This summer we had the chance to take our 6 kids age 7-19 on the trip of a lifetime- a pilgrimage to Rome and a visit to Germany. Months of dreaming and planning culminated in a 9 hour plane ride. It was the very first plane ride for my 7 year old, and the first time ‘across the pond’ for all of my children.
Heading to the check-in counter at the airport, the 8 of us lugged our suitcases and passports and approached the attendant. He quickly asked my teenage boys to go back in line and wait their turn. I clarified that we were all together. He said it didn’t matter, that he would only be able to check people in from one family at a time.
I explained that these were all my children and he asked for the passports. Reading each of them, seeing the same last name, he raised his eyebrows at me and said “Well then, come on over guys…. We don’t see this every day. Crazy…”
We managed to get 8 seats together on the full Delta flight and were settling into our seats to take the first family selfie of the trip when a friendly stewardess approached me and asked what group I was with. I must have had a blank look on my face, because she clarified, “Is this a study abroad program or a tour group?” My oldest kids grinned. I laughed.
“This is my husband and these 6 kids are all ours,” I explained. “We’re on vacation.”
Her jaw dropped, she put her hand on my shoulder and whispered “They’re all yours? You’re crazy. God love you.”
Arriving in Rome, grateful that everyone got at least a few hours of sleep on the overnight flight, we met up with our shuttle driver who was taking us to the apartment we rented near the Vatican.
We piled in to the small bus, filling it completely. The driver looked in his rear view mirror and silently regarded the kids… “All yours?” …again… I smiled and said yes. He shook his head kindly…. “You’re crazy!”
By this point my sleep deprived but miraculously well-behaved 7 year old looked at me and asked the obvious question, “Mom, why does everyone think you’re crazy?”
My teenagers waited expectantly, silently asking “How are you going to explain to your 6th child that everyone thinks you have too many kids, and that they feel the need to share that opinion in front of them?”
I looked at this little boy who brings us so much joy, and told him, “They think we are crazy in love, crazy blessed because we get to have so many awesome kids.” He smiled in a satisfied way, sat back and calmly said “Yeah, they’re right.”
The same narrative repeated itself several times over the course of our vacation. Sometimes the kids would smile and say “Grazie!” Sometimes the ticket agent at an attraction or the owner of a gelato shop would smile and give us a little discount. Sometimes we would get stares. The message was the same, in different ways. You’re crazy…
It made me reflect. It was true. We were crazy to have 6 kids. Crazy to get married at 21, to say yes to so many new lives we had no idea how we could ‘afford’ when we began having kids at the age of 22, crazy to sacrifice incessantly for them, to make every decision with their best interest in mind, crazy to try see the world through their eyes, to protect them, to challenge them, to laugh with them, and to suffer with them in little things and big things.
Love has to be crazy. Real love, the love Christ has and leads us to follow him in makes no sense except to the one who realizes they are giving themselves away fully in the act of loving because that is what they were created for. Crazy love is writing a blank check on your life and putting it in God’s hands to be spent on the ones you love.
Love gives and is grateful to give. Love seeks the joy of others. Love wants to have empty hands, holding nothing back for one’s self…
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not insult others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (2 Cor 13:4-8)
Love is crazy. And having 6 kids is crazy, and having the chance to bring them all to Rome sweet home is a sign that God’s love is crazy too… he is always giving in unimaginable and generous ways. He is crazy in love with us.
If Paul and I are crazy to have our 6 kids, maybe, hopefully, that means we are a little crazy in the image and likeness of God. Maybe we should have more of that crazy love. In many ways in our lives. With our kids, our marriage, our friends, our work and our mission in life.
If someday, in any respect, we find we are no longer crazy, maybe it’s time to see how we’ve lost sight of Him who is crazy in love with us.