Posted: March 4th, 2013 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Building Family Ties | No Comments »
For a family to experience joy, there needs to be a firm foundation of security. Nobody can enjoy life to the fullest if everyone is walking on eggshells, wondering what’s going to happen next, afraid that, with one wrong move, everything could fall apart. True joy in a family is founded on security. Your children need to know that this is their family and, Lord willing, it won’t be changing.
But how do you build that kind of security in the home?
Like every other good gift of a godly family, security starts with the parents. Divorce may be a fact of life in our society, but it doesn’t need to be an inevitability. Take that option off the table in your marriage. Your child needs to see you communicating and working out differences in the marriage relationship. Remind yourself that, while you have many options for conflict resolution, you don’t have a back door. You don’t escape when the going gets tough.
Children need to see their parents interacting, enjoying each other’s conversation and company. They need a model of faithfulness and healthy negotiation of differences. Any you need it too. It’s not just “for the kids” that you work on your marriage; it’s so that you can experience the fullness of joy that comes after you’ve done the difficult work of resolving conflicts.
Ephesians 4:26 reminds us, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Beth and I have tried to live by that verse. When something’s wrong, we talk it out, and we don’t go to bed until it’s settled. The principle has worked quite well for us. Although there was that one time we stayed up for two weeks…
But it’s a good rule to live by. Daily maintenance keeps you from having to do major renovations. Own your mistakes. Ask forgiveness and honestly share your feelings and fears with each other. Be real. Let your kids know that your marriage is important enough to invest in for the long haul.
(from Chapter 3 in Building Family Ties- Continue reading Chapter 3 for encouragement to single parents and practical ways you can work to give your children that sense of family security.)
Posted: January 22nd, 2013 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Building Family Ties | No Comments »
The great preacher Vance Havner, known for his incisive one-liners, said, “A rut is nothing but a grave with both ends kicked out.” If you want to get your family laughing, you’ve got to get out of that rut. Be spontaneous. Change things up.
When I was very young our family would take off in the car for our summer vacation in the family station wagon. After a while Dad would get a worried look on his face. “Oh no!” he’d say. “There’s something wrong with the steering wheel of the car. I can’t control where it’s going.”
After the first few times this happened, we would start giggling, because we were familiar with the script, and we loved the ending. But Dad would stay in character; he’d turn down some street, shouting, “What’s happening? The car is out of control!” In a matter of seconds he would pull the car into some remote Dairy Queen restaurant that he’d masterfully located.
If you have young kids, some of your spontaneous activities will not require much advance planning. Take advantage of that luxury now! Come bedtime, say, “Get your PJs on and meet me at the car. We’re going to the drive-through at Krispy Kreme doughnuts.” Or, on the spur of the moment, surprise the kids with an overnight campout. Pitch a tent in the yard and make s’mores on the grill.
Unfortunately, the older the child gets, the more reluctant we parents are to risk doing something spontaneous. We fear having our crazy whims backfire, and so we’re hesitant to step out in faith. We struggle to keep up with what our kids like this week- or maybe even this afternoon! But don’t let it keep you from taking some risks and raising the joy quotient for your family. And remember that even when you get it right, your teens may never let on that they’re really having fun.
Here’s a radical concept: In order for your family to have fun together, they must spend time together. So get out of your comfort zone and breathe life, joy, and camaraderie into your family.
(Building Family Ties with Faith, Love and Laughter)
Posted: September 20th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Building Family Ties | No Comments »
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
That may be the biggest lie ever foisted on children. Words hurt. A broken bone will heal. But sometimes the wounds from cruel words linger for decades.
Some time ago I was on a retreat with my staff. Together we shared some of the more painful and damaging comments that came from our parents. I was at a loss to come up with one, but plenty of people there struggled to narrow down their choices.
The following list is real. They are painful. They’re like a ticking hand grenade lobbed from parent to child.
- “You’ll never get a date if you don’t lose that weight.”
- “You can’t do anything right. I wish I’d never had you.”
- “You’re so dumb, boy; step aside, I’ll do it.”
- “Too bad you’re not as pretty as your sister.”
- “Face it, you will never amount to anything.”
Some of those comments dated back more than half a century, but the effect was as fresh and raw as if the words had been uttered yesterday.
As parents, we are responsible for the verbal climate in our families. It’s up to us to create situations and settings where family members say uplifting and affirming comments to one another rather than words that are demeaning and hurtful. In the car, around the dinner table, in all sorts of situations in everyday life, words can cut and scar, or they can mend and heal.
Take an interest in one another’s lives. Applaud those in your family whose words lift up others. Positivity generates joy. Raise your kids to care about their siblings and genuinely celebrate with one another.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29
Posted: July 21st, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Building Family Ties | No Comments »
When we were raising our kids, we’d motivate them with the Good-Better-Best principle. It became a teaching method that they could apply to any situation they encountered, regardless of their age. Basically it both applauded and stretched them.
On our way to a friend’s house for dinner, for example, you might coach your eight-year-old like this: “When you’ve finished eating, if you say, ‘May I be excused?’ that would be good. But if you were to say, ‘Thank you for dinner. I really liked the chicken. May I be excused?’ then that would be better. And if you were to say, ‘Thank you for the dinner. I really liked the chicken. Do you need any help cleaning up?’ then that would be best.”
It is a method designed to continually raise the bar and help your children learn how to improve. On your way home, you can praise them on a job well done.
Part of your child’s success will depend on your preparation. If before you go into a setting, you say, “Tonight let’s work on being a servant,” you can bring it to the forefront of their mind. It might take a little extra time on your part, but if you target the heart first, then right behavior becomes a natural outgrowth. Parenting is an ongoing opportunity for stretching and maturing your children.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God.
Posted: July 6th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Building Family Ties | No Comments »
In case you are humorically challenged, a brief tutorial on the subject might help. Longtime Christian comedian and speaking coach Ken Davis understands the role of humor in speaking. Years ago he shared with me that in order for something to be funny, it must always have one of three elements: exaggeration, truth, or surprise.
My kids were very young when I taught them the Big Three. They learned those faster than their social security number. And for years the premise has been validated- anything we laugh about falls into one of those three categories.
Jesus had a great sense of humor. He captivated crowds for hours. Children flocked to Him. He excelled at building relationships with people of all backgrounds. Why? Because love and laughter can break down the strongest of defenses.
People often ask me if Jesus ever used humor when He taught. Fact is, He actually used all of the Big Three in HIs talks. He primarily used exaggeration, because in first-century Jewish culture, humor was based on hyperbole. Jesus was a master at the technique; the bigger the exaggeration, the funnier the joke. So when Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in our brother’s eye and fail to notice the plank in your own?” (Matt. 7:5), people in the crowd weren’t reverently murmuring, “Amen.” They were cracking up because of the gross exaggeration.
In Matthew 23, in His denunciation of the Pharisees, He used the element of surprise. Here are the respected religious leaders of the day, and Jesus compared them with whitewashed tombs that look good on the outside, yet are filled with dead men’s bones. While the crowd might not have laughed in front of the pharisees, they would have gone home, retold the story, and laughed about how the Teacher’s unexpected words caught everyone off guard.
Then Jesus rounded out the trifecta by simply stating the truth. When behaviors are already ridiculous, sometimes the truth can be downright side-splitting. All Jesus had to do was point out the legalism of the Pharisees’ tithing practices- all the way down to giving 10 percent of each stalk from their gardens!
Did Jesus have a sense of humor? You bet He did. Hebrews 1:9 even points out that God the Father anointed Jesus with “the oil of gladness beyond [His] companions”. He must have been joyful- even absolutely hilarious.
Posted: June 7th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Building Family Ties | No Comments »
Can a family truly find joy together in a culture that seems intent on undermining it? Even my family?
Some of you are new parents who want to start your family off on a different pathway than some of the disheartening examples you’ve observed or experienced. Some of you want to elevate the expectation of joy within your home and enhance the level of communication and connection. And others may need a complete makeover.
God specializes in new beginnings and second chances.
Here’s the secret nobody’s told you yet: You can have fun and still be a family of individuals with living, active faith.
· Siblings can get along.
· Teens can appreciate time with their parents.
· Dinnertime can be the highlight of the day.
· The three-hour drive to Grandma’s house can be enjoyable even without a DVD player—or anything that begins with the letter i.
· Secrets and sullenness can be replaced with shared struggles.
· Scowls can be transformed to smiles, grunts to belly laughs, and selfishness to service.
I’ve spent countless hours visiting in hospital rooms, and I’ve come to realize that when people are dying, their conversations are usually brutally honest and free of pretense. You name it, I’ve heard it—doubts, regrets, lost dreams, unfulfilled desires.
But I’ve never known anyone who lamented, “I spent too much time with my family.”
At the end, we all know what’s really important. When you’re on the threshold between this life and the next, looking across into eternity, don’t you want to be surrounded by a family that is tied together with genuine love, faith, and the memories of a great life together?
Come to think about it, don’t you want that now?
Is your family on the endangered species list? Many families today are. You don’t need to read a book to raise kids who are aimless, joyless, and Christless. Simply get in line and follow the crowd.
But if you want your family to be different from the world; if you want to break the unhealthy habits you’ve grown up with and start building a healthy, joyful, godly family, you will need a book.
It’s called the Bible.
Join me as we spend the rest of this book applying the principles from that book.
Together let’s build family ties with faith, love, and laughter.
Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Building Family Ties
Posted: May 17th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Building Family Ties | No Comments »
If you want to see fruit from your family gatherings, you’ll need to put some effort and thought into dinnertime- and I’m not referring to the menu. It doesn’t really matter whether you cook or bring it in. There are more important things that deserve your attention.
As a child I was always intrigued by the personal attention my parents gave each other and us kids. At night when we would be eating dinner together, my dad would pull a three-by-five card out of his pocket. On it would be four or five words he had scribbled down during his day in order to simply jog his memory. Throughout the meal, Dad would share with us events of the day or some news he’d received. He’d say, “The Meyers had a baby, and she’s doing great” or “I read today that a new Disney movie is coming out this weekend.” That small card filled with chicken scratches let us know that, during different moments of the day, we were on his mind. He thought about us and wanted to share something specifically with us. Those brief conversations made huge deposits in the family “security” account.
You may be thinking, “This isn’t practical for me three-year-old” or “My two teenagers would feel like this is childish.”
Well, there’s not a one size fits all when it comes to family dinnertimes. But try something. Put some thought into creating your own “index card” moments.
Here are a few ideas you might tailor for your family:
The Talking Bowl: Place a small bowl in the center of the table and everyone puts in a question. Some could be serious or they can be silly… but there are no right or wrong answers. Everyone has a voice. Along the way, you may learn a thing or two about the people you think you know.
High/Low: Go around the table and have each person tell about the lowest moment in the day, then the highest. It is a great opportunity to let prayer requests emerge and then to speak of how God is beside you in the mountains and valleys of life. It also teaches your kids to take an interest in their siblings and parents. Another option is to share what made you glad, sad, and mad that day.
Celebrate Good Times: Once a month when I was a kid, my mom would choose to honor someone in the family who had achieved something of significance. If you were the fortunate recipient, dinner would consist of your favorite main course and dessert. Mom would have toilet paper streaming down from the dining room light to each corner of the table. She made mealtimes a time of fun and interaction.
The keys to creating an atmosphere of anticipation around mealtime together are positivity, acceptance, and variety.
And good-tasting food helps too!
Posted: May 16th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Building Family Ties | No Comments »
“Okay, who would like to say grace?”
When I was growing up, our family never called our prayer time around the table “grace,” but yours may have. I like it. The word itself sounds like a blessing.
When you pause to pray, you are establishing a healthy habit and expressing thanks both to the One who provided the food and to those who prepared it. The dinner table provides a setting for you to show your dependence on God. The Bible says “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17).
If your children don’t agree that food is a good gift, perhaps it’s time for the family to fast from a meal. Nothing teaches appreciation quicker than going without something you take for granted.
And while you’re thanking God for your blessings, remember that not everyone has a good meal on the table– or even a table to put it on. You don’t have to go to a developing nation to find people who are hungry. All you have to do is drive around your own town. It’s important to remind your family of the plight of others who are less fortunate, and to remember that part of our calling as followers of Jesus is to care for those who are hungry and hurting.
Also, take turns praying at dinner. Teach your young children that the meal begins with gratitude. It can be something as simple as going around the table and saying one thing that represents what you’re thankful for that day. It can be holding hands for a moment of quiet meditation, with each silently taking to God, or singing a familiar chorus that expresses your thankfulness.
Don’t fixate on how flowery or big the words. Simply say grace- and as your pray, thank God for His.
In a post by Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts, she shares her family’s dinnertime tradition. They never leave the table without “chewing the Real Bread”. Click Here to read her words on how one habit has changed her family the most. She writes, “But when we eat Scripture, we eat the only real food, for Christ is Living Bread and eating He who sustains all things, sustains body and soul. When we eat His Words, we eat of the eternal world.”
Eating together as a family builds ties of love and laughter. Be intentional with your dinnertime so you also grow and learn in your faith. More posts throughout the week will share ideas on how to unite your family around the dinner table through prayer, scripture, questions, and laughter. Feel free to comment below or on our Facebook Page: Faithful Families with your family’s traditions and creative ideas around the table!
Posted: May 15th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Building Family Ties | No Comments »
Shared meals are essential for a healthy family. Gathering around the dinner table isn’t just something we see in reruns of black-and-white TV shows. What takes place while your family is seated around that table will bear more fruit than you could possibly imagine.
The blessings of the dinner table are both obvious and numerous. Around the table we can teach manners, model principles, discuss topics, and honor God. Dr. Catherine Snow, professor of education at Harvard Graduate School of Education, followed sixty-five families over an eight-year period. She found that there was something of more value to child development than playtime, school, or story time.
The big winner was family dinner.
Several separate studies confirm the profound effects of dinnertime together. Eating regular meals together gives parents and kids time to talk and relate to one another without distractions. Kids who sit down at the table with their families do better in school and in life, are more stable, and are less apt to get into trouble. The leading common denominator among high achievers is not wealth, appearance, or intelligence; it’s the simple fact of eating dinner together as a family.
In other words, dinnertime is more than just a meal.
Check back throughout the week for dinnertime ideas… how to deepen relationships, share encouragement, and laugh uncontrollably!
Building Family Ties
Posted: April 20th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Building Family Ties | No Comments »
The great preacher Vance Havner, known for his incisive one-lines, said, “A rut is nothing but a grave with both ends kicked out.” If you want to get your family laughing, you’ve got to get out of that rut. Be spontaneous. Change things up.
Here’s a radical concept: In order for your family to have fun together, they must spend time together. So get out of your comfort zone and breath life, joy and camaraderie into your family. I call it “planned spontaneity.” Beth and I have always tried to have a purpose behind our activities. We’ve planned conversations and competitions, vacations with a purpose, even the trivia test I’d unveil on the final day of vacation (with a whopping $10 prize to the winner). We knew that every experience can be both a teaching opportunity and a bonding time for your family. Whether it’s an annual activity or a spur-of-the-moment surprise, be intentional about it. Use it as a chance to connect with your family and help them connect with God.
Here are some of the memories that mean most to the Stone family:
- Game nights at our home with neighbors or new friends
-Friday night “family night” when the kids were young
- The entire family camping out on the floor of my office to stay up and watch the opening afternoon and evening of March Madness
- Our annual hide-and-seek game at Church on the evening of Christmas Day
I encourage you to find time this weekend to create memories that will last with your family. Surprise your kids with a trip to get ice cream after school or donuts early Saturday morning. Maybe you can pitch a tent in the yard and make s’mores for a spur of the moment campout. Or announce one day of the week as “family day” and each week a different member of the family picks the outing or game.
Comment below (or Tweet @TheFaithfulFam) with creative ideas your family has done or plans you have for the weekend!
Building Family Ties