(April 1, 2020)
In case you didn’t know it, last week was Spring Break for us here in Florida. It didn’t look like Spring Break, though – nobody was searching for sandy spots at crowded beaches or breaking social-distancing rules at amusement parks. Streets and stores (and probably restaurants) were pretty much empty. If you have ever seen those tv shows about what the world would look like without people, it eerily reminded me of that.
Since our family had already rented a house with a pool to just get away, we decided to still go. We had a few extra kids with us, because they came home from college to join us. Before you start hoping this pastor gets an arrest warrant for going where we shouldn’t or gathering too many people, understand we didn’t go anywhere once we were there. We used our own groceries and cooked and played games and watched movies – all items that we brought with us.
In spite of this pandemic, we enjoyed ourselves. It was good to get away and slow down and just spend time together. God has really blessed our blended family, and we actually enjoy getting together. Thankfully, the kids and parents all like each other. And now that three of our kids are living at college or apartments somewhere else, our get-togethers have become even more important. We talked, laughed, reminisced, drank coffee (maybe that should’ve been first?), and even did the “Fruit by the Foot” challenge (#fbtfchallenge). Basically, a good time was had by all.
Now that I’ve shared some highlights of the trip with you, I wanted to also share some lessons I learned from this time about how to the most of our new normal way of life:
Talk to your family (all of them)
With a family as big as ours, it’s important to talk to your family. This means making sure everyone knows they have a voice, and that we take time to listen to every voice. This ensures that they get to talk about what excites them (or what bothers them). I admit it – we are a big family, which means we are a loud family. The outgoing, loud, boisterous ones get heard, but the meek, quiet, calm ones can tend to sit in the background. So we actually try to make sure everyone is heard. This teaches our kids to think about people other than themselves, and encourages them to talk about what is on their mind.
Feed them (not lead them)
In his book Finding God’s Life for My Will, Mike Donehey writes about the time when Jesus asked Peter “Do you love Me?” three times – to which Peter quickly said “Yes” each time. Jesus responded by then challenging him to “Feed My Sheep”. Donehey makes the point that we sometimes focus too much on leadership, but we could use some more lessons on service. If we teach our kids to just follow Jesus, they may lead others but, hopefully, they will also pause and think about the posture/effort needed to actually feed a small animal. Now is as good a time as ever for us to think about what we say to others and also how we say it. If we just teach our families to follow Jesus and serve the people He puts in your life, they will certainly have an impact on how they live.
Concerned (and Confident)
Psalm 37 ends with this amazing reminder: “The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; He is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 37:39-40) As we enjoyed our time away, you might not have known it by looking at my face, but there was some inner turmoil going on in my heart.
As I looked at the world around us, I confess that some fear was starting to take root and be allowed to take a prominent seat at the table. I sure hope I’m not alone on that, and I really don’t think I am. So, I did what I should’ve done from the beginning and started praying about it. And that’s when God showed me these words – you can be concerned (and confident)! I should look around at the world and be concerned about what is happening in the world, but I should also be confident that none of this is catching God by surprise. Because of this, I can bring my concerns to Him and then only need to look to Him for reassurance – being confident in His ability to care for the world that He created.
So there it is – a recap of our trip to the vacation home and a recap of what God showed me. We created some memories as a family, and one of those will be the memory of what God did to reassure me. I hope He does the same for you. During this season of life, I hope He brings your family closer together and I hope you never forget the things that He teaches you along the way.