The picture over there is about a year old, but its funny because they all fit in the big box that my chair came in (see "the chair" below). They would probably still all fit, but John Paul has definitely grown. And Josefina does not use a pacifier anymore (for a long while she needed one to help with digestion).
So what shall I say about them. They are wonderful. Really. People say, "Oh you have such wonderful children." We do. Normal, of course--good heavens they are normal. We've jumped through all the pre-adolescent kid hoops and the two oldest are on the threshold (indeed have already begun) that tumultuous time of external and internal change, decision, and expansion into the wider world. When you say 13 or almost 14, parents who have raised their children to adulthood go, "heh, heh, heh, now comes the hard part." Well, bring it on. I think they are going to turn out OK, with the help of God.
Why are my children so wonderful? First of all, its because they have a terrific mother. That is number one and cannot be replaced by any other factor. My wife gives, and gives, and gives, and it fills me with awe. The fruits can be seen in the children. To all mothers I say, "you hold the world in your hands. You are the builders of the future of humanity."
I don't want to give the impression that this is some fairy tale. My kids are rambunctious, they argue, they sulk, they think the floor is where you put things, and they would live amidst piles of chaos if they were not driven to clean it up, clean it up over and over again. But its also a fun, expressive, sometimes silly house full of love. And we pray together every day, and bless one another.
My home and my children have been a support to me in times of illness. When one's capacity to engage life is limited, one has a heightened appreciation of the companionship that is the family community. That is another reason why they are so dear to me.
Finally, there is the mystery of it all. Fifteen years ago, none of the beings existed. From a biological perspective, the genetic combinations that brought these five particular beings into existence (rather than some others) seem so fragile and even fortuitous. And yet to look at the face of a child is to see an eternal destiny, loved in the heart of God from all eternity, a destiny bound up with the face of God made man and the blood He shed on the cross for them, for these particular children. I did not create them, I did not plan them, I did not design them, and I do not control them. Sixteen years ago, I fell in love with a woman because, in part, God wanted these human beings to exist and to live and love for all eternity. He has entrusted this plan of His to us, and it requires us to be attentive to Him, responsive to Him, and aware of the mystery that He is working inside of each of them. So it is in dependence on Him--begging every moment for His healing and transforming mercy on me--that I look at my children and call them wonderful, and that I hold with firm hope that they will be brought through all the winds of life to the perfection of which their bright little faces are but a hint, the perfection of the glory of God.