Family culture

While I attended a leadership training weekend in Colorado early August, one of my (many) favorite phrases that I heard from Sally Clarkson was how they had worked in their family to define a family culture.  It wasn’t a focal point of her teaching but the phrase has been mulling around in my head for weeks.  In a society where “family” isn’t even a value and often people’s schedules are crazy full and crazy busy, there is little time to define family.

When we married just two years out of high school, we adopted many family traditions of our families (which is wonderful).  But it wasn’t until at least 6 years later that we realized we might want some traditions and things of our own that made us…us.  It felt weird to try and forge new things and some didn’t fly.  Some were awkward and forced.  But the ones that actually flowed from our collective hearts, hung around.  And now, 11 1/2 years into our totally unique, one-of-a-kind family, we’re continuing the journey.

Only it’s more intentional now and we’re a little older.  So if we seem weird or the way we roll doesn’t make sense, it’s okay with us.  Normal was never our goal but we certainly lacked the courage to go against the flow quite so much in our earlier years.

This week it meant cutting down a bit more on our weekly activities.  To be honest, for a little while I felt like if we could afford more activities, then we should do them.  Why not?  But in some lengthy quiet moments these past weeks and hours spent reading on global poverty and looking at hundreds of sweet faces on the Compassion website, sitting weeping at my computer (3 times this week)…maybe one more activity isn’t actually worth it.  Maybe that doesn’t even line up with what we say our priorities are.  I’ve always prayed that God would give me glimpses of His heart and let me love even a little bit like Him.  If these past weeks are a glimpse, then I think He cares more for the poor and marginalized than I have.   And that truth has stung.  A lot.

All I really want is say to yes to Jesus and to actually live out my faith in a way that means something.  Still figuring that out.  I want our family to do our part to make Jesus look good by the way we love people.  It’s pretty simple actually, I just complicate it – all the time!  With saying yes to a large family too, it means saying no to other things.  We believe wholeheartedly that the trade off is more than worth it.  But that’s just us.  Like I said, not normal (grin).  As we purposefully limit spendy fun things for us and our kids, I think the other places our money is meant for will quickly rise to the surface.  And as we wonder together “What is our family culture?  What makes us…US?”, especially this weekend as we go camping (IN THE RAIN!), I am totally looking forward to the continuing conversation.

I think I have (a lot) more to say and ponder about this topic.  So you might here from me again on it!



(Our friend Kathy pointed me your way), but I just wanted to say, I love your thoughts about the family culture. My husband and I are super-involved in our church, sometimes, I think, overly. Our boys are 7, 5, and 3, and they’ll never be this age again.
By the way, I’m still trying to convince my husband that we need one of your kittens. Please tell me they’re gone because he keeps saying “No!”


Thanks Jana, it’s such a fine line isn’t it? And we won’t get the time back. Too much of a good thing can still be too much, in any aspect of life I think. In case your husband changes his mind, all the kitties are still available!


I know you are camping this wkend but I have been pondering this post. It is an uneasy subject for all of us as we are surrounded by others who may do less than we do making it easier to justify our actions. It is not just the needs but learning that we all experience poverty in some way. Perhaps our poverty is greater in God’s eyes than those who we consider “needy”.