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.

 

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”

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?”

You’re invited to Every Mum Conference

It has been a long season of navigating uncertainty, living smaller and experiencing a little more fear and anxiety than usual. We have the opportunity to declare a time of fresh starts and turning ordinary experiences into extraordinary ones. Trying to do this alone is tough though. We need equipping and community with other mums. This is the reason MOPS Australia is running the very first Every Mum Conference this year, and you’re invited!

Are you knee deep in nappies? Or juggling the many activities your kids are part of? Then the Every Mum conference has something for you. Be encouraged and equipped as a mother, a woman and a leader. This conference is open to all mums. You don’t need to be involved in MOPS or share a Christian faith background. Speakers and workshop presenters will cover many topics on parenting, personal development, leadership and spiritual growth.

Making plans in these uncertain times can be a challenge. We designed the Every Mum Conference with flexibility in mind. So your ticket gives you access to all of the content online. You also get 90 days of on-demand access afterwards. Additionally, local hubs (watching in a group) offers an in-person experience that will show the same content as the online conference. Local hubs also offer the opportunity for connection and discussion together. Attending a hub is an optional extra*. The hub details will release closer to the conference date.

The details

Date: Saturday 16th October (with optional Friday night sessions too where you can join MOPS Australia leaders in celebrating MOPS Australia’s 21st birthday and find out about the new theme for 2022- All About Love)

Time: Run live 9 am to 6 pm AEDT (each timezone has a suggested agenda on the website using the on-demand features when needed)

Format: Online (with in-person hub options) including interactive workshop session options

Registration is open now with an early bird discount on offer until 20th August.

Some fun features

  • Attendee website and app- you will get a log in to view the content, find out more about speakers and interact with other attendees
  • Connect with other attendees you know by scheduling an appointment for a video call with them- particularly great for those joining online
  • Virtual exhibition hall: not only can you find out more about our amazing sponsors but also browse the virtual market booths for our Mumma’s online market for some shopping fun. Could be a good way to get some early Christmas shopping done! (see more info below)

Register now

Have more questions? Check out the information in the link above, then email info@mops.org.au if you still have questions.

We cannot wait to gather online or in-person for Every Mum Conference. You’re invited. Share that invitation with your friends too.

*Please note: as the offerings at each local hub will vary, tickets to attend an in-person gathering may incur an additional fee to cover venue or catering costs. The organiser of each hub will set the ticket price for that hub. Locations of local hubs are determined by those in each region willing to host a gathering. Please contact MOPS Australia at mopsconference@gmail.com ASAP if you or your church would like to host a conference hub for your region on Saturday 16 October 2021.

Mumma’s Online Market

Applications are now open for the Mumma’s Online Market.

To apply, please complete the Online Application Form here: https://forms.gle/qfkq5fNshUutT1sY9

Find full details at that link.

Alternatively, please email your expression of interest to mopsconference@gmail.com to receive a PDF copy of the form.

Don’t forget to tell all your mummy friends!

Sponsors

Our key sponsors make this event possible:

 

Opportunity InternationalVision Christian Radio

Pregnancy Problem House

 

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”

Family Pets

Family pets can be a valuable addition to any household. They bring so much delight and fun. Children can benefit so much from having a pet in the family. Dogs are such great companions, and having a dog in our household has taught my kids so much about love, care and responsibility.

Health Benefits of Pets

There are so many benefits to having a dog in the family. One commonly known benefit with dogs is that they encourage us to exercise and get outdoors. Taking a walk, or playing with the dog in the yard are great ways to expel energy for the kids as well as the dog!

Then there’s the snuggles- most pets love a pat or a cuddle. They accept you for who you are, whether you are the best runner or the worst speller. Whether you are grumpy, tired or happy, a dog will usually always love a snuggle or a pat. Patting animals releases feel good hormones that can help soothe an anxious or worked up child (or adult!). That’s one reason why specially trained ‘therapy dogs’ are now being used more and more in schools and therapeutic settings.

If you need another excuse, one (surprising) bonus of pet ownership might be less allergies such as eczema, asthma and hay fever. One study found a link between pet ownership (dogs and cats) in early childhood with reduced levels these allergies when competed to pet-free households. Sadly, if you are already allergic to pet dander, this won’t help you though!

Responsibility

Pet ownership encourages kids to think of something/someone outside themselves, building empathy. A pet gets hungry, tired, cold and excited, just like us. Kids need to learn and understand these things to look after their family pet.

Kids will need to constantly ensure the pet has its needs met-  food, water, clean bedding, exercise etc. Feeding a pet is a small but very important job that can’t be forgotten!! It’s the type of chore that is very manageable for little kids to help with.

Do your research

As many benefits a family pets bring, it is also a big responsibility and commitment. You will usually have the pet for a long time. Think about what sort of breed or type of pet would work with your budget (think purchase cost, food, vet, council registration and grooming costs). Consider your yard size (or lack of), lifestyle and family members.

For example; If you like to go away camping on weekends, can the pet come with you? If not, who will look after it?

Will the pet have much alone time? Some dog breeds deal better with this than others. Whereas cats just don’t seem to mind being left on their own as much, as long as they are fed!

If you are thinking about getting a dog and have little ones in your family, you’ll want to choose a dog breed that’s renowned for being good with children. Training dogs is vital too (and also the children on how to be gentle with animals!). Regardless of how well trained and sweet natured your pet (or child) may be, it is always advisable to supervise young children around pets.

 

There are many good reasons to introduce a pet into your family, but its not a decision to be made lightly. The right pet needs to be for the right family. You get that right, and you’ll enjoy having a family pet so much more.

Kelly McCrohan
MOPS Blog Administrator