Jennifer Adams is a mom of four grown boys, a pastor’s wife and a friend to many. She is also my mother-in-law who I love and admire. Here is an interview on family life, setting priorities as newlyweds and growing in love and in faith. Since we share first names starting with a J and the same last name, I will be indicated as J and Jennifer will be JA. (Wait until you hear how many J.A’s are in our family haha)
J: Before I became your daughter-in-law, one of the things I loved most was how dedicated you and Dad were to your family. It was evident from the start that material things were not a priority and that doing things as a family was the focus. What type of sacrifices did you and Dad make in your marriage to get to where you are now?
JA: Dad and I married young. I was working as a secretary and he was a full-time U of T student. We had very little money but yet we had enough to live on. We lived in cheaper apartments which didn’t look very nice on the outside but we made it cozy on the inside with all second hand furniture. We didn’t have much but we had each other. If we had money left at the the end of the month we would take our $10 and head over to that “new” restaurant in town called Swiss Chalet and had two quarter chicken dinners! We learned that being together was more important than buying “stuff” that brought no lasting joy and always became outdated. We decided before we got married that God would be the head of our house and that we would live as simply as we could, not allowing the media and advertisements try and convince us that we didn’t have it all. That was good practise for when we had children and we made the decision that I would stay home. We didn’t buy expensive name brand items, we ate out only as a treat and we decided making memories with our children was so much more important then buying them things that would ultimately end up in the landfill site. It didn’t seem like a sacrifice at the time. We were together, playing board games and having fun laughing and enjoying each other. We didn’t need expensive things to love being together.
J: Raising four boys couldn’t have been easy! I married one of them so I know haha (kidding!). But seriously, at family dinners with all four boys under one roof; you have to prepare yourself for the joking, mocking and just boy-ish behaviour. I want to ask, how did you do it?? What was it like raising men?
JA: I like how you said that I was “raising men”. I used to joke and say “why me Lord?” Dad had only two brothers, I had 4 brothers and now I had 4 boys. But seriously, I took it as a challenge. All those single young ladies are looking for quality men to marry. Once they grow up, most women are looking for loving, caring husbands and dads for their children. I knew I had an opportunity to try and raise Godly men and therefore hopefully I would gain 4 lovely Godly daugher-in-laws. Boys are so much fun. Their love for life and all things wild and creepy is always an adventure. Catching Jeremy trying to sneak snakes into the house, to catching teen boys tobogganing off the roof of our home made it always lively. Dad and I decided that we wanted our home to be fun so they would want to hang out there and bring their friends. I learned to sleep through the electric guitar phase, 4 – 8 teen boys at any given time sleeping in our basement to always having at least one extra boy at our dinner table for supper (which was mandatory by-the-way). Unless you had another dinner invitation or a sporting event, you were expected to be at the dinner table each night. That is where we learned about each others day, the good and the bad things. We laughed and joked but it was also the time to discuss any issues that anyone might be going through at the time. A family meal should be a must in every home as much as possible.
J: I feel like you have such a gift in helping people and handling grief situations. When I lost my friend to cancer you were the first to step up and you knew just the right things to say to help my grieving heart. When Nick and I lost our baby, you and Dad were one of our biggest supporters. Do you feel like God gave you a heart of compassion for a purpose? What are some situations that happened to you that shaped the way you help people?
JA: Dad and I talked about this question for quite awhile when I first saw your list of questions. Dad’s response was “don’t waste a hurt”. We have been through loss of family and friends, deep pain and grief and each one was a unique pain associated with the situation. We can never completely “know” how someone else is feeling but we certainly know pain and loss, so we are able to empathize with others. I don’t think we were always this way, at least not to the extent we are today. God brought us through our dark times and we are now able to show compassion to others and encourage them to keep on going and that it will get better. It won’t be the same, but your pain can make you stronger and you can use that to help others going through their own painful situations. God will bring the people to you once you are open about your hurts and pain. I don’t look for people to comfort; they seem to find me knowing that I will have some understanding of what they are going through.
J: You and Dad pray for us and your family every day. What is the biggest, fervent prayer you’ve prayed that you’ve seen come to light?
JA: Our two biggest prayers were that all our boys would walk with the Lord and that they would marry girls who loved Him as well. There were a few bumps along that way but we have seen all our boys choose Jesus and marry girls who want to raise their children to know Him. I really don’t care how important my children are to the world; I just want them to find their joy and fulfilment in knowing Jesus and living for Him. No amount of awards, promotions and money would make me as thrilled as seeing them love the Lord and follow Him.
J: I have a lot of young moms and young adults who read my blog, what advice can you tell my lovely readers? Perhaps something that you wish you knew when you were a young adult, newly married or growing your family.
JA: I would say don’t buy into the lie that you must have or you must give your children everything their hearts desire! The latest gadget or name brand is a cheap substitute for love. We all need to learn to be content and not have everything that the marketing companies are trying to sell. When we give our children everything we are teaching them to be more concerned about themselves and not others. The best way for our kids to know and love Jesus is by living in a Godly home where everything we do, watch and buy is filtered through a spiritual lens. We should always be asking if this is beneficial or harmful to my children knowing God and having a relationship with him! I heard a speaker years ago when my children were small, who read from a scrapbook she had made of pictures and letters from her daughter when she was very young. The daughter had written her mom a letter begging her for a certain toy and that she would “just die if she didn’t get it”. The woman said she called her now grown up daughter and asked her if she had given in and bought it for her. The daughter replied that she couldn’t remember. The point was that it really didn’t mean anything lasting to her even though she “would just die if she didn’t get it”. They very quickly forget material things because those change constantly but they don’t forget time spent with their family learning about their heavenly father through family interactions. When the Lord takes me home, I hope my boys remember that I loved God with all my heart, that I loved them and was so grateful that God chose to give them to me. I hope that even though we were not perfect people or parents, we taught them to love and live for our Heavenly Father!
I would like to thank my mother-in-law for taking the time to be interviewed and for sharing her story with us! There’s something so wonderful to these words of raising boys to men, sharing kindness to those in mourning and to do all things for the Kingdom in mind. My favourite thing is to not hold onto material things in an age where on social media is flooded with comparison and the stigma of more is better. I hope to practice seeing my life, my marriage and my family filtered through a spiritual lens as Jen so perfectly put!