What do my book + MOPS International have to do with each other??

Years ago, when our kids were still small and I only had two blonde boys at home (ohhhh how things change!!), I heard of this thing called MOPS International. I first thought how weird the name was...and then thought the acronym didn't apply to me because I wasn't a Mother of a PreSchooler, I was the mother of two toddlers. (Helloooooo...they didn't need to be IN preschool, they needed to be pre-elementary school aged! I was totally their target mama!)

Even though I didn't really "get" what it was all about, a friend was starting a group at our church and she asked me to co-lead it. I really shouldn't have said yes and was the worst leader ever because it was right around the time we brought home Imani...and then Ezekiel, and I was so massively over-capacity that I could hardly function in life, let alone lead 40 other exhausted mamas.

But alas...God used being the co-coordinator at our MOPS group to get my feet wet and learn what this incredible non-profit was all about and teach me of its impact during my exhausted season with little ones underfoot.

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Fast forward several years of living in Denver and I became friends with a handful of women who worked in MOPS' corporate offices (who knew their home office is mere minutes from my own home?!). God is so fun to have introduced me to the organization when I, too, was trying to figure out this whole motherhood-thing. He brought me to these women who love-on and support mamas in the most beautiful way and then moved me closer so I could link arms with them! I love that He sees 10 steps further than I ever could.

One sweet friendship I've made is with Mandy Arioto, the CEO of MOPS International. She even wrote the foreword to my book. So humbled by that.

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(don't tell Mandy I posted this photo, it's horrible of both of us, she'll kill me hahahaha)

A few days ago, MOPS' blog featured my story and the heart of what Beautifully Interrupted is all about. 

Here's a snippit:

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Click the button below to read the rest of the article!

**If you're not involved with MOPS and you have babies on up, click here to learn more. They also have groups for teenaged moms, military mothers, as well as moms with school-aged children.**


By the way, have you preordered your copy of Beautifully Interrupted yet?

I keep getting screenshots from friends after Amazon has sent them updates on the delivery date...how crazy that some will arrive on doorsteps on April 30th when the release date isn't 'till May 15?!

Go order now and you might get it before it hits stores, too!!

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(PLUS... by preordering, you'll have access to freebies!! See what I'm talking about here)

Take Joy,

Teresa

When a Friend Thinks Poorly of You

Friends breathe life into my soul, just as I'm sure they do yours. But like romantic relationships, true friendships sometimes have growing pains. There will be moments when there is conflict and we need to figure out what to do in the midst of it, right? How to grow deeper as friends through it, rather than allowing it to break the closeness.

This week, a friend accused me of something that made my heart incredibly heavy. I didn't see it coming and didn't understand how she thought that of me. I literally felt sick all day and went to bed early with a migraine.

My thoughts and prayers swirled through the afternoon and evening hours as I went to first God, and then my husband and dearest friends, placing this person's accusation at their feet to examine.

"Here's the evidence, look at it. Sift through it, dig deeply," I told them. "Did I do this? Am I doing this?"

I asked the Lord and my friends who know me best to share honestly with me so I could grow and ask forgiveness if indeed this thing I was being accused of was true. Because if so, I had some serious heart-searching to do. What I was being accused of was not the type of person I want to be.

I called my best friend to tearfully vent and toward the end of our phone conversation, she said something like this:

"You need to stop and seriously ask God to show you the insides of your heart. Lean into it, even if it's hard and yucky. Who are you at the core, really? Ask Him in a way that You're able to hear His voice. Take time in silence with the Lord and go through everything in your mind like you're unpacking a suitcase...taking items out, one by one."

She finished by saying, "Let Him show you if there is sin here."

Gosh, what wise advice. I just love having friends that are deeper and wiser than I.

I am still devastated. And truthfully, I am really embarrassed that someone would think this thing of me. But I don't believe I did what she has said. I don't pretend to be anyone I'm not. I don't even think I did that very often in high school, let alone now. I'm ok with me. Not that I don't need to grow in areas, of course. We all need to grow, right?

I woke up this morning though, still with a nauseous stomach and a pounding head and prayed that the Lord would release it. I need to be ok with the opinion of other people, even if I don't agree with it.

This person wasn't spewing venom, she was speaking out of her own hurt.

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She was wanting to get to the root of things, too. I still do not believe in my heart of hearts that I did what she believes I have...but that's ok.

I cannot own her feelings, I can only own mine.

How have you worked through a similar situation of hurt with a friend? Did it allow you to get bitter or better??

Take Joy,

Teresa

If We Were Hanging Out - Chatting about Austin, NKOTB, and an ironic pool party

I thought I'd start a new series called "If we were hanging out" that I'll do every few weeks. It'll be a Coffee Chat type post that holds a whole lot of random things...really how conversation would be if we were at the park together with our kids or sitting in the sun with a glass of lemonade in our hands.

I just feel like blogging is so one-sided sometimes. Ya know? I don't want to talk AT you...I want to chat WITH you!

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that some girlfriends and I flew to Austin a few weeks ago. It was the most fun and hilarious girls weekend ever.

Like E-ver.

I've never been on a girl's trip before, have you? At least not since college...you know the type: when you travel around in hostels, praying you have enough money in your bank account so you can pull your dirty laundry from your I'm-an-American-traveling-through-Europe sized backpack and find a laundromat. I actually don't remember where I washed my clothes while traveling around during spring break while going to Bible school in England. Hmm. Did I wash them?! Eew.

But this is beside the point. This is not what I'm still chuckling to myself about.

Five of us girls (college and post-college friends who live around the country) decided we would fly to Austin for the Boyz II Men, Paul Abdul, New Kids on the Block tour.

No. I'm not kidding. And yes. We are that cool ('er nerdy).

Have you seen this video? I laughed so hard and then sent it to everyone I know. (bahaha...Including my mom). If you're over 30, you'll love it.

I told you it was HILARIOUS, right?! Hold on. I'm going to watch it again real quick. ; )


Renting an Airbnb on 6th Street, we planned nothing aside from the Sunday night concert.

After flying in from various parts of the country, we came together Saturday morning and wandered around looking at shops and coffee houses. We tried on vintage clothing and things that really, let's be honest, no one our age should actually be seen in because we thought it'd be hilarious. And cuz we're total dorks.

This video is totally what I'm talking about. Watch it. You'll die laughing. (NOTE: it's not for kids though so put your earbuds in if they're around).

Thanks for all your dining, shopping, and other recommendations via Instagram! We ended up dining at Seersucker that evening. If you ever have the opportunity, go. It's amaaaaaazing and darling.

The five of us may be very different, but one step down from our love for Jesus is a passion for 90's hip-hop.

As we walked away with full bellies, we heard live music drifting over from an alleyway/patio bar nearby. And like a moth to the flame (cue Janet Jackson reference), we beelined over.

Because three of the girls are military wives, one of them began talking to the bouncer, telling him we needed to get in for free because their husbands were sacrificing so much (I mean, if your husband is deployed, why not play that card?!).

After a bunch of bantering back and forth about how awesome we are and how we really do need to get in without paying the cover, the guy shared he was a Marine and with a knowing wink, the big teddy-bear of a guy let all five of us in and showed us to a front table next to the stage.

As the band started, we looked around and realized somehow over the last decade...

We became those goofy middle-aged people who Just. Got. Down.

You know, those people where you're like. "Um...wow. This is a car accident. I cannot look away!" Yes. We were those people. And it was amazing.

Is there a better way to begin a 90's throwback weekend than hearing a 90's cover band named Hip Hop Horray?  Our lives were changed. I was in junior high again.

We were out till 1:30am dancing our 13 year old hearts out to Kris Kross, the Beastie Boys, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff...you name it, they played it.

The next morning we were up early (because hello, we're moms and our bodies no longer know how to sleep in) and after grabbing coffee and going for a stroll, we enjoyed a leisurely brunch at Annie's Cafe.

Austin...do you have bad food? Because everything we ate was to die for.

Taking a cab over to South Congress Street to do some window shopping, we heard a DJ spinning some more great music. Drawing us over to a totally retro place called Austin Motel. Crossing the street to see what was going on, we pressed our noses through the fence and took in the scene.

You guys, I can't even. It was like a movie set, it was so cliché and fantastic.

My best friend Kiesha walked up to the gate and asked someone what was going on. As we stood there, mouths gaping at such a fun party, they invited us inside explaining it was a hosted pool party in celebration of the end of the music festival (which we had no idea was going on).

We giggled like total nerds as we huddled in the corner of the pool area, under a red and white metal umbrella that was probably made the same year I was born. We asked each other, "From 1-10, how uncomfortable are you?"

My response was a 7.5.

Or maybe an 8.

I kept thinking, I am NOT cool enough to be here. This is so hilarious.

When I say I'm not cool enough...here's what I mean:

Looking around, there were girls in vintage inspired swimsuits that looked as if they needed a petaled swimming cap upon their heads. Perfectly done makeup that made them look like pin-up girls from the WWII era, wearing long vintage robes with their names (and the name of the party) hand-embroidered on it. Totally Laverne and Shirley looking.

Those not ready to pull a petaled swim cap over their perfectly quaffed hair looked like they were halfway stuck in the fashion-forward 60's, while their other half was stranded in the grungy flannel-wearing 90's. With thick blunt cut bangs and straight hair which curled out at the chin, their faces were void of makeup, but the thin arms beneath their ironic t-shirts showed beautifully drawn tattoos from fingertips to shoulders.

And then there were the guys. I don't even know where to start, but think waxed, twisted handlebar mustaches, American Flag speedos (please, no), and floor-length robes with the same hand embroidery with their names and name of party on the breast. They were drinking cold brewed coffee slushies...infused with essential oils. 

You guys...INFUSED WITH ESSENTIAL OILS!

WHAT?! (belly laugh appropriate here)

There was also a girl floating around in the pool (fully dressed) on a blow-up hot dog. She was eating a hot dog. And there was a hot dog (Dachshund) by the lounge chair behind her. 

I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP!!

It was amazing. I can't even handle it.

We kept laughing, "Is this my life right now?" and "I picked my kids up from soccer yesterday. Today I'm crashing an ironic pool party."

As we started chatting with people (like the lady drinking Rosé while wearing a "Rosé all Day" sweatshirt. I couldn't pretend this if I tried), our uncomfortable levels went down from 7.5 to about 3.5 and we left with nostalgic pins in our lapels and blow-up flamingos stuffed in our purses.

A successful pool-crash, for sure.

Later that night, we braved a torrential rain that basically soaked us as we got from our condo to the concert venue. But we didn't care because we were about to see Boyz II Men, Paul Abdul, and NKOTB!!

Boyz II Men = amazing (no surprise here). They sang the song my friends and I sang during our graduation ceremony so I got teary of course. Their voices haven't aged a day.

Paula is pretty much the cutest, tiniest, most darling woman ever. I have no idea how she is behind closed doors...but she just seems so lovely. She had a wardrobe change every single song and every one was just so fun. I loved that she danced to some of her old music videos that I hadn't seen since my MTV days and adored the tribute she had to Gene Kelly and Singing in the Rain (the movie that inspired her as a child to learn to sing and dance).

And NKOTB - Uhhhhhh where do I start? Maybe at the screaming? It was like I happened on to the Beatles back in the day. I literally thought the ladies behind us were going to pass out. It was unbelievable.

The New Kids concert was over the top and they are obviously performers over singers at this point. I laughed and laughed. Like tears running down my cheeks laughed because it was so funny seeing big, massively muscular men (like a Walhberg brother) doing boy-band dance moves while attempting to sing in falsetto.

There were even a few songs where one of the guys would burst out laughing in the middle of a high note saying, "I'm sorry, I just don't have a 12 year old voice anymore".

It was glorious. Slightly inappropriate, I'm not gonna lie. I rolled my eyes more than once. But still fantastic.

And then suddenly the weekend was over. Forty eight hours just went too massively fast, but with a very full and rejuvenated heart, I'm going around in my normal day, while giggling to myself.

If you've never had a girls weekend, make it happen. It doesn't have to be anything major, but just opportunity for relaxing with your friends, and LOTS of laughter.

90's hip hop optional. ; )

Have you ever done a girls trip? What was your favorite part? Where'd you go? Who went with you?

Take Joy,

Teresa

Struggling with fear + I'd LOVE your help with MY BOOK!

Do you now...or have you ever struggled with fear? Perhaps you're paralyzed, feeling shame and insecurity that someone will discover the "real you" so you live within the grasp of false identity, pretending to be someone you're not.

Perhaps you have experienced horrific things like a car accident and are now fearful of driving. Or have run from an abusive spouse and are fearful he'll find you or are scared to enter into another relationship. Perhaps you've been deeply wounded and are afraid of putting yourself out there again, and therefore a huge tangible fear follows you around.

Others live in a "what if" kind of fear.

For example, "What if my son slipped beneath the bar on the ski lift and fell to his death?!"

"What if I traveled to a third world country and got kidnapped or killed for my faith?!"

Or even "What if I got cancer? What if I died? Who would mother my children? What would happen to my family?!"

Since I was young, I've struggled with fear. There are times I feel a fear of being left out, unloved or rejected.

But most often the fear that seems to hold me the most tightly is is the BIG Capitolized "what if" kind where worst-case-scenarios hit my mind's eye like a lightning bolt, causing me to panic and forget about being brave in anything.

If this is you...whether you've struggled with it today, last month, or decades ago...I'd LOVE your help.

One of the chapters in my upcoming book is about this very issue and I'm wanting to go deeper.

I want to know how ya'll get out from under it. I want to know what verses you turn to in your Bible or wisdom and advise you cling to. I'd love to know how you pray and just honestly anything else you'd like to share.

Feel free and be anonymous if you'd like, but if you're comfortable with it, I'd love to just open up the Comments below as raw, vulnerable, and honest struggles and successes of life in spite of fear.

Thank you, sweet friends. And by commenting, know that a portion (or all) of what you say may be included within the pages of my book. Unless I have your permission though, I will change any and all names. Your identity will be secure and I won't plaster your life all over the place. Promise.

Thanks again for your willingness to share here. I promise...NO judgement. We're all likely struggling with similar things, whether we'll admit it or not. Thanks for being authentic...I have no doubt it'll speak to and help others in like-seasons.

Take Joy,

Teresa

1 Samuel 19-20 (Week 10) Being a good friend though loss + hard times

If you're just joining us...head here for the intro and here for weeks 123, 45678, and 9.

And don't forget that about the printable Study Guide so you can continue delving deeper in your personal Quiet Time! To access each week's guide in The Library, make sure to sign up to the blog via email so you have the password!

We learned last week that everything David did turned to gold. 18:21 says, In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. He did all he was asked, and then some. He went from shepherd boy who delivered food to his brothers in battle, to being the hero of it all. He was taken into the palace, became the king’s number one musician, his most successful warrior, his son’s best friend, and his daughter’s husband.

David went from zero to hero with one swing of a stone, and was forced to run for his life from the king himself who couldn’t control his envy, seeking to kill him.

Today I want to focus on two themes: loss from jealousy, and friendship through hard times.

I heard once that jealousy is something that has two victims, and that is certainly true here. Once again Saul attempts to pin David to the wall with his spear while playing the harp, barely escaping with his life (19:9) just as he had in the previous chapter (18:10-11).

The morning after this second attempt, Saul sent men to David’s house to spy and ultimately kill the young warrior. Michal, his wife, must have been observant enough to see her father’s plans unfolding outside her front door and warned, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.” Letting David down through a window, the brave Michal saved her husband, allowing him to escape.

Stuffing the household teraphim (a clay figuring which represented household spirit guardians), beneath bed coverings and placing goat’s hair at the head, the dim light of a flickering candle or oil lamp would be enough to convince the soldiers David was too weak and ill to move.

Michael’s plan was nearly a success, though in the end, the ruse was realized as the soldiers returned with an attempt to kill him in bed. Switching gears, Michal instead convinced the men she was afraid for her life and allowed her husband to get away because he threatened her.

She had no idea of course, but the moment Michal let David down that window, she lost the man she loved dearly. Eventually her father would remarry her to someone else and it wouldn’t be ‘till years later (after David had several more wives), that he would seek to reclaim her. Michal never had children with either husband.

Saul’s jealousy ruined a marriage. He forced a young man to run for his life. He turned his greatest warrior into a fugitive who ran for his life, living in caves, and even fleeing to Gath (the enemy land where Goliath was from). All this because Saul simply couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that David was not out for his throne. The young man who brought joy and support to the king suddenly became a source of anger and resentment. The king’s jealousy went unchecked and boiled over to a point that he simply couldn’t reign it in himself.

Fleeing to Ramah, David first seeks solace in Samuel’s home and then joins the aging priest to Naioth, which means dwelling or tents. Not only is David able to conceal himself through security in numbers, but has the opportunity to live within a body of men who have committed their lives to worshiping God.

I love that the former shepherd hid himself here, of all places. It’s so important that when we’re struggling with something, we run into the arms of a body who will love and support us in Jesus’ name. David’s situation is likely nothing we’ve ever experienced, but even so…our strife and wounds are still best supported within a body of Jesus-loving people who will empathize and fall to their knees in prayer over us. People who will encourage, inspire, and embolden us as we grow closer with Him through it.

David seemed to understand the need of this, escaping to a place he knew his thirst for wisdom, discernment, and protection would be quenched as he was poured into by Samuel and the rest of the God-fearing men in this tented community.

It didn’t take long however for word to get back to Saul, who immediately sent men to capture David. Whether Samuel led a group of prophets on a daily basis, or this was some sort of special assemblage, we don’t know. But just as the king’s soldiers saw the group of holy men prophesying, the spirit of God came upon them and they also started prophesying. Saul was told about what happened and sent several more groups of men out to bring back David as prisoner but each time, they too were overcome by the Spirit, forgetting the king’s errand and remained in Ramah prophesying.

Finally, Saul had enough, traveling to Ramah himself. But “the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay that way all day and night.” (1 Samuel 19:22-24)

This scene is just so hilarious to me and is a fantastic reminder that if God wants to block something from happening, He most certainly will. Saul was on an unworthy mission and God didn’t allow it to come to fruition. The Lord protects David, giving him the chance to journey back to his best friend Jonathan, seeking advice about Saul’s intentions.

Jonathan simply couldn’t comprehend his father acting in such a way and clung tightly (albeit naively) to his father’s proclamation on oath that David would not die (19:6). Because he and David’s friendship was one built with a firm foundation however, Jonathan couldn’t ignore his friend’s insistence and decided devise a plan to pursue King Saul’s true intent.

Read chapter 20 to understand exactly how their plan unfolded…and how Saul’s jealousy and anger once again reared its ridiculously ugly head. Jonathan was aghast at his father’s posture toward David was forced to pick a side, something that I’m sure it pained him to have to do. Having his eyes opened to Saul’s intent, the prince continued with the plan, sending word to David that he was indeed correct that his life was in danger.

The two had a tear-filled goodbye (20:41b says David wept the most) as an era ended. David was no longer the harpist and prized warrior for the king. His former life was lost, for no reason other than unwarranted envy and resentment.

As David turned to leave, Jonathan said “Go in peace! The two of us have vowed friendship in God’s name, saying, ‘God will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever!’” (1 Samuel 20:42)

They parted, though their friendship remained. So much so in fact that they promised one another to take care of their offspring if death came too early. In those days, if someone (like David) was to strip a king of his throne, every family member would also be put to death to ensure the safety of the new royal line. The thought was, if they were all gone…there would be no one in a line of succession to try and reclaim the crown.

Believing David will one day rule and he will not, Jonathan implores his dear friend to go against custom and instead care for his family. And David did just that. We learn in 2 Samuel that after Saul (and Jonathan) had died and the kingdom was officially David’s, he sought out Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s crippled son.

Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always. (2 Samuel 9:7)

Are we willing to go against cultural stigma and invite others in like this? Would we take in our friend’s children because of the deep love and care we have for our deceased friend? What about simply going against cultural norm in how we open our door…who have you invited in lately that made you feel out of your comfort zone?

One of our girls has a friend whose family recently moved here from Japan. The mom doesn’t know much English and every time I saw her at school pick up and drop off, I could sense loneliness and a desire to connect in her eyes. One day I decided to get over my own comfort and invited her over for coffee. It wasn’t easy, conversation was forced and strained at times during our time together as we searched for a topic that was easily conversed through limited English. But you know what? We laughed at our struggle, we tried our best to understand one another and desired to dive in deeper than simply the weather.

As my new friend shrugged into her jacket and we said goodbyes, she hugged me and looked me right in the eyes, a smile no longer on her lips as seriousness took hold. “Thank you”, she said. “Thank you for this.”

Friendship...true friendship isn't talking about the weather and keeping it all at the surface. Making new friends is sometimes awkward (head here for another post on that topic). Even friendship that has been a constant for decades goes through seasons and struggle.

Struggle is sometimes good. It reminds us we're fighting for one another.

Choosing a friend over a parent who is doing wrong is difficult. Supporting a friend who will receive the blessing that you’re technically supposed to receive, takes selflessness. Bringing your friend’s disabled child into your home is challenging.

David and Jonathan went through each of these (and gosh, so much more)!

We often need to press through the hard to be a good friend.

We need to get to the place where we’re ready to connect through discomfort. Through hard times. What kind of friend are you? What kind of friend do you want to be?


Don't forget to head to The Library to print out your Study Guide to use for your personal Quiet Time (you must subscribe to the blog via email to receive the password).

I can't wait to continue on next week!

Take Joy,

Teresa

P.S all these gorgeous photos are courtesy of the lovely Sarah Johns + Something Styled. Follow her on IG and FB!