“If you eat dinner with the Embree family, no doubt that right after we pray, you’ll hear our youngest child yell this out. It has become part of our dinnertime DNA and something that has led to incredible faith conversations over spaghetti and salad.
Our dinner time discussions are often spurred on by asking four simple questions. In fact, some of our most defining discussions as a family in terms of discipleship and spiritual formation have taken place because of these four questions.
I can’t take credit for them. That honor goes to Dr. Kara Powell of Fuller Youth Institute. I had the opportunity a few years ago to attend a seminar led by her about Sticky Faith and how to help our kids develop a faith that sticks beyond high school. She shared this dinner time routine at that conference and I immediately thought, “This is easy! This is something we can do!” and so… we did.
Here are four simple questions our family asks each other nearly every day.
1. What was your HIGH today?
Simply put, you are just asking what went well that day. Why? Well, I’m sure you’ve all experienced the oh-so-enlightening after-school conversation that goes something like this:
Parent – So, how was school today? Child – Fine.
Parent – Well, what’d you do? Child – Nothing.
Parent – You had to do something. What did you learn? Child – I dunno.
Parent – Oh come on, give me something! Child – *blank stare*
Asking a question like “What was your high?” begs the answer in story form. Sure every now and then, we get a shrug, but most of the time, we get to hear about something that happened that day that otherwise we would not have been privy too. Plus the whole family gets to celebrate the moment together.
2. What was your LOW today?
It is important to recognize that not everything that happens in a day is fun and happy. Sometimes things happen that make us angry or sad. Having a safe place to mention low times and process with family can lead to some of the most meaningful moments in your family’s life.
We’ve cried together, talked through some difficult situation, prayed for people who hurt us or were hurting, and addressed some of the harder things kids face in life. We don’t want our kids to live a “facebook” existence where only the good moments get highlighted; rather, we want to teach them that God and home are safe places even in the hardest times.
3. What MISTAKE did you make today?
We all cringe a little bit at this one. It means we have to step back and acknowledge that we may have messed up. It takes humility to admit that, not only to ourselves, but also to our family. And no one is exempt; even Mom and Dad have to answer the question.
Do you know what message this sends our kids? That we mess up, but God’s love is available anyway. Forgiveness and grace are always available. Sometimes, we can genuinely say, “I had a good day and I can’t think of any mistakes” but those times are outweighed by the moments we recognize that we trip up and fall into the grace of God. We want our kids to know that no matter how big the “mistake”, God’s grace, love and forgiveness are always available, and so is ours.
4. Where did you see JESUS today?
This is by far my favorite question. it’s different from the High of the day. It’s where we have experienced God in our everyday life. I love the answers my kids give to this question, things like, “I saw Jesus when my friend gave me a hug” and “I saw Jesus when my teacher forgave some kids who had three strikes and let them have ice cream anyway.”
Seeing the attributes of God in the world around them keeps them looking for Jesus everywhere they go. Once, one of my girls wrote a note to a friend in which she said, “When you [did that thing] I saw Jesus in you.” That’s exactly the kind of note we need to be giving one another!
Four simple questions. Four amazing life lessons.
Four easy ways to connect. Four intentional moments for discipleship.”
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