I wrote this months ago and found it in my drafts tonight. I’m leaving it as is. Enjoy!
I know I have mentioned this before but…I always feel the need to write when it is the absolute last thing I should be doing. And I am convinced that God prompts me to write because He knows what’s good for my soul. While my to-do list might be neglected, my soul gets a bit of refreshing.
This post has been gnawing at me for at least a couple of months. After the initial light bulb moment, I just didn’t make the time for it. And then the longer that went by, I just didn’t feel that spark anymore. But it just keeps coming back in one way or another.
The way family functions, the way family is viewed has changed decade after decade. And family means something different in each culture, even for each person. For some, the word “family” can evoke strong emotions – positive or negative. For others, it just doesn’t mean a whole lot. In America, “family” means a lot of different things.
For us, family is everything. Well, almost everything. Our everything is Jesus. And then after that, is family. But we can’t truly understand family without first understanding Jesus. His sacrificial, relentless, overwhelming love sets the bar pretty high.
But why am I talking about family? You see, my initial want to write this blog was because of a passionate response to a bit of criticism received. There are a few people (maybe more) who don’t think we’re doing enough for the coffee shop (that story starts waaaay back here). We aren’t sacrificing enough time or “giving it our all” because we aren’t working on the shop in every free moment we have. And I get it. I want to see this thing happen so very badly. It needs to happen. Our community needs it. And it seems like every day that goes by is a day wasted because we aren’t open yet.
But early on, at the beginning of this journey, we decided (based on Biblical knowledge and wisdom handed down from respected elders) that family has to come first. While we are 100% certain that God has called us to the mission of this community and this coffee shop – the first mission he gave either one of us was our family. If we don’t handle that well, we will never be able to handle the rest that He has given us.
Generations past (and some current), particularly men, worked long hours, missed bedtimes and first steps, were up before sunrise and not home until after sunset. And they accomplished much. I wouldn’t have a lot of what I do today if it wasn’t for the hard work of many men and women before me. But we cannot sacrifice our family, our missional unit, to accomplish things on societies timeline. First of all, God’s timeline looks different. And second, I truly believe, that if we are faithful in our marriage and with our children, that He will bless our endeavors elsewhere.
I don’t want to wake up 15 years from now, with a thriving coffee shop that has truly turned our community upside down and changed hundreds of lives, but with a broken marriage and children who don’t truly know who Jesus is because their parents never had the time to be Jesus in their lives.
So for today, and hopefully every day to come, our family comes first.
Now, I need to clarify a few things.
- That doesn’t mean that our family is all that matters. I think the American dream has made that a reality today and turned the family into a bit of an idol. Our family is our priority, yes, but in a Biblical sense, that just means that we are on mission together. Yes, while our children are little, that means a bit more time at home than I would sometimes like. But as they grow older, it means them tagging along and participating in the mission that the Lord has given our family. When He called Justin and I on this voyage, He wasn’t leaving our kids out of it. He called us as a multi-generational unit that also includes our parents and grandparents (if they so choose to participate). Which leads me to my second point…
- “Our family” doesn’t just mean my husband and kids – it includes our extended family as well. This is Biblical! Multi-generational ministry is all throughout the Bible. And its a beautiful thing. Take a look at other cultures even… It isn’t rare to find multiple generations of Hispanic families living under one roof. Breaking the family unit down even further only increased the isolation that the enemy has been pushing on our society for ages. Less people to do life with, less people to engage in healthy conflict with, leaves less opportunity to learn what being Jesus really means. (Jefferson and Alyssa Bethke have some fantastic resources on multi-generational ministry. Specifically, check out the podcasts here and here.)
- “Our family” doesn’t just mean blood relatives. We also have what we call our “framily,” our friends who are also brothers and sisters in Christ, or our church family. These are the people who we are breaking bread with on a regular basis. And since relationships are what we believe to be the key to turning our community upside down, it is important that we maintain and cherish the ones that we currently have. That means spending time with these people outside of meetings and church service!!
Time is precious. We don’t want to waste it or get it wrong. It would be so easy to say, “well, this is what God has called me to” and throw every precious second we have at this project. And there are days and weeks that we do. But if those days and weeks turned into months and then a year or two….or five or ten…. what happens to all of the other things mentioned above?
Regardless of whether or not you think we are doing enough, I want you to know that we are constantly evaluating how best to balance the priorities that God has placed in our lives. With jobs and a home and other responsibilities it isn’t always easy. And, I’ll be honest, we don’t always get it right. And if I’m being 100% transparent, I’m personally struggling with depression, which makes ALL of this so much more difficult. It is a struggle some days to just make sure my kids are fed. But we keep striving forward, we keep going one step at a time.
But I didn’t share all of this to prove myself. In fact, that’s a large part of the reason why I waited so long to write this – I wanted my motivation to be pure. I shared this because I hope it stirs something within those that read it. I hope it helps you to reconsider the priorities in your own life, the calling that Christ has placed upon your family, or how the American dream has negatively impacted our culture and our families.
It’s time for a change. It’s time for families to really start acting like families. Church, I’m talking to you! Stop isolating yourself, stop pushing others away – embrace the mess that is community by learning what it truly means to be a family.
We love you guys. And I am so thankful that you stuck around to read through another one of my ramblings. For those of you who are curious, the shop is actually coming along quite well. When I first wrote this, the guys were just starting to work on the flooring at the shop. Now, we are just days away from our inspection!! Which, hypothetically means, we could be open within a couple of weeks!
Please be praying that we stay in step with Him, that we don’t fall behind or jump ahead. Be praying that He provides for all things in such a way that all the glory belongs to Him. But more importantly, be praying that He is already preparing the hearts of those this place is meant to impact, that our community would be stirred to life, that change would be noticeable. You guys are amazing and we wouldn’t have made it this far without you. ❤