Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Focusing on Family: Making Our Home Peaceful

Family photos are so much fun! I love seeing how much our kids have grown over the past year, especially the younger ones. It seems kind of narcissistic to put photos of ourselves up on our walls, but I find it to be such a good reminder about who we are and what we want to be. We're a family; we love each other and we are learning how to support and strengthen each other. 

However, I need to be completely honest, it's been a rough couple of years and I feel like Satan is doing his best to rip us apart from the inside. Our family struggles a lot with yelling, screaming, snapping, sarcasm, passive-aggressive insults, and all around bad attitudes. In other words, we struggle with communication and contention. It's incredible how quickly these things can become habits and without realizing it, we're referring to it as, "standing up for ourselves" or "not letting people get away with rude behavior" (while being incredibly rude, ourselves). We try to control each other --not just actions, but motivations and even choices. And there is a huge amount of offense being taken; defensiveness is king! It's a combination of me bringing in my background of control and brutal honesty (and passive-aggressiveness when we don't get our way) and Brandon's background of avoidance (and passive-aggressiveness when they don't get their way). It's just what happens when you combine two very different ways of dealing with differences and contention. (Not everything we've brought is bad, by the way --I'm just pointing out why it clashes). Add in a huge dash of good intentions, and it makes things hard to navigate. I don't think any of us are excused or immune to it, either, although our oldest is a great peacemaker. She's a really good example to me.  

And if I'm being even more honest, I know a lot of it has to do with my (and my husband's --he doesn't get a free pass!) influence. As the mother, I set the tone. My tone, dear reader, is not always very charitable, and sometimes I really resent that my attitude makes or breaks it. That's a lot of pressure! But I realized that if I'm kind, calm, caring, and charitable, that's exactly the kind of person I want to be, anyway! DUH! How can I resent being like Christ? I'm also learning (and slowly getting better!) how to breathe, relax, and try to view my kids with charity instead of frustration. You wouldn't think it would be so hard, but it really is! After all, there are 7 of them and 1 of me... Okay, 2 of us, because Brandon is a part of it all, too. But I get the brunt of that responsibility because I'm the one at home, making the home however I want it to be. So, if I see that it's not what I want it to be (and last week sure showed me this), then what can I do? I must always be doing something, because we really, genuinely love each other and we really, genuinely, want our home to be a safe haven from the world. 

Well, to combat this, and to try to change habits, we've been having some FHE's on how we speak to each other. We've been working on re-phrasing things. For example, if someone says something bad or overreacts (holy heck, do we overreact!), then we stop and say, "try again. How could we have done that differently?" It's helping. We're also praying daily to choose kindness. I'm trying to be more consistent in punishments and in taking away privileges when warranted instead of just yelling at everybody all the time. But it's so hard, dear reader, I'm not going to lie! We all feel so much better when we love each other and take care of each other --the spirit in our home is genuinely heavenly! So, why is it easier to just be mean? Why is it easier to hurt one another instead of trying to understand one another? The habit of being angry is hard to break. 

I think that's why it's important to focus on the family as much as we can. We have family scripture study, family prayer, and FHE. We eat dinner together and go to church together. We spend time together and watch out for each other. We hang pictures of each other on our walls and we show our family together, smiling, loving one another. That's how we want to be! We hang The Family: A Proclamation to the World near our family photo to remind us why families are important and how we can have a strong and happy family. We hang them near pictures of the temple and pictures of Christ. We want to remember that we are sealed together through Christ, that we want to emulate Him in all we do.

I told my daughter the other day that Satan is trying so hard to rip us apart and she said, "Maybe it's because something great is supposed to come from us." I replied that maybe that's true, or maybe he simply will destroy any family and any person that will allow him to. Every soul he can convince to hate, complain, whine, or stay angry is another victory for him. 

We cannot let him win! 

I mean, look at my family. Aren't they stunning? I love every one of them. I want them to love the gospel as much as I do. I want them to be kind, generous, loving, optimistic, hilarious, wonderful people --because I know that's who they are! I want our home to emulate the temple in spirit. I want the Spirit to dwell here. Pray for me, dear reader, and for us, that we can combat the evil forces around us, and that happiness will be more common than contention in our home. 

And now, a great, big, fat THANK YOU to my sister-in-law for taking our photos again, this year! She is so talented and wonderful. I'm grateful she married my baby brother! During our semi-impromptu reunion in Blackfoot, Idaho in July (2016), a kind friend let us use their backyard for photos, which is right up against the Snake River. It was a great reunion! I love these people. 

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