"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." ~ Matthew 5:8

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Best Friends

I absolutely love having 11 siblings (although I won't meet three of them for a few weeks yet, as they are still in Russia--see our family blog, Unto Him We Live). Life is never dull at our house! We like saying we're "a party waiting to happen." We're never lonely, or bored, and there's always someone with which to have fun.

Sometimes people ask us if we "always get along." I'm not sure where they get that idea. We're all sinners, and clashes do happen. We have issues to deal with, and we have to work hard and depend on God's grace in order to "get along" with each other. I'll explain more below.

However, I can honestly say that we are each other's best friends, not because we're all so lovable (by any stretch of the imagination!), or because we're closing in on perfection. It's taken a lot of training, hard work, and a deliberate choice to love each other to get to this place. And, honestly, some people might think that the concept of having your siblings be your best friends sounds, well, less than fun. They might even think we're crazy or that we need to get a life. But having experienced that closeness with my siblings, I can't imagine living any other way.

Here are five reasons why we believe it's important to be each other's friends:
  1. It is in obedience to God's command to love each other (Matthew 22:37-40).
  2. It is an amazing witness of the love of Christ to others watching our family (and we do get watched-and stared at-a lot).
  3. It empowers us to serve others as a team and to be "straight arrows" in our parent's "quiver" (Psalm 127:3-5).
  4. It is an encouragement to other families.
  5. It makes living with each other a lot more enjoyable!
How did we become best friends? Again, it's not through our own merit. Here's a very few of the practical ways we have built our relationships with each other (with our parents' help):

The original three of us in 2000 before any of our Russian adoptions- L to R: me (Lissie), Joe, Tessa.

1.     We read and memorize the Bible together. The Bible is not a "magic tool"; reading the Bible together does not automatically sanctify us. It takes God's work in our lives and a conscious application of the principles found in His Scripture to make a difference. But we've been reading a chapter of Proverbs a day for nearly seven years now, and we also memorize a verse a month (and recite it together each day) about loving other people. It's made such a difference! The verses act as a "fence", reminding us of how to interact with each other and convicting us when we stray.

Now there's six of us! (November 2001) L to R: Tessa, Lissie, Cassandra, Jaynie, Joe, Speedy.
2.     We apologize to each other biblically when we sin against each other, and we seek each other's forgiveness as soon as possible. Yes, this is humbling, and no it's not always easy. But it is crucial to keep bitterness and anger from growing in a family. Our parents have taught us (and they model this in their own marriage) not to justify or minimize sin, and they have also trained us not to leave an apology for another day or when we "feel" sorry. (Ephesians 4:26, 32)

3.     We do things together. Let me be more specific. I said above that being best friends allows us to be a team. Although we don't do everything together, we make a priority of spending time with each other. We love being able to work like a well-oiled machine, conquering big projects in record time as we labor together. We love going on hikes, working on puzzles, baking cookies, making music, and many other family activities. We choose to make family time important and as a result, our bonds are deep and strong.

The nine of us three months after the adoption of our second trio of Russian siblings.
L to R: Princess Bink, Lissie, Natasha, Jaynie, Tatiana, Joe, Speedy, Cassandra, and Tessa.
4.     We are a 100% family. When my parents first got married, my dad wisely said, "We're not each going to do 'our own' part. We're going to try to 'out serve' each other in a 100% way, 100% of the time, even if that means doing the other person's job. In other words, we need to live Christ-like, sacrificial love."  My wise parents have lived this out and are teaching us to live the same way. Now believe me, it can be tough living 100% for 11 other people, and we have room for improvement. However, it does make a difference when we try to live this way.

5.     We make it our goal to speak encouraging words to each other. I should say that this point is one our parents have had to train into us pretty hard. It's amazing how easy it is to verbally tear your nearest and dearest down!  However, after each of our two previous adoptions, when our common vocabulary was very small, we all knew how to say "Very good job!" in Russian, so we said it--a lot. It's funny, but we found that those three little words are contagious, and that the approval we expressed toward one another helped to cement our new friendships. It's our goal to speak "edifying words" to one another (Ephesians 4:29).

The "current" nine of us on vacation in Tennessee, October 2009.
I'm so grateful for my eight siblings at home now, and I can't wait to become best friends with my three new siblings!

~Lissie

4 comments:

  1. Lots of good advice herein. Even though you've mentioned it in the context of growing up together, it also is useful to older persons such as myself. Thanks, Lissie!

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  2. I loved this post for so many reasons!
    I'm eighteen and I have seven siblings, four of which were adopted from Haiti. Is this your family's first adoption? I would love to talk about this more!

    Fantastic blog,
    Everly

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  3. Hi Everly,
    Thank you so much for your encouraging words. No, this is not our first adoption. My oldest sister (Tessa, the other author of this blog) was adopted domestically. My twin and I are biological; my next 3 younger siblings were adopted from Russia in 2001; and my three youngest sisters were adopted in 2005 from Russia. Thus we are now on our fourth adoption! :) More of our family's story can be found at www.untohimwelive.blogspot.com.
    7 siblings! What fun! You know big families too. :) That is very neat that you have adopted siblings as well.
    Blessings,
    Lissie

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  4. I just have to say that those are some of the cutest pictures I've seen :-)

    That's some great advice and great ways to grow together as a family!

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