)

At the end of the day– I wondered if it was worth the work..

preplanning- and milk pumping- 10 + hours

writing out instructions and worrying in advance- countless hours..

cost of a trashed clearanced pink silk blouse- $24.  (I just couldn’t figure out how to explain a breast milk stain the size of Texas)

A day of encouragement, refreshment and connection with other moms?
Priceless.

If you can make it to a MOPS event in your area– I can’t recommend it enough…it’s worth the time the expense and the preparation.. a hundred times over… – I also recommend wearing wash n wear.. and maybe a raincoat for a blouse if you’re nursing:)…. you won’t be the only one.. that’s for sure:)

PS- if YOU ARE at a MOPS event- or anywhere else for that matter- and see a busty woman in a soaked see-through top—don’t hate on her… offer your sweater or jacket to her– really- she’s probably not holding her own wet-t-shirt contest… she’s just a nursing mom at the end of a mom’s day out….:)

I’ve come to a realization. I pack like The Jerk. (Not the most appropriate movie- but still, funny:)

Oh sure…My intentions are good. I start out thinking all “minimalist.” I start with the goal of not having to check any luggage. I’m convinced, that with proper planning- everything I need, can fit into the overhead. I plan just enough coordinating outfits to last 5 days. The pieces all mix and match so I SHOULDN’T need a closet full.. in theory.

This is when “The Jerk” really kicks in.. I don’t need much…an outfit for each day- maybe a swimsuit.. undergarments of doom….then I start adding things. I don’t need anything but this pair of black pants. And this pair of back up pants..in case I have a fat day while I’m gone… And a pair of jeans. And maybe this pair because they were on sale.. and a pair of shoes- and this pair too-in case that pair causes injury.. and this pair of jammies- and that pair, just in case I dump coffee down my front in a jetlag enhanced- caffeine withdrawl case of the shakes.

The panic grows. What if I need something I haven’t packed? What if I’m over dressed? *Gasp*- worse yet..what if I’m under-dressed? What if I wake up and HATE everything I brought? (This could actually happen- it happens about once month- that I wake up to find that I hate my entire wardrobe- Hormonal Wardrobe Rejection- I have it.) I end up tossing in 200lbs (way over the current NWA guidelines for luggage weight) of random things I MIGHT need. More pants- a skirt that I know I won’t wear…hose I won’t touch…I’m going to Texas for Pete’s sake. It’ll be hotter than an armadillo’s backside on the beach. (I have no idea whether armadillos in fact, feel hot… but the word “armadillo” is hilarious, so I like to use it adhoc.)

Picture me- only slightly better dressed than Steve Martin..not with pants around my ankles and robe flapping in the breeze.. but in my comfy matching cute purple sweats… tossing in just ONE MORE THING I MIGHT NEED… and then another.. and another… JUST IN CASE.

And that’s JUST the actual suitcase.. we will not even discuss my magical and necessary bag of how not to be bored, because boredom is the enemy – carry-on bag… with knitting—and books and laptop and ipod and e-reader…and cell phone and travel docs…….. and.. and.. and.. I’m gonna need a golf cart just to make it through the airport. Does a golf cart count as a theme park ride? It might in this case:P

All this to say— I’ve started packing for MOPS Convention…. So- Are You going?

Let me know if you are—(throught comment or email- see the sidebar) I’d love a chance to meet blog readers especially MOPS Moms! I’ll be easy enough to spot- the red(ish) head with 42 bags of minimally packed stuff— shopping in the hotel for the ONE thing I forgot. (probably underwear, or something even more embarrassing.)

Although– since I read this during devotions this morning… maybe I won’t feel the need to pack QUITE so much:)

Do Not Worry

28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


I dialed the phone, not sure what to expect.  1 ring.. 2 rings then a click and pick up.  I’d never heard the voice behind the smile before.  I wondered what to expect.

A sweet but sad voice answered the phone.  The voice dissolved into tears… we talked.  I heard both her heart and the scary details of her situation….. I felt overwhelmed.  This was a bigger problem than I could fix.  I listened.  We talked through potential solutions.. we prayed together… and then hung up.

What on earth can I do to help?  The need was way bigger than what I had to offer in help.  What I have to share wouldn’t make a dent.  I couldn’t even wrap my arms around this person and hug her.  She is too far away.  I took some time to think and pray… I knit.  I sat.  I wandered around the house wondering how I would feel if it was me…. I felt overwhelmed with the size of the problem…I felt powerless to help.

I remembered the words of Mother Theresa..”There are no great things, only small things done with great love” That is how Mother Theresa faced the overwhelming poverty and need that surrounded her… one person at a time…  one small, loving act, at a time, and trusting that it made a difference.  It did… and still is.  Her ministry of love is known all over the world….  I thought about the knititng in my hands.. and how each small stich adds itself to the garment…and creates something useful. (one stitch— not so much:)

” Would small things done with love make a difference here?  now?  for this friend? “ I just kept wondering. I thought some more… I prayed. and then I decided to ask her permission to help… and to enlist the help of others.  Together we offered up bits and pieces.. ideas… words.. yarn (you knew yarn would be involved at some point) books, thoughts prayers….all the little bits started forming themselves into a plan… and then the plan launched.

The plan was to hold a small fundraiser- simple paypal donations made directly to a family in need of their rent money. Each donation would have the chance to win a  prize donated with great love.   Nervous.. we waited…. (maybe a bit nervously) Then… the donations started pouring in.  Ravelry knitters- especially Loopy Ewe Yarn Shop group members- are giving small things with great love.  Sacrifices…small and large … each whatever they can do… and together making a difference.

The world is full of bad news.  Fraud, inflation, economic messes.  Watching the news is overwhelming- I try to avoid it, mostly… because I feel at a loss to be able to change it.  I know,  I can’t.  Not alone.. I don’t have the time, the money or the resources to change the world… or do I?  Maybe changing the world means doing small things with great love…maybe changing the world means doing what you can when you can, where you can… maybe it all adds up.

It sure is adding up for one family. As of this moment- we’ve raised enough to keep them in their apartment.  Now- we’re working on making sure they have groceries.  People are looking to see if jobs can be found.. they are checking their contact lists to see if they know anyone local to help….they are making a difference.  Not just for this family… but for the generations that come after this one.. and for themselves.. because they know they are making a difference.

Why share this?  Because— there is hope.  There is hope that we can make a difference… hope that God can provide…hope that things can get better— if we each do small things with great love.

For Ravelry members… you can click here to see what we’re up to… and maybe even help make a difference.:)

If you’d really love to help-but are not a rav member… you can look in my sidebar for my e-mail address to contact me and I can share with you how you can make a difference.

I know— I know.. how do you know this isn’t yet another internet hoax…. more people manipulating for profit?  I’d say you can take my word… but why?  The truth is — there is always risk involved in helping.. always risk of backlash of fraud…. personally? I refuse to let that stop me from helping… Because if we STOP helping.. stop trying… we all lose.

Most readers know that I am a Christian… someone who desires to follow God.  Not just in my words.. but in my actions. My convictions affect my choices.  Here is the example I have to follow… and I may be walking with a limp and wandering around… on ocassion… and struggling to even find the path… but I am.  One small step at a time.

The good samaritan