My wife and I will celebrate our twenty-second wedding anniversary next month (the 15th of June). That seems pretty amazing to me, and I am truly humbled by the way that God has blessed me with my dear bride. But today, in particular, I am thinking especially of the fact that she is also the mother of my children.
Our oldest child, our daughter DoRena, is twenty years old and a sophomore at Indiana University in Bloomington. Which means that my wife, LaRena, has been a Mommy now for over twenty years. She's done a wonderful job of it, although I know full well it isn't easy. She's made lots of sacrifices along the way, while I certainly haven't always been as helpful and supportive as I ought to be. When DoRena was born, LaRena went to part-time coursework in college, and ultimately was not able to finish her bachelor's degree. While I was going to the seminary, she basically worked two full-time jobs, giving up lots of Mommy time with DoRena and Zachary, and really wearing herself out to support our family. She's basically been on her own with our growing family in the pew each Sunday, since I've been serving up front for the past eighteen years, since I started my fieldwork as a seminary student back in 1989. Zach was less than a year old at that point, and we've had another seven children since then. One by one, LaRena has weathered the infant years and the terrible twos and managed to teach our children how to receive the gifts Christ freely gives in the Divine Service. She's also their full-time homeschool teacher, on top of caring for our home and our family in more other ways than I can count, and probably lots of ways I don't even realize or stop to think about.
LaRena takes her vocation to be a mother seriously, and I have no doubt that she is gifted for it. The older I get, the more I find myself living for the sake of my children. One must fear, love and trust in God above all things (even family), but in terms of the life that He has given me here on earth, there is nothing more precious to me than my children. So, also, among all the wonderful things I love and appreciate about my wife, there is nothing more marvelous than that she has borne and cared for and taught our children. I am daily amazed at what this requires of her, and of what it means for all of us. When our youngest, Gerhardt, had to be delivered by Caesarean, and LaRena's incision was infected, so that she had to spend the next four weeks in bed, I was reminded of how much I and our entire family depend upon her. I'm sorry that I still too often take that for granted. I don't know whether or not the Lord will bless us with any more children. We are one boy shy of Job's seven sons and three daughters, but God knows that I do not have Job's patience or faith! In any case, whatever the future may hold, I owe my wife a debt of gratitude that I could never pay in full.
The Lord has blessed the vocation of motherhood above all others, in that the very Son of God was conceived and born of the Woman, the Blessed Virgin Mary, in order to redeem and save us in our own flesh and blood. That immaculate conception and holy nativity have sanctified the significance of every other. The curse and consequence of sin are still upon childbearing; there is pain and anguish, sometimes sickness and death. But sin and death do not get to have the last word in the matter; that has been spoken in the flesh of the Christ-Child. We received a little plaque when DoRena was born, which declares that babies are God's way of saying that the world should go on. That may be on the precious side, but I've always liked that saying, and I agree. Bearing children in the hope of the redemption is a confession of faith in a life that is stronger than death. And I thank God for the faith and life that He has granted to the mother of my children.