May 26, 2011

Behold, Children Are a Gift From the Lord

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward."
                                                                                                                          Psalm 127:3

Aughhh!!! I can't tell you how many times a day I probably need to read this. Today was especially one of those days. Not only was I frustrated with them, but apparently so are other people.

Honestly, I love my children. Each of them are a blessing from God. I truly believe that. Life is a fragile thing, and death is still very fresh in my memory. I know that God has given us each one of these children to love, to nourish, to teach, and, in turn, to test our patience teach us selflessness.

There are days when they drive me crazy (Sunday through Saturday), but I can't imagine our life without them. Actually, I probably can. It would be a quiet house, Adrian and I would have all the "stuff" we could possibly want, I would be a successful career woman outside of the home, and we'd travel the world. I also wouldn't have such a badly misshapen bellybutton.

But, what difference does any of that make when your life draws to an end? Will your multiple trips to Europe ease the suffering in your dying days? Could all of the "stuff" in the world conquer your desire to have more and more "stuff"? Does a successful career really fill the void of a life without butterfly kisses from your toddler, or the sweet smell of your newborn baby smothered in baby lotion, or the big, toothy grin that is on the face of your 8 year old, or the toothless grin from your 6 year old? Does a toned and fit body in your 30's really mean anything once you hit 70? (A bikini body once you are that age shouldn't be shown, even if you still do look great.)

When our first child was stillborn, there wasn't a thing I wanted more in the world than to see that baby with life in her. I ached for it. I still ache for her. It's a memory that will always be with Adrian and I.
Every time that I wish my children would just go away for a while makes me remember how it is when they really do go away. It's terrible. And, so, I will bear with the craziness of our household, because life is truly a blessing. It's a gift granted to us, and something that most of us take for granted.

I know that our children drive people nuts. I live with them! How do you think I feel most days?
 I also realize that because we have so  many children, people are less likely to be friendly towards them. Or towards us. We are viewed as "weird" or "irresponsible", the children are viewed as "unruly" and "obnoxious" and "wild" (even while they smile upon the single child throwing a tantrum on the floor). How many times have I been asked, while pregnant, "You know how that happens, don't you?" Yep. I sure do. (Sorry if I just made you puke in your mouth) It all frustrates me to no end.
People will hardly ever say anything to the single, pregnant mom about how irresponsible that is. But, we are fair game to criticize, even though we are married and try to make a home for our family.

Nope, we won't be able pay for our children to go to college. But, I'm not too worried about it, because our children already know that. They have their own ideas about the future and already are aware that studying hard and being a good student may earn them scholarships.

Nope, they aren't each going to have a great car. Or any car. Who ever said that parents are in charge of providing a car for their kids anyway? The boys have already realized that they are going to have to get a job if they want those things. And I don't have an ounce of guilt about it. My kids are going to have a thing called "work ethic" if they want "stuff".

Nope, they won't ever have their own bedrooms. I don't think they would even want to. They actually enjoy each other's company.

Nope, they won't ever have a day go by when there isn't a brother or sister there to help them. There isn't a day that goes by where they don't have a Christ that loves them.
There isn't a day that goes by where they don't have parents who pray for them.

We wake up each day, trying to do better than the day before. But, as all mankind is, we are sinful. And we continue to sin no matter how much we may try not to.
As Joanna told me tonight, "Mom, we are just kids. We try to do the best we can, but there is a lot of time that we forget just what that is."

Children are children. Mine are far from perfect, and so are yours. They won't ever meet adult standards for behavior, even with a good dose of discipline. This is a realization that still drives me crazy. I wish my children could always be on their best behavior for people, but they won't be. And, I guess I'm okay with that. Because, frankly, most times my children are kinder, gentler, and more understanding than the adults who berate them.

Adrian and I are trying our best to raise healthy, happy, Christian children. It's hard. There are days when we feel like we are barely keeping our heads above water. But, we have a belief that each life given to us is worth our effort. We've made the decision that however many children God grants to us, we will be happy with. Life is given to us by God, and I'm not about to mess with whatever plans he may have for us. I'm not going to tell God that, "Right now isn't a convenient time for me to be pregnant" or, "I just don't want any more children".  If God decides to give us another child, I will gladly accept. Because, I also know how quickly that life can be taken from us. It's something that I wrestle with in my mind, because I know how much easier my life would be if we didn't keep welcoming children into our home.

So, we feebly go down the road of life, trusting in our Christ to guide and strengthen us. And, most days we fall flat on our faces.  

Our life is a busy one, not only because of the children and what they require as far as needs go, but also because we are involved with our church. We spend more time of our week at church than any other place. It would be much easier for us to not be involved in so many activities at church, but then,
1. Who else is going to do it? and
2. How can we expect other people to sacrifice their time if we can't seem to do it? and
3. My husband is the Pastor. We pick up the pieces when other people won't. 

Our children view the church as their second home. I won't deny it. Like I said earlier, we spend a good portion of our life there. So, I don't expect my children to stay at my side continually while we are there. It's not ever going to happen. I also don't ever want them to feel like the church is an awful place to go to. I want them to love being at church, to want to help at church, to be an active part of the fellowship that goes on at church. 
And, our children do quite a bit for their community of believers. From Children's Choir (we make up half of it) and Children's Handbells, to Sunday school, to Braille, to filling the pop machines, to helping with church remodeling projects, to weeding the church flower beds, to befriending new children who visit our church. They can stop doing those things, but will someone else fill in to take the void? I help with Children's Choir and Children's Handbells, am part of Adult Choir and Adult Handbells, and also do a fair share of cleaning up around church in general. I could quit, but will someone else be there to do it instead? Can you expect other families to continue putting time and effort into something that the Pastor's family doesn't even do? I could stop bringing my children to church entirely, but that sure doesn't seem to make sense to me.
Like I said earlier, our life would be much easier if we didn't do so much at church. Heck, our life would be easier if Adrian wasn't a Pastor! It would be easier if we didn't have all these kids! But, Adrian is a Pastor and we have a lot of kids who can be crazy and we will always be involved with activities at church.

So, I guess your only option is to put up with us for a while. We are part of the Pastor. We sacrifice our time together to do things for the church, and we don't ever care if people notice or not. I try to discipline our kids and, for the most part, I would say that they are more well behaved than any other child during Sunday service. 
Do they do naughty things? Yes. Do they get in trouble for it? Yes. But, honestly, what child isn't naughty?
We welcome the church into our home, the church views some of the most intimate parts of our life, and it will always be that way for us.

So, please allow our family some space. As well as other families with children. They are trying to do their best, just as you probably were at one point in your life as well.

Sorry for the venting, but it's been weighing on my mind for quite some time.


Anonymous said...

Well put!! I'm not sure who said what, but there are also those of us that would love to have more children and are delighted to see how blessed the two of you have been by your children. Its encouraging to see at least one family, despite all the struggles and temptations to the contrary, that is willing to stand against the tide of this passing age. I'm sure life at times feels mundane (and a far cry from what this world usually values), but for some of us, your family is not only a testament to life, but a visual proclamation of the gospel of grace. After all, Christ seemed to take the most interest in the plain and ordinary things - children, fish, bread, wine, dirt, spit, water, words, etc. So be encouraged, and know that there are some of us whose hearts are warmed and cheered by your family. And well, if all else fails, that pint of Tequila will help too.

Bobby & Melanie said...

I dont know why I came across your blog but for some reason I did and I feel I was supposed to. I am the mother of 6 beautiful blessings and I can relate to so much of what you wrote. You have also given me some encouragement and direction. My husband and I have 8 children all together and we are doing are best to raise our children in a Christ centered home and give them the best life possible but the fact is they wont have "everything" that society thinks they should have if there were only 1 or 2 of them but I know that thats okay. They are well taken care of and know that God supplies all of our needs. Thank you so much.

Linda said...

My turn to say, "Thank You!" for all of the kind words and encouragement that I've received due to this post. In return, I encourage each of you to continue doing the best you can with your families or simply helping another family that you see with small children. Parents are always glad to have someone smiling at them and telling them it will be okay, especially if it's been a rough week.