On Mission

Same as Me…

I came across this sweet pic of my youngest at her preschool the other day and it caught me by surprise a little bit and it made my heart smile and kind of took my breath away (in a good way!)

She was reading and loving a sweet baby that didn’t “look” like her. It didn’t have blond curly hair and pail (super pale) skin.

And then it broke my heart too…

Because if we were real honest with ourselves, many times we tend to reach for the doll that looks most like us, or become friends with that sweet mama that is just like us – same parenting stage, same socioeconomic place, same social status…

Same…

But I wonder what we all miss out on when we are surrounded by the same…

I’m preparing to teach a class this weekend at my church, and in my studies, I came across this question that kinda stopped me in my tracks. (I can’t remember who asked it… forgive me!)

“Do you have any “unexpected” friendships?”

Friendships that don’t look like you, that challenge and stretch you, that you can invest in and learn from too?

And I had to pause… and think… and confess that I don’t have enough of those types of friendships in my world.

What about you? What about your friendships? Do they all look the same or do you have sweet friends who are “different” than you and challenge you to learn and grow and love more and deeper?

We want to raise little ones to love Jesus and love others and after Jesus of course, I believe it starts with baby dolls that are “different” , introducing cultures that are different, reading books from other places and about other races.

But we have to be the ones to expose them. We have to lead the way. We have to read them the stories, buy the baby dolls, befriend the neighbor who is different than us, cook the food that is “odd”, and talk about how God loves all people and so should we!

What are ways that we can raise our little ones to love all peoples, regardless if they are just like them or not? How can we raise little ones that pick the different baby doll to rock and cuddle with?

What unexpected friendship can you invest in?

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On Mission

Pray & Play

Our first Pray & Play was so very fun and simple – pray then play!

While the weather didn’t quite cooperate with us, we just went with Plan B and “prayer walked inside”. Our town has the coolest lightbulb sculptures all over the downtown area, so for our prayer time, we “found” pics of the lightbulbs hidden all throughout the play area and paused for a moment to pray at each picture. Each mama was given prayer points to guide their prayers and to remind us of different ways we could pray for our city. Plan A was to find the real lightbulbs outside and enjoy prayer walking outside – oh South Carolina weather…

Then we had a little snack time and enjoyed playing together!

And while it was “simple” and fun, I also believe that it is very important and foundational to raising little ones to love Jesus and love others. Our littles learn to pray for and love their community when they see us as mamas (and daddy’s) praying and loving our community and that starts at any age!

How are you praying for your community? Are you leading your little ones to pray for your community? For your mayor, for your city council? For the helping agencies and the homeless? For the college students and the international students? For the churches and the pastors? So much we can pray for!

If you are local, I hope that you will join us at our next Pray & Play. If you’re not, why not start your own group? Find a great park or local area to prayerwalk, invite a few friends to join you, and have fun with your littles!

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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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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.
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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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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!

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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!