Someone last week said to me, “I notice how connected you are as a family. Can you share– how did you get to be so intentional and how you go about building your family life?” This question, directed at me, is a testament to our family’s total one-eighty.

Seven years ago, we owned the perfect house full of all the perfect stuff. We were over the top busy, and our family life was on the back burner. Steve and I were restless and unfulfilled. Our true passion is actually for nurturing our family; why did we then let everything else pull us in the opposite direction? When would it be time to say yes to family first? We realized the window for building a connected family is short. If we neglect it, time slips through our hands and the best moments are forfeited. Out of this crucial conversation came an extreme life restructuring. Plus, 3 intentions we want to share with you:

We refuse to be addicted to busy.

Busyness is permanently on our not-to-do list. We disentangled ourselves from the self-worth that comes from being useful. Our church at the time had a lot of asks. We embraced the power of no. It hurt, it was hard, and it was right.

We carefully curate our Google family calendar. What adds the most to us or matters most to each individual? Right now it’s an awesome glassblowing scholarship for Adrienne, Scouts and soccer for Addison, plus I am pursuing another degree. When seasonal activities stop, we definitely spend a few solid weeks enjoying the slow lane together.

We used to dine and dash 5 nights a week, with no revelation of the opportunity cost. Life happens around the table! Most nights of the week, we commit to lingering over a meal together. On a few occasions, a child has casually mentioned something crucial or even alarming. But mainly, it’s a daily joyful time of connection.

We turn ordinary to-dos into a bonding opportunities. Last week, Adrienne and I enjoyed shopping for her friend’s birthday gift. This special project reminded me of how dearly I enjoy my daughter. Also, I took Addison for a haircut and errands. We played a scenario game and listened to classical music– his favorite– while driving around. Next week, he and Steve are building a model rocket for a scout badge. These collected moments stack up to so much joy.

Our financial priority is experiences together.

When we restructured, we let go of the perfect house and a hefty portion of the perfect stuff. (We let go of expensive commitments too.) When our priority is a well-lived family life, things matter so much less. Owning less means more free time and money left for family experiences. Now, we own a lovely mid-century home that I adore. Our home is a base for world travels, a kitchen for slow suppers, a guest space for hosting friends and family, and a desk to blog from. It’s perfect enough.

In paring down our financial (and time-consuming) commitments, we saved up for unforgettable trips. Right now, gazing at our map, memories are jumping out at me from all over. The Brendtros are history and science fanatics. We sat on the Rosa Parks bus in Michigan, watched rocket launches at Cape Canaveral, ziplined in the Costa Rican rain forest and swam at both ends of the Gulf Mexico. Nowadays, we’re definitely “stop and smell the roses” people. Once we accidentally drove by Lincoln’s boyhood cabin site. You bet we stopped! Sharing the love of travel and exploration is a unique element in Brendtro family life.

We are intentional about the Word of God.

In restructuring our life, faith became even more important to us, though church involvement changed drastically. The switch is due to finding our identity as valued children of God. He loved us when we were useless and “yet sinners“; if the Brendtros never accomplish anything else besides to wholeheartedly love Him back– well, that’s fine.

We may not attend church every single Sunday, but we will always have Bible time. It’s ingrained in our kids to make it happen in their schedule, just like they see me doing. We make no rules about when or how long; that will come with their own maturity. We read it together most mornings as well. We make decisions and evaluations based on what we discover in the pages. I will admit that when we were super at church involvement, this was not the case. Funny how it has flipped.

In II Corinthians 12, Paul says “I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message…” We used to think we knew people because we went to church together. Now, we prioritize quality time with families who’ve cultivated a life built on the actual Word of God. It refreshes our courage each time we connect. We look up to them, just like some may look up to our family. It’s important that what we portray be genuine and solid.

We remain convicted.

The revolution in our family that began several years ago still affects us today. God granted us a highly unusual lifestyle. As business owners and homeschoolers, we spend every single day together, masters of our own schedule. We maintain this strong conviction: God solely commissioned Steve and Melissa Brendtro with the duty of governing this family. We alone will answer for any neglect. These 3 intentions empower us to be diligent, wise, and gratefully present.

We hope your family is surrounded by wholehearted families and even if that’s not the case, that this blog will spark a revolution in your life. Trust us when we say prioritizing your family first is absolutely worth it. Family is the best adventure God offers!

Written by Melissa Brendtro