soul food starts tomorrow!

book logo_page1_image1

Over the next two months in Bright Beginnings we are going to grab our aprons and cook up some tasty tidbits for spiritual nourishment.  Together we’ll measure out the ingredients to obey, trust, rely, share, listen, recognize, and remember right from God’s own recipe book, the Bible.  Check back here each week to find recipes the whole family can make together to help your child baked these truths into their heart!

August 27th  :  OBEY, “To love God means we obey Him.”  I John 5:3

September 3rd :  TRUST, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”  Proverbs 3:5

September 10th :  RELY,  “We know and need God’s love.”  I John 4:16a

September 17th :  SHARE,  “Share what you have with others.”  Romans 12:13

September 24th :  LISTEN,  “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.”  James 1:19

October 1st :  RECOGNIZE,  “My people know and follow me.”  John 10:27

October 8th :  REMEMBER,  “I remember your name, O Lord.”  Psalm 119:55

October 15th :  FEED,  “Feed the hungry and help others.”  Isaiah 58:10

If your child has any food allergies, please make sure to contact Ryanne Johnston ( or 517-782.7084 x301) so that we can be sure to have a safe option available each week.  Thank you!


lent trees!

Today is a beautiful day to go for a walk with your child in search of the prefect bare branch for your Lent tree!


We are encouraging every family to make a Lent tree during this 2017 Lenten Season.

Every week on Wednesday night, the children in Bright Beginnings will make a new Lenten symbol to take home and hang on their Lent tree (Unable to make it to Wednesday nights?  We’ll have a few extra symbols available to take home on Sundays each week).

Last week, we made hearts to remind us that Lent is all about Jesus’ love for us.

The symbols are simple and make it easy for children to remember some core Truths as they begin their own journey of Lent.

So get outside this weekend with your child and find a bare branch.  Bring it inside and place it in a pot with some gravel to hold it in place.  You can get creative and use whatever you have around the house; an empty milk jug filled with rocks, a Christmas tree stand, a bucket filled with dirt, whatever (we also have a few empty animal cracker containers at church that anyone is welcome to use)!  Maybe you already have a large plant in your home that could work.  Don’t have any trees in your yard?  You are welcome to stop on your way out of church tomorrow and take one of our many branches laying on the property!  You could even make a tree out of paper to tape on your wall.  It doesn’t matter how you do it; the idea is to have a special spot in your home to hang the Lent symbols where everyone will see them often.  This will help facilitate questions, conversations and reminders all throughout Lent!

My kiddo helped me pick out a branch for the Bright Beginnings Lent Tree.  We’d love to see pictures of your children doing the same on our facebook page!

If you have not yet received your 2017 Lent Activity Calendar, be sure to pick one up tomorrow at church!

lent 2017


Dear Parents,

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.

“We join Christians around the world in honoring the Season of Lent. Lent is the forty-day season of reflection and preparation for the death and resurrection of Jesus. It leads us to the reality of Good Friday and the joy of Easter. Lent is a time to consider Christ’s sufferings and rethink how we are called to take up his cross in our world today. We usually associate Lent with repentance. But sometimes we forget what repentance really means. To repent is to change. It means that we allow God to change our minds and our hearts. It means we open ourselves up to the resurrected life.

People often talk about “giving something up” for Lent. But we want this season to be more than simply letting go of something. We want to drop some things, so we can pick up what God wants us to carry. Jesus set the pattern. He laid down his power and picked up his cross.”  Pastor Phil

So what does that look like for Bright Beginnings Kids?

This Lenten season in Bright Beginnings, your child will be given three opportunities to begin their own journey of preparing their little heart for the miracle of Easter.

  1. Memorizing the Lord’s Prayer
  2. Scripture Memory Program
  3. Lent Calendar

Memorizing the Lord’s Prayer:

This will be our fifth Lenten season of learning The Lord’s Prayer in Bright Beginnings!  It is amazing that such young children can memorize so much.  Each week during Lent we will be focusing on a different section of the prayer and working to memorize it.  You can help by reviewing each section at home with your child.  To help our little ones remember the words, we will also be learning how to sign the prayer.  Check back on this blog later this week for a video of the signs we will be using so that you can practice along with your child at home!

  • Week of March 1st :  Our Father in heaven, Holy is Your name.
  • Week of March 8th:  Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Week of March 15th:  Give us today our daily bread.
  • Week of March 22nd:  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
  • Week of March 29th:  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
  • Week of April 5th:  For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Scripture Memory Program:

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11  What a powerful verse!  This is my prayer for every child as they “grow with God” and as a result, I have been diligently working on creating a scripture memory program for Bright Beginnings.  The program will extend far beyond Lent; however, I will be launching it during Lent this year, so I’m including it as an option for your family as you journey this season toward Christ’s death and resurrection!

Lent Calendar:

Your child received a Lent calendar tonight.  I encourage you to hang it in a central location of your home and give it a try.  I know your days are already full of to-do lists, reading logs, homework assignments, newsletters, sight words, rehearsals and practices, but this is so much more important than all those temporal things.  Don’t get hung up on it’s “one more thing to do”; don’t stress out if you miss a few days (or a week), just take a step of faith and see where the Lord leads your family!

The calendar is a tool to help you introduce the idea of Lent, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday & Easter to your children and guide them on their own journey of getting to know God and how Amazing He is!  It’s alright to tweak some ideas to make them fit your style and forget ideas that don’t make sense for your family.  The calendar highlights a Lenten symbol each week which we will be making in class on Wednesday nights, so the hard part is already done for you!  I am simply encouraging you to “start small”; to take this small step with your children, while they are still young, that will facilitate conversation, encourage questions and begin dialogue, weaving Jesus into every aspect of their life so that He becomes a part of who they are and not just someone they hear about at church.  What more could you want for your child during this Season of Lent?!

Will you join us?

So are you willing to drop some things during Lent this year so that you can pick up what God wants you to carry?  Join us on the journey and commit to trying at least one of these options with your child over the next 40 days.  I can’t wait to see what the Lord does in your child’s heart, and in yours!


partnering with parents


Join us this Sunday at 9:30am in the Teen Center for Partnering with Parents!

Making more and better disciples out of our young people takes a collaborative effort.  Partnering with parents is a “fist bump” from our Family Ministry team to JaxNaz parents.  Hear practical stories, ideas, and encouragement designed to help us do family better.

See you there!


ketchup post

We have been busy back in Bright Beginnings!

I have so much to catch you all up on (hence the title…)

We wrapped up our Wednesday night lesson on Daniel in the lion’s den last month by talking about things that make us fearful and remembering that God is bigger than all those things!  The children drew “God is bigger than…” pictures and we now know that God is bigger than everything from a milking cow to The Grinch and a one armed monster, to a bear!


We jumped right into our next Wednesday night lesson on the boy Samuel and have been learning this month all about how we can hear God’s voice.  These precious children aer so eager to listen to and obey God!

Worshiping God


We read 1 Samuel 3:19: “The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground.” and talked about some of God’s Words that we don’t want to let fall to the ground.  We wrote those words on balloons, then worked together to keep the balloons in the air!


And just in case you didn’t get it, here is our Take Home information for this lesson:

Story:  Boy Samuel Hears God (1 Samuel 3:1-10)

Bible Verse:  “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”  1 Samuel 3:10

Theme Song:  Jesus Hears When I Pray

Ways to Teach @ Home:

  • Go on a walk as a family and listen. Don’t talk for a time except to name sounds you hear while you walk.  After listening, talk about how we listen to God.
  • Select noise making items from around your house, then play a game by having your child close his or her eyes and try to identify each item by the sound it makes. Talk about what God’s voice sounds like to you.
  • Ask your children, “What are some things God tells us to do?” “How do we know He is telling us to do those things?”

We will not have service this Wednesday, November 23rd due to the Thanksgiving holiday, so the next time we meet, we’ll be starting Advent!


On Sundays, we have been working through our Driving Force series.  A few weeks ago, your children helped serve by washing tables and chairs in the commons and cleaning toys in their classrooms.

Mr. Doug & Miss Jerri have been enjoying this racing theme.  Miss Jerri was an actual race car driver back in the day, so they have lots of fun stories, videos, pictures and props to help us learn our lesson each week!

This Sunday is our last week of this series and we will be celebrating our race and all that we’ve learned to help us keep God #1 in our lives!  We’ll be celebrating in the adult service as well; Pastor Phil is wrapping up  our “Salt and Light” series by considering God’s call to care for children. We’ll look at our ministries to children, and the message is called “Growing Down and Growing Up” which is based on our Bright Beginnings mission verse, Colossians 2:7 – “ Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”  As our children grow up, we want them to have roots that grow down into him!  It will be an exciting, celebratory service full of infant dedications and baptisms, photos of our Bright Beginnings kids, and a special song from our K-Street and Kid City friends.  You won’t want to miss it!


Finally, as I type, Bright Beginnings is getting a face lift!  Some of you may have noticed the green grass outline in our hallway (and some of you may have gasped at first glance, thinking your child had taken a marker to the wall!) over the past week.  Martha York and her painting team are working diligently to finish the wall and fix all our bubbling leaves so that Bright Beginnings will be ready for you tomorrow.  Thank you, Martha, Julie, Britney, Amy & team!


Whew!  Consider yourself ketchup’d & we’ll see you tomorrow!






did you know?


We are hosting Matthew Deprez, Sticky Faith coach and speaker, tomorrow evening at JazNaz.  It will be a night filled with compelling research and practical ideas on how to give your kids a faith that will “stick” long term.  You won’t want to miss it!  This is a free event and childcare is available upon request (email For more info, visit

What is Sticky Faith?

Kara Eckmann Powell, PhD on “What is Sticky Faith?”


Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including the forthcoming Growing Young (fall 2016), The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. She holds a BA from Stanford University, an MDiv from Bethel Theological Seminary, and a PhD from Fuller. Kara lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband, Dave, who is a medical device engineer, and their children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica.

We hope to see you there!



Come on out and join us tonight for our next Sticky Faith event!

6:30-8pm at JaxNaz Church

This event is for parents, grandparents, mentors…anyone who influences the life of a child!

Learn how to create a flourishing connection with your children to help their faith continue into adulthood.

Childcare is provided.  If you are planning on utilizing the childcare, please register your child by contacting Ryanne Johnston @ 517-240-5771 ext. 301 or

Photos from one of our previous Sticky Faith events.  (All are encouraged to attend even if you haven’t attended any of the previous sessions).


a note from ryanne | starting small with lent

Last year I was given a Lent calendar by my mentor, Lori Tate (shameless plug here…if you are looking to take your relationship with God deeper, I highly recommend checking out Soul Dig!).  I didn’t really think much of it because honestly, Lent was a relatively new concept for me until about five years ago, and even then, it wasn’t something I thought about practicing with my young children.  I mean, I’d heard of it in high school; I had Catholic friends who gave up chocolate every year, but it didn’t become something more until I started attending JaxNax and learned how Lent can be a personal journey that prepares your heart for the miracle of Easter and grows your relationship with God.

And who wouldn’t want that for their children?

So I figured why not try out the Lent calendar.

We hung it up in our dining room…012

and did our best to check off each day.  We talked about why people choose to give up things during Lent and prayed about what we might give up ourselves.


We made a prayer list; I wrote down exactly what my children said and we prayed for strangers to stay safe, dogs not to get hit by cars and children to follow directions.


We opened our Bible and read scripture, learned new things about Lenten traditions and historical religious leaders, memorized a Psalm, did secret acts of kindness, and most importantly began a conversation about the miracle of Easter and how it impacts every single day of our lives.

And that’s what starting small is all about.

Taking small steps with your children, while they are young, to facilitate conversation, encourage questions and begin dialogue that will weave Jesus into every aspect of their lives so that Jesus becomes a part of who they are and not just someone they hear about at church.

This calendar is a perfect tool to start small and that is why we wanted to make it available to all of you this year!  We’ve handed them out at our recent Sticky Faith event and to our Backyard and K-Street friends last Sunday and Wednesday.  If you’ve received one, I highly recommend hanging it up and giving it a try.  I know your days are already full of to-do lists, reading logs, homework assignments, sports practices and school newsletters, but this is so much more important than all those temporal things.  It’s alright if you don’t get to every day.  It’s alright if some days don’t seem to make much sense to your children.  Know that you are planting seeds and that God will bless your efforts.

So join us this year and start something small that will impact your children for eternity!

* I have a few calendars left, so if you haven’t received one and would like one, please leave a comment or let me know at church and I will be happy to get one to you.





Lent in Bright Beginnings


Dear Parents,

Lent has become one of my most anticipated seasons.  When you spend weeks preparing your heart and mind and soul to relive the death and resurrection of Jesus, Easter isn’t just one special Sunday that goes as quickly as it came anymore!  It becomes an entire season in which we focus on REPENTANCE (not just the forgiveness of our sins, but a changing of directions; allowing God to change our thinking, actions, attitudes…), SORROW (not just the deep sorrow of Christ’s death on the cross for us but the journey toward Jerusalem, the foreboding days before the Last Supper, and the sorrow we all experience), and YEARNING (not just a yearning for change but for the liberation that comes in both the birth and resurrection of Christ!).

So, what better time than during this season of intentional focus is there to teach our kids the prayer the Lord has asked us to pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Will you join us?

This will be our fourth Lenten season during which we will commit to learning The Lord’s Prayer in Bright Beginnings.  It is such a joy to watch our children put this prayer into their hearts and know that it will stay with them into adulthood.  On the back is the breakdown of when we will be learning each part of the prayer.  Hang this in a central location in your home and commit to helping your child learn this prayer over Lent!

Week of February 10th:  Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

Week of February 17h:  10 Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Week of February 24th:   11 Give us this day our daily bread.

Week of March 2nd:  And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

Week of March 9th:  13 Lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.

Week of March 16th:  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.

If your child already knows The Lord’s Prayer, that is wonderful!  Spend some time each week praying the prayer together and talking about what each part means as we learn it in Bright Beginnings.  We will also be learning The Lord’s Prayer in sign language again this year to help our little ones remember the words.  Check out this video to see the signs we’ll be learning so that you can practice at home!






sticky faith | mirror

Has your child ever seen you read the Bible (I’m not talking about at church; I’m talking about sitting quietly in your own home before the Lord, Bible on lap, pen in hand, seeking the heart of God kind of thing)?  This is not a question to induce guilt, but to make you stop and think.  Have they?

We all know that spending time alone with God is vital to our faith and relationship with Him, but somewhere down the line we’ve been taught that our quiet time with God must always be that.  Quiet.  Alone.  As a mother of three young boys, I understand just how comical the words “alone time” are (and even when you are supermom and set your alarm early so that you can spend some time with God, your children have that uncanny sixth sense to somehow awaken from their deep slumber simply because mommy is up, am I right?!).

So do you just give up on alone time with God?  Chalk it up to this “season of life” and hope God’s grace will cover you for the next five ten years?  I don’t think so.  You keep trying to make it a priority in your life and when needed invite your children in to your alone time (gasp!).

Imagine the next time you are sitting quietly in your own home before the Lord, Bible on lap, pen in hand, seeking the heart of God and your child comes strolling down the hall PJ clad and still groggy eyed, instead of closing your Bible and promising yourself you’ll find time to finish later, pull your child up next to you and continue on.  (Now you will need to do some training if this is new for your child.  You can start by briefly explaining what you are doing and why, but the idea is to continue on, explaining as you go).

Read the verses out loud and explain that when something jumps out at you, that’s God speaking to you and that you want to remember it, so you underline it or make notes.  If needed, remind them that you are spending time with God right now, (not talking about your plans for the day).  When it’s time to pray demonstrate how you wait silently on the Lord, listening for His voice.  Show them how to quiet their body, mouth and mind.  Have them close their eyes and encourage them to picture Jesus.  Ask them how we hear God (with our ears?  with our hearts?) and then have them sit silently listening for God (be prepared when God speaks to even your very young children!).  Ask them if God spoke to their heart and then pray out loud, giving your child a chance to pray as well.

You get the idea; really just invite them in to your alone time, allowing them to watch and learn!

You’ll be amazed at the impact this will make on your child’s faith.  The questions they’ll have and the conversations this will foster will deepen their relationship with God and before you know it, your child will come strolling down the hall PJ clad and still groggy eyed, but with Bible and pen in hand, ready to spend their own quiet time with God and it doesn’t get much better than that.