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CHRI’s Dianne Van der Putten Encourages Eager Green Thumbs to Start Planning Now

April 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
dianne_frontpageAs I write this, the calendar has already announced spring but it’s currently snowing in Ottawa.I know many people are discouraged from a really long cold winter and when I say ‘discouraged’ it’s more like frustrated and fed-up with the snow. Yes it’s April but yet in my mind’s eye, as I look out my window I see everything in colour and summer display. I can picture all the flower beds with each plant, bush and flower that I’ve planted, the work I know will be required once the snow has fully melted and ground has thawed and the damages I will have to deal with. But I can also imagine what I want to do to expand and improve my garden as soon as I can start working outside!

If this sounds like you, then you too are a green thumb gardener!! Congratulations and welcome to the club!

So grab your rubber boots, garden gloves, shovel, rake and, of course, the wheelbarrow, and let’s get started.

We’re going to dream big and in full colour too!

Clean Up: The first step each spring is cleanup. No matter what you did in the fall to prepare for winter there’s always clean up to do come spring. Now’s the time to finish raking leaves, trim back dead growth and really take a good look at what winter damage may have been done to your plants. I worry that some of my plants may not have had enough mulch around the base and therefore not enough protection from the cold. So check on those plants and see where you stand.

Japanese HydrangeaDo you have any plants or bushes that can be transplanted now for better exposure and growth? It’s pretty safe to do so long as they don’t flower in spring. You don’t want to transplant spring-flowering plants at this point – it will be too much of a shock! For me, it’s my Japanese Hydrangea (pictured). It grows every year into this beautiful lush bush but hasn’t produced flowers since its first year. I think it may need more space and fresh soil so I will be transplanting it to a different flower bed which I will be expanding to accommodate it! My husband will be soooo happy!

photoHere’s another tip when you’re cleaning up your garden, this one is handed down from my mother-in-law. (She’s an avid gardener and is Dutch so that explains her expertise.): Always cuts your clematis down to just over one foot in height each spring. Then fill a large watering can adding Miracle Grow and give your clematis a good soaking.

Her advice seems to work…..these are my clematis at the side of our house using this approach (pictured). When you’re planting clematis remember ‘it likes its feet in the shade and head in the sun.’  Placing a rock at its base without smothering the stem helps to keep moisture in the soil during those hot summer days.

 Colour: I always have to be careful as I move around in my flower beds so that I’m not trampling plants under foot as pretty soon they’ll be peeking through the ground. It’s always a joy to see the crocuses opening, daffodils popping up, and the grape hyacinth with their amazing fragrance and, of course, tulips. And who doesn’t like tulips! Can’t wait!

photo (2)photo (4)Grape Hyacinth

Here are a couple of pictures I took of tulips when I was in Holland a few years ago (pictured). I’ve never seen such a splendor of colour covering entire fields. Imagine acres of red, orange, and yellow tulips!!   It completely takes your breath away so be sure to include a splash of colour in your garden this spring!

Picture 111Picture 119

Burlington Retreat HydrangeaI also have Burlington Retreat (a member of the Hydrangea family) and it is so beautiful. It seems to flower forever and I’d like to make it a focal point in my garden.   I have only one bush right now but here’s an idea of what this bush would look like either lining a driveway or overflowing a rail fence (pictured).   Possibly another expansion project this spring…?!

Fertilizer: You’ll want to fertilize and mulch all your plants as early as possible in order to give them a great start this season. A friend of mine suggests that since Perennials have to establish roots, grow and flower in a shorter amount of time, it’s important to fertilize them each week. Do you do this? It’s my ambition this year to give it a try and see what difference it makes. Check back with me and see how I’m doing in that regard.

Dwarf Korean LilacApril is my favorite month to plant trees or shrubs. They enjoy the spring rain and have lots of time to establish their roots prior to the heat of summer and of course, by next winter. A couple of years ago I planted a hedge of Dwarf Korean Lilacs (pictured) along the back of our house and each spring we’re overwhelmed by the fragrance as well as the beauty of this hedge. Sometimes, if I’m fortunate enough, it will bloom twice in a season. How wonderful is that?! After they’ve finished blooming I take the hedge trimmers and shape them which make for a great privacy screen from our neighbours as well as beautify it for the rest of the summer. Give this bush a try because whether it’s just a single bush or a whole hedge, I think you’ll be impressed.

Help: One of my biggest gardening challenges is flower pots and I’m looking for your advice. I check out flower pot displays in garden centres, which are always lush with arrays of flowers, and they seem to keep blooming through spring, summer and fall. How do they do this? My potted flowers only last until mid-July before they start looking pathetic and need to be changed. What would you suggest I plant (or combination of plants) that work best together in planters? You can send me an email with your advice and what works for you. A picture would help too….thanks so much!

I really do love puttering around my garden, whether it’s in the flowers or vegetables. It’s relaxing and truly a great time of fellowship with God. He and I have great chats and times of reflection. So don’t be afraid to pick up your garden tools and give it a try. You don’t have to do it all this year… take baby steps. You may be surprised at what you can accomplish… and there’s no mistake that can’t be undone! And if you see me #OutAbout this spring and summer, please don’t look at my hands! Chances are they’re stained from weeding as I’m forever taking off my gloves. (Tip: Use lemon on the stains as a safe, organic gentle cleaner for your hands.)

We’re in this in-between stage of winter-is-pretty-much-over and the-nicer-weather-has-not-fully-arrived. My best advice to you would be to enjoy the beauty of each season as there’s so much to see all around us, even now. Here are a few pictures from a nature walk I recently took with my son. There’s hardly any colour but it speaks of the promise of new life that’s soon to come! So, from one novice gardener to another… I hope this encourages you as we anticipate spring together!


The Lizzie Velasquez Story

April 1st, 2015 | 1 Comment | Posted in Encouragement
A BRAVE HEART: “The Lizzie Velasquez Story” is a documentary following the inspiring journey of 25 year old, 58 pound Lizzie, from cyber-bullying victim to anti-bullying activist.

Watch Lizzie’s inspiring viral video that started the movement:

For more details, visit

Seven Gentlemanly Behaviours that Mark a Real Man

April 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
Seven Gentlemanly Behaviors that Mark a Real ManRecently, we went with my daughter and her family to a popular restaurant where we encountered a 20-minute wait and a full lobby. Many patrons sat on benches provided for that purpose, including several able-bodied men.

My daughter is visibly pregnant and has an active 15-month-old who, of course, chose that moment to demand Mommy. So, there she stood, belly protruding, holding a squirming toddler — and not one of the men offered his seat or even glanced in her direction.

Fortunately, Grandpa (that’s me) succeeded in coaxing the little tyke away. Eventually, a couple got up when their table was called, so my daughter was finally able to sit down. But I couldn’t help wondering, “What’s wrong with those guys?”

Has chivalry gone completely out of style? Are boys no longer taught good manners? Or have we simply become so self-absorbed that we fail to notice the plights of those around us?

Whatever the case, I would suggest that the world is a better place when we, as men, resolve to practice common courtesy — especially in regard to women — and encourage our sons to do the same.

To some, this might seem sexist. But with date rape and domestic violence becoming increasingly commonplace, we could do far worse than teach boys to treat women with respect.

Here are some specific gentlemanly behaviors men need to embrace and model for their sons:

Don’t just sit there

As my story illustrates, too many men seem content to loll in comfort while a young mother wrestles with a small child or an elderly lady leans on her cane. That must stop. In a public setting, a man should always offer his seat to a woman. She might not accept, which is her prerogative, but he should at least offer.

Hold the door

We don’t hold doors for women because they can’t do it themselves. We do so as a sign of respect. If you’re too self-conscious or afraid some women might take offense, then just hold the door for anyone, male or female, who happens to be close behind you.

As for car doors, well, few actions mark a gentleman like opening the car door for a woman — whether you’re on your first date or you’ve been married for 50 years.

Carry that weight

I cringe whenever I see a woman carrying a heavy box or several bags of groceries, or a young mother with a baby carrier in one hand and a toddler in the other while a bunch of men stand there doing nothing.

It’s not that women aren’t capable of fending for themselves. They just shouldn’t have to. Offering a helping hand might require some courage — “What if they think I’m a creeper?” — but it’s the right thing to do.

Pull out her chair

This isn’t always practical, and opportunity for it has been somewhat lessened by modern bench seating and fast food restaurants. Even so, in a formal setting, a man should always hold a woman’s chair while she seats herself. Again, this isn’t because women can’t pull out their own chairs. It’s just a sign of respect and, perhaps, an acknowledgement of the importance of certain occasions (like a prom date or an anniversary dinner).

Walk curbside

When a man walks with a woman on the sidewalk or near any busy thoroughfare, he should always place himself between her and potential traffic. The point is not to patronize women by suggesting they’re always in need of male protection; rather, symbolically putting ourselves in harm’s way acknowledges the vital role women play as mothers of our children.

Help with her coat

It’s always uncomfortable to watch a woman, perhaps holding a purse or other items in her hands, trying to struggle into a coat. (For some reason, a guy with a similar problem just looks funny.)

Don’t just watch. Reach out, take hold of the coat, and help her find that armhole. (If it makes you feel better, you can do this for struggling guys, too.)

Get on your feet

Standing when a woman comes into the room seems a little old-fashioned these days. To be honest, it’s not always practical or even desirable, especially in a professional setting. But there are times when it’s the ultimate sign of respect — such as when several men are seated in someone’s home and the lady of the house walks into the room or when a lone woman graces a men-only meeting.

Again, it might take some courage to put these gentlemanly behaviors into practice. You’ll probably get some confused or even dirty looks, and you might even be called a sexist (or worse).

Just remember, the way we, as men, behave toward women in public is an extension of how we think about them in private. If we truly value women, we will treat them with respect and deference — and when we consistently treat them that way, we’ll find it much harder to objectify them or regard them as inferior.


Oxford’s Unapologetic Female Apologist

April 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

Oxford's Unapologetic Female ApologistAmy Orr-Ewing proclaims the faith, once the bedrock of Britain, to an audience wanting more than rationalism.
by Katelyn Beaty

Amy Orr-Ewing, among the most prominent apologists in the UK today, found her voice in a place where she wasn’t allowed to speak at all.

It was 1996, and Amy and Francis “Frog” Orr-Ewing were 19-year-old students in love and planning their second mission trip together. Having met at St. Aldate’s, a lively charismatic church in the heart of Oxford, England, the couple chose to spend Easter break in Afghanistan. By that spring, the Taliban controlled three-fourths of the country. The fundamentalist Islamic group would go on to capture the capital, Kabul, shooting or kidnapping many who failed to follow their harsh enforcement of Shari‘ah.

Not quite the backdrop for a wild spring break, but nonetheless the place Amy, Frog, and a ministry friend, Miles, believed God was telling them to go. The editor of a University of Oxford student newspaper wrote a letter explaining that they were journalists, one of the few groups granted visas into Afghanistan at the time. Then they filled their rucksacks full of Bibles and flew to Herat.

What followed was a series of highly improbable events. And since Amy isn’t a real journalist, she’s fine calling them miracles: being transported by a woman named Angela and a taxi driver named Aslan to a hidden apartment; passing through 12 gunned checkpoints without a hitch; and, finally, being invited to interview Taliban leaders at a secret military headquarters.

Upon arrival, the Taliban’s education minister turned to Frog. “Does she have to come in?” he asked, nodding at Amy, her uncovered blonde hair no doubt offending his propriety.
“Yes, she does. I fear for her safety.”

The three students were escorted into a room filled with guards holding Kalashnikov rifles. Like good “journalists,” Frog and Miles began asking questions. They spoke with the leaders for hours, over time finding ways to subtly bring up Jesus. Amy sat and took notes but didn’t say a word.

Then it was time to leave. Frog pulled out a Pashto Bible. “We think this is the most precious gift anyone can give another person,” said Frog, holding his breath while handing the book to the education minister.

The minister’s eyes grew wide. “I know exactly what this book is. I’ve been praying to God for years that I could read the Bible. Thank you for coming this far to give me my own.I’ll read it every day until I finish it.”
Amy’s eyes glisten as she recounts the story. “We discovered that at the heart of the world’s most fundamentalist Islamic regime, there was someone praying that God would send him a Bible, and God chose us to do that. Gospel proclamation can happen in impossible places.”

Old Good News

As director of the Zacharias Trust, the European headquarters of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), and program director at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA), Amy Orr-Ewing is proclaiming the gospel in another impossible place. Granted, you won’t find many Oxford dons leading tutorials with Kalashnikovs in hand. But throughout the UK, you will find a heady cynicism and existential shrug toward the faith that remains the motto of Oxford University. Dominus illuminatio mea—“the Lord is my light”—reflects a chapter of Western history when Christianity did not simply have a seat at the table of cultural influence. It was the table.

“Our main systems of ethics, the way we do law and justice, the values of society, how we decide what is fair, the protection of the poor, and most of the way we look at society . . . all have been shaped by and founded on Christianity,” said Justin Welby, head of the Church of England, last year. But regular churchgoing has sharply declined: Welby’s own church body had just 800,000 worshipers on an average Sunday in 2012, fewer than half its numbers in 1962. And the number of Brits who identify as “nones” (of no religion) is now 1 in 4, double what it was a decade ago.

“A primary challenge is that Christianity is not new good news. It’s old good news,” says Orr-Ewing. “People just don’t think it will be relevant to them.” We’re sitting in her airy third-story office, sipping coffee on stylish gray couches. I glance at her vast book collection, trying to pick out familiar names. Mark Noll, J. I. Packer, and Michael Behe make an appearance, as do the multivolume theological dictionaries of the Old and New Testaments. All testify to Orr-Ewing’s own academic training: She received a first-class degree (given to a fraction of Oxford students) in theology at Christ Church before earning a master’s in theology at King’s College London. Now—amid OCCA lectures, evangelistic talksthroughout the UK, the States, and Southeast Asia, and raising three boys with her husband, Frog—she is also completing a PhD at Oxford on the apologetics of Dorothy Sayers.

Sayers, the celebrated novelist and essayist, is one of the luminaries OCCA professors and students draw on to show why Christianity still matters to mind and heart. OCCA is jointly run by RZIM and Wycliffe Hall, the only evangelical school in the Oxford system. Cofounded by Alister McGrath in 2004, OCCA trains Wycliffe students to winsomely defend the faith by drawing on its rich intellectual heritage. At the end of the one-year program, students receive Oxford certification.

‘A lot of US apologetics happens in conferences and by people giving papers to each other. We’re not doing apologetics in the church. The whole purpose is to engage with people who don’t agree with you already.’ ~ Amy Orr-Ewing

“We wanted to make sure we had the best resources for the best questions, so Oxford was the obvious place to have it,” says McGrath. C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, William Lane Craig, and Timothy Keller are standard sources for OCCA students, who include 20-something missionaries but also older laypeople who want to evangelize in their workplace or neighborhood. Students have included London accountants and chancellors from Hong Kong.

“A lot of apologetics in the States happens in Christian conferences and by people giving papers to each other,” says Orr-Ewing. “We’re not doing apologetics in the church. The whole purpose is to engage with people who don’t agree with you already.” OCCA’s annual “uni events” take Orr-Ewing and other speakers to UK universities, where they host free lunchtime talks and evening lectures. Topics include, “Is Christianity a psychological crutch?” “How could a loving God judge people?” and “Does prayer change things?” According to RZIM, during last year’s missions, more than 250 students came to Christ, and 500 more said they would attend a local Alpha, Uncovered, or Christianity Explored course to learn more.

At one such talk when I visited, about 100 students crowded into St. Ebbe’s, built on a site in central Oxford where Christians have worshiped for 1,300 years, to hear Orr-Ewing speak on “Can we trust the Bible?” Instead of the brash booming of a preacher or the detached droning of an academic, Orr-Ewing speaks in warm, lilting tones—the kind that invite you to a conversation in the living room.

But this is no teatime chatter: Orr-Ewing takes students through the origins of Scripture, explaining how the New Testament was compiled from more than 5,000 manuscripts. She compares the most popular male names in first-century Palestine with the male names in the Gospels, noting their remarkable correlation. “The Gospels contain verifiably correct details about names, geography, culture, architecture, botany, leading us to conclude that the New Testament ought to be taken seriously,” she says. “It can be trusted.”

But what of the miracles? Here, Orr-Ewing draws on Oxford friends Lewis and Richard Swinburne, the philosopher best known for using probability theory to prove that it’s 97 percent likely Jesus arose from the dead. “The miracles of the Bible are not about a fantasy world,” says Orr-Ewing. “They reflect the Divine breaking into the world we all know—the world of pain, disappointment, violation, and dysfunction.”

Afterward, Orr-Ewing answers a flood of questions. One comes from a young man near the front. He doesn’t like her argument that to discredit the Bible for its miracles is a bit closed-minded. “If you are unable to provide any evidence, how are we expected to follow?” he asks. Orr-Ewing thanks the crowd for coming, and then sits down next to him. A circle of students forms around the two, waiting their turn to meet with someone whose authority in this moment comes from her willingness to sit and listen.

Not the Secretary

Richard Dawkins lives just blocks from the Zacharias Trust. Onlookers this side of the Atlantic might assume the evolutionary biologist typifies a biting atheism entrenched throughout England, where 38 percent of youth now say they don’t believe in God.

But many Brits are simply lukewarm about faith, not coldly against it. In a 2012 study, UK think tank Theos helpfully distinguished between atheists and “nevers”—those who respond thusly to the question, “How often do you participate in a religious service as a worshiper?” Among the nevers, 35 percent said they believe in God; 44 percent, in a soul; and 28 percent, in life after death. Further, about 1 in 3 nevers still identify as Christian. So while church attendance is faltering, vestiges of Christian faith still mark the psychosocial landscape in the UK. The work of the apologist, then, is to bring faith to bear on the challenges and strains of human life, not simply to run it through a clinical test of verifiability.

This is where apologists like Orr-Ewing may have an edge on many of their male counterparts.

“Amy has good relational skills, which is important,” says McGrath. “She’s not a lecturer delivering a talk in a disengaged way. Apologetics is reaching out from the churches to our culture. We need the range of speakers and experiences to connect up with that culture.”

Sharon Dirckx, who earned a PhD in brain imaging before becoming an OCCA tutor, agrees. “Amy has an amazing capacity to think rationally through a problem and present it coherently—but with compassion,” she says. “Amy has the heart of a mother and the mind of a theologian. The combination is powerful.” Dirckx and Orr-Ewing had their first children within a year of each other, in 2005. “I remember people saying to Amy that there was a new intensity to her preaching that had come as a result of having children. Giving birth certainly made me more empathetic to the suffering of others.”

McGrath notes that some Brits reject Christianity as patriarchal, believing it keeps women subservient and justifies their mistreatment. “As a man I could answer that question; it’s much better if a woman does.” Orr-Ewing answers it in her life as much as in the content of her talks and books. She first started preaching as a teenager in her father’s church; in 1998, she became the first woman to join RZIM’s itinerant preaching team. Though hosts occasionally assume she’s the secretary, only twice out of hundreds of speaking invitations in 16 years has a group asked that the Zacharias Trust not send women.

McGrath notes that some Brits reject Christianity as patriarchal, believing it keeps women subservient and justifies their mistreatment. “As a man I could answer that question; it’s much better if a woman does.” Orr-Ewing answers it in her life as much as in the content of her talks and books. She first started preaching as a teenager in her father’s church; in 1998, she became the first woman to join RZIM’s itinerant preaching team. Though hosts occasionally assume she’s the secretary, only twice out of hundreds of speaking invitations in 16 years has a group asked that the Zacharias Trust not send women.

“Since Amy started young, there weren’t that many role models Amy could spot, where the woman is the preacher who travels and the guy is the one who stays local,” says Frog. “Now that’s becoming much more normal. A couple where both work—there’s going to have to be give and take.”

Frog is a ministry powerhouse in his own right, having been the youngest incumbent in the Church of England as pastor of All Saints Church in southeast London. Now he leads Latimer Minster, a sapling congregation that meets on an old farm in Buckinghamshire, a wealthy suburb halfway between Oxford and London. He has ambitions to grow Latimer beyond its 200 regular attendees. But “Amy and I don’t believe there’s a tension between these two jobs,” Frog tells me as we walk Latimer’s impressive grounds. “There are many timetable crashes, but it’s a diarizing, juggling match rather than a calling thing. I’ve always tried to invest in apologetics ministry, and Amy is utterly committed to the local church.”

Today, 10 of RZIM’s 36 itinerant speakers are women. One, OCCA graduate Alycia Wood, says Orr-Ewing has been the role model that Amy herself lacked. “Women face unique challenges as apologists because of the demands of travel, and that many events are in the evenings or on the weekends. I learned a lot by watching Amy be a brilliant apologist and an excellent mother to three boys.” That Orr-Ewing does both informs the Zacharias Trust’s flexible workplace culture, one that doesn’t force female staff to opt out of teaching and traveling should they choose to have a family.

We need men and women ready to make disciples of all nations,” says Dirckx. “If you let women use their gifts as evangelists, you have the potential for reaching more people. In the West it’s a numbers game, isn’t it?”

And what may seem like a practical concession is really a bedrock truth of Christianity: God has always used unlikely people—like three Oxford students pretending to be journalists in Afghanistan—to resound the Good News. “Without women we wouldn’t know what happened at the Cross,” says Orr-Ewing. “John’s there, but all the other witnesses to the words from the cross are female. And women are the first witnesses to the Resurrection.

“If you’re a Christian, you believe the Lord arranged for that. That’s not unintentional. That’s amazing.”

Katelyn Beaty is print managing editor of Christianity Todaymagazine.

Ravi_zachariasDr. Ravi Zacharias, Founder and President of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, is the keynote speaker at the 50th National Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa at The Westin Hotel on Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 at 7:15am. Everyone is welcome to attend the breakfast. Tickets are $60 + fees and can purchased online here,
Ashley Elliott, Dianne Van der Putten and Trudy Connelly are Out and About with Arnprior Chrysler.


10 Ways to Use Leftover Easter Candy

April 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
Easter is a festive time of food, family and loads of pastel colored candies that will probably sit around until summer is over.If you want to try something different with your sweets, there are plenty of ways to upcycle your extra jelly beans and chocolate bunnies. Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you’ll be tempted to whip up these delightful desserts.But don’t blame us if your friends show up with their leftover candies. You might have trouble keeping your friends and family from gobbling up these delicious leftover recipes.

1. Peep Sushi

Find a creative way to serve those leftover Peeps. The gorgeous presentation alone might be enough to make even the most avid Peep-haters want to try one.

Image: Flickr, David M. Goehring

2. Easter Candy Bark

Add your jelly beans, M&Ms or even some mini Cadbury creme eggs to chocolate and voila! You have a fun, shareable dessert.

Image: @dixie_crystals on Instagram

3. Cadbury Cupcakes

A simple chocolate cupcake with a cracked Cadbury creme egg on top is sure to please your friends and family.

Image: @becsj76 on Instagram

4. Chocolate Bunny Fondue

Don’t let those giant chocolate chocolate bunnies go to waste. If breaking off pieces isn’t your style, melt them down to a delicious fondue and serve with cakes and fruit instead.

Image: @suanswanjeong on Instagram

5. Mini Egg Nests

If you have an abundance of mini eggs this year, combine them with some chocolate covered Krispies to make adorable and delicious birds nests.

Image: @craftymemories on Instagram

6. Peep-za

Spread your leftover Peeps with all your other candy toppings on a giant cookie for a fun and easy dessert.

Image: @jac_tayy on Instagram

7. Jelly Bean Cupcakes

Your leftover jelly beans make excellent cake toppers for a colorful and flavorful Easter treat.

Image: @dessertcravings on Instagram

8. Reese’s Banana Bread

Some people would rather eat their Reese’s peanut butter eggs as they are, but if you want to get creative, add them to a simple banana bread recipe for something deliciously decadent.

Image: @klahud on Instagram

9. Peep-corn

Those colorful little Peeps are so sweet, they pair perfectly with some salty popcorn. Melt your leftovers down for a colorful snack.
Image: @thesparklylifestyle on Instagram

10. Classic M&M Cookies

If you’re stuck with an extra bag of pastel M&M’s, it’s easy to add them to a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough for a classic dessert.

Image: @emilyssweetindulgence on Instagram


10 Cute Spring Printables That Are Free!

April 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Family
Are you all ready for spring? I know I am! Here are some cute free spring printables that you can print out at home. Put them in a frame, clipboard, or tack them to a message board. Either way they’re a nice way to get a touch of spring in your home….for free!A huge thank you to the bloggers that make these available for free! Please go to the linked source to print out.

Free Spring Has Sprung printable from TidyLady
10 Free Spring Printables - Spring Has Sprung Printable from TidyLadySpring Bloom Printable by Hoosier Homemade
10 Free Spring Printables - Spring Sign Printable by Hoosier HomemadeNest Printable by Darling Doodles
10 Free Spring Printables - free nest printable by Darling Doodles

Spring Chalkboard Printable by Poppy Seed Projects
10 Free Spring Printables -  spring chalkboard printable by Poppy Seed Projects

Hello Spring Printable by Sandy Toes & Popsicles
10 free spring printables - Hello Spring printable by Sandy Toes & Popsicles

Welcome Spring Bunny by Landeedlu
Welcome Spring Bunny by Landeelu

Chalkboard Egg Hunt Printable by Blissful Roots
free Easter printable - chalkboard egg hunt sign

Free Spring Has Sprung Printable by the Mombot
Free spring has sprung printable by The Mombot

Free Spring Subway Art Printable in 2 sizes by The 36th Avenue
free spring subway art printable by The 36th Avenue

Free Hello Spring Chalkboard Printable by Through My Front Porch
Free Hello Spring Chalkboard Printable by Through My Front Porch

Check out my Spring/Easter Ideas Pinterest Board for more inspiration!

A collection of 10 cute spring printables that are free!


25 Simple Ways To Be Missional In Your Neighborhood

April 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips

by Josh Reeves

I have found that it is often helpful to have practical ideas to start engaging the people around me. Most of the things on this list are normal, everyday things that many people are already doing. The hope is that we would do these things with Gospel intentionality. This means we do them:

  • In the normal rhythms of life pursuing to meet and engage new people
  • Prayerfully watching and listening to the Holy Spirit to discern where God is working.
  • Looking to boldly, humbly, and contextually proclaim the Gospel in word and deed.

Below is a list of my top 25. Not all of these are for everyone, but hopefully there will be several ideas on the list that God uses to help you engage your neighbors. Would love to hear stories of how you have lived some of these out or other ways you have engaged your neighbors.

1. Stay outside in the front yard longer while watering the yard

2. Walk your dog regularly around the same time in your neighborhood

3. Sit on the front porch and letting kids play in the front yard

4. Pass out baked goods (fresh bread, cookies, brownies, etc.)

5. Invite neighbors over for dinner

6. Attend and participate in HOA functions

7. Attend the parties invited to by neighbors

8. Do a food drive or coat drive in winter and get neighbors involved

9. Have a game night (yard games outside, or board games inside)

10. Art swap night – bring out what you’re tired of and trade with neighbors

11. Grow a garden and give out extra produce to neighbors

12. Have an Easter egg hunt on your block and invite neighbors use their front yards

13. Start a weekly open meal night in your home

14. Do a summer BBQ every Friday night and invite others to contribute

15. Create a block/ street email and phone contact list for safety

16. Host a sports game watching party

17. Host a coffee and dessert night

18. Organize and host a ladies artistic creation night

19. Organize a tasting tour on your street (everyone sets up food and table on front porch)

20. Host a movie night and discussion afterwards

21. Start a walking/running group in the neighborhood

22. Start hosting a play date weekly for other stay at home parents

23. Organize a carpool for your neighborhood to help save gas

24. Volunteer to coach a local little league sports team

25. Have a front yard ice cream party in the summer

Do you have some other ideas or ways that you or your Missional Community have engaged your neighborhood? Let us know below in the Comments section!

Missional Tip: Pick one of these ideas and act on it this week. Let us know on our Facebook page how it went!

Josh Reeves is the Lead Planting Pastor with Redeemer Church in Round Rock, Texas. One way you can thank Josh for his helpful articles is to support Redeemer by going here.