Have you ever known, as surely as you know that the sun will rise and set, known without a doubt, without one ounce of uncertainty, that God wanted you to do something? Have you ever spent some time running away in disobedience to that? Was it something that, once you finally did it, was well-accepted by those you love and who love you, or was it something that they couldn’t understand, something they may not have approved of, or something they were flat-out against?
God has been dealing with me for the past year or so on one certain issue, and I feel like all the convictions that I have been fighting for this past year on this issue have culminated in my heart over the past month or so, and I am actually physically weary from the battles that have been going on in my mind and heart. I share this with you, at the risk of rejection or, at the least, of being misunderstood, because these convictions and the resulting decision will probably have an impact on some of your lives. Even though I’ve kept this blog for more than two years now, I have not often bared my soul, not the deep depths. It’s easy to keep things surface level, but this is a time that I feel it necessary to share my heart in a very personal way.
Several years ago, somewhere between the births of our first and second children, Clay and I began to feel deeply convicted about family planning, and birth control, and whether or not we truly trusted God with our family size and spacing. We did some research, found some facts that aren’t widely known, and spent a lot of time in prayer and in the word of God to find His guidance to help us make these decisions. We came to the conclusion that He would have us trust Him–not science or medicine or any kind of special timing–completely for our family and children. This isn’t something we talked about because we knew it wasn’t “normal” and probably wouldn’t be well-received. So, while we freely told people we wanted a large family, we didn’t freely share our convictions about not using any kind of birth control unless we knew for sure that the person we were sharing with was like-minded. So the babies came, and our fourth child was born when our oldest was just five. Through it all, our circumstances, as you know, went up and down and were basically crazy. The announcement of our fourth pregnancy was not met with much rejoicing, and while I was still unwavering in the conviction that God would provide for whatever children He sent us, I was beginning to waver in my commitment to obeying that conviction. So, after Samuel was born, we decided to “take a break” from having children. We tried to make it clear that we weren’t done, but we would try to build some space in between Samuel and any other children.
The problem is that for the entire year since we made that decision, I have not been able to shake the feeling that I was directly disobeying what God had called me to do. We told G0d those years ago, that we would trust Him. He has provided for every child He’s given us so far. Sometimes He used other people helping us out to provide, but He provided. He gave us a stable, fulfilling job and home here in Salem, with an income that is not only adequate for paying bills, but is also paying down credit card balances little by little and even allowing for a few extras. It has been a long, long time since we looked at the numbers and wondered how they would work out. But even while watching Him provide, I was in a sense telling Him that even though He was taking care of us, I didn’t trust Him with the timing of any more children we may have. So lately, we’ve been examining our hearts to see why we decided the call to trust Him could be set aside, and whether that was guided by pure motivations.
When we decided to take a break, we said it was because of trying to be wise financially–to get our finances a bit more stable before we added more children. Well, while Terminix was unstable–we never knew from month to month what Clay would make–those times are thankfully behind us. Then we moved here, and so it became “We’ll take a break until our house sells, and we can add on to this house, making it possible to bring another baby home.” But we’ve seen God’s provision even in that situation, with our mortgage being taken care of through our renter, and even though we don’t know how much longer it will be until our house sells, Clay has been able to pick up some work here and there to make some extra money, and will be subbing soon, and we have no reason to think that God’s provision will automatically stop if our renter moves out before our house sells.
So then what’s our true motivation for taking a break? I’m speaking for myself here, but for me, the break became a way to be accepted by others. For some reason, people are threatened by families with a lot of children. Threatened to the point that they feel the need to make rude comments, ask rude questions, and pass judgment on the parents who would have the audacity to have more than three children. I have spent my whole life being governed by a fear of man, wanting to be accepted, not ever wanting to be thought “weird”, just wanting to fit in. Telling people that we weren’t going to have any more kids for awhile calmed their rude inquiries and made me feel more accepted. Also, more personally, it became a way to seek the approval of those I love the most. Because you care so much for us and love us and want to see us well-taken care of, you would really rather we didn’t have more children, and probably think that we’re foolish to talk about adding to our family when we don’t have a financial cushion built up. I understand your motivations, and I appreciate your love for us, but for the past year I’ve been willing to directly disobey what I know without a doubt God has told me to do, just to have your approval. Please understand that we are not trying to be foolish, and we don’t take lightly the need to be able to provide financially for our children. We know we don’t have the means to live a certain lifestyle, but we also know that we serve a God who will provide exactly enough.
I need you to know that your approval and acceptance means so much to me. I love you all and the thought of disappointing you breaks my heart. I need you to know that so that you will understand the depth of the conviction we have that this is what God wants us to do. We aren’t doing this just because we want a lot of kids. We are compelled to this lifestyle. I know no other word for it. I have never felt a call so strong before. I cannot ignore it any longer. We don’t know what He will do with our trust in this area. He may just see if we obey His call to put all our trust in Him, then keep our family just as it is, or He may send us one or two or even more children. I would not take this step of faith, risking disapproval and disappointment from the very ones I want most to please on this earth outside my husband, if I were not absolutely sure without a doubt that it was what God was telling me to do. I have every confidence that God will provide for us, and if those who help us out were to stop doing so, I know without a doubt that He would continue to provide in another way. If our house takes another year to sell, I know that He will provide. If we’re never able to move into a bigger house, I know that He will take care of us. Please don’t worry about us. Please trust Him with us.
Each one of you at one time or another in your lives, I’m sure, have known God was telling you to do something. Big or small, if you disobeyed it, you know how I’ve been feeling. I can’t disobey anymore. I once told God I trusted Him, and now I’m telling Him that again. Based on my history, this trust may soon be followed with the announcement of a pregnancy, and I would love to be able to look forward to sharing that news and rejoicing with those I love, instead of worrying about what their reactions will be.
I’ve wondered over the past month why God would call us to this lifestyle, me who has always been so worried about what other people think. Why would He call me to live in such a way that not only my close family doesn’t understand, but friends, acquaintances, and even complete strangers think is strange, foolish, or even wrong, and feel no shame in saying so? I don’t know completely, but I do know this: I myself will probably never achieve great things. I will probably never go overseas and win a lost tribe to Christ. I will probably never travel around speaking to thousands of women and impacting them for Christ. I will probably never have best-sellers on the market, reaching millions with the wisdom of my written words. I may never impact anyone outside my own small circle of influence. But I am daily depending on the grace of God to train these small lives up in such a way that, Lord willing and if He gives them the grace of salvation, they will have their own circles of influence that will reach wider than mine ever could. Maybe one of them will do something great. Maybe my sixth child will be the next Billy Graham or Jim Elliot, and that’s why He wants to keep giving me babies. Maybe not, maybe my children will all lead quiet lives like me. But even if that’s the case, I can reach far more people through my large family than I ever could on my own. If we raise godly, biblically-minded children who marry godly, biblically-minded spouses and raise godly, biblically-minded children and so on and so on, then I will have made my mark on the kingdom. Could I do that with only two children? Sure. But that’s not what God wants me to do. Children can be raised up to be soldiers for Christ, and there is nothing we need more in this day and age of the Muslim families having five children to every Christian family’s one. For some reason, God wants me to supply more soldiers than is deemed socially appropriate.
So, what’s the point of writing this and publishing it for all to see? Well, it’s not to try to make some veiled announcement, so don’t start asking me if I’m pregnant. If and when the time comes, I’ll announce it in a way that will not be vague, I promise. I guess I’m just trying to pave the way, to give you a chance to get used to the possibility so that you can pray through whatever fears and frustrations this may cause. To try to help you make sense of our crazy lifestyle and why we have this crazy idea, and just to share my heart and convictions and maybe encourage anyone else who may be grappling with this. We are not being flippant or careless. Believe me, I’ve shed enough tears to fill several of God’s bottles at the thought of being misunderstood by those I love most. God called us here. We cannot but obey. Children are a blessing from the Lord. So when the time comes that He acts upon our trust and sends us another blessing, please rejoice with us without worry or doubt, and then sit back and watch with amazement as He provides yet again.