Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family by Michelle Anthony
There are bookshelves full of resources claiming to help people achieve the abundant life. Our first week’s reading of Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family, bursts the bubble that claims that we can do anything to attain it. If you want your family to have an “abundant life” you must purse Jesus first. Pursuit of him leads to abundant life while pursuit of abundant life leads to dysfunction.
My take away from this week’s reading is that pursuing abundant life leads to dysfunction because my view of what abundant life is gets skewed in so many ways it neglects the bigger picture that only God knows. As I begin to see my life as a part of His story, and begin living according to the script that God has written, His abundant life will become attainable because it is a bi-product of following Jesus.
Below I have listed the reflection and response questions from Chapter 1 and my responses underneath. I invite you to take a stab at transparency and answer them for yourself in the comments! I look forward to reading your thoughts
Reflect & Respond Questions from Chapter 1
Take assessment of your life and the lives of your family members right now. In what areas have you coveted another’s script? In what ways have you attempted to play the role of Director in your own life?
Rate yourself today on a scale from 1 to 5 (1 – “ceased to live” or “dysfunctional living and 5 – “living the abundant life”). What factors have contributed to this number?
What is most difficult for you in the process of “staying on script”?
What do you want or need to say to a God who continues to accomplish His plans despite your childish demands?
Where does your family need an intervention from God right now?
- When I look back at my own life events, I have “coveted another’s script” any time I feel like I’ve been dealt a bad hand. I’m currently the only full-time staff member at our church and when I was hired, this was not what I envisioned. To be honest, there’s been a temptation to bail out of a difficult situation to try and pursue a “more abundant life” elsewhere – taking on the Director role of my own life. As my wife and I look at how our life’s circumstances have been orchestrated though, seasons of difficulty have always brought us into greater clarity of God’s purpose. Being faithful to him – allowing Him to be the Director – has always paid off.
- 4 – There still remains a need for me to release the areas where I want to maintain control. I really do feel that I am, for the most part, living out a life that pursues God as first in charge of my life but the tendency remains for me to try and manipulate things to go my way.
- The most difficult thing for me in the process of “staying on script” is believing that my part is important enough. I really second-guess sometimes whether what I am doing makes a difference or is just something I enjoy. Trying to follow his lead and direction for my life is difficult when seeing how it is impacting the Kingdom is not easily visible.
- “God, keep doing what you’re doing – even if it hurts. Catch me quickly when I try to take over your seat in the Director’s chair and put me back where you want me reading your own script.”
- (This is a tough question to answer publicly!) They need their dad/husband to lead. I am a leader and set the spiritual climate in my own home. Sometimes I convince myself that because my life, in general, is characterized by service in the Kingdom that the spiritual climate in my home will experience the blessings of this. In reality, my actual spiritually formative emphasis at home lacks enthusiasm. It’s there but it could take shape much more creatively and energetically than it is currently does.
Again, I invite you to respond in the comments below with your own answers! Thanks for sharing!
What is the opposite of “dysfunctional living?” Is it, being happy? Nothing ever going wrong? Perfect parenting or a marriage without arguing? We can sometimes joke about the effect of our unhealthy relationship styles. Maybe laughing about our faults is a good way of not taking things too seriously. Not taking a close look, though, at the dysfunction in our lives can result in not even tasting what the “abundant life” is like. How do we even pursue living the abundant life and what does it look like?
The abundant life is to seek and know this holy and perfect God, understand the plan He has initiated, discover how He is writing the story to accomplish this plan, and then humbly receive your script and play your part – as written.
Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family, p.13
Saturday we launch into our book club covering Michelle Anthony’s Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family: Avoiding the 6 Dysfunctional Parenting Styles. It’s not too late to join and the club “meetings” are all online, on your own time! I will be posting chapter responses and questions here on this blog and anyone is welcome to participate! The book is available on Amazon.com. Visit the initial post about the club for more information!
Prayer is one of those practices that is undeniably central to our discipleship. It’s a way we communicate with God our hopes, fears, desires and adoration. Praying reflects a connection we have with God and when we pray with others, our connection with them is strengthened as well. In a marital relationship, prayer is an activity that will not only draw a couple close to each other through the expression of their hearts but will even decrease the likelihood of divorce. While the national average for divorce is right at 50% the divorce rate for couples who pray together 3-5 times a week is 1 in 1200.  A statistic this remarkable warrants the attention of any couple that wants to guarantee the success of their marriage.
Sometimes it can be difficult to pray with our spouse. For many reasons we can feel inhibited in sharing this part of our walk with Christ in our marriage. On the next page below is a way to beginning the journey toward praying openly from your heart with your spouse. While simple in it’s approach, it may feel unnatural at first. The goal is to provide a “scripted stepping stone” that gets you as a couple talking with God in front of each other.
- Plan a short time (4-5 minutes) where you and your spouse can pray together uninterrupted.
- Choose one person to go first. This person reads only the first line of Prayer Number 1 and fills in the blank with their own words.
- Now it is the other spouse’s turn. Read the first line and fill in the blank with your own words.
- Continue through the prayer until you have read through all four lines.
The first prayer is a good place to start if you have never prayed with your spouse. As you grow more comfortable sharing this time together, move on to the second prayer. It gets a little more into the heart without being too intimidating. As this way of praying becomes more natural, venture into wording your own prayers or take turns providing prompts for each other. Below are some additional examples of prayer prompts.
Prayer for Married Couples: Number 1
God, you are so ___________ .
(share something with God that you like about him!)
God, sometimes its hard for me to ___________ .
(tell God about a struggle you have)
God, I want to thank you for ___________ .
(show God that you appreciate something he’s done)
God, one thing I ask is that you ___________ .
(tell God something you need from him)
Prayer for Married Couples: Number 2
God, when I think about you it makes me feel ___________ .
Today, I really needed your grace when I ___________ .
When I think of all the things you’ve done it makes me want to ___________ .
God, you always take care of my needs. Something I need is ___________ .
ADDITIONAL PRAYER PROMPT EXAMPLES:
- God, it was amazing today when you ___________ .
- God, I want to work harder on ___________ .
- Please give me strength to ___________ .
- As I think back on my day, I’m real proud that I ___________ .
- God I get so sad sometimes when ___________ .
- God when I read in your word about ___________ it made me feel ___________ .
My prayer for you and your spouse is that you grow to the greatest depths of intimacy in your marriage through your conversations with God.
 Gallup Poll conducted in 1989-90 entitled “Love and Marriage.” Results reported in Faithful Attraction by Andrew Greeley, 1991 St. Martins Press
This is Jhulon. He is an 8-year-old little boy from Bangladesh. He has made a huge impact on my daughter. We have been sponsoring him for about two years. Technically, our 6-year-old daughter is sponsoring him – it’s her name he sees when he gets a letter from us. She is also the one in our family that most fervently prays for him. Every night his name is the first thing that comes out her mouth when she starts her prayers. A letter we received from him describes his home life and living conditions and our compassionate daughter desperately wants God to give him running water in his house. She wants God to give him a house made of bricks instead of leaves. She wants him to have carpeted floors and an education. She never finishes a prayer thought without praying for the most important thing she desires for him…
That he would know how much God loves him.
We thought it would be a good idea for us to sponsor a child with Compassion International because we knew it would change the life of a someone. It has been amazing to see the role praying for this little boy has played in our daughter’s walk with God. She has a global perspective of what God is doing to redeem the world. Because of Jhulon, I am able to see just how God is working in my own daughter’s heart. Growing her. Stretching her.
September is blog month at Compassion. I have agreed to accept four blogging assignments from them in hopes that throughout the month, more children will be sponsored than ever before. If you blog, consider blogging for them. If you can, consider sponsoring a child. It’s made a big impact on a little 8-year-old boy in Bangladesh and a little 6-year-old girl in middle Tennessee.
This week I have been at the Orange Conference. A three-day event for ministry leaders who have as their primary interest a partnership between the church and the home. To be honest, I felt a little out-of-place. This past August my job as a full-time children’s minister ended and since then I have been taking up the responsibilities of a stay-at-home parent, homeschooling my kindergartener and chasing our 2 year old around the house! Attending the Orange Conference last year, I was focused on attending classes that would help me to equip the volunteers working under my leadership and networking with other ministry leaders from whom I had much to learn. I happened to bump into a few people I have met over the years who, through Facebook and twitter, know vague details about where me and my family are at. A brief exchange between me and another children’s ministry leader who I look up to a lot, left me feeling insulted for the first time about my “at-home” status.
He asked me what I was up to and if I was ministering anywhere. I replied, “Yeah, I am staying at home and homeschooling our daughter.” His first response was, “You need to get a job, buddy!” I don’t recall exactly what I said to him in response. I fumbled through a kind response, hoping to end the conversation quickly, hoping to communicate that I consider it a privilege to minister to my children at home. I always found it shocking when I would hear a report of people diminishing the importance of the role that stay-at-home moms have with phrases like, “So, you don’t work?” or “Don’t you miss having areal job?”
Stay-at-home moms, today I can honestly say, “I know how you feel.”
Still praying through this one. I know God is using my current situation to draw me closer to my daughters. In a world where the positive relationship between a father and his girls has such an invaluable impact, I cannot afford to let such comments deter me from giving my daughters my very best. They need to know that right now, raising them full-time isn’t something I am settling for. Every dad has a calling to disciple his children. Father’s of girls have the additional responsibility of showing them what it means to be loved like Christ loves the church. It’s impossible to estimate just how valuable the time I spend with my girls is during this season of life. Only God knows what it is worth and how much my life will be blessed by it.