The Congregational Retreat this past weekend was a wonderful event. It is great to watch our Church Family enjoy each other’s company, share in laughter, prayer, worship, dancing and just playing together. I thank all of the wonderful committee, led by Sarah Hasty, for all the work it took to plan and implement this annual event.
I also thank each of you for your positive comments about the different elements. Our Spirituality Center was well received, and we plan to have something similar at the church during the rapidly approaching season of Lent.
I appreciated the opportunity to share some of my life and faith journey with you. While it was a great exercise, it is always hard to talk about yourself.
Following the message, one of our members said to me, as you talked, she had hoped I would share a story of handling issues of family time. It would have fit, but I cut many stories and lines, because I really was afraid of boring the group. For me, it is a story of how to live out family priorities. It was just one way we tried to be consistent in our parenting. So, I will share this story with you today. I share it as a story to remind us that we, as parents, set our family rules and, as a result, our values. This should be something done intentionally. So may this remind us to decide what is important to us, as a family. What conversation my children lip sync as I talk? I am sure this led to my overhearing conversations in the teen years with sons saying, “No, my mom and dad would not allow me to that.”, even when we had not discussed that particular event.
Sports were big in our house. How could it not be with four boys? Not only watching all sports events on television, traveling to different cities to experience different stadiums, but, also the playing of sports. We played baseball (T-ball, Little League and everything in between), basketball, soccer and, of course, golf. None of the boys seemed destined to play college or pro anything, in my mind at least. I was proven wrong, when our third son pursued golf as a profession. But they enjoyed the team experiences.
I had decided early on that I was going to take as much control as possible on the scheduling of sports, scouts, music lessons, etc. around our family priorities. Parents, I thought, should be the ones determining their children’s schedules. At the beginning of each season, I would have the following similar conversation with four coaches.
The phone would ring and a man would introduce himself as my son’s new coach. And I would proceed to find out which son – pick one of four. By this time, if any of the boys were in hearing range, their interest was piqued. It was a COACH calling! After a few seasons, they began mouthing what I would say next.
“Thank you for your willingness to serve in this capacity. We want to do anything we can to help you this season. But we do have two rules and I want you to know them up front. #1 – We never play games or practice on Wednesday evenings. My boys are involved in a program at church every Wednesday and it takes priority. #2 – We never, ever play or practice before 1:00 on Sundays. We worship every Sunday morning, but will be available after lunch for team activities. If you cannot fit these into our son’s place on the team and understand that you cannot expect my son to participate at these two times, we will ask the league to help us find another coach. And, do you need a snack coordinator (every team did)?” This fit the priorities we, as parents, had set for our boys.
I do not know how that would work today, traveling sports were not nearly as big then as they are now! And it seems that sports rule even more that it did when my boys were growing up. It is not a story about sports, but about family values. Our boys were all part of the Boy Scout troop and did travel on weekends, but I knew that our troop always had a worship experience on Sunday morning before breaking camp. I felt that as a parent, I had the right and responsibility to decide values for our family. There would be plenty of practices and games in our lives, yet, I did want to live out, as much as possible, in everything our family values.
I will share that in all the seasons we played (and there were a lot of seasons) and I explained our family rules, I never had one coach tell me they could not live with those rules. Most stated they appreciated my up-front explanation and would understand our absence if the schedule had to include either of these times.
This may not work today, and your family may not have the same rules as our family. That is okay! We all must make decisions about how to handle all events in our children’s lives and it is not easy. But I think it is important for all of us to be reminded, as we raise our families, that our determined values and priorities are lived out as often as possible.