Children are a gift from the LORD. They are a reward from him. (Psalms 127:3)
When Traci and I were dating, we would ask each other many questions to find out if we were "right" for one another. One of the questions, of course, centered around children. How many would we have? I was ready for a big family 6 kids would be great for me. Traci had a different idea. "One...then we'll see." She wasn't so sure about the whole "pain of childbirth" thing.
After our first child, Becca, Traci kind of softened up to the idea of more. In fact, our second child (Amanda) was born a mere 16 months after Becca. In one and a third years, we doubled our family size. We had enough children to force us into man-to-man coverage...no more double teaming in an emergency. Traci was ready to add a third child to our portfolio and I was wondering if 6 was really a good idea. Once Joshua, our only son, was born I was getting a little freaked out. Now there were officially more of them than us. I mean, Traci and I are good, but would we be good enough! Traci had difficulties with this last pregnancy, taking the romance out of the idea of having more. All three of us agreed (Traci, me, and God) that it was time to stop having more children...and we did.
There were many times in those early years that I questioned our wisdom...ok I questioned our sanity. "What were we thinking!" Three little ones in the house forced us into zone defense and sometimes their offense ware more than we could handle. There's no use crying over spilled milk, but what about a gallon of Crisco Oil poured on the brand new living room carpeting? Do you stop to take a picture when he gets paint all over his hands (and face and walls and mom's piano bench), or do you simply contain, clean, and cry? Raising three children really can be an adventure.
Our children aren't fully grown and out of the house yet, but all three are taller than Traci now and a couple are threatening to outstretch me. With one in college and the other two in High School, I find myself with a dramatically different perspective on parenting than I did in the early years of their lives. I'm not nearly as freaked out any more. In fact, I find myself savoring the moments much more than I used to.
I guess that I've reached the point where I see my children as God intended me to see them. They are a gift. They are a special gift given exclusively to me and Traci. In fact, they are the greatest gift God has ever given the two of us as a team. Sure, God has given me greater gifts as an individual person. Salvation and the gift of His Spirit would probably top that list. But as a couple, I would put our children at the top of the list. (Even the "one flesh" stuff will eventually fade, but our children will still be able to shovel the snow off the driveway!)
I hope and pray that I treat them like the gift they are. I want to see them as a gift from God. I want to care for them as I would a precious gemstone. I want to help them see their value so they will retain that value even when they encounter others in the world who don't see it. I want to help them find partners in life who will recognize the value in each of them and treat them as a gift from God as well.