I’ve been deep in thought all day despite all the hustle and bustle going on around me.  Niki asked me a couple of days ago if I’d take a special photo of her and Gabriel.  She explained the idea to me and I was not only deeply touched by the thought but also elated!

Today, I have an 18 year old daughter and an 18 day old son.

18 and 18

I’ve gotten plenty of comments about the age difference between the two of them.  First of all, if I had had a choice – which I didn’t – there wouldn’t be this big of an age gap between them.  Secondly, I just feel blessed to have my children.  I was told about twelve years ago that I wouldn’t have anymore children at all.  The fact that I have five children in my home is a miracle in my eyes.

I spent years upon years accepting I would not have another biological child.  Don’t get me wrong – I hoped for it like none other – but I ultimately learned to accept it wasn’t going to happen.  I know soooo many women that suffer with infertility.  I know women who never give birth after decades of hoping and trying.  I understand their longing.  I understand their hurt.  I understand their disappointment.  I understand their hope.  With that, I also understand the significance that I have given birth to two children after full term pregnancies.  No one wants to purposely wait 18 years but after you’ve longed for a baby with such intensity for sooo many years – you’d do nothing less than rejoice from the highest mountain when your baby finally arrived.  Sooooo…again, yes, I understand that 18 years between my oldest and youngest child is a huge gap….and I don’t care.

All of my children have a special place in my heart but as I was explaining and talking to Les – it’s for three different reasons.  This doesn’t mean I love one child more than another.  It means they were given to me under extremely different circumstances at varying points in my life and for that reason are each uniquely special to me.

In our modern culture, it is popular and preferred to get married, establish your careers, acquire a house, and save as much money as possible before having children.  I can see the appeal in this philosophy but it was never an option for me with the cards life dealt me – but honestly…I’m glad my children came to me the way they did.

My children have taught me the most significant lessons of my life by the way in which they arrived in my arms.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that each of the three times I was expecting my children’s arrivals I was criticized for how/when/why it was happening.  Not a single one of my children came to me in today’s “ideal” way.  In fact, they were all in THE MOST unideal fashion.

It’s in life’s hiccups where we either grow stronger and move forward or let the weight of disappointment and failure control us.  It’s in the moments of struggle that we learn the most and have the potential to become the future teachers and leaders of the next generation because we’ve faced the obstacles.  We’ve faced the failures.  We’ve faced the disappointment.  We faced the unexpected…and we found a way to not only survive but thrive.

I know I do not fall into the norm with my beliefs about children but I guess part of it has to do with my own view of the definition of success, accomplishment, and strength.  I think you have to struggle a bit in order to build strength.  I think you have to know what it means to want something sooooo badly that you’re willing to accomplish your goal and truly appreciate it once you have it.  I think you have to realize what is most important in life to truly understand success.  For me…it’s not money.  Money has never brought me happiness and I’ve learned to function around not having enough of it and trust me – I’ve seen poor.  What has truly made me happy…what I have longed for with extreme intensity and have learned the value of having the most….are the people in my life.

So…today….as I look into the eyes of the five children in my home, I’m going to remember how God brought them to me.  I’m going to appreciate the lessons He taught me with the arrival of these children and the way they continue to shape and educate me each new morning.  They may not have come to me in my neighbor’s “ideal” way but it doesn’t change the love I have for them or the value they hold in my life or the lives of others they touch.