Category Archives: Fatherhood

Don’t you know what causes that?

“Don’t you know what causes that?”

It started with my third pregnancy…as we began to share with those around us the news of the anticipated birth of our baby…the smirking and joking from a few friends who assumed that we could not have possibly planned to have a…<gulp>….third child!  I suppose several gave us a “pass” on their comments since we had already birthed two girls and they assumed we were “trying for a boy”.  But when the fourth pregnancy was revealed less than a year later friends, family and even strangers jumped on the band wagon to ask us silly and/or personal questions or make shocking and/or rude statements:

  • Were you trying?  (nope, we were doing and succeeding mind you!)
  • How many more are you going to have? (you’ll have to ask God)
  • Was this an accident?  (Really? Like getting pregnant is being in a car wreck or breaking your leg)
  • Are you going to get fixed after this one? (hmmm…didn’t know I was broken)
  • I am glad it’s you and not me! (I am sure the baby is too and my husband is definitely glad it’s not you)
  • How are you ever gonna pay for college? (I don’t know…how are you?)
  • You’re crazy! (if that was said to my face I can’t imagine what was said behind my back)
  • You’re having another one?  (yes, at least one this time)
  • When are you going to stop? (stop?….stop what?)

And my personal favorite from all the people who think they are “oh so funny”…

  • Don’t you know what causes that? (I have so many great answers in my head for this one that would make most people turn beat red or greatly embarrass my teenage girls…but I was raised to be a dignified lady so I try oh so hard to keep my mouth shut)

Assuming that the readers of this blog have all taken a junior high sex ed class, have been through a “secret weekend” (as they are called in our family) or have had “the talk” with their parents where they learned all about “the facts of life” (otherwise known as human anatomy, sexual relations and how life is conceived)…I do not think that you need a biological play by play on what caused us to conceive seven children during our almost 25 years of marriage.  But perhaps you are curious about what might cause a couple to have such a large family in a society that teaches and embraces a two child…or three at the most…standard philosophy? (and laughs at, sneers or condemns anyone who dares to do otherwise)

What caused us to have so many children?  Well let me tell you it all began 25 years ago this very month and if you are interested or curious, I have finally decided to write out and publish our story. (WARNING: If you have a tendency to feel “judged” simply by the lifestyle and choices others make that are different than yours, you might want to just stop reading now and save yourself the grief.  DISCLAIMER: I am in no way judging anyone for their choices regarding children, reproduction or family size nor am I telling anyone else how they should decide these things.  I am simply sharing our God inspired story for those who are curious, interested or questioning. It may challenge your theology or thinking and… it may not)

I was 24 years old and just a few months away from getting married when the Lord began to work in my heart concerning my ideas about birth control, family planning and being truly open to every life that He wanted to
give to me.

I was a very committed & passionate young woman who was serving as the youth pastor to hundreds of “on fire” teenagers. I had what were called “radical” views on dating and relationships as well as very intensive discipleship programs for our youth.  I considered myself extremely pro-life and wanted to do everything within my power to stop the atrocity of abortion in our country.  In many ways I was  quite different than the average church going evangelical yet I found myself among the norm when it came to buying into the “planned parenthood” mentality of our day.

I was engaged to be married to an awesome godly young man and we both agreed that the plan would be for me to begin taking the birth control pill and then we would wait several years, go off the pill and have perhaps two children, a boy & a girl, and then be done. Perfect, right?

As part of our marriage preparation we attended an Engaged Encounter Weekend Retreat where we were encouraged to take an opportunity to dialogue honestly and intensively about our prospective lives together– our strengths and weaknesses, desires, ambitions, goals, our attitudes about money, sex, children, family, our role in the church and society–in a very comprehensive way. (I highly recommend this type of purposeful marriage preparation and am always shocked when couples have not taken the time to explore these areas and come to an agreement prior to saying “I do”!)   After each topic was introduced, we were given a list of questions to answer privately in a journal and then come together to share our answers with one another. (a great way to have honest communication)

About half way through the weekend the session on family planning, birth control and children was introduced.  As Dan and I each found a private place to write in our journals I began to feel a strong stirring in my heart. I was challenged in my spirit to completely rethink my beliefs in this area.  As I sat on some rocks in the foothills of Copperopolis and tried to write down my well thought out answers (you see I knew exactly what I wanted in this area of life and marriage), the Lord literally threw out questions one after another in my mind, fast and furious –

  • Have you ever considered asking Me what the plan for your family should be? (hadn’t really thought about that, Lord)
  • How about inquiring of Me how many children I want to give you? (Well, I just thought we would just decide what we wanted and you would be fine with it)
  •  Is it birth control or God control that you desire? (ouch…this one stung!)
  • Who is in control of your life anyway? (ummmmm….You are God?? I love you & want your will for my life)
  • Do you believe that children are a blessing from Me?  (of course….I think so)
  • Why do you want to limit my blessings? (well…..I don’t know?)
  • Do you believe that I know you and will give you the very best for your life?  (Yes!)
  • Do you trust me? (I thought I did)

I felt like I was in some type of wrestling match with the Lord as He tried to get me to release control of my life and give my plans over to become His plans. (Thy will be done)  But when I was finally ready to stop arguing with Him and listen He gently reminded me to just relax and trust Him…for He truly had an abundant life for me to live. Better than I could ever ask or think! After that hour with the Lord, and a subsequent long conversation with my soon to be husband (when we got together later to share our journals…and I had written not a thing down), together we gave our plans for family to the Lord and ditched the “planned parenthood” philosophy.

We did not decide to have a “boatload” (or 15 passenger van load) of children.

We did not decide to have one, two or three children for that matter either.

We did not decide to be married for three years and then start our family and we did not decide to get pregnant right away.

We simply decided to give God control of our family dynamics and to ask Him to lead and guide us every step of the way. (not really a complicated decision to merely ask the Lord what He wants and yet so few do ask Him when it comes to this area of life)

A month later I learned quite by happenstance that the birth control pill was an abortifacient. (well documented and researched so no need to argue with me on this point…even if your doctor told you it wasn’t they were using some type of semantics and faulty reasoning…all you have to do is read the insert that is in the pill container) I was appalled that no believer had shared this with me and I got down on my knees and thanked the Lord that I had never “accidentally” aborted a baby by making my womb hostile to implantation of a conceived child.  With my heart & passion for the unborn that would have been difficult for me to live with. During that time I had gotten even more confident in my conviction that we should simply put the control of our family in God’s hands.  After all He was the creator of life (albeit He lets us be a part of that as co-creators) and since His view on children as being a gift from Him and a blessing, we could certainly trust Him. I also realized that the Lord might not bless us with any children by birth and I committed that into His care as well. (something that in this current world of rampant infertility issues one would be best to realize early on — the truth that no one is guaranteed to give birth to a child) We had also already experienced the miracle of adoption through our newly adopted niece who joined our family the same week we got engaged…we knew that adopting a child was not “second best” to having a bio child and we considered that adoption would someday be a part of the plan for our family as well.

On our wedding day we publicly affirmed & committed to raising children to glorify God (to the actual laughter of many of our Christian friends…you can hear it on the video) and throughout our 24+ years of marriage we have continued to trust God in this area.  We have prayed at times asking for the Lord to give us a “breather” (after we had four children in six years and extremely difficult pregnancies) and we along with our daughters have pleaded with the Lord for over three years to bless us with yet another sweet baby to love (#7) and we spent countless hours and persisted through many roadblocks and closed doors as we asked God to let us adopt.  Children came at what others considered “bad times” (one during my husband’s last year in Bible school, several back to back, another when we had taken on a challenge of starting a Christian school, and of course the health risks for myself and baby that many gravely warned us about when I had two babies post 40 years old) but as always in hindsight we see that Gods timing was perfect with each and every child. Through it all we chose God control and ultimately said… “Thy will be done”.

The results….we have been blessed with seven awesome children by birth (six girls – 21, 18, 17, 15, 12, 8 and a boy 4 years old) and so far one girl (age 2) through the miracle of adoption. They have brought more love, joy & peace into our lives than we could have ever imagined. (as well producing other fruit of the spirit – patience & self control – we didn’t start off with these qualities but you better believe we have given ample opportunity to grow!) It would take another long blog entry to tell you about all the blessings and benefits that we have been given through each of our children as well as by having a plus size family. Things we could have never imagined those 25 years ago and yet God knew.  And we are ready, willing & wanting to take any more that the Lord sends our way through birth or adoption. (to the utter shock, amazement & sometimes dismay of most of the people around us.)

So……do I know what causes this?

Yes I do, thank you!

What causes a young soon to be married couple to decide to chuck the current popular world view on birth control, pregnancy, child spacing, family size and children out the window?

It was caused by:

  • the joining together of two hearts that wanted nothing more than to listen to the Lord and follow His plan for their lives.
  • a desire to give Him complete control over their lives and their destinies
  • a hope to come together in marriage to glorify God and be an example of Christ and His unconditional love for His church
  • a belief that all life is a gift to be cherished and that babies are a blessing from God
  • gaining an understanding of how much God loves the orphans, the fatherless and children without forever families that His heart beats for adoption
  • trusting God and saying…Not our will but….Thy will be done!

How about you….Do you know what causes that in your life?

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Filed under Adoption, Attitude, Blessings, Faith, Fatherhood, Life Lessons, Marriage, Motherhood, My "take", Pro-life

Always “Daddy’s Girl”

Early on a Sunday morning, October 22, 1995, my life was forever changed.  Dan and I were in bed when the ringing of the phone jolted us out of our deep slumber just before dawn.  I could hear my mothers quivering voice on the answering machine pleading with us to pick up the phone.  As I jumped out of bed and lunged to get the phone my heart began to pound and my mind raced wildly with thoughts of what could be wrong. She slowly and painfully told me that my Dad had died of a heart attack in the middle of the night.  I felt the tears well up in my eyes and begin to fall uncontrollably onto my dresser as I struggled to catch my breath.  I simply could not believe that I was actually hearing those words.  My dear father was gone and I would never see him, hear him or touch him again this side of heaven.  As I fell back into bed, Dan held me close and the tears flowed as he tried to comfort me.  I knew in that moment that my life would be altered forever.

You never really “get over” the death of a parent. (and I can imagine it would be even more so if you lose a child).  You learn to live with it but you do not get over it.  They are a part of your very being.  You grieve many times over – holidays, anniversaries, birthdays and even in the “everyday” routines, habits and life happenings that bring back memories of that beloved parent.  I find myself often wondering – “what would Dad think about this or that”?  Just in the past month alone I have pondered what his thoughts would be about:

  • this years election and all it’s historic  happenings (Obama – the first Black man to run for the Presidency, Sarah Palin as the first woman on the Republican ticket)
  • John McCain (they were classmates at the United States Naval Academy both in the Class of 1958)
  • the war in Iraq (he was a career Navy man who worked many years in Naval Intelligence during the Cold War)
  • terrorism
  • the signs of socialism in our country (ok, so I don’t have to wonder about this – he would be having a fit!)
  • Michelle attending college in NYC
  • the girls and their high school sports achievements (he rarely missed one of my high school field hockey games)
  • the new baby boy in our family (oh how he loved babies!)

I also would have called him for advice on

  • how to get my “ancient” car to pass its smog inspection?
  • every aspect of the the new addition in our home (he was the handiest of handy men)
  • computer challenges (he was an expert computer whiz long, long long before everyone had several in their homes – alas I did not take advantage of this expertise)
  • how to get my kids to learn math?

 My Dad was an awesome man and an exceptional husband and father. He loved the Lord, was a faithful church member (read here – we never missed a Sunday church service and always sat together as a family) and his knowledge of the Bible was impressive (I often wondered if he had the entire thing memorized).  He lived a life of integrity, hard work and commitment.  He loved my Mom and was faithful and committed to his marriage for 35 years – “until death do us part”.  The word divorce was never heard or spoken in our home – that security had an indelible effect on all of our lives. (The four of us children are in committed marriages with a grand total of 74 years between us all! We are believing for that legacy & blessing to be passed down to the next generation of 15 grandchildren.)

 

 He was the most wonderful father and I was the beneficiary of his love and admiration.  He made me feel special.  I was the “middle” child (is there really a middle of four?) –  my older sister was the first born, the other middle child was my brother – the only boy, and my younger sister who came along a bit later than the three of us was the “baby”.  This gave me a reason in my mind to feel different, left out, inferior etc… Of course when I hit adolescence these feelings, no matter how unfounded, were magnified.  My Dad always had a way of reminding me that he too was a middle child and that I had a very special place in his heart.  He would smile with his eyes, give me a wink and a bear hug and all those feelings would melt away.  No matter what I did or how I acted – my Daddy loved me.  He disciplined me strictly when I  was disobedient, defiant or disrespectful but it was always followed up with love and forgiveness. He showed me my first glimpse of how God the Father loved & adored me.  I know that my incredible ease in loving and trusting the Lord is because my Dad was such a stellar example of God’s unconditional love, trustworthiness and strength.

My Dad believed in me, supported me, challenged me to do beyond my best and had high expectations of me.  He also treated me like a princess – he would pick me up and twirl me around in the living room to the songs of Ed Aames and Andy Williams, he opened doors for me always treating me like a lady and he would admire and tell me often how beautiful I was.

 He filled my need for love and affection with his kind words (often found in his greeting cards that he personally picked out & signed), his bear hugs and sweet goodnight kisses.  He showed me how I should be treated by a man – that I should expect to be cherished, loved, protected and admired. 

As I grew into an adult he continued to be a source of wisdom, strength and love for not only me but my husband and my children.  He was an awesome father-in-law and the most amazing “Papa” (the name my eldest daughter Michelle gave him – although he was “Grandad” to the older cousins) in the world.  He would rock my babies for hours on end and when they got older he would take them to the park to play and out to ice cream. 

 

 I so regret that only Michelle really got to know him and has memories to cherish (she was 6 when he died) ….the rest thankfully do get to experience him through our photo albums, stories and in the lives of their Granny, their aunts & uncle and myself who carry on his presence in our hearts, attitudes and actions.

Today on the 13th anniversary of his passing, I wanted to share just a bit of my Dad with the world, as not only a tribute to him, but hopefully as an inspiration to everyone who reads this blog – especially the fathers out there. Dads,  please know that you are so very vital in your children’s lives and it is so important that you become a faithful man of God. Spend time with your children – play with them, talk to them, hug them, tell them how much you love, cherish and believe in them. Be a role model for them to look up to and set a standard of excellence.   You will have a lasting impact on your children and your children’s children – be diligent to make sure it is a positive legacy.

I was, am and always will be…”Daddy’s Girl”

Daddy,

I love you and miss you each and everyday of my life. I look forward to seeing you again and feeling your warm loving arms wrap around me as we rejoice together for eternity in heaven!

Always your girl – Beth (although my Dad was the only one who called me Virginia – my real name – and it wasn’t because he was mad at me – then it was – Virginia Elizabeth!)

This is our last family photo together – Summer 1995 (and yes I am “great with child” -my 13 year old Rebekah).  I just have to add as we are coming into a holiday season – don’t pass up an opportunity to have a family photo taken while you are all together – we never know when it might be our last time together here in this life.

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Filed under Blessings, Faithbooking, Fatherhood, Inspiration