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10 Things Your Teen Loves to Hear

June 7th, 2017 | 1 Comment | Posted in Advice and Tips
Some parents might grit their teeth and bemoan the drama of the adolescent years, but I can’t think of anything more fun than hanging out with teens. I liken the teen years to a roller coaster. Once you’re on it, there’s no getting off until the ride’s over, so you might as well stay positive and enjoy it. After all, having teens at home probably means you can have kitchen karaoke parties, or someone who pretends your home is an Indian takeout restaurant when he answers the phone.

Of course surging hormones and adolescent angst can sometimes cause your teen to explode. He might know how to push your buttons better than anyone else, but positive communication that affirms your teen can improve your relationship and help lessen conflict.

Here are 10 things our teens love and need to hear from us:

Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/zdenkam

Ashley’s Secret to an Easy, Healthy Weekday Breakfast!

May 1st, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
Egg Muffins have changed my life. Not Egg McMuffins, Egg Muffins :)  Homemade, little frittatas that you whip together Sunday afternoon & you have an amazing healthy, grab-and-go breakfast for the whole week! The best part about these little muffins is that all you need is a carton of eggs, which costs you around $3 and whatever veggies you have left over. You can add meat or cheese but only if you want! This is the cheapest, healthiest breakfast you’ll find anywhere.


  • 1 tbs oil
  • 10 whole eggs
  • 1 cup of diced pepper (you pick the colour)
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 2 cups roughly chopped baby spinach
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • grated cheese (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a 12-slot muffin pan with muffin liners – makes clean up SO easy!!
  3. Heat a large non stick skillet over medium heat.
  4. Once hot, add in 1 tbs oil, pepper, mushroom and onion.
  5. Saute 5-7 minutes, or until peppers are tender.
  6. Crack eggs into a large bowl and whisk together
  7. Stir in cooked veggies
  8. Stir in spinach
  9. Add hot sauce &/or cheese, if using
  10. Pour the egg/veggie mixture evenly into the prepared muffin pan.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are firm to the touch and eggs are cooked.
  12. Let cool
  13. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for the week. (These may also be frozen.)
  14. To reheat, pop them in the microwave until warm.
These will revolutionize your morning routine. Enjoy!

Dan’s Mother’s Day Tips For Dads

May 1st, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips

20 Ways to Celebrate Easter

April 4th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips

Easter Sunday is around the corner. How much time have you spent preparing?

Have you done any decorating to signal to your family and neighbors that Easter is coming and that this holiday is important to you? Are you preparing for this day as the most important celebration of the entire year?

I could ask more questions but this is not a guilt trip.

It’s simply to illustrate that most of us begin thinking about Christmas months before December arrives. At five weeks our gift buying and decorating have begun and plans have been made for inviting loved ones and friends for parties and feasting.

I’m not suggesting we make Easter equal in terms of consumerism, but I am suggesting we make it much more than a Sunday morning event.

Here are 20 ideas to help you celebrate with great joy. You might want to print this list and mark the ideas you want to try and then mark your calendar with deadlines and to dos for making it happen. But don’t do them all. Discouragement will result not rejoicing! Rejoice if you choose to do even one!

    1. Start thinking about Easter and begin planning today. Don’t wait till Palm Sunday. Lent began this year on March 1, and is a season intended to help us prepare our hearts to receive and worship Jesus for His work on the cross. You aren’t a failure if you start late. Order our Messiah Mystery kit to help you and your family prepare your hearts and minds. Or follow our weekly Lent Lessons on the blog.
    2. Create anticipation with a countdown to Easter. Make a traditional numbered a paper chain for your kids to tear off one paper loop each day.
    3. Plan meaningful decorations for your home for Easter. Please forego the chicks and bunnies. Instead, hang the Easter Banner on your front door. Set fresh spring flowers on your mantle or kitchen to represent new life. Encourage your kids to build a cross with old pieces of wood and let them decide where to display it.
    1. Get your church and community involved with some advance planning. Organize a church or neighborhood Easter Egg hunt, using Resurrection Eggs. FamilyLife even offers a printable party planning packet to make it easy.
    2. Have your kids reenact Palm Sunday. Read aloud the story in John 12. Encourage them to create costumes, and even the scene if you have the space.
    3. Invite your friends over for a DIY craft night to make these Easter candles. Use them as décor on your kitchen or dining room table, but don’t light them until Easter Sunday. Waiting until Resurrection Day makes your Easter feast much more special and it signifies that the Light of the World is risen indeed!
    1. Celebrate Passover. This year Jewish Passover is on April 10th. For recipes, a dinner guide, and activities, click here.
    2. Tune your heart to worship the sacrifice of Messiah by reading John Piper’s book Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die. It’s an excellent book for your personal devotion time, conveniently available as a PDF here.
    3. Watch The Jesus Film. Dear friends of ours, Tim and Darcy Kimmel, watch the movie on Saturday afternoon and take communion together as a family. Watching the story of Jesus every year will make Easter far more meaningful.
    4. Observe Holy Week. Starting on Palm Sunday, read the I AM statements and stories about Jesus from Behold the Lamb, one each day as your family’s devotions. Hang the cards on the chain garland that comes in the kit.
    1. Attend your church’s Good Friday services. Talk about Jesus’ death on the cross to make Jesus’ death and resurrection more real to your children. Tear a handmade curtain or a yard length of muslin fabric to explain the ripping of the veil in the temple. Then keep all your curtains and blinds closed to make your house dark. Your family will remember the deep sadness the disciples felt after Jesus died. Dress in black mourning clothes on Saturday’s Easter Eve. Then on Easter Sunday to symbolize Jesus rising from the dead, serve Resurrection Rolls, Tomb Cake, or special pancakes to illustrate the empty tomb.
    2. Send an Easter care package. If there’s someone you’d love to spend Easter with but distance keeps you apart, drop a meaningful gift in the mail to them. If they’ll be hosting the meal, send the Easter placemats or napkins. Or send the set of 8 Oh,Taste and See cards for someone single or alone to read as personal devotions.
    3. Include truth-telling gifts in your children’s Easter baskets. A new shirt to wear to the sunrise service is great, but also add something that will continue teaching your children about what Easter really means. Check out Growing Together in Forgiveness, a read-aloud storybook for families.
    4. Wear all white on Resurrection Sunday. Historically Christians have dressed in white at Easter to symbolize we are set free from sin and will one day be wholly pure. Think through what you have in your closet and your kids’ closets that you can dress in white. Or start shopping!
    5. Invite others. Around the world monumental events are rarely celebrated alone. Weddings, birthdays, graduations are grand occasions shared with family and friends. Easter should be the same and more! Use our FREE printable Easter invitation to invite extended family, friends, or neighbors to join you or partner with a friend who has more space to plan, prepare, and share a feast to be remembered!
    1. Help your church make Easter Sunday memorable. A good friend of mine, Andrea, a pastor’s wife, said Easter at their church is a party. She said they shoot confetti cannons and encourage all the members to bring bells to ring and banners to wave to enhance the celebration. Last Easter everyone was given a cake pop as they left the service.
    2. Prepare a special feast. Find a suggested Easter menu or ask friends for ideas. One of our favorites for our Easter meal is Spring Salad. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to add it to your menu.
    1. Create a grand tablescape for Easter lunch or early dinner feasting in a gold and white color scheme. Gold reminds us of our victorious King and white represents the purity of His perfect life and the purity that will be ours one day. You décor doesn’t have to be expensive. Set the DIY candles on blocks of wood to create varying heights. Fill mason jars with white roses, hydrangeas, or even baby’s breath. If the weather is glorious, eat outside with gold-rimmed paper plates, gold plastic silverware, paper cups. We even found gold striped paper straws for our photo shoot. A backyard picnic setup gives the kids space to play when the feasting is over.
  1. Recount the story of the Resurrection during your Easter feast. Read the miraculous stories on our Easter napkins, or by reading our Oh, Taste and See cards. The short stories are written for 10 years to adult, but younger children can listen quietly to the stunning wonders that God performed the first Easter.
  2. Make an Easter playlist of your favorite hymns and songs that focus on the cross and the resurrection. Listen for yourself and your family in the weeks before and after Easter, but on Easter Sunday, play them all day in your home and during your backyard celebration. I want to encourage you to respond to the miracles in words or songs by celebrating with exuberant dancing, clapping, or singing together. Easter is a day to party like no other.

The resurrection of Jesus the Messiah is the pinnacle of world history. It is the greatest miracle of all time. Is it any wonder the watching world isn’t impressed with our faith if our celebration is marked by the appropriate somber tone of Lent with only an hour or two of moderate joy on Easter Sunday?

I pray you will join us and hopefully thousands of others as we plan celebrations that are worthy of our risen Lord and the envy of all who don’t know Him. Christ’s victory on the cross is the answer for every wound and need in every heart.

“Come, let us magnify the Lord together.”

From Ashley: The #1 Thing Couples Fight About

February 3rd, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips

ashley_150It’s probably not what you think! I’m relatively newly married; we’re only celebrating our 2nd Valentine’s Day as a married couple. I’m eager to hear advice from people who have much more experience!  Dr. Gottman was recognized in 2007 as one of the 10 most influential therapists of the past quarter century. “Gottman’s research showed that it wasn’t only how couples fought that mattered, but how they made up. Marriages became stable over time if couples learned to reconcile successfully after a fight.” He’s seems like someone to listen to! Read below to hear his thoughts on the #1 thing couples fight about.

Do you know Angelina Jolie?

She’s that beautiful actor who adopts Asian babies, and married the world’s most gorgeous man. They even had their own movie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Well, I’ve never met her. She sounds like a deadly assassin with a secret identity.

But I do know Christina.

Like Angelina, Christina is an admirable and beautiful woman. She also happened to marry a beautiful man named Brad.

When they first met, he was something different. Mesmerizing. Passionate. But now there is a huge space between them, and it keeps getting bigger.

She’s frustrated and lonely. He is angry and focuses all of his energy on work.

Yesterday they were trying to pick a place to grab dinner. Here’s what happened:

Christina starts. “I’m hungry. Let’s grab dinner.”

“Sounds good to me. What do you feel like eating?” Brad asks.

“I don’t know, you?” replies Christina.

“I feel like pizza. Let’s do that,” he says licking his lips.

“I don’t want pizza,” she complains.

“Okay, what do you want then?” Brad asks again, this time with a tone of frustration.

“I don’t know,” she says with a puzzled look on her face.

“What about seafood?” Brad suggests, desperately wanting to make a decision.

“No. That doesn’t sound good to me,” Christina responds.

“You always put down every idea I make.” Brad storms out of the room.

Christina starts crying. She feels lonely again.

How has something so small turned into something so big? What are they really fighting about?

According to the Einstein of Love, Dr. John Gottman, the #1 thing couples fight about is nothing:

Christina and Brad remind me of the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith. They love each other, but over time their disconnection pushes them apart. Next thing you know they are shooting bullets at each other and their love has turned lethal.

Sometimes relationships feel like we are emotionally shooting each other over the simplest things. Things can blow up over which show to watch on Netflix, where to go to dinner, or which part of the house needs cleaning first.

Meaningless Fights Can Make Or Break Trust

Rarely do couples ever sit down, create an agenda, and argue over a specific topic such as finances. Sometimes they do, but typically they hurt each other’s feelings in seemingly meaningless moments that appear to be about absolutely nothing.

What matters is not the fight itself. What matters is how partners respond to negative emotions in the relationship. If couples see the conflict as an opportunity for growth, they can attune to each other and increase their understanding of one another, deepening their trust in each other and in the relationship.

If partners dismiss the negative emotions in these situations, they may eventually reconnect with one another, but trust will erode a little. Over time, small and meaningless incidents will compound until partners are left feeling hurt, sad, and alone.

Instead of reaching out for each other’s hand, you begin pointing fingers and crossing arms. Instead of talking all night, you feel like you’re walking on eggshells. You feel like you’re too scared to speak about how you feel in fear of starting another fight.

Maybe it’s been so long since you connected with each other that you feel like cellmates instead of soulmates. Am I right?

Why Relationships Fail

Negative events will always happen in relationships, but that isn’t what turns us into cellmates. Relationships fail when the Story of Us is focused on the problems partners create, not the love partners offer.

Practically every moment of your life is narrated by a voice in your head. That voice is either going to remind you how amazing your partner is or how terrible they are to you. Those stories are then rehearsed repeatedly in your mind. If your story is focused on the negative, you slowly disconnect, sometimes without even realizing it.

It’s like a stone in your shoe. Over time, it becomes so irritating that you take off your shoe and throw the rock as far away as possible. If we constantly have a narrator telling us how negative our relationship makes us feel, then we start to see our partner as selfish. We stop believing our partner has our best interests at heart. Our potential for disconnection and betrayal increases over time.

The lovey dovey feelings we once had are replaced with loneliness, frustration, and anger. Each small incident only increases the potential for betrayal or breakup.

There is a point in our relationships when the negative story takes over and dominates all positive stories of our lover. Dr. Gottman calls this being in the “negative perspective.” Even if our partner does something nice for us, it is still a selfish person doing something nice. A person we can’t trust.

Fights Are Inevitable In Relationships

Incidents like Christina’s and Brad’s are inevitable in all relationships. According to Dr. Gottman, both partners in a relationship are emotionally available only 9% of the time. This leaves 91% of our relationship ripe for miscommunication.

While many see conflict in a relationship as a sign of incompatibility, it should be seen as a sign that the relationship needs growth to occur.

The feeling of disconnection from your partner can be used to find new horizons of communicating. Your sexless marriage can cause you to take a deep look at your integrity. It can teach you how to embody your deepest desires and how to truly want your partner and experience life-changing intimacy.

Typical conflicts are merely a reminder that a relationship is two different people working together to understand differences and love each other despite flaws.

What Makes Love Last?

When conflict occurs in a relationship, partners need to come together to understand each other better. The negative event is processed, and since partners work with each other, their minds focus on the positives of the relationship. The negative events are forgotten.

Trust is built when we are reminded that our partner is there for us. They reach out for us or grab our hand when we reach out for them. We realize our needs matter to our partner. We  forget the details about our hurt, and the negative event in the relationship slips from our mind.

Now when our partner is thoughtless, emotionally distant, or mean to us, the story we tell ourselves is that they are “stressed.” We trust them, so we repair the incident and reconnect with one another. Laughter and affection fill our disagreements because we know that this event will be resolved and our relationship will be better because of it.

So when a negative event happens in your relationship, don’t be like Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Don’t shoot each other’s hearts over nothing but misunderstanding. Use the event to build trust, to deepen your relationship, and to make it the best damn love story you’ve ever seen.


From Ashlyn: 9 Simple Ways for Busy Women to do Bible Study

February 3rd, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips, From Ashley

There’s Just No Replacement for Time in God’s Word

There are two things that battle for my attention every morning: the day’s agenda and time in the Word.

I know I’m not alone in this. It’s downright cliche’ to even acknowledge that we women are busy.

And it seems that every stage has its own busy.

I want to share some ways for busy women to get in the Word.  At the outset, we need to know there’s no replacement for unhindered, blocked off, fought for and found time in the Bible.

love devotionals and listening to archived sermons but neither can replace God speaking directly to us from His Word every day.

We also need time. I’ve had days where 15 minutes was all I got before the day marched on ready or not. While fifteen minutes is a great snack, it’s not going to sustain my soul for the day or feed me long term.

So I’m sharing 9 ways that help get me in the Word throughout the day. And more importantly – get the Word in me.


1. No other words before the Word

This was my self-imposed rule when I had a houseful of babies, toddlers and school-age kids. Those were seasons where I was quite literally on active duty around the clock. There was no getting up earlier than my children.

My rule was this: Read the Bible before anything else that day. No emails, no Facebook, no magazines until I’d read the Bible. It worked beautifully. Because we will always read something every day, we can make it God’s Word.

2. Listen to the Word

On the treadmill? Cleaning a bathroom? This is found time to listen to the Bible on audio. Sometimes hearing the Word helps it fall fresh. If you’re studying through a book, this is a great way to listen through it every day.

3. Set it out

I loved this trick that Kaitlyn Bouchillon uses to make sure she reads her Bible every day. Kaitlyn writes:

So I started doing this thing. It is so simple I’m actually embarrassed to tell you.

Right before going to sleep at night, I place my Bible on top of my closed laptop.

That’s it. That’s the trick. And it totally works. For me to do any of my work for the day, I have to literally set the Bible aside. I’m a visual learner, and when I actually see what I’m doing – choosing work over time with Him – it plain stops me in my tracks.

Sometimes the simplest things are the most genius. Your sweet spot might be on your bedside table where you pick it up before scrolling through your phone or next to coffee pot where you head first thing every morning.

4. Check your phone

If we’re going to check our phone fifty times a day, we might as well use it to feed our soul. While conventional Bible apps that let you read one chapter of Psalms, Proverbs or read through the Bible in daily chunks, here are three of my favorite tried and true apps with daily devotions:

5. Stash a Bible in your car

Keeping a Bible in the car is perfect for pockets of downtime like the car pick up line or waiting for a child at practice. Side note: My van is actually my war room. It’s the most distraction-free zone I have and I’ve grown to adore the quiet every morning when the car door shuts.

6. Invite your kids

I know this completely undermines the quiet of quiet time, but on those days when you haven’t been able to find 30 secluded minutes, let your kids get their Bibles and sit near you. You can train your children to read or look at pictures quietly, all the while helping them develop their own Bible time habit.

7. Join a Bible study

The best thing I ever did to help develop a lifelong love for the Word was join a Bible study as a young mom. I love the accountability and fellowship in a Bible study group. There are two ways to go about finding a good, Bible-saturated study.

8. Tap an accountability partner

If you really thrive on accountability, ask a friend or mentor to help you. It can be as simple as texting DONE! Or she can periodically ask what God is teaching you and whether you’re finding daily time with Go. Remember that your spouse may be your best accountability partner. You can do a study together or simply agree to encourage one another in making Bible time a daily tradition.

9. Listen to great teaching

Radio stations, podcasts and sites such as provide hours of updated teaching from some of the country’s best teachers. I’ve found that when I’m in the Word, these sermons often affirm and develop what God has been teaching me in my own Bible study.

I’d love to know what you’d add to this list. What other ways have you found to help you spend time in God’s Word every day?


5 Things Great Leaders Do (That Most People Don’t) Recommended by Ashlyn Berkhout

January 1st, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips

I found that this article impacted me because of my leadership role during events and with the Family Fun Team. Sometimes we get so caught up in just making sure that everyone under our leadership is happy, organized, growing, and communicated with properly that we forget about our own growth. With the new year coming up and fresh resolutions, I want to encourage others in a leadership role specifically to take these points to heart… The most important one being that you are never too old to keep growing as a leader and as a Christian. – Ashlyn

pexels-photo-29676As the pastor of a young church, I get to interact with a lot of young people, many of whom dream of doing something significant with their lives. To quote the late Steve Jobs, they long to make a dent in the universe. They want their life to matter. I love getting to spend time with young people who aren’t content to settle for the status quo and who long to make a difference. That said, there are some things I’ve noticed that are common to aspiring young leaders that often get in the way of them actually seeing those dreams realized.

So here are a few pieces of advice I have for aspiring young leaders:

1. Learn to Follow First

Leaders tend to want to lead, and that isn’t always a bad thing. After all, the Apostle Paul did say whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task (1 Timothy 3:1). But Paul also gave us a great picture of what that leadership is supposed to look like: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

In other words, Christian leaders are primarily in the following business. This is so important for aspiring leaders to get because the idea of leading can sound pretty appealing. Aspiring to lead can naturally play to our pride, but following develops in us humility.

For this reason, it is vitally important that young leaders learn how to follow first. This means not only learning how to follow Jesus, but also learning how to follow those He has placed above us. Until you can do that joyfully, you’re not ready to lead yet. Learning how to follow is an important part of becoming a leader worth following.

2. Find a Mentor

Great leaders never stop learning. Many of the very best continue to have coaches and mentors even as they sit at the highest levels of leadership in their company or organization.

The truth is, it’s never too late or too early to find a mentor. So find one (or three) and starting asking questions. Listen well to what they have to say. Give them permission to speak hard truths into your life. And take really good notes. Not only will this allow you to draw from their wealth of knowledge and experience, but it’ll help you avoid having to learn what they have the hard way.

3. Finish What They Start

One of the best pieces of advice I was given as an aspiring young leader was, “Do everything you can to finish what you start.” That was not my track record up until that time, but I took the advice and it changed my life.

I meet a lot of passionate young people who jump from one thing to the next without finishing many of the things they’ve started. As my mentor pointed out to me in my early twenties, this is a character issue. It’s a sign of immaturity and selfishness as we what we want or feel right now is given complete precedence. It breaks trust with others as they come to realize we can’t be counted on to follow through on what we’ve said. It develops a really bad habit that will not serve you well as you grow older. And it shortcuts the character development that happens in the hard work of persevering (Romans 5:3-4), a necessary quality for every leader.

So finish what you start. No matter how badly you want to quit, no matter how hard it gets, finish and finish well.

4. Decide Who They Want To Be and Act Accordingly

This might sound obvious, but it’s important to realize you’re not just going to roll out of bed one day and be who you want to be. You won’t just stumble into your dream job. You won’t be an overnight success (there’s no such thing). You won’t accidentally become more wise, more talented, more connected, more faithful, more spiritual, more mature, more disciplined, more developed, more successful, more ___________.

You will be who you have decided to be, whether actively or passively. Your person and as a result, your life, will be a reflection of the decisions you make over time. So you need to decide now who you want to be and what kind of life you want to live and begin practicing the habits that will get you there today.

5. Don’t Wait for Permission

I meet a lot of young people who plan to do something someday, but are doing little to move that direction right now.

But here’s the thing: You can start doing some of the things you want to do someday today. And doing it today is the best way to figure out whether you actually want to do it someday.

You want to start a business? Awesome. Start one. Even if it fails in six months and you don’t net a single dollar, you will have learned more trying and failing than you will sitting around reading Fast Company for the next five years. The same goes for most anything else. You want to go into ministry? Great. Start doing ministry today. Take responsibility for spiritually investing in those in your relational circles now. Then pay attention to what happens. If you see fruit, that’s a really good sign. If not, at least you’ve got some experience to process with your mentor before you invest a whole lot of years and money in a ministry education you may never use.

The point is you can start right where you are, right now. Don’t wait for permission.

This article was originally posted on