Saturday, March 16, 2013

An Unexpected Benefit of Having a Large Family

Now that our family has grown to 8 members, I suppose we are considered a large family. This is a strange concept for me because most of the time we still seem like little ol' us to me! Hanging out on the couch watching TV or gathered around the table or even making our way down the aisles at Walmart is just as normal to me as to those of you with one or two children. Getting ready to go somewhere is a different story. Sometimes I wonder if we'll ever make it somewhere on time again!

One of the challenges we've faced recently is getting everyone down the stairs. See, we live on the third floor. And there are 8 of us--two of whom cannot walk and two of whom are still little and wobbly on the dangerous stairs. (Piper flipped down a few steps backwards just this week!) But we are blessed with a great playground directly outside our building where the kids can not only burn off energy playing but the mommies can also socialize. So there's a lot of incentive for us to get outside each day!

So somehow I need to make sure everyone has been to the bathroom (because I sure do hate dragging everyone back up those stairs to go potty), everyone has had a snack (why do I bother? they're going to attack whoever brought their food to the playground anyway), and, now, that the babies are fed before we head down. Then I have to figure out how to hold two babies and guide one toddler and one preschooler down three flights of stairs. First I tried stuffing the babies in my Sleepywrap, which I LOVED with Ryland and Piper.

At first it seemed like it would work. They are both still small enough to fit but they were very squished and I was pretty uncomfortable. The first time I tied it, it felt too loose. The second time, it felt too tight. Braelyn especially doesn't like being swaddled, and she grunted and carried on the entire time. Finally I gave up. Perhaps I'll have to go straight to carrying one on front and one on back!

Yesterday, I decided to just carry them downstairs in their little laundry basket! 

This should work for a few more weeks perhaps although it will earn me some chuckles and strange looks, ha ha! 

So, we made it down to the playground but then a million things can and will happen! Jathan is pretty much good to run free. Ryland is okay about 95% of the time. Piper is a wild card. Perhaps she'll sit quietly beside me on the grass. Perhaps she'll delight in sliding over and over. Or perhaps she'll run for the road or up the stairs every single second you are outside. The babies will want to nurse. The possibilities are endless. And you know what? I can't handle it. At least not on my own.

And there is the unexpected benefit of having a large family that I've just discovered: needing other people. I've got to tell you, I have been resisting this idea. I really like being independent and get a certain thrill from being able to wrangle everyone and having it look all effortless. I suppose there's a lot of pride there that God is stripping away and replacing with thankfulness and friendship each time someone offers to help me and I accept. 

Yesterday, when there were other mamas holding my babies and retrieving Piper from the stairs and when a friend brought me a meal and when two sweet young ladies carried stuff upstairs for me then sat and held the babies while I cleaned the living room, I was reminded of this verse:

"For just as we have in one body many members, but the members do not all have the same function, so we, although many, are one body in union with Christ, but members belonging individually to one another." 
--Romans 12:4, 5

We're not meant to do this alone! Even in paradise, God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone and made him a helper. God set us in families and communities and wants us to go to church, in part, for fellowship. Even Jesus surrounded himself with friends. 

Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10 says, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their hard work. For if one of them should fall, the other one can raise his partner up. But how will it be with just one who falls when there is not another to raise him up?"

When we alienate ourselves and limit the endeavors we undertake based on what we can do all by ourselves, we are really only hurting ourselves and perhaps even succumbing to a ploy of Satan. 

In many aspects living on this seminary campus is very different than living in other communities. We are all in the same boat--we are strapped financially, drained mentally, and charged emotionally--and we all live in very close quarters with thin walls. We get to know each other, like it or not! In my life this has meant I've gained a lot of friends.  Friends who see my children misbehave, who know that my life is not perfect, and who see me need help on a daily basis (and who still come around despite all this!). 

I'm so thankful to have been able to come be a part of a family like this. Our time at seminary has been when I've seen the church at work the most! I only hope that I never forget what it's supposed to be like. That I take these experiences and reach out to the next church and community God places us in and also allow them to reach back. 

And to everyone around me who has chased a child down for me or rocked a baby or cooked a meal or offered a ride or carried something heavy or just sat and talked with me, to everyone far away who has sent cards and letters and gifts over these trying years, know that you're kindness has never gone overlooked. You have been a blessing to me and are appreciated. Keep up the good work! 

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