This month at The Village we are serving up a series about some of the tougher, perhaps more sensitive issues of faith & life. The Middle is about how we can find God right in the middle of the things we deal with; those things that impact both our faith and our everyday lives.

For a bit of a pre-series summary check out this VIDEO.

Our first installment was this past Sunday as we interviewed two local family counsellors regarding issues that families deal with most. John Head works out of Brooklin & Coutice. He started and runs Head Family Counselling. Colleen Kennedy works in Pickering with Life Care Centres. Unfortunately our conversation was not recorded, however, we’ll do our best to address some of the things we talked about.

What are some of the obstacles families face today? 

Both John & Colleen seemed to agree that many of our struggles come from our pace of life. We seem to go at mach speed and tend to miss the important moments in our lives that build relationships.

John compared living out west to living in Ontario, with the biggest difference being how much people work in Ontario and how little time people take to rest. John emphasized what 30 minutes of exercise a day can do for our minds and bodies. Both agreed that with a little effort to plan time for R&R, couples and families would see a huge difference in how they relate to one another.

The topic of social media, tablets and phones came up. We all know how beneficial these devices are to our work and home calendar, however, we also know that they take us away from physical communication. A suggestion was made, that for dedicated periods of time, we would all shut off our phones (i.e. dinner, an hour in the evening, early morning, etc.) and simply ‘BE’ together. I know that my family has set aside days at a time where we do this, and the relational vibe during those days are through the roof.

The need for Communication seemed to take up a large part of our interview. We are very aware of this buzz word when it comes to marriage, family, and relationships in general. The gist is this, ‘do what you can to keep the lines of communication open’. 
Some suggestions were…
– In regards to your spouse, simply set-aside time, daily and weekly, to talk and and even catch up on what you may have missed the day before.
– In regards to children, figure out what makes your child tick, what they’re passionate about, and do what you can connect with them around that activity or passion. Knowing their personality is a key part of building deep relationship with them.

We talked about building into your family from the ground up – from the beginning of your family (or perhaps starting today), instilling things that build each other up. Set aside ‘family’ nights. Sounds old school, but it’s so important. Whatever the night looks like, a movie, games, a hike, swimming, a drive to your favourite little town, whatever, do it.

When we asked what broke John or Colleen’s heart the most in the conversations they’ve been involved in, they mentioned Abuse & Broken Marriages. I can’t speak to abusive situations, but of course, I am hurt when we hear about them. I can however speak to broken marriages.

Many of us know that Marriage has a success rate (or failure rate) of about 50%. However, John Head, quoting Steve Carrel of all people, said that 93% of marriages are ‘doable’, leaving room (7%) for some marriages that are just not going to work out. Marriage is hard. It’s not easy. It’s both beautiful & difficult. That said, with work and effort and intentionality, marriage is so worth it – the relationship between a man & woman is designed to be amazing. However, at the end of the day, it is still a relationship between two human beings who are emotional and inconsistent. That’s what also makes it awesome, that two people can come together and become one. (check out the event to your right)

The last thing we talked about was how we can keep God in the middle of our family, in the good and bad moments. Like all relationships, we need to invite him to be a part of it. God is not afraid of whatever you’re going through…he’s seen it all…and he cares more than anyone. He wants to help and he wants to love on you, no matter the situation. Perhaps Deuteronomy 6 can help. We see instruction to invite God into every part of our lives. Read it for yourself,
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
At all costs, show your love for God, and your relationship with him, in every part, every room, every area of your family. The more places he is invited, the more he can do in us and through us.

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small(er) group questions:

This week’s talk was a little different. What did you get out of the interview with John & Colleen? What were some things that stood out?

Where are you in your family journey? Starting, in the middle, empty nest, single? In light of your age and experience, what have you learned thus far…or feel you really need to learn moving forward?

Do you think families have it harder or easier today? How can the church help? What is the best way to encourage and inspire our friends and neighbours (and each other) to lead healthy marriages & families? How do you answer this as a single person?

What role does God have in all this? When you face family struggles, how can God help? Is it easy to push God away or are you even more desperate to invite him in? Any practical examples you can bring to this discussion? Something you may have gone through in your past?

Pray for families & marriages tonight. For relationships where people want to honour and love each other deeply. If you know of a family that’s going through a hard time, financially, physically, relationally, pray for them tonight, even if you can’t name who you’re praying for.

(put February 27 on your calendar…Married Life Live is a night we’re setting aside to encourage, cheer on, and inspire better relationships)