Today’s guest post is from Ana Blake. Ana majored in humanities with a minor in English literature from BYU. She wouldn’t mind being a free-lance writer but up to this point hasn’t published anything. (She does have almost thirty full-sized written journals and enjoys writing the annual family Christmas letter, though.) She and her husband are the parents of nine children.
After my husband and I were married, whenever the subject of family size came up, I always joked, “We’ll go to five and then take it one at a time.” (I was banking on inheriting the same high fertility that my mother and grandmothers had experienced.) What was originally a joke quickly became our reality, until I found myself fairly fresh from childbirth on my sixteenth wedding anniversary, surrounded by numberless concourses of posterity all debating about whether the next baby would be a boy or a girl. (Okay. I exaggerate. It was six days before my anniversary and there were only nine of them and only the six oldest were talking about it, but I swear the rest is true and they really were were discussing the gender of number ten.) I just rolled my eyes as far to the back of my head as I could and tried to ignore them.
When our first child was born, I had little idea of the expenses of parenthood. I knew that children had to be fed and clothed and that you had to pay the medical bills to get them here, but beyond that it was all somewhat fuzzy in my head. Thankfully, as the years have gone by we have been blessed and have always had sufficient for our needs, as well as many of our wants. I’ve worked hard, though—learning to cook from scratch and yardsaling anything from clothes to furniture to toys. And along the way I’ve learned to rely on the Lord. Or at least I thought I had.
Having paid our own way through college, we decided some time ago to allow our children the same blessing and opportunity. However, since college is expensive, we also decided that we would be nice and pay for their missions. Unfortunately we have six sons, so assuming they all choose to serve, that’s at least sixty grand! We can add some more to that number if any of the girls decide to go.
Our oldest child turned sixteen just a few months ago and lately I’ve caught myself going around and around, mentally calculating how much we should be saving each month to have enough for him, and his eighteen-months’ younger brother who will probably overlap with him, to be able to serve. My husband and I are fairly frugal people but with the costs of buying food, school supplies, gas, medical expenses, and incidentals for a family the size of ours, we have not been able to save as much as I would like.
So with all of this running through my mind, I recently found myself standing before the glass doors in the freezer section of our grocery store staring at the ice cream in front of me, my hand paused on the door as a burning internal mental debate took place. “Ice cream is not a need. It’s a want,” I told myself. “Yes, but it’s for your daughter’s birthday,” I replied. “I know, but we’ll have cake and what if the boys get to mission age and we can’t afford for them to go because I keep buying stuff like ice cream for everybody’s birthday?”
That’s when the absurdity of this conversation hit me. For years I’ve been trying through my own efforts and work to finance these missions, and all the other expenses of having children, all by myself. As I stood there in the freezer section, it was as if the Lord spoke in my mind and said, “You are not going to fund these missions through your efforts alone. I will provide the means for them to go, but you need to trust me.” Besides feeling overcome by this epiphany that had hit me like a ton of bricks, I also felt as if a huge weight had been suddenly lifted from my shoulders. I understood that while I do still need to budget and save and be wise and careful, the entire outcome is not solely dependent on my efforts alone—works and faith go hand in hand. So I smiled, picked out some ice cream, and went home.
Do you ever have trouble knowing when you should be actively doing something to reach a righteous goal and when it is time to just relax a little and rely on the Lord’s providence? Do you ever feel stressed trying to figure it out?
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