From the Director 

The Director’s Desk October 2020

The Director’s Desk October 2020

Don’t miss the beauty and wonder of this moment. There are SEVEN weeks left of this beautiful fall season, so here are SEVEN fun things you can do on your own or with the people you love.

Go APPLE Crazy…Embrace the favorite fruit of fall!  Make homemade candy apples – Apple crisp, apple chips, apple sauce, apple cider, or apple slices with caramel sauce. Yum Yum!

Pumpkins for everyone…Paint them, carve them, or cook them up. With pumpkins, your only limit is your imagination. From roasted pumpkin seeds to pumpkin bars, pumpkin soup, or even pumpkin ice cream – there are endless possibilities for eating, decorating, and enjoying this fantastic gourd.

Roast s’mores…Chocolate, Marshmallows, and gram crackers make smiles instantly appear. Whether you enjoy your marshmallows slightly roasted or fully charred, these fall treats can be made in the back yard, with a tabletop s’more maker, or over the stove.

Friday Night Football with a twist…We may not be able to enjoy a friendly game of high school or college football in person this fall, but on Friday night, there is still room for family football fun.  Pop up some popcorn, grab a warm blank and help the kids snuggle in and enjoy these positive, family-friendly classics: The Blind Side (PG-13), Rudy (PG), and Remember the Titans (PG).

Leaf Peepers Quad Cities style…Watching the leaves change this time of year is as easy as grabbing your comfy car clothes and a tank of gas. Hit the road for a few hours and check out the beautiful fall colors at one of these local state parks: Mississippi Palisades (IL), Castle Rock (IL), Maquoketa Caves (IA), or Geode State Park (IA).

Take a Hike…Lace up your walking shoes and a hoodie and get outside before the snow arrives!  Walk the river, walk your ‘hood, or check out a city park near you. Now is the time to stretch your legs, enjoy nature, and experience some fresh air before we all huddle up by the fireplace for winter.

Stargaze at night…Cool, clear, and crisp fall nights reveal some of God’s most amazing nighttime wonders! So, grab a blanket, a cup of hot cocoa, and your favorite person and go check out the stars in your own back yard.

The Director’s Desk August 2020

Life is moving at warp speed. Information overload is our new daily normal; “adapt and pivot” is the catch phrase of 2020. In the midst of this, the effects of “hurriedness” have been on my heart as I seek to love God and lead others well.

Recently, I was encouraged to step away from the office for a couple of days and participate in the Global Leadership Summit (GLS). At the GLS, world class authors, pastors, and Christian leaders instruct and inspire Jesus-loving women and men. It’s no surprise then, that the speaker who focused on pace – the speed in which we travel through life – resonated deeply and continues to inspire and challenge me.

Pastor Michael Todd spoke with power and transparency on The Pace of Leadership. Pastor Todd began with a simple but profound statement of truth: Jesus accomplished world changing ministry in 3 years, and Jesus was never hurried. Let that sink in for just a minute. In scripture Jesus was never rushed, never short tempered with the hurt and broken, and never shackled to the demands of a calendar. Jesus always had time: the time to pray; the time to mentor, the time to heal, the time to be present and in the moment.

Maybe you are a little bit like me. In the midst of life’s crazy demands, it can be easy to get out of step, off pace, and hurried. A hurried pace is not healthy or sustainable long-term. Eventually, a hurried pace will sap our energy, steal our joy, and negatively impact how we treat the people we love the most. It can leave us emotionally numb, missing little life moments as they happen, and blind to the mini and major miracles that happen around us every day. This is not the pace that Jesus spoke of when he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest” in Matthew 11.

Pastor Todd reminds us all that a healthy pace allows for productive work, passionate worship, and genuine rest. A healthy pace is sustainable long-term. It includes time for work AND family, ministry AND rest, recreation AND fun. It allows for margins in our life to enjoy the life we have now, in this moment, with these people. A healthy pace lets us slow down, declutter, and unschedule. It provides the opportunity to experience moments, make new memories and witness miracles that happen every day. A healthy pace. It’s radical. It’s counterculture. It’s exactly what Jesus did. Thanks Pastor Todd – that’s just the reminder and the challenge that I need.

The Director’s Desk July 2020

The Director’s Desk July 2020

Well, here we are. It’s the middle of July and we all are looking for creative, exciting, and safe things to pass the time. While 2020 is sure to be unforgettable, here are 16 ideas that you and the family can try out in the home stretch of our summer days…

Fun for the Family

  • Family Game Night:Have a weekly game night and take turns choosing! The 2020 hit at the Wilson house is Taco, Cat. Goat, Cheese, Pizza – a card game for the adventurous! Think about a cross between uno and spoons with random charades mixed in 😊
  • Family Movie on Friday Night:Show a movie on your biggest screen and make sure everyone has some popcorn or Rice Krispies Treats.
  • Go to the drive-in:It’s date night in the car, and you can bring your own fantastic snacks. Bluegrass Iowa, Delmar Iowa, and Galesburg Illinois are 3 relatively close locations with drive-in theaters.
  • Virtual Family Scavenger Hunt: Set up a Zoom meeting with friends and family near and far. Create a virtual scavenger hunt list (all things that should be found in the house), screen share the list, and GO! The first person to gather and display the items wins.
  • Virtual would You Rather? Zoom or FaceTime the extended family and have conversations that will leave you laughing and shaking your head. Create your own questions or find some “family friendly” ones online.

Fun Outdoors

  • Camp out in your backyard: Pitch a tent in the backyard and enjoy clean and close bathrooms!
  • Become a birdwatcher – It can be a fun hobby for kids of all ages. Go wild and get a bird feeder…it does help in attracting the birds!
  • Take a Hike – Check out Centennial Park, Sunderbruch Park Trail, the Duck Creek Trail, Scott County Park or Wildcat Den State Park in Iowa. Go explore Sylvan Island, the Black Hawk Forrest, Illiniwek Forest Preserve, the Loud Thunder Forest Preserve, or the Schwiebert Riverfront Park in Illinois.
  • Let’s have a picnic:Picnic or grill in the backyard. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be fun. Go crazy and invite the neighbors to a “Front Yard Picnic” – then share smiles, eat food, and stay socially distanced too.
  • Glow-in-the-dark treasure hunt: Nighttime treasure hunting with glow-in-the-dark items can be fun for the whole family

Making Fun Connections – “OLD SCHOOL STYLE”

  • Make a phone call: Parents, grandparents, or a friend whose face you miss. It’s amazing what a difference hearing a friendly voice can make!
  • Notes and Cards: Spelling doesn’t count – so grab a pen and some paper and get started. Make getting the mail the highlight of someone’s day.
  • Bake and Take Day: Make a double batch of your favorite dinner, dessert, or batch of cookies. Keep half for yourself and bless a neighbor or a friend with the gift of prepared food. PS…Pregnancy Resources loves cookies 😊
  • Question a day:If the grandparents live far away, let those grandbabies connect with an emailed, texted, or messaged question a day. It’s a great way to pass down generational stories and smiles at the same time.

Help out your “hood” – invest in those around you…

  • Share the bounty – When you start to harvest your garden (everybody has one it seems) make sure to share your bounty with your neighbors, those single moms and dads you know, and the essential workers who didn’t have the opportunity to plant this year.
  • Neighborhood cookout – Plan a neighborhood front yard gathering. Add music if you can. It is a great time to connect in a different way.