Last night most of my immediate family spent the evening together.
And by immediate family I mean....
Dad, Mom, Steph, Kyle, Kaila, Stephen, Stellia, Alton, Nick, Lindsey, Zadok, Selah, Me, Brooke, June, Sam, Kyle, and Max. (I know, my siblings love "unique" names for their kids, but there are 17 of us, so go ahead, just try and make fun of one of them... 😂)
That's 17 and we still have more that couldn't make it last night.
The baby boom has hit our family in a big way. All of the married siblings added one kid in 2015. My older sister Steph and her husband Kyle had their fourth, Nick and his wife Lindsey had their second, Sam and her husband Kyle had their 1st and Brooke and I had June. Four babies in one calendar year! It's crazy. What is even crazier, at times, is that we can all actually find a night to get together.
Last night was one of those nights! I kept just saying over and over again, "There are so many kids here. In 5 years they will all be running around like crazy and we will probably have to call the fire department to have them on standby because 'the Mousetis' are getting together'."
I would turn my head to the left and someone is holding a baby, then to the right and someone is tossing a toddler in the air, then back to the left and one of the older kids is attacking their Grandpa. It was beautiful madness.
At one point we took a photo of my parents with all their grandkids with all the 2015 babies included. There are so many now that the oldest, Kaila, has to hold the youngest, Selah, while my parents hold all the ones in the middle. Also, no one got the "look at the same camera at the same time" memo. Again, beautiful madness!
Besides June and her Grandpa having the same hair style, the most amazing thing about this photo is my parents. We didn't start with much as a family. We had a very modest life growing up. I remember as I got older I had all these realizations that what I thought were "fancy" things weren't actually fancy things at all, just my parents putting their brilliant, fun twists on everything.
For example, did you know that peaches aren't a delicacy? Or that The Olive Garden isn't the fanciest restaurant in the world? Well, I didn't know until I WAS IN HIGH SCOOL... My parents made our modest life seem extravagant at times, which I am forever thankful for. Now, all of my siblings, myself included, have very blessed and successful lives. We all have great spouses, places to work, houses, food, clothing, iPhones, etc.
But that isn't the most impressive or amazing thing about my parents and what they've done. What is most amazing is the heart, attitude and way of living they have instilled in our giant family. They have shown all their children how to live, love and follow Jesus well. When they pass on into eternity, which is still a ways away, we won't think about all the stuff they allowed us to get, we will think about the amazing love they showed and how they constantly pointed us to Jesus both individually and as a family!
The photo we took last night will look a lot different in five years. My dad and June won't have the same hair style. Kaila, the oldest, will be 12. June, Max, Alton and Selah will all be five. There will probably be quite a few more kids pictured, hopefully one from my younger brother Mike! Come on Mike, get married and get busy! There will be LOTS of differences...
But what will be the same is the heart that my parents have for their children and grandchildren. What will be the same are the lessons that they've passed down to their children on how to raise kids. Some of those lessons, we will use as is and some we will add our own twist to. What will be the same is the excitement that they greet every new grandchild with. What will be the same is the preciousness of every moment we get to spend together.
My Dad and I are 30 years apart. He turned 60 this year and 9 days later I turned 30. It's a very cool connection to have with your Dad and I passed it along to June. When I turn 60 she will turn 30. When I have her take a photo of Brooke and I holding our future grandkids, I hope it looks a lot like this. I hope that I can stand side by side with my beautiful wife and be overwhelemd with love by and for my children and their children.
Beyond that, I hope, as a 60 year old, I can stand there extremely proud that I did my best to point them all to the loving arms of Jesus. That June will be all in on loving and serving Jesus and that her siblings will be the same way.
To my Mom and Dad, I just want you to know that I am constantly thanking our great God for the two of you. That you met, fell in love with each other and decided that your lives would be about Jesus. I am so thankful that you two decided that the legacy you would leave would be about Him and not about you. I pray that as I age I can stay the course and keep that as my focus. That I can devote the next 30 years of my life to pushing and encouraging my children and their children to follow Jesus. I hope, in 30 years, I can have a similar photo of Brooke and I. A photo that is filled with the accomplishments of what Jesus has done in my life and the lives of my children, but at the same time, filled with so much potential at what my kids and their kids will do!