Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Losing My Heart to Teen MOPS

I've lost my heart to a group of girls. The opportunity to meet them presented itself in September and has continued on through this time. Let me describe the "average" girl at Teen MOPS (Mothers of Pre-schoolers).

She's 18 years old and is the mommy of a one-year old. She chose life for her baby even though people around her encouraged her differently. She's single, raising the child alone without any financial help or assistance from the father. She has family near by, but is living on her own. Currently she's in the Alt-Ed classes at her high school, working to get her diploma. She'd love to go on to college, but doesn't know that she'll be able to with a child and needing to work, but the hope is there. She works a minimum wage job, and receives aid from the government to help with food, her apartment, and day care. Life can get incredibly lonely and overwhelming when you're 17, a mommy, and on your own.

The girl described above is a composite of our girls. But each girl in our Teen MOPS program is unique. They range in age from 16 to 24. Some girls have just the one baby, while others have two, three, or four. Some are married, some are single, some are engaged, some are dating. Girls live at home with their parents or grandparents, live alone, or live with their husbands or boyfriends. Some girls have dropped out of school, or are in regular high school or the Alt-Ed classes. Some girls are taking college classes or vo-tech classes. Many, many, many of our girls, however, have received their high school diploma, which is a big feat (and cause for celebration!) when you're raising babies.  All of them, without exception, are truly heroic in that they chose to give life to their precious babies. All of them, again without exception, deal with difficult choices every day as they struggle being young moms. But, all of them -- and I mean ALL of them -- love visiting with other moms who are going through the same stage of life. They love to make the different crafts that we do ... they love to play the silly games that we play ... they love shopping in our Mommy Mart ... and they love visiting with other girls. They laugh and giggle ... share wisdom with each other ... tell stories of sick babies, poopy diapers, paying bills, and listen to others tell their stories as well.

And I love them. I seriously love them all. I love their bravery and their determination. I love their hearts to learn and grow. I love their openness and honesty. I love their hugs and the opportunity to hold their precious babies. I love praying for them and praying with them. I love the fact that each one wants to be the best mommy she can be.

People have told me that I'm doing a wonderful thing (ministering to these girls) and honestly, that just cracks me up whenever I hear it. In reality, it's the other way around. My Teen MOPS girls have opened and expanded my heart. They've blessed me beyond belief and showed me that it IS possible to love people that I've just met. My life will never be the same after meeting them ...

And, if you're one of my Teen MOPS girls ... and you've managed to get all the way to the end of the blog ... know that it's YOU I'm talking about. I love you!!

If you're not one of the Teen MOPS girls, you're missing out on a blessing, let me tell you! But you can be a part of our group, even if you live far away. Just continue to pray for them as they continue on this path of life. Pray for their strength and stamina, pray for their growth and maturity, pray for their joy in trying circumstances, pray that they'll come to know Jesus as their Lord, Provider, and Comforter.

Losing my heart has never been so wonderful ...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Growing Up

Someone asked me the other day why it's so hard to grow up. At first, it kind of stumped me. I mean, we just naturally grow up, don't we? We get bigger ... and taller (well, some of us!) ... we learn lessons ... and we kind of just grow up on our own. At least, that's what I thought at first. But I realized I was thinking of growing older. And growing older is waaaaaaaay different than growing up. Be prepared for a little bit of "Diana wisdom" becauser I'm going to throw some at you.
1. Growing up means that you put other people first. You don't just think of yourself, but you think of someone else -- what won't hurt them, what their desires are, what will inspire them.

2. Growing up means that you've managed to learn a little bit of self-control. You know when to stop.

3. Growing up means that you refuse to take everything seriously and blow things out of proportion. Drama is NOT a favorite past-time in the life of a grown-up.

4. Growing up means that you think beyond the moment. You look to the future and see how the things you choose, decide, do will affect your tomorrows.

5. Growing up means that you often return to your roots. You see the things that were done right and build on them for your own life.

6. Growing up means that you move on from the harmful things in your past. You don't embrace them, but instead you learn from the lessons that you've learned. You learn, get stronger and smarter, and move on.

7. Growing up means that you choose your friends wisely. It doesn't mean that you refuse to have anything to do with people that are on a different path than you or who aren't making wise choices (Jesus didn't even do that, thankfully for me!). But it means that you're careful who your closest friends are. They'll encourage you in the right way.

8. Growing up means that you enjoy the little things and try to not take everyday things for granted -- the beautiful sunshine, a baby's giggle, a good homecooked meal, holding the hand of the one you love, having all of the family around you.

9. Growing up means that you realize how valuable your time is. Sadly, you also realize how much of this precious commodity you've wasted. Every minute, every activity, every plan becomes more important as you see that you want to finish well.

10. Growing up means that you forgive more. You've seen the grace that has been extended to you and you pass that along to others.

There you go. These are just a few of my observations on growing up. As I get older (which I seem to be doing much more quickly these days), I don't want to be THAT person who just got older without actually maturing. I'm the most grateful for a God Who continues to teach me as I go, Who works with me in growing up, Who loves me when I fail, and Who never ever gives up. In reality, He's the One growing me up. It might be difficult for me sometimes, but I'm sooooo glad that He continues despite me. Yep, I DO want to grow up. Getting older? Now that's another blog ...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I Am So Patient ... NOT!

Wes and I were talking the other day, and I made a comment about how I'm more patient than I used to be. He just smiled at me ... and said nothing, which honestly said way more than if he HAD said something. Personally, I DO think I'm better, but I've still got a long ways to go. Now that I think about it, that really hurts my feelings ... but that will be another blog.

Some examples of my notable impatience?

** I despise waiting in a check-out line. I can feel the tension literally work itself up my body and I wind up wanting to scream. I've never actually done that, but you should see me squirm and move around in a check-out line. My husband tells me that I act like I'm in pain.  (Now that I've admitted that to anyone other than my husband, I feel pretty bad about my impatience meter.)

** If I buy an anti-wrinkle cream, I expect to look 10 years younger the first time I try it. I don't want to have to wait for six weeks or however long the product advertises. Give me instant results!

** Diet and exercise takes way too long for me. The first day that I eat right and cut my portions back or if I start a work-out routine, I expect to get in to all of my skinny clothes and have people comment how tiny I've become. Besides, sweating is just icky anyway.

** I don't particularly care for fast food. I'd prefer sitting in a restaurant, but I'd also prefer that they serve it in "fast-food" time. I might be impatient, but I'm never mean to my server for waiting too long though. Impatient and mean are two different things, right? But if that food gets there really fast, I'd like to kiss that cute little ole' server right on the cheek IF they didn't arrest me for being a wacky weirdo.

** And do NOT get me started on traffic jams ... or waiting rooms. It will just be too painful for all of us.

So, yes, I haven't been particularly gifted with being patient. It's something I've had to learn (and obviously am learning very slowly according to my husband) through many repeated events throughout my life. I've had four children, for Pete's sake! Surely THAT should count as something for me on the patience scale!! I've housebroken puppies ... I've had student drivers ... I've waited for repairmen to show up -- all without hurting anyone or breaking any laws. So, I'd like to think I've made a little bit of progress.

So, it just goes to figure that the main ministry of my life right now is what would be considered a "sowing" ministry. You know the one -- the type where you spend a lot of time sowing seeds but you don't happen to see much fruit or growth. Yeah, that kind. The kind of ministry for an incredibly patient person. (Let me state clearly though, it's not the people that I get impatient with. It's all of the millions of details and the organization that gets to me.) Of course, we already mentioned our four children. That's the area where the patience-learning first began. The funny thing? The areas of my life that bring me some of the greatest joy are in my "sowing" ministry and in the lives of my children. Yet those are areas that require the most amount of patience -- an area which I'm sorely lacking.

Obviously, God is working and granting me the patience when I need it. He points out that I might never see the fruit. He points out that not all of the seed might grow to fruition. But He also promises that some definitely will. His Word absolutely never returns to Him void, so I'm to continue with this business of seed sowing. God is the One Who provides the growth. God is the One Who will decide when the harvest is ready. All He asks me to do is to faithfully sow His seed ... to patiently sow His seed ... to continuously sow His seed. As I plod along with the sowing, He brings me great joy because someday, somehow, somewhere ... it will all be worth it. Even an impatient heart like mine can recognize that.