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Tag: family time (page 1 of 2)

Distracted Worship Is Better Than We Think

I was about to give up and take her back downstairs.  Our church has recently made a significant shift to inviting families to worship together.  I had no other options for my elementary child, but the Pre-K still had childcare downstairs and the constant movement, bouncing, distractions…were about to push me over the edge.  If she puts that Moses finger puppet in my face one more time…

One parent shares it like this:

“Attending worship with small children in tow can feel like trying to sleep with a helicopter hovering over your bed. What you want is refreshment and inspiration; what you get is low-level tension, discomfort, and distraction as you brace yourself for what might happen next.”

You may be able to relate.  However, I’ve become more and more convinced, that I’d much rather have my squirmy, noisy kids in worship with us than anywhere else.  It is worth it.  They may not be picking up everything (or anything) from the sermon or having a significant spiritual moment each week or any week for that matter…

But that may not be the point.

The point may be something closer to learning by immersion.  It might be closer to the power of being together over time.  It might have benefits that I never fully see until much later in life.  Despite all the distractions and hassle, it might just be worth it.

“My husband and I sometimes joke that we attend the 9:10 service (our church’s first Sunday service begins at 9am.) It doesn’t seem to matter how early we begin to get everyone ready; by the time Bibles are found, shoes and coats are donned (and hats, mittens, and boots during Minnesota winters), and the bathroom has been visited by all, we will be ten minutes late to church.

While sometimes discouraged about our seemingly perpetual tardiness, for years we overlooked an important evidence of grace: our family was in church, together. We were late, but we were there. All of us. That fact alone declares something about God. He is worth a great deal to our family. He is worth the hassle, the effort, and the work it takes to get there. He is worth the embarrassment of showing up late. He is so worthy of all of it, and of so much more. That is what worship is: declaring God to be worthy, with our words and our actions.

The hassle, tension, and effort are all worth it.  God is worth it.  Community is worth it.  Our family together, moses finger puppet and all, is worth it.  Honestly, once I really believe this – the hassle, tension, and effort start to fade out a bit.

She continues,

“But our continued presence in worship as a family is not the only declaration of God’s worth that occurs when we attend service together. In the pews, as I interact with my children, my actions declare something about God, too. They may declare that he is patient and kind, and wants to draw them into his presence; or, they may declare that God is annoyed, impatient, and eager to discipline. While there is a place for setting and enforcing boundaries for the good of our family and others, how we go about it declares something about God to those around us — especially to our children.

Most preliterate children will remember little, if any, of the sermon they hear on Sunday. The preacher’s advanced vocabulary and abstract ideas are difficult for young children to follow. They may not be able to read all the words to the songs.

But they will remember questions patiently answered, instructions given in kindness, and boundaries explained through the lens of God’s great worth. They will recall Mom’s arm around their shoulder or Dad’s lifting them up so they can see during the singing. They will remember joyful faces singing and worn Bibles opened during the sermon. These are the legacy of parental worship, regardless of how many times it was interrupted.

There is often more going on than we notice and this is a great reminder of how much they are taking in.

They absorb more than they can express.  They learn more than they show.  They are forming more ideas about mystery, community, and God than they let on.  One Sunday isn’t magical on it’s own, but the repetition over time makes a significant impact.

If you’re ready to throw in the towel as I was last week, I hope this encourages you to see it all as worth it, because it is.

“So, when someone asks me whether or not we were able to worship while sitting with our littles, I hope I can say (regardless of how much of the sermon we caught, or how many songs we were able to sing beginning to end), “Yes! God was there, and he met us.”

You can read the full post referenced above here:  Worship Interrupted

Get Some Rest

I imagine you could use some rest.

I’ve had a goal for the last several years, but I’ve rarely lived into it. The goal: Get up early, before the kids wake up, and start the day off right. However, it’s more likely that I snooze the alarm, wake up to the baby monitor and live the rest of my day on that day’s terms. Or, to say it another way…I’m in reaction mode.

We’ve all been there.
We react to the baby monitor.
Then we react to the kids morning routine.
Then it’s off to work, carpools, dinner, bed time routine…and on it goes.

I’m rarely ahead of myself on these day and I’m typically just making it all up as I go. Wait, did I eat breakfast?


I recently heard Jon Tyson, Pastor of Trinity Grace Church in NYC, share something I’d never thought about before. He pointed out that in creation God created man on the 6th day. He created man with a job to do. He gave man dominion over everything in the garden — he was to take care of and steward the creation.

So Adam wakes up on the 7th day eager and ready to get start making things happen and God says, “Not today. Today is a day for rest.”

When Adam eventually did start his work, he started from a place of rest.


We do this backwards – we work and then collapse in exhaustion. We don’t stop to rest, eventually our body just forces us to rest.

Imagine starting your day or week off from a place of rest. I have no doubt I would be a better parent. The few times I have actually gotten up early, spent time with Jesus and coffee – I greet my waking kids with a attentive presence, with joy, and a better handle on how I can encourage them for the day.

(Now, I just need to get to bed at a decent time…)

Whether you are a believer or not, there is something incredibly compelling about the Christian idea of Sabbath. What would it look like for you to schedule rest into your busy, hectic life? What would it take for you to do this?  Can you allow yourself to not be “productive” for a period of time and just be present?

One of the things that Sabbath reminds us is that we are worth more than what we create. That we have inherent value. That we can shut things down for a time and enjoy, study, spend time with family, get outside, or just sit and relax on the porch while watching the kids be free to play.

I imagine you could use some rest.

You have my permission to take time to get it.

Not Enough Time? Do it Together!

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been feeling a real tension between my work life, home life, spiritual life, physical life (i.e. – excercise), and personal life.  Who has time to nurture all these things?  Who can meet each one’s demands at the end of the day?

This a great, simple article, “The Easy Way to Double Your Fun with Your Kids” by Jon Acuff that reminds us that relationships and parenting don’t have to be that complicated.  Sometimes there is incredible power in just doing normal things together.

I don’t like to run, but I do like my pants fitting.

In order to enjoy that second thing I have to do more of that first thing.

A few times a week I go running, but sometimes my schedule gets really busy. Balancing my career, my family and my faith, sometimes feels like a juggling act.

I have two daughters, age 9 and 11, and a beautiful wife I’ve been married to for close to 14 years. I also have a new book that comes out this spring, you should order it right here, and a speaking schedule that takes me across the country.

I don’t have big swaths of free time in my calendar and need to be really smart about the ways I spend my hours. One trick I’ve had a lot of success with this year is simply inviting my kids into the things I am doing, like running.

My daughters are old enough to ride their bikes with me while I run. Instead of jogging by myself or listening to a podcast, for the last two months I’ve been running with one of my daughters. They take turns going with me so that it becomes a 30-minute midweek date with Daddy.

It’s amazing how much they’ll talk to me during the run. Something about the fresh air, the exercise, and the fun of riding a bike opens up a lot of conversation.

As parents, it’s easy to get overwhelmed trying to balance it all. What if this week you looked at your calendar and simply said, “What do I need to do that I could invite my kids into?” I needed to run, so I invited my kids. I turned “me time” into “we time” and was blown away by what a simple tweak could do.

Do your kids want to go sit and wait while you get an oil change this week? Maybe not, but they might if it meant you brought a board game they’ve been wanting to play.

Double the fun you get to have with your kids by inviting them to be part of your day.

So, what’s one thing that you can invite your son or daughter to do with you this week?


Hope this is encouraging.  If you’ve got a great idea to do together with your child, post it in the comments.
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