I look at our mini-van and it really is just sad. We bought it in Colorado, after a hail storm, as a dented 'sale' vehicle. We were very happy to have it.
Now it has had it's pitfalls ~ it's a Windstar, which I've come to learn from many others, has a reputation for "issues". While we could put the required money into it, and get it back to it's best running ability, I doubt the vehicle itself is worth what we would need to put into it. Nope, I'm guessing we will simply put the minimum amount of $$ into it to get it running, and it will become my husband's work vehicle. That cheap-o vehicle that you own outright, a second car (what a luxury!), that allows me to have a vehicle at home (wow!).
Amazingly enough, these things *are* luxuries. I do not NEED a car at home. It would be nice, of course, but I do not NEED it. If there was a *true* emergency, we could call an ambulance. A non-medical emergency would bring my husband home to us. It is only recently that a second car has become so "normal" ~ nowadays, if you don't have a second car, you must be poor. Right?!
People often ask us how we can afford so many lil' ones. I mean, my husband is a pastor, not exactly rolling in it, ya know?! And you know what, money can be tight. We are on a budget. I wonder how many people who ask us this question are themselves on a budget?? Not simply living within their means, but actually budgeting an amount each month for specific areas of spending. It's hard, takes discipline, yet yields great results and benefits.
I have a friend who put it this way ~ when asked how he can afford to have many children, he answers honestly, "I guess we just have different priorities about how we spend our money". It's true. If he didn't have many children, he wouldn't have any more money, he would simply be spending it on different things. Instead of little girl shoes, a mini-van and more food ~ he might have a nicer car (or two), fancier clothes, and more "toys" (i.e. iPod, camera, Blackberry, whatever). I'm not saying there's anything wrong with those things - there's not - but that's not what he chooses to spend his money on.
When we are struggling to get through a "rough patch" financially, I am reminded of this friend's comments. I look at the faces of my children and think, "which would I give up to NOT have these struggles?". None, obviously. I would rather struggle for YEARS with a beat-up vehicle, than not have one of my babies. I would rather be on a tight grocery budget, not being able to afford meat for every single meal, than I would having it *much* easier with only one or two babies.
In the previous post, someone commented that it was irresponsible to give away $5,000 to charity, and then not be able to pay your mortgage. Agreed. Yet if we have many children, and are struggling financially, I do not believe the solution is to regret having many children, nor even to stop having those blessings. I believe the solution would be to reassess your priorities, where your money is going and how you can bring in more income.
I'm not discussing extremes here. We are not anywhere *near* starving (ha!). My children have an ABUNDANCE of clothes. They have shelter, heat, water, love, fun, etc. etc... I am talking about middle America, middle-class life, the lifestyle that doesn't understand how we can choose to live "uncomfortably" by allowing the possibility of more children in our lives.
We have lived in abundance and we have lived with little. Like Paul, we are striving to be content in any situation. When we have been able, we have shared our excess with others. Even if that excess is only love and fellowship, although we have been blessed to be able to help other financially at times. We have also been blessed to be helped financially as well. What an amazing thing it is to be involved in God's blessings - on either side.
So yes, it is a "struggle" at times to have many children (again, I hardly think 5 is MANY, but okay). Others may look at us and see second hand clothes, lack of a new car, or the inability to go out to a nice resturant. What they are missing is the joy when my children get a new dress (never no mind that it came from a second hand store - they are excited!) and how thankful they are to Mema for thinking of them and loving them. They see the beat up car, yet miss the occupants who are singing praises to the Lord inside, thrilled to be headed to a park for a picnic with the family. They miss out on the wife who is proud of the creative and delicious meal she made, even with her limited budget, and what joy it brings her to see her family eating it.
They're missing it. Plain and simple.
And yes, I used to be one of those people. I used to be one who saw the outside and made assumptions. PRAISE THE LORD, He has chosen to open my eyes in this way. Praise Him for these struggles and the opportunity to be molded more like His Son. And thank you, Lord, for every single baby you have given to us, and every single one you have for us in the future, if you choose to give us any more. With my "situation" (numerous c-sections), any child may be our last. Somehow that makes each one, each stage, each smile, that much more precious to me.
So there ya go. No, I don't have all the answers. You may not like the answers I *have* given - and that's okay. I am not asking anyone else to take care of them, especially not the government. Loving them, teaching them, training them, being blessed by them ~ I want that!
Yes, beaten up old van and all~
**Now, I hope you are not lumping our family and our situation with ALL of the world. I am not an inner-city mother who has more children to get more welfare (I taught at a school where this was quite the norm). I am not a struggling African mother who is watching her children die due to starvation. I am not a drunk mother, having baby after baby, yet not loving them nor caring for them. I don't have an answer for those situations, or other extremes. I am simply discussing "our" life, what we struggle with, what we are blessed with. I understand this is not a "salvation" issue. Yet considering how often we hear these types of questions, I thought it appropriate to address this topic. Thanks**