The red rock and sands of the Kanab, UT valley crunched under the van tires as I gave three short honks of the horn.Margie’s window was rolled down so that she could both extend her arm out toward our daughter Esther and be heard as she called out a final farewell.
It would be almost a full week before we could hold, interact, and enjoy our oldest child. For some, 6 days does not seem that long, but for us, it felt like we were losing a part of us as we drove away leaving her standing in our sister’s driveway. At just 10 years old, this would be the first time she spent more than a day or two away from home.
The three honks have become a tradition for us whenever Margie or I go anywhere. It represents the kind phrase, “I love you” and leaves a lasting impression in our minds of the love we have for each other.
As we drove away, I did a quick self-check of my emotions. “What am I feeling right now?” I wondered to myself. Anxiety, fear, relief, sorrow, happiness? What?
Peace. That’s the first thing that hit me. “I’m feeling peaceful.”
I lingered on that thought. Why was I feeling peaceful at letting my 10 year old daughter go down to Mesa, AZ for 6 days for a summer camp where she would be exploring remote caves in the Red Mountains02, learning to water ski on large reservoirs, hiking rattlesnake infested desert trails, and doing service projects outside in the blistering 104 degree summer heat?
On the surface, it did not make sense… but a quick look at my dear Margie told me she was feeling the same thing.
I thought about that during the 4.3 hour drive home and discussed it with Margie.
Confidence – that was the source of our peaceful feelings.
It was a confidence born of daily routines in our life that have instilled in our daughter a solid knowledge of right and wrong. More than that, this young girl was proven in converting information into wisdom and keeping her head about her in difficult situations. And while she is pure in heart and mind, she is by no means naive. She knows that evil and dangers are lurking out there in the big, wide world, but her faith in an all-powerful God allows her to face it with unwavering courage.
In our journey toward the “Land of Family Greatness”, we have discovered that a simple daily routine filled with some essentials – not just good things – is making all the difference in how our children face the world.
Here is what our morning looks like each day. I’ll give it to you with very little commentary and leave it to you to see if there is value in this:
- 6:00 am – wake up, get morning outdoor chores done (around here this includes milking the goats and getting feed for the goats, chickens, and horses.)
- 6:30 am – breakfast
- 7:00 am – Family scripture and prayer time. This is not just reading a few verses and call it good… this is typically a pretty in-depth discussion (sometimes we get hung up on half a verse, spending 30 or 40 minutes applying it to our lives… VERY rewarding)
- 7:45 am – morning indoor chores (this is basically cleaning the kitchen and house – they’ve each got their areas of stewardship and it goes pretty smooth)
In the summer, the rest of the day includes a wide range of activities and during the school year they are off to school.
Now, here is what happens every night…
- 7:30 pm – get the PJ’s on and head down to bed.
- 8:00 pm – tuck everyone in and spend a few minutes with each child. “What was the best part of your day? What did you learn? How did (fill in the blank) go for you today?” etc… If I’m not too tired, I let them pick a song and I sing them each something – usually a hymn, but sometimes a funny song that gets everyone laughing…
- 8:30 pm – “Zip the lip” time – everyone is quiet now, but me. I lay down in the hallway and read to them. First, I take 10-15 minutes and read a scripture story or something else morally and spiritually meaningful to them. Often, I’ll ask questions and we briefly discuss it. Then, it is time for a novel. Over the years, during those evening reading sessions, we have enjoyed books like, “Swiss Family Robinson”, “The Secret Garden”, all 12 of the Elsie Dinsmore books, “Five Little Peppers”, all 7 Chronicles of Narnia, “Robin Hood”, and many others. What a joy this has been… and what a treasure of wealth we have acquired from these classics!
- 9:30 pm – One final drink of water, a good night kiss, and lights out.
Peace – that is what we felt in sending our 10 year old off into the big, wide world for the first time.