Monday, January 12, 2009

`You're What?'

We get lots of questions about this whole 12 kids thing. Like, what's that all about? Believe it or not, when I was romancing Julie way back in the day I didn't sweep her off her feet by telling her it was my deepest heart's desire to sire enough wee lads and lasses to fill a 15-passenger van. The truth of it is we were just as surprised as anyone to get to just three kids. It's true. We were just going to have two kids. So much for our plan, though, as things quickly seemed to get out of hand.

We were living in Ontario, Ore., a dusty outpost of 10,000 souls hard against the Idaho border in Oregon's desolate outback. I was a sportswriter for the local daily and when we hit town in late summer 1992 we had two little boys -- Brenton, 3, and Taylor, who had been born in April. We thought it was perfect: Two little boys three years apart. They'll grow up to be best friends, just one more trip through the terrible twos, we won't have to get a minivan...all the important reasons to get out of the `having kids' business. Somehow, however, Julie got pregnant when Taylor was just 5 months old. I was flabbergasted and Julie was quite puzzled herself. She was still nursing Taylor, had not started her cycle and we were under the impression that she couldn't get pregnant. Well, we're here to testify she can.

When Ethan arrived in July 1993, we were living in Prineville, a cowboy town in the shadow of towering rimrock smack dab in the center of Oregon. I distinctly remember holding baby Ethan one night in my arms and walking around our two-bedroom, 900-square-foot house and thinking that if we had our way we wouldn't have this little treasure. Though we dabbled with birth control after Ethan was born -- rather ineffectively I might add -- God was changing our hearts. In May 1995, God brought us another little treasure in the form of Claire. These four little kids were all so beautiful and perfect and we couldn't imagine life without them. At that point we decided to leave our family planning up to the Lord. And we know how He feels about that. Try Gen. 9:1 on for size, where God said to Noah and his sons: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth." Or turn to Psalm 127 where the psalmist talks about children being a heritage from the Lord and the fruit of the womb is a reward. "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth," he writes. "Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them."

We're not sure where we'll end up in the final tally. That's in the Lord's hands. But we're so richly blessed and are so grateful and honored the Lord changed our hearts and has brought us seven boys and five girls. Or more.

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