Monday, May 5, 2008

Surviving Ten

Here I am 10 years into this parenting gig- part of me wanting it all back, part of me just glad to have survived.

Before we were married Michael and I went to premarital counseling. On one visit the counselor asked us to write a 5 and 10yr goal for our marriage. We wrote the American dream; work, save, buy house, baby on the way at the end of 5 years, work, save, another baby, more savings by 10yrs. We also wrote of our spiritual ambitions for ourselves as a couple, our desire for growth, and our hope to do ministry together.
Our lives have never looked anything like our 5 or 10yr plan.

"Many are the plans of a man's heart,
but it is God who determines his steps."

Noah joined Michael and I 19 months after we married. I wasn't one of those new moms that enjoyed every minuet. Becoming a mother changed everything before I was ready for change. I was 24, admiring the independence of my single friends. I was not ready to wear maternity clothes, to gain 63lbs, for stretch marks, to drive a station wagon, to give myself up (literally) for another person. When Emilie came along 14 months later (and 7 weeks early) I wasn't ready. When I was pregnant less than a year later I wasn't ready, but I was moving into accepting God's plan because I had seen how He had been faithful regardless of my readiness. When we celebrated our 5th anniversary and our 4th pregnancy (with Josie), I had finally given in, and I began giving up the idea that life would look as I wanted it to.

I recall one afternoon in those first years- Michael had come home from work, I was still in my p.j's, toys were everywhere, the kids were running in happy circles around daddy, dinner was no where near being started, there were endless piles of laundry, doctors bills sitting on the counter, credit card bills lingering over us like a dark cloud, and a check book that had been in the red for too long. I looked at him and said, "would you have run the other way, if you had known it would be like this?" Michael said, "No, never."

If I were sitting in that counselors office, and I had it to do over again I would write just 3 words- REMAIN IN CHRIST!
He is the only constant, the only hope, the only future, the only one who can determine our steps. And I am counting on Him for the shaping, molding, and growing of our hearts, minds, and souls. I am counting on Him to take care of the ministry he has given us in raising these people for His kingdom. I am counting on Him to know their future, and ours without them safe in our home.


  1. What a sweet and amazing story of how we have our plans, but the Lord really orchestras them completely. I'm in the midst of a situation where I have "my" plans, but ultimately I have to trust God completely that His plan will prevail and hope that maybe our plans are on the same page...we'll see. Thank you for the posted and for reminding me that He truly is in complete control & I wouldn't have it any other way.

  2. I loved this post Denise - one of my favorites you have ever written. I love the three words you would have chosen Remain in Christ - He is in control and so often are plans are not His plans.

  3. Oh, I'm just thrilling at this post - it's your best. Maybe that's because I have such an eerily similar story when it comes to parenting. I can relate completely -

    also, I love your ending. If there is one thing we learn as we "grow up" it's the fact that we cannot see around the bend in the road. And God's plans are higher than ours.

    I had my first at 23, John JUST out of law school, and we owed more money to that law school than we had in the bank. Oh, me, when I think back to that time I think, "if we made it then, we can make it now..."

    I remember feeling lonely, envying my sister's social life, looking at that baby and wondering when I was going to FEEL like her Mommy. I remember being tired and very poor. I remember clinging to God's promises to get us through, and He did, of course.

    Thirteen years later, I'm with you - and I couldn't have said it better.

  4. Big fat Amen sister. That is MY verse right now, John 15:5 "Remain is Him" is the ONLY way to survive.

  5. I love this post. I know exactly what you mean. You just don't expect the hard stuff to be what it is. And you don't even expect the good things to happen when they do. God is completely unpredictable, but completely in control.

  6. What an awesome testimony! You said that you and your husband wrote that you wanted to be in ministry together.....maybe this is part of your ministry....sharing your story and letting young couples know that the only goal they need to shoot for is to remain in Christ.

  7. Oh how I love your honesty and your willingness to be refined by our great God.

    I, too, remember premarital counseling. One homework assignment in particular... we were supposed to write down what we would do when various trials come our way. I spent so much time writing out my thoughts in my 21 year old "wisdom." Patrick did the same assignment and for each answer he wrote "pray and know that God is sovreign. I was so mad that he hadn't "done his homework."

    Guess what we have learned to do when trials come?? Yup... pray and know that God is sovreign!!

  8. Hey Nisie,

    Thanks for stopping me in my tracks and challenging me to look back at the last 23 years of the John & Barbara Show.

    I need the "big picture" view when the snap shot of today is breaking my heart and wearing me out.

    Lord, grant me eyes to see beyond the limited view of my today.

  9. Congrats on surviving 10 years as a parent. That is really is.

    And may I just say, my house looks identical to your description...right now ;-)

  10. What a love story - complete in every way. You know, every time that we hit a bump in our road -- big or small -- we remind each other of words from our own premarital counseling. He told us he hopes that we struggle, because that will make us cling to the Lord and to each other and we'll be stronger on the other side of it if we do both.

  11. This is so beautiful! I love hearing the stories of your life.

    Oh, and I am loving hearing about your running too! Keep going!

  12. So true! Our plans are usually different than God's- I just wish he'd give us a heads-up once in a while! ;) Love your blog and the pictures are beautiful!