Long time reader asked these questions, and I assumed the rest of you might be wondering too! Here’s what Lissa said:
I’m always pretty astonished that your 4 sons are pretty much up and gone (and that a huge accomplishment) and now you’ve undertaken SIX more kiddos. Plus a new baby boy. I know God is giving you the wisdom and strength….but STILL….how do you find the energy? How old were you when you had Asa? We are close with 2 couples (now empty nesters) who each had 8 kids apiece and it was crazy for a long, long time. But they pale when I tell them about a couple who were so close to the finish line and then started all over. hahaha. A more serious question though, how do you and Matt find time to spend alone, to nourish your marriage etc? Have you ever slept in? :). If I lived nearby I would definitely wash the dishes and pick a few chickens for you
First of all, if you did live nearby, I would 100% allow you to wash dishes and pick chickens for me. :) And perhaps that is how I can begin to answer these questions – to share that God has provided so much glorious help for us!
The truth is: Matt and I are tired. Is it because we’re not-so-young anymore? I don’t think so. I feel healthier and stronger now compared to when I was in my 20’s. (Oh, and we were 23 when Asa was born. We are 49 now, and holding strong because we have a newborn and I refuse to admit that I’m almost 50, haha.)
We are tired because this job – this beautiful, amazing thing God asked us to do during this season in life – is hard. Our seven littlest children all have some level of special need, though none of them (so far) is severe. The trauma some of them faced before coming to live with us has created difficult behaviors and overwhelming emotions that we are not equipped to handle. Matt and I seek God’s wisdom and professional guidance quite constantly.
So let’s see. What did you ask, again, Lissa? :)
Do I ever sleep in?
No. Shucks, right now I’m just looking forward to sleeping through the night. :) EVENTUALLY, we will sleep through the night and maybe even sleep in. I do crave a full night’s sleep but even without it, I am constantly amazed at God’s provision of rest for us. I do feel tired, but not like one would expect. So many mornings, based on the hours of sleep I got (or didn’t get), I feel like I’m not sure how I can possibly make it through the day – and then I do – as if I’d gotten a full night’s sleep. THIS IS GOD. There’s no other reason we would feel this way.
How do I find the energy?
Seriously, it’s God. Well, and green smoothies, hahaha. I truly don’t want to sound cliche’ as I smile sweetly and say, “Oh, our dear Lord and Savior gives me strength to do this…” But seriously, people. We have baby on top of baby at our house, plus trauma behaviors and tantrums and so very much laundry, plus a ridiculous level of messiness all over our house. I could go on and on. Every time I hoist not one but TWO double strollers into the back of our van (while kids hang on my leg and scream in my ear), I recognize what is true: God is doing this. It feels supernatural.
People say to us when they see us trying to herd all of our precious little turtles: “I just don’t know how you do it.” But the truth is that we aren’t doing it. God is doing it. It makes me cry as I think about His goodness, His provision for us, and truly the incredible energy He gives us to do this hard job every day.
So we have the energy to do this – somehow. I fall into bed every night completely exhausted, but knowing that God will give me the strength to do it again tomorrow. Matt and I live by Psalm 23:3: “He renews my strength” knowing that He does and He will. On our weariest days, we quote this to each other, to remind each other that God is giving us everything we need.
But back to the help…
Oh, how much help God has provided for us.
We have a young couple who has been coming to our home EVERY TUESDAY NIGHT for almost two years. We feed them dinner (it’s the least we can do) and they do everything from diapers to playing outside with kids to sweeping to dishes to helping us get our kids to bed. They are amazing and they are a part of our family now.
We have a friend who comes two to three mornings every week to watch the kids so Matt and I can have some breathing space. The babies love her, we love her, and she is a delight to our home.
We have teenage girls who come every Wednesday afternoon to care for all seven littles so Matt and I can work without interruption. I’m writing this post on a Wednesday afternoon, and if it wasn’t for these girls, you’d never read another post from me again, ha.
We have a friend who brings us chicken. Hahaha, this one is both fun and sweet and while she thinks it’s no big deal, it is a very big deal. Most time when she goes to Costco, she picks up a couple of their rotisserie chickens, takes the meat off the bones, and brings it for us to enjoy. I get several meals out of this chicken and I haven’t had to do any work. This is such a gift to us!
Friends drop off diapers, wipes, and any variety of needed items that God has put on their heart to give to us. With this many little ones, I can’t tell you how many diapers we have gone through in the past four years. At one point, we had five kids in diapers. We have surely gone through tens of thousands of diapers in four years. But we’ve hardly had to buy any. Our people are generous, loving, and not only has this been a financial burden lifted, I love that I haven’t had to think about shopping for diapers. I just go to my room and get another box.
Our older boys – and their wives or girlfriends – are very much a part of this journey. Our daughters-in-law come as often as they can and my goodness am I thankful for how well our boys chose when they chose wives!! Elias and Malachi are living at home and grab babies or toddlers or preschoolers whenever they are able. Elias (21) and Keith (4) are pretty much best friends and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
God provides help in so many ways, I can’t recall them all and I probably don’t even recognize them all. He is so good.
How do you and Matt find time to spend alone, to nourish your marriage, etc?
Now, there’s a question. :)
One huge blessing about our situation in life right now is that both Matt and I are both self-employed and work-from-home parents. God knew what we would need 28-years into our marriage! So He did His work through these years to secure us with income streams that would allow us to both be full-time parents. We teamwork throughout our days and spend many hours together. This isn’t alone time, but it IS together time. We love this.
During the afternoons while the four littlest are napping, Matt does work to maintain our rental properties in town and other various odd jobs, and I fit in a little blogging work if I can.
Then at roughly 8:08 pm, all the littles are in bed!!!!!!!! Well, the baby hangs with us at that time, but he doesn’t talk yet so Matt and I count this as alone time. This is glorious, needed, and precious time. It’s also quiet, glory hallelujah!
Did this answer your questions, or did it just leave you with more? Leave a comment to ask, and I’ll try to write another post to answer!