Friday, August 23, 2013

"We can't afford to have a large family!"

I was reading a post on Facebook tonight by a woman who desperately wants to have a large family but is concerned about not having sufficient finances to do so. She wanted to hear from large families with a low income. This was my response:

You wanted to read stories of large families with low incomes. We're one of those families. We have 6 kids, ages 2-15, and my husband is the sole provider with an income below the poverty line. We have no debt from the births because after the first one, I had all homebirths. We have no car payment because we prayed for the Lord to provide what we needed when our vehicle died, and He led us to a beautiful Suburban for $3500 (which we had saved). We use no credit cards, so we no longer amass debt to live under. If we don't have the money for it, we don't buy it. And we are sooooo much happier this way! I could have chosen to work, with my grad school education, but I knew that God called me to homeschool. And so, we've done whatever it took to make that possible, and I've never, ever, regretted it. * (See update below.) We buy clothes at Goodwill, when we need something that hasn't shown up in a hand-me-down bag. We grocery shop mostly at Aldis, when we're not eating fruit and veggies from my mom's garden. And we almost never pay retail prices for anything over about $20 without having first researched high and low to be sure that we couldn't find a cheaper deal. We have never been to Disneyworld. We have never taken the kids to an amusement park. We rarely eat out as a family. We don't have cable TV. We have done very few paid lessons. And we have no college fund set aside. But guess what? Our children STILL have a good life! They still have opportunities left and right to participate in awesome activities, trips, lessons, etc. -- free of charge. God just seems to provide what each kid truly needs for the development of his or her unique gifts. If I told you about all the countless ways the Lord has done this, you would be in awe...but this post would grow SUPER long. The point is, if you and your husband come to an agreement about "letting go and letting God" when it comes to your family planning (even if only for the course of certain seasons of your marriage, as we have done), you can rest assured that He will NOT fulfill your every greed, but He WILL provide for your actual need. You might have valid reasons for limiting your family size.....but from my own personal experience, my recommendation is that you do not let money be the deciding factor. Children ARE a blessing from the Lord! And the best blessings in life don't have a price tag on them.

Update 1/26/15
We are now in a different season of life. A couple of years ago, my 2 high school Spanish teachers told me that they were both about to retire and that they really wanted me to apply for the job at the nearby public school from which I graduated.  I talked with Roy extensively about this request, prayed hard, and we decided to take it one step at a time and see what would happen. Well, one door after another opened for me to become a licensed Spanish teacher, with virtually no cost -- a huge miracle. Then, Roy's employment changed and took quite a nosedive, so it was a no-brainer that God was making the way for our family to stay afloat financially. At the same time, our 2 oldest girls really wanted to transition into attending a brick-and-mortar school, and my mom began homeschooling our 3rd daughter, while the 2 school-aged boys enrolled in an online program that they love. So, life does not look like we thought it would, but it's still very good. I'm enjoying my job....esp. having the opportunity to make an impact on a lot of students. And we're still feeling blessed with our 6 kids, even though money might always be tight. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Lookin' for Pure Joy?

I'm thinking deep thoughts this afternoon. It all started when I heard Abby run through the house yelling, "Lydia! Come see this! Hurry up or you'll miss it!" Well, the "it" was a blimp! But, this got me thinking about how our most exciting moments are actually bittersweet if we don't have someone to share them with. And, the closer we are to that person, the more thrilling it is to share an exciting or emotional moment with them.
Like, if Lydia had missed out on that blimp sighting, this thrilling moment would have soured in Abby's mind and would have given her some sadness instead of pure joy. So, really, it's not the amazing experiences in life that fulfill us -- it's the relationships. And, above all, when we see the hand of God in those experiences, we find our greatest fulfillment -- in an intimate bonding moment with Him! Another aspect of what I'm saying is this -- If people are in conflict, whether it's with another person, with themselves, or with their Maker, they're bound to have a hard time enjoying any of the beauty or thrills that this world has to offer. I wonder how many conflicted people sit beneath an expensive, breath-taking fireworks display and feel no joy because they're so emotionally/relationally/spiritually paralyzed. I think the key to true joy is forgiveness -- first, accepting the forgiveness that is freely offered to us, made possible by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross -- God in the flesh, giving his life as a ransom for our sin....and then, in that freedom from our own guilt, being able to extend forgiveness to others -- even to the most unforgivable. I've seen this truth play out in my own life and in the lives of many others who know Jesus Christ as their Lord & Savior. When I lose sight of what Christ has done for me, I start to get spiteful, angry, and depressed -- sometimes even for no apparent reason. But when I focus on His amazing grace and mercy, I've been able to forgive some pretty heinous things because of the fact that I've been forgiven. And even in the darkest times, I have been surprised by joy and peace in my heart. I wouldn't trade this life for anything.

Local Missions or Foreign Missions???

I read this article yesterday and it got me thinking. Should we be encouraging people to give more of their time and money to foreign missions or to local missions? If you look no further than the title of that article, you would assume that the author is strictly promoting local missions, to the exclusion of foreign missions. However, toward the end of the article, the author does seem to advocate a balance between the two, and I'm glad for that. It seems like, in many areas of life, when people promote one side or another, the best solution is often to pursue BOTH, not either/or. If all Christians stopped assisting the radically impoverished peoples around the world, the level of global devastation would skyrocket. Yet, a lot of times, it's easier for a person to help "those folks over there," rather than open our eyes to the suffering that's happening just around the corner. I think sometimes local suffering makes us feel more guilty. Or, maybe in some cases, we're even judgmental of people who are suffering in this country and we're not as inclined to help. But, comparing my foreign missions experiences to my U.S. mission experiences, I still have to say that the poorest of the poor in this country do not even come CLOSE to suffering to the degree that people do in 3rd world countries. So, again....we need to help both.