As a professor at Northwest Nazarene University, my busiest season is the fall semester. I teach the largest number of classes and seem to have the most meetings right from the start of the academic year. It also happens to be the time when my academic discipline’s professional conference occurs and when the process, I oversee, of interviews with each of our students takes place. . . it’s enough to wear a person out! To complicate matters further, this past fall, the life of our family seemed to kick into hyper drive.
For starters, my 20-year-old son decided to return home for a semester to earn and save money for his semester in Ireland in the spring. My daughter—who plays volleyball, serves in leadership at her high school, and is a co-manager at the local ice cream shop—was also busily completing college applications for next year. Sandy, my wife, typically sees a dramatic uptick in business in the fall; she is deeply invested in our community and church and provides excellent support to her clients through her dietetics private practice. Moreover, she serves on a committee through our city to help provide fresh food for the most vulnerable members of our community. The volunteer pool that this effort requires seems to dry up as school starts and the weather turns cold in our Idaho town. All this to say, the fall was full for our family!
Four people, one roof, and yet all of us running in different directions most every day of the week! How can we continue to “family” rather than just being roommates? And how can I, as one-half of the leadership team of this domestic church, initiate proactive support, care, and nurture? It’s not easy! But there are some—albeit small—things that can be done to move the needle toward a sense of belonging, identity, and the care that each of us wants for each member of our household. Here are a few things we’ve been trying:
But there are some—albeit small—things that can be done to move the needle toward a sense of belonging, identity, and the care that each of us wants for each member of our household.Mike Kipp
First, a common meal once or twice a week can go a long way in bringing us together positively and to hear from each family member. With a 20-year-old and an 18-year-old if we can pull this off once a week, we will feel pretty good; twice, and we will feel like superstars! But even if we sit down with each of our young adults on different nights, we feel like it’s a win. There really isn’t any substitute to breaking bread together to foster authentic listening to each other around the table.
Secondly, it’s my habit to rise early each day and align my mind and heart to Jesus through silent meditation, Scripture reading, and praying. I pray for each member of my family daily. The meal times provide specific topics to lift up to the One who is at work in their lives, and I regularly tell them that I am praying for them.
Third, several times a week, I try to initiate a text message of greeting to each person. It’s a check-in, something silly, or an expression of love—just because. It’s not much and it doesn’t take long, but it communicates that I care, I’m there, and they are on my heart. It is an easy and quick way to be a presence in each person’s life throughout even the busiest times.
I realize these are not earth-shaking actions, but they are meaningful and intentional ways to communicate my care, support, and relationship. And I can do them in seasons that are quite full and seasons that are more relaxed. That consistency contributes to a sense that we are family and provides a way for us to “family” one another. The key here is that I choose to exert my will despite the circumstances in order to express care, support, and love for those around me—those whom I have the privilege to call family.
That consistency contributes to a sense that we are family and provides a way for us to “family” one another.Mike Kipp