Thought For Today

I am so glad that you have found this site and I hope you will find encouragement and joy as you read through my thoughts on God, family and life.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Art of Giving Within a Family

Family and friends together celebrating.
Today we have just entered Florida and stopped by their Visitor’s Center.  They were serving orange and grapefruit juice in the main lobby; it tasted very good.  The temperature here is a warm 78 degrees and sunny with a light breeze.  Many people are dressed in shorts and tennis shoes with colorful shirts that reflect the nature of the individuals around us.  It is interesting that a couple of nights ago when eating out, a very talkative waiter was surprised that we were driving down to Disney, and that we as a family could get along with each other for 3 days on the road.  It struck us funny that he would say that since we enjoy our time together.  My thoughts went back to administrating schools and the many families that I was involved with that had struggles within their family unit.  Our harried lives today are a testament that identifies our struggles as a family within our busy cultures.  Today, children are involved in many outside of the family activities; needless to say, parents’ are also active in their work worlds and social lives as well.  Families are struggling to find a place where living together is not just a chore, but also something that brings happiness and cohesion as well.  The question is, where is that place to be found?

Abby and Aunt Gayle
In an earlier post, I wrote about how many families are moving away from the cities and heading to the country.  They either are quitting their jobs (or at least one husband or wife is leaving their job) and choosing to devote their time to canning, raising livestock and gardening to supplement their income.  Many are finding that by doing this, there are expected and unexpected benefits to their move.  Added to this, children are now doing chores and helping the family unit, and thereby growing closer together by generating a feeling of comradery, and a feeling that they are helping to support the family.  Contrary to this, many out of family activities are for the benefit of the individual family member only.  Whether in sports and/or in other social activities, these individual family members are many times separated from the family unit.

Picture credit:  Emily Dalzell
One might ask, can being in a close family environment actually hamper a person’s individuality that our society highly treasures today?  I believe this to be a false assumption; a person’s individuality can indeed be enhanced by the collective nature of a close family.  One might ask, “That does not make sense.  A person looses at least some individuality for the benefit of the whole, does he not?”  Perhaps that is partially true, but when we as humans rely on others to help us in our lives, we are recognized for our own value as a person.  We are then individuals that hold worth, since others are willing to sacrifice for our benefit.  Thus we see our own individuality by how others place us in their lives, that is, by their willingness to sacrifice their time, work and efforts so that we can have a fuller and more meaningful life. 

God has placed within our nature to live together and serve one another in some form or other.  Families that serve one another, learn to appreciate the value they each hold.  Contrary to this, a football team that has players who are out to gain only for their individual benefit, never succeed for very long.  Conversely, a team that works together for a common goal, finds success not only in their wins, but also more importantly, in their sacrifices for each other. 

Great grandma Marji Dalzell
As Christians we learn of sacrifice from our father, Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our benefit.  Jesus told his disciples that the greatest among you is the one who serves the other.  This is not done out of a desire to get, but to give freely for the other person’s benefit.  Jesus washed his disciples feet in an effort to show them of their need to serve and not look for gain.  Contrary to this, the Pharisees of Jesus day held the place of honor in social functions, but lacked the humility to teach by example.  They preached what they themselves were not willing to do, and so their efforts bore no fruit, only bitterness and division.   One has only to ask a couple who have a successful marriage, they will tell you that it becomes so not by wanting ones fair share, but by giving to the other without the thought of receiving anything in return.  Children learn from how parents relate to one another.  Our actions as husband and wife speak much louder than our words.

When arriving at Orange Lake Resort we all were pretty tired.  Anne wanted to go out and stretch her legs with a short walk.  Both kids wanted to walk with their mommy and she could only be with one at a time.  The way to solve the problem was to choose a number between one and ten.  Grandma chose the number while both kids guessed their respective numbers.  Will was the winner.  What happened next pleasantly surprised both Anne and myself.  Will whispered into Abby’s ear, “You can go first Abby!”