We dated for a sweet forever and then planned a wedding in 4 short months. We had vaguely outlined our plans for a family.
We hosted Thanksgiving for 13 after a month of marriage, Christmas was celebrated and before just New Years, barely two months into marriage, I told Joshua we were expecting our first child.
It wasn't our plan. We walked around dazed. We said two years, not two months.
Thomas arrived not quite 10 months after the wedding. Things were complicated at first. Not long term complicated like the paths so many have walked, just a little complicated. He was a sick baby and had to have constant attention and numerous doctors visits until finally the diagnosis was given. About the time he healed from his surgery and we were finding a groove, we discovered we were pregnant. Again.
Sarah Grace was due on his first birthday. Less than 22 months after we'd exchanged vows.
19 months after that, Elizabeth arrived.
Another 19 months went by, and Anna was born.
Fast forward 29 months and Daniel joined in the mix.
When Daniel was born, we'd been married for 88 months. Of those 88 months, I'd been pregnant for 45 months. We'd had a baby in the house for 78 months of our marriage. We'd been preparing for or caring for a baby for 86 months of our 88 months together.
Those are hard numbers, y'all. I'm not gonna lie.
Here are some more hard numbers - 6 years, 5 years, 4 years, 2 years, newborn.
Those are the ones that nearly sunk me. I trusted God, but I wasn't dealing well with the day to day reality of what He'd given us. It's a lot.
The past two years have been the hardest of my life. My pregnancy with Daniel while trying to keep up with the needs of my four other very young children pressed hard on me. The week leading up to his birth? Hardest physical demands I've ever had to answer to (you simply have to read Daniel's birth story to understand that statement). Childbirth was a piece of cake after that insane week. Caring for a baby with a 'strong personality' these past 18 months and maintaining my role as mommy to 4 other children, wife to my husband, and keeper of my home? Hard. Hard, hard, hard.
We call it Survival Mode. And our entire marriage has been just that: Survival Mode.
Go ahead and chide me if you need to. I've broad shoulders and can bear it. I've also the knowledge of what living in Survival Mode is like.
I know the demands. I know the rawness of born of exhaustion. I know the darkness of depression. I know the hurt of failed friendships. I know the frustration of changed plans. I know feeling trapped. I know helpless. I know fear.
But I also know the triumphs. I know the chinking away of selfishness. I know the balm of an encouraging note. I know the grace He pours over a weary heart. I know joy. I know peace. I know His ways are not mine, but He is my hope, and if I but trust Him, He will make straight my paths.
Joshua and I laugh when we tell people that we didn't plan our family, but that God did it for us. We KNOW that His ways were to our benefit. We KNOW we are rotten, selfish people and that our faults and weaknesses are too many to number. It's scary, really.
I really believe that God gave us our children in His timing and not ours because He knew that we really had some rough edges that needed to be sanded down. He also knew that those rough edges were only going to become more jagged if He allowed us to have our plan. He knew that if He'd given us those 'couple of years' we would have been doing our children more of a disservice than we already are, making it even harder for them to see Him in us. And because He's not a God of confusion, He didn't want that for the precious children He had planned for us.
So I'll take these past nine years and be thankful for the stresses and the hard times and the tears. It's grown us, molded us into who we are now. We've had to let go of a lot, re-shape our minds and clean out our hearts. We've been blessed beyond measure with the people God has put in our path. Just the right person at just the right time every. single. time. Things have been full tilt and cry-your-eyes-out hard. We haven't planned our lives so much as we have chased after the leash of our lives, but we're in a place of grace. We're in a place where we can see His sustaining hand through the crazy.
For our ninth anniversary, we had the chance to talk and plan and really think about what we want to do as a family and with our family and for our family. We were able to finally sit back and breath deep and look over where we've been, where we are, and where we'd like to go. We hold these plans loosely, but we have them in place.
In His good and perfect will, of course.
|Pictures courtesy of N&N Photography|