This post is for Erin. She's my good friend and she wants to know how my husband and I made the decision to have a Big Family. She was worried that it was too personal of a topic, but it isn't!! And although Erin asked the question, this post is for any of my readers who are curious. I do use the pronoun "you" frequently, but be assured, I'm speaking to myself here too!! So, in this post I will do my very best to shed light on how our Big Family came about.
I met Dave when I was 15 and he was 20. We met at church, at youth group where I was heavily involved and he was sort of doing an internship, I guess you could call it youth counseling. I had noticed him because he played on the worship team and I sang on the worship team, and his playing was just sublime. It was unique and profound and eloquent. Oh, and he's really tall and smokin' sexy and his voice was deep and rich and.....and that's another thing that got my attention!
Let's make a long story short, shall we? Besides, this is not a post about how I met my husband!
Fast forward 5 years: Husband and I were now married. Let it be known that, unbeknownst to me, when my husband was a little boy, he just knew he wanted to have twelve children. No, that is not a typo and yes, you read that right!! He always wanted to have a Big Family.
I, on the other hand, was sure I was not going to ever get married. I hated kids and hated babysitting and I wanted to be a Career Woman. I wanted to get dressed up every morning in nice clothes and do my makeup and go to the office and have a Career.
I became a Christian when I was 13, and two years later I met Dave.
Having kids was not something Husband and I talked about ever during our long dating relationship. We actually never talked about it, not even when we became engaged or got married. I never knew that he longed for a Big Family until many years into our marriage. That was probably good, because I probably would have run the other way if I had known about his desires to have a Big Family!!
I really had no idea what a Big Family looked like. I was raised by my mother as an only child. I have a brother who is two years older than me, but we were never close and he hated my guts, so I felt like a loner in the siblings department, and I had never known any Big Families in my younger years.
We really started talking about it when I got pregnant with Samantha when Hannah was 6 months old. I had been put on the "mini pill" because I was nursing and couldn't take the regular birth control pill. I immediately began to have severe migraine headaches and, even though I was nursing around the clock, every two hours, I got pregnant. Let me just say that Around The Clock Nursing is NOT a reliable form of family planning!
In my spare time I had been hearing about how birth control was actually an abortifacient and actually caused your body to abort any fertilized egg that implanted in the lining of your uterus. Now, I'm passionately pro-life-no-matter-what, and this really trashed me. We immediately made the decision to not go back on the pill after Samantha was born.
So, how were we going to "space out" our children? How many kids was I willing to "put up with"? I started seriously thinking about these things, and also, a verse in the Bible "magically" came to my attention:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding,
But in all your ways acknowledge Him
and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
I would read this and not really understand it. Then one day a friend said to me, "Are you really, in every single area of your life, are you really trusting in the Lord?? Are you really surrendering everything to Him?" And I had to say I wasn't.
I have to say here that thus far in my marriage, I had never heard or read about "quiver full" or trusting the Lord with the size and spacing of my family. I had never met any big families thus far, but I was agonizing over this "fertility" thing! It was driving me nuts!
After I talked to that friend, I shared with my husband what she said. I think he had secretly been praying for me through the years, since, by the time Samantha was born we had been married for 5 years.
My husband knew that God was the author of families and that He filled the womb and my husband always has intrinsically trusted the Lord in every area of his life. He had good examples of trust and faith and so, it wasn't hard for him. He had always wanted to live in a Big Family. He just thought that would be fun, and so, it's what was on his heart.
So, that's when we really started asking God to choose our family size and the spacing between our children. But still, let me say, I didn't think I could handle twelve children!!
Samantha was 2 when I found that I was pregnant with Sara. At this point in our marriage, we had sold our first tiny little 800 square foot house that we had lived in since the day after our wedding, and we had moved into a 700 square foot duplex in order to pay off our remaining debt. Let's see: 4 small kids in a two bedroom duplex? Ummm. Yep.
We lived in this duplex and it was filthy and gross and small and ugly and rotten and here I am, pregnant with Baby #4 and I'm thinking, how is this going to work?? In retrospect, I ought not to have worried! God had it all written out and I just couldn't see it!
So, I had Sara and when she was 4 weeks old, we saw the house we're now living in and it just happened to have been for sale at the time. We moved in when Sara was 5 weeks old.
I guess I said all of that to say that trusting the Lord with every single area of your life means trusting Him with your womb too. It means trusting Him with your thoughts on how many kids you want and how far apart you want them. Trusting the Lord in this area means asking, "how many kids do YOU want us to have, Lord? And how far apart do YOU want them to be?" It means being surrendered to Him, because it is not your will but His. This took me many, many years to learn. I still struggle with it. But it really comes down to being fully His.
Trusting the Lord with your fertility is very scary, I'm not going to lie. It is a slippery slope of giving it to Him and then taking it from Him according to how you feel on any given day. But if we really want to live as He wants us to, we must trust Him in this area.
I have realized, this far into the game, that if you surrender your womb to Him, He already has a plan for it. He already has your family and what it looks like mapped out, from the foundations of the world. Just because you trust Him in this area does not mean that your progeny are going to be as prolific as rabbits. Trusting Him with your fertility does not mean you are automatically going to be the next Duggar Family Look-Alikes.
Trusting the Lord with your family size simply says:
"Lord, not my will, but Thine."
I know you are probably thinking that you can't handle any more kids or that you are going crazy with the howevermanyyouhaverightnow.....But let me ask you a question: does His grace only extend to certain areas of your lives? Is His strength only good for such-and-such a situation? Does His provision only cover certain things??
Dear one, please believe me, these are all questions and thoughts that I struggle with, day to day! I am not exempt from these thoughts and cares and tug-of-war with the Lord.
To me, trust looks like surrender for each moment. If you take this area back from Him one moment, then give it back to Him the next moment, throughout your day. Surrender is baby steps, I think. At least it is for me! Whenever I struggle with freaking out about being-pregnant-getting-pregnant-oh-no-I'm-not-pregnant-this-month, I sit down and say:
"Lord, not my will, but Thine."
And I have to do this often. I've lost count of how many times I've had this conversation with the Lord!
To summarize, my husband does not struggle in this area. He still wants twelve....and we actually have 14, only they're not here with us physically. We take it month by month. I have to be brutally honest here and say that my last miscarriage in November really brought me low. But I have to remember, and I have to say, and I repeat it like a mantra during the deep valley days:
"Lord, not my will, but Thine."