I attended my first MOPS group at my home church in Kalispell, Montana, in 1998. I was a mom of three young kids, and I loved hanging out with other women, getting to know them, and hearing wonderful speakers. OK, the crafts were good too.
My second year of MOPS I was asked to speak. I remember one meeting when I shared about Once a Month Cooking. Yet as I shared about how my friend and I spent one day cooking 144 meals together, I noticed a young woman in the back of the room. She was a teen mom, and from they way she fidgeted I could tell that she felt completely out of place. My topic was irrelevant, and my heart ached. You see, I was a teen mom, and I remembered the feeling of not fitting in. I had a plan to make a beeline to the young mom as soon as the group was done, but she slipped out early and I never had the chance. I mentioned it to our coordinator, and that’s when she told me about Teen MOPS. A support group for teen moms? I knew it was something I wanted to do.
Our first MOPS meeting started in 2001. There were thirteen leaders and two moms that first meeting. They next week we had four. The week after that eight young women. The group grew, and I saw God doing amazing things. Many young women grew close to God. They learned how to be better mothers, and friendships were made—friendships between the young moms, friendships between the leaders, and friendships mixed within both.
I have to admit things weren’t easy. The young moms had issues. There was conflict between them. We never seemed to have enough childcare workers, and there were times it seemed that the young women weren’t paying attention to a thing we told them. They made one bad decision after another.
Yet as I poured out, God filled me up. I knew what I was doing was a way to glorify Him. Even if the young women didn’t always respond like I’d hoped, I was loving those who so many others turned their backs on.
The years passed, friendships grew, and in 2010 my family moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. I lived in a new place, but my heart was still drawn to the young mom. In fact—I discovered—Arkansas has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the nation.
Our inner city Teen MOPS group is starting its fourth year. We are serving young women who don’t have dads in the picture, often don’t have the help of their baby daddies, and who live in poor areas that are high in crime. They are as different from me as can be, but they are my friends, too. We chat, we text, and I’m thankful to be a part of their lives.
Years ago I wanted to reach out to one young women, and now every week I meet young moms who aren’t sure that they fit in.
To be joined in a friendship is to have harmony, accord, understanding and rapport. It’s knowing something, and enjoying their presence despite the differences. Or maybe it’s not only putting up with the differences, but appreciating them.
This photo is of most of our Teen MOPS leadership. I consider them friends.
Teen MOPS is giving away an annual membership to one of my blog readers! You have one week to enter using the widget below, and next Monday the winner will be announced here on the widget. My assistant will be in touch with the winner. *Only those in the U.S. are eligible to win.