This weekend our whole family (minus favorite son-in-law) is in Washington D.C. for the International Justice Mission‘s Global Prayer Gathering. I love our little family soooo much, but (clearly) we’re far from perfect. There are so many families I admire and so many do-overs I wish I had from when our kids were growing up. But being together has made me gratefully reflect on some of the ways we fed our kids’ souls that have paid off. I thought I’d share a few today.
- Communicate. Be available 24/7 for the fun stuff and the 911’s. I’ve written before about how this is a high value for our family. I’m guessing girls are better at this than boys but I don’t know. This was a recent text exchange.
Yes, my kids are so self-aware
In addition to texts and sharing Instagram pictures we think the others would like, and the girls and I getting fashion advice from dressing rooms, Maggie started a deal a couple years ago when we ended up spread across the world. We call it “the view from here”. Someone starts it and texts a picture of where they are and what they are doing in the moment and then the others stop and do the same. It’s a way, while we are miles apart, to step into each other’s daily lives.
2. Do, and talk about meaningful stuff together. One of the best decisions we made (and one with the most far-reaching effects) was to take each of our kids on a trip to a developing world country when they turned 10 years old. We wanted them to see kids that God loves and wants us to help around the world.
Next was building houses together in Mexico alongside the families who would own them. Hosting heroes like John Perkins in our home and serving alongside folks in our city all helped our kids to have the perspective of kingdom Christians, aware of the world outside their own.
Maggie ended up interning for IJM, and is now on their alumni board. Katy is the liaison between USAID (the international humanitarian aid part of the government) to Capitol Hill (Translation: her job is to get Congress to care about poor people around the world).
This does NOT mean that this should be the trajectory for everyone, but there are lots of ways to foster kingdom awareness. Sponsor kids from World Vision and write them notes together. Get involved in other organizations as a family. Pray together. I said we’re at the IJM Global Prayer Gathering which I highly recommend (for adults). I started coming because my friend Bethany made me by paying my registration a few years ago, and now I wouldn’t miss it!
3. Tell family God-stories. We always want to be sure He is honored as the hero. Honestly, this takes intentionality and can feel awkward at times, but it’s really important. God tells us throughout scripture to remember His faithfulness. In several places He has the Israelites make visual reminders, like in Joshua where He has them pile 12 stones.
“In the days to come, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What are these stones doing here?’ tell your children this: ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry ground.’
“Yes, God, your God, dried up the Jordan’s waters for you until you had crossed, just as God, your God, did at the Red Sea, which had dried up before us until we had crossed. This was so that everybody on earth would recognize how strong God’s rescuing hand is and so that you would hold God in solemn reverence always.” Joshua 4:22-24 MSG
We have a “12 stones” book where we record instances of God’s faithfulness in our family, but I also want to model this authentically in my speech in everyday ways.
4. Celebrate each other.
The day we arrived here, a food aid bill that Katy had been working on got passed through the Senate. This was a big deal and we were excited to celebrate with her. Maggie likes to call it “The Katy Bill”.
When we had lunch together I asked each person to share what they were proudest of in the past few months since we had been together last. Each person shared an area of personal growth and we were able to affirm the progress we’re seeing.
“Everyone has inside himself…what shall I call it? A piece of good news! Everyone is…a very great, very important character.” Ugo Betti
So that’s a little bit of our family soul food. What would you add?