Building A Family That Can Outlast The Culture (Part 2)
by Drenda Keesee
We built our family in the same way we built our house. We laid a firm foundation and built upon that with sturdy materials. We have always strived to keep our family’s private life congruent with what we say in our public life, because what happens in private is our foundation, and that is crucial to our children.
These are the priorities we put into our family’s foundation…
Priority #1: God First
Faith in Christ and His work has to be the foundation of the family. Some people have never been taught who God is and have never been introduced to His love. If that’s you today, it’s the first place to start. It’s so simple and freeing to give your worries to a Creator who loves you. It’s amazing to be able to commune with the One who started this whole family thing, to begin with. God wanted a family, so He created you! Turn your life over to Him today and start to learn more about Him. It will be the best decision you ever make for your family and for yourself!
Once we turn our lives over to God, we must prioritize our relationship with Him. I had the honor of leading many of my children to the Lord by sharing with them God’s love and plan for salvation. I tried to teach them scriptures each week and help them learn about God. We attended church every week so they could be taught more about God and loving His church. I realized early on that if we consistently put sporting events or ballet classes in front of God and attending church, we’re demonstrating that as a priority over God to our children.
Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.”
God should be your family’s number one priority. If it is, attending your local church will naturally follow. It is important that your children see that you believe what you say you believe, when you’re at home as well.
I can verbally tell you that I love my husband and we are happy together, but if you came to our house and heard us screaming at each other, you would have every reason to doubt my sincerity. If somebody tells us something that doesn’t line up with the evidence, we conclude they are lying. So when you tell your children that you love God at church but don’t live accordingly at home, your children begin to question God. They mistrust God because two and two aren’t adding up.
Gary and I made our fair share of mistakes as parents, but learning how to handle our mistakes was as important as learning how to handle our successes. We always tried not to argue (or have an “intense discussion” as we liked to call it) in front of the children, because that makes a child feel insecure. We tried, but we didn’t always succeed. When we did argue in front of our children, we had to apologize to them for the way we behaved and we had to reaffirm our love for each other. That was important because it made them feel safe.
Through the years, we have maintained a family day where we have fun, confirm our love for the children, and then redirect our priority to God with family prayer. Our daughter calls it “Funday Monday.” It can be any day, but there must be a family day dedicated to reconnecting and refreshing with one another. You need your children’s foundation to be solid, and instilling how good God is into them at a young age is the best way to do that.
We have a close family because we protected our foundation. We didn’t just preach to our kids or cause our children to feel as though they had to compete with God for our attention. We invested in them first, and then as a family, we would pray. We discussed the things we believed for, and the children each took turns praying for those things, and we would write the prayer requests down in what we called our James 4 Notebook.
Then they got to watch them come to pass! It was great because it gave them evidence of God’s faithfulness. Priority
#2: Respect for Your Spouse
Love and respect for your spouse is the priority next to God that your children need to see. A lot of parents miss this because they place their children over their marriage. When you place your children over the health of your marriage, you actually damage both in the long run!
I learned long ago that you never take the complaints and disagreements you have with your spouse to your children. That is a big no-no! Your children need to respect and obey your spouse, but when you dump all the negative complaints from your marriage onto your child, you can’t expect them to respect your spouse—or you. Your marriage is a large portion of your family dynamic, and even if your spouse is not living right, you can set the right example for your children. I delve deeper into this topic in the chapter about Doing Life Tandem, but I want to briefly touch on it here.
Your marriage lays a foundation for your children. Whether you respect your spouse or you talk negatively about them lays a foundation for your children. If you’re undermining your spouse’s authority or disrespecting them in front of your kids, you can expect the same behavior from your children toward your spouse, yourself, and other people in authority. You’re giving them the OK for this kind of behavior, and the fruit of that will show in their life.
Ask yourself: What kind of foundation do I want to set through my marriage?
Priority #3: Honor Family
When Gary and I went into ministry, I had a wrong perception about where the family fit. I saw so many ministry families in shambles, and I thought that ministry meant sacrificing time with my children. I prayed, “God, I want to serve You through ministry, but I can’t give up my children.”
I’ll never forget what God told me. “I never asked you to.”
That was an amazing revelation to me! God doesn’t want to steal me away from my children. God wants me to be with my family as much as I do.
God created my family and wants to protect it. Wow! When you realize how sacred your family is to God, you understand how important it is that you fight for your family. God wants you to fight for your family—it’s biblical! God created your family to bless you, not to curse you. God loves families, and He wants to operate through them to change nations, as He did with Abraham’s family, Noah’s family, and Mary and Joseph’s family! Family is a powerful thing. That’s why Satan hates families, and that’s why you have to protect your family time.
It’s important that at least once a week you put everything on pause and focus on your family. Don’t let your job, extracurricular activities or ministry come between you and your family. God wants your family whole more than He wants you to volunteer. God is your first priority, then marriage, then family, and then any ministry activities, jobs, or sports events.
Gary and I decided that if our ministry is ever hurting our family, we will quit because family is our first priority. Our children and their perspective of God are more important than other ministry opportunities. And there have been a couple of times when we had to reevaluate how much time we were putting into ministry versus how much time we were spending with our children. We had to recheck our priorities to protect our family.
If you’re not making your family a priority, I can tell you, Satan is, and he is seeking whom he may devour. He wants to get you too busy, too stressed, and too rundown to make your family a priority. If you’re too busy to keep these three priorities in your life, you’re too busy! You need to carve out time for more of what really matters in your life!
Excerpt from “The New Vintage Family” by Drenda Keesee
Drenda Keesee’s contagious zeal and humorous personal experiences help make her ministry of spiritual, emotional and relational wholeness one that will bless your life and spark a new fire in your spirit.
A wife of over 30 years and a mother of five children, Drenda has ministered at churches, seminars, and conferences, and through the mediums of television and radio, for more than 20 years.
Her books, The New Vintage Family, Better Than You Think, and She Gets It are available wherever books are sold. In these heartfelt books, Drenda shares her personal journey and the life lessons that have brought her to where she is today, as well as practical answers that all people need to live a joyful life.
Drenda and her husband Gary founded Faith Life Now, a ministry designed to spread the message of freedom in the areas of finances, faith, marriage, and family. Faith Life Now hosts conferences worldwide, and sponsors both Fixing the Money Thing, which Drenda co-hosts with her husband Gary, and Drenda.
Through their own life experiences, the Keesees have found the principles from God’s Word to be powerful and effective. At one point, Drenda was a young, suicidal feminist with no hope of ever being “good enough” for her own standards of perfection. She never wanted the “inconvenience” of a husband or children, and she was on her own path to success. But the stress of trying to achieve perfection and perform for love left her broken and used. She had success, but it was nothing compared to the pain and loneliness it had also brought.
That’s when God got a hold of her heart. It was there—at her lowest point—that she found the One who accepted and loved her, faults and all. Since that transformation, Drenda has had a passion to reach women who find themselves where she once was.
She married Gary after attending college, and there she found herself in a personal boot camp of sorts. She says, “I cried and told God, ‘I can do anything but be a wife and mother.’” She committed to learning how to do it God’s way. Through the many years of raising their children and struggling to make ends meet, Drenda learned from their mistakes. “I didn’t know how to be a wife and mother, but God saved our marriage, taught us how to parent our children for success, showed us how to have financial success, and then irony of all ironies, He called us to ministry.” It’s truly because of these life experiences that Drenda can now share so many insightful principles for people who are now going through the same struggles.