This seems like it should have been the first post in my series. My intentions though were trying to share the principles, rather than the specifics. If I failed to do that, please accept my apology, writing is not my strong point!!
Each family needs to figure out for themselves what is important to them. What is their mission in life? I had a wonderful friend share with me how they went through all their things and made that decision to keep or reject based on their family's beliefs. It was such a huge help to have that encouragement. I just remember thinking, ok, if they can do it, so can we....but *HOW* do I go about doing this? Ah, that is where prayer comes in :-) Thankfully God does not leave us to our own selves. I wanted soooo badly for things to turn around for our family, and I wanted it yesterday! But I knew that that was not a possibility. I knew I needed to step back and pray, listen and observe. I needed to gain council and mull over and brain storm. This wasn't an "I" thing, it was a "WE" thing, my husband and I doing all of this together. We had many late nights talking about these things. We made lists. We hemmed and hawed. We took two steps forward and one back. We had to battle opposition, which in the long run was a blessing as it really made us ponder where our convictions stood. In the end we made that plan...for *OUR* family.
There's a saying that goes something like this:
Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.
We have lived that life of failure. We lived day to day not knowing where we were going. Does that mean we have everything figured out now? NO WAY! But we do have a plan, that we know is subject to change should God lead us to do so. We don't know what the exact end product will be, but we are on a course now, heading towards what we feel God leading us. We have some actual steps that we are taking with purpose.
I'll say it again, it wasn't easy. Change is never easy (whether it's good or bad). But it has been very well worth our efforts. There are still adjustments that need to be made. We have made a huge step in capturing the hearts of our children...something we unfortunately lost. We still have bad attitudes. Some people will say we should have started with our childrens' attitudes and obedience. If they were only 2 and 4 years old, yes, I would agree. But we had already lost our older girls hearts. Obedience and attitude training would have been in vain should we have left the rest of our life as it were. We know this to be a fact as we already tried that...many, many times before, with the same results...failure. This time the focus was on our whole family. Our children needed to know that we really had their best interests at heart. By getting them back on our boat, we can now work together to change those other things like attitude and obedience. And I dare say it should be easier. Not easy...just easier!
Jeremiah and I made many lists. Below I am just going to share a bit with you what our family goals are, and some of the ideas we had to make a game plan.
All that we do must glorify God.
We will do things as a family. The girls thought that we were doing soccer as a family, but that wasn't the case. They all played soccer, but not as a family. We believe in individuality, but for this season we needed to pull together as a family. When Flannery gets a notion to cook up a new recipe that does not mean we all go into the kitchen together :-) Soccer, though, was a huge time commitment. It took 4 evenings and our Saturday away from us. Jeremiah is running and biking for exercise. The girls and I will join in with running once I am able. For now the oldest two girls and I are doing T-Tapp. The time commitment to sports has been greatly reduced, but does count towards our family goal to be healthy.
What is our family to "DO"? We decided we should start with what the Lord has given us. We have some land, we have some animals. We decided we should start to be the best keepers that we could of what God has given us. That means learning more about goats and chickens. It means learning about cultivating our land.
We kept it simple. Those are the three goals we set. We didn't want to over do it :-) As far as the particulars, I've laid some of that out in past posts. But to skim back over some of them...
We started by asking ourselves a few questions. What skills or supplies were we going to need to meet the above goals? What things were we doing that might be interfering with obtaining our goals? What were we going to make a priority, to help us know what things to change first? What did we have to work with at the present moment that we could start using right away? We made up a list of possibilities and then prioritized it.
Getting the bad stuff out was our first priority. Starting a diet while keeping the chips, cake and cookies in your pantry is not going to lend itself to success. :-) So we went through the differing medias and toys and belongings to see what was going to hinder our success. The hardest part was figuring out what was the junk food.
Then we needed to figure out what we wanted to fill up those holes we made. Between the girls' ideas and desires and ours we made a list of things or activities to replace what we took away.
family night games
learning to be frugal
making our own everyday items
supplies for them to build things outside (forts and such)
art supplies galore
pen pals (at some point)
weekly fellowship with other families
involvement with our local homeschool group
I am sure there was more, but I don't have my list in front of me. After making our lists, again we prioritized. Then we started to put things into action! This is where our girls saw that we meant business. In the past, it was too much talk and not enough action. This time we made action a priority. As a matter of fact today will be an action planning day. We saw a building site on the way home yesterday and we want to go by there to see if they have mulch or dirt we can take off their hands. We have an outside work day planned and will be deciding which garden area to tackle next. All for this weekend.
I can see where we have weak spots. It's so easy to just fall back into what used to be the norm. We are trying to establish new norms, and that means it's an all up hill battle. That battle has mostly to do with a mind set, than anything else. Which is why we are constantly reading, talking and praying about these changes. If we stop doing those things we will end up back where we were. None of us wants to be in that place anymore. I am thankful we are all working on this together.