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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Trusting God With Your Fertility- Part 3

Several people have asked me if I would finish our story about how we decided to trust God to plan our family. I know this subject doesn't interest some of you readers, so you can stop reading at this point if you want to :D

In Part 2 (It has been so long since I wrote it, I had to go back and read it myself) we had decided I would stop taking the Pill due to the possibility that it can cause early abortions, and we started looking into other family planning methods. At the same time, we were faced with what the Bible says about children and who is in control of the womb. We had never been asked the question before. Our premarital counseling had only asked the question, "Have you decided what you will do about birth control?" not, "Will you take birth control?" but, "What kind will you use?" We had all the same concerns as everyone else has.

What if we have 12 kids?
How can we take care of a large family?
What if we don't have enough money?
Is it wise?
Did God give us our intellect to make our own good decisions on the matter?
Does God require it?
Is birth control a sin, or an area of freedom for Christians?

We decided that the only question we really needed to answer was, "Is God in control of my womb, or are we." For us, if God is in control and truly opens and closes the womb when He decides to, we can trust Him and His decisions on the matter. If we are in control of whether or not I get pregnant through our marital relations, then we need to be using some control and wisdom in this area.

We prayed and sought the Lord for 3 weeks, and I told Jeromy that the decision had to come from him. I didn't want to coerce him into anything and have him resent me and any children we had. We were just married for 2 or 3 months at this point and both still in college. I vaguely remember my mom telling me not to get married if I wasn't ready to have kids, but I didn't listen to her because I was going to be on birth control and wasn't going to get pregnant.

The Bible verses that resonated the most with us and led us to believe that we were to trust God with fertility were:

Psalm 139:13, 16, “For you have formed my inward parts; you have woven me in my mother’s womb. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me.”

Genesis 29:31, “Now the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.”

When Rachel complains to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die,” Jacob responds, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” (Genesis 30: 1,2)

Ruth 4:13, “So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.”

Deuteronomy 32:30, “It is I who put to death and give life.”

We didn't believe there was any other answer to the question of who is in control of my womb, so we took what felt like a huge leap of faith and decided to trust God. Jeromy believed that if God was the one who opened and closed the womb, surely I wouldn't get pregnant. It was seemingly a really bad time with us both still in school. Bennett came along 10 months later :o)

God completely changed our hearts once I was pregnant with Bennett. We knew that I was supposed to be at home with Bennett and that God would provide for what He called us to. He did. Jeromy was able to get through school without debt while I stayed at home with Bennett. It was miraculous, but God never calls you to something that He doesn't provide for.

We felt like we completely trusted God in this area and were comfortable with whatever that meant, even if it meant a large family. What we didn't understand at the time was that we had to trust God in the giving and the taking away. I had my first miscarriage when Bennett was 7 months old. I realized through that time of mourning that there was a small part of my heart that only trusted God if it meant what I wanted it to. I hadn't considered it might mean that I wouldn't have any more children. I came to understand that trusting God with your family size doesn't mean that you will have 8 kids. It might. It also might mean that you won't have any. I know of more than one family that gave this area over to the Lord, only to have no children. It means that you are open to whatever the Lord has for you. It means that you believe He won't give you more than you can handle. It means that He knows the end at the beginning, we don't. It is truly freeing. Someone bigger and wiser is in control, someone who has the big picture in mind.

People assumed that I would immediately have children in rapid succession. Some friends of mine do. Every 15 to 18 months, out comes a new little baby. That has not been the Lord's plan for me. I have lost a baby after each of my first two children. When people ask me how far apart my kids are and I tell them 27 months between the first two and the second two, I always get the comment of how we had perfect spacing. That always makes me smile because I know that they mean that Jeromy and I had done something to space them perfectly, but I know that it was truly perfect spacing because the Perfect One had his hand on our life and his will is always Perfect.

If you want to read further on this subject there are a couple of good books out there.
A Full Quiver
Be Fruitful and Multiply
and a website
Quiverfull.com

14 comments:

MamaArcher said...

I wanted to let you know that I started a quiverful blogroll, to try and connect QF minded families on the blogosphere. If you are interested please visit...
http://www.mamaarcher.com/2007/11/introducing-quiverfull-blogroll.html
Kristine aka MamaArcher

Alicia said...

Thank you Samantha for posting Part 3. I'm glad I finally commented and asked about this instead of simply lurking ;D Your story has been very encouraging!

Brianna Heldt said...

thank you so much for sharing all of this. after part 2 i wrote up a comment and blogger lost it and i totally forgot to rewrite it! i've been hoping you'd revisit the topic.

this was beautiful. really inspiring and challenging too. isn't it so true that God won't call you to something without providing for it. getting into the nitty gritty of it, i wonder how it's supposed to work if you have a really regular cycle, therefore know when you're ovulating, and so at that point it almost seems like either you're "trying" or not(?)

i love how much you guys value children and oh how i wish this atittude was more common.

(bummed we were sick with the flu and missed out on the zoo! maybe next time!)

Samantha said...

Brianna,

When you believe that it is God who opens and closes the womb, it doesn't matter if you know you are ovulating or not. You know that you will conceive and carry a baby to term only if that is God's will. A friend of mine can't conceive after having 3 babies in a row for no particular reason. Her hormones are normal and the doctor can't find anything that is physically wrong. She knows that the Lord has used this in her life to teach her to trust in Him and to be content where He has her. It has been neat to watch. Hannah, Elizabeth, Leah and Rachel are all examples of this in the Bible.

Keep seeking the Lord, He has all the answers. I certainly don't!

We were so sad that you were sick when we were in town too. We even went to church at Grace hoping to see you. Next time!

Anonymous said...

Samantha - The bible is direct when it comes to the possession of the woman body, and pregnancy.


For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does..." ..........1 Corinthians 7:4

Likewise, you wives, be submissive to your husbands..." ..........1 Peter 3

I hope these Bible versus help your husband make a decision for you two since it is in his hands. You asked others for their guidance in the bible, but your questions being from a woman should stay at home and directed to your husband for answers as noted in the following.

"As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church."
..........1 Corinthians 14:34

Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor." ..........Timothy 2:11

Samantha said...

Anonymous,

I wonder that you only quoted the first half of the Scriptures that you posted. The husband is head of the wife, but the Lord is the head of the husband. We are very clear about that.

My husband has already made the decision for us in regards to letting the Lord control my womb, that is what this post was relating. The road the LORD led us down to help my husband ultimately make this decision. There is no law against a husband and a wife discussing a matter and seeking the Lord together. That in no way exhibits non-submissiveness on my part.

I think you misread my post. My husband has already made the decision for us. I in no way was asking anyone else to lead us in this way. I was sharing our story. Please reread the post if you are unclear about this. The reason I say "I" and "we" to relate the story is because my husband and I are in agreement on this issue and I am telling the story from my viewpoint.

I am in no way trying to "preach" or have "authority" over men in my blog. As I have commented before, this is a mommy blog. For the most part, just my girlfriends that live all across the country read it. It was a girlfriend who asked me to share our journey to being "Quiverfull" in the first place.

I would ask you not to read my blog if you are a man and it causes you to stumble. That was never my intent.

sarah said...

Hi,

I read your post (found your blog in a roundabout way, through lisa in SLO) and find all of it very interesting. I like to hear all kinds of different viewpoints on this topic, as there as so many varying opinions.

Forgive me in advance if i sound as though i'm "arguing" with you, as that is not my intent. I just had a few questions...

When you say that God does not give more than He can knows you can handle, (in regards to fertility) what about the young, poor mother who continues to have children even though she cannot afford them, or give them the proper upbringing. Or the mom who has drug/alcohol addictions and beats and neglects her kids. Clearly this type of person should not continue to have children. She has been given more than she can handle. So what do you think someone like that should do? K leaving her fertility up to God? If He does not give someone more than they can handle, why are there thousands upon thousands of families like this, just in the U.S. alone?

Again, i am not arguing with you. I just am interested in hearing your opinion.

Once you reach your mid-40's, say, even though your body may still physically be able to get pregnant, will you still not be using birth control?

And finally, and i realize this may be too personal a question...But, when you know that you are ovulating, while you avoid sexual relations or just go ahead with it and leave it up to God? That is what sometimes confuses me! If leaving your ferlility to Him maybe means a little caution in the timing department. Like with your daughter being so young, it would seem natural to want to avoid another baby for awhile, but i didn't know how much "effort" you would put into it.

Thanks in advance for answering my questions! :)

Samantha said...

Sarah, Thank you for your questions. I wanted to make sure to answer them all, so I am going to answer them within your comment.

(Forgive me in advance if i sound as though i'm "arguing" with you, as that is not my intent. I just had a few questions...

)

I don’t at all think of asking questions or even challenging someone’s views as a bad thing. The Bible says that we should be able to answer for our beliefs and be able to explain ourselves. I think there is too little of this nowadays because everyone is afraid of “offending” someone. Not enough iron sharpening iron in my opinion, so I am not at all offended.

(When you say that God does not give more than He can knows you can handle, (in regards to fertility) what about the young, poor mother who continues to have children even though she cannot afford them, or give them the proper upbringing. )

We can’t know what God is trying to do in someone’s life. Maybe He is trying to get her to run to Him and ask Him for help if she is not yet saved. Maybe it is a life that will help her children become Christians. We can’t know for sure what the Lord is doing. It is between her husband and
God if he is not willing to do what it takes to support his children. If she isn’t married, read the next section’s comment. Something related to this is how fragmented we have become in our modern society. It used to be that a newly married couple would continue to live in community with the parents and extended family and they would work together in whatever business they ran (farming, blacksmith, carpentry, etc.) These days if a family has 3 kids, they all move out and there are now 4 separate households needing to be supported. Our sense of community has been lost. Also, do churches support the poor and the widow as they could/should?

(Or the mom who has drug/alcohol addictions and beats and neglects her kids. Clearly this type of person should not continue to have children. She has been given more than she can handle. So what do you think someone like that should do? K leaving her fertility up to God? )

I assume you are talking about a non-Christian. I don’t hold them accountable to Christian living. They are not living a life serving the Lord. It doesn’t mean that God isn’t in control of her womb though. Why does a 15 year old girl conceive while a happily married Christian woman remains barren? Like I said before, we can’t always know why God allows things to happen, and we also know that God has mandated that marriage is the only place that conception should be taking place. There are consequences to sinful living.

(If He does not give someone more than they can handle, why are there thousands upon thousands of families like this, just in the U.S. alone?

Again, i am not arguing with you. I just am interested in hearing your opinion.

)

I don’t think that God promises to give everyone a 3 bedroom 2 bath house in a nice neighborhood. I don’t know why there is so much starvation and poverty in the world. Sin was brought into the world through Adam and we live the repercussions every day (disease, death, suffering). I also believe that adoption is a scriptural concept. It is a selfless act to give a child to someone who is more capable of raising him or her. Jesus himself was raised by a man who wasn’t His father.

(Once you reach your mid-40's, say, even though your body may still physically be able to get pregnant, will you still not be using birth control? )



God gave women a window of time wherein they are able to bear children. I had my first child at 25. Most women after the age of 40 have pretty limited fertility. I have many friends in their mid-40s who have allowed God to plan their families who haven’t been able to carry another baby to term as much as they would love to have another. Many have only continued to have miscarriages. Some have had babies with Down syndrome and feel completely blessed. If you choose to trust God in this area, you are able to rest in His plan, whatever that means. Most women do not have more than one or two babies in their 40s. This is a generalization, there are always exceptions. Being 40 doesn’t change our beliefs or our desire to trust God.

(And finally, and i realize this may be too personal a question...But, when you know that you are ovulating, while you avoid sexual relations or just go ahead with it and leave it up to God? That is what sometimes confuses me! If leaving your ferlility to Him maybe means a little caution in the timing department. Like with your daughter being so young, it would seem natural to want to avoid another baby for awhile, but i didn't know how much "effort" you would put into it.

)

Trusting God in this area means that He chooses whether or not you have a baby. You can have as many “encounters” as you want, it doesn’t mean you will conceive, even if you know you are ovulating. Go ahead and try to “control” things. You will most likely be frustrated because things don’t go the way you want them to. We know many couples that wanted to be married for a few years before having children, so they prevented pregnancy until they were ready. When they then started “trying” and nothing was happening, they were so mad at God for not giving them what they wanted. There is so much freedom in trusting God with your life. You are able to lean on Him through the good times and the hard times, knowing that He will get you through. It is so much easier for Christians to trust God with every other area of their life than this one. Children are hard. They are loud, make messes, cost money, take our time, and force us to become more like Christ. Isn’t that the point of our life, to bring glory to God?

We don’t put any effort into preventing pregnancy. God gave a mother nursing to prevent pregnancy for a time. Some women get longer spaces between children than others. Mine are all 27 months apart, I have had a miscarriage after the first two. Some women don’t nurse and have children very close together. The point is trust. I won’t belabor the point any longer :D

(Thanks in advance for answering my questions! :))

You’re welcome. This isn’t a very popular topic. It is very emotional to most people and they are very defensive in talking about it. I wish there was more open dialogue with people, real seeking and hashing it out. Thank you for your questions and I encourage you too keep asking and searching for answers to life’s questions. It is a fun journey!

(p.s. Sorry if any of this sounds short or harsh. I was trying to answer as quickly as possible as my little ones are downstairs by themselves playing with playdough….Yikes! I was at least listening on the baby monitor though!)

Mystie said...

It is also true that some women DO nurse and have babies very close together still. I know at least two women who nursed exclusively and still had children 13 months apart. I'm not saying that's necessarily a reason to try to prevent, I just think the "exclusive nursing will space your children" argument doesn't go very far in real life.

One interesting question I have had is that if it is best to leave your fertility completely to God, is it therefore also wrong to seek fertility treatment? It seems like the same principles that forbid birth control would also forbid trying to increase fertility -- aren't they both attempts at control?

Samantha said...

I agree with you about the nursing, Mystie. It doesn't seem to keep my cycle away for very long, although it does for some people.

My thoughts on fertility treatment are that I would try to fix my body if it wasn't working properly ie. hormonal imbalance or some kind of tumors or blockages in my uterus or fallopian tubes. If nothing was medically wrong, I wouldn't seek treatments like in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination. I am a believer in prayer, so I am sure I would be asking the Lord to bless me through natural means. We would love to adopt someday as well.

Thanks for dinner last night, we had fun!

Alicia said...

I'm glad I came back by and have appreciated reading through the comments, questions and answers.

There is so much liberty involved in trusting the Lord, you are right, and this is true also to us being submissive to our husbands. Thankfully the Lord has not left us without direction in what to do if we have a husband that does not believe and obey the truth revealed in the Bible, specifically in this case by taking fertility into his own hands rather than leaving it in the Lord's. I'm actually reminded of a blog I read a little while back about how the Lord worked in a woman's life when she quit nagging her husband and committed herself to prayer in this matter - the Lord convicted her husband and I even got to read his testimony on his own blog!

Samantha, thank you for the reminder that we should always read the Bible in entire sentences, etc. and in context - not just snippets!

I thank the Lord for my humble husband - a servant not greater than his Master - who seeks wholeheartedly to obey the Lord in all things, loving me as Christ has loved Him AND I thank the Lord for the grace He has given you ;D

Rebecca said...

Randomly found this posting and do not know you, but just wanted to say I really appreciated this post!

Sarah Strayer said...

It looks as if you may not check your blog anymore but I randomly found it while researching this topic online. God brought my husband and I down this path a year and a half ago when we got married. Trusting God is the most freeing feeling ever! I have a question for you. How do you handle when people you love and who love Jesus are going through this process but still do not heed to scripture? How do you approach the topic with them and not become angry or judgemental? Many of my friends are getting married this upcoming year and I do not feel I can be silent on the issue but I also don't want to hurt anyone... any advice?

Samantha said...

Sarah, I posted an answer to your question as a new blog post :)