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!

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!


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 ryannejohnston@jaxnaz.com). For more info, visit stickyfaith.org/family

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!

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 (ryannejohnston@jaxnaz.com) and I’ll get you set up.

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



take it home | 02.21

Word of the Week:  REMEMBER

Recipe We Made in Class:  Caramel Corn

Bible Verse:  “I remember your name, O Lord.” Psalm 119:55

Story:  The Passover  (Matthew 26:17-28)

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank You for sending Jesus to die on the cross.  I know that He died for all the wrong things I have done.  Please forgive me for all those wrong things.  I want You to live in my heart so that I can live with You forever.  Help me to always remember what You have done for me.  Amen

“Take-It-Home” Activities:

Parents:  Take a moment this week to sit down with your children and look over old family photos or home videos.  Share some memories with your children and remember to thank God for His blessings!

Birth – Age 2:  Play “Hide the Doll” with your child:  Have you child cover their eyes and count to ten (together) while you hide the doll (or any other toy).  Have them find the doll, then repeat, hiding the doll in the same place every time.  When your child finds the doll praise them for remembering where the doll was hidden!  This will help them come to understand the meaning of the word “remember.”

Age 3 – Kindergarten:  Help your child REMEMBER the Bible verse this week!


 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 popcorn with the word REMEMBER, so every time your child eats popcorn, you can remind them that God wants us to know remember Him! 

Try out one of these popcorn recipes this week, then have a family movie night!


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

Happy Cooking!

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.





put it into practice!

We’ve been talking about spreading kindness and serving others in Bright Beginnings and I have a great opportunity for you to help your children put what they’ve learned into practice!


We need help harvesting the vegetables in our Promise Community Garden.  You and your children are welcome to stop by any time, any day…just grab a bucket out of the shed and start picking ripe vegetables!

Our Promise Community Garden is a collaborative effort between Compassionate Ministries of Jackson County (CMJC) and David’s Promise and the produce is distributed at our food pantry.  Thanks in advance for helping us gather the produce before it’s too late to give to others!

* If you do come help, please e-mail ryannejohnston@jaxnaz.com before you head out to make sure you have access to the shed and instructions on where to leave the harvested vegetables.  

a note from ryanne

So I came across this website called


while searching for lesson ideas for Bright Beginnings.  I was so excited about it, I couldn’t wait to share it with all of you!  There are so many things clamoring for our attention online, so I don’t regularly share sites or blogs that I personally find helpful; however, Pennies of Time so captures the heart of Bright Beginnings, and JaxNaz as a whole, that any time you spend reading it online (and hopefully putting some ideas into practice with your kids!) will be time well spent.



take it home

Sailing the “C’s” | Week 2





“C” of the Week: Competence

Lesson:  Do my best!

Story: Joshua and the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6:1-26)

014 Our Garden friends played a game to act out the story. Can you tell which kids are “the wall?!”

019The wall fell down!

Bible Verse: “God gives us what it takes.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 (Paraphrase)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for the way You made me. There is no one else like me. Thank You for all the things I can do. Help me to learn more about You so I can be the person You created me to be.  Help me to always do my best and to be a good example to those around me. Amen

Take-It-Home Activities:

Parents: Your children are looking to you for approval. Create opportunities for your child to be successful. Even new walkers can put their shoes away or throw away the trash. Use hugs, high fives, and words of encouragement to appreciate their effort and build their esteem.

Birth – Age 2: Young children have a strong desire to help you. The next time you are folding clothes, ask your child to help. Show your child how to fold, then put the clothes away exactly how your child folded it (even if it’s not “right,” it’s great because your child wanted to help).

Age 3 – Kindergarten:  Get outside and run short relay races with your child. Shake hands at the end of each race and talk about how God made us each with special abilities. Whether we win or not, God wants us to always do our best and be a good example to others around us.

take it home

Here’s your take it home for the weekend!

We’re a little late this week, but any time is a great time to bring God into your home, so here’s how you can remind your kids about what they learned Sunday.

027Look at all our friends who were in the Garden Sunday!


“C” of the Week: Character

Bible Verse: Be strong in character and ready for anything. James 1:4

Story: Daniel 6:6-23 (Daniel & the Lion’s Den)



We acted out “Daniel and the Lion’s Den” in our story station.


I’m pretty sure this was the part where the lions roar.  What do you think?

Prayer: Dear Jesus, Help me to have a good attitude in everything I do. Help me to trust in You so that I will be ready for anything. Amen








“Take-It-Home” Activities:
Parents: You are a model of Christ to your child. Pray with your child daily, teaching them to say “thank you” to God. Children will learn to trust in Jesus by watching you.

Birth – Age 3: Have your child help you act out the story of Daniel & the lions. Ask them to roar like a lion while you pretend to be Daniel. (You can even make a little blanket fort as your cave)! Kneel on the floor with your hands folded and pray to God, telling Him you love Him and thanking Him for keeping you safe. Remind your child that God loves them and will always protect them.

Age 4 – Kindergarten: Invite your child to help you with a simple chore around the house, then sing a song as you do it together. Remind them that God wants us to have a good attitude in everything we do, and singing can help us do just that!




There are two more exciting opportunities I have to share with you, so make sure to check back over the next couple of days!