Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Stand

Each Sunday morning, we drop Caris at her Kindergarten Sunday School class. Alif & I and all our boys head in for worship. It's my favorite part of church. No, it's my favorite part of the week. Babe in arms, boys by my side, worshiping together - it is such a sacred time.

Canaan nestled in, his head heavy on my shoulder, and we sang. A few songs in, one of our worship leaders started off solo. He's a strong, young, cowboy type in Wranglers and Ropers, and his deep voice with its slight country twang gives this song such a feeling of realism.

I'll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who saved us all

I'll stand
My soul Lord to you surrendered
All I am is Yours

After the first verse we all joined in. At least half the church really was standing with arms high, which isn't unusual in our church body. I mean these words when I sing them. I want God to have every part of me. I want to hold nothing back from Him. I want to be but a tool for his glory every moment of my life. Maybe it sounds strange to you, but standing there with my family, singing these songs of surrender to the Lord I love so dearly, my womb came to mind.

I do not consider myself Quiverfull. If you were to ask Alif & I if we plan to just naturally conceive as many children as the Lord blesses us with, we would probably say something like, "I'm not sure." So please know that I am not of the mind that if a person doesn't surrender their fertility to the Lord, they are somehow unholy or not quite mature or anything of the sort. It's not a "hill to die on", as our pastor would say - not an issue of salvation. I'm just sharing with you what is on my heart.

Alif & I always wanted four children. He's from a family of four and it seemed perfect to both of us. All the kids are grown now (two with children of their own) and my mother-in-law and father-in-law's house (directly across the street) always has someone around. Holidays are full but not chaotic. There are enough people that several rooms have conversations going, card games being played, a movie running. But when it's time to eat, we can all still enjoy a meal together.

When I was pregnant with Canaan, our own #4, I was "so done". Anyone who asked got the same answer: no, we are NOT having any more after this. I had a lot of bleeding in my pregnancy with him and that was very scary. I was nauseous and had a hard time functioning. My back hurt so much there were nights I literally could hardly walk. Even in labor I said, "I am so glad I don't ever have to do this again."

Then he was born. And he was sweet. We breathed him in day in and day out, couldn't get enough of him. My older kids loved and adored him. I started to grieve the loss of his newborn phase when he was still very much a newborn. I think it was during this time that the Lord started whispering to me, first through my dear husband. I was just miserable one day with the thought of never having a newborn again and he said, "It's not like we have to be done." Oh - yeah. I guess you're right! LOL For a long time I had serious peace in just that! I didn't want any more children, certainly didn't plan to ever try to conceive again, but just knowing that we weren't completely opposed to having more gave me the peace to really enjoy Canaan's babyhood, to rejoice in his milestones instead of grieving through them.

I receive a magazine called Above Rubies, and I'm also on their yahoogroup. This group is very quiverfull-minded. At first I just thought it was awesome how many of the families had lots of kids. Then I realized that to varying degrees, these women feel that it's holy to surrender one's fertility. To take absolutely no means to prevent pregnancy. My mind reeled against this way of thinking. It is uneducated, I thought, high and mighty. I still feel that many of them twist Scripture to mean something it wasn't intended to mean. However, they have challenged my thinking in many ways.

If I say I'm "so done" having children, what are my (personal) reasons? I don't want to be sick. I don't want to get pregnant and have something go wrong. I don't want to drive a passenger van. I don't want to have 3-4 children in each bedroom. Then I think about those reasons, and every one of them is selfish or based in fear. Children are a reward - anyone with a child knows that fully. We are so completely blessed by our children, why would we limit ourselves to just four of them?

Granted, I may never get pregnant again. I'm still nursing Canaan and I didn't get pregnant with him until the month I weaned Caris when she was almost 3. I'm 33 years old and my fertility is likely waning at this point. And you know what? I have four awesome kids and I am so completely content with that.

But if, someday, you see my belly swelling? Please know that my heart is swelling too. My ministry is to my husband and my kids, and if the Lord chooses to grow that ministry, I welcome any children he may bring us.


  1. Emily that was just a beautiful blog entry! :*)

  2. I LOVE it Emiles- I especially love your completely honest and surrendered attitude!

  3. Emily, that was very beautifully written!

  4. 33? I had my FIRST at 32, and well, you know, I went on to have 4 more ;) My last at 39. I somtimes wish I had "known" she was my last, so I could have enjoyed her babyhood more. But you gave a different perspective, thank you. We thought we'd have more..afterall, we bought a 12 seater! But, we kept putting it off, and now I'm 45. I do miss having a baby, a newborn, there is nothing like it on earth! But I shall be content, and very busy, with my 5. Though, it could still happen ;)

  5. I think this area is such a personal and important decision for each family-- and each person may feel differently. But I think you nailed it on the head when you spoke about trusting God if he sends them your way. That's the attitude I am trying to keep no matter what else we may do to prevent or try: we may have a "number" in mind, but I want to always realize that ultimately, He is in control and will bless us or not as He sees fit. You just never know for sure. :) Thanks for sharing your heart with us so beautifully!!

  6. oh my gosh! hw id you know what we have been praying =) beautifuly written.

  7. My sister and I were just discussing the "quiverful" subject 2 days ago. One of the pastors of her church was a staunch quiverful, til his 8th kid. He got up and announced to everyone that he was no longer a quiverful! Everyone was shocked. But his kids were getting neglected.

    SOOOO. I have not studied the bible at all on this subject, so I have nothing more to add, though common sense does seem that one should stop if they are unable to faithfully discipline anymore. I agree that it's not an issue of salvation and so we shouldn't judge others.

    I also totally understand how you felt when Canaan was born. I felt the same way about Ollie, and was grieving every last stage of newborn-ness. Til I too decided not to think about it that way anymore.Who knows what God will bring my way? I am not against more children, as my brother in law would say.

  8. I loved this! I am 30 and awaiting the day that we know we are "with" number 3! :)

  9. This can be such a touchy subject, but you said it really well, Emily. I didn't think my quiver would be full already, with 3 kids. I wanted 6! But I really believe it is full now.

    For us, it's not a "wait and see" kind of thing. If we don't prevent it, they will come. And I don't think God is calling me to let that happen. We were meant to have a third, but at this point, I feel like it would be more like "keeping up with the Joneses" than "letting God bless us."

    I don't think "quiverfull" is a number or an instruction against birth control. I think it's about appreciating your children as gifts. When I am constantly overwhelmed by hormone changes and the needs of a newborn, I have little energy left to appreciate my other "gifts."

    The quality of my mothering suffered with the third, and that's a fact. I'm recovering now, but I wouldn't have had a chance to if we weren't acting prayerfully and responsibly. If God really wants to bless us with another baby, He will, but I no longer feel Him nudging me in that direction.

  10. Wow. I loved reading what other people said. At this point in my "just past nausea" phase I'm sort of "please no more!" in my mind, except for adoption that is, but man, may the Lord have his way with that too!

  11. I really liked reading your thoughts on this. We are coming from such different places, but end up in a similar position. I'm not Christian at all, and rarely talk to anyone who lives religiously in the way y'all seem to. Yet many of the 30-something moms I know end up saying "I'm done - and yet, if I got unintentionally pregnant, I would likely not have an abortion." And for years I was not sure and imagined more children, and it was so comforting to think I did not have to be "done".

    Reading your post, I also thought of my grandmother who left her church and did not go back when her pastor told her she could not use birth control and still be Catholic. It always seemed sad that she lost her church and community. You are lucky in your church and pastor!

    Crunchy Christian Mom I especially enjoyed your comment! Appreciating our children as gifts is certainly something I can agree with...