How To Add More Intention To These Ordinary Days

‘Tis the season for vacations! Though perhaps in these COVID times, they are only virtual? But hopefully, you’ll have a chance this summer to spend time building family stories. You know; the sagas that start with: “Remember the time…”

lots of air time at the state fair

Back in the days when we could go somewhere on vacation, you planned for it, right?

What about the other, oh-so-ordinary family-together-times?

  • Meals around the dinner table?
  • Trips to the grocery store, post office, and other mundane errands. Maybe not with the whole family but at least with you and the kids? (Thinking of pre-COVID days!)
  • Chore time, reading time, or just hanging-out-together time.

All these seem pretty routine and ordinary. What about using them as a chance to build memories of a different sort?

Spiritual growth memories.

Can some intentionality be brought into play? (Let’s face it, raising kids takes a little bit of planning!) How about some of these ideas:

  • Perhaps at the dinner table you play a game that leads to discussion? (Try this one or some of these.)
  • Perhaps as a part of your next walk around the block, you allow a certain happenstance (every dog seen or every blue car) to spark the announcement of a grateful. And let that lead into talking about how being thankful is good for your health! (Read here for other family-friendly ways to practice gratitude.)
  • Perhaps the next time you are chilling together you brainstorm a place in your home to remind you that God is near?

How are you using every day, even ordinary, non-vacation days, to intentionally work on building your family’s spiritual growth?

--------------

Photo credits…
A remember-when story in progress, copyright by my niece, Sarah Clouse. Used with permission.

Where will Jesus show up today?

They didn’t expect to see Jesus. So they didn’t notice?
Just like I almost missed seeing the Dutchman’s Breeches.

A wild flower known as Dutchman's Breeches


There they were! At the edge of the walkway. How long had they been out?

How had I missed seeing them?

Dutchman’s Breeches are a tiny, early spring flower, getting their apt name from their appearance: petite, white, hanging-upside-down, pantaloons strung on an invisible clothesline. I hadn’t expected to see them yet. (Spring is rather slow in coming to these parts.)

Where will Jesus show up for you today?

The same sort of abrupt awareness came to the two disciples who were traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They hardly noticed that an individual had joined their journey. They were so caught up in their grief-filled discussion over the death of Jesus, their expected rescuer. They didn’t realize that Jesus was walking besides them!

These Dutchman’s Breeches stir up deep connections for me. Do you treasure your grandmother’s recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies? Do stories gush forth when the making of those cookies happens? The emergence of wild flowers does it for me. Memories flow.

My Aunt Doris brought me a Dutchman’s Breeches plant from her garden many years ago. I recall her bending to the soil to poke them into earth. Doris has since gone on to her heavenly home. Seeing the delicate white flowers brings to mind Doris and her love of Jesus. The way she so readily and passionately shared her faith!

A wild flower known as Dutchman's Breeches


What reminders of Jesus’ love are you almost missing today?

Keep watch! Jesus is closer than you think!

--------------
Photo credits… Photos are copyright and are from my archives.

How can your family prepare for Easter?

I recently learned something new:

The 40 days of Lent is a tithe of the year.

40 / 365 = 0.109589041096

Lent is indeed pretty close to one-tenth of the year!
(I had to prove it to myself by doing the math. Broke out my trusty abacus.)

These 40 days (not including Sundays) before Easter, is a time when we traditionally prepare our hearts and minds for the awesome truth of Easter; a day that is so special that it deserves ahead-of-time forethought.

A tithe is one-tenth of something, traditionally thought of as one-tenth of one’s income given to support the church and other charitable organizations. In this case we are talking a tithe of time; taking time-out to think about the meaning of Easter.

Of course it’s not possible for most of us to spend all day, every day during Lent, contemplating Easter. What can your family do to intentionally put God at the center of your life – say for about for 10 – 15 minutes a day?

Here are ideas for your family’s Lent experience. Try one (and repeat daily)!
  • Ask questions: Agree to spend 12 minutes a day with your family discussing the story of Easter. Use these discussion questions as a guide, or dig deeper into the reading-the-Bible-a-bit-a-day plan for the story of Holy week.
  • Experience God in nature: Go for a walk outside. To give your walk some focus make it a discovery walk (to notice one new thing) or a smelling walk (what smells come to your attention) or a prayer walk (pray for everyone whose house you pass).
  • Journal through Lent: Leave an open notebook on the counter with a pen handy. Ask everyone to jot down or draw instances where they have seen God at work in their daily life. Review the entries over dinner.
  • Bless your child(ren) and yourself! Read about this way to enrich your child’s life here. For blessings to choose from check out here.
  • Give up something: Can you fast from using anything dependent on electricity? Can you turn off the phone, the TV, the refrigerator? (Hey, it’s only for a short time. As long as you remember to turn it back on!) Eat dinner by candlelight. Tell stories of past Easter celebrations.
  • Add something: Silence. Can everyone agree to be silent for a set amount of time? (Okay, age appropriateness may come into play here.) Ask everyone to think of when they experienced beauty. In their mind return to that particular scene. Study it in silence. Talk about it afterwards. Where was God in your picture?
  • Improve upon your “silence” experience by having everyone chip in to create a “sacred spot” in your household. What visual reminders will enhance this place? A cross here, scripture written on an index card there? Allow touching and rearranging and additions and subtractions.
  • Serve others some happiness: Look for opportunities to be the difference in someone’s day. Compliment janitors at work on how nice the building looks, how you appreciate the work they do. Whom else can you thank?

How will your family prepare to take in the full meaning of Easter?

Need more Lenten family activities? The list continues here.

--------------

Photo credits…
An old-fashioned way of calculating by Leo Reynolds, licensed under Creative Commons (BY NC-SA 2.0).