Wow. What in the actual heck is going on in our world right now?! I hope this finds you well, and resting in the promises of God friends. He is with us, both now and always. We are not forgotten. Trust His goodness even among the chaos. Press into Him and don’t freak out too much! (Heb. 13:5) Let’s keep in mind the words of the philosophers of old from High School Musical… “we’re all in this together!”

As the world and our communities seem to be shutting down all around us, I thought I could be of some practical help. As we all lay low (or lower) for awhile, I wanted to share a few Balogh Family favorite activities. These are things that don’t include a television, tablet, or video game console that you can do together. Here’s 14 of my best ideas, and I’d love to hear any of yours. Here goes…

1. Pray. Yes, let’s start here instead of utilizing it as a last resort, as I so often fall “prey” to. Pray for yourself and your loved ones. Pray for protection, for peace, for calm in the face of panic. Pray for those already infected. For the young and elderly. Turn your gaze outward too…pray for your neighbors. Pray for practical ways to bless them, reassure them, serve them. Then do it! In so doing show the love of the Father in a time of unrest and anxiousness. Church, this could be our finest hour! (Matthew 10:42, 28:16-20)

2. Give yourself permission to sit and contemplate. Journal. This will likely feel foreign. You will get distracted and be tempted to jump up and do something. Anything…Resist. Be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10) Write a poem, a lyric, a prayer to God. Linger.

3. Spend slow unstructured time with your family/kids. Sometimes a spontaneous squirt gun fight will break out. Go with it.

4. Read that book (or start on the stack) that’s on your bedside table. Listen to it on Audiobook if you’re not much of a reader, or take turns reading out loud. This is a Balogh family staple. Here’s 14 old and new recommendations…

The Princess Bride, Dad Is Fat, Skipping Christmas, The Chronicles of Narnia, Book With No Pictures, The Gospel Comes With A House key, Adorning The Dark: Thoughts On Community, Calling, and The Mystery Of Making, I’m Possible: Jumping Into Fear And Discovering Life’s Purpose, The Art Of Rest: Faith To Hit Pause In A World That Never Stops, Leaders Eat Last, Everybody Always, The Prisoner In The Third Cell, Sit. Walk. Stand., and The Turquoise Table: Finding Community and Connection In Your Own Front Yard.

For additional ideas check out my goodreads account:

5. Dust off the board game/card game collection and enjoy some laughs. Here’s 14 of the Balogh family favorites…

Spicy Uno, Yahtzee, Farkle, Quirkle, Ticket To Ride, Phase 10, Skip-Bo, Candyland, Sorry (be careful, this one can start family wars and grudges! Haha), Settlers Of Catan, Spoons, ERS, Connect 4, and Life.

6. Make something with your hands. Bake. Sculpt. Paint. Draw. Garden. Look up a science experiment and do it. Put that long-ago abandoned Pinterest board to use! Here’s a few of my want to try pins…(yes I use Pinterest…and what?! Haha)

7. Bust out a coloring book and spend enough time to color a masterpiece or two. Proudly display it in the fridge for a few days.

8. Write a short story. Give yourself a 20 min timer and write until the time is up. Here’s your prompt…

You wake up one day to discover your family dog has grown opposable thumbs. What’s the first thing they do? How do you react?

9. Listen to music. Like really listen. Slowly and with lyrics in hand. We don’t do that enough anymore. Use headphones if you’re alone. Try to decipher what the songwriter was feeling and trying to communicate. Listen with other people. Here are 14 album suggestions some classic, some new…

Abbey Road by The Beatles, Much Afraid by Jars of Clay, (I Am) Origami Pt. 2: Every Power Wide Awake by John Van Deusen, Leave Whats Lost Behind by Colony House, 21 by Adele, MuteMath by MuteMath, Union by Future Of Forestry, For What It’s Worth by J. Lind, Light For The Lost Boy by Andrew Peterson, Suite No. 2: World Keeps Spinning by The Brilliance, Mercury & Lightning by John Mark McMillan, The Stranger by Billy Joel, The Everglow by Mae, and Who are You Now by Madison Cunningham.

Or if you are more of a playlist/individual song listener you can check out a few of my public playlists on Spotify…

10. Get outside! Go for a slow walk, look around and notice the life around you. Listen as you walk. Thank God for his creation aloud.

11. Take a nap. If the weather is nice enough, string up a hammock outside or lay a blanket out in the sun and relax.

12. Light a candle or a fire in the outdoor fire-pit and dive deep in a conversation with someone, or a few someone’s. A few topic suggestions…

If you knew you’d have money deposited in the bank every month for the essentials of life, how would you choose to spend your time each day?

Where do you think you have grown the most in your faith in the last year?

What passages of Scripture have been challenging you lately, or left you confused/with questions?

Who do you wish you made more of an effort to spend time with?

When you think about God, what are your very first thoughts and feelings? No censoring!

13. Call home if you don’t see your parent or kids much due to living far apart. Reach out to that friend you lost touch with due to the busyness of life. Don’t be in a hurry to get off the phone. Listen well. Listen behind the words for the feelings.

14. Find a way to bless those in greater need than you. If you aren’t driving to work all week, eating out, getting coffee etc. it may be a cool thing to use that unspent money on people that cannot work from home, or have been laid off. Get creative! Buy groceries for an elderly friend, give away your free items of the BOGO, make some blessing bags and keep them handy in your car or home to pass out as needed. Remember those who depend on travel for their livelihood like touring musicians and help them out by purchasing some of their merch online. Streaming does not help most musicians come anywhere close to earning a livable wage.

I pray that you find much enjoyment in spending more time with those that you love. May the sweet assurances of God, His peace, His Joy, and the deepest most authentic relationships be yours, now and always!