Operation Christmas Child

Every October our MOPS group (and many around the county) runs one of our favourite meeting sessions of the year- packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child. We love pooling our donated items and packing the boxes together over coffee and conversation. The chance to spread love and kindness to an unknown child brings us so much joy.

If you haven’t heard of Operation Christmas Child before, it’s a wonderful project run by Samaritan’s Purse here in Australia (and worldwide) providing gifts to children in need around the world.

How it works

The idea is to pack a shoebox full of gifts for a child. This may be the only gift some of these kids will get in their childhood- so we like to make it special! First you need to think about if you want to make a box for a girl or a boy, and the age group you will buy for; 2-4 years old, 5-9 years old or 10-14 years old.

What to pack?

Typically there are 5 categories to cover off when you pack a gift box

  • School supplies- such as pencils, ruler, sharpener, pencil case and small lined books. In many places if children cannot afford school supplies, they cannot attend school.
  • Hygiene items – such as face washer, soap, toothbrush, comb, hairbands or a drink bottle.
  • Something to wear- like a t-shirt, underwear, hat and sunglasses.
  • A ‘wow’ item or toys- maybe a ball, skipping rope, a toy car, necklace or something to love like a small doll or teddy.

We make sure we cover off items from each category then fill the box to the brim with whatever we like. You can even include a photo or letter if you want. (Pro Tip: rubber bands are handy for keeping boxes closed). It’s essential you attach a recipient label to the box so they know the gender and age of the intended recipient.

What not to pack

All items packed must be new. Avoid including any item packaging or cheap plastic toys that will quickly break- we don’t want to add to pollution problems.

These boxes will travel long distances, and often the boxes from Australia land in hot and tropical places. You should not pack any liquid items that could leak in transit (like toothpaste or shampoo). Don’t pack anything that can break, melt or spoil (such as crayons, mirrors, glass trinkets, foods or lollies).

Obviously we need to be respectful of local culture. Do not include anything that could be considered gambling or war related (such as dominos, and playing cards or toy soldiers/weapons).

Don’t forget a Donation

Samaritan’s Purse have box collection points all over the country to drop off your filled boxes during October. They do ask for a $10 donation per box to assist with the freight of the boxes. It is also used for equipping local churches in the delivery area, and providing the box recipient with a gospel booklet in their own language.

In 2020 there were 214,301 boxes packed in Australia and New Zealand. These were sent to the Solomon Islands, Cambodia, Malawi, Fiji and Madagascar.

 

While in 2020 we could not meet as a group to pack the boxes together, we still took joy in packing boxes individually. Its also a great opportunity to get kids involved in doing something for others. They will have fun picking items out for a kid their own age. It’s a fun way to spread some love and kindness in these challenging and uncertain days.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12

Kelly McCrohan                                                                                        MOPS Australia Blog Administrator

Words have power

Words are not simply sounds caused by air passing through our larynx; words have real impact and power. We can use our words to encourage or complain; praise or put down. As we enter Spring, many people give their homes a “spring clean”; clear out the dust, the items that no longer serve us and the clutter we have accumulated. What if we also spring cleaned our vocabulary?

It starts with a word

You may be familiar with the well-known account of the world’s creation where the world was created by a mere word from God.  “And God said let there be light” Genesis Chapter 1. God himself is also referred to as ‘the word’ in John 1:1We could all learn something from these well-known Bible verses. Even beyond the religious overtones, there is a message to be found in this for everyone. Everything begins with a word.

It’s our words that provide a bold affirmation of our innermost thoughts. Our words confirm to the world how we see others, our lives and ourselves. Our words provide the means to enable our thoughts to manifest into reality. So why do we so often choose to misuse our most powerful asset on both ourselves and to others? Our words have the power to destroy and the power to build up (see Proverbs Chapter 15), so we need to choose them wisely.

Watch our words

As a Sisterhood of Mums, our words are the foundation of our relationships. We all know the fatigue, tantrums, chaos, busyness, and interruptions that come with raising children. Sometimes we don’t feel like being with even ourselves, let alone being around other people AND watching the words we use! We also know that just because we have little kids or a busy job, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make time for our friendships. And the words we use around our friends can have a great impact. 

Build up others

Lysa Terkeurst, a well-known Christian author, suggests some simple phrases that we can use to help build and maintain our relationships. Whilst they aren’t incredibly profound, they are a good way to remind a fellow mum that you see her. When a friend steps in with a gentle smile and a few simple words of encouragement, suddenly you’re not alone.

With Spring finally upon us, perhaps we can consider a “spring clean” of our words in this season of life for the benefit of those around us and ourselves. Consider these encouraging words:

“You’re wonderful”In a world full of negativity and competition, what a precious gift to remind a friend of specific ways you notice that she’s a wonderful mum, friend, wife, co-worker…

“Me too”It acknowledges that I’m no better than you, but together we can get stronger. It is such a loving and disarming admission that we’re all in this together.

“I’ll pray” – When you have experienced the power of a friend faithfully praying for you and/or your circumstances, it is a powerful gift. 

“I’ll share”When we notice a need in a friend’s life, might we be willing to step in and at least be a small part of the solution? A meal, baby-sitting, a smile. (Romans 12:13, “Share with God’s people in need…”)

“Come over”The floor hasn’t been swept in a week and the laundry is piled high but, hey, come over with the kids and we can just chill for a bit. We can share our broken hearts and celebrate the small parts of us that are still intact. (Romans 12:13, “Practise hospitality.”)

 

Being a mum is a tough job. Let’s lift each other up by choosing kindness in our words and in our deeds. 

Natalie Bizzell

Natalie is a wife, mum to 3 grown children (and mother-in-law to 3). She is a part-time primary school teacher, small business owner and Mentor at Humeridge Church of Christ MOPS.

 

What will be your fatherhood legacy?

Have you ever stopped or slowed down and reflected on everything and everyone around you, and considered what kind of impact you will leave behind? I have found that Australia’s biggest need is for fathers- fathers who love their wives, who love their children and who have an intentional presence in the home. This year’s MOPS theme “Decide To Rise”, is just as important for fathers of preschoolers as it is for mothers. Father’s Day is defined as “a holiday to honour and celebrate fathers and father figures”.  As we celebrate Father’s Day, what will be honoured about you?  Your indifference, your indulgence, or your positive influence? What will be your fatherhood legacy?

Continue reading “What will be your fatherhood legacy?”

Seek joy

In the busyness of life, I often forgot to seek joy in the mundane and everyday moments of life. When my youngest comes into our room at about 5am, requesting a cuddle I obligingly pulled back the covers. I lay there with a snuggling one beside me, thinking (worrying) about what was going to happen in the minutes and hours to come. Continue reading “Seek joy”

Raising a child with ADHD

Being a mum and a Paediatric Occupational Therapist at the same time is an interesting journey. I daily work with parents who come to me looking for help with their children, many of whom have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). I am raising a child with ADHD myself.  Many of my close friends also have at least one child in their family who is diagnosed with ADHD. Continue reading “Raising a child with ADHD”

Do your work

The theme for MOPS this year is Decide to Rise and includes the principle “Do your work”. But what does that even mean? As a fellow mum, I know the work is a never-ending cycle! The constant answering of questions, household cleaning, cooking, feeding, creating routines, stimulating minds, spending quality time, shopping, clothes… gah!

Continue reading “Do your work”

What emotion is this anger really hiding?

Sometimes a random comment will float through the air and land in just the right place to make a difference!  One day I heard this comment: “Someone might seem like they’re angry, but actually they are afraid. It can help to ask them what they are afraid of.” The woman was talking about children with anger management issues, and how to help them identify their emotions and direct them appropriately. However, it came right onto the radar of a person who was feeling angry right in that moment – me. Continue reading “What emotion is this anger really hiding?”

The morning rush

The morning rush happens in households all over the country. Trying to get out the door on time with kids in tow can be challenging to say the least! Every household runs differently, and what works for you and your family might not work for someone else’s. Here are a few things I (a non morning person) have found helpful to avoid the morning rush.

Prepare kids the night before

It goes without saying, but getting enough sleep is likely to make kids a lot more cooperative in the mornings. Do your best to keep a regular bedtime where possible.

If your child doesn’t attend day care or kindergarten everyday, it can be useful to remind them the night before that it is happening tomorrow. Hopefully this will help them feel more prepared for the plan to get up, ready and out the door in the morning.

Picking out clothes seems to take a while in our house, and is often the source on conflict (shorts when it’s only 2 degrees out, really??!). To streamline this task, it can be helpful for you or your child, to select the outfit the night before. (Like me, you may not get your child to wear pants during winter, but at least you might get them in a respectable looking jumper!) Preselecting clothes can be especially helpful if a uniform is required; it will avoid the early morning rush to get something specific dried or ironed.

Mum preparation

For me, when the kids hit the hay I want to immediately clock out too, but a little preparation in the evening goes a long way to make my mornings run smoother. If I have the kitchen all cleaned up in the evening, I feel less stressed and overwhelmed when I start my day.

Check your calendar for any important events like appointments, meetings, sports / pool days, or after school activities. Nappy bags, sport or swimming bags, or your work bag can easily be packed the night before to save time in the morning.

Some mums I know are stars at packing lunches the night before. That’s not me though. My kids don’t seem to eat sandwiches that are pre-made too far in advance. I do like to have a number of “pick and pack” snacks ready to go to make the process easier though; small pots of yogurt, veggie sticks, muffins, muesli bars or cut up fruit (that doesn’t brown). There are a tonne of make ahead snack and lunch recipes available online if you wants some inspiration!

Task list

A morning task list is good visual reminder of what needs to be done, and help children get ready. Something they can refer back to themselves can (hopefully) save you having to repeat yourself over and over. It also encourages independence and self-organisation in your child. Here’s our version of a Morning job list.

Breakfast

One of my kids is not a great lover of breakfast; and the lower their blood sugar (and the more they need food) the more indecisive they become. We have a few staples to choose from and don’t vary it too much. Quick options like toast or a smoothie can get things moving. Sometimes we let the kids “put in their order” the night before (limited options) as it feels fun and can skip the long ‘deciding’ phase in the morning.

Limit electronics and TV

Avoid electronics for kids (and parents alike) until the jobs are done. Electronics are a distraction that only make everything take so much longer, and is often a source of conflict. Granted, this is harder to control as kids get older. We are fortunate enough to have a smart TV that allows us to put a passcode on the TV to prevent use. You can also buy “smart plugs” that you can turn on and off with your phone to control device use.

Keep your cool

Nothing will derail the morning faster than a parent losing their cool.

“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not join their chaos.”- L.R. Knost.

I have one child in particular who sometimes finds school attendance difficult. When they get worked up, and start resisting all attempts to get ready, I want to (and sometimes do) get frustrated and worked up too. But its more helpful if I remind myself of their anxious feelings, and have an attitude of compassion. I still aim to be ready on time, but also acknowledge with a hug that I understand it is not easy for them. They may need to sit with me for a bit to calm down, or need alone time. I need to make sure there is time and space in our morning for this to occur when needed (which is something I continue to work on).

Its never perfect, but these are just a few of the things I try to do to avoid the morning rush. What tips do you have?

Kelly McCrohan                                                                          Mops Blog Administrator

Around the family table

I grew up in a large family of 6 children. One of the highlights of each day was our evening meal around the very long table. It wasn’t the food that made it special (although always tasty and made with love); it was the simple act of being all together around the family table. Continue reading “Around the family table”