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Katsokaa: Jumalan Karitsa, joka ottaa pois maailman synnin! Joh. 1:29

Blog: Doing things together makes us a family

in English 15.7.2016 05:54 | Päivämies-verkkolehti
One of my wife’s and my own favorite hymns begins like this: ”Like boughs that bear abundance when firmly on the tree, as people we’re created with each other be. …” This hymn seems to go straight to the core of family relations. It was sung in our wedding 15 years ago.
While still courting, we were touched by its second verse, which speaks about our need for a warm embrace, the parents’ life experience, and the children’s trusting gaze. That verse encourages us to accept all disappointments, joys, and surprises side by side with each other. Now that I am a husband and the father of nine children, I am looking for practical ways and ideas of how to build and maintain a good family atmosphere.
Three years ago we were wondering if we could book a slot in the evening schedule of the school gym. We got this idea from a couple we knew. They had been going to the school gym to play games with their children. The main purpose was to spend time with their family. We found this idea both fun and challenging. Mostly we doubted how the big and the smaller children would get along. We did book the gym, however, and everything has gone fine. There have been quarrels on the way, but once there, we have been joined by a true team spirit.
In floorball my wife has been the star defender, while I have played the forward. The children have enormously enjoyed feinting their mom and dad and scoring goals. During the game the little ones can romp in their own area outside the court. We pause the game whenever the two-year-old runs across the court. There have been surprisingly few collisions. Any small injuries have been successfully treated with tea tree oil. After the floorball game we have just played together for fun.
I have realized that our family is living a hectic time right now. Some of our older kids are drawn to smart phones and tablets. When I was a child in the 1970s, we played ball games outdoors and did athletics. My own identity has grown out of living and experiencing things together with others.
I have been wondering how I could offer such experiences of togetherness to my children. I drew up a list of different sports and work assignments and gave each of them a score. When the children have reached a certain total score, we will enjoy an evening in a pizzeria. This challenge was eagerly accepted. We have been doing this for seven weeks now, and some of the first enthusiasm has begun to wear off. But after one more week, we will all eat pizza.
I have had to remind especially my boys that winning is not the most important thing in sports. After one family game our four-year-old ran to the car hollering loudly, “I won!” He was trying to imitate the bigger boys. I told him it is not necessary always to win. I told him believers have a race where all those who get into heaven are winners. The boy listened to my explanation and seemed to understand at least some of it. The next day the little ones were having a running race. The four-year-old came in last and complained in a tearful voice, ”This is a believers’ race!”  
The hymn I mentioned ends in a prayer that Jesus would stay close to us when we experience losses and new life situations. Family relations are especially close at times of trial and hardship. When joys and sorrows are shared, we are better able also to help our neighbors who have burdens. My wife and I have noticed that a warm and loving family feeling in everyday life helps us to face difficult matters both in our own family and in other people’s lives. Our journey in faith is often tiresome, but personal relationships help us support each other. The most precious kind of help is to be able to preach and believe the gospel.
Matti Kinnunen
Translation: S.-L. Leinonen

The blog post was published in Finnish in online Päivämies on 26 June 2014.

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