Sunday, May 19, 2013

A bit of family news

1 Corinthians 2:10b-13

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.
And then there were four. Or six, depending on how you’re counting. Either way, come October there will be one more Holland in our house. Our next baby, another boy, is going to fill our house, our minivan and the camera’s memory card, going to push our refrigerator and laundry machines to the brink, going to finally wear out the elbows and knees on a robust collection of hand-me-downs started nearly a decade ago and going to be absolutely adored by a loving nuclear and extended family.

We are not trying to populate a basketball team or start a family bluegrass gospel troupe. We are not just “trying for a girl,” and not because there’s a good chance such a feat may be scientifically impossible. We are not unaware of the cause of all these little tax deductions, though that is my go-to joke whenever someone gives me a look that screams, “You know you’re a crazy person, right?”

Well, I might be a crazy person. But not because I signed up for a fourth baby. I am well aware of all that’s in store — good, bad and otherwise. This won’t be our first rodeo. We’ve got to dig the crib out of the basement and maybe borrow (again) the changing table from my parents. Unless we can get Charlie toilet trained sometime in the next five months, we’ll have two in diapers simultaneously. Sleep is already just a rumor for me, so why not let the trend be my friend?

But just because it’ll be the fourth baby in less than ten years, and another boy at that, doesn’t mean it’s all old hat. Each of the older boys came home to a different house, but Number 4 won’t have that distinction. He will, however, be born in a different hospital from his brothers. After welcoming children in February, March and April, it will be quite different to have an October birthday. It also will be a new, perhaps unpleasant, experience for Kristie to be in the late stages of pregnancy during a hot Illinois summer.

And of course our new baby will have his own, independent personality. When I think about Jack’s technical skills and ability to quietly outthink everyone in the room, or Max’s boundless energy and astounding vocabulary, or Charlie’s hug-and-kiss routine and the way he masters puzzles, I almost can’t wait to meet the new guy and see what makes him tick or how he fits into our family dynamic.

Yet I realize the next few months are important as well. All the kids, especially Charlie, need to be involved as much as possible in the process of welcoming a new family member. Jack is already considering the video gaming implications (the Wii only incorporates four remotes, after all) while Max knows he’ll get to move to the back row of the van. Charlie knows there’s a baby in mom’s tummy, but there are plenty of indications he’s not yet willing to share his parents any more than he already does.

It’s a funny thing, to be all at once perfectly content with life as you know it, yet still be open to a drastic change. We’ve known about this new arrival for quite some time — since the night Charlie went to the ER, actually — and there are moments when I am as big a bundle of excited nerves as I was before my first kid was born, and other moments where I am completely terrified and wonder if I really understand what we’ve gotten ourselves into. There are times I feel blessed with our abundance, like a farmer bringing in a record yield, and times when I feel guilty because so many people struggle to have even one child, let alone four.

Ultimately, we both felt, quite strongly, the window was still open for us to welcome another child into the world. We never prayed about it as a couple, but I’m entirely certain the decision was not made lightly. It felt God was telling us — not with literal, audible words, but deep, inescapable emotions — to take one more step. This just feels like the right thing to do, and I’ve tried all along to make sure I’m not projecting my desires and instead am actually seeking a call, following the path set before me.

I have many blessings in my life, many more than I deserve, demanding gratitude far beyond what I could ever hope to convey. And near the top of that list are my children — the three who fill our home with joy and now the one who gets to join the party in just a few months. To be a father is such a joy, honor, privilege and responsibility. To be the father of these boys especially is a gift beyond words. May our home and our still-growing family forever be built on the foundation of God’s love.

A prayer for May 19:

Lord, I thank you for the gift of my wife and each of my children. I am completely overcome with joy at having them in my life, and it stuns me even more to consider how many people there are who care so deeply about our little family. Thank you for the family with whom I share a home, the extended family spread across the country and all the people who let us know what it’s like to be loved. It feels like a taste of heaven on Earth, and we owe it all to you. Amen.

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