About a month after the birth of my eighth baby, I read a story about a 47 year old woman who asked God for a ninth child, and God gave her a son. I decided to do the same and God amazingly gave me another baby. I could not believe it.
I realize that now my childbearing years may very well be over, and I am preparing myself for this reality. Yet, I still pray that God may see fit to bless us again with another child. Why not? He is my Abba. I can ask. At the same time I am asking God for strength and humility to surrender to whatever He may have in store for my later years. I learned early on that having babies is temporary. In one short year those babies grow from little puddles in your arms to hefty toddlers in your cupboards.
I've often heard people say when they see our large family, "You must have so much patience! I could never do what you are doing!" They assume that parents of many children are somehow more equipped to handle the challenges that come with raising a large family. On the one hand, God does give more grace when we are faced with greater difficulties. He is overwhelmingly generous that way. On the other hand, I have rough edges and besetting sins, too numerous to count, and it seems they all want to rear their ugly heads at various times of the day as I deal with the different relationships that happen in our family. Eleven people give us 65 relationship combinations. That's a set up for a lot of love and a lot of conflict. I have thrown my hands up in despair a few times and wondered what in the world I was doing—and why in the world I was doing it!
The missing piece is VISION. Am I happy? Am I fulfilled? Do I have what I want? I'm cross-eyed with shortness of vision. But when I open up God's Word and view my life from His vantage point, everything changes. I have to catch my breath, first of all, because the view is staggering. It goes on and on. Forever. And the way it meanders at first makes no sense; but then, as my vision adjusts, things clear up, and it dawns on me that I get to play a small, but significant part in the drama of history (His story).
Called to Die
Like Christ Himself, I am called to die in order that I (and others) might find life (Mark 8:35; John 12:24 and Romans 12:1). If you think these verses don't apply to raising children, then you either 1) haven't experienced children yet, or 2) haven't meditated on these verses long enough. The day I got married I gave up the rights to my own life, my own way, on my own terms (or at least, that was the idea). So did my husband. When we added children we watched the last trickle of autonomy slip away. Raising a family is a death to self-ness. But it is also a finding of our identity in something greater than self: God.
Called to Love
Like Christ, I am called to love unconditionally, bravely, freely, unreservedly, with longsuffering. Don't miss that word, LONG! (Ephesians 4:2; 1 Peter 1:22 and 1 John 4:7).
Called to Disciple
Like Christ, I am called to disciple souls. The souls of my children are my first priority, with other souls following as God leads and time allows. Jesus worked with twelve. I have nine. The number is irrelevant, but I need to be focused on that mission and courageous to do it regardless of what the rest of the world does or says. In fact, if I don't disciple them, the world is more than happy to do it for me. No thank you.
This calling to die, to love, and to disciple, is the highest, and ultimately, the most rewarding calling of our lives. Will we take up the challenge and run the race God sets before us? Will we keep the prize in focus as we move forward with vision and purpose? Will we surrender our comfortable chair on the sidelines for the heat, the burn, the work of the race? Will we cross the finish line and be able to look back and know we truly lived our short lives to the fullest?
Called to Pray
Having babies is one thing, but ultimately my deepest desire is to see them all saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. Since that day I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I have prayed almost daily:
"Father in Heaven, SAVE the souls of every single one of my children. Save them for eternity. Make them Yours. May you keep them in the palm of Your hand and never let them be plucked out. May each one seek to know and love You, the greatest Treasure in the universe, more than the plastic baubles of this world. May they truly see, with spiritual eyes, Your worth and beauty, and may they desire it more than anything else this world has to offer. Do not only save them, but save all of my posterity. Let there not be one black sheep among them, but let them all belong to You eternally, fulfilling the purpose for which you created them."
It is my privilege and joy to pray this for them when I tuck them in at night as well as when I am drifting off to sleep in the privacy of my room. I cannot save my children, but He can. So I teach my children the Truth and I ask Him to do the saving.
Called to Humility
The key to a healthy family and healthy relationships, I'm convinced, is humility. It is the willingness to admit sin, repent of it, and ask for forgiveness. The families I know that practice this are just like every other family in that they sin against one another. But, they maintain emotional and relational health because the individual members grieve over their sin, say they are sorry, and ask for forgiveness.
The families that struggle are the ones that have difficulty admitting sin. If the parents are prideful and refuse to admit wrongdoing, blaming other family members, or making excuses for the ways they hurt others, the family as a whole will suffer in untold ways. Let me be clear. Healthy families are not sinless. All families sin, and they do it every day in numerous ways. We can make a difference for eternity by simply humbling ourselves before our family members and learning the art of saying sorry and asking forgiveness. (Just saying we're sorry, by the way, doesn't cut it. The key is to ask the person we've wronged for forgiveness.)
I'll never forget a testimony I read in which a young lady shared that her father would gather their family together once a week and ask if he had done anything to hurt any of them that week. If anyone shared a hurt, that father would immediately repent and ask forgiveness of that person. This young woman testified that because of his example, the hearts of the children and the parents were knit together in a special way.
I'm not raising my large family because I can handle it, I am a super mom, it is easy, and it's loads of fun. I've had babies because I decided many years ago to trade my freedom for eternal dividends. I'm your run-of-the-mill selfish Wemmick, and I'm not doing this for nothing. I'm going for the gold. My dream is to stand around the throne of the Living God one day, hand in hand in a huge circle with my children, children's children, and their children, taking our marching orders (it's going to be fabulous) for our future productive, creative lives in eternity. All of us together. With Him. Forever.
Apple Valley, Minnesota, USA
The above testimony is reprinted with permission from the book, Three Decades of Fertility.
Three Decades of Fertility
Compiled by Natalie Klejwa
Stories of ten women who embraced babies in their twenties, thirties, and forties! Each one with a different story, shares honestly of their joys and hardships and how they learned to trust God through every trial. You will learn and be encouraged.