mops“Membership has it’s privileges.”  Yes, I’m old enough to remember that commercial. (And now- you are too. See? I just leveled the age field. I’m awesome like that. So is YouTube.You’re welcome.) There are plenty of old commercials I don’t remember….. but that one? Almost every word. Maybe it’s because it made American Express sound like a magical mix of:  Concierge, Fairy God Mother, Personal Assistant and Personal (if only financial)  Security Guard. Or, maybe it’s because I was young and dreaming of bing a fancy-pants adult. (Reality of growing up? Now, I just  I dream of pants that fit. Especially jeans. Fancy- not a priority. justsayin.)

Yet- the ad mens’ words haunt: “Membership has it’s privileges.” They seem to haunt the world I live in. Their marketing butterfly effect follows me every where I go.  Now- everything involves a membership. “with privileges.” From grocery stores to bookstores. Pharmacies to gym’s. Membership is everywhere. Along with it’s subsequent “privileges.” The privileges include: cash back. (In my brain that’s just evidence of over pricing. Yes, I’m jaded.) bonus’ with purchase (usually free stuff I probably wouldn’t buy for the MSRP and usually throw out years after it expires. But still feel a rush of “FREE” when it’s forked over to me.) , special discounts (An extra 2% off an item I don’t need? Yup. It might make me buy it. after all- it’s a member’s only deal!) and secret sales. I keep waiting to find a special membership offer in a bathroom stall that will give me a special pass to a private stall with a sink, full length- magical body shrinking mirror, where I can bathe, check my email and adjust my spanx in private. Oh, and spend as much time in there as I want or need, without fear of someone judging my feet. (I have issues.)

Anyway- memberships make me feel: special. Indulged. I’m a member, and still spoken as part of the marketing schpeil or not we all know membership has it’s privileges. Privileges for me. Because, like I said: I’m special. At least in a weirdly over-marketed to- maybe a little shallow kind of way. (It also makes me feel: like my in-box should be a spam box, and that my actual mailbox should have a spam box. (Membership typically means= I give you access to and permission to use, my personal information for your marketing purposes.And  then somehow- be thankful for it. Weird.)

If you haven’t guessed by now- I’m kind of over the membership thing. What was once a word that meant mutual (group) dedication to an idea, cause or purpose (People used to be members of actual groups they attended. Churches, non- profit organizations etc.) now, just feels like  a marketing campaign on crack.

I hold several memberships anyway. Some- I know are about marketing. I know they are to get me into the store so I spend more. (I should just have our income- auto deposited to certain places where I am a “Member.” I’m looking at you: Barnes and Noble, and Sam’s Club.I love you. But I know what you’re doing. justsayin.) And then.. there are other memberships.

Like my MOPS International Membership. On one hand- it does have it’s privileges. There is a great website with members only deals and content that inspires and connects. There are inspirational mom-e-mails that turn up in my inbox uncannily at the exact moment when I most need to hear their honestly written words.  There is a beautiful magazine- MomSense that I adore. And have even been published in. There is MOPS swag-  who doesn’t love beautifully branded swag? I admit it: I do.

And like other memberships- there is also a feeling of being special…..I am not alone in mothering. I am a MOPS mom. (Yes- I’m still a member- No my kids are not in Preschool. Although somedays I wonder….)

However, I’m not a member of MOPS International because of the swag. I’m not a member of MOPS International because of the marketing. The Magazine subscription or it’s other privileges… I’m a member for old school reasons.

I’m a member because I believe mothering matters. I’m a member because I believe there should be no Mom alone. I’m a member because I believe the hand that rocks the cradle rocks the world. I’m a member because I believe we mother better when we mother together. I’m a member because I know that MOPS reaches Moms on (almost) every continent. (we’ll get there. I know we will.)

I’m a member because I have MOPS sisters who believe the same things in countries all over the world. Russia. New Zealand. Australia. England. Guatemala. China. Meeting on military bases all over the world, in Starbucks, in churches in living rooms and rented spaces.

My membership isn’t [just] about ME. Honestly? I could care less about the wonderful swag. Swag is available everywhere. In truth- MOPS membership doesn’t come in a box. It comes in your heart.

MOPS Membership is found in being devoted enough to the cause of mothering to invest in reaching another mom. (MOPS Membership? It’s the main source of financing for all MOPS Ministry. If you broke down MOPS’ yearly budget and interpreted it as a household budget. The membership fees invested into MOPS by our members is the equivalent to MOPS’ paycheck. It pays the bills. Memberships make the MOPS Ministry possible, the same way our personal paychecks make feeding our families possible.)

Membership may have it’s privileges- but MOPS Membership is so much more than privilege. It’s an investment in reaching out to other mothers. It’s a statement that “I value mothering in word- and in deed.”  In word- by calling my self  MOPS mom and recognizing my sisters as MOPS moms- and in deed by investing my time, talents and treasure into a ministry focused on reaching every mother. That’s a lot of bang for a $23.95 price.

The truth is—-MOPS Membership is about others. It’s about commitment. Membership is NOT a marketing campaign. Being a part of MOPS Membership is about being part of a movement. A movement of Mothers passionate about loving and helping each other. As messy and imperfectly and beautifully as we can.

MOPS is a movement that stems from the very heart of God.  MOPS flows out of His love and tenderness towards mothers. MOPS is something I’m honored and privileged to be a part of. And something I hope you’ll join me in.

Isaiah 40:11

11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:

    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.

(Confession- I’m a MOPS member, Volunteer Field Staff and a MOPS International Board Member. This article is me- speaking as a MOPS Member. It is in no way is speaking for the organization. There- Disclaimer- disclosed. ;)

Dear Lord, I love you, and I love the women you’ve called me to reach out to through MOPS. Thank you- not only for the privileges  I receive from that membership, but also for the privilege of being involved in this ministry and movement. Help me to get over my issues with membership feeling like a marketing campaign…. and help me and all members to see it as a way to invest and give to further reach out to those who have young. Help me to gently and lovingly lead. Thank you for an organization of people devoted to loving and helping mothers of all kinds. I love you Lord- amen.

So— if you’re a reader- I’d love to know- What are you a member of?

MOPS? Some other group? Tell me!

And tell me why you’re a member! I want to hear what you’re passionate about! And seriously- in the comments- you can totally tell me about your favorite retail “membership.”  What’s your favorite “perk?”  I am admittedly in love with that Barnes and Noble 10% discount, and Amazon Prime? yes. I’m a member. Free videos? Free shipping? You had me at video….. Which reminds me- I need to check the Gold Box deal of the day…. ;)