The day Mike and I said “I do,” we had no clue what direction the Lord would take our family. Like I said yesterday, we had a few friends who had gotten pregnant easily, but we also had many, way too many considering we were all in our in twenties and early thirties, who struggled with infertility. It was glaringly obvious to us as we talked to these friends of ours that no matter what we might think or say or do, having children is ultimately not our choice to make. It rests in God’s hands alone (conversely, we’ve seen babies conceived under “impossible” circumstances too!)
Now, besides the question of whether or not we would actually be able to have our own children, Mike and I also had to grapple with the money question. In our conversations with friends about why they waited to have children, one of the most common reasons to wait, besides having time to get to know each other better (perfectly logical if you had only known each other 1 or 2 years before the alter!), was having debt to pay off and/or the desire to get into a comfortable financial position.
Mike and I could easily have decided not to have kids right away for this reason. The day I wed Mike, I inherited $16,000 in student loan debt. We immediately moved in to a studio style apartment filled with hand-me-downs, the only sink being the bathroom sink, no oven or stove, and Mike was making minimum wage as a barista at a local coffee shop with just under 40 hours a week. What a start.
Yet if we would have waited, we wouldn’t not have been doing so out of an actual belief that having children was not the right thing for the season. We would have postponed having children out of our own fear- fear that there would not be enough to care for our sweet child. Perfect love casts out fear. Jesus said himself that we should not worry.
For others I am sure he does have a path that involves working other things out first before having children. For us, the path was clear: having children would be an integral part of his plan, his working and shaping of our hearts and souls, especially in regards to money.
As one mother, a mother of 6, said: “With every new mouth to feed there has come another loaf of bread.” And as another father (now grandfather!) told us, “Sure, children will cost you a lot if you need to have all the bells and whistles. But children themselves don’t cost nearly as much as the industry wants you to believe or spend. And the Lord always provides.”
We had to remind ourselves: ultimately the children that would come from my womb are not our own! They have a a heavenly Father who loves them. They have a Father who cares for their needs as much as He cares for mine and yours. And he is a Father who cares deeply for His children. If He knit them together in my womb, he would surely bring them forth in love.
And so, about 5 weeks after our wedding day, when I suspected I was pregnant, our initial reaction was not “OMG. What are we going to do???” It was more like, “WOW! We are actually pregnant!!!! That is awesome/scary/awesome/wowIwonderwhyusbutGodmustbeuptosomething!!”
A lot of our friends without children, or those that weren’t in our closer circle of advisors as we wrestled through the idea of having children expected the first reaction. They were shocked that we weren’t shocked. Quite a few told me that if they got pregnant the first month of marriage they would be really upset. Or freaking out because they were not ready.
Guess what? We weren’t ready! No one is! We’ve decided: there is never an “ideal” time to have children. Ha! Life isn’t perfect like that. And even if the perfect equilibrium is reached… it always comes crashing down doesn’t it? A cushy job gets lost. Someone gets sick. You have to move. You get a job you love.
Whatever it is- having children ABSOLUTELY changes things. It absolutely “messes things up” if that’s the way you see it. It ABSOLUTELY is a sacrifice. But what great thing isn’t? And what could be greater than bringing forth children?
And indeed, for us, having a child has been, in many ways, the hardest and greatest thing we have ever done! Even on the worst most horrible sleep deprived nights, I wouldn’t trade it away for anything else. I know in a way I have never known before what it means to die to myself, to take up my cross and follow Him. I would not be the same had I chosen any other path, and I thank God for His refining Fire in my life! It comes in such a cute, (mostly) sweet little package!
And again, I want to say, this is our story. Our journey. Our path. We don’t have it all figured out, and we have no pretenses that the Lord’s leading in our life is the way that everyone else’s life should look too. I don’t think that we will be the next Duggar family (I don’t want to be!), but I also don’t want to be like every other household in America either just because “that’s the way we do things.”
And I hope that if there is any inclination in your heart to follow after something, no matter how crazy or radical or different it seems, you are encouraged to keep going.
So there it is… how we arrived at this place. Newlywed, broke, and young. And I wouldn’t trade places with anyone else in the world. Next week I will share some of the amazing ways we have seen God provide for his Children, how we have seen another loaf of bread to feed another mouth. And I will also begin to share some of the tangible ways that we made the cost of having a child virtually nothing. Literally (in one year I think we have spent maybe $300 out of pocket on Olivia…) Stay tuned!
Read my Baby on a Budget Series here!