Elisha and Maddi's wedding is over. They are now Mr. and Mrs. Fields. We are home in Kodiak again, but I have reached a new country, a new frontier. I've crossed over and I want to tell you about that other side. What it looks like. It doesn't look like this every single day, but on these special days, yes, this is just what it looks like.
In the beginning, when all of this started, and in the middle of all this, we could occasionally round up the hooligans and pull off a semi-sedate family photo shoot . . .
But never for long . . .
Our family and church supported us, even giving me a baby shower for baby #5 (Who does that?) But otherwise there was little support for the 4th, 5th, then 6th child. I was a professor for some of this time, at a college and then a university, and professors don't have 4 kids, let alone 5 or 6. When pregnant (unexpectedly) in my forties with the last two, people said all kinds of not-kind things to me:
"Better you than me!"
"You've got too many kids, you know."
"Hey Leslie, you DO know where babies come from, right?"
"What's this, baby # 10?"
This woman whom others dismissed as unprofessionally, unintelligently, inconveniently and eternally pregnant, now is called the most blessed of women.
And I am.
Here's why I'm telling you all of this. Here's what I want you to hear. I know many of you are beyond child-bearing and even child-raising. Some of you are raising grandchildren. And some of you aren't married. Some of you are married but God hasn't brought children. Ultimately, this is not about having children. ( So Please keep reading!)
Most Christians want what most Americans want. Prosperity. Security. Freedom. Independence. Most young Christian couples I meet today want to have two kids, a girl and a boy, two jobs, two cars in the garage, economic security, a safe, happy comfortable, predictable life. It all sounds so good. The American Way.
But maybe we should want more than that? I remember when I was 28, bouncing on an expedition truck across the Sahara, winding our way into the heart of Africa. Duncan and I were living our dreams, hard though each of them was. We commercial fished every summer on a wild patch of Alaskan ocean. We had lived out in the Alaskan wilderness building two houses over two winters; we backpacked around the world. Went to graduate school. But finally, on that African truck we knew, instinctively, that the greatest, most extravagant, lavish, courageous adventurous life of faith was a life given----not to ourselves and our dreams, but to others. For us, the "others" meant first, children. We imagined a family of four kids. God gave us six.
We soon discovered that the Land of Children is the Land of Chaos. Of wrestling boys whose teasing was physical and unrelenting. A country where I woke, swung my legs over the bed and wearily laced up combat boots to drill-sargeant my way through another day. I was stretched beyond my abilities every single day. I cried often. I counted every diaper change a prayer, every meal an offering to God, every nap a gift from God. And I wondered if I would survive that day, and the day after, if it came.
We are now into our third decade of raising children. When our last two leave home, we will have been mothering and fathering intensively for 34 years.
Why would we put ourselves through so much struggle? Why would we choose such a long path? I take no credit at all, and neither does Duncan, but somehow we knew in our marrow,
that the narrow path would be the richest path, however much these kids would cost.
That all the life we thought we lost would somehow be given back.
That the narrow gate would some day open into a vast pasture.
That the mustard seed of faith, sown in tears, would yield an orchard of love, harvested with laughter.
And it has.
But I'm not telling young couples to have 6 kids like me. That's not my job, my business or my calling. This isn't about that. I want us all to remember we're called to so much more than a convenient life. To so much more than a calm, professional controlled prosperous American life. We're all called to live like this:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
"Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.”
“What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Duncan and I are nobody special. But God has done all this—-and more—for us. And He is ready to do the same for you.
Go ahead. Step outside that picket fence. Dare to live wild. Dare to die. In a little while, you will rejoice for a long long time.
Who else out there has dared to live a different, hard, wild life? Please share something from your story!