Thursday, July 27, 2017

See Jane Keep Going

I am half-way through doing the Whole 30 Diet. I'm proud of me! One of my sweet friends decided to join in the "fun" and started the program yesterday. I wish her much luck much success and patience! I think a few people who know me well (and my eating and drinking habits) decided "If Jane can do it, anybody can..."

"Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You are not your own." 1Corinthians 6:19 NLT

I was surprised that even as I walked the aisles of our healthy "Main and Vine" store the other night and Trader Joe's yesterday with list in hand, HOW MUCH STUFF THAT I CAN'T EAT! 

BUT...I am doing OK. I am not cheating, haven't really been craving anything in particular and when I look down at my tummy, it doesn't look like I'm 7 months pregnant anymore! I've got a whole new food vocabulary and over the weekend we made some delicious dinners including shrimp and vegetables with avocado pesto sauce over zucchini "zoodles."

Here's a look at the stash I brought home from TJ's. The Garlic Herb Chicken Sausages were very tasty, and the flowers were a "just because we need to enjoy simple pleasures."  $1.99 for Orange Gladiolus was a steal! They go great with the pink ones I cut that are growing out in our front yard.

I promised I would talk about my unhealthy eating habits sometime, so here you go! I'm a child of the 60's and 70's, and both my parents worked full-time from the time I was in second grade. That said, meal preparation was a combination of a tight budget, and not a lot of time! Keep in mind, I was raised in the Midwest...we ate differently than families do here in the PNW. I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

My Growing-Up Years: 
Typical Breakfasts: Poptarts, cereal, Instant Breakfast shakes, Hawaiian Punch, Eggs, Pancakes or Waffles on the weekends.
Typical lunches: school lunches, peanut butter or bologna and cheese sandwiches, Pringles, snack puddings and fruit, Hostess treats for field trips.
Dinnertime: LOTS of casseroles, cube steaks, iceberg lettuce with homemade thousand island dressing (mayonnaise and ketchup) and canned vegetables. We didn't eat out much but when we did it was a Friday night at Pizza Hut!

Whoa. I gained more than the "freshman ten." I really took advantage of the Dorm cafeteria buffet line. If I didn't like the main course I could always make a P and J sandwich followed by the ice cream machine for dessert. My besties and I ordered LOTS of Dominos pizzas and helped the Frat boys drink their kegs. Self-control towards food and drink just hasn't been in my "make-up." 

I need to give a shout-out to my freshman college roommate and Chi Omega sister, (Cathy Marx) Catherine Ebeling RN BSN. She wrote the book The Flat-Belly Kitchen: Superfoods For A Flat Stomach: Lose 2-3 Inches From Your Belly in Less Than A Month. Many of her recipes are Whole 30 Compliant, and I will definitely be incorporating her meals into my life in the future.

Raising my Family:
I did get a grip on my weight after college/before my wedding and went a bit up and down with four pregnancies. Fresh food DOES cost more, and while we were raising our four kids we were pinching pennies and just trying to fill their tummies. I bought LOTS OF BOXES; macaroni and cheese, Stovetop stuffing, frozen pizza, etc. I love that despite their childhood lack of great nutrition they've learned to be healthy eaters as young adults. Menopause has not been my friend. Enough said.

Before I began this Whole 30 Program:
Wine. Lots of wine. Crackers and cheese, Greek Yogurts, English muffins and peanut butter, Blue Cheese dressing, BIG portions, burgers and fries, Teriyaki chicken and fried rice, pasta, French Bread and butter, desserts, ice cream, Margaritas with lots of chips and salsa. You get the idea...not a lot of self-control.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 
gentleness and self-control.Galatians 5:22

Some reflections after 15 days: 

  • It does gets easier to be around friends who are enjoying wine while I'm sipping a La Croix. It's sometimes entertaining!
  • My energy has improved and I haven't had a headache in two weeks.
  • I haven't weighed myself (following the rules) but my pants are looser and my husband has lost 11 pounds (he cheated and weighed himself.)
  • Lots of people have "Whole 30" stories~it's a community. 
  • I don't yawn as much. (My friends noticed.)
  • I wish the restaurant "Flower Child" wasn't only in California, Texas and Arizona! 
  • Fresh, clean, Paleo-type food really is better for us and does NOT come in "boxes."
  • Even though it can be frustrating to discover all the things I CAN'T have, there are lots of interesting options.
Some Tips:
  • Do not drink a Kombucha at night. I won't be having it again for the next two weeks. Sources say it has sugar (the devil!) Apparently it has natural caffeine and I was awake half the night!
  • Spicy V8 and cashews and almonds or an apple really tide me over at work.
  • There are TONS of resources online (especially Pinterest recipes.)
  • Give away all your Dairy and Bread to friends.
  • Clean out your refrigerator and freezer of non-compliant foods and put them in a garage freezer if you have one.
  • Hide all your wine and spirits in the closet. (Out of sight, out of mind.)
There are a few places around my Harbor Town I really miss going to, just to enjoy the gorgeous view while sipping a glass of Vino. (Hang in there Jane, just two more weeks!) Plus...Napa Valley is only fourteen days away!!

Photo source:

"God will strengthen you with his own great power so that you will not give up when tempting food troubles come, but you will be patient." Colossians 1:11-20

In His Grip,
xo jane

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Journey So Far: My Whole 30 Adventure

"How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion!"
Psalm 84:5

One week down, three to go... Hi Friends and family! In my last post, I might have vented mentioned that I am doing the Whole 30 Diet. I sort of jumped on the train with my husband and youngest daughter without asking "where are we going?"

So...except for the first day when I may or may not have had wine while in Portland (no, I did NOT start over like the rules say,) I have been following the program. I am NOT doing this by myself or by my own strength. I have amazing friends who are encouraging me, holding me accountable and giving me menu suggestions. My husband and daughter are good teammates. I also have received help from God when I'm feeling weak.

"People need more than Bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God."
Matthew 4:4
(Jesus was tempted for 40 days in the wilderness.)

Here are some reflections after eight days:

  • I had some really unhealthy eating and drinking habits. (I'll write more about that later.)
  • Just like a computer occasionally needs to be restarted, my body needed a re-set.
  • I adjusted to black coffee!! 
  • Day 5 was UGLY. My husband and I were CRANKY!
  • Sugar is in SO MANY THINGS! It is scary to find out how many food items have sugar added. No wonder I've been an "addict." 
  • Little things are exciting; when I realized my mouthwash was Alcohol free.
  • Sweet Potatoes are my new best friend.
  • I am surprised that I really don't have cravings for desserts! 
Here are some tips:
  • Have plans/things to look forward to or reward yourself with that DON'T include food. I got some new flowers to plant in the front yard. Perhaps in the next week or two I can book a massage! 
Melanie Bolen wrote a good article that includes ways to reward yourself that don't include food.

  • Use a fun water bottle. I got a new cap for my Hydro Flask and it makes me happy. I take it everywhere.
  • An easy way to give up cream in your coffee is just pour some expired half and half in your cup and watch it curdle-that will help "turn you off."
  • Shop at Walmart a couple days before you start and watch lots of overweight, unhealthy people fill their shopping carts with fattening snacks and processed foods. (Sorry if that sounds judgmental, but it was true...)
  • If you discover something you thought was compliant isn't on the "can have" list, don't quit. Just don't eat it again!
  • Tell your girlfriends what you're doing so they'll support you! My sweet friends have cheered me on at two gatherings this week. We all like to hear "good job!" It was a tad sad to watch delicious wine being enjoyed and not being able to partake, BUT... I learned I can still have a very fun time SOBER. (I also learned I'm just as random and spacey as I am when I'm tipsy.)
  • If you hear that someone is doing the program, tell them they look slimmer and more healthy-whether it's true or not! Those words were balm to my soul.

Even though I'm on a "train" I never intended to board~I plan to finish this journey!

In His Grip, 

photo sources: National Railway Museum, wikiHow

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Here's the Truth

Happy weekend friends! Our town has an annual art festival happening downtown, so we wandered down the hill. Did I mention how much I love living downtown? In ten minutes we can walk to our "main drag" on the waterfront! But then we have to walk back up...

I am being challenged right now. My daughter decided to do the month-long eating program called Whole 30 and my husband wanted to encourage her and be an accountability partner, so he chose to do it too.

I want and need to lose weight. I need to curb my sugar addiction. But~there's a part of me who has NEVER wanted to do this program. Giving up ALL dairy and bread? NO alcohol?! I've gone without wine during my four pregnancies, haven't I already done my "Time?" It's just not much fun for summertime and socializing. They claim they can change my life...

If I don't continue than I'll be a "quitter." I don't want to be a quitter and I want to prove to my family and myself that I can DO this, but I don't WANT to!! I feel a bit like Paul in Romans 7:19
"I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway."

I was on a bit of a rant Thursday. Usually I'm a cheerful person and try to say encouraging things. That day however, I found myself out-of-sorts. I accompanied my husband and one of his co-workers on an overnight business trip to Portland because...why not? I had two days off work, I love Portland, free hotel stay and I could see my friend who happens to be my daughter-in-law's Mom!

What I learned is that Portland is not the place to go if you are on a strict budget AND attempting the Whole 30 eating program. After my black coffee, eggs and bacon, I started my window shopping since I had two hours to kill. First I headed over to Nordstrom to see the Anniversary Sale. Now WHY did I think that was a good idea? Even the mark-downs weren't in the family budget! Besides, I'm trying to become more of a minimalist so more stuff isn't the answer. Oh but the shoes... so many cute ones! Do you check out their annual sale?

As I walked around the downtown area all I could see were food trucks and restaurants containing things I couldn't eat or drink. (There was also lots of construction.) I had cheated the night before and had a glass of wine (Oregon Pinot Noir!) so I was determined to stay focused. I had a salad and chicken, then Ubered over to meet my friend for Pedicures and to catch up. The salon (Rex) was lovely and we had fun sans food or drink.

I discovered an hour later that my sandal had totally moofed (is that a word?) my big toe polish. Boo! By the time we made it back to the Harbor after spending three hours in heavy traffic I was DONE. (Ask my poor friends who actually sat with us while we gobbled our appropriate food down at a local spot around 9:00 p.m.) Note to our waitress: Next time, do not make a cranky mama wait 45 minutes for her SALAD when she's had a rough day and is hangry~your tip will be low and you're lucky I didn't yell!

As I contemplate the "should I quit the Whole 30 plan and just cut back on most things??", I'm reminded of one thing I successfully completed this summer and it took way more than 30 days.

I watched all seven seasons of "Pretty Little Liars!"

The show is described as "Four friends band together against an anonymous foe who threatens to reveal their darkest secrets, while unraveling the mystery of the murder of their best friend."
I know, it's ridiculous that I got sucked in as a 50 year old mama (yep, I'm now 57) but it was addictive. At the time it started, I had just moved to a new town in Illinois and my daughter and I enjoyed watching it together. It was totally out of my normal genre of shows, was totally unbelievable, had millions of text messages, and didn't exactly follow my beliefs and values. They touched on the topic of sexual orientation which definitely wasn't my favorite part, but I kept watching to find out who "A" was! My daughter Sarah stopped watching...I did not. NO ONE else I knew watched it, so I didn't have anyone to talk to about it!

I was a bit blown-away by how the writers wrapped things up.  I won't spoil it for you in case you'd like to binge watch it on Netflix. The fashion and beauty were always fun to see, lots of twists, Ezra was quite good-looking, coffee was always involved, cocktails once they turned 21, and ALWAYS loyal friendship. Through thick or thin, the girls stuck together. (Well, except toward the end of the series.)

While we were in Los Angeles last Fall we went on the Warner Brothers back lot tour.  I'm still recovering from learning that the towns of Stars Hollow (Gilmore Girls) and Rosewood (Pretty Little Liars) are the same sets with the Chapel removed. What??!!

I have a group of friends I do life with, and we send a lot of group text messages. We however, don't lie and we do a lot of praying together. We ALL need friends to encourage us, love on us, and hold us accountable.

"You use steel to sharpen steel,
    and one friend sharpens another."
Proverbs 27:17 MSG

Back to the Whole 30 issue... besides my family, I do have friends who have done this program and survived. Also, I suppose if I want to look like the cast of Pretty Little Liars, I should embrace the Whole 30 eating plan?

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

To be continued...

P.S. If you ever watch PLL, let me know who your favorite character was, and if you were surprised by the conclusion.

In His Grip,

(Top Photo source:

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friends, Fathers, Some Favorites, and Faith

Happy Friday! Yes, I know it's been a couple weeks since I've written or posted. Why? Good question and I have no answer... It's not like I have school-age children with end-of-year activities and graduation for my son happened in May. I have had a lot on my mind, but thoughts wouldn't come out on the page as written words that would be at all encouraging.

My heart has been heavy the last couple of weeks. A very good college friend of my husband's passed away this month. He was one of our groomsmen in our wedding 34 years ago this week. A life cut too short. My memories of G.P. always include laughter. Greg was very talented, a friend to MANY and he always made people feel special and loved. As I grieve, I pray and trust that he came to know Jesus before he died. We aren't able to get back to Indiana next week for his service, but my prayers and love are with his wife and son that he left behind...
(The happy picture at the top was taken of G.P. and I on one of my visits home to Indianapolis.)

There are many, many things that happen on Earth that don't make sense and we won't get answers to until we get to Heaven. Until that day, I hope and pray that you and I can hang on tightly to God's promises and our faith. as we navigate the ups and downs of life.

Since Father's Day is this Sunday, I've been thinking about my incredible Daddy who passed away 24 years ago. I think of him OFTEN. I have his photo on my dresser and memories surface when I least expect them. His name was Vaughn Dube' Story and I am proud to be his youngest daughter. To any of you out there who have lost your Dads, I know and feel your pain and hope your memories bring you comfort.
I don't think they had colored photos back when I was little...

Dancing at my sister's wedding...

There is no way I can compete with the Mother's Day weekend "extravaganza" Mike spoiled me with back in May, but Sunday I'll be celebrating the amazing father of our four children. I wish the kids could be home! When I fell in love with my husband I had no clue what a fantastic partner he would be in raising our children. As each little one joined our family he adored them, put up with the crazy times and now continues to love and support each one even though they all live out on their own. He teaches, counsels, equips, coaches, encourages, points them to Jesus, helps and even acts as a financial advisor/money-lender. He's going to be an amazing Grandpoppy some day...

Mike with Baby #4
Dinner out, "back in the day."

I also want to wish my husband's father a Happy Father's Day. He is a retired Air Force Colonel who was gone serving our Country quite a bit during his four kids younger years, yet taught them how to lead, make decisions, help your neighbor, fix all the things, keep a beautiful yard and show respect. He also has passed on his talent for making great fires!

Grandpa and Baby Mitch (30 yrs. ago!)

Some current favorite things include: 
1. Snack: Nature Valley Almond Butter Granola Cups. (Pastor Megan, you got me hooked!)
2. Listening to: the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey Podcasts while I take walks.
3. Making: Protein smoothies made with a frozen banana, almond milk, vanilla protein, spinach and peanut butter powder.

4. Wearing: My new Lula Roe leggings I purchased at the silent auction last week. SO soft and comfy!
5. This worship song: "Our Father" by Bethel Music. (In honor of Father's Day weekend.)
I love the lyrics, tune and how when the team at my church sings this I always sense the Holy Spirit. I hope it resonates with you too!

My VERY favorite was celebrating our 34th anniversary in Seattle last Sunday! We put the top down, had Dairy Queen treats on our drive up to the city, walked around a street fair, enjoyed a beer at Brouwer's Cafe and ate outside on Lake Union at Duke's Chowder House. (Our first dog's name was Duke!) The sun was shining and it was perfect. I'm thankful to be in this marriage journey with my husband. Did I also mention what a great Dad is is?!

Wishing you a Happy Weekend wherever and with whoever you'll be spending time with. I'm hoping you have met and know GOD, the OUR Father in Heaven and for all Eternity.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"  1 John 3:1

In His Grip,
xo Jane

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What I Learned This Spring

Lots of lessons learned and things discovered this Spring:

1. Graduations, kitties and babies bring family and friends together. 
My #3 graduated with his Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (T.J. is in the photo at the top, along with his sisters Sarah and Allie.) so we headed over to spend the weekend in Spokane, WA. While there we had lots of time around tables of food, met the newest kitty in the family (Layla) and bumped into a friend from our former church small group while visiting a newborn baby. 

2. We had the wettest weather in 122 years here in the Pacific Northwest. 
I really didn't need the news to inform me of this fact; I lived through it! SO not fun. SO sick of rain. SO realize that the East Coast was hammered with snow and there was horrible rain last month in the Midwest. BUT... we had relentless wet, gray days. UGH. We've finally turned a corner and had a warm, sunny Memorial Weekend!

3. Seattle's Governor passed a bill allowing sunblock to be allowed in schools without a doctor's note. 
Did you know this was an ongoing battle? Did you know that sweet kids often get sunburns at recess or field days because teachers haven't been allowed to apply sunscreen without a doctor's note because it is considered a pharmaceutical? As a fair-skinned blond who has had skin cancer twice, I say "good job!" I do think it's ironic that Washington is the State to issue this, considering our lack of ongoing sunshine. I am not sure if other states have passed similar bills.

4. Talking honestly about beauty and insecurity gets a lot of reactions. 
My little blog doesn't have many subscribers so I normally post a link on Facebook where I get much more "traffic." Back in March I wrote a post entitled Let's Get Real: About Beauty. You get check it out here. I got SO many people giving it a thumbs up or thanking me for being real. Golly, guess we all have a bit of insecurity. And then I remind myself that God looks at the heart... 1Samuel 16:7

5. Spring Break Get-Aways with adult daughters are so fun!
Between the desperate need for warmth and sunshine, plus wanting to spend time with my two daughters who teach on the other side of the State, we were excited to head South to San Diego. I wrote a three part series on our trip including food, what we did and where we stayed. Check out Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. Looking at all the pictures makes me want to go back!

6. One of my favorite Bible Study teachers/authors, has a famous Dad.

I am just finishing up the study "Armor of God" by Priscilla Shirer. It's SO good! I also enjoyed Priscilla as an actress in the Christian movie called "War Room." I watched it at our church's Women's Retreat. 

I did NOT know until page 127 of my study, that her father is Dr. Tony Evans, a well-known Pastor. That explains her passion and quest for knowledge and sharing the Gospel. I think it's impressive that she doesn't bring up his name or identity unless it's relevant. He was the first African-American to earn his doctorate in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Here's one of his quotes that I love:

"Faith is acting like it is so, even when it is not so, so that is might be so, simply because God said so."

7. My Ancestry DNA results weren't quite what I'd hoped for...

My sweet husband gave me the kit for Christmas. All I had to do was spit in a little vile, send it in, and WAIT. I waited three months (they claimed a big Christmas rush) and finally got the email with the little pie-chart diagram of my origins. Here's what I got:
  •  75% Great Britain
  •  8% Scandinavia
  •  5% Italy/Greece

No offense Princess Kate, but I was really hoping for WAY more Norwegian to show up vs. Great Britain. Meh. I do have a tiny bit of Irish and Scottish blood, which is good! The results also concluded that my genetic communities settled in the Ohio River Valley. Yep, I was born and raised in Indiana. Would I recommend the DNA test? Well, if you're really curious and interested in your ancestry you might get more exciting results than I did. It was kinda pricey. I believe about $90. 

8. Mystery foot injury causes weight gain to dog (and me!)
I woke up a couple months ago with my foot throbbing. I might have strained it on a bench press machine at the YMCA. An X-ray didn't show a fracture, but I continued to limp and wasn't able to work out or take walks with my dog for about two months.  I finally began P.T. at the beginning of May and after three weeks of therapy I am much better! Due to my mysterious injury, not only did I gain five pounds, but my puppy dog is chubbier too! I am starting to take Sydney on walks again, and we're BOTH on diet food.

almost forgot about our dreadful Winter weather over the Memorial weekend since we enjoyed three days of summer-like warm temps and sunshine. When it is pretty here, it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth!

 "I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth."
Psalm 121:1-2

Thanks for reading about my little corner of the world. (At the end of each season, I link up with Emily P. Freeman from "Chatting at the Sky" and other bloggers to share what we've been learning...)
What did YOU learn this Spring?

In His Grip,
xo Jane

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Bit of Bragging, Some Beef, and Babies!

A bit of rain couldn't dampen our smiles!

It's going to be a sunny Memorial Weekend here in the PNW and we are HAPPY about that! Let me start by acknowledging, thanking and remembering the men and women who are the reason we have a Memorial Weekend; those who died while serving in America's armed forces.

I was born and raised a Hoosier, so of course I'm thinking about the 500 Mile race too, which takes place on Sunday in Indianapolis. "Lady (only one woman this year) and Gentlemen, start your engines!!"

So I must brag. My third child graduated last weekend with his Master's in Family and Marriage Therapy and he is already employed. Successful Launch! At the moment he is in Sri Lanka, and then Nepal, studying the culture. It's his final class. Prayers for safety would be appreciated.

If you are a Mom of an elementary-high school son who is causing you anxiety due to his lack of motivation and/or desire to read or study, let me give you hope and encouragement. A LOT can change once your son goes to college. A LOT. My boy who didn't like to read and spent way too many hours playing X-Box. Now he's earned an Undergraduate and Graduate Degree from a stellar University (Whitworth), he LOVES to read, and he is passionate about helping others. He's also a husband and wonderful brother. My Mommy heart is just so full and proud.

About Beef: Our family has a tradition. Every time one of our four children entered college as a freshman and then again when they graduated, we all drove a half hour East of Spokane to the Wolf Lodge Inn Steakhouse in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho. It's a "hole in the wall" spot with lots of taxidermy on the walls, but amazing steak, and rolls to die for. By the way, there is fish too, if you're not a Carnivor. With four undergrad and two graduate degrees to celebrate, we've been there ten times! Look through the sign-in welcome book for the Carver family!

Here are some pictures from last year when Sarah graduated:

That's our oldest son, Mitch, in the middle. He wasn't able to fly up from L.A. this time.

About Babies:
I was going to the Steam Plant Grill Friday afternoon and I discovered a Baby Boutique right next door called "French Toast Baby." Oh! So cute! Perhaps this was a sign that I'm not supposed to dream of moving to Spokane to be near my kids and opening a baby store...

I am a proud Grandma...of three kitties! My son and his wife have Walter and my youngest daughter has an eight year old rescue cat name Mimosa (Memo.)

 Walter did NOT want his picture taken.
This is Memo-I never actually saw her on this trip. She hid under the couch the WHOLE time!

Sarah decided she needed a kitten too, so meet Layla May! Oh my goodness she's adorable! We all had fun playing with her during our "TJ send-off brunch" at Sarah's apartment.

I also got the privilege of meeting a darling newborn human baby belonging to a friend's sweet daughter. Oh little Mary, you are perfect!

My friend Kimberly was in town too, so we got to catch up while we snuggled little Mary.

Other hi-lights of our trip to Spokane last weekend included dinner and stories at TJ and Katie's apartment, seeing Allie's cute spot (yep, 3 or my 4 kids live in Spokane) and watching the nighttime Lilac parade off the patio of our hotel. Night time parade plus cocktails? Win, win!

Of course we popped into two of my favorite places downtown on Sunday before leaving; Atticus, a coffee house with great gifts and Anthropologie. I was good, I didn't buy anything, I just looked!!

As I finish this post, I'm sitting out on my deck, listening to the birds chirp and the boats honk, sipping a glass of Rose' and munching on Trader Joe's pizza while I enjoy the beauty down in the Harbor. I am blessed. Thank you for taking the time to read "See Jane Learn" and I wish you all a joy-filled Memorial Weekend!

In His Grip, 
xo Jane

P.S. I want to give a shout-out and congratulations to my Omaha nieces Mattie and Nicole, and my nephew Connor, who are celebrating graduations this weekend. Love you!

Friday, May 12, 2017

MOPS: The Gift of Belonging

What a great Core Team to serve with!

Being a Mom is the biggest blessing in my life, but I would never have survived and thrived raising my four if it weren't for my tribe of Mom friends. One of the BEST places to connect with Mamas is MOPS. Yesterday was the last MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) gathering for the year at our church, and once again I am thankful that I get to be a part of this awesome ministry.

My love of the MOPS organization began almost twenty years ago when my husband’s job
was forcing our family of six to move across the country. I did NOT want to leave the
Midwest and attempt to find community in the little Pacific Northwest town of Gig
Harbor, Washington. I had already moved once from my childhood hometown in Indiana
to Illinois and had made new friends while helping to lead a Mom’s Bible Study group.

The weekend we flew out West to house hunt, we visited Chapel Hill Presbyterian
Church. We knew we'd found our "church home," now I just needed to find some new friends!...I slipped their bulletin in my purse and pulled it out to reread when
I returned to my Illinois kitchen table. I saw a paragraph describing MOPS. A place to
hang out with other Mamas with childcare? Maybe even make a new friend? Yes please...

I quickly called the long-distance phone number and asked to be registered.
As I explained to the kind, understanding coordinator (thanks Randi!) that we’d be moving to the area right before school started, not only did she make me feel welcome and encouraged in our conversation, but she even recommended a fabulous preschool for my youngest daughter.

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
Deuteronomy 31:8

My first MOPS meeting back in the Fall of 1997 is such a happy memory for me. I met
so many women who helped me acclimate to the Harbor town that didn’t even have a
Target.  Maybe it wasn't such a terrible place after all! I began to feel like I belonged.
My youngest daughter thrived in her Moppets class and her teacher (love you Shelli!) became one of my best friends. At each meeting there is either an informative speaker, video, or hands-on learning activity followed by time to listen and chat with the others mommies at the table.

I was asked to take on the role of discussion group leader (DGL) and the
following year served as the DGL coordinator. We’d only lived here a year when my
husband had a very serious injury falling off our roof onto the cement driveway while
hanging Christmas lights. The moms at my MOPS table and the other DGL’s provided
meals, childcare and prayer. My family was well-loved and cared for.

I occasionally run into the women I met that first Fall in MOPS at the grocery, or Target
(yes we finally got one in 2002!) and it is a joy to catch up and talk about our lives and

It’s been my privilege to continue participating in the MOPS ministry in the role of a
Mentor Mom. Our group currently has eight mentors, one for each table/DGL, and they
are some of my closest friends. 
Our mentor group this year.

My part-time job at a local baby boutique, Charlie Barnes Kids,  allows me to easily bring up the MOPS ministry to new-to-town and expectant moms and invite them
to attend.

What have I learned over the past 19 years thanks to MOPS?

* We all long to be “known” and have a need to belong...
* Love is often a hug and a hot dish delivered to your door...
* There are many different styles of parenting and we can learn from each other...
* Public speaking and leadership skills are learned by practicing...
* Being a Mommy is the hardest, most rewarding job in the world...
* Lots of women meet Jesus and plug into the local church because of MOPS...

MOPS is my “happy place!” I get to give encouragement to younger women as they
experience the joys and struggles of motherhood and try to point them to Jesus, serve God at my church, and whenever possible, snuggle babies! 

If you want to know more about the organization, go to If you live in the Harbor and are interested in registering for next Fall (the childcare is fabulous and fills up fast!) go to the form on the Chapel Hill website. The theme for next year is "free indeed."

Have a Happy Weekend and to all you Moms out there, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

In His Grip,
xo Jane