An Interview with T.J. and Corbin Wilson
by Jeanette Buzzell
T.J. and Corbin Wilson grew up in Texas in families where family and a personal relationship with God were encouraged.
They have four children ranging in age from 8 years old to 21 months and are passing along the legacy given to them by their parents. Their interview is a testimony, encouragement and motivation to all grandparents who are committed to leaving a legacy to their grandchildren.
J.B. Briefly share what your parents taught you about the value of family.
T.J. My parents did a fantastic job of modeling/teaching the value of family. With three brothers, family emphasis and activities were naturally a large part of our time and focus. Some ways my parents modeled the value of our family:
* Attending our sporting and school events and making a big deal of birthdays and celebrations.
* Verbally teaching us to respect and honor them and each other.
* Driving hours and hours to spend time with grandparents and extended family for holidays and summer vacations. This modeled for us the importance of building relationships with our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
* Honoring the Lord by church involvement, open conversations about God, praying together, and being available to jump in and help other families in our neighborhood built a sense of family by serving together. We took meals, kept children at our house for other parents and we even had one boy live with us for about 3 years.
J.B. As parents what are you doing to teach your children about the value of your nuclear family?
T.J. Regarding our nuclear family:
Along with family walks and bike rides, we make a big deal out of birthdays and holidays. The “You are Special” red plate is used regularly for celebrating dailies – a good grade, one sibling being kind to the other, etc. For birthdays, we use a “birthday tree” that’s up all week with pictures of the child, birthday cards he/she receives, and trinkets/ornaments that commemorate their life. It’s a simple way to emphasize celebrating that child’s life all week instead of just one day.
A grouping of antique keys hangs in our kitchen from pretty ribbons that symbolize God’s work and faithfulness in our lives. This provides a way to remember His work in our home and celebrate God’s faithfulness as a family regularly. Attached dated tags read, “Hudson’s birth” or “Esther’s clear MRI” or “Branson asked Jesus in his heart” or “We moved into our new home.” My kids love playing with the keys hanging from ribbons that are long enough so that even 1 1/2 year -old Esther can reach them.
We verbally teach the kids that they are each other’s “best friends” for life. Just yesterday 6 year old Hudson told me that it was “the worst day ever.” When I asked why, and he told me that his “best friend” Jack doesn’t want to be best friends anymore. Before I could respond, Hudson reminded me that at least he always has three best friends that will still be his friends even if they get upset or mad at each other – Branson, Basden and Esther. Even with the normal sibling bickering and arguing, it seems they’re getting the message.
T.J. Regarding the family of God:
While I sometimes crave time with “just our family,” the Lord is showing me that He specifically puts others in our life. He reminds me that the addition of other children or families into our activities adds, it doesn’t subtract. Our kids see us naturally including and serving others.
Corbin and I serve in church leadership roles. This provides our children the opportunity of seeing us engaged in those activities. Corbin is great about getting the boys to help during work days or letting them help greet on Sunday mornings, just to experience that kind of serving together.
An unexpected learning opportunity and one of the biggest catalysts for widening our children’s view of the family of God was changing churches a few years ago. We taught them that our former church is a beautiful family of believers, and now there’s another group we can worship with – it’s not just our church that worships Jesus.
J.B. How do you teach your children to be confident in their own individuality and importance as a child of God while helping them to develop the realization that we are all part of a larger community…the body of Christ, the Church…that it is not “all about me.” We all have something to give/contribute to those around us. The picture here is that of the actual body and how each part works to support the other. I Cor. 12:12
T.J. We sponsor a Compassion child in India and write him regularly. Sometimes we pray for countries using Operation World – a great resource for how to specifically pray for countries around the world. We recently spent a sat morning with some Ethiopian families. One boy in particular was their age. We hope to have him over soon. All of this simply broadens their view of the church and the world.
Another skill we’re consistently modeling and teaching our children about is to look outside of themselves, to be others-focused. Our involvement with Compassion and Operation World contributes to this goal. With their ages, they are naturally very self-centered and have to be taught to look around and see how the needs of others. In our own family, this translates into getting into the habit of asking me “Mom, what can I help carry in?” as we get out of the car. It might mean helping each other without having to be asked. We’re trying to assist them as they develop the ability to SEE other people’s needs and then try to meet them.
J.B. Share a time the family of God surrounded you with love and supported you through a difficult situation?
T.J. With each baby’s birth we were totally supported with gifts and meals and help with the other children. During Basden’s (our 3rd child) pregnancy, we spent the last four months of my pregnancy thinking she might have significant health problems at birth. Our small group prayed for us regularly and showed tremendous interest and support during that time. Our small group celebrated with us at her birth when all the test results came back indicating that she was “perfectly normal.”
A very recent example of the love and support of the family of God occurred just last week. Corbin is the chair of our elder board. They meet at our home every Thursday night. Our church is only 3 years old and is in tremendous transition. Corbin’s role has been daunting at times. A friend from church called and delivered a yummy, home-cooked meal last Thursday night just so that the evening would be easier on our family. I couldn’t believe we got a dinner delivered without a newborn or surgery!
J.B. T.J.’s stories and examples took me back in time. I was reminded of the wonderful members of our family of God and how their love and support brought a priceless gift to our family. Thank you, T.J. and Corbin for sharing your family story with us this month.