Well, hello everyone. Welcome back. I’m recording alone today in my own home because Heidi was unable to make it but we wanted to make a special broadcast for those of you who are struggling and experiencing special difficulties during this shutdown of our subculture here in America. As schools are closing, businesses are closing, we’re really experiencing things that we never thought we would. And so we wanted to speak into that.
I’m Jani Ortlund and I do welcome you today. I hope your heart is well. I hope that you’re trusting that God is in this. I want to speak especially today to those who have young children at home or perhaps you’re a nanny. Maybe you’re a grandparent.
Today’s Topic: How Can I Help My Kids In These Uncertain Times?
I’d like to answer this question. I’ve been asked, “What are some ways we can help the children in our lives during these uncertain days of the coronavirus?” And I’d like to give you a few suggestions.
Always Tell Your Children The Truth
First of all, always tell the children in your life, the truth. Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t make up stories so that it will be easier for them, then they will not know when to trust you. Always tell them the truth. Try to answer their questions. If you don’t know the answer, then lead them to the one in heaven who does! Re,mind them teach them that nothing ever surprises God. He’s not surprised by this pandemic. He’s not panicked by it. He has allowed it. So always tell your kids the truth.
Model a life of faith
Secondly, model before them a life of faith. Are you asking them to obey you? Well then model for them how you obey the authorities here. Are you doing what our government is asking? Are you listening to medical providers? Show them how you obey as you ask them to obey you. Bring them into your decisions. I’ve got a hard decision I’m trying to make. One of our sons and his dear wife are going to welcome into their family their fourth baby. And each previous baby has had to be born to C-section. And those of you who’ve had c-sections know how hard it is to recover. You’ve got six weeks of recovery when you’re trying to care for a newborn and this dear daughter in law, Esther will be trying to care for her other three children as well. So she’s asked me if I would come out and I said, of course! This was way before the coronavirus came into the news. Well, we’re trying to decide what to do now. Her baby is due in six weeks just after the warnings are supposed to be lifted for social distancing. We don’t know if they will be or not. What should we do? How should we make plans? So we’re trying to make this decision. There are decisions your family will be making. Bring your children and your grandchildren into it. Talk it through with them. What about the seniors in your life, the grandparents? Oh my, your children need to see how you treat the older people, the older generation, their grandparents. They might be worried about their grandma and grandpa. Show them how you can trust God in this. Bring them to God. Give them more and more of God during this.
Now there are lots of both cautions and frustrations during this pandemic. Oh my goodness, how many times have we heard the warning? “Wash your hands, wash them frequently.” So we need to teach that to our children. Let’s do it with them. Let’s make sure it’s easy for them. Make sure there’s a stool by the sink so they can reach it comfortably. Maybe you can have a little reward system where every time they wash their hands thoroughly and dry them well, they get a sticker and after five stickers, they get a little reward. Think how you can make it fun in your own family.
What about coughing and sneezing protocol. Make sure you have Kleenex boxes all over the house, and then use them, teach them how to sneeze and cough properly. I don’t know about your kids but my kids when they were little, they loved to tattle on their brothers and sister because it made them feel better. They weren’t doing what was so awful. Well, we made it a policy in our house that they could only tell us when their brother or sister brothers or sister were doing something good. They couldn’t tattle. So you can make it up a rule in your house that you want to hear when they catch someone doing it properly sneezing into a tissue and then throwing it away or coughing into a tissue and throwing it away. Make it fun.
Keep a good routine
I would encourage you to try to keep a good routine. Your kids are out of school, they’re not going to church, they probably aren’t seeing their friends as often. And that can be disruptive not only to them, but also to you. So we have found it very helpful to keep a good routine. Now, of course, you’re going to have your three meals each day. So try to make that fun time. If you have older children at home, I’m sure it’s a little bit rougher for them. They may not want to gather for three meals a day. If you have some high schoolers or college students that that are at home, especially those seniors Oh, don’t you feel sorry for the seniors who are missing those final weeks together? How hard. So try to get into a good routine as a family together to replace some of those feelings of loneliness and isolation. Try to eat your meals together. Mom, this is going to depend on you. You’ve got to work hard making this a fun time. And then make a good routine for doing chores during the day. Maybe it’s right after breakfast. Maybe it’s in the afternoon. Find a time when you work together as a family to keep the house in order to get the laundry washed and folded and put back in drawers, to get the rugs vacuumed the bathroom wiped down, the counters wipes, maybe some gardening done depending on where you live, what your climate is, like.
What about academics each day, make sure you schedule something into your schedule for academics. Especially the younger ones. Maybe it’s workbook pages or puzzles, oh puzzles you can do together as a whole family. Maybe it’s math work, counting, measurement. If you have very young at home those preschoolers and kindergarteners primary years, you’ve got to think of some new fun things for them to do. Maybe waterplay fill your sink, put an apron on them and give them some measuring cups and food coloring. See what different colors they can make as they mix and match.
Maybe art time. Let them paint a little bit. Use markers and make playdough. Do you have a Play Doh recipe? I do and I just love making played with my grandkids. How about a puppet show? Plan a puppet show you can put on for dad when he comes home from work or if he’s working from home when he’s done from work. If you don’t have puppets in your own house, make them! You could use a paper plate and put it taped to the top of a toilet paper rolls or a knife, a table knife and just use those as puppets. Make sure your little ones get lots of large movement and can use their body. Maybe you want to set up an obstacle course we used to do that when we were rained in. Set up an indoor obstacle course. You could do one a day and make it different every day and see how everyone goes through it. You can time each other or play Follow the Leader over it.
Think of fun new ways for your kids to be able to exercise. I would schedule a game time into your routine each day. Maybe a memory game. If you don’t have the memory game you can make up one with cards or play one of our family’s favorites “Hide the Skittle” or it could be “Hide the Peanut” or “Hide the Penny”, hide whatever. Hide the thimble. Everyone leaves the room but the one who’s hiding it and hide it somewhere. To make it easier in our family, we say it cannot be in something or under something. That means those who are looking can only use their eyes nottheir hands, you’ll find your your, your living room doesn’t get torn up that way. But that’s a fun game to play. Or again, do puzzles together, do some sort of fun game that your family loves.
Schedule a time for loving your neighbor, for caring for others. Is there someone who needs to have a phone call from your family? Is there someone who needs a picture drawn and mailed to them? Is there someone who needs you to go to the grocery store to get something for them? Try to schedule in a time for loving your neighbor.
Oh, make sure you’re scheduling a time for reading aloud. Find a good book that can be your special memory during this pandemic, and read aloud together. Enjoy it.
Most importantly of all in your daily routine, scheduled family Bible time. Make sure you’re having your own private devotions, but also gather as a family. Mom, this might be up to you, dad might be under special pressures during this time. But try to schedule a family Bible time. We’ve been talking about that. On our podcast as we’ve gone through the 10 commandments, maybe you could look up those and see how you could study the 10 commandments during this pandemic.
Choose A Promise To Learn
Then also, after keeping a good routine and modeling before them a life of faith, choose a promise or two from the Lord, to guide you as a family through this time. Learn it together, memorize it, put it up throughout your home. And when the tears come, or the fights begin, or the discouragement sets in, you begin to feel claustrophobia creeping in as you are still having to distance yourself from others. Say this promise over and over to each other, and ask God to fulfill it in your family.
You might want to choose a hymn to memorize, or a poem to memorize. I’ll give you two that have been my favorites through the years, when I was struggling with a financial crisis. For two years when we were in Scotland, God gave me this hymn. It’s an old hymn and so it uses the words thee and thou and thy but I love what it says. Let me read the words to you and if you want to find the words for yourself, you can go on our website. It’s “If Thou but Suffer God to Guide Thee” it’s an old German him from George Newmark. He lived from 1621 to 1681. It goes like this.
If thou but suffer God to guide thee and hope in Him through all thy ways, he’ll give thee strength. What air be tied thee and bear thee through the evil days. Who trusts in God’s unchanging love rests on the rock. Who trusts in God’s unchanging love builds on the rock that not can move. What can these anxious fears avail thee? These never ceasing moans and sighs. What can it help if thou bewail thee or each dark moment as it flies? Our cross and trials do but press the heavier for our bitterness. Only be still and wait his leisure. In cheerful hope, with hard content to take whatever thy father’s pleasure and all discerning love hath sent. Nor doubt our inmost once are known to him who chose us for his own. Sing, pray and keep his ways unswerving. So do thine own part faithfully and trust his word. Though undeserving, thou yet shall find it true for thee. God never yet forsook at me, the soul that trusted him indeed.
Oh, I love that! Let’s learn to trust the Lord and suffer him to guide us through this pandemic. Let’s not panic. Let’s look to him and let’s teach our children. Let’s model it for them and let’s teach them to look to God. Let’s be strong. Maybe, you know this poem that I love so much from a man named Babcock, he lived in the 1800s. And he wrote this,
Be strong. We are not here to play, to dream, to drift. We have hard work to do, and loads to lift, Shun the struggle. Face it. Tis God’s gift. Be strong. It matters not how deep entrenched the wrong, how hard the battle goes, the day how long. Feint not. Fight on. Tomorrow comes the song.
Oh, be strong, dear listener, be strong, dear friend, be strong. Dear sister in Christ. Tomorrow comes the song. Teach your family how to sing through this hard time. Find a hymn. Find your own family hymn, learn it, sing it together and make God restore all of our souls, as he draws very near to us in this unusual time of uncertainty. God bless you.