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Intentional Holidays - Issue 228
December 09, 2011
Hi there! ....

This week Peter and I got back from a week away in Queensland. Travelling gives us (Peter and I) great catch up time. After all neither of us are going anywhere!! We have a captive audience! LOL. I remember when we were engaged Peter drove me up to the family farm – to meet the family ‘officially’. I had a very full education on that trip about cattle reproduction, grassland management and farm land erosion (I had never ever talked about such topics before!!) We also talked about some relational stuff as we worked through a pre-marriage book our pastor had given us. This was our first ‘travel’ together and it set the stage for us to use our time driving to share heart to heart. It looks a bit different these days as we usually have four children sitting in the back of the car probably listening! But there are some things that are good for the kids to hear their parents talk about, and some conversations we invite the kids to join in and have their say. As a society we are in a car, on the road a lot – just with our day to day commuting (let alone longer trips). Do you use your travel time to build and strengthen relationships?

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Intentional Holidays

Christmas is just around the corner, and for many families this is also a time we take a family holiday (vacation). It is a busy time and therefore a good time to be reminded to be intentional.

To be intentional means you are deliberate, planned, and purposeful.
To be deliberate means to be thoughtful, careful, and considered.
To be planned means to be organised, strategic, and premeditated.
To be purposeful means to be focused, decisive, and determined.

You may read that list as simply a little foray into the thesaurus or you can read those words and be challenged. I am challenged about how I face the coming month and how I use it for good in my family.

It is so easy to get swept up in the busyness and even commercialism of this time of year and yet when we do we fragment as a family. We need to guard our heart and our energies and keep our focus on what is important: loving God, loving others, training our children to love God and love others.

At this time of year I have lists, and no doubt you do too. Lists for

  • Gifts to give
  • Food to buy
  • Holiday bookings to organise
  • Invitations to offer
  • House to clean
  • Decorations and gifts to make
  • … the list goes on

But is there any list, any thought, of

  • the character issues I want to help my children with
  • the spiritual lessons my children need to understand
  • the beliefs my children need to develop
  • the passions my children need to grow in

These things are of eternal value – they will impact our children today and tomorrow, far more than the gift they receive, or the experience they have on holidays.

Unless we name the issues we want to deal with we just stab in the dark, or react to the glaring gap in our child’s life when we are confronted with it. We often react out of embarrassment not intentionality. Instead we can pause today, this weekend, and think through, what do we need to work on? What do I need to teach my children over the next month? What do we need to practice? What do we need to talk about?

Christmas time, ironically, seems to be a very easy time to be selfish. Whether it is about the gifts we want, or how we spend our time, or who we spend our time with. Ironic isn’t it when we are celebrating Christ’s birth – where Christ gave himself to us. Christmas is the beginning of the salvation plan where Jesus died for our sins, so we could be forgiven and walk in harmony with God. Are we making sure that our children (and ourselves) are being God focused or other’s focused at this time?

This goes beyond doing the family devotion, reading the Christmas story and going to church on Christmas day, though all those things are a part of our family tradition and may well be a part of yours.

To really use this season to teach and train our children’s hearts we need to

  • Know what we want to focus on - what are the spiritual truths, character issues, the passions and beliefs we want our children to grab hold of
  • Know how we are going to pass that onto our children – what opportunities will you use, what scriptures will you share, what stories will you tell in order to pass on your heart to your children’s heart
  • Know when in our busy day this going to happen – sometimes we need to plan sit time together so we can teach our children, other times we will talk and share as we go about our day.

Deut 6:7 says:
Repeat them again and again to your children.
Talk about them when you are at home
and when you are on the road,
when you are going to bed
and when you are getting up. (NLB)

Don’t let this month of December slip by without addressing heart issues in your family. But it is such a busy time, and unless we sit down and think about it, talk about it with our spouse, do some praying and planning, we will suddenly find that it is the end of the year and we move onto other opportunities in our family life. Be intentional with your children’s hearts today!

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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