Thursday, January 6, 2011

Receiving Gifts Gracefully

I wear my heart on my sleeve, as the saying goes.  I can not hide my true feelings, and I tend to speak my mind first, then worry about the consequences later.  This sometimes gets me in trouble, and my husband tells me I need a filter, but it's just in my personality to be honest and transparent.  

One area that I really need to work on is when it comes to receiving gifts.  Since I know that I tend to show disappointment easily, I try to opt out of opening gifts in front of people.  I am not great at faking a "Thank you, I love it!"  remark when I open an ugly sweater, and since I never know what's in the box, I would rather open it in private.  Even when I do love the gift (which is most of the time) I feel like I need to overemphasize my love for it, and that too tends to look fake.  Receiving gifts is very hard for me.  It's odd because I LOVE to give gifts (it's the way I show my love in the five love languages) and I love watching people open a gift that I know they will appreciate.  So why do I want to take that joy away from them?

I was reflecting on how unnatural and ungraceful I am at receiving material gifts, and I realized that it extends over to problems receiving the immaterial gifts God has bestowed unto me.  Oh sure, when God blessed me with the most fabulous husband on Earth, I was thrilled!  And when the best little kids I've ever known were born to me, I couldn't have been happier.  But when I realized very early on in our marriage that God had given me the gift of uber-fertility, a gift that so many woman gladly embrace and crave, I had mixed emotions.  Why was it so easy for me to get pregnant?  Why did the babies come even when we were trying to space them out through Natural Family Planning?  Why were we having so many children, so fast, when money is always tight and I am forced to work?  Phil and I joke that he just has to look at me and BOOM, pregnant again ;) 

In the past, I have felt like I need to "fake it" through our pregnancy announcements.  "Oh yes, I'm super happy about being pregnant for the fourth time in four years...who wouldn't be?" and "Babies are such a blessing, especially when they are up all night, scream all day, and generally test every ounce of my being".  I couldn't say these things to anyone but the closest friends/family because I felt I had the responsibility to be a shining light in this world.  To be a wonderful example of embracing God's Will and accepting children with grace.  Having four young children always made me feel like we were being watched, judged, and looked down upon.  People have said so many hurtful things to our faces that I have no idea what is being said behind our backs.  We've gotten the comments like "You know what causes that, right?", "You must be crazy/insane!", "Better you than me!", "How are you going to afford college?", and Phil has even gotten the "Give your wife a break" comments.  When people ask me if we want more, I never know how to respond because I feel I can never say we're done, since four out of the five pregnancies have been surprises, so who knows what the future holds? 

After having the fourth baby, and we had a long break between pregnancies (three years) I have finally been able to accept the gift of fertility God has given us.  I finally felt like we were working with God in His plan, and not being just mere pawns in some crazy production game.  I don't fight it anymore, because with a clear and well-rested head, I can see how God's plan really is best.  If I hadn't conceived these babies at exactly the moments I did, they wouldn't be here, and I couldn't bear the thought of that.  Now if I ever catch myself feeling that we have too many kids, Phil jokingly asks me which one I'd like to give back, and we laugh at how absurd that would be.  Along with the gift of fertility, God has also given me many opportunities to grow in patience, humility, selflessness, and love.  It took lots of prayer and maturing on my part, but I've finally accepted these gifts joyfully!


  1. You sure don't have to post the comment if you do not want. I got married in August and your blog, and life, has really been our inspiration for NFP.

    Everyone has a different story, but please know for every naysayer there are people who look to you as an example of God's plan working.

  2. You have taken the gift of fertility and have raised a beautiful family.
    And you will continue....
    Love that shirt. GET ONE; Shut everyone up.
    I also feel blessed beyond belief that both my girls came so easily and are so healthy. I felt a bit of guilt too....

  3. So. right. there.!!!!

    Believe me, there are sisters in the same struggle out there. But I wouldn't do it any other way either. :)

  4. I have family and friends who want a baby so so bad. We are blessed. Your babies are healthy and cute!

  5. We have the same "uber-fertility" issue. We just had our fourth and our oldest is only four. I'm sooooo worried about getting pregnant right away again. I know if I do it will be fine. My biggest problem is dealing with people. I don't think I would even want to tell anyone. Most of our family isn't even supportive. And I feel like when you have so many kids I'm not allowed to say I'm tired or ask for help. After all, it's my fault right?

  6. What a beautiful heart you have! You are such a great mother to His blessings!

    May God continue to bless you throughout your pregnancy!

    In Christ,


  7. Good post, Colleen! The pawns comment made me smile. That's what it felt like when we were finally able/allowed to space our #4 out aways from #3, then #5 from #4. Who knows how many more? Only God. But I sure hope we get at least one more really good gift....

  8. I have three kids under five and I was getting some comments when I was pregnant with Ben (#3), But one day Jon and I were walking into a store and I was carrying M and he was carrying O. An older woman looked at us and said "You are so lucky to have such a beautiful family." And it was SO nice to have someone (outside of our family) tell us that.
    I love the shirt. I would totally wear one if we have a 4th! Get one and wear it!

  9. I have that shirt. I also have one that says something like Department of Human Development. :-)

    You have a beautiful family and let me say that I can empathize. I think it comes down to total abandonment and that can be difficult.

    May God grant you a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby and mama. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. Funny, Colleen, but in our community, I feel like people wonder why I do not have MORE kids. We live in a very Catholic area and most people we know have more kids than we do (and have been married around the same # of years). I think people wonder why I am not pregnant with #4 yet!

    Ah, but it is all a blessing. And you have the family that God wants you to have! Every precious child is a gift and given exactly when you need it! God bless your "uber fertility" Colleen! Your family is a light to those around you.

  11. Lovely, honest post.
    Big families have the last laugh.
    Life long friends.
    Amazing holiday gatherings.
    Strong support in times of trouble.

  12. learned a lot


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