How To Pray In The Nursery

As a volunteer in the nursery at church it is easy to get caught up in the “tasks” that accompany caring for infants and toddlers, let’s face it, there are many. From comforting the crying 18 month old who misses her Mommy, changing the diaper of the 6 month old who just had a diaper explosion and now needs not only a new diaper, but also a new set of clothes, to wrangling the 2 year olds for snack and story time, there is no lack of “tasks” to be done. Perhaps the most important of tasks is the one that so often gets shuffled to the back of our priority list, PRAYER!

Delanee Williams, Kids Ministry Specialist with LifeWay Christian Resources, has fabulous insight into this very thing in her article “Praying for Babies and Their Families”. Speaking to nursery volunteers/teachers she says:

As a teacher, you influence a baby’s life as you teach him each week. The Holy Spirit works through you to lay spiritual foundations of faith. Prayer is another way to impact families with babies. As teachers, we can pray for the babies in our class. Use the suggestions listed below to begin your prayer time during the week. As you continue to pray, think of additional ways to pray for the babies in your class.

  • Pray for babies as they grow and develop emotionally, mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually.
  • Pray for the marriages of the parents and guardians. Pray they will make church a priority in their family’s life.
  • Pray for wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit as parents seek to provide a godly home for their family.
  • Pray your relationship as a teacher deepens with families as they trust you to care for their baby. Seek the Lord to find ways to build connections with these families.
  • Pray for your preparation and spiritual growth as you teach babies biblical truths each week.
  • Pray for sensitivity to know ways to minister and share the gospel with the families of babies in your class.

Pray for the babies before, during, and after the teaching session.  Commit to pray each day for the children in your class. As you pray, keep a journal of ways you see the Lord working in and through you. During the year, look back through the journal. Reflect and recognize ways the Lord has answered your prayers. Seek the Lord and remember He is with you as you teach and minister to the babies and their families at your church.

Following Jesus and Making Him Known,

Mia Heyboer

 

Discipline

Discipline has been the hot topic in Ridge Kids the past few weeks. I  heard it used at least a dozen times over the course of the past two days. I even had to use it a couple of times with parents during conversations about a few very strong willed kids whom I love.

In the book Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony she says,Ultimately, the purpose of discipline is to create an environment where the root of the problem is exposed and healed so that it no longer causes the negative behavior. This is true spiritual formation, but so often we settle for behavior modification … Our goal in course correction is to align their hearts with a path of healing that only God can bring. When we do this, we allow our children to be honest about sin, not to hide it or manage it in their flesh, and by doing so we help the begin to understand why they need a Savior.” What is your definition of discipline?  Does the word make you cringe or does it make you want to raise your hands to say “yes, we need more of it!” Does the word draw to mind a punishment that you endured or dished out?

The dictionary defines discipline as the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience. I love the training part but the punishment piece reminds me of my grandma’s switch and mother’s wooden spoon. Both of them were used as corrective motivation on my backside as a child more times than I’d like to admit. What do you think about the dictionaries definition of discipline? Do you agree with it or not?

I know that parenting isn’t easy, it wasn’t always easy for me when it came to my children but it  does come with the job. What does discipline look like in your home? Is it easy for you to discipline your children or is it excruciatingly hard? Whether it is hard or easy way we can’t be  afraid to call our children to more and to expect and accept behavior that doesn’t them or hurt others . “The end goal for us as parents is to conduct God’s discipline in our children’s lives in such a way that they experience healing from their sin.”- Michelle Anthony, Spiritual Parenting. Remember that all discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.- Hebrews 12:11. For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines. -Hebrews 12:6. Please know that the Families Ministry Team is here to talk about discipline with you and to help if you would need guidance or support with discipline in your home. Discipline won’t be easy but the end result will be worth it.

Blessings,

Kate

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Story

As a kid one of my favorite movies was the “Never Ending Story”.  It’s about the battle between good and evil, the destruction that happens because Sebastian doesn’t believe in himself and then the restoration that comes when he finally does.  Not to mention, I wished I could go for a ride on Falkor , meet the Rock Crusher and even go riding through the plains with Atreyu and Artax.

We can learn a lot from a story. Through the power of stories we see the qualities of heroes and villains, we become intrigued by friendship, love, danger and we cheer when good triumphs over evil.  Stories are important and we can learn a lot from them!  This is one of the best parts of being an Elementary Children’s Ministry leader.  We get to share that we are all part of one “Big God Story“, with children and their families. Through this story we learn that each of us has been created with a special part only we can play and this story will not end until Jesus returns and defeats Satan for good!

So often we are told that we need to read the Bible but sometimes it can become a chore instead of something we enjoy especially if we flip to a section that is all names that we can’t pronounce.  But what if we looked at the Bible in a new light? What if we saw it as an actual giant, very true, story book?  In it’s pages we would find a constant thread of good verses evil, adventures, love, daring rescue plans and some pretty unique and sometimes uniquely gross stuff (perfect for pre-teens!).  This story never ends. It includes a prince who saves the day, an evil king who is killed by a sword that gets swallowed up by his fat belly, and it tells us about a man who gets swallowed by a giant fish and lives!  It is packed with tales of people being saved from so many amazing things like a fire, a lion’s den, oppression, slavery and from themselves.  This adventures main character God, always comes to the rescue , restores, makes things new and build a relationship with His most loved creation, us.

All of this is part of your story but what is the rest of it? Which part of the story is your favorite? What parts do your kids love best? You see, your story, my story, our story are all part of “The Big God Story”! Talk about it, embrace it, live it and introduce people to the greatest story of all.  It’s worth sharing.

The Potty Training Woes

 

I am the mother of 5 pretty spectacular children, and I am proud to announce that all 5 of those children are now almost successfully potty trained!!!! I am not even going to pretend that I had anything to do with it; or try to give any of you suggestions, tips or tricks on how to potty train your little ones. You would think that after 5 children I would be an expert at this potty training thing, but no, and I mean a huge NO! It is truly only by the grace of God that my husband and I have made it through this journey to share with you all.

My inspiration for this blog just happens to be my youngest child Emmett.  He is a strong willed, spunky, stinker of a little boy.  He is 3 ½ and yes, he just figured out this potty on the big boy potty thing last weekend.  I had been working with him for well over 6 months;  begging, pleading, bargaining with him, truly willing to do almost anything that little boy wanted if he would just use the big boy potty, all to no avail. Now remember, I have 5 children, I should be an expert at this potty training thing right?  Well, what I discovered is that until he decided HE wanted to use the big boy potty, there was really nothing we as parents could do.  NOTHING! How unfair is that!  We are at the mercy of a tiny person who is head strong, moody and could care less about the fact that he is required to be potty trained in order to attend school in the Fall.

He had all the signs that he was ready to be done with diapers. He was letting us know when he was wet or needed to be changed.  He would even go lay down and say, “Mommy, change my diaper, I have stinky!”  Even the teachers at the school had talked to him many times about how much fun they were going to have together and all he had to do was go potty on the big boy potty and he could come play with all the new toys and friends that school has to offer.  But nope, he would not have it… So, we started every morning with me asking him, “are you ready to use the big boy potty today?” and him responding “No, not yet” or “No Mommy, I not talking to you”.  Then one day his answer to my every morning question was “no, not yet, in 2 minutes”.  Wait, what! 2 minutes, seriously kid! Was this a glimmer of hope?  So, I set an alarm on my phone for 2 minutes and when it went off I said, “Emmett, that’s the potty alarm, run! You have to go potty now” of course his answer was “no, not yet”, OH FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY!!!!  Finally I just gave up asking him because it became too disheartening.  He was totally in charge and I was not going to win this battle no matter how badly I wanted it to happen.

One day when I had to work for just a short 2 hours shift, I brought my sweet, strong willed, stinker of a child over to a friend’s house so she could watch him for me. I dropped him off with his bag of diapers and wipes. When I came to pick him up 2 hours later she let me know that apparently he used the potty for her 7 year old son. What!!!  Are you serious?  What do you mean he used the potty?  He has never done that for me!  Sure enough, Emmett had told her son he had to go potty so he brought him to the bathroom and he just went!  I brought him home and asked him if he would show me how he used the big boy potty at his friend’s house, and HE DID!!!!  It was like it just all of a sudden clicked!  Emmett was potty trained!  Like I said, I truly had nothing to do with it.  I can now say that yes, I am the mother of 5 pretty spectacular children, and my youngest child was indeed potty trained by the 7 year old boy up the road….

 

The potty training woes:

Woe to the Mom whose child tells her he has a stinky, but then runs away requiring her to chase and tackle him in order to change it.

Woe to the Dad whose child just peed all over the kitchen floor and then slipped and fell in it and is now covered from head to toe in pee.

Woe to the mother who just walked into her child’s room only to discover that he had taken his diaper off all by himself and finger painted all over the walls with pooh.

Woe to the parents who’s child is fairly certain that they are going to be sucked into the toilet if they sit on it, so they refuse.

Woe to the Mother who’s child is standing/hiding behind the chair right now making their poop in secret.

Woe to the parents who’s child just sat on the toilet for 30 minutes insisting that nothing will come out, only to get off the potty and then then poop in their underwear.

Following Jesus and Fearlessly Making Him Known,

Mia Heyboer-Nursery Coordinator

The Power of Rest

As we are gearing up for another school year, I started thinking about the power of rest.  Life can feel like a over scheduled, intensely competitive race where rest is almost considered a negative action.  We have so much going on  and a lot to pack into our days. Sports, dance, band, orchestra, drama, teach us  camaraderie and add hours to our schedules. Homework sometimes takes hours in the evening because what elementary kids are learning now is what we learned in middle school. We try to carve out time for family meals and devotion time to build into our family and to connect with God and each other. Then we have to also add in time for exercise not only for our kids but for ourselves. And then there are the chores we give our kids so that they can be a contributing member of our family while they learn responsibility and life skills.  Top that off with the fact that we as adults and parents have jobs, hobbies and household responsibilities of our own that we need complete and want to pursue. All of this adds to the “tornado of stuff” that a family must battle through and balance each day.

The list above is full of good things! However, each day we reach into the “tornado of stuff” to see what we will be running around doing that day. Then we wind up the tornado and reach into it and repeat the same behaviors day, after day until our body is exhausted and our soul is empty. Do you ever feel that way?  They truth is we need to do a lot on the list to survive but our wonderful God created us and modeled for us “rest” (Genesis 2:1-3) because rest is as important as work.

So, what if we said NO to some of the “good” things we schedule for our family and try to make rest a priority?  By rest, I do not mean sleep. Although sleep is important and we need that too, what I am talking about is the kind of rest that invites God to fill us up. This kind of rest gives us space to look around so that we can enjoy and appreciate every person in your family and it also gives us time to play, pray, laugh, have fun and unplug.  Our kids need  rest as well!  Rest will make us to be healthier physically, emotionally and spiritually. It gives us room to breath and leaves us feeling satisfied in a way that the “rat race” or “tornado of stuff” never will.

I would like to challenge you to read Exodus 20:8-11 as a family and to take time to contemplate and discuss what you can let go of so you and your kids have margin to rest. Then DO IT, let some “good” things go and reap the joy that comes from the amazing life God has planned for you that includes rest.

Hamilton’s Adventures

Has your child talked about someone or something called Hamilton from church?  Hamilton is a hedgehog puppet that lives in a special house in each of the Early Childhood classrooms. He comes out just before the Big God Story and gives us a special clue that ties into the story.  Over the summer, Hamilton is on “vacation”.  Families have taken him along with them on their vacations and sent pictures back so we can show “post cards” of Hamilton and the places he has gone.  As summer is wrapping up and kids are getting back into routines to get ready for school, I am reflecting on the wonderful adventures our class puppet, Hamilton went on over the summer.

By taking him on vacation, the kids, along with their family, partner with Ridge Kids.  The cool thing about this is that research has shown us that families that are involved in the church together, help their children to develop and grow a stronger faith base that lasts a lifetime. Taking Hamilton on vacation is one simple way for children and families to take a first step into strengthening their faith.  A bonus is the memories they are creating as a family that they can remember and celebrate as they get older.

I would love to continue having Hamilton go on adventures with Ridge Kids families.  Kids will be able to share their adventures with him with the other kids at church, in their neighborhood, at school, etc. Opening the door for them to share Jesus with them as well.  If your family would like to take Hamilton on an adventure or for other ideas of how to become involved by volunteering as a family, please contact me at amberl@ridgepoint.org

Please note: Hamilton’s “Welcome Home” party is the weekend of September 10 & 11 at all 3 services. We want everyone to be able to celebrate Hamilton’s homecoming with us so please plan to have your kids attend!

Amber Lewin

Ministry In The Nursery

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write then on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

So many times when I talk with people about what we do here in the nursery at Ridge Point they make the assumption that we just do child care. I can completely understand why they think that. I mean really, the children in our rooms range in age from newborn up to about 3 years of age. So many wonder how much “ministry” could actually be happening  with these little ones.

I just couldn’t put into words what I was feeling and I knew I did not agree with this opinion, even though I understood what others thought about ministry to children in the nursery  until I found a blog written by Brian Dombowczyk from the Gospel Project Chronological, that said what I was thinking beautifully.

“In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Jesus instructs us to keep God’s Word in front of children at all times, as a way of life. Notice that there is no exception clause. God doesn’t give a starting point.  It seems best to understand that He doesn’t give one because His intention is for parents, and others in the child’s life, to begin this process at the birth of a child.  We are called to pour the Word of God in the ears of children from birth so that it will seep naturally into their minds and hearts.  By teaching and training them in advance as the child grows they will be able to respond to the gospel when prompted by the Holy Spirt to do so.”  ( https://www.gospelproject.com/author/briandembowczyk/)

After reading Brian’s blog post it became rather clear to me how we ARE doing ministry in the nursery. We are doing exactly what Jesus instructs us to do in Deuteronomy. We are showing the babies and toddlers God’s love every week that we show up with happy smiling faces to greet them with safe, loving arms. We are singing songs of praise and worship as we rock them to sleep or comfort them when they cry. We are praying over them and reading them God’s Word as they share cheerios at snack time. We are sharing the gospel with them as we “walk along the road” and as we do life with them on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings during the Weekend Gatherings. We are indeed doing ministry in the nursery. It may not look like traditional ministry, but I know for a fact that God is looking down on us smiling and approving of the work we are doing.

Following Jesus and Fearlessly Making Him Known,

Mia Heyboer

Nursery Coordinator

Who are your five?

A few weeks ago, we were privileged to host SpringHill Day Camp at our church.  In preparation for this camp, middle school and high school students were invited to apply to be Counselors In Training, or as we call them “CIT’s”.  Months before camp CIT’s  participated in 3 training events and planned and facilitated 2 ministry events .  I not only had the pleasure of working alongside these amazing teens but I was also humbled by the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  The best part of this whole process was seeing them interact with children during the full week of Spring Hill and at the ministry events.

Research tells us that it is vitally important in a child’s faith development for them to have five godly individuals to speak into their lives and journey with them as the grow (Sticky Faith by Powel & Clark).  These CIT’s are becoming one of the five in a number of children’s lives here at RP !

There is so much truth in the African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child.” My family and I have been blessed with a multigenerational village of five (or more) in our lives. These people are high school leaders at Church, life group members and family friends ranging in age from 20- 70.  I would trust my children talking to and seeking the counsel of any of these people because I know they will give them godly advice and direction. The advice the five give my children may be exactly what their father and I would have given them however, it may be better received coming from someone other than us at times. Yes, this stings and it takes a bit to get used to but it’s a blessing knowing that my advice aligns with what our five also give our children.

Who are your five?  Grandparents, Godparents, Church Leaders, family friends, life group members, aunts, uncles, a neighbor, etc.? Pray and make a list of five or more people you trust to walk with, pray for and encourage your children through life and in their faith.  I want to encourage you to  go, build your “village”! Reach out to your five and let them know that you trust them to guide and influence your children.  Also know that as your child grows and changes, the people on the list may change too.

Blessings, Ms. Melissa

Inspiring Little Readers

Are you one of those people that love to read? Do you stay up late at night, unable to put a book down because it’s so good? I wish I was one of those people, but reading is not one of my favorite things to do, I prefer to listen to a someone read a book instead.  As I watch my girls get older, I have noticed their love of reading and I hope that love stays with them as adults. My youngest daughter had the privilege of having a one on one reading coach at school. Through her one on one’s inspiration and guidance, she jumped 10+ reading levels in the reading program this year!  As a parent or guardian, you too can help inspire and guide your kids at a young age to develop a love of reading.

Start reading to them at an early age.

As the Early Childhood Coordinator, I have the privilege of ministering to children ages 2-5. I have noticed that even at this young age they love to sit down next to you and have a book read to them. They will keep bringing more and more books to be read because they love it so much.

Reading together at a early age is a great way to form a bond with your child. It’s an intimate, inspired and intentional time that you have with them. By reading to them, it can help them to learn more words and develop stronger speaking skills. From the website Teach Reading Early, “Between the ages of 2 and 3, reading becomes a crucial part of your child’s healthy development.”

Go to the local library.

Together pick out books that can be read by them to you and by you to them.  You can read there and or to bring books home to read.  When you find a book that your child loves, make a list of those books so you can make sure to get those again, repetition is the basis for learning at this age.

Did you know that some libraries have weekly kids events?  Holland’s Herrick District Library has Baby/Toddler Story time, a Preschool Story time as well as other events throughout the months. My girls loved going to these and miss it now that they are too old!

Make it fun!

When you read to them you can use all different kinds of voices, vary the speed in which you are reading and my favorite, give all the characters different voices!  I absolutely love being to talk in different voices and use my hands when I read. Doing these things will keep your child’s attention longer and shows them that it is ok to use their imagination when they are reading. You can also make up your own stories and act out the story (go ahead, use props)

So go on and get reading, there is a giant world of imagination and discovery for you to explore with your kids!

Looking for an awesome Bible storybook?  I highly recommend the Jesus Story Book Bible.

Amber Lewin

 

Training for our faith, future and families.

Have you seen the adorable video of the little baby mimicking the training sequence from the movie Rocky? It’s so cute! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z477UBwhVuM This little guy had to have put in some serious time into learning the training montage. He just didn’t try to do what Rocky does in the film, he nails it and it looks like he really enjoys doing it.

This week my husband and I moved out of the home we raised our three children in. It was exciting, exhausting and a little bittersweet. There were 19 years of memories tied to every inch of the house. Many times I found myself tearing up over a memory from our years together there. I vividly remembered my husband teaching our children how to ride their bikes in the drive way and the endless games of basketball, football and batting practices that took place in the front yard. I remembered every art project, chalk drawing, skinned knee, water fight and intense game of skip-bo golf.

I walked through rooms and could see countless hours spent reading bedtime stories. I could hear echoes of meal time prayers and family devotions. It’s amazing to think of all that we experienced on Winter Dr. A number of my memories were tied to things that Scott and I tried to teach our children- how to pray, read, play fairly and to treat others respectfully. After all isn’t that our job as parents, to train our children?

As I was packing, our nation experienced horrible lose, anger and fear. The tragedies unfolded before our eyes on t.v. and on social media. It has left us questioning what we can or should do in our homes, community and work place to stop injustice and violence.

 I have had so many conversations over the last few days about how we should deal with the issues as adults and with our children. As a church, we have talked about how we should pray about our nation and our people in the midst of the grief and shock of this week’s events. The one thing I keep coming back to is the fact that we have to stop trying to do better but we NEED to train ourselves to act justly, to love mercy and walk humbly!  We have to listen and live out what God has taught us and calls us to do as His dearly loved children.

Paul gives us our very own training montage of how to act and treat each other in the midst of these hard times and in all circumstances. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-11

We can put into practice these things, it isn’t hard. The truth is that black lives matter, cops lives matter, and all lives matter and we need train our children to treat everyone with grace, respect and love. We have to stop using words like us and them and replace them with Brother and Sister; no matter what race, culture, ability and background we are from. We have to fight hate, bitterness, oppression, and division in our nation and in our homes. We need  begin to train ourselves and our children to be people of peace and hope bearers instead developers of fear and angst.  We can start with the truth that we are all God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which he planned in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10. The work and the outcome are worth it. We will definitely have to work harder than the little baby who has all of Rocky’s moves down pat. However, we can do this together. Are you ready to start training?

Blessings,

Kate