Last night I was privileged to be at a place that I have found myself many times over the past several years.  A place where many First Free MOPs moms (and sometimes dads) have found themselves for over a decade.  Barb’s home.

For many of you reading this blog, a sharp picture has instantly formed in your mind of a warm and welcoming entry way.  A kitchen where many congregate initially and a counter covered with plates of desserts (often ice cream ones!).  Then a living room filled with extra chairs and Bibles.  Ready for an evening of fellowship but more importantly an evening of meeting with Jesus.  A mom could not help but find herself at Barb’s because we are mostly truly ourselves when we are purposefully meeting to learn more about our Creator.

Last night was a truly wonderful evening.  We were assigned to choose a word in the Bible that has meaning to us and to study the relating verses.  So armed with concordances and dictionaries and computer Bible helps (thanks,!), we came in varied degrees of preparedness to share how these verses impact our lives.  The topics were varied but connected.  Wisdom, peace/trust, satisfy, courage, attitude/conduct, God’s faithfulness, (in)dependence, anger and forgiveness.  A meaningful time of sharing from the heart and praying for each other.  I left feeling SO blessed.  And a bit sentimental.

You see, after 13 years, Barb has decided she is ready to graduate from MOPs.  She needs to spend more time with her own family.  She also is ready to get more involved with her own church and leading Bible studies for women there.    She is ready to seek out new adventures.  To follow her Leader into the glorious unknown. (Thanks, SCC, for the lyrical thought!)

As with all graduations, there is definitely joy, but there is also sadness.  After all, Barb has been with First Free MOPs since the beginning.  She has been a smiling, reassuring presence at the meetings.  She has opened her home to moms countless times.  And while her door will always remain open, her welcome mat may not be there as often, as she pursues other avenues of ministry.  This will be an adjustment for all of us, including Barb.  A bittersweet ending.  While we are glad for her new opportunities, we will miss her so!

In a fumbling, inadequate way, we thank you, Barb!  Thank you for taking the time to invest in young moms who desperately needed encouragement and even more desperately needed Jesus.  For one cannot help but spend time with Barb without seeing Him reflected in her face.   Jesus is the One who has made all of the difference in Barb’s life, which has allowed her to make such a difference in ours!   The amount of lives that have been transformed by God through Barb’s influence will not be known until eternity.  And the words that echo today will be heard then by Barb, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”