This post is part three in a longer family journey. You can read part one here. And part two here.
Have you ever been humbled? By the Lord? It is a gentle kind of humbling. After all, there is no arrogance on his behalf, like there is when we say to our spouse, "I told you so."
I can remember a dear friend praying for me once (the same dear friend who years later would become a midwife and attend our son's births--Charlie's as our doula, and Calvin's as our midwife--and will attend the birth of our third child as well). I don't recall what that time of prayer was about, but I remember her painting a picture of just how gently our Father deals with our hurt and our sin. She described him as a surgeon who very precisely and gently and with sure hands removes what is ill, and knits together what is to be made new. That is the kind of humility and gentleness we enjoy as followers of Jesus. Humility is truly a healing experience. There may be pain, but there is no trauma.
I'm having to change a bunch of things. And, as I related in part two of this lengthy story, these changes have been too long in coming.
Baby number one kind of slipped into our lives with ease. He was our first, and trust me there was much fan fare, but as far as where he fit into our lives at the time, well, that was easy.
Baby number two was kind of squeezed and pushed. I have many regrets over Calvin's first year. There were things going on that were out of our control that heaped huge amounts of stress onto our family. But there were things in our control, too. Mostly, we white knuckled it until Calvin was about 18 months and life finally started to feel normal again. I can barely remember Calvin's first year. I feel a lot of guilt over that.
And Baby three. Oh Baby three! Where will we put you?
Well, there are spots in the house that we have cleared and tidied, so we will at least be able to stash you here and there. And now, we are making that space for you in our hearts and minds. We are now to the simplification of things.
Number one simplifier: Cut out Charlie's typical preschool program.
Gosh, this is also humbler number one. I have spoken so strongly about the importance of Charlie, and any child with special needs, having the opportunity to be a part of a "normal" preschool program with "normal" peers. Really, it has been awesome for him to have this "normal classroom experience". But, shuffling him off to two different preschools every week, keeping up with two sets of teachers and friends, two lists of opportunities/obligations, and paperwork and requirements for two separate programs. It is too much.
This one is a double simplification, because I am quitting my part time job in the church office which I only kept SO Charlie could attend the typical preschool program (it is a state run preschool slash day care program, so a family must need the care).
We are sad to let this preschool program go. We have been on the receiving end of so much grace from the Children's Center. They have gone out of their way to make it possible for Charlie to attend, going so far as pursuing grant money for him so we have not had to pay a dime. I have learned so much from watching the staff interact with the children as well. I have learned so many invaluable and gentle ways to parent. And, though I clearly felt the Lord's leading for us to consolidate, I resisted until the last minute to tell the preschool he would not be returning for the fall semester. I wanted so bad for there to be some other way. But, I tell ya, the peace that immediately washed over me once I sucked it up to let the director know of our decision was all the comfort I needed that indeed we were choosing right, even as it did not make complete sense to my ideas about special needs and education. (As in, WHAT will happen to Charlie if he doesn't have typically developing peers models?!!! Well, the answer is I don't know, but I have the peace of Christ in this decision, so I suppose what happens to him will be blessing and goodness. Perhaps in surprising ways.)
Simplifier number two: Lessen the family footprint in church leadership.
Really, our family footprint in our church is way to large. We are taking up too much space where others could contribute and be blessed by the chance to serve. But mostly, it stresses our family to be burning the candle at so many ends. And really, who are we to think it is up to us to do more work than we are called. Indeed, to hang on to so much territory and soldier on as if our purpose and position is so vital is selfish, in a twisted, self-gratifying way.
In part two of this journey I wrote about God calling me to step back from leadership several months ago. I did not. But, God is giving me a chance to redeem that poor decision. It is a hard decision to make. Our church is small, and I have no idea who will take over the duties that I volunteer to do in the nursery. But, I feel strongly that for our family health (and well gee, my own personal obedience to Christ) I need to step back.
Raymond does so much in our church. He is a key person in the leadership core, he is the worship pastor, the director of arts at the coffee shop we run as a ministry, he is the head sound engineer for the music venue at the shop and does all the booking for bands, he is the electrician and fixer of all things broken. Sheesh, he recently built from scratch a sound snake for the church using recycled wire from a re-wire job at a high school (did I mention all the above is what he does on top of his Electrician day job!!). It may be old fashioned of me to say so (at least in California), but I feel my main ministry to our church and community at this point is to support Ray. A burnt out wife is not a wife that provides support, but saps strength. Of that, I have been guilty. And, again, am humbled.
Simplification number three: Two big ones is enough, right? And gosh, the first one is a double whammy. But other things we are doing to simplify are small and numerous and ongoing. Selling stuff we don't need. Following a strict budget and financial plan (which as restrictive as it may sound, has been incredibly stress relieving and a wonderful blessing). Praying more often and fervently. (Oh believe me!) I don't know if there will be anymore big decisions on my part. I suspect there will be some changes the Lord may ask of Ray. He is seeking God's heart, and it is difficult feeling unsure. It is difficult to trust that God has everything planned and timed and perfect. Pray for Raymond to hear God's call, and to lead our family well.
So there you have it. Three parts. A bit of how this little baby Robinson came into being through a coin flip, was welcomed with a dose of "what were we thinking" followed by God's unusual prompt that we are "stuck with this one", and has catapulted our family into a journey of redemption and renewed obedience and a lightness in my heart that has been so absent.
What a story, and it's barely just begun. In a few short months I will hold this little person in my arms with so much wonder. Wonder at how God could use someone so tiny to create the opportunity for so much healing. Humbling indeed. And exciting. I can hardly wait.