28 Day Challenge: MOPS and OLW | Day 1: Swell Seasons

Hey, acronyms, right?! I’ll explain.

This month I’m doing a 28-day challenge with my local MOPS group (Moms of PreSchoolers). It’s a challenge to do something small, with daily thought-provoking truth and dares to get you thinking about motherhood, and all that it gives us – and all that it challenges us. It is beautiful. And the community around it is truly necessary for the mom’s soul.

Also this month Ali is challenging us in One Little Word to come up with a daily practice. Something to get us into our word a little more. A way to dive deeper.

The coincidence is perfect. And so SO what I need right now.

Day 1 | Swell Seasons

Each day there is a companion reading to go along with the challenge. Honestly, it’s SO GOOD. But since most of you are not in the group, nor mothers of preschoolers, I’ll summarize the message for today with a quote from Mandy Arioto, the President and CEO of MOPS:

“Aren’t moms amazing? Each of us, doing our best, offering our whole selves to the process, and relying on our fellow tribeswomen to share stories and remind us that parenting is a forever evolving endeavor… There are times in this mothering gig when we will feel inadequate or overwhelmed, but there will be other moments that are so unexpectedly beautiful we will be swept away with the significance of it all.”

So true, right? Every day I am amazed at the person Max is becoming at 4 yrs old. Every day he shocks me with in-depth conversations about events that happened months, sometimes years ago. Suddenly it’s all coming to the surface and he’s curious about it, wants to investigate it, wants to understand and digest it in this new, more developed way of understanding the world.

And so we talk, and our conversations are a mix of serious thinking and joy. And I have to hold back, at times, the smile that comes from being so amazed at the consideration and care he puts into each topic.

These are deep conversations, friends, about why some pirates in stories are portrayed as “bad” and sometimes they are friendly heros. Conversations about that time Santa forgot to give him candy, but gave it to the other kids, and the hurt and pain that came from feeling forgotten by someone who is supposed to love you and provide good tidings when you are a good person.

Conversations about why some people live far away and when can we move to Nova Scotia, where we spend our summer vacations, because he loves the freedom and the community and the space THAT MUCH.

Deep conversations that truly stop me in my tracks and make me appreciate, so deeply, the fortune of being a mother to this little boy – who is amazing to me because he is this perfect mix of my husband and I, blended together into one single human being that I truly, truly cannot get enough of.

And so I thought about all of that as I dove into today’s challenge. Dipping my paint brush in my watercolor paint tray, using the jar and papers I brought with me to Nova Scotia last summer. Soaking in the feeling of vacation, the warmth of water, the freedom of floating, the swell of joy that is motherhood.

The Challenge

Today’s dare – because, honestly, you KNOW I’m taking the dare, friends! – is to jump into some water. Dive in. And, in truth, that’s all I want to do right now.

I want SO BADLY to jump into water right now. To feel the warm hug of water  (because, in this vision, I’m in a heated pool on a warm summer day 😉 ), to feel the hug of the droplets around every surface of my body, to enjoy the lightness and freedom of floating in water.

I love where we live for this beautiful season of winter – from the quiet pause to the internal conversation we have with ourselves about warmth and love and comfort – but, right now, I would love to be transported south – just for a few days – to swim in a pool, to wear short sleeves outside, and feel the freedom of sandals and sunglassed-face smiles.

But I’m here, in New England, where even on a sunny winter day, it is still boots and jacket weather.

So I venture outside, with my hat, gloves, and mittens. And I imagine, just for a moment, the feeling of a warm summer day.

And then I put it on paper.


Until tomorrow, friends,




For several years Ali Edwards has started her year with a word. No resolutions or promises to break, just one little word® to check back on for guidance or reflection. As she describes it, “You live with it. You invite it into your life. You let it speak to you. Follow where it leads. There are so many possibilities.” After a challenging 2016, my choice for 2017 is to become SECURE. Each month, I’m focused on a different aspect of securing who I am, where I am, and what we’re doing. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. For more of my one little word, follow my tag one little word.


  1. What a cool challenge! I’m definitely inspired to check out MOPS (I have an almost 4 year old). Question, is it religiously affiliated at all?

    • jgagen@gmail.com

      Hi Morgan! MOPS is religiously affiliated as a Christian moms group. Depending on what your local group is like, that may or may not be for you. Our group is highly diverse, with women from a variety of faiths and very open. We practice yoga together, do lots of crafts, have moms nights out (without kids) and have play dates and activities almost every week. Some groups are more like a bible study, so it really depends on who is running the group and what their take on the mission is.

      I would recommend looking into your local group and maybe even attending a meeting just to see what it’s like. Either way, the international organization is AMAZING. Membership gets you access to a huge body of inspirational videos, the booklet I’m using for this 28-day challenge, and a quarterly mailing with is SO GOOD.

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