Being opinionated and having something to say seems to be a Clarkson heritage. One never knows when some innocent comment might incite a rousing discussion in which every family member feels compelled to participate.
After talking with Nate daily and spending some weeks with our kids in the UK, I stand amazed at the ability they all have to write, communicate, think, and put all of this into their work. Yet, I know now that it came from the ways we lived the rhythms of life in our home. Discipleship and mentoring took place daily at our table, because of our intentional commitment to inform their values, to reach their hearts with truth and messages from the heart of God. (Refer to The Lifegiving Table below.)
. Devotions were a part of life. Prayers and blessings were expected each night. Christ was present through out the moments of our days so that they were shaped not by one aspect of Him but by bringing Him into all the moments of our natural life. Join me with one such example that has caused us to remember and laugh for many years hence.
This particular Sunday evening was no exception. All the troops had just returned from a meeting and were congregating in the kitchen to prepare their own snack dinners. The boys opted for cereal—no messes or pots and pans to wash! The girls opted for a more elaborate meal—nachos. As everyone munched on his or her concoction, someone innocently asked whether we thought a certain Disney cartoon was evolutionary or creationist or neutral in its story line. You would have thought we were discussing the deity of Christ!
Immediately, vastly differing opinions began to fly in all directions. For some reason this discussion followed gender lines. The boys thought the movie reflected an evolutionary mind-set and cited the comparisons of humans to animals. The girls fought for the concept that innocent words may have been mistaken as evolutionary but were intended as a joke. Dad piped in with his two cents' worth, and the topic heated up. I finally said, "I don't know if it really matters. Besides, I need to put Joy to bed! It's late!"
As I picked up Joy and started downstairs toward her bedroom, the other four followed hard on my heels. "Mom, you and Dad are always telling us we need to evaluate the world-view of authors and producers and performers." This was a perfect invitation for Dad to throw in a few more cents. The discussion continued to heat up along party lines, and each voice got louder. The tension of feeling misunderstood began to change the pitch of the voices.
By this time I had four-year-old Joy standing on her bed, putting her gown on over her head, with the rest of us still fulfilling our obligation to announce our opinion to the world.
Joy suddenly dug her heels into the bed and stood as tall as she could with her hands punched firmly out, as though to stop an oncoming truck.
She said loudly and firmly, like a drill sergeant, "EVERYONE STOP! TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND THINK ABOUT JESUS!"
Her directive sent everyone rolling on the floor in laughter, and finally the discussion came to a close.
This story depicts our everyday lives—opinions stated, issues debated, top- ics taught and learned, questions asked, books and experts quoted, and heartfelt convictions passionately shared while washing dishes, eating meals, or sitting around the living room drinking tea. And even though they may occasionally get out of hand, these discussions, perhaps more than any other family activity, have shaped our children's lives for the better.
Why are such discussions so important? Because they do exactly what Joy said. They teach our children to think about Jesus—and to think biblically about every aspect of their lives! They are part of an ongoing process of sharpening minds, focusing thoughts, and allowing biblical truth to shape our mental processes as well as fill our hearts.
Discussion, discussion, discussion; an integral part of walking with our children!
You will find these ideas fleshed out in our new book, The Lifegiving Parent and the study guide. We pray it will inspire and instruct you on your own journey of parenting.
Find our newest book, The Lifegiving Parent, and The Lifegiving Parent Experience Study Guide here~! (Clay and I will be doing a podcast series on these books, so order them now and join us after the launch, May 1)