Generation Cedar

It’s the one and only two preggo pictures for this, my 10th baby. You know you gotta have one. When I say “tenth baby” it’s so hard for me to believe I have ten children. I’m glad and thankful, just surprised and never imagined it for my life. It doesn’t feel like it sounds, apparently. Because when I’m out by myself and someone asks me “is this your first baby” and I say “no”, and then it’s inevitable that I must answer the hyper-ventilating-invoking question, the response feels more dramatic than my life feels.

I understand the surprise, that ten children is not exactly common. But compared with my actual life, we’re just a regular family who drives a small bus. And shares clothes. And hugs more than the average times per day. And doesn’t stress anymore about germs. And, oddly enough, is more excited at the announcement of a new baby than just about anything else on earth. And shares the housework so that really, everybody probably does less work than normal. And has to take turns talking or it can get a little out of hand at the dinner table.

Mostly, at this stage in my life, I’m humbled more than ever. And where I’m not, I’m praying to be. Andrew Murray said, in his book our family is reading again–Humility:

“True humility comes when before God we see ourselves as nothing, have put aside self, and let God be all. The soul that has done this, and can say, ‘I have lost myself in finding You,’ no longer compares itself with others.”

I think a lot about how motherhood can be so “emptying” and how maybe that’s why our culture has become a consistent enemy of motherhood, at least of the motherhood that would threaten to empty us. As my husband read that sentence, I thought of how contrary it is to every message around us–even to our own flesh, and why then, there is such a gulf between what God has said is “right and good” and what everything else poses as “right and good.”

Pregnancy (since I’m here in this time of reflection) is, literally speaking, a body who “empties” part of itself to contain another human being. It’s a perfect picture of a “life-giving vessel”, emptied so it can be filled.

And so it is with us in spirit. God can only fill an empty vessel, a surrendered heart. And then, the miracle of that filling! It is only when we can reach our hands to Heaven and say with Christ, “Not my will, but Thine be done”, that we can walk in perfect peace, knowing He truly orders our steps.

So when another person says to me, “pregnancy is just so hard on your body”, intending to persuade me that I’ve “done” a silly thing by carrying another person, I can exhale with a calm knowing of the greater rewards of being emptied. I’ve had similar, encouraging epiphanies about motherhood and broken vessels. When my back hurts and round ligament pain makes me wince, I tell my children, I did it for you and it was so worth it. I don’t want pain to always be associated with something to be avoided.

Today is the anniversary of the tornado that ripped away all our earthly things. Emptying. Painful. And I can truly say I’m grateful for that life-changing event. It has helped me empty my hands of the more meaningless things in life (although I’m still working on it), to be able to hold what is most dear. I whisper a word of praise to the Father for that too, His perfect will. As a side note, I looked at some of those posts and re-read your comments the other day. Tears just streamed down my face–I probably wasn’t completely cognizant the first time I read them–and they were SUCH a huge blessing to me, two years later, as I reflected on your love and God’s goodness to put things in our lives in order to reveal such love. Thank you again.

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51 Responses

  1. It’s so funny…I have 10 as well and it just doesn’t seem like a lot of children – I guess because it’s our “normal”? Only when I get the inevitable “Is this your first baby?” question do I suddenly feel like we are “odd” or different. And now that I have older children, people are mistaking me for the grandmother of my youngest. This my friend is NO FUN to a woman who turns 40 on Monday. Oh I WANT to be a grandmother one day…don’t misunderstand me there. But you know what I mean, right? πŸ˜‰

  2. I’m in your shoes as I’m expecting number 10 as well. Often times when my children are gathered for school in the morning for Bible class, I often comment about who is missing because it just doesn’t seem like a lot of children (even though everyone says it is!).

  3. I WISH I had ten children! πŸ™‚ I have “only” seven, and at 42, the liklihood of having more is lessening. I am so grateful for the Lord’s blessings. I don’t think of our family as large, even though the percentage of Americans with more than a couple of children is REALLY small. (I think I must know everyone in that percentage! Perspective, eh?)
    Blessings to you, Kelly, as you near the end of another new beginning. When are you due?

  4. Thank you for sharing. Adding Mr. Murray to my “to read” list. As a momma currently gestating #6 and facing a fetal echocardiogram in about a week to confirm or refute a possible serious heart defect, your words have encouraged me. Please add us to your family’s prayer list.

    1. Our family will be praying for you as well. It is amazing really all the things that can be done now-a-days that are considered medical miracles. I just read something about a mother that was pregnant with a child that had a heart condition. (I don’t remember exactly what it was though.) The doctors were able to perform surgery although the baby was still in utero and they did an amazing job of patching up the problems and saving the baby. It just amazed me that they were able to leave the baby attached to the placenta while doing the surgery and able to keep the pregnancy going so that baby could be born free of any heart problems. A true miracle that years ago could have never been done.

      Our prayers are with you…and we will share with our church family as well, so you’ll have lots & lots of extra prayers going out for you! Blessings & peace!

  5. I love all of your posts. We have 4 children and I’m praying for God to change my husbands heart (mostly he’s afraid) about having more. I think we are definitely selling ourselves short by deciding to not have anymore vs letting God decide how many to give us. Please pray for my husband too, that he won’t be afraid to turn this big decision over to God so that He can decide the size of our family. Thanks for all of your posts and sharing your life with us.

  6. Well, I am on my 13th and needless to say, the negative comments are out there all of the time and although I have learned to tough through it, it still hurts. Not necessarily personally, but because I am so very sad that others do not see the blessings that children are and the joy each pregnancy brings. The love that overflows and so many people miss because they are not willing to lay it all out on the line for God no matter what He asks. There is such sweet reward in that! Not easy, but oh so worth it! Now, on to the fun part…my daughter in law is expecting too and we have the EXACT same due date! It is something only God could do! I will become a grandma and a mom again at the very same time. My mind can still not fathom it but what joy it is! I will see the next generation unfold before my very eyes! What a gift and a treasure! Thank you for reminding me that we are all empty vessels and filling them up with the fruit of womb is sacred! Such a beautiful display of love!

    Blessings to you!

  7. Almost over, isn’t it? Do you know wether it’s a boy or a girl? I never wanted to know beforehand. ;-)You look great, beautifull. Happy expectations!

  8. My pastors wife was encouraging me a few weeks ago with this verse from 2 Cor. 4:12, “Death worketh in us but Life in you”. Paul used this verse talking about himself, but we can use it in Motherhood. Yes, our bodies start to fail and we have aches and pains and sleepless nights, but the death that we are living gives life to our chldren. I have the verse on the wall by my sink to encourage me on the hard days. I feel very blessed to have such a sweet pastors wife who knows how to encourage me in having children and homeschooling, many Christians think we are crazy!

  9. I’m pregnant with our 4th and our families haven’t been supportive at all. We know the truth, that children are a blessing from the Lord, and it is so encouraging to read from others who will support and uplift motherhood, new life, pregnancy. If it is God’s will for us to have more, we will welcome more babies! Our children tell me everyday how excited they are to have another baby soon. They’ve been our cheerleaders during my entire pregnancy!

    1. One of the most fascinating things to me is how children have no concept of “too many babies”. Ours act like we’re having one for the first time. I guess that’s part of what Jesus meant when He was constantly reminding us to “become as little children”.

  10. What a beautiful picture! You are such an encouragement to me in my mothering and in your vision for children and family. My husband and I have come to the place of releasing control and we desire to let God plan our family. We have a 2 year old and 7 month old right now. It is so exciting for me to see a mom a bit further down the road in this journey who just radiates Jesus and inner/outer beauty! Blessings as you welcome another sweet baby into the world!

  11. Hard on my body? I guess so. What was I going to do with it? Keep it forever? War is hard on a soldier’s body, too, but we don’t (if we’re not cowards ourselves) try to discourage soldiers from defending our nation, do we? Some things are worth hurting for. Or dying for.

    1. Cindy–“What was I going to do with it?”

      YES. “Greater love has no man…than he lay down his life for his friend (daughter, son?)” And if that’s true in a literal sense, how much more in a figurative one?

    2. I wish I had thought that up when dealing with my family with only half dozen kids! After 3 they all thought I was nuts…but thinking about our bodies going through hard work (that was everyone’s “reason” for why I shouldn’t have any more).

  12. My Grandma had 11 and each time she’d hold up her hands as if to show the number of fingers that represented the 10 living children and say, which one do you love more? All the same. She had a rough life….but she truly loved her children that came from a difficult husband and rough marriage. God got her through.

    You are a blessed Lady! Perhaps more children will come. You guys are raising your children in a Christian Home. That says so very much! Raising eternal beings is a high calling.


  13. If having lots of babies is hard on the body, it sure doesn’t show on you. You look fantastic. Congratulations! That door…. love it.

  14. Beautiful…you look GREAT Kelly…and your message is perfectly needed for me right now. I need to do a little “emptying” today and didn’t realize it until I read this and thought about how my day got off to a bad start. Totally MY fault as I skipped doing a few things (like my daily devotion & praying BEFORE I started my day).

  15. God gives us grace for the works He purposed for us to do. The woman who can’t imagine having 10 kids wouldn’t be able to. But you wouldn’t be able to live in her life, either. (But still, the rudeness floors me.) I have just three, but the two boys are both special needs – we joke that each of them is equivalent to three normal children. But we have grace for our family and our life is so sweet and pleasant, even though some outsiders can’t fathom how we do it.

    Grace from God and a whole lot of dying to self, that’s how! Treasures in heaven, truly.

  16. We have ten also, and I honestly used to count them over and over and over all the time because it just didn’t SEEM like there were that many kids in the room!! At night when we would pray, and they would all be sitting around or lying around on the floor, I would count over and over, thinking to myself, “Surely there aren’t really 10 kids in here.”
    People just don’t get it that when you add one child at a time, life is never all of a sudden overwhelming. First you have one, then two, then three, and maybe then one day in a few years you have ten. But you didn’t get ten at once!!
    I am almost 46, and had my last at 39. Hubby decided we were done. I hemorrhaged terribly with our tenth, and it scared him to death. And I am okay with his decision. We have talked about having another, but at this age, I can barely imagine it!
    You look so beautiful, as mothers of many always do!!

  17. Kelly, I just wish I could stop by and enjoy some of the perpetual fun that goes on at your house, I know. You look so beautiful, pregnant or not.

  18. Our baby #8 may just arrive tonight…

    It’s been amazing, in spite of the flack, to see how our children have grown in their anticipation of each new child… I’ve been excited for the arrival of each baby, but somehow these miracles are meaning more and more to me with each new child.

    Thank you for sharing!

  19. umm…. you look stunning! isn’t it funny how things slow down with each new addition? with my first pregnancy we took pictures galore! fourth time around and there are only a small handful of photographs to be found. but… the love most definitely still grows and that is what is most important!

  20. You look gorgeous Kelly – life’s been busy and I haven’t had as much time to read your blog lately, but your posts are ALWAYS a blessing. God bless you & your family and congratulations on #10! My #10 was born 7 yrs ago. I remember it well -i t was a great number πŸ™‚

  21. You look lovely and so happy, Kelly! I read through the comments and was struck by how many ladies have received negative comments about having many children. We experienced it even with #3. This is so heartbreaking. I have always loved seeing large families out in public, but now I am going to make every effort to speak an encouraging word with a smile to those mommas.

  22. Kelly, I am so excited for you and your family! I’ve been praying for you and can’t wait to see this new little guy that will be just as beautiful as the rest of your children!

    To all of you wonderful women out there with lots and lots of kiddos, I so admire you and praise God for what He has blessed you with. I was blessed with 2 and no more, and I love them to pieces, but how I have longed for more babies in my arms and faces around my table. I am blessed and learning to be content with (just) my two, but how blessed you all are to have so many! Be encouraged that not everyone thinks your crazy and after this short life, eternity will reveal who had the mind of Christ and lived in wisdom and faith. Keep trusting and obeying the Giver of Life. Keep loving all those kids and smiling at them because you have the peace that comes from knowing that God is on your side, so who can be against you. Keep resting in the knowledge that He is the great provider and sustainer, so you have nothing to fear. I salute you all!

    And, Kelly, you are positively beautiful!! I’m sure if anyone asked your hubby why he keeps having babies, he wouldn’t have to explain anything. All he’d have to say is, “Have you SEEN my wife? Nuf’ said!”;)

  23. The driving a bus thing is what always gives me a kick, in a good and endearing way. So kewl.

    1. Jennifer,

      You’re so sweet. This huge mama of 40 appreciates that πŸ˜‰ I’ll have to get you a “perimeter” shot of all the kids in the bus–it’s quite a spectacle. We have people come look in just for fun.

      1. You’re a mama of 40 kids now?…have I been away that long? πŸ˜›

        Sorry, Kelly! Couldn’t resist πŸ™‚ And indeed you are beautiful, inside and out.

        (BTW, 10 more and you’ll be caught up to me.) πŸ˜‰

  24. Congratulations, praying delivery is wonderful! I too think you look wonderful.

    I just turned 41 and am expecting baby #12 in August πŸ™‚ Children truly are a gift from the Lord, lots of work but well worth it!

  25. Oh I must have missed something. Didn’t you just announce on April 14 that you were expecting again? I didn’t realize you were that far along. You do look great!!!

  26. I am the oldest of 8, mother of none
    I would love to marry. Would love children but that’s not what He’s doing, for now anyway

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