Writing our history together on a yearly Family Day gathering.
Darkness had filled my soul. It was one more time of, "I just wish I could quit! Life feels too hard. I don't know how to keep going. But, I got up one morning and knew in my heart, my children just needed me to put one foot in front of the other and reach out to them to have a good day. An idea came to me of how I would start our week with a surprise.
Then came the story in the video which brought Nathan to the point where I begin to tell his part of the story--he not even knowing or being aware that his mama was down. But his pronouncement reminded me that I was indeed blessed and had a way forward. Our little gang, belonging to each other, gave me what I needed to keep going with hope. Our team pulled me through.
Chocolate frosting and sugar sprinkles decorated each corner of his mouth with a tiny piece hanging from his nose. Nathan, at the full-boyness of a wiggly 9 year old, pulled the tee shirt of his jammies over his knees and pronounced, "I just love being a Clarkson. It makes me happy to be in this club."
For the rest of the story, you will have to listen to the video!
Each of our children was born to want to be a part of a family--with history, traditions, purpose, a sense of mission and foundations of mutually shared stories, comfort given, mutual core values, battles won and celebrations shared.
Why do your children need you to build a strong family culture? Your own sense of "We are a team together. We belong to each other!"
Because they will face lonely times ahead and with the love of siblings, life is not at lonely. Because problems of life in a modern world will come, and a close community of "us" can help each other through and shape souls on shared sufferings and celebrations.
Because being a part of a close family who is purposeful about living for Christ, brings meaning, purpose and love that will carry each of the members through years of challenges, difficulties and the isolation of feeling different than most people in this time in history--a place to always belong.
Because when you are older, you will have built your own best friends who will help you, love you and built their lives on the very same values and pleasures that you will share together for ever. Having children who are your best friends is just the best!
In Genesis 1, before the fall of man, before sin entered the world, God proclaimed the family as the unit through which all of the world would be organized. He gave Eve to Adam, and blessed them and gave them work to do,
"And Then God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground."
1. Be fruitful and multiply--have children! Psalm 127: 3 says, "Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him."
2. Fill the earth and govern it--Our job is to go into our world and take responsibility over it--in the context of our family--how will our family bring God's messages to the world, bring his light, use our skills, do our work, bring order, meaning, life, goodness and fight against evil.
In sports, the team is usually only as strong as the coach that leads it.
The athletes have capacity, natural strength, but it is the coach that hones those capacities, rallies the team and brings out its best attributes. The coach leads the direction that the team follows. The coach establishes mutual respect and cooperation amongst the team, the coach helps build a team spirit--one for all and all for one.
Building a team is not always straightforward. There are failures. losses, casualties, injuries. But a healthy team mounts above all of this together and keeps going forward. Some games are lost, some are won, but the coach keeps them moving forward.
God has given us as mothers, the ability and call to organize and lead our home team to become a unit together--to live fully into our potentials.
I am not speaking of usurping the leadership of our husbands, but in most homes, the mama keeps the life going. "A wise woman builds her home, and the foolish with her own hands tears it down."
How do we build a strong family spirit? A love for being a part of something bigger than just ourselves? A sense of belonging to a kingdom call? A call as a family to build a history--a story of significance for a kingdom in this world?
How to establish a family team--or your home team? (I will be speaking to these issues tonight at the webinar--the Biblical foundations that give us a plan, a way to go forward, and path to walk on.)
The mama's heart is truly the source of strength, wisdom, encouragement. leadership, love and faith. If the mama's heart is filled with understanding, truth, and purpose, then she will have confidence in knowing how to lead her little ones to the purposes of God.
If a mama does not have the vision and understanding of how to lead her little team, to coach her children in this way, then she will likely go the way of culture--listening to the voices all around her--and establish her family's foundations on the sands of false values instead of on the solid rock of God's word and ways.
Our family had lots of flaws and we made lots of mistakes and had to grow all along the way. But the spirit of loving one another, belonging to each other and to a greater purpose covered over all the blunders. Our connection and love for our little team or club, so to speak, kept us growing strong at each juncture of life. We had a sure foundation to go back to in our times of confusion.
The following are a few of the ways Clay and I established a sense of belonging and purpose to our children.
Following God's priorities: And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
The first of the 24 Ways our children learned and heard over and over again was, "We love and obey our Lord Jesus Christ with whole Hearted Devotion."
Then we established the rhythms to teach this priority:
Each morning devotions--reading scripture, learning the Bible stories, memorizing favorite passages, praying each day, starting the day worshiping Him.
Each evening, we ended the day with prayers at the bedsides and then a blessing, "I love you so much, I am so thankful you are my child, God loves you, too and will always watch over you and be with you."
These words go deep into the psyche--words spoken when a baby is being nursed and cherished, songs sung when a toddler is rocked, words spoken throughout childhood and appropriately given through out teenage hood and into adulthood--Words repeated in prayers, in daily moments, at night, on holidays, as oxygen of life.
listen to God,
He is with you,
He loves you and forgives you,
He guides you in wisdom,
He will always be with you.
The second commandment:
Love your neighbor as your self.
All day long, we practice love, correct attitudes, teach them to serve.The rhythms, all day long, shaping a heart of love, "Be kind to your brother, how could you have said that more graciously?
"You two will sit on the peace-making couch all day, if you must until you can make peace and ask for forgiveness."
Or you can write out this verse, or 24 Family way 5 times with the memory verse and write a short paragraph about what is means."
"Why don't you write an encouraging note to your sister and leave it on her pillow to tell her you love her tonight?"
"Let's surprise Daddy and have the house all cleaned up when he comes home with candles lit, music playing and a nice cold drink to tell him how special he is to us--he has had a very hard week."
Words, words, words, "God has called us to be a family forever, so that we will always have someone to help, to love, to support and to carry values together." "You will be brothers forever, learn how to love each other now."
The daily rhythms that knit hearts together---breakfast together, starting the day with a blessing, dinner eaten at night with no machines present--no tv, no phones or games, all about talking and loving and sharing--every night builds an expectation of talking, enjoying each other, celebrating life together each evening to close the day's events well.
Then a once a week movie night, a Sunday morning feast, an afternoon cup of tea for everyone--(or juice, hot chocolate, cider) for a 10 minute break together,) a Sunday afternoon tea time every week, forever.
Family Day celebrated once a year to acknowledge the fingerprints of God in our lives--what has He done through the days of this year? How has He provided? How has He answered prayer?"
We start out celebrating breakfast together reading the passages about Joshua mounting the stones of remembrance and then we mount our own stones. We have our own years of a notebook of family history from taking time each year to remember together what we are about.
Loving and serving people was also a part of loving others as ourselves--but a ministry focus, something we had to build in to our lives and into our life schedules and priorities.
Taking meals to those who were ill or had a loss in a family--making them together.
Hosting once a month game nights or music nights in our home to build community with others.
Starting mom's conferences as a family and serving together all of their lives.
Starting regular Bible studies in our home for girls, or guys, or moms or families--different groups at different times--but all of us seeing our home as a place of outreach.
Volunteering at church.
Inviting people into our homes on holidays to share meals who were lonely.
Giving to the poor.
There is so much more to share, and that will be in a book coming out next year!
But these plans, these foundations gave our children messages in their hearts that still speak to them today, practices of loving and learning to make peace, serving together and watching God work through our family. The sense that "This is what we do, this is who we are, this is how we work--we are a team, closely knit in purpose, values, calling." And that sense of belonging to something greater than their individual calling, has built close committed relationships that keep giving life, love and meaning to each of us.
But in essence, we need to understand that our calling is together, our purposes are as a family, our strength comes from not being alone in the world, but always having a place to belong, a group to be a part of--a family.
Your plan will determine your actions and what you will build long term. What values do you want your children to love? What work has God given your family to do? What stories uniquely suit your family for their purpose and investment in the kingdom together? What messages do you want your children to cherish deep in their hearts? How are you speaking these messages to them daily?
These are foundations that must be planned, implemented and built over the lifetime of a family.
These are some of the Biblical issues we will discuss tonight. Ten Foundations for flourishing in every season! Hope you can join me. Register before 5:30 mountain time, as we will be closing down registration in order to get ready for the conference tonight. Can't wait. Love meeting with all of you!
Winners of the 2 tickets to the e-conference are Beverly Steele and Janelle Spiers! Congratulations!
Join me tonight, live at 7:00 Mountain, 8:00 Central, 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific!
You can purchase today and watch later.
(The cost will be slightly higher after the conference is over, due to administrative overhead.)