By Beth Demme
The note taped on the back said, “Can I join your family, please?” It was a cute way of casting approval on our message.
The note was from the calligrapher and the message on the front was our family motto in her artistic hand:
Yes, I found a calligrapher on Etsy and paid her to write out our family motto so I could frame it. If I were a fancier person I might say I commissioned an artist to render our family motto in a unique and personalized way.
Either way, we have it in a frame now and I keep it right by the front door where we can all see it.
Before you get the sweet, but wrong, impression of my family, coming up with this motto was not a family project. In fact, when my son saw the framed piece by the front door his actual response was, “We have a family motto? I didn’t know that! No one tells me anything!”
My husband and I came up with it by accident one night when we were forecasting what our children might remember about childhood. We realized with horror we have no control over what they’ll remember. The solution? Start putting our spin on it now. After all, these people may make decisions for us one day and we’d like to be remembered fondly when the time comes.
When we thought about where we focus our family’s time, effort, energy, and prayers, we realized there were two big areas — adventure and joy.
The adventure element was obvious because we’d recently purchased a used Jeep.
My husband loves to shop for, buy, and own cars. Do you need to purchase a vehicle? You should call my husband. He’s probably already researched it and can tell you the best deal within a 500-mile radius, no matter where you live.
Our desire for more family adventure was a major justification for buying a vehicle we didn’t really need. Resistance was futile so I agreed and now this fella (gal?) lives in our garage.
We’ve had a lot of fun with the Jeep. There are things the four of us can do together like off-roading, exploring the nearby National Forest, and geocaching. There are also things my husband and the kids can do without me, like … camping. (Sorry, I’d rather not sleep outside. Yes, being in a tent is actually the same thing as being outside.)
While we’re looking for adventure, we’re learning to be intentional about sharing joy, too.
The idea of “sharing joy” came from bedtime prayers. I love to eavesdrop when my husband prays with the children. In fact, I only occasionally pray with them before bed because he’s better at it.
I always pray that their hearts and minds will be open to the truth of how much God loves them. That’s an important prayer, but I love my husband’s prayer.
He prays that we, individually and as a family, will not miss the opportunities we have to share joy with other people.
I bring this up now because the holiday season is a great time to find adventure and share joy. In fact, that’s what Advent is all about. Advent (the four Sundays before Christmas) is a time when we prepare to receive the birth of Christ, true joy. Or, as Ricky Bobby said in Talledega Nights, the “Lord Baby Jesus.”
In three minutes you can learn (almost) everything you need to know about Advent by watching this video.
Whatever your family motto is (or isn’t), you might choose to find adventure and share joy this Advent and in the New Year.
We haven’t added the calligrapher to the family, yet. Maybe we should invite her for Christmas dinner. If she comes we can share joy with her and have the adventure of a stranger at the Christmas table.