Most of the comments people make to/about my kids are of the positive variety. They’re “sweet” and “pretty” and “helpful” and “tall” and “always thinking of others” and what have you.

And, if I’m being honest, they’re sometimes on the receiving end of well-meaning, loving looks of pity as well. And thoughts like these perhaps:

Those poor sweet darlings. Their daddy had a heart attack and then their parents carted them across the world to a developing country (where one of them got lice!) and then they came home to Daddy having anxiety, losing his job, loads of medical bills. Now they’re home-schooled (or unschooled, as their odd-ball mother would claim) and had to leave their house and move into a tiny apartment. They never really know how their bills will get paid, their parents borrow money from them. They only get to play one sport and just in a rec league. Their mom buys their clothes at the… thrift store. They don’t eat anything but lettuce… (shakes her imaginary head)

Can I let you in on a little secret?

My children are spoiled stinking rotten.

Oh, don’t protest. I’m serious. Really. For example:

In a world where parents are often at work for long, long hours away from their kids, mine get lots and lots (oh my word, LOTS) of quality time with both Mom and Dad.

They have a slew of friends on the other side of the globe. And they’ve been to visit them. And are dying to go back.

They have a slew of friends (and are making new ones every day) right here in this little college-dorm-like community where they live. They can lean out their front door and wave to any number of friends leaning out their own front doors.

They know what it’s like to pray desperately for something and watch God show up in–BAM!–the most crazy, powerful way.

They know what it’s like to go to the thrift store and find the perfect yoga pants in the perfect size for the perfect price ($2).

They know what it’s like to pretty much find every single thing they could ever want or need at the thrift store.

They fill their growing bodies with real food that grows in the ground and is packed full of color and vitamins and yumminess.

They know how to cook.

They get to tell people about Cambodia.

They know the joy of praying God will provide for a bill that’s due and being handed an envelope by their pastor at church on Sunday morning. “Someone asked me to give this to you.” $300. BOOM.

They get a lot of Real World Practice, dabbling in careers they might want to have someday (graphic designer, writer, teacher, mom, humanitarian, chef…).

They own their own “business.”

They have much empathy for people who find themselves down and out. They’ve been the recipients of boxes of (moldy, unhealthy, bashed, expired) food from a Food Bank. They don’t have health insurance. They lost their home.

They’re addicted to the freedom that comes from having less. Too many possessions and they start to get a little twitchy.

They refuse to let their mom and dad pay too much money for something. If it goes past what they deem reasonable, the purchase is nixed.

They get to sleep in as late as they want most days. And they stay up pretty late too.

They know the joy of walking to the rental office, paying their rent for March 1 (five days early! woot!), then meeting one of the apartment employees on their way out the door who says, “What are you doing here?” “Um, paying our rent.” “Oh no! Go back and get your check! Someone anonymously paid your rent for this month! I was just going to call you!” (Um, excuse me. PRAISE YOU, JESUS!!)

Have I mentioned how many answered prayers they’ve witnessed??

They’ve gotten to be a part of a church plant from day one three years ago. A church that’s committed to racial reconciliation and loving the community and sharing the hope and love of Jesus with people from all around the world.

They fell in love with a 3-month-old boy, then got to move in to the apartment right beside him, and have gotten to love and pray him through open-heart surgery and a cancer diagnosis and now chemo at 7 months of age.

Their mom and dad have jobs they can do from home.

The things they’re supposed to want and “need” in this world hold no appeal for them any longer. For real. Like they don’t even want them.

Their idea of a good time is a trip to a new-to-us library.

They’re learning new words in three different languages (Somali, Khmer, Spanish) and loving every minute of it.

They’ve found a way to paint at their kitchen table, make cards on their living room floor, and somehow someway get to support their amazing friends in Cambodia. (I LOVE THE INTERNET.)

They’ve learned how to share. Clothes. Space. Treats. Stuff.

They’re happiest running around outside, giggling and laughing with friends who are neither white nor American.

They have maps on every wall of their home. Even the bathroom. (lucky ducks!)

Their dad is a professional photographer (and their mom is slightly obsessed with taking pictures), so they’ll never forget a minute of their childhood.

They’ve ridden an elephant.

And kissed giraffes.

And fed jaguars. (And hippos. Nina read this post and said I forgot the hippos.)

They’re believing God is going to take them back to Cambodia, and they’ve put their own money in a savings account for that very purpose. “Plane Tickets or BUST!”

They’re little-people magnets and always have a toddler or two on their skinny hips.

They have two sets of grandparents who love Jesus and pray for them every single day.

They have oodles of cousins, and they all play together dreamily even after months apart.

(And I’ve reached my self-imposed 1,000-word limit.)

Spoiled rotten, I tell you. And I just don’t know what to do about it. (shakes my head)