Pumpkin Fun

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Do your kids think that pumpkins come from Walmart?  If so, a trip to the pumpkin patch might be a good activity this fall.

We live in an entertainment-rich culture.  From tablets to bounce houses, the world is a playground.  But sometimes it is nice to do a simple activity as a family.  One of our fall traditions is a trip to the pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkins.  We have done this for years, and it is something we all look forward to.  As a farm boy who is transplanted into the city, I love to get my kids out to experience agriculture.  I want them to understand where food is grown, and I want them to enjoy vigorous activity that sometimes involves mud or dust.

What kind of memories do you enjoy making with your family?  How do you connect them to nature and our agrarian heritage?  What are your favorite fall activities?

Enjoy pumpkins?  Here is our post from a few years ago:


Here is our post about shining Christ’s light at Halloween.





Holiest Week With Your Kids

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Traditionally this is called Holy Week, which is a great name for it.  “Holy” is the only word that can begin to describe what Jesus did for us 2,000 years ago.  But I would challenge you that this week is not the only week that is holy.  Every week can be holy.  If our year is a song, holy week is the crescendo of the chorus, which is followed by many more verses of quieter, but equally beautiful music.

Holy means ‘set apart,’ or ‘consecrated.’  Next week when your daughter gets an A+ on her math test, that is an opportunity to make something holy.  When your son is terrified of going to bed in a dark room, you can make that holy.  When you lose your temper and yell at the kids for goofing off instead of doing what you told them to do, there is holiness there too.  When you invite God into a situation, you make it holy.  When you talk about Who He is, what He has done for you, who we are in Him, and what we can do as a response, that makes it holy.

Every week is holy, if you are purposeful.

Here are some resources to make set aside this week and make it holy with your family.

Passover and Easter Fun

Crafts, food, activities and more!

April Storytime – Easter Week

Great stories and activities with your kids.

Passover With Your Kids – Simplified

Passover is an amazing tradition that reminds us of our heritage.  This is the ‘short version’ for you and your kids.

These 5 posts go a little bit deeper:

Passover: Deep Meanings Behind the Tradition

Passover From Moses to Me

Passover Meal – How To

Passover: The 4 Cups

Passover: The Seder Plate

Uncomfortable, Humble, Stinky, Beautiful Servant Leadership

Before the last Supper, Jesus showed us what “leadership” truly means.

Why We Celebrate Holidays

We love holidays – here’s why!

Lent – Another Chance to Get Beyond the Blur

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Have you ever stared out the side window of a car?  Even if you are only going 35 mph, the scenery is a blur.  No matter how hard you try to focus, your eyes can’t keep up.  Trees and signs and houses all go past you in an indistinct mix of shapeless colors.

Sometimes life feels like that.

I’m sure that every age has considered themselves busy, but I think that this generation has taken it to a new level.  Never before has it been so easy to sign up for everything and focus on nothing.  If we don’t say “No” five times a day then we will find ourselves enrolled in more events and opportunities than our calendar can handle.  And so, life becomes a blur.

Only by purposefully slowing down and focusing on what is important are we able to escape this rat race.  This change of focus is like looking through the front windshield instead of the side window.  By focusing our eyes on things far ahead of us, we will notice that the scenery slows down.

Paradoxically, by looking farther in the distance we see the important things more clearly.  

For Christians, Resurrection Sunday, aka Easter, is the high point of the year.  Don’t let its significance get lost in the urgency of the daily routine.

Spend some time in the next 40 days to focus your mind on Easter so that you can get beyond the blur.


Related Posts and Other Thoughts:

“Part of celebration is anticipation.”

-Pastor Phil Ellsworth


Lent: From 60 to Zero

How good are your brakes? Let’s slow our lives down as we approach Easter – we don’t want to miss it!

Lent:  A Family Tradition

Irenaeus celebrated Lent.  Do you?  Everyone knows that the pace of life gets out of control sometimes .  Lent is one way to take back control and slow down.  What are you planning to do?


When life’s pace pulls you along like whitewater rapids, what do you do to stop and focus?

Why We Celebrate Holidays

For those of you who are forgetful, distractible, and need to be entertained…have I got a deal for you!

Slowing Down at Christmas

Is it a fairy tale to think that you can slow down at Christmas?  Here are a few ideas and compromises we have made to take the hectic out of the holidays:

Christmas:  The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Recap)

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Thanksgiving to New Year’s is the most fun, crazy, busy, meaningful part of our year.  We love Christmas!  Our blog reflects this…60 posts mention Christmas so far!

Here are some that we hope you will enjoy!

OPL: Slowing Down At Christmas

OPL: Fun Christmas Activities

OPL: Christmas Crafts

OPL: Christmas Treats

OPL: 12 Days of Christmas

OPL: Christmas Day

OPL: Merry Christmas

OPL: Epiphany

OPL Christmas Gift Ideas:

Toddlers to Early Elementary

Books, Games, and Videos

Buck Denver


For Grown-ups

For Husband


Hanukkah: 8 Days of Light in 400 Years of Darkness

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It’s 166 BC.  Imagine you are an Israelite who loves God.  It has been years, no, generations since God has been heard.  No messages to a prophet. No visions to a priest.  No revelation to a king.  No angels appearing.  Nothing.  Imagine the feeling of hopelessness.  Imagine the doubts that would creep in:  “Has God abandoned us?  Does He care?  Will we hear from Him again?”

Wouldn’t you have been worried?  Were God’s chosen people somehow no longer chosen? Continue Reading…

Kansas City Christmas Lights Tour

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Christmas Place

The Christmas Lights tour is one of our family’s favorite Christmas traditions. We changed things up a little this year and added a few new ones. We also updated our directions and notes from last year’s tour.  This is a great activity to enjoy with your family, so we wanted to share it with you.

Detailed Directions and Notes:  | Kansas City Christmas Lights Tour   PDF_Picture  | 

We pack a supper and a ton of snacks, pile into the car and hit the road. This year’s Tour de Johnson County was a 4-hour journey of 60 miles, so it requires a lot of snacks for the kids (and my husband)!  (We live about 5 miles from stop #1, and we didn’t stay at each music light stop for their full show.)  If you are not excited for such a marathon, you can break it up into 2-3 shorter nights or you can just pick and choose which ones your family will enjoy most.  We pack healthy food and not so healthy food. We eat it in courses. Only one food item comes out between stops so that we do not run out after stop number 3 and we don’t get car sick from eating too fast. I took a mini water bottle and one mini pop bottle for each kid and that wasn’t quite enough for some of them. We did have to take one potty break.

One extra tip- get gas earlier in the day or the day before. It was a bummer to have to stop and get gas in the middle of the tour.

Let us know if there is another light display in KC that we should add to our list. We are always looking to add new stops!

What is your family’s favorite Christmas tradition?

Check out ideas from previous years:

Christmas Activities

Christmas Lights Tour

Learn more about OPL’s love of Christmas by clicking here.  And don’t forget to follow us by email by putting your email address in the Subscribe box on the right.  One step and you’re done!


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Advent starts this Sunday!

Christmas is quickly approaching, and I don’t know about you, but I always find it hard to slow down and enjoy each moment of the holidays. One way I have found to make sure we get a little Jesus into our holiday season is to pick out an advent calendar and do it throughout the month. I have long ago given up on the idea that we will do every single day and every single activity it suggests, but even with a missed day here and there it is one of my favorite things to do this time of year.

You may already have your own family traditions and if so, continue to do those.  But if you don’t have any or are wanting to switch it up a bit here are our Advent printables for you to use with your family:

FirstSundayAdvent SecondSundayAdvent ThirdSundayAdvent FourthSundayAdvent

Here are some other neat options that I have come across. (The explanation paragraph is taken from each website since they can do a better job of explaining their stuff than me.) Continue Reading…

Boldly Wrong

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Strange picture, huge purpose, passionate drive

I hate being wrong.

I think over the years I have linked “being right” to my value and self-worth.  Everyone creates their inner ‘this is who I am and this is what I do,’ and I think this is part of mine.  The tragic flaw in this logic is that if I am awesome when I am right then I am not awesome when I am wrong.  So being wrong becomes equal to failure, which must be avoided at all costs.  And that, my friend, is no way to go through life.

So that brings me to Columbus.  Columbus was wrong.  He believed that the earth was small enough that he could safely sail around the back and wind up in the East Indies.  He not only believed it in his head, he took bold and courageous action.  He bravely sailed into the great unknown and risked it all.  One problem, the ‘short cut’ was not as short as he expected, and there was a giant land mass in the way.  He was very wrong.  But by being wrong, he got something unimaginably right.     Continue Reading…


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Every Day

We are to shine brightly each and every day. Halloween gives us a great opportunity to shine our light in the midst of the darkness of ghosts, vampires and witches. Whether your church reaches out to the community with a fall festival or you provide a safe and fun place at your home, get out this Halloween and love on your neighbors. Don’t be afraid to share about your Savior’s incredible news!

Here are some ideas:


  1. Provide non-candy items such as tattoos, bouncy balls, bookmarks, pencils, play-doh, or glow sticks
  2. Provide allergy free candy: Peanut Free Candy or Gluten Free Candy
  3. Do a craft instead of giving out candy


  1. Pop Goes the Pumpkin
  2. Candy Corn Bean Bag Toss
  3. Candy Corn Ring Toss – take small traffic cones and use duct tape to turn them into candy corn.
  4. Gone Fishing- Either have a tarp that the kids go fishing over or put “fish” in a baby pool with paper clips.
  5. Carnival Game Ideas

Decorate your Trunk

  1. 21 Clever Ideas
  2. Daniel and the Lions Den
  3. Jonah and the Whale
  4. Bible Stories
  5. Nursery Rhymes
  6. Historical Events
  7. Disney Characters or Stories
  8. Theme that goes with Bible Verse

Ways to Spread the Good News

  1. God is Three in One– using a candy corn
  2. Salvation Message– using a Pumpkin

See other ideas on the following posts:

OPL: Halloween Lights

Halloween provides Christians with an amazing opportunity to let our lights shine brightly on an otherwise dark night.  We don’t have to  hide from this wonderful opportunity. Go out and be among the people, whether it is at your church or in your own neighborhood. Take the opportunity to show love to some people who you may otherwise never meet.  Be a light!!

OPL: Pumpkin Patch

It’s fall, so it is time to go to the pumpkin patch. Read about our favorite one, see our carved pumpkins, and get a recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds.


Learn more about OPL’s take on holidays by clicking on the Family – Holidays menu.  And don’t forget to follow us by email by putting your email address in the Subscribe box on the right.  One step and you’re done!

Don’t forget to follow us by email by putting your email address in the Subscribe box on the right.  One step and you’re done!

My God, the Kindergarten Teacher

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How do I say this in a way that isn’t blasphemous?  We serve a, um, unique God!

To be completely honest, I think He is just plain unpredictable at times.  Want proof?  God sets up a series of celebrations and ceremonies each year, most of them including feasts and fasts and sacrifices.  Normal religious stuff.  But one of them includes everyone in His nation building little tents and shelters and living in them.  For a week!  Arts and crafts as part of the Torah?  What?

I can only imagine how the dialogue might have gone:  Continue Reading…

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