The MOPS 2019-20 Theme

Theme Verse

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 
– John 10:10 (NIV)

Are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?* Sometimes we need the reminder that life is meant to be lived to the full. That it is OK to enjoy ourselves, to let our hair down, to worry less, and to really suck the marrow out of life (who even says that? I guess we do now). Because as far as we can tell, this is exactly how God intended for us to live – fully and abundantly.

It’s easy to forget what that feels like, though. One day we’re wide-eyed and the possibilities are endless, and then slowly, without even realizing it, we find ourselves dulled by the routines and disappointments that are a part of being human. We slowly start to lose our optimism and zest for life.

All that is about to change, because this next year is about the full life. Which means living grateful, joyful and hopeful. It means being led by the Good Shepherd and trusting that everything is working out exactly as it should.

We’ll say farewell to autopilot and regain our vitality. We’ll have more fun, get to know new people, fear less about what could go wrong or what others think. We will enjoy our kids like never before, and someday, when they wonder what life to the full looks like, they will look no farther than how mom does it.

But here’s one important thing to remember: this idea of life to the full isn’t about striving for more. It’s not about striving at all. It is about recognizing that life isn’t a bunch of goals to achieve, or people to please; but an invitation to savor, delight and enjoy your life just a little more.

If you have ever felt like you aren’t enough, if you have forgotten to have fun or feel like you have lost your spark, then this is the fresh start you have been waiting for.
In order to live To the Full this year, we will:

Have More Fun: Fun is often the first thing to go when life gets hectic because it seems frivolous and extravagant. This year we are going to remember that we can still have fun even when life is hard. We are going to let the laundry wait and build a fort with our kids. We’ll stop waiting until everything on our to-do list is finished until we have fun, and do one thing a month just because it makes us happy. This is our year to remember what it feels like to enjoy ourselves.

Fear Less: No more fearing what people might think or say. No more letting fear paralyze us or concern about the future rob us of the present. At any given moment, there is courage inside of each of us that may be lying dormant. This year we’ll bring it to life. We’ll change our ways of thinking, calm our anxiety, and surrender our need to control. This is the year of faith over fear, and abundance over scarcity.

Find Our People: This year we’ll meet our neighbors, learn the name of the cashier at the grocery store, and invite our MOPS table over for dinner. We need our people, and they need us. Maybe it means asking someone we respect to be our mentor, or perhaps it means marching in a parade, throwing candy and inviting other moms to MOPS. Finding our people takes some vulnerability, but it will also mean being known, belonging, and helping others feel the same. Life to the full happens best with people by our side.

Parenting Check-Up!

In my house, we are less than two weeks away from a major milestone in parenting – our first born is heading to Kindergarten. I don’t know what milestones you may be reaching – rolling over for the first time or graduating high school, but through it all loving your children well is the ultimate goal. Family Life has created a list of questions to help you know where you may be in that process or to help identify areas of growth.

The top two questions for me to be able to answer better right now are:

28. How am I doing on teaching them biblical conflict resolution? Am I teaching them to be true peace-makers … or peace-fakers, or peace-breakers?

30. Am I striking a good balance between protecting my kids and equipping them for whatever they may encounter when they step outside of my home, now and in the future?

So what questions do you need to answer authentically? What are the things to celebrate and the one thing to improve?

When Your a Person Who Likes Change



Yes, I like change.

I was a girl born into change. Before I entered the third grade, I had lived in four states and six different homes. By the time I began junior high, I’d been a student in six different schools. When recounting this part of my past, I am so often met with concern. “Oh, I’m so sorry that was your childhood,” or “Why on earth did you move around so much?”

The funny thing is, I rather like this little tidbit about myself. I remember entering the third grade in one state and feeling antsy because it was my third year in the same school. At the time, I couldn’t pinpoint the trait exactly but what I know now is that I was and I am “restless.”

Maybe “restless” is harsh. “Adventurous?” That sounds nicer. Certainly, “nomadic” or “willing to try new things” – that’s pretty catchy. What these words and phrases describe about me is something that’s taken me a long time to resolve in myself: I like change. And if I’m not careful, I become bored with pieces of life.

Having children seemed certain to be the death sentence of this part of myself. Having children meant moving into our forever home in the suburbs of somewhere, suddenly learning to become a morning person, craving the same five meals each week, and developing a taste for yoga pants as daily wear. Please hear me: there is nothing wrong with any of this, and on some level, I covet the beautiful normalcy that traditional family brings to life. But here’s the thing: It’s not me.

I say that now without fear, though sometimes people still don’t like it. And it was these opinions that used to eat away at me. When we would plan cross-country road trips with an infant and be ridiculed, I’d worry maybe there was a risk I didn’t understand? But she did great! When we packed up the tiny bungalow and moved to New York City for a few years, many well-meaning individuals expressed their worries about babies in the city. While I stressed over what I might be depriving them of, they thrived like any other city kid. We traveled the eastern seaboard, flew them across the Atlantic and even went on vacation in Mexico – all under scrutiny from those who aren’t restless, who don’t fancy change.

Perhaps being born into an evolving life, it seems more natural for me to raise my daughters that way. Now we’re back in Colorado – another change in their short life spans, and we’ve already lived in a couple of houses. I know it is not always ideal. There are times (many, many times) I find myself growing into that yearning for routine, security, a place to build all the memories.

But what I can’t resist? The temptation that lies behind asking, “I wonder what’s around the next corner?” Maybe, raising children this way, they’ll find themselves to be adventure-seekers too. Maybe they will rebel against it and dig down roots as deeply as they can. But at the very least, what I hope to foster is an understanding that change doesn’t have to be scary. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it is hard, even heartbreaking. It is almost inevitably uncertain.

Also, it can lead to the loveliest of things. It can take you on a journey unimagined, full of surprises, in which can be reaped greater reward. So, whether the change is a conscious choice or the sort of scenario the universe crams down my throat, I try to stir up that restless part of me that hopes, “Maybe this is an adventure?!” With that buoy beneath our spirits, may my children easily accept the changes that are certain in this life – may they find the fun in it too.


Sarah Ann Noel married into a family where she became the fourth Sarah Noel, so in the interest of originality, Sarah Ann Noel it shall be.

Sarah is a wife, a mother, and a prodigious over-thinker, fueled by superfluous amounts of caffeine. She likes to color coordinate her books and leave her hair messy. She and her family travel a lot, which Sarah documents through photos and video. Sarah is a freelance writer and contributes regularly to several magazines and online platforms.

She is working on her first book.

Thanks to Our Sponsors!

We had such a great time at the High Tail Bunny 5k & Fun Run! We are so grateful to the sponsors who made the race possible! Please review below and thank our sponsors by supporting these great local businesses!

SafeCom Security
Suburban Women’s Specialists
StormGuard Michael Brozino
Whole Food Health Coach Stephanie Wolfe
AngECanSew Angie Evans
Suwanee Whole Life Co-op Nora Lea
Sugar Hill Body Fit Bootcamp Derek Rackely
AdvoCare Leighann Triplett
Rest Assured Infant Nursing Wendy
JMJ Speech & Language Solutions
Cheryl McCullough
Elite Dance Academy
Display It
Atlanta Estate Sales Companies
SiLK exteriors Kurt Metzger

Aren’t We Beautiful?



Imagine staring down inside your body with God eyes. You could perceive every shift of blood and thought, each movement of bone and muscle. You could see your brain changing, your soul evolving, your heart beating as you move along your journey.

If you had God eyes, you could watch the ground, the country, the world all around you. It would be teeming with microbes, insects, green life shooting upward, people, animals and water moving everywhere. You could watch the air you breathe shifting, the clouds whirling by, the people around you touching one another.

Even now, you’re changing. As you read my words, your body becomes one second further on in your life. In my imagination, this picture of change looks spectacular.

“I wish you’d never grow up,” I remember my dad saying. My mom says that I skipped or ran everywhere. I wanted to speed on to the next grade, to high-heeled shoes, makeup and boyfriends. I wanted to keep leaping to a degree, a design job, to awards, to dating, to love. “What’s next?” could have been my slogan. Sometimes I lived life so hard and fast, that it seemed I forgot to revel at the little gems of time coming and going: the creamy colors of my apartment in Chicago as the sun set in the evening; the scent of grilled food filling the air as I chattered with my friend, Claudine, at my favorite restaurant, Q, in San Francisco; the sound of the waves soothing me as I ran along the shores of Baker Beach. Tiny, gorgeous transformations were quietly happening while I whipped on to the next big thing.

But after I married and became pregnant, something changed – it was like a massive gate was erected before my life. The gate was plastered with images of perfect, age-defying moms with fabulous bodies who worked and stayed at home all at the same time. A sign hanging from the gate read, “Don’t change!”

Though over the course of three years, my uterus would house three new wildly changing life-forms; I believed that I must stay thin and toned and tight before, during and after all three pregnancies. I should plan to work the same job, jog the same morning route after sipping the same quiet cup of coffee. I should behave just as sexy and nice as ever to my husband at the end of the day. Though hormones would change my mood and hair and sleep patterns; though babies (one requiring open-heart surgery and years of care and therapy) would twist and flip my world upside down; I thought I should do everything possible to stop changing.

You can guess how things went. I changed – anyway.

After the babies came, I had to respond to the needs of my new family. I was forced to become a new person almost weekly. I still ran, but at a different time, with a double stroller. I still drank coffee, but never alone. I did not sleep much. I did not always act nice, but I learned how to apologize, to ask for help, to share my struggles, to accept love from a husband willing to change beside me. I stopped my design career, and eventually I started writing.

And now, three babies and 11 years later, I’ve reached my late 40s. But the darn gate has returned and GROWN. It still demands that time hold still. “You must not age!” screeches the lying thing. According to western beliefs, my skin, breasts, thighs, hips, eyes, hair and tummy need to stop living, stop proving that I’m human. Peel off, dye, paint, smooth over the years that line my skin, my hair, my hands. Straighten up the bones that have stories to tell. Plump up the breasts that fed three humans. Pull in the butt that sat there nursing, rocking, holding children, driving to hospitals.

But finally, I can say no. It’s time to open the gate. It’s time to live.

I want to work harder at falling in love with the proof of change, of life. I want to walk, run, rest and write through the gate of aging, of living. Sure, I’ll keep exercising, running and eating well, but I will move with my life instead of against it.

We can’t be God, but it seems that every day we’re given an opportunity to try to see like him. We can watch and revel in the incredible, changing landscapes of our lives as women – aren’t we beautiful? When I look at my mom, I see a gorgeous testament to her days on earth. Her eyes radiate with memories and love for her family. Her hands are warm, and when they hold mine, they’re mighty. Her voice is like no other. It travels from her home in North Carolina to mine in Switzerland, and it transforms me.

Maybe stillness is death. And perhaps every minute of change, whether in the form of a tiny wrinkle, a new risk, the beginning of a relationship, the end of one, a birth, or even a death – every new change is part of a great story. This story is beautiful. It is huge. It is life.

Amy Aves Challenger is a writer and artist focusing on topics relating to the marginalized, families and children. She has been published regularly in The Huffington Post and also in The Washington Post,, and Brain, Child Magazine. Her poems and a short story will be published in an upcoming anthology by Kind of A Hurricane Press. Amy lives in Fairfield, CT where she runs a support group for special needs mothers and also leads a writing workshop. She is writing her first novel about a child with special needs. Her poetry can be read daily on twitter @amychallenger.