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Blessings Abounding

We already have a fairly big family, and I already get lots of comments like “My, your hands are full!” when we are out in public. Well, I hate to think of the stares I’ll get when I’ve got a nice round tummy, along with the baby on the hip and a toddlers hands in mine with a few others trailing behind. BUT what people don’t realize is that while my hand ARE full (of literal bodies and activity and hard work),  they are also FULL of LIFE and LAUGHTER and LITTLE PERSONALITIES and FULL OF BLESSINGS….

From the beginning of our marriage, Danny and I have the Lord had put on our heart Psalm 127:3-5
“Sons are a heritage from the Lord,
children a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is FULL of them.
They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate”

According to this we were to welcome children that the Lord would see fit to bless us with AS blessings and rewards from Him.  All throughout Scripture it is GOD who is described as the one who opens and closes the womb.  Could we trust Him to do what was best for our family?

Daniel Josiah’s entrance into the world was a MIGHTY testimony to us, as to God’s amazing ability to provide. People had counseled us, “Don’t start a family until you are financially stable.” Well, God saw fit to give us a child before we were financially stable, and EVERYTHING we needed, plus far more, was provided…from a job for Danny with full health benefits that would cover a “pre-existing condition” like pregnancy, to hand-me-downs from neighbors, to baby showers with everything we needed, and even a stock of diapers so that we didn’t even have to buy diapers the first three months of his life. The argument that “children are too expensive” had been eradicated from our thinking.  If God was going to give them to us, He would provide for them.

Then Trinity came along, after a heart-breaking miscarriage. And as I look back (and even while I was in the middle of it all) I saw God’s perfect TIMING for bringing another child into our family. Perfectly timed in between huge bursts of ministry activity in Newark.

Then SURPRISE, Katy-Grace was born, and her sweet joyful disposition as a baby was a saving grace to me, in the midst of dealing with “terrible twos” and super active toddlers.  Getting to rock her and enjoy the PEACE of a sleeping infant, was such a breath of fresh air needed RIGHT in the middle of that season.  So if we had “waited” and spaced them out more, what would have been the source of my refreshment?

Then, again. SURPRISE! Benjamin was conceived.  This was, by far, the most challenging.  SO much was going on in our lives as we prepared to leave Newark, pass on the ministry of Safe Haven, and move to Florida.  I was not ready emotionally, or physically to carry another child.  I complained against the Lord.  I seriously doubted His goodness and care of me and our family.  “I trusted you and THIS is what I get?!?” I was determined that we would not have another child for a LONG time after this one.

And then, that precious boy that I complained about carrying around in my womb, turned out to be the most angelic, joy-filled blessing to not only me and Danny, but to his older brother and two sisters, not to mention all those that have been blessed by his dimpled smiles and cuddling embrace. Little did I know, during those nine months of misery and complaining that God was TRYING to bless me and reward me and enrich my life with this gem of a child.

Even after we met and fell in love with Benjamin, we kept asking the Lord what His will for our family growth was.  Did we have “permission” to use birth control? There was only silence. We literally had no clear direction one way or the other, so we chose the “safe” route.

But then, after all those months of silence, the Lord started speaking.  First, it came in articles that I would happen upon about large families and how the grown kids are serving the Lord all over the world.  Or mothers of even MORE kids than I have at even younger ages…Then it happened in conversations with women who wanted more kids but could not physically carry them any more, or couldn’t conceive. (It caused me to reflect on all the incredibly safe and healthy pregnancies I’ve had) Then it happened over and over in God’s word.  I tried to ignore reading Psalm 78 for a while, even though it KEPT coming to mind….”Oh, I already know what it says.” But when I actually looked it up, my heart stopped when I read, “I will open my mouth….{about God’s mighty works}…we will not hide them from their children, WE WILL TELL THE NEXT GENERATION, the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and all the wonders he has done. What if I was suppose to be a vehicle through which the next generation entered the world?

Then I happened upon Psalm 115:14,15,17-18 “May the Lord make you increase, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth….It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to silence; It is WE who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore. Praise the Lord.”

I was so struck by the fact that when we allow God to continue to bless us with children, He is allowing us to be the means through which He raises up the NEXT generation of worshipers of God, of servants of the King…the next generation of people, who, Lord-willing, will be instruments of mercy, peace, even justice in their generation…The seeds we plant and the prayers we pray for God’s love to be known in this broken world, will be carried out by our children long after we have left this world and entered into glory.

The Lord was making it very clear that it was time for me to climb upon that “altar” and be the living sacrifice that His mercy compels me to be (“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1-2)

I did it with fear and trembling. I did it reminding the Lord how hard/impossible it had been for me to care for the kids I already had while carrying Benjamin in my womb.  But I also did it holding on to God’s promises “he gently leads those who have young” (Isaiah 40:11) and “he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14), and “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long” (Deut. 33:15), I did it begging Him to show Himself faithful to his word and deal with me in a gentle and merciful way.

I prayed this believing that “I’d really be able to trust you again, Lord, if I didn’t get pregnant for a while”.  Well, God wanted to show me His gentleness and mercy and strength in a different way.

He has put a new “seed” in my womb, and this first 12 weeks has been absolutely miraculous.  It has been the easiest pregnancy I have ever experienced.  I have not been sick AT ALL (except for one night, and that was even after the kids were in bed) and I have NEVER had a pregnancy in which I have had so much energy.  I still need to take little breaks here and there, but with homeschooling I can use our reading time to lie down, and then I feel rejuvenated.

I am witnessing and experiencing his loving mercy every day of this pregnancy.

Our kids are thrilled and Trinity wants to pat my tummy several times a day.  I’m currently nannying a three month old and as I watch how gentle and caring the kids are towards her, I see that they are receiving great practice at being kind, gentle, and protective of those who are weaker than they.

I do not know what this bundle of joy’s temperament, giftings, or looks will be (well, maybe I do, based on the fact that all the other kids are tan and toe-headed) but the Lord does.  He has great plans for this child.  Every day we lift our kids up to the Lord-that He might draw them into a loving relationship with Himself, that they would realize they are deep sinners, but that the Savior has paid the price for them and now loves them with an unconditional love…that they would seek to be obedient to the Father, and that they would make themselves available to be used of the Lord however He sees fit.  We know from first-hand experience that it is a wild adventure, but when you chose to align yourself with the will of God, you truly see miracles happen.  We long for our children to get to experience the Living God in this way.

So, we wait in expectation. We expect the blessings and joys, (and sanctifying challenges!) that this new addition to our family will bring.  We wait in expectation for the ways we will have to depend Jesus in even deeper ways.  We wait in expectation to see how God is going to use this new pair of hands and feet and eyes and set of lips to bring glory to His name and bless those around him or her.

S0000, ready, or not, the IverSEVEN may be rollin’ around your hood next summer. (any more after this, and we’ll be rollin’ around in a good ole’ 12 passenger van!)

*this was my other fantastic excuse for not blogging lately, as my pregnant body needs more rest than it used to, and my bedtime as suddenly moved up to 8:30, with me usually falling asleep while doing family devotions with the kids.