During this past season of stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and capacity limits, young mamas at UFC have worked hard to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness by gathering every other week to share tears and laughter, to discuss gospel-centered motherhood, and to pray — and all with free childcare for their littles and a yummy brunch spread before them. During a school year that felt heavy in so many ways, these women, including the mentor moms among them, supported each other during their Monday gatherings and throughout the long weeks.
“This has been one of the biggest blessings in my life,” said Chloe Lindsey, who just had her third little one. “It has provided a wonderful community of amazing godly women who constantly encourage me and one another as we tackle this mom life together. They help me see what it looks like to be gospel minded and intentional in motherhood. It has been the breath of fresh air I’ve needed on hard weeks or days when life and motherhood can feel isolating and lonely. I feel immensely blessed by such an authentic group of women.”
Joanna Sheppard, who is on staff with the UFC women’s ministry team, has faithfully led the group of moms with help from a dedicated team — Linsey Bjorklund, Brianna Hines, Chloe Lindsey, Rachel Moore, and Sarah Thompkins.
“The moms group has been such an encouragement to me this year!” Joanna said. “COVID safety precautions necessitated some changes, such as the need to register for childcare and attendance. What felt cumbersome at first brought us the beautiful fruit of a very consistent group of ladies. Growing friendships with these fellow mamas as we fix our hearts on Jesus has been such a precious gift!”
Beginning in September and continuing through today’s final meeting for the year, the group has discussed chapters from Risen Motherhood by Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler. The book provides gospel truths for women as they move through the often mundane moments of motherhood.
“We moms challenged each other to grow in Christ in all aspects of motherhood, and it was always such a dynamic conversation with all the different perspectives each woman brought to the table,” Sarah Tompkins said. “I am so thankful for everyone’s vulnerability and willingness to share successes and struggles they’ve had as moms.”
Even with busy schedules, many women have prioritized the moms group this year, including Brianna Hines, who said, “I needed the community and encouragement of other moms to keep me fighting the good fight for my kids and family. The women in our group are so vulnerable and honest about the challenges of raising a family, and we all lean into each other and push each other closer to the Lord. I have especially treasured the seasoned advice of the mentor moms who come. It is so good to hear advice and solid truth from women who have been there and come out the other side. It gives me hope and perspective for what God is doing in and through me during this season of motherhood. We simply can’t do this alone and moms group has been that lifeline of authentic community that has brought me through this challenging season.”
For the women who couldn’t make it to the group, Linsey Bjorklund faithfully led a Zoom discussion group on that week’s chapter from the book.
“The structure of reading through Risen Motherhood together has been perfect for me,” Linsey said. “It was an easy read that focused me on the gospel in so many challenging aspects of mothering littles. I loved spending time with all the ladies who participated in the moms group both in person and on Zoom. Building friendships with these wonderful moms has been a huge encouragement to me.”
In addition, Linsey said the child care in a church setting was a gift because taking littles to church wasn’t possible for part of the year as we were worshipping together via the livestream. The transition now to Sunday school at the farm has been much easier than it would have been otherwise, she said.
Since the stay-at-home orders of last spring, many women at UFC have had babies, and the moms group rallied around these growing families with meals and other helps. They also encouraged a young mama whose family lives in an unstable part of the world, providing her with a listening ear and many prayers.
This summer the group will continue to connect through UFC Women’s weekly coffee and conversation groups (discussing Jen Wilkin’s newest book Ten Words to Live By), park dates, and evening gatherings. We’ll be sharing more about these opportunities, which will be for all women of UFC and their friends, later this week, so stay tuned!
The leaders are currently vetting books and praying about which one to use as a structure for discussions next year. Plans are also in the works to double encouragement opportunities in the fall by offering a prayer group on the alternating Monday mornings.
“There are few things I’ve found to be as uplifting to my weary heart than prayer, especially in a group setting,” Joanna Sheppard said. “I’ve had the pleasure of praying with the UFC prayer team over the years, and it’s truly been life changing. My desire is to provide a place for women to bring everything to the Father in petition and praise and to learn how to be comfortable praying aloud in a group. I’m really excited for what the Lord has for us this fall!”