Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down with Rob and Elizabeth to learn more about how God has forged their family, and the ways they have grown as disciplers of their children. My greatest takeaway from speaking with them was the power of two principles: hospitality and hope. When we act hospitably to our neighbors, whether they are friends or strangers, we answer God’s call to open our hearts and homes to others. Elizabeth and Rob have answered that call masterfully. Along the way they have unrelentingly hoped that their children will fall in love with God. They are door-openers, hearth-warmers, and hopers. Without further ado, let’s hear from Rob and Elizabeth.
Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
How long have you been married, and when/where did you meet?
Rob and Elizabeth have been married for 22 years, but have been together for 28 years total. They met at a high school Bible study in Norristown.
Tell us about your children.
Hope is 20 years old and arrived two years into their marriage. She is a risk-taker and seeks her own path. Bold-and-spirited Calvin entered their lives through the beauty of adoption when he was 15 years old. Vera, their big surprise, is 2 ½ years old. When describing Vera, the word “exuberant” came to mind.
How would you describe your parenting style?
Evolving. With each new child, the approach changes as you figure out what they respond best to and what they need most. What works best for one child is not guaranteed to work well for another. Grace and tenderness have also played a role, especially as Elizabeth tends toward knowing where the safety nets need to be placed, and Rob tends towards encouraging their children to explore their own limits. When taken together, they are a parenting duo that plays off of each other, creating a family where taking risks is encouraged but failure is not fatal, and forgiveness comes with tenderness and love.
What does your family value most?
The idea that the Mattox family is part of something bigger is central to who they are and how they live their lives. As Elizabeth says, “Our treasure does not lie on earth.” Rob and Elizabeth value quality time and intimacy in their relationships with their children; it isn’t just raising them that matters, but knowing them and walking alongside them as they chart their own paths. As their children have grown, developing independence and responsibility have also been important. Elizabeth and Rob also value the church and investing in the life of the church. That means showing up, investing in the community, and sharing themselves with others.
When you imagine God forging your family, what comes to mind for you?
The ongoing process of establishing a parenting philosophy and learning how to navigate the challenges and blessings of parenthood together, as a unit, comes to mind. Parenting changes over time, and you constantly hone your approach. For Rob specifically, moving from the preoccupation with oneself that can affect young parenthood to a more engaged and present style has been emblematic of the forging process.
Their children have forged them, and they, their children, over the years, through their shared experiences. They have all shaped, and been shaped, by one another.
What makes your family unique?
Returning to the idea of hospitality, the Mattox family have had their door open to many people over the years, from Chinese exchange students to interns. They have learned from the people they have lived with in ways that many of us cannot fathom; sharing your home, and your life, with strangers closes the gaps that exist between us, and creates lasting impacts on how we see the world. Elizabeth describes accepting their many houseguests over the years as “meeting a need” that is part of something bigger. They have not sought out opportunities for inviting others in, but instead have had a willingness to keep that door open just in case someone comes looking for a safe and welcoming place. They have also lived with others themselves, adding another layer to what they call their “nomadic life.”
What can your family teach the Iron Works community?
Always see beyond yourself, whether that means seeking ways to build your family through adoption, opening your home to someone in need, or embracing parenting wholeheartedly. They both agree that “being a parent is amazing,” and embracing that, along with its responsibilities, is a reminder for us all.
Rob and Elizabeth remind us that as parents, we must hope with all our hearts, that our children fall in love with God. We play a crucial role in the development of that relationship between our children and God, they say, and although that love for God must develop in their own hearts, you keep hoping and praying for it to happen.
Throughout the various twists and turns of their 28 years together, Rob and Elizabeth have learned that unity with each other has been absolutely vital. Their bond with each other, and God’s presence in their marriage, reflect the power and strength of the trinity.
Interested in sharing your family’s story with Iron Works? Let us know! You have the option of participating in an interview, or telling a story from your family’s experience.