Staying Connected in Seasons of Change:
Cultivating Rhythms That Strengthen Relationships
by Jenny Marcelene
“I can’t believe it!” I squeal to my husband, Travis. Approaching a nearby pond, I spot birds from a board game we sometimes play as a family. I quicken my pace and, like a paparazzo, race around the water, snapping photos of these striking fowls.
Last year, Travis bought our family a board game called Wingspan, in which we learned to build various North American birds. In the flap of a wing, our family’s interest in birds soared. Before purchasing Wingspan, I thought most birds were boring. After several months, my perspective shifted, and I began to glimpse extraordinary facets of God’s creation.
Somehow, God used this board game to spark curiosity and awe in the avian world outside our door. The Lord invited my family to slow down and relish the seemingly commonplace, including these airborne creatures soaring around us each day.
But even more than that, it was an answer to prayer. I had been praying about how to bond with my boys in each season of their childhood as well as ways to connect that will last our entire lives. As God often works, he not only answered my prayer but exceeded it. The board game provided a point of connection in my boys’ current season, but its impact was coloring outside the lines in powerful ways—ways I sensed would last for years to come.
Connecting in Seasons of Change
Finding points of connection with loved ones through the ups and downs of life can be challenging. Whether we like it or not, life doesn’t stay still like a garden statue. Circumstances ebb and flow. Relationship dynamics shift. Even as adults, we grow and change as we experience life. In an ever-changing world, we can cultivate bonds anchored on the steadfast One. Here are four ways to stay bonded with friends and family.
1. Focus on God as the Creator. In Psalm 8, David extols the awesomeness of God through his creation: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9). Creation is brimming with reasons to praise God. We can find ways to savor God’s creation together. Whether it’s a walk in a park, a hike in the mountains, stargazing, camping, or bird-watching, we can develop rhythms that stir praise for God and strengthen our bonds with each other.
In an ever-changing world, we can cultivate bonds anchored on the steadfast One.
2. Work and serve together. God created us to work (see Genesis 2:15) and for good works (see Ephesians 2:10). When we live out these mandates, our hearts find meaning and joy. As we spend time with loved ones, we can find opportunities to serve others or to accomplish a project together—even with limited time. This could entail baking cookies to distribute to neighbors, raking sunset-colored leaves in autumn, or prayer walking through a neighborhood. But we must fight against digital distractions that intrude upon these moments.
3. Tap into the power of storytelling. God created us to appreciate and connect around well-told stories. Jesus regularly spoke in parables to communicate powerful truths; the Gospels highlight this pattern during his life on earth. God, in his infinite wisdom, decided the best way to reveal himself to us was through his written Word. As one cohesive story, the Bible tells the ultimate narrative. As those created in his image, we naturally find value in well-crafted stories.
We can develop rhythms that stir praise for God and strengthen our bonds with each other.
Leveraging our natural inclinations, we can slow down to listen to each other’s stories when we gather. We can prompt one another to share how God is at work in our lives. As we intentionally hear each other’s stories and reflect on how God is working in our circumstances, we connect more deeply and press into a perspective beyond ourselves.
4. Marvel at God’s artistry. As my family and I notice the intricacies of the avian world, we become more aware of the artistry of our creator God, his artwork displayed with each sparrow, hummingbird, kinglet, and egret that crosses our paths. Each bird is uniquely designed for both beauty and practicality in the wild. The birds point to an infinitely inventive God who designs creatures in ways far beyond functionality—and are anything but boring when I take time to observe.
As one cohesive story, the Bible tells the ultimate narrative.
Depending upon our relationships and interests, marveling at God’s artistry could entail exploring art galleries, enrolling in an art or photography class together, checking out books about a famous wildlife photographer, taking nature walks with an eye to point out beauty to each other, or grabbing a notepad and colored pencils to sketch what we observe. As we engage in valuing beauty and creativity all around us, we recall the Creator, whose artistry is limitless.
Laying a Foundation
As my family scans tree branches for our airborne friends, we have bonded around God’s creation. We marvel at his creativity and delight in the simple joys perched on trees and nesting in our neighborhood. We are in awe of our Creator—and that will serve as a point of connection beyond today and well into eternity.
The rhythms we establish with loved ones can serve as springboards to bond with one another through perpetual seasons of change. They also provide opportunities to turn our eyes toward our great God. When relational foundations are built upon Christ and we intentionally turn our hearts to him—even in the activities we do together—we can cultivate hearty relationships that can weather life’s ongoing transitions.
Jenny Marcelene is a writer for Oakseed Ministries International and a novice birdwatcher. @jennymarcelene
Scripture quotation is from the English Standard Version of the Bible.