Another installment in the conversation on creating memories for our children, see the intro, part I, and part II, as well as memory quotes & a sidebar on grace. And now I will tell you briefly a little of some hows & whys behind a few of the overarching qualities that we seek to pursue in our family culture. A lot of them are interwoven, with joy and grace being the essential threads tying them all into one tapestry ~ the tapestry that we call our home & family life.
Don’t forget to share your own thoughts on the subject in the comments, so we can make it a real conversation!
CREATING MEMORIES, III
how we pursue creating a general family culture
of music, fun, joy, laughter, delight, grace & forgiveness
As a musical person myself, I have sought to teach my kids about music and singing from the womb. I have grand visions of incorporating music and singing into every meal, like a regular liturgy. 🙂 Not sure that is actually realistic, which is probably why I have only managed to accomplish such things in short spurting seasons thus far. I have dreams of our children all learning various instruments, and someday having a little family folk band together. They will all learn piano first (well, they learn singing first! then piano is their first non-organic instrument…), and then have access to our other stash of instruments (harps, Irish hand drum, guitar, handbells), and then eventually would be able to choose instruments of their own (once they are old enough to be diligent, and have a good foundation with piano and singing, we will love to hire teachers and rent instruments of each child’s choosing). Beginning this year, we get the pleasure of introducing our children to a week-long summer day camp of music camp, and we could not be more delighted at being able to give our kids this opportunity! (Only one is old enough so far to actually attend, but they’ll each get there with time…)
We always have music playing on the cd player throughout the day, and what we call our bedtime serenades is something I will share with you soon. We sing when we tuck the kids in, too, and I try to work with the kids on other songs during the days (when I remember to do it).
It would be an enormous blessing (and honestly a huge success in my eyes) if my children were to look back on their childhoods as being regularly seasoned with music.
The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located
will betray us if we trust to them;
it was not in them, it only came through them,
and what came through them was longing.
These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—
are good images of what we really desire;
but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols,
breaking the hearts of their worshipers.
For they are not the thing itself;
they are only the scent of a flower we have not found,
the echo of a tune we have not heard,
news from a country we have never yet visited.
~C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory~
Our children love singing, reading, writing, & of course (oh do they ever!) talking. I hope our children remember words in their childhoods being seasoned with grace. I long for them to remember our conversations being filled with kindness and humility (and yes, I hope they will forget the times when my words are flavored with harshness, cynicism, and selfishness). I want them to remember singing amazing songs and reading fantastic books and writing to wonderful people. One of my great desires for my little bibliophiles is that words would continue to grow them, shape them, mold them, give them delight, increase their wisdom, and create memories of stories—both their own and otherworldly. I want them to love words, understand words, and use words for building kingdoms and building up of souls.
I want my kids to learn firsthand and up close that different isn’t bad,
but instead that different is exciting and wonderful
and worth taking the time to understand.
I want them to see themselves as bit players,
in a huge, sweeping, beautiful play,
not as the main characters in the drama of our living room.
~Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine, p98~
I want my children to remember their childhoods as filled with laughter. The carillon that comes from an absolute overflow of utter delight!
Our rooms are literally ringing with it throughout the day, and as the kids get older, I don’t want that evidence of joy to diminish but to grow and deepen. I would love for laughter to be a hallmark of our family’s love for one another and delight in being together. It doesn’t take much to get these little people rolling with chuckles on the floor, but I confess that I have a long way to go in growing in my own laughter. I am far too serious, and I hope that the Lord will have mercy upon me in giving me more laughter as time goes on—so that my children will see my wrinkles someday as laughter lines rather than stern lines. This is my hope, and I need to make it my prayer.
Parenting in grace is not parenting on the basis
of your own consistent gospel-centeredness.
It is just the opposite.
Parenting in grace is parenting on the basis
of Christ’s consistent perfections alone.
~Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson, Give Them Grace, p163~
I suppose above all else, even above an atmosphere of utter joy itself, is that I want my children to remember their home as a place where forgiveness was both sought and given wholeheartedly. There is nothing that is too big for God’s grace and forgiveness, because as His children Jesus paid the ransom for it all. I want that to ultimately permeate and override everything else in our home, family, routine, desires. Only by God’s grace can that happen, so that is what I pray for, yearn for, endeavor to inculcate in our home & in our people. From the fount of forgiveness all other graces can then pour, for without the peace that flows from forgiveness, joy and laughter and music and grace-filled words would just be empty shells.
Only humility, only transparent confession of our great need,
will result in the grace we so desperately need
to parent the little fellow sinners in our home.
~Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson, Give Them Grace, p165~