As I mentioned previously, my values are faith, family, friendships, health, writing, work, and creativity. These seven values define who I am and how I strive to live my life.
Right after faith, I value family. Some of my best childhood memories were spent at my grandparents’ dairy farm. With great fondness, I remember the huge holiday get-togethers filled with lots of laughter around a table full of food.
I’ve always wanted a husband and children. As a child, I played with dolls, Barbies, and make-believe house. I was surrounded by wonderful role models. I longed for a secure marriage and a stable home to give my children roots. In the thirty-three years my husband and I have been married, we’ve worked to make that happen.
When I think about family, I think of my husband, our two sons, our future daughter-in-law, our granddaughter, my mom (my dad has passed away), my siblings, my niece and nephews, and my in-laws. But family also includes friends I’ve had for years along with my church family—people who show up when the need arises.
My husband and I will celebrate thirty-three years of marriage at the end of this month. Even though it’s cliché to say, I do love him more today than when we were first married. We married when I was twenty and he was nearly twenty-three. We’ve had our struggles, but those challenges have brought us closer together.
Over the weekend, I sent a picture to our oldest son who lives three hours away with his own family. It was a selfie of my husband and me during our walk in the woods. He replied and said, “I truly hope that when Sarah and I are your guys’ age I can still be the goofball that makes her smile like Dad makes you.” What a compliment! And he’s told me before that one of the greatest gifts we’ve given him is showing him what a strong marriage looks like.
In our entryway, we have a sign hanging on the wall that talks about “house rules.”
As I think about what I value with my family, three important points come to mind:
- Love well
- Be Present
- Extend grace
Love is a verb that requires action on a daily basis. Each day, I choose to love my family well. That includes keeping a clean house, providing healthy, nutritious meals, and being present in their lives. It means getting up at six each morning and sending my husband off to work with breakfast and a packed lunch. When he comes home, dinner is waiting. These are things that bless my husband, so I’ll keep doing them. My husband is quick to reciprocate. He helps with the laundry, folding it with military precision. I don’t cook on the weekends, so he takes over the meals when he’s home. Over the weekend, I was gone all day on Saturday and came home to a clean kitchen with the dishwasher running, trash taken out, and dinner ready to be served (complete with dessert!).Love is a verb that requires action on a daily basis. Each day, I choose to love my family well. #TellHisStory #Family #Valuesbasedliving Click To Tweet
When our boys were younger, my husband worked second shift. I wanted to be present and still achieve my writing dreams, so I learned to write in the living room where they were doing homework, watching TV, hanging out with friends, or gaming, so I was available when I needed them. It also means being present to walk through the hard stuff with them, even when we didn’t agree with their actions or choices.
Now that our boys are grown, we strive to be present in other ways. We always look forward to spending time with them. We try to be available if they need us. When they need to talk, we do our best to listen. We try to offer advice, but then we have to do the very hard job of taking a step back and letting them make their own decisions. Recently, we had to walk through a very difficult time with one of our sons. Everything in me wanted to fix the problem, but it wasn’t my problem to fix. We had to advise and then step back.
Being present also means being available to help my mom, my siblings, or my niece and nephews when they need us. I enjoy spending time with my family, and we try to get together at least once a month. That means showing up with no expectations other than having a good time. We put our phones away and engage with one another. Usually, there’s a lot of laughter and good food involved.
The beauty of family is none of us are perfect. However, it’s easy to have greater expectations and allow our own perceptions of what should be to take over. We need just love one another and extend grace when mistakes are made, unkind words are said, and feelings hurt. Grace isn’t excusing the misbehavior. Instead, it’s about being mindful of how we interact with one another. Treating others with kindness goes a long way in building relationships and showing others what love is all about.
I do not go through life wearing rose-colored glasses. Even though I can be naive about some things, I’m more than aware of the challenges and tragedies that can happen in families. I’m far from perfect, and I’ve had to learn through my many mistakes in how to be a good wife and mother. While I know there’s no such thing as the perfect family, I do hope our boys have positive childhood memories that make them want to recreate those with their own families.
I also understand people have different ideas about families. For some, family happens through blood or belonging such as adoption. For others, their biological families have failed them, so they have families through the heart—those who aren’t related but are closer than siblings. For some, they have found their families through faith—church members whom they’ve grown close to.
God ordained the family because we were created for relationships. No matter who you call family, value who they are. Love them well, be present, and extend grace. Love them as Jesus does, and you won’t go wrong.
Your Turn: In what ways do you value family?