We have a special affection for the Severson Family. They seem unintimidated by life. “Hey! Let’s get married young! Let’s have a baby! How about another one! And another! Now twins!” They’ve had some hard times, and weathered them with honesty and courage. My husband and Lane mock each other with abandon online. Laura runs her zany house of 5 children with patience and humor. She and I were probably separated at birth because she is also passionate about binders.
The Seversons hit the ground running with their Family Compassion Focus in January. I asked if I could feature them here, so we could learn from them. They were generous and honest with their answers. Here are a few things that stand out to me:
- They are paying attention to the leaning and gifts in their young kids. They know what delights their kids and breaks their hearts.
- They modified the process to make it work for them. They kept it very short, involved just the older kids, and made an executive decision on date night.
- They set priorities to narrow their search. They wanted to actually see the work and participate locally in a place that would welcome their small children.
- They wisely set small goals. They have big dreams for the year, but they are going slow and steady.
I just think it’s all so great.
THE SEVERSON FAMILY
Tell us about your family.
We are a family of seven in Gilberts, IL. Lane and I are one of many couples who met while both working at the Judson University library. Lane studied history and I studied psychology. We have been married almost 10 years. Our family loves to take bike rides, go to the beach, and spend time with friends.
Lane (dad) is a funny business consultant, who also happens to have a Master’s in Theology. He loves fantasy football, reading, and writing.
I (Laura, mom) am a kind, patient, and quiet mom who plays piano and loves family history projects. I’m grateful to be staying home to take care of our family.
Annabelle (8)- very inquisitive and a critical thinker, self-motivated and goal-oriented. She enjoys reading, animals, games, math, science, has compassion for the homeless, and is attending ballet class.
Charlotte (6)- free spirit, creative thinker, and entertaining. She loves great stories, babies/dolls, beautiful things, making people laugh (she’s hilarious), has compassion for the elderly or anyone she thinks might feel excluded or has been treated unfairly.
Jude (4)- has a true heart of gratitude, great big brother to his twin brother and sister, sweet, affectionate, enjoys getting some quiet time to play alone. He likes building, painting, drawing, attending Awana, and superheroes.
Bennett (3)- he is energetic, funny, and strong. He enjoys dancing, Mickey Mouse, and building.
Eugenie (3)- she is sweet, smart, and everyone’s little doll. She enjoys singing, piano, building, and learning new things.
What is your Family Compassion Focus for 2015?
We are focusing on the brand new Ronald McDonald House near Central DuPage Hospital. They just officially opened mid-January right across the street from CDH. It is a gorgeous, new building that has been furnished and stocked with accessories and supplies by the community through gift registries.
How did your family choose the Ronald McDonald House?
We had told the older 3 kids about the Fritz’s projects previously so when we suggested that our family choose a Compassion Focus this year, they had a frame of reference and were able to contribute to our brainstorming list. We kept that meeting short and sweet, less than 10 minutes.
A few days later we got a sitter for the kids and went out for a drink to discuss what we thought would best fit our family. We looked up some options online, and thought of ways our family might be able to help. We wanted to make sure that our focus would be on someplace that we could actually see in person at least once to help give them vision and to stir their hearts. The ways we would serve would need to include even our younger kids most of the time.
We have had quite a few family and friends who have had to endure extended NICU stays in the past couple of years so Ronald McDonald House seemed like a great option that our kids could understand. Two of our kids even spent a day or two in the CDH NICU and when I thought back to that time, even being admitted to the hospital myself but separated from my baby by an elevator ride was very hard for me to handle. I would have found it excruciating to have to leave the hospital with my baby still there receiving care.
So, the next day we told our idea to the kids and let them know that we were going to start learning more about Ronald McDonald House. They were excited to be helping babies and other kids along with their families. I think that once we go there to visit or help out in some way the kids will get more into the idea but at this point there has not been a lot of excitement or talking about it. Perhaps we should have made the announcement more celebratory. We need to make sure we are praying as a family each day for those needing RMH services, perhaps at dinner so it can easily be added to our routine.
Have you gotten started? Do you have any plans yet?
We have been researching RMH, and specifically the one near CDH. I “liked” them on Facebook so I get regular updates and photos that I can show the kids. I have also started a binder (my favorite thing to do) to keep us organized and also document our involvement this year. I plan to keep photos that we take and journal entries the older girls write about their experiences in this binder as well as a family keepsake.
Our family enjoys cooking and baking together so I think we will provide a meal at least once. We might need to do a little fundraiser just to earn money to purchase the groceries but RMH also has a pantry of some items that we can use so we will look into that.
We would also enjoy spending time with the siblings who are staying at the house. We can plan crafts, games, and just play together. Lane is a Sunday School teacher and is great with groups of kids. They all love being around him. I am good at planning, preparing, and looking out for emotional needs. Our kids are well-behaved and enjoy being in a group setting so that would be a good way for us to help that wouldn’t cost much.
We would also like to plan a bigger fundraiser sometime this year to be able to donate so families can continue using these services as needed. We like to throw parties and we also enjoy doing crafts so might use these skills in that effort.
Why are you doing a Family Compassion Focus?
We want our entire family to be less self-focused going forward and to make sure we take time and money to care for others around us who are going through a hard time. We know from experience that the little ways people help, along with love in their hearts, really do make the difference and can bolster one’s spirits. Even a simple hug has given me hope. We also hope that doing these things together will strengthen our family’s bonds together and also with the community.
Is there anything you’re apprehensive/dreading about it?
I (Laura) think if we are not accomplishing goals the way we set out to I will feel the pressure in a negative way that doesn’t necessarily lead me to action but just makes me feel like I’m failing. I am nervous that we will try to do too much and get stressed out.
We are trying to set small goals to prevent this and if we can do more without stressing, we will. I am an introvert so I imagine adding more community involvement than we do already will bring me out of my comfort zone a bit, however, I have noticed that when I have a purpose or a job to do, I am much more comfortable being around others.
Do you have advice for other family considering a Compassion Focus?
Your family has it’s own set of unique qualities and interests so go with those when choosing what you will do to help others. No need to re-invent the wheel, as they say. Also, starting small this year is a great way to go if your family doesn’t have a lot to give right now. Better yet, start within your family to develop true compassion. You already know the needs of your loved ones. If it’s hard for you to take on a big project, give extra hugs, emails, phone calls, visits, money,etc. to those you love or want to love better.
THANK YOU SO MUCH, SEVERSONS!
[There are many ways to get involved with the world-changing work of Ronald McDonald House Charities. Here is a link to their site with 10 different ways to get involved. There is a tab to donate in the top right hand corner.]
You are loved.
To learn more about how the Family Compassion Focus got started, read here.
To get started on your own Family Compassion Focus, read here. It’s never too late!
To learn about my family’s focus for 2015, read here.
©Aimee Fritz & Family Compassion Focus, 2015.