Finding the Fun and Fulfillment of a Big Family
About the Guest
Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey, a father of six, talks with parents of 12, Bill and Pam Mutz, about the joy and challenges of raising a large family.
Bill and Pam MutzBill is the President of Lakeland Automall in Lakeland, Florida. He has been involved with the ministries of FamilyLife and Promise Keepers. Bill and Pam serve in their local church and various community boards. Pam graduated as a physical education major, mentors and teaches women's Bible studies, and is a commissioned Centurion through Prison Fellowship. Bill and Pam are the parents of 12 children.
Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey, a father of six, talks with parents of 12, Bill and Pam Mutz, about the joy and challenges of raising a large family.
Finding the Fun and Fulfillment of a Big Family
Pam: So when I came home a month later, and I just had this sick feeling, and I went to the doctor, I was like, "What is going on?" I was shocked, totally shocked.
I just said, "Lord, you know what you're doing," and so I got down on my knees, and I said, "Lord, by faith, I thank you that you are in control, because my feelings aren't there, but I'm just going to trust you to bring those feelings, and He did."
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, March 11th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Pam Mutz was surprised the first time she got pregnant, but less surprised the second, and then the third, the fourth, the fifth, and the sixth, and the seventh …
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. Friends, the next time you're in Lakeland, if you're in the mood for a Ford, a Mazda, an Isuzu, or a Hyundai, stop by Lakeland Auto Mall. It's right off the freeway in Lakeland …
Dennis: Hold it, hold it. What are you doing, Bob?
Bob: I'm auditioning for a commercial gig. See, we have with us in the studio today, the president, the general manager, the founder of the Lakeland Auto Mall, and he does his own commercials.
Dennis: But our broadcast is not about …
Dennis: Hyundai, yeah.
Dennis: That was a malt, I thought.
Bob: You couldn't get a job with this dealership, but I'm applying. Okay, how am I doing?
Bill: You're doing great.
Bob: Okay, see, there could be a whole new radio career for me.
Dennis: I think there probably is.
Bill: I think Little Rock really wants you.
Dennis: I think so. Well, if you didn't pick all that up, we have been joined in the studio by Bill and Pam Mutz. Bill, Pam, welcome to FamilyLife Today. And are you going to hire Bob or not?
Bill: We're still considering it.
Bob: Afer much prayer and deliberation.
Dennis: You can see by the end of the time. Bill is a graduate of the University of Indiana.
Bill: That's right, only we called it Indiana University.
Dennis: Oh, excuse me, I'm sorry, the Harvard of the Midwest.
Bill: That's correct.
Dennis: We call it that, and he is the president and owner of Lakeland Auto Mall in Lakeland, Florida.
Bob: Where you can get a great deal …
Dennis: That's enough, that's enough, Bob. And he and his wife, Pam, live there, along with their 12 children – actually, one yet to be named.
Bob: It sounds like a team, you know, "player to be named later."
Dennis: In the draft. I want to see, Bill, I want to see if you can name all of your children with their ages, right now, in less than 60 seconds.
Bill: Oh, this is mean. Carrie, 20; Jonathan, he's with the Lord; Jacob, 17; Laurie, 15;
Bob: He's covering.
Dennis: He's choking.
Bill: I hate this.
Pam: Ozzie …
Bill: Ozzie, who is 13; Kelly, who is 11; Michael, who is 9; Eric, who is 7; Mark, who is 5; Kirstie, who is 3 – the ages really mess me up – then Steven, who is 1; and then the one that's cooking.
Dennis: The one that's in the hangar right now.
Bob: A little baby, and you're three or four weeks away from delivering?
Pam: That's right.
Bob: And you don't know what this one is going to be?
Pam: I need a surprise to get me through labor.
Dennis: And help me one more time here – there are how many boys and how many girls?
Pam: Seven boys, four are girls.
Dennis: Seven boys and four girls, all right. And we don't know what this next one is.
Bill: That's correct.
Pam: We prayed for twins, Dennis, because we wanted the girls to catch up, but the doctor said there's no chance.
Bill: No twins this time.
Dennis: Well, Pam, I happen to know that you are athletic not only because you got a degree from the University of Northern Colorado, where you went to school, but you ran a marathon, isn't that right?
Pam: Many marathons, so it's not the big 26.
Bill: It was just 13 miles.
Dennis: Just 13.
Bob: Just a half, and what was your time?
Pam: I finished, Bob, I don't know.
Bob: That's all that matters.
Dennis: Well, Bill and Pam, along with attending their local church, leading a Homebuilders Bible study, they have also helped lead a FamilyLife Marriage Conference in their community in years past, also helped out with Promise Keepers, but they speak at our FamilyLife Marriage Conferences all around the country.
Some of our listeners have seen them at these conferences, and we want to talk with them today about big families and the fun of a big family. In fact, I want to read this passage, because I think this passage I am about to read here may be the passage of the Bible that is least believed today of the Christian community, and I'll tell you why after I read it.
It's Psalm 127, verses 3 through 5 – "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward like arrows in the hand of a warrior so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They shall not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate."
And the reason I think that verse, that passage of Scripture may be the least believed in the Bible is merely because of the looks we've had, and we have six children – the looks we get when we go out to eat or when we arrive at church or when we're in the Christian community – "You have how many children? Six?"
Now, Bill, Pam, you've undoubtedly had more than just a casual glance or a look.
Bill: We'll have people that come over and say, "Is this a birthday party?"
Pam: Or when we pull up to a restaurant and the kids unload, one child after another, out of the van, they'll look at you, and they go, "Do you know what causes this?" I think I'm beginning to understand.
Bob: We've had that question asked, and my answer is always, "Yeah, and we like it."
Bill: That's right.
Bob: So there.
Dennis: And the Scriptures say right here that children are a gift, they're a reward, and we're blessed if we have them. So the broadcast over the next couple of days is going to be about the blessing of God through children. And in the four pillars of a family reformation, the fourth pillar is that of leaving a legacy of spiritual vitality to the next generation, and I believe one of the primary ways we are commanded by God to do that is to have children. We are commanded by Him to be fruitful and fill the earth with a godly legacy – children who carry the name of Christ to the next generation.
Bob: I have to ask you guys right off the bat – when you were courting one another, and you realized you were headed toward marriage. Was there a point, Pam, when the discussion of children came up, and you started talking about should we have a big family, small family? Do you remember?
Pam: You know, I really don't remember us talking that much about children because I looked at Bill, and said, "Bill, babies are ugly, and they all look alike. Who would want one?" And that's quite the opposite of how I feel today, as you can tell. But I was just very athletic, I was just into what I was doing, and I was headed in one direction, and the Lord just took me a whole completely other direction.
Bob: So in your mind, it was no kids for us?
Pam: Yeah, well, at least not for a couple of years. I remember making that comment, "Oh, Bill, let's don't have kids for at least a couple of years." And I asked my mom, "Did I like kids?" She goes, "Pam, I think you babysat once in your life." I had a horse, and that was much safer than boys or kids.
Dennis: You know, seriously, that was my opinion of children, too, although I wasn't talking about necessarily the appearance of children and just thinking they all looked alike, I just didn't think that much of children at any level. And yet, as we got married, and we started having children, it's like God performed some heart surgery to enlarge our hearts and, frankly, for us, with only six children, and I feel like Bob …
Pam: Don't say "only," Bob.
Dennis: Bob, I feel like you and I are in the …
Bob: In the small family …
Dennis: We're in the small family league compared to this couple, but I feel like what happened was God just stepped in there, and He began to give us a vision for what a family can be. And do you feel like that same surgery got performed on your hearts as well?
Bill: I think so. For us, when we got married, I wanted to have four kids, and I wanted us to have them right away, and so when we would talk about it, Pam would say, "Well, maybe later, maybe later," but this was really after we had gotten married.
Unfortunately, for Pam, she got pregnant on our honeymoon, so she was a little surprised. It took her until about the fourth of fifth month of pregnancy before she got excited about the fact that she was pregnant.
Bob: You were really depressed during the first part of the pregnancy?
Pam: I was just so totally shocked because my doctor said, "Don't go on birth control, you're going to have a difficult time getting pregnant." And so when I came home a month later, and I just had this sick feeling, and I went to the doctor, I was like, "What is going on?" I was shocked, totally shocked.
But just as – I really didn't want to get married until I was like 28 years old, but the Lord brought Bill into my life when I was 22. We got married at 23. Then I just said, "Lord, you know what you're doing," and so I got down on my knees, and I said, "Lord, by faith, I thank you that you're in control, because my feelings aren't there, but I'm just going to trust you to bring those feelings," and he did.
Dennis: You know, before we go much further, and we do this on Friday night and again on Saturday at our FamilyLife Marriage Conferences, there are a number of our listeners who are struggling to get pregnant. It may be just to have a child, their first child, or a second, or a third, and they've never had an easy time of getting pregnant and having children, and I know that broadcasts like these are very painful for those folks to hear, and we, in no way, want to make light of those situations, because the statistics are quite astounding at the number of people who can't get pregnant when they want to, and the number of couples who are permanently infertile.
And yet, at the same time, we want to celebrate family here, and celebrate the tremendous privilege God has given us in raising children, as the Scripture said here. And the quiver was meant to be full of them, and I think sometimes we are allowing the quiver to shrink without looking to God as you did, Pam, and say, "By faith I thank you for this child, and I ask you to enlarge my capabilities here."
I wonder today if a lot of couples are having small families who really ought to be having a few more children to carry the message to the next generation.
Bill: I think there is a practical side to this, and that's what happens in our world today is that as we get pulled in and molded and conform to the world, what we do is we take a look at finances and all those issues that are very normal to talk about, and we're in a society where two kids and a dog fits very nicely.
And so I don't know so much that, many times, people are making a decision adversely against large families as they accept the position that a smaller family is enough. The question becomes, in my mind, are we open to whether or not God would give us more.
Dennis: That really is the issue, is God's will. What is He asking us to do, not what is the world squeezing us into here?
Bill: Ultimately, our trust – the issues in life become the balance between trust and control – how much will we trust God versus how much do we feel like we have to have our arms around and control the circumstances.
Bob: You brought up a key word there – control. Let's talk about …
Pam: Things being out of control?
Bob: No, let's talk about …
Bill: We can do that.
Bob: … the decision whether or not you're going to be involved in birth control in your family. Now, you were told by a doctor that you'd probably never be able to have kids or it would be very difficult to get pregnant, and, all of a sudden, you're pregnant right out of the chute, the baby comes along, you're thrilled, you look at Bill and say, "Let's have 12 more of these," right?
Pam: No, what I said was, I looked at him and said, "I've just had my six-week follow-up and the doctor asked me about birth control. Bill, what do you want to do?" And he looked at me, and he said, "Pam, let's trust the Lord for our children." And I looked at him and said, "What? You're crazy! The Bible says anything not done from faith is sin, and I don't have the faith to believe that. So give me a month to pray about it."
Meanwhile, I was praying for my sister-in-law who was going through very difficulty with infertility. She had endometriosis, and as I read the Scripture and was praying for her, I realized it said that God opens the womb, God closes the womb. And Jeremiah 1:5, He says, "I knew you before you were in the womb," and, of course, what Dennis had read and then also Psalm 139 where He knows our days, and so God used His Word to begin to develop in me the faith to believe and to trust Him.
Dennis: So you all have come to the conclusion then that you will have no birth control practiced in your marriage?
Bill: That's really where we came, and it was not our intent when we started, to take that position, but, really, you look at all the areas we trust God, for all the provisions, and the little things in life. You'll hear even people say "I pray for a parking lot space," you know, "and there it is when I get there to the parking lot," and yet we won't take this whole area of childbearing and give it up to Him. We won't let this area go because we have to be more practical in our lives about that. This is a biggie.
Bob: When Pam said to you, "What do we want to do about birth control?" and you said, "Let's trust the Lord," was that off the top of your head or had you been thinking about it?
Bill: I had been thinking about it, and it was the whole area, in my mind, of legacy. When you think about what lasts forever, almost everything that we spend our affections and our time on is crash and burn. People and the Word of God last forever. Well, if, in fact, we want to disciple our children and have them be, really, the fruit of our womb and be the fruit in a ministry in the world in which we live, then there is never going to be a greater discipleship program that we're going to have an opportunity to have than with our kids.
So if, in fact, those children can last forever, and that they can accomplish God's eternal purposes, why, in the world, if He wants to give us the blessing of having them, would we say, "No, that's enough."
Dennis: You know, Bill, I wonder if we really have the picture of children that we really are blessed, as you've just said – that they do represent legacy; that they represent the image of God to the next generation.
And I know, at this point, this is not an easy issue to discuss. But, nonetheless, I think we do need to move back to Scripture and say, "Do we have God's perspective on children?" Are we looking at them through His eyes? And are we looking at them through the eyes of faith rather than the eyes of the world, which says, "Oh, you may not be able to feed them" or "You may not be able to clothe them."
You know, those are really not issues that are relevant, in my opinion, here in America. Now, there are places where, in America, where that is an issue but, for the most part, it's a standard of living, a style of living – how much do we want to give them rather than giving life.
Bob: Don't you think, Dennis, that a lot of couples just have never stopped and asked themselves the question – "What would God have us do in this situation?" They've just kind of picked up on what's going on in the culture and decided based on the culture rather than on the Scriptures how they are going to make whatever choice they make.
Dennis: Yeah, and I would just have to be honest, because I don't want to sit here and sound like some pious parent or radio host on the broadcast – this was an area that Barbara and I, as a couple, have had many, many discussions on. We talked about it a great deal, and, yes, we did practice birth control, okay? I can just save someone from writing me the letter to ask me what my personal beliefs are, and I can say to you that I may arrive in heaven to find out that my faith was too little, and my God was not big enough. And you know what? At that point I will stand convicted by the Lord, and I will give an account at that point.
I honestly believe, though, I really come back to this, and Barbara and I are left wondering – did we do the right thing? Did we do the right thing? And I've got to say to you, Bill and Pam, as I listen to you and as I watch your family, there is no question in my mind that you are believing God. You are stepping out in faith trusting Him, and that's where He wants us.
Bob: But you've undoubtedly had couples who have come to you and said, "I could never do that," or you've seen circumstances where you would say, "If we were in those circumstances we might make a different choice?"
Bill: Sure, we probably have the two most frequent questions at conferences that couples who are wrestling with this area come up to ask us about our, number one, do you believe in birth control? And I said the issue to us is not so much birth control as it is if you raise your hand up, and you make a fist, opening your fingers before the Lord, "Are you taking this issue and saying it's something we're willing to pray about, to give up, and let Him lead us on?"
As opposed to just making it a decision because it's practical. If the Lord showed us a reason not to go forward, gave us any conviction level at all, if there were a medical reason for some reason for Pam to stop, we would stop immediately. We would take whatever steps there are.
What we have done is just opened our hand, and what He has given us is the conviction to trust Him. Every couple must do that themselves, because if one person in the relationship believes that they should go forward, and the other doesn't, then that makes that person the weaker in faith and subject to criticism and what has to happen is it has to happen as a couple.
Dennis: Yes, and that's why those discussions together are so important, and they need to start, I believe, even as Bob was kidding you at the beginning of this broadcast, between single people as they are dating. You really ought to know, to some degree, what is the other person's belief about children, because there are a lot of singles today who aren't quite sure they want children, period, ever.
And yet I believe the Bible commands us to have children. I don't think having children or not having children is an option. I think it's clear from Genesis, chapter 1, He commanded them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, and I don't see anything in Scripture where God has rescinded the command to multiply.
Bob: Unless He Himself has closed the womb, couples ought to be fruitful.
Dennis: That's exactly right. What we are talking about here and being quite frank and honest about this is this is a matter of personal choice for a couple, a private choice they need to pray about, they need to grapple with in prayer before the Lord, and when it all boils down, Bob, it really doesn't matter what Bob Lepine believes, Dennis Rainey believes, Bill and Pam Mutz, it really boils down to what are you, as a couple, going to come to a conviction about when it comes to this subject of children and how many and how are you going to trust the Lord and deal with this issue in faith and utter dependence upon Him?
Bob: And I want to let our listeners know, Dennis, that in the coming months, we have planned a series that we're going to be airing here on FamilyLife Today that deals with the different choices couples make in regard to birth control and contraception; looking at those who have made different choices, why they've made those choices, and what are the pros and cons of those choices.
So listeners are going to have an opportunity to think through the issue, and that's really what you're talking about. We're talking about couples prayerfully considering what God's Word has to say, communicating as a couple, praying together, and seeking the Lord rather than just saying, "Hey, the doctor said what kind of birth control should we have, what do you think?"
Pam: Going back to that, that is the key word, "prayerfully." And as we look in James, He says that He has given each of us a measure of faith, and perhaps this is the measure of faith that God has given Bill and I for where we are in our life.
Dennis: You know, I appreciate that statement. That has some humility in it that allows your life to speak. There are those today who hold so passionately to some of these convictions, that they leave room for no one else to have any other conclusion other than theirs, and I've looked at the Scripture. Barbara and I have talked about this a great deal. If we had felt that absolutely, unequivocally, birth control was wrong, then we would have dealt with that before the Lord. We didn't come to that conclusion.
Bob: Yes, but you did come to some conclusions about God's view on children and you thought through some biblical principles related to contraception. In fact, on our website at FamilyLife.com, there are a couple of articles you've written on those subjects, and if folks want to find out more or think more about this for their own family, they can go to FamilyLife.com, and on the right-hand side of the screen where it says "Today's Broadcast," if they click in that box, that will take them to an area of the site where they can access those articles that you've written, and they can review some other resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife including the book you and Barbara wrote on growing a spiritually strong family.
And that's really the bottom line. No matter what the size of your family is, the objective for your family ought to be to raise children who have a passion for Christ, who want to love and serve Him. There is information about the book, "Growing a Spiritually Strong Family," on our website at FamilyLife.com, and I'll mention a second book called, "Love in the House," where a father of 13 children writes about some of their experiences in a large family. And, again, there is information about that book on our website, our new, improved, updated website. It looks great, by the way. And if you click the box on the right side of the screen that says "Today's Broadcast," it will take you to an area where you can get more information about these articles and these books that are available from us here at FamilyLife Today.
You can order online, if you'd like, or you can call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, that's 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and we can make arrangements to have the books that you need sent to you.
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Now, tomorrow Bill and Pam Mutz are going to be back with us. We're going to learn more about the challenges and the joys of raising a dozen children. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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