From diapers to orthodontia to college

IMGP3957Yesterday I sat in a cheery room looking up at the long watercolor of a beach hanging on the wall. Elevator music played gently from the overhead speakers as I waited rather nervously for the orthodontist to walk in and tell me just how much it was going to cost to iron out the mouths of my babes – the children who, sadly, inherited their mom’s regular (slightly larger than normal?) teeth and their father’s much smaller than normal mouth.

It dawned on me as he explained what we were looking at (thankfully a little further down the road…like starting next year and beyond until forever) for their teeth that I have one more coming up behind them who’s going to need as much, if not more, orthodontia than they do.

I tried to calculate the cost in my mind, allowing for the overlap in treatments from one child to the next, and then smoke came out my ears and instead of finishing my sums, I envisioned swimming in a pool of Nutella because the math was too much and Nutella is my happy place.

Once I settled down a bit, I had a second revelation – I am going to go straight from pull ups to orthodontia without so much as a week off and I suddenly wondered why on Earth we didn’t space these kids out more so we could have a little breathing room?!

Then I remembered that we intended to space them out more, but God has a sense of humor and was all Oh you want to wait awhile? Here, have a third before the second can walk a straight line.

IMGP3955Then I thought about the day I found out I was pregnant with Landon and I thought for sure I’d forever ruined Sloan and Tia’s lives by forcing them to accept a new baby when neither could really speak in complete sentences. This, of course, led me to remember Lee’s reaction to finding out we were pregnant a third time. Shock, a small measure of horror and an accusatory stare that somehow placed all the blame on me for apparently thinking a child into my womb.

There followed a rather significant amount of time when I had one child in pull ups and two in diapers. We finally, mercifully, got it down to one in pull ups and one in diapers and then two in pull ups and we’ve finally chipped and whittled away to where we are only buying pull ups for one child.

IMGP3958Nighttime potty training is my nemesis.


My oldest will be 10 next month, which means I have been investing in Huggies and Pampers products for a decade and when I finally surrender the last pull up to the landfills (you’re welcome environment), I will walk straight to the orthodontist’s office and give him my right arm for straight teeth and with three so close together, treatments will overlap, I’ll have to surrender the other arm and six-seven years later we will pay off the orthodontia just in time to start paying for college.

I’m starting to wonder if there is some validity to choosing your favorite child and investing in only that kid for the duration of eighteen years.

All the books on raising children lead me to believe that would be a poor course of action to take in child rearing, but really how much can those crazy child psychologists know anyway, right?


I know, of course, that having children close together is, in the long run, really the way to go. They will be the best of friends (We hope. Judging by how many arguments I’ve broken up since school let out I’m not sure when exactly that friendship thing will kick in, but I have high hopes. High, high hopes. Hiiiiiiiigh hopes), they will experience much of life together and in relatively similar circles. They will be able to create so many memories together, which will hopefully make converstaions around the Thanksgiving table in twenty years a lot more fun and they will have the benefit of knowing that there’s always someone nearby who has your back.

Those are the pros and I’d say, for the most part, the pros outweigh the cons. 

And there’s always the hope that the final child will graduate pull ups at least a week before the expanders/braces begin. Seven whole days.

A girl can dream.




She stood up on stage and spoke softly into the microphone.

“For you were called to freedom, brethren,” she said in a reverent voice.  And that was it.  She didn’t finish the verse but rather, stopped there.  Her point was to explain to us, her audience, that God calls us to freedom – financial freedom.  This was a business conference for something Lee and I were involved in and the focus was on building your business and dreaming about what you could do if you were financially free.  There were fancy boats on display and pictures of large, ornate houses were shown.  And the prevailing thought was that financial freedom was necessary to experience life to the full. 

I remember listening to this particular speaker and thinking that there had to be a little more.  It didn’t feel right and it didn’t seem to fit totally.

So I read the rest of the verse later when I got home.  It’s Galatians 5:13 and it reads “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

As I read, I realized this verse wasn’t speaking of financial freedom at all.  In fact, I don’t believe that God commands any believer to seek after financial freedom.  If anything, we are warned to be wary of wealth for it offers much greater temptation.

That is not to say, however, that wealth is a bad thing.  I think that wealth in the hands of people who know how to use it is powerful and blessed.  I know godly people who have a great deal of material wealth.  They don’t flaunt it, but instead they use it to love and serve others.  Their freedom isn’t money, or boats, or homes.  It’s impacting people, loving people, pointing people to the love and freedom that is in Christ.

For two years Lee and I juggled this idea of building business to create wealth.  We mulled the idea of creating wealth to “make a better life.”  Until, that is, we had our first child and suddenly the idea of leaving him several nights a week and several weekends a month didn’t seem worth it anymore.  What were we doing?  Why were we doing it?  Things weren’t adding up.

I tread on this topic lightly because I do not judge those who work for financial success.  Money is necessary.  It’s important.  We need it to live, to eat, to provide.  Money is a wonderful blessing.  But financial freedom, from what I’ve learned over the years, is not about gathering wealth so you can retire at 40 and take your children on a trip around the world.

One of the activities we were encouraged to do those many years ago was make a list of 100 dreams.  This was to be something that we placed out in front of us so that we could remember why we were working so hard.  We were working toward the freedom to make our dreams come true.

I found the list the other day when I was cleaning out the pit that we like to call home.  It made me smile, made me scratch my head and made me laugh out loud.  One of my hundred dreams was to have a gardener.  A Gardener!  I honestly don’t even know what I was thinking.  Why a gardener?  That was a head scratcher

I dreamed of taking a Grecian Cruise, owning a motor home (seriously?!) and having a home theater.  Apparently at one point Lee hijacked my list because I also had Go to the Final Four Championship Game, Go the the Superbowl (okay, that would be cool) and attending an NBA Championship game on my list.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t write those on my own.

It was fun to see a few of the things on my list were accomplished – buy a house, go to Italy, go to Switzerland, have a laptop.  By God’s grace, we have marked several dreams off our list inadvertantly.

I no longer equate the freedom I have in God with our finances.  In fact, now that I am no longer obssessed with gaining financial freedom, I feel much more free.  Lee and I both no longer agree that writing out a list of 100 dreams with the idea of asking God to bless that list is the right way to approach God or life.  In fact my list of dreams is drastically smaller than this original list.  My dreams are simply this:

– To live my life to the glory of God, honoring Him in every activity, every ambition, every desire, every dollar earned and spent.

– To honor and respect my husband. 

– To point my children to the Almighty and see them grow in wisdom, knowledge and stature.

I have been called to freedom – freedom to serve and love others with the resources I have been given.  I don’t always serve well and I don’t always love well.  I still get sucked into the rat race and I don’t always give freely from the abundance I’ve been given.  I still long to go on a Grecian Cruise and I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to travel the world…like, ever.  I believe in enjoying the financial blessings God has bestowed upon us, but only after giving back to Him first. 

Like any parent, I long to be able to provide good things for my children.  I want to be able to send them to college without the stress of loans, I want to give them the opportunity to see the world and the beauty of God’s creation.  I hope to do some of that while also teaching them to serve others and love people.  I long to show them what true freedom is and give them a foundation that sets them up for success in finances, missions, serving and loving.  I long to teach them how to serve God fully with the money they are blessed with.  I’m still learning that lesson myself…

I long to figure out why in the world I put “Have a Gardener” on my list of 100 dreams.

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galations 5:13

What are your thoughts?