When you are not privy to the plan

A very wise friend told me something today that struck me as rather profound. When I made the very sad announcement that I was miscarrying the baby we recently found out we were expecting, in part of her reply my friend said, “Sometimes going along with a plan you aren’t privy to isn’t easy.”

This is one of those well known truths that randomly hit home for me and suddenly take an all new, very personal meaning. I have no clue what God’s plan is for me. Even when it seems like I have an inkling as to what’s happening, something comes out of the blue, or we take a sudden turn, and once again I am left wondering what is next.

I am very thankful for the comfort the Lord gives me, and the assurance I have in His plan (albeit unknown) for me and my family. We were just getting used to the idea of having our very first baby due in a month other than December (my three older girls were all December babies, but this baby was due in February). We had begun talking about names for him or her, and wondering if perhaps this would be the boy everyone was waiting for.

Despite all of those thoughts and the sadness that we have experienced since the bleeding began, we have peace and comfort. I do not understand why this happened, but I know there is someone out there who does, and in time He will His plan. I am reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” I may not understand everything now, but if I continue to trust in Him and follow Him, He will make sure I am headed in the right direction, and He will bless us more than I ever could have imagined. That I know for sure.

Wives, Submit to Your Husbands

I was reading a blog recently and came across some very negative sentiment toward Quiverfull families, or what they consider the “Christian Patriarchy Movement.”

(Here is the blog I was reading.)

I have to say that it breaks my heart to think that a woman submitting to her husband is so deeply loathed. Unfortunately, some men will take it too far and use it as a tool for abuse, but that is NOT what the Bible supports. In today’s world that is so filled with pro-feminist, pro-choice, anti-family agendas, God’s plan for the family is now looked upon as a bad thing, and that breaks my heart.

Whether you like it or not, this world is filled with positions, stations and hierarchy. If you work, the odds are good that you have a boss, and he/she probably also has a boss, and so on. There is an owner of your company, but the tasks are so numerous that it would be impossible for him/her to perform all them all, and so he/she must delegate the tasks to others. It is the same for the family. Someone must be the head. Someone must be ultimately responsible for decision-making when there is not an agreement and a stalemate is not an option. That role, in the context of the family, is designated to the man. Certain roles are then delegated to the wife, and the children must submit to her and the husband. And still more tasks are delegated to the children. The husband, the wife, and all children must submit to the “big boss,” a.k.a. God. So, the hierarchy looks like this: God>Husband>Wife>Children. As children grow, they then become adults and the hierarchy shifts accordingly.

It may sound very rigid and strict, but this is God’s simple and very effective plan for a family to run in peace and harmony. Think again of a company as an example. Can you imagine how a large corporation could function if there was no hierarchy or delegation of tasks? If everyone was equally responsible for everything and accountable to no one, how could it work?

Many women struggle with this idea because they want to be in control. Many men struggle with this idea because they would rather sit back and let someone else do it all. The important thing to remember here is that God calls us to a higher standard than basic human nature. As women, we need to rise above our desires to control everything and allow our husbands to lead. Likewise, husbands need to step up to the plate and lead their families as God commands; with love, just as Christ loved the church. When I think about it, I really would not want my husband’s role. I would not want to be accountable to the Lord for our family. It’s much easier to be the wife, to support my husband, and to hit my knees and pray for him when he struggles.

The sad reality is that there will always be those who abuse power. There will be those men who take the command for wives to submit to their husbands as a license to abuse and overwork her. It’s important to remember that this is NOT biblically supported, and this is NOT in God’s perfect plan. So many will look at only the first half of the command (“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22) and not see the rest of it. Here is the whole command, in context:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Ephesians 5:22-33 (KJV)

It’s important to note verse 25 which says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” No husband who loves his wife as Christ loves the church would abuse her or mistreat her. He would cherish her, protect her, and her thoughts and opinions would matter to him. He would make decisions carefully, taking her wishes and needs into consideration. He would try his best to make decisions that are best for her and the entire family as a whole. THIS is God’s perfect plan for a family.

My thoughts go out to women who were/are not in ideal marriages like this, and who were/are married to men who refuse to see the second half of God’s command for marriage. I implore you to remember that these are not examples of God’s perfect plan.

Changes

When I stop and think about it, I am so amazed by the direction the Lord has taken my life. I hardly recognize myself when I look in the mirror! Gone is the arrogant, self-centered, self-serving, provocative young girl I used to be. Instead, I see a woman who is trying very hard to bring glory to the Lord, to please her husband, and to raise happy, well-rounded, God-fearing children. I thought that perhaps I might miss the way that things used to be, but truth be told, I have never felt happier and more complete than when I stopped trying to fill the void with meaningless “stuff.” Once I decided to hand over the reigns of my life to the Lord and stop the endless power struggle for control, suddenly I found a peace and contentment I had never known before.

My life is not perfect, and I’m not always bubbling with happiness. In fact, there are days when I am downright sick with anxiety or stress, but those are the days when I get that gentle nudge from God to let things go and let Him be in control. Even on the worst days, I still have contentment and joy. One of my favorite verses of all time to remind myself of when I begin to fret is Philippians 4:6-7:

” Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

So, even though this time of growing and stretching in my faith can be more than a little scary and overwhelming at times, I know that when I pray and give it to God, He is faithful and will always guide my way, and will give me peace that “surpasses all understanding.” What a seriously awesome God we serve!

“Coming out,” so to speak

After making the toughest decision of all – taking the leap of faith and beginning to trust the Lord wholly with our fertility – we’re now faced with the next tough step: whether or not to tell friends and family. There are a select few whom I know I can tell and not face judgement or ridicule, but I’m certain that most people would want to voice their disapproval and concern. We know that the comments would be with good intentions, but so many people are hurtful with their words even despite being well-meaning. We’re confident in our convictions, so we are prepared to answer any questions people might have, but we are not looking forward to the negativity.

So far I have told two family members. Both were surprised and skeptical, but supportive nonetheless. They understand that the choice is a very personal one; one that should be left between us and the Lord. I greatly appreciate them for their understanding of that! Yet, there are those who will inevitably find out who will not be so supportive, and I am not looking forward to that level of negativity directed at us.

I am very seriously considering posting a link to this blog on my Facebook for everyone to see. I created this blog with the intention of having a place to document our journey, both the ups and down, and express my thoughts and feelings as we go along. The more I think on it, though, the more I realize that maybe this could also be a place for people to keep tabs on us and follow us in our journey, and perhaps be able to understand our mindset a bit more.

We have not made a decision yet, however. We will continue to pray on it until we get an answer as to what God wants us to do, and who He wants us to tell!

So, what does Quiverfull mean, anyway?

Some of you may be wondering what it means to be “quiverfull” or “quiver-minded.” Please, allow me to elaborate.

“Quiverfull” gets it’s name from Psalm 127:3-5:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate. (NKJV)

The Quiverfull movement is centered around trusting in the Lord to have control over our fertility. We do not believe in the use of birth control, as children are seen as an unmitigated blessing.

I know what you’re thinking. “No birth control? You’re crazy! You could end up with 19 kids, like the Duggars!”

While that is technically true, it’s not likely. The Duggars get media attention because they ended up with far more than the average Quiverful family! Most do not have as many children as the Duggars. The odds are good, though, that we could end up with two or three more. We are very happy with that idea!

Here are some of our reasons for choosing this path for our family:

Firstly, as I stated in my previous post, God has already demonstrated his sovereignty over my/our fertility. I am not proud to admit this, but I was sexually active before marrying my first husband, and I was not always careful. There were so many times I could have become pregnant, but I did not. When I married my ex-husband, however, I was on the pill. Despite actively avoiding it, I became pregnant with my oldest. Three years later, my husband and I tried for nearly a year to conceive, and even sought infertility treatments, which did not help us achieve pregnancy. We did eventually become pregnant, in God’s time, and just three months after giving birth I was once again I pregnant against the odds.

Next, we find the struggle of birth control to be an issue with trust in the Lord. After all, He clearly has shown us that if we’re meant to be pregnant, we will be, on birth control or not. Why bother struggling with Him over this when He has the control anyway? If I trust the Lord with my family’s finances, even with my very salvation, then how can I not trust Him with my fertility?

Another conviction is the reality that us attempting to choose when and how often we have children seems a very selfish view. Children are not like pets, there to amuse us and fit into our schedule. They are people, for whom we are responsible for raising and bringing up in the Lord. They are blessings! If you explore people’s reasons for using birth control, more often than not they are the same anti-child reasons as those which are used to argue for abortion. We are neither anti-blessings, nor are we anti-children. As with any other blessing from above, such as wealth or good health, we embrace our children happily, with open arms.

We also adhere to some of the lesser-known values of the Quiverful movement, such a living a conservative life, modest, feminine apparel for women, and homeschooling, to name a few.

I could probably write an entire book about the realizations we’ve come to in the past three years of our marriage, but now is as good a point as any to stop this post – for the time being. It is getting late, and this mama is ready for bed! My sweet babies are early risers. More to come soon!

New Life, New Blog

This blog has been a long time coming.

My family’s journey toward becoming quiver-minded began when my husband and I first married, three years ago. We knew from the get-go that we wanted children as soon as possible. Or, I should say, more children. I already had a daughter from a previous marriage, who was 2 and a half at the time. From the moment we married, we did not use birth control. It took the better part of a year of trying to conceive our first child together. There were moments when we did not know if we would become pregnant at all. After seeking infertility treatment we discovered that I was not ovulating (for which I began taking monthly doses of Clomid), and my husband had less than 1% normal sperm (for which I started him on an extensive vitamin and supplement regimen, after hours of painstaking research). Still, we did not become pregnant. We were told that our only hope was to pursue IUI (intrauterine insemination). This suggestion from the doctor seemed far too invasive and drastic for us. After all, if God intended us to be pregnant, would we really need to go to such lengths? Does the Lord not open and close the womb as He sees fit? So after much thought and prayer, we decided then that if we did not conceive naturally that month, we would stop trying.

Lo and behold, we became pregnant! We believed then that God had sovereignty over our fertility. Simply put, we had not conceived prior to that because we were not yet meant to. It could only happen in God’s time, and not a moment sooner. And how overjoyed we were when our time finally came!

As I neared the end of my pregnancy, my obstetrician began pressuring me to make a decision about birth control. I researched different forms, but none of them “felt” right. I knew immediately that I could not take ANY form of birth control that would cause a fertilized egg not to implant; to us, this was abortion, which we find morally reprehensible. I happened upon a concept called Natural Family Planning, or the art of observing fertility signs to avoid pregnancy. For a woman who is exclusively breastfeeding, the Lactational Ammenorrhea Method (LAM) should prevent conception, as the hormone released by breastfeeding is known to suppress ovulation. We decided that this was the route for us. I followed the rules of LAM closely; however, God had other plans. Just 3 months after giving birth, we became pregnant again, despite the fact that were not “supposed” to. I was devastated. I just knew that I could not possibly be ready for another pregnancy and baby. I already had a very young baby to care for! I cried for weeks, and had to endure careless, hurtful comments from friends and family. Couldn’t they see how I was hurting? I spent the majority of the pregnancy dreading the arrival of our third baby girl. This should have been a joyous time for us, yet we felt cheated out of what we believed would most certainly be our last pregnancy.

Once again, I found myself nearing the end of my pregnancy and being pressured into choosing a birth control. This time, I considered my options more carefully. For a short time I did consider sterilization; either a vasectomy for my husband, or a tubal ligation for me (the latter being the more likely option, as I have cesarean sections and they would already be “in there”). We did not consider that option long, however, because as the pregnancy progressed we slowly began to realize that we were not yet done having children. We knew must choose some birth control method, though, because we could not handle yet another pregnancy so soon. I didn’t even know how I was going to handle the (soon-to-be) three children I already had! I finally decided on a copper IUD. It was non-hormonal, and my OB assured me that it would not inhibit implantation if conception did occur.

I gave birth and, to my amazement, that sweet little bundle fit perfectly into our lives from the moment she arrived. It was a thousand times easier than I had imagined it would be! God must have known that I could handle it!  (Shocking, right?) I began to have doubts about the IUD, but I was still scared of having another baby right away so I went ahead with it, despite my concerns. I regretted it almost immediately. I bled for about 8 weeks, and spent every single day cramping as though I was about to begin my period. I found later that being intimate with my husband was unbearably painful. What an effective birth control this was! After all, you can’t become pregnant if you practice nothing but abstinence! After 4 months I had the IUD removed. I could no longer handle the constant pain, nor the distance it was putting in my relationship with my husband as a result.

We found ourselves back at square one, once again having to choose a birth control method. It was at this time that I realized that I had been struggling with coming to terms with birth control all along. The very idea of it did not sit well with either of us. Why? Why did we feel so much guilt, as though we were doing something wrong? Finally, it dawned on us. It was because birth control is not Biblically supported. The very first command is to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28), and nowhere is this command revoked or revised. Children are clearly viewed as a gift from the Lord, and only He should have control over when and how often I become pregnant. Had he not already proven to us that He has the ultimate say in our fertility? Twice I became pregnant when I was trying to avoid it, and the other time I did not become pregnant for quite some time, despite our every effort to the contrary. I realized that trying to control our fertility myself is yet another power struggle between myself and God; yet another area where I am not allowing Him to call the shots. From that moment, we decided to allow God to have control, and to trust His will for our family, even if the idea of relinquishing control is quite scary! However, God is at the wheel, and the knowledge of that is enough for me.