This year has been ROUGH!
God has absolutely gotten us through it, but if I had to sum up the year in the prayer I prayed most often, it’d be “Thank you God for bringing my husband home alive and for sustaining our family.”
Seriously though, when you have a year like that, it really causes you to reevaluate what is important to you. For us, the big one that has been really convicting is how we spend our time and what our kids are emulating.
We heard our kids pretending to be my husband and me… Between their interpretation of our incessant phone use and our lack of time spent engaging one another in meaningful conversation, and instead focusing on menial household tasks instead of being emotionally available for the kids… Let’s just say we decided things needed to change. Kids are brutally honest. Thank God for that– they point out our flaws so that we can correct them!
We set some new goals we’re implementing now so that hopefully by the new year, bad habits are broken.
- Prioritize family worship
- Love each other well
- Drastically cut media and technology consumption
- Master skills
- Be examples worth following
The first of our goals has been a conviction for a couple years now. The thing about family worship is that for it to work, it has to be both consistent and intentional. For our family, that means before the chaos of the day, my husband leads us in reading a psalm and a proverb and then we discuss it. We tried to do hymns also but with our kids being so young, they just didn’t have the attention span. As they get a little older, we will probably develop our morning worship routine a little more, but for now, this works for us.
I’ve noticed in myself that I haven’t done a great job of loving my kids (or husband for that matter) in ways that are meaningful to them. I first noticed this with my oldest son- he’s very physical and likes back rubs, hugs, snuggles, etc. And when he spontaneously says, “I love you mom and dad” it usually coincides with us having a meal together. So I’ve become more intentional about paying attention to his behavior- is he needing touch? Is he needing closeness? What makes him feel most loved? And instead of being frustrated or annoyed, I try to stop and just take care of his need. I’ve been doing this with all my kids and my husband and it’s making everyone a bit more peaceful. That’s not to say I’ve gotten it perfectly. I haven’t. But I’m in the process of changing my own thought patterns and looking outside of my own wants and interests and it allows me to better love and serve my family. Incidentally, it also prompts them to love me well! It’s definitely a win-win situation.
The biggest changes for us as a family I think are the changes we are making in media and technology consumption. Our phones are useful and we do use them productively. However, we’ve also fallen into the trap of constantly checking them, having videos on as background noise, and things like that. Do I use my phone for reading wholesome information? Yes! But my kids don’t always know that and they often assume it’s primary purpose is recreational. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when my son stopped me mid homeschool lesson to respond to a pretend text from his Gaffer. I’m so glad he loves his family, but we really have to focus in on what we want their priorities to be- phone use, even for family communication? Or one-on-one interaction with the people in the room with them and their studies? I’d rather my kids copy me reading a good novel than blogging or checking social media. That said, I’m reworking my habitual phone use to take place while the kids are in bed and only being on my phone when it’s absolutely necessary.
Along the same lines as phone use is our media consumption. Before we had kids, my husband and I might have gone days without turning on the TV. We read, or went out, or were busy with work. I am guilty of using the TV as a “sanity saver” particularly when I’m stressed or not feeling well. One day when I was dealing with the migraines and mold sickness, the kids watched Winnie the Pooh on a loop for like 4 hours. The thing is, I’ve let it become an escape from responsibility for myself. It’s a lot less mentally taxing for me to plop them down in front of a screen than to spend time thinking of ways to disciple, educate, and otherwise nurture them. Not only that, they got to the point where they expected hours of brain-melting show time and their behavior went down the toilet along with their respect for me. So that has got to change. Right now we’re breaking the bad habits and sifting what we want them to learn from TV from what we don’t. As of right now, we’re really only allowing TV on weekends as a relax and unwind time spent together snuggling on the couch, and we’re only letting them watch Little House on the Prairie. I’ve been reading them that series starting this past summer so they’re already familiar with the characters. Not only that, my husband decided it was a worthy archetypal family structure for us to allow into our home for our kids to emulate.
I know I always say this, but God is really humorous in the way he answers my prayers. All of these goal changes came after I prayed for him to help me focus on what really mattered for my family- living and displaying the love of Christ for my family and diligence in the life He’s called me to live. I wanted to really pick up the skill of hand sewing. I can’t and don’t always have access to my sewing machines, but if I can learn the skills of handsewing, it’s both a good use of my time and something I can pass on to my daughters. I started by patching the curtains my dog chewed up. Yep, the same curtains I just finished sewing less than a week ago.
I cut out a piece from the extra fabric I had left over to match the plaid.
Then I cut away the chewed portion of curtain.
I hand stitched the patch on using a blind seam slip stitch. Then I hemmed the edge on my machine to match the rest.
Is it 100% invisible? No. But it’s also not outrageously noticeable unless you’re being scrupulous in your inspection of my window treatments… And let’s face it, if that’s the kind of friend you are, you aren’t getting invited over that much anyway. 😅But I’ve learned that God delights to give me opportunities to grow and when the desire of my heart is to glorify Him through it, I wind up with limitless “opportunities” I usually initially mistake for setbacks.
All in all, my husband and I strive to be examples worth following, for our kids and the general public as well. I have some great examples of God working through my husband in servant evangelism. But those I’ll keep treasured for myself for the sakes of those involved. Suffice it to say, he is definitely a man worthy of my respect. And that is probably one of the qualities I most admire about my husband. It’s easy to love him. And he keeps growing in Christ! And this marriage thing, while still posing challenges for personal growth, is getting easier and easier in the sense that it’s not hard to love and submit to someone who loves you like Christ.