Dinner Table Game: Good Choice, Bad Choice

yesterday i talked about how we’re trying to make dinner a meaningful point of connection for our family. with little kids that leak everywhere and spill almost everything, it’s easy to find our focus during the entire meal zeroed in on keeping every kid in their seat and every piece of food heading in the right direction.
so how do we make it meaningful?
here’s something we’ve been trying lately that’s been working for us:
kids love games. so we made one up.
(really, it’s just 2 questions that we all ask each other… but since we called it a game, that’s what adelina thinks it is.)
the rules of this “game” are quite simple:
  1. everyone has to answer.
  2. and everyone has to be honest.

when it’s your turn, you have to share one BAD choice you made that day, and then you have to share one GOOD choice you made that day.

 

shanna has been really great about helping our kids focus on choices as either good or bad. we’ve been trying to avoid referring to people and ourselves as good or bad (the theological component of that will come later when they’re older), but rather, as people who either made a good choice or a bad choice, at a point in time.
on top of that, it’s important for our kids to see that we as parents blow it too from time to time. every day actually. and there is something powerful in the faith development of children and teens when they know they’re being led by people who are real and transparent about their shortcomings.

let’s face it… we all know they know we’re not perfect. and us telling them isn’t giving them license to do it, if it’s framed and explained in the right way.

these 2 simple questions have given us many great in-roads to celebrating and praising good behavior, as well as conversations (without being in the heat of the moment) where we can explain why certain behaviors are bad and not something we want to continue. some nights, apologies are given and moods are turned completely around.
what do you do around your table to make the conversation meaningful? i’d love to hear what’s working for you in the comments!
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Becoming People of the Table

as a family we try to eat dinner at the table most nights. but if you think for a minute we’re batting a hundred at that each week, you’re quite wrong. some nights the table is too full of junk-that-needs-a-home, and it’s easier to just eat in the living room while watching one of our favorite shows. other nights the schedule just doesn’t allow for it. but, it’s something we’re aiming for and a strike in the “win” column when it happens.
both shanna and i were fortunate to grow up with great memories from times around the dinner table as a family. spontaneous laughter, conversations about faith, and moments of realness were all things we came to expect over the years. of course, the meals often included emotions as thick as the meatloaf in front of us, and there were many nights where we couldn’t wait to get out of each other’s presence and back to our own little corners of the house. in our hurried lives, especially with 2 little ones right now, the dinner table is becoming for us an important point of reconnection.
the mess is another story…

cooper mess

tomorrow i’ll share a simple game we’ve been playing at the table lately to keep the conversation real.

How To Be A Person That Others Open Up To

i’ve been thinking lately about what it is in people that makes us perceive someone else to be “safe” while others to be “unsafe”.  i’m not talking about the ‘hey-little-girl-want-some-ice-cream?’ kind of unsafe here… but rather, the degree in someone that communicates to us that it is not ok to open ourselves up to.  or the degree to which i can look at someone and trust them and be totally comfortable sharing the real me without sugarcoating and hiding and glossing over the truth.

let’s face it… some people have it. and some people don’t.

Trust-hand

over the years, there are definitely some people i’ve not shared certain things with.  part of that has been due to my own immaturity and need to be comfortable with my own imperfections, but they are still worth noting.  real ministry is done in the context of real relationships, and if these things mark your life, you probably aren’t (perceived as) a safe person.

  • when you only share the good things in life i wonder if you’re safe.  “do you ever struggle, or am i the only one?”  if you only share the good, people will tend to think that you’re not comfortable talking about the bad.  they know it’s there in you just like it is in them, but if you’re not cool with going there, then they know they can’t truly fit in around you.

  • when you spiritualize everything we talk about i wonder if you’re safe.  “do you always have a verse for everything?”  i’m not knocking scripture memory here or bashing the value of talking in ways that ascribe glory to God… but sometimes i think people hide behind spiritual cliches because it gets them out of uncomfortable moments.  when i’m hurting, sometimes the best thing you can say to me is nothing at all.  just being there with your mouth shut will communicate trust in ways that your words never could.

  • when you never share details about your life that could make you vulnerable i wonder if you’re safe.  “do you ever stop managing your image and let down your guard?”  if you’ve never inadvertently asked me to extend grace to you because you’ve shared something potentially vulnerable about yourself, what makes you think i will share something vulnerable about myself and expect to receive grace back?  relationships are a two-way street, and the best way to get something out of me that will make me vulnerable is to lead the way by sharing something about yourself that makes you vulnerable.

so how do you be a person that others open to?

do the opposite of the above.

share the good… but also the bad. and don’t leave out the ugly.  talk about your losses just as much as your wins.  when someone asks how you’re doing, give them an honest response, and watch for how they react.  share the things about you that are messy and raw.  and let people in on the parts of you that God is still working on.

our generation is hungry for authentic people to open up to.  will you be the one to lead the way?

The Girl That Never Stopped Smiling

we were out doing some shopping a few weeks ago, and while shanna tried on a MILLION different things, i grabbed this picture of my daughter adelina with a new friend she just met.
the two of them got along so well with each other.
no fights.
no arguments.
no complaining.

something about this girl was remarkable.  she NEVER stopped smiling.  

even after hanging out together for about 45 minutes, and not once being offered adi’s balloon, the girl still showed signs of admiration and friendship.
without fail.

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some days i wish my relationships with others could be like this.
and then i think about it a little deeper.
i tell the teens this often: when God made us, he COULD have made us like this little girl. he could have crafted us with a plasic-never-changing-never-frowning smile.  no matter what he did to us, we would never be disappointed. or like my favorite movie, he could have made us with a pull-string that always repeats “you’re my favorite deputy” everytime it’s released. God could have programmed us to ONLY give him love and admiration, like robots with all the circuits lined up properly.

but he wanted something more authentic.

and with that pivotal want comes the potential for evil, and disease, and war, and hatred, and sickness, and STD’s, and car accidents, and cancer, and drunk driving, and murder, and poverty, and sex-trafficking, and pestilence, and thorns on rose bushes.

in God’s mind, this whole authentic thing must have been pretty important.

to have one of his created humans walk up to him, and out of the blue – volitionally – with no sense of obligation – and while being surrounded by so many other temptations and opportunities and things to chase – to be able to say “i love you” and mean it… to God… that was worth it all.
he doesn’t want our fake allegiance.  with all the other options available to us, there’s a God out there who’s craving your life’s greatest commitment.
i don’t know where you’re at… but i can tell you from my own experience: it’s worth it!