A Place Called Home (Making Home the Center in a Practical Way)
It’s crazy to think about the days in which we live. Most parents out there are giving a lot of thought to what kind of world their kids will inherit. Though it could be the biggest downer right now, it’s encouraging to remember that all people of every society that ever existed faced their own special set of challenges (Sodom and Gomorroah, Babylon, Rome, etc.). But, BUT. . . God is faithful.
That being said, having a counterattack, or “preventive” response to life in general is always good, especially for the young ones we are raising. To think that most of their lives they will look us in the eye makes it apparent that a) time is of the essence, and b) what we do/say/think/ etc. can all play a part in creating the kind of home we really want.
Being again the practical one, I thought I’d share some ideas I’ve gathered over the years that seem to help my husband and I keep our priorities straight.
1. God First: Home has always been, and will always be, God’s original idea. He started a family with two, and set up circumstances for many families over the eons to come to know and bless Him. So, home can’t be what it was always intended to be without His breath and fingerprints.
2. Run the Circles: Started by my hubby (yes, he’s a preacher, but every husband and daddy are the perfect ones to do this for their own family), we do what we call “run the circles.” Lorenzo has written about this and talked about it (a lot) but in a nutshell, it means we talk (a lot) about upcoming decisions. If you asked one of our kids (without any prior warning) if we discuss things (a lot) you’d win a nickel each time. Even if it’s with rolled eyes, they’d probably all respond in the affirmative. And the “circles” represent capacity, core values, and calling. Capacity is how much time, money, etc. are available, core values means will this decision line up with our beliefs and convictions, and calling refers to our mission statement and direction we feel God has asked us to go. If an idea or upcoming decision doesn’t line up with all of our circles, we usually don’t go forward. Yes, lots of talking is needed but it always pays off.
3. Family Table: This is one of our favorite things to do as a family, yet one of the very hardest to pull of consistently. (We aim to make it happen at least four or five days/week.) This can be around a meal, but not necessarily. It’s a cue to everyone to gather around and be ready to pay attention. We might read a devotional, discuss the events of the day, ask for feedback for a decision (run the circles), or talk about some kind of current event. Basically, it’s our time to “huddle” and rekindle a team spirit between all of us, young or older. 🙂 Our idea for family table was inspired by a statistic I read many years ago about the National Merit Scholar Contest. Nationwide, the top common factor between all of the winners wasn’t schooling, economics, or IQ. The winners all shared the distinct advantage of eating supper around the table with their family on a consistent basis. Powerful. Eating together, facing each other (and not technology), discussing the day and interacting with each other is a very enriching habit. It teaches children communication and patience as well as plain old etiquette and manners.
4. Sabbath Rest: Everyone’s schedule can get crazy. So just as we schedule church, events, games, date nights, etc., we also try to weekly have down time. It’s not a strict Sabbath in the Jewish sense but an effort to relax, take a nap, turn off phones and media, and enjoy being together. Amazingly, it really recharges everyone, especially the parents!
5. Family Projects: We love to pick out a project like a big cleaning job or painting a room and plan a day for it. Especially if it’s a tough job, the more we involve everyone the merrier it can be. And we always plan for the reward after we’re done. Pizza, the park, or a special movie. It’s super-motivating for everybody and gets some work done at the same time.
6. Watching Our Words: I had a magnet years ago that gave lots of ideas for things to say to our children, like “You’re beautiful, Way to go! and How did you get so smart?” It seems silly to need a reminder for something like that, but the truth is we can be nicer to perfect strangers at the grocery store than our own precious family. Through the good, bad, and ugly, keeping our words positive and loving will go farther than we can ever imagine. This includes teaching our kids to say “I’m sorry, I was wrong” as well as being able to say it ourselves! The words we speak are like starting a garden. Over the years we can reap a bountiful harvest in the relationships we cherish. And just like that garden and the ugly weeds that “grow roots to China” without water or fertilizer, unkind or harsh and ugly words can try to choke out the harvest we’re hoping for. It takes a lot of focus and it’s frankly a God-thing but just takes practice and more practice. And since I haven’t attained a perfect record yet, practice and more practice! 🙂
Bad moments happen. Just like any “group” we’re ever a part of, problems are real and they exist. THERE IS NO PERFECT FAMILY. It’s easy to believe that lie and feel we can’t make any progress. But don’t give up. My husband and I have had so many moments of tears, despair, fear, you name it. More than I could count. But if I put all the bad moments in a basket, it wouldn’t compare to just one of our beautiful moments. And over the years, those beautiful moments build the thing we call a family. And even when we hit the grandparent stage I’m sure it will still be true that the days are long but the years are short. Each family is unique and wonderful in their own right. Every day is precious and can’t be taken for granted. None of us will look alike and we all have our unique contribution to give.
Tonight or in the morning, hug the people you love most and hold them close. And keep up the great work. God’s mercies are new every morning. For every family, every child, and every mom and dad.