How to Strengthen Your Family

New Years Party 2014! (Jackson 5, Liz, Loree, Troy, Joe, Jeff & the dogs under the table)

New Years Party 2014! (Jackson 5, Liz, Loree, Troy, Joe, Jeff & the dogs under the table)

By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.  (Hebrews 11:20-21 ESV)

Life can be tough, really tough for millions of families. Detroit is slowly recovering from the greatest downturn in the economy since the Great Depression, the Great Recession. Local Detroit families are on food stamps, working several jobs, making cut backs on things they want to do to pay for things they have to do. Many are worried, frustrated and even depressed over the state of their family. I’m here to tell you that there is hope.

You can strengthen your family even when you are poor.

You may be driving an old car, or no car at all. You might be short on finances or way behind. You probably have gotten used to peanut butter sandwiches and a coneys are a luxury. Bills might be piling up, or piles of bills are falling on you. Your job or lack of a job might be discouraging. Family might let you down, careers don’t pan out, things cost more than you guessed, and everything seems to break…all the time! You are not alone.

In fact, this guy has lived under the poverty line for nearly 5 years. I don’t say that to brag or to whine, rather to open up and share. We don’t make a lot of money, most of the money I raise in speaking out and fundraising goes right back into City Church to help those that need it. We don’t go out to eat like we used to, we shop at thrift stores, we own an old Ford SUV and my boys wear lots of hand-me-downs.

Our family has been hit with hospital bills, theft, and a host of other letdowns. But you wouldn’t have guessed any of that on New Years. In fact, you might have thought we were rich if you came over. We didn’t have a gourmet dinner, we had homemade pizza. We didn’t have expensive wine, we had cheap knockoff cider. It would seem odd and even off to some for us to be celebrating anything. We weren’t at some fancy party, we weren’t living it up, we don’t have lots of things, and Joe’s desert (a cream pie) wasn’t very good. 🙂

Money and possessions don’t strengthen your family…faith and unity do.

How do have a home filled with joy and fun, when there isn’t stuff and things? How is Jesus hope fulfilling, when your kids are hungry and you don’t have any food in the fridge? How do you sing “God is Good” when it seems life isn’t fair? For some this is a really honest question, for others who haven’t lived on the south side of the tracks this is gonna be difficult to fully comprehend until you start becoming friends with those that are struggling and really poor.

I want to give you three practical ways to strengthen your family that we practice in our home. These practical steps won’t solve your life dilemmas, but they can give hope even when its dark…and for most, thats what you need first. For those who have upcoming WIC appointments, work extra shifts to pay bills, have gotten letters about foreclosure and evictions…this is for you.

  • Pray Together

This is more important than you know. Take time dad’s to pray with your kids, your wife and your family. I take Jayden to school most mornings and on our way everyday we pray. I pray for him, and Jay prays for me. It has become such a practice that Jayden gets upset if Keiki takes him to school because that means that we didn’t pray and hang out together.

We pray at meals, we pray before we go to bed. We pray together at church and in the home. Faith in God is important, prayer is the key to a successful Christian home.

  • Teach Together

Right now is a great time to teach your kids valuable life lessons that most will not learn until they screw up or get much older. When things are tough, the kids will see it. Don’t hide it, don’t lie about it…rather talk about it. It is humbling, but every moment you have with your kids is a possible teaching moment. Odds are if you are at the bottom of the barrel, the kids need to learn the same lesson you are learning.

Your kids learn at school, the playground, the block and in life. Make sure they learn at home. TV is teaching them, music is teaching them, movies and stars as well. What was the last thing you taught them?

  • Dream Together

Keiki and I dream for our boys all the time. I see great things for them. My oldest son Jayden is so much like me even at an early age. I wish that he would never make my mistakes, learn more than I did and love Jesus with an abandonment. Jimmy is my dude. He told me this morning that we were a tag team. I see greatness in him. Jordan is the babe still. His love so emulates Keiki. His air time when he jumps emulates mine. He might be President some day or WWE champ.

Keiki and I are planning another honeymoon for several years from now. We looked into camping for the summer (its cheap and we can bring our own food) and we are planning more date nights (hanging out together, cheap movies or a coffee shop). We can’t buy stuff or go places like we used to because the wallet isn’t as big anymore…but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream together.

Life can be about a lot more than just “stuff.” Faith, values, integrity, honor, hard work and dreams are so much more fulfilling anyway. Even though things might be tough and money can be short…your family can still be strong. Trust me, one poor guy to another.

-jon

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