The Spiritual Impact of Everyday Habits: Insights from ‘Habits of the Household’ by Justin Earley


We may not see the little things that we do every day as important: scrolling on our phones, what we eat, and how we put the kids to bed. All of this can seem very minor, day-to-day. But these daily rituals and habits and small moments are already a significant portion of your life. Recognizing this truth is the first step. Figuring out how to work it out for our good now- that’s something that can cause dramatic change.

In Justin Earley’s ‘Habits Of The Household,’ the author discusses the seemingly mundane daily rituals that, in reality, hold a profound influence in our lives. This book is not just about embracing the power of routine to transform our lives one day at a time but, more importantly, recognizing the spiritual purpose and ramifications of our daily habits. Rather than simply being a guidebook on how to implement routines, it includes many story driven spiritual themes.

“The neurological downside of habits is as powerful as the upside; the same feature that allows us to perform a good habit without thinking about it, makes it hard to change a bad habit. Even when we are thinking about it, that’s how strong our brains are.”

When touching on how habits impact us, Earley gives the analogy of a wheel stuck in a rut. It takes no effort at all to stay in the rut, but it takes incredible effort to pull the wheel out of it. In other words, you can’t think yourself out of a pattern you didn’t think yourself into, you practice yourself into it. Therefore, you have to practice your way out of it. Often, we’re waiting for something to happen, but until we make a change, we will remain in that rut.

Habits are hard to break, and hard to form.

If you’re repetitive, repeatedly doing things, even if you don’t like the way it makes you feel, a habit is already there, and you’re going to have the repercussions of that habit; the guilt, the shame, all the things that flow into the heart, and out of the heart. But when we establish and practice those habits that we actually do want, our heart will follow, a pattern will be made, and it will become easier over time.

“The heart always follows habit.”

Woven throughout the book, there is the encouragement that when a good habit is formed, your heart follows it and God uses it. Once you have a good habit established, He can use it for good. Additionally, God’s love inspires our action, but our action does not inspire God’s love. Our habits will not change God’s love for us, but God’s love for us should change our habits. 

When it comes to how our daily routines and actions affect our children, Earley states: “We become our habits, and our kids become us.” We are providing an example for our children, which will become our legacy. All the habits that we’re doing on a daily basis become who we are, we exemplify that for our children, and they become like us. 

“We must always pay attention to what is grabbing the attention of our minds and imaginations, because where the imagination goes, so goes the heart.” It is essential to pay attention as parents to what is grabbing the attention of our kids’ minds and their imaginations, because where the imagination goes, so goes the heart. “This is a fight over who forms who.” 

In other words, the human heart is not a car. There is no neutral. 

Thinking about all of the things we want to change in our lives can be overwhelming. However, we should not be overwhelmed by all that we think we need to be tomorrow, but rather just ask God to help us do something today. Whatever it is, it is likely that God has already put it on your heart. Just do it again, be consistent,  and don’t have an expectation of what it might look like. The fact that you’re doing it means you are already miles away from where you were the day before. 

“If our goal was to do something perfect, we’d still be doing nothing.”

Grab your copy of  ‘Habits of the Household’ here:



Aaron Smith (00:05):

We may not see the little things that we do every day as that important scrolling on your phone, what you eat and how you put the kids to bed. All can seem very minor in the day-to-day. But these daily rituals and habits, all those small, the truth is anything that you find yourself doing every day is already a significant portion of your life. Recognizing this truth is the first step. Figuring out how to work it out for our good now, that’s something that can cause dramatic change.

Jennifer Smith (00:32):

Hey, we’re Aaron and Jennifer Smith, your host of the Marriage After God podcast, and today’s episode is brought to you by our books. We have written so many books as a tool to bless you and your life, and we wanted to share those with you. So to check them out, all you have to do is visit shop dot marriage after

Aaron Smith (00:51):

Okay, so we haven’t done a book review episode in quite a while. I don’t think, have

Jennifer Smith (00:56):

We ever an actual,

Aaron Smith (00:58):

I feel like we’ve done some in the past. I’d have to go back to verify. I know

Jennifer Smith (01:01):

We’ve shared quotes and things from books

Aaron Smith (01:03):

May, this could be the first

Jennifer Smith (01:05):

One. Well, well, there was a probably a week, less than a week, maybe just a couple of days where I saw a friend post it on Instagram, and then another friend was talking about it in a group chat. And then finally one of my friends texted me a picture of the book and said, you have to read this.

Aaron Smith (01:23):

I think this is just social media engineering, the algorithms putting it all in front

Jennifer Smith (01:29):

Of you. Well, it was put in front of me, and so I went on Amazon and I ordered it right away and got it shortly thereafter, jumped into it and really loved it. It’s called Habits of the Household by Justin Early, and I really enjoyed it. It was a very easy read, and it’s one of those books. So one of the friends that had been talking about it, she explained that while she was reading it, she was affirmed that some of the things she was already doing and implementing and that made her feel good. And then there was other things that were challenging her to step up in areas and really figure them out as far as routines and habits that she was doing herself or in her parenting. And that’s exactly how I felt reading this book. There was a lot of good insight and things that I drew from, and then other areas where I was like, oh, cool, we’re doing that. And I pointed some of them out too, but after I was done reading the book, I remember telling you, we should just share on this. It was

Aaron Smith (02:30):

Good stuff. Yeah, a little disclaimer. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m planning on getting the audiobook. I like to do a lot of audiobooks because when I’m driving I can listen to ’em and enjoy it. But you’ve told me a lot about it and shared with me concepts, and this is something that’s been really cool for us is over the years I’ll be reading a book that you’re not reading, but then I share you, I share with you the Cliff notes and then things that we try and implement. And I’ll bring up, when I was going through Power of the Habit or 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson, I would share things. I’m like, Hey, this is really good. And often it would start really good discussions. So even though you weren’t reading the book,

Jennifer Smith (03:05):

We still gleaned from each other. We

Aaron Smith (03:06):

Would be gleaning from each other and talking about often it would go back to, well, what does the Bible say about that concept? Yeah. So even though I haven’t read it yet, you’ve shared a lot with me and I’m excited to ask you questions about it as we go. And I think our listeners are going to love to hear your experience with it.

Jennifer Smith (03:21):

And this is kind of one of those situations where it’s a discussion between us that they get to hear

Aaron Smith (03:27):

Because it’s, there’s stuff that we’re constantly looking at in our own life trying to figure out is there things that need to be cleaned up? Are there things that need to be thrown out? Yeah. Are there things that we need to be amplifying? That’s kind of what I’m imagining this book book’s about. Right?

Jennifer Smith (03:41):

Yeah. So what I loved about this book, I already said it was an easy read, but talk in knowing that the title is about habits. I thought it was going to be very heavily practical, do this, do that for formulate. But it actually had a lot of spiritual themes and encouragement and story. It was story driven, which I love. And it was just inspiring in it, in putting things in a perspective that makes you really think about the purpose behind it all. And I really enjoyed that. And yet it also was practical. So, so Rich, every chapter had little things at the end, questions and lists of resources and things that parents and husbands and wives can use to better themselves and better their way of forming family rhythms, which I really appreciated how much that they actually put in this. So yeah, all good things.

Aaron Smith (04:39):

I like that. So

Jennifer Smith (04:40):

I thought we would just kind of go through it, kind of skim through it, and I would pull out quotes and things that stood out to me and then we could talk about it. Is that cool? I like it. Yeah. Cool. Well, it starts out with Justin explaining kind of just the premise of the book and where it came from and how they have littles little kids. And it started around bedtime when there was some chaos going on, and he was realizing that there was this pattern happening with the way he was getting frustrated over just bedtime routines and just how little kids

Aaron Smith (05:18):

Are. So we’re not the only ones who have a hard time putting this. And

Jennifer Smith (05:20):

That’s another thing about this book, the way he wrote it, it’s like he makes you feel understood that you’re not the only one with certain patterns in your home that are like, oh, this isn’t working. I know that sounds negative, but it actually is reassuring when

Aaron Smith (05:34):

I feel like that often. I’m like, why can’t our B we bedtime starts at seven o’clock or seven 30, and sometimes they’re not done at being in bed until eight 30. And I’m like, why? Sometimes later or later,

Jennifer Smith (05:47):

Have you ever, is

Aaron Smith (05:47):

This right? Are we doing this right?

Jennifer Smith (05:49):

But with anything in life, have you ever been in a conversation with a friend and they tell you something that’s really been a challenge for them? And you have your first thought is I’m kind of glad because yeah, I needed to hear this, that I’m not the only one going through this.

Aaron Smith (06:01):

Yes, sadly yes. So you’re like, oh, good. You’re like, how do you struggle with that too? That’s great.

Jennifer Smith (06:06):

It’s, I don’t want to be affirming to this right now, but it is good. Anyways,

Aaron Smith (06:10):

I think one of the good parts about it is you get to laugh about it at that point because it doesn’t feel like laughing when you’re tired and want the peak kids to fall asleep.

Jennifer Smith (06:17):

So he’s just explaining how he wanted to bring some intentionality to bed to the bedtime routine. And he has this on page six, it’s called A Bedtime Blessing of Gospel Love. And it just is a prompt and it says what the parent’s supposed to say and what the child should say, and it’s really cute and easy to roll through. And then about that, he says, it was the point where something we’ve done became something we do a habit of the household was born. And I like that because it shows that he was intentional about making something happen, a habit in his home that he desired to see change in something positive.

Aaron Smith (06:58):

There’s, I’ve brought this quote up before, especially talking about me getting into health stuff, working out. I saw it, it was a meme. It was like this graphic on social media. It said, if you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. And that reminds me of that is I think the encouragement here and what you were just saying is often we’re waiting for something to happen. Like, oh, I, there’s this change I desire, but it hasn’t happened yet. Rather than, oh, I have to do something different and make that change happen. Kind of like that cheesy be the change you want to see in the world. That’s what it sounds like to me is you got to step in and break that trajectory with something else.

Jennifer Smith (07:42):

Yeah, totally. And so moving on just a little bit, I’m going to be reading, that’s fine. Some snippets out of here, but I like it on page 10, it says, the neurological downside of habits is as powerful of as the upside, the same feature that allows us to perform a good habit without thinking about it, makes it hard to change a bad habit. Even when we are thinking about it, that’s how strong our brains are. And so he continues, it says, pick picture, a wagon wheel in a rut. It takes no effort at all to stay in the rut, but it takes incredible effort to pull the wheel out of it. Yes, good or bad, A rut is a rut, and our brains love ruts. Your basil ganglia are so good at staying in the rut that you cannot just tell them to get out. Your lower brain has spent its whole life ignoring that higher order thinking it’s supposed to, after all its job is to keep you in the rut regardless. In other words, you can’t think yourself out of a pattern you didn’t think yourself into, you practice yourself into it. So you have to practice your way out of it.

Aaron Smith (08:44):

Oh, man. So that’s pretty convicting. Yeah. We’re waiting for something to happen, but we’re just going to stay in that rut until we actually force our way out of it.

Jennifer Smith (08:55):

You have to put the work in, which is something that I’ve been working on when it comes to my eating and my health and working out and

Aaron Smith (09:02):


Jennifer Smith (09:03):

Oh, and guitar. Yeah, you lit. Yeah. You can’t just have a habit that you’re good at. You have to put the time in. You have to sacrifice other things to make it happen. You have to make that change. And it can be really hard, especially when your brain in that autopilot mode tends to go back to those old ways or things that make it hard, ways that make it harder for you. So you have to be able to break out of it.

Aaron Smith (09:27):

Speaking of the habits are being hard, they’re hard to break and hard to form. That’s one of the benefits of those books that we read in the past. Power of Habit, it talks about setting up systems and things to make those habit forming processes easier. So like bedtime routines, you’ve been going in there and playing guitar for them every

Jennifer Smith (09:50):

Night? Not every night, but I do often. But it’s nice because I get the practice in you do

Aaron Smith (09:55):

They like it. You’re doing one of those models called coupling where you wanted to have a better routine at night with the kids. More calm. Yeah, more calm. And you wanted to practice guitar, and so you’re like, well, I’m going to go in there with a guitar, and then you’re in there for a long time and the kids love it. That’s really cool.

Jennifer Smith (10:10):

I love when I’m in the zone and I’m working on a song and I kind of forgot that I’m putting them to bed and I look up and Ed’s passed out. They’re all asleep. Aw,

Aaron Smith (10:18):

That’s asleep. You end up being in there a lot longer, by the way. Which I’m not opposed to. I think they love it. And then I sneak down the hallway and record you.

Jennifer Smith (10:26):

I know. I didn’t like that. I didn’t know you did that. Okay, so a little bit down the page, he says, the heart always follows habit. And there’s this encouragement woven throughout the whole book about how when a good habit is formed, your heart follows it and God uses it. Because once you have a good habit established, he can use it for good. And I really like that.

Aaron Smith (10:55):

So does that mean our heart, when we have bad habits, our heart follows? Is that kind of, well, it makes sense to me because let’s say we have a bad habit of eating often our heart’s following this, the way we feel about ourselves, the way we see ourselves, the way we feel about our self-control, a lot of those things. So I think that makes sense because what you do is what you are

Jennifer Smith (11:23):


Aaron Smith (11:23):

In a way. So if you’re repetitive, repeatedly doing these things, even if you don’t like the way it makes you feel, that habit’s already there and you’re going to have kind of the recourse of those or the repercussions of that habit, the guilt, the shame, all the things that kind of flow into the heart and out of the heart.

Jennifer Smith (11:44):

I think that’s really good. I wasn’t really thinking in that direction when I read that about the heart. Well,

Aaron Smith (11:50):

Maybe that was my cynic coming out.

Jennifer Smith (11:53):

No, but it’s good to think about. It’s really good to chew on. But I think more in this sense, it was this idea that our hearts aren’t always in the right place to do the same thing over and over and over. Yet getting out of that rut and getting into a new gotcha, one that’s positive. But when we establish and practice those habits that we actually do want, our heart will follow and a pattern will be made and it will become easier as time

Aaron Smith (12:20):

Goes on. So maybe we weren’t super excited about it in the beginning, or this is too hard, not worth it, and then eventually it’s like, wow, I love this. And then it

Jennifer Smith (12:27):

Becomes something you love.

Aaron Smith (12:29):

Yeah. Yeah. That makes more sense. Well, no,

Jennifer Smith (12:31):

But I think both are important. Yeah, I think what you said was really good because I’ve experienced that where I am in a rut and I am making bad choices and it’s habitual, and I feel that guilt or I feel that shame my heart does follow in how I perceive my own self and in that negative way.

Aaron Smith (12:48):

So it’s more like don’t follow your heart,

Jennifer Smith (12:52):


Aaron Smith (12:53):

The habit, follow the pattern, and create the habit that you want. That you want and your heart will follow. Yes. That those actions. Yes, because the heart’s going to lead us the wrong way. Yeah, exactly. The heart’s going to leads back to the rut, right? Yeah, exactly.

Jennifer Smith (13:06):

Okay, so moving right along here. So there’s this portion called waking up to Reality that I really enjoyed reading. And he starts out because he draws a lot from his parenting being a parent. And so I hope he listeners, if our parents, I feel like gain a lot from this book,

Aaron Smith (13:28):

Household rhythms really matters for having kids,

Jennifer Smith (13:31):

Especially when you’re in those early stages. So this starts on page 33 and he says, after all, we become our habits and our kids become us. And that I underlined it because, say that again. After all, we become our habits and our kids become us. So you kind of see that legacy living in that we are providing the example. So all the habits that we’re doing on a daily basis become who we are, and then we’re exemp. We’re exemplifying that in our children, and then they become like us.

Aaron Smith (14:05):

So I have a lot of bad habits that I don’t want my kids to have,

Jennifer Smith (14:10):

And we need to be careful. Oh man, that’s why this book was really important to me. So then he moves on to talking about, why didn’t you tell me

Aaron Smith (14:16):

This earlier?

Jennifer Smith (14:17):

No, this is good. There’s still time. Is

Aaron Smith (14:20):

There there growing up?

Jennifer Smith (14:24):

I’ll wait till I get to the end.

Aaron Smith (14:26):

Oh geez. Oh, you’re

Jennifer Smith (14:27):

Going to

Aaron Smith (14:27):

Just cut the dagger, deep twisted. You

Jennifer Smith (14:30):

Guys stay tuned.

Aaron Smith (14:31):

Crank it around a little

Jennifer Smith (14:32):

Bit in the heart. So he talks about the habits of waking, and this is where some of that practicals drawn in. But he gives three things that you can do in forming habits of waking up in the morning to just add to your family rhythm. The first one is pray at your bedside and just making sure that you’re spending those first waking moments with the Lord, getting your heart set in the right place, your mood, submitting it, all your plans for the day, your goals, asking him to lead you.

Aaron Smith (15:08):

This is something I definitely need to work on because often I get up and I just go straight to dealing with the kids, going to the couch, going to the kitchen. I don’t

Jennifer Smith (15:17):

Rushing to the

Aaron Smith (15:18):

Next thing, whatever the next thing is.

Jennifer Smith (15:20):

So he’s encouraging a habit of waking his waking up to pray. The second one is looking at scripture before looking at your phone.

Aaron Smith (15:30):


Jennifer Smith (15:31):

It. I know. Because when you put it on your bedside, it’s so quick to just grab it, especially if you wake up to it from a text or an alarm or whatever. It’s a

Aaron Smith (15:38):

Habit that I do every day. And so it’s like first thing I do is grab

Jennifer Smith (15:42):

My phone. There was a time that you kept leaving your phone out in the kitchen.

Aaron Smith (15:46):

It was when I was reading Power of Habit and I was realizing I have a bad habit, and one of the things was get my phone away from my bed. So I started charging it in another room. I need to go back to that. I have my clock set up next to my bed and it’s not even turned on. I should just do

Jennifer Smith (15:59):

That. You should do that. But these are really good because even though they’re, they’re practical things that he’s reminding you to do. They’re spiritual things. And to be spiritual is important when it comes to habits and building up that relationship with God. And so the third one is, and I really like this, this is a little bit into the morning now, but before everybody gets sent off, so to speak, whoever goes to work, whoever goes to school, whoever’s doing whatever, and they do like a family prayer hub. So everyone gets together, they circle up, hold hands, and they pray and he’s honest, which I love. And he talks about how the two year old squirrely and doesn’t always pay attention, and sometimes the prayers are short because they can’t go very long, but they’re building a family habit of coming together. And he says prayer was their transition from one thing to the next, which I love because then on page 46 it says, we are sent into the day on purpose. That’s okay. There’s purpose before them and their children

Aaron Smith (16:57):

Just drifting into the next thing I do

Jennifer Smith (16:58):

Well and rushing. He says, now the routine has taken the moment of rush and hurry and displaced it with a moment of prayer. I love that.

Aaron Smith (17:09):

And we used to be a lot more consistent with this. And we’ve just recently been getting right back into this routine of family bible time of not just prayer, but intentional gathering to open up the word to talk about the Bible, discuss and discuss it, learn it to pray, to ask questions. And then now you’re playing music in that time too. So we added a little chunk to that.

Jennifer Smith (17:31):

I told the kids, I said, mommy’s mommy needs more time to practice in front of people because I get really nervous. So yeah, that’s when I started playing in front of you.

Aaron Smith (17:40):

Oh, I love it. Thank you. Yeah, but that’s cool. So we at times have been better with this and the times have been worse, but this is something that we have been trying to, I noticed that you jumped in to do battle time with the kids this morning, even though I had to rush out the door. And so I really appreciated

Jennifer Smith (17:56):

That. And that’s actually really important when you’re in marriage, when you’re you sometimes you have to tag team to maintain the habit. Yeah. Whatever family habit you have going on, or a rhythm in your home when one can’t be there or one’s traveling or one has to get somewhere that you can still step into that role and provide and be the one who leads out in that.

Aaron Smith (18:18):

When you hear tag team, do you think of wwe? Yeah. Back when you’re teenager. Yes. The guilty immediately came to my mind. I was imagining them jumping over the ropes and ready doing one of those little art, what do they call those? I don’t know.

Jennifer Smith (18:35):

I don’t know if I shared this on here already, but you guys know that Aaron and I have entered the world of Juujitsu. And in some of the first couple of weeks, I remember one of my coaches asking, do you have any history of wrestling? And I was like, I just grew up on wwe.

Aaron Smith (18:51):

He laughed. Because you don’t have any history of actual wrestling?

Jennifer Smith (18:54):

No, just the entertainment. Just

Aaron Smith (18:56):

Watching it. Fake wrestling

Jennifer Smith (18:57):

Routine. Okay. That has nothing to do. We got to move

Aaron Smith (18:59):

On. Sorry. I heard tag team. That was the first thing I thought of.

Jennifer Smith (19:01):

But in marriage and parenting especially, you do have to do that. You have to get in the ring and be willing to,

Aaron Smith (19:08):

With our kids, get in the ring with our kids. That’s what it feels like sometimes, especially bedtime.

Jennifer Smith (19:14):

So something that I really loved about this book too is at the end of every chapter, there’s a little orange box and it says, we always need the reminder of grace. And there’s something that’s repeated after every chapter. And it’s funny because I didn’t realize that it was repeating until the second or third chapter, and then I had to go do a double take and look and, oh, is he saying something else? Or the same thing? And it’s just the same thing. But that repetition,

Aaron Smith (19:37):

It’s like the theme for that section or chapter.

Jennifer Smith (19:39):

No, at the end of every chapter it says this, I’m going to read it. God’s love inspires our action, but our action does not inspire God’s love. Our family habits will not change God’s love for us, but God’s love for us should change our family habits.

Aaron Smith (19:54):

He’s building a habit of, you read it, he’s building it over and over again.

Jennifer Smith (19:57):

Yes. That’s really good. And I like that kind of

Aaron Smith (19:59):

Stuff. I will say this, you can’t see the book, everyone that’s listening, but it’s actually really well designed on the inside, which I really appreciate as a designer. And I look at it, I’m like, oh,

Jennifer Smith (20:11):

This is a great, these parts in the back that are highlighted in orange that are kind of the practical or the highlights from what he was teaching you and what him and his wife have gathered over the years of in one of, I think it’s called Screen Time, they list different movies and books and things like that. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.

Aaron Smith (20:32):

Resources and

Jennifer Smith (20:32):

Resources, yeah. Gotcha. They also give you prayers and just all kinds of things. Tips to start some of the actual habits that they mentioned. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.

Aaron Smith (20:44):

Oh, I it. The design looks really nice.

Jennifer Smith (20:47):

So here’s another quote, and it kind of has to do with how you introed the podcast today. The episode today, it’s on page 60, it says, because the normal is what shapes us the most though we notice it the least. It is precisely the unremarkable nature of the normal that gives it such remarkable power. All of our unspoken values get hidden under the invisibly, invisibility, cloak of the ordinary. We think of our day-to-day routines as neutral simply because we see them so often.

Aaron Smith (21:17):


Jennifer Smith (21:18):

And I think that’s really important for us to stop and go, oh, we should probably evaluate our day-to-day and how we do things because especially if there’s clunky moments, chaos moments, things that you get frustrated about. But have you realized or recognized that those things are happening every single day? Have we recognized that we’re probably the pattern, we’re the ones that are triggering it or making it worse,

Aaron Smith (21:44):

Or having our consist inconsistency or our pattern that we’ve implemented causes the chaos. I

Jennifer Smith (21:50):

Think it can be really easy to go day to day and feel like things are just normal or how they are or how they’re supposed to be. And so we kind of just move past them and resources like this, a book, this will make you stop and go, oh, I never thought I could change that. Or I didn’t think I needed to change that. So Lord, I didn’t

Aaron Smith (22:12):

Even notice that was a thing. A thing.

Jennifer Smith (22:15):

So I really like that he draws out that it’s what is normal that shapes us the most.

Aaron Smith (22:22):

Right. It’s not the one off extraordinary things that we try. Oh, I went and played soccer one time. I’m a soccer player now. No.

Jennifer Smith (22:30):

Do you practice every week to week to week to week for years. But

Aaron Smith (22:35):

I was mentioning in the intro of this thing, I’m on my phone multiple times a day. That’s significant. If you’re a family that watches lots of TV shows, which we used to be watch. I was

Jennifer Smith (22:47):

Just telling someone the other day, someone asked about a TV show and I was like, you know what? We have not been watching anything.

Aaron Smith (22:56):

Well, on that note, to be honest, I’ve tried nothing I can get into because something comes up in it anyways. We used to do it a lot and since we’ve stopped that, but there’s other things that we do. I

Jennifer Smith (23:10):

Just feel too tired where I have the time, things that I’m trying to figure out.

Aaron Smith (23:14):

I think the phone one’s a big conviction for me, and I don’t think it’s absolutely a big conviction for me. It’s something that I desire to change about, not just my pattern with myself, but in front of my kids. So

Jennifer Smith (23:27):

That’s good. Well, speaking of screen time, they actually have a whole chapter dedicated to screen time. Screen time. We

Aaron Smith (23:32):

Could skip that one. Just go to the, I’m

Jennifer Smith (23:34):

Just kidding. Well, I think it’s really necessary to have this kind of chapter in today’s world. Oh yeah. In the era that we’re living in technology, I just feel like it’s important and it’s good for us, especially as parents, because we’re responsible to teach our kids how to choose well. And we get years with them to develop that habit of choosing, which he talks about

Aaron Smith (24:01):

Too, how to have a healthy relationship with technology

Jennifer Smith (24:04):

And entertainment and screen time and devices, all of it. So

Aaron Smith (24:10):

I probably should have that healthy relationship myself, of course. Because what is it? Our habits be, we become our habits and our kids become us.

Jennifer Smith (24:18):

And I want to read on page 95, lemme go there. He’s talking about, so he brings up Romans 12 about not being conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. And he says, this is an important lesson about what a human heart is. It is never not being shaped by something.

Aaron Smith (24:40):

There is no neutral.

Jennifer Smith (24:41):

There is no neutral. The human heart is not a car. There is no neutral.

Aaron Smith (24:46):


Jennifer Smith (24:47):

So we must, I should

Aaron Smith (24:47):

Write books.

Jennifer Smith (24:48):

No, he did it. He did a great job. So we must always pay attention to what is grabbing the attention of our minds and imaginations, because where the imagination goes, so goes the heart. And that’s important just thinking about your kids thinking we must pay attention as parents to what is grabbing the attention of our kids’ minds and imaginations, because where the imagination goes, so goes the heart. And then a little bit down, it says, this is a fight over who forms who. So if you’re letting your kids veg out to, yeah,

Aaron Smith (25:23):

Here’s three hours of whatever show they’re

Jennifer Smith (25:26):

Forming and shaping your kids’ mind.

Aaron Smith (25:27):

Can I say what Ededie said once about blippy?

Jennifer Smith (25:30):

Oh yeah. That was really cute.

Aaron Smith (25:32):

We don’t watch it that much, but she loves it. And she loves the, actually she one specific episode, the ice

Jennifer Smith (25:38):


Aaron Smith (25:39):

Episode. The ice cream trick episode. We actually watched, she says ice cream puppy. But one time you said Edie, who lives in your heart. Is that how you said

Jennifer Smith (25:49):

It? Yeah. I was asking the kids individually different questions about what we were learning about for school. And Edie wants to participate, but I had to think of a question she would be able to answer. So you’re like, I said, Edie, who lives in your heart. And I was thinking of the Sunday school answer. I thought she was going to say, Jesus.

Aaron Smith (26:04):

She goes, we’re like, all right, we should probably not.

Jennifer Smith (26:08):

Oh, the kids were laughing show anymore. So hard. It’s so funny.

Aaron Smith (26:11):

That’s be a joke for a long time, I think. But yeah, what are they watching and what, what’s influencing them? That’s a really important reminder for

Jennifer Smith (26:22):

Them and for us for sure.

Aaron Smith (26:24):

Did you say that they talked about how they do family movie time?

Jennifer Smith (26:30):

I haven’t explained it yet, but Oh, you’re getting there. Sorry. Well, no, it’s fine. I actually didn’t put a note on here, but it’s something I shared with you when I was reading

Aaron Smith (26:39):

Well, and I liked it because we do as a family, we genuinely like movies and media, but we’re also like, well, how do we do this without allowing it to just have unlimited influence of our kids? How do we have self-control over screen time? So we do things like video games and iPad or weekends, and we just

Jennifer Smith (27:00):

Do limited, limited time. It’s

Aaron Smith (27:01):

Not every day they don’t get full access. They don’t get whatever they want. But they brought up that they do Friday movie nights and they’ll sit and watch the movie with their kids, of course, but then they’ll pause as they go and they’ll discuss the themes that are coming up and, oh, that person said this. How does that make you feel? Or, yeah, that wasn’t very nice, was it? Which is something I kind of do. Some of these cartoons, they just, sometimes they’re really mean to each other. And I’m like, Hey, that wasn’t really nice of them, was it? And I hear ’em all be like, no, that was rude.

Jennifer Smith (27:33):

Or That’s not how we treat each

Aaron Smith (27:34):

Other, or we don’t treat people

Jennifer Smith (27:35):

That way. Use it as teaching opportunities. And that’s kind of what he explains in the book is they have Friday night family night, and I think Sunday they do something with all the cousins, but they use it as a time where if they do watch family movie, they’ll discuss it along the way

Aaron Smith (27:51):

So that they’re influencing along with what’s going on, instead of just

Jennifer Smith (27:55):

Letting and teaching them how to respond to these things that come up.

Aaron Smith (27:59):

Which is good because it’s kind of what we do. We’ve grown into a moral compass. We’ve grown into maturity into understanding certain themes and concepts, and so wem able to be able to watch something that our children can’t necessarily navigate because we’ve navigated those things and we can be like, we could parse things and be like, well, no, I, I’m going to throw that out and no, I don’t behave that way. But our kids, they could be used in an opportunity to help shape that way of viewing these things.

Jennifer Smith (28:28):

I found this one section pretty interesting and it’s a good chunk, so I’m just going to read it. But just kind of think about what he’s saying and how it can impact our relationship with our kids and their futures. This starts on page 95. Consider the stakes for a moment. If we do not teach our kids about sex, screens will be happy to do it for us. If we do not teach them categories of good and evil, then screens will be happy to obscure all of them. If we do not teach them that God made them who they are on purpose, man or woman and black or white, then screens will be happy to confuse their understanding of all of these things. If we do not teach them that buying things will not make them happy, and that consumption always leaves you hungrier, then screens will teach them that being a consumer is a way to status and satisfaction.

If we do not teach them that the world of nature is ferocious and fantastic, something to be steward and stunned by then the world of screens will teach them that looking at pictures of nature is enough. If we do not teach them that silence is a sacred place where God speaks to us, then screens will make sure that they never ever discover it. If we do not teach them that vulnerable and that vulnerable and embodied friendship is the heart of the good life, then screens will relentlessly nudge them toward connecting and liking. That’s in quotations, their way to endemic loneliness.

Aaron Smith (29:55):

Screens are evil.

Jennifer Smith (29:57):

Well, he goes on to say they could be an addictive drug, which we’ve all heard. And it’s like, yeah,

Aaron Smith (30:02):

It’s very addicting.

Jennifer Smith (30:03):

These things are true. If we’re not the ones as parents to be teaching our kids these things, they’re going to discover it in ways that devices and screens offer.

Aaron Smith (30:14):

Well, and if we eventually,

Jennifer Smith (30:15):

And if we maybe not at first constantly

Aaron Smith (30:17):

Let the screens nanny arched children when we need the time or which we’ve been guilty of, then we’re just kind of free flowing that influence

Jennifer Smith (30:28):

To our children. And if we think that even with all of our boundaries and all of the tight ways we try and control their screen time, they’re still going to be exposed to it. We have so many devices in our home. Our pockets out at a restaurant going to be, they’re working on computers. It’s a part of their digital, their age.

Aaron Smith (30:50):

Well, there’s healthy use for these things,

Jennifer Smith (30:53):

So they’re going to be exposed to it, I guess is the point.

Aaron Smith (30:55):

But being vigilant to be a louder voice in our kids’ lives.

Jennifer Smith (31:02):

And something else that I really like about a book like this, you guys, is that maybe when you’re parenting and your kids are little, you’re not thinking about all the different things. Maybe you’re not thinking about the screen time. And so you read this chapter and you’re like, oh man, yeah, you and I need to be talking about this and what we desire for our children and how, what boundaries are we going to put in place? Or how are we going to talk to them about these things? And so just as a marriage book, this is a good marriage book for you to go, oh, this is something we need to talk about.

Aaron Smith (31:33):

Yeah, it sounds really powerful.

Jennifer Smith (31:36):

Okay, moving on. Chapter five is all about family devotions, which I felt really affirmed by when I was reading it. I was like, I feel like we do a really good job of having a family rhythm of family bible time with our kids and spending time discussing the word and just leading them in that. So I was really affirmed by that. But still a really great chapter on the very first page of this chapter, it says, when it comes to family spiritual formation, it’s not about perfect practice. It’s about moving from nothing to something.

Aaron Smith (32:06):


Jennifer Smith (32:07):

It’s about just doing it. This

Aaron Smith (32:08):

Is a perfect, that line is perfect because I was literally just thinking if I can feel overwhelmed by thinking about all these things like man, how do I change so much in my life? Do what is even the right amount. Yeah. What is the right thing? What we’re doing complete failure or is it like, okay, and we could just incrementally be better.

Jennifer Smith (32:29):

I think we’ll always feel like we’re family.

Aaron Smith (32:31):

I know, but I’m just thinking about maybe there’s someone listening around there that’s like, well, I don’t feel like I have any of that.

Jennifer Smith (32:39):

Or maybe I don’t know how to offer them that. But

Aaron Smith (32:42):

Yeah, I want to know what you just read was, what I was thinking is there’s so many, this book, it’s full of amazing insights, but for someone who feels like they’re so far from it, it could feel like, well, there’s just another weight put on my shoulders I I’m going to fail at, and I don’t know how to get to that place. I think that line just said that the encouragement is, as someone once told me, just do the next right thing. Yeah. It’s not about like, oh, tomorrow you need to look like what he’s talking about. Right. Because man, we’ve been married for 16 years now. What we are today, we’re still figuring it out. What we are today is vastly different. What we were 16 years ago and what we’re going to be in another 16 years is we’re just vastly different from today. We’re

Jennifer Smith (33:32):

Just two years from now.

Aaron Smith (33:33):

And so my encouragement to the listeners is not to be overwhelmed by all that you think you should be tomorrow and just ask God to help you do something today. Whatever it is, whatever God’s probably already put it on your heart, man. I do want to have a better bedtime routine, man. That one thing where he sits down with the children and speaks to them. Maybe that’s something you’ve been desiring and you’ve tried it a couple times and you want to have that deeper connection with your kids before bed. Just do it again and don’t have an expectation of what it might look like. Just the fact that you’re doing it. You’re already miles away from where you were the day before.

Jennifer Smith (34:13):

Exactly. So he goes on to say, if our goal was to do something perfect, we’d still be doing nothing.

Aaron Smith (34:20):

That’s true. How long has that hindered you from Yeah,

Jennifer Smith (34:24):

Doing stuff? It’s a hurdle for

Aaron Smith (34:25):

Sure, because there’s this mentality of like, well, if I’m not going to do it perfect, I can’t do it at all. Rather than if I start practicing now, eventually over the years, I’m going to be much, much better at it, right. Than I am right now.

Jennifer Smith (34:36):

Right. Yeah. That was hugely encouraging to read.

Aaron Smith (34:40):

I like that.

Jennifer Smith (34:41):

Okay. So there’s also an entire chapter on marriage, which I think is really important. We all need to be reminded about our marriage and how vital it is to the running of a home. The marriage is the foundation

Aaron Smith (34:59):

Essentially the central focus, not focus, central guide. I don’t know what I’m trying to say.

Jennifer Smith (35:04):

Okay. Well, I’ll just quote hi. I’ll quote Justin because he says it good in the story of God, the strength of the household depends on the strength of the marriage. It may be the most practical and the most profound thing we do. So we pause here in the middle of this book to talk about the habit that holds all the other habits together, the habit of covenant love. And then he goes in to talk about just the biblical importance of covenant love. And I just want to read this one section because it was really good. The story of the world begins and ends in a wedding. At the beginning there are words and light, song and rest, fruit and animals. But center stage in all of that is the union of the first bride and groom, almost as if everything else was the processional. The characters funneling in taking their seats and waiting for the big moment.

The stage of creation is set for a ceremony. Man meets woman, there is suspense. Man comes out on stage and God says, you are alone. This is not good. Then there is the great reveal here is the bride. And in the moment and in the moment that man and woman behold each other, creation sings and so does Adam. There is poetry and wonder, bone and flesh and the promise of new life. Marriage is the beginning of this whole story, but marriage is the end of the story too. At the end of time, there are fire and clouds, suns and moons, trees and new cities. But again, it is all mostly the clater and bang for another ceremony bigger this time, this is no intimate garden party. This is a cosmic celebration because the war is over and peace has been won. The kingdom gathers and it’s time for the king and queen to get married. This is the marriage of God to his people. The church and the church’s lover always smitten. And now finally united. So it is, is that the arc of scripture bends from wedding to wedding and God’s covenant love connects

Aaron Smith (36:52):

Them. That was really pretty. Actually.

Jennifer Smith (36:55):

I thought that was so cool. When I was reading that, I was like, ah, it’s happening.

Aaron Smith (37:00):

That’s why we do marriage after God. Oh, because of this. But he just said, we see the symbol of marriages is something not to be worshiped, but pointing us to the one we worship.

Jennifer Smith (37:11):

Amen. He says, marriage then is not a great theme of scripture. It is the great theme of scripture. That’s true covenant. That’s true. Covenant love is the gravity that gives shape to the whole of the narrative. I just thought that was really beautiful. What we’re doing is really important. Being a husband and wife and having this relationship is really important.

Aaron Smith (37:34):

So do you think our listeners should grab a copy of this book?

Jennifer Smith (37:38):

I think so. I mean, I think if anything, it’ll affirm you that life is hard and sometimes our habits really suck. But if we’re paying attention and we’re willing to do the hard work, God would use it for good.

Aaron Smith (37:51):

And we can have better habits

Jennifer Smith (37:52):

And make better habits.

Aaron Smith (37:55):

For sure. Incremental growth. Adding one thing on another. Amen. What I got out of this is I need to change my habit with my phone and I’m going to commit to that. I’m actually going to, you reminded me. I’m going to take my phone and I’m going to charge it outside the room. Awesome. I’m going to do that again.

Jennifer Smith (38:15):

Okay. Before we wrap things up though, I told you about the end. So after everything he goes into talking about, no, you got

Aaron Smith (38:23):

To keep it a secret after there’s something to look forward to.

Jennifer Smith (38:26):

There’s lots of lots in here we didn’t cover that you guys would really enjoy. So at the very, very end of the book, he talks about this family age chart, which he was sitting there thinking about, okay, if I am when I’m this old and my kids are that old, where are we going to be? And then he started making notes. Okay, so here’s like where they can really play cool games or here’s a decade of important conversations. Or here we’re going to be empty nesters. And as I’m reading this, I’m laughing because I’m like, I feel like our kids have been doing this for the last 10 years, but every so often they’ll ask us, how old is Elliot going to be when I’m seven? Yeah. All the time. How old are you going to be when I’m,

Aaron Smith (39:06):

Well, now that Elliot and are getting good at math, they’ve gotten really good at figuring it out. Yeah. Well when you’re 16, I’m going to be,

Jennifer Smith (39:12):

Yeah. And they do this. And then we start talking about what everyone’s going to be doing at those ages. So I was just laughing cause I’m like, we kind of do this as a family already, but I did. So he shows his family chart in his little scribbles that he wrote down and he encourages that you also do a family chart because he gives you a did one idea. Well, I just briefly wrote down some of our ages, but it gives you an idea of how much time do you have as a family? Because eventually the kids grow up, they move out, they have

Aaron Smith (39:40):

Their time’s a lot shorter than we think.

Jennifer Smith (39:42):

Yes. That’s the whole point. That’s the point. And so just in a matter of 10 years, Aaron, you’ll be 49. I’ll be 47 and check this out, we’ll have a 20 year old. I know. I 18 year old think it’s lot. A 16 year old, a 14 year old, and a 13 year old. But that’s adults. Some already out of the house. Elliot could be married if he wanted to get married young in 10. I think that’s wild. Twenties.

Aaron Smith (40:08):

Not that young. Weren’t you? How old you were? 21. Barely.

Jennifer Smith (40:10):

Oh, I’m just saying it’s just weird to think about 10 years.

Aaron Smith (40:16):

Only 10 years.

Jennifer Smith (40:17):

Holy moly. So he gives a little family age chart where you can fill this out. And on the right hand side it says seasons. What kind of season will you be in? So in 15 years we’ll be empty nesters. I mean EDI will be 18, but if she wanted to move out that young

Aaron Smith (40:31):

In only 15 years,

Jennifer Smith (40:32):

15 years, honey. Okay. So that’s crazy. At the end of all of that, he says future realities. And he gives three little boxes with three arrows. Two habits for today. So kind of saying, if these are your goals, what could you be doing today to work towards those? Does that make sense? So I put the three things that I found most important to our family. I put salvation, purpose and active. Being active, being healthy, being able to move and have active

Aaron Smith (41:02):

In the church

Jennifer Smith (41:03):

In all active in general, always not lazy

Aaron Smith (41:05):

In every way.

Jennifer Smith (41:06):

So in order for that to happen, we needed daily habits of family devotional times and discussions leading them through scripture and who God is

Aaron Smith (41:15):

Allowing the word of God to work,

Jennifer Smith (41:17):

Experience, work on theirs, and letting them see God work in us. And we have highs and lows and kind of drawing them into those places where we pray and where we rep scripture and repent all of it. So for purpose, a habit for today, I put working on work ethic, but also creativity. Allowing them the experience of participation and understanding what purpose means.

Aaron Smith (41:43):

Example, just FYI for everyone listening, Jennifer did this thing with all of the other day. It was a couple weeks ago now, where I think, was it her idea to come up with a menu?

Jennifer Smith (41:53):


Aaron Smith (41:54):


Jennifer Smith (41:54):

The day?

Aaron Smith (41:55):

Or was it your idea? And she ran with it.

Jennifer Smith (41:58):

I have these extra things I like to do in homeschool. And one of ’em was getting the kids in the kitchen and having them fill, not just that they’re helping for one meal or this day or that day, but to actually do a whole menu, go to the store, shop for it.

Aaron Smith (42:12):

So put their mind to it. So Olive came up with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and then you guys went grocery shopping, got all the stuff for it, and then she was

Jennifer Smith (42:17):

Responsible that whole day to

Aaron Smith (42:18):

Just prepared it all. Prepared all. Yeah. You helped of course. Yeah. But that, that’s the, given those opportunities for creativity of what would you do, how would you come up with a meal plan? And then everyone was loved it because it was really good. It

Jennifer Smith (42:32):

Was so good. It was so funny because we’d never done anything like this before. And so I had her and Elliot both fill out like a menu and Elliot hasn’t done his yet, but after Olive finished her day out, something clicked in him and he realized he could have the freedom to do anything. And so then he starts asking me, mom, can I change my menu? Can I add this? Can I add that?

Aaron Smith (42:52):

He’s like, wait a minute.

Jennifer Smith (42:54):

But he already chose Rib for dinner, which I said you were going to help him with because he really likes your ribeye.

Aaron Smith (42:58):

I know. I haven’t made it in a long time actually.

Jennifer Smith (43:01):

So we’re going to have to figure that out. All right. Yeah. And then I don’t know if I finished, but being active, which you already mentioned, it’s spiritual, but also physical and it’s just being able to be strong and healthy and able in all the different areas of life. Because I’m thinking as we get to be grandparents and Yeah,

Aaron Smith (43:22):

Well, and we should be all those things too, so that we could be active and able for our grandkids one day. Yeah. Weird to think about. I know. Okay, this is like,

Jennifer Smith (43:30):

But that was really cool. I like that little exercise. Get me

Aaron Smith (43:32):

Worked up thinking about how fast this is all going to go by. Holy moly, that was really good. I really appreciate you reading that and giving

Jennifer Smith (43:40):

Us some. It was really good. That was great.

Aaron Smith (43:42):

Cliff notes. You welcome. Very encouraging.

Jennifer Smith (43:44):

So go read it.

Aaron Smith (43:46):

I’m going to listen to it.

Jennifer Smith (43:47):

Awesome. Again, that’s Habits of the Household by Justin early if you guys want to check it out.

Aaron Smith (43:53):

Well, we hope you enjoy that At the end of each episode, this we’re in a new month, but at the end of each episode, we’d like to do what’s called a growth spurt. And this month we’re focusing on putting your hand to the plow.

Jennifer Smith (44:06):

You’re not really in a work sense. This is more like an actual plow. Okay. Get out there and get in the dirt. You

Aaron Smith (44:12):

Mean actually work sense?

Jennifer Smith (44:14):

Well, yeah, but you’re enjoying it

Aaron Smith (44:17):

For you. You like gardening. Jennifer loves gardening, but putting your hand to pile, getting your hands dirty, doing something outside. So this is try gardening, planting a flower, a tree, a vegetable. It’s all really good stuff. Yeah. Getting your hand in the dirt.

Jennifer Smith (44:30):

Even if it’s like a little, it’s

Aaron Smith (44:31):

Called grounding.

Jennifer Smith (44:32):

I’ve heard that. Even if it’s, it’s one pot and you’re doing container planting, just do something that grows and watch it and baby it. I’m working on a hillside right now. Me and Olive have planted a ton of wildflower seeds and I’m out there every day making sure it’s trying

Aaron Smith (44:48):

To get them to survive. Yeah.

Jennifer Smith (44:50):

I’m trying to keep kids and

Aaron Smith (44:51):

Kids off. Kids that aren’t working that great, like our little plant garden in our hallway.

Jennifer Smith (44:56):

Oh yeah, Erin got me some herb containers.

Aaron Smith (44:58):

I don’t know what’s going on with those, but I working we’ll haves. Try those over again.

Jennifer Smith (45:02):

But sometimes things die just happens. Don’t get discouraged. Try again.

Aaron Smith (45:06):

Some people are professional household plant killers,

Jennifer Smith (45:11):

But this could be really fun in your marriage to, if you went to a nursery, even if you didn’t buy anything, just going and looking. I love it. Nurseries

Aaron Smith (45:17):

Are fun. I love going. The kids love it too. Yeah. All the pretty plants. Yeah.

Jennifer Smith (45:21):

But if you did grab a flower, some let it live through summer, right?

Aaron Smith (45:25):

Yeah. All right. Why don’t you pray for us?

Jennifer Smith (45:28):

Dear Lord, thank you for our marriage. Thank you for our daily routines and rhythms. We, we pray we would evaluate the way we do life and spend our time. We pray we would be willing to adjust our habits to better fulfill the roles and responsibilities you have for us. We pray your will is done in us and through us as we choose to walk in your spirit. Every day we pray our choices benefit our marriage and bless one another. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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