Resurfacing after the birth of baby number six, and I'm holding John 10v10 very close to my heart. "The thief comes only to steal and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly".
My house is definitely full of life; eight people breathing, eating, talking and doing, certainly makes my house feel full of life. On Saturday, there was Origami folding, swimming, successful pottying, tree climbing, cookie making, DVD watching, picnicking, minecraft creating, Cinderella viewing, roof top climbing, play doughing, bike riding, Duplo building, fly catching, fly nurturing and eventually fly burying. (RIP Rosie)
Doesn't that all sound so wonderfully full of abundant life? Yes it does, but what about the days when it's the eight of us squabbling, moaning, crying, arguing, puking and unsuccessfully pottying (okay, so not all eight of us on that one). That doesn't feel quite so full of life. It feels more like a life sentence. So how can I let this verse shape me on the days where I'd rather not do life abundantly? When I'd rather just do life, under a duvet to be honest.
Well, I've realised that this verse breathes life into me in different ways; not just 'take one house, add two people, add a further four boys and finally two girls into it, and you have abundant life'. True, but there is more as there usually is with scripture.
A friend of mine brought it to me that I was being quite negative with my words, in regards to my big family. I was jokingly apologising to the newest addition, for the family she had been born into. And I kept referring to my family in slightly derogative terms, focusing on the 'crazy', and the 'overwhelming' side of it all. And both these words at times, are completely the right words to use. But I know that my heart was panicking..."What do people think?", "Are we going to manage?" "Have we made a ridiculous choice to have another?" And it was coming out as jokey put downs, as if to jump in defensively before others confirmed the thoughts I was having.
My friend showed me that I was indeed allowing 'the thief in to steal and destroy'. I wasn't speaking life into my family, quite the opposite. I remember emailing a mother of many, nine to be exact, seven weeks in and saying 'Help'. She said that the overwhelming thoughts she had had, would suck the life right out of her. She was spot on at lifting my chin and reminding me that God had given me faith for a big family and He would therefore give me the abundant grace for it also.
Living life abundantly, doesn't mean having a mini bus full of kids. Life is also lived abundantly by the person with a quiet house, and no kids. It means dwelling in Jesus' goodness for me, no matter what my circumstances or feelings. Dwelling in His joy, His peace, His provision, His forgiveness, His hope, His help, His love for me, and even His work for me to do. That is what brings me life. Come rain or shine, come fun, full days or 'under the duvet' days, come pleasant chats or slamming doors, whether the poo is found in the potty or out of the potty...
Last week, a great example of this came from a friend of mine, who text me a verse about being refreshed. She test me from hospital, after she had just come out of an operation. The operation was to drain her lung, and ease her respiratory problems. Fluid had built up due to the breast-cancer cells, which had been found in the lining of her lung. I would most definitely allow for, even expected her to feel a little destroyed. But nothing is stealing the hope she has in Jesus, away from her. Her text was encouraging and challenging, about how God wonderfully refreshes us, and asks us to bring that refreshment to others. She was and continues to be so full of life, abundant life. She too is holding that verse close to her heart.