Advent Reflection: Gentle Family Living

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.

This verse in Isaiah 40 encouraged me quite a bit as I was raising a house full of children. I was heartened that God was my shepherd and I was his lamb. And the idea of being gently guided as I cared for my lambs was truly a comfort.

It was also inspirational as I sought to build a home that was more peaceful than it was chaotic. I wanted a gentle family life.

And who doesn’t want that? Modern living doesn’t seem to lend itself to gentle anything. Our schedules are packed and we’re always in the car. We’re wolfing down dinner so we can move on to homework.  Even Christian activities bombard our hearts and minds, and a lot of what we do is driven by guilt or the expectations of others.  Our lives are anything but gentle.

Even still, we can be deliberate about shaping family activities toward more peace and less chaos. Life with children is always busy, but it doesn’t have to be crazy. Here are a few things to consider

Paring down activities.  There’s no better time than the winter months to consider ways your family can spend more time at home. Stockpile games, books, puzzles, art projects and hobbies. You’ll be surprised by how quickly your children can adjust to going nowhere. As for teens, making your home the hub of fun with ping pong or movie nights keeps you off the road.

Planning better to leave home on time: Rushing to leave the house is the opposite of gentleness, but waking everyone up ten minutes sooner may be all it takes to keep you from being ten minutes late.

Preparing food ahead: If you cook your meat one day a week, it will cut meal prep in half the rest of the week. In an hour’s time, you or one of your children can

  • Brown ground beef. Split meat in half and season one portion with Italian spices and the other portion with Mexican spices. Store in fridge for spaghetti or tacos.
  • While meat is browning, bake chicken breasts with similar seasonings, lemon pepper, or soy sauce. Store in fridge for stir fry, a casserole, or chicken salad.

These simple ideas are choices we can make to minimize daily stress, especially during the month of December. And as we ponder the birth of Christ and why he came into the world, let’s also consider his words when we feel laden by the burden of sin. A hurried, stressful life lends itself to sinful attitudes that squash the joy of Christmas.

 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11.28-30

 

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