I suppose it probably surprised some people when we loaded up our entire family and brought them along for Michael’s D-Min cohort that first time. Shoot, it surprised me. I mean, really? Bring three elementary school kids to Georgia for 10 days for a grad school intensive? Who does that? I suppose it surprised still more people when we brought them on our sabbatical, dragging them, their Legos, and approximately 10,000 pounds of school books from Colorado cabin to Massachusetts cottage — and that’s right, back to Gordon Conwell for more grad school. In the past few years, our children have listened in on more doctoral history lectures than most of their friends’ parents combined. We joked that they were Gordon Conwell’s new mascots. Dr. Rosell has bought them ice cream half a dozen times; they think he’s the dairy fairy.
We went on to bring them to a third cohort, back for Michael’s graduation, and to teach at a Colorado Bible school twice. They’ve romped the Atlantic coast from Maine to St. Simon’s Island as their dad studied his way through 400 years of church history, and snapped selfies with elk in the background while he taught it. This week we’re taking them to a conference outside of Chicago. It’ll be scholars, pastors, college students, and our kids. They’re used to it.
One great thing about our gypsy existence is that our kiddos have seen the country — almost all points east of us we’ve thoroughly explored. (We haven’t turned our attention west yet, but I’m sure one day we will.) They have adventurous spirits, don’t mind traveling for long hours, and have sampled everything from alligator to elk to grits along the way. Hopefully they will remember how to check for bed bugs in cheap hotels. When we couldn’t afford to fly, we drove. Sometimes we camped our way cross-country. I love that we can incorporate our studies into real-life places, real world geography. Our kids have seen the first slave-built church in Savannah, Georgia and the Underground Railroad quarters hidden beneath. They’ve stood in front of the house where George Whitefield died and explored the landing place of the Wesley brothers in Georgia. They’ve strolled the campuses of Baylor and Vanderbilt. I love it. This next week we’ll get to show them around one of the premier Christian colleges in the world and hopefully pass on a vision for all that college can be.
But another perk is the kids’ assumption that intellectual engagement with our faith is expected, and is not reserved for boring grown-ups. I love that they have heard great speakers and sung along with all ages. I love that they continue to meet and develop respect for people from all different denominations and backgrounds. We may attend a Baptist church, but our friends are Presbyterian, Charismatic, Congregational. The world is much bigger than our bubble, and I love that our kids have seen that.
What if “take your daughter to work day” was more like “take your children everywhere year”? What if those designated grown-up activities were expanded just a bit to include the small fry? What if discipling our kids meant letting them see us dive into our vocations, letting them see our faith hit the road? For our own family, it’s been a trip. Like, literally.
The conference next week is held at College Church of Wheaton, and features Ajith Fernando, Bryan Loritts, Phil Ryken, Josh Moody, and the Gettys. Even on that one panel is a wide swath of the human experience. Love it. If you’re in the area…