Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fill My Quiver?

People often ask if we are quiverful.  Now that we have five children and one on the way, I realize that is a natural thing to wonder, especially with the Duggar Family gaining so much popularity.

Brandon and I with our first child, Merikalyn (2003)
Allow me to share our journey with you.  
When Brandon and I first married, we talked about having at least four children, but at some point early on in our marriage, when things were very difficult, we decided two was enough because, after all, he and I were a mess and we didn't need to bring any more children into that mess.  I was thankful that we came to that conclusion at that time because we really needed to focus on our marriage rather than focus on bringing more babies into the world.  God had big plans in store for us, and He completely transformed my husband and I in that time.
Nolyn (6 months) and Merikalyn (2)

Some months after the miracle of mending our marriage, Brandon and I felt like we should try for another baby.  Well, maybe not so much try, but just leave it open to happen, if you know what I mean. In a few months we were pregnant with our third child, Keagan.

It was during this pregnancy that God began to give us visions of a large family. At the time, people were already gawking at the fact we were going to have three, telling me, "You sure have your hands full!"

When Keagan was first conceived, everything was going really well with our businesses and finances, so having another baby seemed perfectly reasonable, but then things quickly took a nose dive.  We struggled to keep the electricity on.  Some weeks I had $20 to grocery shop and buy diapers (thank God we owned a restaurant and could grab food from there).  Eventually one of our vehicles was repossessed (boy did the cop who showed up at our door feel really bad as I handed him the keys with one hand and snuggled a baby to my chest with the other).

At that point, the vision God had given us seemed ridiculous.  The whole thing seemed foolish.  Our bank account said we couldn't afford another baby (even though one was already on the way, so there was not much we could do about that!), and yet God was encouraging us to trust Him with our fertility, our children, and our finances.
Keagan, 1 day old (2007)

This wasn't something we had ever done before! We were pretty new Christians at the time! (We had been raised reading the bible and going to church, but didn't really know God or have a relationship with Him until the time He turned our marriage around.)

God kept repeating one thing to me over and over:

I realized my Lord was calling me to trust Him in ALL areas of my life- not just my salvation.  I saw Him pointing to many nooks and crannies, things I had felt were my decisions and in my control.  He was calling us out, telling us to trust Him with our whole lives.

 The thought of it excited me and scared me. Once Keagan arrived, I thought, “I can’t go through this again!” I loved the last few months of my pregnancy. I was thrilled we were able to have an unassisted homebirth. I loved the little infant in my arms, but I just didn’t know how I would survive those first several months of pregnancy again. I had “all day sickness”. Coupled with draining sinuses and allergies, I was constantly throwing up and gagging. I felt horrible, confined the couch, cringing at the happy giggles and shouts coming from my children because loud noises made my head pound even worse. I wasn’t able to take care of my family. If we were to continue having children, how would I care for the ones outside of the womb while trying to nourish the one inside?

I tried to justify things. God didn’t want me to be sick while trying to care for multiple children, did he? We’d have more children, eventually…. when we were ready. Maybe once we got out of debt. Maybe once we remodeled the living areas. Right? I mean, eventually! My husband had talked about getting the “snip snip”. We figured, if we changed our mind and desired more children later, he could always have it reversed.

Besides, hadn’t I once laughed at those who believed God should be in control of their fertility? Didn’t I have a dozen statements to explain away their convictions? Did God give us condoms and birth control pills and tell us to control it ourselves? If he really wanted me to have more children, it could happen, even if I was on a form of birth control, right?

Oh, and what would my family think? What if they thought we were being irresponsible?
Once again, as He had many times throughout my life, God reminded me, “It doesn’t matter. My will matters. Obey, and I will bless your lives more than you can imagine.”

Nolyn, Keagan, and Merikalyn

I am so, so thankful that God has allowed us to have these children because He has taught me so much through each and every one of them.  He has brought forth miracles in our lives as He mends hearts in the womb (Evangeline), brings freshly-born babies back to life (Molly Jo), heals the damage of a brain mass (Merikalyn), teaches me of His love through repeated miscarriages, reminds me of His power and greatness to hold the whole world in place as He holds Shiloh in place, and protects little boys' brains from big concussions (Keagan).  And through it all, He reminds me how much I need Him.  He uses my children as mirrors.  He allows me to see myself, and see Him, through them.  He teaches me so many lessons and has used my children as the primary method.

Merikalyn post brain surgery (2010)

Evangeline, not even an hour old! (2010)
Nolyn holding Molly Jo, one day old. (2012)

Sometimes my husband and I pause for a second and look in wonder at our family, "Look at all we would have missed out on had we just stopped with two!"

God has shown us His provision in so many ways. He has blessed us with a desire for simplicity (although we definitely still struggle with wanting what we don't really need).  He has supplied all our needs and even many of our wants.

This is one of the main ministries God has called us to.  Your ministry may be different.

There was a time when I was very religious about it all. I felt like everyone should be quiverful. I saw us as quiverful.  But this is no longer our heart.  I don't think I can even stand under the "quiverful" label anymore because I don't agree with so much of what the people in this mindset say, how they shame people, how they layer guilt upon guilt on others.

It does grieve me very much that people view children as a burden rather than a blessing.  It hurts when people are negative about how many children we have (or how many our friends have).

However, I don't stand in judgment of childless couples, or couples who only have one or two children, or whatever their number may be. I've come to realize that God has us all on different journeys, and He utilizes different tools and methods in our lives to bring us to Him.  The primary way God has done that is through my children.  (As you may have been able to see through my blog posts.)

You know, it's not about how many children I have, how many children you have, whether you use natural family planning or nothing at all.  It's about the Lord.  We are in danger of making our children and family an idol when we lift up this whole thing to the status that many do (and I once did).  Our hearts have a tendency to turn God's blessings into idols.

Because we don't know how exactly God is working in one's life, we should not be judgmental of where they are, what they believe, and what they are doing.  We must trust that God is using the bits and pieces of their lives to bring them to Him.  God does not call each and every person to do the same thing.  The only thing He calls us all to do is believe on the One whom He sent.  When we add to that, we are adding to the gospel.

If I turn life into a rant about children and fertility, if I make it my Christian soapbox, I've missed Christ.

I do want to say that I have learned that I will never regret having another child.  I look at the faces of my children, and I think, "Wow, I almost stopped at two."  I feel so grateful that the Lord changed my heart and allowed me to carry more children within my womb.  I am grateful that we are a family of seven (as of this post), not because I think it's more righteous, but because I know that I am incredibly blessed, and I literally see what I would have missed out on had the Lord not intervened.

I have seen people make a stand about this point of fertility and make it some sort of god.  The thing is, we are to be completely submitted to God in all areas of our lives.  Who am I to judge someone when I struggle with submitting my emotions and my time to the Lord?

I have to admit that there are times when I feel like I'm "done".  I feel overwhelmed and exhausted, and I don't know what the heck I'm doing.  I tell the Lord, "I don't think I can keep doing this!"  In fact, I have said that while pregnant, worrying about how I'm going to add another child to what I feel is chaos!

Fact is, we all feel this at some point. We feel this when we have no children at all, when we're wrestling in our marriages or struggling at work.  We feel this when friendships are difficult, when situations look hopeless, and when we're remodeling our homes. This is not a feeling that only applies to parenting.  We feel these things because we're humans who desperately need the Lord, and these are the feelings that remind us that we can't do it on our own, that we are in need of Grace.

Parenting provides many, many, many of those lessons because our children are mirrors. They show us who we are, even when we want to pretend otherwise. They show us how wicked our hearts are, and as we're telling them about how much they need a Savior, we are reminded that we need One too.

Here are a few posts I've written that show how my children and my seemingly mundane life as a homemaker leads me to Jesus:

The Gospel is For Now

A Few of My 10,000 Reasons

The Motherhood Mess


Karin Katherine said...

I know where you are coming from. My story is slightly different because for me, my path to having children included a lot of treatments and my husband having his "snip snip" reversed---which didn't prove as easy as we thought. Now we are blessed with 4 children. Every last child we concieved from IVF is here w/ us. I would like more...but now I'm praying about adoption because I cannot see going through the treatments again. I envy your ability to let go and see what happens. For us I had to work hard and pray hard. I understand why God had my path to motherhood go this way though. For me, I wouldn't be half the mother I am today if I concieved as easily as I had planned. I would have taken them forgranted. I probably wouldn't even be homeschooling. For me, I became more AWARE of the GIFT through my trials. I'm so glad you see your children for the gift they are. I look forward to celebrating with you if you get another blessing...and another...

Megnolia said...

i read somewhere that breastfeeding reduces fertility for the first 6 or so months. i know that you've done quite a bit of research bc you wanted to breastfeed Kbaby as long as possible so i was wondering if you knew if this was true?

[btw this is Megnolia from OD, just in case you were wondering lol]

Katie LaPierre said...

Wow, great! this is exactly where I am at. Thank yoU! I too said the EXACT same justifications. I have 2 under 2 right now and look forward to the Lord's timing with future blessings.

Katrina said...

We are a QF family :)
Yes, people think we are crazy.
I don't even care about that.
We have nine children so far.
Maybe we are done? Maybe there's one or two more who will join us? I have no idea. Which makes it all the more fun:) I love surprises!

Brooke said...

just wanted to say, i loved reading this. xoxo