Parenthood. It’s a role God calls many to and one that positions a parent as the primary faith influencer in their child’s life. It’s a journey full of laughter and surprise, joy and sorrow, pain and blessing. And through it all, God provides a peace that surpasses all understanding.
As parents of five young children, Noah and Lindsay Whitaker know well the responsibility and joy that come with the territory. They share both the challenges and the ways the Lord encourages them through each season.
"Other than the issue of crowd control," Noah jokes as they begin to share their story, "we certainly feel challenged by the task of training each of our children’s souls well."
Originally from Georgia, Noah and Lindsay moved to Birmingham to join Brook Hills in the fall of 2010. They’ve been married over seven years, and their children range in age from 11 months to six years old.
Training five children under seven comes with its own unique set of challenges, but Noah and Lindsay have been learning through day-to-day struggles.
"We’ve both seen the Lord’s hand in teaching us a greater measure of patience with our kids and ourselves in this season of life," they say. "We began the parenting journey wanting, even expecting, to sprint in some areas of training (such as potty training, swimming, and sports), only to find ourselves frustrated and discouraged when our expectations weren’t met. We’re still coming to grips with the fact that sometimes things move more slowly when traveling in a herd – but God is faithful. His gifts are good and perfect and never a day early or late."
Recently, Noah and Lindsay attended the Parent Commissioning Class here at Brook Hills for the first time.
They describe the experience: "It was a great encouragement to our hearts. Not only was it great to be in a room with countless other brothers and sisters walking through the same sacred task, it was beneficial to hear John Butterfield share about the various seasons of raising children. We were reminded that while it’s important to focus on the to-do list at hand pertaining to the present needs of our children, it’s even more crucial, and even life-giving, to step back and get perspective on the bigger picture."
One passage Noah and Lindsay often turn to is Hebrews 12:1-2:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
"At the end of every day," they share, "we remember that it’s God Himself who saved us and set us apart. We should spend more of our time and energy on our knees instead of looking back with anxiety, stress, or regret over our own failures."
As they seek God in their parenting journey, they find His grace. "Our biggest encouragement in this season is to see other large families in our community that are ahead of us in the race, and we are taking heart – and notes – from their example."
They see the church as a vital tool given by God in shepherding their children.
"Each week, our kids encounter our brothers and sisters in the faith family, and it reinforces the godly behavior and exhortation we seek to display ourselves. Just as the Bible says in John 13:35, that all people will know who we are by our love for one another, we believe our children will be impacted greatly by the life and health of biblical community they witness in and around us."
Lindsay continues, "Between our current small group and many friends, our children have an extended spiritual family that has given them much more than we could give them ourselves. We are never at a loss for brothers and sisters who would gladly rearrange their schedules to help us with our kids if we needed them. And our children view them more like aunts and uncles rather than 'the people we go to church with.' We actually prefer to teach our kids to address our close friends as uncles and aunts. It’s been a great way to talk with them about spiritual rebirth and the family of God."
Noah and Lindsay consider their task as parents a humbling and precious gift from God.
"The stories of God’s faithfulness to an undeserving pair are many (and we would love to share with any and all who care to reach out), but our primary encouragement to whoever we meet is that our God can be trusted. Where He calls you, not only will He provide all of your needs, but the courage to walk the journey out with Him as well."
Noah and Lindsay Whitaker have five children: Jude (6), Salem (4), Cana (3), Justus (2), and Jubilee (11 months). When Noah was called to serve on the Global Disciple-Making team in 2010, they moved here from Georgia. He served on the team for four years before moving into Marketing. Noah has also served as an elder and has been a Small Group Leader since 2011. Lindsay stays at home with the kids, and they are in the first year of their homeschool journey.