Hi, I am Mom to this bunch of 9 Nichols kids, and Wow has the last 36 years of marriage and 33 years of parenting been an adventure! Never in my wildest dreams did I envision myself as the mother of NINE children. I remember as a young mother of 3 under the age of 4 feeling like possibly God had blessed me more than I could handle at the time. I may have felt like God hadn’t prepared me well for each turn but looking back it’s very clear that He had…. and He was creating me to be the wife, the mother, the pastor’s wife, and the child of His that He wanted me to be through it all.
The year was 1974 and as far as I knew, I was marrying a “future policeman”. I had thought that through before I said ”yes” to his proposal (Although he will tell you I’m the one who “proposed”….. but that’s another story! ♥ ) I felt that I could handle being a policeman’s wife. After all, I was sort of an introvert and I wouldn’t have to mingle with too many people as a stay at home mom and wife of a policeman. Yes, I thought that suited me very well. And it did.
Until……in 1982 God decided to call my houston police officer husband to the ministry. Okay, maybe I could handle being a missionary, we could go live in a remote area and I could still be the quiet behind the scenes woman that I had come to enjoy being. But God had other plan, it seemed that God had put a burden on my husband’s heart for the local church. I laughed at that notion, because I could not imagine myself as a pastor’s wife. After all, a pastor’s wife was one of those “visible people” in the church, and my quiet but servant hearted family was not all that “visible” in the church I grew up in. for example, we grew up singing in the choir or in “groups” in the church, but no one in my family EVER dreamed of singing a solo-NOT EVER! Nothing to draw attention to oneself. As long as you had others around you, you could convince yourself that no one was looking at you. The thought that I, along with my husband, our marriage and our family, would be a focal point….much less the leading examples in a church scared me to death!
So, in the early 80’s, I walked into our first church, as a “pastor’s wife” and promptly sat on the back row, where I stayed for several months. I gradually worked my way up row by row until I became comfortable with my new supporting role on the 2nd row to my brave preaching husband. Having been raised in a large church, I had taken for granted the gift of worship services that provided beautiful music and songs that spoke truth and prepared hearts to hear God’s word. After about 6 months of having struggling worship services, (It was a very small church) I decided I would take the plunge and sing SOMETHING. So, I sang my first solo (breaking with my family tradition of laying low). My knees were knocking, but I got through it and not only did we start to experience some expression in our worship services, that first leap of faith helped me realize ”I could do all things through Christ Who strengthened me”. Over the years God has used my love for singing to first and foremost keep me dependent upon Him and His strength, but also to build relationships and to minister to others.
Through the years, my husband and I have found ourselves being led to do things a little differently than we had planned in many areas of our lives. After realizing that we would be having more than the 2.5 children that the average family was having, and instead, trusted God to add to our family as He saw fit for us, we decided to “complicate” matters by homeschooling them. Mind you, neither of these decisions were very popular at the time, but we knew God had called us to both of them. I didn’t know what the outcome of either one of these life altering decisions looked like, but we decided to just forge ahead and trust God for the results. Looking back I can see how God put in my heart a desire to homeschool my children when my first two girls were very young… It was a leap of faith even then, but one I’m so glad I made. I couldn’t have envisioned teaching nine children…. and God knew that and prepared me well in advanced for what was to come. It was difficult at times because I hadn’t been raised to keep a home filled 24/7 with a lot of children whose education and discipline and spiritual growth for the most part solely depended on me and my husband. But with God…. yes, ALL things were possible through His strength.
Dean and I were born in Texas, went to Texas schools and all our family lived in Texas. But in 1988 we felt God leading to step outside this huge state and into a new adventure. We put our resume’s out and were a little shocked when a call came…. from Alaska. okay, there is an adventure… and there is an ADVENTURE. This was definitely outside our comfort zone. But it didn’t take long before we realized that Alaska was a great fit for us and our family. However, it was very difficult to say good-bye to all we knew, our relatives, my parents. It was hard enough leaving them ourselves… but imagine having to tell them you’re taking their 4 grandchildren 5000 miles away. (some of you I know have had to do that) But as I have been so faithfully reminded of through the years, God was at work in us and in our loved ones. We fell in love with this even bigger state and all the adventures just living there brings each day. We lived there and loved a church in Kenai dearly for 18 years. It had it’s challenges and we needed God’s grace often in the cold winters of Alaska and also the “winters” that ministry can often have. But oh the delight those endless days of summer brought and the joys of the fruitful seasons of growth in our church body. We were able to see so many lives changed and left there changed ourselves.
Adoption was another area I had never seriously considered, I mean, wasn’t six children enough? It’s wasn’t until a friend of mine challenged me to “think about a little girl in China that desperately needed a family and a home of her own”. We had a home… and I had children who knew how to open their hearts wider and wider as our family added each additional member. God worked in my fearful heart and put in it an intense love and desire for this little girl who was half a world away.
Foster care was another area we probably would have never gotten involved in had not God brought a troubled teen in our church who wanted to live with us. Again, our home seemed to stretch miraculously as if it was just another ordinary day. In taking her in and caring for her during that one year, we were able to get our foster care license. A few years later, two little boys would be placed with us “just for 30 days”, but God knew that they would wrap their little arms around not only our necks but also our hearts and eventually they would become our two strapping teenage sons that we can’t imagine life without!
What do the years ahead hold in store for us? I have NO idea! But, I have come to understand that our lives are so much better and way more rewarding when left in His all powerful, all knowing hands. We just have to trust Him day by day and step by step. One thing I do know for sure is that it will surely be an adventure!