Nearly every other question our new friend posed the other morning my answer consisted of something like this… “Well, my parents did a great job of including us in the ministry.” And, “I watched my parents follow Father away from comfort and the American dream.” And, “My mom always included us in serving others.”
One of the bullets he made on his list of take-aways was Roots and Fruit. What better picture to accompany my thoughts on this topic than my dad working with apples and my mom catching fish!!! :)
When asked about why I order my day a certain way, or how Matt and I came to the decision to do things as a family rather than individually much of it is because of the example my parents set.
Roots. Legacy. Fruit. I am so thankful for my parents and the way they raised me. They made serving Father a way of life. And although it was often also a job or postition, they never treated it as such. I saw them serve with joy and order their life as to Father…not a list of rules or check lists.
Practical tips to include the whole family in fishing for men:
1)Enjoy your relationship with Father. Oh friends, I have been in the stages of transition nearly constantly for the past 8 years. Between having my first baby and the sleepless nights and emotions that followed, to moving overseas when she was 15 months old, learning languages, having more children, adopting more children, traveling here and there and everywhere and moving 4 times in 6 years. Whew. There are so many things that can cause fatigue and burnout and apathy. Cling to Jesus. Trust Him to be the rest-giver. Don’t seek relief or refuge in media or food or comfort. The joy of the Lord truly is strength giving. My mom confessed to me shortly after I had Abigail that she felt she had wasted some time with Father when we were quite young. Looking back she realized she could have pressed into Father, memorized the Word, and grown so much. That said, I have so many memories of her well-marked good book and time spent in her special prayer closet. She says now that the crazier the stage the more intentional she has to be. These stages of new babies and moving and more babies DO NOT look like time spent with Father during college or young married life. I used to spend hours a day reading the Word, memorizing, studying, journaling. But by being flexible and including the kids you can have rich, deep and life-giving time with Father.
2)Pray together as a family. Matt closes nearly every prayer he leads with our children by saying, “And let them SEE YOU!” Our kids always join in together loudly, “See You!” When we ask Father for opportunities to share in front of our children, when we lift up friends that they know and love, when we talk about His heart for people it is contagious! Their little hearts respond with so much purpose and focus and joy. It is truly beautiful and it sets the tone for those times when we are out with the people.
3)Raise the bar of expectations. Our children truly take joy in being a helper for daddy and mommy. Abigail knows that when I’m talking to a friend is a great time for her to lead her little siblings in a song or a game that keeps them entertained. Annalise has such a little heart to pray. If something is going on she will often be aware and tell me right then or later that she was praying for that friend, or that need. Our boys, still young and more inconsistent in behavior than the girls, know how to interrupt mommy politely by touching my arm and waiting. We also make a huge effort to make sure that basic needs are met when we are out and about. If our children are thirsty, hungry, or bored we cannot expect them to handle it with maturity. Aside: I have had more conversations with friends about Father due to my children’s behavior (both pleasant and not) than any other reason. Even, and sometimes even more, when my children deal with conflict, or I deal with a discipline issue others see a difference in how I handle my children. What an awesome opportunity.
4)Have fun. Play together. Laugh together. Just be together. As I mentioned in the post Fun in the Village make time out serving and with locals fun and super special. Special activities, stickers, toys, and treats can make all the difference. I have special memories going with my dad early on Sunday mornings (like several hours early) to Fellowship. On the way we would stop at a little donut shop and he would let me choose one and sometimes get a flavored steamer too. Then we would go together and I would help setting up chairs, and putting out bulletins, and other odds and ends that needed to be done.
Those of you who lift us up: please ask that we would follow Father and His Word in the way we parent. Ask that we would have wisdom to deal with stages, heart issues, and growing pains as we seek to introduce our children to their loving Father.
Those of you who live a life similar to ours I would love to hear about what your favorite ways are to encourage your littles to serve and how you set an example of obedience in front of them. Also, be encouraged in your efforts as you hear about the fruit that has come out of my parent’s obedience.
Today at lunch Abigail noticed my necklace that I hadn’t worn in a couple years. Stamped across the front it says, “by grace alone”. She asked me to explain what that meant. I told her that I am saved by grace alone, a free gift. And that I live each day by grace alone. “I mess up every day, but JC forgives me and loves me and gives me so much grace.” She gave me a long hug and said, “I’m so thankful for grace.”
Heart full and thankful… Karissa