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God's Glory and Childrearing

Posted by christiandoula on November 9, 2009 at 7:17 AM Comments comments (28)

These words come from a baby shower devotional I attended. They are so full of God's wisdom that I asked the author, Mrs. Talcott, to send them to me so I could share them with you.

 

Psalm 127:3-5

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,

The fruit of the womb is a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,

So are the children of one=s youth.

How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;

They will not be ashamed

When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

 

I love these verses. They were posted on the wall in my mother-in-law's kitchen the summer that we lived there, when our son was born. Since then, I have come back to the beautiful imagery for reassurance as our family kept expanding. No matter how many comments you will get from impolite strangers in the grocery store, these verses confirm that in God's eyes, families are a blessing and a reward. God has given us this awesome gift, what does it matter what the rest of society thinks?

 

Mama, you know in ways that some of us do not realize how much children are a blessing. You and your husband have wanted children for several years, and have learned lessons of patience and trust while you waited on God for a baby. So I wanted to take some time to look at how children are a blessing, and how, even in your hard days of parenting, you can come back to this promise for comfort.

 

Children fill our houses with joy and excitement. You will experience this the moment you meet your baby, and the feeling will only deepen with time. You won't be happy all the time, and your children won't be easy all the time, but you will look back on your days of married-without-children, and feel that your evenings must have been incredibly boring.

Children remind us how our faith should be. Children love you unconditionally, and are quick to forgive your offenses against them. Do we love and adore God without reserve, even when he disciplines us? While we will not be forgiving God, do we obey His command to forgive others in the manner that we have been forgiven?

 

Not only do children believe every word that we say, they delight in every word that we say. They love to have you talk to them, to interact with them, to be involved in any activity that you're involved in. Can we say that about ourselves and God? How many days do we delight in His word and in His work?

 

Children remind us of the relationship of dependence we have on God. You will do so many things for your child that he will not even realize he needs. As you provide food and shelter for your little baby, and love and nurturing, you will see that he has no knowledge of his own needs. We are so dependent on God, we cannot even see the extent of it! You will also notice quickly that he has no appreciation for the provision you give him, much less the sacrifices you have made for him. How God must be grieved when we take for granted the world, the life, and the salvation that He has given us.

 

Also, as soon as you meet your baby, you will experience a rush of love for your little one that will not diminish. He does not understand the extent of your love for him, how you hurt when he hurts (even when they're doing tests on him at the hospital!), how you grieve when he goes astray. God feels that love for us. We are his adopted children, and we cannot know the depth of divine love that hurts and grieves with us, and mourns when we sin.

 

And last, but longest today, is that God uses our children to sanctify us. He sanctifies us in many ways that I know of, and I'm sure as my children age, I will learn others. But here are the ways that came to mind as a few of the things that I've learned so far.

 

He teaches us to trust in His sovereignty. For you guys, this started years ago as you waited for a baby. You knew that God's plan for you was perfect, and meant for your good, and also that His timing was perfect. You knew that He would give you a baby at exactly the right time. As you wait for your baby to be born, you will be learning this lesson again. I have a dear friend who is about 4 days overdue now, and she is not exhibiting trust in God's plan and confidence that this is for her good. The emotions that we are seeing from her are impatience, frustration, and sadness as she waits. Waiting in the final days of pregnancy can be one of the toughest things to do, but do it with joy, knowing that God knows exactly when to bring your baby to you.

 

As your children age, you will learn to trust through your child's injuries and illnesses.

The biggest area of trust that God is constantly teaching me, though, is trusting in him when things don't go my way. As your little baby wakes you up in the middle of the night, again, remember that God has ordained his general need to eat, but also your specific baby's need at that hour. Use that instance, and many others like it, to ask God for help in your hour of weakness, exhaustion, and frustration with your child. Remember that it is not chance that anything happens to us, but an act of God for our growth.

 

Similarly, God teaches us to depend on him. Parenting will teach you that you are very weak indeed. Too weak to love your child the way you should, too weak to discipline your child the way you should, and too weak to fight against temptation to sin. But God is stronger than all of these, and with His help, you can love and discipline your child in a way the glorifies Him, and resist the temptation to sin against your child. Pray often, both in dedicated times of prayer, and in the moments where you feel weak. God has given us His Holy Spirit as a comforter and helper, and He will help us when we cry out to him.

God uses our children to train us out of our selfishness. Your sweet little baby has already required you to give up physical comfort as you've carried him. While you'll be amazed at how much more normal you feel after he is born, there will be other ways where it is quickly apparent that your life is no longer your own. You will give up other hobbies and pursuits as you spend your time diapering, nursing, and training your little one. You will give up your energy for him, your money for him, and your sleep for him. You will give up your body for him as you nurse and nurture him, and you'll have days where you wish nobody would ever touch you, ever, ever again. And you thought those were the kinds of things that you sacrificed when you got married! Suddenly, you will realize that the petty things that married couples without children fight over matter so little you can hardly believe you used to be that person. (Our story?) View this as a blessing! God is slowly perfecting you into the image of His son, who gave up everything for us.

 

And last, but not least, is our pride. It is amazing how quickly your pride will be challenged by this little one. He will spit up all down the back of your shirt right after you get to church, and you'll have to spend the rest of the morning smelling delightful and feeling slightly sticky. And this is just the beginning. As he grows, you'll be humiliated by his behavior in public areas (as I was yesterday in the library :), by the temper tantrums in church, by the way he tells Grandma exactly what you thought of the new movie she sent. All these are gracious blows from a loving heavenly Father working on your pride and vanity.

 

As your baby grows, you will sin against him. Don't let your pride get in the way of apologizing and asking him to forgive you. Remember that your child is a gift from God, not yours to yell at or hit in anger because you've been wronged. When you do these things, humble yourself before God and your child and set the example for apologizing and asking forgiveness in your home. God is glorified when we confess our sins to each other and seek true reconciliation, even when one of the parties is a toddler.

 

But there is another aspect to having pride as a parent that you will have to be careful to avoid; it is not something that your child will naturally dismantle for you. And that is the idea that your way of parenting is what will automatically produce righteousness and holiness in your child. For me, this is attachment parenting. I knew that if I could be a Dr. Sears-type parent (ignoring his advice on spanking, of course), my child would turn out beautifully. He'd be attached in all the right ways, none of the wrong ones, and grow into the kind of godly, perfect teenager who listens to his parents and obeys them. You all can laugh at that, because it is foolish. Be humble enough on your first child to realize that your plans for parenting will have to grow and change as your baby does. Whether it be Dr. Sears parenting, homeschooling, or paedocommunion, nothing that we can do will guarantee his eternal salvation. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things (well, we can talk about paedocommunion), but you need to be discerning as your child grows, aware of his attitudes and motivations. Teach him early to love God and despise his own sin. There is no magic key for this other than diligence, constant instruction, and lots and lots of prayer. When you are having trouble parenting, no matter what the issue, humble yourself and ask for advice. Then take the advice, no matter how different it is from what you had in mind. Our pastor's wife can probably remember having several conversations like that with me, where I think I held my tongue out of politeness, but inside I was thinking of every possible reason to disregard the advice she had given me. Don't do that! The older women in the church have experience, and often battle scars :), from raising children. Let them disciple you! Trust in their wisdom. Remember that your most important task as a parent is to train your child in righteousness, and the Bible is the only right manual for that.

 

We cannot wait to meet your little baby, and look forward to watching you and your husband settle into parenthood!

More on God's Glory and the Pain of Childbearing

Posted by christiandoula on August 20, 2009 at 2:14 PM Comments comments (0)

This from a dear new mother Hannah in response to Kara's post from a couple of months ago.


 

Thank you Kara for this testimony of motherhood and thank you Barbara for posting it. I had similar thoughts of the "pain in childbirth" part of the curse until this past year. Even after I realized that the whole pregnancy was included in "childbirth" I think I still thought that once I got through labor and delivery, I would be done with the pain of childbearing. Almost every day, I realize how wrong that is, but I started to learn that lesson in my first days after delivery. Wow! As obvious as it may seem, it takes one's body a while to recover from the trauma of the "increased pain in childbirth" which, for some reason, I was unprepared for. I discovered there's a reason for church people bringing meals for your family, and it's not just because of tiredness from late-night feedings! Then there's nursing which I'd mostly only heard women talk of as a sweet bonding experience that they didn't want to let go of. I'll just say it took a while to become even close to "a sweet bonding experience" and leave it at that. But what I'm learning day by day now that most of the physical pain really is behind me, is that the scope of the "pain in childbirth" is so much wider than physical pain. It includes fear for your child, which you spoke of in your first point. It includes heart pain each time your child cries and you don't know how to comfort him. And it's compounded when you begin to realize that one day, it won't be the mere physical pain of gas bubbles that you can't relieve, but the pains of living in this fallen, sinful world and sinning and being sinned against. It's the pain of knowing that one day we will have to say goodbye and let our little ones go. And it's even the pain of desiring more little ones, combined with the fear of going through the physical pain again, which many, many of us deal with. 


But after coming up with an exhaustive list of the "pain of childbirth" (which I haven't done) it's such a joy to remember the grace of God, who does not give us more than we can bear. So I echo you in your closing sentence, thanking God for giving us strength to endure. And I remember that "those He loves He chastises" and I praise Him that He uses all these things to draw us to Himself. What sheer joy to remember when I'm tempted to despair in the face of the struggles, that God's very Son came and died that this curse might one day be abolished. What a mighty, merciful God we serve! And so we end where we began, "Behold,the handmaiden of the Lord."  May God give us grace that our daughters will echo the words.


Bedrest and the Glory of God

Posted by christiandoula on May 8, 2009 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

My dear friend, Missy, is in her 4th week of bedrest with her TTTS twins.  She's living an hour and half from home, is quite lonely, and is about to face a hospitalized mother's day.  Most days she feels strong, and fully dependent on God's sovereignty, but other days she is weepy and needy, feeling God's comfort and care for her in her helplessness.


Here is how she has witnessed to another mother, who doesn't know our Lord and Savior:


"About our earlier conversation, I hope that I didn't give you the impression that I don't struggle daily with being here in the hospital away from Chris and the girls. It really stinks, and I spend a lot of time crying and grieving about it all. I guess my point was that by God's grace I have been able to see the goodness in this situation while in the midst of it--my faith has grown so much that I'm not sure I even knew what faith really was until now, my neediness has given many the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ for me and my family, my weakness has given me the opportunity to testify about God's strength which gets me through this every day, and going through this has allowed me to see motherhood in a way I've never experienced before. Believe me when I say, staying up all night with a sick toddler or losing sleep because not one but two little girls are trying to push you out of a bed that was not made for 4 bodies, are not high on my list of good times. Perhaps being away from the day-to-day monotony of mothering has made me a bit nostalgic but I do miss it and can't wait to get back to it. Coming so close to losing our babies has made me see every day as a gift that makes whatever I have to go through here and now worth it. But I don't believe this outlook is because I'm a positive person or some sort of crazy supermom. It's only because I know that this didn't just happen to us by chance, but God actually chose this path for us so that we could rely on Him and so He could be glorified through our weakness and suffering."


Praise God for how he molds us and makes us through every circumstance in our lives.

God's Glory and Pregnancy

Posted by christiandoula on March 4, 2009 at 6:39 AM Comments comments (0)

"Behold, the Handmaiden of the Lord"


It may be odd to have someone other than the blogger write a blog's first entry, but since I wish for this blog to be all about how God is glorified in pregnancy and childbirth, I believe Kara's testimony is a perfect first post for this blog.  So here it is.


I threw up at work this morning. It wasn't a very pleasant experience; all of a sudden, when I was pulling a hot pan of roasting carrots out of the oven my vision went all fuzzy and I knew I had to set down the carrots and get out of the kitchen FAST before I violated the health code by vomiting in the trash can.

 

Over the last many months I've been gaining a whole new understanding of the curse given to women as a result of our sinfulness. When Adam and Eve listened to Satan and sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, God gave each of them a curse particular to them and their descendents. To the woman (and now to all women, as Eve's descendents) He said,


"I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;

with pain you will give birth to children.

Your desire will be for your husband,

and he will rule over you."

Genesis 3:16

           

Oddly enough, before Collin and I got married I always assumed that I'd have the most difficulty with the second part; that I'd be a domineering and rebellious wife. Not that I'm not rebellious, but I've been learning so much more about the first part, which I used to dismiss with the thought, "I suppose labor is supposed to be horrible, but it's all over in a matter of hours and then you've got a beautiful baby! Big deal!" Did I ever have a lot to learn.

 

1. Pain in childbearing means the death of our children.

 

Just a month after Collin and I were married, God blessed us with a little child. For just over nine weeks I carried that baby, loving her and looking forward to the day I would hold her in my arms. And then suddenly, my child died. Losing her was pain beyond anything I've ever experienced, both physically and emotionally. The pain was so bad I didn't think I could survive it. After visiting the doctor, I found out that I couldn't, that without surgery, I would have died. That was a sobering realization. We think we live in a day where childbirth is safe and infants rarely die, but despite all our medical technology, bearing children is still a matter of life and death.

 

2. Pain in childbearing includes the inability to conceive.

 

            Scripture is full of descriptions of the pain of a barren woman. In the months after my child died, I found myself thinking constantly of Hannah, who wept and prayed for a son in such bitterness of soul that the priest Eli thought she was drunk (1 Samuel 1:10-17). I still can't read that story without tears, because now I know a little of Hannah's pain. Every month that passed without conceiving another child was another reminder of what we'd had and lost.


The wonderful thing about this grief, however, was that it opened my eyes to the pain of women all around me. God has placed in women an incredibly powerful desire to have children, and when that longing is denied a profound ache and emptiness enters our souls. This part of increased pain in childbearing affects all women, single or married. It even affects women who claim they don't want children, who desperately realize their need as they approach middle age and hear their biological clocks ticking. An industry upwards of $3 billion has grown up around trying to fight infertility, and yet just as with trying to save the life of a dying embryo, we are forced again and again to realize that the gift of life is entirely in God's hands. In His wisdom he gives and takes away life, and we must learn to say, "Blessed be His name."

 

3. Pain in childbearing means months of physical suffering

 

            On New Year's Day, Collin and I found out that God has graciously given us another child. I am so thankful and hopeful, but at the same time scared and very, very sick. The last five weeks have been like having the flu constantly. All food smells bad, but if I don't eat I'm even more likely to throw up. Needless to say, being a professional cook isn't the best job for morning sickness. The nausea, combined with headaches so awful my vision goes dark, faintness at inopportune times, and exhaustion that makes it almost impossible to keep up with my few household chores, all together make pregnancy one of the best lessons in endurance I've ever had. And I'm only a quarter of the way through!

 

I'm sure God has a lot more for me to find out about the pain of bearing children in this fallen world, but as much as I want to learn, a big part of me never likes the process of being taught. Thanks be to God that He gives us the strength to endure the trials he gives us, and that he uses them all to bring us closer to Him!

 


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