Thursday, June 14, 2012

Your Family: Scattered or Gathered?

 "There is nothing I now desire to live for, but to do some small service to my children, that, as I have brought 'em into the world, so that it might please God to make me (though unworthy) an instrument of doing good to their souls." ~ Susanna Wesley

"No one can, without renouncing the world in the most literal sense, observe my method, and there's few (if any) that would entirely devote above twenty years of the prime of life in hope to save the souls of their children (which they think may be saved without so much ado); for that was my principal intention...." ~ Susanna Wesley

Our time as parents is fleeting, and the short time we do have is easily diminished by outside influences.  When you look back on your life as a parent, will you be able to say (though unworthy and imperfect) that you renounced the world and devoted your life and made much ado about the raising of your children?

These words from Susanna Wesley are almost a relief to me.  They tell me I can slow down and raise my children because it is an important job that no one else can do as well (since they are the children God gave to me).

We can tend to live as if everyone outside our family is more important.  Church activities, ministries, neighbors, homeschool functions, co-ops, field trips, classes, sports ~ how many, many things vie for our time!  And too many of them will take away that quiet growing time our children need.  Too much noise drowns out our voice as a parent.

After the birth of our fourth child, my role in church volunteering was almost nil, and I felt I needed to do something as a volunteer.  I decided to help provide individually wrapped desserts for a group of 75 people every week.  To my thinking, it would be simple and I could do it from home with my kids running around.  (Some of you may be laughing at my ignorance.)  It ended up taking our Thursday and some of Friday to complete and deliver these desserts.  My mood was stressful and the kids were mostly ignored and shooed out of the way.  Homeschooling did not get done.  I happened to find out that there were others who wanted to and could do the job, and I gladly bid adieu to that project.  Making an occasional meal for a sick family has turned out to be much more do-able.

All that to say, "Too much busyness is not good for the family or the children!"  Even busyness with good things.  Our culture tends to live in routine panic with constant pressures to join this or that activity (it might be good ~ but everyone is too tired to tell), buy this product to improve your life (does not improve ~ provides clutter instead), read this book to gain the secret to.... (adds to the already overwhelming information out there and causes confusion), add another new hobby (provides some fulfillment but may have been better at a different season of your life).

There are some great ways to keep the family together and provide guidance and influence to your children while they will still listen:

~Do family sports or classes.  I heard of a family who does Tae Kwon Do together.  Another acquaintance started a sports activity for families in which the dads provide the instruction and play the sport with the children of all ages.  I'm investigating taking family pottery classes.   
~Attend church services or a Sunday School class together once a month.   
~Do service projects together. 
~Plan family devotions. 
          ~Depending on your job or ministry, take a child or two along with you sometimes.
~Stay home!  Relaxed unplanned time is great for building your child's imagination and personal initiative.

This season of life will not last forever.  Your children need time with you now even more than they need to learn how to play soccer along with the 10 other things planned for the week.  Grab all the moments you can and gather the family together.

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