The most beautiful place on earth is different for everyone. Yet it has one thing in common to all. Some people may think it a loft house in the city with exposed brick and fresh flowers in front of a tall window. Some may think it is on top of a mountain overlooking a plush green valley below with quaint villages exposed. Some may think winding prairies with long blowing grasses and many animals and birds freely living together harmoniously. For me, many places in America, England, Poland and Russia hold immense and diverse beauties of their own. But as I age I can see more clearly that each person’s idea of the most beautiful place in the world is based upon what they hold sacred and their experiences with beauty in life. And each person then is correct. Because for each person, the most beautiful place, whether they realize it or not, is that place that fulfills the vision for them of the most sacred, most enjoyable aspect of God to them. Some appreciate His people, preferring the city life. Some prefer His creation, preferring more rural country. Some prefer His creatures, preferring prairies. Some prefer His majesty, enjoying mountains and grand waterfalls. Some prefer His order, preferring sculpted or tiered gardens. I am not so particular, for better or worse, and I can find my most beautiful place in the world wherever I go because I carry the sacred within me and I can gain pleasure from any environment. We each appreciate beautiful places, though the eye of the beholder varies its gaze. Each specializes in what provides what you need most in everyday life to make you whole and thus closer to Go in that moment. It is a phenomenal discovery to me.
Our children include a boy (9) and a girl (4) and a five year age difference. And like a very typical home now, my children have me in common but have different fathers so are separated every other weekend. However, thanks to our brilliant decision to home school our children, we are together most of the rest of the time. We have gone to great lengths to keep sibling rivalry far from our home. My husband and I are not young pups but have young children, so there is a realistic necessity for them to learn to rely upon each other as well as us because people, in the face of great opposition, do not live forever. We want them to have each other should anything happen to us. In addition, sibling rivalry was a horrible thorn in my side growing up. I firmly believe my sister hated me much of the time and she definitely was quite hostile toward me at times and I was determined my children should not go through that. All that background being given, I now wish to share our method of creating an atmosphere of love and not strife because it has worked well for us and I think parents should help each other.
My formula involves a combination of the following facets of lifestyle. Let me emphasize that this is speaking of a purposeful lifestyle, creating an environment of love and mutual respect and not jealousy and hatred. It is a process and lifestyle requiring effort at first but then reinforcement thereafter. First and foremost, we pray together. We pray to start our day, before we eat, at bedtime and whenever a reason arises. This does three things: focuses our attention on God, creates an environment of appreciation and emphasizes the expectation of good from your children. Secondly, we read the Bible and do children’s devotions together every morning, for the same reasons as I just mentioned. Thirdly, I compliment the children each for their accomplishments and encourage the sibling to encourage them also. So they get in the habit of finding good things to encourage each other with. Fourthly, and this is huge, we do not show favoritism toward one or the other. Both are encouraged for good and discouraged for bad equally. Fifthly, also important, we emphasize and celebrate each child’s unique qualities and gifts and love language out loud and strive to love them the way they speak love. No children are the same and each will have uniqueness that is beautiful. Likewise, I also emphasize the sameness where I find it so they know they are unique but can still relate to each other. Sixthly, we play board and card games together. Time together is invaluable. We also do school together so can relate to each other that way, but not everyone is able to do that. Time is the big thing. We purposefully make time for nothing so we have time together. Scheduling mandatory free/family time is perfect if you are a planner. And last of all, we talk, always making eye contact with each child. Seems simple, but you would be surprised how easily it can get away from you. Just talking about most everything allows each kid to feel connected and important and respected. Some don’t like to talk as much but each child must have the opportunity to contribute to the conversation. This is vital. I hope my little tutorial helped in any small way and I hope your home will be as harmonious as ours! God bless your efforts!