Are Large Families Poor?

There is a prosperity that only includes what you own, but it doesn’t touch who you are.

Are Large Families Poor_

It’s true–in our home of currently 11 people, we are a messy, noisy bunch, and we are not afraid to express ourselves! There is usually so much going on that it feels unnatural when things are quiet, and it feels eerie when one of us is home alone.

When you get right down to it, this is one of the greatest perks of growing up “BIG,” but there are many others.

I realize that, to most, we look poor; we rarely buy new clothing or eat out, and when gas was high our 15 passenger van was kept in park for longer stretches than any of us liked.

But there is so much life happening right here at home!

For instance, we have birthday parties just about every month. We don’t have a lot of money for gifts, so each person tries to think of something special; it may be handmade, or a dollar or thrift store item that has been purchased by scraping our pennies together, but it is always from the heart. Then we fight over who will make the cake, and when the candles are lit the birthday song comes from a voluminous chorus of voices.

In fact, we are a choral group pretty much anywhere. We sing when we worship, we sing when we fold clothes, we sing while we drive around, and we sing when we are supposed to be doing our school work!

At night we cuddle, we tell stories, and when we wake up in the morning we share our dreams over home-made granola.

There is always someone available who will listen, someone who will care, someone who will notice.

I know that “normal” children go to the mall more than once every three years. I realize they don’t have to share cell phones and take turns sitting on the couch on family movie night. But they also have to live with isolation, boredom, and loneliness that my children may never experience, at least while they are home.

Looks can be deceiving.

I was listening to an old tape of a sermon the other day and the preacher was relating a story from his youth.

It seems there was an older man in his community that looked to be the picture of success. He drove an expensive car, lived in a large, nice house, always had on a nice suit, and held a well-paying and prestigious position. When questioned as to the secret of his seeming success, the man was incredulous. He confessed that he was not happy, and that he had multiple ulcers that kept him from enjoying the most basic of foods without experiencing horrific pain.

Here was a man that could afford the most expensive delicacies, and yet he wasn’t able to even eat a bowl of beans without pain. Now, that’s poverty, indeed!

It’s just not enough to look good and dress right, there is so much more to this life than having loads of stuff and impressing others.

Instead of focusing on temporal wealth, my husband and I decided to invest, not just our money, but everything we had, have, or will have in the nurture and training of 15 human beings.

Will our investment bring us any dividends? Well, it already has, as we have laughed and loved, and received more love than any couple would have normally enjoyed in 10 lifetimes!

Also, as the economy changes, it may just be that we have a better retirement plan than many of our more affluent peers.

I suggest here that poverty does not have anything to do with what you own or what you look like. Our children will never have “everything,” but this is true for the entire population of planet earth; even the richest man will never have everything he desires!

But they will have enough, and they will have the opportunity to know God and bless others. We can’t think of one of them that we would have denied life to in exchange for a fatter bank account. If they are lacking in some physical sense, they are never bereft of all of the important things that make life livable, such as companionship and affection. Even if they are mad at us, their parents, they always have each other.

And then there is the Big Picture, when we reach heaven and witness the amazing things God was able to do through the lives of our children; each one prepared and sent out to be workers for the harvest, fruits that will last into eternity!

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21


2 thoughts on “Are Large Families Poor?”

  1. Many of my friends seem to be on a churning “hamster wheel” of activity with their two children. Paramount is “modern life” and “making memories”. The result is exhaustion, barely coping, and permanent emotional roller coaster.
    I also have two children but have opted out of this lifestyle. Our family is so contented, so pleased with the small joys. I know my children would be thrilled with a jar of tadpoles for Christmas (Australian summer).
    Some people would think that incredibly mean. But the fruits are in our family lives. I look forward to having more children because we have made the emotional space for them already. I am NOT a naturally gifted mother. I think parenting lovingly can be an ‘impossible’ mission. Yet I believe God equips us for mission and transforms our weaknesses in ways which point to His glory.
    Truthfully, my children (& we) can get obnoxious and with a false sense of entitlement when we have too much. Sullen, discontented, self-pitying “victims”. Living more simply makes us joyful, empathic, grateful, strong and hopeful. 🙂


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