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Differently Daring

One of my summer morning goals is to do a short devotion with the kids. It gives us a chance to gather before we pull the start cord on the day ahead. We talk about life, faith, goals, worries. I really enjoy this quiet sliver with all my kids bunched on the sofa or sprawled on the floor. It’s a huddle, a pep talk, a briefing, a therapy session—for them and for me.

I like to read from Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids. They’re sweet, positive, and very short. We need short with little ones. There’s plenty to talk about with the older kids, though and we have had some fantastic discussions while the little guys wander off. We bring everyone back for a prayer, with volunteers. A few days ago, Archie prayed we would not get eaten by sharks. Oh, Sharknado, you keep on giving.

The book was left behind when we went to Grand Junction, so we had several days to make up. Yesterday, one of the days we tackled was July 20th. The devotion for that day is called, “Dare to be Different.” It begins:

Don’t be afraid to be different from other people. I want you to be a bright and shining star in this dark world.

I read those sentences and stopped with a question for the kids.

“Do any of you ever feel like you’re different?” They shrugged or nodded.

I continued, “Do you ever feel like our family is different?”

They screamed, “YES!” like I had just asked if they wanted personal full-size cream pies served to them by their favorite superstar heroes at Disneyworld. The “YES!” is still floating in the corner of the living room ceiling. It blinks in red neon curly-que scroll and the thunderous echo hasn’t faded away.

They feel different with a small “d” like most kids, but when it comes to our family, we are DIFFERENT.

We are stared at in public, audibly counted, asked intrusive questions, judged, avoided. There is a lot of pressure.

I feel like I must always be smiling. If not, I’m unhappy and miserable because I have so many kids.

The kids must be in perfect, clean, non-holey clothing. If not, we can’t afford to properly clothe them.

Their behavior must be tip-top. If not, they are judged to be hooligans because we can’t possibly discipline so many kids effectively.

They must get good grades. If not, we confirm the notion big families are intellectually challenged.

Other moms assume I’m some sort of organizational superstar with the patience of multiple saints. The phrase I hear most often is, “I don’t know how you do it. I can’t even handle my two kids.” (aside: Yes you can, by the way. If they’re decent human beings, you are handling them just fine.)

Of course, I put all that pressure on myself, but that’s the danger of being DIFFERENT. Being different makes life different and your interactions with others different and your drive different and your grocery bill different and your body different and your house different and your yard different. Also, your writing is different. Maybe other people aren’t judging us so harshly?

So, I read the words again: Don’t be afraid to be different from other people. I want you to be a bright and shining star in this dark world.

We will try. It is a daring thing we’ve done and it’s okay to embrace it.

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