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The Family Next Door


There's a family in my neighborhood that constantly plays together in the street.

It's a beautiful thing. I honestly have no idea how they pull it off in their schedules.

If I was completely honest, it also drives me up a wall.

I feel like I do my best to be a decent dad by pushing past normal quitting points and being proactive with my kiddos. My wife is likewise a home-run hitter in parenting.

Still, there's something frustrating to me when I'm sitting down to relax in a chair and looking out the window to see someone else being active with their kids. There have even been times I've seen my kids going out to join them, giving me guilt I didn't know I had in me.

Can I get a witness? 

The Bible records a great story in the book of Joshua where the Israelites were crossing a mighty river to enter into a "Promised Land." Right after the first people got their feet wet, the waters parted so the rest of the people could cross over on dry ground. Joshua instructed some men to pick up twelve stones that would later serve as a visual memory to what had happened. Every time those who took part in this day would see these rocks, they would remember the miracle God did that day.

There was another purpose for these twelve stones, though. They were also intended to be a story-telling tool to the next generation. It was the older generation's way of passing down something of importance to their kids.

I call these "full-sensory legacies." 

These are the things we pass down to our kids because they matter to us, like:

  • Favorite foods that you want your kids to taste.
  • Sports teams you cheer for that you'd love your kids to know more about.
  • Certain movies you enjoy that you're waiting for your kids to be old enough to watch with you.
  • Places you've personally visited that you now want to turn into a family vacation.
  • Musicians you grew up with whose songs you want to shape your kids.

And yes...for some families, the value of playing in the street together is their thing.

What's amazing about God is that all of these things can tell His story to the next generation.

In light of this, I realized that feeling guilty because I wasn't like "the house next door" was overshadowing the ways I'm investing in my kids in other ways.

For instance, I'm finding that as my kids get older, they're asking me to do things I didn't know they were into. We keep our regular anchors in our family, like gathering with our church every weekend and praying together as a family each night. Beyond that, I'm more than happy to talk about the it on roller blades in our cul-de-sac with the neighbors or while sitting in a comfortable chair together to watch an epic movie.

A huge burden was released once I could see how I was helping them experience God and His Story. These were some of my "twelve stones."

Knowing what the "twelve stones" are in your family gives them something to stand on and stand for. It becomes the filter by which we can take steps forward and know when we're just fine staying put.

So, what's one of your full-sensory legacies? What are your favorite ways for your family to be present together and take part in a larger story?

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