Your Family Won’t Regret Doing This For The Next 30ish Days

I get it.

I know just how hard it is to get dinner on the table and five people around it who are all going five different directions at five o’clock.

On Monday night, my oldest two have church youth group and on Tuesdays my youngest has tumbling. Wednesdays are for meeting with other families for Bible Study and Thursdays, we have dental and eye appointments or –well, you get my point. Some days the window for all of us to be together is so small, it would be easier to just eat on the go or at least separately.

And other days when we have long moments to linger –that’s when the big kids irritate each other until an argument erupts and the youngest is picky and cries in her dinner and we have a big fat mess spilled all over our good intentions.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s not.

But that doesn’t mean we stop trying.

Because dinner isn’t really about food. It’s about connecting. (When our kids were younger, dinner wasn’t always an option for connection. We found the best time to intentionally have a devotion together was one-on-one, right before bed. Don’t give up. Find something that works for your family in the season you’re in).

It’s about pursuing intentional, meaningful conversation that your children will never forget. It’s about building relationships and communicating purpose and goals. It’s about going deeper. It’s about breaking Real Bread together.

We’ve been working on memorizing Psalm 23 and last night, we took turns quoting it in different accents-German, Irish, Redneck. Unconventional yes, but still a seed planted in our heart.

It’s about the best 10 minutes of your day.

This time last year, I wrote an e-Book that has 30 lessons to complete in however long it takes you. There’s no pressure in this easy-to-use guide that encourages family togetherness, conversation, connection and fun around the table. I wrote it for you and it’s only $1.99.

Saying Yes to God As a Family has a suggested icebreaker to get your family talking, a highlighted passage of Scripture to read, questions to ask, a suggested memory verse and a prayer to lead your family in.

Saying Yes coverSample day (not final)

It’s designed to be read on a mobile device or printed into cute colorful cue cards. There are printables at the end to brighten your home and to go along with the daily activities.

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Practical Ideas to Make it Happen:

  • Plan a weekly crockpot meal so you aren’t overwhelmed once you get everyone at the table.
  • Keep a large family calendar in the kitchen and make sure at least 3 nights a week are free (even if it’s different every week.)
  • Keep a basket of Bibles near the table. Read them together.
  • Make the window of time interactive: This ebook Saying Yes to God As a Family: 30 Lessons for the Table from Rhinestone Jesus was created just for this precious 10 minute window during your busy day. Each short lesson has a suggested Bible passage and 3 questions to promote interaction and deeper-thinking.
  • Have fun. Painting our kitchen table with chalkboard paint was one of our best decisions to keep our kids around the table longer. Printing out paper placemats for drawing will also keep little hands busy (there are ones included in my ebook). Celebrate great nights together with ice cream!
  • Keep it short. Because kids.
  • Don’t get discouraged. Some nights I want to go straight to bed after dinner because it’s THAT BAD. But we do it all over again the next day. It’s worth it. Don’t give up!

When we persevere through the mess, we discover beautiful moments together, sometimes sandwiched between really bad ones. (That’s life, huh?) If we choose to be intentional, we have the opportunity to connect on a deeper level. We uncover glorious tidbits that carry us through the hard days. We giggle and laugh. We hear about one another’s day and learn more about each other.

We often find the best 10 minutes of our day when we look for them.

 

edited repost

Dear Neighbor:

Driving around looking at Christmas lights is one of our favorite family traditions every December.

And we love the houses with Nativities the most!

Last year, we started a new tradition. Every time we saw a house with a Nativity in the yard, we put a note on their door. My kids loved sneaking up and blessing our neighbors with an anonymous thank you. Yours might too!

It’s a great reminder to our kids to keep Jesus the reason for the season and it’s really fun trying not to get caught.

Go, ahead, try it.

dear neighbor printable

Click to print letters of your own and start a new Christmas tradition today.

Secrets to a Successful Marriage {FREE PRINTABLE}

I lay in the curve of his arm and breathe deep. He smoothes my hair away from my face and replaces it with a soft kiss.

And after so many years together, we rarely hold back what’s in our heart. “I feel like I’m falling in love with you,” I whisper.

Again?” he smiles with raised eyebrows and pulls me closer.

Five Things that Have Made Our Marriage Successful:

We are good forgivers: Let’s be honest, if you’ve been married for a week or 230 of them, you’ve been given the opportunity to forgive your spouse. Forgiveness releases the other person from their offense, but more importantly, it frees you to choose love. And there’s been a lot to forgive in our 942 weeks together, but we are getting good at it.

We fight fair (except when we don’t): Marriage is the perfect breeding ground for arguments. Couples who aren’t occasionally disagreeing, probably aren’t communicating well. It’s not if we fight, it’s when. Further damage occurs in the how. We can literally destroy each other with words. But when we let kindness be our guide, our disagreements actually move us further along in our marriage.

We write each other letters: He gave me this box years ago. He puts letters in it. I write him notes and blog posts and our words find their mark. There’s just something powerful that happens when you write your heart on a page and give it to your mate. “To write a good love letter, you ought to begin without knowing what you mean to say, and to finish without knowing what you have written.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau

We work on our friendship: We play hard, we laugh hard, we spend time together (on purpose), we have so many inside jokes it’s not even funny…only really it is. He’s my best friend…the one person in this life I want to be with. We are deeply bound by friendships that comes with communication, communion and care.

We choose to fall in love again (and again): You’ve heard it before–love isn’t a feeling, it’s a choice. It’s true. We have had irreconcilable differences and breaches of trust and oh, some really hard days, but we’ve decided on love even when we didn’t feel it or couldn’t find it.

It’s really not a secret at all. It’s deciding to fall in love again and again, with the same person.

Enjoy this free 8×10 printable:

Download here for free.

Don’t Spend Your Life On What Doesn’t Matter

There has never been a time like we live in now.

In my daughter’s public junior high, they don’t use textbooks, students can access the information online and they communicate homework and reminders thru texts. Small children maneuver (and own) Apple products instead of toys. Pinterest has changed the lives of women (who don’t like what their husband is watching on TV) everywhere. It’s becoming rare not to see someone attached to a phone or a device of some kind.

In this technology age, there are more distractions bombarding us then ever before.

I’m not against these advances and enjoy many of them, but the risk of wasting our time and our life on what doesn’t matter grows with every distraction.

We live distracted lives and we allow it because it’s become the norm. And it’s not like it’s sinful, right?

“Sin isn’t only doing bad things. It’s turning good things, into ultimate things.” -Jason Johnson

The risk is turning something good into our main focus, which in the end is bad.

And when our focus becomes stuff or devices that help us organize, acquire, manipulate, our stuff, we make them our idol. Idolatry is spending your life on what doesn’t matter.

God shows us mercy by allowing things to disappoint us, it’s there in the letdown where we discover the power our stuff has over us.

Focusing on things that don’t matter will always lead to disappointment. Whether it’s obsessively decorating our house (I’ve been there) or shopping and shopping and shopping for more, more, more (been there too), in the end, when the buzz is gone, we still want more and the temptation to “redecorate” or “restyle” magnifies.

“Remember you have one life. That’s all. You were made for God. Don’t waste it.” -John Piper

We were made for another world and this one will never truly satisfy. It only brings temporary satisfaction and we hunger for something more sustainable.

It’s when we find the passion of our lives, the passion that exalts Jesus, that’s where we are satisfied.

Free 8×10 Printable: Do Not Waste Your Life
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Together for Adoption in Atlanta next weekend!

I’ll be there. Will you?

For When the Crazy Takes Over

We rescued our cat fours years ago from a shelter after a devastating hurricane hit our area.

We are not cat people.

But apparently we have bleeding hearts and so we responded to a desperate email from the shelter that was going to destroy hundreds of animals abandoned or found during the storm.

It’s been four years and our dog still hates our cat. I mean there is some serious animal hatred here, people. They randomly knock over furniture, spit and claw and cause havoc.  The last two years with our trips to Africa and running a non-profit from our dining room-turned-home office and the Mercy Shop in our garage, our life has gotten busy and hectic and fuller and well, crazy.

Crazy is our normal.

It’s still hard for this Type A mom to write those words. But it’s true, there is constant crisis and God uses our circumstances and His dream to stretch me every day. Plus, throw in three growing kids, jobs, etc, our pets are low on the totem pole.

So, back to the cat. This might be going somewhere, I haven’t decided yet.

Lately, we have been traveling a lot, speaking on behalf of Mercy House among other things and to put it lightly, our cat upped the ante.

He has defiled my favorite chair three times.

In desperation, I actually Googled why is my cat pooping on my chair?

It took me to an article called If Your Cat is Pooping On Your Chair, It’s a Serious Sign of Distress.

I couldn’t make that up even if I wanted to. It went on to say that loneliness and stress were factors.

Now, look away animal lovers: I cannot afford new furniture every time we travel because our cat has anger and loneliness issues. So, after a lot of talking and Googling, we made the tough decision that it was time for our cat to find a new home. One without a dog or a maternity home.

But when it actually came time to give him away, our kids begged and pleaded to give him another chance. Here’s this innocent animal in a pet carrier inside my hubby’s car and my kids are hysterical in the driveway. They promised to show him attention, to guard my chair with their life, to make our pets a priority (basically give them food and water). Suddenly, I even found myself advocating for this dumb animal.

We turned him loose in the house.

They spent the next two hours creating a cat habitat, making pom pom toys and brushing him. It was hilarious and heartbreaking. They went from “we have a cat?” to “our life is about that cat.”

It was sweet.

And really, really crazy.

Just a regular day around here…and probably just the beginning of our cat problems.

That night when all the chaos calmed, I hugged my husband tight and said, “I’m glad the kids talked us out of it. I’ve always been a fan of the underdog, um cat.”

Oh, and I ordered this infomercial chair alarm for $19.99 from Amazon. Because y’all, I love that chair (which has remained odor and poop free since we gave the cat a second chance).

So, really this post has nothing to do with a cat (who is now purring in my lap as I type this), but it’s really about second chances, refocusing, and not letting the crazy completely take over.

The end.

And if you made it to the bottom of this ridiculous post, you have been rewarded with this hilarious quote by a woman I know would look at my crazy and be all “Pshaw…that’s nothing!”

8×10 Printable Mom Quote

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