Eleven premarital counseling sessions in a one week period. That is far beyond my typical weekly limit, especially considering I’m in the middle of an intense sermon series, two weeks away from when we’re supposed to be in the new ministry center, prepping for an Elder Team meeting Sunday, working the 2010 budget numbers, AND it is semester finals week for the kids. The cool part is that it’s actually been a joy to have all these appointments. I’ve gotten to talk to several people who came to me with questions about who God is. It’s also made me think constantly about family in what has been otherwise a crazy week. Here are my highlights…
Most of my premarital counseling is done in my home office. We intentionally found a home in Texas that had a home office so I could work and do some amount of meetings at home. The family convenience is that it I’m at least home, when I would have been gone five nights in a row if I was counseling out of my church office. This means I get to check on homework, grab a snack with the kids, and pray for bedtime between appointments. Otherwise, I’d have been gone from home five nights in a row. My office is just inside the front door, so it doesn’t inconvenience the family…much.
Two couples in the same night commented as they were leaving how much they enjoyed coming to my home. It’s an interesting comment because they’ve never been further into the house than my office. They haven’t been invited to sit in the living room or come chat in the kitchen, just in the front door and into my office. I sincerely think there’s something about a Christian home that is welcoming. There’s an attitude, a sincere love for others, and a peace that makes it comfortable to relax and talk. Speaking of peace…
The flipside of having a home office for appointments is that it does bring some work rules into the home. Everyone has to behave when dad has a counseling appointment. We can’t be too loud and usually can’t bring neighborhood friends inside during appointments. Video games and music are quiet and TV watching is only allowed upstairs in the game room. Other family sounds continue because it is a home. We hear kids tromp up the stairs, other kids yell in the front door for Amelia or JJ, and instrument practice. Amelia’s room is directly above my office. So, we’re most prone to hear beautiful flute sounds when they’re practicing band music. The only time that proved distracting was the week she was focused on getting one particular song ready for the Sandy Lake band competition. Thirty minutes of a flute playing “Smoke on the Water” over and over got to be a little much. Thankfully, she ended when I was finally ready to step out of the office and beg for a reprieve. We all got a good laugh out of that day.
It’s still my home, complete with kids who will be kids. Middle school and Jr. High kids to be exact. The chuckle of this week occurred as I was explaining how to have peace in your home. I was talking about these wonderful principles and guidelines to help bring a tender and loving spirit into your family. The young bride-to-be said, “I can tell you do this with your family. Your home is so peaceful.” At which point, as if on cue, we hear JJ bellow from somewhere in the house, “AMELIA, Stop that RIGHT NOW!” This just proves God has a sense of humor. I’m not sure if that moment was intended for the good of the couple, to help them realize every family has its good and bad days. Or if it was intended to keep me humble and from starting to think I was the “expert” on these issues. Lesson received.
It probably helped that Deana has been A+, #1 homemaker this week. Every time someone has walked through the door this week I’ve been able to offer them hot tea or pop, and a plethora of fresh, homemade treats. Deana has provided homemade chocolate chip cookies and my favorite puppy chow (chex mix with peanut butter, chocolate and powdered sugar). Amelia has assisted her mother as ‘hostess supreme’ and popped in with a plate of goodies for the couple and drinks of choice. JJ even served up a banana this afternoon. As I was wrapping up one session today, a young man said, “I could live here with you guys. Your house smells soooo good.” Twas true. Deana was cooking some homemade noodles with chicken for supper. He still had to leave. I got to stay!
The desk in my home office faces a large window on the front of the house. Couples face me with their back to the window. Everyone in the neighborhood knows what I do. Because the kids know the house rules, they all know when I’m counseling someone. They walk across the yard and wave, jump, stop, make faces, fall down and play dead, and have dogs wave their paws at me. I know it won’t end until they get my eye contact and know they’ve been seen. One day this week there were five kids on the sidewalk waving at me in sync. It’s a good thing that rolling my eyes counts as eye contact for these kids.
But, it’s not just kids. The adults in our neighborhood also know what I do and do the same as the kids. Maybe not as animated, but still wave to get my attention. One night a group of slightly inebriated guys stood outside the window making faces. Good thing it was just dark enough I couldn’t tell what they were doing. I found out from Deana later that waving was a mild version of what they discussed. At the neighborhood cookout they were talking about running up to the window and screaming, “Don’t do it! Don’t get married!” Good thing their wives were present while this was being considered.
One of my favorite discussions of the week was prompted by a young woman who thought I was confusing a couple words. She stopped me and let me know I was mixing up two words: “godly” and “good”. I was bouncing between saying “…a godly wife is one who…” and “…a good wife will…”. I was glad to explain that it wasn’t a slip up on my part. I really believe those terms are interchangable. A godly wife is a good wife. A husband who honors God first will have his wife as the next priority. (See Ephesians 5:21-33, among other bible passages on this topic.) I love being able to talk about this topic. This is what makes it worth my time.
I’m glad my home is a welcoming environment for strangers who come seeking help and hope for the future. If there’s something we model that makes the concept of a Christian home seem real, then it’s worth the minor inconvenience. It’s not that we’re a perfect family. Far from it! But we are striving to live as best we can the biblical principles I teach as the right path toward a satisfying marriage and family. If my home can serve as a laboratory of Christian marriage and family, so be it. We’re just the lab rats to do it.
The Unexamined Life and All
*Since I’m just catching up from Christmas, here are a few family “lab rats” during our recent holiday adventures.
Posted: January 14, 2010
Filed under: Amelia, Deana, Denton Family, Jeff, JJ, Pastor Jeff, Pictures, Spiritual, Uncategorized
Tagged: counseling, Family, Humor, Jeff, Marriage, office, Pictures
Comments: 2 Comments