Thursday, March 13

Practical Ways to Keep Your Family Connected

The paper plates all worn out from the dinner well enjoyed. The farm table sticky. The new Brussels sprout recipe loved by me but rejected by everyone else. Have mercy. The little sister aggravated to tears by the big sisters. The husband slightly overwhelmed by the female drama.

It’s what I call home. A snapshot from one of our weekly Monday night dinners.

As Mom, I comfort that one whose feelings got hurt while scolding the other two. We navigate lessons in kindness and the power of words and why we must watch the way we treat each other.

A boy’s name is mentioned. This is a kind boy. A boy who loves Jesus and says “yes ma’am” in his deep 20-year-old voice. I like respectful boys. My daughter, the same age, smiles at the mention of him. My husband and I notice. In a matter of minutes we’re all laughing together.

Together.

This beautifully messy band of people I call my own need time together. Space to connect and process. Conversational threads are what make up the fabric of relationships. We must take time. Make time. To talk.

And today, my sweet friends and partners in ministry, Glynnis Whitwer and Karen Ehman are popping in to give practical ways to find this time and maximize it. Take it away, friends…

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As moms of busy children, we know how hard it is to carve out time with family. But in most homes, it is possible to set aside time every week to strengthen your family unity, to turn your hearts toward God, and to have fun in the process.

The key is commitment, consistency, and a small amount of creativity.

Don’t worry about it being exactly right, and don’t compare your family’s plans with anyone else’s. There’s no perfect day, perfect amount of time, or perfect agenda. Maybe your family only has Saturday mornings, or after church on Sundays, or Tuesday nights.

Grab that time and try to make it non-negotiable.

We think it’s always easier to start simply when trying to establish a habit. So don’t set expectations you can’t continue to meet. A little food, a little conversation, some laughter, and you’ve got a memory in the making.

A few years ago, Glynnis met a pastor’s wife at a small church in Louisiana. This grandma of many was discussing her dinner menu for later that day. The guest list numbered around twenty and included children, grandchildren, and a few friends invited into the fold. Was it someone’s birthday? Or anniversary?

“No,” she answered. “It’s just Sunday dinner. We do this every week. It’s how we keep our family connected.”

What a wonderful practice. A simple dinner. A standing invitation. A reason to reconnect with friends and family after a busy week.

What might this look like in your home? The type of food doesn’t matter as much as making enough to feed a few extra friends who might be invited.

Maybe your special family time is you and your husband . . . or maybe it’s a passel of children and grandkids. No matter the size of the gathering, the fanciness of your table, or the spot on the calendar, establishing time together with people you love is worth the investment.

Here are some ideas you can try as you gather your people:

1. Devotional time

Pick a short passage of the Bible to read together. Depending on the ages of your children, take turns coming up with a few discussion questions. Keep this simple to help make the Bible accessible to every member of your family. Close with a short prayer thanking God for His Word and message to you tonight. Pray also for others.

2. Make-your-own _____ night.

Get the family involved in making dinner. One idea is make-your-own pizza. Using French bread or hoagie rolls as your base, set out an assortment of toppings, pizza sauce, and cheese and let everyone assemble their own creation. You might also try a salad bar, sub sandwiches, or Cincinnati chili (with optional five toppings).

3. Board games

Board games can be expensive, but compare their cost with taking your family out to the movies and you might have a new perspective. Some of our favorites include Ticket to Ride, Apples to Apples, and Imaginiff.

4. Arts and crafts

A craft project stimulates creativity and camaraderie. Paint flower pots, color eggs at Easter, decorate cookies at Christmas, or make pinecone bird feeders using peanut butter.

5. Read out loud.

Pick a book to read through as a family. This is a family tradition your children will appreciate (coming from a woman –Glynnis – whose mother read faithfully to her). Some family-friendly selections include The Trumpet of the Swan, The Secret Garden, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and any of the Chronicles of Narnia series.

6. Family sleepover

When Glynnis’ children were small, they’d spread blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows on the floor of the master bedroom for a sleepover. There was something special about ending the night together . . . sort of like a camping experience without the dirt. Karen’s children developed a “Siblings Night” where her three children piled into one room for a parent-free night of snacks, stories and song.

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Everyday Confetti Thank you, Karen and Glynnis! If you like these ideas, you’ll enjoy their newest book, Everyday Confetti. In this go-to guide, they’ll give you planning suggestions and the motivation needed to make time with family more intentional. They provide creative ideas and menu plans for:
• Holidays
• Birthdays
• Special Events
• Everyday Occasions
They’ll also be posting ideas monthly on their blog! Click here to check it out.

And today, I’m giving away 5 copies of Everyday Confetti. For your chance to win, leave a comment below with the one step you’re taking today to keep your family connected.

Wednesday, February 19

I Want To #BEaNOTICER With My Words

Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

We live in a day and time where our rights sometimes take precedence over our pursuit of righteousness.

I can be quick to offer a complaint when things don’t go right. I can be forgetful with my “thank yous” when things go well.

And I am challenged by this.

My husband owns a restaurant. If there was ever a man who cared to the depth of his being about serving his customers well, it’s my man. To him it’s not just about serving a great chicken sandwich. It’s about serving a life. It’s his opportunity to hand them a sandwich with a smile, a kind word, some kind of second mile gesture and, for that brief moment, make their day a little brighter, a little better.

And he never qualifies his kindness.

The grumpy customer gets the same kindness as the happy one.

He inspires me.

He is a man of the rare word.

It’s so easy to extend pleasantries to the person who is treating me right. But what about that moment when things aren’t so right? Might I see even that as an opportunity? An opportunity to reach past my feelings, my comfort zone, my rights and pursue righteousness in that moment?

Might I dare to be a woman of the rare word?

And might I even be so bold as to not just make kindness come out of my mouth but also be the meditation of my heart?

It’s not easy. But it is good.

My rights – make me feel accepted, good, and treated fairly.

My righteousness – my choice to make right choices that honor God daily.

So here’s the challenge I’ve issued myself – find the good.

In every situation, in every interaction, in every day – be a noticer of the good.

In every situation, in every interaction… be a noticed of the good.

Even when the good has nothing to do with the circumstances and everything to do with how God will teach me through them – find the good.

And be a woman who is lavishly expressive of that good… who rarely, rarely, rarely utters the complaint.

This week I’m challenging myself and you, my blog friends, to #BEaNOTICER. (If you missed my first post, click here.) Today’s focus is to be a noticer of others and how we can bring happiness to the lives around us. Who could you lift up today? Maybe it’s simply thanking your cashier at Target by name, sending an encouraging text to a friend, or writing out Scriptures to pray your child through a tough time. Leave your ideas in the comments below.

Whatever you’re doing today to be a noticer, I want to hear about it! If you’re on Instagram or Twitter, post a picture and tag me @LysaTerKeurst using the hashtag… #BEaNOTICER.

Monday, February 17

Learn To Love Your Story – #BEaNOTICER

I stood in my kitchen laughing with one of my kids picking hard macaroni out of the melted cheese in the crockpot. Apparently, noodles like to be boiled beforehand.

About the time I posted an Instagram picture of the dinner fiasco, I heard another daughter upstairs yelling for towels.

It took a minute for it to register why she was panicked. Then I saw the water leaking through my kitchen ceiling. Toilet water.

I ran. No, I flew upstairs yelling, “Turn that silver knob thing behind the toilet. Quick! Turn it so the water will shut off!”

Later that night, our couch-turned-dancing-springboard decided it would no longer tolerate overly energetic snow bound teens. RIP dear couch.

I’d laughed about the noodles. I’d dealt with the toilet water. I’d gotten quite miffed with the couch situation.

Another day.

Another page in what makes this life… my life… a story.

Not so much like the stories of books and big screens.

Those stories are a little more shiny and sexy and seemingly perfect.

Those moms don’t have cellulite probably because they don’t eat mac and cheese. The kitchen ceilings don’t have stains because… well because their kids don’t use too much two-ply toilet paper. And the couches don’t sag beyond repair.

But I love my story. I love my story most of all.

Why? How?

Because I pre-decided today that I would.

I decided I would look at it all through the lens of noticing the rich evidence of life through each mess and mishap.

Did I do it all perfectly? Nope, not at all.

But even if we choose to be noticers with thankful hearts just once today, we’ll start to look at our stories in a different way.

A more beautiful way.

While carrying the wet towels downstairs, I saw this and smiled…

Learn to love your story… be a noticed

I whispered, “Notice. Be a noticer. See all the fun represented here and thank God for these moments.”

Noticers see the lovely before them and learn to love their story.

This week, I’m writing several #BEaNOTICER posts. Today’s focus is to be a noticer in the midst of the messy and mundane. What might happen if you pre-determine to look through the lens of lovely today? Leave me a comment below sharing something you notice.

And if you’re on Instagram or Twitter, post a picture and tag me @LysaTerKeurst using the hashtag…#BEaNOTICER.

Love your story most of all.