Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Writer's Journey Continued

Yesterday I interviewed two dear ladies for my new book about coping with stress. Each had endured incredible amounts of stress in her life and had grown stronger in her faith because of it.

The first was Tonya, a college-educated mother of eleven, including one severely handicapped son who requires 24/7 nursing care. Tonya and her husband, who works from a home office as an electric company project manager, built a two-story, 3,000-sq. ft, 8-bedroom home on top of a hill overlooking 12 acres of rolling pastureland dotted with their growing herd of cattle and sheep.

Each of the seven homeschooled children still at home has his (all are boys except one) own list of daily chores to keep the family running smoothly. The 13-year-old son aspires to be a chef, so his include cooking and kitchen duty. The younger boys feed the two family dogs while the older ones care for the farm animals. Laundry, house-cleaning and yard duties are divided among each family member.

I was amazed at how well the children played together and the respect they demonstrated toward each other and their parents. "Yes m'am" and "No sir" was normal fare and more than once I overheard the older children gently guide the younger ones to "wait your turn to talk; let him finish, now" when the entire group clamored to answer my questions about growing up in such a large family. The children were bright-eyed and well spoken, often using vocabulary unexpected for their ages during their chatter.

One of Tonya's techniques for maintaining sanity is to awaken at 6 a.m. for couple time with her husband. They start each day with a half-hour devotion and prayer time, strengthening both their relationships with the Lord and each other before the kids pour forth from their bedrooms (they are required to remain upstairs in their rooms until 7 a.m. when breakfast is prepared).

The children have mandatory outside play time for one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon, during which they create games and competitions in their sprawling backyard. Imaginative and creative games are their passion, and I was treated to a tour of the most incredibly detailed lego structures I've ever witnessed.

Nightly family devotions include Bible readings, discussion of the passage chosen, prayer, and sometimes Bible-related videos. Now I just hope I have the writing skills to do justice to this truly inspiring family!