Several weeks ago, I invited a mom of six small children into my home. Why did I want her to come over? I wanted to see if an idea I had was realistic or too idealistic.
See, I had been thinking about our world. Our Church is in crisis. I know that we, Christian families, are called to be a domestic church. (Everything starts with the family, don’t you think?)
The idea inspired me to focus in a different way in my own home, to think more intentionally, to truly see my home as a real, live, active church. But would that idea “work” in all homes? Would it be inspirational to a mom of many littles?
Well, the mom friend that came over, Hannah Arnold, truly shared her life with me and as she shared, it became apparent that I was off my rocker and that she was doing really good if she didn’t kill anyone on a particular day. Read the full post here: A Beautiful, Frazzled Mom Shares Her Heart with Me.
After Hannah left, I reflected on her home as a domestic church. And I realized that maybe her home, with all of the chaos, was a PERFECT reflection of our church.
I asked readers to share their thoughts and perhaps give some advice to young moms on this topic. And Paul Waalkes, father of six children, ages 4-15, shared this:
“It really struck me when reading that you initially thought that the domestic church idea wouldn’t work with littles because having littles is too messy, and not Beautiful. I had the opposite thought, that cleaning up dog poop, child vomit, and even calling your children names is exactly a reflection of what The Church SHOULD be. Because, though The Church is the Bride of Christ, and that makes it Beautiful, it is made up of the sick and sinners, and that is messy. Jesus came to save the sick, not the well. Having an idea of Church that says it is beautiful could lend itself to the idea that those who are not beautiful are not welcome. This is the opposite of the truth. The Church is THE place where the broken, hurting and dirty are WELCOME!
“In general, I think that The Church today has embraced the idea of the church being pretty, and not wanting to have the ugly a part of it. But, the idea that the domestic church can change the culture of The Church is shown right in this example that you shared from this mother. She cleaned up after the dog, yelled at her children, and then, looked to Jesus for help, and by doing this, pointed her children to The One who CAN clean up the mess, and handle everything, especially when we CAN’T. This is what The Church is for. It is not a collection of the clean and beautiful, it is where the broken and messy come to find The One who can truly save. And will always be there. And that is where the domestic Church IS beautiful, because it shows the relationship of The Father to his children, and the relationship of the Son to his bride, every day. Even if not perfect, it is there. And that is how we see how he deals with us in The Church.
“So, I think you have hit on one of the ways that we can change the church, and as always, it starts at home, with Jesus as the ONLY One who can help.”
Oh my stars. Paul, yes. You are so right on.
As I reflected upon those thoughts, I couldn’t help but think of a young woman that attended Southern Nazarene University with my daughter, Rachel. This woman was a volleyball player and I was not sure if she was a Christian or not so I just asked her.
She replied, “Well, actually….I am not good enough to be a Christian.” I probed just a bit more, to be sure I understood her correctly; she thought she had to be perfect in order to be accepted/loved by God. Since she found herself lacking, she felt like she wasn’t worthy. She wanted to wait until she got her life together before she entered into a relationship with God.
And I think that’s a pretty normal human assumption, don’t you? When we are in a state of nasty, we feel unworthy to come to the table.
In the same sort of way, Hannah couldn’t quite make the jump of thinking of her home as Church. She knew the messy parts. She knew all of the times she had lost it.
But as we stop and reflect, what a gorgeous place to be.
Jesus came to save us. We don’t have to save ourselves. We don’t have to be perfect before He will have anything to do with us! He comes to us as.we.are. What good news for that volleyball player. What good news for Hannah. What good news for each and every one of us!
I think it’s important to stop there for just a moment. We don’t have to be perfect in order to be a Christian. In fact, it’s our messy that qualifies us. That thought is so big and so beautiful, don’t you think?
So get comfy with the fact that you are sometimes on the struggle bus. That is part of our humanity. And it's okay.
What can a parent do to survive those really bad days?
This is from Jamie Stolz, mother of seven:
1. We had a grandfather clock with chimes when my oldest kids were young. I turned the chimes on...sometimes to ring on the hour, sometimes on the half hour, and sometimes...during hard seasons... on the quarter hour. Every time I heard the chimes, I would stop and take 5 seconds to ask God to give me the grace and strength to get to the next chime. That built-in reorientation was a game-changer most days. Smart watches or various device alarms would be an easy substitute in this modern times.
2. On days when I didn't have the gumption for anything extra (spiritual wise), I tried to at least jot down a few things in a gratitude journal.
3. Simply having prayer materials strewn around the house helped create an environment of peace and prayer. Carefully chosen spiritual art (not the scary Jesus prints) that have personal meaning, Bible verses taped to the bathroom mirrors, children's prayer books or saint books that are kept in the bathrooms, etc.
4. I'm also a big fan of (space allowing) a quiet place, even just a corner, in the house to retreat when in need of prayer/reorientation. The farm girl in me also has deep need of similar outdoor places- a reflection garden, grotto area, etc. My kids have been known to use these prayer retreat spots too.
I love that, Jamie. Very realistic. Very practical.
What helped me, Lori Doerneman, get through MANY of those valleys: I pretended I was dying. I know. Sounds morbid, doesn’t it? But it also put the right spin on my life and helped me live with a fantastic perspective. If you want to know more about that idea, read this: How to Truly Enjoy Your Babies.
So those are some “survival tips.”
But if you are like me, you don’t want to just survive, you wanna thrive a bit. So how do you, as a busy parent, bring little kids higher? How do you help elevate them?
This is from Kevin Ragas, father of four grown children:
“Pick a time each day to sit and play Roses, Thorns and Buds.”
For those of you that have never heard of that, “Roses, Thorns and Buds” is a simple way to connect emotionally with your children.
Invite your children to sit down at a specific time each day (could be after supper or before bed). Introduce the concept of Rose/Thorn/Buds.
Explain the three terms.
Ask them to first take a moment and reflect on their day; where did they experience a rose? A thorn? Any new buds?
Share your own rose, bud, and thorn, and then have your children share their rose, thorn or bud for the day.
I love this activity because it slows the family down. It helps everyone be more reflective. MINDFUL activities do something to our hearts, minds and souls.
Kevin also shared, ”Afterwards a simple prayer accordingly..... Lord Jesus, thank you for being in our lives. Forgive us the wrongs we've done. Help us to do better. We beg your mercy, grace and protection.”
Another version of this: Share your “GIG’s” with each other. “GOD IS GOOD.” Where did they see God working that day? What blessings? What are they grateful for?
I love that, too. Gratefulness raises our hearts upward.
Finally, give yourself some grace. Raising children IS difficult. It IS non-stop. Tell me a job where someone would be expected to work seven days a week (weekends included!) and be on call every single night?! Give yourself some grace.
You are beautiful and you are doing really big things.
Find a fun little downloadable for Roses, Thorns and Buds that you can use with your family in our free resource library.
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