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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.

Thursday, February 13

How Do Other Parents Seem To Have Their Act So… Together?

Chatter, chatter, chatter… that dialogue that runs like a never-ending tickertape in the back of our minds. That chatter can be especially loud and consuming when it comes to how we view our parenting skills.

I mean really, have you ever mentally beaten yourself up and wondered, “how do other parents seem to have their act so… together?”

It’s a lonely place to be. But here’s an encouragement: we aren’t the only ones who have those kind of thoughts… and we have the power to stop them.

My pastor, Steven Furtick, is sharing some of his honest, hard parenting moments with us today. He’s also sharing some great pieces of wisdom to help set us free from the negative inside chatter in our minds.

(If you are reading this blog from your email, you may need to click here to see the video.)

Don’t miss the limited time “buy one get one free” deal for Crash the Chatterbox that I mentioned in the video! For more information, click here.

I’m so grateful that Pastor Steven joined us this week. If you’re just popping in, and didn’t see the other interviews, click here for day one and here for day two.

And I’m doing one final giveaway of Crash the Chatterbox – three commenters will be chosen as winners. To enter, leave a comment below telling me your biggest takeaway from today’s interview.

Friday, January 17

10 Prayers For Your Daughter

There is something I’ve come to realize I need to guard against as a mom. I sometimes want to be God in my kids’ lives.

I want to write their stories.

I want to set the courses of their futures.

I want to determine what’s best for them.

I want to prevent them from ever being hurt.

I want to be their provider and protector.

And I want to be the one to set anyone straight who messes with my kids.

Can you relate on any level? I think most moms can. We love these people entrusted to us more than we ever knew possible. And despite all the infant sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, tween eye rolling, and the teen decisions that break our heart slap in two… they are ours. To love. To lead. To launch.

And we want to make it all good.

But then things happen so beyond our control we eventually have to face the reality that we aren’t God. And we can’t operate like we are.

So what do we do with that gap where our mommy capabilities end and trusting God begins? I want to trust God with everything beyond my control with my kids but it’s so scary. It feels so risky.

And scary and risky are two words us moms don’t want as part of our kids’ lives.

So, how do we deepen our trust in God? How do we make peace with the limits of what we can and cannot protect them from? What do we do with the risky and scary feelings that can make a mom lose sleep at best and feel crazed with fear at worst?

We must fill that gap with the only thing that bridges the space between our limitations and our trust in God… prayer.

I know, I know – that can sound like such a cliché Christian answer. Typical. Too hyper-spiritual. Not the answer we want sometimes.

But prayer is the only possibility with real possibility.

Earlier this week my friend, Brooke McGlothlin, wrote an article I posted on Scriptural prayers for boys. Today, I want to post some specific Scriptural prayers for our girls.

I’ve prayed these and I’ve seen amazingly powerful things happen in the lives of my daughters.

I can still fret and worry and want to mess with anyone who messes with my girls.

My girls still make mistakes, and cross lines, and give the principal reasons to call me.

But where would we all be if the power of prayer wasn’t in the mix of our lives?

And what might these prayers be working out for their futures that I won’t see for years to come?

Yes, prayer is the only possibility with real possibility. And that brings me to the place where I can finally say… “Hello, my name is Mom. Not God.”

10 Prayers For Your Daughter

10 Powerful Prayers to Help You Fight for the Heart of Your Daughter:

1. Give my daughter a deep desire to listen to You, Lord, and pray often, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” (Joshua 5:14b).

2. Let her learn early in life that to obey You, God, is the best way to the life her heart truly desires, (1 Samuel 15:22).

3. May she find comfort in Your ability, God, to reach her, hold her, and rescue her, (2 Samuel 22:17-18).

4. May she please You, Lord, by desiring, asking for, and utilizing a discerning heart full of wisdom, (1 Kings 3:9-12).

5. Let her find confidence in You, God, even when hard times come and she doesn’t know what to do, by keeping her eyes fixed on You, (2 Chronicles 20:12).

6. Give her a great desire to accept Your word, God, and store up Your commands within her so her ears will turn to Your wisdom, (Proverbs 2:1-2).

7. May she keep herself under control and not give full vent to people and situations that anger her, (Proverbs 29:11).

8. Give her the ability to rise above the traps of people pleasing so she can be kept safe by trusting You, Lord, (Proverbs 29:25).

9. Let her walk in the security of Your assigned worth to her. Give her a strong work ethic and health to accomplish all her tasks. Give her a heart that desires to extend her hand to those in need. Protect her for the right husband, a man of respect and godly honor. And let her be a woman of joy and laughter whose Christ-centered character is what makes her most beautiful, (Proverbs chapter 31).

10. And every time you, Jesus, whisper, “Follow me” she does so with great grace, (Matthew 4:19).

Today, I’m giving five commenting blog friends a copy of the book I wrote with my daughter, What Happens When Young Women Say Yes to God. To enter, leave a comment below.

(For “10 Powerful Prayers to Help You Fight for the Heart of Your Son” click here.)