It's funny what we get used to. Many people are in awe when I tell them that Paul and I have seven children.
It isn't uncommon to hear things like,
"Wow! I could never do that!"
If anyone would have asked Paul how many children he wanted to have when we first got married, he would have first swallowed hard and then he would have said, "Two". I, on the other hand, was thinking that five would be reasonable. Both of us picked a number we were familiar with. He was one of two. I was one of five.
When I had only six children, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and thought to myself, "I couldn't possibly handle another". It was at that time that through a certain situation, I ended up with three more little ones in our care for a while. So I had one 3 month old baby, two one year olds, two three year olds, a five year old, a seven year old, a nine year old and one ten year old. At first I though I was going to go crazy. But we lived moment by moment and I learned very quickly that learning to love what I was doing was important. And more importantly, learning to praise God in everything was a life giving joy. Life is indeed a gift!
It was after this time when things were back to normal in our house that I found out I was expecting our seventh child. I thought to myself, "Seven! I can handle that!" I had gotten used to nine, after all. And seven seemed like a breeze! That was nearly six years ago!
These days it is not uncommon for us to have MORE than seven children with us. Between cousins and friends the number of children in our home is often in the double digits, and that makes for a pretty busy household!
Cooking, teaching and cleaning up after that many kids takes a lot of time and energy. But at the same time, the house runs fairly smoothly because everyone usually chips in and does their share.
So on days like today, when we had 13 children total on the Redding farm, we are busy busy busy but loving every minute of it, because life is more than a duty. Life is a gift that is to be enjoyed with those whom God has given you. And we just happen to be blessed with a large family who loves to spend time both with each other and with our friends. We do life together here, and honestly I can't think of a more enjoyable gift.
It is truly amazing what we get used to. And even more amazing is how much the attitude of our hearts matters.
If I would have found out I was pregnant with number seven before I had taken care of nine for those few months, I would probably had wilted a little inside. But God prepared my heart for my last little bundle of joy by allowing our family to suddenly grow for that temporary situation. In the end it turned out He used this situation to prepare my heart and mind for the next little blessing He was about to give me. And now, when the numbers of children in our home increase on any given day, we know how to float and how to praise God through it all. The gift of life is not lost on us. And each situation carries with it new ways to give thanks and rejoice in God's blessings.
Paul's dad, when he's speaking of his grandchildren, says,
I too feel rich with these blessings of God.