Tag Archives: family

3 Ways to Create Space for Your Family

This article originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

I listened to a podcast the other day where the guest was asked how she fostered such closeness within her family unit. I absolutely loved her answer, and pray for what she said to be true about my family. She said that all the did was create space for her family. She created space for them to get to know each other on a deeper level, for fellowship, for fun, and even for having hard conversations. It’s only one thing to do, but it’s huge. How do we do it?

One way for a family to create space for conversations and fun all together is to break bread together. In my home, our mealtimes are sacred as often as we can make them so. Yes, breakfast tends to be rushed (or finished on the way to school) some days, but on Saturdays, we can enjoy a slower (and bigger!) breakfast together. Lunch might just be with the preschoolers, but we can sit down at the table together most days. Dinners happen on the go once a week, and with friends at our table with us sometimes, but the rest of the time, dinner is a special time for all five of us to get to know each other by talking about our individual days, how we feel, what’s going on the next day, or just silly stuff. For us, eating in front of the TV or in shifts isn’t a nice as being together without distractions. Creating the space for fellowship around the table can make a big difference.

Another place to try building some space is into the bedtime routine. Of course, sometimes it’s impossible. But if you’re able to create even a few minutes of unhurried, one-on-one time with your child, you never know what they’ll open up to you about. Bedtime is one of the first things that gets rushed through at our house some evenings, but my husband and I love to spend a few minutes laying with each kid, asking how I can pray for them, and hearing what’s on their minds. My oldest is in kindergarten this year, and she often has things she wants to talk about during those minutes.

Lastly, I try to protect our unscheduled family time. My husband and I both work sporadic hours for our jobs, and so we don’t have a specific time of day, or day of the week, that’s always protected. Therefore, when we can squeeze in a family trip to the park, a trip out of town for the weekend, or just a night at home snuggling and watching a movie, we do it. We love to have friends over, so much of our time at home is spent hosting – which we truly enjoy! But when we’re home in the evenings without an agenda, it’s nice to get extra snuggles and more dance parties, art projects, or games in together.

Creating space in your home for building relationships within your family unit is important. Having conversations about their friendships, hard situations, and relying on Jesus can help them be healthier and more balanced kids and teens. And, the closeness you foster early in your children’s lives is likely to continue throughout their lives! There’s just no downside to spending intentional time together with the people you love most.

Worthwhile Relationships

During the month of November, I’ll be participating in National Blog Post Month, where I’ll publish a post every single day. Sometimes, like today, I’ll use prompts. This one I wrote in about five minutes.

Today’s prompt: What are the most meaningful relationships in your life?

As a woman, I’m very relational. I have a LOT of relationships that I’m in, weaving in and out of closeness, but always talking, calling, texting, getting together with someone. I love feeling close to people, laughing, crying, sharing stories or hard things, just loving on and being with people. (Can you say extrovert?)

If you truly ask me to choose a most meaningful relationship, or the top 5, perhaps… I don’t think I could honestly do it. My no-brainer answer seems to be my husband. He’s the one that I know I’m stuck with (HAPPILY!) for the rest of my life, and come what may, he’ll be my person until we cross over into heaven – for which I am so grateful. He is amazing; he’s good to me, knows me well and loves me anyway. What more can I ask for?

But when thinking of other relationships that I’d put up there with my marriage, it starts to blur. I have three kids. I can’t very well prioritize one of those relationships with my other kids, right? I also have a Savior, who, admittedly, should’ve been the first relationship I mentioned, since that’s what He calls us to: relationship with Him. Reliance on Him. Love for Him. That should be my most meaningful… and it is, truly. It’s through my relationship with Him that I am given the ability to love, and the very love that I freely give to everyone else with whom I’m in relationship.

But after my familial unit relationships, I put great importance on my relationship with my original family unit: my parents and my brother. And grandparents, aunts and uncles with whom I grew up being close with my entire life, until I did “leave and cleave” to another family unit – whose relationships I also greatly value! And don’t even get me started on our close friends, their kids, our pastors, community group, co-workers at church, co-heirs and co-laborers in Christ’s Church! They are all of great importance to me. There are things to share with each other (not least of which is just sharing life together!) that I could just miss out on if I wasn’t willing and able to put myself in relationship with so many wonderful people.

So I suppose my real answer for the prompt is, well, all of them. All of my relationships are meaningful. Even if they don’t seem overly meaningful to me at this exact moment, they could be to the other person. And just that fact makes me value them a little more. Those people close to me, whom I see and talk to and do life with, those are my most meaningful relationships. Those are the relationships, all 30 or 40 of them, that I value the most, that I make the effort to develop, and that I would be horribly sad to see ended.

Growing Pains

This post originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

The past couple of weeks have been a little tough on my family. We’re facing some growing pains of a particular kind. Our schedules have all changed, due to having our two younger children at one (pre)school, and our eldest child at elementary school. Our toddler is potty-training and teething. Our family is an integral part of a church launch, which is taking much of our emotional and spiritual efforts, if not those in the physical sense. Our jobs are more demanding, somehow, in addition to these other things, and I would be remiss if I didn’t admit we’re suffering a little for it all.

Thankfully, these growing pains are all for good reason. They’re happening because we’re involved in sowing seeds, we are in the business of nurturing life, and we are experiencing a fine harvest. And yes, those things can all be happening at the same time.

Life is full of seasons, but within a family, there can be sowing and reaping simultaneously. We are sowing seeds of learning and a love for education in our daughter as she begins kindergarten. My husband and I are sowing as well into our professional lives, putting in extra hours, collaborating with our colleagues, and making more plans. We are nurturing our toddler as his body grows and changes. We are experiencing a beautiful harvest with our church family as we expand our congregation and launch a new campus, welcoming a new community to become a part of the Lord’s work as a part of our century-old church.

Growing pains are a sign that you are living life fully and well. You cannot experience growing pains by remaining stagnant, lying dormant, or settling. Sitting and waiting on something to happen to you isn’t the way to grow. Of course, there are seasons for rest, but we were created to be workers, to toil the land, and to rule over and take care of the earth. That’s literally the reason God created Adam (Genesis 1:28, 2:15) and it’s in our very design! Toiling as builders, as growers, as shepherds, as healers, as parents… these things are in our DNA, and they’re what our Creator divined for us. Great things that happen are almost always preceded by work – whether we worked for it, or God has done the work for us.

Currently: Christmas Edition and Photo Explosion!

Well, it’s time for a little Christmas update! We had so much fun hosting my family here for a few days, eating a TON of food (can you say 8lbs of prime rib?) and sweets, and giving and getting copious amounts of presents. Hubby and I spent most of Christmas Eve leading worship at three services at our church, thankful that our kids could enjoy the day with family, even if it was without us. Here is a little more about our Christmas, and what we are currently doing…

Smelling || my new candles from my brother and his girlfriend. They. Are. Magical. And no pun intended! 

Playing || dress up! In addition to a few new games and building-type toys, the big kids got several new dress up outfits, and they’ve been hamming it up big time. They both love playing dress up and pretending, so between my mom and me, we spoiled them with some new outfits. 

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Eating || this hunk of prime rib. It was so amazing I forgot to take a picture of it cooked before we ate it all! 

Enjoying || several days with family we don’t see as often. It might’ve felt chaotic with so many people and so much stuff, but I totally enjoyed it.

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Waiting || to take down our decorations and lights until New Years. I really enjoy the way my house looks when it’s this time of year, so I am rarely in a hurry to take them down.

Anticipating || seeing Moana later this week! I’m excited to go to the theatre again, and I’m hoping the kids all do as well this time as they did when we saw Finding Dory a few months ago. Snacks seems to be the best thing for maximizing their attention span.

Well, that’s pretty much it for what we’ve been up to. Here are a few more pictures that don’t really fit anywhere, but are super cute. I sure love my people.

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40 Things for Which to Be Grateful

While I’ve been doing this NaBloPoMo, it’s been interesting to see what I have to write about. I decided for the last day in November, I’d write forty things I was thankful for. So here they are. 

1. The roof over my head. A roof that is also known to be atop a hospitable place, known at least for good food and friendly faces, if not insurmountable messes.

2. The clothes on my back. I am always dressed in clothes without holes, appropriate for the weather, and typically at least a little bit stylish. I can be grateful for each of those things, and the incredible blessing that is all three.

3. My little big girl. At four and a half, EK challenges me every single day to be a better mama, have more patience, and pray about everything. I can see that my strong-willed daughter will be much like I was growing up, and I must prepare my heart for what is to come. But I am also immeasurably grateful for her heart, her energy, her intelligence, and her defiance, because they make her who she is. And who she is is wonderful.

4. My marvelous middle child. Even at not quite three, I can see J’s sweetness and gentle heart blessing others. While he certainly has his moments (I mentioned he was two, right?), he is generally thoughtful and kind. I don’t know how he does it, when the dominating females in his life have little patience (I mentioned EK and I are the same, right?) but he lives with us well. Just like his daddy.

5. My miraculous baby boy D. Spending a month not knowing whether you would live to see us or not was the scariest thing I have ever done, and I will be forever thankful for your healthy, joyous self. So full of smiles and giggles, you are the sunshine of our lives.

6. My kind and talented Hubby. He loves me unconditionally, and is a true saint in the way he treats me and puts up with my messy heart. He is patient with me when I am at my worst. He is an incredible father to our children, and I look up to him in every possible way.

7. The sheer number of good friends we have in our town. We have countless friends, new and old, that we love to hang out with, and that we could depend on in a time of need.

8. My church family. I really, really do consider myself blessed (#blessed, y’all) with a huge group of people who do life alongside me, who encourage me, teach me, push me, challenge me, and celebrate with me.

9. My women’s small group. These women are fun, insightful, encouraging, and genuine. We often have deep discussions, but we also enjoy hanging out together. Those are both so important, and I’m thankful for them and their discipleship alongside me.

10. My community group. These families are kind, funny, loving and helpful. We get together a couple of times a month, but I always find myself wishing we hung out more often.

11. The Bible. I know it sounds a little cliche for a Christian to say they’re thankful for the Bible, but I really am grateful for the comfort, encouragement, and conviction it provides.

12. My jobs. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed at the loosey-goosey, different-every-day nature of my jobs, and I often remember to do something or attend a meeting at the last minute. But these jobs allow me to spend an immense amount of time with my children and my husband. I am very grateful for that.

13. Food on the table. In the fridge. In the pantry. In my belly. Many people in this world – a staggering percentage – do not have enough of this basic thing of which I have an abundance.

14. Clean water. So many places do not have this luxury that we as Americans take completely for granted!

15. Sunshine. It is healing. I know, I know… it also could get you burned, but I think just knowing it’s right outside the window can make you feel better than a rainy, dreary climate.

16. Coffee. That precious, delicious treat that borders on necessity. Whether I make it, Hubby makes it, or the local barista makes it, I do so love it.

17. Wine. That deep red, or that bubbly… it’s a perfect addition to dinner or a snuggle on the couch watching TV. It’s certainly not a necessity, but it sure is a nice treat.

18. My family. For this one, I mean the dynamic between the five people that live in my house. We love each other and play well together. Sometimes we fight and get on each others’ nerves, but that won’t really go away. We work through it and move on. We love being together and for that I’m thankful.

19. My family. Like, the extended, everyone’s included family. I’ve got the best parents, brother, grandmother, and more I could ever ask for. They might live far away, but I love to see them!

20. My in-laws. You guys, I really hit the jackpot with in-laws. It’s a HUGE family, and I love every single person in it. I’ve got cousins, aunts, and uncles galore now, and also three more brothers, three sisters, and adorable nieces and nephews. I win on the family thing.

21. Music. It makes me feel all the feels. It relaxes me. It allows me to be in community with others in a special way.

22. Running and exercise. This is huge for me, since I use it as a stress reliever. I like being healthy enough to go on a run, blow of some steam, and sweat the feelings out.

23. Leggings and boots. They cover a multitude of sins (like not really wanting to be dressed, and feeling fat).

24. My health. I might not be the healthiest person in the world, by choice or genes, but I am far from unhealthy. I exercise, eat fairly healthy, and have been blessed with little sickness or other issues in my life. I’m thankful for that!

25. My car. I am blessed to be able to get from point A to point B with three children in tow. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to use public transportation with three kids under 5!

26. The right to vote. And to take birth control. And to drive, to stand up for myself, to work, to not work, to make money, to spend money, to be a person who can have any life I want. Women have come a long way. I’m particularly thankful for the right to vote this year, when it seems to have mattered a little bit more.

27. Technology. It’s proven to be dangerous sometimes, and when used incorrectly it can be awful. But it’s nice to be able to do things like check the weather, talk to friends, take pictures, and look up recipes all on my phone.

28. Heat. I’m particularly thankful for this one at this time of year, when it finally has gotten cold here. I’m thankful I don’t have to be chilly at night.

29. Gifts. The fact that we are able to buy gifts for our family and friends without worrying about what we gave up.

30. Humor. We love bent funny in our family. All things silliness are a blessing to me.

31. My love of reading. I truly do love getting lost in a book. It’s an enjoyable activity for me, and has been all my life. I hope I can pass it along to my kids!

32. Books. In addition to my love of reading, I suppose I should be thankful for what I read. I have learned so many things, been transported so many places, and felt so many emotions (all the feels!) due to the books I’ve read.

33. Sunshine. What a mood lifter! I never tire of seeing the sun.

34. God’s glorious creation. He has crafted each colored leaf, each ocean wave, each mountain’s peak, and ray of sunshine into a perfect masterpiece.

35. Modern medicine. I am thankful for vaccines and medicines that keep my family healthy, and the access I have to pretty much whatever we need.

36. The fact my kids are siblings. I love that they’re learning to share, love, give, and solve problems alongside each other. They are fiercely loyal to each other and rude to each other all at the same time. Perfect.

37. The holidays. I love seeing my family, Hubby’s family, lots of friends, and my kids all together. I love celebrating (no matter the reason) and I love all the sparkles and lights this time of year. I love sharing the wonder with my children, and helping them learn about why we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas (and other holidays as well). It’s such a warm and fuzzy time of year right now!

38. Dessert. Specifically cookies. My favorite. I don’t need to explain myself. 

39. The rain. What a cleansing and healing thing for the earth, and often for my soul. Especially thankful for it in the mountains right this moment. 

40. My town. Y’all, I love Winston Salem. I love this community, the diversity, the cool spots and nice places, the parks and playgrounds, the shopping, the eating, the beauty of a perfectly sized downtown. I just love it. 

Currently: The Thanksgiving Edition

Happy Monday! Are you all feeling as fat and happy as I am? I dressed in my workout attire all day today, thinking I was going to squeeze in a run or something, and nope. Still doughy from the week of indulgence. I’ll get back on the (exercise) horse tomorrow.

I’ve got a nice update full of photos for ya! I hope you had a wonderful holiday whether it was relaxing at home, traveling to see family, or hosting a million people (what we did). Thanksgiving isn’t a huge holiday as far as big get-togethers or high-stress functions (in my family at least) but we still had a big group come up from Georgia and a few friends around – including a “Friendsgiving” last night! Anyway, here’s a little about what’s going on Currently.

Eating || all the leftovers. You can see the menu we had planned here, but then we ended up with desserts on desserts, and then having a get-together with our friends last night, including even more food than we had had on actual Thanksgiving Day. Now our fridge is full of one serving of this and two servings of that, and we’re ready to just clean it out and stuff it full of salad for a while. Yikes.DSC_0033.jpgDSC_0078.jpg

Enjoying || so much time with family and friends! My parents, aunt, uncle, cousin, and grandmother came up this past week, all staying for a few days to hang out with us, which was AWESOME. We also hosted some friends for Thanksgiving dinner with my family, and again Sunday night for Friendsgiving, and frankly, it’s been so nice. It was all pretty low-stress and enjoyable, for which I’m extra thankful.DSC_0053.jpg

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Loving || these placemats I bought at Bed Bath and Beyond just before Thanksgiving. I don’t use placemats all the time, but these were so lovely for a Thanksgiving spread!

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Decorating || for Christmas, of course! I haven’t gotten everything up yet (or even out of the attic) but it’s coming along. For the first time, we strung lights up on our front porch columns today, so I can’t wait for it to get dark and see our work light up! DSC_0325.jpg

Planning || Christmas music for the next few services. My women’s service is having their big Christmas feast and lessons and carols this Thursday, so I’m thinking through what music should be where, etc. And we’ve already begun Advent (I can’t believe it!) so the Sunday services have to include a fair amount of carols from now on, too. I LOVE IT!

Baking || our annual Christmas sugar cookies! We do them every year at least once during the Christmas season, and I’m hoping to get a second time in with some friends in a couple of weeks. I always love how they turn out!

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Well, those are the highlights from our busy week. Who else hosted their Thanksgiving? What’s your favorite Christmas decoration to put up?

Our Thanksgiving Meal

Tomorrow, I’m hosting my family for Thanksgiving. My mom and dad have been here all week, and Mom’s helping Hubby and me get things all ready. It is going to be a beautiful blend of traditional things in my family meeting the gourmet tendencies of Hubby’s family. It’s going to be some kid-friendly items, and some things that my kids likely won’t touch. I’m really  excited.

Here’s our list of things we either have/made already or are making tomorrow:

Prime Rib
Honeybaked Ham
Chicken and Dressing (For you northerners, that is not inside the chicken. The chicken is in the dressing.)
Green Bean Casserole
Potato Salad
Smashed Sweet Potatoes
Onion Pie
Cranberry Salad
Kale (prepared in the southern style of collard greens)

I know. No turkey. But don’t those other meats sound SO GOOD? And a little GBC can’t go wrong, especially coupled with potato salad, and cranberry salad. What’s a southern Thanksgiving without something called “salad” that doesn’t include lettuce?

My aunt is also bringing homemade rolls and various desserts… including her amazing rum cake (yum?!) and at least one meringue pie. FOR THE WIN.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving foods? Are you hosting or traveling? Either way, I hope you have some fun plans!