it’s time for wiggle waggle wednesdays!

Hello Bright Beginnings Families!  It’s been a while since you’ve had a new post!

Wondering why?

The short answer is that I took a technology break during Lent and have had a hard time getting back into the swing of all things technology.  The long answer is a possible future blog post…

So, where are we now?

Wiggle Waggle Wednesdays has begun!

If you are unfamiliar with Wiggle Waggle Wednesdays, here is a quick overview:

All children in the Garden or Backyard classes who attend on Wednesday nights will be assigned a team (orange or blue) and will compete the entire summer to earn points for their team.

Attending Service:  1 point

Wearing Their Team Color:  2 points

Winning Games Played Each Week:  3 points

Bringing a Friend:  5 points

Memorizing the Lord’s Prayer:  10 points

Memorizing Each Month’s Bible Verse: 10 points

Being Able to Recite All Four at the End of Summer:  Priceless (and 20 points)

You can help your child by making sure they attend Bright Beginnings on Wednesday nights, being willing to transport an extra friend or two, reminding them to dress in their team color (anything from hair accessories and hats to shirts and socks count) and working with them to memorize the Lord’s Prayer and verse of the month at home!

June: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Genesis 1:1

July:  “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Psalm 129:14

August:  “This is love for God to obey His commands.”  1 John 5:3

The Lord’s Prayer:  “Our Father, in Heaven, holy is Your name.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven . Give us this day our daily bread.  Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever.  Amen

We will be playing our games either in Kid City or in the grassy area just outside Bright Beginnings.  If you have any concerns about your child being in either of these two areas during service, please let me know.

Our children enjoyed creating and performing their team cheers a couple weeks ago as we kicked off Wiggle Waggle Wednesdays.




The following week they completed an obstacle course to earn points for their team.






And tonight we will be painting with ice!



I can’t wait to see our children’s artistic interpretations of Genesis 1:1.  Hope to see you there!

If your child has yet to attend a Wednesday evening this summer, there’s always room for more on our teams, so come join us!





See you soon,





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!


picnic cancelled

Image result for cancelled sign

Unfortunately, our annual Welcome Back Picnic has been cancelled.

I apologize if this creates an inconvenience for anyone; we simply did not have enough RSVP’s to hold the event.  Have a wonderful Sunday!

a bit of housekeeping

Hello Bright Beginnings Community!

I have been on maternity leave for most of the summer snuggling this little bundle of joy…


Consequently, I have a bit of catching up to do!

I apologize if you are new to startingsmall and have checked our site, only to find the same post up for months.  I promise to post more regularly now that I am back to work!

Before we get back to our regularly scheduled posts however, there are some things I need to catch you up on so I’m going to throw everything together in one big housekeeping post!

  1.  THANK YOU to all the people who served in Bright Beginnings during Summer Serve!  I missed the opportunity to meet all the new people that don’t serve in Bright Beginnings on a regular basis, but know that I appreciate you and thank you for helping out, especially while I was gone.
  2. THANK YOU to the team of people who made my maternity leave possible.  What an incredible group of volunteers I had!  They were willing to come in during the week, come early for services, stay after services and help from their homes to keep things running in Bright Beginnings.  I can’t thank them enough for their commitment to our ministry, their love for my family and their willingness to take on extra so that I could be home.  Thank You!
  3. WELCOME BACK to all our regular volunteers!  I am thrilled so many of you have decided to return and are eager to see “your” children again.  It will be good to see each of you.  I’m excited for another great year!
  4. Anyone who volunteers in Bright Beginnings in any way (from laundry and craft prep at home to teaching and serving in the classrooms) is invited to our annual Bright Beginnings Picnic.  It’s this Sunday (September 11th) @ 5pm in Rod Mills Park.  See the invitation for more details:my-invitation
  5. K-Street is our class for our kindergarteners (it’s located just off the commons right outside our Bright Beginnings hallway).  If your child started kindergarten this fall, please let a check-in volunteer know, so that your child’s name tag can be changed to red.  They can start attending K-Street anytime!  (Unfortunately, due to a shortage of teachers, K-Street is only open on Sundays during the 11:15 am service.  Kindergarteners who attend during first service or on Wednesday evenings simply join their friends in the Backyard until they start 1st grade and are promoted to Kid City).

    K-Street is designed to help our kindergarteners with their transition to Kid City the following year.  From September through January, the children join their friends in the Backyard for praise and worship on Sunday mornings, then return to their class for the same lesson as the rest of Bright Beginnings but at a kindergarten level.  During the last half of the school year, our K-Street class joins Kid City for praise and worship on Sunday mornings, then returns to K-Street for the lesson.  This allows our kindergartners to experience a bit of Kid City, meet Pastor Crystel, and become familiar with the new room and many faces before graduating from Bright Beginnings and moving up to Kid City at the end of next summer.

  6. And finally, our “Take it Home” information for the lesson this week:

A few weeks ago, we started a series called “Sailing the C’s” in which we have been learning about the different “C’s” God wants us to have to help us sail the seas of life (Character, Competence, Calling, Compassion, etc.).  This week we sailed the “C” of Courage…

Bible Verse:  Do not be afraid.  Joshua 1:9

Story:  1 Samuel 25:1-42 (David, Abigail & Nabal)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I am so glad that I am never alone.  You are always with me and watching over me.  Please help me have the courage to trust You each day.  Help me to not be afraid because You care about what happens to me.  I love You.  Amen


“Take-It-Home” Activities:

Parents:   Is there something that you’ve been needing to do that will take courage?  Ask God to give you courage, then commit to doing it this week!

Birth – Age 2:  Be a cheerleader for your child as they take on new challenges (feeding themselves, walking, going down the slide, sitting in the “big kid” swing, climbing up the stairs, helping around the house, etc.).  Encouragement goes a long way to instill courage.

Age 3 – Kindergarten:  Help your child memorize this week’s Bible verse (the short version or the whole thing!).  Remind them that God is always with them and that they can say this verse anytime they are afraid or nervous (in bed at night, getting dropped off at daycare or pre-school, coming to Bright Beginnings).  When they show anxiety, take a moment to pray at that moment, modeling that they can talk to God any time.


Whew!  I think that’s it.

Thank you for giving me the honor of helping shepherd your child’s heart.  What a joy it is to see their bright eyes and precious faces each week as my team and I teach them about God and His love.  It’s good to be back!



1 hour

Would you be willing to give our Bright Beginnings kids one hour of your time this summer?

Every summer we give our regular Bright Beginnings volunteers the summer off so that they can prayerfully consider their commitment for the upcoming school year.

This is huge on a number of levels; it helps provide consistency because our volunteers have a defined starting and ending time to their commitment (they don’t feel like they have to serve until Jesus returns or until they muster up the courage to tell me they are done, or just stop showing up, all of which happen without a defined ending time), it encourages our volunteers to pray about their ministry at JaxNaz which means they are serving in Bright Beginnings because they feel called to Bright Beginnings and desire to be there (which makes Bright Beginnings so much more than just an hour of babysitting), it helps our volunteers feel supported and appreciated, it gives them a break (because everyone needs a break from time to time, even if you are serving within your passion area), and it gives members of our church body and parents an opportunity to experience Bright Beginnings.

Who wouldn’t want to help make all that good stuff possible?

It takes around 400 volunteers to cover Bright Beginnings for the summer.  Summer Serve starts this Sunday and we currently need about 100 more volunteers.

If you are one of the 300 people who have already signed up to help this summer, THANK YOU!  If not, would you consider giving us one hour of your time to help make Summer Serve possible?

We make it really easy for you; you can pick your date, your service (9:30 am or 11:15 am) and the age of children you would like to serve.  If you don’t know your summer schedule yet, that’s fine too.  We’ll work with you over the summer to find a date that works for you!

This is a great opportunity for families to serve together, for parents of children in Bright Beginnings to not only experience their child’s class but to say “thank you” to their child’s teacher, and for people who are considering serving in Bright Beginnings on a regular basis to “give it a try.”

I promise I will not keep anyone’s name and number to call when we are short on help.  Once you have served you are done.  No strings attached!

So please consider helping us out.

This summer is especially important because I will be on maternity leave during July and August and want to make sure the volunteers who are graciously stepping up to keep Bright Beginnings running in my absence have plenty of help each week.

So as the kids said, “What are you waiting for?!”

If you are willing to give us one hour this summer, give me a call (517-782-7084 ext. 301) or shoot me an e-mail ( and I’ll get you set up.

Thanks so much and we’ll see you this summer!



volunteer appreciation dinner tonight!


Join us tonight from 6-8:30 pm in the Commons for our Annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner!  

If you volunteer in any capacity at JaxNaz Church we’d love to have you join us for an evening of great food and plenty of laughter.  We greatly appreciate our volunteers and want to serve YOU this evening.

It’s not too late to RSVP.  Simple notify Tracy Collier at or 517-782-7084 ext. 201

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!






take it home | 02.07

Word of the Week:  LISTEN

Recipe We Made in Class:  Tasty Fish Bowl


Bible Verse:  “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.”  James 1:19

Story:  Jesus, Peter, James & John (Luke 5:1-11)

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank You for the Bible.  I am glad that I can learn all about You.  Please help me to listen at church and to my parents at home so that I can learn even more.  I am glade that You always listen to me when I talk to You.  Amen

“Take-It-Home” Activities:

Parents:  As you listen to your children this week, intentionally make eye contact.  Notice how their eyes light up with expression when they know they have your full attention!

Birth – Age 2:  Story time is a great time to practice listening.  Read a story and praise them for listening well.  give them opportunities to identify pictures, colors, shapes, etc. as you listen to them!

Age 3 – Kindergarten:  Hang a blank piece of paper on your refrigerator and every time your child listens to your instruction this week, give them a sticker to put on their paper (or make a star with a crayon).  Challenge them to see how many stickers they can get!


Recipe to Make at Home:  

Each week during this series we will be looking at a “recipe for our life” from God’s own recipe book, the Bible, and pairing it with a common food we often eat.  This week we paired fish with the word LISTEN, so every time your child eats fish, you can remind them to listen! 

I know fish is not a beloved food in every household, so this week, I have decided to give you two of our favorite fish dinner recipes for you to try in hopes of winning you over!  Fish is so quick and easy to prepare and it’s good for you too.  The following two recipes have won the approval of all four of my boys, big and little, and they have simple steps that your kids can help you do.  Often times, when children help prepare the dinner, they are more likely to try it, even if it’s fish!

Parmesan-Crusted Tilapiaparmesan-crusted-tilapia-oh-x

Honey & Pecan Glazed Salmon


We’d love to see pictures of you and your child in your kitchen on our facebook page.

Happy Cooking!


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.