When Ramona and I were first married, I didn’t want children. I had met some and I found them disgusting. One Thanksgiving Day, I watched my one-year-old nephew put potatoes in his ears and peas down his diaper. He blew disgusting things out his nostrils. And then he wanted a kiss.

That afternoon, as I slept off a turkey hangover, he waddled into the room and rested his very ripe diaper on my forehead. I sat up thinking, I'll have children just as soon as cows produce root beer.

But one night, my wonderful wife stood before me in some rather expensive lingerie and said, "Let’s have kids. Tons of them." It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Six months later, I found myself in pre-natal class. I learned how to breathe. I watched what should have been R-rated films. I was given a tennis ball. "Rub her back with this in the delivery room," they told me. I thought, I bet Solomon never attended pre-natal class.

On May 31, 1986, I paced a hospital hallway with my wife. Or at least I think it was my wife. But this girl had changed. "Rub my back!" she ordered. I pulled out the tennis ball. "Don’t touch me!" she commanded. This continued for about 14 hours, until she brought me face-to-face with the very first miracle I’ve ever witnessed: my firstborn son. He was wrinkly and purple. "Stephen," said my wife, past the widest smile I’d ever seen on her face.

And something happened. It was like a great, big voice said, "Callaway, for the first 25 years of your life, you’ve been a hypocrite. You’ve been close to the church but far from God. You won’t be able to hide it from this guy."

That night, I knelt by an empty bed in an empty house. "God," I prayed, "make me real. I want my precious little boy to hunger and thirst after righteousness. I want him to love Jesus with everything he’s got."

Some refer to me as a child-rearing expert now. I’m not. I’m just a guy who has realized this: If we want our children to love God, we’d better love Him first. If we want them to be obedient to His voice, we’d better listen and obey. And if we want our lives to be changed forever, have children. Tons of them.

Phil Callaway is an author, humorist, speaker and radio host. He is married with three children.

© 2007 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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