You have how many kids? All with the same man? Lord, bless you. Don’t you know what causes that?
These are just a few of the responses we hear when people find out how many children we have. The truth is that we feel unbelievably blessed to have the privilege of raising the children God has placed in our home. We are often asked how we do it. Daniel is on staff at Bethel Church here in Goldsboro, NC. He loves his job and the church but there are seasons that can be very demanding on his time. I manage all of the Grantham House events and our home. Working from home has a ton of perks, but sometimes its hard to escape the idea that there is always something to do.
We have two children in Fall Soccer, one taking piano lessons, one in Fall baseball, and one playing football plus we have a ton of grass that needs cut each week along with normal maintenance, animal chores, and the typical responsibilities that all families have. We aren’t experts. We certainly don’t have it all figured out, but we have learned a couple of things over the past few years.
So how do we do it?
This has been one of the hardest things to accept. (I don’t usually speak on Daniel’s behalf, but this has been especially hard for him.) Quite frankly, there are weeks where everything doesn’t get done. This is where the concept of prioritization comes into play. Matthew 6:33 is our go to in moments like these. Daniel and I say over and over to each other, “We are trying to raise passionate followers of Jesus, not professional athletes, not amazing piano players, not scholars, not ___________.”
All of these things are important but in those really busy moments, we try our very best to remember our ultimate goal as parents. This means that we might not get all of the grass cut on the weekends we don’t have weddings. The house might not always be as organized as we want it, and we might have to say “no” quite a few times that week to our friends, family, and even the children. This is definitely not something we have perfected but we have began to learn that everything can’t be priority. Ironically enough, if everything is a priority then nothing is.
Sometimes its just faster to do it ourselves, but it’s never better. When Paul wrote his second letter to the Thessalonians, he warned them about the problems associated with being idle. In the third chapter, he wrote something that we say quite often around our house. “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” We obviously don’t withhold food from our children, but the concept is this. If you are going to reap the benefits of living here, then you are going to help sew the work that it takes to make it all happen.
All of our children have chores and responsibilities. Age appropriate chores and responsibilities. However, we will say that children are MUCH more capable than we think sometimes. For us, this manifest in several ways. The older boys cut grass. Everyone helps wash their own clothes and put them away. The kids take turns cleaning their own bathrooms. Everyone helps clean up after dinner. Our animals are 100% maintained by the kids which includes watering, feeding, and keeping their living areas clean.
Anything above normal chores (things that are expected consistently) is listed out with a price beside it. The kids pick their extras and we pay them when they are done. The sense of accomplishment and the reward go a long way. They help direct traffic during weddings, clean bathrooms, setup chairs and tables, replace trash bags, and show our guests hospitality. The kids love it and so do our wonderful clients along with their guests.
Saying “no” might be the most helpful thing we’ve learned in helping us get everything done. Daniel and I balance each other out on this one. My nature is to say no to everything. Daniel, on the other hand, is always looking for a reason to say yes. Neither is better than the other and we are learning how to work together to figure out those things that need a “yes” and those that need a “no”.
Sometimes we disappoint friends and even family, but being ok with saying “no” has saved us from many stressful days and has helped us keep the main things the main things. We were listening to a sermon on priorities one Sunday morning, and our Pastor said something profound. Every “yes” is a “no” to something else.
We don’t always get it right, but there is so much freedom in understanding that you can say “no”.
The busier we get, the easier it is to lean away from each other and our relationship with the Lord, but what’s easier is very rarely better. During our busiest moments, we’ve learned that we can’t skip out on time with each other and time with the Lord. In fact, those are the moments we need that quality time the most. Who we are is more important than what we do. We our children of God first and a family second. Those have to stay the priority when life is hectic and schedules are packed.
Photos by Jessica Creech Photography