I remember joining a bible study in high school and reading my bible every night before bed. I remember a verse that pulled at my heart long before I ever dated, ever had a boyfriend, ever thought I would really fall in love.
"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27 (NLT)
Back then I wondered why I liked that verse so much. Not many sixteen year olds would concern themselves with widows and orphans. I loved kids and I loved to babysit and I loved the movie "Annie". I thought maybe someday I would start an orphanage. I would have my sisters help me. As a first-born child you get the luxury of telling your younger siblings what their dreams should be, too!
The verse decorated my heart like wallpaper even though I couldn't explain why. I trusted my life would someday explain more. Never could I have imagined how much more would one day be explained.
When I was younger still, I wanted twelve kids. I was fascinated by the show "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers". But, that seemed like a couple too many. So, I decided I would have six boys and six girls. When I played house with my sisters, I would come up with names for all of my future children. I loved elegant names such as Abigail and Gabriella and Madelynn. I loved biblical names like Joshua and Caleb and Jordan.
By the time I was engaged to Shawn my numbers had declined. Twelve kids no longer seemed realistic, but four sounded nice. Coming from a family of five children, I liked the idea of lots of kids around a kitchen table for dinner, always having someone to talk to, having siblings who love you no matter what even if they pull your hair or hog the covers in bed or cross over "your line" in the car. Five may be pushing it. But, four sounded nice.
That is how I came up with my number. I always wanted four kids. Shawn wanted five. We never made a set plan.
When Shawn died I was confused on hundreds of levels. I remember questioning God, why such a strong desire to be a mom of a large family only to take away the dream? I gave up on the fanciful notion that I would ever have four children, most likely as a form of self-preservation. If I had no expectation, I couldn't be disappointed. I appreciated Jordan and Maddi in a way I never could have without tragedy striking…but I was confused with how God works, hadn't I loved them enough before?
It wasn't until I was engaged to Steven that I remembered my verse about true religion. That I remembered about caring for widows and orphans and children. It wasn't until I was engaged that I counted the number of kids in our new family. Four. Four children. God has given me my fanciful notion, my young heart's dream, my "secret hoped-for-never-say-it-out-loud-because-I-don't-want-to-ever-again-feel-such-hurtful-disappointment" expectation.
I always wanted four children. To me that always sounded very nice.