When we moved last year, we had to prioritize what we would store and what we would have to let go. The boys made this plane together a few years ago, but we simply didn't have any room for it. Scott took a final picture of their creation before saying good-bye and disposing of it. Our family had to prioritize what we could keep in our smaller home and what we could not. Some things were not easy. Emily had to sacrifice her piano, but we found a good home for it!
At the beginning of spring, Emily had to make a lot of decisions concerning one of her passions, gardening. She had limited space and had been given a budget. She had to prioritize which plants she thought we needed the most. She had to plan her garden carefully (she always draws a map). Here, she shows Joey where she wants everything. Today we are enjoying some pretty terrific tomatoes and a variety of peppers. We've also enjoyed her radishes and lettuce.
Usually at least twice a day our family has a meeting. Sometimes Scott and I call everyone for a "pow wow" or some simple table talk over lunch (like we had today). These meetings are important for several reasons: it allows us to set goals for the day or week, pray, have devotional time, or address concerns. These meetings are such an important facet of our family life, I can't imagine not having them! I could say that this is especially important for a large family like ours (at least it is considered large to some folks); but I would have to deny that only larger families need such events. This is a wise idea for any sized family - or even a couple. We know that unity is especially important to our Lord within His church, and His church is made up of many families as well as individuals. If families are in unity and harmony, this contributes to the peace and progress of the entire church body. If families are stressed out and at odds, this will also be reflected in the body because "if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it..." (1 Corinthians 12:26). God prefers order, and this should be reflected in our homes.
Before Scott and I call a meeting, he and I have a little meeting of our own. Usually one of us will feel impressed to address something. I particularly remember once when he felt very strongly that we needed to discuss "filters". He wanted to explain to the children that it was wise and important to "filter" what comes out of our mouths with thinking before speaking. I scrambled to label coffee filters with questions such as: "Will this hurt someone's feelings?", "Is this interrupting?", "Is this person busy?", "Will this embarrass someone?", etc. and glued them to chart paper to make a poster. We sat the kids down and took turns explaining what a filter actually does (strains out the stuff you don't want so you can keep the stuff you do. They "clean out" impurities, etc.). We shared our observations of our family's strengths and weaknesses in this area, applied Scriptures, shared my filter poster, etc. Now, when someone says something or begins to say something that is not thoughtful or poorly timed, the simple whisper, "filter", reminds him/her to stop and think before continuing.
Today I wanted to discuss the concept of "Priorities" with our kids. What are they? How do we sift and sequence them? As we make decisions, our priorities become clear to those around us. What we choose to address or tackle first when there is much to do reflects our maturity, concern for others, and dependability. Should I finish that report or draw a picture? Should I do my chores or read a book instead? Should I get dressed first or begin my schoolwork in my pajamas? What is rationalization? What is procrastination? How are a Christian's priorities different from someone who does not consider God? We discussed all these things today and challenged the kids to be more conscious of the decisions they were making and to sequence their activities with more wisdom. We want them to be more thoughtful and less impulsive with their time. The days are short and time is running out. We must use our time wisely after all.
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17
In the throes of school, there have been many times I have had pow wows with my kids without Scott (He usually awakens after we do because of his schedule). The kids and I set goals, read Scripture, and pray about our day and for those we know need prayer. I share with Scott any discussion I have had with the kids after he awakens to promote unity or to make any changes if Scott had plans I wasn't aware of. The kids and I meet again before bedtime.We just restarted singing a few praise and worship songs in the evening before beginning our bedtime meeting. We used to do this, but then stopped for some reason. As we read Revelation 2:5 one night, conviction hit and I felt that we needed to "repent and do the first works". The Lord is disappointed when we shrink back and lose ground (Hebrews 10:38). How sweet to sing together for the Lord before bedtime! Why did we ever stop?
The most important meeting of the day, however, is the one we have with the Lord. How are Scott and I supposed to know what direction to shepherd our family if we don't consult with our own Father? As I look to my husband for his leadership, I must also pray consistently for him. It is not easy being responsible for seven people and I want him to have wisdom and peace while he does so.
I share this with you because these meetings have been such a blessing to our family. These little pow wows, if you will, have been a true priority in our day and as a result, have made ordering the rest of it much more successful. I highly recommend them!
"Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint...."