Coming off the “in-your-face” experience of quarantine was the perfect time for Kelly Guest's family to examine their family life.
Quarantines are coming to an end in my state. Stay-at-home orders have been lifted. After three months of being in the house with each other 24/7, we could probably look back on our time together and share some good family memories. We could, also, no doubt, cringe at some of the more harrowing moments. After all, every family has its good qualities and its struggles.
Coming off such an “in-your-face” experience is the perfect time to examine our family life. So, when a local family-building non-profit organization, Marriage and Relationship Education Center (MREC, for short), asked me and my family to participate in their DIY Home Improvement Challenge, we accepted.
Soon thereafter, I received The DYI Guide to Building a Family that Last: 12 Tools for Improving Your Home Life by Gary Chapman (of the 5 love languages fame) and Shannon Warden. This book is brilliant!
First of all, which woman among us does not love those home make-over shows? And just how many guys don’t appreciate a great toolbox with which to work? Using the home improvement metaphor, The DYI Guide gives families the tools necessary to go from demolition (of selfishness) to the big reveal (of a family that lives, loves, and works together). It is the kind of home renovations we all can afford and, with a little sweat equity, achieve.
If we were working on our physical house, there would be very few tools in my husband’s bag that he would want me to handle. Admittedly, I am not very skilled with much but a hammer and a screwdriver. And, perhaps ashamedly, I am fine with letting my hubby do all the repair work around the house. In this home make-over, though, the tools given are for everyone to use. Each chapter and challenge are doable and often fun. The more all-in the family is the more of an impact the book will have.
Though not an overtly Christian book, every chapter presents a “tool” that is based on a virtue, like kindness, gratitude, forgiveness, and patience. MREC, however, gives the book its Christian dimension through a Facebook challenge. By adding a Scripture verse to read and reflect upon, families work together with the Master Builder to rehab their home environment.
I suggest reading the book with your spouse. Then, find a way to include your children in the building process.
Every chapter contains a project the family can work on. For instance, our challenge this week was to keep a list of things we appreciate about each family member and “seek to verbalize (our) appreciation at least twice a week to each family member” as a way to lock in gratitude (41). I look forward to the chapter on “Creating Fun” where we get to make a Fun Chart, because we “all want and need more fun time individually, as a couple, and as a family” (192). Working together, we can bring about the change we want to see in our family.
MREC’s Executive Director Amy Gilford says she was inspired by the Spirit to offer these short challenges to focus on family relationship. At the beginning of each day she asks, “How can I grow today, Lord?” Then she looks for opportunities for growth. The DYI Guide to Building a Family that Lasts puts forth some of those chances for growing closer as a family. She is excited to promote the book and offer tasks that will help improve familial relationships. As Gilford points out, “Marriage never stands still – either we are growing closer or apart.”
In the midst of the anger and meanness going on in our country now, we all can benefit from personal assessment of our relationships. Or, as St. Teresa of Calcutta would say, “If you want world peace, go home and love your family.”
Copyright 2020 Kelly Guest
Image: Eric Ward (Wikimedia Commons)- originally posted to Flickr as Family Portraitcurid=10101463
About the Author
God has given Kelly lots of wonderful opportunities to follow Him. She was a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia in Nashville, an education coordinator for a Catholic Charities' program for pregnant teens, a middle school teacher, a director of religious education and is now a youth minister. Her most challenging and rewarding calling, though, is wife and mother of ten children. What she has learned, she blogs at CatholicMom.com. Kelly's book, Saintly Moms: 25 Stories of Holiness, is due out October 2021.