Blog, On Mission

Hitting the Pause Button

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it really means to be an “On Mission Mom” and if you saw one of our latest posts, I shared my own heart and calling that it is my job, our job, to expose our littles to the world and the needs around them. We can’t raise world changers if we never show them that there is a world out there that needs to be changed.

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However, I, and maybe you too, get busy and overwhelmed and I’m just happy to be surviving day by day at times. Like some times I’m over the moon happy that my dinner wasn’t a fail and the girls actually ate it, and they were playing quietly with playdoh when daddy got home instead of wrestling in the living room floor (I thought that was a boy thing?!?)  and the laundry got moved from the washing machine to the dryer in a timely manner, not two days later! Yikes…  and then we crash into bed and do it all over again the next day and before I know it, I’ve not shared Christ with one person that I’ve met in the last month and I’ve not served anyone else in any capacity… you get the picture…

That has had me thinking a LOT about why and what is sucking my time and joy and life at times.  AND, I’m not sure that is what God intends for our lives and for motherhood. Yes, this season is hard. Yes, it’s busy. But sometimes, I wonder if it’s busy and hard because I’ve filled it with things to make it busy and hard. Or maybe my priorities or expectations aren’t set in the right place. I often say with my lips that I want to raise world changers, but the decisions I make day to day and how I plan and spend my time, doesn’t always reflect that.

If I truly want to raise little world changers, then I have to do the work. I have to live in my calling as a wife and mom. I have to plan and invest my time in to those eternal things — it’s just not going to happen on its own.  I have to say yes to some things and I have to say no to some things and honestly, that’s hard and sometimes just stinks and apart from Christ, I can’t make those decisions.  I’ve been reminded over these last couple weeks that I must remain close and connected to Christ, my true vine. I also must seek out wisdom and encouragement from other mamas who desire the same thing — that’s you!

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More than anything I want On Mission Moms to be a place where we can land and be encouraged to keep our focus and our heart on what truly matters, the eternal things — raising littles to love Jesus and love others. And sometimes that means that we have to hit the pause button and do some real evaluating and seeking and asking to make sure that we haven’t veered off of the course.

So, where is your time being spent? 

Where are your finances and resources being spent? 

Who or what are you saying yes to? Does it matter for eternity?

Does that line up with God’s calling on your life
to raise littles to love Jesus and serve others? 

What is Christ asking you to do about it? 

As I spend the rest of the month of January looking at what it truly means to be an On Mission Mom, I pray you will join me. That you will hit the pause button, ask the hard questions of yourself (and answer them honestly), and recommit to doing the work — to focusing your (my) heart on what truly matters.

Join us over in our Facebook Group and share your thoughts and what God is teaching you about being an On Mission Mom!

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Blog, On Mission

Thoughts on Christmas Traditions

Several other mamas have asked me recently about our family traditions during Christmas or Advent. Honestly, I feel like we are just establishing those traditions and learning and growing as our little ones are fairly young and have struggled to put my thoughts into words this season. I know, rare for me!  But I asked my friend and another On Mission Mom, Kylie, to share her thoughts on Christmas traditions with her family and a new one that her fun family started this year – The Giving Manger! Her kiddos are a few years ahead of mine and they have had a few “extra” years to really establish the traditions. I also just totally respect the wisdom and intentionality she and her hubby, Eric have in discipling and leading their fun, sweet, and talented kiddos!

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I love Christmas.  I love the traditions.  I love the sights and sounds.  The familiarity. The time with family.  And I love the gift giving.  Really.  Nothing makes me happier than finding the perfect gift for a special friend or family member. 

But that is, as Eric will tell you, as much of a curse as it is a blessing.  As with most parents at this time of year, we find ourselves fighting the temptation to overindulge (and by “we,” I actually mean “I”).  To give in. To over-do. And to justify/excuse/dismiss it all by claiming that we are doing it in the “spirit of Christmas.” 

But, we are finding that it IS possible to steer your kids away from consuming and toward contributing.  Away from commerce and toward compassion.  It takes intentionality.  But it is absolutely possible.  And absolutely worth it. So, here are our ideas—please, take them and make them your very own!

Thankful Tree:  Instead of decorating our tree with traditional ornaments, we spend time every night of Advent doing a family devotion with our Jesse Tree (more on that in just a second) and as part of that devotion, we make it a point each night to identify and discuss one thing/person/experience for which we are thankful. We then write those down on gift tags (generally of the nondescript, burlap variety) and hang those on our tree instead.  By the time Christmas Day arrives, we have a tree showcasing the multitude of blessings that God has already given us.  His faithfulness in the past sets the stage for that same faithfulness in our future and sometimes it’s a really good exercise to slow down and reflect on that and to be reminded of the immaterial gifts that have shaped us and made us who we are.

Jesse Tree:  I can’t encourage this enough.  This was the tradition that started it all for our family.  For those of you who haven’t discovered the joy of a Jesse Tree experience, please just take my word for it and commit to making it part of your yearly celebration. There are tons of variations and resources–and you can personalize it for your family.  For ours, we have a scraggly, pre-lit, needleless tree that remains dark as we work our way through the different Old Testament stories and prophecies that point us to the coming Messiah.  On Christmas morning, we do the final devotion of the year, hang the final ornament on the tree and light the scraggly, leafless tree, symbolizing the power of the incarnation and the moment at which the darkness of humanity collided with the light of Christ.  Interestingly, we’ve expanded this tradition for use during Lent, too, as we look toward Christ’s death and resurrection.  And since the two presentations are similar in nature, it really helps us underscore to our children that Christianity spans the spectrum from the cradle to the cross. 

Giving Manger:  This is our newest tradition and one that my family has embraced wholeheartedly.  Again, we use it in conjunction with our Jesse Tree devotions each night, but in this exercise, we turn our sights outward to those within our circle of influence.  Our classmates.  Our coworkers.  Our teammates.  People in our neighborhood.  And this  year, we are specifically trying to be intentional about “seeing” the overlooked.  We are praying for Christ’s eyes for the world.  And once we see them, we seek to figure out a way that we can bless them in a tangible (but not necessarily financial) way.  For each “good deed” that is performed, we add a piece of straw to the wooden manger in an effort to “prepare the manger of our heart” for the arrival of our Savior.  Again, just our attempt to keep our focus centered on Christ and others instead of on “me and my,” during a time of year when the latter seems much more prevalent than the former.

Our three “go to” activities to offset this kind of built in consumerism are battle tested and (believe it or not) kid-approved.  In fact, they have become our three favorite traditions of the season!  If you have any questions or need direction about resourcing your own traditions, feel free to reach out to me and I’ll be happy to share my sources with you!  Merriest of Christmases to you and yours!

What do you do with your little ones to help set your heart on Christ during the Christmas and Advent season ? Here is a link to the resources that Kylie mentioned above:

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The Giving Manger

 

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift – a Jesse Tree Resource

Also join us over on our On Mission Moms Pinterest Page for more Christmas and Advent ideas!

*Affiliate links are included above and On Mission Moms does receive a small portion of any purchase that you make using those links.
Blog, Mission Ideas, On Mission

Service Opportunity: Christmas Caroling with Littles

There is just something special and sweet about little ones singing Christmas carols unless it’s Jingle Bells for the 100th time at the top of their lungs. It’s even sweeter when they are singing for sweet friends at a local assisted living center. This morning we had 14 super cute little ones and 7 mamas ready to sing and worship Jesus and it was the sweetest (and shortest 15 minutes) and a fun way to kick off this Christmas Season!

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It was really a simple and easy service opportunity. I asked a friend (who just happens to be an incredible singer and mommy) what she thought, we started chatting and planning and it was pretty much done! I called and chatted with the activities director and confirmed a date and then sent out an invite to our local On Mission Moms facebook group.  For those that were able to come, I sent a short list of songs that we would sing so that mamas could practice at home. We also made Christmas cards and passed out candy canes to all the residents that had gathered. It was super simple and a great opportunity to remind our little ones that it’s not really about Santa or elves or even singing – it’s about Jesus, and loving Him, and making him known through our words and our actions.  It also gave us mamas a chance to serve with our little ones right beside us. There’s something extra special (and maybe a little crazy too) about serving with your friends and your children and their children.

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So, find a date that works, call a local assisted living center, invite a few friends, make a few cards and then sing about Jesus and sing to Jesus!

Let us know when you have a chance to go caroling by sharing pics over on Instagram @onmissionmoms !

And because we can’t just share a couple pics of this cuteness…

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Mission Ideas, On Mission

Thankful Leaves: A Printable

If you could write out all the things you are thankful for, what would you write? We have so much to be thankful for! I’m so thankful that my sweet gals are napping in their rooms right now as I write this! Ha

Seriously though, this time of year just gets me! I love Thanksgiving and turkey and of course the pecan pie! But a huge part of it is the tradition that Dan and I started when we first got married. We began a thankful “tree” and each evening at dinner, we spent a few minutes writing what we were thankful for from that day on a little “leaf” and tying it to the tree. Some things are funny. Some things are just plain silly. Some are sweet. And some just make me cry like a baby. Once our gals came along we knew we wanted the tradition to continue and each year just gets better and better! And we also love keeping the “leaves” and going back and reading them… lots of things change from year to year.

I also have noticed that when we are more focused on things we are thankful for, our gals begin to also do the same. It’s funny how that works, eh…

So how do you foster thankfulness around your home? Do you have any traditions like a “thankful tree”?

If you don’t, I want to encourage you to start a simple tradition and take time to voice and write down things you’re thankful for this year!

Here’s a simple (like super simple) leaf printable that you can use. Just print and cut and then punch holes and tie on your tree!

Click the Link Below to Download your free printable!

Our “tree” is pretty basic too – just find a good mason jar, fill it with sticks and there ya have it! I think they even have some great “real” trees now at Hobby Lobby or Target?!

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What thankful traditions do you have?! Share your ideas here or over on our Instagram!

Here’s the free Printable!

Mission Ideas, On Mission

Growing Thankful Hearts…

“But mommy…. just one more! One more piece of candy!” Seems to be said and heard a lot around our house during this time of year.

At Times, it makes me want to pull my hair out and scream, “can’t you just be thankful that I even let you have ONE piece….” (while that silly pumpkin taunts me from the counter…)

But, then I take a step back and a few minutes of “mommy timeout”, and remember that it’s my calling and honor to teach my girls how to have thankful hearts. They definetly don’t and can’t learn that on their own!

This is a great and easy time of year to take a step back and spend some time developing little thankful hearts.

1. It starts with you! Are you thankful for the things which God has given you? Your home? Your family and your friends? The clothes you wear? Spend some time personally thanking God for all that He has blessed you with. A wise friend once reminded me that “if I were to wake up today with only the things that I thanked God for yesterday, what would I have?” Thats convicting! I can sometimes skip The thankfulness and move right into the petition. When you invite your children into your thankfulness, it’s huge! Do they hear you say “thank you” to your hubby or for that special gift or for the food or for the raise you surprisingly received at work? Or are they hearing you whine “just one more….”

2. Be intentional! There are lots of great ways to foster thankfulness. For us, we have the tradition that dates back to the beginning of our marriage of having a thankful “tree” and each evening during November, we take time at dinner to share one or two things we are thankful for from that day. It may be a phone call from a friend, a walk with the dog, a hug from one of the girls… it can be anything. But we write it down on a “leaf” and tie it to the tree. And over the month it’s always fun to watch the tree begin to fill up. There are other fun ways too celebrate and foster thankfulness.

3. Read about it! Start with scripture and share what it has to say and talk about it with your little ones. 1 Thes. 5:18, Col. 3:15, Col.4:2 and I could keep on going! Just look up “thankful” in your bible! Memorize a few of those verses this month. My favorite is 1 Chronicles 16:34. God’s word is active and alive and can change their hearts! There are also really great books and stories to read together. One recent resource I came across is the “I will Thank You” scripture and art journal from Kids Read Truth! So good!

3. Say it and show it! Take time with your kids to say “thank you”. Make a special card for a grandparent that watched the kids overnight, or the maillady that goes above and beyond with your mail, or the trash man who is faithful to pick up your trash each week. Take time and make cookies or buy a coke or coffee for that teacher who loves on your kids when you can’t. And do this with your kids by your side! Does it take you longer? yep! Can you whip up cookies during nap and be done with it? Probably? But look for ways to bring your kids in to the activity and chat about the whys and watch them grow in their own thankfulness.

What other ideas do you have? What has helped grow thankfulness in the heart of your little one?

Check out our Pinterest Board to see fun ideas to say and grow thankfulness in our little one’s heart! And of course, if you have an idea or resource to share, please do! That is how we grow and learn!

And let me say “Thank you” to each of you who continue to follow On Mission Moms! Thank you for sharing your ideas! Thank you for sharing these posts and inviting your friends to be on Mission with you!! Thank you for pushing me on toward more and more love for Christ and love for others!

Blog, Mission Ideas, On Mission

Reclaiming Halloween

I strongly believe that what the world meant for evil, God can redeem for good. It’s somewhere in the Bible, right? (Actually Gen. 50:20, where Joseph is speaking to his brothers after they sold him…)

I tend to view Halloween a lot like that. While the world often sees it and pushes it as evil, it doesn’t have to be. As believers, we can reclaim it and use it for His good and for His glory!

Here are a couple ways to do that!

1. Use the evening of trick or treating as an opportunity to get to know your neighbors. Have candy for the kiddos but also provide something for the adults too – maybe a cup of hot coffee or cider, maybe a bag of popcorn. Our Life Group (Sunday school class) did this and not only had a great time together but we were able to help some of our friends meet their neighbors and pray with a few parents too! It led to great conversations and connections and who doesn’t love a quick warm drink when you’re walking around forever with your little super hero or princess.

2. Treat (don’t trick) your Neighbors! We have great neighbors and it makes it so fun when we get to surprise them with extra goodies! And they are so sweet to do the same!! Make some special treats for those that live right beside you or those neighbors that maybe aren’t believers and you are developing a great friendship with. Attach a special note and let them know you are thankful for them and praying for them! Look especially for that neighbor that maybe isn’t able to get out or is alone… this can be a stressful and lonely evening for some! So pray for them and stop and chat! You may be their only conversation that day…

What ideas can you share to help us reclaim Halloween and use it as an opportunity to share Christ with our little ones and our neighbors?

Blog, On Mission

Asking the Questions

Call me crazy, but I generally love car time with my girls. It’s a chance to chat and connect and hear about their day especially when I pick them up after their morning of preschool. Often times though, I’m met with silence and tired brains that have been learning and playing hard and as my oldest sometimes says “I just don’t wanna talk about it right now.”

I strive to keep the conversation going though, admittedly so they won’t fall asleep in our five minute drive home, but also so I can learn and encourage and know what’s brewing in their little hearts. I also love to use questions to help them to start thinking about their day and how we are all “on Mission”. I generally ask a question and then we all take turns answering, even the two year old – which is often comical! We usually don’t get more than a couple questions in at a time and that’s okay. My goal isn’t to work through a whole list of questions, it’s to provide a safe place where my girls feel like they can chat and share and open up their hearts. I believe it’s also crucial and more beneficial to ask questions that can’t be easily answered with a yes or a no, but ones they have to give details with. This usually Spurs on deeper conversation.

Here are some great conversation starters centered around leading our little ones to see their lives as “being on Mission”:

  • What did you love about today?
  • What did you not love?
  • What would you do different about today if you could?
  • How were you able to serve others today?
  • How did you serve your teacher and bring her honor?
  • Were you kind and loving in all you did today? With all your friends?
  • Was there anyone who was “left out” or maybe alone today?
  • Were you left out today or maybe felt alone? How did that make you feel?
  • Did you see a special “need” in your class today that maybe you could help with?
  • Were you able to share with a friend today?
  • If you could help or serve anyone today, who would you want to help? Why?
  • What’s the name of a new friend that you played with today?
  • Who did you have an opportunity to share Your bible story or scripture verse with today?
  • Is there anyone or anything you would like to pray for today? (And then we pray for that!)

Let’s be mamas that reclaim the car time and the dinner table time and make sure that it’s a space where our children are chatting and connecting as a family, which starts especially as little ones!

And on those few days when they “just don’t wanna talk about it,” we crank up the silly songs and sing our way home!

What conversation questions do you use with your kiddos to get them talking? Do you listen and share too?