The happy chatter of the eight children sitting around my table was like music to my ears. The little girls' giggles and the boys' hearty belly laughs put a smile on my face. It really did not matter that the amount of food it took to feed them all was like feeding an army. Three extra children in my home for two nights? Not a problem! Some may think I am plum crazy to even think of taking in more children on top of my five, but I was glad to do it for my friends. Actually, I was quite honored to have been given the opportunity to watch the three little ones. Honored to have been entrusted with someone elses treasures, knowing they could have peace of mind while they were away from their children. I was also humbled to know that I was now responsible for these same children, with their health and well being. It felt good to know I was giving this young couple a much deserved, much needed break so they could spend some quality time together.
It was only about nine years ago when I was in the same exact position they are today - four little ones ages four and under. It seems like yesterday when JJ was four, Caleb was three, Alaina was two, and Susy was one, but at the same time, it seems like it was a long time ago, almost like a dream. I remember how tough some of those days were, when Joe was gone all day, sometimes working late into the evenings. I craved adult conversation after hearing the high pitched babbling of babies all day long. Other evenings I could not wait to get out, even it meant going shopping for a few moments alone. I needed that time to clear my brain; I needed it to talk to the Lord to help me get through the next day with a positive attitude. Yet, even in the middle of the tough times, I knew what I was doing was what God had created me for. It was what I loved!
As a little girl I had often wished and prayed that I would find an abandoned baby in the woods just so I could take care of it all on my own. Maybe it was because I had read too many books, or maybe it was my wild imagination coming out, but whatever it was, I wanted to take care of a baby.
I began babysitting around twelve years old. I remember putting flyers into the mailboxes along our dead end street, hoping someone would need a helper either in housecleaning, doing odd jobs, or babysitting. The only one who called me was a lady at the very end of the street. She had two little children, one that was old enough to go to school all day, and one that was in preschool. She needed someone to watch this little girl a few afternoons a week after she got off the school bus. So, I took my first job. It was fun to earn the money, but I also quickly learned how naughty children can be that are not disciplined.
Being the second oldest of six children, I knew what it was like to watch children. I began homeschooling in the sixth grade, the same year my mother had her last baby. I helped my mother a lot with the little ones, and it was really convienent to have me home all the time. I always believed I was pulled out of school so I could help out. It was not until years later that I found out I was taken out of the public school because of the curriculum they were using. Not that it would have mattered at the time anyway. I had always been very quiet in school anyway, and did not have many friends. I believe it was God's mercy that allowed me the opportunity to homeschool, protecting me from myself and peer pressure when I reached high school.
From the time I was a pre-teen, I always had a child on my hip or holding my hand. I babysat all during my teen years, and often wondered if there were people out there that had never seen me without a child by my side. It did not matter though. I was doing what I loved.
Fast forward twenty years and you see me today. Still surrounded by children, but as they get older I wonder if there are more little ones that will enter my life somehow, someway. I am working on getting my daycare sub license, so that is one way I may have children around me. Yet, after having listened to the children at my table, the idea of opening our home to other children comes flooding back. I have had the thought before. Adoption is not out of the picture. I do not know what God is preparing us for. We feel we have been placed in certain ministries at church so He can prepare us for something bigger. His greater plan is unknown to us, but we remain open and willing for whatever God wants us to do. Before I had Benny I often felt that someone was missing from our home. I do not get that feeling now, but I do get a feeling that someone is going to need us in the future and our home is going to become their home. God has a great plan for our family. If I focus on all the what ifs, then I will get overwhelmed and may miss the blessing He has in store for us. I want to stay open to His will. Only God knows what lies ahead, but inside, my heart grows excited to someday find out what that special plan will be. Until then, I pray He molds me into the perfect vessel to carry out His plan so I can do what I love.