the mothering arts

Finding the base line…

 The first layer to a family rhythm, at least in our family, is the line that answers the questions of who we are and what we are about. I thought about calling this post "Bookends, Bottlecaps, and Boys" because each of those three things have a lot to do with who we are as a family. I think a mistake that is commonly made in pursuit of a simple, one-piece life is this key base line…not only do families not even consider what this base line sounds like, they don't prayerfully and thoughtfully consider exactly where their family is heading over the years. I don't agree with a lot of this 'vision-casting' rigmarole that is filtrating through the Christian family bookshelves, and that's not what I'm getting at. James 4:13-17 very specifically states that we should not make plans ahead of God's will, and I think that when we try to cast visions of what we want life to be like five, ten, fifteen years down the road, we have erred in that regard, and we block our ability to hear and follow God's will.
    On the other hand, it is vital that a family knows who they are, and who they belong to. How do we live out our faith in a practical sense? How do our kids know that they are 'home'? How do outsiders see our home? In a way, what is our family identity? What makes us, us? I was recently around much of my extended family, and I was captivated by my children participating in some of the same activities and traditions that I remember from childhood- the things that made me giggle, made me feel loved, made me 'belong' to the crazy clan that is my family. Hearing my dad pray with my children sent me straight back to my childhood and hearing his deep bass voice speaking and talking about God. In some ways, my faith and my dad are intricately connected…because he was the first voice I heard, so to speak. So what are we as parents saying? Are we praying over our children each day? How do our children know that we are who we are as a family?
    When I think about the day to day rhythm of our family, I think about bookends. Ps. 55:16-17 reads: As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. Evening and morning and noon I will pray and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice. The fundamental base line of our family song starts here, in the bookends of the day, in the practical working out of our faith, when we pause and spend time in prayer and study of the Word as a family. Morning time is short, and often related to our homeschool studies. Our evening is a much longer study and prayer time together. Our day begins and ends with the cornerstone of what it is to be our family, and what we consider is the most important aspect of our day. It is not the chores, the laundry, the dishes; it is not what Dad has accomplished at work; it is not all the learning the children have done, even though every one of those things is important. It's keeping the priorities straight. Every time our practice of this has slipped as a family, all of the rest of it breaks down quickly. It never ceases to amaze me how things begin to come back together when we pick up this base line again. There are so many good resources out there for suggestions on how to do this. I am working on compiling a post for tomorrow that details all the resources I enjoy.
    Traditions and rituals play such a vital part of what it means to be a family….even if it is something as simple as bottle caps. My husband has a little bit of a thing for metal bottle caps. He started saving them for reasons I know not…just a fascination with what is a rapidly disappearing part of American life. The rest of us quickly caught on, and we all began to save them for him, and it has become 'a thing we do' as a family. The boys love to pull them out and look at them with Daddy, examining all the different colors, the different sayings sometimes inscribed underneath (Jones' soda is quite funny). The caps have become coins and money for imaginary grocery stores and the like, and sometimes, they just like running their hands through the bowl. (And who wouldn't?) In like vein, I cannot pass M&Ms without thinking of my own Daddy, and his slight obsession with M&M dispensers. Or my mom's thing for lighthouses. My kids would probably tell you about my thing for crosses (particularly Coptic and Jerusalem ones)…or we could talk about our family's favorite meal that we have to have at least once a week, or Daddy's favorite cake…isn't it interesting how food plays such a big part of family and family traditions? In my family it used to be pizza night. One of the weekend nights, mom would bring out all the fixings for pizza and we kids would make it…made a horrible mess, mind you, but it was our night in the kitchen, and the one night mom didn't have to 'cook' or clean.
   What things make your family "you"? What traditions do you enjoy? What are some of your own memories of the family you grew up in? What forms the base line of the practical living out of your faith? Make sure to link me if you've written about it on your own blog, and I'll include it in tomorrow's post!

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Tell me what's on your heart~

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