We aren’t the most structured family. I blame it on the number of kids. I blame it on my creative genes. I’ve even been known to blame it on my husband, poor guy.

But we’re trying something new. A few times a week, we’re gathering as a family to read before bedtime. We light the candles on the mantle and we bring our pillows into the living room.

Jessie, our 13-year-old, fills out a journal page and can then doodle as we read. (We found these amazing, free journal printables here: http://www.graceisoverrated.com/p/journal-pages.html)

Then, 4-year-old Benjamin is responsible for bring out the wooden cigar box that holds our notebooks. The rule is that we start by opening up our own notebook and writing something good about ourselves. Then, we pass our notebooks around so that others can write what they like about us.

The first night I took dictation for Benjamin, who whispered to me that he thought Jessie and 19-month-old Colt were his best friends.

“Did I tell Jessie that he was a big chunk of help?” Benjamin asked as I tucked him in to bed. When I told him no, Benjamin said he was pretty sure that’s what he would write the next night.

We’ve missed nights here and there, but I’m trying to not get too hung up on that. We just want to focus on some of the great gifts God has given us — each other.

P.S. I borrowed much of this idea from author (and all-around-gracious-person) Ann Voskamp. You can read how her family uses journaling as a spiritual discipline here: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2009/06/journaling-as-spiritual-discipline_03/

P.P.S. Within 30 minutes of writing this, all three boys got in trouble. Perhaps I’ll wait 20 years or so before writing about parenting again.

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