I took my boys (ages 9 and 12) to the grocery store today. We needed eggs. Our family eats about one dozen eggs a day and what we bought two weeks ago was down to a single carton.
As we walked through aisle after aisle of bare-white shelving their eyes got bigger and bigger in disbelief. Where is all the food and supplies? Why are people buying so much?
And most importantly, will we have any toilet paper to wipe with?
Haha. No seriously. They had reason to wonder. The aisle was bare and as toilet paper was the first thing people ran out to stock up on. (I’m still a little unsure as to why.)
It reminded me of Arthur. Sweet little Arthur. He was a rather poor young boy in my first-grade class back in 1999. We had helped his family get supplies and even once raised money as a class to help them buy groceries. Arthur had my heart. He was precious.
Click the video below to hear what Arthur taught me about life and toilet paper.
What I learned from Arthur that day is a lesson I want to be sure none of us miss in this crisis. If you stay focused on what you don’t have, you’ll never have anything to give- including your own happiness. And your unhappiness will take you down.
Right now the climate in our country is difficult to navigate. There’s so much information, graphs, press-releases, memes, and stories. Most of us honestly don’t know what to think or believe.
But I’m not sure that should be our focus anyway. One thing is clear- we are all home, everything is canceled, and we have to figure out what to do with that. The rest of it may always be a mystery.
Of course our first course of action must be to trust God with it. He’s still in control, this didn’t catch him by surprise, and his plans are always good. If you’re like me, none of that is very obvious to you right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. We have to start by resting there and let everything else filter out below.
It’s time we focus on what can we do as a family instead of getting caught up in what we can’t control.
Some have suggested we survive, do whatever it takes to get through this without anyone dying. But as Christians, we could do so much better.
The Bible tells us that adversity is one of the primary tools God uses to help us grow. GROW? Yep. I said GROW.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.James 1:2-4
So let’s choose joy. Instead of being fixed on all we DON’T have, let’s be like Arthur and give until it hurts.
Let’s choose not to wallow in self-pity, but to allow God to grow us in the midst of such a dark season.
In one of the hardest seasons of my life, a dear friend gave me two choices: grow or die. I thought she was a little nuts that day, but I chose to GROW and now I understand.
If you don’t choose to GROW, you choose to die. Well maybe not physically, but our physical body isn’t the only thing that gives us life. When we choose not to grow, we choose to let hope, love, and joy die.
Sometimes we let relationships die. We can get so focused on the darkness of our situation, that we let jobs and things that are vital to our wellbeing die.
But note that the result is up to you. It’s a CHOICE: grow or die. Will you pick joy and GROW despite the hard things? I pray you will. Here are some tips for helping your family choose joy and GROW in the midst of a crisis.
Help your Family GROW Relationally
If you haven’t seen this season of “everyone stays home” as a GIFT of time together, you’ve missed a huge blessing. It might not have come the way any of us would have wanted, but God has given us a precious gift.
Let this season of crisis be one of revival in your family. Everything is canceled so you’ve just opened up the opportunity to do all the things you SAY you want to do, but never seem to have time for.
Here are my favorites:
- Have dinner at the table together every night. Find a huge list of fun family dinners at the bottom of this post. You’ll find recipes for FUN and fellowship, even if you’re eating mac and cheese.
- Set aside some time to read together every day or as often as possible. This doesn’t have to be fancy, just pick something and do it. You can read aloud, listen to audiobooks, or even sit together while you read your own material.
- Play together every day. Again, KISS, keep it simple silly! Challenge the boys to a wild game of basketball, go on a family nature walk, play a board game, or shake it up with a wacky family fun night. You’ll find family fun night ideas here and a HUGE list of simple family bonding activities here.
- Be intentional about relationships. You are probably going to see a lot more of your family over the next few weeks. This is a great time to focus on how God wants us to treat each other. Study what the Bible says about siblings and family relationships- so you can grow closer together (and keep the kids from killing each other.) Remember that we all tend to lash out at other people when life isn’t going our way. Study Sibling relationships here and learn how to tame your tongue here.
By the way, as the parent, you’ll find yourself spending a lot of time instructing over these next few weeks. PLEASE remember to do it with grace. This is hard on your kids, too. They may need to be corrected, but they don’t need to be shamed. They are struggling just like you!
Help your Family GROW Spiritually
Do you ever feel like Spiritual growth is one of those elusive things OTHER people have a handle on, but you just don’t? I’m not going to lie. It takes TIME to grow Spiritually and often the other things in life seem to demand our attention.
But remember, THIS IS YOUR TIME! Your schedule is clear and it’s time to do those things you always say you WANT to do, but never get around to.
Here are my best ideas for Spiritual growth:
- Get consistent with (or start) a regular family devotion time. Don’t panic on this one, I’ve got everything you need to know for an EASY family devotion time here.
- If you are already doing a family devotional time, get CREATIVE with these fun kids’ devotions ideas.
- If your child is a strong reader and expressing an interest in God, it’s time to help develop their own quiet time. We’ve got a step-by-step course for parents (kids devotional method) in our community membership (diamond level). We’ve also got a Bible study they would love.
- Work on memorizing a passage of Scripture together as a family. You could even hold your own Bible quiz and aware prizes (like staying up an extra hour!)
- Do a Bible study together as a family. You’ve got the time, so spend it digging into God’s Word. You’ll find our favorite Bible studies here. I’ve also done a video sharing tips for the perfect family Bible study.
Help your Family GROW Academically
This is the one that many of you are worried about and I understand. As a former public school teacher, I was taught to believe that the only kind of learning (with any value) could only happen in the classroom.
Listen-that’s a huge lie. You were the first person to teach your child. You taught them to walk, talk, tie their shoes, and use the bathroom in appropriate places. You teach them daily.
You are not suddenly inept to keep teaching them. Despite what the system wants you to think, you don’t need a masters degree to teach your kids.
If your school gave you assignments – follow them. You can find helpful tips for crisis-schooling here.
If you don’t have assignments or you don’t feel obligated to follow them, here are my favorite suggestions for GROWING academically:
- Read as much as possible.
- Explore and learn about things you don’t ordinarily have time to learn about it.
- Take the time to learn more about your family. Explore their interests. Learn your genealogy or learn about the country your family line comes from.
- Research topics of interest together.
- Create. Entertain. Discuss.
- Learn about finances and budgeting – especially in times of crisis.
- Learn to cook or learn to cook things you don’t normally make. My friend Erin is doing a kid’s cooking show you’ll love. She also has tons of kid-friendly recipes your kids can make themselves!