I remember those challenging days of parenting  when I felt alone, tired and afraid.

I felt alone because we were the only family we knew with more than three children.

I felt tired because parenting little children is hard physical work.

I felt afraid because I was told by friends, relatives and strangers alike that we would not be able to feed so many children and how were we going to pay for their college educations for goodness sake?

But I also remember the well dressed elderly lady in the elevator who looked at my husband and I holding our little daughter and suddenly burst out with,

“You are so lucky! You are so lucky! My husband and I had plenty of money and wanted to travel so we didn’t have children. Now he is gone and I am all alone. I have just traveled across the country to attend the wedding of a nephew who I don’t even know because I am all alone now.”

I remember that woman.

I remember the elderly couple smiling at us at the mall as my husband and I tried to keep up with our crowd of (then) seven children. The couple made their way closer (still smiling) to tell us how beautiful our children were and how blessed we were. They wanted to tell us that they had a large family as well and had so many happy memories.

I remember that couple.

I remember the hand-knitted afghan given to us by an older woman at church on the occasion of the birth of our eighth baby. In a church of one thousand members we were the largest family.

The card with the blanket told us that both the woman and her husband had grown up in large families and had such wonderful childhood memories of their siblings. She just wanted us to know that she was thrilled about our new baby.

I remember reading that card.

Those words of encouragement were like ice cold gulps of water to parched travelers trying to survive in hostile territory.

My husband and I heard so many jokes about birth control, so many dire warnings about having ‘too many” children that when someone spoke words of hope and encouragement to us we felt as though we had stumbled upon a blazing bonfire on a frigidly cold night …and we felt so warm and comforted.

Wow. Do I remember!

I recently reread a thoughtfully written article on birth control and culture which speaks to some of the challenges my husband and I have faced. I encourage you to read it and pray about the wisdom shared there.

Raising children is hard work. It is spiritual work.

Mothers and fathers who make a choice to teach and train little ones according to the biblical mandate will face opposition from the culture and from their spiritual adversary Satan.

Do not lose heart in doing good…for in due time you shall reap, if you do not grow weary. Galatians 6:9