On Thursday this week I learned something very wonderful about God's special provision in my life. God provides for us faithfully in so many ways, but in this case, I'm referring to an intangible - a deep longing - something that has been a part of me ever since I can remember.
When I was a little girl, I loved children. That might sound funny, but it's true. The story is told of the day my Mum hosted an afternoon baby shower. I was just 5, not yet in school and quite happy that the invited ladies brought their pre-schoolers and wee babies to the event. I was elected to keep them entertained while the ladies had their refreshments and the honored mother-to-be opened her gifts. After a while the women began to wonder why they were not being interrupted by chaos from the next room. One mother chose to check on the unnaturally quiet children, and there I was, in the midst of them all, playing games, telling stories, singing songs and keeping them all quite happy. The quiet lasted for hours which was apparently quite remarkable given my age and number of little ones in my charge.
The funny thing is, I think that I actually remember that day.
It was just the beginning of my realization that I really loved children. I longed to grow up and be a Mommy with many many young children. A houseful would be perfect, in fact! In case I never married and had my own, I prayerfully chose education as my course of study, knowing that at least I would be permitted to teach the children I loved by day, and send them all home to their parents care at night. I could make do with borrowed children, if I had to.
By God's divine design, I joyously married my dear Historian and moved far from home. I became the 'Pastor's Wife' and enjoyed fulfilling that role. I continued to be involved in children's ministries, borrowing other peoples children to care for each week in Sunday School and having to give them back each time. Together, my young Historian and I dreamed about the family God would bless us with. Sooner rather than later was our plan.
Do things ever go quite as we plan? I remember the day we were told that parenthood was pretty unlikely for us. We had undergone a series of tests and the results were pretty conclusive. It was going to take a miracle for us to conceive, or a series of costly procedures which may or may not produce the longed for children.
We made some choices, we prayerfully drew our ethical lines - we knew that once we started the road of infertility treatments our vision might become blurred by the desperation waiting parents feel when things don't go well with Plan A, Plan B, or Plan C. We decided where we would stop before we began, just so we'd be clear. We paid our ticket and rode the roller coaster of failed infertility treatments, and got off just before we lost all hope. We investigated adoption, began that long prayerful wait and we grew in our understanding of God's perfect timing and provision. Through it all we just could not seem to avoid listening to so many who had such well meaning but generally hurtful, and not often helpful, tidbits of advice.
We laughed and cried. Prayed. Waited. Prayed. Hoped. Prayed. Waited.
Rinse and repeat daily for months without end, which rapidly turn to years.
Someone thoughtfully suggested that maybe God never intended us to parent. We chose to forgive their hurtful manner and look for the nugget of truth in their words. We prayed, knowing that our God is not one to toy with His beloved children. We asked Him to remove our desire for children if He didn't intend to grant our heart's deepest longing, aside from knowing Him more.
He never removed my hearts desire. Until Thursday - as in, just this past Thursday.
We've been married almost 17 years, and for the first time ever I can truthfully say, I don't want any more children. I cannot believe I just typed that. It's still so new to me. I am completely content with the blessings God has chosen for us and don't long to add to the the gift He has already given. I've often said we would be a 'quiver full family' - but we were just equipped with a really small quiver.
We are blessed to be the parents of two - our real life and in full color reminders of God's perfect gifts.
You can read about the sorrows that came along our path to parenthood here - the heartache of our 'interrupted adoption placement'. Our boy, who was never really ours turned 11 in March. We pray for him and think of him, and commit him to God's care.
Our joyful, beautiful, completed adoption brought us our sweet, just about 11 year old Dreamer. What a blessing she is! Miscarriage broke our hearts but gave us hope. Remember that miracle our doctors mentioned we would need? We lovingly refer to him as our Storyteller and he is 8 years old.
Just a few months ago, I could still feel the deep longing for more. Even with homeschooling two challenging, often non-compliant, very active children. Even with my rapidly advancing years and liver disease. Even when I knew in my heart of hearts that my body is just too old, too tired and labeled with an 'incurable' that disqualifies us from adopting again. Even when I knew my husband has quite enough to take care of and is wonderfully happy with our two joys - and has been completely content for some time, in fact. Even then.
I recently prayed again for God to remove the longing for more and help me to be completely content.
God is so good.
On Thursday we started our homeschool co-op and I was a very delighted 'baby rocker' in the nursery and toddler room. What a joy to be surrounded with three nursing moms and their dear dear babies. I was so honored to be entrusted to care for their 'fresh from heaven' blessings even for just a brief time.
When I handed them back over to their mothers, I knew a sweet peace that I have really had to think about to understand. For the first time ever in my adult life, I didn't hurt a little bit deep down inside when I held those sweet babies. Even with our own babies, my joy was so very great, but there was a tiny bit of bittersweet - an ever so subtle shade of discontent ... more, please, more Lord. Knowing it was so very very unlikely, but still longing, deep deep down.
So this is what it feels like when God shows His provision in even the deepest buried longings of my heart. A wonderful peaceful contentment that's just too lovely to describe. I love what the Psalmist penned in Psalm 34 ~
I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.