What's your family culture?

4:30 PM

  First of all, thank you SO much for the response to my post (a couple back) about family planning!  Wow.  I had no idea how much this would resonate with people, and I have had more comments, emails, and feedback in person about that post than I have probably ever had before.  I absolutely love it when I can tell that something I wrote went deeper than the surface and actually struck a chord with people's hearts.  No better feeling.  So thank-you, THANK-YOU for your response, and if I haven't replied yet, hopefully I will soon.  It really means so much to me!

   The only reason I didn't follow that post up with this one is because I had a little time while the girls were at ballet, but not really enough time to construct a whole new post, and the makeup post was one I had as a saved draft.  So my apologies if that seemed a little sudden and a definite abrupt topic change...I just wanted to post something while I actually had a rare kid-free moment!  That's about all I can do these days....steal snatches of time here and there.  But that's not the whole truth.  Even when I have large stretches of free time, I often don't feel up to posting, because my brain just feels fried.  No mental energy whatsoever left to give.  And so it goes!  I'm so grateful for my life and I don't want to complain.  It's just that the blog gets the leftovers these days and I'm really OK with that.

   Alright.  Let's get right down to it here.  I am addicted to podcasts!  I feel like I don't have time for reading blogs, news, books or magazines like I would like to these days, and podcasts have delightfully filled that void for me.  One of the ones I've been eating up lately is Kat Lee's Inspired To Action, where she interviews lots of different women and moms and always leaves me feeling challenged and inspired in motherhood.  Now if I could only get the inspired to ACTION part down and actually start integrating some of those tips and bits of wisdom into my parenting!  But hey, knowledge is a start.

   In one of her episodes, she interviewed Sally Clarkson whom I'm sure you've all heard about, and Sally talked a bit about "family culture".  This was sort of a new concept to me, but it was SO interesting.  Basically, she believes that whether you intend to or not, you will fashion a sort of culture for your family.  Sally shared that her family's culture was mostly made up with a love for music and heart for worship, tea time at 3:00 pm every day, and STORY.  She went on to elaborate on each one of those things, and I loved the little glimpses she shared into her family's lives.  Isn't it such a beautiful idea to stop what you're doing, whatever you're doing, every day at 3:00 and just gather in the kitchen for a hot drink and something chocolate and catching up on each other's hearts? I loved that idea.

   I also loved what she had to share about STORY.   She said that from little on up, she and her husband tried to instill in their children a love for story.  Reading the classics to them, epic heroic tales of courage and valor and beauty and love, and always helping them to feel like they too had a character role to play in a Big Story.  They didn't know the plot yet or the ending, but they had a role to fill, and what was it going to be?  Was it going to be a heroic tale of victory, or a tragic tale of loss?  I just loved that thought.  To this day, it sounds like her children are all involved in ministry and the arts and are very much living out their part of the Story.  I love that so much.

   She also shared about a tradition that she and her husband started on their anniversary.  They call it "Family Day" because really, that's when you first became a family, isn't it? Not with the birth of your first child, but on your wedding day.  I am passionate about people realizing that a marriage makes a family.  I try not to use the term "That's when you made us a family" about Jocelyn's birth, because then that would mean that every couple unable to have children will never truly be a family.  And it's just not true.  And so each year, on the Clarkson's anniversary, they celebrate Family Day and would go do something fun.  Now that their children are grown, they still fly everyone in from wherever they happen to be, so they can all drink tea together and celebrate.  How special!  It just set my mind spinning as to what traditions we could instill in our own family.

   Growing up, my "family culture" was fun.  It was movies and travel and games and vacations and storytelling and using our imaginations.  My BEST childhood memories include imaginative play and late night game nights and popcorn with the classics and trips to Michigan and Florida.  We took more trips than a lot of my friends because we had family in different places, and some of my all-time favorite memories will always be from those trips.

   But after moving across the country from my home in Iowa to Oregon, I was so tempted to view family being scattered as a huge detriment.  It wasn't FAIR that my children wouldn't have all the aunts and uncles and cousins around.  It wasn't FAIR that I couldn't have my parents close by. And I would view those around me that WERE surrounded by their families with jealousy and contempt.  They had it all.  It just didn't seem fair.  But now I realize that maybe it was all a blessing in disguise. And someday maybe my own children will fondly recollect memories of our trips back East to see family and their trips out here to see us.  It isn't living next door, but it can still be a rare and precious part of our lives together.

   And so it can be with some other parts of your family culture.  Maybe some of the things you are dragging your feet about will be some of the things that shine most beautifully years down the road.  Embrace it!  Not every family culture will look the same, and it shouldn't!  How boring would it be if it was?  Your family culture might be homeschooling and violin lessons.  Someone else's might be sports and camping.  Your friend's family might excel in Bible memory and another friend's might be active and involved in a ministry to the homeless.  There is no one, single, right way for a family to look or feel.  We can celebrate the uniqueness of each other's family cultures without feeling intimidated or threatened by the differences.  And I was so encouraged by that thought.

   It has got me so excited thinking about the family culture I want to foster here in my own home.  My children are all still young, but it is truly never to early to start.  And I'd love to hear from you!  And especially from you more experienced moms of teen or grown children.  I LOVE hearing from moms on the "other side" of the trenches of young children.  What is your family culture?  What are some things you would change, or some things you would like to add?  And what are you SO GLAD you did?  I'd really love to hear!

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