Give Thanks

I love Thanksgiving Day. It is a time for our family to strengthen ties with each other, friends, and our God as we sing songs of praise around the piano, not to mention the great feast we all enjoy!! I also love that Thanksgiving is a unique holiday born out of a desire for Americans to rest and show their gratitude to God who is (quoting George Washington) “that great and glorious Being Who is the Author of all that is good” – past, present, and future.

James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

George Washington, the first President of the newly formed infant United States of America, made the Proclamation in October of 1789 that the first Thanksgiving Day would be observed among the Thirteen Colonies in November 1789. It was to be a “day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording our nation’s founders the opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.” I knew our nation’s founders had a different idea of happiness than we do in our society today. Noah Webster, known most for forming Webster’s Dictionary is quoted to have said this about Happiness: “He only can be esteemed Happy who enjoys peace of mind in the favor of God.” This proclamation came on the heels of a bloody 8 year war for Independence from the British Empire. General George Washington led the Continental Army to victory after losing several battles and narrowly escaping total destruction. His army was constantly plagued with a poor supply chain leaving his men with desperate shortages of
shoes, shirts, blankets and gunpowder. One unknown writer said “he labored under a terrible strain that would have destroyed a lesser man.” Are you under the strain of some sort of battle because of life’s challenges?

Psalm 119:28 “My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy Word.”

James 5:13 “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”

What was the secret to George’s strength as an accomplished leader? Many say it was his Mom.

Quoting Karol Ladd, “George Washington stands out in history as one of America’s greatest heroes. His integrity and leadership led this nation through its challenging formative years. Certainly God’s hand was upon our nation’s first president, but George Washington also credits another important person in his life for success. Consider what he had to say about his mother: ‘My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All that I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.’ What made Mary Ball Washington so influential in the life of her son? Widowed when George was only eleven years old, Mary was a devoted Christian who desired to glorify God in the way she raised her children. One historian writes the Bible was her daily companion.”

Mary and young George read many other books as well that taught biblical principles. It is no wonder that as we read George’s own writings, we see a man of sincere faith and humble, godly leadership. In his personal prayer book, consisting of 24 handwritten prayers, we catch a glimpse of this mighty man’s genuinely thankful heart as he expressed his appreciation to his very personal God.

I am going to close with one of George Washington’s prayers – a good prayer for us to pray as well. I suggest you finish the prayer in your own words that God Almighty would also help you in the personal battle or challenge (whether great or small) that you are facing today and ask Him for victory. Will you also pray a prayer of wisdom and direction for our leaders great and small in our nation or the nation you are a citizen of?

“O eternal and everlasting God, I present myself this morning before your Divine Majesty, beseeching you to accept of my humble and hearty thanks .… Direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb (Jesus Christ), and purge my heart by Your Holy Spirit. Daily make me more and more in the likeness of Your Son, Jesus Christ. THANK YOU for the eternal life that at the appointed time I might attain resurrection. Bless my family, friends and in-laws and unite us all in praising and glorifying You in all our works.”

  • Now pray for yourself, friends and family. For good and lasting gifts.
  • Now pray for your nation, it’s leaders great and small and it’ citizens. For happiness and safety.
  • It is in the blessed name of Jesus we pray. Amen


Love, Mary Visnovsky, Mentor Mom

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Peace Like a River

Sharing our stories with one another is so important. It can bring hope, peace, comfort and help us to realize that we are not alone. Thanks in large part to social media and a shifting culture, before this year I knew of countless women who had experienced miscarriage. And the truth is, so. many. women. go through this, now myself included. Many of us have heard the 1 in 4 statistic*, but my doctor shared that in his experience he is seeing an average of 2 losses per woman during childbearing years. Whether this statistic is accurate or not, it shocked me; but coupled with the experiences of women in my own life, it helped me accept that this is not my fault. Now that I’ve been added to the ranks of so many brave and strong women, I want to share my own story in the hopes that another women might find hope, peace, comfort, and realize that she is not alone.

Today I would have been 17 weeks and 2 days pregnant with a baby, well into my second trimester, and he would have been the size of an onion.

I saw those two pink lines at the end of July and couldn’t wait to surprise my husband when he got home from work. We immediately started dreaming and planning – our toddler would be turning 2 right around my due date. The spacing was absolutely perfect and just what we had planned.

But even then, God was protecting my heart.

I decided that I didn’t want to tell anyone about the pregnancy. I struggled so much during E’s pregnancy that I didn’t want all the attention this time around. I prepared for “the worst” in terms of symptoms and was ready to power through; but the nausea never came. Different pregnancy: different symptoms? Maybe, but I felt nervous.

When it was finally time for our first doctor’s appointment around 8 weeks I told my husband, “if we hear a heartbeat, I will cry tears of joy.” You see, God was continuing to protect and prepare my heart. I’ve learned that a mother’s intuition is a God-given gift. It has served me well so far in my relatively short time as a mother. And sure enough, no heartbeat. Our doctor said he was “cautiously optimistic,” but more on the side of caution. We would wait a week and see if our baby would continue to develop before making any decisions.

No one ever told me about the wait. It was excruciatingly painful. I tried to hold on to some hope, but I feared for the worst. Ultimately I yearned for closure. This is when I connected with two friends who had gone through miscarriages: one had miscarried naturally, and the other had undergone a D&C procedure. The conversations I had with these women were hugely impactful to me. They brought me hope and support.

I personally was convinced that a D&C was the inevitable outcome. I had failed to go into labor on my own with my first child, so of course this would be the next step here. But during that week I started bleeding, then, on August 22 at 8:00 pm it happened. It was such a blessing for me that God spared me from making any more medical decisions (I had agonized over so many for E’s birth and was preparing to do the same now). I called my friend and she prayed with me over the phone as I wept. I felt such a mix of emotions, but my instincts had been right and I could begin the grieving process.

Grieving the loss of a child you’ve never met is complicated. I have no memories of my baby, not even an ultrasound image, only the hope and dreams of what could have been. We decided to name our child River and to refer to “it” as “he.” While I am able to talk about River more now, it was hard for a quite some time. I found that I needed to wait until I was ready to tell people about what had happened. As I did start opening up and sharing, some people said exactly what I needed to hear. But unfortunately, some well-meaning people also said things that really stung. The best thing I could do was to lean on God through the Bible and prayer to begin to heal.

A particular verse that brought me so much peace is:

Isaiah 66:12-13a

“For thus says the Lord:

“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;

and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees.

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;”

There are so many ways I can see that God blessed me and was so gentle with me and my husband throughout this process. And He has brought us comfort.

When I think of our theme this year, Find Your Fire, we talk a lot about tending the God-given flame inside of us; but I also think about fire as a strong and challenging element. There have been times in my life when I have had to “walk through fire,” like when I lost baby River. Each time I walk through a fire I am drawn closer to God and I find my own internal flicker is reignited by the surrounding flames, and is able to burn brighter.

❤ Amanda Good

*1 in 4 statistic: Miscarriage affects 1 in 4 pregnancies (commonly referred to in Social Media as “1 in 4 women,” which inaccurately distorts the ratio).

Find Your Fire

Hello! It’s your incoming MOPS Coordinator here, Amanda Good. I am so excited about this new theme for MOPS 2018-19: Find Your Fire.

I am still in the process of unpacking the many aspects of this theme, but was initially struck by the imagery that is associated with fire. Fire is a tool, it’s always moving and changing. It is a place where people congregate, it provides light and protection. Whatever the context, fire is not to be ignored. One of the first things that came to my mind about the word fire is the idea of passion. As women, and specifically mothers, we are strong and powerful. We are passionate about our children and families and will stop at nothing to protect them. There is a fire within us!

But if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can lose some of that “spark.”

Next year we will embark on a journey of transformation to find our fire and help it grow using this theme verse as a guide:

“Never let the fire go out… when you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful. Share with God’s people who are in need. Welcome others into your homes.” Romans 12:11-13

We will:

1. Live Expectantly – This is our bold reminder to think about what could go right.

Are you someone who constantly worries and over-thinks things? We can sometimes find ourselves paralyzed and feeling completely stuck. With this idea of “Living Expectantly” we are going to explore what it would be like to start with just one thing. Have faith and hope, and give it a try!

2. Surrender Daringly – This is our bold reminder to let things go.

This is an area where I need so much help. My “Type-A” personality feels a constant need to be in control of people and situations in my life; maybe you feel this way too! There are so many opinions and expectations all around us, especially in motherhood. And there are so many unknown things that we can’t control. Let’s find new ways to surrender and let things go.

3. Breathe Freely – This is our bold reminder to let yourself be loved.

“Transformation isn’t about self improvement, it’s about love. How would we live differently if we were convinced that we were worthy, that we were enough, and that we were loved completely?” – Mandy Arioto

Not only do we need to let ourselves be loved, we can make an effort to love one another, within our MOPS group and beyond. Romans 12:13 talks about serving others in tangible ways. I have seen this happen so much in our group over the past year, and I want to keep seeing more! We can support, encourage, and help each other when we need it. Honestly, some days it is hard to see the positive, but I hope we would all be reminded and truly believe that “you are a great mom” and “it is going to be ok.” We can breathe freely and let ourselves be loved.

“Some women fear the fire, others tend their God-given fire and use it to light up their hearts and the world. Let’s be those women.”

Registration for Sandy MOPS 2018-19 is open! Register today and join us on a journey of transformation.


You can see a full theme summary from MOPS International here.

Dialogic Reading & Creating a Literacy Rich Home

On February 27, 2018 we had the privilege of hearing Janice Johannesen, LSW speak to our MOPS group about dialogic reading. She focused on sharing ways that we, as mothers, can help create a literacy rich environment within our homes. Check out this sweet note she sent that includes some additional resources:

Grace MOPS moms,

I want to start by saying thank you so much for the privilege of coming and talking at your group this morning. Like I mentioned before, your group has a special place in my heart and it was an honor to give back to a group that has blessed my life.
I hope you found my presentation on dialogic reading enjoyable and useful. I wanted to give you all some more resources that you can go to for making your home a literacy rich environment. Some of my favorites are:
And for those moms who were asking me about Intermountain Christian School, here is our website, Both Jennifer and myself would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have as moms of students and employees of ICS.
Janice Johannesen, LSW
Early Childhood Teacher
Intermountain Christian School
Jennifer Adema

Giving Back: Backpacks for Foster Care

Yesterday at MOPS we held our annual Service Project Meeting and put together backpacks for children who are removed from homes in emergency situations and enter into the Utah Foster Care system. Now 30 children will receive a backpack that we hope will show them that they are loved and cared for, that they will make it through this situation, and that they matter. God calls us to love the least among us (Matthew 25:40) and to care for the orphans among us (James 1:27, Deuteronomy 14:29), and this was such an amazing way to do just that.

As women, there are many things that pull at our heartstrings and call us to take action in life. From the moment when we first become a mother, our inner “mama bear” is awoken within us and we begin to truly understand the depth of passion and love we have for not only our own little ones, but also others that are in need. Through this passion as moms we get to rise up and take action to show a small token of love to children who are in tough and difficult situations that we hope and pray they never have to experience again.

The Foster Care system is something that we almost all know by name and a small snippet of what they do, but we don’t necessarily know all that is involved in placing children in a – hopefully – loving home. We are so thankful to Timi, one of our Sandy MOPS mamas, who opened up and shared about her experience with fostering her two littlest children (that ultimately led to her amazing adoption stories and those two little lives being changed for the better forever!).

If you are interested in learning more about fostering because you have felt a tugging on your heartstrings: perhaps you feel that God is calling you to care for the orphans among us in an even bigger way, please visit for more information about how to become a foster parent or to get involved in respite care.

Becoming a foster parent isn’t for everyone but, as Timi shared with us, there is still such a need for support for families of foster children. When a child is placed in a new home we can support that family by providing meals or setting up and completing an Amazon Wish List. No matter the age of the child, and no matter how long they may be with that family in their home, the family still has a period of adjustment (much like bringing a newborn baby home from the hospital!). The love and support we can show these families is one small way we can care for those in need and the orphans among us.

Thank you all the Women at Sandy MOPS who donated and gave of time and resources to make this service project a success. You are all amazing women who are world changers.

Better Moms. Better World.

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