Building Family While Building Memories

By Chris and Mahe Directo.

Chris and Mahe love their children, (clockwise) Savannah, Madison and Austin.

When we read the gospels in the Bible, we see that Jesus spent time with those closest to him, his apostles. Of course, Jesus loved everyone, but he spent the most time with a chosen few. According to the gospels, Jesus’ disciples were his immediate family (Matthew 12:48-50). For this reason, Jesus focused a lot of his efforts on his family, the apostles. Just as Jesus worked hard to build a strong family with his apostles, we too need to take the time and effort to strengthen our family.

We have three children, Savannah, Madison and Austin. Our children are awesome gifts from God. Having three children brings us lots of joy and challenges.

Our children love going to church with us and being around the fellowship. They enjoy spending time with all of our friends and relatives. Sports, hobbies, activities and school all provide opportunities for our children to be around lots of people in the community.

Our children also enjoy just being with their mom and dad.

Jesus ministered to hundreds of people in his community. He would talk to them about God and life. He would provide for their needs, such as preaching to them or feeding them. He would heal a lame person in front of many onlookers to instill faith in as many as possible.

By Jesus’ actions, he loved all people, and he welcomed the crowds, but Jesus also knew that he needed to spend lots of time with a chosen few followers who would walk as he did. He needed to give them special attention and extraordinary teaching.

Our family likes to plan activities so that we can have fun together and learn at the same time. An example of these planned activities is our family devotionals. These are our times when we focus on some aspect of Biblical teaching and apply it in practice. We try to devote a small part of each day to our devotionals.

Savannah receives a trophy for playing in a softball league!

For example, the Bible teaches that we need to pray, so we try to impress this teaching on our children by having devotionals focused solely on prayer. We show them how to pray, discuss what prayer is for, read the Bible to see examples of prayer, and take turns praying to God.

Our children like to pray, especially our youngest, Austin, still a toddler. He likes to pray for anything, such as for a cocqui frog near our house, or for his food to taste good, or for his friend who needs first aid from a scraped knee. He likes to pray for a long time. Sometimes he will dominate praying in a prayer circle and not want to give others a chance to pray. It is those times that we need to have devotionals focused on sharing!

These devotionals are powerful, especially when they are fun and meaningful, because they provide a safe environment to practice serious issues. After doing a lot of devotionals consistently, our children get to learn a lot about the Bible in a short amount of time.

Our children also appreciate another kind of planned activity: family time. These are special times, usually weekly, where we spend a good amount of time doing something purposeful as a family.

When Jesus walked with his apostles, he never stopped teaching. He took any situation or event and used it to teach his apostles something about God. When he and his disciples were caught in a storm in a boat, he used this situation to teach them about trusting God.

We once spent a family time camping at Laupahoehoe Point just outside of Hilo. Our oldest daughter, Savannah, had just learned about tsunamis in school, and that a tsunami had claimed the lives of many people at this particular spot a long time ago. Needless to say, she was frightened at the thought of camping at this camp site.

Not all of Jesus’ times with his apostles were joyous times. There were times when Jesus had to scold his followers. He exposed them to the evil in some people’s hearts. Jesus sometimes made them experience suffering, or even death, including his own.

Our favorite way that Jesus taught his apostles was his uncanny way of taking something negative and turning it positive. He taught them that people could be spiritually blind, but he taught them how to heal people of blindness. He promised the hope of heaven after a time of suffering. Ultimately, he rose on the third day to show that not even death could hold a follower of God down.

Madison performs a hula with her class for May Day!

When Savannah got too scared to camp, we discussed with her about faith in God, and how God answers our prayers and protects us, even from tsunamis. Every time a wave crashed against the seashore, she should pray and speak to God. We reassured her that fear from a tsunami is normal, but fear of God is more important. After that, Savannah was able to enjoy the rest of the camping trip, and that fear has not held her captive ever since.

Jesus’ apostles went through lots of traumatic experiences, but Jesus taught them how to handle those experiences. In the same way, our children may also go through tough experiences, but the question is: How will they handle them?

We try to spend time with each child individually for even more focused time. Our daughter Madison likes to spend time with us at Borders so that she could read and shop for books. During one of those times, Madison sat in Borders Café with mommy for a heartfelt talk over some hot chocolate and brownies. After a serious discussion, they ended up just telling each other jokes and riddles and laughing in the middle of Borders.

Jesus often conversed with his disciples for deliberate reasons, but not all of his meetings were planned. Peter would sometimes say something spontaneous that would lead to an admonition from Jesus, who would then use this to address the whole group. James and John’s request to sit at Jesus’ side led to an impromptu group discussion on serving.

Sometimes incidents will occur with our children that would initiate a spur-of-the-moment teaching opportunity. Recently we have had to talk to Austin about what words he should not say after he heard a boy swearing in the local mall. We once had to talk to Madison about good sportsmanship after a soccer game in which an opposing player said some cruel words to Madison’s team. After Savannah received an award in school this year, we took her out to celebrate so that the whole family could rejoice with her.

We try to plan our times together, and we try to be flexible in case an occasion pops up. The important thing is that we take advantage of every opportunity to make a significant moment memorable in a constructive way.

Our children are constantly teaching us as well. Madison tells us honestly whenever we become too harsh in our discipline. Savannah always asks us, “Did you invite that person to church?” Austin regularly reminds us when we are neglecting our devotionals or time together as a family.

Our church held a special Mother’s Day event called “Mommy and Me.” Madison invited a bunch of classmates at school. Savannah invited some of her teammates on her softball team. Through their efforts, a lot of their friends and their families were able to come and have fellowship and hear God’s word at the event!

Savannah and Austin, along with their friend Bethany, turn in some aluminum cans for recycling!

When Jesus ascended to heaven, the apostles were left to their own faith and their own devices. All they could hope for was that, as they lived in this world to face all kinds of challenges and take on all sorts of responsibilities, Jesus had prepared them enough to make right decisions and live godly lives. Whenever they faced a choice or crossroads, or, in their case, even a cross, they would have had to remember all of the things Jesus had taught them and modeled for them and endured for them.

Jesus must have had a deep impact on his apostles because they would go on to do great things. The apostles would live the rest of their lives professing a devotion to God. They would develop a faith that would last all the way to their deaths. They would take on any challenge the world would throw at them and, although the road would not always be a smooth one, they would come out on top in the end. They would pass on their spiritual enthusiasm to those who would come after them. They would make sure that those closest to them would not forget Jesus.

They would raise families who would remember the Lord.