What would your family look like if you committed to investing in them daily? It is a question I often ask myself. If we were less busy; if we worked a little less; if we made more time for the people we love the most, if we put the phone down, how would life look? Would we be more content? Would our families be stronger? Would we be happy?
The last seven years of my life have been the busiest years of my life! I started, operated, successfully built, and progressed a local non-profit community theater. There were many stressors, long-hours working nights, difficult people, and hard lessons. BUT there was also love, laughter, light, beautiful people, amazing lessons, and a whole lot of fun. After seven years, the Lord called us to close the theater in December of 2017.
While the last seven years building a business have been mostly pleasant, I sacrificed quite a bit; especially where my family was concerned.
I used to feel a lot of guilt for working so many hours. Although I homeschool my son, and he was with me every day, I still missed out on too many beach days, days at the park, barbecues, outings, and other family events; all which left me feeling guilty. I finally gave my guilt to the Lord and was met with His amazing grace.
For now, the doors of our little theater are closed, and I have a renewed energy to invest in my family in this new year and in this new season of our lives. At the start of every year, I do Lara Casey's POWERSHEETS. If you haven't heard of Powersheets or Lara Casey, CLICK HERE and get to know this amazing woman. We are totally best friends. (She just doesn't know it yet! 😉) Powersheets are intentional goal planners. This year, three of my goals have to do with my marriage and my family and cultivating the gift God has given me in these amazing people.
Maybe you are with me. Perhaps you also want to intentionally love, care for, and invest in your family in this season. If you do, here are some tangible ways that I am investing in my family this year. I would love for you to join me!
1. FAMILY DATE NIGHTS and OUTINGS
We have all heard of family date nights; one night a week set aside (no electronics!) to be with the ones we love. To talk, share a meal, play games, and get to know those we with whom we share a home.
This year, Steven and I decided on one family date night a week. Most of these will be at-home date nights. They don't have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, they shouldn't be stressful at all. We are hoping these family date nights bring us together, help us get to know one another on a deeper level, and ultimately, help us to appreciate the gift God gave us in each other.
We also decided on a once-a-month family outing. These outings may lead us to an aquarium, museum, concert, opera, ballet, or theater production. (We are a theatrical family, so these excite us!) We also want to take Asher to a professional football or baseball game! We hope that these once-a-month outings get us out of the normalcy of life, and cause us to be more adventurous; something our family is severely lacking! (says this Type-A-plan-everything-in-advance-Mom)
For a list of hundreds of family date nights, CLICK HERE. We are using this list for our family!
2. DATE NIGHTS WITH YOUR LOVE.
The Marriage Foundation, (a non-profit in England designed to help marriages flourish) along with Professor Steve McKay of the University of Lincoln, did a study on the effects of date night on married couples. You can read the study here. The study looked at almost 10,000 couples and found that "occasional date nights bring added stability to the relationship between new parents. It seems plausible that the same thing can happen at any stage of marriage because what date nights really do is reinforce existing levels of commitment." (Source)
Steven and I got married in August of 2017. In September of 2017, we fostered two teenagers for a month. In October of 2017, my father very unexpectedly passed away. In November of 2017, we were grieving as a family and figuring out how to do the holidays without Dad. In December of 2017, we closed our business, and we moved in with my Mom, so she wasn't alone.
It is now January of 2018, and we have no clue how to be a married couple!
This year we are committing to weekly date nights; either at-home or out on the town. We are committing to monthly date nights that get us out of the house and adventuring to new places. I genuinely believe that these date nights, along with daily conversations, are the key to keeping our marriage healthy, fresh, and full of life.
For Christmas, I gave Steven a subscription to one of those date-night-in-boxes. Each month, a date will come to our home that we can go on together. We are both super excited. I'll let you know how it goes! My point in getting him the gift was to cultivate a healthy marriage.
Life hit us and hit us hard in the first four months of our marriage. But we weathered the storms, and we are believing that they gave us a firm foundation to whatever is to come.
I hope that you will join us in committing to date nights with your spouse. Again, they don't have to be expensive or stressful. In fact, they are just so super fun to plan and look forward to.
CLICK HERE for hundreds of Date Night ideas for you and your spouse. Which one sounds fun to you?
3. CULTIVATING OUR SPIRIT-LIFE AS A FAMILY.
The Lord has been so good to us. He had been faithful, and He always provides. Look at your family. Look at how God has been faithful. It may not appear so on the surface, but He is always working for our good, and He continually covers us in grace. This year, more than ever before, we are working to cultivate our spirit-life not just individually but as a family.
* We are all INSCRIBING THE WORD (here) this year. We are making a practice to get into our Bible's each day, even my eight-year-old son, and write the Word.
* I homeschool, so my son and I are doing a devotion a day together. We are using "May the Faith Be with You: 180 Devotions That Are Out of This World", naturally because my son loves Star Wars. It's an excellent devotional. Search Amazon, and you will find some great devotionals for families and kids. Whether before bed, at the breakfast table, or on a Sunday morning, you can cultivate a Spirit-led life with your family.
* Negativity has seeped into my son's vocabulary in the last year. I don't know if it is because he is eight, or because of all the changes in our lives, he is just cranky. Whatever the reason, it has to go! I bought a mason jar, and we are filling it once a week, or as the occasion calls, with gratitude and positive moments. Steven and I are also participating, and we hope that by the end of the year, we have over 300 beautiful moments to look back on. A jar, a pen, and construction paper are all you need!
Join us in cultivating your families spiritual-life. I can promise you, it is the greatest gift you can give your children. TAKE A LOOK at more ideas on how to cultivate your families spirit-life.
4. SPEAK THE LOVE LANGUAGES.
I am a firm believer in the book, "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. If you haven't read or heard of the book, click here for his website and some information about The Five Love Languages.
As days go by, and life's busyness becomes overwhelming, we often forget to speak our families love languages. Steven's is words of affirmation and physical touch. I can tell Asher's love language is quality time and physical touch. Mine is the same as Steven's.
In investing in my family this year, I am making a point to speak their love languages each day. Whether it be holding Steven's hand while we watch TV, or spending uninterrupted time with Asher on a project, I believe in the importance of speaking their love languages and acting on them.
You can read more about The Five Love Languages with a free-ebook on practical ways to speak them here.
5. MAKE TIME FOR YOUR FAMILY.
My father unexpectedly died a few months ago, and my family is still healing from the tremendous loss. I always knew that life was short and fleeting, but losing my dad when we did just put an exclamation on that fact. Life is so short, my friends, and we never know how much time we have left . . . we never know how much time any of our family has left.
Time is a precious gift, and the older I get, the more I realize it is a luxury.
This year, we are making it a point to make more time for our family; cousins, siblings, grandparents, and closest friends. My brother lives about five hours west of our home; we are making a point to do some long weekends with him. My sister loves wrestling; so we are attending her events and supporting her passion. My mother loves to just be together; so we are doing some girls' nights outs.
Whatever you and your family enjoy doing . . . make time to do it, dear friends. The Lord has given us this beautiful gift fo time. Let us not squander it.
Family is God's greatest gift. I firmly believe that when I stand before the Father at the end of my days, He won't ask me about the songs I've written, the theaters I've started, the blogs, or the ministries I have built. While all those things are life-giving, I firmly believe He will ask me what I did with the child and the family He entrusted to me.
I want to honor my Lord by giving my time, love, and energy to my family. I have neglected them for far too long, and it is time to put things back into perspective.
I would love for you to follow along with our adventures and see how I am putting this into practice over on Instagram. (HERE) You can see all the fun and zany ways we are changing our lives by loving our family well.
YOUR TURN: How do you invest in your family? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below.
All My Love . . . Erika 💛
Join us over on Instagram and follow along as we invest in our family!