Sometimes when Matt and I are out and about with the kids we get some “extra” attention drawn to our family because we are sweetly different. I don’t mind it because I usually get to share our story and I always hope that people will see Jesus shine through it. The one thing that happens to us ALL the time when we are out is that someone says to us, your kids are so well behaved, or they say, I don’t know your secret, but those kids sure are well behaved. Always. We hear it always. So much so that the other night when a kind man complimented our family, Mayzie said, people ALWAYS say that mom. What a gift. Truly a gift. To receive the compliment and to be able to have my kids shine like Jesus everywhere we go.
I want you to know we don’t have a secret. The truth is that mostly we are a hot mess. ALL THE TIME. But thankfully for that one hour that someone see us at the restaurant, the kids are behaving. I have NEVER been complimented when all of us have been at Target for 10 hours!! My kids are good kids, they are so incredibly amazing. And maybe part of it is Matt and I’s wickedly amazing parenting skills, but mostly its just a little bit of intention and a lot of Jesus. One thing we always say is that they just have to behave because there are so many of them so close in age. It they were all acting like barbarians we could never go out to eat or to the pool or shopping or to waterparks or anywhere. So we have just taught them that they are helping us if they have good behavior and then we get to do the fun stuff.
One thing we are very intentional about is creating an atmosphere where we all work together. We have been blessed with a business to run but that requires much of Matt and I. So we include the kids as part of it. When daddy is busy and gone a lot, then you all help mommy. So after supper, they don’t get to run away, they wipe the table and load the dishwasher and help clean the kitchen. They do laundry and the older ones help the younger ones. It is just what makes our home tick. We try to foster the atmosphere that as they are our helpers in every way, they are just helping us all do life together. We are a team. Our hope is that good behavior doesn’t happen because they are scared of consequences or because they are trying to earn something or win points with mom and dad. It should just come from the heart. That’s where Jesus comes in. We take every situation, every behavior and look at it through the lens of Jesus. We teach the fruits of the spirit that need to flow from the heart. When Jesus is in us, that is what should flow out of us. Maybe the secret is, Jesus lives in the heart of each of my children, so he is flowing out of them.
We are so very far from perfect. I yell and scream and say bad words sometimes. I mess up A LOT. My kids throw fits and tantrums and hit each other and kick each other’s teeth out. It’s life. But at the end of the day, we bring it all back to the one thing that will endure, the word of the Lord. And that is full of grace and truth. It is the best teacher. So I ask for a lot of grace, we learn how to forgive. We seek to understand how Jesus lived and how we can live in that way. We pray together, we read the word together and we seek wisdom together. Matt and I never act like we have it all figured out, we try to learn right along with the kids. I think it is something like organic parenting, organic religion. We don’t always have daily devotions or Sunday school or youth groups on the beam, but we always take all of life back to the word and back to Jesus.
Raising kids is HARD. Raising adopted kids is CRAZY HARD. We don’t have to be perfect parents, we just have to do the best we can. And be ok with it and call it good enough. Jesus hears our cries for help as we parent and he is always ready with abundant grace, wisdom and love. God wants you to know that he is FOR YOU always and as you raise your kids, he is your biggest cheerleader.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” -Benjamin Franklin