Summer Fun: Journey Across America

"There's no place like home." That's what Dorothy said in my favorite movie, and it's so true. We just returned from a four-day trip to Denver, and while we had a good time, we were all happy to be home. Today, in our summertime "trip" across the U.S., we're coming home to Kansas today. I'm not a native Kansan. I grew up in Boston (go Red Sox!) and Chicago. Before living here, my only impressions of the state were from movies. Wheat fields and tornadoes and gun battles at noon were my only thoughts about Kansas. Living here seemed to this big city girl like it would be a form of punishment. After living here for nearly 15 years, I know that while Kansas is one of the most sparsely populated states in the U.S., it is also a wonderful place to raise my children, and the helpfulness and friendliness of its people can't be beat.

Teaching the kids about a place with which they are all so familiar is a challenge, so today, we're going to focus on the varied history of Kansas. The Kansas state motto is Ad Astra per Aspera, which means To the Stars Through Difficulties. Our focus today is going to be on how the people of Kansas have persevered through difficulty. Our verse for the day is John 16:33, ""I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." We're going to talk about how even when things are tough--when our friends are mean, school is hard and life just seems too difficult--that God is always with us to see us through.

Our activities for the day include figuring out what to take on our covered wagon as we head west for Kansas (your heirloom piano probably won't fit), how to make a house in a land with few trees (in our case, sod and chicken wire to make a sod house), how to defend your home and how to cook over an open fire. We'll touch on the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression and the girls will also learn about segregation and the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. Just for fun, we'll end the day with some karaoke to the songs from The Wizard of Oz.

The important thing for the girls to take home today is that no matter what difficulty they face in their life, God will not abandon them. He is always there, and he offers help, peace and joy, no matter the circumstances. So, westward, ho! Kansas here we come.