My elder daughter looks at me with a worried frown on her face.
Am I stressed? Have I been yelling again? Have I misplaced the joy of being here - present - alive?
I have to take deep breath.
"I'm sorry." This is all I know to say when I realise that I've lost my way - again. When was the last time I laughed with my kids?
I need perspective, I need to step back.
I need to remember why I'm doing this: homeschooling, juggling family and work. It seems to always be about trying to prioritise the right thing - time with God, my husband, my kids; or trying to catch up on things - reading, administration, sleep, life...
Sometimes we all need to look up from our ceaseless tasks and perceive the landscape of our lives and make sure we haven't taken a wrong turn and ended up entangled and so far removed from our original path that we don't even know how we got there.
I'm a do-er, a planner and a tick-off-my-list kinda girl - so it is really easy for me to get caught up in the day to day busy-ness of homeschooling and lists of to-do's. I focus on the tasks and not on the present. I miss out on little smiles, tender hugs, whispered secrets, silly jokes. I lose my grace and end up frazzled, grumpy, stressed out and just no-fun at all. My brokenness emerges and I am undone by my lack.
So when my daughter looks at me with her big eyes and rubs my back in concern - I know I need to stop: to take refuge and check in with God, to allow him to draw me back and restore my soul.
Our recent family devotions have been spent doing a study about becoming a woman of excellence and through our discussions one thing stood out clearly to me. In order to pursue excellence - we need to know what it is we are striving for. We need goals and a vision. I realised I needed a new vision for our family - no, wait - we needed a shared vision for our family.
At the beginning of the year, the girls and I made a list of goals - it included things like learning how to sew, how to ride a wave board, how to play the guitar, being on time for family devotions, sleeping earlier and exercising more. As we talked about how we did on these goals - we were pleased to see that we'd accomplished many of these goals. We also realised that if we hadn't articulated these goals, we would never have taken the necessary steps to achieve them. For example: because the girls expressed their desire to learn how to sew - and being deficient in that skill myself - I sought out a sewing teacher and opportunities for them to learn how to sew. The result was some beautiful bags and two glorious medieval costumes for our end of term medieval feast celebration.
So with the Christmas season fast bearing down upon us, I thought the year's end would be the ideal time to take stock and talk about our hopes, desires and goals. It is a great way to check in with each other and ourselves, to make sure we are going in the direction we want to. So over these next few weeks, we will be working on a Family Mission Statement as well as our goals for us as a family and for ourselves individually.
We spent the last week or so talking about the things that we want for our family. We began with a time of prayer and worship and invited Christ into our discussions and everyone had a chance to talk about things we'd loved to be doing as a family - practical things like getting back to regular games nights and about parents not using the phones during what is supposed to be family time (oops!). We got to heart issues as well - like the way we talk to each other and how that makes us feel, the need for more patience and consideration to one another. We reflected on how we could ensure that Christ was at the heart of our family and how we could impact the lives of people around us with grace and blessing.
After all the talking, we got to work on creating a Family Mission Statement - something that would reflect who we are and who we want to be as a family. We got the whiteboard out and started a mindmap of ideas.
Out of this, we saw where we wanted to be in relation to God, to one another and to the world outside our family.
It is a wonderful thing to have at the forefront of my mind as I go through each day - it reminds me of my purpose as I mother and school my children. I love that Christ infuses our hopes and dreams for our family. It feels like a marker for our journey - something that will keep us grounded and on course. So when the day spins out of control and all my best laid plans crumble under the weight of real life, when I am tempted to lash out, lose it, lay down in defeat and cry, I look to His grace and return to our vision and remember...
Our Family Mission Statement
We choose to keep Christ first and foremost in our hearts and our home. We echo Joshua’s words “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
We choose to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness in order to create time and space to be in God’s beautiful presence, to receive daily strength from the Holy Spirit and to bear his fruit through grace-filled lives.
We want our family to be unified in love and appreciation, in understanding and care for each other.
We desire our home to be a refuge and a safe place where we are loved unconditionally for who we are, where our failures and mistakes are forgiven and our dreams and aspirations find their wings. No one will be left behind or ignored and our purpose is to build each other up, not to tear down.
We desire that our home will be a welcoming place for all – that all who enter our home will breathe in an atmosphere of holy laughter, joyful peace and loving acceptance.
We choose not to ignore the needs of others, to give of ourselves generously and sacrificially, to strive always to see others with the eyes of Jesus.
We want to learn to be available to God and to respond to his prompting so that we may be vessels of blessing.
We do all this so that we may live lives worthy of the calling we have received, that we may be completely humble and gentle, always patient in bearing with one another in love. We choose to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
The most wasted of all days is one without laughter. ~e.e. cummings