Spark Influence Podcast, EP 4, Food, Faith & Family
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Well, we are back here today.
We have talked about servant leadership and we've talked about marriage when two become one and I
thought a natural progression would be when two become many.
What happens when you have a family?
How do you then balance the demands?
Of life and adding tiny humans and work and all the things.
So I thought we talked about family today.
Like a great.
Idea, yeah, so why don't we start off with you know what it's like when you first bring little people into
your family, right?
It rocks your world because here you are.
You know moving and grooving in your routine, and then you add little tiny humans that you're
suddenly responsible for.
Yeah, that's quite the change for the schedule, right?
Schedule goes out the door.
We kind of talked about this last week a little bit.
Especially about you know there's that kind of three segments.
Young couple with younger children, young children.
He kind of progressed more into the middle part where we're getting older.
The middle years.
Yeah, the middle years perfect and the kids are more high school ish and that kind of about to head out.
College age and then and and then you know post post college when they some of them leave and
Hopefully they don't boomerang.
So yes, so the early years, definitely a change.
For couples, so it's really can be difficult to balance.
I'm doing my thing you're doing your thing and we're doing our thing and then we add this entire team
of other individuals into this who are incredibly needy and demand attention and and focus.
And you know, you want you're pouring into them.
You're trying to shape and mold and grow them.
But you also studied maintains your day job, so to speak, right?
And that can be quite challenging.
And I think.
Couples I I I highly recommend getting married early and having kids as often as possible like that's.
I cannot overstate how amazing that is like.
I I love that we had children early in that, and that they're older now and they're just as much fun.
Except I don't worry bout him you.
Know choking on something all the time, right like?
That that's the that that's the.
Best part about a big older but.
Just do it as early as possible.
It's so it's such a rich experience for couples, but there is that balancing act to figure this out like it's a
little more intimate, there has to be.
This is where I think we talked about.
You'd be very conscious of your partner and being very giving and selfless.
This is the beginning of selfless stage for you, right?
No longer you, it's.
US, but it's an expanded us 'cause it's not just.
Like if you and I are alone and we're just a couple member Bebopping and doing our thing.
We can sort things out.
I can have my quiet evening and you can go with your girls night and I can do you know, whatever
hunting trips with friends or you know, game nights or.
Ever then you had children and that that changes dramatically.
Right, so you suddenly went from, you know us going out to dinner every night with friends or whatever,
and to all of a sudden you know, no, we can't go out tonight because we have a baby who has a
But then as the children grow, I think one of the really important things for our family in particular.
Was the support of extended family. So we lived next door to Peter's parents when our boys were little
and I think just kids didn't know family structure.
Without Gigi and Papa.
So when they said family it was mom and dad and Gigi and Papa.
And I think that time around the table because that's the way that you grew up.
So why don't you talk about?
You know when you were a child and what it was like when you came home from school?
Uh, yeah, so I can hear the eye rolls going all around the world.
But you know, there's I had such a an amazing childhood growing up but.
'cause it was, it was the structure.
It was very much representative of the structure that God intended, right?
We were all together as a family all the time and we had extended family and everyone was kind of
always you always engaged with family and there's a different level of sort of intimacy that exists when
you know it's aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews, right?
That's a super rich.
Tapestry that gets woven but from the immediate family that was kind of what you talked about, right?
You know every day was dinner at the table and you have said this many times and I love that you say
Don't underestimate the power.
Of the dinner table like that is 1.
Of the most powerful tools.
In a parent to children.
Arsenal of you capturing your children hearts and keeping abreast of what's happening today.
You have to actually say phone down.
TV off back then it was just TV off and it probably wasn't in that room so.
That intimacy that happens when you all sit down and you know and my family history is Italian for the
most part and there's a big emphasis on food.
And there's a difference that happens when you eat together like there's a there's a vulnerability in a
relaxed Ness that occurs.
That's not to be overstated, and so putting everybody at the table and then having a conversation.
No, I I could say no newspapers, but I don't think anybody reads a newspaper anymore.
I've missed this paper, but no, no.
You know, reading materials on the table, no phones and just talk to each other and.
Of that engagement and then making it a routine, a repetitive thing that you do all the time.
Don't do it on Sundays because you went out together.
That doesn't count if you go to a restaurant and eat dinner, that's that's still the meal together, but it's
not the same as being home with the family all the time, and that you will be amazed.
That what you uncover from your children, and then how that builds the dialogue routine where they're
comfortable communicating with you right and so you have to pull this out, you know.
And then when they're really young, if you start that formation when they're little, it becomes an
expectation, and then that's which I'll do all the time.
It also gives you as the parent the opportunity to impart values and to have current event discussions to
help teach your kids how to think and how to process what's happening in the world around them.
So I know for us.
You know, we began this practice when our kids were young.
Your parents would come over, and we'd we'd, you know, have Legos dumped on the table, and we
would all sit around and talk.
We're trying to get a word in edgewise and just forget it.
I just sat.
There because there were lots of heated conversations and you know passionate conversations.
But it was good, and then we modeled that for our kids.
But then, even as our kids have grown, one of the special things I think is when their college age friends
come over and say I love the way you do dinner.
And the way that y'all talk about everything.
I'm amazed at the families that coexist, but are not really communicating with one another.
Parents aren't really imparting values, they're too busy shuffling from one activity to the other, or
putting a screen in their children face.
Which I'm not saying anything against technology, we we have screens in our house.
We're all in on technology, but I think just having those gateways in those borders, and I think it goes
back to what you said.
About creating that routine like it has to be an important part of your family discipleship to want to
gather around the table.
Oh, 100% agreed and it looks very different. It looks very different when they're 10 years old or they're
two to 10, right?
It's very different than teenager.
You know, that's sort of approaching 11 to 18, right?
These are very different dynamics, and it's different if it's boys and girls, right?
So you know your family.
You know your kids build those routines.
Enforce them, be consistent with them and as they get older it gets more fun.
'cause like you said, the conversations can change and shift and become more more spirited.
More and more debates right?
And and it's it's truly an amazing time and not to be underestimated.
We couldn't overstate that.
One of the other things that I have loved about our family is it's not just the table time, but it's the
family that cooks together and we have invited our children into the kitchen with us to cook, and it's
Great we have boys.
But we wanted our boys to learn how to cook.
You know, as well, like like you said, that Italian heritage and even you know, I just I love to cook and
happen to be a pretty good cook.
I might say.
But it's just really fun.
We've always included the kids, whether it was when they were young and we would juice a lot.
You know, from teaching them.
How to prepare?
There are different types of meals, just getting them, having them be a little sous chef.
I know when our oldest was young, there wasn't a lot on television that you knew was super safe for
your kids to watch, so we ended up watching food TV back in the day because it was relatively safe, but
it also gave us a a passion.
For healthy food and and being together.
Yeah good good good shows.
Back then that were safe and you know, was the Emeril Lagasse era there, right?
And yeah, bam and so.
But I mean, I, I think there's so many lessons that I liked.
You brought that point up because there's so many life lessons that can happen in all of these activities,
Or the process of food.
Preparation and it could be when they're young, as simple as let's talk about with all the ingredients that
And what are they?
Where do they come from?
What is the benefit?
Why are we eating them?
It also gives you a chance to impart heritage.
What are we cooking?
This was made by Grandma.
This comes from our family.
This was in the home country.
My family ate this in Sicily like we have a favorite recipe, puny meat that we eat that was passed from
my grandmother to my parents, my dad, my mom into us that comes from Sicily, right?
This is a dish that we adore.
And so when you have those, you're not only passing on knowledge and information that children can
Also passing on heritage and tradition and those.
Really important grounders for children as they get older they have a sense of heritage.
They have a sense of history and their family because not everybody has an extra large extended family
and not a lot of relatives.
They can, and they may not live by him.
They may live.
Somewhere else they're.
Doubly more for our island feeling 'cause they may be.
Their families from Maine and they all live.
In Florida, right?
So that's, uh.
Big that you don't see those people very often except holidays.
But then the holidays help reinforce it because you're going to all eat the food you talked about and
everyone waits for you know on the holiday time.
So if you incorporate that into daily nesw of.
Here's things that we cook and you get a routine.
You find out what they like, what they don't like, and then OK.
Well, you want to help prepare this.
So now you understand the work and effort that goes into this, right?
And there's so many lessons you can impart besides just getting the intimate FaceTime with your with
Children and I think that is the most important thing is having that.
FaceTime, you said having their hearts knowing what's on their mind.
The world is so.
So distracting that sometimes it's hard to really know what your kids are thinking and feeling unless you
have that time with them, and I think that's one of the challenges.
As they grow older and they're involved in a lot of extracurricular activities, the family can splinter and
go off in different directions.
And really fighting for that core family time, I think is is important.
What do you think?
No, you're 100% agree right? That everybody is busy and everybody is doing something and we've got to
do the day job that keeps the lights on in the fridge full.
And you know the kids have school and activities and hopefully chores just charged under rate chores
and and everybody can really run in their own lane and just you know you, you don't want your kids to
be tenants in in your apartment building that you call a home, right?
They don't need to be tenants.
They you know that there's a lot that goes into that about.
This is my space and and you know I'm going to do my thing if they come home, dump their bags, grab a
snack, and then you don't see him rest tonight.
That's not going to help.
That's your that's going to come back later to bite you like you need to have that time and integrate
And I think that's the best time, right?
I think about.
Some intimate time I used to have with my father when I was.
I think it was probably I can't remember high school this time I used to go do like work at his office,
Or I would go with him.
Sometimes they would have me like hanging pictures and do stuff in the.
Office building, right?
And I remember this so poignantly.
I remember it would be very my dads and engineers so he got up at like.
Five and he got to the office like at 6:30 or 7 and I I to this day. I'm not an early person like this is not my
thing. I know you are you love early morning.
But I have such a profound memories of us being in the car and listening to Paul Harvey and look him
If you don't know who.
I'm talking about so just go Google Power.
But in, but we would hear you hear part of the story at like six 6:00 o'clock in the morning, and then on
the way home from work at 5.
Paul Harvey did the rest of the story, so he told you part of it in the morning and part of the afternoon.
The afternoon was the rest of the story, which was always some amazing thing, right?
But I have such 'cause we would listen.
To that, and then we would talk about it in the car.
And so that and then we got to dinner.
He we may say, hey, what did?
What was the rest of the story today?
And we did talk about it as a family, right?
It's those kind of things that I remember so profoundly they had such an impact.
There was just simple little things right, but don't ever estimate the memory you can make with a simple
thing with your child.
Yeah, I think another sort of tradition that your parents passed on to you was a love of reading and I
remember you telling me about, you know.
Outings for y'all would be everybody would go to the bookstore and find their.
Books and then even as as our kids were were growing and we were homeschooling.
Books were never in short supply.
That love of reading and spending that time together.
So I don't think it matters.
If I mean obviously reading is amazing and we want everybody to read 'cause readers are leaders.
An activity that the whole family can do that everybody can take part in another thing for us was hiking
like we're really big hikers and so even though we have a special needs child, he can still be part of that
hiking where some sports would not work for us.
So I think finding something that centers your family.
Where everyone can have an activity they enjoy doing together.
Yeah, that's that's a really good point.
Yep, board games maybe don't work all the time and right and let people both games came back.
The pandemic brought board games.
Back so, thanks for.
But yeah, some group activity and it doesn't need to be just vacations.
You don't need to wait until you take a vacation to learn, but it does.
Something together find any.
Kind of activity, but the dinner table will solve that if you can get together.
And it works just as.
Well, later on when they're older.
You know, I think, especially when they get older.
I remember when our oldest was in college, he lived at home and he would come home really late and
we would always be up waiting for him and how many nights did he lay on the end of our.
Bed or sit next to the bed and we had conversations about all the things that were happening in school
and the things that were going on.
I think that just making time for your kids to be available is probably one of the biggest lessons that
we've learned in our parenting and then knowing our kids and creating routines.
And structure for us to have dialogue but also to pass down traditions and tie heartstrings and and even
That's been a really important part.
We did an OK job when the kids were little.
I remember trying to do Advent and nobody was listening and I was so frustrated, you know.
So I think when they're little, it's it's not.
How much of it you get done, but you just keep at it and you're consistent.
And now our youngest.
If we haven't had our family devotion, he's like who's reading tonight?
You know, he comes to us and I think that is is the joy of planting those seeds within your kids and
watching them grow.
Watching their faith grow.
Yeah, it's there's so many of those moments to use your phrase like to tie heartstrings, right?
It can be the mundane.
I gotta change an air filter, come with me, watch this watch this right?
How does this work?
Or like you said the simple outing bookstore?
Or I guess for girls to be moms and super target I guess would be.
Super targets a girl best friend you know that.
So yeah, those are those are and and it it crosses all those matters.
So even then the activity kind of comes back to you.
So when they leave.
When they come back, what do they want to do right when?
You were a child.
You thought my.
Just so boring all they do is have people and they just talk, right?
You know the kid you want to do something.
My kids used to call it boring.
They didn't even say boring greatly or that's so boring.
Then you get older and you realize it's all about the conversation and then the sweetness is when your
kids leave and they come back and they want to just sit at the table and do what they just want to sit
and talk, right?
That's that's an amazing thing.
But it all starts back when they're kids, because that becomes the place, not of combating out of strife
and not of.
Acrimony or malice.
It becomes the place of fun, enjoy, and conversations and memory building and history, and all those
tremendous things that that it really can impress upon on the children.
I feel like that's a little bit of a lost art today.
You know, we've always had relatives around the table.
Your mom was a great historian and told all the family stories, right?
The same thing in my house with, you know, sitting around with my extended family just listening to all
of the tales of yesteryear.
I feel like we've lost a little bit of that, and I don't feel like that happens as much now in our microwave
on the GO Paper Plate Society.
Well, I mean, yeah, that's I.
I would definitely say it's a future episode to talk about phones and screens and and computers and
That all sort of detract from you know that that time.
Time, but yeah, that's definitely definitely a soapbox.
I'd be happy to climb.
Up on in.
In spouse, but it's just take the joy.
Take the time you know it.
It goes so quick you know you always hear older people.
I'm not older obviously, but yeah, shake your head but it does go by quick because.
You know life happens when you're doing other stuff.
That's that's a really true saying, right?
Like you're just trying to get everything going, and it's all happening.
So take the time to savor that.
Take the time.
To make these things happen, yes, the diapers have to be changed and the laundry keeps growing and
the sink is full of dishes.
But it's they still stop and take time.
To be with your family, it's important.
'cause you don't get it back.
That's right, so how?
Does one balance family and the responsibilities of work without you know?
Working too much and ignoring the family.
Or you know, spending too much time paying attention to what's happening in the home and it you
know, not getting the job done.
So where is that fine line for you as the leader in our home?
So don't be the hero right?
Too many parents hero out as they say, right?
You just take it.
All moms do this, especially where they just take it all and it gets all on them and they don't.
They don't incorporate or stop or push back or ask for help, right?
They just kind of hero hero of the game.
That just leads to burnout and and strife and problems.
Right same way for fathers.
If they're doing that where they're just like, well, I got to earn for my family.
I got to work.
I got to work.
I got to work well.
No, it's no good when you're not there, right?
But then nobody likes that.
I think the balance starts in the middle with faith like your.
This is something you're amazing at.
Start your day in the world.
And then order the rest of your day right?
If you can execute against that all the time, then he will order your day for you.
He will help execute on what you have to.
Execute on if that doesn't happen if you're not focusing on him first, then family than others in you right,
and whatever the order is beyond that.
It has to start with him first.
Absolutely it has to start with him first, and and then everything else kind of flows out from that.
I remember watching a speech back in speech in the debate and this girl did a speech about, you know,
putting the big rocks in the bucket 1st and once you put those.
Rocks in then you've got room for all the little little pebbles you know to flow in.
And So what is most important, you know, God?
Good family and then we have to survive, so we need to work or we don't eat.
But when when we find ourselves, you know just kind of one of the ways that my boss described it to
me as as a young worker.
As a young mom trying to balance the stress of managing.
A home and being a wife and having a child and working and commuting and all of the things and the
stress that goes along with that.
She said your life is a wheel and you need to keep each one of those areas.
You have to focus and it has to be.
Equally distributed because you think about like spokes on a wheel and if one area is larger than the
other areas then the wheel gets wobbly and it kind of goes off track.
Yeah, that's right, that's probably right.
So it's it's about faith.
But it's also about balance.
Yeah, that's probably the key, right? Is the balance and it's that's tricky. I mean, you're not gonna get
that answer in 25 minutes, but it just takes time and work and do all the things kind of we talked about
We've said this before.
Nothing good, worthwhile is easy, family, marriage, faith.
All these things take work.
But there's so much joy even in the labor.
There's joy in the work because the outcome is tremendous, right?
There's no joy that you can find.
Outside of well, this side of the veil that you're going to find with the faces of your children and the face
of your spouse.
And when that's well ordered and organized as God intended.
It's the best choice you're going to get at this side.
Yeah, so I just want to leave the audience today with just some encouragement to find time to gather
your people get around the table, use that to, you know, read the Bible together as a family, or talk
about the day's events, know what's going on in your children hearts.
And find other opportunities to tie heartstrings.
Whether you're in the kitchen, cooking, you're at the bookstore, or if you're on the ballfield, do the thing
that works for your family and then try to keep it all in.
Balance with your work and your home life, but Peter you had it right by Faith comes first and
everything else flows out from that.
Amen, well until next week we will see you soon.