As any parent will attest, having a baby will change your life. Big time.
This is especially true for your first child when you’re forced to stop focusing on your own needs and attend to every need of your new baby.
There is probably no greater event to change your worldview and your day-to-day life.
However, as Bethany and I discovered over the course of the last year, a new baby can bring a deep, life-changing message at any time.
Hello Avery, Welcome to Our Crazy Life!
Last July, we welcomed with joy the arrival of our third child, a precious little girl named Avery.
Unlike our first two children, Avery took a little longer than we planned to make her way into our lives. Since we use Natural Family Planning, we have been blessed with an awareness of my wife’s fertility that allowed us to plan the birth of our first two children pretty much as we intended.
Avery took a little more “trying” and her birth ended up coinciding with a lot of chaos in our family life. While we can see now how positive this was, it certainly didn’t seem like the “right” arrival month at the time.
Life Is Just Too Hectic
I haven’t talked much about the intense changes that we’ve experienced over the last year or so.
In a nutshell, I found myself becoming increasingly unhappy with my career situation after spending 10 years with the same small company. There were many uncertainties and many forks in the road that started to converge with urgency with the arrival of summer.
When Avery was born, I took a week off to be with our family. This gave me some much needed perspective and really opened my ears and eyes to some messages that God had been screaming in our direction for a while.
As she entered her third trimester, Bethany was told that her special education position was being moved to a new school within her district. After 8 years of building both her career and her social network, everything was changing for her as well.
Life was insanely hectic on all fronts. Most days brought a familiar grind of long work days, brief family time and when we focused on it maybe 15 minutes of time for us.
It wasn’t what we wanted, but we thought it was all we had available.
Back to School?
The summer birth meant that Bethany had to return to work, at an entirely new school in a whole new unprepared classroom, on maternity leave. With our two youngest in tow, she worked hard to get the room ready for school just a few weeks postpartum. She was fairly miserable, especially with the thought of returning and sending Avery to daycare.
My work situation reached a head, and I decided it was time to make the difficult decision to leave the comfort of the known to test the waters and see what other opportunities were available.
I continued to work hard at my current job, Bethany returned to school and the kids went to daycare. It was back to the grind of the preceding Spring, except with an extra child and lots of additional discontent thrown into the mix.
Money was tight, and it really seemed like this was simply our reality.
Leap, Then Look
After a series of late night talks, we decided that something had to change. This was not what we wanted for our marriage or our family. The urgency was there, but we still didn’t see any options.
My work situation finally degraded to the point that I was forced to be proactive or risk going berserk.
In a flash, I found a better opportunity, we decided it was time for Bethany to resign from her position and be home for our kids.
We didn’t know if all of this crazy change was going to work, but we decided it was time to take a leap of faith and change. Everything.
After we made a conscious choice, a sense of peace enveloped us both. A divine kind of peace that we had felt previously when finding NFP after years of struggling with our sense of morality and meaning surrounding our intimacy.
What had just happened?
We believe we had finally listened to the call that God had put on our lives many months before.
He had delivered this message not through a written message or a dream. He had sent us our own little angel at just the Perfect Time.
Avery’s birth, right at the crux of our struggles and frustration, had forced us to reassess our priorities and the plans we had for our future. God had been speaking, but we were finally ready to listen…despite trying SO hard to keep our ears closed!
By the way, after we made our decision, we realized that Avery was most likely conceived while we were away at a Church marriage retreat…and it was during this retreat that we first openly (and tearfully) discussed the possibility that maybe Bethany should stay at home…
Life is Good.
We still share many of the struggles that face a young family.
But I have a job I enjoy and the mental energy to run two online businesses to help others with their marriage and their health. Bethany is home with our children and feeling very fulfilled with her new role.
We are happy. Our kids are happy. Our souls feel right.
Thanks God, and thank you Avery Josephine.
How has God spoken to you through your children? Have you listened?
Dustin, you’re so right! It is just too hectic to raise kids with both parents working, and day care schedules, and school schedules. And it’s amazing how when we make that leap of faith, we figure out how to pay the bills!
I have two post-graduate degrees; I never intended to stay home with my kids. But once they were born we sort of “drifted” into it because I couldn’t see ever going back to work. And it’s amazing what God has given me instead. I created my own work at home, and I’ve been there for my kids. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I tell my own story of why I’m home here.
Thanks for posting!
Thanks so much for sharing your support and your own story, Sheila.
God is good!
Thank you for this post, Sheila! I’m working on my first post-graduate degree but realize that it can be done with my kids. I still struggle if I’ll miss public health but time will tell 🙂
What a great post!
My husband and I will be bringing a new addition home the end of this month. We have talked a lot about me going back to work or not. I don’t really want to be a full time stay at home mom, but I don’t want daycare raising our child either. For now we have decided that since the adoption has put a big dent in our savings that I will go back to work for 3 to 4 months to help build our savings back up. At the end of the 3 to 4 months we will see how things are going.
What I’m most thankful for is that even though we don’t have the baby in our home yet, we are already talking about all the ways we can change and adjust to make sure that we can afford financially/emotionally/mentally to make the decision that is best for our family.
Thanks, Jen! You and your husband are very wise to use this time to prepare the best you can. It sounds like you’ve got a great approach, and even though things never go exactly to plan, I’m sure you’ll find the right fit for your family.
No kids, but this made me teary. Good post.
Wow, thanks so much Sally!
This post totally resonates with me as we have so many similarities happening in our family. Baby (girl) #3 will join us in July which is such a hard time (as you guys know) for a teacher to have a baby because it means I will be setting up a classroom about 3-4 weeks postpartum and will be on maternity leave at the beginning of the year. My husbands job uncertainties are stressful, and the thought of my baby girl going to daycare pretty much makes me crazy. BUT, we know that God is good and will provide a way for everything to work out according to His plan. Thanks for reminding me of that today, I totally needed it 🙂 And to add to the crazy similarities to our situations, my 2nd daughter had the exact same Easter dress as your adorable girl!
Wow, Jamie! Those are some crazy similarities, how cool!
I trust that you’ll find peace on the other side of these upcoming changes because you are putting your faith in the right place and trusting God. I can’t wait to hear about your new baby this summer!
In the short time I’ve known you, Dustin, I have so appreciated your realness. I think this resonates with people and that people are actually hungry for it… hungry for someone to speak authentically about life, marriage, struggles, etc.
So, keep being real. You are an encouragement to many… including countless people who receive your blog or stumble upon it, but maybe would never actually submit a comment.
You’re making a difference. Blessings to you and your family. How fortunate your children are to have you and Bethany for parents.
Julie, your words are very humbling and much appreciated. As you know, it can sometimes feel like we’re shouting into a vacuum as bloggers, but I have found that these more raw, real posts usually elicit a reaction. I didn’t really write this one for the community as much as for myself and Bethany, but I think that can be the most powerful way to share.
Thanks for everything you do, and Happy Mother’s Day!
It is amazing how those little girls change everything! I believe one of the hardest things to do as a person of faith is to accept God’s timing and His plan. Our 3rd one came very close after our 2nd, which we weren’t sure about. That beautiful little 7 month old makes us never question it for a second. Thanks for the reminder to be thankful for God’s blessings, especially when we didn’t know we needed those blessings.
Thanks, Mike. I totally agree with you about accepting God’s timing and plan…and of course we both see that through our practice of NFP. Keep on blessing people through your marriage and financial memories!
I love this post, Dustin! I think that kids cause us to be selfless. Though I am pursuing a Master’s degree currently and have plans for a public health future, I’ll give that up just to be with my kids until they’re grown. Investing in child’s growing years are crucial which is why children are entrusted to their parents. I also understand that things happen and we make the best decision for our families. I only say this because of things I read. I’m still wondering if I’ll be bored or can be great as a stay home mom but time will tell and I’ll make the right decision by God’s grace 🙂 I’m liking Engaged Marriage!
Wow, thanks so much Sophie! I’m glad you’re enjoying this site, and I’m SO impressed by how forward thinking you are in your relationship and in your life in general. It’s refreshing and I wish you so many blessings!
Thanks for sharing such a personal story! God’s timing is perfect! And children are one way, in my experience, that God reminds us of that! My first son was born while my husband was deployed, and of course that was hard, but looking back on all the timing, if we’d waited, we’d probably still be waiting to find a “good” time! And instead we have gotten to enjoy our wonderful blessing for almost 3 years now!
Thank you again for the words of wisdom and for sharing!
It’s my pleasure, Jessica! You are so right about children teaching us SO many lessons about God. Happy Mother’s Day and thank you and your husband for your service to our country.
Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story. I came across your blog from reading over at The Marry Blogger. After reading a few of your posts and seeing the pictures, I realized that I know your wife! I did my student teaching at her former school. I’m thankful to hear of young families seeking after God’s will, even when it is hard or “unpopular.” Before I got my degree in special education, I knew I wanted to stay home if the Lord blessed us with children. I’m thankful for my degree now, but look forward to the time when God calls me to stay at home to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord!
Wow Lydia, what an incredibly small world! I told Bethany about your comment, and she was excited to see that you’ve found the site. It’s crazy to think that you found it in such a roundabout way.
Thanks for you sharing your story and your convictions to put your family first in the way that you feel called to by God. Welcome to the Engaged Marriage community!
I’m one of the lurkers who benefit from your site. My kids teach me daily if I ‘listen’. Mostly, they teach me that things that I stress over are not what are important. They are a constant reminder of God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness.
Thanks for poking your head out here to say hello, Lori! You know I totally agree about the power and grace we receive through our kids. 🙂
Avery is such a beautiful name; I have a friend by that name and
Avery is such a beautiful name; I have a friend by that name and I always told her it was gorgeous. Congratulations on the birth of your little angel, and congratulations also on being able to listen to God’s message for you.
Dustin as you know, we’ll be bringing a little girl into this world around the end of August! First, I must say that I LOVE the picture of you and Avery in this post!! Love it! you look like a very proud daddy! I love your views on Natural Family Planning and for the most part, that is how Alana and I have planned our children. Each one teaches us something new not only about life, but about ourselves, and it is such a blessing to watch them grow into unique individuals. God Bless you my friend and your beautiful family!
I’m so excited for you and your wife, Brad! Thanks for the props on the photo, that was Easter and I really like it, too. God is great…and so are the gifts he provides through our children!
I am a soft sell for stories like Heidi, and Anne of Green Gables. I believe that a child’s innocence can open up locked doors and hearts.
God knows this, in fact I suspect He thought of it. Burly men with rough manners will abruptly clean up their act in the presence of a trusting wee one.
Heidi believes that her grandfather will protect her, and in concert with that trust, he does. Before Heidi came to his cottage in the Alps, part of him was as frozen as a Swiss winter. But her small face looking up at his melts those walls of anger and isolation, even bringing him down the mountain to go to church. Anne softens Matthew, giving him a reason to venture into the general store to buy a dress with puffed sleeves. Cindy Lou Hoo splits the shell of the Grinch even as he is thrusting the Christmas tree back up the chimney. Shirley Temple cracks the crotchety crust of every ornery old man to share the stage with her.
It is not random that young’ uns frequently inhabit new marriages. People who last decade may have been preoccupied with financial aid forms, ferreting out a career in a cut throat field, dry cleaning bills and a social life that begins at ten pm, suddenly find themselves making decisions about strollers and baby carriers. Maybe the Plan is to divert a couple’s attention, just as they are starting to notice annoying flaws in each other. I personally have had countless well timed arguments with John thwarted by a toddler who trumped our attention with screaming or poop.
I consider myself a consummate multitasker, but even I cannot yell at my husband while I am singing a lullaby. By the time the baby was actually asleep, my pregnancy induced short term memory loss kicked in and I could not remember the thread of the tirade.
That’s ok. I needed some softening myself.
Thanks for sharing this, Lori!
Ha..ha. absolutely.. We got married two years before…We have been just blessed with a boy baby last year.. Its so wonderful to see them smiling and crawling around.. people do warn me about ‘terrible two’ and stuff.. NEVER MIND.. looking forward to it.. cheers
Don’t sweat the two-year old times, Nags. That’s probably my favorite age actually!
We recentely had a premature baby girl. She’s amazing! Now that she’s home and doing fine, the medical bills are starting to come in. Life has been stressful! It’s been nights of laying awake worrying how we are going to do this. Reading this gave me hope! Thank you!
I’m glad you could find a little solace with this post, Mindy. It sounds like you’ll need some time to work through the bills, but you’ll make it. 🙂