A mom, a dad, 2.5 kids - and a dog. When you hear the word family, is this the first thing that comes to mind? Or is it the dysfunctional family you grew up in with no mom, six siblings and five chickens? Or maybe it's the family you find yourself now rearing which has only one kid and three cats. Regardless of the function or number of heartbeats in your home, past or present, the Bible has a formula that will help you create the family dynamic you've always dreamed of having.

1. God

The dynamic of every relationship you have, including the one you have with yourself, is a reflection of the relationship you have with God. Throughout the Bible you'll find scriptures pointing you to seek first the face and the kingdom of God. (II Chron. 7:14; II Corin. 4:6; Psalm 119:135; Matt. 6:33; Luke 12:31) But what does that even mean? Why would seeking the face of God be important when it's his hand that causes all things to operate?

One of the first things you notice about a person's face when you acknowledge their presence is their eyes - the window to their heart and soul. Once you're tuned in to the heart of God and his love for you, the view of his kingdom from his perspective will also come into focus. Using the discernment of God in your life will begin to unfold fresh perspectives, new methods of navigating your days and healed relationships. Every area of your life will automatically begin transforming the moment your quest for the face and essence of God become top priority, leaving the people around you in awe and wonder of how it happened. (Luke 12:22-32)

2. Marriage

Genesis 2:24 says, when man leaves his mother and father to cleave to his wife, they shall become one flesh. When a husband and wife are of one accord, it makes for a much more peaceful and functional life. The husband actually WANTS to do things for and with his bride because she actually does and wants for him as well. Communication begets communication. Respect begets respect. Fun begets fun. Love begets love. The more open you are to receiving, the more can be given to you and the more you have to give in return. Another way to look at it is the more communication, respect, fun and love you give to your spouse, the more of these you're actually giving to yourself. The more love and communication you withhold from your beloved, the less you'll have in your own life.

The same holds true when it's time to start a family. Because you've anchored yourself and your marriage to the rock of Jesus, your children will be born into a protected, loving and healthy home.

3. Family

Once kids enter the photographs of your lives, the frame gets a little more crowded and the scene gets a whole lot busier. Unchartered territory lies before you, and all you have to go on is what you previously learned from your family and possibly your church.

Read more here about avoiding repeating patterns.

The choice is now yours. Will your kids live your lives or do you want them living as God has designed and intended them to live? (Deut. 6:7) You'll have learned from the detours through the valleys on the way to the mountain tops that God's love, protection and desire for your children is no less than it is for you. Your role as a parent is to teach your children by example how to be the best versions of themselves they can be in each area of their lives. Remember, actions speak louder than words no matter what ages your children are.

4. Career

For most people, this is the hardest concept to grasp. Society either shouts in your face or whispers in your ear the need to spend your life struggling now for a better life later. Retirement is the time for you to be with your spouse and your kids, not today. There's money to be made, bills to be paid and toys to be bought. Who has time to foster relationships, build character and teach integrity to our families when duty incessantly calls? After all, that's what church and school are for, right? Proverbs 22:6, however, instructs parents to train up their children in the way they should go.

Here are some ideas to help your children find their own path.

Putting the spiritual health of your family ahead of a job might take a little - or a lot - of getting used to, but in the end it has to pay off. Your children's behavior will shift, your stress levels will drop, peace will overtake your family and the ripple effect of change will reach far beyond the four walls of your home. (Deut. 28) Showing your children you value them more than you value the almighty dollar is an investment in their self-esteem, confidence, worth and future.

Unconditional love is the greatest gift known to man (and even animal). Without communication, however, that gift could never be expressed or comprehended. The same is true in life, marriage, families and career. Communication is the glue that holds relationships of every kind together. And the lack of the communication adhesive? Well, you already know how that turns out. Keeping communication with God first in your life guarantees your marriage, your family and your career will always be in balance. Whether you're still single, single again, married or already have children, start where you are right now by putting God at the top of the life pyramid and watch what happens. Love always wins. Period.

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