Saturday, March 21, 2009

One Baby, Two Baby, Three baby, Ten... To HIS Glory!

Beansntatermama asked me a question on a recent post, which she probably hopes I have "the answer" for, and which I and a good portion of the parental population long to find "the answer" to.
She asks:

"How did you decide to have more babies? I have three and we got so much negative feedback when we mentioned that we might want another it really bothers me. It's like an ongoing battle all the time to have or not have anymore..."

Dear Beansntatermama - dear friend whom I love and have not met, I empathize with you. Truly.
The reason I want to answer your question in a post, is that a good portion of my friends are wrestling with this question, and of course there is the never-ending speculation on my personal views which I thought might inspire or at least entertain my blog snoopers to read.

I have been reading your blog a bit trying to get to know you. I enjoy your desire and commitment to ministering to your family by working from home. Home is where the very most work is after all! And raising and training children is the most valuable job you will ever do, even if no one ever commends you for it. Well done!

As to how did I (or my husband and I) decide to have more babies"?t It is a journey we are still on, and I don't really expect to have an answer to that question even by the end of my life. I now have a family which exceeds the stereotype of "average American household" based on the number of children I have - especially since they all belong to the same two parents.
However I will probably baffle those who expect that I am aiming for a large size family, a particular number, or am part of the quiverfull movement.
I DO love a large family (I come from one and loved belonging to one); when asked how many we are going to have, our standard answer is "one at a time... unless it's twins"; and I want to make it clear that while I love the commitment and dedication displayed by people who identify with a movement, a word, or a title... I don't. (place my identity there, that is.)
I identify with Jesus and knowing Him better so I can love Him more fully. It's quite a bit harder to explain the whys to someone when you can't just point them to a resource which will answer all their questions for you (and in their defense, many of my friends answer just fine for themselves). But when people want to know why in the world you would contribute to the "overpopulation" of the planet - or better yet, have a ton of children which will inhibit your ability to minister Christ effectively to others (said tongue in cheek), when all you say is "I don't have all the answers but God's Word does..." and "No I don't have enough strength to do it, but the Holy Spirit is working in my life to give me what I need for each day..." or "Sure I don't have the loving attitude I should have at all times, but Jesus loves me, He loves my children, and He is patiently teaching me to become more like Him so that my children see Him in me..." Those are the answers that turn people to Jesus, and that is my hearts desire.

I used to pray "Lord, you know what I can handle. If you're going to give me more than that, than make me a taller glass so I can hold what you pour in."
One day I realized that I would never be a tall enough glass to hold (or handle) all God wanted to pour into my life, so my prayer has become "Lord, I am a short glass being filled beyond my means and abilities. I WILL overflow, so please Lord, let what spills over the edges of my life splash on to those who will see that it is YOU who are my strength. I could never be worthy or able to "do it" apart from You."

Unfortunately many think that to have a large family you must be irresponsible, or super-human. I know I am not super, and I hope I am not irresponsible, but I can tell you this: it is only by God's grace and for His glory that I persevere in the privilege of being mother to these precious children He has given me. It is not easy, but neither is it a burden. These children are a demonstration to me of God's love for me, and my decision to embrace them and this task of mothering them is a demonstration of my love for Him.

1Co 7:23 "Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men."

The reality is that our culture (and the Christian culture has bought into this too) is not receptive to families bearing many children. I'm sure you've heard many of the most popular reasons, and if you take a peek at some of my large familied friends (you may already be familiar with), they can enlighten you on just how many variations of unkind and amazingly insensitive things people come up with!
I have heard a fair share, and you are right - why people feel obligated to air their opinions on this matter so freely, and in a manner which clearly insinuates that you are obligated to agree with them, while laughable, can be pretty painful. I have learned not to be swayed by peoples perception or opinion of me. My life and conduct speak for itself, and hopefully point to Jesus Christ who saved me from sin and death, and who has given me hope of eternity with Him - forever spent in a place lovelier than my favorite spots here, and doing things that I love doing and have always longed to do, and enjoying people I love dearly (my five children so far, and three I haven't met) and people I've always wanted to meet... See what hope there is in my Jesus?!
Did you know that we were created for God's pleasure [Philippians 2:13]? Did you know that the earth and all it's wonderful treasure was created for OUR pleasure [Genesis 1:27-31]? The Lord takes pleasure in our fellowship with Him, and our desire to enjoy the life He's given us! He takes pleasure in our obedience to to Him even when it's difficult or unpopular. He is glorified when we choose to take the hard road because we believe it's the right path to take.
And He doesn't promise it will be easy, but He's given us the promise of accomplishing HIS work in our lives for HIS glory.
I think the real questions to ask are "What am I living for?" and "How can I know and love my Savior better?" and "In light of those things, does it matter what other people think - really?"

Like any mother of many (or any mother at all) I wrestle with what other people think. I wrestle with my changing body. I wrestle with lack of sleep. I wrestle with meeting the needs of my husband. I wrestle with lack of understanding how to help my children in given circumstances. But... here's the thing I try to remember: "I wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12 I believe that!
Your battle is not between you and your husband, between you and your family or friends, between you and the pop culture. It's not about how many children you have. In fact, having children doesn't make you more spiritual or Godly. It can produce some precious qualities in you that you come by only through the refiners fire, but that is because of what God is doing IN you. Not BECAUSE of you. And THAT is what the enemy does not want. He does not want you to know the depth and wonders of God's glory which he (Satan) forfeited because of self-worship.
So... he will do all he can to baffle and confuse, and irritate, and smash, and destroy your hope in Jesus and the freedom and peace that comes from living one day at a time for Him and in the shelter of His love.

I would be happy to answer more specific questions, and I hope this post was an insightful glimpse into my heart. The conclusion of my answer, is that you can ask the Lord to give you a passion for knowing Him, and He will. He is faithful like that! You can also ask him to give you peace through the leading of your husband, and a freedom from the bondage of what man deems acceptable. He will gently show you where to walk, and how to walk there for HIS glory!
That is good news:-)

"Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that worketh within us.
Unto Him be glory in the saints, by Christ Jesus throughout all the ages, world without end. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21


petersonclan said...

Beautiful post, Mamabug. I am pregnant with #10, and can say honestly that living a life of a living sacrifice is HARD, and it HURTS. It is hard to die to self. It is hard to do what the Lord has asked of me.

But as for other people's opinions, that has gotten easier. I do not hear so many bad comments as I used to. Maybe because my older children are showing the fruit? Maybe people just think we're nuts and don't bother to say things anymore? I don't know, but I am glad for it.

Momma Bug said...

Congratulations dear Carri!
Thank you for your faithfulness to serving Him. The fruit in your life is a testimony and encouragement to me. I'm so glad He is faithful!

All my heart,

Lady Jess said...

Congrats Mrs. Peterson! You don't know me, but I am always excited when I hear that someone is expecting. Wonderful post Mommabug, I have heard people say things like that to large families I know and it is always heartbreaking. One of the verses that are brought to mind is Genesis 9:7. :)

Life throws you surprises! said...

I really enjoyed this post and reading your perspective. It is a hard world to live in (in regards to people's opinions) when you have more than three children. My continued prayer is that God will guide my future no matter what happens.

Kristin said...

I just want to say that I am a mom of two who would love to have many more, but I don't think that the Lord has made my body able to. I am learning to be content with all that He has given me. So, for all of us that would love to be swimming in a sea of children but can't, please the rest of you have great big families for those of us who can't! Just know that there are people out there who might not have a very large family size, but we support everyone who does!

Christabelle said...

Thank you kindly for posting this. You are a blessing and an encouragement to me. I appreciate the honesty with which you answer along with your faithful dedication to put Christ first. I will be thinking of my kids as God's demonstration of His love for me as I walk through today and hope to demonstrate my love to Him through them.

Andi said...

(Standing Ovation!) Well said Analene! We chose not to have anymore kids from my poor body, (Lord willing, I'm falling apart!), but we plan on adopting in the near future.

heidi said...

WONDERFULLY stated!! ;o) I "couldn't" have said it better. How ever many the Lord blesses you with, they are all blessings from Him.

Jana said...

I'm so glad you posted this for all to read! Thank you. It was SO VERY encouraging.

beansntatersmama said...

Thank you for giving me something to think about, I can't stand to see people look at their kids and say Never Again. I look at my kids and I don't ever even think that, how can you look at the most precious thing you've been given and then say never again. Anyway we had to make changes when I started staying home and we live on a tight budget so I hear too much info on not having more or what kind of work I could do outside of the People don't realize that if you give up some material things you can stay home with your kids and for your kids. Please pray for me. I love to read your blog angie

Momma Bug said...

Dear Angie,
I will pray for you. Living on one income is not easy - for some more than for others. I WILL pray for you. The scrutiny is hard to bear when you are already working so hard to be responsible. The world does not understand what is most important.
If you enjoy the children you have, you are miles ahead of most people. As Kristin said, there is another side to this topic (one which is equally difficult to wrestle with) and we are remiss if we fail to be grateful for what we have! I am still working on this one;-)
It seems like contentment is the lesson of my life!
The Lord will provide for today. He always does - even if it's just giving us strength and fortitude to stand firm.

Hard times are coming to our country, to our homes and families. We are going to need more of that strength than ever before!

Praise the Lord for His faithfulness. He loves us!

All my heart,

Faith Alterton said...

I agree with the other comments, Analene - this was a beautiful, well-said post. Especially the part about it not being the size of the family, but who we serve that really matters. Our sixth is on his way and I am really enjoying having a "larger family", but the past several years have brought more than a few godly friends who for various reasons are only able to have one or two. It really helped me learn that what matters most is what happens in our hearts as we learn to put Christ first.

And if it helps any, I found that after having our fourth most of the well-meant but thoughtless comments on family planning just went away. I still get a few odd comments from strangers at Wal-mart, but friends and family seem to have pretty much decided to let us live as we see best.

Until getting to this point though it can help to have a few answers thought out ahead of time that are gracious but confident. For instance when asked how many children we plan to have, I usually answer that we are open to life and are grateful for whoever is sent at this point, especially as I know many who would love to have more children but can't. I think most people simply haven't run into enough larger families to have considered that it might be a rational, desired option. Though in the long run, it really is between you, your husband, and the Lord. (Sorry for writing a mini-blog of it's own here, Analene. Very glad you wrote on this!)