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A Family of Faith

For most children, sharing a bedroom with siblings would seem like a family injustice they would have to endure. But for the Wilburn children, it’s a punishment when their parents discipline them by making them sleep in different rooms for the night.

Then again, the Wilburns are not like most families.

Craig and Rhoda Wilburn work to raise their five children—Noah, 13, Justus, 9, Jaida, 8, Dion, 5, and Kiana, 1—to love themselves, their family and God. Noah attends The Rock School, while Rhoda home schools Justus, Jaida and Dion to ensure their schooling follows a Christian curriculum.

Rhoda prefers homeschooling her children because she gets to spend more time with them. Rhoda, who grew up in Gainesville and went to FSU then UF for engineering, decided to become a stay-at-home mom when Justus was born, and when he asked to be homeschooled five years later, she didn’t hesitate to explore the option.

“A lot of my close friends are homeschooled,” Justus said. “They told me all about homeschooling, and I decided I wanted to do it.”

Although Craig’s work schedule does not permit him to be home with his family all day, he still makes plenty of time for his wife and children. He incorporates his family into every aspect of his life, which helps him balance the two.

“I don’t let my business come between family functions and sporting events,” Craig said.

Craig got involved with Bosshardt Realty in 2002 and started a real estate team called Team Dynamo in 2004. While the average realtor in Gainesville sells about seven properties each year, Craig sold 55 in his first full year, placing him in the top 5 percent of all real estate agents in Gainesville. Since then, he has been in the top 1 percent, and in 2005, he won the People’s Champion Award—meaning out of all the Bosshardt Realty agents, he received the largest amount of positive customer satisfaction from past clientele.

Craig wasn’t always interested in realty, though. He started out as a psychology major at the University of Rochester in New York and moved to Florida halfway through college after he visited the state and discovered he liked the warm weather. He first worked at the Melbourne Cracker Barrel, which is where he learned customer service. Then, he worked with the Florida Marlins, attended the Massage School of Florida in Gainesville, worked with Gainesville Health and Fitness Center and Alltell, and finally ended up in real estate.

Most days, he wakes up at about 4:30 a.m. to get in some personal time. This is his time to pray, read the bible and work out. He usually goes into work at about 8:30, where his day is non-stop business until he gets to come home and be with his family. He makes it home for family dinners each night—a time the Wilburns choose to spend hanging out with each other rather than watching television.

“We don’t have cable anymore because we found ourselves spending nights watching TV instead of hanging out with our kids,” Rhoda said.

Even in the realty business, Craig is known as a big family man. When he can, he takes his family on business trips and to social functions he hosts for his business. He said people are always amazed at how well-behaved all his children are—especially because there are so many of them.

“People think five is a lot, but we wish we could have more,” Craig said, laughing.

The family also loves going on trips together. They frequent Disney World, St. Augustine and Atlanta. They’re big beachgoers when the weather gets warm enough; everyone knows them in Daytona Beach. When the children grow older, Craig and Rhoda hope to go on vacations farther from home, but right now they try to avoid getting on an airplane with five young children.

On weekends—when they’re not on a trip—the Wilburns spend their family time playing outside. One of the reasons the family loves living in Tioga so much is because they can play outside without fear of a car flying down the road. People in the neighborhood tend to be very friendly, and everyone gets to know their neighbors.

It’s not unusual to walk around the Wilburn house and see Jaida walking down the sidewalk on her hands or Dion doing a cartwheel in the yard. All of the children are actively involved in extra-curriculars like gymnastics, karate, guitar, basketball, tennis and flag football. The family makes sure to attend every sporting event.

Fitness is also something incredibly important to the Wilburns. In fact, Craig and Rhoda met 16 years ago when Craig was working at Gainesville Health and Fitness Center, where Rhoda was a member. Three years later, they both came to a real faith in God and found their lives completely changed—something Craig said allowed the couple to reconnect.

“Our faith plays a big role in how we raise our kids,” Rhoda said.

Throughout their house, small trinkets are displayed, which represent the family’s devoted Christian belief. Walking into the house, a compilation of crosses hangs on the wall next to pictures of family and friends.

The Wilburns have family devotionals, which they call “family focus time,” where they focus on biblical teachings and educate their children on Christian values and principles. Each week, Craig, his father and Noah do early morning bible studies together—a ritual they have dubbed “Wilburn men power time.”

 That’s one example of how the Craig tries to pay individual attention to each of his children. Noah also has “daddy time” in the morning; Jaida and Craig share a weekly breakfast together; Dion has “date nights” with his parents; and Justus has lunches with Craig and gets “daddy days” at work with him.

By just watching the Wilburns sit around their large family dining room table interacting with one another, you realize they’re not exaggerating how tight-knit they truly are.

“When our kids say to us that they’d rather spend time with us than their friends, that’s pretty cool,” Craig said.

After a moment, he adds, “For as long as that lasts. Our 13-year-old still likes spending time with us, so we’re happy about that.”

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