The dining room is the central hub of our family activities. At any given moment, you will find us homeschooling there, or finishing up yet another art project, or eating together, or folding laundry, or building Star Wars lego sets, or a host of other activities. We are fortunate to have a very open floor plan, with the dining room opening up to the kitchen, the living room, and the playroom. Since we spend so much of our time there, I chose the dining room as the place to put up our family “rules.” I painted a canvas gray and added the meaningful words in my favorite colors, yellow and turquoise. It looks fantastic on the wall next to the big picture window. But there’s no point in having it just look pretty. I wanted my children to understand the words on it and use it as inspiration to be a better family together. So,my little chicks, let me tell you how we do things “in this house.”
1. We do second chances.
So, you didn’t get your math lesson the first time around. Maybe you forgot and left your dish in the living room instead of carrying it to the sink. Maybe you dropped your shoes right where Daddy could trip on them on his way out the door to work. It’s okay. We do second chances, and third chances, and as many chances as you need to get it right. The times you don’t get it right are learning experiences for you.
2. We do grace.
This one is easy to say and hard to execute. Grace is undeserved kindness. God showed us the ultimate, purest grace of all by giving us a way out when all we had done was sin and disobey Him. We are to be Christ-like – therefore, that means showing grace to others. Is your brother being especially annoying today? Be kind and courteous to him anyway. Did you neglect to do your chores? Mommy will not yell or be unkind. She may even give you a second chance. (see #1)
3. We do real.
Having the joy of Christ in our hearts does not mean we will be happy all the time. Bad days are bound to happen. In this house, we can be real about how we feel. We don’t need to hide behind a mask and pretend everything is okay. And when family members let their guard down and are real with us, we show compassion and understanding and seek to help them however we can.
4. We do mistakes.
Nobody in this house is perfect. We all make mistakes from time to time. If you make a mistake, own up to it. We understand and respect the fact that you are human and will make mistakes. It also makes it easier for us to clear things up and make things right again. Sometimes, mistakes are beautiful. They teach us to be humble and to learn from failure.
5. We do “I’m sorry.”
If we have wronged or hurt anyone in this family in any way, we apologize. Even if we didn’t mean to offend, we recognize that feelings can be hurt. So we say “I’m sorry.” We say it a lot, including Mommy and Daddy. It is a mark of good character to admit you did wrong and show your contrition. And in this family, “I’m sorry” is always accompanied by a hug. Always.
6. We do loud really well.
We love to play, sing, dance, and generally cause a great ruckus in the house. This is usually a wonderful thing – after all, God instructs us in His Word to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” I love hearing your fun, most of the time. It reminds me that we are not boring or dull and that we are enjoying the life God has given us. However, there are two times when you need to hit the mute button – when Hosanna is taking a nap and when Mommy is holding her head and looking like she is about to punch something. It is called a headache, and for your well-being, you should probably keep it down to a dull roar.
7. We do hugs.
All the time. I demand them from you all on a regular basis and dish them out as often as I receive them. In case you were secretly hoping they would go away, they will not. Whether you are eight, eighteen, or twenty-eight, you will give your mother a genuine, “I-love-you-lots” hug. At any rate, she surely will be hugging you. And don’t forget your siblings! Hugs all around!
8. We do family.
There are lots of exciting things to do and places to go and friends to hang out with in this world, but family always comes first. We will always be your best friends, your biggest cheerleaders, and your shoulder to cry on. That’s why when anything comes between you and your brother, or you and Mommy, or any other relationship in this house, we deal with it right away. We take care of it because those are the most valuable relationships (outside of Jesus Christ) that we have.
9. We do love.
And that is the cord that ties us all together. For better or for worse, we are all in this together because of love. When God gifted me with each one of you children, my heart was filled to bursting. I was in awe at the love I felt and still feel for each of you. If you ever find yourself unsure of how much I love you, come ask and I will be more than happy to tell you and show you! And sometimes, we may not be very good at communicating our love for you. Love is kind and patient, and sometimes we forget to show it that way. If that happens (and it will, trust me, see #4), please let me know so I can rectify that. I always want all of you children to feel loved. Oh, and Daddy too – I’m crazy in love with him!
This sign is to remind of us of all these things – things that are important to us but can easily get forgotten in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But, little chicks, remember this. None of these are possible without prayer. We have got to connect with our Heavenly Father daily and seek His help in these areas. And when we do that, well, this house is going to be home to one happy family!