When an editor mentioned that they were looking for interesting stories of change, I thought, “Hmm, A young single always saying: “I’m never having kids,” and later became a mom of eleven.
Perhaps there’s a story that might ignite some curiosity.
It starts with my name Toni ‘stu’ Born. The middle name given to me by my mom when she was exasperated with my stubbornness, and the last name, very German, given to me by my dad, Ernst Edward Born.
Stubborn was my middle and last name. Head-strong, with more energy than 5 people could need in a day, and smart, (from my dad who had some amazing brains being a surgeon and an oncologist in his day.)
Setting off to school, being disillusioned with the University, next came an audition to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena,CA. In the middle of all that, I had an eating disorder, thinking always about food, or how to avoid it, or how to work off what had already been eaten.
Insanity, of which I touched on a bit in previous writing, in which no-one really knew, except my family. But God had a plan.
I asked to transfer for my second year of school at the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the next thing I knew, was this 19 year old was moving to NYC! (I think an exclamation point is appropriate here.)
Mind you, I was now in the middle of ‘food utopia’.
But God, He had a plan.
He got me off the insanity roller-coaster with His Word, as I, day by day thought about denying the indulgence of destroying myself, moment by moment with my thoughts, which turned into destructive actions.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34. (Hey, and this verse is repeated three times, found also in Luke 9:23 and Matthew 16:24.) God knows we need to be chewing on this one, past, present, and future.
“What does this have to do with wanting no children to having 11?” you might ask.
“Everything,” I say. Because, I began to live in such a way that I would talk to God, “Your will, not mine be done.”
So, yes, I married.
O.K., I fast forwarded quite a bit for the sake of word numbers, but that story will be saved for another day),
In reading God’s word daily, falling in love with Genesis, and the Book of John. Loving the Psalms and Proverbs, and the Book of Romans,(and in time, all the 66 Books), I discovered that God’s word was a treasure to me. It was my life. My salvation. My breath.
Oh, yes, I love my husband too, but Jesus was my #1 love always and forever after saving me from my insanity. (And then getting me through birth 11 times, and childhood traumas and cancer.)
Yes, Jesus is my #1 love always and forever. Just ask my husband, he’s always played the 2nd fiddle – especially after all the kids. Sorry, Mike. Don’t get me wrong, Mike is the man. It’s just that Jesus is the Man!
(Don’t you think an exclamation point is needed after that?)
My patient, loving and persevering husband will tell you stories where he was hit head-on in an accident, and when he finally was able to come home from the hospital, with 7 kids running around and me expecting our Grace, he had to wait a half-an-hour more for his pain meds. Mike has cried only a few times in our 30 years of marriage, and I think that was the first.
And believe me, I was crying too.
So, the change from having ‘no’ children to having ‘all’ the children can be explained in one word: God.
Why 11? Well, that was God’s number for us. But, I will make this short: Believe it or not, God spoke to me through a song. An old hymn.
I was playing for a woman’s retreat 20 years ago and we ended with “I Surrender All”.
“I Surrender all. All to Thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.”
I felt in my heart, then and there that God was asking me, “Will you give me your womb?”
O my goodness, Nobody does THAT!
But the Lord put this on my heart, and Mike’s through time, -to trust God with our family.
And Mike ‘waited on the Lord’ (!) to hear this for himself. Exclamation point for all who know Mike, he ‘waits’ on the Lord.
Obviously, Mike heard the calling of God as well. We didn’t want ‘more and more children’. No, we just wanted ‘all’ the children that God had for us.
You see, Mike is a man with the ‘gift’ of faith, where as I simply have faith. (And as small as a mustard seed at times.)
And we continue to seek God and His word, in ‘fear and trembling’ at times with all the pressures of this life, but we hear Jesus simply ask, just as at the start,
“Are you willing to trust Me in this?”
So, continually Mike and I must make the choice to show up on our knees, with our eyes on Jesus asking, “Show us the way.”
And moment by moment, step by step, He does.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5,6.
“I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4.
“This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.” Psalm 119:50.
So, it all started with this, amplified: “Jesus called the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].”
Trusting God is always filled with excitement and blessing.
May we all walk close to Jesus and listen carefully to Him and hear Him speak gently: “Are you willing to trust Me in this?” And each day we wake, may we make the choice and say, “Yes, Lord. I surrender all.”