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What if God Planned Your Family Size?

Could you use a few more blessings from God?

It may not come from a new credit card, a job promotion, or anything that money can buy.  In fact, it may come from something that will turn your emotional and financial life upside-down!

I had a conversation with my mother recently that made me chuckle, uncomfortably. You see, my oldest daughter is 27 years old and “newly” married (about 2 years).  And my mom said when speaking of her: “She will make a good mother.  I think she’ll have two children; but I hope she has three.”  “Why three?” I questioned.  “Three’s a good number,” she said.

I smiled, oddly, and chuckled (or was it nervous laughter?).  I wanted to say, “Just three mom? Why not all that God could give her?”  But it was getting late and I didn’t feel like debating the value of children; after all, we debated this subject the entire time I was having children: apparently, to no avail!  At least that’s what I told myself, but in actuality, I think I tucked my tail in between my legs and slinked off in cowardice.

There is this huge divide in the Church over the topic of procreation.

Procreation simply means to produce offspring; to reproduce.

The divide and debate is over how it’s done.

Some families believe in family planning, which means the practice of controlling the number of children in a family and the intervals between their births, particularly by means of artificial contraception or voluntary sterilization.  These families, for example, might use the birth control pill to control the number of kids they have, or take permanent measures such as a woman tying her tubes (tubal ligation) or a man having a vasectomy.

Then there’s Natural Family Planning (NFP), which can help married couples either achieve or postpone pregnancies.  NFP methods are based on the observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy.

And then there’s pull-out-and-pray…but I digress.

So, whether a married couple is using family planning (artificial or voluntary means) or NFP (natural/no drugs), they are still trying to control the process in some way.  BUT, what if you weren’t using anything?  What if you didn’t want to control the process?  What would that be called?  (It might be called 19 Kids and Counting?)

My mom’s sentiment implied that my daughter would be using family planning methods to control (and space) the amount of kids she would have, and that it would be good if she did so, because that’s what (forward thinking) people do: they plan and they space and they only have the amount of kids that ”they” can afford.  In doing so, they protect their lifestyle and their positioning into the middle class.  (And maybe they protect their sanity, too?)

I grew up with this thinking and it permeated every decision I made.  When I became a Christian and later married, that thinking followed me into the Church where it was not only accepted, but embraced, and the outcomes of that practice were used as a means to display God ordained “success.”

I know that seems like a presumptuous and judgmental statement, but please, just hear me out…

You may not believe this, but in some Christian circles the attainment of wealth is used as a sign to show that God has blessed you and that you are experiencing the abundant life referenced in John 10:10?   Well, if that’s true, then logically a Christian would do everything (legally and morally) possible to attain wealth.  But kids and wealth usually cancel each other out.  I know that’s a loaded and relative statement as well – perhaps relative to the region of the country one lives in and other socioeconomic factors, but let’s keep it real: raising kids usually requires a good sized withdrawal on a parent’s pockets, which is at least one reason why the “forward thinking” among us try to limit their numbers.

I don’t want to be hypocritical.  Throughout my married life I’ve been a proponent of, and have practiced all of the family planning methods previously mentioned in some form or another.

Being a teen mom and marrying 7 years later accounts for the first 7 year spacing in my children (that’s failure to abstain and failure to use contraception). An IUD (intrauterine device, which eventually went haywire and had to be surgically removed) accounted for the last 7 year gap (that’s artificial contraception).  In between were three births (I call them my three “Steps”), which were basically back-to-back and is how I realized that I was no poster child for birth control (that’s failure with the pill, NFP and everything else under the sun!).

How sad…it seems as if most of my kids were born due to my failure with contraception, when really, shouldn’t it be the other way around?  If I only knew what I know now, if I’d allowed the truth of Scripture to permeate my thoughts and dictate my actions, I possibly wouldn’t have used anything at all and I definitely would have had more children.  Yes, definitely more!

I didn’t know that children were a blessing.  Really, I didn’t!  Yes, I was a Christian (who used contraception) and I could quote the scripture, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127: 3), but the truth of that scripture had not registered in my heart.  But eventually, I began to wrestle with the reality of that scripture and concluded that I was being hypocritical in my practice of using birth control: “If children are a blessing,” I reasoned “then why am I limiting my blessings?”

That connection struck me like a lightening bolt!  It was illogical to think that I would try to stop God from blessing me.  I mean, who does that?  Who limits their blessings?  Unless…unless you don’t believe it in the first place.  SELAH.  Stop and think about that, because that might be THE point of challenge: taking God at his word. And it might be a good place to reflect on what we want vs. what God wants, and why there might be a difference.

mother theresa quote

 Would you like more blessings in your life?

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering this approach:

Don’t be holier than your husband – Just because you have a conviction about how many children you should have doesn’t mean that your husband shares it.  Whatever you do, don’t lead him to think that if he were ONLY more spiritual he would understand God’s will in the matter (and agree with you).  He’s more likely to hear you saying that you think God’s will is what YOU want.  Pray before you address the matter.  Afterward, if he is still not open to the idea, continue to pray for God’s will, but don’t nag him.  Do not bring disharmony into your home.  Be content and give thanks for the children you do (or don’t) have!  Submit to your husband’s decision as if it were the Lord’s decision.  Stay sweet and keep praying!

“Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”  1 Samuel 1:8

“Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”  Ephesians 5:4  (Ouch!  And Amen!) 

Understand what true success is – Biblical success cannot be defined as having anything to do with finances. The Apostle Paul already discredited people who believe that godliness is a means to financial gain (Timothy 6:5).  Now that that’s taken care of, the success God cares about has to do with eternal matters.  The primary pursuit of parenting is to raise God fearing and biblically responsive children.  A sister in Christ recently told me that she considers it a true success that her daughter is serving Christ.  Sadly, not all my kids are serving Christ, but I’d have to agree with her.  I don’t care what kind of jobs my kids land or what neighborhood they make it into.  If they don’t come to know Christ, I haven’t succeeded in my primary job as a parent.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”  3 John 1:4  “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”  Mark 8:36

Worship with like-minded believers – Attend a church that supports your philosophy on procreation and values children.  Try to find a church where the Pastor supports your lifestyle from the pulpit.  Most people will not understand your decision to have so many children and will offer you their unsolicited opinion with a side expression of “Are you serious, Lady?!”  After dealing with that everywhere you go, it’s good to be with people who will affirm your decision and encourage you along.  Bottom line, if you’re in a church that has a worldly perception of wealth and success {insert Exorcist movie voice here} G.E.T. O.U.T!!!  (Of course, only if your husband is in agreement.)

“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”  Psalm 122:1

Learn to trust blindly and wildly – God will provide!  It’s not about what you can afford; it’s about the Father’s provision. I remember when our kids were younger and we struggled terribly with our finances.  I lamented over not making it into the community of my dreams or being able to take vacations or even own a car!  It seemed our life was so different from other young couples in the church that had “spaced” well.  (And emotionally I was coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs!)  Then the kids got a little older, and one day I saw the middle three (my steps) walking in front of me and I saw a pot of gold!  (These were the same three kids that almost took me down mentally.)  I felt so incredibly rich!  Rich in a way that no earthly form of currency could afford.

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  Luke 12:15

Don’t try to keep your sanity – Your sanity is not yours to keep: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7).  Unless you are an unusually patient woman you will most likely spend a good amount of time wondering why you drank the “have more babies” cool aid and trying to figure out how you got here…”here” as in broke, with no car, and then with a used minivan on its last leg, not taking vacations, with old furniture and second hand clothing.  (I’ll stop now because that actually sounds like a counter argument for having children!) 🙂  Listen, struggling to cope and not eating out is a small price to pay for the extreme sense of fulfillment you will experience when your kids get older.  (Trust me, I know.)

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”  Isaiah 26:3 

Live a counter-cultural life – How is the church any different than the world?  Has Jesus Christ really left his mark on us?  If so, shouldn’t it show in our lifestyle and practices?  How has salvation impacted our view about the sanctity of life or our love for children? Statistics show that the world is having 2.1 children, and that Christian families are having 2.4 children. There is almost no discernible difference in the amount of children the church and the world has. Why not?  Things that make you go, hmmn?

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”  Colossians 2:8

And finally, forgive yourself – If you’re broken over the realization that you’ve already blocked some of your blessings, and your conviction is that you’ve sinned (not everyone will feel this way), pray and ask for God’s forgiveness.  If your husband shares your opinion seek forgiveness and pray together.  It’s not uncommon for a couples philosophy on procreation to evolve over time (usually, people wish they had more children).  When we know better, we do better; and some of us just didn’t know.  If you’ve already taken permanent measures to stop the process of procreation…keep moving forward!  Let the past go and give thanks for the children you do have.  Encourage younger families to be open to allowing God to plan their family size.  Look for other children in the church to love and mentor, or pray about foster care or adoption.

Geez! This is such a preachy, obnoxious, and self-righteous post!

Why would I say these things?  Why would I choose a topic so controversial and possibly offend a ton of women?  I didn’t write this post because a preacher asked me to or because I’m a self-righteous idiot.  (Yes, I just read your mind!)  I wrote it because I made decisions earlier in my marriage that altered the course of my family’s life, big time!  And I did it not hearing or understanding what I understand today.  I regret that, and I can’t change that now.

Maybe someone else out there, some other mommy might like the benefit of this view on family and procreation; and perhaps it will encourage her to be brave. (I was not brave, I was a weak conformist who was shamed into limiting the number of kids I had, and I tried to keep up with the Jones’, and I tried to keep my sanity!)

Occasionally, however, I wonder about the “flowers” that are missing from my garden due to the times in my life that the birth control was effective, and I lament, and I wonder how much richer my life would be if I would have allowed God to plan my family size.

I’m just sayin’.

(I hope you still love me.)

Muah! Tiffiney

I’m linking up with these fabulous, Christ centered blogs…Grace and Truth |Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop | Faith Filled Friday | Coffee & Conversation | Word Filled Wednesday | The Cozy Reading Spot – so stop by and say, “Hello.”

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Comments

  1. My Catholic Christian faith is a walk with my Lord learning to love and desire His holy will. I did not do that at the beginning of my marriage but grew in my faith and walk. I had two boys and then lost 4 more to miscarriage (3 in the second trimester.) Part of loving His will is also the opposite, not just accepting how many He plans for you, but also if He plans for you not to have any or more. That can be just as hard. But I trust my God and have given it all to Him. I know one day I will meet my beautiful children in Heaven. Thanks for your courage to write this.

    • Hi (again) Karen!

      I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your 4 babies. Yes, you are so right in your perspective…will we only accept the good from God, and not the bad? I can see that the Lord has taught you much through the years. I, too, am grateful that you will be reunited with your precious little ones one day, up in glory. Until then, take heart my dear sister!

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your story. So brave!
      Blessings,
      Tiffiney :o)

  2. I love the ideas you put forth in this post!!! I really want my readers to know about this too! I want to share this in my weekly series called “Roll Out The Red Carpet Thursday” – I share bloggers’ amazing posts that I’ve found during the week. I hope that’ ok! Have a great night!

    • Hi Danielle,

      I’m so glad to hear that this post really resonated with you! I’m even more excited that you’re sharing it so more families will have a chance to hear it. Thank you so much! I’m truly honored to receive this distinction. I look forward to welcoming the Snippets of Inspiration community to Welcome Home’s front porch.

      Please stop by again soon!

      Blessings,
      Tiffiney

  3. Thank you so much for this post! It is something that I, as my husband and I look forward to soon starting a family, have felt so much conflict about. I hear on the one hand that children are a blessing and on the other that kids are just a drain, often both points coming from the same people.

    I especially appreciate your reminder that when I do have kids, my money and my sanity aren’t mine to keep. They, too, belong to God. I really needed these reminders of God’s perspective on parenting. 🙂

    • Hey Meredith!

      You know, both points are true: children are a blessing and a financial drain. They light up our lives and fill up our love tanks, as well as frustrate us to no end and cause us to knock our heads into the closest table available. Ha! One truth doesn’t negate the other. Jump in and take the ride! And have fun raising the ones the Lord BLESSES you with because even with all the heartache and frustration, it’s worth the trip!

      Thanks for stopping by Welcome Home. I hope you come back again, soon!
      Tiffiney

  4. Tiffiney – this is great! And it’s true, we often allow the standards of society to form our opinions, and only check in with God after our mind are made up. What would happen if we allowed God to form our opinions? I know from experience the crazy hot topic of birth control, in all its forms… but we need to go to God, with our husbands, and discuss the topics, often.

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I love hearing other’s honest reflections.

    I’d like to invite you to join my weekly link up, The Cozy Reading Spot. We share posts that express what has been on our hearts, minds and bookshelves. And I think you’d make a great addition to our community. I’ll leave a link below, if you are at all interested. It’s open now through Sunday evening, and reopens every Thursday morning. I do hope you’ll join us.

    Marissa

    The Cozy Reading Spot on Reading List

    • Hi Marissa! Thanks for stopping by Welcome Home and thanks for inviting me to join the Cozy Reading Spot Community. I’m looking forward to stopping by and linking up!

      Blessings,
      Tiffiney

  5. This is AWESOME!!! Love it! Love it! Love it!

    I smiled, laughed and Amen-ed right through this and can I say, My very favorite part is the one about Him keeping our sanity. 🙂 Well, I like it all. You did a great job with a very real issue and how I wish I could go back and make different choices. For years I read Isaiah 54 and called out those spiritual children of my dried womb. I have 3 amazing children. The first one we tried so hard to have and she is wonderful. She also has a chronic illness that at first was quite possibly fatal, thank the Lord she survived those rough days. The other 2 have been the fruit of prayer and grace, and that is all I will say with that. I wish,like you, they would have also been as eagerly planned as the first but I was ecstatic each time I realized they were on the way.

    I think, too, it can go another way….this topic. What if, His plan is only a few children. Are we still blessed with a quiver full? I always felt some shame in the fact that my car only held 3 seats compared to the baseball teams my friends were carting around. So many times in the church we an do that, don’t you think? But God… he tells us to rejoice and to give thanks for all things ( even the trial) and then He reminds us that HE fills in when we are empty.

    Thanks for sharing this!
    Blessings!
    Dawn

    • Hi Dawn!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. It by far is the most terrifying thing I have ever written! I remember consulting with my husband on every point to ensure that I was on the right track. He gave me the thumbs up and then I pressed published and waited for the backlash…which never came. Lol! :o) Instead, women have thanked me for expressing this view. Whew! :o)

      And yes, even in the church we can make women feel inadequate if they don’t have kids – whether it’s by choice or because they simply can’t. While children are certainly a blessing from the Lord, it doesn’t mean that a woman’s womb is cursed because she hasn’t bore any or that she is any less blessed by having none. We have to be so careful how we judge each other.

      Thanks for stopping by Welcome Home Ministry. Please stop by again soon.

      Love,
      Tiffiney :o)

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  6. This is my first visit! I really enjoyed your post! You did a wonderful job explaing your topic today. I love how you pull the scriptures together to explain your thought. Thanks for your honesty and the grace that it comes with. I look forward to visiting again:) I came by today from, Faith Filled Friday! God BlessYou:) Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Hi Lisa…Your very first visit! How blessed I am that you stopped by my front porch to visit for a while. So glad you enjoyed the post. It’s always a pleasure linking up with Faith Filled Friday!

      Please be sure to stop by again some time soon!

      Blessings,
      Tiffiney

    • Hi Jen! Thanks for providing a platform for us to share. I was shaking in my boots before I pressed “publish”, but I believe the Lord led me to share my experience. All praise and honor to the Lord!

  7. I am glad I got to read this. From my very first pregnancy, I was asked questions like did you plan this ?etc. Even in the church. At this time with four children, I am not sure I can stay brave. You touched on so many of the reasons for my trepidation, but you also gave wonderful encouragement.

    • Hi Steph, I certainly understand your angst! Even if there was no disapproving commentary from our dear sisters and brothers in Christ, or from those that don’t know Christ, we have to struggle with our own “self” and emotions. Parenting is really challenging! Especially in a culture that places a priority on self-worship (my happiness above everything else) and encourages us to keep up with the “Jonses”. I would encourage you to continue to pray about your family size and make sure you and your husband are on the same page. Also, be sure to surround yourself with like minded (big family) believers (like homeschool groups). One thing for sure: I have never seen ANYONE in Christ have a bunch of kids and regret it when the kids were older. Somewhere along the line they morph from little people who suck the life out of us, to radical blessings from God.

  8. I love this….. Thank you so much. My heart yearns for so many more flowers in my Garden. But God is in charge. I will trust his timing and submit. Thank you Tiffiney. I actually reared up reading this.

    • Hi Onesia!

      Yes, God’s timing and plan is perfect. Love and enjoy the flowers you have and give the rest to Him. So glad you appreciated the post. {Here’s a Kleenex.} :o)

      Blessings!
      Tiffiney

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