"There are three wooden crosses on the right side of the highway
Why there's not four of them
Heaven only knows
I guess it's not what you take when you leave this world behind you
It's what you leave behind you when you go." (lyrics fully copied from Randy Travis's song, 'Three Wooden Crosses')
I've only been a Christian for 11 years. I mean, I went to church and whatnot growing up, but it wasn't until 11 years ago that I got IT.
Hubby and I went to a FamilyLife Marriage Conference our first year of marriage (we went because we were about to have a divorce, but that's another story for another day - and we subsequently have gone 8 more times) and on the last day, the speakers talked about 'Leaving a Legacy'.
Obviously leaving a legacy means a lot of different things, but to us, it meant, have kids.
But we didn't want children.
Children are loud and noisy and they suck the life right out of you. And we were far too busy trying to make our marriage work and pay off way too much student debt (another story).
Fast forward 3 years.
We're on the way back from a wedding and we were both pretty quiet on the 16 hour drive home. And I looked at hubby and said, "I think God wants us to have kids." He almost put us in the ditch because he had been thinking the exact same thing and didn't know how to bring it up.
Two weeks later we were pregnant. Well, technically I was pregnant because let's be honest, it's all about the woman.
And lovely Jackson was born and yes of course, he changed our lives drastically. He is brilliant and he's seven and he's our best friend. The three of us, 'Team Kelly'.
Now, when hubby and I had that conversation so many years ago, we both agreed we wanted 4 children.
Two years after Jackson was born, I felt God pulling at my heart, asking me once again to submit to His Will. Which was a tough one. I wasn't ready yet. I was just figuring out how awesome a two year old was. Why would I want to ruin that? (Incidentally? No such thing as terrible twos'. It's all on your perspective.) But I agreed.
During that time, I was also trying to sell my manuscipt for 'Jackson Jones'. And I mused to myself, as I so frequently do, what if ... what if I could have my book instead of another baby?
Yes, I know these are ridiculous thoughts. But when you've had a dream since you were nine ... it was a big deal to me. I asked God to give me a baby, or a book. (stop laughing and shaking your head at me)
For three years we tried to have a baby. We monitored ovulation times, etc and saw the doctor. But we agreed we wouldn't push it. Of course the doctor, and of course all of our friends, would say, 'Oh just relax and stop thinking about it and it will happen.' (Ok, seriously? Wrong thing to say. Every single time. Until you are in that exact position, you have no cause to say things like that. Words women want to hear are 'I will pray for you.' And that's it. But that's for another post.) And we relaxed during that time, and prayed.
My first book was published. And then the second was picked up.
Once I was getting closer to 38, we decided to abandon the whole idea of children. Jackson is now seven, we are getting older (ahem, well, I am) and we are in a different place now. We both agreed never to get tested as it was God's Will, not ours and we would just blame hubby because it was easier. Hey, the man wears a firefighter bunker coat most of the time (ie very warm) and he wears a tight harness for tree climbing the other times. Makes sense.
And I realized that I have put a lot of stock into my child.
He is my legacy. And I only have one.
We do not expect him to excel in school, to attend expensive Universities or get a good paying job. We are grooming him for Ministry work. Because since a very early age, he's approached strangers at Starbucks, asking them if they have Jesus in their heart. And in Ottawa, if you even mention God, you get the wrath. (Any other religion and you're fully accepted - how typical) We plan on him joining us to do Disaster Relief (another post another time) when he's 16 and learn to minister to the needy. We're ready to raise the support so he can do this. Tall order, huh?
But then ... the other night, as I looked at my two books in dismay ... I realized that I would much rather have had another child instead of two books published. You may roll your eyes at me and say, 'obviously', but you need to understand the fire in my heart and belly that had never extinguished and if you truly are a writer at heart, you will understand. And then God told me something awesome.
Because Hubby and I are first generational Christians, we are the beginning of the amazing family we hope to leave behind. Obviously we are praying that Jackson has a ton of children (I fully offered to do daycare) so we can continue to pray for our family. But then I realized ... I have two books. Two books that are honouring to God and all His Glory. Two books that people will read all over the world. When I die, not only will I leave behind my beautiful son (praying for safety and a long life) and maybe grandkids, but I will leave behind two books that God and I wrote. Something beautiful and amazing that people can read and hopefully/prayerfully be curious about God.
I am leaving behind two more legacies. And those legacies can't die. Somehow, somewhere, they'll be found in used bookstores when people love to discover things or can't afford new. They'll be left on the internet and documented at the Canadian Library Archives. And of all the people that have read them, they'll tell people about them. And so on.
And now I have it. I have my extra purpose. That little extra I was looking for, besides being an awesome wife, a great mom and a friend. I have a purpose to bring God's amazing love to others through writing.
Jenn Kelly is the super-awesome author of the Jackson Jones books which you really should read sometime. She obviously likes product placement and striped toques. Which are winter hats for you, Americans. She still hasn't finished her YA dystopian so she can work on her Amish one because she's too busy being important and busy. In case you were wondering. She is very humble and appreciates things like lattes and softly falling snow outside her window. And will one day own a farm with large farm animal statues on her front lawn.