July 23, 2007 by Stacy McDonald

Seasons of the Family

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I wrote this article almost five years ago, when I was expecting Emma Katherine. As I am getting ready to enter a new “season of the family” as a grandmother, this article came to mind. I pray it is encouraging to you today as you relish your own season of life, remembering how precious each moment is.

But we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope…Romans 5:3-4

“Mommy, our baby is getting so big, just like me!” my four-year-old daughter giggles with anticipation as she rubs my tummy. I catch a side-view of my growing belly in the mirror and have to agree with her. There can’t possibly be an ounce of room left for this baby to get any bigger! We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made.

As I draw near the end of this pregnancy, I wonder what lessons God has in store for us through this dear one. God has used each of our eight children to help mold us into who we are today. How will God use this newest McDonald to shape and grow our family further?

I must admit this pregnancy has been the most difficult. I have been forced to stay off my feet and am currently nowhere near as organized as I like to be (a huge tragedy for a neat freak like me!). I marvel how I can walk into a room with Legos under the coffee table, shoes at the bottom of the stairs, a notebook someone left out on the couch, a pile of laundry that need folding and still be informed the room is clean.

During these seasons of life, the areas of child training where we’ve fallen short become glaringly apparent. There’s nothing like a difficult pregnancy or an illness in the family to throw a monkey wrench into the well-oiled machine of our perfect homeschooling schedule. However, it can also be a priceless opportunity to teach valuable lessons of self-sacrifice, teamwork and God’s providential care and design for the family.

When I was younger, pregnancy was a breeze. We have video footage of me at nine-months pregnant, trying desperately to induce labor by swinging on a swing set at the neighborhood park, higher than the local elementary school children! I can remember being puzzled by those who whined about fatigue, morning sickness, sore muscles and varicose veins. Guess who now has all of the above!

Although younger homeschooling mothers may find pregnancy less challenging physically, they will probably find homeschooling younger children and chasing toddlers while pregnant a daunting task and that extra energy, a much needed resource. There are many seasons of the family. As we trust God through the struggles He places before us, He will also reveal nuggets of precious wisdom and we will find ourselves amazed by blessings we never expected.

As an older, pregnant, homeschooling mother, I realize that while I may not be as physically spry as I once was, I have other support that wasn’t available in my younger years. I have older children. Although we experience days of frustration, my older children are a wealth of assistance and comfort. They are truly a gift in this season of the family.

Having seen little ones move quickly from precious baby-hood toward young adulthood, I am forced to remember that the days of chubby little hands and sloppy kisses for Momma are fleeting. They are but moments to relish.

When I remember God’s providential care and don’t give in to the whining that is more my nature, I know that God has me in this situation, for this season of my life, for His purpose and glory. The time that has to be spent on periodic bed rest is time that God wants to use in my life and in the lives of my husband and children. It’s not all about me.

We have taken this opportunity for new areas of home education. My older girls are now learning to plan meals, (not simply prepare menus and recipes delegated by me) make a grocery list and prepare meals on time, within a schedule. They are taking on more responsibility in caring for the little ones in ways that are building precious sibling relationships and preparing them for their own families in the future. Although everyone has always had chores, they are all learning to help with the housework that isn’t their job.

They too, are learning that it is not all about them, but that God uses us in families. If one is down, the others take up the slack. They’re being taught to thank God for the opportunity to serve one another and appreciate the learning experience. We are discovering how God uses each family member and each circumstance to shape and mold us for His glory. It’s one of the blessings of homeschooling that is all too often forgotten behind the chatter of phonics, math and Latin.

We are all learning something from this experience, and it is not always fun. However, it is for our good and His glory, and for that I will rejoice. As we eagerly await the newest McDonald baby, I can honestly say that pregnancy is not as much fun as it once was. However, the joyful anticipation of another blessing from the Lord has increased tremendously as we’ve come to a better understanding of the importance and meaning of a godly family legacy and God’s Covenant with us. …And that little life wiggling in my tummy is a happy reminder of the fun part of pregnancy that remains.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. 2

Corinthians 4:17

Originally published in Homeschooling Today® magazine November/December 2002

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