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
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.