Thursday, April 14, 2016

How Living in Community Helps All of Us Flourish

Every Wednesday is “Go Mama Workout Day” at my house. It’s my favorite day of the week. It’s the day I don’t shower. I hang out in my workout clothes and wear a messy braid all day. I invite women and their kids from my community to join me.

I started this almost seven years ago now. My husband, who was a personal trainer, was invited to speak at our MOPS group. He talked to the mamas about nutrition and fitness and led them in a workout. After his talk, I found myself in several conversations with mamas who were longing for accountability. They wanted to work out but lacked the confidence to walk into a gym or just needed a safe space to make fitness fun.

The Go Mama Workout was born.

Through the years, we have averaged 7-10 mamas every week with as many 20 kids running wild in the yard or sitting in Bumbo chairs watching their mamas sweat it out. What started as a handful of moms from my MOPS group working out has grown into a rich community of friends.

Now we start out each week in my living room for a time of sharing and prayer. This part is almost more important to me than the workout itself. We laugh. We cry. We share prayer requests. We change blowout diapers. We eat. We speak fitness and life goals out loud. We are inevitably interrupted a dozen times by kids needing snacks or fighting or wanting to breastfeed. It’s beautiful; it’s messy.

I love that I get to see the younger girls romping around the backyard wearing those sun dresses and sparkly shoes that my girls used to wear. I love when my friend Esther shows up with goodies from her garden or Janelle brings extras from her pantry.

Our Swap & Shop event for our moms group was also born out of my love for living in community. I wanted to create an event where we could share resources within our MOPS group. We purge our closets for the purpose of paring down and decluttering our own lives, but also to bless another mom with something new.

On Swap & Shop night, we all bring our used clothes, shoes, jewelry and kids' clothes and swap. It's so much fun to see moms going home with new treasures - and without having to spend a bunch of moolah!

I have been that mom who didn’t have money for new clothes. I have been that mom with only rice and beans in the pantry. I have been that mom with sick kids and no health insurance. I have been that mom grieving the death of my beloved husband. And all those times this MOPS community has come through for me.

We share resources; we share knowledge; and we share inspiration. My MOPS friends have inspired me to try Zumba, to stick with breastfeeding, to take care of myself. One mom put her culinary skills to use to bake my wedding cake a few months ago. Another mama friend spoke about embracing our children’s personality types and gave me skills to parent my littles better. A mentor-friend a few years ago inspired me to keep on keeping on with her story of being a working mom while still loving on her three kids.

I believe God designed each one of us for community. He himself embodies community. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - three in one - our model of community working seamlessly. He has designed us to live in relationship, to work out our insecurities and use our gifts in the context of authentic community. Living in community is messy and hard, but it is also rich with opportunity to taste His glory.

I realized that living in community this way has grown me, challenged me, encouraged me and pushed me. These women have watered and cultivated the soil of my life and caused me to flourish through the years.

My challenge to you today is to be intentional about cultivating your own community. Gather some women. Open your home. Invite someone to the park or strike up a conversation with someone who has kids your age. Brainstorm ways you can share your resources and encourage someone else in your circle.

I am a better mama, wife, woman, friend, mentor, speaker, creative writer, business woman because of the women in my life. In a world where comparison and cattiness so often drives a wedge between female relationships, I am grateful for this diverse community of women that walk the journey of life with me. We are flourishing together.

Dorina Gilmore-Young is mama to 3 girls and thrilled to be a wife to her new hubby, Shawn. She is a published author, blogger and the Coordinator of the Bridge MOPS group in Fresno.

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