Two Wednesdays out of the month, I drag myself out of bed early and hijack the kids out of bed (which, by the way, one should never do!) I scramble to get every one's clothes on, throw food in their stomachs, wash remnants off their faces, do a last bathroom call/diaper check, and pack their bags. Somewhere along the way, I get dressed also, put makeup on while holding Adden on my hip, and throw my hair back into a ponytail - because, well, there just isn't time for anything else. There are all sorts of protests in that 1 1/2 hour span, including hungry Adden screaming himself purple in the face, Selah whining because her milk in an Elmo cup instead of a Cinderella cup, and then the refrain, "No go to MOPS, no go!" once she realizes where we are headed. (Selah has recently entered into a separation anxiety phase, so she is not so thrilled about the childcare, even though she should be.)
After a 12 min car ride, we end up at the church quite frazzled and harried, but there nonetheless. If I don't have spit up all over my shirt, I think I look fabulous. I scamper to the childcare room, unpeal a screaming Selah off of me, and head upstairs with Adden in tow. We sneak into the meeting during the devotions, since we are always about 10 minutes late on a good day. Following the devotions is a message, a breakfast buffet, a craft, and lots of talking, laughing, and listening.
Yesterday wrapped up my second year in the MOPS program. I actually can't believe I've been so faithful, considering how hard it is just to arrive. But I am there almost every meeting, barring sickness or work. And I love it. The messages are relevant and informative, the food is my splurge, the craft is always cute and practical, the childcare is great, there are newsletters to take home and relish during naptime, and even the room is made to look welcoming and adorable. Every last detail is planned and organized with careful precision. But none of these components would ever keep me making the effort, meeting after meeting.
What I have come to love is the relationships that I have built. I can't tell you how much I have needed other women, my age, going through the same stage of life as me. We commiserate over sleepless nights, share suggestions about how to discipline kids, encourage one another to seek God, and laugh over our cameos in each others' dreams. I especially thank God for my small group's authenticity, the lessons they have taught me, and the listening they have done.
Winn Collier said, "One of the beauties - as well as the prickly points- of Christian faith is that it is never intended to be lived in theory. Faith is fleshed out among particular people, in particular places. Some of the most important elements of our spiritual pilgrimage will be names - names of friends we've had and places we've lived. There will be people we couldn't get enough of and people who hung around way too much. There will be places that felt like home..."
I suppose that's why I keep coming back, making the effort to be there early Wednesday mornings. It just feels like home.