Thursday, May 28, 2015

Keeping God as Part of Your Summer Plans

We know Summer is slowly on its way here even though in some parts of this nation, based on the weather it hardly feels like it. For some, it's a time that they look forward to, family vacations might be part of the plans, or having family come to visit, school is out and there is less items on our to do list for many parents.

Yet the words we often hate to hear from our kids, is "I'm bored!" So many of us try to keep our summers busy and can find ourselves wondering just when did summer mean a vacation from all the hectic planning again?

I thought I would share some great ideas to keep your kids not only from becoming bored, but to also incorporate Jesus along in our summer plans.

1. Pick A Scripture. As a family, pick a scripture to start your summer. Find two or three suggested passages based on whatever theme, virtue or discipline yo consider important for your family's situation. Let each person share which verse they think is best for the family, and why, before voting.

2. Write the verse. Find unique ways to write your selected verse. You might want to do some sort of painting, make your own stepping stone for the garden, or make flash cards to help your family focus on that verse. Hopefully by the end of the summer, you will all have it memorized. You might even want to incorporate it into a song.

3. Make a journal for each child. Pick up some stickers to help decorate it or cut out pictures from magazines. Pose questions for them to answer in their journal about themselves, their age or even their favorite things. Help them find scriptures from the Bible that affirm God's love for them. Drawing on God's promises in the Bible, have them make their own Bible Promises that can stand on in times of difficulty. Encourage them to add keepsakes of activities you do to their journal, like a ticket stub from a special place you visit or a leaf from a trip to the park. Don't forget pictures to add to their summer journal and perhaps capture a few words of what that photo means to them. At the end of the summer, celebrate with everyone sharing in what they journaled all through the summer. This is a great way to keep those writing skills fresh throughout the summer.

4. Traveling this Summer? Include your kids in preparations for the trip. Get a road map at your local Automobile Club and check out places on the internet or the library for where you are going to look for places you will see. Pack a special activity bag for each child. You can include games, notepads, their favorite snacks, a fun craft or activity book, and an age appropriate fun Bible for them to enjoy. If you are taking along an iPod or MP3 player, be sure to include worship and Bible based songs that your kids love to sin.

5. Car Ride Games: You can also make up your own games, but you might want to consider some of the following.

Alphabet Thankfulness: Starting with the letter A, each person names something starting with the letter that they can be thankful to God for. This can be a person, place or anything! Examples: A- Aunt Peggy, B-brothers, C-chocolate! At the end of the game, say a prayer thanking God for all the things He has blessed you with.

Car Bingo: This is a favorite of our kids! Make your own bingo cards before you leave by drawing pictures, using clip art from the Internet or using stickers of things you are likely to see on your trip.

Talk Time: Travel time is a great opportunity to connect and communicate with each other. Have a list of questions to talk through and take turns letting one another ask questions. We love creating a story by having each person start a line. For example: One day a family began their morning by leaving on a summer vacation by car....then someone else would add to it...they wanted to take all their baby goats with them but there simply wasn't room to pack them all...You keep going until you run out of ideas or you laugh too much to continue. Our family remembers one about a man with a sombrero sitting on a bench with his donkey waiting for the tacos to be finished at the gas station. The more creative and sillier the more fun and memories you will create.

Drive Time Audio: Consider picking up some audio books or CDs of some of your favorite stories that incorporate Christian values and faith to listen to along the way. You can even rent some of these from your local library or borrow some from friends.

6. Summer Family Nights: Take advantage of the warm evenings to plan a few outdoor Family Night activities such as:

Following the Map: Create a map with "Turn Left" or "Turn Right" directions to a favorite destination such as an ice cream shop or park. Load the kids in the car and tell them you are heading off for a really fun surprise. Give one of the children your map, and ask them to guide you step-by-step as you drive. When they give you each direction, however, turn the wrong way - insisting you know best. Try to end up at some dead-end or remote location, and admit that you got lost. Ask the kids what you should do. (Answer: Go back to the beginning and follow the directions properly!) When you arrive at the destination after properly following the directions, read Psalm 119:104-105 together and ask the following questions...

What went wrong the first time we drove? (I ignored the map_.

What is "the map" for us to make right choices in life? (The Bible).

How much fun would we be having know if I kept insisting I knew best? (None.).

We have also made a fun variation of this activity by not having a set destination in mind, and instead asked the kids to choose a path each time we came to a red light or stop sign and asked which way. We have discovered some amazing places that way we might have never discovered that were literally not too far from our home.

7. Consider serving this summer. Most churches offer Vacation Bible School for grades 1-6 that are always looking for volunteers. Consider working together or even saving allowance to help support a trustworthy cause. Consider baking a neighbor some cookies, helping with the cleaning of our local parks or beaches, or even take a mission trip as a family.

These are just some amazing suggestions you might want to consider as summer nears and would love to get some of your suggestions as well!

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