Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Family Values

Cathie and I went on a date tonight. Nothing fancy: Dinner and coffee. Most of the times our dates are just a chance to get out, be together and talk about life and reconnect as husband and wife. Tonight we spent a lot of time talking about our family and what we think our kids are learning about what family means and what we want them to look like in 10 and 20 years.

  1. Family is big. Our family isn't just Cathie, myself and the kids. The kids spend a lot of time with their cousins, my brothers/brother-in-law, my sister/sisters-in-laws and our parents. Cathie, the kids and I just started attending the family reunion in Iowa to try and expand it.
  2. Family is connected. My whole family (Brothers, Sisters, Parents Brother/Sister-in-laws) all talk to each other weekly if not daily. We communicate through our blogs, through e-mail and on the phone all the time. If we're watching a movie or TV show and see something funny, we call each other. We genuinely like each other.
  3. Family is inclusive. One of the things that my family does a great job at is including people that aren't blood relatives into the family and make them feel connected. Those friends that are an extension of our family (Will, Kasey, etc) are welcomed into my larger family when we get together for holidays, birthdays, etc.
  4. Family spends time together. We get together with my family any chance we get. Memorial Day, Birthdays, Holidays - you name it, we get together for it. We just enjoy hanging out together.
  5. Family helps each other. In my opinion, there's no greater love than helping someone move. When someone in the family (or extended family) is moving, we're all there. Whether it's building decks, roofing a house, whatever it is, we all pitch in. Even those of us without skills in the handy-man arts(me).
  6. Family shares. My brother Jon is a great example of this. If he has something laying around that he's not using, like a TV or piece of furniture, he finds someone who can use it in the family and gives it to them.
  7. Family celebrates. My family has this awesome tradition around birthdays. We get together and have a birthday party for every nice, nephew, aunt, uncle, brother and sister's birthdays. The other great part of this is that on your birthday, you must receive a phone call from every member of the family, no matter where you are or where they are. If you don't make the call, you'll be shamed for the rest of the year. It sounds goofy, but if it's your birthday, it's fun.
  8. Family has traditions.We have all these goofy traditions (like the birthday phone calls) that are too many to name, but you quickly pick up on them after hanging with the family for a few minutes.
  9. Family is accepting. We've got a diverse family with lots of people with lots of flaws. We're committed to each other for the long haul, though, and we're able to take each other's flaws in that context. If you're commited to someone and know you're "stuck" with them forever, you take their flaws and deal with them, knowing that you're not perfect as well.
Now I don't claim that we're perfect or that we always get this right. It can be tough to prioritize some of this stuff and we can end up spreading ourselves too thin at times. Having a close, connected family is really important to Cathie and I, and become even more important over the past year with my Mom's cancer. I've seen other families that are disconnected at so many levels and it makes me appreciate the level of connection that we've got with each other.

The more I look at how we define family, the more I see ties into what church looks like. Cathie and I have been at the same church for 12 years and watched people come and go for different reasons. I think part of the reason we've stuck it out is because we approach church with a lot of the same values that we approach family. I want our kids to see the church as a extension of family, to understand we love each other where we're at, we're committed to each other, and we love and give as need exists, like the early church described in Acts 2. I think that's part of why I've taken it so personally in the past when I've seen people bolt from our church for petty reasons, because it feels like someone leaving a family. In the end, we have a group of diverse people at our church that my kids have grown up around and seen that we're committed to each other through thick-and-thin, just like family.


Monaca said...

I have to admit that getting to know your whole family has been such an incredible experience! I truly feel blessed to know all of you.

Jon said...

We do have a pretty great family.

Anonymous said...

You have an awesome family. One that I have tried to imitate! However, it has come back to haunt me when my kids have asked me, "why don't you cook and clean like Mrs. Kurt?"


Nicki said...

If Crossroads used the "Kurt Family Values" as part of their vision-mission-values, perhaps less people would leave. Then again, it's a rather long list to chorally recite in a service. :) Maybe when we accept the Liger as our mascot, we can incorporate KFV into our essential beliefs! You guys are AWESOME!

Dan said...

I like the "KFV" as a "TLA"

Dan said...

BTW, TLA = Three Letter Acronymn