The Most Important Thing
I am amazed every single day at the special relationship we have with our children. I believe that having the opportunity to have them and raise them for so many years in Africa was a key ingredient in building the bond that we have. We had some unique family adventures! We also experienced the world from a different perspective than what Tom and I understood growing up. Living in countries where poverty and need is evident at almost every turn helped us all be more grateful and in turn more gracious than we might have been.
But I think that the thing that has made the most difference in our marriage, in our parenting and in our life in general is our perspective on what matters most in life. Time together is vital. Education is essential. Having a great work ethic is a key to success. But over all these things, God is most important. Building our family around that fact has made all the difference in who we are as a family and who each of us are as individuals.
We are not perfect by any means, but because we strive to put Biblical principles into practice on a daily basis, we have been able to overcome differences, grow in our understanding of each other, and truly enjoy spending time together. Tom and I have never been perfect parents and we have made our share of mistakes along the way. I hope our kids learned to say "I'm sorry" from our example and not just from our telling them what to do.
We have always wanted our kids to be successful and make the most of talents that God blessed them with. I remember once that Nick was chosen to sing at a school concert. A solo. But the concert was on a Wednesday night and we decided that it was more important to be at church than at the concert. Many might disagree with our decision. Nick disagreed at the time.
It was not a decision that Tom and I made lightly. It might not have been a wrong decision to let him sing. But we had made a decision that the fabric of our family was going to be wound around decisions that would bring glory to our God and that would help us as a family grow closer to Him and to each other. We believed that what we taught and what we practiced needed to be congruent. We also believed that there would be other opportunities for Nick (and Kati) to develop their talents in ways that would not contradict what we believed was best.
We also never missed church or an opportunity to serve because of school work or tests. We learned over time how to help the kids study ahead of time. Sometimes they went to school tired. Sometimes they had to take a nap early in the day to help them have the needed energy. Sometimes they were cranky. Most of the time they just had fun! Sometimes others thought I was being too hard on them or that my life was just too "radical." Sometimes I doubted myself.
Today when I see the closeness we experience and also the success of our children, I am convinced that we chose the most important thing. Life will throw us many curves and will also throw us many opportunities. Nick and Kati are navigating the waters of young adulthood very well. They make good and wise choices and they have so much fun along the way! (And they both have money in the bank!) If our kids have learned from us to put first things first and trust that God will bless them, then looking back I am happy with the choices that we made.