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!

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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!