I enjoyed reading your comments yesterday. I had no idea so many others were going through similar situations. I should warn you this is my longest post ever. Get some coffee and sugary nourishment before you settle in. It's a journey I'm glad to share, and one I need to record for my own sake as well...I'm likely to find myself back here some day.
I think the details are important because, as I've said before...God is in the details. He doesn't show me the details up-front. Just a small, teeny-tiny glimpse of the very next step. He knows I spook easily, and to keep me on course I can't know very much about His plans. My mind is just too small to be able to wrap around them. But once those plans are played out, He turns me around and throws the doors wide open for me to see...and each time, I just stand there in awe, uttering now I get it...sorta.
Early on in our marriage Ben and I both agreed that four sounded like a good number. The pregnancy with our first born, Noah, came as a bit of a surprise. A little sooner than we'd planned, but not shocking. When Noah was 7 months old I discovered I was pregnant with Eli. That was a shocker. I cried for a good week or two just from the sheer shock of it. But God proved faithful, and the girl who never wanted kids really close together got them anyway. And I wouldn't change it for anything.
By the time Eli turned two years old I was ready to try for another. Along came Jake, three months before Eli turned 3. Because my first two were only 16 months apart, I thought that the gap of almost 3 years between Eli and Jake was HUGE and would certainly make it easier.
I am and idiot.
Three rocked my world. I had a 4 year old, 3 year old and baby. Jake was a couple months old when the opportunity arose for Ben to pastor in tiny town. At the time, it didn't seem like difficult transition at all, but as I look back I see things I was oblivious to at the time. Over the course of Jake's first year of life I became more and more convinced that three was good. Three was plenty! Three was all I could handle by myself in the church pew every Sunday morning and Sunday night while my husband preached.
And to further convince myself I convinced everyone around me as well. Whenever the topic of more kids came up I gave a hearty no way and a lengthy list of reasons as to why this pastor's wife was busy enough.
And then the boys got older...and physically less exhausting for me. And that feeling that I talked about yesterday...or wondering, settled in. And I began to question what the desires of my heart really were, and it brought me to my knees before the One who knows what those desires are.
I mentioned yesterday that in my head I had sorted out all of the possible options. Ben and I talked at length about each one, but it always boiled down to the same thing...
- Doing something permanent, at this point in our lives, just didn't settle well with us. I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that I might later regret it. That someday I might think...did God want us to have one more and we missed out on that life because I wanted a decision made right. now?
- The idea of purposely trying didn't settle well either because I was very content with our three wonderful little guys. Our family didn't feel like it was lacking, in fact, it felt quite full. I didn't know if I wanted to be pregnant again...and all that entailed, losing all the weight afterwards in particular. Maybe three boys was exactly what God had planned for our family.
Ben suggested we just do nothing. I may have had a panic attack...at first. But the more I thought and prayed about it, the more I felt like maybe that might work. If God wanted to move during that time, He would. And if He didn't, then we would know that three was exactly the number planned. We made this decision last October.
So for October, November and December I was completely paranoid. I bought pregnancy tests from The Dollar Tree (oh you know the store, where EVERYTHING is a dollar...my paranoia made me buy in bulk ;) I freaked the few days before my period was due...because I really, REALLY wasn't ready to get pregnant. Ben, and my running partner Billie deserve a lot of credit...they were the only ones privy to my paranoia. :)
By January I began to calm down some. It's also when we needed to decide if we were going to go through with having a foreign exchange student for the following school year. I knew that either an exchange student or a baby would be ok...but not both. Again, we weighed the options. What if I got pregnant before she arrived? Would we have to back out? Should we not go ahead with it because of the possibility of getting pregnant? We didn't have a lot of time to dwell on it...we needed to pick a student soon in order to get first dibs. We had such a peace about Julie, that we knew we were to go ahead with it...certainly God wouldn't give me both. Certainly.
Then, in February or March He planted the idea of the 1/2 marathon. Billie used to tease me that I might get pregnant and be able to quit...to which I replied that I was quite certain I wouldn't get pregnant now, after all God had inspired this race for me...I knew He was behind it, and He'd definitely make me finish it. He certainly wouldn't call me to it and THEN have me get pregnant. So, it became a non-issue for awhile and I focused on my family and the running.
And that's when I felt a huge weight lifted from me. For so long I had been carrying the burden of what to do about the whole family planning issue. When I finally handed it over, and stopped freaking out, I found the freedom that He desired for me. I learned to be content in the uncertainty. I gradually learned not to freak out every month because I didn't know what was in store. I just lived life. Plus, with the boys we had gotten pregnant pretty quickly. The fact that we hadn't yet made me quite certain that it was God's way of telling me our family was complete.
Along comes August. Julie is here and We're three weeks out from the race. It's a Wednesday and we're due to have a 9 miler that Saturday. And for some reason it suddenly dawns on me that my period should have probably started already. I make a quick phone call to Billie (because your running partner keeps track of these sorta things) in hopes that she can convince me that I'm totally off on my days. She convinces me...but not that I'm off ;)
Two test later, I was certain. And amazed. And completely and utterly confused about the timing. After talking with the Dr. she gave the go-ahead to finish the half marathon as long as I could stay hydrated, and I thought wow...God's doing both.
The 9 miles that Saturday went great. The 10 miles the next Saturday went slower, but I felt good about it. I knew I'd be able to finish the half.
Thursday before the race the barfing began. No stopping in sight. By Friday night I had Billie pick up my registration packet, but I knew I would not be able to run it. Saturday morning I went and cheered Billie on...fighting back tears. We'd trained together, we were supposed to run together. I couldn't figure out why God would call me to train and then not let me run.
Later I realized that I'd only assumed the race was part of the deal...what He had called me to was the training, the discipline and the obedience. His timing wasn't off...it was perfect. Without those lessons, learned literally through sweat and tears, I wouldn't be ready for this baby. I wouldn't have been ready for 16 weeks of nausea and barfing. I wouldn't have been ready for both a baby and an exchange student. What seemed like terrible timing was actually His perfect timing. But I am not exaggerating when I say His way of doing things is never how I think it's going to be.
The story is never finished. I have no idea what tomorrow holds...or the next minute for that matter. For now, I know that in April, Lord willing, we will bring home baby #4. And boy or girl...God has planned it. And most likely, over time, we will find ourselves back to the familiar question....are we done yet? Because really, like my mother in law says...what's one more?!? :)