Dating My Family

We are a family of adventurers.

We enjoy grand road trips, wild untamed cuisine, and spontaneous events.

We also like parks, hammocks strung between any two trees, a walk to the library, and a fifty-cent pop from the soda machine at the used car dealership at the end of the block.

Adventure can look big and bold, and it can look regular and every day. I think it’s the spirit of the moment that creates adventure no matter where you are.

Today, my goal is to convince you to adventure this summer.

You can stay home, or you can go and do. Either can be considered within the realm of adventure.

You can create intimate moments or you can imagine meet-ups and celebrations, but I believe that every family needs a touch of adventure.

Why? Because curiosity is not only healthy for our development and continued learning and growth. It keeps our grey matter ripe with plasticity (a fancy word for able to grow new brain cells), but most importantly curiosity encourages our relationships to good health.

We are people created by God to connect. This is not an optional life skill. Connection is life to our souls. The more we find out about how our brains work, the closer we get to understanding the link between connection and every other human need and growth area. (For more on this, findfun research links at the end of this post.)

Isn’t it nice when science catches up to what we already know from God? The first thing God does after creating man is create connection between people by creating families.

The struggle is that most days we just have so much to do, so much to accomplish, that real, meaningful connection can fall to last place on the list, and if you’re like me, last place looks like the scary mom, crabbing at people to get into bed, trying to grab a moment for a book and a prayer, and hoping no one was scarred for life. Praise the Lord for Jesus and the connecting grace He brings into our homes. Because of the hectic of life…

in our family, we date.

We have been able to hold on to connection – solid, deep, meaningful family connection – in the day-to-day hectic of our lives, by setting time aside for adventures.

This summer, I’d like to help you date your family.

What does dating your family look like?

It’s more a mindset, but it’s also tangible action.

Mindset: We actually want to spend time together, even though it’s really, really difficult sometimes, so we will need to be creative.

Tangible action: Put it on the calendar.

Put up a tent and have a campout in the backyard, but put it on the calendar.

Is it someone’s birthday? Share one entree between everyone at four restaurants, rather than simply going out to eat.

We call this Foodabration. Put it on the calendar.

Parks are great and free. Make one evening park evening and visit three local parks instead of haphazardly meandering to the park down the street.

If you have little kids, three playgrounds in one night will sound to them like they won the Powerball. If you have teens – picnic food for the win! Put it on the calendar.

Anything to prolong the moments and actually make them happen.

Do you have sports and lessons and…and…and…and on the schedule? Yep. Pack a gallon ziploc bag with a seek and find book, mechanical pencils, and pieces of candy or star stickers. Pass the book around the family for the evening or a week, challenging everyone to find one word and pass it to the next person, around and around. When you get a word, you get a sticker or a piece of candy. Am I confusing you? Maybe, because I’m making it up as I go along, but the point is to make it up, to try it, and you guessed it:

put it on the calendar.

Anything to create connection, to create a moment in the middle of this running, going, doing life.

Maybe the extra boost we all need is to know it’s good for our brain health.

Maybe the extra boost we need is to know summer is really only two months long and the kids will be in our house non-stop anyway, so something to look forward to will be good for all of us anyway?

Maybe the extra boost we need is to know there are only so many two month summers left until they have their own lives, their own commitments, their own plans.

Maybe the extra boost we all need is a little friendship, fun, and accountability, so I’m starting a summer hashtag – #datingmyfamily. There are only 15 prior posts for #datingmyfamily on Instagram, so I’m pretty sure we can easily make this a thing.

Show us how you date your family. Make it simple, make it big, make it both. The moments matter, but how you do it really doesn’t. We’ll get ideas from each other and share in this beautiful life together. Use the hashtag on any social media or don’t use it.

This summer, let’s date our families.

To help you out, my friend and early childhood guru Jamie and her nephew Zach, a creative and fun-loving college student, helped me to compile this stellar and creative list –

90 ideas for Dating Your Family

Remember – put it on the calendar this summer.

If you need me, I’ll be #datingmyfamily this summer. 😉

Resources:

On Curiosity and Relationships – Berkley

The Basics of the Brain and Curiosity – NPR

The Four Myths of Friendship

I once believed in the lie of Disney channel friendship.

I looked around me as a middle schooler, a teen, a college student, and then a young mom praying over my life, asking God to send me the friend that everyone else seemed to have. I wanted real friendship, real investment.

Then I found myself praying the same thing over my heartsick nine-year-old daughter, who also longed for this mysterious friendship.

God did answer my prayers, but not in the way I expected. Instead, he removed the scales and opened my eyes.

We all long for a good friend. We are all crafted as different individuals. We have different needs and different personalities. Some of us search for companionship and intimacy more than others, but friendship is a deep human need. Between practicing therapy and life in the church I have found a flaw in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Most people I have met would take a good friend over food any day. Survival is significant, but connection is part of that survival, not a secondary system.

Still, friendship is hard and complicated and the lies of friendship prevail, swirling around us. I talk to teens and adults all the time that express a desire to have one of these things in a friend:

One really good friend, preferably who lives next door and occasionally brings you chocolate or wine for no good reason

A friend you don’t have to tell your backstory to, someone that just “gets” you and instinctively “knows”

A friend who never makes you feel bad by bringing up your flaws

or a friend that calls first, that magical unicorn of an individual who picks up the phone and reaches out instead of you having to do it all the time

This is our cultural idea of friendship.

This is often how we define “besties”, “mates”, or “bff’s” whether we are eight or forty-eight. We may not struggle with friendship the way we did when we were 13, but somewhere inside of us, most of us will continue to struggle with unrealistic ideas about friendship our whole lives, because life is a journey of learning, not a destination of knowing. We will always be walking this journey of trying to understand relationships until heaven meets us here on earth. The moment we stop learning about relationship is the moment our relationships suffer. They will lack what is real, what is honest.

We would be fooling ourselves if we didn’t recognize there is at least a little bit of a spiritual battle in there somewhere sorting through friendship. To love well, to love often, to love first, to love more – these are the things of God, of course the devil would like to destroy them, mangle them, or rearrange them.

I say this as one warrior on this journey to another – the cultural lies of friendship are keeping us from real friendship.

Today we call out four myths of friendship so we can claim real friendship:

The myth of one best friend – this is awesome, but exceedingly rare, and tv makes it look as common place as tomatoes in salsa. Most of us adults, either set the idea of a best friend aside for a few really awesome friendships because we refuse to compare apples and oranges much less the people we love. Or we have an amazing friend that we confide all our hopes and dreams in but they likely live three states away, so we have to be creative and use Facetime a lot and it’s just still not all slumber parties and clay face masks.

The myth of a friend who just “knows” – this is as destructive as expecting our spouse to read our minds. No one reads minds, except for Jesus, and the Bible tells us He’s a friend like no other, so that makes sense. Friendship is about knowing, deep intimate knowing, and it’s really awesome when your friend sends you Star Wars undergarments because she “knows,” but she didn’t read your mind. Instead, you had conversations and shared details and listened and took notes. It takes time to build friendship, and effort, and more sacrifice than reward. It takes hard stuff happening like loss and transition and life change to get to the good stuff and they still won’t just magically know. This is a hard realization.

The myth of the friend who calls so you don’t have to – it’s nice to get a phone call. (Or if you’re like me, a text, because all my friend’s know I don’t answer my phone.) It’s nice to be invited places, but so many of us miss out on genuine friendship because we are waiting to be invited. When you look around you and long for a friend, I have found that God’s answer is usually “lean in.” By this I mean, we have to be willing to call, to text, to invite, and to ask in, because most other people are waiting to be asked in as well. If we stand around and wait, we may be standing around a very long and lonely time. It’s nice to be invited, yes, but it’s better to friend, to reach out, because that’s where the good stuff is, the worthwhile, and God works there with an authenticity we would miss otherwise.

Last, the myth of a friend who never points out your flaws. Lord, at 38-years-old I do not want this person in my life. I want friends who tell me I’m beautiful, friends who tell me “well done,” but I also want friends who say, “I forgive you” because that means we’ve been our real selves going through real stuff together. I don’t want harsh friends, hurtful friends, or mean girls in my life, but I do want to give my friends permission to be awkward by being a little awkward myself, permission to mess up by messing up myself, and friends who are full of grace which means I have to give them a reason to share grace in this life.

Real friendship, this is the goal. It isn’t easy. It isn’t simple. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen and it starts with His love, tucked inside of you.

(Learn more about real friendship, real relationship, and what is really beautiful in both in Altogether Beautiful.)

So Good, I Think I’ll Keep It to Myself (My Redeemer Lives 7:4)

When you live in a large family, you hide your chocolate.

You hide your Doritos, your raspberries, your Oreos, and maybe even your steak too, but you definitely hide your chocolate, because it matters most.

What do you love enough to hide…mostly from your children, maybe from your roommate, maybe from your labradoodle? What do you tuck away because it’s so good you really want to save it for yourself?

Sometimes I wonder if the Gospel is just so good, that we tend toward the same line of thinking.

It’s so good, we think we might just save it for ourselves.

I’m not saying that we are consciously thinking, “Self, don’t share the Gospel,” but I wonder how much of the devil’s tiny mind tricks play on our subconscious. There are probably many and various things keeping us from sharing Truth in Love with our neighbor, but maybe there’s even a tiny, tiny piece of us deep down that wonders if we share it, whether there will be enough. Will the grace run out? Will the specialness that God sees me with run out? And the more transparent questions —

What if I take it and do it wrong? What if I mess up the Gospel?

Will I run out of all that is good in me, if I open myself up to another person?

In Mark 16:5-8 we find out that the women who went to take spices to Jesus’ tomb might have had similar feelings

And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

They were afraid. Fear does crazy things to us. We aren’t going to tackle the concept of fear today; instead, we’re going to look at how God treats fear, where He is in all our questions and our concerns of “not enough,” and try to move past holding all the good stuff close to us and instead spreading it out like wildfire.

Do you think the Gospel writer Mark put Mark 16:8 in there to shame the women, to let them know how they had failed? I don’t see that in keeping with the rest of the book and the honor brought to these women by sharing their stories of that first Easter morning at the empty tomb. Rather, the Holy Spirit decides what details are penned through the personalities and the particular witness of each Gospel writer.

What does 2 Peter 1:16-21 teach us about every word written in pages of those Gospel books and the rest of God’s Word?

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The Word is God’s, first and foremost. Notice 2 Peter 1:19 above again:

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…

That Word is a Lamp in dark places.

Those dark places are sometimes someone else’s, but they are also our own.

Christ’s resurrection shines light into the darkness of our hearts and sees that we also have fear. I think that at least part of the reason God shares the full story with us of these women hiding the Gospel, keeping their mouths closed, trembling in shock, is because He wants us to know that He knows.

He knows our lack. He knows the Gospel can be intimidating at times—so big, so awesome that we don’t quite know what to do with it.

He knows that resurrection is intimately connected to death and that can make it uncomfortable.

He knows that we wonder about failing ourselves, our loved ones, our world.

He knows that sometimes things seem so far from restoration that we think it’s maybe not even worth trying.

He knows that sometimes the night seems longer than it should be and sometimes the plan seems confusing and not what we expected.

He knows that we are waiting and we have questions.

He knows we need to eat, sleep, and breathe Hope from sun up to sun down and we simply cannot live without it.

He knows that we are made to witness, but we need one another as witnesses, for strength, for perseverance, for insight, and for confidence.

He knows each of us. He died and rose for each of us.
That fact alone makes it uncontainable.

Just like the women at the tomb, we eventually find our fears and our concerns filled with faith. Sit quiet for just a moment and read Mark 16:6. Breathe in and breathe out the words to yourself aloud.

And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.

This is resurrection, my friend. This is the Word at work in you. Let it ease into your pores and bring new life to your soul.

He is risen.

That’s all you need share. Those three words. Next time your friend shares a struggle, take their hand and tell them, “He is risen. He rises. That’s Who He is. He takes dead things, decaying things, and brings life.” The next time you see something joyous, say it — “He is risen. He rises. That’s Who He is. He brings all the life, everywhere He goes.” Pray it over one another when the resurrection is hard to see and when the resurrection comes and transforms hearts and lives.

We will rise with Him, when He comes back for us.

One day, not too far and not too long away, we’ll say, “He is risen!” to His beautiful, glorious, uncontainable face. We will have hands to touch Him, heads to lean against Him, and mouths to let out peals of laughter with Him. Won’t that be the day? Oh, my.

In the meantime…He is risen is our anthem. He is risen is our banner. He is risen is our war cry. He is risen is our cheer.

Don’t stop looking for resurrection now, friends. When you see it, simply say —

He is risen, just like He said.

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Don’t miss a bonus final study post next Monday! There will be a special surprise and an announcement to reveal the I Love My Shepherd Fall Online Study.

 

 

Today we celebrate the Resurrection! Tomorrow we Rest in the Resurrection. What special thing can you do to remember the Resurrection today or this weekend with family and friends? I know we just had Easter, but what if we surprised the world with a little Easter everyday? 😉