The Week I Failed my Family

I have been having a bad week. My husband and I fought near constantly, mostly because my mood was sour and my stress high. Our family vacation is coming up this Sunday, but instead of excitement, I’ve found an increase in anxiety and financial worries. Tensions deepened the more we argued, and I’ve struggled to redeem myself from my nasty temper. I didn’t know what was wrong, or how to fix it. Maybe, somewhere not so deep inside, I didn’t want to fix it. I just wanted to wallow in how miserable I felt.

I think everyone has days, or weeks, like this. I don’t think I’m an exception to an otherwise happy humanity. But, I do think I figured out what happened.

You see, I’ve noticed that every time fury rises in my chest over something my husband has done or said, it’s because he was “interrupting” me. The same goes for my poor, sweet children suffering from an impatient mommy. My voice snaps because my plans get changed without permission: Noah gets the day off unexpectedly, Elijah dumps cereal all over the floor, or Moriah refuses to take a decent length nap. What it boils down to is that I would rather be doing something else (reading a book, watching YouTube, wallowing, etc.) than what they need.

How selfish of me.

This morning, I watched a sermon by Paul Tripp called “Grace Liberates Your Foolishness.” Conviction washed over me just a few minutes into the video. Despite what my emotions tell me in the moment, the problem hasn’t, in all actuality, been that I’m stressed, or that my family annoys me. The true problem has been that I’ve only been focused on me. Stress and hormones may have been a catalyst to my heightened vanity this week, but if I had meditated on the servant nature of Christ, my example, instead of immersing myself in entertainment or chores, I would have quickly snapped out of it.

Don’t mistake what I’m saying, however. I am glad this week has been terrible. I know that I am a failure, in many ways, and I am grateful for it. If it were not for all these daily mistakes, I might forget that only Christ is perfect, and that is why He is my savior.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Philippians 3:12

I hope this quick post encourages someone out there. God bless you all.

Why I Want More Children

My vivacious daughter, Moriah, turned one just this past weekend. Although I have obviously seen her growth over the past year, marked by early milestones and sleepless nights, it has suddenly dawned on me that my darling is no longer a baby. She is full of toothy grins and deep belly laughs, and I love witnessing the development of her personality. But, there is something bittersweet inside me that mourns the passing of her infancy.

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After several comments made at Moriah’s birthday party, I realized that my deep love of babies is a bit uncommon. First was the shocked reaction by a friend who heard that Noah and I are trying to get pregnant again, followed by a snarky, “Well, you don’t waste any time, do you?” Next was the angry tirade from a wife to her husband about how expensive and demanding children are when he made a passing comment about the benefits of siblings. (One child is enough for her, it seems.) Finally, I sat in complete stunned silence when a woman from my church told me that after the birth of her third child, her father-in-law near immediately asked if she had her tubes tied.

I have two children that I absolutely adore. That, in and of itself, is not entirely uncommon; I’d venture to say most parents claim to adore their kids. My toddlers are the perfect pair: a boy and a girl, a Daddy doppelganger and a Mommy doppelganger. They are close enough in age to squabble, but just far enough apart to fit the world’s standards of a “healthy” gap in between. They are wholly alike, yet completely different. By all gauges, my family is complete.

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So why in the world would I want to have more?

First of all, I genuinely believe that children are a blessing from God.

I believe the entirety of the Bible. I stand firm on the Word of God, even the parts I struggle with before God blesses me with understanding. When the Word calls children “a gift of the Lord,” (Psalm 127:3) that means that they are not to be considered a burden, or a blight. I do not care that children are “expensive,” that they limit my “freedom,” or that most feminists would warn me against “losing my self.” (Which is hardly a concern for a Christian mother, I should add.) My children are a gift from the Creator of the Universe, and that far outranks any self-righteous indignation I might have about birthing a child I’m blessed to get pregnant with.

To quote Voddie Baucham, an excellent pastor and apologist, “What other blessing is there, in the world, where we say to God, ‘Please don’t bless me like that anymore’? …Why is it that when we see a woman walking down the street with 6, 7, 8 kids we look at her like she’s got a third eye in the middle of her head? Because our culture despises children, and so do we. …What does the text say? Why do we believe the culture, and not the Bible?”

I am not arrogant enough to believe I have a right to choose how many children I have.

To preface this, I am not saying you are only obedient to Jesus Christ if you have families the size of the Duggars. I do, however, know that the Bible says God is the giver of children. (Ps 113:9, Ps 127:3, Gen 33:5, Gen 48:9) That means my womb is open or closed by HIM. He ultimately decides to give me another child or not. How many times have we heard about failed family planning to already implicitly understand that God’s plans are bigger than our own? This current process of waiting for baby number three has simply proven to me, again and again, that while I may choose whether or not I actively participate, the blessing of a child can, and will, only come in His timing.

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Finally, I am not afraid of the costs of raising children.

I know from first hand experience that if the Lord gives me a child, He will provide for him/her. When Noah and I got pregnant with our son, Elijah, we made the counter-intuitive decision for me to stay at home. There were a lot of factors that went into this, but mostly, we wanted to be obedient to God. (Titus 2:4-5, Proverbs 31:27) Struggles abounded after that point; we even went on food stamps for 6 months. However, with every child has come a huge promotion for Noah, or insane demonstrations of God’s provision. Now, two years later, our bills are paid, and food is plentiful. We are not rich by worldly standards, but we have enough. (Not to mention, I no longer suffer from the depression and lack of purpose I dealt with for as long as I can remember.) In many ways, we have more than enough; we have an abundant life. (John 10:10)

In Christ, I have no reason to be fearful for my future. (2 Tim 1:7, 1 Jhn 4:18, 1 Peter 5:7, Deut 31:8) That includes any fear of having more children. My heart aches for the church that despises children because of the influence of the world. The Word does not say children should be well-planned for, spread out in age, or limited to 2-3. Simply put, I refuse to dread another blessing from the Lord because the culture’s mentality is one of “legal, safe, and rare.”

Book Review: What Falls From the Sky

Happy Holy week, everyone! Resurrection Sunday was a beautiful rest day for my family. Elijah, my son, stayed up all day without a nap, which should have been stressful, considering he is only 2, but was not. He was wonderfully behaved all day, and played like the sweet little boy he is until almost 9 pm, when he passed out in the crook of Daddy’s arm. Noah and I celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ on Passover, which was full of friends and good food this year. That freed up our Sunday from being chock-full of activities to one of ease and peace. It was so nice to leave our unusually crammed church after the Easter service, and have nothing to do but relax with loved ones.

Thanks largely in part to our rest day, I polished off my eleventh read of 2017. The book is called “What Falls from the Sky: How I Disconnected from the Internet and Reconnected with the God Who Made the Clouds,” written by Esther Emery. Since I finished it yesterday, I decided to blog a quick review, while it’s still fresh on my mind.

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In short, I devoured this novel. The story is a recap of Emery’s real life “Year without Internet,” but it arcs like a perfectly planned piece of fiction. I teared up when she grieved, and smiled when she laughed. An incredibly vivid, lyrical book, it describes Mrs. Emery’s testimony of coming to Christ, but it is so much more than just that. Her wounds are explored in their raw pain, and her healing felt like mine as I followed her journey. I could barely put the book down.

In many ways, I feel that if I were ever to talk to Esther Emery about theology and doctrine, we would have a heated argument. Thankfully, her memoir is less about the nuances of Biblical theory, and more a confession of faith in something she (admittedly) didn’t completely understand. As a former liberal feminist, I wholeheartedly related to the struggles she described with Christianity, and that was worth more to me than any debate on doctrine could have been.

I actually found “What Fall from the Sky” because of Esther Emery’s YouTube channel on homesteading, a topic I’ve recently become completely obsessed with. Since her work details her year without electronic communication of any form, it touches, also, on the steps that lead to her homestead. I expected it to coax the reader to follow a holistic lifestyle, but it’s about much more than just that. Emery led me into deep, muddy thoughts about imperialism and my fellow human beings around the world, and I craved more when it ended. All-in-all, I treasured the entire book.

Waiting for baby

A few months ago, I felt convicted by God about my resistance towards having another baby. I would see a YouTube video of a newborn, and everything in my being would yearn for a third child. But, my “rational” mind had seized hold of me, and all the reasons why not were all I could think about.

“It’s too soon.”

“We can’t afford it.”

“We don’t have the room for another baby.”

And so on and so forth. Every time my desire for a child sprang up, I squashed it with my reasonable explanations for why not.

Then, one day, I came across the Duggar family’s testimony. I read their first book, and was blown away by how their trust in the Lord had produced so many fruits in their lives. And I felt the Lord whisper, “Why would I give you a desire for another child if I had no intention of providing you the means to care for him or her?”

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The 3D ultrasound of my daughter, Moriah

So, I went to my husband, and told him how I was feeling. Without much persuasion at all, he immediately agreed to start trying for another baby.

But, that’s just where this testimony starts, because it’s been two months, and I’m still not pregnant.

I’ve realized that there’s a different lesson to be learned in this season of “waiting for baby” than the one that I had thought. The Lord has shown me before, with both of my two children, in a million different ways, that He provides for these blessings He has given me. And, I do believe He wanted me to learn to trust HIS timing over my own. But, somewhere in the course of my previous two pregnancies, which happened so easily and without trying at all, I forgot that these children were from Him. He decides if I get pregnant or not. He decides when, or if at all.

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My babies

I don’t know how, but I had made my own fertility a sort of idol in my life. I had genuinely believed that my husband and I had control over whether or not we had a baby. I believed that once we stopped trying to prevent a child, we would readily have another. I had not been prepared to NOT have a baby.

I’m not going to lie, this lesson has been harder than it would seem to learn. I was pregnant three times in three years. Babies felt PROMISED to me, as if because of my “good behavior” and desire to please Him, He owed me a child.

He does not.

Each month that I’ve realized I’m not expecting has hit me hard. So many doubts have crept into my mind. Maybe I won’t ever have another child. Maybe I misheard Him. But, I know, that none of these doubts matter. I’m praying for more faith in His timing. I’m grateful to be humbled before him, and reminded that the Lord God is ultimately in control of my life. Lastly, I’m praying for patience as I continue waiting for baby.