Last week’s Mother’s Day happening couldn’t include all of my people because a few were out of town. So we delayed our celebration until yesterday. Our loud and crazy group descended on Josh and Rachel’s home where we had lunch, watched sports and played in the pool. (You can click on the pictures to enlarge them if you would like.)
I love it when all of of are together. I often think about women my age who don’t have all their children and grandchildren nearby. Honestly, sometimes I feel guilty. In a store recently I was chatting with an older woman like myself and the conversation turned to family. Grinning, she told me about a daughter in the midwest who just had her second baby and asked if I had grandchildren. When I mentioned I had eleven, she responded in typical fashion.
“Eleven??? That’s amazing! How many children do you have?”
I love those divine invitations to speak of God’s faithfulness. I explained that I was never supposed to have children, but that God gave me 7 miracle babies — the last being adopted. I can’t count the number of times God has used the heartache of my infertility and His power to heal as a way to communicate the gospel.
Our departure from the grocery store brought the familiar temptation to guilt. Why do I get the privilege of having all my people nearby when others don’t?
Then I remembered someone warning Benny and me years ago not to “apologize for God’s will.” He wisely discerned that we were nervously concerned about the affects on others of a decision we needed to make. He shared that while sensitivity was appropriate, we didn’t need to give in to the temptation to tip toe in conversations about our decision. It was the first time I had considered how often I did “apologize” for God.
I don’t know how long all my children and grandchildren will live nearby. Once they start their own families Benny and I are intentional in doing all we can to encourage them to “leave and cleave.” This could certainly mean watching the Lord move them to other cities to pursue God’s will for their lives.
And I don’t want them to apologize for Him.
For now, it’s God’s will for my 7 children and 11 grandchildren to live within minutes of each other. My children are all taller than me. Five are married and multiplying. The first to leave for college is moving in just months when we gather up his belonging to head up I-75 to Gainesville where he will attend the University of Florida law school. Julia’s high school graduation is in 2 weeks.
But they are still my children. My gifts from God. My regular reminders that God heals and answers prayer. The sources of both my greatest joy and my temptations to worry. The former babies and toddlers who I knew would grow up too quickly, yet I could find no way to stop it. The ones who show up on Sunday mornings (along with others) at our new little church to help lug chairs, play instruments, do children’s ministry, train their own toddlers to be still during worship, and greet guests. The godly men and women who are now among my closest friends.
These amazing people are the fulfillment of God’s promise to “make the barren woman live in her house as the joyful mother of children” (Ps 113:9).
I love them. They still make me laugh and drive me to my knees to pray. Even though they’ve given me the most adorable little people ever, their hugs remain the ones that warm my heart the most. Their opinions of me matter more than anyone’s on this earth. After Mother’s Day or birthdays, I take their cards into my bedroom and set them nearby for weeks to read and read again. I watch them from across rooms or gyms or ball fields and still wonder how I got to be the mom of someone so amazing.
Oh, how I love being Granma.
But there’s a deep and protected and cherished place in my heart reserved for those who call me Mom. And as long as I can drop by Josh’s office to grab one of my boys for lunch; respond to Janelle’s spontaneous request to have me take her to lunch; meet Jaime to run errands with the kids; or take Julia to Michael’s to get art supplies I will cherish every moment of having them nearby.