Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Family Planning - Surrendering Control to God, Our Story, Part 2 of 2

In part 1 of "Our Story" I shared with you how Bob and I began our life together as a newlywed couple, and what our initial plans for family planning were.  I shared about how God got a hold of our hearts regarding family planning, and how the Lord began providing for our needs as we surrendered control to Him.  This is the second half of our story as a large family...

 

With the ability to purchase our first house and moving to a far better area, God's provision was so obvious and so encouraging!  At this point we ramped up our faith to go off of birth control again.  God then gave us our fourth child, three years apart from our third (so Brandon has three years on either side of him).  *smile*  We determined to stay off of the pill this time, and surprise-surprise (not!) we had our fifth child 12 months and 1 day from our fourth child!  Yes, our extended family and friends were reeling and wide-eyed.  *chuckle*  Having been around so many friends (and even church family) down south who did not have faith to surrender family planning to the Lord had been very difficult for us.  Our judgement and our faith were constantly questioned, and our courage was constantly squashed.  Having moved further north now, though, we felt our faith really begin to have some room to grow although it was still a slow process.

Well with those two pregnancies being back-to-back I was feeling afraid of not having time to lose any baby weight and physically and emotionally relax for a while; disappointingly we went back on the pill at this point determining to do so for only one year.  In actuality this turned out to be sixteen months later, but we were ready to stretch our faith again, still relying completely on the Lord's provision financially, and went off of the pill.  We conceived our sixth child immediately who was then born 2 years after the fifth.  We were now exceeding our mini-van's capacity.  But notice we did not refrain from getting pregnant until we had a large enough vehicle!  Our faith was growing, we were becoming able to obey despite the circumstances we could see with our eyes, and God moved on our behalf after we had obeyed by leaving control with Him.  The Lord blessed us again with the ability to purchase, debt-free, our 12-passenger van which we love (you can read about how we do transportation).  God brought good, solid work for Bob (a long commute back to the south end, but good work), and our needs were still being taken care of - God was honoring our decision to surrender Lordship to Him.  Now I did not say that all of our wants and desires were met *smile* - but we're doing fine on a very tight budget. 

Along our way with our 6 children we had continued to grow spiritually and in our level of trust in the Lord.  We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, clear as a bell, that we needed to finally and completely surrender our family planning to the Lord with resolve, and without taking control back again after a baby was born.  By now we had witnessed the Lord's total provision for our family just as He promised, and my husband's faith was stronger than mine in the area of family planning!  He has become quick to delight in the prospect of having more children, he shares his eager anticipation with the other children, he encourages me with his enthusiasm and steadfastness in our parenting, and he recently said to me, "Let's have more twins!"  When I was 9 months pregnant with one of our more recent babies, one of our children asked us in the car if I was feeling "baby sick" again (morning sickness).  Bobby replied with a smile, "No, that's not for another couple of months."  *laugh*  And I was becoming more and more at peace with pregnancy (not that it's easy, but there's a deep peace now) and more children.  But, after the conclusion of a pregnancy and delivery was the time when I was especially tempted to take back control for a while, just to have a physical and emotional break.  

The thought of being pregnant again just weeks after delivery was very hard for me even though we hoped for more children.  And learning to surrender my physical body to the Lord's work was one of the hardest things I've ever done; I had emotionally really struggled with my weight since junior high, and there have been many discomforts with pregnancies.  I clearly remember praying one day, "Lord!  I just want to be hormonally and physically normal for a while!"  And He very quietly and lovingly said, "This is the new normal...so you need to adjust."  I thought, "Oh.  Okay - time for a new plan, then..."  How to do life being pregnant, and do it well - on purpose.  And my husband so lovingly encouraged me and affirmed me, and helped me be strong to do what we knew was right.  *smile*  So we left things in the Lord's hands after the delivery of baby #6, and immediately discovered we were expecting baby #7 who would be just 10 1/2 months younger than #6.  We thought, is that possible?!  *laugh out loud*  Yep - I can tell you it is.  Then, leaving family planning still in the Lord's hands still after the delivery of baby #7, we discovered that we were expecting again - this time with twins!  These babies #8 and #9 would be just 11 months younger than baby #7. So we had two babies in 2009 (Jan. & Dec.), and two babies in 2010; this made 4 children 22-months-old and younger.  We had only purchased our van a couple of years ago and now we were nearly maxing it out at 11 of it's 12-passenger capacity!  *whew*  God has been on a mission with expanding our family!  *laugh*

It has been a big deal for me learning to have so many little ones especially simultaneously.  After the twins were born Nov. 2010, the ages of our children were 12, 11, 8, 5, 4, 22mo., 11 mo. and two newborns.  My husband is a wonderful leader and partner with me when he's not at work, and when he is at work he is almost always a phone call or an email away.  I'm learning and striving to train the other children to be great team players, too.  We all work together, serve together, play together, rest together, cook together, clean together, shop together, sing together, walk together, scrapbook together, homeschool together...and Bob and I have learned to love our time with them all, and not to try to get away from the children as much as possible like so many parents do.  We've learned that we needed to turn our hearts towards our children and not to outside activities or pursuits during this season; that is for a later season in life.  Right now this is our ministry, our highest priority, and our calling - not a burden or something to be tolerated until they are able to leave the nest.  It is not always easy, and we're still growing all the time, but we're in such a better place within ourselves than we were just 9 years ago.  We're choosing thankfulness.

What's been exciting has been feeling the Lord so close to us, so faithful to provide, so patient to change mine and Bob's hearts, priorities, views, values, goals, and dreams with our cooperation - and replacing them with His own.  He daily or even hourly sometimes meets us in our struggle to keep perspective and keep our eyes on Him alone (and it is a conscious effort), rather than on the world and what it values.  We can testify that the Lord's plans are so much better than the plans we had for ourselves.  We're in awe every day (not that there aren't hard things in life, but in the big picture when we stand back and keep perspective, we have a depth of gratitude and joy that we never had before).  

Over the course of my 8 pregnancies God has decreased the morning sickness a tiny bit each time.  I went from insomnia, hip pain, dry-heaving and throwing up for 5 months of pregnancy, to now sleeping beautifully, no hip pain, and for morning sickness hardly even having to manage it at all with the strategies I've learned over the years because it was so mild last time.  In 14 years of marriage we have never flown anywhere for vacation with just Bob and I or with the children - but that's okay.  *smile*  There's time for vacations later if the Lord provides for it, and if he doesn't it we don't consider ourselves worse off.  Bob has always used his vacation time from work for paternity leave, and we feel blessed that he's had that time, and he has been totally fine with that.  When we celebrate our wedding anniversary we don't do anything really big.  It just hasn't been in the finances the Lord has provided for us, and we haven't wanted to leave the children anyway.  We've come to love celebrating our anniversary with all the children together!  And it is something for the children to celebrate, too, these days; many children's parents are divorced by now.  We go to a park for the afternoon, or to a museum, or for a walk - any place to just enjoy being together.  Then we have a nice dinner at home followed by banana splits.  It is so much fun.  We don't eat out at restaurants, although once every couple of months we'll bring hamburgers and corn dogs home from Chuck Wagon, and we do have a Friday night pizza and movie night at home.  Once in a while Bob and I have a home dinner date where he brings home food to-go from Olive Garden and he and I sit at the kitchen table together and talk while the children get to eat protein bars (a rare treat for them) and popcorn and fruit and watch a movie.  This way we don't have to afford or leave the kids with a sitter.  We also do great grilling in the back yard together, and we cook fries at home sometimes to go with it.  And we are not missing out.  Life is not how we initially envisioned it would be.  *smile*  But with diligent work to be good followers of the Lord's plans and direction, and with work on becoming content - we have found great peace. God is helping us to maximize His resources.  We still hope to own a bigger house some day (ours is only 1100 sq./ft), but if the Lord does not enable us to move then we'll delight in where He has us - together - on purpose.  But as much as I desire to share with you the joy we have with our life, it wouldn't be accurate to leave out some of the struggle we do have, too; I always desire to be a "real" mom with people.  I personally can only connect with "real" people that can share the joys, and the hard stuff as well.

The enemy does seek to discourage us, to try to draw our focus on to fears of not being a good enough parent, or never being more financially "free" and have a little more flexibility in that area.  He seeks to undermine our parenting, work, and marriage efforts, causes us to feel overwhelmed sometimes with children's disobedience or lack of apparent "fruit" for our efforts.  He strives to disrupt the unity within our family.  Satan discourages our efforts for family discipleship, and so we individually and as a family spend more time with the Lord, and pray - and the enemy must flee in Jesus' name.  Satan also seeks to stop any positive influence we might have on others by bringing along computer problems, or sick children, or work issues, etc.  We had a great deal of spiritual attack during the first few months of start up of our blog in fact, and often times before I've posted something deeper or especially meaningful on our blog I feel attacked, stressed, blocked in my time or in physical or emotional energy.  The enemy does not like what we're writing...but we also realize that he wouldn't care so much if we weren't making a difference for the Lord.  *smile*  And the Lord has been so gracious to show us the encouragement we can be to others.

We are loving having 9 children, and we consider ourselves so, so very blessed!  My health is fine and has actually improved over the child-bearing years, although I'm just now working on losing the baby weight as there hasn't been time at all between pregnancies (it's come off in some amounts, but never completely yet).  The Lord brought along a great book called, Love in a Diet, by Wendy Jeub (a now trim little mother of 16 children!)  I'm eating well, and looking forward to exercise again although there hasn't been time quite yet.  But there will be more time for it eventually - but oh we so hope the Lord gives us more babies first!  Now we're addicted!  *laugh!*  Parenting is the hardest thing we've ever done - and the most rewarding, the most awe-inspiring, the most delightful, the most beautiful, the most bonding thing we've ever done.  Bob and I highly prioritize our marriage, maintaining a growing relationship and enjoying one another so that we do not get to the empty nest time in life and fall apart because we no longer know one another.

Here's a quote from another book by the Jeubs that I'm so enjoying currently called Love Another Child.  This quote makes me laugh - it's a great description of what Bob and I have experienced since we've become parents of a large family.

"A funny thing happened at seven children [five for the Shupes].  The social pressure disappeared.  Family and friends stopped dropping those annoying comments like, 'Aren't you done yet?' or, 'You do know how that happens, don't you?'  When you have two, you're extremely normal; at four or five, you're in the same boat as many married couples, wondering whether or not to cut the line and stop having children.  Once you're at seven, though, you're in Looneyland - you're 'out there' and there ain't no persuadin' you.
Something happened to us, too.  The pressures to conform began to roll off our backs.  Instead of doubting our convictions, we would reflect on how great our life was.  We laughed the wisecracks off.  'You do know how that happens, don't you?'  Yes! And we're really good at it.  Here's one that I told a newspaper reporter, and it ended up in the local paper:  Wendy knows, but she won't tell me.  Even the most cynical laugh with us."  (pg. 2)

And all along the way we've felt like pioneers a lot of the time doing what most of society is not, until the Lord introduced us to so many other large families in the last few years.  It had been lonely a lot of the time.  But it's becoming more exciting - and the best part is that we know with total confidence that we are in the Lord's will.  It's good to know we're in His hands; there's no safer place to be.  The Lord has faithfully brought resources we've needed to build our "tool box" of parenting:  books (see our blog home page for a list), messages on CD (also listed on our homepage), homeschool conferences, homeschool curriculum fairs like the W.H.O. Convention, homeschool co-ops, and seminars.  And He has brought us in to fellowship with thousands of like-minded people now through homeschooling, through our move north, through the annual Washington Christian Heritage Homeschool and Family Discipleship Conference, through church family, through books, through Facebook, and the internet.  We take initiative to seek encouraging people to be around, we reach out to other like-minded larger families, drawing them in to our "inner circle" of friends - and do not spend time with people who discourage us or question us negatively.  It's amazing to us how the Lord brings fellowship when we diligently pray, which we did for a long time.  We've always had the Lord with us as we pioneered - but now He's brought such community that we are delighting in.  He is so faithful.

I can't recommend highly enough that you take to heart and read the book, A Full Quiver if you've not already read it.  Not to understand large families better (although that's valuable, too) but to really take deep, prayerful personal inventory of where your heart lies as a couple regarding family planning.  It offers "scriptural proof that God can and will personally optimize your family size - and how to let Him!"  And I encourage you to ask the Lord to give you the courage to seek His truth on the subject of family planning.  *smile*  *hug*  (Yes, God does actually say in His word that we are not to use birth control - watch for a future post on this.)

There are groups cropping up online, too, celebrating large families.  If you would like to join a directory of quiverfull-minded large families, you can go to ArrowCollectors.com and sign up.  It's FREE, and it helps families network and find others in their home areas who are similar in these ways.  Facebook has several large family groups to connect within if you do a search for "large family".  The National Center for Family Integrated Churches (NCFIC) also has a directory to find other like-minded church families in your area!  We've had people tell us that they do not know anyone else in their home town who is like their large family; hopefully with these resources those families will not be alone when they locate others near them.  

May you have great courage to open up your tight grip on your life...in order to have open hands to receive God's great, magnificent plans for you.  There's nothing like it.  Many people have said to me, "But parenting is hard..."  And I've responded, as others have done for me in the past, "Yes, but we do not obey the Lord just when it's easy; we obey all the time, no matter what."  When things feel hard - like parenting, or homeschooling - we should not ask ourselves whether or not we should continue in obedience.  We should ask ourselves how we can continue in obedience better.  If you believe as we do that children are a creation from and by the hand of God then there really is no room to say that any child is an accident or a mistake.  We all just need to work on getting our hearts in line with the Creator's.
~~~
A side note:  We do not judge people who do not have this same family planning mindset as we do.  All Christians are at different levels of maturity in their relationship with the Lord, and we all need to give grace for that.  We've come a long way ourselves, but we still have a lot to learn and we grow more in loving the Lord and in obedience to His Word every day.  Where each person is in their relationship with the Lord is between them and the Lord alone.  We are happy to share what we've learned from Scripture, but we leave that information with each person to do as they will.

Blessings on your family journey,

Recommended resources:
A Full Quiver  -   Rick & Jan Hess 
God's Viewpoint on Having Babies - CD message by Dr. S.M. Davis
Love Another child  -  Chris & Wendy Jeub 
The Power of a Praying Wife  -  Stormie Omartian

56 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your journey! My husband and I have 6 children. I was pregnant 17 weeks last time before I shared the news with our families. They think we are crazy but I think they are coming to accept that we will probably have more (God willing). You are such an encouragement and I have so much enjoyed your blog. We live in a 1300sq ft house and I am now finding all kinds of space that I didn't see before. Thank you again for your words!
    Kristy

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    1. I'm in the same boat. My parents found out at about 20 weeks when my oldest daughter accidentally said something. We had all worked so hard to keep it a secret and she felt so bad for letting it slip that she immediately came down with a fever and was sick for a couple of days. This next time I want to rejoice in the news with my children, but they don't want the pressure of trying to keep a secret and they don't want a strained relationship with grandparents (my parents will be uncomfortable to be around when they find out) so they have asked me not to tell them about the pregnancy. I'm not so sure I like that decision. Somehow we need to be able to rejoice in it even though my parents are going to publicly pout as much as they can.

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    2. Mrs. Mendoza - I would encourage you to pray about coming to peace within yourselves and your own family when you get to have another baby, and pray that the Lord would go before you and prepare the way for you to share your news, and pray that the Lord would help you to have His peace despite other's reactions. One idea I've done in the past is to send out an e-card to make your announcement. This way you don't have to face other's initial, shocked, or critical reaction; and most of the time, people can choose a better reaction when they've chosen one for you. If they can tell that you're happy, they will generally congratulate you - after their initial shock has worn off. I didn't want certain people's initial reaction, but I was sure their later reaction would be fine. So I sent out the word first via e-card. It was GREAT. I'm sorry your own family is so critical or disappointed, though. But I agree, it's too much for the kids; too much stress. I would encourage you to share sooner in the pregnancy, and share with everyone simultaneously.

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  2. This has been my favorite post to date! My husband and I have 8 children (3 are in heaven) and from family to the stranger on the street, they all think we are nuts! We live in a 3 bedroom mobile home and to stay things are cramped would be an understatement. Last yr. the Lord led me to begin homeschooling. Well, they really knew I had lost my marbles then! Your words are so encouraging. I have the moments when disobedience or too little space, or whatever else Satan wants to use at the moment, have led me to question our decision, but it isn't mine decision to question. God convicted both my husband and myself this is what He wants us to do, so we obey, not to say that I don't call out to Him and tell Him I need Him to help me with my mothering in between tears some days! I CANNOT wait to see your post on where it says God says we are not to use birth control. I have 2 scriptures I use when others feel the need to question us, but would love more!!!

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  3. KRISTY - I'm so pleased that you find encouragement through our blog! That encourages me to write "hard" things, even when the enemy is attacking me during those efforts.

    KRISTINE - Thank you! =) I'm glad our simple story could encourage others; I always hoped that somehow the Lord would use our story some day. He promises to always bring good from what seems bad, hm? And I'm glad you're eagerly anticipating our next post on family planning! And you know, I would so encourage you to either pick up the book, A Full Quiver by Rick and Jan Hess, or look for it at your library. It's PRICELESS and full of scripture and answers to all of people's questions and objections. There's a link for the book on our blog home page in the recommended books section. *hugs*

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  4. Great Post! We are expecting blessing #7 this October and our family is already expecting there to be a blessing #8.

    I remember when I was expecting our third child my mother told me she was so sorry to hear that because my first two were finally getting a little older and I could start having a life. Now they pretty much leave us alone. I guess they figure we are a lost cause.

    I understand the physical and emotional struggle who have gone through with the thought of each new pregnancy. I am currently there. Pregnancy for me means 20 weeks of morning sickness then about 13 weeks of insomnia, with back pain and restless leg syndrome. I take up to 6 baths each night just to try to get a little sleep. I cry and tell my husband I can't do this again, then labor starts and we see our little one and within moments of their birth I smile and say, "it was all worth it, I'd do it all over again." I just have to remind myself that there is little I can do of my own strength. I need to remember to rely on the Lord and each pregnancy strengthens my character.

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  5. We have seven and we are praying for more.I like the "once you have seven you're in Looneyville" !!! That cracks me up. Maybe that's why I get the looks! But seriously though, we now have so much happiness and peace about God planning our family that the negative comments have really died down.They couldn't rain on our parade if they tried! I saw someone who I hadn't seen in awhile the other day. She summed it up by saying,"Every time I see you know matter what year, you have a little one on your lap and a smile on your face!" Our God knows what He's doing and he doesn't need us messing up his plan!

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  6. Wonderful two part post! I shared the first one on Facebook and it opened up some interesting discussion about our family's choices. I will be sharing this one as well.

    I had to chuckle when I came to the quote from the Jeubs new book. I just finished their book myself and that quote stuck out to me as well. Especially since I am currently expecting #7! People don't know what they are missing... it's a lot of fun to live in Looneyland! :)

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  7. ANNA MARY - Yes, I've been there. It can be very difficult. And for me at least, lack of sleep makes life in general too hard! LOL Bless you. *hugs*

    DANA - Praise the Lord! What a testimony! =) Yes, I think eventually people say, "Oh...you're one of those families." And even the hospital stops questioning our decision. *chuckle* Good!

    SHELLEY - LOL Thanks for re-sharing our posts! =) Yes, Looneyville is fun!

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  8. Hi, Erika!!

    Found your blog tonight after googling "encouragement for large families"!! :)

    I confirmed just today that I'm pregnant for a 1oth time in 9 years! I have 5 children and have had 4 miscarriages. After years of being surrendered to God's plan for family planning, I did some research tonight on permanent measures because I was feeling so discouraged!

    My biggest discouragement comes in the area of our finances and the size of our home, but I feel encouraged after reading many of your post! I would LOVE to email you and ask some more personal questions, but I don't have outlook so when I click on the link to your email it only brings up outlook. Please consider emailing me if you have the time!

    Blessings,
    Jennifer
    jmminor at hotmail dot com

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  9. The similarities in our lives are so funny (and not just the uncommon spelling of our name!) I can't help but wonder what God has in store for my family. I understand the struggle with post-baby weightloss and exercise. I started running last year when my youngest was 4 months old mainly for sanity. It has turned out to be not only beneficial physically but also emotionally and spiritually. It is some of the best times I have with God! But I'm also learning to let go of the progress if God has decided to bless us again. Thanks so much for the encouragement and sharing your story.

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  10. I enjoyed reading the part 2. You seemed to be writing about my life. We too struggled for some time about more children and since then we have had our last 3 very close. so now we have 7 with the last 3 being 3,2, and a s month old. We also love many of the books you have mentioned. the Maxwells have been such an encouragement and we hope to see them soon. Have you ever met them in person. My husband has only talked to Mr. Maxwell over the phone a few times. My girls also love reading all of your organizational tips too. We are always trying to come up with more ways to run the home easier and better. Would you mind if I put a link of this on my blog. I would love for more people that we know to read your story too. Thanks, Missy

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  11. MISSY - Yes, I've met the Maxwells a few times when they've been somewhere near us speaking! And I've emailed them a bunch of times with questions over the years. I really enjoy them.

    I'm so pleased that you're enjoying our blog! =) And I think it's great that you feel comfortable to have your girls reading it, too. I'm working right now on next week's post on the scripture behind surrendering Lordship to Christ with family planning and as I was typing and selecting my words carefully for physical "marital relations" in a few references *wink* I was deliberately trying to write a post that our (inquisitive) 13-year-old could read and it would still be appropriate. This has been the only post that may have been a little too old for her, but I've written it so that any children could read it I hope.

    I'd be honored if you would put links to our blog on your blog. I would just ask that you use the words "Large Families On Purpose" in part of the link to a specific post.

    Blessings on your efforts today! =)

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  12. MISSY - I wanted to mention, too, that if you'd like you can put our blog "button" on your blog as a link. There's code for it on our home page if you scroll down a bit you'll see it. =) Blessings!

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  13. Hello, I stumbled across your blog while reading the She Wears Skirt series from Raising Arrows and Modest Mom. God has really been working on my heart in a lot of areas lately (dress, homeschooling, and family planning). We have two daughters (2 1/2 and 5 months). A large part of me wants to give our family planning to the Lord and another part of me is scared. You see I had to have a C-section with my first and I had a planned c-section with my second (the first was a breech birth with high blood pressure and the second was due to fears of high blood pressure which did happen at the time of labor). Also, my husband only wants to have 4 children. This is really pushing it for him, but he knows how much I would love to have as many children as possible.
    So I wonder, do you have any resources that discuss letting God control your family planning and c-sections? Because at this point and I going to have to continue having c-sections and also child spacing is an issue do to the healing of my uterus. I know God can and will protect my body but it seems crazy to just let go and let God take care of us when having babies too close together could be life threatening. I know that sounds terrible for a Christian to say but it is where I am at right now. Thanks for your time and for your writing!

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    1. Just chiming in... I've had 3-sections(#1,2,4) and 5 v-backs. The last delivery was a homebirth (my favorite) surrounded by my husband, loving children and capable midwife. Please please please be filled with faith that just because you have had a (or more than one) former c-section DOES NOT MEAN that you have to keep having them!!! A c-section is major abdominal surgery. They cannot force to have ANY surgery; much less a c-section. Sometimes it may seem like they think they have control over you to force you to do so but please don't accept one Dr's opinion. Find a Dr who will let you attempt a v-back. I have never regretted facing my fears and embracing natural birth. My homebirth was my ONLY fear-free birth! I know this reply is late but I can hope it is received well.

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  14. Hi Erika
    Thank you for sharing a little more of your story. I just want to say that just because someone doesn't have a big family doesn't mean they aren't surrendering their fertility to God ~ we would love a big family, but so far it's only been the precious 4 that we have. Sure there are complications & we made some silly mistakes that had to be undone, but for the last couple of years we have been completely surrendering our family planning to God. Sigh ~ I pray often for a baby, but I know that God in His Will will send or not send as He wants ~ guess that's the other side to trusting Him sometimes He says "No" or "Wait". I struggle though when I long for a big, beautiful family.

    I find such encouragement from your blog & thank you for continuing it even when times have been difficult!
    Have a wonderful week
    Renata:)

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  15. RENATA - Thank you for your comments; I always look forward to that. =) And I hope I didn't imply that only large families are "surrendered to the Lord". We have many friends with smaller families, some are surrendered and some are not; some have only 2 children and they've always longed for more and have always been "surrendered". Yes, the Lord has divine plans and sometime we just don't understand them this side of heaven, hm? But God says to pray, and then have peace and trust either way.

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  16. I am back again with another one of my sincere but often "make people mad" questions. I hope it is taken with the sincerity that is meant.

    Hubby and I are still unsure about surrendering our family planning to God. I have days where I think it is a wonderful idea and then I have days where I have extreme doubts. The question hubby keeps bringing up is this one, "If we are to surrender all areas of our lives to God including family planning, then why do we take our kids to the Dr. when they are sick. Should we just let God heal them if he chooses? If we decide to take them to the Dr. then are we wrong in not relying solely on God. He uses this as the argument against surrendering family planning to God. The Bible does not speak about birth control. I know there is the case of Onan (Gen. 38:8-10), but was that birth control or the fact that he was using a woman for his own pleasure and God was displeased with that.

    We just keep going round and round and can't seem to come to a conclusion. I will follow my husbands leading on this issue of course, but we don't ever seem to come to peace about a decision either way.

    I am not against large families as I've stated above our 7th will be born in Oct. We are against any type of birth control that could possibly be an abortifactant.

    When I have asked other "quiverfull" moms about this they just tell me my faith is weak and I need to spend more time in prayer about it.

    I would love to hear the thoughts of other moms and dads who have wrestled with this.

    Again, thanks for your time and I pray this is taken with the sincerity that is meant. I am in no way trying to attack families who have surrendered family planning to God, I'm just trying to come to some type of answer for my own family.

    I hope that all made sense I have a hard time putting my thoughts on paper.

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    1. I know this is an old post but I just wanted to say, that yes the sin of On an was spilling his seed and thereby using a form of birth control. If you really study Scripture you can see that the leverite marriage law called for public shaming of a man who refused to fulfill his responsibilities to his brother's wife. Not death. Also, the writer goes in to too much detail about what happened. Rarely in scripture do we get such elicit details as we do in the case of Onan. The Bible says that what he *did* was detestable to God. God wasn't disgusted with a heart issue, he was disgusted with an action.
      To further drive this home, we see that Christ comes through the line of Judah, specifically through Tamar as well! So actions like that were not up to par with God's will. But now Christ lives through us. Should we participate in Onan's "detestable" actions as Christians who are called to be holy and set apart?

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  17. Thanks so much for this..I really needed this encouragement as leaving our family size to God has really been scaring me...I mentioned on Facebook a few days ago that I Was struggling with the idea and needed a "pep talk"..instead one of the deacons of my church sent me a huge long message as to why it was a BAD idea..totally unbiblical and hit every area that I already have doubt in so it's been really hard..thanks again

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  18. ANNA MARY - Well I typed you a nice long response yesterday, but now I don't see it here! =/ I'll have to figure out where it went...

    SAVANNAH - Yes, we're getting better and better at going strait to God's Word for our answers. We also do go to our pastors and other trusted resources, but people are only human and we all get our own personal feelings involved a lot, too, hm? Sounds like your pastor gave a lot of opinion and not much scripture?

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  19. TRINS_MAMA02 - Well I replied to your comment a while ago, too, and it's not here either. Grr. =/ Where are my replied comments going? *sigh* Sorry, I'll reply again asap. =)

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  20. ANNA MARY - Okay, here's the reply I sent you earlier, but it was sent in an email format instead of a blog post reply. Strange. Anyway, here it is:

    Anna Mary,
    I don’t think you ask make-people-mad questions. It’s good to ask questions when you’re seeking understanding, which you seem to be. =) We all need to do that!

    First let me tell you that I’ve written a long post (as usual ;) on scripture and the “thou shall not use birth control” argument; it will be posted in the next day or two I hope. And I hope that is informative and encouraging for you and your hubby. It is actually all through out scripture. I’ll show you in my post.

    To answer the Dr. when we’re sick question. We go to the Dr. to fix something that is a result of a fallen world; a result of sin – illness & injury. We had perfect bodies when we were created in the garden until sin was brought into the world, now we suffer the breaking down and frailty of our bodies. These are something negative. Conception and a baby is not a result of sin, it is a divine creation. It is not something that needs to be fixed or healed. Here’s a great analogy from the book, A Full Quiver (links for it in my post) the Hess’s answer your husband’s argument, also.

    “It would make more sense to visit your auto mechanic with your new Mercedes and say, ‘Fred, this thing runs too well; it’s too fast and it gets way too many miles per gallon. Couldn’t you botch it up a bit – maybe pinch the fuel line or switch a couple of the plug wires?” =)

    Rick Hess also says, “God has given man dominion over the earth, but never have we been authorized to usurp His plans in our own bodies, His temple. The Christian must give Him dominion to control his or her own body. Our bodies are meant to be a living sacrifice, as per Paul’s urgings in Romans 12:1, ‘I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.’”

    Your friends are right in that it’s good to spend time in prayer when we have questions, however the best advice, I think, is to spend more time in God’s Word. This is God’s answer to us. It is the answer to any life question.

    Blessings,
    Erika

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  21. TRINS_MAMA02,
    Okay, here's your reply, too; my initial reply went out as an email as well as Anna Mary's did. Anyway, here was my reply. =)

    Nice to meet you! =)

    Well I totally understand having difficulty with pregnancies and then fearing more of the same. And I’ve had a bunch of friends have c-section after c-section. I’m sorry you have to deliver that way. My sister just her fourth c-section, but her dr. just offered to cut away all of the old scar tissue and sort of start over so now she only has one scar from her 4th surgery.

    Well funny you should ask for more info on family planning and scripture and such as I’m working on that post right now for next week or the week after (if I can get it done!) and I’ve had several requests just like yours for this info. =) So I’m really upping the effort to get it out next week. But I hope you can be comforted in knowing that the Lord loves you, and that He already has a plan for your body and your ability to have babies, and He can handle it. =) You don’t need to fear and feel like you have to be in this by yourself. You can trust Him and rest in His plans.

    It’s never terrible for a Christian to worry or have fear or be tempted to take control from God. *hugs* But we still strive to hot embrace those things but rather to read His Word daily, ask Him to continue teaching you and leading your way, be patient, make the best decisions you can as you go along, and strive to increase your trust in Him and your faith.

    Let me know if my post on family planning is helpful or if you need different information. =)

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  22. Hello there! I wandered onto your blog thanks to it being shared on a quiverful group I am part of on FB! I have only been able to read 3 of your posts so far and wonderful they are!

    We have 6 beautiful babies so far..2 of which are reversal babies! We are praying that we are blessed with many more, but are trying (*I* am trying :)) to be content in whatever road God has us go down! Can't wait to see where it goes! Also can't wait to get to know you and your family through your blog!

    PS~ Thank you for being so open...it helps me sometimes to know that others with a 'quiverful' mindset are human too..that they question, fear, and wonder about the road they have chosen to go down in order to fully follow God!

    Rebecca

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  23. TRINS_MAMA02~

    I hope you don't me jumping in here, but I have had 4 c-sections so far (2 natural) and have been given the go ahead for more babies...knowing that I can only have c-sections. I have awful hard pregnancies as I have hyperemesis the entire 9 months and hard recoveries with my c-sections. We do not use b/c as we let the Lord be in control of our fertility (now, it hasn't always been that way! ;)) We were also worried about my body having time to recover...so far the Lord has worked it out wonderfully!!!!

    Stay strong in the Lord, and Pray, Pray, Pray! My husband only wanted 4 children as well...family was pressuring him and he was scared about our finances...and here we are!

    Rebecca

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  24. REBECCA - I'm so pleased you found us! =) Congratulations on your babies, but especially the 2 reversal babies. *hugs* Bless you.

    And thank you for your sweet words of compliments about being open on our blog. That means a lot.

    Do you mind me asking what QF group you're part of on fb? I'd like to check it out, and maybe recommend it to others, too!

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  25. Erika~ I hope this link works! https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/24182068731?id=10150247719348732&notif_t=group_activity "Quiverfull"

    And Thank YOU! :)

    Rebecca

    PS Your babies (all 9 of them! ;)) are GORGEOUS!!!

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  26. Erika,
    I stumbled on to your blog last night. I wanted to tell you that your story was a big encouragement to me.
    My husband and I recently decided that our decision to have him have a permanent birth control as a bad choice. We made the decisions to have this reversed. We are praying that this will happen in 2012 or sooner. We are saving our money to have this done and are relying on God to provide for us. We currently have 4 children here on earth and 2 in heaven.
    My family thinks we are crazy, and his parents are being supportive thankfully. We have a large family mind set and are praying God will bless us with more children.
    Thank you again for the encouraging life story.

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  27. BROOKE - Praise the Lord for your new decision for life. *hugs* The Lord is so gracious to us when we make mistakes and then repent and try to make amends. =) I pray He'll bless you again. Also, are you familiar with the ministry called Blessed Arrows? They do reversals for FREE. There's a button and a link to them on our blog's home page on the right side if you scroll down. Just FYI. =)

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  28. BROOKE- My husband had reversal surgery in 2006 and here is the link to the Dr. we used. He was wonderful. He is a Christian homeschool dad. We have referred several other couples to him as well and they have been pleased. http://microvasreversal.com/

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  29. Erika- we are aware of Blessed Arrows,however their waiting list is extremely long and we figured we can save up faster on our own. But thank you for mentioning it. We are using one of their suggested Dr.
    Anna Mary- we are going to be using that exact Dr. Didn't know he homeschools, so do we. I knew God lead us to that one for a reason.

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  30. In our 10-year marriage, I've only been pregnant 3 times. I miscarried that third in January. Although I would love to have those three children, I am sometimes concerned about the already enormous population of people on Earth. At what point does God tell us there are enough Humans? Will it be before we run out of the resources to provide for all these people? What if every faithful person on Earth had 10 children? Just things I worry about.

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  31. CHRISTINE - I am so, so sorry about your loss. *hugs* I will pray right now for you. May I encourage you to ask the Lord to lift your spirit and give you hope, and trust in Him despite what you see and what you can't see. He sees all and knows all...and understands...and loves you more than you could ever imagine...
    About the overpopulation theory - that is bunk. There's tons of evidence against those claims. I was going to look up in my Full Quiver book (linked to in the above post a number of times if you'd like to see it) a response for you, but there's a chapter of a great response that I couldn't do justice to in this small space. But I'd encourage you to get a used copy of the book! It's SUCH a good book, and SO informative. And there's much documented evidence against this false claim. The overpopulation theory is all about the liberal's agenda. We are not running our of room or resources at all. The "left" gives a lot of partial truths; denying many the rest of the information. In the FQ book there's a good quote from Mark Twain, "Figures don't lie, but liars figure". Many people work the facts to try to prove an incorrect point. I'd encourage you to do some good, scriptural learning on this and put your mind at peace. =)

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  32. Erika, I have to say that your blog is completely fascinating to me. I am one of those east coast liberals. I was raised in the midwest but moved to NYC in my 20's. I work on Wall St and have raised my 3 children with the help of by amazing husband and loving nannies. You and I could not be more different, yet I find your blog completely inspiring. God knows I could not do what you're doing, nor would I want to. But the fact that you take such time and care to follow your faith and parent in a way that you feel passionate about is a true inspiration to mothers/parents everywhere.

    I have so many questions for you! I have loved your cooking and planning tips. I wonder, do you make most things homemade or do you use package items. I make tons of homemade everything. Do you have recipes on this site? I'll have to look around and see. In the meantime, here are a few of my recipes. I hope they're helpful to you.

    http://kathy-whatsfordinner.blogspot.com/

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    1. Hi Kathy, welcome. =) Glad you feel welcome here even though we're so different. It's good to be able to be friends with people who are different from our selves.

      So for cooking I make a lot, but use packaged things, too, I guess. I use bottled BBQ sauce and packaged taco seasoning. =) Sometimes I use condensed canned soups. You can tell probably from some of my recipes. But I like to make home soup - using some packaged things I guess. That sort of idea.

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  33. Thank you for sharing your story! I am a mom of 3 (4, 2.5, and 13mos) and my husband and I have always been open to having a large family. It feels overwhelming sometimes thinking about how I can manage day-to-day with my 3 and more someday, so I apreciate your realness in sharing your struggles early on in your child-bearing days. There is a lot of trust involved with choosing to trust God for the size of a family. I have been following your blog (recommended by my friend Amy Hess) for a while now and your stories have been so encouraging to me. Thank you!

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  34. Very inspiring. I'll be 39 in a few weeks an pregnant with my 3rd. My oldest is 3. Obviously I started late, but I met my husband later in life an have only been married 4 years. I've just recently discovered blogs, info, etc. about large families and leaving family planning to the Lord. Although I've been a faithful Christian all my my life, I've actually never considered this as an area to surrender to him. Now it seems like it is everywhere nd in everything I read. I think about now constantly BUT with my age, a miscarriage before this baby, and all the scares with this pregnancy, I have to admit that I'm very fearful. I can't imagine being pregnant at 40+ and I honestly fear that I'm not strong enough to handle more than the 3 I have now. I was an elementary teacher and now that I'm a SAHM to my two children, I wonder what happened to all the skills I used to have.
    There is a part of me that's saying - okay Lord have your way while another part of me (and ALL of my family and friends) are saying you know this needs to be it for. You're not a spring chicken anymore. You're overwhelmed most days by the task f raising 2. At this rate you'll look more like your kids grandmother than mother. " I know that's a lot of uncertainty, fear and doubt, but it's real and I just wonder if you or any other (older) moms of large families have those thoughts.

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    1. *hugs* I encourage you to think about why you feel fearful about pregnancy after age 40. Is it because of societies stigmas placed on it? If so, would you let society's opinion rob you of the greatest joy and blessing known to people? =) Because there is no hard evidence justifying claims that your pregnancy or babies will be worse off just because you had them when you were in your 40's. In fact, there's a ton of evidence I've read alone that states the exact oposite. Women over 40 do great and so do their babies.

      And I encourage you to trust the Lord to prepare you to take care of more than 3 children. =) Don't you think that He would be a good judge of your abilities? And if He thought that you couldn't handle more than 3 (with His help of course) than He wouldn't give you more than 3? You can trust His decisions for your life. He knows best. And remember that you wouldn't have all babies, your current children would be a couple/few years older than they are now which makes a huge difference in life.

      Try not to fear that you've lost your authoritative skills, or creativity, or abilities. *chuckle* I was an elementary school teacher, too, and you can do it. But it is totally different when it's your kids and not other people's. In a lot of good ways, really. You didn't have much opportunity to shape all those 25 student's character, which effects their behavior, back then; but you do now.

      And never mind what your friends or family are saying about more children. They're speaking strictly from their own fear and lack of understanding, misinformation, and situational facts that they see (i.e., if they think you should have a bigger house, or more money, or a bigger car, or whatever - that's shaping their opinion). They don't see the divine! Their priorities are most guaranteedly misplaced, valuing vacations and eating out over having children. Don't let them rob you. You very well may be the "light" that they see in the value and health of having lots of kids and remaining mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy and cheerful and fulfilled! I've seen that many, many times with people; and have experienced it myself, too.

      My mother had my sisters when she was 40 and 42 years old, and she had grey hair. She was mistaken sometimes by my sister's friends as the grandmother, but who cares? She wouldn't trade life with my sisters for anything, and I wouldn't either.

      Your thought are common by most every mom as she learns along her journey with the Lord to trust in Him more than in anything else. He knows your ability, your finances, your work situation, your housing and vehicle situations, your future, past, and present. =) We serve the same God of the Bible, who kept Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego from burning in the furnace; kept Daniel safe from the Lions; brought Lazarus back from the dead; caused the blind to see; and opened the womb of many baren women (and closed it when He saw fit). He cares about you, too.

      I can't encourage you enough to get a hold of a copy of the Full Quiver book I linked to at the bottom of this post, and the CD message, "God's viewpoint on having babies." They're SO EDUCATIONAL, so fun to listen to (funny, deep, thorough), and will bring you so much hope and joy and freedom! And they're so inexpensive, but invaluable for your life. Consider what's at stake in your decisions right now. =) *hugs*

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    2. Erika,
      Thank you for taking the tie to respond to me. I obviously have a lot to pray and think about. I asked my husband what he thought about it and he really ad no words. Neither of us do. We are just going to contine to fall on our knees before the Lord and ask Him to lead us. I did find a cheap copy of the book so I will plan on getting it soon. I do think we have decided against either one of us having surgery this year, so that's a big step.
      Yesterday someone asked me if I was done having kids. I said I didn't know and would have to wait to hear from God! She said wow thats impressive, you don't hear any women saying that anymore. And she's right in my circle, I haven't heard it much. It was easier saying it to a stranger rather than family and friends, but I guess if God decides this is our path, He'll give me the boldness I need.
      God bless you for your encouraging words!
      Inga

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  35. I saw you at Costco today as we were walking out and I thought, "I wonder if those are all theirs," (out of curiosity not judgement.) :) I have five children, 10, 8, 5, 3, and 11 months. As I walked out to the car I saw your van and looked up your blog when we got home. Thank you for what you are doing it is awesome and awe inspiring! We homeschool also and I would like to have more children but sometimes it seems like we are already in to deep, just last night my husband asked me "and you want to have more kids?" and my answer is Heavenly Father will provide, maybe not a yacht and a huge house but he does provide.

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  36. Oh bless you! Ha ha! I would have loved to meet you and your kids; maybe next time. =)

    I totally understand about questioning about having more. We were there for years, until God totally grew our faith as we stepped out and practiced it! =D Yes, He totally does provide. Blessings!

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  37. hi erika! my name is antennille and i am from trinidad and tobago, islands in the caribbean. the Holy Spirit has really used your blog and your writings in a wonderful way. YOU MY SISTER are simply awesome. your beautiful, and your writings full of wisdom.. my husband and i have the same convictions on bcontrol, and we have 2 kids 2 and 4 months..and we have only been married 4 yrs!! and i believe im currently pregnant! i plan to learn from you and be blessed by you..i will be praying for you, bob and your children..i will specifically be praying that God opens a door for you to travel and experience a vaction: the whole family!! God bless you!

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    1. What a pretty name you have! And your family is beautiful! =) Thank you for your sweet words, I'm so pleased you've been blessed at our blog. What a wonderful note to wake up to this morning! =D And what a nice prayer for us. I was just telling a friend yesterday (who is on a wonderful family vacation with their kids - we've never traveled anywhere with our kids before) how much we would love to be able to do something like that some day... with your prayers, who knows, maybe the Lord would give us that present! Ha ha!

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  38. We are blessed with a wonderful son, our only. We cherish him and recognize him as a precious gift of the Lord!
    Unfortunately, we are often looked down on by large families, even our fellow christian homeschoolers, such as yourself. As you stated that you need to have 'grace' for us and give us a room to grow. I realize that you may not recognize the negative and judging attitude that can come offthe Lord's plan is not the same for all families to be large. One of my favorite lines is 'if you get it right the first time, God doesn't have to keep giving one more children and opportunities to for you to get it right.' and 'God has given our single child such big and important plans for his life, that the Lord needs us to focus our efforts in training him alone, as opposed to dividing our time up to many.' Actually I have never been brave enough to say that before, because it is hurtful to large families...so I simply refrain...plus neither are true...although I could pull some scripture to deceive (as so often is done). My point being is...just because you are convicted that large families are best, and the most 'mature christian' way, doesn't mean that is the case for all. There are many hurtful ideas and beliefs from all size families...the most hurtful an destructive come from our fellow christians. Of course satan wants to cause division wherever he can...and if it is among christians because of family size...he will try. I pray that you, along with other large and small families, will contemplate with the Lord and birth an true understanding of God's plan for each family...which isn't cookie cutter.

    And for the record...Yes, I do see many small families that are small for the 'wrong' reasons, some of which you mentioned. I also see large families for 'wrong' reasons. But that does not mean that we should make assumptions that all small or all large are 'out of the Lord's plan.'

    May God's grace and blessings be abundant and sufficient in your lives, as it is in ours. He is good!!

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  39. I know this post was a while ago, but I just have to say THANK YOU!!! My husband is a first year elementary teacher and I choose to stay home, so money isn't rolling in high amounts. We have chosen to not use birth control, and it has been harder than I ever thought. We've been married almost 4 years and are months from having our third child (with 4 miscarriages inbetween). I ALWAYS feel pregnant!! And what the Lord said to you is what I needed to hear... I keep longing for the day I won't be pregnant, I have normal hormones, I sleep, etc. And I now know that this IS the new normal and I am the one who needs to adjust. Thank you for sharing this special moment you had! As it was also what I needed to hear! All of my husband's siblings make WAY more money and they all just recently bought huge, new, lovely homes (want 2 kids spread apart, both moms work) and it had me thinking maybe we chose wrong. (Not to mention all the hype of EVERYONE thinking we are crazy having children so fast... I know you know how that goes.) Thank you thank you THANK YOU for reminding me what IS important!! You are an answer to my prayer and I will definitely be following along as you have AMAZING tips that will help me out as I am still in the beginning of motherhood and have so much to learn. (My oldest only turns three tomorrow ha ha)Thank you again! God bless!

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  40. I have been quite blessed in reading your blog in recent days. I am wondering how you feel about continuing to have babies even with problems. For example, I have wonderful pregnancies and deliveries, but I cannot nurse (I have your same issue), and I have hemorrhoids that make me a near invalid at times. I'm 37 and just had my fifth baby over 3 months ago, and I am still suffering greatly. There are things I can do to manage it as best I can, but one time recently, I got the flu, and simply having frequent diahrrea broke me again for days. I get to where I can't do anything can't sit, can't walk. I do wish I could have more, but I want to be a good mom to my babies I have already, and not be broken. Would you put your trust in the Lord and not prevent a pregnancy in this case?

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    1. Karisa,
      Well, I'm not you of course, but I would always stick with scripture. The Lord doesn't say to obey unless it's too hard. He says obey and let Him handle the rest. I would encourage you to seek professional health help for the difficulties, but to surrender family planning to His wisdom, His desires, His plans. And HE can lift the difficulties if He chooses, or help us to grow through them... I would always encourage a believer to not ask whether or not they should obey, but simply decide that they will obey no matter what and then to seek the best way to do so. =)

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  41. Thank you! You have changed my life in more ways than I could ever tell. Since finding your blog a couple weeks ago, I've read nearly every post, and become a much better parent, wife, and daughter of God. I feel at peace. You have helped my faith grow so much. Thank you for your courage.

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  42. Wow! I just discovered your blog, as I was just looking for health insurance...go figure! We are currently a family of 4, and working on baby number 5. God has been putting the desire for a big family on our hearts, and I find your story so beautiful and uplifting! We also find it a challenge when going shopping or in our neighborhood, people thinking we are insane, but I suppose we do not see our children as a curse but a blessing! Thank you for your story, and I can't wait to read more:)

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  43. Erika!
    I stumbled across your blog when looking at floor plans for large families. We are looking to build on a piece of land, God willing. We have three children and our family seems to be growing quickly so wanted to look at clever floor plans for large families on a budget. When I stumbled across your blog I was amazed at your organisation :) I can't get enough of your posts now and have been so encouraged. A few points that I really have taken from part 1 and 2 of this post is to go to God in prayer to turn your husbands heart toward Him and desiring more children. Also, God does not provide what we need in advance ie your example of large enough vehicles. I have thought of your posts many times throughout the day which have helped me in situations with my own children. Thank you so much for this blog! I look forward to reading more.

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  44. Stumbled upon your blog while researching something about homeschooling and ended up reading your whole family planning story. Wow! We have 5 kids, 15 months - 11 yrs and we're both staring at 40 yrs old within months. Hubby has always been on board for welcoming children as God sees fit, but after 3, it's been a struggle for me. Yet I'm SO thankful I've put my God & my husband & my kids before my own selfish worries. Our 5 kids are healthy & amazing. Homeschooling was never part of our original plan, but we felt God was really pointing us to it so through the tears & fears, I began. We're in our 6 yr and I can't imagine NOT homeschooling. I'm not terribly domestic. Thankfully my husband is. However, the Air Force owns him & has been deployed 11 times in our marriage. So I'm slowly becoming more domestic. Your story inspired me. I feel just awful about being on the pill but I REALLY don't want another pregnancy (difficult, sick, last 3 were c-sections). I joke, if only Fed Ex delivered babies! But it's no joke of course. Thanks for sharing your story in detail. I could use your prayers.

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  45. Dear Erika

    I just came across your blog. Reading your posts reminded me how many things are common between Islam and Christianity.
    Placing complete trust in God, valuing, treasuring your husband, having large families, not blindly delegating your children's upbringing to complete strangers, being organised, connected to the home, etc etc...

    We Muslims believe in Jesus (peace be upon him) too. We love him and respect him. And we are told in the Quran that God has placed mercy in the hearts of the followers of Jesus (peace be upon him). I can smell the fragrance of that mercy in every word you write.

    May God keep you in His special protection and guide you to the best of guidance. Ameen. *hug*

    Ps: Please please try to take out the time to read the Quran. You will find the words of the same God who revealed to Jesus, speaking to His last Prophet, Muhammad, peace be on him and on all the messengers.

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  46. I continue to be encouraged by your blog. The road my husband and I have been on has been just as tumultuous, full of doubt or ignorance and lack of faith. We currently have 4 (23 months, 3 years, 6 years, and 7 years). My husband had a vasectomy in August 2012 due to complete lack of faith, lots of stress, sickness (including pregnancy that was hard to handle, hospitalization, and repeated mastitis after the birth) but we know we made the wrong decision by taking control out of God's hands completely. We also started homeschooling last year which has been a tremendous blessing and completely removed the fear of "having too many to spend quality time with/strengthen personal relationships with each one."
    I am looking forward to seeing where God will lead and if/when He will bless us!

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