This from Lena:
Every once in a while these days, I slip up and count out 6 plates instead of the 5 our family now requires. We left one of our best legacies (our 19 year-old Hannah) back home in the States this past summer. I hate when I miscount, because it usually brings with it a pang of missing my oldest daughter, my no-nonsense, type-A extrovert sunshine. My Peruvian motherly friends are wonderful for consoling me, as most of them find the thought of sending their sweet baby birds out into the world for the sake of education a ghastly proposition. Still, like the rest of my American Mom friends, I believe in the value of giving that little birdie some help out of the nest.
Almost ten years ago, we had no plans to go full-size on the mini-van. Our cap family-size number was 5—a very practical number that we had settled on because at the time there was a three-child cap in missions of the Assemblies of God, and we felt that we would go into missions some day, and wanted to go with the Assemblies. We decided to plan 2, and leave a little room for a surprise, but something had happened years earlier that planted a tiny questioning seed about whether our numbers were going to line up with God’s.
Years earlier, when we were trying to get pregnant with our second child, we received a cryptic phone call from a member of our church.
Prophetic Lady: “Pastor Bill, do you know whether or not that baby your wife is carrying is a boy?” (She did not know that we were trying to have a baby, and for all we knew at the time, I was not pregnant.)
Bill: “My wife isn’t pregnant.”
Prophetic Lady: “Oh, I see. Well, you do know the families___________and___________---do you know that I prophesied their babies?” (This is not an exact quote, just so you get the drift). “Well, Pastor Bill, can I ask you how many children do you plan on having?”
Bill (read in slightly uncomfortable tone): “Uh…two?”
Prophetic Lady: “Why not four?”
That phone conversation never left us completely; especially because just a short while after, we found out we were indeed pregnant, and we were having a boy! We laughed about it through the years, how surprising it was that our sister knew before we did that we were pregnant with a boy, but never in a mocking way, as if the entirety of that word might not be true. Bill and I both believe that God can and does at times speak prophetically into the lives of his children. We also understand that the best-intentioned child of God needs some room for error, so we weigh these things against the Word of God and what actually comes to pass.
Years passed (around 6 of them), and the desire to go into missions grew, and it went into overdrive when we received a prophetic gift of two alpaca sweaters (you will have to read about our call in this blog for THAT story!). The day we received that gift was within 24 hours of us finding out that we were going to have Abigail. The fourth baby. The not-planned baby. The baby that would disqualify us for missions with the Assemblies, arriving at the same moment as the call.
Except for it didn’t disqualify us. We didn’t even know, but at that time the child limit had been lifted. We also had not taken our age into account, because previously we would not have qualified because we were over 35. Over 35, four kids….and headed into missions.
When I think of how all of that converged, I am in awe of His math. He knows all our numbers….the happy ones and the sad ones. He knows how many kids we will have, the day we lose our parents, the day we graduate from college. He knows how many houses we will live in, and even the house addresses. He knows the day you lost the baby, and that that same baby is now safe and happy with him. The mature among us acknowledge that all those numbers are best left safely in his hands, without us trying to cajole Him to a pre-mature release of information. He shares what will be to our benefit, and we trust Him with the rest.
When I think of what I would have missed if my plan had been the end of it, I am filled with thankfulness. I can’t imagine life without our little number 6, and I can’t help but wonder what other mysterious un-planned numbers He holds that I wouldn’t ever choose for myself, but will treasure some day. Those mysterious numbers can be like a gift so well-chosen, and yet you hadn’t thought of before….and over time, it becomes one of your favorites.