The Domestic Church

Amber Dolle
The late Pope John Paul II once said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” Wow! What an insightfully true – and humbling – statement made by a man who poured his life into spreading God’s love and teaching us about the beauty of the human family. As a mom or dad just trying to get through the craziness of each day, we oftentimes forget that our little group is truly a reflection of God’s design for humanity. This is where love is shared, norms are taught, foundations are laid, and, most importantly, our faith is handed on and lived. The family truly is the Domestic Church.
I’m not sure about you, but there are lots of times that our Domestic Church doesn’t feel all that holy. I often find myself losing my temper because the toddler spilled her milk or because the fifth grader would rather perfect the latest Fortnite emote than finish his Kahn Academy video. The daily chores turn in to mountainous tasks that seem to never be completed, and the to-and-from to all the extra-curricular activities could make me a wealthy Uber driver if I were collecting a fare. Where is the holiness in these daily routines? How can I encounter the King of Kings when I’m knee-deep in Algebra, light saber battles, and glitter glue?

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

As I ponder this verse I realize that the answer to the question that nags at my core is found in the words, “with all your heart.” God wants us to encounter him by living our lives in a state of constant love. When we live our lives in love, we are seeking God. When we infuse our daily tasks – no matter how mundane or trivial – with love, we are reflecting the love of our Savior. St. Therese of Lisieux, a French nun who lived in the 19th century and died at the tender age of 24, once said, “Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love.” These simple words remind us that God is not looking for quantity, but quality.

So, we can take the idea of “doing all things in love” and intellectually understand what it means, but it can be a whole different story when we try to implement that virtue in our own little Domestic Church. Instead of taking care, love, and simple pride in our daily tasks, we often diminish such busyness down to one long “to-do” list. The list of what we need to accomplish within the 24-hour cycle of each day can feel like Mount Olympus bearing down on our shoulders. This is when it’s time to take that idea of acting in love to task. When we put it in perspective, we see how blessed we are in our daily lives. When we look at life through a lens of love and gratitude, our clarity improves immensely.
           
As a mom of five children, ages 13 to two, the constant “to-do” list and troublesome tasks seemed to become insurmountable about three years ago. We had chosen to homeschool our children from the beginning, which I had always enjoyed. I loved having the kids home with me. I loved handpicking their Christ-centered curriculum, doing the crafts, reciting poetry, and cuddling up on the couch with a good book. I so wanted to continue down that path with all of our children, but as our family grew, the logistics became more challenging. It was hard to get the core schoolwork completed while I was entertaining a toddler and caring for an infant as well. The crafts and “extras” were slowly falling by the wayside, and school seemed to be turning in to more of a chore than anything else. After six years of full-time homeschooling, we made the decision to put our oldest children at Coram Deo and haven’t looked back since.
           
The university model of schooling has been a wonderful fit for our family. I still get the joy of having the kids home with me and influencing their daily choices at such an impressionable age, but they are able to receive excellent instruction and loving care on the days they are at school as well. The leadership and staff truly care about our children and have made it clear that the kids’ spiritual well-being trumps the academics. They are experiencing the beauty of a classical curriculum, which we had always followed as homeschoolers. My kids have made great friendships, played sports, and have become immersed in the close-knit family that the school provides. They love going to school and, best of all, love learning. Coram Deo has been a tremendous blessing to our family.
           
School is such a major part of a child’s life, so having a positive schooling experience helps the child to be happy, and in turn, helps to bring about more peace in the family. This has truly been the case with our family. While CDA is academically challenging, and the workload can be heavy, I encourage our kids to put things in perspective when they start to feel the weight bear down. I encourage myself to do the same. In the big picture, we are simply called to know, love, and serve God. We can do that in the peace of a quiet church, or in the craziness of a crunch day. We can choose to tackle our day with love and gratitude, or to grumble and complain until our head hits the pillow. It’s a daily choice, and one that I often choose poorly. Thankfully, Jesus knows that we will choose poorly, so he gives us every opportunity to make a better choice the next time.

“So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; you are fellow citizens with the holy people of God and part of God’s household. You are built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets, and Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone,” Ephesians 2:19-20.

Nick and Amber Dolle live McKinney with their five children, John Paul, Andrew, Cecilia, Colette & Gianna. Their boys attend Coram Deo where John Paul is in 7th and Andrew is in 5th grade. 
 
Amber worked in public relations and media, primarily for non-profits, for ten years prior to staying home full-time to raise her family.
 
We chose Coram Deo because we love the university model of schooling, and we wanted a Christ-focused school for our children. We also appreciate the beauty of a classical education and are already seeing the fruits in our children. 
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