25 Intentional Ways to Enjoy Fall With Your Family

Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love everything about the changing colors, the cooler weather, the comfort food, and any excuse to wear boots. Oh, and I enjoy being outdoors with my family. The days are long, but the years are short. Let’s make them count. Here are 25 meaningful ways to enjoy them (some affiliate links included):

25 Intentional ways to enjoy fall with your family

  1. Our number one favorite fall activity for one-on-one time? We lay in this together. Oh my goodness. Every family needs a giant hammock. But an old blanket in the yard will work too. It’s the perfect place to whisper and read books and be together.
  2. Go on a walk, hunt for leaves, acorns and fall flare
  3. Get outside-toss a football or chase each other. We gave this very fun outdoor game to my husband for his birthday. It’s a favorite for all ages!
  4. Create this [framed leaf art] or make a nature garland with your finds.
  5. Have each family member write down what they are thankful for every night of November and put the secret notes in a jar on your table. Read them on Thanksgiving.
  6. Make applesauce or something apple-y. Apple crisp, bob for apples, This little toolmakes it easy.
  7. Read outside. (I love catching my kids doing this!) IMG_7322
  8. This activity is a huge Thanksgiving memory-maker.
  9. Visit a local farmer’s market. Eat fresh and choose a new veggie (our latest: Spaghetti squash. This healthy recipe.)
  10. Invite friends over for s’mores. I love this s’mores in a jar idea!
  11. Have your family devotion outside. (I love these printable family gratitude devotions for November) Anytime we can read a few scriptures or an inspiring story away from our normal routine, we engage so much more with our kids. Some days we lay on the trampoline or just take a long walk and talk.
  12. Rake the leaves just to jump in them.
  13. Go camping. I’m not much of a “happy camper.” I love my bed too much. But we try and go at least once a year and I’m never sorry when we do.
  14. Bake bread. Make bread bowl soup (kids love it!)
  15. Create a family tree (get messy) fall hand tree art.
  16. Go on a family bike ride.
  17. Make and play the Gratitude Game
  18. Collect acorns, put them in a simple jar and call it a centerpiece. Lovely.
  19. Create a thankful tree.
  20. Write in your Gratitude: A Journal
  21. Pick something from this list to do this season.
  22. Visit an orchard and pick apples.
  23. Bake a pie from scratch.
  24. Take a family picture (I just told my husband I want to keep the tripod in the trunk for impromptu photos on some of our fall hikes)
  25. Don’t feel pressure or guilt to DO anything on this list. Just be together and be grateful.

edited post from the archives

I’m Still Not Brave

I have lists for my lists, a stocked pantry, a few meals in the freezer and a detailed schedule to help my hubby juggle the kids, home and school in-between working, while I’m in Kenya working at Mercy House.

I’ve had a lump in my throat for days.

This morning before I head to the airport, I’m hiding love notes for my family.

photo

We just added 3 new pregnant girls in the house, so that makes 11 girls, 8 babies and 3 on the way (one of the girls is 38 weeks pregnant!) It’s rainy season and traffic is at an all-time high and there hasn’t been power at the maternity home in 3 days. I have a layover in Turkey (the country) and will be missing 2 nights of sleep.

This is the 4th time I’ve traveled across the ocean to Africa and I still don’t feel brave.

[I’m about to get vulnerable. I hope that’s okay.]

As I went over a list with my husband yesterday morning, I stopped and I gave a voice to the struggle, “Will this ever get easier? In 5 years, will it still be this hard to go there, to stay here and do this work? Will my heart always be half-as-willing to follow God?”

Because y’all. I’m still just that little mom who said yes to a big dream.

Then he said something I didn’t expect, “Last night, I felt the same way.” He’s in the middle of gathering tax info for our accountant, being stretched paper thin, frustrated with computer issues, overwhelmed. “I want to help rescue girls, I want babies to be born, I want that good part, but the rest…”

His words, although raw, were comforting, because I want that part, too. But we both know as we’ve counted the cost these past 3 years, the good part doesn’t happen without the hard.

I carry anxiety pills in my pocket for traveling and I feel unqualified and overwhelmed at the task. I miss my family with every breath and sometimes I’m so scared I can’t stop shaking inside.

I’m good at organizing my family, carline pickup, making dinner (well, sort of). I’m good at mothering and helping moms, but running Mercy House continually stretches me further than I’ve ever been. As my husband held me, I whispered, “I just wish I was more brave.”

He said, “Maybe that’s why God called you, us. Because we’re not. But he is everything we’re not and everything we need.”

If I have learned anything in this journey, it’s this: the good  makes the hard worth it.

Meet our three newest girls at Mercy House:

Primary school and new girls 2013 139

I’m thankful I’m not alone. Neither are you.

“What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” Gen. 28:15

I’m taking you with me. I pray you’re brave enough to go.

Your Family’s Greatest Mission

“I love what your family is doing, but we could never do that. We are just too _______ [insert one of 1000 reasons].

I cringe every time I hear the words.

I also understand them.

I feel the same way about 364 days a year. “I can’t do this mission. Our family is too human. We don’t know what we’re doing, I can’t even keep up with laundry. I yell at my kids. We are argue and live this grace thing out in ugly ways some days…”

My list of “I can’t and I shouldn’t” is endless.

But living on a mission doesn’t start with doing something for God. It begins with what he has done for us.

“We serve a missionary God. He is all about the sending. We are a missionary people. We are about the going.” -*Jason Johnson.

By nature we are a sent people. That’s our identity. It’s the why of our lives.

The question isn’t Is my family called to a mission? That question has already been answered.

We are called to GO.

Do you wonder what his will is for your family? It’s to go fulfill his mission. We wonder where, what, when… and often get bogged down in the unknown details.

Where are you going today? The grocery store. The school. The neighbor’s house. Wherever you go, fulfill your mission and shine Jesus. Your small step of obedience might lead you to great destinations or it might just lead you to the dog food aisle. Either way, going is half the victory. Because that is your family’s greatest mission.

“If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music … Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

He isn’t waiting for us to be perfect or get our acts together, so we can change the world; He specializes in  using the less-than-perfect places in our lives for His glory.

It’s your mission if you choose to accept it.

*Thanks to my pastor for inspiring this post.

Why Every Family Needs a Mission Statement {Project}

I’m terrible at directions.

Getting lost is a way of life for me.

Before I drive to a new place, I print out clear instructions and program my hubby’s GPS to yell in my ear, TURN HERE.

Recomputing.

I have to know where I’m going or I wander and turn around often, take long roads out of the way and end up lost.

If you don’t know where you are going, you might have a difficult time getting there.

I firmly believe it’s the same with our families.

Our family sat down and wrote out a family mission statement towards the end of 2009. (I shared a simple formula here, but if you don’t know where to start, Simple Mom wrote a great post about putting one together with your family.) We didn’t really have profound reasons for doing so, we just wanted to verbalize our goals as family. We decided to try and make our activities, time spent and ultimately, our lives flow from this statement.

To make a difference in the world, a single light, shining brightly in such a way that we keep Jesus our focus, listen closely to His voice & enjoy life. So that we can say at the end of the day, we’ve touched others & thrived.

Three months after we typed this up and framed it, I traveled to Kenya. I truly believe this simple exercise helped direct our family in saying yes to God. It gave us direction when big decisions were in front of us.

For months, I’ve been wanting to move our family missions statement from paper to hanging on the wall, loud and large. I thought about putting it on a canvas (which I discovered is quite expensive).  But instead, this felt right (and was nearly free!):

This project took about two hours and very few supplies. I had a lot of fun being creative with the help and input from my family.

Supplies:

pallet (you can usually find old pallets behind stores. We just asked if we could have one and got it for free).

paint, sponge brush

stencil letters

I thought about hanging ours on a big open wall, but once we set it on the mantle, it turned out to be the perfect home.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” -Ernest Hemingway

So, whatever you do, be aware that you’re leading your family to a destination. Having clear instructions helps you find your way!

Cultivating Gratitude {Family Resource}

It’s the one thing I long for my family to learn, live:

Gratitude.

It’s the one thing I teach by example (or lack of), a heart full of thanksgiving, overflowing on my husband, surrounding my children. They are watching, waiting. Not just for the outward, polite, mandatory “thank you.” But the grateful heart that spills out and is contagious.

Gratitude is the one thing that gets me through a hard day.

It’s about choosing to be grateful, when I want to complain, opting for thanksgiving when I long to whine, it’s looking for the good when it all feels bad. The best kind of gratitude is when I don’t feel it at all.

It’s not just the gratefulness for new things, a comforter on sale for my daughter’s bed brings praise, “thank you, Mom!” It’s thankfulness in the trials, the hard times, the difficult spots we find ourselves. These are the moments that define us: digging deep when gratitude isn’t easy.

Thankfulness isn’t inherited. It often doesn’t come easy. It needs to be practiced, made a priority.

Gratitude is what will change our home.

How to Stir Up Thanksgiving in Your Family:

  • Record your gratitude-write it down!
  • Read past entries aloud
  • Reflect on the day, the good and bad. We “play” highs and lows. What is your high for the day. How can we encourage each other in the lows.
  • Reinforce-no gratitude is too small.
  • Resolve to give thanks, in all things

As we head into fall, I’m excited about this new family resource to help cultivate gratitude as we move towards the Thanksgiving season. It’s called the  12 Day Holiday Countdown by Dayspring.

I believe it has the potential to be a very meaningful family tradition. I love it because it’s perfect for the entire family, from the smallest to the oldest. It’s multi-functional and it’s designed to be used at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter with corresponding story blocks and scripture!

Each small box holds a card for the day and corresponds with the included guidebook. You can add a slip of paper or small treat to the box as you countdown to Thanksgiving (Christmas and Easter).

Sample Text from guidebook:
THANKSGIVING
Day #1 FRIENDS
We’re thankful for friends.I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his
master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I
learned from My Father I have made known to you.  John 15:15 NIVGod is a friend to us.What does it mean to be God’s friend?

And get this, for the next 4 days, the Holiday Countdown is on sale for ONLY $10! Reg. $24.

Dayspring sent me one to try with my kiddos. It came yesterday and before I could hide it, they saw it and are begging to celebrate something. I just know your kids will love this intentional time together too.

Get one today at a great price!

*I’m a Dayspring affiliate and the links in this post are affiliate links.