The Gift of Us: A Family Day Celebration (Lifegiving Table # 11) and podcast!

Family Day, A Couple of Years ago! Joy, Sarah, Thomas, Clay, me, Joel, Nathan

Family Day, A Couple of Years ago! Joy, Sarah, Thomas, Clay, me, Joel, Nathan

The flicker of candlelight, the luscious aromas of hot cinnamon rolls and strong coffee, and lots of noise and laughter filled the kitchen as we tucked into breakfast together. Thus began our twenty-fifth year of celebrating the story and heritage of our family. Family Day, as we call it, is a time of remembering who we are as a family as well as documenting what God has done in our family and committing to Him our hopes for the future.

It all started back when our kids were little, with a passage from the Old Testament. We read that Joshua, commissioned with the difficult task of overseeing the Hebrew people after Moses’ death, knew that his people needed to constantly be reminded of who they were—God’s chosen people who had been called to possess the land

God had provided for them. So Joshua came up with a unique way to make the abstract truth of God’s promises very tangible and real to the Israelites. They would gather large memorial stones and place them as a monument to stand throughout many generations, documenting God’s faithfulness to His people (see Joshua 4).

Clay and I wanted our children to have that kind of palpable reminder of God’s commitment to our family. So we began setting aside an annual day to name and remember the important events of the previous twelve months. In the very beginning we used actual pebbles for our “memorial stones” and had the kids draw pictures of the events. As the kids grew older, we just listed the events, although we persisted in calling the items in the list “stones.” We thanked

God for every stone and preserved all of our pictures and lists in a family album. This tradition gave our children an expectation that we would always be purposeful and intentional about who our family was, what we stood for, and how we would approach our future.

We still have Family Day every year even though our children are now grown and living away from home, and we still begin the day by listing our “memorial stones” together. This practice reminds us not only of God’s faithfulness to us individually and as a family but also of the fact that we are inextricably tied to one another, bound in loyalty.

It is a renewed annual commitment to always be there for one another. Our Family Day celebration also helps us reaffirm our family culture—our values, traditions, tastes, words, and music, and the infinite amount of other things that define us as Clarksons.

Throughout the Old Testament, God was always commanding the Israelites to remember. His feast days were all about recalling what

He had provided in His faithfulness to His chosen people, and they were admonished to remember His teachings as well. I believe He wants us to remember, too, because forgetfulness is the fastest way to failure. Remembering is an act of rooting ourselves deep in the soil of our spiritual heritage.

When our children were growing up, we wanted to empower them by repeating the stories of God’s miraculous intervention throughout history and in our own lives. We shared with them how

God had taken our loaves and fish—a desire to start a ministry with no money, no books, and no conferences—and multiplied them beyond our wildest imaginations. We created a constant narrative of God’s desire to use them to change the world. And throughout the years we used our annual Family Day lists to affirm the little miracles along the way.