I came across the following quiz over at Fish and Cans. Hidden in the paragraph are 16 names of books of the Bible. My sister is visiting so we set the timer and raced to see who could find them all first; it took her 25 minutes and me 65. Enjoy!
Labels: Weekend Quizes
Over the years, one Bible verse has been my specific prayer for each of my children. It is Ephesians 1:18-19
"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength."
Today on the Desiring God Blog, some verses have been posted that we can use to pray for our children in specific areas of their lives. As intimately as I know my children, I am often at a loss of how to specifically and more broadly pray for them; my prayers can be vague and general in nature. This is a great place to start and I can print it out to keep in the back of my Bible for regular reference.
These days with birth control so readily available the choice to have more children is a deliberate one. Few couples venture beyond two children; in fact in Canada the average family size is 1.5 children. Compared to the national averages, I have a large family with 3 living children and as my OB recently informed me, to be having a fourth is very unusual.
We all know of those who planned to stop at two children and were surprised by a third coming along. But for most, a large family has been planned and deliberate. For those who go on to have five, six, or seven children, they very deliberately planned to have that large family. In fact, I would venture to say that they have given the size of their family more thought and planning than most families who stop at two.
These are unusual times. Most of the literature I have read in the debate on large vs. small families, artificial vs. natural birth control center on the same premise. If we choose to use contraceptives than the "control" is being exercised by the individuals involved, but if "natural" or no methods are used it is implied that we are allowing God to control and determine our family size. I don't buy that.
My husband and I have reached a cross-road. He is satisfied with having four children to raise and says we are done having babies. And so we are. But because I will be having a c-section, it makes sense for me to have a tubal ligation at that time and I am unsure I am ready to do that. I am content with four and if we never had more I am ok with that, but I am not at peace with closing that door yet. I am only 29.
So whether we permanently choose to close the door or use a more effective form of contraceptive than natural family planning (NFP) methods, or continue with NFP the control lies with us. We are deciding for ourselves what our family will look like. Assuming God gives more children and most of my pregnancies end well.
This is one area where there is tension between the sovereign will of God and my own free will. God has not spoken definitively on matters of contraception and how many children one ought to have. He leads and guides and gives to each family as He so desires. I also believe that He works with our will and moves to shape and inform and influence to bring our will into conformity with His will. And I want to do His will. When we are in the will of God there is peace. So I am seeking His peace and His wisdom.
In the matter of choosing to keep the door for more children open or closing that door permanently the following questions have been floating around my mind as I seek God's wisdom and to discern His will for me:
1. Am I submitting to my husband in this area? Am I willingly following his lead and decision for our family?
Yes, I am willing to stop having more children. I am willing to accept that this will be our last baby and am willing to use an agreed form of contraceptive as long as it is not abortifacient in nature. I am even ok with him having a vasectomy; probably because it is more easily and successfully reversed.
No, I am not at peace with having a tubal ligation at this point. But although I say no now, the Lord is able to work in my heart and if this is the Lord's design for us, than I trust the Lord will bring peace at the time. For now, I want to keep the discussion open between my husband and me.
2. Why am I willing to limit the number of children I have? What are my heart motivations?
This is a tough one. All we do is tainted with sin. There are selfish motivations for having no more children. Diaper duty will soon be over. I can stop saving all the baby clothes, blankets, furniture, toys, etc... I can participate in more activities outside the home as the kids continue to get older. Homeschooling four will be easier than six or seven or eight.
But in this limitation, there is a genuine desire to be faithful with what we have been given and to accept that we are only two parents who can't do it all. We live in a sub-urban area with a 1/3 acre yard. This is a limitation that affects how we will be raising our children.
Our mandate given in Genesis is to be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth. We have been given our literal plot of land to subdue and our realm of friends and family we can influence for the gospel. Because we don't invade the neighbour’s yards to subdue thier overgrown weeds does not mean we are not faithful in the mandate to subdue the earth. We cannot possibly befriend all our unsaved neighbours and sufficiently sow the gospel to each one. But we can reasonably sow into the lives of one or two neighbours. This same idea can be reflected in our fruitfulness and multiplication of our families. Stopping at two three or four children does not suggest we have failed to fill the mandate to be fruitful. Our effectivness as parents to many will be limited and our reliance on outside help would increase.
3. Have I received my children as blessings from the Lord?
Absolutely! I would receive more as such.
4. What are my heart motivations for having more children?
There is a certain pride one can take in having a large family. It is an outward demonstration of embracing children as a gift from God and it can boarder on works or a form of proving oneself worthy. For instance, it took a year to conceive our last child. During that year I battled with wondering if God was withholding a child from me because I wasn’t good enough. I based how many children I had on how much merit I had.
Having many children can become a form of works when I am basing my salvation on my role as mother and child-bearer. The more children I have the greater the works I will accumulate. This is an offence to the gospel. Christ has done all the work on my behalf. To suggest I could add to that is legalism. In my leagalistic pursuit, I tend to judge others based on how many children they have (embrace) and become self-rightous and pious in my own eyes. This is shameful.
5. Am I content with the limitations God has placed in my life?
These limitations can be financial, geographic, physical, etc… but what about limitations in children? Our culture is one of more. More money, more house, more cars, more activities, hobbies, vacations; the bigger the better. While having a large family is counter-cultural in many ways, perhaps my desire for more children is a reflection of the more mentality of my culture and reflects a heart that is unsatisfied with what the Lord chooses to give and what He withholds.
There are no easy answers but I know that He is faithful to bring peace that surpasses all understanding and contentment in all circumstances. He is a God of unity and not division and I trust that He will bring that to my marriage.
With so many good blogs out there to read I am pleasantly surprised to have been named a Thinking Blogger by my friend at A Mother's Musings. Thank you for the encouragement. With days filled with homeschooling, a preschooler, a 1 year old cruising around and the weariness that comes with a fourth pregnancy I am AMAZED that any of the thoughts I've posted on this blog have made any sense, never mind enough to be labelled a thinker.
Now for the best part of receiving the Thinking Blogger label: I get to nominate those thinkers out there who have in turn caused me to think.
The first two have already been awarded and they deserve further recognition. There should be a special honour given to those who have been recognized for their thoughts by not just one other person but several others.
1. A Mother's Musings. This is a great mix of theology, homeschooling, motherhood, marriage and poetry. Mrs. M is honest, gets to the heart of things and exalts our Saviour above all. Her love for her husband and children is obvious and inspiring.
2. Lux Venit. Like A Mother's Musings this is also a great mix of theology, homeschooling, motherhood, marriage and books! Leslie's honesty is refreshing and on several occasions have caused me to examine my own heart in a new light.
3. Unbound. These posts Hard Truth From a Soft Perspective and Refusing Comfort in particular inspired a lot of thought and some of my recent posts. In general, I like Josh's honest and forward approach to writing, he's definately worthy of the Thinking Blogger designation.
These last two on my list are among the first blogs I ever read! And this is only in the last year. Before that I thought blogs were more like My Space with what could be risky and offensive material. I had no idea what great stuff was out there. These two are among my favourites, and challenge me daily so I am listing them, though due to their largeness and my smallness, I'm not going to tag them:
4. Girl Talk. The Mahaney ladies are always fun to check out. They cover all things to do with biblical womanhood from theology to the practical; they are always challenging and refreshing and REAL.
5. Between Two Worlds. This is a great resource that I check out almost daily. Many links are given to other thought provoking sites covering a wide range of topics. There is always food for thought here.
When my daughter was stillborn at 28 weeks gestation and her twin sister lay in an incubator with her life perilously close to death it was close to Christmas. Today, on Easter Sunday some of these reflections seem appropriate to share given the themes of my last few posts and the focus of our celebrations today.
The Lord took away my daughter. He came and carried her soul away to dwell eternally with Him. All he left me was an empty, lifeless body. There was no life for me to embrace, no future to look forward to with my little baby. As I began pumping milk for my living daughter I refused to double pump because the thoughts of not nursing my two babies together were overwhelming. My plans and hopes were wrapped around bringing home two babies. A few days after my twins were born, full term twin girls were brought into the nursery as their mother recovered from a c-section. They were healthy, thriving and both alive. The seeds of bitterness were planted within my heart and were beginning to take root.
It was at this point when the Lord reminded me that He gave me His son. He gave His son so that I would have eternal life. Because He gave His son, my daughter has eternal life though she had no earthly life. Having given up His son for me, how could I begrudge His calling my daughter home. It was then that I began to process of giving her up to the Lord and those seeds of bitterness shrivelled up and died. It was then that I began to appreciate for the first time in my Christian life the magnitude of the sacrifice made on my behalf. He did not withhold His son from me, "Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death - even to death on a cross." Phillipians 2:7 - 8
My thoughts were transformed and my focus was lifted from the carnal to the eternal. My longings were redirected from desiring comfort and happiness in this earthly life to desiring to know God truly and deeply and anticipate the eternal life to come. For Christ did not simply come and live righteously on our behalf and then die. He conquered death and lives. For the Christian, death is merely a gate into true life. We are not left to greive as those without hope. (I Th 4:13b)
While my milk has dried up and the physical wounds and reminders of my loss are gone, I have not forgotten my daughter. Even if I should forget due to the dimming of my mind at the end of life or future injury - the Lord promises that He will not forget, He bears the physical reminder of His death on our behalf. We are inscribed on the palms of His hands.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
What matters most, in light of election is not that I know of God or about God but rather that I am known by God. How comforting to know that even at the end of life, when my memory may fade and I may forget many of the deep truths of where my salvation lies, God will still know me. Today on the Desiring God Blog Noel Piper posted the touching story of Elsie at the end of her life and the assurance God was holding her firmly in the palm of His hand.