Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


How Many Children Should We Have? Part 1

I don’t have a Mentor Monday post today.  Instead, I’m going to share about a topic I have wrestled with for many years, and the fruit of those years of study, thought, and prayer.

“Should we have another baby?” 

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of conversations with other women about family size.  It’s a decision that is supposed to be easy to make in our culture, but usually it’s not.  When my friends share their hearts about this topic, I so appreciate their transparency and boy can I identify.

I grew up in a large family and loved it.  I have always wanted a large family.  And now I have one.  No regrets.

I know some Christians don’t struggle with the idea of family size at all.  They view it as a decision for them to make, they make it, and they don’t think twice about it.

Then there are those on the other end of the spectrum, like the Duggar family, who don’t believe in limiting family size at all.

I believe the Biblical view falls somewhere in the middle.

I believe what God says when He tells us that children are an unqualified blessing.

Any child conceived is an eternal soul, made in the image of God.  I think we forget this sometimes in our cavalier attitude toward not having them.

I don’t believe that it’s ever a mistake to have another child.  Children are not a mistake.  They are precious to God and should be to us also.

I realize that, according to Jeremiah, God knows our children BEFORE they are conceived.  I have always had a great fear (respectful fear, not terror) of not having a child God has planned for me.

Our desire should be to have God’s heart toward children—He views them as a blessing, a reward, a gift, He loves them and He calls children to come to Him.

The Bible doesn’t address the issue of birth control at all.  And yes, it existed in Bible times, albeit not in the sophisticated forms we have today.  Scriptures used by “quiverfull” advocates are twisted and pulled out of context, proof-texts turned around to support their view.  God does not forbid limiting family size.

I respect the decision of any couple to have as many children as they desire, including the decision to forego all ways to limit or space children.  I believe that if God leads a family in this way, He will also provide for them sufficiently.

I believe that if a couple chooses to limit their family size, they should choose a way of doing so that does not threaten the life of a child they might inadvertently conceive.  Some common methods of birth control are potentially abortifacent.

I know that a lot of people claim that they can’t afford more children when in reality they don’t want to do without luxuries.

I have talked to many, many older people who wish they had had more children.

I have never talked to a parent of many who regrets any of the children they have.

I believe that most people pray more about whether to get married, change jobs, move, or buy a new puppy than about whether to conceive another child, another eternal soul made in God’s image.

But there’s a caveat.

{Read Part 2 here}


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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!


Linking to Better Mom Monday

A Pause on the Path

Deep Roots at Home

New Life Steward

*For those who have linkies in which I participated this morning…I am having difficulty linking back.  Please be patient, I do want to link to you!*

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It’s 2012! Happy New Year!

I first heard of the idea of choosing a word for the year a few years ago on a secular blog and was smitten.  Now it’s commonplace, even cliché…But I still love it.

Last year and this year I prayed about what my word should be…A focus, a spiritual focal point.  After a brutal 2010, the word God gave me for 2011 was Hope.  It was a hopeful year indeed, from the birth of our little guy on through the year as pieces of life fell together.  I ended 2011 feeling refreshed.

My word for 2012 is Relationship.  It’s so easy to get on autopilot in every relationship—God, husband, children, others…the daily grind of life just takes over and days pass and I realize that while I’ve been continuously with them, I haven’t actually done anything meaningful, we haven’t really engaged in any kind of deep way.  And that’s what I hope to do differently, or at least better.

I don’t want to wake up 10 years from now and find that the whole time that I was feeding, bathing, schooling these little ones 24/7, I never got to know them and built that friendship with them that I could have.  I don’t want to let my marriage drift or my relationship with God grow cold.  This is the year to become more intentional about my relationships, all of them.  To take better care of the ones at home, to be a better friend and neighbor, and to reach out to others who aren’t nearby.

A secondary word for this year is Habit.  I haven’t been very good about establishing good habits with the children, and while I say every year that this is the year it has to change, this really is the year it HAS to change.  Reading Charlotte Mason material, with its emphasis on good habits, has been an extra encouragement in this direction.

How about you?  Do you have a word for the year?


Newlyweds and Holiday Expectations

When I first got married, I expected the holidays to be just like they were when I was at home, with some minor modifications, of course.  Growing up, one of my mom’s greatest strengths is that she made wonderful holiday memories through consistent family traditions.  I loved each one.

Fast forward a few years to married life.  Each year I ended up feeling frustrated and a little sad because so many of these traditions just didn’t happen.  It’s not that we didn’t try.  They just didn’t fit well with my new life, our new schedule, and the personalities of different family members as they came along.

And of course, in my plans I had failed to remember that I was marrying someone from a totally different background with some ideas of his own about some traditions.  Hanging stockings, for instance.  I knew that OF COURSE you hang them on Christmas Eve.  And for the children, you take a picture of them hanging their stocking in the same pose every year.  OF COURSE.  What?  You don’t know that?  Well, my new husband didn’t either.  He knew that OF COURSE you hang them when you put up the tree so that you can enjoy them all month.  It’s silly to have conflict about things like this, but I bet I am not the only one with a similar newlywed story.

My problem is that I naively had expectations about the holidays that were completely unrealistic.  If I could give a bit of advice to newlyweds at Christmas, it would be this.  Let go of all your expectations.  Decorating, activities, food, gifts, all of it.  Consider your new family a clean slate, a new, autonomous entity.  Prepare for the holidays to be not just a little different than you are used to, but radically transformed.  And above all, communicate with your husband.  What family traditions and expectations does he have?  Would he like to incorporate any of these into your new family?  Are there any that he would like to let go?  How much does he want to be involved in shopping, wrapping, cooking?   Tell him the same things about you.  Decide together how you will celebrate, just you and him.

Treasure memories and traditions.  Make a photo album, write about them, enjoy the memories. Keep the traditions that work for you and your new little family, but don’t be a slave to them.  Don’t let your happiness depend on them.  Realize that you are a new and separate family, and the holidays at your house might look a lot like they did when you were at home, or they might look completely and totally different.  If they change, embrace different.  Understand that you are establishing your own home and your own traditions.  Sometimes traditions are made intentionally, and sometimes they evolve.  It’s OK if the family traditions of the past don’t work for you.  Let those expectations go and you will be free to celebrate in the way that fits you and your husband the best.  Enjoy Jesus.  Enjoy each other.  And however you decide to celebrate, enjoy the season!

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Wisdom From Debbie Wilson (Marriage Matters Now) on Parenting

Let’s see if these videos will post, I have been having trouble with part 1.  My friend Debbie Wilson (who, with her husband Steve, has the ministry Marriage Matters Now) shares wonderful, challenging, and encouraging words on parenting through the story of her son Josh.  Take a few moments to watch.




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Heavenly Marriage: Respect

woman waving goodbye

It’s been awhile since I posted anything about marriage, mainly because it’s a touchy subject and I’m chicken!  Jumping in where angels fear to tread… Remember, the best thing you can do for your kids is have a good marriage!

In his book His Needs Her Needs, William F. Harley names respect as one of a man’s top 5 basic needs in marriage.  The Bible concurs.  Ephesians 5: 33 says, “…let the wife see that she respects her husband.”  I’ve listened to a lot of wise ladies through the years who have given me good advice about how to be married.  I thought I’d scratch down a few things they’ve told me about respect.

Even if your husband isn’t an honorable person, it’s possible to respect his position.  But most of us aren’t married to real scoundrels.  Most of us are married to imperfect people just like us.  And in spite of whatever flaw you might see in your husband, in most cases there is also much to admire and respect.


DO look for the best in him.

DO compliment him about absolutely anything you can, even if it’s as mundane as his crack shot or how well he takes care of the truck.

DO brag on his strengths to others, including in his hearing or when you know it could get back to him.

DO support his judgment and decisions. If you disagree, be pleasant about it and let him know you’ll ultimately support whatever he feels is best.  Be willing to lay aside your better judgment, even if it means he makes a mistake.  If he does make a mistake, don’t rub his face in it.  We girls make mistakes; it’s not the end of the world if our men do too.  (Obviously we aren’t talking about immoral, illegal, or abusive activities.)

DO show a united front in front of the kids. Don’t question his decisions in front of them.

DO support his interactions with the children. Resist the urge to “rescue” them from him even if you feel he’s being a bit unfair.  If you have concerns about how he’s interacting with them, discuss it privately, not in their hearing.  (I know, it’s hard!  You can do it!)

DON’T run your husband down in public (even little “joking” remarks).

DON’T complain about him to your mom, sister, or best friend.  You’ll forget, but they won’t.

DON’T look for the worst. If you look for the worst, you will find it.

DON’T be critical and nit-picky. Ask yourself: Will this matter 100  years from now?

DON’T compare him to others, including your dad or some guy in your office.

DON’T let yourself think of him as stupid or fall prey to the idea that men are imbeciles who need women to tell them what to do.  (Warning: If you find yourself rolling your eyes and saying, “Men!” a lot, that’s a good clue that you’ve fallen into this.)

DON’T boss him.

Related:  Heavenly Marriage: Sex


Heavenly Marriage, Part 1: Sex


This is primarily a mothering blog, right? So why in the world am I talking about marriage?

One of the most important things you can do for your children is to have a good marriage. I’ve considered writing about marriage before, because I’ve studied extensively what wise older women have to say about it (in addition to what God’s Word says), but I didn’t intend to start a marriage series now.

Until yesterday, when I ran across this: Call to Action: Pastor Issuing 7-day Sex Challenge. At first I laughed (haha, call to action), and then I paused, truly disheartened that this kind of challenge is even necessary. (By the way, Ed Young Jr., the pastor in the article, is a solid, balanced teacher of God’s Word—not a flaky publicity stunt kind of guy.) So without further ado, I’M WADING IN WHERE GOOD CHRISTIAN GIRLS ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD and talking about sex. I’ll admit, I err on the side of prudery. But in a sex-saturated culture, it’s essential that Christians counter the continuous assault of promiscuity and immorality with God’s wisdom.

I’ve been absolutely amazed over the years at how many women tell me that they aren’t having sex with their husbands. Years ago, a young lady told me how she and her husband didn’t have sex for a year after the birth of their baby “because I didn’t feel like it.” These kids separated and got back together during the course of that year, and they still didn’t have sex. Are you surprised to learn that they ended up divorced? I’m not!

We all know that women typically don’t have male sex drives. But ladies, this is such an important part of loving our husbands. Do you know that God has a lot to say about sex? (He invented it, you know.) The Song of Solomon is an entire Bible book that gives us an intimate snapshot of a couple’s love life. Here’s what Paul tells us in the I Corinthians 7:

But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.

The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.

Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

In other words, just do it. Don’t turn him down, except in the rare instance that you’re sick or otherwise absolutely unable to. We’re not going to talk about all the things he should be doing, because we’ve all learned by now that we can’t change the other person, right? I think it’s far more productive to focus on what we can do to make a better marriage, and pray that God will work on our husbands. I’ve often seen that girls like to wait till things are better in their marriages (particularly in struggling marriages) before they’ll agree to have sex with their husbands. Often, if they’d just have regular, healthy sex, things would get better. I’m not saying that we’ll all be perfect in this area, but I am saying that it should be our goal.

I’ll close with some wise words from a sermon by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle:

“How many of you would think that a couple that doesn’t have enough sex is experiencing demonic spiritual warfare? It’s true. How many Christian marriages divorce? Well, statistically, more than those that are not Christian. When non-Christians can work it out at a rate that is more successful than Christians, that would indicate to me that Satan really has found a way to climb into bed between a husband and a wife and, in one way or another, cause devastation.

“When I’m meeting with a couple, and the husband says, “my wife’s not been very nice to me, so I’m gonna deny her sex. And until she’s nice to me, I’m gonna withhold it.”, that’s demonic. The wife who says, “ya know, I’m just never in the mood, and I know you love me and we have a decent marriage, and there’s no reason… , but I don’t feel like giving it to you”,… that’s demonic.

To be sure, there are sex addicts in marriage who are unreasonable in their expectations of their spouse. But what I’m talking about is the common situation where one person in the marriage wants to be intimate more often than the other, and they’re rejected. They become bitter. Satan comes in and feeds that bitterness, baits the hook of their flesh with the temptation of the world. And all of a sudden, Satan puts in front of them images, people, and opportunities to lead them astray. It doesn’t make anyone a victim, because we all of our own choosing sin. But it does mean that you’re giving Satan an opportunity to literally sleep between you and your spouse.

“…Are you having enough sex? I rarely have had a counseling appointment where they both say, “I’m satisfied with the frequency and freedom of our sexual relationship.” One says, “yeah, I think we’re fine”, and the other person says, “I’m totally frustrated. It’s not very often; it’s not very fun; it’s very predictable; it’s hard for me to rejoice in the wife of my youth.” Sometimes it’s the wife saying, “He doesn’t pursue me, he doesn’t touch me, he doesn’t desire me, he doesn’t compliment me. I’ve got other men who compliment me, pursue me emotionally, and are desirous of me.” And I say, ‘Wow, Satan is here. He is at work.’

“I want you to have that image– that a couple that’s not having free, frequent intimacy– when they go to bed, just think of Satan lying in the bed between the two of them. That’s what Paul’s talking about in 1 Corinthians 7:5. It really is a big issue. It’s not just, ‘I’m more amorous than you are’… this is demonic. It’s demonic. “

Extreme? Hmmm, I don’t think so.

In the same vein, here’s a link to an article my husband wrote, which also links to Driscoll’s sermon Good Sex, Bad Sex.

Other Resources:

Song of Solomon by Tommy Nelson

Intimate Issues: 21 Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus