It would be hard for me to put into words how my life has changed with each child added to our family. Each one brings their own quirks and challenges, and each one has brought me a new and different perspective about the heart of God and how much He cares for us. Despite the heaps of responsibility that come with every child, we have experienced even bigger heaps of blessing in our marriage relationship, in our individual faith journeys, and in our overall family dynamic than I can even begin to explain.
Parenting is not easy. It’s not always fun. But I have never done anything more rewarding in my life than invest in the lives of our four beautiful children. And it would only be fair to say that I have received far more out of the equation than I’ve put into it. Healing, direction, purpose, perspective. Hope, joy, wonder, and awe of God. I wouldn’t have planned my life this way, and just 10 years ago, I would have told you that I didn’t really want to be married, and didn’t really want to have kids (spoken out of heartache and fears that functional/healthy relationships were not possible and pain could be the only result of trusting another person with my heart). Well isn’t it funny that God’s plans were SO very different than mine. I did get married. To the most hard-working, servant-hearted man I’ve ever met. And then had a surprise pregnancy with a little girl that shows me every day that love, freedom, and compassion are what we are made for. And then I had a planned pregnancy with a little boy who has become my shout of praise to God for bringing me through dark days and hopelessness into wholeness and goodness. That was followed by another (very surprise) pregnancy with a boy I didn’t know I needed, but certainly have. One who reminds me that my surrender to God and His plans brings about the best stuff in life. And then another little girl who has blown my mind and my world right open – showing me that God’s love is bigger than I can fathom, and His grace reaches into the most vulnerable places of my soul, making His strength perfect in my weakness and growing my faith in immeasurable ways.
And that was supposed to be the end. At least that is what we had decided last fall. And then something started shaking me up.
I started reflecting on what God has done in my life through this season of bearing children…How each one has been a gift, and how with the arrival of each one has come a wave of unexpected blessing…not usually material blessing (although we have had some of that too), but intangible, deep blessings that have brought me more peace, joy, and purpose than I can even begin to say.
And then somewhere in my heart, I began to know that I totally have the freedom to choose to put an end to my child-bearing…there is something reasonable and sensible about doing so. But I also just couldn’t bring myself to err on the side of practical, sensible. Normal. Nope. God blew my heart wide open and said to me, “Are these not MY children? Do I not provide for ALL your needs? Isn’t it I that have called you to this work of mothering? Would you really choose no more of this goodness?” To which my heart has completely turned in surrender. Of course they are His children…just in my care for a few short years. And He has provided for every need we’ve ever had, including in some radical, seemingly-impossible ways. And I just have to say yes.
And so I have. Leading me to the announcement that we are expecting another child in February 2014. What joy!