Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How to Change a Life

When we moved here to Michigan, we didn't know anyone.  I do have family over on the east side (thank you, God!) but here in the Kalamazoo area we had no one.  No built in co-workers or acquaintances or even a realtor that was planning on giving us a gift basket full of chocolate and mortgage documents.  It was hard.  But only a little hard and only for a little while.  Because, and you can probably guess where I'm going with this...


...friends.

What would we have done without the people who invited us to their homes, who took us under their wings, who introduced us to more people we are blessed to also call our friends?  Not have they change our lives, saved our lives, they've taught us to do and be the same.  They've taught us to say "How can we help?" and "Come over for dinner!" and "Oh gosh, it's no problem at all.  You would do the same for us."  Would we really have done the same for them not so long ago?  I'm not sure.  But we do now.  We do now.  Because our friends have not only made our lives so much better, so much easier, they've also made us better people.

Maybe I don't talk about them enough.  Maybe I've started taking them a little bit for granted.  Maybe it's become too easy for me to say "Oh, I bet V will know the answer" and "A will do it.  She loves doing stuff like that" or "Do you know B?  She's so great.  Let's ask her to take care of it."  I don't want to ever take them for granted and I don't want to ever stop paying their kindness forward as much as I am able.  You know that thing they say...that "If you want friends you have to be a friend" thing?  I'd heard it my whole life, but until we moved here and made these friends, I didn't really know what being a true friend looked like.  I couldn't be a friend until I saw how it was done.  And you know, I'm still learning.  Still blessed.  Still grateful.

One of those friends told me the other day that the first thing she used to do back when her kids were little and they had moved to a new town (This happens a lot.  You are not alone!) was to join MOPS.  It helped her connect with other women, to learn about her new community, to feel a part of something when she had been feeling a little...lonely. 

Not-conicidentally (are there really any coincidences?  I don't think so) a few days later, the very same MOPS sent me an email asking if I'd like to give away a free annual membership to one of my readers.  YES.  Yes I would.  Because if V's friendship has changed my life and she loves MOPS, then I'm pretty sure it can make someone else's life better, too. 

If you'd like to be a part of MOPS but have been putting it off or had never heard of it until now but are interested in getting your toes wet, leave a comment that says you'd like to enter.  If you don't want to enter but have a good tip for getting comfortable in a new community or as a new mom, please share it!  You never know whose life you might change.

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61 comments :

  1. Coincidentally (or not?, lol) a new friend of mine just invited me to join her MOPS group. I'd love to win the free membership!

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  2. Being a transplant to Michigan myself, I know how isolating it is not to know a single soul - seriously - I knew not one person when I moved here in 1999.

    I've only heard rave reviews of MOPS as well. My oldest is just shy of preschool age, though. Would love to find somewhere to connect with them that doesn't involve a 45 min - hour drive though. :/ Building community is hard work!

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    1. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I think that they're not too stickler-ish about the ages. You should check them out!

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    2. I'm fairly certain that by preschool they mean "before school" - so birth to five, not attending preschool. Could be wrong though!

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    3. Preschoolers are defined as in utero through the time they finish kindergarten!!!

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    4. Thanks, ladies!!! I will have to check it out! :)

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    5. Pregnancy until they are in school fulltime ladies! MOPS is awesome. Go to the website. Plug in your zipcode and find out how many are near you. You might be amazed at how many choices you have. woot woot!

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  3. Being a transplant to Michigan myself, I know how isolating it is not to know a single soul - seriously - I knew not one person when I moved here in 1999.

    I've only heard rave reviews of MOPS as well. My oldest is just shy of preschool age, though. Would love to find somewhere to connect with them that doesn't involve a 45 min - hour drive though. :/ Building community is hard work!

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    1. MOPS is for moms of children age birth through kindergarten and beyond! Sometimes pregnant or waiting-to-adopt gals even join to have a pack of mom friends ready to go for when the baby arrives.

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  4. I would love to enter! We've been in Michigan over a year now and my husband is the only adult I ever see.... and he's gone like 18 hours a day!

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    1. Where in MI are you? We are in the tricities area. (Freeland)

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  5. My best piece of advice is to go to the library and just start talking to people. Perhaps annoying, yes. Fruitful? Absolutely!

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  6. I've already paid my membership for the year, but I hope somebody who really needs a friend gets it! MOPS has been such a huge blessing for me!!

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  7. Mops has been such a good thing for me. Unfortunately, we have been struggling with secondary infertility and also just lost a baby so I no longer have a child under 5. They were strict about needing a preschooler which I totally understand. Does anyone know of any other national organizations? There is not a mom's group at our parish and most of the parishioners are very devout but much older. My hubby is in the Army and we just moved again in June. I am just feeling lonely and would love other women of faith to be friends with.

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    1. Where are you right now sweet girl? Maybe we can help you find something!

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    2. MomsNext is MOPS for moms with school age kids. I personally love Mom to Mom. Maybe you can findine of those in your area? If you're near Indianapolis, send me an email and I can help!!

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    3. Also, check Meetup.com - you can search for your area and interests. There might be a fun group near you.

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    4. Thanks for the ideas ladies. I will definitely check into them. I live in South Bay LA if anyone knows of anything there.

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    5. Hi Sarah,

      There is also a group called MOMSnext - it is for moms of school aged kids and is kind of like MOPS, but for moms in the "next" stage. You can learn more about that at www.MOPS.org.

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  8. It looks like there is a group that meets very near my house. With a new baby, I would love to giveaway membership a try!

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  9. I would love to win the membership! I have been been thinking about joining, but the membership fee is not in our budget for this year. Thanks for hosting this, Dwija!

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    1. Hi Rebecca,
      You could check with your local group to see if they'll give you a scholarship - I believe mine has done that in the past!

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    2. Definitely check with your MOPS group. My former group always had scholarships available!

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    3. Most groups offer scholarships, and they would love to have you in the group!

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  10. I am in Texas, not Michigan, and have been tossing around the idea of exploring MOPS to connect more with my community/other Moms. I would love a free membership ;)

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  11. me too! wait where are all of you michiganders!?!

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    1. So great to find other Catholic moms in Michigan! We are temporarily in Louisville for my husband's job but we'll be back in the Detroit area next year.

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  12. What a great giveaway! I don't have a preschooler anymore, so I won't enter, but my younger sister joined a group out in Washington State when her husband was relocated through the military and she loves it.

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  13. I Love MOPS!!! I was apart of MOPS Schofield Barracks Hawaii! I made life long friendships through MOPS! We recently relocated to Colorado and wish I could join MOPS again!

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  14. We have been living here in Indiana for a year now, and I've had trouble making friends. I casually looked for some moms groups, but they were all geared toward a much older kid than my little one. I just found out a week or so ago that our new house (which we have yet to move into) is very close to a church that has a MOPS group. A friend back in FL with a kid the same age as my own loves the one she found nearby.

    All of that to say, I have already been planning to try it out, so I would love to be entered in your giveaway!

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  15. I would love to win, Dwija! I have been wanting to join but the membership is a little steep for us right now. I've found all my friends in the area through online Catholic groups.

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  16. My son and I have given parenting talks at 2 MOPS meetings here in Michigan. If anyone is interested, let us know:)) http://childhoodmyths.net

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  17. Yes, yes, yes. We've moved to two totally new towns twice now and finding friends is the number one priority!!!!

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  18. MOPS is a great place to find new friends!! Please enter me in the contest!! :-)

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  19. I just joined last Thursday! I was so happy to be welcomed into a new group of friends. I hope to make the kinds of relationships that others have. So having just paid my annual membership, I guess I don't need to win the giveaway, but I think it's a really cool one nonetheless.

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  20. Yes, please. I want to play. I am not new to the neighborhood here on the east side of the mitten, but I am new to being a stay at home mom, and am a fairly new Catholic. Most of my existing/prior friends had their children a decade ago and so are in a very different. Place in their lives and I feel like I am drowning in this at home with a kindergartner and toddler and pregnant with another baby thing.

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    1. Where east side are you? We are in freeland.

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  21. Can you tell me the secret to making friends? I've lived in my current city for one year. I have zero friends here. Literally no one to hang out with besides my husband. I go to meetup.com events to meet people and try to ask my coworkers to hang out but no one is a friend yet. I don't have kids so I can't meet people that way. I also don't like to attend mass.

    I'm just not sure what to do to make friends here. People don't seem very friendly in this part of the country!

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  22. I would like to enter! We moved to the east side of Michigan almost 2 years ago! I am about to go visit my first mops group next week! Finding friends as a brand new mom (I have an 11 month old) and without any family and friends here has been a struggle....one though I am very grateful God has given me!

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  23. would love this! going to join the one closest to me either way. :)

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  24. MOPS is such a blessing. I'd like to enter!

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  25. I second that! I loved MOPS! I was involved for years until I joined a weekly homeschool co-op. Being the sanguine that I am, my MOPS group filled a big gap in my life! Can't say enough good things about it!

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  26. Ladies, when you post, can you say where you are, cause I'd love to meet you if you're near me (Central PA)! I've been here over four years and still don't have close friends near by!

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  27. We are new transplants to WA this year. I was sad to leave my awesome MOPS friends back at home, but was excited to see how many MOPS groups are available out here. I have been blessed through MOPS for several years now and each year it gets better and better! I am so excited to see what God has in store for all of us MOPS Mom's this upcoming year!

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  28. Ok, so I MUST reply to this one, D!!!!! Thank you for spreading the word about MOPS! It was a life saver, and even though I do not have the time to be a member of MOPS at this point in my life, I would still recommend it to anyone with preschool age and younger kids. I am still friends with many of my former MOPS group peers even though most of us have graduated or moved on. It is an amazing way to meet other moms in your community for fellowship, support, and just a break from the norm in a Christian environment. It's non-denominational, which I know turned several of my catholic friends off, but hey, we're all in this mothering thing together and I feel God is ever present, regardless. Besides, it's great to possibly evangelize and get a feel for how other Christian faiths view Catholicism, as well as giving us a chance to correct some of the incorrect preconceived notions about our faith. Also, if your kids will be involved in other activities later in life, ie: sports, dance, the arts, school, it's a great way to meet and get a feel for other families you will be spending time with in the future. Trust me on this!!! I still see Mops friends from 10 years ago at soccer and softball regularly!
    OK, enough of my soapbox, I do love MOPS!!! If there is not one in your area, you can start one, if leadership is one of your gifts. It's like the baseball movie Field of Dreams. "If you build it, they will come."

    Good luck to you ladies who entered the drawing! Thanks again Dwija for posting this!

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    1. Actually, there are MOPS groups in Catholic churches as well. :)

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  29. I just moved 1300 miles a week before having a baby...so I could totally use a mops membership! Someone also told me about meetup.com recently and I've been exploring some mom groups there. So far I think it could be good and I recommend it!

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  30. Have been thinking of joining MOPS for awhile, so if I will, this will be the sign to do so! :)

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  31. I'd love to enter! Sounds like a great group. It's definitely tough to connect with new people when you move to a new area.

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  32. I'm so glad so many have had positive experiences with MOPS! In my neck of the woods they are only at churches that are very anti-Catholic. Buuuut, I have an amazing mom group at my parish and it's a fabulous model if anyone is looking for something that is fairly easy to replicate. An older mom with grown kids teamed up with me, a mom of little ones. Together we recruited more women. The older women serve as mentors for the moms with little ones. We meet in our church hall, the kids play and the moms pray and discuss (right now we're reading Three to Get Married). A homeschooling family with older girls partakes and those girls help supervise the little kids, but we're all in the same room. Everyone brings a dish to share (hard boiled eggs, fruit, baked goods, rice krispie treats) and we keep juice and paper products stored at the church. We don't gossip, we pray hard, and we really support one another. It's such a blessing.

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  33. Gah! I was just saying how I want to join a MOPS. Hook me up, Scotty.

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