My topic was one that, if you know me very well (or read my blog much!) was near and dear to my heart: Finding Joy in Motherhood. I wanted to share with you, my dear reader/friends, what I shared with the ladies at the conference. I hope it is a blessing to your heart!
I'm going to split my speaking notes into 6 parts in order to not have one post be too ridiculously long. (And I won't tell you that I ended up
Finding Joy in Motherhood
Let me start out by saying that I have seven children. Now most people wouldn’t look at me and the bunch of children always accompanying me and question whether or not I’ve ever struggled with infertility. But believe it or not, there was a time in my life when doctors and modern medicine didn’t think I’d be able to have children. Today I’d like to share with you how God took me through a very painful time in my life, blessed me abundantly above that which I could EVER ask or think, and taught me how to find true joy in motherhood.
I’d like to start with giving you a brief testimony. For the sake of time, I’ll try to be REALLY brief! I can describe my entire childhood in one sentence: I was raised in a conservative Christian home as the oldest of six children. (You know, my husband says I can’t say anything without giving a good dent in my 50,000 words a day, so don’t tell him that I just put 18 years of my life into one sentence!) I met the love of my life, Brent, at Bible College and after a whirlwind courtship, we were married. Both of us loved children and couldn’t wait to start working on a family, but God has a way of teaching us HIS will despite our well-laid plans and it ended up taking us three long years before we were blessed with our firstborn daughter. During that time of infertility, as we poured out our souls in longing before our Lord, He began the process of preparing our hearts for what we couldn’t yet see, but that HE knew was coming: our children. You see, much of the Americanized attitude had infiltrated our hearts already. You know the mentality: Wait as long as possible before having children, then have as few as possible, spend their childhood as busy as you can so you don’t get “tied down”, spend their youth wishing they were out of the house, then breathe a sigh of relief when they’re finally grown and you can get your life “back to normal”. Have you heard the old saying, “Children should be seen and not heard”? I think many people feel that children should not be seen OR heard. The spirit of abortion--that is, the prevailing thought that children are a commodity and not a blessing, is as prevalent in our churches today as it is in the rest of our society at large. During my infertility, after being told by two doctors and one specialist that I probably would never have a baby on my own without serious intervention, I was literally begging God for just one child, just one chance at hearing the word “Mommy”, just one opportunity to feel the delicate flutters of a baby kicking inside of my womb. And God had me in a place where I could be taught. He had my undivided attention. Month after month, when I would realize that once again I was not pregnant, as the tears would stream down my face, I would turn to the God who loved me and my Bible. God had not forgotten me---in reality, I think He had me exactly where He wanted me to be. I was listening, and He began to peel back the layers and show me, through His word, how He felt about children and motherhood. My husband and I promised God during this time that we would welcome any children He would give us and that we would never, ever forget the lessons He was teaching us.
Just when I was at peace that I might never be a “Mommy” the traditional way, I found out I was expecting our precious Eliana. Three precious, rambunctious, busy little boys quickly followed her: Nathaniel, Noah, and Ethan. Our experience with infertility had burdened us for adoption, so when our Ethan was 9 months old, we applied to adopt for the first time from China. Over the next two years, God added a total of three Chinese girls to our family through adoption. Gabriella joined our family at 15 months old, Johanna at 14 years old, and our most recent adoption was in September with Alyssia. She turned two 2 days after arriving in the States.
I went from an empty womb to a joyful mother of SEVEN in 9 years. Our youngest three children are only 5 months apart, creating virtual triplets. For the past six months, I’ve had THREE 2 year olds, a 10 year old, a 7 year old, a 5 year old, and a newly adopted teenager who didn’t speak any English and had been in an orphanage for her entire 14 years. To say life has been an adventure would be an understatement! We’ve been dealing with special needs, attachment issues, language and communication barriers, THREE toddlers and the challenges that adopting a teenager out-of-birth-order brings. I’ve found the strength to passionately embrace each and every parenting challenge presented to me by remembering the lessons the Lord so sweetly taught me long ago during the first few years of our marriage.
I don’t know most of you. I don’t know your stories, your struggles and trials, nor the season of life you’re currently experiencing. But today, I specifically want to offer encouragement to young mothers with small children. Life can seem monotonous when your days exist of changing stinky diapers, scraping macaroni and cheese off the floor, attacking the laundry abyss, nursing babies or, in my case, trying to manage to keep three 2 year olds from destroying everything I own. Trust me, I know. Life can get boring when the major excitement of the day is when Daddy pulls in the driveway because you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you can finally talk to someone who knows how to start a sentence with something besides “Mommy!” Life can get downright overwhelming when you desperately want to do a good job at motherhood but you feel like you’re swimming upstream against the influences of the world.
Join me tomorrow as I continue this series with point #1, "View Children the Way GOD Views Them"......