Monday, October 24, 2011

The Bigger the Better?

I was recently having a conversation with a close friend about our decision to have large families. We are both expecting our 5th child, and both dreading the comments or glares we will be facing as our bellies start growing. None of my 5 children were really 'planned' although in my heart of hearts I wanted all 5 of them or else, obviously, I would have learned my lesson. My husband just didn't learn his lesson the first time, or the second, or the third. Poor guy. ;) He did say early on in our marriage he so badly wanted at least one little boy to carry on his last name. Bless his heart I took him seriously and gave him 4 and possibly 5 new little Irick men.

It seems with each additional child we add to our family (and this is the last, permanent measures will be taken this time although it's nunya business) our house feels a little smaller, the messes get a little bigger, my waist gets a little thicker and our wallet gets a little thinner. Sleep becomes a distant memory and my mind gets a little foggier. So why would someone opt for a large family? You may disagree with some of these, but these are my personal top ten favorite things about my big family.

1. The more kids you have, the more necessary it becomes for Daddy to pitch in, and one of the best blessings in life is a helpful husband.

2. I learn something new about myself with each kid. Each child shows me a new part of both my strength and weaknesses. Even the kids seem to grow as our family grows- they learn more patience, more compassion, and more helpfulness.

3. We are a true 'team' (seriously, if this one is a boy we will have an entire basketball team!). My kids have 4 other built-in supporters, friends, and encourager's to help them navigate through this crazy world. If they can't find any other good, solid christian friends, they will always have each other.

4. Chances are, we simply won't have the money to spoil all 5 kids. It just won't even be an option. They are no stranger to used clothing, and to save money I opt out of batter-operated toys because I just can't afford all those batteries. We also rarely eat out- the boys knows that's a special treat, and it's much healthier for us that way. I hope they grow to have an appreciation for what they do have, to be happy without other things, and to respect the fact that you have to work hard for the things you really want.

5. The world wants you to have 2.5 kids. The Bible says to be in the world but not of the world. I talk to my kids a lot about us not doing what everyone else in the world does, and having a big family is just another (very cool way) that we are separate from most of the world.

6. Yes, money is tight. It doesn't make sense for me to work outside the home with the cost of child care. But, we get to see how God does math. He has come through for us in awesome ways, He has always blessed our financial faithfulness and trust in Him. If we had money to spare we might not rely, trust, and depend on him to provide for us the way that we do now.

7. Being a mother to a big family is humbling. Sometimes you have to admit defeat, ask for help, or simply raise your hands in the air & say "I surrender! I surrender to the mess, the noise & the chaos!"

8. I have gotten to see how tough I can be, but most importantly how weak I really am, how selfish and stubborn I can be, and how big and awesome God's grace & strength is in me.

9. I am convinced that no matter if you have one kid or 10 kids, you feel overwhelmed at times. If I was a mother of only 2 or 3 kids I would have bad days, defeated days, days where I struggle as a mother. Sure, it gets a little harder with each additional kid, but God gives me just enough strength to make it through each day, the same way he does for all mother's out there.

10. Big families are an inconvenience and uncomfortable. Smaller families are more practical, less expensive, easier to do things and go places with. I am convinced I serve a God who prefers me to be just a little uncomfortable. I seem to grow more, seek more, and trust more that way.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Unanswered" Prayers

Do you ever wish you could say 'yes' to your kids more? Somedays I feel like I'm always saying no. No, you may not eat ice cream for dinner. No, you may not stay up late. No, you may not walk down to the park by yourself. No, you may not wear your underware outside your shorts to school. No, no, no! But, that's my job. I often tell my kids "Sorry, it's not my job to make you happy, it's my job to keep you safe." I'm growing people here, and I have to nurture, protect, direct & guide them, and this job comes with a whole lot of "no's". It always seems so much easier to just say "Yes! Fine! Have it your way- anything to stop this tantrum!" But we all know that's not looking at the bigger picture. It's not loving or responsible to always give into the whims of my children. Sure, it's fun to say yes every now and then. I love how happy with me my kids are when I let them splurge from time to time, but someday they will look back and thank me for saying 'no' so many times.

My husband and I are currently in a season of praying & waiting on the Lord with a specific situation (I don't want to worry you; our marraige is solid, we are all healthy, we have food on the table). We are just stuck wondering how he will work this situation out, and when. It's very frusterating, waiting on God knowing that he is all-powerful and able to fix this situation at the very moment he speaks his will. And Lord knows that I would praise him, give him all the glory, testify to his name as soon as this mountain is moved. So Why, God? Why must we wait?

This morning God woke me up with this thought: "I love you enough to tell you no." Oh, what a scary thought. Here I have been waiting for a miracle, expecting God to come down here and show off in a big way, and it's hit me that he may do nothing. We can lay our case before the Lord, knowing he is able to fix whatever problems we face, yet our prayers can seemingly go unanswered. But we must realize that there is a reason that God chooses to tell his children 'no'.

I know that as a child of God, everything he brings me to has one purpose: to draw me closer to him. When God chooses to tell us 'no', it is his way of showing us how much he loves us. He loves us enough to risk the fact that we just might throw a temper-tantrum, question him, get angry with him, or even turn away form him. But ultimately, He knows what is best for me, and what is best for me is to walk closer with him every day and sometimes that means he has to tell us no.

Oh, how easy it would be for God to just swoop down & answer my prayer in the exact way I would want. Oh, wouldn't we all just love him for doing that?! Wouldn't we praise him, thank him, adore him & want to serve him even more?! But where's the growth there? Where's the trust & the faith? That would mean God was more concerned with my happiness than he was my spiritual growth & health, and all parents know that is not true love. I hope today you find encouragement in the fact that God loves you enough to tell you no. He is far more concerned with growing you, molding you, and bringing you into a deeper realationship with him than he is about fixing your situation.

As a parent I know how tiring it can be to tell your children no, and how much easier it would be to always give into my pleas. Help me to always be patient & faithful to you no matter how you choose to answer my prayers. You know what is best for me, and your ways are higher than my ways. So I put my trust in you, Lord. I praise you for being big enough to instantly fix any problem that may come my way, but for loving me enough to not always do that. I am your clay. In Jesus Name,