It takes some dedication to be here. It takes the gumption to get out of bed every day whether you had a good night's sleep or not, because someone is depending on you. That spring from bed in the morning is generally quickly rewarded, though, when you are greeted with 8 smiles and a lot of hugs and kisses.
Our life, however 'busy' it may be, is not only rewarding, but refreshing as well. We see people we never would have seen if we didn't have our crew of special kiddo's. We interact with MANY people on a regular basis. Some people that we see, their intention is to bless us or our children. Some we see and it is our intention to bless them. Others we may not even 'notice' who are able to see our family and glean something from it, or may not know we noticed them and we learn from them.
In any given month we have grandparents here several times either to visit, help around the house, or to watch the kids for this or that. We also have three babysitters who rotate through the ranks-- sometimes two at a time-- and come to play with the kids while I'm home or come to relieve us so we can go out. We have a speech therapist here for 6 hours a month working with three of our kids and at the moment we have other school personnel in and out of our home as we prepare for next school year and enroll our two newest children.
In addition to that help that we receive here at home, we also have physical therapy which we attend at our local center just down the road twice each month. Of course 5 of our kids go to school daily and receive all of their therapies there. Our two newest kids are homeschooled and we really kicked off our curriculum with them this week. Some of the kids see multiple specialists-- many just to keep an eye on them annually or biannually-- and most of the kids have the assistance of Children's Medical Services for the oversight and scheduling of their appointments. It's very convenient that we can go to just one building and receive most of the specialist's care that the kids need.
Michael's job is one where he has a lot of flexibility and is able to pick up or drop the kids off at school on a regular basis and with the help of grandparents and babysitters we are able to really make life work well despite the many appointments and needs of the children.
Yes, we have a large family and one that from "the outside" would appear to be a lot of work. But from the inside it's a busy little house with a lot of happy little people and two very proud and fulfilled parents who are enjoying the daily life of our family.
Our kids are happy. They're well fed. They are growing. They are learning. Their every need is seen to. You might even call a few of them spoiled :). They are well adjusted to each other. They are well adjusted to society. They have made gains in the past months which overshadow any difficulties which may be a result of the addition of our newest children. They see all the medical specialists they need to see. They have all the therapies that they need. They receive all the recommended treatments for any of their conditions. They receive all the medications prescribed or recommended for them. On any given day if someone we know shows up at our door we will welcome them into our home and they can easily attest that the kids are cared for and that Michael and I are doing just fine as well.
Michael and I get regular 'date nights' away from the house. Our kids go to bed early enough that we each have down time and time to spend together each day. We have interests as a couple and individual interests that don't directly involve our kids. We each take time for ourselves when we need to. We also make a point of spending individual time with our children and time with them in smaller groups doing things that they enjoy.
Now, rather than just seeing 'us' from the outside... the medical needs, the special needs of the kids, the number of little people in our home, or the schedule that we keep... I hope you can see a little more on the inside of our world. How it works. Why it works. THAT it works.
We aren't surviving. We are thriving. And we love the family God has created as our own!
The three scriptures that always come to mind when describing our family are these (my paraphrase):
Phillippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, said the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.
James 1:27a Pure and faultless religion is this: to care for the widows and orphans in their distress