Embracing the Heart of Christ-Centered Traditions
It all started one blustery autumn day in late October. Most of the rosy-cheeked apples had been picked off of the trees, but we didn’t mind. We were there as a new family of three, enjoying the gift of being a family and being together.
Our firstborn son was born prematurely when I was only 25 weeks pregnant. After spending 114 days in the hospital we were so grateful to be together, going on our very first outing. Through a series of events, the Lord wove an endearing little orchard into our family story that day and began to build a foundation for countless memories to be made.
How could we have guessed that we had forged one of our family traditions that day simply by carving out time to spend together? Visiting this quaint little apple orchard has become a tradition that is near and dear to our hearts. Not only is it fun, but the memories of remembering each year of growth and the constant faithfulness of the Almighty is a beautiful thing to see woven through our family’s adventures to the orchard year after year.
Every harvest season we find time to travel down to that dear little orchard and soak in the sunlight together. We pick apples, take photos, delight in time spent together, and make bushels of memories.
The heart of tradition
The Lord created celebrations, reminders, customs, and traditions to teach His children about His character and to create reminders for their hearts so as the years passed they would always remember His might, His faithfulness, and where He had led them. We can do just that in our families as well.
For our family, the apple orchard is an integral part of our family story that means more to us than a fun adventure — it is an opportunity to remember His constant faithfulness and unending grace. The cadence of your family story and lifestyle may look different from ours, but the undertone of the Gospel can be expressed in a similar way.
Intentionality amid busyness
Over the years (and now with two sons) time has shown me it has a way of going by all too quickly as the days, months, and years seem to fade faster than the last. I have learned the value of treasuring time with them, as well as having the discipline of intentionally setting aside opportunities to simply be together in the pace of our busy lives.
I recently read a study that saddened my heart, “A study of 2,000 parents with school-aged children across the country found … families polled [are] managing less than 45 minutes all together on a typical weekday. Many families are still struggling for time to properly bond and enjoy each other without distraction.”
How do we combat this problem in our fast-paced culture? The gift of family is something to treasure, not undervalue. Yes, the current of our lives is swift but the bond of family and spending time with these precious ones we have been entrusted with far outweighs all the other distractions contending for our attention. As we hold these fleeting distractions up to the lens of eternity, their importance dims.
As I ponder what it truly means to create quality family time, this quote from Jim Elliot comes to mind: “Wherever you are, be all there.” To me this perfectly describes what the essence of quality time truly is. It simply means being fully there, fully engaged, fully present … not distracted. To give the gift of quality time to our loved ones is sadly becoming rare in our fast-paced, productivity-driven, technology-immersed culture. Rather than creating space in our days to simply be — to soak in the sweetness of the moments playing out before us, delighting in our children’s dear little ways, savoring every last morsel, and lingering in these fleeting moments — we are instead swept away in the current of life.
There are so many ways that we can be distracted and miss these precious days that have been given to us. We must be intentional to set aside the distractions that are constantly vying for our attention: our phones, our busyness, our entertainment, our worries, our to-do lists. One of the greatest gifts we can give is to offer our family the fullness of ourselves — our wholehearted gaze, rather than a sideways glance and a far off, “Yes, dear.”
The True Value of Quality Time
You may wonder, Why is it important to cultivate undistracted quality time with our families?
When we are intentionally spending time investing into our children’s hearts we are communicating love to them. This choice showcases that they are valued and cherished. It is showing them that spending our precious time with them is a priority rather than an afterthought. We must be intentional to create spaces to be together as a family that build into rich, lasting connections. Choose to treasure the here and now, dear sister.
As the culture-setters in our homes and the weavers of rhythm and beauty, we can give our families the gift of forethought as we cultivate quality family time in the midst of the busyness of life. It is a choice we have to make. Something we must invest in, pursue — and yes — fight for. Sometimes this means scheduling these hours into our days — carving out spaces of time when we know we will be extra busy. Other times, it is setting aside the distractions that bombard us on a daily basis. It’s a priority we choose amidst the demands of our lives.
Ponder what simple acts of love you might use to build meaningful connections and cultivate spaces to slow down and delight in each other in the midst of your day to day. Here are a few examples that we love to do in our home:
- Sitting down with my little ones during snack time. I can very easily keep my hands busy washing dishes or tidying the kitchen while they munch away. Or I can slow my heart, steep our favorite seasonal drink, and read a book as we all have snack time together.
- Having family devotion time, worshiping together every evening or morning. We enjoy filling a bowl with Scripture verses on pieces of paper and then take turns drawing one and reading it out loud.
- Visiting the apple orchard together in the autumn is a family favorite, with baskets and babies in tow. We love wandering through the rows of heavy-laden apple trees, making memories while picking apples and nibbling on apple cider donuts. Afterwards, making crock pot applesauce together is an easy and fun activity where little hands are welcomed.
- In the colder months, we relish embarking on an ice skating or sledding adventure and then coming to the warmth of our home to sip on some hot cocoa together. Lighting a few candles and turning on some seasonal music adds an extra touch of warmth, too.
- As springtime blossoms, we enjoy taking evening strolls and the sights and sounds of new life bursting all about us, delighting in the glorious sunset the Lord has painted across the sky, while smelling the sweet fragrance of blossoms drifting across the gentle breeze. A new little tradition formed in our home has been blessing others with a bouquet of sunshiny daffodils from our yard.
- Quintessential summertime picnics are always a joy as we soak in the warm sunshine together under the dappled light of a tree. We also love to sneak in extra family time with daddy and surprise him at work with a simple lunch spread over a quilt.
- Remember, it doesn’t need to be an extravagant seed that is planted to grow into something meaningful. The small moments we spin within our days create richness and depth as we treasure them with our dear ones. One simple thing you do as a family can become a treasured tradition five years down the road.
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Meaningful moments, small as they seem, add up. Little things, done wholeheartedly, are what infuse our lives and the lives of our children with richness, meaning, and purpose. Every seed sown, every opportunity to set aside distraction in the midst of our everyday bustle and invest Christ in the lives of our families, is worth it. It will take effort and forethought as we navigate through the swift current of our days, but dear one, let us plant seeds of love in this life that will last longer than we will.