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Family Vision – Pictures in our head

By Justin Wolfenberg

What are the pictures in our head that drive our decision making?

I know they have changed over the years for me. For me the pictures in my head is the vision that is leading my life.

I remember in high school there is nothing more I wanted than to attend the high school state championships in swimming and the picture of attending the meet and making everybody proud drove me to attend morning practice at 5:30am five days a week.

Then in college I had the picture in my head of having the best stories from my wild years and telling those stories to others as they marveled at me. That lead my roommate and I seeing a skunk in front our dorm and thinking it would be a good idea to try to chase it into the dorm. It lead to the predictable result of us being sprayed and the entire dorm bathing in the aftermath of a good spray.

As a father now I have been wrestling with what pictures are in my head now as I lead my family in a multi-generational mindset? For my early years I think I was unaware of the pictures in my head and was just reacting to what felt right at the moment. The only vision I had was hoping it wasn’t as dysfunctional as my family was as I grew up. Just hoping that my kids wouldn’t dread spending thanksgiving with my wife and I.

Recently, I was challenged to starting living and believing that I could lead my family with a vision. At first I was confused on what this even meant. I just wanted a plan. Just tell me the right answer on what I am supposed to do. What is the difference between a classical family (a team that serves a greater goal of being on mission making disciples that stays together forever) or western family (a group of individuals supporting each other as we get ready to launch from the family)? And how can you have vision that directs your actions? A vision is not a specific action plan or even a detailed mission. It is a deep belief or picture in your head of what the future could look like.

Abraham lived this way.

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Hebrews 11:8-10

Abraham was leading his family by a picture of living a future city with many generations deeply connected to the big story of God

My wife and I were wrestling with idea of switching to a classical view of family and we were vacationing in Maine last December and I felt prompted to write two 10 year visions for our family.  One if we took some big risk and one if we stayed on the current plan. I showed them to my wife and she pointed at classical view of family and she said, “I want that one.” It helped us make the next step.

We are currently now thinking beyond 10 years and what that could look like. Below are the two vision stories or pictures that could be in our heads. It is not a plan or a contract that God has to fulfill, rather it was an exercise in changing my belief so we could live by vision.

Family 10 yr. vision: If we make some big changes

Henry will be 15 years old. He could be a leader in the house. He has a close relationship with his father, mother and sister Layla.

Layla who is 13 has embraced a nurturing role around the house, as there are 3 foster kids with us right now.

We have three families that live in close proximity to us and who are also doing foster care. It is place known where orphans are healed. We have regular and deep community with them.

It is a family team effort. I get to use a lot my teaching, leading and encouragement gifts with all the families.

Shelley and I are passing on our learning’s on family and marriage to others as we have experienced and learned a lot. The other families bring other gifts that are vital to our community. Where we all play our part.

It is not unusual to see Henry teaching the young boys how to use tools or him helping them with their schoolwork. He has way to calm some of the anger in young boys who have been through a lot.

Layla loves to dress up the young girls in the house and do their hair. She has no trouble tackling the diapers either. There is always a lot of laughter and play when she is around. In fact Henry and Layla could run the house w/o mom and dad if needed.

Adria is tow of Layla often and she really looks up to her. Layla is great with her always including her during the day.

Daily family God time has expanded to include some deep sharing and prayer. It is normal to bring your questions, concerns and celebrations to the table. There is even some singing since one of our neighbors is talented in music even though we will never go on tour anytime soon.

Henry, Layla and Adria love praying for our guest which is frequent since people want to see what is happening in our house. For our family is our primary relationship and really enjoy spending time together playing, laughing and working together towards our calling of making disciples and loving on orphans.

We currently have a 20 yr. old girl living with us who is a part of our family. Shelley is mentoring her as she is working through some healing she needs. Shelley is known for her wisdom and realness.

The awkwardness of the teen years and the separation and isolation that normally happens hasn’t occurred.

There is a sense of peace with us since not striving for all these different things that leave us unfulfilled. We currently praying, encouraging, and seeking what the next steps for family, specifically Henry and Layla, will be.

It is clear how God has gifted them and everything is on the table. Is it college? Is it stay and expand our calling in foster care/adoption realm? This is new territory but we are working together to hear from the Spirit what is next for our family.

Family Vision if we stay on the same plan “American Christian Dream”

Layla and Henry are friends but their paths have separated and they have two different groups of friends.

Since most of there days are spent at school and activities Shelley is home doing a lot foster care work by herself. We have hired some help, which is a great relief.

All of our kids express interest in God and we have some conversations. Most of the deep conversations happen with their peers and they have roles around the house but they are not an integral part of the household routine.

We are a happy family and doing well. Conversations happen but they are typically about the day’s events and what needs to happen to make tomorrow a go.

We all go to church together and then have a meal afterwards.

We realize that in three years Henry will be off to college and this family time is coming to end. And most likely they will have a step back in their faith as wander through college. The good news is that is not as bad as most college student’s experience.

What are the pictures in your head for your families future? Consider slowing down and just writing what you see. It could be a very helpful experience as you learn what is driving you.


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