It’s Shoebox Time!

Every year I look forward to the time when our MOPS chapter packs shoeboxes for children around the world for the OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILDNational Collection Week (November 14-21) is coming up, so NOW is the time to start sourcing supplies and packing up those boxes!


Operation Christmas Child has long been a tradition for Grace Baptist MOPS, with each year bringing good-natured competition to see which table can pack the most boxes. We always enjoy seeing where our boxes end up! So far, our family’s boxes have arrived in South America, Africa and India! My daughters always get such a thrill knowing that a child thousands of miles away is enjoying a gift WE prepared and prayed over.

Now. For the boxes themselves. OCC’s website has some amazing tips and helpful hints, as well as guidelines for what CAN and CANNOT go inside the boxes. Visit this page for that information, as well as resources for downloading labels, ordering boxes, or even putting together a box online!

I recently took an informal poll from some of my MOPS pals, and here are some other great suggestions to keep in mind as you put together your boxes:


-Many children consider the box itself a gift, so consider buying clear plastic shoeboxes with lids, so that the recipient has a sturdy box to keep his/her gifts inside!

-Remember that many children don’t speak English, so steer clear of anything with writing on it.

-Keep the items age-appropriate. This may seem like common sense, but anything that could be considered scary (even certain toys or stuffed animals) should stay out.

-Hygiene items are always great, but keep the box fun, too. Jumpropes, a deflated ball and pump, colored pencils/paper/sharpener, and quality, durable, ready-to-use toys are good!

-Target’s Dollar Bin and Dollar Tree are your best friend! They always have great deals on things like art supplies, the boxes themselves, washcloths, t-shirts, etc. Check those places first, then build from there!


Have a party! What better occasion to bring a group together than to do something wonderful for others?! A few years ago, I hosted a dessert night and my friends and I pooled all of our resources to make a “Shoebox Assembly Line.” We ended the night with over 30 boxes and had a lot of fun!


SPREAD THE WORD! You might be surprised to know that a lot of folks have never heard of OCC. Let your friends and neighbors know that you’re participating, and if they’d like to contribute, offer to pick up items or boxes from them to bring to MOPS on Collection Day! It’s fun to involve others in this worth cause!

And lastly…

Quality over quantity! Speaking of 30 boxes, don’t feel like you HAVE to send dozens out! If you and your family put a lot of thought and prayer into even just ONE box, you’re making a HUGE difference.

What are some of your favorite things to include in your Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes? Comment below! We’d love to hear about your traditions!

Have a great week!


UPDATE: WE HAVE A WINNER! We have contacted her via email with details. Thanks to all who participated!

The MOPS Boutique Rafflecopter giveaway is NOW LIVE!

Enter to win a MOPS Holiday Boutique Gift Bag worth over $100 just by sharing our boutique with others on social media! It’s simple: the more you share, the more entries into our online raffle you’ll receive!

Prizes include:

-2 Free Large bags of Kettle Corn from Enolas Kettle Corn

-A $5 Boutique Bake Sale gift card

-A gift card to the Grace Cafe

-Redkin/Nioxin hair care products

-1 Kids Haircut from Kids Cuts and Waves

-Free Passes to Paintball USA

-Family of 4 pass to Wildlife Learning Center

-4 free kids meal coupons for Pei Wei

-30 FREE Raffle tickets for the MOPS Boutique Raffle

Enter NOW by going to our NEW Facebook Fan page or entering right here on our blog. The contest ends at NOON on Friday, November 4th, and the winner will be announced at 2pm PST the same day. Winners must claim their prize in person at the GBC MOPS Boutique by 12:30pm PST on Saturday, November 5th.

Get sharing…. and HAPPY SHOPPING!!!!!


Let’s Get to Know Each Other! Part 1

A couple of meetings ago, you participated in a table activity designed to help your fellow MOPS mamas get to know you better! At long last, here are the results!

More familiar faces for next meeting! Come up and say hi!

There are still 4 awesome tables to get to know, so–table leaders: send your stats to!

Getting to know…..


We are Natalie, Stacy, Maureen, Daisy, Cas, Susan, Armineh, Sarah, Susan, Jessica and Robin!


One unique thing we have in common is that we’ve all traveled outside the U.S.!

Between us, we have 23 children. 13 boys and 10 girls. No sets of twins and no pregnant mama.

2 of us are first-time MOPS mamasALL of us are working moms and 2 of us have multiple children under 3.

Between us, we’ve spent 32 total years in MOPS!

4 of us are originally from other states: Washington, Florida, Oregon and Colorado.

ALL of us would rather order takeout than cook, and ALL of us prefer coffee over tea!


We are Lois, Jamie, Yeanelle, Stephanie, Amber, Bree, Kristin, Ashley, Corinn and Carla!


Between us we have 27 children.

3 of us are first-timers in MOPS!

6 of us are from other places: Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi and Taiwan!

We prefer hiking to the gym!


We are Monique, Jobana, Lyndy, Jackie, Jennifer, Katy, BreeAnna, AnnaLee and Christine!


8 of us are first-time MOPS moms! Between us, we have 18 children.

We are one well-traveled bunch! Between us, we’ve been to the Bahamas, Thailand, England, Canada, Mexico, France, Egypt, Israel, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Jordan, Turkey, Greece, Africa, Ireland, Spain, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Scotland and Monaco! Whew!


We are Jen, Pat, Alyssa, Erin, Sara, Palak, Joanna, Chantel, Amy and LaRae!


Between us, we have 16 children! 8 boys and 8 girls. No twins! And ONE of us is pregnant.

4 of us are originally from other states: Indiana, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania!


We are Jamie, Pat, Pamela, Lauren, Krista, Shana, Katie, AnneMarie and Emily.


One thing we have in common is that we all have boys!

3 of us are working moms!

We’d all prefer a Mom’s Night Out over a Fancy Date Night!

Between us, we’ve spent 19 total years in MOPS!


We are Brenna, Danielle, Katie, Emma, Julianna, Stephanie, Leesa and Cyndie.


One fun fact about our table that we’d like you to know: EPIDURALS RULE!

7 of us have multiple children under 3.

2 of us are from other places: Sweden and Idaho.

Sign Up for Family Photos with Cara Cherry HERE! :)

Hi MOPS Mamas!

The Signup Genius for Fall Photos with Cara Cherry is now up!

You can sign up for a slot by following the link below:


Photo slots (15 minute sessions) are available on Saturday October 29 and Sunday October 30 from 8:30am – 12:30pm and Wednesday, November 2 from 4:00pm – 5:45 pm.


All photo sessions will take place at Summit Park:

26147 McBean Parkway (behind the YMCA)

Valencia, CA 91355

PRICES (all payments are DUE BEFORE your shoot!):

$50 for 3 edited photos of YOUR CHOICE.

$10 for each additional photo

$100 for ALL photos

More about Cara Cherry (a past MOPS Mama!)

Did You Know We Record Every MOPS Speaker? Here’s where to find them!

Kids have the sniffles and you had to miss MOPS? Serving in Moppets? Traveling? Overslept? Whatever your reason, know you were MISSED by your MOPS sisters, AND that you don’t have to MISS the speaker! Our fabulous AV ladies record every speaker, and we upload the files RIGHT HERE on the blog!

Simply click the link at the top of the blog’s homepage entitled SPEAKER DOWNLOADS and you’ll be directed right to every speaker recording.


If you loved Bonnie Nichols last week, here’s a link to Moms In Prayer, where you can find more resources in your area!

See you this Thursday!

Veteran MOPS Mamas Tell All!

Well, hello there, MOPS mamas! Who’s excited for Fall semester to start this Thursday?! I know I’m enthusiastically raising my hand while typing🙂

Today’s post is aimed at those of you who are new to MOPS at GBC this semester! Some of you probably attended the New Member Orientation and are feeling very informed about what Thursday (and the rest of this semester) will look like! If not, don’t fear. It’s easy and fun, I promise!

In the spirit of getting to know everyone, I thought I’d take it just a step further to help you prepare, by polling some of our veteran MOPS Mamas over the past few weeks. My question to them was:

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For some of them, it was simple stuff we all take for granted (see: “where’s the coffee?”). For others, it was about opening up and trusting the wonderful women you’re about to meet at your new table. But there’s definitely one thing we all have in common: no matter how many years you’ve been coming to MOPS, there’s ALWAYS excitement in the air on the morning you come back after summer!

So, as you read these tips below, I encourage you to take a deep breath, relax and reflect about what YOU hope to get out of this semester. Open yourself to becoming one of the Starry Eyed. You just might surprise yourself this year!

“It’s cold in that room! Bring a sweater or light jacket!”

“It’s ok to ask for prayers, no one will judge, they are there to pray for you and help you thru this season 😃”

“You are welcome to help yourself to the coffee kiosk in the back kitchen area. I didn’t know this my first meeting and thought everyone entering the kitchen area worked there and were getting things ready for breakfast.”

“You’ll get as much out of this experience as you’re willing to put in….if you don’t open up, others might not feel comfortable to either. Odds are that if you feel a certain way there is AT LEAST one other woman going through the same thing.” 

“Don’t forget about the Grace Cafe (here’s a link, so you can find it on Thursday). Also, if you have a noisy little one, the meeting will be broadcast on speakers into the conference center, so you can still hear the speaker even if you’re outside the meeting room.”

“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there & speak up during table discussion. Everyone is nervous to meet new people, but the great thing about MOPS is that we’re all in the same boat. If you speak up, most likely you’ll find at least one mom at your table who can relate…. And she is probably relieved that she’s not alone!”

“There are styrofoam cups available in the coffee area, but I always bring my own big one from home so I don’t have to refill it during the speaker! ;)”

“Definitely make your meals simple when it’s your turn. Try to find something that you can make ahead. Then you can just throw it in the oven in the morning and carry on with your already chaotic morning. We’re all just happy to enjoy a meal that we didn’t have to make ourselves!”

“MOPS is the one day I have an excuse to get dolled up! Not every mom does this. You’ll find all kinds of moms; workout mom, comfy mom, going out mom, ponytail mom, baseball cap mom…every kind of mom is represented, so wear what you’re comfortable in!”

“If you don’t like to cook, Panera Bread and Marie Callender’s both have delish quiches! Panera’s are individual smaller ones that are hot and ready to eat and Marie Callender’s have whole pie pans that you just pop in the oven morning of and you’re all set!”

“If you see a fellow momma who looks lost or has her hands full, ask her if she needs help! You just might make her morning!”

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know where to go or who to talk to! We’re all here to help! And don’t be afraid to open up and share who you are cuz it takes a village to raise these crazy kids and when you open up it’s a lot easier to find that village!”

“This may seem simple, but the restrooms are right outside the meeting room to the left! I searched around for it awhile and it was right under my nose the whole time!”

“If you’re not sure where your table is, there’s a poster board directly inside the entrance to the conference room that maps out the tables and whose is where. This made finding my table immensely less stressful.”

“GO TO ALL OF THE MOPS ACTIVITIES IF YOU CAN! I made some of my best friends at things like Bunko Night and the park playdates. It’s great to get to know your table at the meetings themselves, but the relaxed environment and kiddos getting to know one another and play makes it easy to become great friends outside of MOPS… and that’s the whole point!”

I hope you found these tips helpful, mamas! Some of you veterans probably did, too! Feel free to comment below if you read this and thought of other tips you’d like to share here with the group. And if you’re not already a member of our Facebook Group, please join us: MOPS AT GBC.

The countdown begins! Only two mornings to go until MOPS Fall 2016 Semester begins! I can’t wait to meet you all and I hope you love our group as much as I do!



Creating TIME In Your Marriage

Last week we heard Pam Ferrell speak on the topic of Red Hot Monogamy. I really enjoyed when she challenged us to look at our TIME. How we could date our spouse and create time to foster intimacy with one another on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. Though this may be a great goal for our marriages it can feel daunting and near impossible when we have littles at home.

Here are some creative ways for those of us with littles and tight budgets to still be intentional and yet not feel like we are breaking the bank or asking grandma to babysit every Friday night.

  1. Co-op babysit with other couples– This is a great way to not pay the $1 million dollars for a sitter, and bless your friends at the same time. PLUS, your kids will be playing with other kids and it’s just a win all around. Ask your friends first, “Hey! What night can I watch your kid(s) so you can get a date?” You’ll be amazed at how quickly they find a day! This is a wonderful way to let your friend know how much you care about her and her marriage.
  2. Go out for happy hour/mid-week dates– Happy hour isn’t just for drinking. There are a great many places (Wokano, Lazy Dogs, LARSONS!!) that offer amazing prices on appetizers and small plates during their happy hour in the bar. You can choose a high top table and order soda, then enjoy all the other benefits of the half off or better prices. Plus, no kids in the bar, so you know you’ll have a kid free date!! Choosing a mid week date rather than Fri/Sat means less wait time and crowds, that means less time you are paying your baby sitter. You can also choose to go and just have dessert! My husband and I have done that a few times and it’s so fun! We never have dessert in the house let alone something fancy like a Sisley’s cannoli!
  3. Go somewhere you could spend $0-$5 only– We love to go to Barns & Nobble. Getting to walk around and look at books and magazines makes me feel like a grown up again. There’s also a Starbucks in side most, so if you wanted you could get a coffee (decaf!) and maybe a cookie to share. This way, you are only paying for a sitter. (or if you do #1 then you are paying nothing!!!!! Winning!)movie-night-pin
  4. Have a back yard movie night– This could be so much fun! Pop some popcorn while he gets the mattress and blankets set up, surprise him with his favorite candy, and stream a movie you’ve been wanting to see on the lap top or tablet!!! So easy, so fun! We just might try this one this summer!! 32d7515fc162c407239273adc110b258
  5. Sit outside and make s’mores– One of our table leaders shared how she loves that her husband will make her a s’mores almost every night! You can make them over the burner in the kitchen, a fire pit, or even in a pot outside! Make this fun with cookies instead of graham crackers, Reeces or Nestle Crunch instead of standard chocolate! Then while you sit outside enjoying the kid free treats you didn’t have to sneak in the bathroom, TALK TO EACH OTHER!
  6. Cook together– In our home, I do the majority of the cooking. This does not mean that my husband is not a fantastic cook, just that he doesn’t have the time to cook for us during the week. Why not plan a grown up food menu and evening where you can cook together? Put the kids to bed early, turn movie on in the other room and just enjoy cooking a recipe you found in Souther Living, or watched the Barefoot Contessa make. You can make this more fun by adding a movie and theme. Make an Italian dish together and then watch the Italian Job. Try your hand at Indian food and watch Eat, Pray, Love. You get the gist!
  7. Take Out and Red box– We love going out to eat. However, we have far too many people to take to a restaurant and it never ends well. Most of the time they changed their mind between the time they ordered the mac n cheese and it arrived. Now they want a hamburger. You know how this will end. So, we stopped going to restaurants. Instead, once a week or every other week, my husband and I order take out from one of our favorite places to enjoy after our kids are in bed. This really helps with the bill too! Kids are expensive to feed, and if you are in the restaurant you’ll probably get an appetizer and dessert. We also love movies, but these days it is far too expensive to go see all the movies in the theatre, so now we red box them. It’s so much easier. We get take out and can watch the newest blockbuster or Oscar nominated movie in our pjs. Which is great because after I’ve had my full of Grand Panda I really need my stretchy pants.
  8. Ask for date night gift cards for Christmas– We’ve been doing this for years. Whenever the grandparents or anyone asks what we, my husband and I, would like for Christmas we say movie tickets or restaurant gift cards so we can go on a date. The cost to hire a baby sitter can be a biter pill to swallow, so this helps afford more dates!
  9. Take a staycation– When Pam mentioned getting away a few times a year I know that sounded impossible. If the budget is super tight, one option is a staycation. Drop the kids off at grandmas, or split the kids between the grandmas like we do, and then go home. NO CLEANING, just enjoying one another and saving money on a hotel. Save your money for a few months so you can drive out of town to a nice restaurant to still feel like you “got out of town” but save the hotel fee by sleeping at home! Sleep in (sweet Jesus I don’t even know what that is!), go to brunch (Hey! Plan this over your birthday, then eat at Egg Plantation and your your meal is free! Winning again! BOOM!), see a matinee, walk the mall, drive to the beach with a picnic, all while you haven’t had to pay to go away! Who cares if the kids had chocolate for breakfast and watched Cailou? It happened at grandma’s house and it’ll stay at grandma’s house!

We hope you feel encouraged and excited to try a new date night idea! Do you have any great ideas for dates, or ways to help create intimacy in your marriage?? Comment and let us know!!!