Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,the fruit of the womb a reward.Like arrows in the hand of a warriorare the children of one’s youth.Blessed is the manwho fills his quiver with them!He shall not be put to shamewhen he speaks with his enemies in the gate.-Solomon, Son of David the Songwriter
I have four children. Hardly a large family, but by today’s standards in the United States, bigger than most. My two sons and two daughters grow bigger every day, and I feel left in the dust by their continuing growth and ever expanding knowledge of the world around them.
Every day I get a new scientific fact or see some new Youtube video about something new and improved in the world of technology or entertainment. My boys, especially, with their love for everything in the realm of middle school humor, have never ceased to remind me that Rhett and Link are the funniest people on the internet. Follow the link. Yes. They are pretty funny.
My girls are constantly breaking out their pink, purple, and blue princess dresses that we’ve willingly purchased for them. Dancing around like Cinderella and Princess Elsa, their beautiful flowing dresses splashing the house with color and smiles. I’ve probably seen or heard the movie Frozen one ka-billion times more than I ever wanted to. But I cannot help and sing along to “Let it Go” and “Love is an Open Door” every time they come on.
Having four kids is always a challenge, especially when you are walking into Target or Kroger with your four kids all by yourself and everyone just stops what they are doing and stares at you. I do not lie. Every bagger, customer, and manager waiting in the checkout line at the front of Kroger on Northfield stops and looks at us every time we come in, as if to say, “Why did you do that?… Don’t you know that normal people only have one or two children, maybe three. But four? Why did you do that… strange guy with a long beard that doesn’t have a clue about life.“
Anyway… Today I just want to offer you some hope and encouragement about having kids that will at least put to rest any fears that you were off your rocker when you decided to have children, whether it be one, two or twenty. (Can I just say that twenty kids is really awesome and really scary to think about all at the same time?) I’m good with four.
- Encouraging thought #1 – Having children is a blessing, stop cursing about them. How many more conversations do we really need to have with frazzled parents who seemingly hate having kids? I’ve sat in numerous doctors offices and waiting rooms only to hear mom’s and dad’s spewing hateful rhetoric about their teenage kids. Yes, parenting is difficult. But your attitude towards your kids will actually effect your kids growth through the stages of life. Stop hating on them and really start understanding that you were one of those kids too. Maybe accept them as the gift that they are and stop hating your life because they suck all your money out of your bank account. There is more to parenting than cursing your kids to others. Your kids didn’t ask to be here. Just saying.
- Encouraging thought #2 – You are going to screw them up. I’m sure this doesn’t sound like an encouraging thought at all. But let me explain. You are an imperfect, weak, and impossible human being. You have your cracks. You have your weapons of choice. And you have a heart that needs redemption. So do your kids. Somehow and in someway, you are going to wound your children. They are going to bear scars that have your name on them. But that is not how they will end up if you are a parent that loves and lovingly pursues and teaches your children life. Cling to grace. If you are unaware of what this word means, recognize it as a life changing part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Grace is the foundation of all things God. Without grace we are all lost. Yes you’ll screw up, but you’ll also find the strength to move past your issues and help your kids. That’s what grace is about.
- Encouraging through # 3 – Parenting changes through the seasons of life. God-willing you will have the opportunity to see your children through many different seasons of their lives. From birth to childhood, from childhood to pre-teen, from pre-teen to teenager, from teenager to young adult, and on and on it goes. What you are doing as a parent now will change in a couple of years as your child gets older. Embrace the change, lean into the difficulty, and hang on to your spouse or the friends and family that are helping you raise you kids. What happens tomorrow is out of your hands. What decisions your kids make are also, ultimately out of your hands. Guide them. Lead them. Talk to them about grace. Talk to them about God. Teach them how life works. Walk with them through financial challenges. Cry with them as they hurt. Laugh with them as they experience joy. And remember that the season your in will change. So enjoy it while you’ve got it.
This year, here in the Christmas season, I want to encourage you not to criticize the way you do Christmas. Lavish your children with gifts if you can. If you can’t lavish much materially, remind them how much you love them by being present to them. Lavish them with love, time, and presence. Play with them. Say “Yes” more often than “No”. I’m working on this personally too. I need this encouragement today as well.
How can you better see your kids through the changes that are taking place in their little world and the world around them? What ways can you anchor yourself spiritually and emotionally so that they will have someone to come to when their ground is unstable?
Be the parent you want to be. And stop asking why you have so many kids. One is plenty. Four is enough. Eleven is a football team. Twenty is an army.
Embrace the quiver God has given you, however many you have.