a season of hope

Season of Hope

My nephew recently got married. Aside from the fact that there is absolutely no way that I can possibly be old enough to have a married nephew, the news of his engagement and subsequent marriage was super exciting. He and bride were able to have their ceremony just days before the Covid-19 hit. They, as newlyweds, are entering a season of hope.

The other day, I wandered outside to take in the fresh air of spring. Summer takes awhile to arrive in my neck of the woods, but the first glimmerings of spring are upon us. A tiny pansy poked its head through the grass, eager to begin its new life in a season of hope.

Things are bleak right now in many ways. Many are waiting for their unemployment while they tackle odd jobs in an effort to support their families. Many are struggling with the new reality of quarantine, social distancing, masks, gloves, and other safety measures. Others struggle with the fear that they, or someone they love, could contract the Coronavirus. Still others face anxiety and depression as the world around us changes in unprecedented ways.

Is there still a season of hope in these challenging times? I would answer that with an emphatic “yes”! Why? Because our hope is not found in this world. It isn’t found in temporary things. It’s found in the One who gave His life so we may live. Our hope lasts for more than just a season. For those of us who have surrendered our lives to Jesus, it lasts for an eternity.

Romans 15 13

When I was a teenager, I remember sitting with my mom on the couch. Her arm draped around me as she consoled me over a friend’s betrayal. “This too shall pass,” Mom said, kissing the top of my head.

I didn’t think the pain from that betrayal would ever pass. But Mom was right, it did pass and the heartbreak did become a memory.

My friends, this too shall pass. Things won’t always be framed through the lens of Covid-19. We won’t always have to wear masks, practice social distancing, and avoid hugs and handshakes. (As a hugger, I long for that day!) We won’t always have to attend church online or be trapped inside our homes and only emerge for “essentials”. We won’t always have to wait with trepidation for that unemployment check to finally arrive so we can pay our bills. We won’t always be mired in the negative news spewed daily by the media.

There is a season of hope coming with the end of the Covid-19 quarantines. It will pass. And there is an eternal season of hope coming when we spend all eternity with the One who loves us more than we can even fathom. So, like the fragile little pansy in my backyard who arches its colorful face toward the sun to sustain it, let us, in our frailty, uncertainty, and worry lift our faces toward the Son.

For He is our hope. And not just for a season.

2 COrinthians 4_18

 

 

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

ways to keep kids engagedNeed some fun ideas to keep your children and teens entertained? Read on!

  1. Plan an indoor camping trip. Set up the tent in the living room, round up some tasty treats, and provide some flashlights, string some Christmas lights, and include a game for some late-night fun.photo-of-toddler-sitting-on-floor-3932965 (2)
  2. Make homemade slime. Little bins for little hands has numerous recipes for easy-to-make slime.
  3. Catch up on some reading. Madi’s Musings writing and book review blog has some awesome reading suggestions for a variety of ages.
  4. Get a healthy dose of exercise. Walk. Scooter. If the weather is nice, head outdoors with the family and enjoy some fresh air. Bring out the strollers and push little ones for a win/win situation.
  5. Play a game of tag.
  6. Put together a puzzle.
  7. Join with your kids in serving others, beginning in your own neighborhood. Do elderly neighbors need grocery pickup or delivery? Could you rake leaves, mow the lawn, shovel snow, or till a garden? Walk their dog?
  8. Set some decluttering goals. What a perfect time to organize! Join with the kids in setting a goal to organize their toys, a closet, or the living room. Play some music, then celebrate with a fun treat afterwards.
  9. Bake cookies or muffins. Check out these easy recipes for chocolate crinklesno-bakes cookies, or chocolate chip muffins (all with gluten-free options). choc muffinsOr suggest kids decorate graham crackers with frosting for their own creations.cute cookies 1
  10. Take on a building/fixing project. Parents, kids love to learn and work side by side. What about building a wood project? Fixing a broken item? Changing oil in the car?
  11. Enjoy a movie night. Don’t forget the popcorn! Need some movie ideas? Check out this list of some Mom-Approved Movies for Families.
  12. Connect through a Bible study. Take turns reading, then discussing the chapter.
  13. Partake in a Bible challenge. When my girls were younger, they loved it when I hosted Bible challenges and asked them questions. They would “ring in” when they knew the answer. Not only was it fun, but it also helped us learn God’s Word.The questions can be as simple as the following:Who created the earth?Who were the first two people God created?

    Who is God’s Son?

    To harder questions:

    Name eight of the 12 disciples.

    Name the nine attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit?

    Name the books of the New Testament in order.

  14. Plan meals together and make them. One good thing to come out of our recent Covid-19 isolation is that we, as families, are eating out less and making more meals together. Put kids in charge of planning meals and making (or assisting in the making of) the meals. I recommend Quick and Easy Crock-Pot Chili (gluten free).chili
  15. Make funny videos. Using your phone or other device, have your kids record funny commercials selling something they own or making a silly news program. When I was a kid, my sister and I filmed (with a gigantic video camera!) used car commercials, a news series on happenings, and music videos where we danced to our favorite songs.
  16. Play mimic mirror. With two players (two kids or a kid and a parent) have one person make certain faces and the other person mimic those expressions.
  17. Have a blinking contest. First person to blink loses!
  18. Make it a spa day. Have daughters? Create a spa day complete with manicures, pedicures, and new hairdos.
  19. Have a hot chocolate day. Who doesn’t love a huge cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows?
  20. Host a tea party.
  21. Snuggle before getting out of bed in the morning. One of my favorite memories is snuggling with my daughters when they were little and reading them stories before we started on our day.
  22. Decorate boxes. Have some boxes from recent online deliveries? Be sure to let them sit for at least 24 hours (to be sure there is no germ spread from Covid-19), then bring out the crayons and markers and decorate the boxes.
  23. Enlist your teens to make up exercise routines they host for the entire family.two-woman-doing-exercise-1671217 (2)
  24. Do a science experiment. This website offers some innovative ideas.
  25. Play hide and seek. This is one of our family’s favorite past times. Years ago, we couldn’t find my husband during one particular game. It’s still a mystery how he perched himself way above the water heater in the water closet, reminiscent of Spiderman.
  26. Have a treasure/scavenger hunt. Provide clues and a surprise at the end.
  27. Write a book together. One person starts the “book” and passes it around with everyone handwriting a paragraph or several. Littles can draw pictures to illustrate.
  28. Have a blind taste testing competition. Secretly collect different items and place a bit of each one in separate containers. Guests of the competition will be blindfolded and try to guess what they are tasting.
  29. Build a fort. Kitchen chairs and blankets, anyone?
  30. Listen to audiobooks. Adventures in Odyssey has some wonderful timeless stories.
  31. Host the Olympic games in your living room or your backyard. Everything from skipping races to the three-legged race, to crab walking can bring a gold medal.
  32. Design a fitness center with different stations. Jump roping, hula-hooping, hopping on one foot, somersaults, situps, and pushups. Set the timer for each station.
  33. Create Playdough or homemade clay. The iheart naptime blog has a great recipe for your homemade playdough endeavors.
  34. Create and color for family members. Grandmas love to hang those on their refrigerators!
  35. Create and color pictures/write encouraging notes for those in nursing homes and VA hospitals. Call ahead of time to see if they are accepting artwork for their residents.
  36. Make a craft. Make Cheerio necklaces or another fun craft, such as egg carton caterpillars, pasta pictures, and homemade frames. Check out this idea for mini-lid banjos from the Craft Train blog.
  37. Plant seeds.
  38. Host a touch testers competition. Put several items in a box and each competitor must guess what the item is. Keep track to see who wins!
  39. Create and act out a play.
  40. Play dress up with mom’s and dad’s clothes.
  41. Play balloon volleyball. (Do not use balloons around small children, as they are a choking hazard).
  42. Read the same book as your tweens and teens, then have a book discussion, complete with treats.
  43. Stargaze.
  44. Have a picnic in your yard, on your deck, or in the living room.
  45. Go on a photography hunt. Using your camera, snap interesting photos of the world around you.
  46. Shoot baskets. This works at the outside basketball hoop, or a makeshift “hoop” designed from a trash can and using a soft ball.man-dunking-the-ball-163452 (3)
  47. Have a paper airplane competition. Check out this link on how to make a paper airplane. https://www.diynetwork.com/made-and-remade/learn-it/5-basic-paper-airplanes
  48. Create a blog. WordPress offers free blogs. Perfect idea for tweens and teens to hone their writing skills and write about what’s important to them!
  49. Make smoothies or root beer floats.
  50. Crank the music and dance.
  51. Have a fashion show.
  52. Cloud gaze/watch. What animals or shapes can you find in the clouds?
  53. Watch science videos. Answers in Genesis has been hosting interesting science videos on Ken Ham’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/aigkenham/
  54. Create a “grocery store” with empty boxes and plastic containers of items. Children can “shop” for items and pay with coins or homemade coins/dollar bills made from cardboard.
  55. Make sock puppets. Using old socks, markers, and buttons, create sock puppets, then have them star in their own sock puppet show.
  56. Play a game. Uno, Tenzi, Checkers, Old Maid, Yahtzee, Apples to Apples Big Picture, Monopoly, Clue, Canine Capers, and Pictionary are some fun options.
  57. Be a gameshow host. The options are endless for this suggestion. When my girls were younger, we played a game called “Gameshow Contestant.” I would call out a letter and they would run to retrieve the letter magnet from the front of the refrigerator. I would excitedly call out, “can she do it in less than 10 seconds? Stick around, folks, let’s see!” At the end of the game, the girls would win fabulous “new cars” aka, Matchbox cars. J Other suggestions are to find items around the house and place them on the table in record time.
  58. Encourage creative play. Our children need time to be creative with no structure. This is so important to proper development and fostering an active imagination. girl-in-red-dress-playing-a-wooden-blocks-3662667 (2)

What a blessing to be able to spend time with our children and teens! Let’s use this opportunity to grow closer.

 

How do you keep your children busy during this time of social isolation?

the great toilet paper caper

It was early evening when the classified documents indicated there was toilet paper to be found. Lon, a man who prided himself on providing for his family, decided he was up for the task. Sturdy, burly, and strong, he set his eye on the prize: a pack of plush tp for his family. So, climbing into the family truck nicknamed “Little Gray” (although it is brown in color), Lon zipped out of the cul-de-sac to embark on his mission.

lon tough (2)

As he drove down the main avenue to the local Walmart store, he happened to look over and see a car that reminded him of a pregnant roller skate. A man of about his age glanced over at just that same time and their eyes connected. Both accelerated.

And then Lon knew.

He was in for the race of his life.

Feeling a bit like Mario Andretti, Lon lurched Little Gray forward and stepped up his speed. He was up for the challenge.  He only wished he had added some souped up options on Little Gray. An engine tuner, a lift kit, a turbo kit, a supercharge… all would have been helpful at this time, as the pregnant roller skate threatened to overtake him.

Were it not for the 30 mph speed limit, Lon knew he would have smoked the competition.

Not to be deterred, Lon rounded the corner into the Walmart parking lot on two wheels with the speed and finesse of the expert he was. He pulled into a parking space only to find the pregnant roller skate pulled in right beside him. Lamenting that he’d worn his camo crocs instead of his running shoes, Lon leapt out of the truck and began to sprint toward the store. Those grueling hours of high school track were coming in handy as he zipped through the front doors, his competitor at his side.

“You get the call too?” his competition asked as they strode side-by-side toward the sacred toilet-paper aisle.

“Yep,” Lon replied.

They continued their race to aisle B26 “Look, man, I got a family,” the driver of the pregnant roller skate said.

“Me too.”

Lon sized up his competition. Similar height, similar build.

But he had this. Failure was not an option.

Everywhere in the store, chaos abounded. If necessary, he would draw upon his former experience as a football lineman and use his massive shoulders to push through the crowds (in a gentlemanly way, of course). Carts overloaded with multiple counts of bizarre items no one would have purchased before the Great Hoarding Phenomenon of 2020 threatened to hinder his quest.

Lon dodged into the tp aisle, the competition on his tail. His eyes settled on the prize: a pack of six rolls of fluffy white toilet paper. Only a couple packages remained on the otherwise empty shelves. He exchanged another glance with his rival. Heart pounding, muscles burning, he made the final leap to the shelf, and in one fell swoop, achieved victory. His competition did the same, securing his own pack.

They both stopped for a minute and chuckled. Were it not for the new social distancing rules in place, they might have shook hands or fist bumped.

The former competitors walked toward the checkout together with their prized purchases, discussing, at the appropriate distance, the ridiculous nature of toilet paper shortages.

Only later did Lon learn the hard sad truth. The toilet paper was one-ply.

white-toilet-paper-roll-on-woven-basket-3958196 (2)

*This story has been slightly exaggerated. The toilet paper pack actually contained 12 rolls, rather than six. 🙂