Did you know that William is actually known as Will to his classmates and almost everyone besides us?  I asked him the other day if he’d like us to switch it up (way back when he was born, we had wanted him to be a “Will”), but he told me that he likes it that we call him William.  So William it will be for us.

Peter overheard our conversation and started laughing.  Did you know that he is Peter to most everyone, except for his parents and family?  To them, he will always be Peter Jon.

I love the way that my kids are like us in big and little ways.

Some of it just happens . . . the eye color and the slow waking up and the aversion to certain foods.

But most of the time, I realize that my kids are going to mimic me and are going to model their behaviors after me.  It’s tough and humbling and scary, because I fully realize that I don’t have it together, even on my best days.  And yes, I just end up asking for forgiveness a lot.


When the kids were little, I remember panicking a bit, because we didn’t have any “traditions”.  Were they going to get new jammies on Christmas eve?  What were we going to do with Santa?  Where would our “vacation spot” be?  I thought we should have dates with each of our kids each month on the anniversary of their birthday, alternating between Peter and I.  Ha!  So complicated.  I felt like a failure before we even began.
After a few years, Peter and I decided that we didn’t need traditions . . . what we needed were rhythms.  Things that our kids knew would happen and could count on happening.  Sometimes it’s the silly things like a candy trail on Easter morning, but most of the time it’s ways that we can build into our kids a love for Christ, a deeper understanding of who He is and why He matters in our life.  I don’t want them to just be able to spout off what the true meaning of Christmas is or recite John 3:16– I want it to change their outlook, their habits and they way that they frame their world.

We do our best to be really intentional about the rhythms that we form as a family, trying out a lot of different ones, tossing the ones that don’t work and keeping the ones that do.

Here are a few things that we’re doing right now:

We began Ann Voskamp’s Lenten readings this week.  Sometimes her writings are a little above my kids thinking, but I actually really like that.  I want my kids to know that sometimes things don’t cater to them and even if they don’t understand every word, they can attain to it (p.s.  they get more than I ever give them credit for).

We’ve also been slowly memorizing our way through the book of John.  The challenge is to truly love God’s Word, not to just read it because I need God to do something for me. I keep these taped up beside our dining room table and we repeat them most days.  When I overheard Eliza telling her babies, “The Word was with God”, I knew that we had stumbled on something that works for our family.

Following Margaret Feinburg’s suggestion, we are starting to pray for our food differently.  Many times before a meal, we’ll spout of a quick prayer thanking Jesus for the food, for our day, for our family.  But we’ve begun to look at our food and thank Jesus for the people that had a hand in bringing it to the table.  So that means we pray for the truck drivers that drove our food to the store, the people who stay up at night and put it on the shelves, those in other countries who grew our bananas and grapes and oranges.  It’s a powerful way to pray. (I also like how she gave up prayer for lent one year)

That’s what works for us.  In the front of my mind, most of the time, is this thought that we’ve been given such a short number of years to train our children and we have to make the most of it.  I don’t want to waste these years with my kids.  And in a real way, these formative years of teaching them is actually teaching me so much more.  As I’m preparing them, I’m grounding myself and reinforcing truths that I already believe.

Rhythms are everywhere in our lives.  In the spring, we sign up for Little League. Before we go to bed, we brush our teeth.  At Thanksgiving, we have turkey.  Establishing rhythms in our family life isn’t something new, it’s something we already do.  But sometimes it’s good for me to step back and evaluate what we do and why we do it.  This allows us to tweak what we’re doing to make it more meaningful and to edit out what’s unnecessary, replacing it with things that intentionally point us to Jesus.

(One afternoon, over hot chocolate, the kids taught Eliza how to play rock, paper, scissors. Ha!)