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Posts Tagged ‘Chinese Checkers’

I enjoy board games—well, many of them anyway. My sister and I grew up playing endless rounds of Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, Chinese Checkers, Draughts and Monopoly, not to mention Dominos, Pick Up Sticks and a little quiz game called ‘Tell Me’. There were card games too—children’s ones at first such as Donkey, Old Maid, Comic Families and good old Snap, then, later, Coon Can, Euchre and Five Hundred. What fun!

Nowadays, however, children’s games somehow seem to have become trickier—for me at least! Our two younger grandchildren still enjoy their Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly, Dominos and Donkey, but, well … what sort of person would think up such annoying, confusing games as one our ten-year-old grandson introduced me to recently called ‘Exploding Kittens’?! Ugh!

Zain is good at explaining the rules of games and did his best this time around, then patiently continued helping me. Yet it seemed that, whatever card I chose to throw out, something worse happened to me, until our grandson could block my every move. And, of course, I ended up becoming the victim of that dreaded ‘exploding kitten’!

At least this experience was marginally better than the time a few weeks ago when Zain tried to teach me how to play chess. We gave him his chess set for Christmas—and, suddenly, he has taken to it in a big way, strategically plotting his moves ahead of time. Meanwhile, I had to be told over and over the names of the various pieces and what they are allowed and not allowed to do! No wonder I ended up cornered in this game as well, with nowhere to go.  

At times, life can be like that too, can’t it? For whatever reason, sometimes we find ourselves in a real-life board game situation where we can feel quite cornered, even powerless, with very few options available to us. Perhaps we end up stuck in some exhausting job or ongoing argument or draining relationship or debilitating health challenge where there seems to be no way out. And that can be very hard indeed.

I remember a time years ago when I was employed in a demanding teaching job which left me feeling exhausted and trapped. I knew I had to keep going to help pay our mortgage at the time, but each Sunday, my heart sank, as I thought of the week ahead. In the end, God graciously provided a way out for me and into an editing job I loved. Yet it does not always happen like that, does it? Sometimes in life, there is no way of escape provided. Instead, we have to press on, doing our best to remain positive, as we look to God for the strength and courage we need. And God is surely right there beside us and in us, comforting and encouraging us, even as we walk through those deep, dark valleys—and will be forever.

Whatever your situation and however cornered you feel right now, I pray you will sense our strong Shepherd’s hand on your shoulder today and know again his deep love and compassion for you.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. Psalm 23:4 NLT

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Jo 12Whenever we mind our two young grandchildren after school at their home, we go armed with various games, plus something yummy for afternoon tea, of course! On top of that, they have an amazing variety of games and toys and books of their own available. There is a great playground nearby where we can head too. And another option is watching TV, but it is rarely one they choose. Anyway, we can never find the remote!

Each week, we wonder what game or idea will grab them. Will our grandson tackle the ‘Expert’ level of our own son’s ‘Rush Hour’ puzzle again? Will he want to increase his skills at Chinese Checkers, a new game to him? Will our granddaughter beat me at Uno again or play that old card game ‘Donkey’? Or will she want to play ‘Trouble’, a morphed version of Ludo that we loved to play as children?

This past week, however, I was floored when our granddaughter Maxine did not want to do or play anything we suggested. Instead, she chose an imaginary game of her own, with imaginary goodies and baddies—and oh so much imaginary action that stunned me. I was invited/told to sit in a certain spot while she, the heroine, came to my aid after some horrible, imaginary person stole my purse. And, as I looked at her big, trusting, brown eyes, willing me to join in with all my heart, how could I do otherwise? There was much wailing and gesticulating and explaining, as she assured me she knew who the baddies were and would find my money. And to her satisfaction, she did—although I was left wondering where on earth the various story-lines she invented were taking us!

How could she possibly think up such things? Even the names she gave her imaginary characters were intriguing, with some being different people with the same name, just to trick us! For me, the whole experience provided an amazing insight into the intricacies of a child’s wonderful, fertile, unspoilt imagination where everything was possible and where Maxine knew, as the heroine, that she would win through in the end.

It seems a shame that, as the years pass, such joyful imagination tends to be squashed out of us, don’t you think, as we mature and become more logical and pragmatic? So often too, we lose that childlike sense of wonder and excitement I saw in Maxine’s eyes as I played her game with all the enthusiasm and imagination I could muster. And what about our childlike sense of trust that invites grandmothers to join in such games and is positive she will know what to do and say next? How easily that can disappear too!

We all need to grow up and manage our lives well. And we all need to grow and mature in our faith in God too and put childish ways of thinking behind us, as the Apostle Paul explains (1 Corinthians 13:11). Nevertheless, on one occasion, Jesus called a little child to join him and said the following:

I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

Imagine what our world would be like if more of us became humble children again and truly believed. Just imagine!

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