(why) I Don’t Want More Kids

More kids

“Why do you want more kids?” people ask me when they find out we’re planning to adopt. “Don’t you think you have enough already?”

I don’t know how to answer this question because I don’t know how many kids is enough.

Do I have enough kids to drink all the milk before it goes bad? Yes.

Do I have enough kids to make our own basketball team? Yes.

Do I have enough kids to finance our orthodontist’s dream trip to the Caribbean? Yes.

So…is that enough?

I find myself stumbling over answers because the question is all wrong. It infers that the reason for having children is to fulfill something in us, and people should only have the minimum number it takes to be personally satisfied.

When people say to me, “Don’t you have enough kids already?” the assumption is that I am somehow unfulfilled by the number of children in my home now. I need more children in order to be happy, and isn’t that selfish and irresponsible of me?

Why on earth would I want more?

The simple answer is, I don’t want more kids.

I do not want to add broken children to my manageable home. I do not want to risk my own children’s emotional or physical safety in order to take on someone else’s “problem.” I don’t want to pour my heart into a child who might hate me in return. I don’t want the lice. I don’t want the attachment disorders. I don’t want the sexual aggression, the lying, stealing, manipulating—any of it.

I am not lonely, or bored, or in need of affirmation. I don’t want more kids because I have some kind of superhero complex, or because I’m such a great mother. I don’t want more kids because somehow, five kids is not enough. Oh, no. Five kids is enough, and some days, I am not sure I can handle one more.

(Of course, I said that when I had one. And I said it when I had three. And now I have five and I really, really think it’s true this time.)

I don’t want more kids because I think I can handle more. I know the truth: in my own humanity, in my own weakness, I can’t.

I cannot love more than enough children. I cannot have Christ-like compassion for the child who shreds me with her brokenness. None of us can.

What wrecks me is this: God doesn’t seem to be particularly interested in what I can handle. He seems to care more about what He can handle.

And that just blows the question out of the water. At the end of the day, fostering is not about me. It’s never been about me. It’s not about my ability as a mother, my desires as a human being, or even my comfort level as an American.

It’s about what God has called me to do through His power working in me to love my Savior by loving His children. It is the thing that makes the “wanting to” irrelevant and the “able to” inconsequential. God wants, and God is able. That is enough.

Enough kids

Enough kids

Do I want more children?

The only people who ask that question are clearly not God because that is not a question God ever asks.

God does not ask if we want to love unwanted children (James 1:27). He doesn’t even have the consideration to ask us if we’re able to. With all the audacity of the Lord of the Universe, He assumes that if we’re breathing, we can do better than just think of ourselves and do for ourselves because He did better, and it is His power at work in us equipping us to be and do like Him. Not our strength. Not our ability (Ephesians 3:20).

It’s scary to believe it. I do not like to jump into the unknown and hope to heaven I land on supernatural wings. I am afraid, and that fear would make me turn tail and run if not for this: my fears do not excuse my obedience to God.

Fears are the stuff of shadows anyway. Worst-case scenarios rarely happen. The worries I toss about in my head are minor in comparison to the actual, horrific suffering of real children, right now.

I look at my home, my godly, patient husband and my compassionate, loving children, and I know that I cannot allow imaginary hurts to keep us from infusing living hope into a child’s present, perpetual, real-life.

That doesn’t mean hurts won’t happen. We will do everything we can to prevent them, but love doesn’t always come out clean. Our five kids might feel the sting of it

But for our sixth child, it will hurt much, much less. Infinitely, eternally, less than life hurts now.

That is the thing that keeps me pressing forward when my heart fails. Do I want more kids? No.

What I want is to get to the end of my wants. I want to get to the end of controlling and taking on only what I can do. I want the immense privilege of seeing what God can do through me. That fills me with unspeakable, illogical joy at the prospect of being used as He wills. I have a Christ-like love for a child who is not my own and all the anticipation of Christmas at the gift—the privilege—of being his mother, no matter the cost.

Why do I want more kids?

That is why.

God is able

We’re Expecting!

Making Room for 1 More

I have been dying to tell you the wonderful news: Five in Tow is about to grow!  Jeff and I are excited to announce that we’re expecting.

I know you probably thought we were done having children.  Five certainly is a handful, at least that’s what the Costco sample ladies tell me when my kids clear out their toothpicked cheese cubes in one fell swoop.

There’s also the small part about how motherhood didn’t come easy to me.  It took me about…well, five kids to get broken in to this gig, and for some time prior to that, I threatened to pack up my children and send them to Argentina.

But, this child, this sixth child, is something different. This child is not growing in my womb.  This child has been growing in my heart since I was old enough to notice that not all children have it good.

Not all children are safe.

Not all children are wanted.

Not all children are loved.

And not all people who can do something about it are.  Including me. 

Many years ago, before I was married, I wanted to adopt all the babies.  I had lived in third world countries and worked with street children and orphans.  By the time I was nineteen, I had seen more unwanted children than I could bear. I determined to do something about it.

But then I got married.  And pregnant.  And pregnant again, and…every time I thought about adding another child to our home, life would get crazy and I would wonder what on earth I was thinking.

I began to believe that I really am terribly busy, and I have used those Costco ladies as my justification for passing up many opportunities to be Christ to this hurting world.  I have my hands full already, thankyouverymuch.

But God’s been talking to me about being the Word, and it’s all terribly more self-sacrificial than I am comfortable with.

So I read all through the Word looking for some fine print that would exempt me from anything harder than where I am right now.  What I found was Jesus telling poor people to care for poorer people.  Jesus telling busy people to stop and bind up the wounds of the hurting.  Jesus telling moms who pounded out their daily bread to feed the widows and the orphans with some of it.  Jesus saying, “Hey, the harvest is ready, but the trouble is, none of you are willing to stop what you’re doing and labor for me.”

So we stopped.  We prayed.  We talked to our kids.  We did the next thing, and the next thing more.  Now, we are knee-deep in the foster licensing process with the intention of adopting a child out of the system.  We have to get the licensing part done before Jeff deploys, which is so insane, our case worker is developing a twitch.  But we have a set of fire extinguishers in our kitchen and fingerprints on file and a whole lot of friends and family with permanent hand cramps because they had to fill out pages of references forms on us.

It is labor, all of it.  But with the labor comes great expectation, abundant joy, and a good share of nausea.

I hear that’s normal for expectant parents.    

just act normal

Hopefully, we can act like a normal family for a few weeks longer so we can wrap up the foster-licensing process.  Jeff will deploy, and even though it’s not ideal to welcome a new child to the home while the father is away, we’re kind of over waiting for ideal. When it comes to foster care, there is no ideal.

Our hope is to foster-adopt, so we are praying that the Lord will bring us the right child right away so that we can begin the legal process as quickly as possible.  Jeff will be getting orders to a new duty station soon after he completes his deployment, and we need to complete the adoption while we’re still living in Texas…or we might lose the child and have to start the whole thing all over again.

But even if we cannot adopt, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to love and invest in another child for as long as God lets us have her.  When you think about it, that’s really what  parenting is all about.

Won’t you pray for us?  We’re expecting God to show up big time because this whole thing is crazy-scary and infinitely bigger than us.  Those are exactly the circumstances God seems to like the most, when I have nothing of my own to offer and He gets to remind me why He’s God, and I’m not.

Pray particularly for this sixth child who may, at this very moment, be experiencing unspeakable trauma at the hands of those who are supposed to love him.  Pray pray for the family who is so broken, a child isn’t safe in their care.  Finally, pray that we will remain steadfast and diligent as we labor to make room for one more.

Six in tow?  I kinda like the sound of that.



Cutting the noise

“You’re so intimidating,” she said to me from across steaming cups of coffee.

The words tumbled off her lips shyly, like they weren’t sure of themselves, but they rumbled through me like a sudden clap of thunder.

I sat there with a fake smile on my face and a too-loud laugh in my throat while she talked about my blog and how she just wanted to sit and listen to me.

I would have thought it was funny, except she was serious.  And that was devastating.   

All this time, I had been writing real, or so I thought. In every post, I tore open my heart and parsed out the contents into print. I dragged my blog right through the daily muck with me, and prayed readers would hold on for the redemption. Sometimes it was funny. Sometimes it wasn’t. But all the time, I fought to be real—really real, not just the pretend real that gains readers but lacks sincerity.

I didn’t want to be insincere.

I didn’t want readers.

I wanted co-laborers. Journeymen. Sisters. I thought writing real was enough to keep us walking side-by-side. I thought that was enough to keep the words from elevating me as we all seek to elevate Christ.

But it wasn’t.


This woman thought, somehow, that I was worth being intimidated by, and it left me spinning. What have I been doing wrong?

Just as soon as I asked the question, I knew the answer because God is good like that. He often gives the answers first and provides the ram before I realize the altar is bare.

All along He had been whispering the answer to my heart.  “Be the Word incarnate,” but I didn’t understand.

Now here I was, sitting next to a woman who thought I was intimidating because she knew my words and not my flesh. She knew only the bits about me that could be seen through the peephole of a blog.

Suddenly, I got it.  I had been ministering in word only, and it was not enough.

I am called to be like Christ in word and flesh, inspiration and incarnation. One without the other leads to irrelevance or irreverence, and often, both. How quickly we elevate those with golden tongues or pretty words! And how easily lifeless words fall from the lips of those who have no connection to real hurt, real brokenness, and real suffering.

That’s exactly what I was doing–writing lifeless words from the safety of my laptop.  I never had to show more than I wanted or get my hands dirty in a ministry I couldn’t control.  It was all very tidy and conveniently removed.

But words are meant to be incarnate. Otherwise, they are nothing but self-promoting noise, no matter how honest or real they are. “If I speak [or write] in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

If I write a viral blog post but do not have time to help a woman get through a deployment, I have not love. If my article is reposted by a big-name Christian personality, but I hate the people who leave insensitive comments, I have not love. If I land a book contract and have people waiting in line for my signature, but I can’t be bothered to feed the hungry or care for the orphan, I have not love.

What I have is a bunch of noise.

If there is one thing the world doesn’t need more of, it’s more noise.

We don’t need more professional preachers.

We don’t need more blog posts.

We don’t need more legislation.

We don’t need more people who sit on one side of the stained-glass windows, splitting hairs.

We don’t need more intimidating Christians.

What we need is Christ lived out in the flesh and blood of His body, the Jesus who had dirt under his fingernails and bags under his eyes, who gave out bread while his stomach growled and held out his heart to people who would not—could not—do right by it, the Jesus who did not write a single word of his gospel because he was too busy living it.


Word incarnate



Anything else is just noise, and noise is not love, not matter how good the marketing is.

And I did not want to spend my life on noise.

I had been asked to apply for a position on the Executive Board of the Protestant Women of the Chapel at Fort Bliss. It is a ministry to military women, by military women. Every week, nearly 160 women and children come to us to get more of Jesus.

Only I didn’t want to apply because I thought I already had enough to do.

I already had a ministry, and lots of words to prove it.

But that woman said the one thing that could have changed my mind. You’re so intimidating. You are word but not flesh.

Just like that, God won the one-sided wrestling contest I was holding in my soul. I  interviewed for a position on the board and was offered the presidency.

It blew the peephole wide open. No longer did anyone have reason to find me intimidating. After months and months of ministering together, it is clear that I am just as messy and inglorious and cracked as the rest of them.

Serving as president of this ministry has been beautiful exhausting, the most fun I’ve ever had, and the very thing God had in mind for me all along.  Every day, the tide goes out in me, and nothing is left but the mud. But every day, God brings it back again, and everyone can see what is really worthy of praise in me: Him.

It is real. Messy. Incarnational.

Just the way words are meant to be.