Shelter-In-Place Survival Kit

What a crazy last few weeks it’s been for all of us! I hope you and yours are hanging in there and staying healthy.

During those first few days when it became apparent that COVID-19 was going to stretch its beastly arms across our country, my husband and I had two acquaintances admitted to the hospital due to the nasty bug.

And both of them were younger than us.

That got our attention.

We wanted to be ambivalent. We aren’t in a high risk group.

But when we started hearing about recovery times and hospitalization stats, we remembered Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkin’s words: “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

The thought of spreading the virus to a loved one in a high-risk group motivated us even more.

During those first two weeks, we had our grandson with us and “out of an abundance of caution,” we developed two new routines: disinfecting the house once a day and disinfecting ourselves after being out and about, as well as any items that arrived at our house.

I’m offering these checklists to my subscribers plus a prayer focus worksheet and worksheets to help you make the most of your shelter-in-place time. I’ve also including four phone wallpaper options with an encouraging Scripture on a lovely background.

My commitment to my subscribers is to only send one email a month. Don’t worry. I will not flood your inbox . {Note: If you would like to be notified each time I make a new post, please us the sign up on the right side bar.}

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Psalm 33: Hope in a Pandemic

Psalms 33:16-18

            The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.

            Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Father, I’m desperately searching for a place to hang my hope during this covid-19 crisis. We need more tests. More masks. More sanitizer. More shelter-in-place orders. In my desperate searching, I forget: My only true hope lies with you. As crucial as more tests, masks, sanitizer, and shelter-in-place orders are in our fight against this virus, You are the only One who can save us.

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.

Do my actions show that I fear You or covid-19 more? Do I focus more on washing my hands and disinfecting my home than I do calling on you for help in this time of need? Remind me, Lord, even as I do the practical things to protect myself and my loved ones, to pray and bring specific requests to you. My list is so very long, but You hear each and every one.

It’s so scary to watch the news, Father. People are suffering in terrible and numerous ways. So I turn to Your Word to be reminded what You say about hope. And I find a little treasure. You tell us a sure place we can fix our hope: Your steadfast love. In the midst of these dark days, help me to hope in Your steadfast love. Nothing can change Your steadfast love for us.

Romans 8:35-39

            Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

            No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

10 Tips If You're Suddenly Schooling at Home

Like many of you who were thrust into educating your children at home in the last week or so, I became a homeschool mom overnight when we adopted three children ages 8, 6, and 5.

In my enthusiasm, I learned a few things the hard way. Here are my top 10 lessons:

  1. Don’t try to re-create the classroom. There are a gazillion reasons not to. Most importantly, this is not the time to burn yourself out. Isn’t the COVID-19 crisis enough to manage on its own?
  2. Don’t stress about standardized testing for your elementary and junior high students. Besides this being a year when things simply must be evaluated differently, your children can progress without textbooks and highly-structured instruction. How do I know this? Our second year homeschooling, we decided to build a house and do most of the work ourselves. Crazy, I know. We only did school for about 90 minutes each day—and an hour of that was independent reading. We also did timed math fact worksheets. That was about it. When they were tested at the end of the year, I was more than just a little nervous. But guess what? They did fantastic. In fact, my second oldest son did so well he could’ve skipped a grade.
  3. Read aloud nutrient-dense books to your children. The very best way to encourage a love for reading is to read great books to your children. Some of our favorite authors (in order from young audiences to older ones) Sandra Boynton, Laura Ingalls Wilder, E. B. White, and C. S. Lewis. Some nonfiction favorites were Charles Ludwig and Geoff and Janet Benge. Don’t expect your kids to sit still while you read. Sure, you probably need to put a lid on distracting behavior. For us read aloud time was a time when our children drew with colored pencils or markers or played with Legos
  4. Structured learning can stifle natural curiosity. We frequently took breaks from our curriculum to let each child pursue their own interests. This is the perfect place to start if you were just thrust into the world of home education. When your child has a natural curiosity about something, you won’t have to push.  
  5. Play is learning. Please don’t underestimate this one. If your child seems stressed by this crazy world we entered in 2020, consider imaginary play with stuffed animals or action figures. Through play, children will sometimes voice worries that they otherwise keep to themselves. If they do, you speak words of comfort and calmness through their favorite teddy bear or doll as well as help them come up with coping strategies.
  6. Do something fun everyday. Laughter really is the best medicine. How do you want your kids to look back on this crisis? This is the perfect time to demonstrate how to embrace peace in stressful times. Bake cookies. Play board games. Go on nature walks. Look through old family pictures.
  7. Keep a journal. Someday this will all be behind us. A journal will be a special keepsake in years to come (and another reason to have fun!). I purchased this journal for my grandson. Each morning I ask him to tell me about something we did the day before, and I write down what he says, correcting grammar as necessary. After he’s done dictating, I read it to him. Then he colors a picture in the blank space at the top. He loves for me to read him previous entries.
  8. Create a photo album to record this unique time. Shutterfly and Blurb are two of my favorite sites. Consider taking pictures of journal entries to include in your album. Depending on the age of your child, you may want to screenshot a few news headlines as well.
  9. Draw near to the Lord. And teach your children how. Read the Bible each day. Memorize a pertinent verse. Act out Bible stories. Pray! A bit of caution here: don’t overwhelm young children with all of the concerns you are taking to the Lord right now. Depending on their age, emotional maturity, and stress level, it might be best to just focus on one or two prayer requests.
  10. Focus on creating routines that will make life manageable for you. Divide up the chore list. Even a four-year old can push this mop around. If an orderly home is important to your sanity, establish regular times through the day to pick up. Generally, before lunch and before supper are good times to put things away. For young children, alternating activities every 30-45 minutes can keep them engaged and interested.

I pray all my readers enjoy the Lord’s peace and steadfast love during this time. If you have other suggestions or questions, please comment!

Also, I would love to hear what your favorite books are for children.

A Path to Peace

Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:4-7

For the last 35 years, I’ve read, studied, and clung to these words. Today they are as new and fresh to me as if I had never heard them.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”

Rejoice today? Yes, today. The repetition is needed. Tell me again. Rejoice.

“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.”

As stress and pressures mount, what an excellent filter for my words and actions: reasonableness.

“The Lord is at hand…”

Ah, both accountability and comfort sandwiched here as a hinge for two great truths to rest upon. Lord, I answer to you whether I am being reasonable or not. You are at hand. You see my actions. You hear my words.

“…do not be anxious about anything…”

And because You are here, I need not be anxious about anything. Interesting, isn’t it? Most of my unreasonableness is fueled by my anxieties. When that inward prick pierces, perhaps it’s time to evaluate. What are the anxieties behind my unreasonableness? How can I take my anxieties to the Lord?

“…but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

You invite me to Yourself. You invite me to depend on You. But if I come with demands, kicking and screaming, I miss the point of Your invitation. Today, I will approach You with thankfulness, because yes, I have so very much to be grateful for.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Your peace is conditional here. It rests on me doing two things: Being thankful and letting my requests be made known to God. Oh, how my heart and mind need to be guarded today! Give me eyes to see all your blessings today. Strengthen me to pause, to shut off the noise of the news, and to truly count all these blessings. And as each worry pops into my mind, grant me the wisdom to pluck it before it takes root and to turn that worry in a prayer of dependence upon You.


My grandson’s face scrunched up as he twisted the plastic Easter egg. Pop! A huge smile spread across his face, and he held out his hand so I could see what was inside.

            “A donkey!” he said, bouncing across the couch.

            As I read Benjamin’s Box aloud, this energetic 4-year-old could hardly wait to see what surprise each new page (and egg!) held.

            But dread was building in me. I knew where this story was going: Jesus dying on the cross.

            How would my favorite little tow-headed, brown-eyed boy take this? Thankfully, this wasn’t his first time hearing how Jesus died for our sins. But still the lump built in my throat. In the last few weeks, I had been reminded rather acutely of my sin and my need for Jesus to die on the cross.

            Swallowing hard, I turned the page. The artist wisely showed Jesus hanging on the cross on a distant hill.

            I read the words quickly hoping not to linger.

            “Wait!” My grandson pressed his chubby hand down onto the page that I was flipping. “I want to look at Jesus on the cross.”

            Let’s hurry to the empty tomb, I thought. That’s where we’ll slow down and listen to the angel say, “He is risen!”

            But he bent closer and studied the picture for a very long time. Tears pooled in my eyes.

            Why am I in such a hurry to skip past Jesus on the cross?

            Truth is, I’m ashamed of my sin that nailed him to the cross. Still, that’s no reason to hurry past the cross. In fact, that’s the very reason to stop … and to see the love that constrained Him there as He took my punishment.

            While my grandson leaned in for a better view and I struggled to look with him, the words to Before the Throne of God came to mind:

When Satan tempts me to despair

And tells me of the guilt within

Upward I look and see Him there

Who made an end of all my sin

Because the sinless Savior died

My sinful soul is counted free

For God the Just is satisfied

To look on Him and pardon me.

            It’s hard. But let’s Wait! At the foot of the cross is a great place to hang out for a while. No social distancing required.

            And if we stop and stay long enough, our shame will flee and we will see the love flowing from Jesus’s eyes.

Resurrection Eggs are a great way to tell the Easter story. Here’s our favorite:


yellow and black butterfly

The summer before I started first grade is a black hole in the galaxy of my childhood memories. The previous spring, I had been a carefree kid chasing the ice cream truck down our street in the Mississippi Delta and dissecting frogs with the neighborhood gang. That fall I was a timid little girl in Miss Kerr’s first grade classroom 140 miles away on the black prairie. I only know that somewhere in there, my parents divorced.

My first-grade teacher, Miss Kerr, wore simple gingham dresses and no make-up. Her gray hair was cut short, and her shoes looked like something she could wear on a hike across many fields. The other first grade teacher at our small school always dressed stylishly with fine jewelry draped around her neck. I’m not sure how the powers-that-be decided to put me in Miss Kerr’s classroom. But the good Lord knew I needed a down-to-earth farmwoman that first year of elementary school.

Miss Kerr descended from a long line of no-nonsense folks, and she and her sister ran a farm out in the boonies of Clay County. During the first few weeks of school, Miss Kerr took her students to roam the gentle hills of their farm in search of milkweed plants and monarch caterpillars. We brought our finds back to the classroom in mason jars. Slowly the milkweed leaves disappeared, and shiny chrysalises formed on the remaining stalks. We waited for the butterflies to emerge.

Meanwhile, Miss Kerr was busy tending transformations of her own. After morning prayers and the pledge, we watched Spot run through our readers, then we worked addition problems on purple-inked pages fresh off the mimeograph. Day after day passed in this way. Prayers, pledge, Spot, math quizzes, … and chrysalis forever hanging by a tiny thread. The predictable routine somewhat eased my homesickness for carefree days and Dad.

Then one day while reading a story aloud, Miss Kerr asked if anyone understood what it meant to jump headfirst. I don’t remember raising my hand, but within minutes Miss Kerr had hoisted me to the top of the coat rack and beckoned me to demonstrate. I stood speechless. Her arms were open wide. She urged me to be brave, but I flattened myself to the wall as if I could glue myself there. Her coaxing reached deaf ears. All I could see was a little old lady with a crazy idea and a classroom of kids who were going to have to figure for themselves what headfirst meant.

A couple of weeks later, bright orange monarchs finally unraveled from their cocoons. We took our jars to the playground and lifted the lids. They barely seemed capable of flapping their wings at first, much less flying. Miss Kerr stood watching, a confident smile spread across her face. She knew they would find the strength. And she wanted us to witness the miracle.

Winter Sun

Your beams stretch,
	Arms beckoning,
		a final embrace as you bid adieu.
	Reaching, leaning, tilting
		You scatter color
			across the bleak horizon.

Then you are gone.
	Longing fills.
		Cold darkness envelopes.
             		I forget.

My alarm pulses.
	Shuffling through routine with half open eyes,
          	Morning tea in hand,
		I pull back the curtain.
	I wasn’t looking for you,
           	But there you are.
             		Waiting for me to behold.
                            	Your quiet grandeur
					whispered in hues of pink and purple.
      	I stand and listen with rapt attention.
		And suddenly, I awake.

Leash in hand, I walk Curiosity—
       The chase is on.
    		Weaving through bare trees
			you pursue,
                        Streaming brilliance.
        Stopping in my tracks,
		I think of night.
                  	And already I miss you.

Your arms stretch,
	Across beams,
		no final embrace as you bid adieu.
	Reaching, leaning, tilting
            	You scatter crimson
			across bleakness within.
Then night comes.
            Longing fills.
                        Cold darkness envelopes.
                                    I forget.

My hunger pushes.
	I shuffle through my days with half open eyes.
	You pull back the curtain.
		I am not looking for you,
                	But there you are,
                        	Waiting for me to behold.
                       			Your quiet grandeur
					whispers in hues of love and peace.
                        I stand and listen with rapt attention.
                                    And suddenly, I awaken.

The Day is at hand, I walk forward.
  	The chase is on.
        	Weaving through barren places
			you pursue,
                        	Streaming brilliance.
	Stopping in my tracks,
		I think of night.
			And already I know
				You will never leave.