Rogers 8, no mistake

I can see the looks…people mentally counting as they look at me walking through the grocery store. In a country where the average number of children is less than 2 (1.8 according to the World Bank), seeing more than a couple of kids in one family always raises eye brows. Even in church, where people are at least familiar with what God said in Psalm 127 (that children are a blessing), you don’t see many families with more than four kids. Then comes the Rodgers; we have eight. Yes. You read that right. We have eight children. In fact, I have been pregnant thirteen times.
Yes. We know what causes that. Yes, they are all ours. Yes, all with the same dad. No, none of them are adopted. And no, none of them are twins. Yes, I’m tired. No, we’re not Mormon or Catholic. I don’t have a nanny, a housekeeper, or a cook. Or at least not paid, anyway. Our oldest is 22 and the youngest will turn 7 in March. We have six girls and two boys, and the boys came towards the end of the line. No. We didn’t keep trying for a boy. We just took God quite literally when He said children were a blessing, and we trusted Him to give us as many as He wanted us to have. Before you say that’s why birth control was invented, let me share a little secret; it’s not 100% effective. Some of my “large family mama” friends have more kids than I do, and all of whom were conceived using multiple methods of birth control.
Some people wonder, though few ask, how we manage to pay for our eight children, when “experts” say it costs upwards of $300,000 to raise a child to adulthood. Well let me tell you…we haven’t spent that much! In fact, we live at the Federal Poverty Level (which isn’t hard when you have a large family). But we’re not poor by a long shot. We have a beautiful home, drive two decent (but older) cars (that are paid for), and have found ways to make life work. We’re frugal, and we’ve done without some things people consider “necessities” but we have a vibrant and fulfilling life. It doesn’t need to cost a small fortune to raise a child. It really doesn’t. And not having every little thing builds character.
Before you start picturing the Dugger family on a smaller scale, let me burst your bubble. Our home is nice, but we only have four bedrooms. And it isn’t always clean. Our kids don’t wear color coordinated outfits, skirts rarely make an appearance, and I’m domestically challenged. We arrive late many places; the joke is I get an extra 15 min for every kid. And my kids have gone places with messy hair, dirty clothes, and missing shoes or socks. Our dishes don’t always get done before we leave our house, and my laundry room has alternating explosions between Mt. Washmore and Mt. Foldmore, depending on the day. We’ve been known to get dressed out of the clean laundry baskets in the laundry room!
By many measures of worldly success, we fail miserably. The world measures success so differently than God does, though. The world measures success by performance, possessions, and popularity. God doesn’t; He sees us through the blood of Jesus, regardless of how we perform. Yes, life is busy, and we miss out on some of the luxuries many Americans take for granted. We don’t have a large retirement account, or college funds for our kids. But we do have is a wealth money can’t buy. We’ve seen God provide for our children’s needs in incredible ways, and like the psalmist said in Psalm 37:25, we’ve never seen our children forsaken or begging bread.
One of the richest blessings of a large family is the community we enjoy. It’s very, very rich; so rich, in fact, that people want to hang out with us because of it. We’ve been “adopted” by several of our older girls’ friends; holidays usually find at least a couple of extras. And we laugh. A lot.
The other rich blessing is watching our children begin to live out their faith. Like the Apostle John says in 3 John 1:14, there is nothing to sweeter.
The craziest part is, we didn’t start out planning to have a big family. In fact, I didn’t really want kids. But our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. A friend’s note, about six weeks afterwards, helped me understand that we’d lost a baby. And God used that to change my heart. Even then, we didn’t plan on having so many kids. But God blessed us! Now, after almost twenty-four years of marriage, we can look back and see how God has used our kids to make us more like Him and to bind us closer together. It is a beautiful and precious (if sometimes uncomfortable) thing.
My husband and I just got back from Uganda, where we spoke to several hundred people about marriage. It’s the first time we’ve ever been invited to speak somewhere because of the size of our family. In Uganda, the average family size is ten. They didn’t know Americans had large families, so we were kind of like celebrities. And being able to share about marriage because of our large family gave us an opportunity to look at our relationship and see the ways God has used our children to help draw us together as a couple. It’s been a very special journey.
Though we didn’t initially plan to talk about it in Uganda, we were asked to talk about sex. And one of the thoughts we shared was that sex starts in the kitchen, not the bedroom…or in the back yard, watching my beloved husband love on his kids. It is so romantic, and ministers greatly to my heart to see my husband be a great dad. It’s not a natural thing; he grew up without a dad. But because of the power of the Holy Spirit to bring redemption and healing, Chris is a fantastic father.
More than anything, I’ve learned that God is good, and His promises can be trusted. He loves us and gives us good gifts, especially our children. When He said children are a blessing, it was to a different culture, where a large family meant help with chores and responsibilities, ensuring survival. It was easy to see the value of God’s words. But today, children are considered a liability, an inconvenience, and expensive. Those perspectives have even permeated the Church, sadly. But God’s Word is true! Children are a blessing. We’re living proof. And as we head into our twilight years, we’re beginning to look forward to the joys of grandchildren. One thing’s for sure; holidays will never be boring at our house!!
Chris and Marchauna work with Cru Spokane, helping connect people in Spokane to the heart of God. They are the proud parents of eight children plus one son-in-law and a teenage African refugee.