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Monday, September 29, 2008
Basic Beliefs ... Why would anyone ever want to have 13 kids???
One of my favorite conversations with strangers ...
While out shopping with 6 or 7 of my kids, I will undoubtedly be asked, "Are they all yours?" To which I casually respond, "Yes, these are all mine. However, they aren't ALL of mine. I have 6 or 7 more at home."
Questions #1 Did you always plan to have a large family?
Yes ... and no. I can remember multiple times when I was in 5th or 6th grade reading magazine articles about extra large families and thinking, "Wouldn't it be awesome to have that many kids to love?" I came from a very difficult and abusive home situation, with not much love going around. I do not ever recall as a child being hugged or told that I was loved. So, I was drawn to these large families that seemed to have LOTS of love to go around.
When Jim and I got engaged (on our 3rd date, when I was just 19 years old ... a story for another time), we told everyone that we wanted to have 6 children. Everyone assured us that we would change our minds, after we found out how difficult parenting actually was. Now, we laugh and say, "Yes, we changed our mind. We didn't stop at just 6."
With 10 bio. children, no one would ever guess that we had dealt with the infertility issue. However, when I was just 21 I was diagnosed with severe Endometriosis and told that I needed a hysterectomy immediately. We were crushed. What about our plans to have 6 children? I quickly made an appointment with a new O.B. He confirmed the diagnosis, but told me that he would hold off on the surgery for a little while, so that we could pray about the situation. He did, however, tell me that I only had a 2% chance to conceive a child. I distinctly remember going to our Young Couples Group at church that evening, telling them the news, and stating matter-of-factly, "God doesn't care about percentages." Everywhere I went, I declared that, while I believed the doctor's diagnosis, I also believed that I had a God that was bigger than the diagnosis. And ... 2 weeks later I was pregnant with my first child. Wow, God!
Endometriosis goes into remission during pregnancies. So, the less time between pregnancies, the better as far as the disease is concerned. When Gregg was just 4 months old, I purposely stopped nursing to increase my chances of another pregnancy. Cassie arrived when Gregg was 14 months old, and Jeremiah arrived when Cassie was 16 months old.
The following year, we actually tried for 6 months to get pregnant, and the Lord then decided to bless us with 2 at once. When I found out I was expecting twins, the "older kids" were 1, 2, and 3. Then, the day after the twins turned 1, we found out that Josh was on his way. So, after being told that I had a 2% chance of ever having children, I had 6 children in 6 years. Everyone thought for sure that we were done. Hadn't we planned to have 6 children?
The key here is that what "we planned" didn't take into account what God's plans might be for us.
After Joshua, we lost a child during pregnancy. So, that was a very difficult time for us. Then, after Benjamin came along, Jim assured me that "Seven is God's perfect number." While Jim had said MANY times, "This is it." This time ... he really meant it. He did NOT want to have any more children. I asked Jim to pray for me. If it was truly God's plan for us to take permanent measures to limit the size of our family, I believed that God would give both of us peace about this major decision.
Less than 2 months later, I went quietly to Jim and said, "Your prayers have been answered. We won't be having any more children." My Endometriosis had returned and the doctor told me that a hysterectomy was imperative ... I had 7 children that I needed to stay healthy for, and Endometriosis can be a fatal disease. Surgery was scheduled.
Three days before the surgery, after our weekly church service, a couple of the elders approached and asked if I would like prayer. I don't even remember praying for a healing, I just prayed for a successful surgery, quick recovery, people to take care of the kids, etc... However ... when the doctor opened me up, he discovered that I had been completely healed. After 12 years of battling the disease, there were no signs of it. There wasn't even any scar tissue from my previous surgeries. Nothing ... gone ... When Jim approached my bed in the recovery room, I whispered, "I guess we are supposed to have more kids." If God wanted to close that door, He had a pretty good opportunity to do just that.
So, after 7 children, Jim finally released it all to the Lord and said, "Not my will ... but yours." Seriously, we had "planned" to have 6 kids, but now we were open to the Lord's plans more than ever.
After 10 kids, we both felt we'd "done our part". My 10th child was born the day before I turned 40, and we were happy with the family that the Lord had given us ... for a year or two. Then, I spent 2 solid years talking to the Lord about His plans. Jim, again, said, "We're done." But, I had that stirring in my heart. Jim's biggest argument was the fact that he didn't want to be "too old" when the youngest was a teenager. Then, the Lord showed me that if we adopted kids that were older than our youngest, we would still be parenting the same amount of years. So, the adoption thought process began ...
Did we plan to have a large family? Yes. Did we plan to have 13 children? No.
Were we open to the Lord's plans for our family? Yes. Are we planning to have more children? No. Do we know what the Lord's plans are for our family? No. Are we trusting His planning. Absolutely.
Is it difficult to parent 13 children? Absolutely. Would we give any of them back if we could? Absolutely not.
Would we encourage others to have a large family? Yes! Yes! Yes! How should people determine the size of their family? Seek the Lord ... Seek His will for your family ... Trust His plans, not your own ...