How I thrive (survive/stay alive) with 5!

“I don’t know how you do it.”

I hear that sentence about once a week. From friends. Family. Even strangers.

And I know what they mean. What they’re really saying.

“I don’t know how you put up with so many kids for so many hours a day.”

Why would a sane person have 5 of them? Why would they choose to stay home with them? And how in the world do they do it?

Okay. Here’s the answer. For any of you considering 5 kids. Considering homeschooling. Considering jumping out of a plane with a mended parachute.

One-God. Honestly. I couldn’t do it without my morning time in the closet (literally) with Him. Tucked away from the world. Cramming verses into my head. Scribbling prayers that often end with “help me.”

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Two-Quiet time. “Do not come out of your rooms till 3:00.” This house shuts down from 2:00-3:00 every day. Not kidding. The introvert in me craves this hour of silence. It’s golden. Do not speak to me. Do not cry. Do not come near my bedroom door.

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Three-Video games. Judge me. It’s fine. But our kids get an hour of “screen time” every day after quiet time. They come up, get a snack, then waste their brains for an hour. So in total, I get (count it) 2 hours of “me time” every afternoon. And it’s glorious!

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Four-Schedule. Things run like clockwork around here. I’m a legalist when it comes to routine. A little OCD maybe. The big boys know what to do when. They know when  it’s their “school with Mom time,” “watch Esther/Kenan time,” and “alone time.”

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Five-Trampoline. “Everybody outside right now.” I say it almost every day. “Go. Just go. Everybody on the trampoline.” Because we all (me included) need fresh air. We need to jump. Throw balls at each other. Curl up in blankets and read books.

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That’s just 5. I could name tons more. Helpful friends. Jeremy’s support. Family close by. Simple curriculum. Crockpots. Audio books. Minimal expectations. Ritz crackers.

Is this the life my 18 year old self envisioned?

Not a chance. Not a single piece of my current reality matches up with my original plans.

And that could scare me to death. Make me doubt.

Or it could make me humble. Reliant. Leaning hard into the only One who really knows.

God doesn’t make mistakes. With our jobs, families, locations, or callings. With our kid-count. Money-count. Achievement-count.

He just keeps loving us. And strengthening us. And being extra gracious to us.

And in the irony of it all, I find myself echoing these same words back to Him.

“I don’t know how You do it.”

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:1-3)

 

 

 

 

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Parenting in Freedom not Fear

We have five kids. And here’s what I know…not a thing more than I did with kid one.

Well, maybe I’ve learned a few things…
-They’ll survive off chips and apples if I don’t have time to fix lunch.
-It’s okay if they go to bed without a bath (for weeks).
-Food with a little dirt on it is fine.
-Clothes can double as pajamas if necessary.

The bottom line…I really (please take this humbly) don’t give a rat’s behind what you think of my parenting.

I’m not kidding.

We fretted with Stephen. Always wondering if we were doing this or that right. Always scared of what you might be thinking. Always playing by the rules and re-reading the books.

But somewhere between grace crashing my life and kid number 5, we found freedom.

Freedom to love these kids so big. Freedom to do outlandish things for the sake of fun. Freedom to care more about what He says than what you are thinking.

I can’t control their futures. It scares the mess out of me. We have limited time.

And I don’t want to waste it worrying if I’m doing everything right.

I can’t. I won’t.

He loves them more than me. I see it in the cross.

They’re really His.

I’ll do the best I can. I’ll try to fix healthy meals. I’ll try to make sure their clothes match. Really, I will. I do.

But at the end of the day, you know Who’s approval we’re really looking for? God’s. Just His. Our Father.

And that gives us freedom to parent. Not for you. But for them. For Him.

Breathe deeply. You don’t have this parenting thing under control. Never will.

But He doesn’t make mistakes. And He loves these arrows more than we ever could!

“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11)

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On Having 5 Kids…

February 5 will be here soon, and we’ll officially welcome child #5 into our family. Holy cow! I never dreamed I’d type those words. But God has always been writing a story and often it seems way different than mine.

I’m learning, though, that although the term “5 kids” can embarrass me a little (if I’m totally honest), that I’m not going to have “5 kids.” I’m going to have the following…

Stephen Andrew
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Caleb Joshua
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Jonathan Seth
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Esther Grace
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Kenan Samuel
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And each of those babies are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” They were each “knit together in their mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13,14)

Because 5 isn’t a number anymore. It’s become a name. It’s a representation of all that is and all that I pray God will do. In them. Through them. And in me.

Pure grace.

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” (Psalm 139:17-18)