In 1996 our family set aside several days in January to seek the Lord’s plan for the next year of our life. Those yearly days of planning turned out to be the best decision we ever made. These planning times became the compass that kept us pointed in the direction the Lord was calling us as a family.
Do you know that most families spend more time planning their family vacation than they do their life? It’s true.
The Bible says, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” Proverbs29:18.
Do you have a vision for where the Lord is taking your family? Do you know what church activities He wants you to be involved in? What curriculum He wants you to use with your children? How He wants to draw you and your spouse closer together? What character qualities you should be teaching and training your children in? How He wants you to spend the money He is providing for your family?
If you are like most families, you do some lip service to asking for the Lord’s input, but have you ever considered setting aside several days to meet with your spouse and children to prayerfully and purposefully seek the Lord’s plans for you? If you don’t have several days available, how about setting aside several evenings — or a Saturday and Sunday? Some of my readers have come up with some very creative ideas to make this work in their family situation and I’d be glad to share some of them with you.
Do you have things you really want to speak to your spouse about but there never seems to be the right time to do it? You really want their undivided attention, but in our busy day-to-day world times like those are few and far between.
I asked one young wife, “When was the last time you had several hours of your husband’s undivided attention?” Her answer: “Does our honeymoon count?”
In our busy lives this scene is too often repeated over and over — no time to talk or plan, so we just shoot up a prayer and fly by the seat of our pants — of course we tell ourselves it’s just for now, but in our hearts we know it really won’t change.
Isn’t it time you made a change? If you really want your lives and the lives of your children to make a difference you need to begin living your lives more intentionally.
Here is an excerpt from my book “Purposeful Planning” to show you where I was in 1996 when all this began for us.
“Do I have to?” (Said in a very unbecoming and whiny voice.)
That was my response when my husband suggested that he and I
go away for a weekend eleven years ago and set some goals for
us as a family. I didn’t want to leave my “babies” for an entire
weekend. After all, Emily was only 8, Rebekah 6, and Eric 4.
Eric was in the midst of 3 1/2 years of chemotherapy for
leukemia. Who would I trust with them? But looming bigger in
my mind was the thought of having to “set goals.” Just the
thought of that sounded appalling to me. Setting goals meant you
had to meet them, didn’t it? I was in “survival” mode, barely
making it through each day. The thought of all that failure was
just too much for me at that time of my life.
But Dan insisted, so I found someone to stay with our children
and off we went for two days and one night. After taking some
time to adjust to being a couple and not just parents, we actually
began to enjoy ourselves. Dan’s choice of words – goal setting –
turned out to be poor, since what he really wanted to do was
discuss our lives. He wanted to know how I was doing and what
he could do differently to help me more. He wanted to
encourage me and wanted me to encourage him.
As much as we enjoyed our time together, we both missed our
children terribly. We continually found things they would enjoy or
saw a playground we would like to take them to. We even joked
about calling the babysitter and telling her to bring them to us.
We came away with a new sense of vision and purpose for our
family. We knew there would be “life after leukemia” and could see
beyond our temporary survival mode lifestyle.
As we looked back, we both felt like our lives were out of control.
We had been through some difficult years. We married while Dan
was still in school and the long hours took a toll on our marriage –
but being young and in love we thought we could handle it.
As he entered residency we took a cut in income when I quit my job
to stay home and have babies. We quickly added three children to
our family in the next five years. We bought the home of our dreams
– a 100-year-old Victorian that needed total renovation, which we
hoped to do ourselves. The day after we took possession of it, Eric,
our youngest, was diagnosed with leukemia. Our lives became
controlled by cancer treatments and the uncertainty of that whole
We couldn’t travel where there wasn’t a pediatric oncologist
available; days were frequently interrupted by unplanned doctor
visits for temperature spikes and allergic reactions to drugs. All
this was in addition to the three and a half years of expected
chemotherapy appointments and surgeries. On top of all that, we
felt led to homeschool so I was trying to fit that into an already
more than hectic schedule.
We decided we needed to begin to live our lives in a much more
intentional way. We wanted to be more proactive in how we used
our time and energy.
I’m still amazed when I look back to where we were then and compare it to where we are now. Of course, our children have grown up — thankfully Eric survived leukemia and is a strapping 18-year-old who just graduated from high school — homeschooled all the way, too!
As I write this we are preparing for our 15th planning time. I find myself just as excited about it as I was at the end of that first meager step of faith we took way back in 1996.
I’m working on my “list” of things that I can’t wait to talk with Dan about. Just this morning he came to me and said, “Could you put water softeners on your list? I think we really need to do something about replacing the one we have.” It just warmed my heart to know that he is planning our time together and looking forward to it as much as I am.
Can you say that? Is your spouse “waiting” to have time to talk with you? Mine is, and it makes this old married lady grin just to think about it.
Not only are Dan and I looking forward to our time together, but our adult children are still at home and will once again be part of our planning time. We spend several hours with each one and it has always been just a joy to hear what they want to talk about and ask about. This year we are asking them to each have a little mini planning time of their own so we’ll see how that works out. I think they have been doing it already, but in a much less formal and fruitful way.
Our dates this year are January 14-18. Yes, that is five days — we’ve found that these planning times are so fruitful for us as a family that we actually use vacation days for it.
We always ask several people to be in prayer for us as we prepare and during our actual planning time, so if you would be willing to pray for us just leave me a comment and say you’ll be praying for us.
Lastly — all my Purposeful Planning materials are currently marked way down, so if you want to give Purposeful Planning a chance now would be the time to purchase them and begin your own journey of intentional living.
By the way, “Purposeful Planning” is always free to all military families — just leave a comment saying you are in the military with your e-mail address and I’ll get a copy off to you quickly.
Finding Joy in the Journey,
I would love to have the opportunity to keep in touch with you. Please sign up to be notified of new entries and to receive my Free E-zine. (Your address will not be shared)
Proclaiming God’s Faithfulness at:
© 2009 Phyllis Sather
All rights reserved