To Everything There Is A Season

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven

A blog about raising a young family and keeping Christ at the center of it.

The Cyrs

The Cyrs
Photo Credit: Rachel Dewhurst

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Time to Trust the Beautiful Journey


Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~Prob. 3:5-6

There are not too many months that go by in this house where we are not celebrating someone’s birthday. This month we have two birthdays, Tess is one of them. It's with her birthday coming up in a couple days that I have been thinking so much about the journey God brought me on in waiting for
her. The name Tess means, "beautiful" and the journey God took me on was certainly beautiful.

Kristina O'Brien
After Jena was born and we finally had our girl our family seemed complete. We had 5 young children and we were feeling like our plate was pretty full. Like it is for most, welcoming a new baby into the family comes with some overwhelming times as you adjust, and even though Jena was an easy baby we still had our share of overwhelming moments. Thinking about having another baby seemed crazy. Yet as crazy as it seemed it only took about a year for me to get that longing again for another baby. The difference this time was that Ben and I were not on the same page. He was very firm that he did not want another baby. He was not saying no forever, but no for now.

This was the first time that we had not been on the same page when it came to having a baby. It was new territory for me and I wanted to make sure that how I handled our opposing opinions not only pleased God, but also respected my husband. Having a baby is a big deal and the decision to have one shouldn't be taken lightly. As much as I wanted another baby I also did not want my husband to feel as though his feelings on the subject didn't matter. One thing that I remember as I think back is that we had a mutual respect and understanding for each other's feelings. I understood that he felt it was unwise of us to have another baby because we were already so busy and so overwhelmed with the ones we had. On some level I totally felt the same way. It did seem unwise to think about bringing in another baby. I did understand that we were just two people and we had a lot of responsibility...and yet as much as I understood and prayed that God would show us His will the more I longed for a baby. I just couldn't explain it.

So what do you do when you find yourselves on opposite sides of the fence? Well the first step is respecting and hearing each other's side, which we did. After that though where do you go from there? We decided the best thing to do was come up with a compromise. We decided that we would wait until Jena was two before making any big decision. When she turned two we would re-visit the subject and see how we felt at that time. Of course that year was filled with lots of prayers...mine of course were asking God to please just put us on the same page somehow. I begged him to make it clear and that if it was not His will for us to have another baby that He would take away my desire to have one. Well the desire for another baby never went away. And Ben's feelings of not wanting another baby didn't go away either.

Four months before Jena was to turn two Ben had to go away on a business trip and I was really not feeling myself. I knew it wasn't a cold or anything like that but I just couldn't put my finger on it. Then it dawned on me that maybe I was pregnant. It seemed highly unlikely since we were being careful not to get pregnant but that had not worked out too well for us in the past so maybe I was. I went out to buy a pregnancy test (always fun to do with 5 kids in tow...) and took the test late one night after I had put the kids to bed. It was positive. That night I cried tears of joy for two hours and just spent it in praise and thanksgiving to God. In that moment I had received confirmation that God had heard my prayers, He did know the desire of my heart and he had answered yes. I know that all of my babies have been a gift from God but this one just felt like an extra special gift. One that was meant just for me and I will never, ever forget that moment and those hours with God. It was and is so special to me.

There's a movie called Facing the Giants and in it there is a woman who is unable to have a baby. Part of the movie is taking you through her journey of not being able to conceive and at the end when she receives yet again another negative pregnancy test we see her crying in the parking lot. Through her sobs she looks up to God and says, "I will still love you." I can't get through that part without sobbing myself, not because I understand what it is like to not be able to have a baby but because I understand where her heart is in that moment. Whatever it is that we desire, when God says no, it's hard. Will we still love God when He says, "no"? I understand that God could have said no to us having another baby and I hope that I would have been okay with that answer. I had 5 healthy, beautiful children. I had no business desiring another baby and at the time it made no sense to me why I couldn't let go of that feeling. God had a plan for us. He not only gave us Tess but he also took me on a beautiful journey. 

It was a journey of trust. I left my heart, its desires and all, at God's feet and made a choice to trust him with the outcome. Once I got pregnant I had no idea what Tess' delivery and the weeks following would bring. I couldn't have known how much I was going to have to trust God, how much Ben and I were going to have to trust God. As I look back and remember and look forward to Tess turning two I am reminded of how good God is to me and all he has
brought me through. He said yes to the desire of my heart even when I was so undeserving and He allowed me to take this beautiful journey and for that I am so grateful. Tess is a blessing, as all our children are, and we are just so thankful to have her in our family. So Happy Birthday sweet girl and may you grow to experience your own beautiful journey with God someday!

***I feel as though I need to make a note here. When Ben found out I was pregnant, even though the desire of his heart had not been to have another baby, he was very happy and did see it as part of God's plan for us. ***

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Time to Find the Balance

When school starts life can, and often does, get crazy. Before I had any children who were school 
aged I used to think the hardest years of my life would be the ones where I was raising babies. Man was I wrong! If only I knew then, what I know now I would have enjoyed the baby stage with my older ones so much more. Once kids start school there is way more potential for schedules to be filled with activities. It can happen when they are little too, it just didn't for us. Once they start school they talk to the other kids and realize what the world has to offer them! 

Early on Ben and I made a decision for our family that we would not over-schedule ourselves That was so much easier to do when they were little. One thing that a family with several children has to consider is how many different directions can two people possible go in and do we want to be going in opposite directions all the time? When you have seven children there is the potential for us to be going in seven different directions and if you do the math, that's just not possible for two people. We have been doing the "school thing" for 6 years now. That doesn't make us pros but it has given us some experience in setting limits for our schedule. I thought I would share some things we've learned along the way to help you in this very busy season of life. These are just things that have worked for us, they are not hard and fast rules. Every family has to do what works for them. This is what works for us. 

1.Pray!  And then pray some more. Never stop praying for wisdom to know what to say yes to and what to say no to. God will give you guidance and peace about the decisions you make and you need to listen! Just because something is good doesn't mean it is good for your family. Before we take on anything whether its sports, a club or something at church, we pray and make sure that it is Gods will for us to set time aside for that activity.

2.Be willing to say no!  There will come a day when you will have to say no to your children and the sooner you start practicing, the easier it will be! There are so many activities out there that kids can

do. They all require your time and most cost money. We made a decision early on that we would be a one sport family until the kids are in Jr. High & High School. All of our school aged kids are in elementary school and we still have 3 little ones at home. It makes life hectic enough as it is with our family only being involved in one sport, I can't imagine how we'd manage if half our family was going to one field and the other half going to another...every night of the week. Each family has to do what is best for them, but for us what is best is limiting the activities our kids are involved in for a season.

3.Set your priorities! This is something we did even before we had children. Be purposeful in your parenting! Decide what the priorities are in your family and stick to it. For our family God is the number one priority. So what does that look like? Well that means that any sport or activity that practices, has a game, or meets on a Sunday is not an option for us. We go to church on Sunday and we set that day aside to worship God and rest. This has meant that we have had to tell the kids no to some things they have been interested in. Because this is the standard we have set from the beginning and have never wavered on, the kids understand. Having time for a date with each other is also a priority so Ben and I make it a point to set that time aside early on in the month, before the calendar fills up! Whatever the priorities are in your family, it is important to remember them and make sure you keep those things your priorities. Don't compromise because you will regret it!

4. Don't over-fill your calendar! If you are finding yourself in a situation where you don't have any free days, nights, weekends then it might be time to reevaluate your schedule and see if you should be doing all of those things that are filling up your calendar. I had a friend tell me one time that when she did her calendar for that month she had one child who didn't have a free day the whole month. The child was committed to something every. single. day. And that was only one child, that didn't include the rest of the family members. I give her a lot of credit for keeping up with that kind of hectic schedule because I think I would lose my mind. Ben and I have found that for our family, what works best is to not over fill our calendar. That means that we leave days open and say no to things that come up if doing it means that we don't get one day that week to breathe. I encourage the idea of husbands and wives sitting down and talking about what is reasonable for your family to take on. It's important to both be on the same page and then once you are, sit down and explain to your kids what your family can reasonably take on and go from there. It might mean eliminating an activity or two but if it means more family time and saving your sanity then it is worth it!

Something I had to learn was that no activity or sport will ever be better for MY kids then time spent at home with their family. I tend to feel guilty sometimes, wishing I had it in me to do more for my kids in the way of offering them all the activities they want to do. That guilt doesn't last long
once I get the right perspective and remember that all the sports and activities in the world mean nothing if my kids are never home with Ben and I. If we are always so busy running here and running there then what we are missing out on as a family is quality bonding time. Something that is super important to me is eating supper together. This is a time when I get to ask my kids about their day and just talk or listen to them talk to each other. I'm not trying to give the impression that our meal times are calm and peaceful...there's 7 kids after all! There's plenty of milk being spilled, kids 
arguing, babies crying for their food, someone needing to be told for the 100th time to SIT IN THEIR get the picture. The point is we are all together and in those rare moments when I can get a word in I can use that opportunity to connect with my kids. If every night of the week and every weekend is filled up with some activity that I am rushing my kid to then I'm not really spending time with them and I have very little opportunity to influence them in these very formative years. I read a quote on Focus on the Family that read:

"Parental influence is strongest during the early stages of their children’s lives, up to the age of 13, during which time children are facing relentless
 cultural influences and competing worldviews."

My children are still in the "early stages" of their childhood and I don't want to miss the opportunities to help them understand these "cultural influences and competing worldviews" that they face because I am too busy running from one activity to the next. I'm also not a very good mom when I am so overbooked that I don't have time to breathe and since I am the only mom these kids have I think it's important that I give them the best of myself ...with Gods grace and strength of course!

I don't say any of this to criticize how another family is doing things. I am simply sharing my heart on the subject because for a while I really found myself struggling with finding the right balance. I'm very thankful that with Gods help we were able to find what works for our family and I hope that you are equally as happy with the way your schedule is! If you're not maybe my journey will help you get to a place where you can be happy! And as always, I love learning from you so if you have found ways that have helped you in this particular season of life please share!