HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR FAMILY?
Marnus is from Cape Town, South Africa. I'm from Atlanta. We met overseas in eastern Europe where we lived and worked for an NGO. Marnus was involved in teaching rugby and sports to underprivileged children, and I worked with kids with disabilities as well as handled the Marketing needs of our NGO. Even though we've since moved to America (and Marnus became a US citizen 2 years ago), we've always valued serving others and living simply. I recently took a new job at Emory that allowed us financially to live on one income. Marnus volunteered to be a stay-at-home dad, counter-cultural in America as well as South Africa. We have one car, on purpose, and live in a moderate 3 room apartment close to Emory. We made all of these choices on purpose - to be close to work so I don't spend time commuting - to maximize our time together as a family - to not stretch ourselves financial beyond our means with the expense of a second car, just to name a few.
In many ways we feel our family is atypical. We live on a budget and stick to it every month. Not to be penny-pinchers but rather because we don't want to be swimming in debt. We strive to raise our girls with a fulfilling life without being materialistic. We focus on quality events together rather than massive gifts. Doing crafts. Going to the library. Visiting local festivals. Stone Mountain hikes. Going out for cupcakes on half birthdays, etc.
If I think about the values that are most important to us as parents, of course love is the bottom line. But Simplicity. Fun. and Relationship would probably sum it up best.
DOES FAITH PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR FAMILY? IF YES OR NO, PLEASE EXPLAIN.
Yes absolutely. The NGO we worked with when we met was a faith-based, Christian missionary organization. At the time, we raised our own financial support to serve as our salaries. We lived on basically nothing, and perhaps that's how we've learned to value the simple lifestyle. Even now that I make a larger salary, we try to hold to those same values.
Over the years we've delved into the depths of deliverance ministry in partnership with some friends of ours. We've seen miracles (physical healings - arms growing, lame walking, blind seeing); we've lived by faith financially, not knowing where our next paycheck would come from; we've seen demons literally cast out of people and that has played a large role in our own lives - in fact it is a big part of how we got pregnant with our first child.
After 10 years as missionaries, we left our NGO to pursue secular jobs. At that time, we also completely stopped attending church in a building. Since that time, about 4 years ago, God has taught us so much about what the Church is outside of a building - of community, friendship, serving, love, and acceptance. Leaving the church building while holding fast to our faith in Jesus has been an incredibly freeing experience. It's also allowed us to take full ownership of passing our faith down to our two girls. Our advent calendar involves birthday cake for Jesus, princess stickers, and fun hunt for "Cocoa the elf" every morning in December. This mish-mash of fun and faith would be frowned upon by many of our "hyper-religious" church building friends, but we absolutely love it. We want our girls to live, breathe, and understand that having a relationship with Jesus is serious. AND that relationships is also incredibly fun. And rich. After 10 years as missionaries, literally "spreading the word of God" to people around the world, we're having a fabulously fun time diving into that with our kids in a whole new way.
Because of our time as missionaries and the international diversity within our own family, we spend a fair amount of time talking about and learning about other cultures and faiths. The diversity found in Decatur is one of my absolute favorite things about living in this part of the city.
ARE THERE ANY CHALLENGES THAT YOUR FAMILY FACES THAT YOU FEEL ARE DISTINCT FROM OTHER FAMILIES?
We struggled with infertility for nearly 3 years and were a month away from starting the adoption process when we found out we were pregnant with our first child. We had really given up on having our own biological children. Then, when our first was only 10 months old, we found out we were pregnant again with baby #2!
Another challenge we face is the counter-cultural roles we've chosen. I am a full-time working mom who has successfully nursed both children longer than most moms think possible (#1 to 10 months old; #2 to 18 months old). My husband recently chose to be a stay-at-home dad, taking over childcare, cooking, cleaning, etc. Most of my co-workers think we're crazy for pursuing these roles but they absolutely work for us.
WHAT BRINGS GREAT JOY TO YOUR FAMILY?
I think I've covered a lot of this in previous answers, but we are always looking for fun new ways to be together. We go for hikes at Stone Mountain. We build tents at home. Do crafts together. My husband is teaching our girls how to bake cookies and make pancakes and crack eggs. For half birthdays, we celebrate by going out for cupcakes. I like to take the girls to the park, the library, Your Dekalb Farmers Market, Target. Really anywhere where we can do things together and let them see the world.
WHAT IS A WORD, QUOTE, PASSAGE, VERSE OR SAYING THAT DESCRIBES YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
Chantal Kreviazuk's song. "It feels like home to me." 3 countries, 6 cities, in 7 years.