Family Organic Outreach (ch. 7): The Home as a Playground

This week is chapter seven with "The Home as a Playground". Linda Quam shares her light-hearted memories of how she turned her home into a place of laughter and love, in this summer’s Book & Blog series in “Organic Outreach for Families: Turning Your Home into a Lighthouse.” Each week we read a chapter and hear from various FirstCov’ers. Join us and leave a comment or question below!

Sing to the Lord a New Song

One of the songs I sang in Sunday School as a child was, “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength.” There is another verse which has the sentence, “He fills my mouth with laughter, ha ha ha ha ha!”

A second song that came to mind as I read this chapter was based on Philippians 4:4. We often sang it in the form of a round. “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” Singing brought much joy to my family and me when I was growing up, especially when traveling by car or bus (dad was my bus driver).

As an adult, I still sing these songs as reminders of God’s Word and the reason for the joy in my heart.

I’ve always been thankful that in my Christian home, my family members had inner joy.

We knew that God loves us, Jesus gave His life for us, and we could anticipate a future in Heaven with Him. When I became an adult, I also wanted my home to be a happy place that was attractive to not just my family, but also to friends and neighbors. I wanted people to see that we love Jesus and each other.

Laughter, Love and a Little Shenanigans...

Oh, our home was a playground. My sons loved any game that involved a ball, especially baseball, so there were lots of neighborhood ball games. Our basement had a tire swing, wresting mats, and a ping pong table. There were video games, board games, and card games. Outside there was a sand box, a swing set, and a basketball hoop.

Friends came and played too. Sometimes they came along as we visited relatives or went on vacations. Sometimes they came with us to church.

They joined us as we prayed at mealtime and at bedtime. (One of Brian’s friends took a turn praying, thanking God for cheese balls.)

There has always been plenty of laughter at our house. Playing dress up sometimes got interesting. There were jokes like, “Where do fish keep money? In the riverbank.” Now it’s fun to make it into a contest and tell those jokes without laughing. We’ve always enjoyed reminiscing, perhaps embellishing some stories. Like the time my boys painted our very meticulous neighbor’s garage door with mud.

Or the time police officers canvased our neighborhood because someone reported that Brian had been kidnapped.

We’ve played tricks on one another. Jay put chocolate syrup on Brian’s toothbrush and said he had used it to clean the toilet. One of Jay’s friends had a long braid. While he and Jay were playing a video game, I went up behind him with scissors, grabbed the braid, and pretended to cut it off. We had fake ketchup, mustard, and poop.

Hiding on someone or hiding one of their belongings did not always result in laughter, but a lot of tricks played seem to be funnier as the stories are retold.

Some situations were just plain funny. Brian emptied the Kleenex box when he discovered every time he took one out another one popped up. When my husband requested Chapstick, I accidentally gave him a tube that had a pink tint. Jay enjoyed taking all six cushions off the couch, piling them up, and diving into them. Brian told someone the babysitter’s name was Bill, and it was Beth. In his defense, she did have a mustache.

One day an unfamiliar boy appeared at the door wanting to play. When asked who he was, he responded, “Your son’s best friend.”

On Saying Yes and Setting Boundaries

This chapter gave good advice to parents. For example, say “yes” when there’s no good reason to say “no.” Some situations that I struggled with at times were letting the boys build another fort, putting on all necessary layers to play in the snow, stopping a road trip to play at a park or throw some rocks in the river, or just taking a break from necessary household tasks in order to “play.”

This chapter advises parents to take time away from phones, electronics and work. Parents should also set aside time specifically for family and a separate time for friends. May we all try to enjoy life as we celebrate the forgiveness, love, and hope we have as God’s children.

Take it to the comments: Let's have a conversation!

1. We may have differences in what we enjoy or how we like to play. What is something that is fun to one of your family member but not fun to another? What fun experience do you create to cater to specific interests?

2. What is an activity you wanted to say “no” to, but said “yes” and you were glad you did?

3. How has the joy in your house helped you reach out to others?

Enjoy chapter 7 this week! (Catch other posts in this series here.)

We all need ideas. We would love to hear how you bring the gospel to your home, specific stories, or even where it fell flat. We are in it together!

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