Fall is a wonderful time of the year. It’s also a notoriously busy time of the year. Kids practices and games. Music lessons. School assignments. Volunteer opportunities. Friends getting together. Birthday parties. Holidays. (Insert panicked scream).

Even so, our house is rejoicing…football season is here! Danny celebrates with new dance moves. I celebrate by gathering up my sweatshirt, gloves, hat, blanket, and cup of steaming coffee. To each their own.

The air is getting cooler. Kids are back in school. Soon the leaves will be changing colors and Green Bluff will be calling our name. Hello, Apple Cider and Pumpkin Donuts! We’ve missed you!!

If we aren’t careful, we will find our lives becoming hectic and stressful during this season instead of meaningful and rich. When someone asks, “How are things?” the knee jerk response becomes “Busy! Good…but busy.” What we really want to be able to say is “Full. Our lives are full of things that really matter and we are enjoying every part of it!”

One of my favorite quotes is “The glory of God is man fully alive.” It reminds me of how easy it is to rush through days, always on my way to something important, and miss what makes life beautiful. The story about naming the classroom pet who happens to be a robot dinosaur. A slow, crooked smile that emerges when telling me about how the new teacher says it’s ok to make mistakes. Even the somewhat annoying jig that was created on the playground and now survives endlessly on repeat in my kitchen while I am trying to make dinner. All these are beautiful and good things that are so easy to overlook when things start to get crazy.

Here are a few ways to slow down and enjoy meaningful experiences with your family and friends this Fall:

  1. Create your schedule around what matters

There is often a big difference between what we think is important and what we schedule on our calendar. Things like family dinner or date nights or serving together. It’s easy to let those things fall to the wayside and respond to less meaningful things that we feel guilty not adding to our calendar. We need to remember that saying “no” allows us to say “yes.” If we don’t prioritize things that matter then our lives grow hectic and insane. No one enjoys that kind of pace.

2. Make room for conversations

We have an early bedtime in our family. Partly because we like to get up early. The other reason is that it allows for time to talk about things that are important to our kids. They tell us about football and ballet, silly jokes they heard at school, or questions they have been thinking about. Kids in general are more likely to want to talk the closer they get to bedtime and we take advantage of that reality.

3. Pray together

Adults often minimize the importance of prayer while kids do the opposite. Their childlike faith challenges our self-reliant attitude. We need times of praying with them as much as they need to hear us asking God to move in their lives. Prayer times are a rich part of our family life that help us slow down and focus on the bigger picture.

4. Serve as a family

Sundays are our favorite day of the week. They are also our most exhausting day of the week. It is a good kind of tired. Each of us has a purposeful role in serving others on Sunday morning. As church planters, Danny and I are leading teams, speaking, or leading worship. Our kids are doing similar things in the Kids Ministry. Everyone is engaged in finding a meaningful place to minister to others. The experience is bonding. We are doing something that makes an eternal difference together.

No one complains when we head to bed a little earlier on Saturday night. Instead you hear smaller voices echoing from across the hall, “Get some sleep. Tomorrow it’s time to change the world.

5. Celebrate growth

Our culture tend to celebrate the finish line. Graduation. The promotion. A degree. Retirement. But it is every step along the way that produces the person who crosses the line. We look for those moments to celebrate hard work, the decision to not quit, being brave when it’s really hard, choosing to love in the face of hurt. While we might not be throwing a party for every single thing, we are helping our kids slow down and notice what actually matters. The finish line is awesome but so is the journey getting there.

We are praying that this Fall is an amazing time for you and your family or friends. If you find yourself reading this and feeling lonely, we want to encourage you to get involved in a small group. They are a great way to start building life-giving community around you. Find one that works for you!