Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Divide and Conquer

I get lots of opportunities these days to practice my fractions. On Easter, for example, I took the four big kids to church. Someone who didn't know us stopped me and asked if all these kids were mine. I paused for a brief second, smiled, and said,  "No, it's only half of them!" 

We utilize this divide and conquer approach on a regular basis these days. Will takes some of the kids somewhere, and I stay home with the other ones. Sometimes we divide based on age: big kids go, littles stay at home. Most of the time S is grouped with the littles, and Barrett insists he's one of the bigs. Lately, a certain little, brown-eyed girl has been extremely opinionated about being left behind with the littles, which often necessitates the boys being required to go into stealth mode when they leave the house. We also divide on the basis of gender: boys go, girls stay home, or vise-versa. Typically, Haddon is grouped with the girls, but I know it won't be long before he has an opinion about this as well!

S's birthday last Saturday was an example of us putting this strategy into practice. Will had to work the whole day but I knew that I still wanted to do something fun with the kids to celebrate her special day. I decided that breakfast at Cracker Barrell would be just the right thing, but I knew I wasn't crazy enough to attempt taking all seven by myself. We also have somewhat of a transportation issue since I can only fit six kids in my van. {I'm adding this to my list of prayer requests.} So my mom kept my littlest two and the rest of us loaded up for our special birthday breakfast. Divide and conquer, or at least, that was the goal. My excited crew got quite a few stares when we walked into Cracker Barrell, and one older gentleman even came all the way across the restaurant
 and said, "I sure hope you tell me these are all yours!" When I told him that I had two more at home and one coming home soon, he really started smiling! Our restaurant experience went incredibly smoothly, especially considering that I was significantly outnumbered with 5 kids between the ages of 3 and 8! The only mishap was my fault and involved a glass lantern that accidentally got bumped! I'm fairly confident that the morning would have been much more lively had I not utilized this divide and conquer approach! Everybody had a good morning! Haddon and Evie got loved on by their Mimi, and I was able to focus my attention on my birthday girl and my boys. It was a win, win combination for everybody involved, except maybe for our kind waitress who had to wipe down a sticky, syrupy table and sweep up chards of glass and pancakes scattered across the floor!

While divide and conquer is not always the perfect system (I wish we could all go places all together like we used to), there are times when it's just not feasible or practical or economical to take our whole crew. There are also other times when, quite honestly, I'm the one who's simply just not up for the challenge of taking seven little people anywhere! Getting everybody dressed, finding missing shoes, brushing unruly hair, and getting out the door with multiple {and, at times, unruly} children is a huge undertaking in and of itself. Diaper bags, sippy cups, pacifiers, strollers, constantly counting heads - it's all very exhausting! (I can't even imagine adding one more little person and a wheelchair into the equation!) And when we finally get to where we are going, there is another crazy dynamic that we're still trying to figure out. With much patience, we are slowly learning how a child who spent much of her life confined to a crib and who has significant attachment issues interacts with new environments, new situations, and new people. There is a huge learning curve to this for all of us. Sophi is still learning that no matter where she goes, she always come home, and we are still learning how to communicate this simple reality that the rest of us take for granted in a way that she can understand. And, yes, it is still hard, even after almost two years home. But it is getting easier, and we are making progress. However, sometimes, it's just simpler and drastically less stressful for some of us to stay home. 

Divide and Conquer. That's just what we did on Easter morning this year. Most weeks, Will and I take turns taking the four boys and Evie to church, and while I really wish we could all worship together (especially on Easter), it hasn't been very doable the past few months with the combination of life with a newborn and the issues S has been having. But, this past week, we decided it was time to try taking S to church again. She was thrilled to put on her pretty, new dress, and she was beaming when we walked into the sanctuary. She loved the music and even did really well during the first part of the sermon. It was a special moment for me as I looked down at those four sweet faces and reflected on the Lord's faithfulness. I was struck by how much our lives have changed in such a short amount of time. Two Easters ago, we had four little boys, and now in just two short {but very full} years, we've gone from four to eight. How is that even possible???

And while I wish I had a picture of my entire crew at church this past Sunday, {we would have taken up an entire pew instead of just half of one} I know that's not what this day was about.

It's about Him, and what He's done for us! 

It's about celebrating how He has made us more than conquerors, even in the midst of this season that is all about dividing and conquering.

On Sunday, the half that was with me almost made it through the entire Easter service, and I count that a huge victory! The simple fact that S was actually able to go to church was another victory worth celebrating. And the whole time we were there, all I could think about were these words. Oh, these precious, precious words! How many hearts have been comforted and encouraged by this truth!

Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword?

Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.

For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35, 37-39

Nothing can separate us from God's love. 

Not hard days. Not long nights. Not the mistakes of the past. Not the unknowns of the futures.

When we pulled into our driveway after church on Sunday and I saw the other half (well, almost half) of our bunch waiting for us by the gate, still in their pajamas, two of them smiling mischievously and one of them nestled contently in his daddy's arms, I was reminded again of this promise.

Nothing can seperate us from His love. 

Not rages. Not tantrums. Not fussy babies {or fussy mommas}. Not tummy aches {apparently while the rest of us were at church, Will entertained Barrett and Evie with an Easter egg hunt that involved the consumption of way too many chocolate eggs}. Not any sickness. Not any disease. Not even reactive attachment disorder or spina bifida or Arnold Chiari syndrome. 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors

And when I was fixing Easter lunch a few minutes later and caught a glimpse of Faith's little picture on my refrigerator, I smiled. He reminded yet again.

Nothing can separate us from our Father's love.

Not things to come, no matter how hard, no matter how challenging.

No matter what.

We are more than conquerors.  

Not goodbyes. Not oceans. Not even when you feel as if your heart is splitting open. 

Nothing can seperate us from Him, and nothing can change our standing in Him.

We are more than conquerors.

In just a few short weeks, it will be time to divide and conquer again, and it will be hard

When I kiss my littlest guy one last time before I leave him for 13 days, I know that the Lord's strength will be sufficient. His spirit will comfort Haddon's little heart and mine, too. He will be with all of my other little ones when they miss their momma (and He will be with their momma when she misses their daddy). When I get on yet another airplane and fly across an ocean that seems to go on for forever, He'll be there. When I climb up those orphanage stairs one more time, alone, I know I won't really be alone. And then when I climb back down those same stairs with my newest little daughter, I know He's walking with us. As I'm carrying her, He will be carrying me. When she's scared and confused, His love will be enough, and when I'm scared and confused, His strong arms will be my support. When I'm faced with unknowns, challenges, a language that I don't understand, and 2 weeks in a country very, very far from home, He will be there. When the long flight home seems like it will never end and when the jet lag and the sheer exhaustion feel like more than I can take, I know He will provide just what we need. And when I'm not sure that we will ever find our new normal again as we transition into a family of 10, there's one thing I know I can be sure of. 

We are more than conquerors. 



No matter what. 


It's His promise.

Because of a cross.

Because of an empty tomb.

Because of His great, great love.

We are more than conquerors.

And that, my friends, is worth celebrating! 



  1. I met you mother-in-law in a Jason's deli in Birmingham a couple of years ago. She told me about your blog and I've been following you since. We are expecting our 7th child and my husband is a PCA pastor for a church plant in Springville, AL. You have always been such an encouragement to me. Thanks for blogging!!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Melanie!! More than conquerors, indeed! Praying for you as you separate from your littlest guy for several days - gosh, my baby is 1, and leaving him for trip one felt pretty hard. Looking forward to seeing pictures of Faith's homecoming!