Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Simple Message about Being Simple

I was driving with 11-year-old son Morgan recently when he said, 'We need to go sit by a lake.' I said, 'Why?' Morgan said, 'Because it is very calming.'

A few days later our family was visiting a beautiful countryside property with mountains, streams and wildlife. One of our daughters commented, 'Now this is how I want to live!' The other one affirmed the thought.

Recently, we've noticed our children 'clamoring for activity' less and less -- that is, enjoying quietness, embracing simplicity. Chilling.

Not long ago, Morgan literallly asked us to limit his 'screen time' (we do anyway, but it was a rare request).

Here's where I'm going: simple is better. Uncluttered is better. As a family, we've been striving for it and most often missing for a long time, but lately I see the message getting through, lately I see us embracing the upside of down time. And I KNOW it is better!

My simple encouragement to families today is to re-evaluate (perhaps again; we've done it many times) your life, and reduce in order to add.

Take an insightful inventory:
  • Examine each frequent pleasure activity of each child and ask if that is a) good for them; b) the best use of time.
  • Count the number of things you are truly doing as a family unit (and possibly replace some of the first bullet-point with more of the second).
  • Read, during family time, what the word of God says about peace, how to have it, and solitude. Note that Jesus had a lot of each in the midst of pressures. Discuss how to adjust and make a plan.
  • Replace some eating out with eating outside, as in a picnic at the park and/or by the water. It's more fun and cheaper.
  • Practice solitude in front of your kids and with them. Teach them that boredom, at its essence, is a bad choice on their part, not a lack of activity.
  • Be missional, together. There are countless things you can do that serve others, thus honoring God and in the process building family.
We must lead our children to getting the message that more isn't necessarily better, that busy isn't necessarily productive, and that money spent doesn't equal value.

You and I have to take the lead. As we've begun to see, they'll get the message. They'll like it. But the battle (of good vs. best) will go on and we must stay in the lead. The enemy is trying to rob your family of, well, your family! He is trying to rob your mind of focus on our Lord and His purposes. He is trying to create so much mental and scheduling clutter that we cannot see through.

You have control of this. Take it. Keep it.

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