Full disclosure here. Day 2 was a Sunday, and I never meant it to be a full day of the retreat. My husband had too many meetings; I was teaching a lesson, and we had dinner plans at grandma’s. So I just threw in a few theme-based activities in the morning to keep the momentum going and to keep the theme fresh on the kids’ brains.
The night before, Crew had suggested that we all wear our Christmas pajamas for the family movie, so we were still in them when we had our morning meeting. (Dad refused to participate in the matching pajama thing.) We started off with our gathering activity.
Last year I made a big heart for my hubby for Valentine’s out of post-it notes.
That gift inspired this year’s retreat’s gathering activity. We assembled a family target made up of all the things we love about our family. We brainstormed ideas of how are family is special, and I wrote the kids’ suggestions down on post-it notes. The aim was to increase family pride, loyalty and unity.
I first introduced this idea on Day 1, but we continued it on Day 2 and 3 whenever we would gather as a family. It gave time for stragglers to come in and immediately got us focused on the theme. It was too big of a task to do in one sitting so I spaced it out. Talking about it each day, gave more time for us to think and remember what we love about our family.
This activity proved to be my personal favorite of the whole retreat. Sometimes I can get really down and discouraged about where we are at, but it turns out we aren’t total failures and that we do have a special family with lots to be proud of. Sure my kids may fight, but we also contribute everywhere we go; we are confident; we serve, and we have some pretty great hair. It was good to be reminded of the good.
Crew was in charge of Sunday’s devotional. He took a cue from Elle’s devotional and opened with a question. Then he showed this video and shared his testimony.
Next I lead a discussion to better understand what LOVE is. We can throw that word around, but I wanted everyone to have a more concrete understanding. I went to my old stand-by from my elementary teaching days and asked, “What does LOVE Look Like? Sound Like? and Feel Like? in our home?”
We all contributed ideas, and I wrote them down (on literal butcher paper.) Even though the kids often want to be the scribe, I found that it is fastest and most peaceful if I just do the writing. I did let them each design a heading so they got their mom-inherited Sharpie fix.
Here are some sample ideas so you get an idea of what you are shooting for with the LOVE discussion:
- mom cooking
- eye contact
- reading together
- positive body language
- playing together
- “I love you!”
- calm tones
- “Thank you!”
- “I’m sorry.”
- asking questions
- positive energy
I posted our brainstorm on a bare wall in our living room and used washi tape to spice it up.
After we discussed love in more detail, I issued a family challenge. Each child was given a ramekin of candy hearts.
(Notice I didn’t use Hershey kisses or cinnamon hearts or gummy hearts. I purposely bought hard, not-good candy so that I wouldn’t be tempted to eat them as they sat around.)
I challenged the kids to distribute love. I wanted them to show love to others or recognize others acts of love and then leave a candy heart wherever love was found. They could do a service, give a hug, offer a smile, be a peacemaker, etc. They could also just notice someone else doing one of those things and point it out. I wanted to encourage awareness. Then each time they spotted love they were to leave or give a candy heart. Who ever received the heart could eat it. The goal was to get rid of all your candy hearts in your cup.
**Our challenge has been going on for a few days now. Some kids are taking it more seriously than others. I plan to gather the kids together on Saturday and have them bring me their cups. Whosever is empty gets to go get a treat and if they chose not to do the challenge they don’t get to go. You can choose your actions, but you can’t choose your consequences.**
We wrapped up our family meeting with a prayer and then headed off to get ready for church. Right after church, on the drive to grandma’s house, we recapped the retreat thus far. Everyone shared their favorite part. Snowshoeing was the overwhelming winner. (Ahhh!!! Are you kidding me!! Considering the tears that were shed to get out the door!!)
That sums up our Day 2. I’ll be finishing up Day 3 next week.
You can read about Day 1 here.