How Our Youngest Became Oldest of 9

Once upon a time, Malachi was the youngest of four boys. We thought he’d hold that status forever, but God had different plans.

18 years ago when Malachi was born, one of my sisters-in-law made the boys adorable shirts that said:

  • Biggest Brother
  • Bigger Brother
  • Big Brother
  • Baby Brother

Having our four boys was so special, and their friendship grew and became beautiful through the years.


Then one day, 13 years after Malachi became our baby, God shocked us by adding a four-year-old boy to our family. A few months later, his baby cousin joined us. Within a year, we had adopted them both and Malachi had two younger brothers.

This transition was full of challenges, but Malachi, like all of our older boys, opened his heart and let God grow him into his new role.

God continued to bring more children into our family, and within five years, we had grown from a family of six to a family of 15 (including two parents, four biological children, six adopted children, one foster son, and two daughters-in-law). In addition, one of our former foster sons still spends time with us and we consider him one of our own.

The day we adopted our four girls, the judge asked Malachi to come to the front and sit with Matt and me and the girls. We thought this was strange, seeing as we had lots of other siblings who were a part of this too. But the judge recognized something special about Malachi as he had been the only one of our older sons living at home during the entire process of fostering the sisters we were getting ready to adopt. So with a grin, Malachi stepped down and had a seat with us as Matt and I testified and as the judge finalized our girls’ adoption.

The very next day, Malachi graduated from high school. At first, I was overwhelmed by having two huge events back-to-back. But as the weekend progressed, I was profoundly impacted by how perfectly timed these events were. You see, we had thought that the day Malachi graduated, we would have launched our last child and become empty nesters. But in fact, just the day before, God officially added four more children. The beauty of God’s timing in this astounded me and I couldn’t get over how good God is in overruling our plans and giving us so much more.

Our graduation tradition is to gather in our living room and speak a blessing over our graduate. Here we are, gathered around, listening in as Malachi FaceTimed Justus who couldn’t join us that day.

My blessing was this. I’m sharing it with you so that you know a little bit more about who this wonderful young man is:


We all got a chuckle yesterday when the Judge asked you to sit up front, but the truth is that she was very right when she said, “You need to be up here; you’ve played a very big role in this.” So true.

Today, your graduation day, looks very different than what we all expected five years ago. Literally overnight, you went from being the youngest brother to being an older brother. Within the past five years, you’ve become oldest of nine. THIS WAS SO UNEXPECTED! It hasn’t always been easy for you, but you’ve turned out to be such a beloved big brother to your little sisters and brothers. What a gift you are to them (and to your older brothers, and to Dad and me).

I think God has used this huge life change to teach us all something so important. First, we can make plans for our life, but God is the One who knows what we actually need. Our job is to be open, to listen to Him, and to trust that what He has for us is best – even if it’s hard.

Second, being uncomfortable is often right where God wants us. You’ve been learning this and I pray that you never stop seeking to be uncomfortable in all the ways God wants you to be. I pray that being uncomfortable becomes comfortable as you continue to walk in obedience to Christ.

Third, remember that your identity is in Christ. Not in where you fall in line in our family birth order or in your Sideline Media career (which is awesome, by the way, and we’re so proud of you) or in anything else – but who you are in Christ is all that matters. You are a child of God – adopted, chosen, cherished, and so very loved. Live your life in that love, and choose to let the Holy Spirit love others through you. What amazing things God will continue to do with and through you when you walk in His love.

Thank you for being my boy, and for loving me through my weaknesses. Thank you for crying with me as we’ve navigated these years together. Thank you for always making me laugh. I love you.


As Malachi launches into adulthood, he will be working full-time at the thriving production company he created two years ago, Sideline Media. He is so admired by his three older brothers Asa, Justus, and Elias. And by his younger siblings Brayden, Kiya, Keith, Anna, Acacia, Josie, Baby#11, and Bonus Brother K.

We truly don’t know what God has in store for us, but we know that He is faithful and He is good. He is provider and we can trust Him fully.

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