Having 5 kids in Portugal makes you a lot of things. Don’t bother with what reality says, perception contradicts her. Having 5 kids definitely makes you a lot of things, pleasant or not.
Having 5 kids at 38, in Portugal makes you even more things. If I were 88 with 5 kids that would be no big deal. That was another time and another generation. 38’s another story. Gen Xers don’t have 5 kids.
A few weeks ago, a doctor asked Nina how many children she had. When she responded, the doctor asked her again, but slower. She responded again. The third time incredulously, thinking that my dear wife didn’t understand the question in Portuguese, she asked in English. In Portuguese Nina assured her, “I know what you said. I have 5 kids!”
5 kids make you weird. While I recognize that I’m a little strange, the kids didn’t make me like that. When the medium number of kids per family is 1.6, you’ve crossed the threshold from different to weird. Stares, whispers and a bunch of head shaking happen when you go anywhere with our troop.
I know a pile of Portuguese families after living here for 5 years, and I know less than a handful of them that have more than 2 kids. I know exactly one that has 4. It just isn’t normal here.
5 kids make you rich. That’s what everybody thinks. Perception’s got a big mouth.
We’re not rich, but the Lord graciously takes care of us. Our house is a little more spacious because it needs to be. Our van holds only our immediate family and school books which we have to buy are outrageously expensive…but the group hugs are much tighter, kickball games have less ghost men and chore time is getting easier as they all grow.
Adam Clarke said it best:
Wherever God sends mouths, he sends meat.
5 kids also apparently make you an expert. Even if we’re not, again, perception tells a different story. Big mouth.
We’ve gotten our fair share of experience over the years and have been able to practice each lesson on the next youngest almost as soon as the “enlightenment” comes.
Our kids aren’t perfect and neither are their parents. I don’t pretend to be an expert at anything. Really. The Lord has simply smiled on our feeble efforts, and along the way we have put into practice wisdom that other, much wiser people have passed on to us.
This Friday I’ll have the enormous responsibility of passing some of this wisdom on to others so that they might point their kids in God’s direction. So, I’m going to preview some of my material here, first. Since the seminar will all be done in Portuguese and nobody at the church where I’ll be reads this blog, I’m not in any danger of spoiling it for anyone.
The theme of the conference is, “Hitting the Mark”, a phrase turned from Psalms 127:5 that reads:
As arrows are in the hands of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
So, let me give you this and I’ll let you go back to Facebook or the Braves or Duck Dynasty, whatever that is?.? Let me give you one piece of simple advice from one father to another. From one parent to another, please keep this in mind:
You’ve got to be strong.
…in the hands of a mighty man…
Physically. Morally. Spiritually.
If you intend to point your kids toward God, you better be mighty. It’s not for the faint of heart. Today, it’s not for the cowardly. You better be able to stand up to a 14 year old girl more than once a month, but especially once a month. Her life won’t end if she scales back the make-up or buys a longer skirt.
Dad, there’s going to come a time when you’ll need to plant a firm finger in the sternum of your 6′, 200lb fullback that thinks you’re an idiot. Do it. Take keys from him. Make a stand. Talk to him, not at him.
You better be strong enough to look your kids in the eyes and apologize to them, and pray with them, and cry with them, whenever you need to. They’re under our care and we better not be wimpy, and mousy. We don’t have room to be wishy or washy.
…a mighty man…
Make the tough call. Discipline them when they need it. Stand your ground. Confront the fear that you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re losing the battle to this world. Meet it head on.
One day when they fly straight and hit the mark, you’ll be glad you did.