By: Jenni Walker
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:15–17
In recent weeks, we have focused on ways to cultivate a godly and joyful rhythm of family life. This week, we will take a look together at another real-life example of a wholehearted woman who is doing just that! When done regularly and intentionally, these simple yet powerful tools can help foster a beautiful and God-honoring family rhythm of godly affection and “fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:8–11).
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“I’ll love you gnome matter what!” My sister-in-law, Annie, loves gnomes. It is not uncommon to see a pun like this posted on her Facebook account or a photo of my little niece dressed in a gnome sweater. In addition to all things gnome-related, Annie is passionate about grammar, excellence in special education, church history, and her Greek heritage. She also was a competitive swimmer for many years and is already helping my little niece become comfortable in the water. She takes her civic duties seriously, as well, pushing a stroller as she walked to her and my brother’s polling place last fall. She is a beautiful reminder to me that just “being yourself” is so glorifying to the Lord and is an important part of the joy of family life!
I know that Annie’s humor and her convictions have been a tremendous support to her husband as he completed medical school. My brother is refreshed when he is with Annie because he loves the many attributes that make her uniquely her. These traits are not the primary foundation of her role as a wife, mother, and relative to extended family; however, they add a special kind of joy and enthusiasm to the rhythm of her family life!
When my niece was born, Annie posted on social media under a photo of her and my brother holding their newborn: “May you be filled with the true, abundant life found only through Christ. May you always treat others gracefully and learn to rest in God’s boundless, unending grace. Welcome to the world, baby girl! We love you!” This rhythm of life that Annie and Steve have endeavored to live by comes intentionally yet naturally through the foundation they have chosen for their home and the ways in which that is lived out.
For example, God’s grace is taught and experienced in many ways such as Annie’s conversations about education of children with special needs. Learning that we are “all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28) happens naturally when her Greek heritage is treasured and celebrated while other cultures are also respected. Scriptures such as Colossians 3:16 are embraced sincerely through actively being a part of their church community. The appreciation and importance of what and how we say it comes through exploring the way words create meaning in books, puns, and in Facebook posts about correct grammar. Even Annie’s love of church history, traditions, and liturgy are celebrated and shared in books she gives extended family at Christmas time such as Liturgy of the Ordinary and A Month with St. Augustine.
What you do in the context of family does not always have to be inherently spiritual or structured. When the focus of your family is on the Lord and His plans for the rhythm of your family life, the elements of varied personalities and interests add beauty to your family design for their good and to His glory. Family is by God’s design, and each family unit can reflect that beautifully and authentically in so many ways.
If you are a wife, throw yourself into it wholeheartedly! Be you to God’s glory, and love your husband as only you can love him. If you are a mother, teach your children about the things that you enjoy. If you are passionate about hiking, go on family hikes together; observe God’s creation, encourage one another up those steep hills, explore. If you love to scrapbook, help them get their own little scrapbooks and spend the afternoon together with special photos, scissors, tape, and stickers; focus not on the perfection of each page but the memories contained in each one. Was your mom’s “special spaghetti sauce” from a can? Teach your kids about resourcefulness and time-saving strategies as you open those cans of sauce together and doctor it up a little like your mom would with some fresh herbs! Some of the best teachable moments are unplanned and come from doing things together that we enjoy.
Are words of affirmation important to you? Send some snail mail to your grandparents, a great-aunt, or a cousin! Do you love to play games? Invite extended family members over for a game night! Do you love coffee? Take your mom or dad out for a cup of coffee and a heart-to-heart talk just to connect with them. Do you often show love through acts of service? Bake a batch of cookies or help clean the house of an elderly member of your church. 1 Corinthians 12:27 reminds us that we “are the body of Christ, and members individually.” Be you to God’s glory, rejoice in the family and community He has called you to, and “through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13b). We are all a work in progress through the work of Christ in us (Philippians 1:6). “Being you” as you incorporate some of the unique elements of your personality, strengths, and interests into the rhythm of your family life can be honoring to the Lord and is an important part of the joy of family life!
As we near the end of today’s devotional, consider this powerful reminder with us: “The meaning of family is based on God. He is the great original. [Earthly families] are signposts that point to a reality infinitely more amazing, more wonderful, and more eternal. God is all about family” (Kassian & DeMoss). Ladies, the roles that we play in the context of family are holy callings from our Heavenly Father!
As such, let’s be intentional about the rhythm of our family lives. May all that we do be done in the name of the Lord through the strength and love of Christ (Colossians 3:17). Whether you are married, single, have children, or perhaps even have grandchildren, there should be a certain rhythm to your daily family life – not rigidly, but in a way that it is guided by godly principles and affection. Our God is “all about family,” and He is in the business of creating true joy according to His design in our families in ways that honor the Lord, are a blessing to us, and that point others to Him!
TIME TO REFLECT
- It is so important to be yourself to God’s glory and to rejoice in the family to which He has called you! While we all have flaws, we are followers of Christ Jesus and, as such, our specific personalities, interests, and passions can add beauty, joy, and authenticity to the life of our families, churches, and communities. What is something that resonated with your heart from Annie’s example?
- Read Colossians 3:15–17. How does the rhythm of Annie’s family life intentionally yet naturally exhibit what is expressed in this passage? What might this look like in your own family?
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(This devotion contains excerpts from The Wholehearted Woman: Who She is and Why She Matters by Beth Doohan and Jenni Walker.)