Real Life Decisions with the Bible

Original post here: http://namandkatie.blogspot.com/2011/01/choosing-ivf-christians-experience.html along with other posts about our sons.

Can we really use the Bible to make real life 21st century decisions?  God’s instructions and care for His people are just as wise now as they were thousands of years ago.

This is from several years ago – years before Nam and I had any children Heavenside or here.  I still get chills remembering God’s embrace as I did this study.  I fall in love with Him again as I read the very real application of God’s word into our lives.

And I hope this helps direct somebody else to God’s word for wisdom on any path he needs.

You arleady know ultimately our conclusion from this study, prayer, and wise counsel was that God is the absolute sole creator of life through any means He wants.  Period.  There is no life without Him. And we felt confident pursuing IVF/ICSI to His glory however it would turn out.  Here was our study:

Choosing IVF – A Christian’s Experience

Praying about IVF

I know that God has promised us a child.  I feel completely convicted about this over and over and have for months.  However, I am unsure about how to proceed with this promise.  The doctors have told us that we have a very minimal chance (but still a chance!) of conceiving naturally.  They recommend IVF/ICSI.  Aside from the ethical dilemmas that I know can be navigated through, I have concerns about whether utilizing technology to create life – where there would be none without – is appropriate for us.

My main issue stems from the story of Sarai and Abram.  God promises Abram early on and repeatedly that he will have many descendents.  Always, this covenant is made with Abram, not with Abram AND Sarai.  Finally, Sarai gives over her maiden to Abram to impregnate so that Abram can build a family through Hagar.  And, he does.  Ishmael is conceived.  However, this was man fulfilling God’s promise, not God fulfilling God’s promise…which He does later.  God does eventually address Sarai when he tells Abram that He will bless her with a son so that she will be the mother of nations.  The news is repeated about Sarah conceiving (not the covenant with Abram) again by the three heavenly messengers.  Sarah does, in fact, conceive and bear Isaac.

I am praying about this, but I want to know further what God’s Word says on the matter of infertility.  So, some questions I am going to ask:

  1. In each situation of infertility, were children desired and why?
  2. In each situation of infertility, what circumstances brought about the infertility?
  3. How was the person’s relationship with God?
  4. What was the state of the relationship in which the infertility occurred?
  5. How did God Himself address the infertility?
  6. Did any circumstances change before fertility?
  7. Did the infertile person/couple change before fertility?
  8. Why did God give the blessing of a child?
  9. How is each instance similar to us?
  10. How is each instance different than us?

Before I explore these questions, I am going to list out some parameters that I believe God to set for us:

  • God uses varying methods of creation (word, Adam’s side, sex, immaculate conception)
  • God tells us to procreate (Gen 9:1, 9:7),
  • Sex is the method of procreation for people during Biblical times,
  • God created husbands and wives with the intent of sex between the two of them only (Gen 2:24-25),
  • Therefore, procreation ought to only occur within the boundaries of marriage.
  • God intends every single creation
  1. Gen 1     God speaks matter into existence.
  2. Gen 2     God breathing life into the dirt when he creates humanity
  3. Gen 29   The LORD opens Leah’s womb b/c she was hated
  4. Gen 30   God opens Rachel’s womb
  5. I Sam 1  The LORD opens Hannah’s womb
  6. Psalm 139            God knit David together in his mother’s womb
  7. Rom 4    God “gives life to the dead then calls into being that which does not exist” – Paul is thinking explicitly about the elderly Abraham and Sarah having a baby and becoming the father of many nations.

Ultimately, I need to know if utilizing a means other than sex for procreation within the confines of marriage is okay.  Is pursuing IVF us fulfilling God’s promise ourselves rather than waiting on God to fulfill His promise?

Infertility in Fertile Pages

Abram and Sarai
1.      Were children desired and why? Yes, God promised Abram descendents
2.      What circumstances brought about the infertility? Sarai was barren, then she was old
3.      How was the person’s relationship with God? They were obedient, righteous, and faithful (except for running ahead  – resulting in Ishmael)
4.      What was the state of the male/female relationship? Married, good relationship
5.      How did God Himself address the infertility? Continued to promise that Abram would have descendents;

Eventually said that Sarah would have a son

6.      Did any circumstances change before fertility? God told more of the covenant to Abraham – changed his name and had him and all become circumcised as a sign of the covenant
7.      Did the infertile person/couple change before fertility? Showed faith and obedience by becoming circumcised

Sarah laughed at the promise and lied about laughing (out of fear)

8.      Did the infertile person/couple change after fertility? Abraham kept covenant & circumcised Isaac

Sarah rejoiced and shared God’s goodness with others

9.      Why did God give the blessing of a child? To fulfill His promise

To have a chosen people

10.   How is this similar to us? Feel like God has promised us a child

We are confident that God will fulfill His promise

We have a strong marriage

Is IVF the same as Hagar?

11.   How is this different than us? I’m not barren or old

There IS a chance of conception naturally

God did not speak verbally to us

12.   And, so?  What can I take from this for us? God makes His promises clear

God fulfills His promises despite our wavering belief

We are to continue being faithful and obedient

Isaac and Rebekah
1.      Were children desired and why? Yes
2.      What circumstances brought about the infertility? Rebekah was barren
3.      How was the person’s relationship with God? Excellent
4.      What was the state of the male/female relationship? Excellent – Isaac was praying on behalf of Rebekah
5.      How did God Himself address the infertility? He answered His prayer
6.      Did any circumstances change before fertility? No
7.      Did the infertile person/couple change before fertility? No
8.      Did the infertile person/couple change after fertility? Rebekah went to the Lord with her questions

She loved one child more

9.      Why did God give the blessing of a child? Because Isaac asked
10.   How is this similar to us? Desire a child

Good marriage

We approach God with our questions

11.   How is this different than us? Praying for spouses’ fertility specifically
12.   And, so?  What can I take from this for us? Pray specifically for Nam’s fertility
Jacob and Leah
1.      Were children desired and why? Yes
2.      What circumstances brought about the infertility? Leah’s womb closed
3.      How was the person’s relationship with God? He opened Leah’s womb, but closed Rachel’s
4.      What was the state of the male/female relationship? Started out of a trick

No love

Duty/obligation

Eventually one of honor?

5.      How did God Himself address the infertility? n/a
6.      Did any circumstances change before fertility? Jacob’s love for Rachel was more
7.      Did the infertile person/couple change before fertility? No
8.      Did the infertile person/couple change after fertility? Hoped that Jacob would love her more and more

Praised the Lord

Competed with sister in jealous affection over husband

9.      Why did God give the blessing of a child? Because God saw Leah’s misery

Intended Joseph for future use

10.   How is this similar to us? Desire children

God sees our misery and desire

11.   How is this different than us? Based on love and choice, not a trick

No competing wives

Intention with child is not for spousal love

12.   And, so?  What can I take from this for us? God sees our misery and desire
Jacob and Rachel
1.      Were children desired and why? Yes

Innate

To compete with sister

2.      What circumstances brought about the infertility? God closed her womb because she had the love of Jacob and Leah didn’t (opened Leah’s womb)
3.      How was the person’s relationship with God? ?
4.      What was the state of the male/female relationship? Love

Turbulent

5.      How did God Himself address the infertility? He listened to her and opened her womb
6.      Did any circumstances change before fertility? ?
7.      Did the infertile person/couple change before fertility? ?
8.      Did the infertile person/couple change after fertility? Thankful to God

Asked Him for another son

Had another son

Died due to childbirth

9.      Why did God give the blessing of a child? He remembered her
10.   How is this similar to us? Relationship of love
11.   How is this different than us? No competing spouse

Not a turbulent relationship

God remembers us

God listens to us

12.   And, so?  What can I take from this for us? God remembers us

God listens to us

Manoah and Wife
1.      Were children desired and why? ?
2.      What circumstances brought about the infertility? Wife was barren
3.      How was the person’s relationship with God? ?
4.      What was the state of the male/female relationship? ?
5.      How did God Himself address the infertility? Angel of the Lord appeared to wife

Told her she would birth a son

Gave her specific instructions to avoid wine, strong drink, and any unclean food

Also gave instruction to not cut boys’ hair

Told the boy would begin to lead the Israelites out of the Philistines’ rule

Answered Manoah’s prayer and reappeared and repeated His instructions

Accepted offerings from Manoah and wife

Ascended into Heaven before Manoah and wife

6.      Did any circumstances change before fertility? no
7.      Did the infertile person/couple change before fertility? Fell on their faces towards God
8.      Did the infertile person/couple change after fertility? ?
9.      Why did God give the blessing of a child? Intended the child for future use
10.   How is this similar to us? Not
11.   How is this different than us? Wife is barren

God appeared to couple

God gave specific instructions for wife and son

God ascended to Heaven before couple

12.   And, so?  What can I take from this for us? Pray for God’s specific instruction

Pray that God will use our child very specifically

Hannah and Elkanah
1.      Were children desired and why? Yes

Innate desire

Ridiculed

2.      What circumstances brought about the infertility? Hannah was barren
3.      How was the person’s relationship with God? Faithful
4.      What was the state of the male/female relationship? Very loving

Husband cared deeply and provided for her

5.      How did God Himself address the infertility? He remembered her and she conceived a son
6.      Did any circumstances change before fertility? No
7.      Did the infertile person/couple change before fertility? Hannah poured out her heart to the Lord

Shared her anguish with priest

She promised her son over to His service (only keeping him a few years and then giving him over to the priesthood)

8.      Did the infertile person/couple change after fertility? No, husband continued his support
9.      Why did God give the blessing of a child? Had the specific intention for Samuel
10.   How is this similar to us? Pour our hearts out to the Lord

Loving, providing marriage

Shared our desire to raise our child for the Lord

11.   How is this different than us? No ridicule

No specific promise to hand child over somewhere

12.   And, so?  What can I take from this for us? Promise to the Lord to raise our child for His purpose

Continue to pour out our heart

Share our prayer with others

Michal and David
1.      Were children desired and why? ?
2.      What circumstances brought about the infertility? She despised seeing her husband give his all to the Lord
3.      How was the person’s relationship with God? I guess not great if she despised somebody worshipping Him
4.      What was the state of the male/female relationship? She spoke to David crossly
5.      How did God Himself address the infertility? She never had children
6.      Did any circumstances change before fertility? n/a
7.      Did the infertile person/couple change before fertility? n/a
8.      Did the infertile person/couple change after fertility? n/a
9.      Why did God give the blessing of a child? He didn’t because her heart was hardened
10.   How is this similar to us? It’s not!
11.   How is this different than us? We relish seeing one another worship the Lord

Our hearts are softened to Him

12.   And, so?  What can I take from this for us? Praise God for the other’s worship and obedience

Plead with Him to help keep our hearts soft

Shunnamite woman
1.      Were children desired and why? ?
2.      What circumstances brought about the infertility? ?
3.      How was the person’s relationship with God? Good (she recognized a man of God and cared for him)
4.      What was the state of the male/female relationship? Good (he honored her request to build an upper room)
5.      How did God Himself address the infertility? Spoke through the prophet and said that she would have a son
6.      Did any circumstances change before fertility? She was always hospitable to the prophet Elisha

She went out of her way to make him comfortable

7.      Did the infertile person/couple change before fertility? No
8.      Did the infertile person/couple change after fertility? Kept her steadfast faith so that her son was even raised from the dead!
9.      Why did God give the blessing of a child? Because of her care for Him and Elisha
10.   How is this similar to us? Good relationship with God
11.   How is this different than us? We should care more for His people

No prophets to care for

12.   And, so?  What can I take from this for us? We should care more for His people
Zacharias and Elisabeth
1.      Were children desired and why? Yes
2.      What circumstances brought about the infertility? ?

They were old

3.      How was the person’s relationship with God? Excellent
4.      What was the state of the male/female relationship? Excellent
5.      How did God Himself address the infertility? Sent Gabriel to tell Zacharias that he would have a son and the son would prepare the way for the Lord
6.      Did any circumstances change before fertility? No
7.      Did the infertile person/couple change before fertility? Zacharias was made mute because he did not initially believe Gabriel
8.      Did the infertile person/couple change after fertility? Elisabeth rejoiced and shared with neighbors her joy

Zacharias was made unmute and praised the Lord proclaiming what his son was to do

9.      Why did God give the blessing of a child? To prepare the way of the Lord
10.   How is this similar to us? Strong relationship with God

Strong marriage

11.   How is this different than us? Gabriel not spoken to us; not old
12.   And, so?  What can I take from this for us? Believe the Lord

What about Breakfast?

You see it on all the Facebook groups.  “Help, I’m eating x style now and what do I eat for breakfast???”
We really are programmed to think some foods are only good for the morning time.  That’s not true.

The only rules I think we need for eating are:

  1.  Eat Real Food (follow previously given parameters if needed)
  2. Chew completely (liquify your food!)
  3. Eat protein every two hours if you have blood sugar issues

So, what about breakfast?  Here’s what I’m telling my friend who is a busy homeschooling mama:

  1.  Leftovers
  2. Meat Patties/Bacon/Pulled Rotisserie Chicken
  3. Eggs (preferably yolks only)
  4. Green Smoothie

 

VOMS and Gutter Foods

As previously explained, I’m severely limiting choice in recipes in order to help grow my friend’s abilities and confidence in the kitchen as she transitions from hurting to healing foods.

This is the personalized list of recipes I’m having her choose from.  She to make something from each category (two vegetables) each week, adjusting quantities for her family.  I’ve suggested writing them on index cards and just randomly grabbing so she doesn’t get bogged down in even these limited choices.

VOMS Chart

HWKIP = He Won’t Know It’s Paleo          WM = The Wellness Mama Cookbook

THK = The Healing Kitchen       APC = Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook

(Undesignated recipe sources are ones I share my personal cooking method with my friend)

 

VOMS Chart

I also want to give a reasonable list of Gutter Foods (keeps her at least inside the parameters laid out!) so that if overwhelming craving or family emergency comes up, leaving the new way of eating doesn’t have to happen:

Sweets

Coconut Milk Ice Cream (play with flavor – I prefer vanilla)

Hot “Chocolate”

Pumpkin Pudding

Carob Brownies, HWKIP

Dutch Apple Pie, HWKIP

Blackberry Cobbler, HWKIP

Costco Organic Fruit Pops (for kiddos)

 

Drinks

Kombucha

Kevita

Homemade ACV Water

Homemade Lemonade

 

Always On Hand (to stay in your lane!)

Protein: Rotisserie Chicken – pulled

Cooked Bacon

Meat Patties

Berries, Grapes, Apples, Clementines

Boulder Coconut Oil or Avocado Oil Chips

Jackson’s Sweet Potato Chips

Plantain Chips

Seed Butter (Costco has Nutzzo Seed Butter)

Costco Cocoa Krisp (for kiddos)

Lara Bars, fruit (for kiddos)

Honey

Maple Syrup

Coconut Milk

Pureed Pumpkin (canned)

 

Transition Parameters – Hurting to Healing Foods

Following last week’s blog post about helping my friend shift her paradigm, I’m sharing the parameters I have for her food consumption.

ULTIMATELY, my friend will land at AIP or Whole 30 or whatever personalized diet is best for her body.

This is designed to get her off a diet of hurting foods to healing foods.  Some specific tweaks that will need to happen over time include greater variety, less substitute type foods, eliminating nightshades, seeds, eggs, etc.  Ideally, keeping food preparation simple by just flavoring and cooking a real food is best.  But that is probably not going to be helpful for somebody accustomed to pizza and cheeseburgers  and tator tot casserole.

My goal for my friend is to stay in her food lane with specific parameters.  And just like a bowling lane, various spots on the lane lead to better results.  And there are gutters.  While I don’t want my friend to visit the gutters, at least I can offer some gutter foods that will keep her in the lane instead of jumping into somebody else’s lane or leaving the bowling alley altogether!  Over time, her planning and preparation skills will grow AND her body will heal enough that she will move past spending time in the gutter.  Plus, budgetary constraints mean that making specific sweets or always buying the acceptable potato chips will just not happen long-term.

Another very important point for my friend specifically is that she’s a mom with teenagers and elementary children.  They have well-formed habits and palates.  I want to be incredibly sensitive to how difficult it is to change not only her own lifestyle, but also the lifestyle of her children and husband.

Parameters

No Grains: rice and oats for kids

No Dairy

No Legumes (peanuts, green beans, peas, etc)

No Nuts

No Soy

All Meats

All Fish

All Vegetables except cooking white/red potatoes (sweet potatoes are good); I allow Boulder coconut oil or avocado oil potato chips as a gutter food

All Fruit except bananas, pineapple, mango

All mushrooms

All Herbs

All Spices

Seeds

Eggs: Pasture raised and gmo and abx free, prefer consuming yolks only

Sweeteners: Only maple syrup and honey (Commercial kombucha and kevita okay)

Over time, we will re-evaluate these food parameters and modify based on symptoms, abilities, and budget.  We may be able to become more lax in some areas or we may need to restrict further.

Sick

My friend is sick, her kids are sick.  They are always sick.  And she is sick of it.
We were able to have a sweet conversation about paradigm shifts concerning health and wellness.  And now I get to help her with that shift.  But, oh where to start?

I’ve been on my own journey of healing for ten years and more focused for the last five.  I’ve seen dramatic results and changes and the wisdom of my Great Gram isn’t dying out but being passed on to my own daughters!  Many of you who know me personally have watched this transformation up close and personal!

This is an abbreviated approach on purpose: my goal is to start with food.  And I’m not getting into specifics like organics and non-gmo and coconut oil extraction methods, etc, because that is not a good beginning place.  That’s later.  Right now, I want to move my friend into the realm of understanding food only hurts or heals and how a homeschooling wife and mama can have victory!  And it can be delicious!

squash

I’ll be hitting these areas with her as well as sending her daily articles (educational and testimonial) to read:

  1. Knowledge
    1. How the gut works and what is leaky gut?
    2. What things impact the gut?
      1. Foods (dividing into inflammatory or healing)
      2. Toxins (staying brief!)
      3. Medications (staying brief)
    3. How to heal the gut?
      1. Foods
      2. Supplements (staying brief!)
      3. Detoxification (staying brief!)
      4. Protection (staying brief!)
  2.  Parameters
    1. Rules
    2. Contraction/Release
    3. The ALWAYS boundaries
    4. Gutter cheats while still in your lane – survival and danger
  3. Application
    1. Meal Planning (for real!)
    2. Limit recipe selections (lots of good recipes out there, but too many choices! Get one great cookbook and stick with it!)
    3. VOMS method (my own creation!) – eat a buffet all week!
      1. Veggie dishes (at least two!)
      2. One pot meal
      3. Meat (just one!)
      4. Soup
    4. Foods to always have on hand
      1. Smoothie ingredients
      2. Pulled rotisserie chicken
      3. Plantain chips (let’s be real!)
      4. Kombucha, Kevita, or lemons
    5. Grocery List
      1. Write down all things from recipes
      2. Shop at your house first and cross off the list
      3. Reorganize your grocery list into sections at the grocery store (meats, produce, pantry)
        1. Try to buy all pantry online to be cheaper and to avoid danger zones at the store
        2. Be strategic and visualize walking through the grocery. AVOID the bakery area!  AVOID danger aisles!
        3. Get the small shopping cart.
    6. Execution
      1. Day One: Planning and Shopping
      2. Day Two: Prepping and cook One Pot meal
      3. Day Three/Remainder of Week: Cook other meals
        1. Initially, it helped me to do all my cooking on one day.
    7. Stretching/Exploring
      1. When/how to go outside your cookbook (NOT NOW!)
  4.  Basics
    1. Kitchen Tools
      1. Knife, Blender, Strainer, Reamer, microplaner – everything else is a luxury
    2. Pantry Items
      1. Fats – start with fats ALWAYS (coconut oil, evoo, avocado oil, lard, tallow, duck fat, controversial palm oil, sesame seed oil)
      2. Saucy liquidy stuff (ACV, Coconut Aminos, Coconut Milk)
      3. Herbs/Spices
      4. Snacks (this is a gutter and can be dangerous!)
    3. Make-food-taste-good basics:
      1. Marinade meats (it’s all in the brine!)
      2. Root Veggie basics (fat and salt)
      3. Leafy Green cooking (fat, salt, garlic)
      4. Stir Fry (fat, coconut aminos, lemon juice, water)

I know this is just an outline, but I hope this gives you an idea of how to pursue taking charge of your health!

Peace, Love, Jesus!

PS – Because I know my friend intimately, I’ve made her a selection of VOMS recipes to choose each week.  I selected from my own favorite cookbooks including:

The Healing Kitchen

Autoimmune Paleo

He Won’t Know It’s Paleo

The Wellness Mama Cookbook

UltraMetabolism Cookbook (only two recipes and I’ve modified both for her already – otherwise, this isn’t a particularly excellent cookbook.  But it’s near to my heart because it’s the first cookbook I ever bought after my typical amount of million hours of research and it started my understanding of the body and how delicious real foods could be.)

PPS – I am also offering AIP deserts initially because cutting that out altogether would be way too drastic of a shift for her family.  As you know AIP sweets tend to be costly, and I think that will be its own deterrent.  But I need to give her inside-the-parameters options so she doesn’t abandon eating well!  I’ll admit that my own wellness continued the first couple of months propelled only by another pan of carob brownies and coconut milk ice cream.  Ha!

PPPS – The picture above is baked kabocha squash: sliced, oiled, salted, and a little real cinnamon. Delicious!

Easy Peasy Grocery Shopping

YES, a new blog post!  I am copying this off my Facebook page at 11pm while my three year olds sit on the floor playing Call the Midwife delivering each other’s babies.  Yes, 11pm.  So, of course, it’s the perfect time to think about my blog!

Four to Adore recently shared some great grocery money saving tips.  I loved their list and thought I’d piggyback with our own practices:

1. All pantry items get ordered from co-ops or websites. This means grocery trips only have to be the perimeter of the grocery store (or just the fresh food section)

2. I keep all like items together. Not doing this meant I ended up with 8 jars of mustard. One would be open in the fridge, id run out, purchase more at the store along with an extra just in case. But then one would go in the pantry and one in the fridge. I ended up with a lot of mustard in the pantry! So now if it ultimately needs refrigeration, it goes there immediately.

3. Similar to above for household goods including large quantities: I keep them within visual access. Previously I’d buy a bulk quantity of ziploc bags at Costco. I’d keep one in the house and the rest in the garage. But they’d inevitably get jumbled and hidden, so I’d think I was out and buy more. Now they’re inside in a cabinet (all of them!) and I can be confident knowing I’m seeing everything.

4. I made a list of the most frequently purchased produce and hit up all the grocery stores around to find those prices. I had to do this a number of times because stores change prices frequently. But it gave me a feel for choosing where to usually go for produce. I thought Aldi would have been cheapest, but for us it was more costly than Sprouts! I thought Tom Thumb would be cheaper than Whole Foods, but for organic stuff, they are almost double the price! That was a project worth my time and probably had the most impact on our budget.

5. If I need a “specialty” or seasonal only produce, I call the stores and ask for produce and I ask if it’s in stock in the quality I want and how much it is. So I keep those phone numbers in my phone.

6. In particular on quality and specific brands of some products – a lot of times those are items other like-minded people purchase, too. So, we can participate in bulk buys or co-op purchases. Facebook and your chiropractor’s office would be great resources for that.

7. Meal planning for us only includes two or three meals. We have enough regular product and meats and eggs on hand that we can just assemble whatever we want for breakfast and lunch and snacks. So I’m only meal planning larger supper meals. Then we eat off those two or three meals the whole week. And we may eat it for breakfast, lunch, or supper. We don’t have a traditional American type of eating where particular foods/meals are only for particular meals. We may have fish and avocado for breakfast and eggs and bacon for supper. Lots of leftovers here. That’s what we eat.

8. Our grocery list is usually small enough that I can text it to hubby and he can pick it up on his way home. Then, the girls and I are only going to Costco for things we normally get there (a few produce and household items). Or, I run to the grocery after kiddos have gone to bed. Sometimes, we all go during the day because I want them to practice, but going alone allows for quick in/out and that always means savings.

9. Prep produce right away. If I cut it up and have it ready to cook, then I have to use it. Otherwise, sometimes I allow it to just sit and I stretch our other food and don’t make that planned meal and the produce goes bad. Waste of money.

10. Take cash money to the grocery. No debit cards. Having a monthly amount in an envelope I can see dwindling makes me much more thoughtful about what I’m purchasing.

Other things that I don’t do but would save money:
1. Participate in a local produce group – CSA
2. Grow your own. We will be growing tomatoes, peppers, and herbs soon because those are the more expensive things we purchase.

Happy Grocerying!

Nine Reasons I Regret Staying Home: Reshaped

blueberriesWhile I am currently still a working mama, my schedule affords months on end of being at home with my children. My very diverse friends in a Facebook group are discussing this post, and I wanted to chime in with some hope and a rosy (and sometimes bloody!) picture of motherhood.

For years, I lived inside infertility. My heart yearned and ached for a child without ever knowing precisely what motherhood was like from the inside. But, oh that ache was spot on. And whether a mama is able to stay home with her little ones or is a part from them through the day, shaping children is an art full of beauty and satisfaction like nothing else.

 

Below are the reasons Lisa Hefferman cited for regretting staying at home with her children. I’ve offered my own thoughts about each one.

 

  1. I let down those who went before me

No, Mama! The feminist movement was about choice; they are glad you had choice. If you let down specific people like your mother or grandmother telling you to not stay home, well, it’s sad that they did not pass on a heritage of cultivating families and shaping children. It’s sad that your relationship with them isn’t such that they’re proud of you for being a person of strong fiber, that they love you just because you are. That should be enough. And that reflects them, not you. Besides, the past is done. The future is what you are home for!

  1. I used my driver’s license far more than my degrees

Life is not static. We grow, change, move. Education ought to shape our thinking and, perhaps, offer job opportunities. But mostly, it serves a minimal function in the scheme of all life. Your degree gave you a particular context that no doubt shaped you, and for that you can be grateful. But when that part of life ends (whether for a season or for good), you are not without benefit from the experiences and paradigms education gave.

  1. My kids think I did nothing

If you want your children to know what you are doing, then tell them. As you rebuke them, encourage them, redirect them, instruct them, listen to them, deny them, allow them, love them – tell them what you are doing. Tell them why. Tell them how. Tell them everything. As you live your life, live it openly. Share your victories, your failures, your hope, your fears, your prayers, your joy, your sorrows, your heart. Tell them what you want them to know.

Yes, you are cooking, cleaning, wiping noses, coordinating appointments, fetching dry cleaning, and choosing the best toilet paper. But, hopefully, you are seeking to shepherd your children in all of it! Hopefully, you are training them every minute to be obedient, submissive, gentle, kind, compassionate, faithful, joyful, serving, wise, insightful, repentant, grateful, hard working, humble, passionate, peaceful, patient, loyal, and loving.

My best friend has four children and said some days she just wants to tell people her job is clearing counters. Her husband entreated her to not diminish her work. He emphasized that she is shaping the next generation. And of course she is! While her children may not realize it now (though I know them and suspect they do), she is molding them into who they will be and one day, they will realize that parents influence children. Every expectation of answering, “Yes, Mommy,” every rehearsal of how to wash hands, brush teeth, clear the table, change the trash, fold the wash, every request to share or try that again, every instruction to ask sister for forgiveness, every card colored for a sick friend, every fort built out of old towels, every hug, every prayer, every Bible study, every apology, every tear, every redo – they are all wetting the clay, smoothing the edges, and bringing out something beautiful.

  1. My world narrowed

I can see this – depending on the location and the technology available and just the time, yes, a mom’s world can be narrowed from what it was. But, it is also widened to so much more! Our children’s eyes are a window to a world we have forgotten – to a world where even the most unlovely creature is valuable. Our children show what we most need to work on and expand. Yes, our social interactions and the diversity we previously enjoyed may grow slim, but a depth beyond is suddenly plentiful.

And, if that’s not enough (and sometimes on a Thursday at 2pm, it’s not!), with some effort, we can find diversity in other places – even if it’s just Facebook. Though that may lead into needing to learn limits, too…Hence:

  1. I got sucked into a mountain of volunteer work

To be honest, I have no idea how a mom could have time for volunteer work. But this may just be one of my own limitations as a mom of twin toddlers. Our serving is currently limited finger painting cards for the post and helping the elderly unload their Costco baskets. Looking to my friends of older children, I see that the answer is twofold. First, saying no is a powerful lesson all women should learn. When I first started my career, I realized quickly that when I shared why I was declining something, people were eager to “help” make a way for me to be able to help them. So, my response became, “No, but thank you for asking.” This was pretty freeing. The other part of the solution is to make sure the whole family is serving – use it as an enriching time of sharing the joy of serving with your children. Say no to coordinating vendors for the junior league fundraiser, but say yes to sorting donations at the local mission. Say no to creating a database, but yes to making cookies and cards and visiting the local nursing home. Yes, it requires some finesse to say no and energy to go outside the home. But the reward of teaching our children to serve joyfully will last generations.

  1. I worried more

I’m sorry. This is probably a challenge for all mamas – working or not. I don’t know how to address this without the Lord because I don’t know another trustworthy person who will not fail us. But even mamas who love the Lord find this creeping up. I think the answer lies in going to the throne and constantly giving up our worries and our children to the One who can change and allow and disallow and protect.

As for microfocusing on our children – that’s another challenge. We need to tend to and shape our children but not in a way that loses site of our life’s work. I’m guessing this is probably more of an ebb and flow process than a checklist. So far, it’s been my husband who has calibrated this for me.

  1. With my husband I slipped into a more traditional marriage

Marriages should grow since life has different seasons. I’m not sure how satisfying an unconventional marriage can truly be (or I guess what somebody might mean by “nontraditional”), but a traditional marriage offers great joy. Having defined roles and expectations is always a part of a successful marriage. Choose your mate well. Pray for maturing and unity in the marriage. Strive to put your husband above your children. Instead of worrying about the aging of a young marriage, find simple ways to respect and enjoy your husband every day.

  1. I became outdated

Oh well. Technology is a means to an end and there is always another way to the end. (Besides, you have that degree showing you are capable of learning, so you can always learn new technologies later.) As for snide, eye-rolling youngsters, well, shame on them for having a deficient character. Perhaps a gentle word from you, wise mama, could offer a chance for them to grow.

  1. I lowered my sights and lost confidence

Oh, Mama! I feel the older women in your life failed you to not share the high calling of building the future. Yes, choosing to stay home does usually mean releasing career ambitions – but it should be replaced with eternal ambitions! Will confidence falter? ABSOLUTELY! You wrangled the shark floor of Wall Street and now a tantruming two year old is about to do you in. But, back to basics. What’s the overriding goal of being home? What’s your source for strength? What’s your strength for confidence? Having children will expose the false sources and point you to truth if you will let them.

 

Seeing this blogger’s recent post makes me sad that she has regrets because it means she missed it. Her husband missed it. Her kids missed it. Probably her grandchildren will miss it. It’s not that staying home is where the value lies, but this mama sadly doesn’t see that the depth of joy being at home offers is so much greater than the regrets she lists.

Image

God’s Miracles

God's Miracles

These girls shine Christ’s light: His love, His hope, His redemption, His healing.
All good things come from Heaven above, and All things are possible with Christ Jesus our Lord.
Praise Him from whom ALL blessings flow.

Inarticulable

Charlotte Louise and Esther Grace – God’s shining glory.

NICU Pic Smiles

A New Year, A New Us

happy new year

Lots of people take the opportunity at the start of a new year to make resolutions – commitments to certain new actions; Nam and I have never been these people.  However, the opportunity of a fresh vantage point is a neat thing.  So, in our family, we have a discussion time of what challenges we anticipate facing in the year ahead.  We commit those to the Lord in prayer asking Him to go before us in all of it.  And, this year, we’ve decided to add a verse for the year: a family motto, so to speak, that will call us back to how we want to approach challenges.

Here are some of the challenges we anticipate this year:

  • The logistics of having two new babies to care for.  How do we balance being the sole care providers for them with the reality that they are not to be the ultimate center of our household?  (Especially in the face of being Isaac and Samuel’s parents…how do we not just crumple under our enormous love for these girls?)  What things can we do now that set a good precedent for how we want to later approach things with them?
  • The financial change of having two new mouths and bottoms to tend to, as well as the decision about being a one- or two-income household.
  • A changing marriage: certainly our marriage has been colored by infertility and loss for so many years that having that veil lifted will be a new chapter.  Pregnancy has been a unique time, too.  We look forward to restoring a new intimacy to our marriage, but we don’t want to be naïve that our hearts will not automatically and wholly be pulled to girls, girls, girls!  We remember how our own hand-holding changed when Annie came into our home – and she’s just a puppy!
  • Extended family dynamics: these are always interesting, but we love our families so much that we wanted to ask the Lord to intervene.  As our family has changed, so has our extended families’ lives changed.  With the addition of Charlotte and Esther, our interactions and roles with them will be different.
  • Nam has a business opportunity that we would really like to pursue.  The particulars may be challenging for a number of reasons.
  • Nam will be taking on a formal leadership role as deacon at our church.  We expect this to paint a different type of target on our family’s back for Satan.  We want to be vigilant of this, but stand firm in serving where God has called us.
  • For me specifically, I feel the need to be precious in a new way.  For so long, I’ve been a medical pincushion, a radiation sponge, or a baby vessel.  I’d like to be just me and feel treasured just that way.  Plus, while my stretch marks might be beautiful to some now (NOT me!), I’m sure they’ll be far less appealing without sweet little girls kicking them from the inside.  I admire my friends who call their stretch marks victory, but I am not in that category of gals.
  • For Nam specifically, he needs to feel treasured and honored as the leader of our family – not just as a financial provider or worker bee in our house.  On our list of challenges, this one holds a top spot.  A husband respected as head keeps the family well-led.
  • Finally, a changing relationship with the Lord will occur.  He is taking us out of the desert and into the Promised Land.  Not only do we not want to forget the intimacy we’ve had with Him in the desert, but we do not want to follow the steps of our forefathers and forget all He’s done for us.  The luxurious amount of time we’ve had to steep in God’s word is certainly going to lessen as bottles and diapers become necessary, but that doesn’t change our own need for feeding.  So, continuing to relate to the Lord but on a new plane will be another top priority.

Our family motto for the year comes from Philippians 4 – And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

We want our family to be to others as the Philippians were to Paul: concerned, caring, knowing what it is to be in need, and knowing what it is to have plenty.  And at the end of all of that, we want to assert trust in our Lord that He will meet all of our needs.  When babies cries are never-ending, we want to expect Christ’s soothing.  When the Dave Ramsey budget isn’t balanced, we want to have the peace of Christ’s coming provision wash over us.  When I am covered in two day old puke crying at being overwhelmed and longing for being back in my classroom (Ha!), I want to remember God’s provision both past and future.  When Nam comes from coaching to a filthy home requiring more work, we want to remember and ask God to meet the needs of his heart.

And maybe none of those things will happen.  Maybe we will be a storybook family.  But either way, we know that God will meet all of our needs (even in unexpected ways) because of Christ, just as He has always done.

Happy New Year to you and your family And our God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

Aaron Shust

My Savior, My God – great video of Aaron Shust performing this modified hymn