As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Throwback Thursday - This is How God Works in my Life

Do we ever really have things figured out?  This post makes me laugh, because I feel like I could have written it yesterday.

This is How God Works in my Life
First published August 11, 2008

Looking back over the past five years of my life, I can`t help but shake my head at the fact that I even bothered to think I was in control! I`m sure someone somewhere laughs at me every time I think I`ve got everything figured out, because usually I couldn`t be further from what really ends up happening.

When Jeff and I first got married five years ago this month, although I wanted to have children right away, we made the decision to wait. He was still in school and would be for the next two years, so we thought it would be best to wait until we were more financially stable before trying to have children. It`s funny how fast my deepest desire got put to the back burner though. We were practicing Natural Family Planning (NFP), and whenever I`d have a day that I wasn`t sure about, I`d say `oh no, what if we`re pregnant`And Jeff would say Ì know we`re not trying to right now, but if we were it wouldn`t be a bad thing - it would be a blessing`. I thought of course I know that, but being such a goal-oriented person, I would have seen that as some kind of failure. Even writing this now it seems so strange to me that I was ever in that kind of mindset, but I was. And when we got the àll clear`for that month, I`d think `phew, I dodged a bullet therè`.

One night I had a dream. I can`t even remember anything specific that happened, other than that I was playing with a nine-month-old baby. She resembled my two-year-old nephew, but I knew it wasn`t him. In my dream I knew she was a girl, and I knew she was mine. When I woke up the next morning to a baby-free house, my heart was heavy, and the yearning for a child of my own had returned. Since it was Sunday we went to mass, where friends of ours had brought their six-week-old baby boy, and I was mesmerized with him all through mass. I didn`t ask to hold him, knowing he was still so young and I was strange to him, but it took everything inside of me not to. A few days later, suspecting we might be expeciting, we took a pregnancy test and to our joy, discovered we had indeed been blessed with our first child. I really believe that God used my dream to stir up the desire I had suppressed, so that I would receive the news with a joyful heart, not as a failure, but as an incredible blessing.

Another thing I had always thought was that I would stay home with my kids. But since Jeff was still in school through Joseph`s first year and beyond, it would not have been financially feasible for me to have no income. Still, I left my job thinking that I would not return, that God would somehow provide a way for me to be home with my baby. About halfway through my maternity leave came the hard realization that I would not be able to just stay home and do nothing, we were living on EI and Jeff`s student loan at the time. So I began to search frantically for something I could do from home. And as anyone who has ever done this has probably discovered, there really is nothing. Everything I found was either a scam or did not come close to the salary I was making at my job, and with Jeff still not finished school, I couln`t justify putting our family in jeapordy just so I could be home. Knowing fully that God knew how much I wanted to be home with Joseph, and believing that if it were even remotely possible for me that He would have provided an opportunity during my desperate searches but did not, I concluded that the only thing for me to do was to suck it up, make the sacrifice for my family, and go back to work. Take one for the team.

Then, when Joseph was about ten months old, Jeff and I disccovered that we were expecting again. I was ecstatic! I thought òh, so that`s what God`s doing`. I believed He was sending another child so that I could go back but only for a few months, and then be home again with my family and still be providing for us financially. When this pregnancy ended in miscarriage, I was shattered. Not only at the loss of the child (who we named John Paul Gerald after our late Holy Father JPII, and a dear friend Father Gerry Grant), but also at the loss of the direction that I thought I had. Now I had to go back, not knowing when I would be home again, or if I even would. And I had to come to grips with the fact that as much as I tried, I really didn`t know what God was doing with my life. And there are some things you just can`t control.

When we conceived John Paul, we were trying not to have a baby. After the miscarriage however, we decided that since we were prepared to have a second child, that we could really handle it, and made the decision to go ahead and try for another one. A couple months later, our son Timothy was conceived. His conception is unique in that he is the only child we made the decision to try for, and were waiting with anticipation to find out if we were expecting, rather than being caught by surprise. It was a truly joy-filled time for us.

When I left work for the second time, I was sure that I would not go back - so much so that I deleted any trace of anything personal from my computer and office space and took everything home with me. However my second maternity leave played out much the same as the first, and midway through it became clear I needed to go back. We had to renovate our house to acommodate our growing family (it was only a two-bedroom when we bought it), and having another loan hanging over our heads, me leaving my job would have been financial ruin for us. Again, when Timothy was about eight months old I discovered that I was expecting. I approached this pregnancy much more cautiously though, knowing that I had miscarried so close to Joseph last time, and figuring that must just be what happens when you get pregnant too soon after having a baby. I fully expected that I would loose the baby, but I didn`t! The day I heard his heartbeat and knew I was out of the danger zone for miscarriage (which usually happens in the first three months) I was ecstatic! This time for sure, I knew I was only going back for a few months, and then I`d be home again. The arrival of our third son Stephen brought with it another full year for me to be home with my family, while still supporting us financially.

When I left the third time however, I was sure that I would come back. I made plans for things I wanted to do when I got back, and training I wanted to do. I was sure at this point that this was the direction God was leading me in. One of the big reasons I`ve been able to afford to work and have children in childcare was that the sitter we found (who we were so blessed to have for Joseph and Timothy) was so inexpensive compared to what most sitters charge.When Stephen was about five months old, she ran into some issues with the number of kids she was bringing in and had to downsize. Since mine were only part-time while I was on mat leave, it made sense for her to use those spaces for full-timers instead. Searching for other sitters, I soon discovered that now I really could not afford to go back to work and pay for my three kids to be in childcare...everyoone I fould was at least $75 a week more expensive than my previous sitter. We had talked before about me staying home and bringing in some kids, but Jeff had many apprehensions about it. When we crunched all the numbers though, it seemed to be the only way for us to make money. Going back to work I would have been bringing home less than I was making on EI (after paying a sitter), but by bringing in two kids I could equal it, and by bringing in three I could do better.

After spending months praying about the decision, talking to family, friends, and financial planners, it really seemed that this was the only viable solution. I was thrilled! I thought finally God is making a way for me to be home with my kids and still make money, the best of both worlds! I advertised and found a little girl Stephen`s age to come in. She was beautiful, such a perfect fit! And then two weeks after telling her Mom I could take her, as I was preparing to call work and tell them I wasn`t coming back, I got an email from work saying that in the last round of union negotiations, my salary had been increased by $8,000. I know it`s great news, but at the time reading it made my heart sink. I thought `I couldn`t have found this out a month ago, before I agreed to take someone`s child on` I had to call that Mom and tell her I could only take her little girl until the end of the summer, I was so afraid, but she was understanding. I thought `who does this happen to - only someone who thinks she`s got everything figured out!`

We were blessed enough to find a sitter in town who also had reasonable rates, and happens to be the sister-in-law of a close friend, so that put our minds at ease. And I was looking forward to travelling back and forth with Jeff, and lunch hours with the boys who will be close to my work. I thought now it was truly the best of both worlds. We had decided that now was the time to take a break from having kids, to get rid of some debt so that we can make decisions free from financial burden. And then, low and behold, we`re expecting yet again!

I`ve learned to just laugh at myself now. I`ve decided that I really don`t have much control when it comes to these things. When you`re practicing NFP, it`s real tempting to see a child conceived when you`re trying not to as a mistake, or something you did wrong. But it`s a decision we`ve made in our relationship, to leave the final decision to God. And so to me, it`s a sign that we`re doing something right - because even when we`re sure that we`re not having more kids right away, He`s still able to jump in and say `I think that maybe you should!`And when I think of all that I have today, how close all of my boys are, and the joy the bring me every day, I can`t help but think how much less my life would be if it had gone the way I was planning. Thank God for NFP, for babies, and most of all, for a sense of humor to understand how small I really am in the grand scheme of life!

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