This past weekend was the Hearts at Home National Convention. The "big name" speaker was Michelle Duggar (who happened to be accompanied by her husband Jim Bob). I had mixed feelings going into the event. I'll admit I've only seen about 1.5 episodes of their reality show, and that was back when they were at 17 kids. But my perception was that they were steeped in legalism, and I'm much more of a "Saved by Grace through Faith alone" kinda girl. So as Michelle and Jim Bob took the stage (she's much shorter than I anticipated), I held my breath, waiting for a diatribe on why I too should have an abundance of children.
But they were a breath of fresh air. Really. They shared about how their faith has shaped their family. They were honest about events that caused them to put their family size in God's hands. They didn't say it in a way that made me feel condemned by our decision to only have two biological children, but made me appreciate them and the beliefs that they have. It all comes down to how God convicts each of us in certain areas. For some, the passage that children are a blessing may mean that we don't limit our family size. For others it may mean that we put our careers on the back burner for a time to be sure we have time and energy to invest in the children God has entrusted to us. Similarly, the Bible tells us to care for widows and orphans. For some that may mean supporting individual families or organizations that help widows and orphans. For others it may mean welcoming the orphan as part of our families.
The Duggars led a second session on practical parenting advice (they should have led one on keeping intimacy alive when you have children...just sayin'). I wasn't in that session, but one of the things they talked about that others came away with was the idea of being sure we train our children for what we expect of them, not just expecting them to perform. And sometimes that means "practicing" a task. I used this example today when I was trying to explain to Aaron that when he was outside and I called to him he needed to yell "here I am" and come running. So we practiced, and Aaron loved it. And when I really did have to yell for him "for real", he did what was expected of him...rather than what normally happens is me yelling and him thinking it would be funny to hide...causing some moments of panic all because he didn't really understand what was expected of him.
If I can say nothing else about the Duggars, they were genuine. They stayed most of the day at the conference. I happened to be sitting outside when they were trying to get into their car to leave. And I say trying because people kept coming up and wanting pictures, which they graciously agreed to although I could read fatigue on their faces. I didn't snap a picture. I didn't rush up for a last minute autograph or word with them. I figured the mama of so many children deserved to get a few quiet moments in the car.