I always cherish every first Thursday when mama friends gather at my home to talk about how we can become better mothers, better wives, better women, better humans!! We generally follow the outline of the Mothers of Influence suggested meeting flow—and then add in A LOT of other topics that we are excited about. We recently added a portion to the evening to just have an open Q&A where women can ask a question to the group to get help with something they are struggling with or to get advice and feedback on ANYTHING! We had some great bonding questions tonight and ideas were shared that seemed to light new thoughts.
We began the evening by introducing a few new friends to the group. As we each shared a few details of introduction, one mama shared that she had a sister who was suffering from depression. There were some great ideas and resources, meant to help, that were shared and among them was a suggestion to learn more about the non-profit…
The Emily Effect– resources for depression and anxiety
I strayed from the agenda and asked the group for some feedback on why this group is so helpful and beneficial to them. In launching Momni, I have been brainstorming ideas on how to reach women in groups and was curious to know the following…
Women’s groups are on the decline because we can kind of get that on the internet, TED talks, YouTube, etc. We have discussion here, but what else about showing up in person is helpful (the human interaction)? I want to craft the ideal meeting for Momni Circles, interfaith, multi-age. What makes it worth showing up for?
- Food & real conversation
- Vulnerability—There was a lot of bonding up front by having connection and companionship. A place to say, “I’m really struggling with that.” “Oh, me too!”
- Friendship—there isn’t distraction
- When you’re in person, there is focus, presence, emotion.
Next we got on with our agenda and began to study the life of a favorite historical heroine:
- Born into a prominent family but raised in a simple rural area.
- Her father, William Smith, was a reverend.
- She was sick a lot and so she didn’t have a strong formal education. However, her father and grandfather had big libraries and she was an avid reader. She read French and English literature.
- She was a powerful match to her husband who was about 9 years older. Because he was also interested in poetry, and they could have intellectual conversations that were educated, she was attracted to him.
- When they were married John was gone a lot—he was a diplomat and politician. She managed the farm and five children by herself. She was very progressive and ahead of her time. As a woman, wife, and mother she was very impressive. She would buy and sell land, as well as keep the business side of things while raising her children.
- Most of the children, including a stillborn, were born while John was away.
- She was against slavery and was able to speak her mind. She helped provide people with education no matter their skin color.
- Two sons died of alcoholism and she understood the pain that comes from that.
- Oldest daughter died from breast cancer and also a three-year-old daughter died.
- Over 11,000 letters that are collected in the Library of Congress that show great insight—it was a way for her to speak her mind.
- Very open minded and showed a great love for her husband. She would rather get a letter from him and pay $1.00 and eat only one meal a day.
- Suggested follow up: Movie series on Netflix on John Adams that is incredible, based on the book John Adams.
- Suggested follow up: Free biography online on Project Gutenberg—Abigail Adams and Her Times by Laura Elizabeth Howe Richards.
Then another mom shared that “both of my parents passed away and I was given a book called Angels: Agents of Light. At the end he talks about the scriptural references to angels; that really helped me with dealing with death.”
Then we opened up the general Q&A session:
- When your child is dating someone you don’t want them to be dating, what do you do?
- Involve them with the family as much as possible. If you’re close to them, they might of their own accord realize this might not be the best choice.
- Reach out in love when things go bad, then they’ll still be able to feel support and love.
- Friends—same idea—I need to be in that role of support and love about who she chooses, because I’m sending a message to her saying, “I want to support you in your choices and love you through the ups and downs.” When she discovers those aren’t the friends she wants to make, then we’re supporting.
- Anxiety is a learned behavior—how are we as mothers showing that anxiety rather than having faith?
- Pray to know the right questions
- At the right place at the right time—basics—church, scriptures
- Get into the right swing of things—keep my mind in the right place
- When they’re at peace—that’s when I bring up suggestions that I hope will stay in the back of their mind so that their subconscious can suggest in the right time some of those things.
- Pray, “It’s Your son (or daughter), show me the way.” That’s when we’re filled with courage.
- What does it feel like to give up something really important to you for someone you love?
- It’s a daily struggle—we’ve given up a lot as moms but I know that there is a higher purpose in giving those things up. We must plead to find purpose in what we’re doing now. It’s not that He took that desire away.
- Peace comes in that transition where you have certainty in what you’re doing.
- If I fulfill my dreams then my husband will feel unloved—I wish my husband felt the fulfillment of me pursuing my dreams. It’s unsettling imagining the future isn’t what you thought it would be. I know things will work out as I keep moving forward.
- Preference or principle—I hate the television and my husband is in movies! I think that’s a preference, not a principle. What’s at the core—what’s in the principle. How we manifest our free time, our love languages, is an ebb and flow and experience. It carves out the rough edges on both of us.
- There is so much I want to do but I just can’t because of the stage I’m in. I need to discern and do. When we come to God and say “Please confirm or correct my path,” I believe He truly will help us align our hearts on what’s principle vs. preference.
- It would be wise to put my husband first even if that meant that I had to sacrifice some things on my end. I would rather have a strong marriage and sacrifice some of my hopes, desires, and dreams so that hopefully in a few years he will see the sacrifice and similarly want to sacrifice and serve me. When we both serve each other, we both win.
- If something is at the risk of harming or hurting our relationship, let it go—sacrifice it!
- Be cautious that it doesn’t lean to control. Mother Eve touches me because she opened his eyes. He chose the fruit and that meant he chose her.
- Intimacy doesn’t have to always mean sex—it’s coming together, having touch of some kind.
- Brene Brown—The Gifts of Imperfection—we need to work through that vulnerability. There are always two parts to the complication. It can be heavier on one side or the other but things get blown out of proportion. We don’t fight, flight, or freeze but rather choose love and charity. We need to pray! In the past conversations I’ve started to pray more with my heart more focused, especially in those moments of discipline.
- Prayer can do that for us.
- Our next topic was meditation.
- Be silent, in a space, try to clear and focus my mind. Ask a question or think about a word and try to sit still, which is hard to do.
- Experience: I’ve received a lot of big, life changing answers. More experiences where nothing happens! When I first started I thought of how distracted my mind was. As soon as I tried I would think of 1000 things at once. The more I meditate the more I feel like it’s brain exercise. I can have better spiritual connection.
- Meditation exercises
- Clarity of mind but also breathing. Pondering the questions and exploring.
- What drove you to start trying it? Mentoring.
- Meditation is focusing on something—sometimes, guided meditations. My experience has been healing. I’ve come to know myself, which is terrifying and healing. I’m beginning, so I have a hard time training my mind.
- How long can you go? 20 minutes or 30 seconds!
- I do it when I’m nursing, driving, doing the dishes. What’s the benefit? Peace.
- There is power in learning to train our mind—to focus. To have control over our mind. Trying to find peace in chaos.
- Meditation is great if you value acting instead of reacting, peace, clarity of mind. Do your prayer and scripture and focus/meditate. You will sense a peaceful core.
- When I was first learning to do it I did it in the morning because I felt all my emotion was peaceful. I learned through meditation that when I get a feeling that disrupts that peace, I can use meditation to find peace.
- Start—30 seconds—be by yourself in a calm situation. If a timer helps to calm your mind, set it. Feel what it’s like to be you. Hey, how are you? Feel how it feels to have fingers, toes, etc. It’s focus.
- For me I started by saying “I love you.” “Thank you!” Share gratitude to your body. What does it feel like to breathe? Connect your mind and your body. It changes your focus.
- Count from 10 down with each breath.
- Just feel three breaths.
- Have a mantra that you recite—a scripture, or something about God’s love—if your mind is racing.
- If you’re worried and the thoughts keep on racing and you think, “I’m bad at this…” it’s harder. Don’t try to stop them. Think of them being on a river and passing by.
- It’s good to use guided meditation at first—there’s apps.
- You yearn for that peace. It helps you in every aspect of your life.
- Sugar addictions—when emotions aren’t given attention they will come out in a different way. Perhaps sugar. Instead go to your room and journal rather than going to the sugar.
- Let yourself feel! Suddenly the sugar cravings diminished. She knows now that when she craves sugar there is an emotion behind them. She needs to write and figure them out.
- Feel love and gratitude for yourself.
- When I’m hungry in my head, then I think I need food—but it’s really peace.
- Insight timer—app to use.
- A favorite quote on meditation by David O. McKay was shared: “We pay too little attention to the value of meditation, a principle of devotion. In our worship there are two elements: One is spiritual communion arising from our own meditation; the other, instruction from others, particularly from those who have authority to guide and instruct us. Of the two, the more profitable introspectively is the meditation. Meditation is the language of the soul. It is defined as ‘a form of private devotion, or spiritual exercise, consisting in deep, continued reflection on some religious theme.’ Meditation is a form of prayer. … Meditation is one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of the Lord.”
- Be silent, in a space, try to clear and focus my mind. Ask a question or think about a word and try to sit still, which is hard to do.
We then studied and discussed the February chapter of The Life Giving Home by Sally Clarkson that focuses on LOVE.
- Love: To love someone is to see them as God intended them.
- Stop and do those things that you need, but also be thoughtful as to when you go and when you need to stay—don’t guilt yourself.
- The things she remembers aren’t the hard moments, but the times she had precious times.
- What things come to our mind that are our lists of things we remember? Reading books to children, music, bed pile, singing with dishes, having lunch together, family talent show the last family together night of the month—good journal entry. Things you love and cherish about motherhood.
- We need to sacrifice to focus on love to love well. What do we have to give up to offer ourselves? There is always a cost. Time, labor, lost sleep, sacrifice of energy, service of worship to God as we craft a place of beauty and sanctuary for all who enter this presence.
- Make a strong family culture—create intentional family culture. That is what keeps your children safe in a secular world. They have a culture of faith and found love in that.
- Manners—most people reject them but she quickly transitions from the formality to honoring other people. Manners and the sense of honor towards others is being lost.
- Manners are better caught than taught. Teach by example!
- The pattern of manners that they have focused on is Stop, Look, and Listen! When you meet someone it is your stewardship to honor that person and see the value that God sees in that person.
- Family night lesson on that Stop, Look, and Listen.
- Stop, Drop, and Roll for anxiety!
- Birthday—celebrate the day! Have time to focus and love that individual. It takes time. I want our experiences to create that culture. On the day of the child’s birthday every month she has a special time. So if the child is born on the 14th then every 14th they know it’s their special day.
- Tea Time Discipleship—set aside 30 minutes for a child or a neighbor to sit and talk. Make a space to have a conversation and to show love.
- How to make your home and family, your sphere of influence, one that is inviting and welcoming.
- Husbands—text right before driving, call each other first, go to bed and wake up at the same time, try to have a date on Friday night and if it doesn’t work have it on Saturday or have a lunch. There is so much conversation that needs to happen. Dates are like therapy sessions. When we didn’t have a big budget we would make dates a priority so we would be our own therapists and have a bigger budget. There is a great therapeutic power in sitting for 2-3 hours in a restaurant. Eat out, purchase the real estate dynamic of three-hour-long conversations.
- Go on weekly dates.
- Find specific ways to serve your spouse and verbalize it: I’m doing this because I want to serve you. Intimacy is huge. Find the tiny ways to touch.
- Discipleship is always about relationship. It is about reaching their hearts.
- We need to study our husbands and children—figure out ways to love them that are meaningful to them.
- This is also giving a gift to ourselves.
- By investing this in them, they then experience this and our friendship can bloom.
- In this lifetime I may or may not see the results, but God knows and because He is the one that invented love, I can trust Him to transform all of my efforts into the stuff of eternity.
We ended with more delightful conversation, vulnerable sharing, and brainstorming ideas of what we hope to study together over the next month and come together again to discuss. We listed these items to add to our next agenda:
- Teaching From Rest—Sarah McKenzie
- Purity & Passion
- In His Steps to discuss marriage
- March chapter of Life Giving Home
- A Mother’s Influence
Anyone is welcome to join us for our Mothers of Influence—Mom Club next month. We meet every first Thursday at my home in Orem, UT. Just send me a message or comment if you’d like to join us in person or via Zoom video chat. We love to welcome new friends into our circle of mamas trying to figure out and improve the joyous journey of motherhood!