Header photo credit Lisa Julia Photography
SummaryPeople tend to think a large family can’t be done well these days. Christa Owen says that what they are missing is that with God, all things are possible.
“Yes, they’re all ours.”
“No, we’re not like the Brady Bunch.”
“Yes, we know. how it happened.”
“No, we’re not done, at least I don’t think.”
“Yes, my hands are full but it sure beats the alternative.”
I have spouted off these responses more often than I could count. I imagine enduring people’s comments over and over again must be similar to how Arnold Schwarzenegger feels each time someone thinks they are the first to say to him, “Hasta la vista, baby” while attempting an Austrian accent. People tend to think large families can’t be done well these days.
They are missing that with God, all things are possible.
How Big is Big
Strange as it sounds, my husband and I didn’t feel like we were a big family until we had our eighth child. God thought we could benefit from another one two years later and so we have nine. Our children came in quick succession. We don’t have more than a 24 month gap.
It was clear right away that we were a very big family to the society at large when we announced we were expecting our fifth baby. Now as a family of eleven, we are considered over the top crazy and that is okay with me.
In our family’s own day-in and day-out routine, we feel like a normal family doing normal things. I can’t imagine mothering any differently. However, when I consider that we have had a toddler for 14 years or I see my grocery cart next to any other in the grocery store, I am reminded, we are not normal. Choosing to be a disciple of Christ is also not normal and we choose that too. So why not go large and grow many disciples?
It’s a Parade
There is no way around it. Our family cannot leave our home without being on parade. We attract attention while driving around town in our 9 foot tall, 12 foot long bright white van with purposely dark tinted windows. We attract attention as we exit our van pushing and shoving. We attract attention as we walk into Costco in a gaggle while simultaneously taking up the entire driving lane.
We think we can blend into the crowds while entering church on busy Sundays but alas, we attract attention there as well. I make the best of our parade. When I see people looking, I smile and wave a hello. I know that more than looking at our children, they are looking at me.
When they look at me, who do they see? Do they see a crazy lady or a lady who chooses to live a crazy life? It’s my moment to show them Christ.
No Staying Still
As an active duty military family, we move frequently. Uncle Sam sees fit that we only leave a footprint and move on. The joke is on him as we now leave 22 footprints.
We recently moved our family 2,300 miles across the country. The frequent moves out of state enable my husband and me a unique opportunity to example our sacrificial life and outward Catholic faith to great multitudes. We are not only a large family by today’s standards, but also a transient large family.
Let’s Throw in Homeschooling for Good Measure.
Now it’s true there are some people our family did not provide shock and awe; but we acquired their attention quickly when we suddenly announced we would be homeschooling our 7 school-aged children.
That definitely got those heads to turn– mine included. Once our family seemed to have hit the “large stage,” I was asked time and again if I homeschooled. I would quickly answer, “only morality and theology.” I honestly couldn’t fathom homeschooling. It just wasn’t for me.
With another move fast approaching and a high schooler this time, the idea hit me to homeschool and to my own shock and awe, it sounded like a good idea. Instead of running screaming from the idea, I became very excited.
My excitement was contagious and before I knew it, our children were enjoying the idea as well. Now that we are well into our first year of homeschooling, friends and family are admitting they didn’t think I could do it, considering it was so many all at once. Why do they doubt what God can do?
Discovering Seton’s rich Catholic curriculum and using the gifts of structure and organization God gave me early on, I am a very happy homeschool Mama. In Catholic school, our children delved into their faith in Religion class. With Seton Home Study, our children read about our Catholic heritage and our Catholic faith in every subject and that is unique and beautiful.
I have learned a lot, as well, simply by sitting alongside the younger ones as well as older ones coming to me and saying, “Mama, did you know…?” It’s fun and real to say, “No, I didn’t. Cool.” I trust every bit of everything they read.
I have really appreciated the Seton phone counselors so ready to help me on this new journey. They have been encouraging and helpful. I couldn’t be happier with where we are as a family building His kingdom one diaper at a time.
Who Gets the Credit?
Jesus Christ, of course. I want to give credit where credit is due. My husband and I could not do a single bit of what we do in any given day without the immense grace and beautiful faith God gives us. When people hear of our family size they often state how they wouldn’t have the patience for it.
Now, when people hear of us homeschooling they often state how they wouldn’t have the patience for it. The truth is, without my love for Jesus, I wouldn’t either. I recognize that as with all the virtues, the virtue of patience is one to be strived for, practiced and chosen.
Prayer, perseverance and patience are just a few of the tools we use to maneuver through our not-so-common life.
It’s our deep love for the Lord and His Church that motivates us to do what most don’t.
Love like that is contagious. Can you join us in spreading it?