“Thanks for breakfast, Mom!” said my young adult son as he smiled and walked out of the door.
“You’re welcome son,” I shot back as I smiled wide, grinning ear-to-ear.
I felt so blessed as I peeled potatoes, cracked eggs and baked beans to usher in this beautiful breezy and sunny fall morning.
My home was peaceful and at rest, adorned with all the delights of the season: fresh apples handpicked from an orchard by my family; brightly colored mums and pumpkins of various shapes and sizes; and a gospel sermon played in the background…lifting up the name of Jesus.
“It just doesn’t get any better than this,” I thought to myself.
As my kids spilled out of their rooms and gathered at our kitchen table, my heart was filled with thanks – and I was reminded to text my husband and thank him for working to provide for our family, and for affording me the opportunity to stay at home with our kids.
Out of the ashes, hope rises
I am deeply contented as stay-at-home wife and mom. And days like these make it feel like a dream.
The truth is, however, today is a good day. Not every day is like this.
I remember when I went through the thick-of-it . . . the rough-and-tough of it . . . and family-life wasn’t peaceful at all; in fact, it was sort of a nightmare.
When I married my husband I was a single mom with a seven-year-old, and our family “blending” was less than ideal.
We had three babies by our third wedding anniversary. We were living on one income and stressed-out financially. Family-life was less than appealing. I wanted my toddlers to grow-up and get out.
I was a young Christian, slowly growing in the faith and making all kinds of marriage and parenting mistakes. I didn’t understand what grace was yet – didn’t understand that God’s great grace would cover and keep me and my family through a world of mess.
As I began to grow in Christ, God’s word began to challenge me in many areas regarding family-life.
God’s word gave me hope.
I knew that things could be better; but I also knew that I had to roll up my sleeves and work hard to make it better. I couldn’t be passive about having a better home life.
Sometimes I was out of control and a bit of a nut-job. (Can you believe that? I know, I look like an angel. ;-)) So, that means that at times I tore down my own home.
“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down” (Proverbs 14:2).
Because of the intervention of the Holy Spirit, the continual challenge from God’s word, godly counsel and the influence of other saints, lots of tear-induced prayer and me wanting a closer relationship with God – my family persevered (by God’s grace) and my home life began to improve.
Girlfriend, can I just tell you that I went from tearing down my home, wishing my kids would grow up and leave, and being the one who almost flew over the cuckoo’s nest, to having a home that is growing in the grace of God, a home that is peaceful (still with its fair share of trials) and where laughter abounds (on most days).
We are beginning to flourish in family life!
And this is ALL because of God’s hand on my family’s life. This is ALL because of God’s intervention in my family.
Can we just pause right now and give God some crazy praise?
And please believe me, Dear Sister: there is no boasting here! You are reading the words of a lady who once hid beside her bed and thought she was losing her mind.
Family-life was kicking-my-bu*t!
So if I boast, I boast in the Lord! Because when you are that beat-up, family-wise, any improvement is worth praising God for. (Yes, I’m doing the church dance right now.)
Remember – the one who has been forgiven much will love much (Luke 7:47), or in my case, scream and shout much, and run around the church praising God much!
We went from being a family in constant need of intervention, to being in a position to offer sanctuary and intervention. (Lord willing, we will begin to foster kids soon.)
Our home is being built and established by the Lord. (Matthew 7:24-25)
We are dwelling according to wisdom and understanding in family-life. (Proverbs 24:3)
We see the evidence of God’s hand at work in our children’s lives. We are impacting our community for Christ.
We are becoming a fruitful and life giving home.
“Ye are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men, that they may…glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14 & 16)”
My little house could – and so can yours
I live in a Little House on the Freeway; and because of God’s hand upon my family, I refer to our home as the Little House that Could. Yes, Lord!
But this abundant work which God provides is not only for those of us who live in little houses (like mine), it’s for the spacious homes in the suburbs, the poor homes in the projects, and the affluent homes in Beverly Hills.
God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35). The resurrection life of Jesus Christ is available for EVERY Christian home because God “…blesses the home of the righteous.” (Proverbs 3:33) . . .
I didn’t want to come up with this list by myself, so I asked my husband and kids to give me their opinion on what makes a family thrive.
My husband and I almost had identical lists. My kids weighed in heavily on having intentional family time. Here’s the gist of what we all said . . .
Characteristics of families that thrive:
God delights in us coming to Him and having prayer fellowship with Him. God gives us wisdom when we need it, if only we would just ask (James 1:5-7). He holds back the hand of the enemy for our family members because we intercede in prayer. He is a Father who delights in giving good gifts (Matthew 7:11) and answering our prayers if they are in accordance with His will (1 John 5:14). Having a strong marriage, a God honoring family life and seeing our children experience salvation is in accordance to His will (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
“I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer” (Psalm 17:6).
2. A Strong Marriage
Right after prayer, having a strong marriage was next on me and my husband’s list. We both know that if a marriage isn’t strong, the family is likely to fall apart. Marriage is a divine institution and Satan hates marriage. He hates covenant! He knows that if he can destroy a marriage, he can cripple or destroy that family. So precious is the covenant of marriage that Paul uses it to mirror the covenant between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:22-32).
When my marriage was in shambles, my home felt the effects. When my husband and I demonstrate visible signs of love and devotion, my children thrive emotionally and spiritually.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10:9).
3. Sharing Meals
There is something sacred about breaking bread together as a family. Even secular sociologists have long hailed the benefits of sharing family meals. If you can only meet together once a day it’s worth making the sacrifice of time. I never knew just how special those meals together were until my young adults went missing due to military, college or because of a hap-hazard work schedule. These days, I make it a rule for my young adults to unplug (no phones) while we dine. And please remove those ear-buds, too!
When I first asked my husband what should be on this list, he observed that I was eating a slice of chocolate cake for breakfast, and in his witty and sly way he said, “Chocolate cake?” Then we both burst-out laughing and I knew that laughter had to be on this list! I love that we laugh together (sometimes, seemingly, for no reason, and our kids look at us like we’re crazy). Laughter is an amazing gift from God. I’m so thankful that these days my family is doing a lot more laughing than crying.
“A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:13).
“A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
5. A family that won’t quit
A family that knows how to get back-up and keep fighting when it’s been knocked down in family-life is key to experiencing a satisfying home-life. My family has taken some hard blows (like any other), but I’m learning that as Christians, there’s really no reason for us to stay down. We have the Holy Spirit who is ready to give us a tenacious and resilient spirit – the spirit of a conqueror! We don’t quit! We fight for our marriages and for the hearts of our wayward children. We persevere through love and prayer.
“For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes” (Proverbs 24:16).
What qualifies me to write this? What do I know?
It’s almost scary to write a post like this because my family has not arrived.
My husband and I are dumb and blind sheep – whom, if left to ourselves and our own devices, would walk right off a cliff or wander unknowingly into the enemy’s den. We really have no claim to fame, no special sauce. We be simple folk . . . squirrels, if you will, just tryin’ to get a nut. (I hope my husband, Mr. Squirrel, doesn’t read this post.)
But this is what I do know: I know the depths that the Lord has brought me and my family from. I know that my family was sick, but now we are “well” because we started to dwell according to God’s wisdom and understanding.
Honestly, we are simply yielding the fruit of righteousness which is impacting our entire household.
We are enjoying the Holy Spirit’s biblically guided direction and guidance in family-life.
We are receiving an ever-increasing ability to rightly apply God’s Word to our little day-to-day matters.
I also know that there was God moving behind the scenes in ways that I will never know about. There was grace. There was God catching us when we were falling. There was God rebuking the enemy on my family’s behalf.
Thriving for our family doesn’t mean having perfect circumstances or life without pain, trials and heartache, because boy, do we have our fair share! And I’ve shared transparently about that here.
Thriving doesn’t mean that our children will not rebel or stray from the faith for a season.
Thriving means that even though as a family, we are walking with a limp, we are still triumphant and “more than conquerors” in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:31-39) We believe the report of the Lord! We will NOT stop moving forward in Christ. We will fight against family disintegration. (A family that won’t quit! Hiyah!!)
Chime in: This list could be a mile long. What would you add? What’s working for your family? Post a comment below to share or join the conversation over on facebook. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I’ve shared this post at these fabulous faith and family link-ups.