A Heritage of Faith

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“I have no greater joy than to hear
that my children are walking in the truth.”

I think that most of us who are Christian parents hope to be able to echo these words written by the Apostle John about our own children someday. We want nothing more than for our children to find a vibrant relationship with God and for their faith to bring joy and peace to their lives.

But how can we pass along a heritage of faith?

Is it even possible these days?

Statistics show that the majority of children who grow up in Christian homes will not choose the faith of their parents once they leave home. These statistics may prompt us to set off on a desperate search for the perfect program that will ensure that our kids won’t be one of them.

Yes, our children are people. They will make their own choices. But that doesn’t mean that we are rendered helpless to make any impact on their spiritual journeys.

In this week’s chapter of The Lifegiving Home, Sarah Clarkson shares what it means to pass on a “heritage of faith”, drawing on her own experiences growing up in a solid Christian home.

I’ve been convinced, through watching other Christian families and from my own experiences growing up, that there is no magic formula for “producing” children who love the Lord.

A heritage of faith is not passed on by means of a program.

It begins in the very atmosphere that fills the home.

It is built in the small, everyday habits of devotion; in the love that is expressed; in the daily looking into the Word of truth that brings life.

When our lives center around God and His Word – when the Bible is the compass that directs our paths – how can we not pass on to our children the passion we have for this way of life? Even if we don’t know very much about God’s ways, but are learning every day, our enthusiasm will be evident to our children.

I don’t have to be a giant of faith or a Bible scholar to pass on a heritage of faith. Whenever I feel inadequate for the task, I can go back to the story of the loaves and fishes and rest in the thought that God can take whatever it is that I have to offer (my five little loaves and two small fish) and bless it in whatever way He chooses!

I believe that there are two vital areas that we need to be mindful of as we endeavor to pass on a heritage of faith.

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1. We’ve got to be real

If our children are going to even consider the way of life that we have chosen, they will need to see it for what it really is – flaws and all.

Our faith must be apparent in our everyday life.

Here are some questions I can ask myself as I consider what impression my faith is making on my children. If passing on a heritage of faith is important to me, I need to be completely honest with myself to see if I’m being real about Christianity.

~ Am I presenting a true picture of what the Christian life is all about or am I striving to keep up a façade of perfection?

~ Am I real about the things I don’t fully understand or do I feel as though I need to present an image of knowing it all? Do my children realize that I struggle with certain concepts? When they come to me with a question that I can’t answer, how do I respond? Do my children know that it’s OK to ask hard questions?

~ Do I humbly acknowledge when I make mistakes? Do my children see that I’m not perfect? Am I modeling the rhythm of seeking the Lord, walking in His ways, struggling and failing, getting back up and returning to the path of life once again?

~ Do I have outgoing concern for people? Or do I complain and gossip behind their backs? Do I see the world with the compassionate eyes of Jesus or do I choose to wear the glasses of cynicism?

~ Am I still conformed to the world and all of the things it says are important (success, money, possessions, entertainment)? Am I more passionate about the latest and greatest holistic living product, my new phone or the latest comic book movie than I am about digging into God’s Word or immersing myself in His Creation? Am I saying that one thing is important to me while showing something entirely different with the way in which I live my everyday life?

 Let love be without hypocrisy.
Abhor what is evil.
Cling to what is good.
Romans 12:9

~ Do I regularly share with my children the wonderful works that God has done for His people throughout history and the things He has done for me personally? Do I share with my children how God has answered my prayers?

One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
Psalm 145:4

**

We will not hide God’s works from our children,
showing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD,
and his strength, and his wonderful works that he has done…

That the generation to come might know them,
even the children which should be born;
who should arise and declare them to their children:

That they might set their hope in God,
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments.

Psalm 78:4-7

***

The truth is, we can’t pass on a passion for something if we don’t have a passion for it ourselves. If my faith is not the top priority in my life, how can I really expect it to be one in my children’s lives?

All of our wonderful intentions of passing on our faith won’t mean amount to anything if we’re not real with our kids – and with ourselves.

The amazing thing about God’s grace is that we don’t have to be perfect in order to pass on a heritage of faith. We simply have to start by being real.

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2. We’ve got to be diligent.

If we have come to the point where we believe that Bible is absolutely true, then we have to accept what God says about our job as parents.

We have a responsibility to educate our children in the Word of God.

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children,
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

There is no getting around this responsibility, and we should take it seriously. It is not the job of pastors, Sabbath-school teachers, videos or cool Bible apps and games. It is ours.

We don’t need to search out a “super-cool” program for our elementary-aged kids or the latest in modern day apologetics materials for our high-schoolers. While these tools can be awesome add-ons, they aren’t necessary! What IS necessary is our diligence.

We don’t have to have all the answers for all of the difficult problems that exist today in order to begin teaching our children.  We can learn and grow right along with them.

We simply need to grab on to our responsibility with both hands and be faithful to do it with diligence – day in and day out.

Remember what Paul said about Timothy’s upbringing?

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

Timothy was trained in the Scriptures from very early childhood by his mother and grandmother. And it made a huge impact in his life!

But every child has to make their own choice as to which path to take! I can spend my entire life investing, training and teaching my children about God and His ways, and they may STILL chose other paths! God can’t possibly hold me responsible for that!!

I admit that I’ve asked this question, too. Why even bother? Why should I work so hard if there is no guarantee that the work will have the result I so desire?

(You can read my full response to this question here: “What Will You Reap?” – Blog post from 2013)

This line of reasoning really has nothing to do with our responsibility. *

It’s absolutely true that “God gives the increase” when it comes to the heart work in our children’s lives. But He often uses “real people” to do to His work –  we are fellow workers with Him in how we sow the seeds and the water the seedlings!

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Gathering ideas from other families about how to teach our children about God can be helpful.

This chapter provides many practical ways in which we can integrate faith into daily family life.

I’ve also shared some examples of what we do in our family in this post: “Introducing Our Children to God”.

We have the very humbling and amazing privilege of walking with our children on the road of faith!

“We do not travel alone. Christ is the first and ultimate guide for our journey, but each faithful person since has left a trail of footprints showing us how to walk and which paths to follow. None of us practices our faith in a vacuum. We watch the ones who go before. We mark their endurance, catch their passion, learn from their wisdom.

And the first pilgrims we meet in this world have a profound influence on how we journey. Ideally, these first companions on our spiritual journey will be members of the family household into which we are born. And the first stumbling baby steps of faith we manage will be taken in the confines of home.

Home is the place in which the great journey of faith begins.” (p. 103)

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Let’s be real.

Let’s be diligent.

Let’s do our part to pass on a heritage of faith!

Note: In his article,  “Will the Next Generation Know?” , John Piper thoroughly answers common objections that Christian parents give to teaching the Bible to their children. From the “I don’t want to prejudice them in religious matters” to the “I don’t know enough about the Bible myself to be able to teach them!”, he covers them all with wisdom. I highly recommend it!

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This blog post is part of a series on the book The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sally and Sarah Clarkson. If you would like to read the rest of the posts, click HERE.

The Art of the Ordinary

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“Good morning, children!”

I move from room to room, greeting each child by name and pulling back the curtains to let the new day in.

Unfailingly, a voice pipes up from somewhere beneath a pile of warm blankets with the same query of  “What day is it?” or “What are we doing today?”

I know that if I can respond with the joyful news that it’s pancake day or an announcement about a surprise visit to Grandma’s or a reminder of the field trip in the afternoon, I will see crazy-haired and bright-eyed faces popping up in beds all over the place. A few may even jump out of bed and start dancing around at the thought of the fun day ahead.

On the other hand, if my answer is a cheerful: “Well, it’s a regular school day! We have a busy day ahead. The oatmeal will be ready in 5 minutes, so let’s get dressed!”,  I can guarantee that I won’t see those faces until we’re sitting down to pray at the breakfast table. Dragging feet, big yawns and weak smiles are the norm at the outset of an ordinary day.

Sigh.

Ordinary days – we all have them.

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This week’s chapter of The Lifegiving Home focuses on how to find beauty in ordinary days.

This may seem like an exercise in futility for some of us. The thought of us finding beauty in the day seems as about as likely as us getting to actually drink an entire cup of tea before it gets cold!

Aren’t some days just for “getting through”? Isn’t it enough to simply try to hang in here until we get to the parts of life that we’re really looking forward to?

The exciting days – feasts, birthdays, weddings, special company coming to visit, vacations, the first days of new seasons – the are the days we really live for! They contain moments of beauty that we will remember for all of our lives.

But when we look at the word beauty in the context of “home”, what images come to mind? Do we think of home makeover shows, magazine covers or Pinterest boards on home decorating?

If this is how we associate home and beauty, we may really struggle on ordinary days:

“Beauty in home life – beauty on the level of the kitchen table, the child’s bedroom, the back porch – is something at which we often stumble. What we miss in the surface images (such as shows, magazines, and the like) is the understanding of beauty not as a veneer we apply to the surface of our lives, but as the tangible, daily outgrowth of the spiritual values that we hold most deeply.”

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The search for beauty goes deeper than a simple veneer; it explores the loveliness that “lurks in the corners of the ordinary”:

“… a bowl of apples, a child’s face, a Mason jar of wildflowers…the breathtaking loveliness that comes when ordinary moments are filled and formed by hospitality, ritual and relationship: dinner by candlelight, heart-to-hearts over hot chocolate, a shared autumn walk, a sick day in which real love is made tangible in ginger ale and chicken soup and a child’s favorite quilt.

On the level of home life, beauty is the order and grace we bring to the waiting hours and spaces of our lives, the celebrations we choose, the rituals we make, the gardens we plant, the care we give with as much attention as we can muster.”

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It’s so easy be beguiled by the world’s definition of beauty, isn’t it? We are constantly bombarded with images of beautiful homes, beautiful hair, beautiful cars, beautiful clothes, and even beautiful homeschool curriculum with beautiful, perfect families smiling on the cover.

Just like that delicious-looking dessert in the grocery store bakery that ends up turning out to be so disappointing at the first real bite, the world’s idea of beauty looks tantalizing – but leaves me wanting when I chase after it.

Although I do desire beauty in my life, more often than not, I drop into bed at night feeling like I haven’t found much of it. Ordinary days in my house are often full of messes and tears and attitudes – things that can easily obscure my ability to see any beauty at all.

Sarah says:

“So much of life consists of dusty, normal days often punctuated by sickness, thorny relationships, general struggle and loneliness. I am keenly aware that my love of beauty is equaled by my total inability to force my life to be beautiful.

The world and I myself are profoundly broken.

And yet, despite the grief of life in the broken places, my heart still catches glimmers of what life was meant to be, echoes from the shattered gladness of original Creation. The remnants of Eden reach out to me in the very stuff of the everyday, slivered shards of ideal beauty glittered through the daily muck.

I see it in the sunlight slanted on my table, the scent of coffee, the flight of song, a moment of utter quiet… in those moments I am aware that beauty speaks.

That loveliness tells me of something beyond the brokenness.

Every experience of joy I find is the promise of a coming and complete redemption.”

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I love this perspective on seeking beauty, don’t you?

In some ways, I’ve allowed the world’s definition of beauty infiltrate my thinking. It seems so unattainable that I can fail to recognize the spiritual significance of seeking beauty in the ordinary.

When we seek beauty, we are choosing to discover God’s creative presence and unchanging goodness – and we’re daring to bring it into our own small, dusty days.

One small way to do this is by starting a “thankful list”. Years ago, I made a choice to discover God’s presence in my ordinary days and to share them here on my blog. Until I read this chapter, though, I’d never really considered that when I enter in to the act of cultivating beauty, I am making a statement of faith:

“I want my home to reflect the deepest affirmation of my heart that God is with me, that He has given me every good thing.

To cultivate beauty is to act in keeping with my faith in God’s goodness rather than my doubt.

The beauty I make is the way I picture and offer my ultimate hope right smack in the middle of messy, ordinary days.

I take, with God’s help, the musty clay of dusty, messy days and mold it into hours of laughter, landmark feasts, music making and memories.”

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This chapter is full of inspiration to cultivate beauty in our homes. It’s encouraging to realize that there are as many ways to do this as there are unique personalities!

To get our creative juices flowing, Sarah shares glimpses into her family culture in the following areas:

~ Finding beauty by awakening wonder
~ Finding beauty by whetting aesthetic appetites
~ Finding beauty in family rituals
~ Finding beauty in convalescence
~ Finding beauty on rainy days
~ Finding beauty through walks, wanders, and hikes
~ Find beauty through impromptu adventures
~ Finding beauty through local events and attractions
~ Finding beauty through gardening

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There are so many small ways to cultivate beauty in our homes on ordinary days.

Lighting a candle for the dinner table, putting beautiful music on for the family to wake up to, framing and displaying a child’s artwork, setting up a comfortable bed on the couch for a sick family member, reading an inspiring poem over breakfast, pointing out a small aspect of God’s amazing creation that is passing by your window – the list is endless, but it all begins with our perspective.

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Let’s talk!

I’d love to hear about some real-life examples of how you cultivate beauty in your ordinary days!

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 I hope that you are enjoying this series on the book, The Lifegiving Home! Are you reading along with me? If so, please let me know in the comment section!

Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 8: A Heritage of Faith.

*All quotes in this post are by Sarah Clarkson*

~~~

Related posts:

Everyday Beauty

Sacrifice in the Mundane

Sickness

Replenish

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Springtime is the land awakening.

The March winds are the morning yawn.

-Lewis Grizzard

 

Back in November of 2014, our little farm was settling into dormancy. The spring and summer of 2015 saw Dan diligently chipping away at many homestead projects in hopes that we might begin anew in the future.

Now, another spring is beginning to awaken with the yawn of the March winds.

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We have begun to replenish Old Paths Farm.

Our Alpine does, Mariah  and Misty, are starting to plump out nicely and we look forward to meeting their kids in late May. Goat kids have got to be one of the most fun parts of a farm! We also can’t wait to have fresh milk again!

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The goats love the new, larger pasture that Dan built for them. Adult goats love a spring frolic just as much as kids do!

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We have started over with a fresh batch of chicks that will become our future laying flock. We are REALLY looking forward to having our own eggs again this year. This was the first time we ordered a “barnyard mix”, so we’ve been enjoying trying to figure out what all of the breeds are. My older girls have their “Standard of Perfection” chicken book and are carefully watching as the adult feathers come in to see who can be the first to identify the various breeds.

Here is one of the more curious pullets who always races over to greet us when we enter the barn.

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Our newest additions to the farm are three Katahdin/Dorper mix lambs, who are the beginnings of our meat flock. These cuties are between 3-4 months old and are still getting used to their new home. In another week or so, when the young grass in our new pasture is grown in enough to support their appetites, they will be out with the goats.

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In the picture below, from left to right, we have our ram, named King Jupiter after a character from our new favorite family read-aloud, a ewe named Olga and another ewe named Fiona.

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In January, we purchased an Alpine buck named Sheldon. As soon as the ground thawed, Dan was out back working on Sheldon’s new dwelling -place. (If you are at all familiar with goats, you know that a buck is not a welcome resident in the barn!) If any bucklings are born this spring, we plan to have one of them live out there with Sheldon to keep him company. In the meantime, he has been getting plenty of visits from the children, who spend lots of time playing out in that back part of the property.

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Here’s the interior of the shed. The door is for easy access to feed Sheldon hay and water when he’s not out on pasture. We found several old doors on the property when we first moved here and Dan has been using them for various farm projects.

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The view to the south grasslands from The Bachelor Pad”. (Yes, we name everything around here.)

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Our animal acquisition for this spring is not yet quite complete. We are on the lookout for a pair of kittens who will grow up to be good hunters. Please let me know if you have any leads!

Thanks for stopping by for a visit today. I hope that you are taking every opportunity to enjoy this amazing time of the year!

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A Culture of Love

We rocked quietly in the darkness.

Caroline and I have recently come to the close of a wonderful 15-month long nursing relationship and last night, she seemed to be in need of some extra snuggle time before bed. My perpetually wiggly and chatty toddler lay still in my arms without making a single sound, and I quietly sang her special “Caroline song” to send her off to sleep.

Even in the dim light, I could see her large, dark eyes staring into my own. She seemed to be searching them to find the security that she had enjoyed through our many months of nursing. It was as if she wanted reassurance that she was still my special little one.

I smiled through the darkness and nuzzled her nose.

I knew that this was the most important thing that I could be doing just then. Even so, as the minutes ticked away, I really struggled to push “The List” out of my head. It was getting late, and I still had to:

Spend a few minutes catching up with Dan,

Finish cleaning the kitchen,

Write this blog post,

Answer some emails relating to homeschool planning,

Prepare for our errands the following day…

Caroline fought a brave battle with her heavy eyelids, but eventually surrendered to their might. By the time she was breathing deeply, we had been rocking for almost half an hour after everyone else’s lights were out.

Sigh. Well, there went my list. (And the chocolate pudding I was hoping to make for myself after I got the kids in bed!)

This is a daily struggle for me.

Oh yes, I’ve heard all of the sayings – “I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep” – and all of that. I’ve seen the memes floating around about not squandering these precious moments.

But honestly, sometimes it’s just plain old hard for me to keep the right balance between the myriad of responsibilities that I have as a wife and mother of six with the things that really matter in life.

I fully realize that the daily mundane tasks really aren’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. After all, they’ll still be there tomorrow.

But sometimes that’s just it – I don’t WANT them to still be there tomorrow! Who wants to wake up to a dirty kitchen?! That’s not my idea of a pleasant morning.

“So often, we get caught up in the immediate things, the practical tasks – getting the housework done, doing our jobs, checking homework, paying bills, disciplining our children. Yet it is the emotional and spiritual atmosphere our children and friends breathe – the way we treat people, the foundations of grace we live by, that will attach their hearts to ours and ultimately to God.

All of us create a home culture of some kind. I have realized over many years that crafting a culture of love means choosing, again and again, to focus on what really matters in life.”

Sally’s words in this week’s chapter of The Lifegiving Home have been a wonderful, gentle reminder that I really needed to hear this week.

I struggle with really wrapping my head around the fact that living a good life is not about achieving this elusive “perfect balance.” It’s simply choosing, again and again, to focus on what really matters.

I decided to rock just a little while longer.

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{Caroline and I, near the start of our relationship}

Everyone loves to be loved:

“Each of us created by God to give love and to receive love. Loving acts and words of affection and affirmation are foundational to our health in every area of life – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. God made us to need and to experience intimate relationships. All of us long for love and the assurance that validates the worth of our lives and personalities as God designed us.” (p. 61)

In light of this, a big part of making our homes a “place of belonging” is the type of culture we choose to cultivate within our walls. A culture of love is comprised of small acts, day in and day out.

“Love is indeed a choice, an obedience, a service and a sacrifice, an initiation. But love is also the most powerful source of joy. And it is the means through which God would have us extend His hands, His words, His redemption to our world, within the walls of our home.” (p. 63)

This inspiring chapter is overflowing with ideas of different ways to show love to our spouses, children and other people we meet in life. Sally shares the heart behind why we teach manners, practical ways to say “I love you”, ideas for building memories of love and the vital importance of encouraging words. I hope that you will consider buying or borrowing a copy of this book so you can go through all of them in detail!

While reading through this chapter, I was encouraged by this thought – My husband and children don’t give a fig about how many things I get checked off my to-do list in any given day . I’ve never received a congratulatory card for completing my to-do list! Rather, it seems that the way in which I do my mundane tasks is what really makes an impression on their hearts:

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{One of my birthday cards this year}

Whether we are single or married, raising children or coming to terms with an empty nest – if we are Christ-followers, we must study His example of loving others.

“True influence and discipleship are formed intentionally by modeling ourselves after the ultimate lover- Jesus. He who bowed His knees to wash 120 man toes, who bent to embrace wiggly children who were clamoring for attention, who touched a prostitute and gave her grace, who gave His own failing disciple (Peter) hope and affirmation even in the midst of the man’s failures, and who the ultimately gave everything, out of love, for our redemption, becomes our own source and inspiration for forming a culture of love.” (p. 65)

All of our life accomplishments, from God’s point of view, will be summed up by how much we loved God and how much we loved other people.

♥ ♥ ♥

Let’s talk!

> In this chapter, Sally tells us that she tries to convey this to her family members:

“You are important to me. Making time to share love, intimacy, and memories is so much more important than any task that would steal my time from you.”

Do you ever struggle with balancing this type of sentiment with all of the everyday “Stuff” of life? How do you handle it?

> What are some practical ways that you show love to those in your home?

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Please join me next Thursday, March 31st, as we explore the chapter entitled “The Art of the Ordinary”

Related posts:

*What Matters*

*The Gift of Encouraging Words*

*Strong Friend*

 

Creating a Framework for Home

Jonathan Feb 2

Mommy?

Yes?

Todaaaay…….cweaning day? 

No, Jonathan.

Todaaaay…..londee (laundry) day?

Nope!

Todaaaay….Sabba day?

No, it’s just a regular day!

Todaaaay… sunny day?

cwoudy day?

wainy day?!

snowy day?!?!?

This was the first conversation that Jonathan and I would have almost every morning when he was around 2 1/2 years old. Even at that very young age, he was beginning to be aware that we had certain rhythms in our family life and he wanted to be “in the know” about what was going on that day.

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The routines, rhythms and rituals of our family have ebbed and flowed through the years, but I have always tried to maintain a simple framework within which we lived out our lives.

“There is no one right way to live life in a home. No one size of routine or rules or order fits all. But the more carefully we plan our days, the better our homes will provide us with freedom and enjoyment as well as purpose and accomplishment.

I have found that my own plans work best when I live within the limitations and strengths of my own personality and make plans that suit my particular circumstances. I am not like others; my family has different parameters of need. I am quite free to do what is best for us when I plan for our family to flourish with all of our uniqueness in mind.

But I do this most productively when I build in the purpose, order and satisfying systems that will keep us moving forward.”

-Sally Clarkson, The Lifegiving Home

Drawing from her own family’s framework, Sally offers in this chapter a variety of ideas to consider as we order our own days. From her morning blessing of each individual child, to devotional routines, to “reading-hour” to bedtime routines – and everything inbetween – this a chapter that is packed with inspiration.

Below are a few questions from the chapter that you may want to ask yourself as you work toward creating a framework for your family. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this chapter’s topic and have already written quite a bit about it. So, under each question, I’ve simply listed a blog post or two in which I’ve covered how this looks in my family.

Although it is easy to peek into someone else’s life and wish we were them (at least in some areas!), we need to remember to appreciate the different ways in which God created each person. He did not intend the world to be full of Anna’s and Sally’s (thankfully!)

I simply share my ideas and routines here on my blog to hopefully get your own ideas rolling!

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1. What daily rhythms will help me accomplish what needs to be done and enhance our relationships?

* How do you DO it?! *

* Establishing a Routine *

* Individual Time With Our Children *

2. What chores need to be done each day? Who will do them, and how will I make sure the are done?

* Chores for Children *

* Help! I’m So Overwhelmed! (Home Management Part 2) *

3. Am I doing something now that doesn’t need to be done?

* Guarding Our Time *

4. What daily and weekly rituals will bring pleasure and mark important areas in which I can invest my moments?

* The Family Dinner: Is It Worth the Trouble?  *

* The things we always do *

 

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The chapter closes with these encouraging words…

“Routines are often difficult to establish and may need to change through the seasons of life, but when cultivated carefully they promote life, love, regularity and security amidst the constantly changing stresses of contemporary life.

That’s not to say that our family has always followed them perfectly – or that yours will. There have been entire seasons when I neglected our routines and just tried to stay alive.

But I’ve found that having life ideals helps keep us all moving forward and make sit easier to get back into rhythm when my careful plans fall by the wayside.”

Let’s talk!

* What are some of the rhythms and routines that your family has benefitted from?

* What have been some of the hindrances to getting those routines in place and how did you overcome them?

I’m planning to move our book discussions to Thursdays, so please join me on March 24th for Chapter 6, A Culture of Love!

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A thought for Friday morning

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“There is no single way to serve God, but the point is this:

We each have only one life to live to tell a story about Him, about His ways, about His love. And if we are Christ followers, then God calls us to use our gifts, to exercise our faith, and to become salt and light right where we are.”

~ Sally Clarkson

 

Rhythms

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Have you ever taken a “Facebook break”?

Has your family ever attempted a “media fast”?

Have you ever gone so far as to cancel your television or movie service?

If you have ever tried any of these experiments, what was your goal in doing so?

Weren’t you seeking to bring a certain measure of peace to your life?

Many of us recognize that the non-stop mental stimulation of modern media has its drawbacks, but sometimes it can be very daunting to even know where to begin if we want to pull back a bit. Our academic, business and personal lives have become so intertwined and entangled with technology that it can feel impossible to extricate ourselves even for a short period of time.

Additionally, now that we’ve become acclimated to this fast-paced mental life, it can feel quite uncomfortable when we try to go without it.

I think that most of us know, deep down somewhere, that something about the way in which we’re living is a bit “off”. But we shrug it off without much deep consideration, because after all, life is just different these days.

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In this week’s chapter of The Lifegiving Home, Sarah reflects on a 2-month “Facebook break” experiment of her own.

Some of her observations throughout the course of her experiment included:

  • The mornings seemed to lengthen (once she learned to ignore the impulse to reach for her phone)
  • She found that her departure from Facebook led to an increased ability to resist the Internet in general
  • She took time to journal
  • She did her work with a far greater clarity of focus
  • She became more in the world of touch, sight, sound, and breath
  • She began to garden with her mom
  • She found a “silence of possibility” in the evenings, in which loneliness or longing were channeled into letters written and space ordered and stories sketched out instead of submerged in the pain-killing run of the Facebook feed
  • She looked at and listened to her loved ones without restlessness or distraction
  • She found that she was better able to weigh her thoughts, consider her choices, and know her emotions before the press of the outer world provoked her to action

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I, too, have taken several lengthy Facebook breaks, and my conclusions were similar to Sarah’s. The more time I spent away from the Internet, the more peaceful I felt.

But after a while, I began to miss communicating with friends who no longer have the time to make phone calls or visit. I missed the new baby photos, the advice of well-seasoned homeschool moms and the opportunity to pray for friends who were going through difficulties that I didn’t know about. I missed blogging.

There are definitely benefits to the Internet.

But of course, it’s not only the Internet that pulls us away. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the constant pull of television and phone screens everywhere we turn. The overuse of virtual reality and technological media can all too easily cause us to become mentally and emotionally absent from the present.

It’s so hard to pull away from virtual life completely. I struggle with it.

But I have to acknowledge that it can be equally detrimental to our human spirit and our relationship with God to be constantly tugged away from the real life we were created to live.

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In the book of Genesis, we notice the original intent that God had for human beings on earth – to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and to subdue it. We were made to exist in the context of family and to interact with God’s creation.

“In the beginning God created”, and every atom cam from His imagination. I believe He made the world in such a way that to tend it, to touch it, would be to know His heart. He told a story into the earth, the tale of His bounteous heart. We were given the uplifted a of pines and the vibrancy of a summer garden, the laden arms of apple trees and the dark patience of mountains, to keep us alive every day to all that God is and will continue to be. (p. 36)

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The rhythms in which we were made to exist – those of family (home) and creation – are often obscured in today’s age. We just don’t have as much time to spend with family or to spend experiencing God’s creation.

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Instead, the structures and habits of modern life draw us out of fellowship, away from connection, and toward distraction, absence and autonomy.

We value action, productivity, and study.

We are a hurry-up, check-your-goals-off-the-list, get-to-the-next-place society.

Sarah says of her experiment:

I became more aware of the unthinking way contemporary living removes us from the holy, original rhythms of creativity, work, rest, and relationship. I realized that I needed to reevaluate the structures and habits of my life if I was going to create the kind of home for myself that truly reflected the goodness of God.

If we want to embody the life of God in our homes, we need to understand what God intended human life to be, and we also need to be aware of what distracts us from that intention or diminishes it in our lives. (P. 35)

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Each one of us who has made a commitment to create a home in which God’s love is lived out, would be wise to evaluate what rhythms we are existing in.

Are we spending much of our time distracted with a “scrambled consciousness”, skimming along the media-saturated surface of modern life? Are we conditioned to a restless mental absence from the world around us?

Or are we using our precious, limited hours of the day for the attentive, slow good work of creativity, conversation and connection that real homes require?

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I certainly don’t believe that everyone’s life should look exactly the same, but I hope that each one of us will honestly evaluate which rhythms we will align our lives with – God’s original intention and design, or the restless, continuous movement of our modern culture?

 And do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:2

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Let’s talk!

Have you ever experimented with time away from technology? How did it make a difference in your life?

In practical terms, how do you maintain a good balance between virtual reality and physical reality?

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Additional resources to consider:

“Staying Close in the Digital Age” (article for parents)

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains – Nicholas Carr (I recently read this book and promptly bought a copy for our home library. I found it to be a fascinating, stir-to-action book!)

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Please join me next Wednesday, March 26th, as we dive into the section of the book called “Seasons of Home”. We will cover the January chapter – “Creating a Framework for Home: Rhythms, Routines, and Rituals”.