How many children do you have?
I have 9 children aged 12 to 31. My kids were 18, 17, 16, 13, 11, 9, 7, 3, when I had a new born.
Did you (and hubby) always want a big family?
We prayed about birth control. I saw in the Bible that children are a blessing from God, and believed that God is the ultimate planner. We received faith from God to trust Him as much as possible with planning our family. Whether He would give us ANY children was up to Him. He kept giving us fresh faith to receive another baby. It wasn't a one-time decision; we needed to receive grace and faith from God often along the way. We wanted to welcome any child God would send us. We often felt that we were "in over our heads", even when we only had ONE child, so clearly it was not about our feelings of inadequacy, but about God's grace giving us all we needed to do what He called us to do.
What is the best thing about having a large family?
I LOVE seeing my kids love each other. We recently had a family vacation, 20 of us together at the beach; our grown kids, the youngest few still living at home, plus spouses, a fiance and our kids' kids. A richness of relationships. My husband and I can hardly believe how RICH we feel. It is worth every bit of time and energy invested.
What is the hardest thing about having a large family?
The stretching of resources, although as my husband says, "you can't out-give God". Somehow He has given us all we have ever needed.
Was there a particular stage of development you really enjoyed/found hard?
Having only pre-schoolers is hard because you spend all day giving, with no adult conversation. I found it important to make sure to schedule at least one get-together with a friend each week.
From age 6 to 10 is a fun time where they are fairly capable, but you still can be in control of most things. With the teens, the challenge is to give them increasing
freedom and responsibility; becoming more of a coach or helper. It is scary, since there is a lot of trouble they can get into if they make bad choices. Remaining sane through this stage requires putting your hope and trust in God, which we have had varying degrees of success with. Any feeling of control that we might have is an illusion. As Christians we know the One who IS in control, and can go to Him for help, grace and wisdom. He loves our kids more than we do.
Was mothering many easy for you?
Life is not easy. So no, it was not easy. There are a lot of years of sowing into children with little return. God knew this, so he made these little ones cute. But the cutest little cherubs know how to bring out the wrath of mom. Previous to having kids I thought I was pretty easy going, but found out how mad I could get when crossed.
What does God thinks about mothers?
"He gently leads those who have young" Isaiah 40:11. God is not a cruel taskmaster but a kind and loving father. By His grace, He will not give a mother more than she can handle. He sees every sacrifice a mother makes and collects every tear in a bottle. He is merciful toward us and doesn't treat us as our sins deserve. It is so easy for moms to feel guilty about not doing enough or not loving them enough. They can beat themselves up over it, but God is not looking at us that way.
Did you manage to spend time with God while having little ones?
A scheduled ‘time with God’ went out the window with the birth of my first child. Maybe I'm just not that good at keeping a schedule. But God doesn't care about the scheduled times we think we need to have with Him. He wants all of us, all of the time. I had seasons of talking to him throughout the day. My best times with God were in the night; awake because of pregnancy, awake because of a crying or sick child. I used to get so irritated, lying there wakeful, thinking of how tired I'd be the next day. I began to keep my Bible by my bed, and would read it when I couldn't sleep. You always get something good from reading the Bible; maybe inspiring or comforting things about who God is and what He is like. Other times, He speaks something intensely personal that changes your life and fills you with hope and joy. I used to feel guilty, that God had to speak to me in the night, since I ignored Him all day. As if it was second best. Now I see it was His provision for me and that He was thrilled to meet with me then.
How did having so many children benefit or hinder your children?
People lament being an only child, being an ignored middle child, having to be the oldest one who cared for younger brothers and sisters, being the youngest in the family who got dumped on by everyone else. By the grace of God, He uses our circumstances to bless us, even what we perceive as difficult. One benefit is that they were actually needed to help run things at home, so they learnt to serve.
I am sure that various kids, at various times felt like they didn't get enough attention from me, but they seem to have come out of it ok. They probably have had opportunities to go to God for inner healing. I really love getting to see all the good things that God has put into them.
Having Simon our youngest born with special needs (he has Down syndrome) may have been the biggest blessing of all of us. He has taught us about the love of God not being dependant on our accomplishments or abilities. His brothers and sisters all did a lot to help him, and loved on him and played with him.
What did God teach you about Himself?
"In that day they will say, 'Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him, and He saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation"
Isaiah 25v9. He never disappoints those who hope in Him.
Isaiah 25v9. He never disappoints those who hope in Him.
I used to cling to the verse that says "I was young and now I am old, and I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." Now I am ‘older’, I can say it is true. He is faithful, even when we are not.
What did you learn about yourself?
There is not an unselfish bone in my body except for what the Holy Spirit does in and through me.
Were you a perfect mum?
I definitely did not feel like I was cut out to be a mom. After my first baby was born, though, I found out that the love God puts in a mother's heart makes it all different. Not that I didn't grumble and complain often. The way God has done most of His work in me, is through being a mom. A perfect Mom is not someone who holds up a standard that no one can reach, but someone who is growing. It involves being honest about your weaknesses, asking the kids' forgiveness when you sin against them, sharing with them what you are learning from God and what you love about God. It is about loving and following God in front of your children.
Would you encourage mums to have lots of children?
I would encourage them to obey God. It is not about how many children you have. I would encourage them to go for what God puts in their hearts, and not listen to the wisdom of the world, or others pushing their views on them. He will be their provision in every way.
What advice would you give any mum?
Do not compare yourself with other Moms. Comparisons kill. Either you come out feeling above or below others, proud or depressed, neither being how God is looking at you. I wasted way too much time doing that. It is a fight not to do that. Paul talks in 2 Corinthians 10v12 about "when they measure themselves by one another...they are without understanding." I think another version says they are foolish. Thinking you should be like someone else also robs you of your uniqueness. God gave YOU your kids, not someone else.
Did you still manage to have time with your hubby?
This was a challenge. Kids need your attention physically and emotionally all day (and night) which can leave you depleted for your husband. I was far from perfect about this, but it is important to put his needs before mine. God helped me with this. Bill needed to have grace for me too. Somehow we did manage to grab bits of time to connect with each other. Once our oldest was old enough to be in charge of the others, we had a weekly breakfast date. Early morning, the beginning of the day, the kids didn't have much time to cook up trouble...lol
How did you raise your kids spiritually?
First, I just tried to keep on following and responding to Jesus myself. A full life in God is attractive. We prayed for them, and still do. We read Scripture aloud together, which my husband was and is especially good about. He doesn't let squabbling, complaining, or fidgety kids keep it from happening. We would all sit around the living room, and each person who could read had a turn to read a verse. Younger kids just sat and listened, often in Dad's lap. Sometimes Bill would assign parts to various kids; a narrator and someone to say each character's lines.
Sometimes we memorized Scriptures together. We would recite them at the dinner table. Bill would recite them when tucking kids into bed. I put some to little tunes that the kids can still sing/recite 25 years later (and laugh about). We often felt we should have done more. There were gaps of time when we were struggling or distracted, but every bit adds up, like drops filling up a bucket over time. Nothing good is wasted.
We included our kids in what we were doing in church, prayer meetings and sitting with us during the preach. We worshipped at home together with the kids, giving them instruments, and having a lot of fun.
We are a team, and welcomed people into our home together. Kids served by helping visiting kids feel at home, so we could chat with the adults after dinner.
They might take coats at the door or set or clear the table. They knew we were serving people because Jesus loves people. They would help fix a meal to take to another family. Bill would take older kids to help people move house. Kids had chores, since every member of the team contributes to the running of our home.
Did you find discipline hard with so many?
By God's grace, it seemed that there was only one issue to deal with at a time. We trained the older kids and they set an example to the younger ones. Younger kids learn that this is the way we do things in this family. We spanked kids for disrespect, defiance, and wilfull disobedience. We were not perfect about this or anything else. We let them know that we were doing our best to obey Jesus, and that we were responsible to teach them to have a willing heart of obedience. We aimed to never spank in anger.
The biggest offence in our home was to disrespect mom. Bill always backed me up, which really helped them obey me when he wasn't home. I am really thankful for his support in this. This is a hard situation for single moms, not having the back-up. We noticed the three day pattern; realising there was a big discipline issue that needed to be addressed (these sneak up on you gradually) we got serious about dealing with it, and we pretty much always saw results by the third day.
What's the best thing about being a mum?