Quiver of Blessing

“Whew, just looking at all of your children makes me tired.”

“Are you finished having children?”

“Were any of them an accident?”

My sister has 6 children ages 2-13. She is no stranger to wide-eyed staring and awkward (sometimes rude) questions and remarks. Her 4 year old might be throwing a fit in Target and she’s guaranteed glances, but even if all 6 offspring are calm the staring is inevitable. Most people can’t understand why she would have more than 2 children. It’s societal sterilization.

Recently, the staring and awkward remarks have spilled into discrimination. My sister and her family are not welcome at their local hair salon, because customers complained about her children. They made no major disturbances, except the disturbance of being children. Another family with only one child is still welcome at the salon.

Anti-Family Culture

Discrimination has been a hot topic for awhile now. Whether it’s racial, gender, age, or even sexual orientation, people are being discriminated against. But one group is missing from this list of discriminated folk: mothers. Maybe in some cases discrimination is too strong a word, sometimes it’s just a lack of public support and encouragement. Most times it’s a public disdain for children.

Children are not welcome at restaurants, they aren’t welcome on airplanes, and any type of adult gathering, unless they don’t talk and don’t move. If they talk and move too much, we as parents will get the stare down. Of course we want to be considerate of others and teach our children about social behavior in public settings. Even in the midst of doing these things, children are not perfect, they are still learning; just like us. Societal grace for parents and children is in want of supply.

Jesus Loves Children

This unwelcoming attitude is opposite of Jesus. Luke 18:15-17 says,

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.'”

For the disciples, children were not welcome to see Jesus. The disciples treated the children as a hindrance, hence Jesus says, ‘do not hinder them.’ Jesus does not ogle children, he welcomes them with open arms. He even uses them as an example. Jesus dishes up some humility to counteract his disciples arrogance.

Jesus was basically saying, ” If you want to be my disciple, then learn a thing or two from these children. Learn humility and faith; the complete trust a child has in his parent.”¬† To enter the kingdom of God this is what we must do today; humble ourselves as children and put our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Children are a Blessing

Much of our society’s disdain for children stems from the wrong perspective. If we aren’t careful as mothers we can fall prey to this mindset as well. If we aren’t fighting to view our children as a blessing, then we will eventually grow to disdain them. Our culture tells us children rob us of ‘me time’ or time alone as a couple. Children ruin our bodies, we can’t go anywhere or do anything, we’re limited, restricted, inconvenienced, trapped!

Yet, the Bible says we are blessed.

“Behold, children are a heritage from The Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” –¬†Psalm 127:3-5

Yes, children ruin our bodies, we don’t have as much time to ourselves or time with our spouse, and yes, we might not be able to do everything we did before we had them, but we need to fill our quivers with much blessing. This season of parenthood is only one part of our entire lives, and then our children grow up. Children are not an inconvenience if we view them as a blessing. They make our lives so much fuller.

As married couples we grow in love for each other in ways that only parenthood can nurture. We even grow in our relationship with Christ. Children can teach us many things about ourselves; they can help us grow in character. These are just a few of the many blessings children bring.

Blessings can be Hard

Children don’t seem like a blessing sometimes, because it is hard to deny ourselves and put someone else first. Our sin gets in the way of viewing children as a blessing. Lately, I’ve been having these inner pity parties for myself, and thinking about all the things I could do if I had more alone time; ¬†thinking how nice it would be to have a cup of coffee without a 16 month old climbing on me and demanding my attention. I quickly realized I was being discontent and making ‘me time’ more important than it was.

Nothing is wrong with having ‘me time’, but it is always easier to chose and want that than it is to deny ourselves. It’s easier to listen to the culture that tells us we are worth it, and deserve to pamper ourselves. All moms need a break for sure, but if we live for those breaks we will be discontent and forget how many blessings we have at home.

So now, I drink my coffee while reading and playing with my son. I’m very blessed to have him, and embrace these coffee moments as such. My sister once sent me a picture of all 6 of her children sitting around their large kitchen table. She said, “Look at all my blessings.” If only all the public gawkers knew what they were missing.

Where Dreams Go To Live

When I grow up I want to be an astronaut. I want to be a ballerina. I want to be a firefighter. You would hear many of these aspirations from a classroom of second graders in response to, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s the cliche question to ask innocent little children before reality crashes down on them. Maybe it’s the question we still ask ourselves once we have grown up. Then reality gives us a cold reminder. We aren’t really where we imagined we would be or doing what we always wanted to do. Our dreams are fading or have already died.

How Dreams Work

I don’t think many women grew up having dreams of doing 3 loads of laundry every day, scrubbing toilets every week, doing dishes 5 times a day, planning and cooking 3 meals a day, all while little ones cling to their legs whining. If you did have dreams of being a homemaker and mom I’m sure they were more of the fluffy variety. The perfect scenario every time with never a moment of impatience, loneliness, discontentment or frustration. As little girls playing house we never understood the realistic side of those pretend moments.

But don’t most dreams work like that? Aren’t they usually fantasies? Maybe occasionally they find themselves making an appearance in the world of reality, but most times they are unrealistic expectations. We don’t know that though until we try to execute the fantasy, and realize it’s not measuring up to what was in our minds. When dreams are in the form of unrealistic expectations then they breed discontentment with the realistic outcome.

This is when dreams die. Not only are we in an occupation that society turns up its nose at, but we don’t get a bonus or trophy for what we do. We are only recognized by society one day a year in May, and the rest of the year we aren’t as important or liberated as career women.

Dreams Before Motherhood

Maybe before you became a wife and mom you had dreams of traveling the world, starting your own business, being an artist, or being that driven career woman in the workforce. It’s possible to eventually fulfill your dreams while being a wife and mother (and it’s definitely acceptable.) The issue is when reality and dreams collide. Can you realistically do it all now? Can it wait? Can it be expressed in a different way you hadn’t thought about? But the most important thing to realize is dreams can easily become idols; they can rob us of what is most valuable.

You see as wives and mothers we have the unique privilege to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. Sometimes we can fulfill our dreams and sometimes we have to lay them down (maybe just for a season or maybe permanently.) We know it was hard for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane to choose the Father’s will and sacrifice himself on the cross. He made the right choice because he was perfect, but his humanity was clearly displayed as he wrestled with what was before him. He ends with, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

He calls us to do the same. Sacrifice is a glorious and beautiful thing to Jesus, but not to our society. Sacrifice is tough, because it is death to ourselves and to our desires and personal fulfillment, but it always results in life and joy.

Joy and Life in Shattered Dreams

There was joy and life at the end of the road for Jesus. Joy found in fulfillment in others (us sinners he died for), life after being raised on the third day, and he was even exalted to the Father’s right hand.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2.

We should look to Jesus as the perfect example and enabler of laying down our lives for our families. This is the greatest and most fulfilling dream that Christ calls us to. He also calls us to dream about the place he is preparing for us in heaven. Perhaps the Bible doesn’t tell us everything about heaven, because we are supposed to dream about it here on Earth.

So many of our dreams are restricted when bound to this world and don’t compare to the glory of heaven; beholding the face of God, and being in His presence forever. Our dreams for ourselves on Earth are so finite, they are like stepping in a puddle when the whole rain cloud is waiting to burst open. We can’t dream any bigger than what awaits us in heaven. This is what Christ laid down his life for; he sacrificed himself for this. This is the ultimate joy before us. This is where our dreams go to live.