On Mission Service Ideas

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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!

Blog, Mission Ideas

Prayer Meal: New Orleans

I’m always super eager to pack up the Christmas decor around the first or so of January because I know that my next favorite season is coming up soon after – Mardi Gras! Throughout the months of January and February this year,  people in New Orleans (and all over the world) are celebrating Carnival. I’ll be the first to admit, I love a fun parade and all the beads and ridiculous trinkets that we stand for hours to catch as floats pass by. If you have never been to New Orleans, you really need to go – it’s so much more than Mardi Gras and what you see on TV. It’s an amazing city filled with incredible people! Can you tell how much I miss living in that city!?!

This month I will be preparing a yummy New Orleans meal probably more than once. I gotta squeeze in my favorite red beans and rice, jambalaya and maybe even some gumbo. I will also be making King Cake and hopefully trying my hand at pralines (pronounced correctly, of course!).  Be sure to check our our Pinterest page for all the yummy recipes and fun Mardi Gras activities that you could do with your little ones to lead you to the most important thing – to pray for that great city and her people.

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New Orleans Prayer Meal Idea

Red Beans & Rice

Salad

French Bread

King Cake

There are several great churches doing great work in the city of New Orleans and I wish that I could highlight them all. As my family enjoys our yummy meal of red beans and rice this Mardi Gras season, we will be praying for many of our friends and churches including Page & Ashley and their fun family at Canal Street Church. Pray that this church (and many others) will have lots of opportunities to serve the thousands of tourists that come to New Orleans during these weeks. Pray for open doors and conversations that lead to life change and salvations.  Praise the Lord for families like Page & Ashley and others who serve Jesus so faithfully with their families in this great city. And if you are ever visiting NOLA, be sure to stop in and worship with them!

Here are some fun things that you can add to your Mardi Gras dinner to make it more festive! (These are affiliate links so On Mission Moms does receive a super small portion of any purchase that you make! Thanks for supporting our work!)

(If you aren’t up to making your own King Cake or Red Beans & Rice, these are a “great” quick way to enjoy a taste of New Orleans and still pray for this great city, although not quite the “real” thing. )

*The links above are great recipes that I’ve prepared myself; however, there are LOTS of other great recipes over on our Pinterest page too! I’m not endorsing these particular websites.  Be sure to share your favorite Mardi Gras or New Orleans recipe with us in the comments below or over in our Facebook Group!

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A New Year and Exposure

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source unknown – found on Pinterest

I came across this pic the other day over on Pinterest and while it made me giggle just a bit, it also caused me to take a pretty long pause.  It reminded me of the deep importance of my job as a mama to my little gals. While I pray often that they would have a personal relationship with Jesus, have a deep burden for the lost, and care about serving others – it’s not really my “job” to make them “catch” that burden. It is however my job to expose them to the need and the opportunity and the lostness all around them.

But the question that I often ask myself is, am I exposing them to those things?  Am I putting before them the “eternal” things that really matter? Are they seeing in me a burden for the lost? Are they watching me stop to give someone a bottle of water or point them to the nearest homeless shelter – or are they watching me walk by without a care? Are they hearing me pray for my lost friend who desperately needs Jesus and then sharing truth with that friend? Are they seeing me seek reconciliation and forgiveness when I’ve done wrong? Are they seeing me praying for the nations?

I desire more than anything to be intentional about exposing our gals to Jesus and ways that they can serve and love Him and others and  I see that fleshing itself out in several ways:

  1. Making sure that we (my hubby and I) are in the Word of God together as a family. The Bible is the most important book that we will ever read together and on our own. God speaks through His word so therefore we must be reading it and seeking wisdom from it. My deepest burden for serving others has to start here.
  2. Putting before them opportunities to “go”. Maybe it’s across the street to the neighbors house because we baked them cookies after their baby was born. Maybe it’s encouraging them to use their own money to buy supplies for a children’s shelter. Maybe it’s stopping to pray for a different country each night at dinner. The list goes on – but I gotta do the work to create that list. That part is my job. My four year and two year old aren’t going to ask me to teach them about other countries. They can’t plan a playdate where they focus on prayer walking or go Christmas caroling at a nursing home. But I can, if I take the time and do the work which Christ has called me too.
  3. Evaluating my own heart to see if I truly have a burden for the lost? How do I spend my time? How do I spend my money (says a LOT about what I value!) Do I intentionally pray, give, go, welcome, and send in my own heart and life?  And then how does that show up in the life of my children.

As we begin a New Year here over at On Mission Moms, I’m looking forward to seeing how we will lead our little ones to love Jesus and serve Him together and it starts with me, with you. So let’s expose them to all the things that will draw them closer to Christ and His work around the world!

Here are just a few resources to begin to expose them to the world around them:

(These are affiliate links and @OnMissionMoms does receive a super small portion if you purchase them from the link above. Thanks for supporting our work!)

 

Follow along over at our On Mission Mom Pinterest Page for other fun ideas, recipes, books, activities and more that will help you be an On Mission Mom!

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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Blog, Mission Ideas

Prayer Meal Idea: Oh, Canada…

As it gets colder, I often think of our Northern neighbors, Canada, and I often wonder how in the world they handle the cold?!?  I’m a summer gal through and through! I love a good snow, but I love the southern kind of snow that shuts everything down for a few days and then we head back to school and work and it’s 60 degrees a few days later. I was even complaining this morning because it was a cold 32 degrees. In Canada, their weatherman is already calling for SNOW! I just can’t…

This month we will be enjoying a popular Canadian dish, Poutine. This is an interesting combination of a few of my favorite things. Who doesn’t love fries covered in cheese? But covered in brown gravy and cheese curds? I can’t wait to give it a TRY and spend the evening setting our hearts and minds on people a little further up north and thanking the Lord that we are a little warmer…

For some great recipes for Poutine, be sure to check out our Pinterest board. I had a hard time just picking ONE – there seems to be LOTS of thoughts and ideas on how to best make this yummy messy super unhealthy dish!

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And while we are enjoying all the yumminess, we will be thinking of one of our favorite families, the Ostrems , who live in Canada with their family working among internationals through various outreaches. As they get ready to gear up for the winter months, it’s a great time to pray for them and for all that God is doing through them.

Prayer Points:

1. Pray for their Christmas outreach event with around 150 Syrians. They will be hosting a meal and sharing the Gospel. I wonder if they will serve Poutine?! Ha

2. Pray for their sports ministry. They have some great opportunities ahead but are limited on money and staff. But we know God is NOT! So we are joining them in prayer for God to provide!

3. Pray for their family. With winter coming and families not getting out much, depression can begin to set in. Pray for great family time and opportunities during the cold hard months.

They are also a pretty talented family too – Brandy has an incredible doll making business called Blessum&Arrows that you should totally check out! Oh it makes my heart skip a beat to see these sweet little creations she has made with her hands and heart!

Let us know when you try the Poutine around your dinner table! Share a pic over on our Instagram Post!

Blog, Mission Ideas

Seizing Opportunities: Serving During the Holidays

It’s so easy during the Holiday season to want to draw a circle around your family and focus on yourselves. We all get it – there are a TON of things going on – from parties to family dinners to school programs and even to the traditions that you are striving to start within your family. It’s busy! But I want to encourage you that often times during the Holidays is when others are most open to the Gospel and when we can teach our little ones to set their minds on Jesus and others, and not themselves.

Here are some easy Thanksgiving Service Ideas that you can do with your little ones!

Host a Thanksgiving Feast and Invite Others

If you look around your neighborhood, your office, your child’s school, or at your local college, you will see lots of people who could be spending this Thanksgiving alone. Invite them to your family dinner. Ask them to join you and your family for a meal.  There is always room for one more, right?! And if you have ever had to spend a holiday alone, you will know how incredible it feels to be invited in, to have a place at the table set just for you.

Visit your local Nursing Home 

Holidays can sometimes be hard for those in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living facilities. Encourage your child to make thankful leaves or a fall craft and deliver it to residents to brighten their days. Maybe you can get together with other moms and kiddos and make a fun adventure out of it! Make a craft and then set a time to deliver them all together!

Say Thank You and Give Thankfully! 

Look for ways with your little one to say “thank you” to those in your world that serve your family. This is easy – the trashman, the mail lady, the lawn guy (even if it is daddy or mommy). Make cookies, make a card, draw them a picture, buy them a hot coffee on a cold day – whatever it is, it encourages our little ones to not only SAY thank you but to live and give thankfully!

Collect Food for the Hungry 

We all love to sit down at our Thanksgiving meal but many in your own town won’t be doing that! Contact your local food bank, soup kitchen, or homeless shelter and see how you can partner with them to provide a Holiday Meal.  Let your little ones help you shop for the food items needed. Encourage them to make cards or “turkey hands” to go with the food items. Often times that means more to the family receiving the items than the actual items! Locally, we have an incredible program called Overflow which partners with many churches, our local United Way, and several serving agencies to provide Holiday Bags filled with food items like stuffing, beans, sweet potatoes, etc. and then provides recipes to help a family know how to prepare a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast.

Get Outside and Rake! 

I love all the Fall Leaves but by November and December they are usually starting to pile up! Is there someone in your community or neighborhood who could use a little encouragement and physical help, maybe a widow that goes to your church? Offer to come over with the little ones and spend some time raking and helping them with their yard work. When it’s all piled up, let the little ones have a few jumps in the pile and enjoy the squeals of laughter! I’m sure that sweet widow will smile too!

These ideas aren’t brand new. They aren’t that “ah ha… what a great idea!” kinda thing. They are just simple ideas to help us set our time and our hearts on the right things this holiday season, serving Jesus and others. If we want to raise World Changers, we have to start somewhere and seize those opportunities to lead our little ones to love Jesus and others!

For more Thanksgiving Holiday service ideas, follow Pinterest!

And for Super cute ideas and traditions to start with your family during the Holidays, make sure you are following Ashley over at The Littles and Me! She has great fun activities and resources!