Meeting Recap December 11, 2015 - Noticing You Are Not Alone

At PBF MOPs, we might have our Christmas talk in November, but that doesn't mean our December meeting lacks any Christmas spirit. This week our ladies got to experience a little bit of Christmas joy, complete with an ugly sweater contest and a Christmas ornament craft. We even sneaked in a little holiday shopping with our annual toy exchange. A popular event that lets us clear out the closets a bit and bring home new-to-us toys just in time to be wrapped up for Christmas.

Winners of the ugliest (left) and most creative (right) sweater contest.

After a brunch of holiday inspired sweets and other goodies, Connie took the stage to deliver her talk titled "Noticing You Are Not Alone." To some, loneliness is the last thing they think about during the holidays with its traditional family get-togethers and friend filled parties. However, for others, the holiday season emphasizes that they have few people or possibly no one to turn to.

One of our ornament craft options.

Another one of our ornament craft options.

Loneliness can strike anyone. However, Connie shared five superhero-inspired traits that make it easier for a mom to fall victim to loneliness. 

  • Super Woman - I can do everything.
  • Lone Ranger - I can do it all by myself.
  • Batman - I spend my days holed up in seclusion until summoned out of my cave by necessity.
  • Iron Man - My face is steal. I will not show anyone how I really feel.
  • Incredible Hulk - I keep it all together until I explode over the littlest things. 

To combat these traits and the resulting loneliness, we must remember we are not superheros. We are good at some things but not at everything. We need others to come along side us and help us through life. 

Superhero inspired traits aren't the only thing that contribute to loneliness. Some of us feel lonely because we think that since we have a wonderful, understanding husband we don't need girlfriends. This is not true. Connie pointed out that you might have the most helpful,supportive husband but he does not know what it is like to be a woman. He does not know what it is like to be pregnant, give birth or deal with female hormones/emotions. Even the most well meaning husband doesn't do good girl talk. We need women in our life who can empathize with us because they have been through similar experiences. 

Connie also pointed out that our virtual friends are not enough to ward off loneliness. Facebook and other social media are wonderful at helping us keep up with people who we would otherwise loose contact with. However, social media is not a good substitute for real people and real experiences. Virtual friends do not come over for coffee and hold your hand when you start crying as you tell them about your day. That is what flesh and blood friendship does.

To help combat loneliness, Connie offered five survival strategies plus two bonus tips for women whose husbands are deployed. 
  1. Take time to notice the people who God has put into your life.
    Look around at your MOPS table mates, your neighbors, members of your church. Who has God put into your life already that might be an answer to prayer?
  2. Make the first move.
    Is their someone in your life that you'd like to know better? Maybe its the mom at your kid's swim class who babywears her youngest like you do. Go talk to her. Or maybe you find yourself really missing one of your MOPS table mates if she misses a meeting. Ask her for a play date. We can't always wait for someone to come up and befriend us. Sometimes, we need to make the first move.
  3. Ask for help when you feel overwhelmed.
    You might feel alone in not being able to do everything by yourself. However, you are not alone. Many, if not all, of us have felt overwhelmed by the responsibilities of motherhood. Don't be ashamed to admit that you can't do everything and then take the next step. Ask for help. You will be surprised at how many people will step up to help you lift the burden. Good friends graciously give and receive help.
  4. Take time for yourself.
    Allow yourself a time out. Sometimes it might only be a few stolen minutes when you lock yourself in the bathroom to recenter before facing life again. Other times it can be an entire naptime, evening or whatever you can get to do something that recharges you.
  5. Feed your soul.
    Earthly friends are vital, but only a relationship with God can chase off all feelings of loneliness. Best yet, He will never leave you nor forsake you.

    Bonus tips for women whose husbands are deployed.
  6. Make this a time to go above and beyond.
    It might be easy to lock yourself in the house and feel bad about him being gone, but this is not the time for that. This is the time to get up and get out. Take the kids some place fun. Do something different. Memory making doesn't have to stop just because your husband is gone right now. Purposefully doing fun things with your kids will help distract you and your children from the lonely feelings and worry.
  7. Help your children feel like daddy is part of their daily life.
    It is important for your children to keep actively growing their relationship with their father even when he is gone. Skype, e-mail, phone or write old-fashioned letters to keep communication lines open. Have them put together fun care packages. Encourage daddy to send letters to the kids, and most importantly pray for daddy every day. 
Connie reminded us that God is always with us. She shared the poem Footprints in the Sand by Mary Stevenson. 

One night I dreamed a dream.

As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,

I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it. 

"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You'd walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."

He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you

Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you."

She then closed her talk with several Bible verses reminding us that God is always with us.
  • For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. - Isaiah 41:13
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7
  •  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30
  • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. - Romans 15:13
  • And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. - Romans 5:5