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Many kids count down to the end of the school year, but once summer break begins, some parents begin counting the days until it’s over. Kids love having more free time, but often it helps to have some planned activities to add a bit of structure to their days.

Here are some fun suggestions to make this summer staycation the best one yet. When boredom threatens to settle in, be ready with this arsenal of ideas.

•    Create your own board game based on a favorite chapter book or movie — or maybe you could base your game on a book or section of the Bible, such as the ten plagues, the life of Joseph, or the book of Esther. Grab a posterboard and brainstorm some of the main action points in the story, then include them in your game.

•    Play your own version of The Amazing Race, or create a scavenger hunt around your town. At the end, talk about how your family overcame the challenges and twists in the road.

•   Pretend like you are researchers or historians. Research the history of the churches in your town. Try to find out which one is the oldest, and how it started. See if you can interview the pastor or some of the older congregation members. Write what you learn, and think about God’s faithfulness in preserving His church. Design a timeline or poster illustrating key events and interesting facts you discover.

•    Make handmade greeting cards with words of encouragement or Bible verses, then deliver them to a nursing home in your area. See what a joy it can be to be a blessing and bring a smile to an elderly person’s face.

•    Organize a neighborhood bake sale. Collect donated baked goods, sell them, and give the proceeds to a local charity or mission organization.

•    Write letters or send a care package to someone serving in the military or on the mission field. For other ideas on how to encourage missionaries, click here.

•    Hold your own Master Chef competition. Using only five or six ingredients, have a contest to see which family member can prepare the most appetizing dish.

•    Check out some audio books from your nearest library. Go home, make some lemonade and popcorn, and enjoy the story!

•    Make a list of five different countries around the world. Find a recipe for a traditional dish that represents a culture from each country. Block off a week on your calendar as Around the World Week, and plan to eat from a new region each evening.

•    Plan a talent show. Invite friends or neighbors, and perform your favorite skits, songs, or poems for each other.

•    Gather a few other families and meet at the park for a fun-filled track and field evening. Plan potato sack races, water balloon tosses, three-legged races, long jumps, and softball throws.

•    Map out a frisbee golf course, grab some discs, and start a new hobby!

•    Set up an obstacle course in your backyard, or in your driveway. Use sticks or sidewalk chalk to construct a course, find a stopwatch, and let the fun begin!

 

 

What are some unique activities your family enjoys doing together during summer break?

Hooray for long weekends, and double hooray for Five Minute Friday!

A huge welcome to all, whether you’re brand new to this gig, or a long-time veteran. We’re so glad you’re here!

Learn more about Five Minute Friday here!

I want to start by inviting you all to check out the Breathe Conference, happening October 7-8, 2016!

It’s a conference for writers, featuring Keynote Speaker James Scott Bell, as well as dozens of fabulous breakout sessions — including one led by Ann Kroeker, co-author of On Being a Writer!

Early bird pricing ends May 30th, so go ahead and register now!

 

Breathe Conference

 

Also, don’t miss the huge Dayspring Memorial Day sale!

 

Dayspring sale

Use code MEMORIAL25 to get 25% off sitewide, now through Monday, May 30th! Click here to start shopping! (affiliate link)

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is:

 

cheer

 

Setting my timer for five minutes, and … GO.

As Memorial Day approaches, I’ve found myself looking back to past years, standing on the sidelines of the parade as the veterans march past. I always blink back tears, especially when the cars drive by with family members inside, and a poster on the side of the vehicle that starts with “In memory of …”

So we stand up whenever a person in uniform passes by, to show due honor and respect.

And I wonder, What else am I teaching them to stand up for? What else am I standing up for myself?

I hope they see me cheering for others who sacrifice, who serve in all kinds of ways, who pour themselves out for the good of others.

I hope they see me cheering for what’s right, standing up for truth, raising my hand to salute integrity and biblical principles.

I know it’s far to easy to follow the current, to be swept up by the latest trends, whether they match God’s words, or not.

I heard a quote recently that really struck me: “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you” (Luke 6:26). It made me think — am I cheering for the exact same things as the rest of the world, or can others see that I march to the drum of Christ?

STOP.

AND — I totally did not plan this, but I just clicked over to my friend Bronwyn’s site, and she has a post up this week called Cheer Mom — a guest post by author Melanie Dale.

Bronwyn is also giving away a copy of Melanie’s book, Women are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends. Click over and check it out!

Link up your own five minutes of free writing below!

And don’t forget to register for the Breathe Conference, and shop the Dayspring Memorial Day Sale!

Affiliate links used in this post.

 

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Welcome back to another round of Five Minute Friday!

I just love being with you week after week — your presence here is a real highlight for me!

If you’re new to Five Minute Friday, you can learn more about this fast-writing, free-flowing, faith-building community here.

We gather every Thursday evening on Twitter at #fmfparty, and we have a Facebook page, too!

This week, our prompt is:

 

expect

 

Ready? GO.

This past week in our Bible study group, we read this verse: “ Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

I’ve read the same passage on numerous occasions, but this time, our leader pointed out something new. He said, “You know what this verse tells us? It tells us we should expect to be sinned against.” I’d never thought of it that way before. If we’re being told to love, because love covers over a multitude of sins, it naturally follows that there will be sins that need to be covered.

It reminded me of Jesus’ promise, “In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33).

BUT.

There’s a but.

Jesus goes on, “Take heart! For I have overcome the world. We will have trouble in this life. We can expect it. We should expect to be hurt and sinned against.

But how much more can we look forward with a holy anticipation and expectancy for the One who will come and make all things new. The One who will come to restore and make the broken pieces whole.

Yes, it’s going to hurt for a while longer, but He’s coming soon — let’s be ready.

 

STOP.

 

Add your own five minutes of free writing to the link-up below, then go ahead and leave a comment of encouragement on the blog linked up before yours!

 

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Welcome to another round of Five Minute Friday!

I’m so thrilled that you’re here – and huge props to Fistbump Media for making this week’s post possible!

When my website decided to not let me in at the eleventh hour, my trusty web host stepped in to save the day by uploading this content and link-up.

Everybody #fistbump Dan King over @FistbumpMedia, hey? Without him, we wouldn’t have had FMF this week, and I just don’t even want to think about what a tragedy that would be!

 

In other news, did you hear that our dear Katie Reid had her baby?

 

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Praise God for a safe delivery and a beautiful, healthy baby girl! May she GROW to be a strong woman of faith, and may she do great things for the kingdom of God!

If you’d like to congratulate Katie, you can send her a tweet @Katie_M_Reid, or visit her site at KatieMReid.com!

 

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is:

 

grow

 

 

Ready? GO.

“Mom, LOOK! Everything is so GREEN!”

He sees it, too. The slow and sudden change of everything all around us. It crept up on us and then one day we blinked, and it was there.

All the green, everywhere.

It’s enough to take my breath away, after months of brown and grey and melting, muddy snow.

I pause to take it all in, and it bolsters my faith, right then and there, standing with the minivan door still open.

It’s the sign of life.

I see the grass, the bushes, the budding trees – and I see hope.

Hope in a God who makes all things grow

I stop and let my gaze stretch across the blades of His glory, the branches of His faithfulness, the stems of His promise.

As Paul said to the Corinthians, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”

God has been making it grow.

It’s a miracle, isn’t it?

How he not only has power to make the grass and flowers grow day after day, year after year, but He has power to make you and me grow, too.

STOP.

Add your own five minute free write to the link-up below!

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Hello everyone!

Welcome to another round of Five Minute Friday! Such a treat to be with you all again.

If you’re new in these parts, go ahead and click over here to learn more about Five Minute Friday!

This week’s prompt is:

 

miss

 

 

Setting my timer for five minutes, and … GO.

 

I wavered back and forth.

To write a Mother’s Day post or not to write, that was the question.

I had the words mapped out in my head, but was it really worth drudging them all up to the screen? Would they really benefit anyone, even myself?

I decided to just boycott the idea of Mother’s Day, even though it’s nearly impossible to avoid, with every retail outlet imaginable trying to monopolize on the made up holiday. I planned to look away and let it pass by, unless I could get something out of it for my own benefit, like maybe not having to cook lunch on Sunday.

But then Lisa-Jo Baker went and wrote this post: When You Still Need Your Mom and She’s Not There Anymore.

And it was everything I needed, and more.

Nobody had to tell me how much I miss my mom, and yet it’s hard to articulate what exactly I miss, when it’s everything.

In my memoir revisions, I spent this past week re-working the chapters about my mom’s funeral and the visitation that followed. And I remembered afresh just how amazing she was — not that I’ve forgotten. But it helped to remember that other people knew it, too.

And I realized if I had written about Mother’s Day, I would’ve wanted my words to reflect that I’m grateful for the ache, because it tells me I had something worth missing.

STOP.

 

Thanks again for being here! Don’t forget to visit the person linked up before you, to share an encouraging word! I pray that this community is a great blessing to you. Enjoy your weekend, friends!

 

Join the link-up by posting your own words below!

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Wow, is it really the end of April already? How did I miss that?

Anybody else feel cheated out of a whole month? 😉

In any case, I’m thrilled to have you with us for another week of Five Minute Friday — the place where fingertips fly over keyboards, and encouragement is spread lavishly across screens and time zones.

To learn more about the Five Minute Friday community and how it works, click here!

Since we’re about to flip the calendar page over to May, I want to share two special deals with you just in time for Mother’s Day:

First, have you heard that Lisa-Jo Baker’s Surprised by Motherhood is only $2.99 for the Kindle version through April 30th?

 

Surprised by Motherhood

 

If you don’t have a Kindle, just grab the free Kindle reading app and you’re good to go! AND … you can even gift this book to a friend or three via e-mail! SUCH a good deal!

 

Speaking of moms, KraftyKash has some beautiful necklaces with custom birthstones up for grabs. Order by May 1st to be in time for Mother’s Day:

 

450mothers

 

Aren’t these new necklaces from Krafty Kash beautiful? And the birthstone charms can be ordered separately in case you want to keep adding to the necklace!

AND … Use code katemotaung to save 10% off your order!

OR … Sign up to for the Krafty Kash mailing list, and get 25% off your order!

PLUS … if your purchase is $40 or more, mention my name, and you’ll receive a free gift!

How fun is that?! Deadline for Mother’s Day orders is May 1st.

 

Save 10% with codekatemotaung-2

 

Visit Krafty Kash to see all the options!

And now, it’s time to write! 

 

This week, we’re writing on the prompt:

 

pass

 

Setting my timer for five minutes, and … GO.

 

Have you ever just had one of those weeks where everything seems to be a challenge? When you’re hit with a  barrage of trials, one after the other, and you ask yourself, “When will it ever end?”

Or maybe it’s one particular hardship that just keeps going and going, and every morning you wake up hoping it will all be over, or maybe you’ll realize it was all a bad dream, until your feet hit the floor, and you know it’s for real.

When I’ve faced seasons of persistent frustration, it helps me to ask God for a little perspective shift.

I turn to His Word and page through until I find promises that speak of His enduring, unchanging character, like this:

I read verses like 2 Corinthians 4:15-17 and remind myself that this too, shall pass — and in the meantime, it’s making me stronger:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:15-17

I glean hope and strength from Isaiah, when he writes:

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze. ~ Isaiah 43:2

It may not feel pleasant at the time — okay, it never feels pleasant. But God is doing a refining work in us. And the best part? We can rest assured that the ache is only temporary. He’s prepared a place for us that will never perish, spoil or fade — a place with no more tears, or crying or pain. Hallelujah.

STOP.

 

 

Disclosure: Affiliate links used in this post. 

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