I think perhaps God is trying to make a point.
When we discovered this pregnancy, I felt a little shocked. I smiled broadly at Andy, began to giggle, then immediately dissolved into tears. I sent a quick text off to Elizabeth, imploring her to stave off my waves of panic. Because...really? Already? I was already overwhelmed by the sheer number of things to get done in a day. Now with the prospect of another long, sick, and miserable first trimester on the horizon followed by the rest of pregnancy and babies so close together... well, it was all a bit unnerving.
Right around the time I started to feel comfortable with the idea, we found out it was twins. I texted Elizabeth again. She called immediately, laughing hysterically and almost shrieking with glee. In that moment I remembered- quite suddenly and vividly- all those heartbreaking days of begging God for another baby. The sorrowful, heavy conversations with the very few friends who knew my heartache. The long winter evenings where I would lay in front of the Christmas tree, praying the St. Andrew novena and wondering if God could even hear me.
Well. That's laughable now, isn't it? I find it somewhat amusing to think back on those most heart wrenching of days and consider what God must have been plotting while I lay sobbing on the couch, begging Him to hear me. "Oh I hear ya alright, honey. Just you wait." (chuckle)
(Do you think God chuckles?)
Of course the gift of receiving new life overshadowed nearly everything else. Our kids were ecstatic. My kids don't need Mother Teresa to tell them that there is no such thing as too many children, they know it by instinct.
"How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers."
We stared at those ultrasound pictures and marveled at how God was showering us with blessings in ways, only two years before, we had thought impossible.
Let me back up a little.
We haven't always been so open to new life. There was a time when I had three very small children and I thought my abilities were being stretched to full capacity. It seemed like the responsible, prudent thing to do not to take on more than I could handle, and I was quite sure I was already at my limit.
But a funny thing happens when we allow ourselves a free-fall of faith, when we open our fists just a little and stop trying to control things that only God should govern. Something supernatural takes place.
God doesn't force His way into our lives, see. He doesn't push and shove us out of the driver's seat and insist on doing things His way- He waits for us to hand over the wheel. And when we do...
Oh, when we do.
When we found out we were having twins, I immediately considered some basic facts: Next year I will have six children. I will be homeschooling three of them, and three of them will be babies age one and under. There is only one of me. There are six of them. There is Irish Stepdance, Taekwon-Do, piano lessons, heaps of laundry, 21 meals every single week made mostly from scratch. There are doctor and dentist appointments, birthday parties, dirty floors, muddy tubs, clothes to buy and sort and organize as children grow. There are curriculum plans, reading lessons, weedy flowerbeds, sinks full of dishes. There are six human beings to train up as saints, and the enormity and gravity of that job alone is enough to make we weep! And these kids are around all the time! Constantly! They don't go to school or disappear for hours each day (thanks be to God)- they are underfoot, around, watching every move I make and learning from all of the words that come out of my mouth and the examples (good or bad) that I set for them.
Next basic fact: THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO HANDLE.
And it would be, I'm quite certain, if I attempted to tackle it under my own strength. But out of nowhere, as I was wading through this mess of panic over everything-I-could-not-possibly-handle, I had a thought:
With God's help, how can I fail?
Really. Is it even possible to fail? If God has seen fit to shower us with the blessing of all these children, do I really think He will just drop them in my womb and then turn away to tend to other, more important matters?
Back in January I wrote that I was pretty sure God was getting ready to rain down buckets of grace on our little family, but that post sounded a lot more confident than I actually felt. It was a statement of hope, really.
But then I guess God wanted to use it to make a point.
Within weeks of writing that statement about buckets of grace, a few things happened:
- A friend offered to take over Primrose's writing lessons. I had expressed concern over the amount of time I was spending on this task, wondering how that was going to be feasible with so many babies underfoot, so... she offered. And she's not just anybody. She's a dear friend of mine who also happens to be a corporate-attorney-turned-homeschooling-mom. She has a heart of gold, and she's a better writing teacher than I am.
- Another friend (this one local) is done homeschooling now- her five are upward and onward in life. She wants to volunteer herself somewhere next year, and thought that perhaps next school year, she could come over every single week for a few hours hours to work with Primrose on her Latin, hang out with the kids, and do some gluten-free baking and literature discussion. Every week. For a couple of hours.
- Then a sweet lady from church (whom I have often seen but never spoken to) overheard me telling our priest that I am expecting twins. One week later she asked if she could please come help. None of her grandchildren live nearby and we have no family within 300 miles. She told me she'd love to come be a part of our family- watch the kids and just help me juggle all these balls I've got in the air. She has a busy life of her own, but she's carving out time on a regular basis to give help to us.
Buckets of grace, anyone?
I had no idea how I would handle it all, and God was probably tsk-tsking at me all the while, trying ever so hard to remind me in His calm and patient way that I don't have to. That's what grace is for.
And it all became crystal clear. God cannot rain buckets of grace on me unless I make myself available to Him. For years I clung to the idea that I could not possibly take on any more, that I had to retain control in order to hold on to my sanity. It was like my umbrella. I stood there clutching it, wondering why God wasn't raining any grace on me, forgetting that with my umbrella overhead, the grace couldn't touch me, even if He did.
Then, when God had changed my heart and I threw my beloved umbrella (and the desire to control my own life) to the sidelines, I was overcome by the despair that perhaps I was too late- that maybe I had missed my chance to let Him take over. It was only then- only when I was bare and vulnerable and had fully thrown myself at God's feet- that He would rain down those buckets, and they would wash over me.
And washing over me they are, in bucket-loads. I am amazed at the way God takes over when we finally give up our illusions of control. When we just let Him do what He loves to do- take care of us. Guide us. Shower us with grace.
Grace is not given in advance- we don't get it a second earlier than it is needed. If we had waited until all our ducks were in a row, until the timing was "just right", until we had things under control before allowing for new life in our family, we would still be waiting. And we would be evermore. We would have missed out on Posy, and on the joy these twins will surely bring to our lives, as well.
It's a free-fall, this faith thing. We have to just go for it, and know that He has grace sufficient for us. In fact, He has grace in abundance for us, if only we'll let Him wash over us.
And really...truly... with God's help, how can we fail?