If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes. –St. Clement of Alexandria

“So, do you have children?” the woman at the nail salon asks, casually. She is blowing on her nails, the question only a polite exchange of niceties as we wait for our manicures to dry. But as usual, I feel the slight jump of my pulse.

“Y-yes,” I falter, bracing myself for her reaction. “I..I have five.”

“FIVE?” she blinks at me in consternation. “As in…” she raises one hand and wiggles her five fingers at me. “Five?

I smile and nod, wiggling my five fingers back at her. “Yep! Five!”

“But…but…you look so NORMAL!”

This makes me burst into laughter, my nervousness scattering in the air like bits of dandelion. Comments like these are so ridiculous they crack me up. And yet, I hear stuff like this the time. The responses I get from people range from offensive to outraged, from hysterical to hilarious, from stunned to curious, from ignorant to insightful.

Can you see why my pulse always races a little bit? I never know which response I’ll get. But I do have a bunch of replies ready (not that I EVER use them):

Are these ALL yours? (No, I just pick up random neighborhood kids and take them to the grocery store because it’s so much more fun this way!)

Did you PLAN on having five kids? (Nope. I really have NO IDEA how this happened!)

Do you know what causes this? (Yes, and I enjoy it)

You sure have your hands full! (Are you offering to lend me a hand, then?)

How do you do it?! (One day at a time!)

Mostly, I just smile and nod. People don’t get it–not even some Christians. They simply can’t understand WHY someone would CHOOSE to have a large family. Their reasons are usually as follows:

  1. It’s expensive.
  2. It’s inconvenient.
  3. It’s too much work.
  4. It’s scary.
  5. Nobody they know has more than 1 or 2 children.

For whatever reason, I was never bothered when non-religious people made impolite or even snide comments. I didn’t expect them to understand and I wasn’t about to apologize for the existence of ANY of my precious children. But it was another thing entirely when Christians made the same kind of remarks. Didn’t they believe, like me, that children are a blessing from God?

When did the secularist culture–a culture that is largely antagonistic toward large families–so effectively persuade the Christian community to hold the same perspective toward many children? At first, it was a stunning wake-up call for me to realize that while many Christians paid lip-service to the idea that children are blessings from God, their actions and their attitudes said otherwise.

It’s my opinion that the root of this is fear. Many Christians today aren’t having large families because they are afraid.

They are afraid that having children will interrupt their plans, disrupt their goals. They are afraid of the financial obligations. They are afraid they’ll repeat their parents’ mistakes. They’re afraid their children will inherit their problems. They are worried about the lack of guarantees. What if they have a child with special needs? What if they have difficult pregnancies? What if..?

I’ll be honest and say that there are no easy answers to these what if questions. In many ways, having many children is a completely illogical decision, which is to say, it’s not rational. It is an act of faith.

Yes, children are expensive. Yes, they do interrupt plans. Yes, there are no guarantees.

But to count the fears is to diminish the sacred privilege of parenting children. Just think: the act of procreation is participation with God in the creation of eternal souls! Having children–whether biologically or via adoption–is a radical act of hope.

And isn’t it hope that differentiates our worldview from that of the secularist?

Hope and faith enable us to look straight in the eye of uncertainty and say, “I still believe that what God says is true.”

Does this act of faith erase all doubt? No. But instead of finding dangers around every corner–faith provides a different perspective. Faith provides the perspective of hope.

I have many children because I said yes to God. I chose to act from a place of faith and trust and He has blessed me abundantly. No, it hasn’t been easy. In fact, it’s been the hardest challenge of my life. But it has also given me joy beyond my wildest dreams.

Aren’t children the very embodiment of their parents’ love?

Still, I would never presume to tell another Christian family how to live out the commandment to be fruitful and multiply. I have seen the dark side of that misapplication of theology and the heavy burden it places on the shoulders of mothers. I will never judge the decisions of each individual family–we must all make these decisions prayerfully and responsibly.

But I suppose I would say this: be not afraid.

Because when we make decisions from a place of fear we deny ourselves the joy of seeing hope fulfilled.

I’ve found it’s far better to make decisions from a place of hope and trust.

Let God take care of the what ifs.

Maybe, just maybe He wants to bless you beyond your wildest dreams.

312 comments

  1. I loved this Elizabeth. I have experienced many of the same experiences you describe.

    And like you, I wouldn’t trade one challenging day with my brood for anything.

    Reply
    • And I love YOU, Terry! We’ve been through a lot together, haven’t we? ((hugs))

      Reply
    • LaNisha

      Wow, I find some of these comments to be quite rude. I believe the author was in no way being judgemental. She has stated several times that we must prayerfully and responsibly make this very important choice. Point is: If the Lord is calling you to have children whether it be 1,2,12 or none to listen to the leading of Christ in your life despite what you may want or desire because our life is not our own nor are we here to do our will but the will of our Father. May God continue to bless us all whether we have children or not and continue to show us how to love on another.
      GOD BLESS,
      Lanisha

      Reply
  2. You don’t know how aptly timed this is for me. My husband and I have always planned on having a big family, but sitting here a few weeks after delivering our second I’m not so sure I want more. I do, but I don’t.

    It really is all the “what ifs” and I am afraid. Of not being able to handle the sleepless nights, the juggling of kids and household, the moments of sheer frustration and exhaustion….I think, can I do this and be pregnant again? I don’t even have hard pregnancies compared to most, but the continued discomfort and then labor/delivery and recovery I’m already dreading.

    Hope-fulfilled…something to think about.

    Reply
    • When I had my first baby, I was quickly ready to start over again & have another. But after she was born, I said I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have a third. Then a couple years later, I started getting “that feeling” again, then we had our third. After she was born, I felt a real peace that our family was complete. I’ve heard this from so many women. So don’t worry about the fear you’re feeling now, when you’ve so recently had a baby. If your family is meant to have another blessing, you’ll feel it when the time is right. And if your family is now complete, at some point you’ll feel peace about that as well.

      Reply
      • Sandi

        Then again my mom never knew/had the feeling of her family being complete and prayed for years that God give her a sign. Finally when my youngest (of five) brother was 12 she got a tumor in her uterus and took that as her sign to have a hysterectomy. It could be many, many years of trusting and prayer before one feels sure. She never felt peace about doing anything permanent.

        Reply
    • Dianna

      Just a quick note of encouragement: I never want more children right after delivery! Give it a few months when the leap of going from one child to two children is a lot easier to handle. A friend asked me 3 weeks after I had my 2nd child, if I still wanted a large family and I told her I wasn’t sure – too soon to ask! However, 20 months later, I’m pregnant with our 3rd child and couldn’t be more thrilled.

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    • Tia

      I was in exactly the same boat. My DH and I always said we wanted at least 4 kids but after our 2nd was born we both decided that we did not want more. It was all the stress and fears that come with it. This article brought tears to my eyes because I had really hardened my heart to having more. I was unwilling to budge but then God really called me out when some things happened in my family and we have now decided to have more children once we’re done with school. It gives us a gap to enjoy our DD and DS for a few years before adding.

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  3. This is so great. I remember when I first got married years ago, I would have conversations with other Christians about this topic and they would act as though it would be highly irresponsible to let God choose how big or small our family was. Again and again I got looks as though I had casually mentioned joining a cult just because I was exploring the issue. We have 2 children now and I sometimes feel that I missed out because of fear. It’s a hard topic, but it needs to be talked about. Thank you!

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  4. Elizabeth,

    I *love* how you put this together.

    (And I am so stealing the ‘so are you offering to lend me a hand’ line! That one in particular has got to be my biggest pet peeve. It always happens when I am herding them through a door and the person speaking is sort of blocking the other door to say their line…UGH.)

    Baby #6 just arrived a week ago, and with her has come this peace…it truly can be a source of joy and contentment and trust, if we let it- it is one of the hardest things I have ever done. But it’s also amazing.

    Reply
    • I had 3 boys in 3 years, and I get the “hands full” comment all the time!!!!!!

      It has actually been a source of pride in my life. When people say it, it almost makes me glow with HAPPY. Yep, I’ve got my hands full, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      Reply
      • Amber, I have three small boys too (although not quite as closely spaced as yours) and my favorite response to “you have your hands full” is “I like it that way!” :)

        Reply
        • My friend, who has four, always says, “It’s better than empty.” :)

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          • Ooh, that one could be hurtful, though (albeit without intent) if the speaker is not-by-choice childless…

          • I have a friend with 6 little ones and her reply is “Yes, my hands are full… but not as full as my heart.” :)

          • Bart

            People look at us like we are the Dugger family if we give them any of the cloche answers, so now I have started to answer the “WOW you hands look full” type questions with “why, is one of them mis behaving?”

          • Jessica

            Melissa I like your comment about the it’s better than empty… That is so true id much rather have my little girl whom doesn’t listen some of the Tim but is becoming more and more helpful every day and my previous 2month old son who is the sweetest thing in the world… And I’m possibly pregnant again… I want a big family I feel like the lots is going to give my husband and I 6 kids we we’re using condoms but then I realized how can I say I trust the lord with my life and family if I’m taking measures to not have more children at a certain fine… Who am I to stand in the way Of God and his plans for my life my future children and the ones I have now could lead millions to heaven or they could only lead one person we have no idea what children are capable of… I’m hoping I’m pregnant again..

        • Rebekah

          “You’ve got your hands full!” I heard that one again from a friendly fellow shopper today and I just smiled and said, “I sure do… full of fun!” :) A few minutes later, the same lady made a point of telling me how much she liked my answer. I think this may be my new “go to” answer from now on. :)

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        • Joanna Kingston

          Hi Emily, I too have had 3 boys in 3 years, I’m also 6 weeks along wih #4

          And you’re exactly right, how could you trade it, you just don’t notice the fast paced lifestyle, sadly we only really notice it when it’s brought to our attention by people who should possibly keep their opinions to themselves hey!

          Take care,

          Jo
          By the way, I love the name Emily, and this baby will be Emily if I ever conceive a girl!!

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    • Sandi

      When people tell me I have my hands full I always want to say why yes, I have two hands and three children ;)

      Reply
  5. HippieGramma

    I guess I haven’t read your blog very long, but I was really surprised at your judgmental attitude. You seem to be open-minded about so many other things… is this fierce loyalty to Quiverfull mythology a by-product of fundie thinking that you just haven’t gotten around to examining and discarding yet?

    There are many, many reasons why people limit their family size that have nothing to do with fear. Maybe they heard God speaking just as clearly to them. Maybe, no matter how many children they wanted to have, they made a responsible decision to honor the ones that were already here, and not jeopardize Mom’s health, family finances, etc. by the greed of wanting more. And maybe they realized “be fruitful and multiply” is not any more of a commandment than the other 600+ directives in the old Testament, and they should concentrate on and teach their children to concentrate on the 10 + 2 that God / Jesus seemed to lean on the most.

    Judging, criticizing, or assuming you know faulty and shallow reasons behind a decision to have FEWER children is just as bad as others judging, criticizing, and assuming things about you for having MORE.

    Reply
    • MomtoONE

      I wish there was a way to love your comment– I like how this was written– it had some funny parts– but I felt like preventing more children until I am ready for that hurdle both financially and emotionally was being attacked….

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    • Kathy K.

      Interesting. I read the same post as you, but I didn’t sense any judgment. I only read a personal telling of her own experience and views.

      I’m also a grandma!

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    • jennifer Harden

      Dear hippi granmma,
      You missed the entire point of this blog! The Bible is the Lord’s direction for our lives. We have no right to change any part of it to fit our lives or to make us comfortable. “by the greed of wanting more” just those words you used showed me a glimpse of a heart that has a small hole. When we trust in the Lord to be the one in charge of our family size we also are trusting him with our health, family finances and not one time would wanting more children be a greed issue! Would we also discard a sick child or one with special needs?? Never because we are Trusting the Lord. Good times and tough times we will trust the Lord!! To not understand the term “trusting God with our family size” is saying you don’t understand the Word of God! I will so pray for you and I will continue to trust the Lord with all of our families needs!

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      • KatR

        Just curious…. if a woman had severe medical problems during or after a pregancy, and was advised by her doctor to not have more biological children, would you say that she is not trusting God if she follows that advice?

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        • Deborah

          I’m curious, too, Kat. I would hope that that woman would take her doctor’s advice. I’m interested in hearing what others’ answers would be.

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        • Nish

          Interesting question. And a whole new can of worms. ;)

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          • Dianna

            Kat, I don’t think she would be not be trusting God if she didn’t have any more biological children. I have a friend who just had her 3rd baby and it is truly a miracle that he is here. She was on bed rest her entire pregnancy because of a hemorrage in her uterus, as well her placenta being torn. She and her husband want more children, but after this pregnancy, they know the wisest decision is to adopt. I believe the Lord gives us wisdom in these decisions and you have to take in account the health of the mother and the children.

          • True Doctors can be of great benefit, but they are not gods and do not know everything. God can change anything He wants whenever He wants and how He wants. I was told I could never have children naturally and would have to use fertility treatments for any and all children. We did with our first before leaving our family size to God and now have 7, last six were with no fertility help at all. My husband was diagnosed as a child with an illness and was told he would never get better without very complicated surgery. We found alternative meds to help him and he has been better every year since we met. So, we cannot always have our faith in doctors over God. They can give us insight but only the insight that God gives them not that they give to themselves and societies demands. You have to be very astute and go to God in prayer to figure which is which. :o)

        • KatR–

          My mother had four wonderful and healthy children and then two terrible miscarriages. Doctors advised her to “quit trying” and be happy with the four they had. My mother went on to have two more healthy and beautiful girls, my little sisters. Had she “listened to the doctors’ advice” those two human beings would not be here.

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        • jennifer harden

          I do have a severe medical condition and I have this during pregnancy and after, Doctors have advised us not to have more children and I could lose my life. If I am to trust God with only parts of my life that are safe then I am not really trusting Him at all! I have 8 children, 5 are here with us and 3 are with the Lord and I will continue trusting Him with it all! :I choose the Lord to direct my life not a Doctor. I have been blessed beyond words in this area over and over! If I listened to the doctors voice and not the Lord’s I would have no children at all! Ladies their is something so powerful in obeying and trusting God it is so awesome and a huge comfort! He’s got my back!! \o/

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          • Deborah

            I’m happy for you that you were able to bear children and survive despite the doctor’s advice, but not all women are so fortunate. I find this type of thinking troubling. Maternal mortality still exists (and Christian women are not immune). I shudder to think of the possibility of little ones left behind when a mother knowingly delves into that type of risk. God uses doctors and their vast amount of knowledge, too.

          • HippieGramma

            So many answers, so little space.

            -Jennifer, I must not be very acquainted with the Bible, because I missed the clear, plain directives from Jesus, Paul, or even the OT that command us to have as many children as possible, regardless of any other life circumstance and without using our God-given brains or the direction of the Holy Spirit to determine God’s path for our individual families. If you can provide anything besides the tired old “quiver full” verse, or those generically commanding us to trust the Lord (I could trust Him for daily nourishment instead of putting food in my mouth, right? Wrong), I’d be interested.

            -Wanting more children could most certainly be a greed issue for some people. It could also be due to vanity, competition, or attention-seeking (not claiming these are the motives of any person here, but it happens, and we’ve all probably seen it). Every behavior can spring from good or bad motives, which is probably why Jesus spent so much time getting people to focus on their HEART rather than their BEHAVIOR, and also why…

            -… God’s call for each of us and our families is different, and unique, and right for us.

            –EE, in re-reading my post, the tone was harsher than I originally heard in my head. I do disagree, but I respect you and your opinion. My apologies if that did not come through.

          • Ah…you know I love this, EE. :) And I agree with Margaret. I love that you have been able to sort out truth borne of hope and love from the scrambled theology of a painful past!

            You know what’s interesting? With my 9th child, I got a lot less grief and trouble (even though I have high risk pregnancies that require a lot of medical oversight) than with my 5th or 6th.

            For one thing – as people get to know your family over time, they can see that what you have and what you do…just…works. They might not want it for themselves, but they are happy for you that it works for you.

            Also? People finally get the point that you *meant* to do this, meant to allow children to come and to have life and to grow and flourish in a loving home. They might still think you are a little nuts, but if you do it well they will still admire you.

            Me? I have no agenda. Zero. I don’t judge others for their family size. I have children out of love. I finally stopped wrestling with it all and trying to figure out an “official stance” and even, really, caring what others think. My husband and I just love each other and love our sweet children and look forward to seeing what God wants to do with/in our lives. It’s all about love, baby.

            Like you, though – even without an agenda and without judgementalism – I find it a bit sorrowful that the Church can be scornful of the large family. It’s a definite shift – but one that we (with hope and love) have the opportunity to spread light into and be a good example for.

        • Here are my thoughts on this. Certainly would think that she could easily follow her doctor’s advice and not contradict God. We were blessed with three biological children, and are unable to have more “homegrown” children. When we realized that we had such a desire to parent and wanted to expand our family, we knew that unless we went with extreme medical intervention, we would not have more of these. So, we have adopted! We are so blessed! God has called us to a different path than we would have expected, as we adopted five children over four years, all as older international children. And they are thriving. ALL the kids. We are now in process to adopt sisters, one of whom has Down Syndrome. This was never something that we thought we could do, but God has been teaching us a lot and working on our hearts.

          God speaks to each of us individually, and I don’t recommend our path to others either unless they feel the nudging of God. God doesn’t call us all to the same thing, thank goodness! There is no condemnation, just trust God to help you walk YOUR path.

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        • Hannah

          hi! I just want to say that I feel the Lord also teaches stewardship more than he teaches children are a blessing. My sister in law would have ended up in wheel chair if she had her sixth child! She choose to start preventing so that she could still be there for her other 5! She was judged by some, but I say you wouldn’t sit on a porch and watch a tornado coming strait towards you, would you? The Bible does say God is in the whirl wind…right? Well God made us intelligent, and she made the choice to be a steward of her family and the little blessings that she already had. The sixth blessing would have definitely been a blessing. But would being in a wheel chair the rest of her life been? Would her sex life in her marriage been blessed? Would her children have been blessed? She saw a tornado heading right for her and made a decision of stewardship and wisdom, trusting that the Lord was giving her direction that she needed to take. So although I am all in support of large families although if they wanted to take a break for a year and get strong again or whatever, I would care not. But I still think you need to consider the blessings you already have in situations like hers.

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      • Sandi

        I think the key in this statement is trusting God and not our human-ness.

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    • GrandmaMolly

      Amen.

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    • Joanna Kingston

      I don’t think she was judging people that have fewer children, she was elaborating on why people have more children. and I think her explaination was very clear, so I’m surprised there is a comment like this, but you’re entitled to your opinion. I think the number of children people have is completely irrelevant, I believe you should stop/start having children when YOU tell yourself to, it WILL be a feeling you will get, that SHOULDN’T be driven by money, shouldn’t be driven by “what’s in this week”, it’s a feeling that you will just know in your heart, and on that basis, NOBODY should be judged for having a family, large or small.

      Reply
  6. yes, yes, yes. as a mama of 6, this is so aptly spoken. i know all of these questions, all the stares, and i too understand it from non-christians, but from the christian community i’m always in disbelief.

    one of my favorites is when people tell me i’m done. “so, you’re done now…. right?” or “this is your last then?” and i’m thinking, what in the world gave you that impression? are you just saying this to make yourself more comfortable?

    love your words here. thank you.

    Reply
    • hahahah! Amy, when people make presumptuous statements like “so you’re done now, right?” or “she’s your LAST then?”, my husband laughs and says, “NO way! we’re only just getting started!!” or when they whisper incredulously, “FIVE?!” we say hopefully, “…only five, so far!!”
      ahahahah!
      We LOVE the reactions we get. :) We’re not sure where we’re at, if we’ll get to have more children, but we LOVE to use these comebacks with people… and here in Peru, people are not at all shy about expressing their opinions about family size, so we get to use them often! ;)

      amy in peru

      Reply
    • I have been astonished at the amount of people who say, “You’re done, right?” now that I have a girl and a boy. It really displays our culture’s mentality on having lots of kids!

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  7. Thank you for this. I’ve always wanted to have many children, but the sheer reality of three children five and under, one of whom has special needs, has made me question having another. It *is* an act of faith; I know that ten years from now–or even two–I will be grateful I did, where if I gave in to the “it’s too much!” voice, I’d regret it forever, even if I tried to pretend it wasn’t there.

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  8. This post is awesome! I myself want to have 4 children today, but after reading your post, I decided not to even put a limit to that… Bring it on!

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  9. i don’t get this much anymore. i think that we hear things more frequently….when we are in a position of defense. it’s probably said now too—but i don’t hear it, because my heart feels no need to defend against it. i’m OKAY w/ it. and at one point in it, i was still trying to wrap my brain around whether i was or not…so the comments were very stinging.

    i know what i have. and despite costs, and inconvienences, and lack of flexibility and all that comes w/ more kids….there just isn’t a word or description that can equate what the benefits are. and until someone is on THIS side of a big family, they just don’t know what they are missing.

    i must be hanging around the right people now too….cuz’ five kids feels kind of weak to me. my hat is off to those in the 6-8 range :o)

    Reply
    • I love this: “I know what I have.” That just nails it! Knowing what you have–the priceless treasure that is yours–there’s just no need to worry about what other people say to undermine/attack it. Thanks for this, HJ. And thanks for seeing me through ALL the changes of the past 5 years. I love you! xoxo.

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  10. Like Kathleen, we have 3 children under 5, one of whom has special needs. It is a lot most days. It amazes me more than anyone in the world that despite how difficult it is getting three little sets of coats, jackets, boots on every morning and potty training 3 children at the same time I am not afraid of another child. The only thing that amazes me more, that my husband agrees. He tells people, there is no question, if God gives us another child we will have another child, we are going to “try” for another child; but for the moment, we are just taking a little rest. Children have taught me that fear is fruitless and faith is the food on which we thrive. I am not saying I don’t ever have fears or moments when I think, “What was I thinking???” Because, I have them, daily, but I never stop believing that letting that fear get the best of me is the wrong answer.

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  11. “Because when we make decisions from a place of fear we deny ourselves the joy of seeing hope fulfilled.”

    I love this, and I CAN add to that list of fears: fear that my body or mind won’t hold up, fear that my marriage would suffer, that we wouldn’t get enough time together.

    Beyond all reason I have the desire for more children, but after every natural childbirth I have, I ALWAYS say, “No more kids, and if we happen to have more, I’m getting an epidural!” This has nothing to do with epidurals and everything to do with how our desires change.

    I can’t believe I’m having my 4th. I only have 2 other peers my age with 4. I already feel like a strange bird compared to the rest.

    We live next to a family of 11. We envy them in more ways than we could count, how they love and treat each other, how disciplined they’re forced to be (or else chaos reigns), how they love the LORD and trust him.

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  12. Lisa Enqvist

    Thanks for your words. I am the sixth child of my missionary parents. In their time, 1937-1945 choosing the number of children was not even thought of. We grew up “around the world” so to say. Never enough money – and that was a blessing in disguise – as my mother wrote to her homefolks. We learned to be creative in all kinds of little ways. That was a treasure to carry with us through life.
    My husband and I adopted four children, and now we have ten grandchildren. We started a Childrens’ home in Thailand – not even thinking about where funds might come from. Over 270 children have been helped to get a better start in life. God has faithfully filled their needs through the past 35 years. Children are a gift.

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  13. Yes! I have five siblings, and my mom gets asked questions like this all the time. When we were younger, and there were six of us under the age of ten with her at the grocery store, she was always asked “Are these ALL yours?!” (She often had the same urge as you – to respond with “Nah, I picked up a few extra along the way.”) If my dad tells coworkers how many children he has, they often think he’s joking.

    When I went to a Christian high school, a lot of people assumed our large family was because we went to a traditional church, and some did pull out the “cult” label. Others asked me straight out if my parents knew what birth control was, and suggested they should have used it. (Which is really insulting, when you think of it.)

    I’m so blessed to be part of a large family and have these relationships. And when I get married, Lord willing, I will have a large family too.

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  14. If I write anything, I’m pretty sure I’ll cry, and it’s too late at night for this. Especially when 6 little ones will need me in less than 6 hours.

    But I hear you. xx

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  15. Like you, I always get asked, “are all those kids yours.” I only have 4 & you would think I had 8. I just smile & say yes they are. When I am asked, “how do you handle all of them?” I also say, “one day at a time.”
    Truthfully, it is not that hard. Even when my DH is working out of town. I have two 13 yrs old’s, so they help me a lot with my younger girls.
    God blessed me with 4 wonderful kids & I wouldn’t change a thing. I am thankful everyday.

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  16. When people stop me to say, “You sure have your hands full,” I reply, “Better full than empty.” There is really not much to say after that.

    You know, I have never heard someone in their last years wish they had had fewer children.

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    • Meg

      I, too, said that as a response for a while but then a very lovely woman said to me “please just remember that some of those comments you hear come from hurt…the hurt of never having a child to love, the hurt of never knowing what it feels like to be a mother, the hurt of a loss…the person saying your hands are full may wish hers were overly full as well and a little comment may put them in a position to feel even worse. at no one else’s expense should we, as Christians, defend our choices”

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      • kharking

        True enough. Maybe some of that hurt is unrealized by the person making the initial comment. However, in my experience, most of those types of comments really do fall along the lines of “what were you thinking to put yourself in this scenario, you crazy woman?” The positive comments are usually oriented towards things like “what a beautiful family”.

        Reply
      • Kerry

        So true – while I have one child, I still feel the indescribably painful ache of empty arms after 2 miscarriages and little hope for future children. I know too well that my hurt is at times laced with bitterness and at times unsuspecting souls have been singed when my bitterness has boiled over. My husband and I both desire a house full of children “enough for a basketball team” my husband says :) but for now God has said “wait” We wait on a list for adoption. We wait for a surprise pregnancy. We wait. And we trust. God does have a plan, and I have been blessed by the comments shared here. Big families are a blessing and an act of faith, and little families are blessing and act of faith. We are clinging to the faith that if God doesn’t allow for more children, He will still have big plans for the three of us, and will bless us just as much if we’re a family of 3 or a family of 8.

        Reply
    • Laura

      Yes because empty arms are often aching arms. I know full well. On the verge of 32 and still no prospect of children, however there is a song called ” While I wait ” that has ministered to and motivated me. I will serve God in all seasons, because Just because I don’t always get what I want he knows what is best. I get the opportunity to love on precious little ones just like yours thru children’s choir leadership and Children’s church. I also get the opportunity to give moms and dads a few moments rest

      Reply
      • Hang in there! I didn’t start my family until I was 35 & now I have 3 beautiful children – an 8 month old, a 2 year old, & a 3 year old. I know I don’t have as much energy as the 20-something moms, but there are many other upsides to having kids in your 30s, such as the extra maturity that you’ve gained along the way.

        Reply
    • Sara

      Wow, I hope you never say that to someone whose hands are empty, in spite of all their prayers and trying…..that is an insensitive comment in today’s world!

      Reply
    • Stella

      As someone who is married and has had three miscarriages, no children, that is one of the most insensitive things I have read for a long, long time. God has blessed me in so many other ways – I am just as fulfilled, gratified and blessed as those fortunate enough to have children, whether it is one or twelve.

      I would hope that no one would imply that those who do not have children have any less faith. It is not the amount of faith that matters but the OBJECT of our faith which is Jesus Christ. And that is enough for whatever God allows in our lives. Sometimes it seems as though people have the need to prove to God they have enough faith and no doubt. God does not set up hoops like that for us to jump through. Remember that Jesus did not give the disciples a formula for for increasing their faith – He said we only need the faith of a tiny little mustard seed for a reason. We are human beings.

      Reply
  17. Wow thank you so much for sharing this story!

    Reply
  18. KatR

    So am I the only one on the “childless shell of a human being” side of the aisle?

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Some of my absolutely favorite people are women who never had children-even the married ones. And they loved children. Some couldn’t have children. Some chose not to have children. Everyone is valuable. Everyone matters. Everyone is fully human and in no way vacant.

      Reply
    • Ah, Kat! I feel like bursting into a Barbra Streisand song: “There’s a kid for you! Somewhere! Somehow! Somedaaaaaaay!” :) If only you lived closer! My kids need an Auntie Kat because she has the BEST sense of humor! p.s. Good grief, woman! You are not a childless shell of a human being!

      Reply
      • KatR

        I would be a horrible, HORRIBLE influence on your children. ;)

        Reply
        • Nah. The only way you’d be a horrible influence is if you quit cracking jokes and got all serious. And in honor of cheesiness, I have another song for you: “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy fam-i-ly, with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won’t you say you love me tooooooo?” You don’t have to have kids to be a fully awesome, fully worthy, fully rockin’ human being. “I love you just the waaaay you are!” –Stevie Wonder. OK, I’ll stop now. ;-)

          Reply
    • Kristy

      My husband and I own a Christian bookstore. We bought it from “Aunt” Helen. “Aunt” Helen and “Uncle” Eli founded the store in 1944 when they couldn’t find a place to buy supplies for their mission work in the Appalachians. They never had any children of there own, but Aunt Helen started craft classes as an outreach to children in the area, and also had some kind of clubs for children in their store where she told Bible stories and things like that. Both Aunt Helen and Uncle Eli passed away over 18 years ago, but we STILL have people come in the store and comment about how much they loved Aunt Helen and her classes and what an influence she was on their lives. Aunt Helen really had hundreds of children, and didn’t have to cook for them! So, maybe God has some children in the neighborhood for you. My father just got remarried to a lovely Christian woman who is in her late 60s and never married, but she too has lots of children that she “adopted” in her neighborhood by helping various single mothers who were desperate. There’s lots of ways to “have children”!

      I think the whole point of this argument should be that we need to be open to whatever God has for us and not just plow along the accepted cultural path. We have 6 children and I never would have dreamed that when I was younger, but we opened ourselves up to whatever God wanted. Not that we never used birth control. We did, but never anything permanent. Always open to what God has for us. I had the youngest when I was 44. Yes, my midwife told me I should stop having children after #3, but we litened to God and God said he had more bundles of joy for us. We must listen to God and can’t just go on what everyone else thinks we should do. I used to look around the table after number 5 was born and just felt someone was missing. After she showed up, now I have that peace that our family is complete. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

      Reply
  19. Hey, I don’t comment on your blog as often as I should.

    I agree that having children is a great and dangerous hope, and I applaud you for your insight.

    Our systematic theology teacher was very pro-Catholic in this respect, and taught us that every child born is a fight against the death of the universe. I sincerely appreciated this post, and appreciated how theology should shape the way we live our lives, and being filled with hope is as much an emotional/cognitive task as it is one based upon our actions.

    Thank you for writing this.

    Reply
    • Yeah, Eli. Where you been, yo? :)

      And I love this: “every child born is a fight against the death of the universe.”

      YES! Children have a way of bringing so much joy into the sadness of the world–just take kids to the old folks home and watch how they light up! It’s wonderful!

      Reply
  20. Great post and well said! I’m from a family of 4 kids and my hubby is also. I live in a small town where 5 kids isn’t actually considered a lot. If God chose to provide us with only four kids, I will get the “that’s all you’re having?” questions. My grandma had 8 kids and around here I would say that 6 kids is kind of the “norm”. Interesting how different our communities and acceptance are.

    Reply
  21. I love this! I’m normal, too!

    I am the mother of five as well: one is adopted, one is fostered and soon-to-be-adopted, three are mine by birth and of those one has special needs. People think I am either crazy or a saint. Nope, I’m just normal. You said it and I agree with my whole entire heart!

    It is sad though how many people I’ve met who have to put me and my life in some sort of safely categorized box so that they don’t have to ever consider the possibility that this happiness is possible for anybody. It is also amazing how much evangelizing is possible just by going through your daily day.

    I know what I have, too, and it makes me so hopeful. Yes, oh yes, yes, I’d have more.

    P.S. Pygmy goats and I do not get along. I’m a Nubian fan. With good old fashioned Christian Charity, I’m sure we can work out our differences somehow.

    Reply
  22. so if I choose to have two children and raise them with all the love and faith that I can, am I saying no to God? am I less blessed? do I have less faith? absolutely not. I didn’t say no to more kids because I was afraid, but because my experience of being the oldest of six taught me that two to love gives me more love and time to give. I have the gift of having the ability to spend time with each of my boys in a world where time is fading quickly.

    growing up in a large family, I didn’t get the gift of time from my parents {they adopted two special needs children when I was a pre-teen}. and as a pre-teen, I needed that time. I needed a deeper relationship. so I chose to have only two children and be blessed enormously by them. I am not of the frame of mind to agree that more is better. {so this is me respectfully disagreeing!}

    Reply
    • Hi Cori: thank you for sharing your story, here. I’m sorry you didn’t get the time and deeper relationship with your parents that you needed (and deserved!) as a pre-teen. That must have been so difficult and heartbreaking for you. ((hugs)) To be honest, I think you are demonstrating GREAT faith by having the two you DO have! :) As I wrote in the post, we must all make our decisions prayerfully and responsibly. It seems clear to me that you have done just that and I applaud you!

      Reply
      • Darcey

        I was really feeling similar to Cori, and so I am so thankful for your response to her. I have two, and two is plenty for me. If God wants me to have another, he can make it happen, even if I AM on birth control. ;) You are right, we must all make our decisions responsibly and prayerfully, and also respectfully. I would never judge someone for having a large family, just as I hope I wouldn’t be judged for having just my two. Thank you for your beautiful and honest post.

        Reply
  23. Beautiful, beautiful thoughts! :) I love big families, and yet have been struggling with the realization that this might not be God’s calling for me, however much I want it to be. Is it crazy that I find this so hard to accept sometimes? :)

    Usually, though, I am content. Perfectly content. And I think that is what really matters the most in the end.

    Reply
    • I feel like I could have written an entire post dedicated to caveats and disclaimers! :) Yes, yes! God perhaps has something different for you–this does not mean you are “less” blessed. It’s just a different kind of blessing! And you’re right: contentment really *is* what matters most. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

      Reply
  24. ah. this was a tough one for me to read. i always wanted a big family too. My mom was 1 of 10, I was 1 of 4/5 (my niece lived with us much of my upbringing, she would be the 5th!). But after having my first, who is now 2.5, I was knocked off my feet by postpartum depression and anxiety. Recovery took almost 2 full years…. and I still have many residual symptoms.

    Now, for me, it becomes a very complex decision. It’s not a matter of *wanting* more kids, or *believing* they are blessings from God, but rather trying to act in wisdom… weighing both what I can handle, provided my history, and how it will affect my husband (enormously) and my son if I fall into those dark depths again.

    So I don’t know what to think. I totally agree that I need to trust, surrender, not fear… and on and on. But…. it’s complicated. You know?

    Reply
    • Hi Grace! I feel you! After my twins I had PPD, too. It was a really difficult time. It took me almost three years to recover. I am well acquainted with the darkness. And I TOTALLY agree with you: we must make our decisions prayerfully, responsibly and wisely. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      Reply
    • Grace, I hear you! I have serious, ongoing clinical depression. It was finally diagnosed and treated after my third child was born (I was contemplating suicide). For me, having another biological child would be a serious mistake. That isn’t just me being fearful, it is a medical fact. It is possible that you are in a similar situation.

      In our case, we’re choosing to pursue adoption. We desire more children, but without compromising my safety and mental health. I still have all the typical “can I handle more children?” fears, and those are the ones that I work on giving to God!

      I just want to affirm your gut feeling that it can be more complicated than *just* trust vs. fear.

      Reply
    • PPD does really complicate things. Once you’ve recovered, it really IS scary to think of ever being there again. I went through it for 2 years after my second child was born. I finally realized that I would be too old to have any more kids if I didn’t do it pretty soon. So I went off my meds & had my 3rd child & just did the best I could. When breastfeeding was over, I went back on my meds & I’m doing so much better now. Note: I’m not telling anyone to do it this way – this is just how I did it. Nowadays, I’ve tried to explain to my husband the “fear” that I feel of ever being deeply depressed again but it’s very hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t been there. Hugs … just take it one day at a time. Who knows? You might wake up one day feeling the joy of hope & ready to consider another child. And if you don’t get to the point where you feel like you can handle another child, maybe that’s God’s way of telling you that your family is complete now.

      Reply
    • Kerry

      I completely understand that “complicated” feeling! I didn’t battle much PPD after my first child. However, after my second miscarriage I plunged into a horribly dark and deep depression and over a year later, have still not fully recovered. Although we have a strong desire for a large family I’m absolutely terrified of another pregnancy – terrified of another loss, terrified to go spiraling back into the darkness of deep depreesion. Adoption, at first, seemed like the perfect solution for us – and a relief for me. Now, as our wait continues, I’m finding that I am nowhere near “recovered” from depression. I am still experiencing some very dark days as I wonder how much longer must we wait for our family.

      Reply
  25. Cori…
    I didn’t hear her saying “more is better” rather asking why people respond with such an extreme reaction when they see a larger family. Surely you experienced some of those same comments growing up with a large brood of siblings?

    I grew up as the 3rd of 10 and was always offended and would roll my eyes at those comments. I have 3 little boys now and although I am definitely blessed, at the moment my husband and I don’t feel led to have another child. However we have started the process of adopting a child. We have individually wrestled through this. God has been so tender and amazing in this process. For us it has definitely been a struggle with faith and obedience. We realize that we fear the change and the call to die to ourselves. But answering YES has changed us and changed our marriage. Truly amazing! We don’t know what comes next …and we don’t believe this journey is anywhere near over.

    So Cori…no judgement here. But don’t be surprised if God pushes on that certainty at some point, just maybe. He did in my life…and I am immensely grateful!

    Reply
    • perhaps. I don’t know what God has for me down the road, but as a full time educator in a jr high special needs classroom {public school!}, I feel that I am mom/mentor/counselor/social worker/confidant/friend to the students in my room and I exactly in the place I am to be in.

      I am, in no way, against large families. I am just not more or less of a Christian because I choose to have only two kids {and yes, I know that wasn’t the intent of the post} or like many in my circle, no children at all.

      and I still get reactions when I tell people how large my family is! :)

      Reply
  26. David T.

    “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?” – Luke 14:28 NRSV

    In this passage we are told that just as you would not start a building project without figuring out the cost first, so we should not follow Christ without understanding the cost.
    This general principle extends to family planning as well. It’s a tale of two families. My friend’s family, who lives in a two-bedroom apartment with five kids. She doesn’t believe in taking the pill and neither of them are willing to get fixed. He doesn’t always want to use protection (what man doesn’t get tired of that sometimes). They have more children than legally allowed, but they can’t afford a bigger place. She doesn’t want to leave the house anymore because it is too much work to drag all the kids.
    Then there is my family. We are similar to our friends in income and we live in a two-bedroom apartment too. The first was planned, the second was not. We are happy with both of them! While we would like and could support a third, my wife gets extremely sick during her pregnancies to the point where she is in the hospital once a month or more and she is unable to fulfill her duties as wife and mother on a consistent basis.
    At this point we have decided to not have anymore children. I will be undergoing a permanent fix for the problem in a few weeks.
    Will you charge us with no faith?
    What if my wife had found this blog and began to feel guilty about a supposed “lack of faith”, and put us in disagreement over an issue we had had unity on?
    Are we wrong to count the cost?
    What if we would rather give more of ourselves to the two we have than less of ourselves to the 3, 4, or 5 we might have? HAVING AND RAISING CHILDREN IS A ZERO-SUM GAME, RELATIONALLY, FOR WE ARE LIMITED IN OUR TIME, MONEY, AND EMOTIONAL CAPACITY.

    Reply
    • I would argue that it most definitely isn’t a zero-sum game. I have five siblings. My parents don’t love me less because of this. They don’t devote less time to us. If anything, they make sacrifices with their own lives, and their hobbies and pursuits, in order to be able to devote themselves to us, which shows a LOT of love. And, I also have the blessing of the love of five siblings.

      Reply
      • Time is a zero-sum game. You need to spend one-on-one time with your kids and spouse to have good relationships. Since I work (and carry more than half of the bread-winning load), I am limited in the number of hours I have in the day for growing my relationships with my kids and husband.

        Love is boundless, but time is not!

        Reply
    • Hi David: I’m sorry your wife has had such difficult pregnancies–that is truly a heavy burden to bear. As I wrote in my post, we must all make these decisions prayerfully and responsibly. So, I would never presume to charge anyone with lack of faith because God leads us all differently. Indeed, I admire your faith in that you are taking such good care of your wife and the two children you already have. Peace to you.

      Reply
    • Of course this is a very personal decision for you- but listen to your words- permanent FIX for the PROBLEM- your fertility is not a problem- and surgery does not FIX you- in fact, at work 3 wives had their husbands ‘fixed’ last year- one husband can no longer get an erection and the other 2 are having urine flow problems. There is a risk.

      I have 4 children (we also had a 20 week miscarriage) and I probably shouldn’t have any more due to medical problems. We have never used artificial contraception and we have never had a surprise pregnancy. We use NFP. Think about it! It is not just for Catholics- this method is also called Fertility Awareness (for non-Catholics who might use a barrier method of birth control during if-y times)

      Reply
  27. I feel somewhat in the minortity here…. :)

    I really appreciated what you’ve written and forwarded it on to my wife. We have five kids also, ages 11, 8, 6, 2, and 1 month.

    We often get the same looks and comments, even from people within our own church family. I know a lot of them are joking with me, but it still causes pain occasionally. We live in a very small town, and I have a fairly high profile posotion here. As a result, our own towspeople know us, and now don’t give us the stares they used to.

    But when we go to a larger city nearby…. Whole other story. It’s even worse as a dad. When my wife takes 5 kids out, she’ll get looks, but not really obvious. But when I as a Dad take the kids out alone, wow!

    When my wife was pregnant with our youngest, I would take the kids while she was in a doctor appointment, which was over an hour away. We would all go as a family, drop Heather off, and go to Home Depot, Wal-Mart, or somewhere. You should see people’s reactions to a dad alone with fou kids in a Home Depot! I actually had people stare at me with their mouths open! I guess it’s just surprising to see a dad of a large family so actively pesent with his kids. That’s rare in our society, both the large family, and a present dad, one who’s not working all the time.

    I laugh when the people at Home Depot stare so blatantly. One lady even asked why I had so many kids and where their mother was. I told her she was at the doctor getting checked out with our current pregnancy. She walkdaway mumbling something about irresponsability.

    I am a father of five, and someday, maybe even more. I’m proud of that, and proud of my kids, and proud of my wife. My large family is an incredible blessing to me. Thanks for posting this today. I needed to read it.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Jeff. I’m happy this encouraged you! For the record, my hubby gets stares every time he takes all the kids out to the store, too! LOL. But he loves it, just like you!

      Reply
    • We had someone physically count our children under her breath when we were out grocery shopping once.

      She did not look pleased with her sums.

      Reply
      • Kerri

        We get counted all the time!

        Reply
      • this happens to us all the time too, but as we’re in peru, people whisper in spanish and think that we don’t understand… often I turn to them cheerfully and say, “yep! you counted right… we only have five… so far!” this gets a variety of responses! the more shocked they are the more I love it, fills me with glee! ;)

        Reply
  28. Okay. THIS is fantastic. I remember sitting in my friend’s kitchen with her as she told me about wanting to have a big family. I asked her about over population and financial burden. She answered me with the kind of home those kids would grow up in and how they would know the love of their Father, and what kind of impact kids raised in that kind of home could have on a world broken and yearning for love. My talk of overpopulation and financial strain seemed petty after that.

    Thank you so much for sharing, I think that you’re right. Having children is a radical act of hope and faith. It’s got to be terrifying as hell, but to step into it BOLDLY is so awesome.

    AND thank you also for acknowledging our (my) fear that kids will “get in the way” of our (my) plans. Really? You’d rather travel more than bring a life into this world? And yeah, that doesn’t mean everyone is equipped to have big families, but don’t shut the conversation down before you have a chance to really engage in it.

    Thank you so much Elizabeth! This is beautiful.

    Reply
  29. I love what you have to say on this topic and, as a mom of “only” three kids, I am forever fascinated by and interested in what moms of larger families have to say. For me, it is not a matter of trusting/not trusting God… it is a matter of respecting my husband’s view, even though it differs from mine. The idea of a larger family than we have scares him, quite frankly, and I think it’s almost all financial worry. He takes his role of “provider” very seriously and the thought that he couldn’t do that well is a very real concern of his. I’m not sure what the future holds for us…

    Reply
    • As much as I would like to adopt 20 orphans, myself, my husband also has to remind me that someone needs to feed and clothe them! :) We all make these decisions according to how God leads and provides for us. All this to say, I admire your calm surrender. You are a good example to ME! :)

      Reply
  30. This one got me thinking. I can’t say I totally agree with you. But rather than hijack your comments I wrote a whole post. http://nomoredegrees.blogspot.com/2011/02/on-big-families-and-being-scared.html
    And Elizabeth, I still think you rock the party.

    Reply
  31. Awesome truth…my children definitely point to the HOPE we have in Christ, and the trust that He is leading us in the way we should go. We have seven, and folks pretty much think we are nuts. Which we pretty much are. But, hey, I like nuts, don’t you???

    Blessings on you & your 5-crew!
    Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight.com

    Reply
  32. Hello Elizabeth,

    While I understand that it must be difficult and draining to hear so many unsolicited comments from people, I feel compelled to humbly disagree with your assertions.

    I think the size of one’s family is a deeply personal choice and one needn’t judge anyone on whatever number of children they have, be it 1 or 11. Though it’s possible you didn’t intend to, your article almost suggests that it is more virtuous to have a large family.

    We have two children. We don’t *plan* on having more. This descision was not born out of fear. Far from it. It was a personal choice for my husband and I based on many different points (branching from our own experiences in our respective family of origin, to my difficult pregnancies, to the individual natures of the children we already have, and more).

    In my opinion, it’s not the size of the family that matters, it’s the amount of love that abounds.

    In Grace,
    heidi

    Reply
  33. mamakendall

    As a mom of 7, ages 2 to 10, I LOVED this post! Thank you for the encouragement.

    Reply
  34. “Do you know what causes it? (Yes and I like it).” Love this line!

    I love, love the idea of big families even though we are only a family of four!

    Reply
    • that was my favorite too ;) I can’t wait to tell my husband… and my mother in law (who happens to use this line occasionally)… ahahahahahahaha! :)

      Reply
  35. Frelle

    Wholeheartedly support that trust, and so glad to see a post devoted to openness to blessing in the face of a culture who does not understand. :)

    Reply
  36. I didn’t read through the comments, so I might be repeating what others have said…

    except for my fellow Catholic homeschoolers (our group probably averages 5 or 6 kids- I have 4), it is true that ‘nobody has more than 1 or 2 kids)- sometimes a ‘normal’ Catholic family will have 3. This shift in family size and attitude towards kids started when mainstream Christian churches said yes to artificial contraception (in the 30s)- as much as I appreciate the science behind NFP to space and even avoid a pregnancy, there is such a different attitude…

    Reply
  37. also might be repeating others….ladies- never assume unless the person you are talking with touts the glories of a child-free or almost child-free life (1 kid, etc)- I have 3 VERY faithful Christian Catholic friends (virgins when married, never birth control, etc) who have had hard times conceiving. One friend finally adopted a baby girl after 10 years of marriage and then got pregnant for the first time and had a little boy a year after the daughter’s 1st birthday- so when she was infertile, she was accused of using contraception- now, she is made fun of for ‘having them so quickly together’, and is told- ‘you are done- you got your boy and girl’- she is now having secondary fertility problems…so let’s tread lightly- most women have stories of one kind of the other…

    Reply
    • I don’t know what an “almost child-free” life could possibly mean. We have one kid. I’m well aware that we don’t face as many challenges as families with more kids, but we are NOT child-free. Being a parent is a 24/7 lifetime commitment no matter how many kids one has. I’d love it if there were less disdain in certain Christian subcultures for people who choose to have fewer kids (or, *gasp* none at all).

      Reply
    • I’ll add that I’m equally disgusted by judgmental comments about large families. In either direction it’s making judgments about other people’s sex lives, which is beyond inappropriate.

      If someone can handle having 4 or 5 or more kids, more power to them. I love children, but I know I can’t be a good parent to that many kids. I don’t see why we can’t all accept that people know themselves and their situations best and are the only ones equipped to make a good decision about whether and how often to procreate.

      Reply
      • Sandi

        You have made a comment that I hear often “…I know I can’t be a good parent to that many kids”
        How do you know that if you don’t have more children? If God wants you to have more children then you will be able to handle them and saying no to Him because you think you might not be able to do it is the same as those who say yes to having more kids, but don’t truly seek out the will of God.
        What I see from my friends who wait years to have kids or don’t want very many kids is a lack of them saying what does God have for my life. Instead they say things like I want it to be this way or that way or I want to do this first. Sometimes I even hear amongst the I comments the I feel led to do this, but there is no true God wants me to do this. I even had a friend tell me after much discussion on the topic, well I just want to be selfish right now. There is a general attitude of I am more comfortable this way and so I love God, but I don’t truly want to do what He wants me to do. Well God calls us to lay down our lives and daily pick up our cross and carry it. Life isn’t about me, it’s about what God wants and following Christ.

        Reply
        • How do you know that if you don’t have more children? If God wants you to have more children then you will be able to handle them and saying no to Him because you think you might not be able to do it is the same as those who say yes to having more kids, but don’t truly seek out the will of God.

          First off, I’m agnostic.

          Secondly, even when I was still a very devout Christian I found the argument you’re making rather silly. How do I know I don’t want to be a lawyer if I’m not a lawyer? How do I know I don’t want to be a doctor if I’m not a doctor? I can know that I don’t have the necessary gifts or constitution to make a good doctor or lawyer without actually being either. Similarly not everyone is equally suited to have lots of kids or any kids at all. It’s quite possible to know that as a parent of few kids or as a childless or child-free person. It’s certainly not possible for you to know what family size some random stranger on the internet can handle; no one is equipped to make that judgment for someone else, nor is it anyone’s business to do so.

          Further, I think it’s incredibly misguided and even dangerous to assume that sacrifice or following God’s will should look the same for everyone (again, this is something I believed as a Christian). For some people sacrifice can mean having a large family. For others it can mean having a smaller family (whether that means few or no children) so they can invest more in different but equally worthy pursuits – working in their community, contributing to important causes, having more time to be involved in the lives of their friends and their friends’ children, being teachers or doctors or whatever. It’s incredibly presumptuous to assume that God wills for everyone to have a large family, or to have as large a family as possible. It’s also demonstrably false given a literal reading of the Bible – Paul wasn’t even married, much less a parent. Neither was Jesus. We have no record of Peter or any of the other apostles having children.

          Any just and reasonable God wouldn’t create people with different talents and dispositions and then expect them to all have (or try for) identical lives or families. Diversity is a wonderful thing, including in family size.

          Reply
          • Deborah

            Well said, Grace. Some of the self-righteous attitudes I’m seeing in various comments are disturbing.

          • Sandi

            Except you are already a parent, you just aren’t a parent of more than one. So you already know you can be a parent to one, why not more? Then there are people who thought that they would neve be good parents and eventually have kids and love it more than anything they’ve done in their life. Parents do not all have the same gifts or jobs, everyone of them is different and yet in the differences lots of people make good parents, so I don’t really think you can compare parenthood to a job. There are too many ways to be a good parent.
            I never did assume that everyone should have a large family, I’m just saying if you can be a good parent to one it’s quite possible that you can be a good parent to more than one, whether that is 2 or 20. God’s will is definitely different for everyone, but my point is that a lot of Christians do not actually seek God’s will in the area of family planning, it turns into what they want or think they can handle. I truly believe though that God who created me and everyone (whether agnostic or not and whether you believe He created you or not) knows us better than we know ourselves. He also knows the future and His plan is to prosper and not to harm us, so why not trust Him in every area of your life?
            Paul and Jesus both had many followers without having their own families, how many Christians do you know that expand God’s word in that way? So if you are pursuing Christ’s mission to go out and make disciples of all nations than that’s great, but the general Christian population (50%) doesn’t even serve in the church, let alone serve in other areas of community. They are not pursuing God in their lives, Christians have been taken over by the American dream of having a bigger house and better job and the best play stuff. It’s a general attitude of not seeking God that I’m talking about.
            If I saw attitude’s of my friends who had fewer kids that they were truly seeking God’s will that would be different. I generally hear comments like I can’t do it or we can’t afford it or we can’t have more kids and send them to this school or that, they are relying on themselves not on God and His provision. He’s the creator of all things don’t you think that He knows how to provide exactly what your kids need? So my point is to trust God, He is a personal God who loves and provides for whatever plan He has for you.
            I’m guessing though that most of these concepts are lost on agnostic thinkers, since God is just there and not personal.

          • Joanna Kingston

            Hi Grace,
            Regardless if you’re agnostic or not, how do you know you couldn’t handle 4 or 5 children until you’ve had 4 or 5 children?

            In this case, it is not dependent on religion. I didn’t think I could have ONE child, yet I’m currently pregnant with my 4th and I know I can handle ANYTHING at this point

            Take care xx

          • Oh good grief. This is really shoddy reasoning. Just because I can’t know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what I can or can’t handle doesn’t mean I shouldn’t make decisions based on my best knowledge about what is best for me. You clearly decided that your uncertainty about handling more kids was less important than your desire for more kids. Awesome for you! Truly, that’s great. What on earth does that have to do with what I’ve decided for myself? Right – absolutely nothing. Why not just let other people live their lives and live with their own choices? You can’t raise their kids for them if it turns out they can’t handle more.

        • So you already know you can be a parent to one, why not more?
          I’ve already given a general explanation why someone would choose not to have more kids. I don’t know you, so my specific reasons aren’t really any of your business. Suffice it to say I don’t think “why not?” is a good reason to have more children.

          Parents do not all have the same gifts or jobs, everyone of them is different and yet in the differences lots of people make good parents, so I don’t really think you can compare parenthood to a job. There are too many ways to be a good parent.
          Parenting is absolutely a job. If that were more widespread understanding of that, perhaps fewer people would enter parenthood recklessly and with little thought.

          He’s the creator of all things don’t you think that He knows how to provide exactly what your kids need? So my point is to trust God, He is a personal God who loves and provides for whatever plan He has for you.
          Are you suggesting that there aren’t any Christian children who are living in poverty, or homeless? Or is it part of God’s plan for children to starve or die of easily treatable illnesses? Because that happens all over the world, including right here in the U.S., to children born into all faiths, including Christianity.

          Here’s part of what’s missing in this conversation: deciding to have (more) children can be an incredibly selfish decision. Having children simply because one wants them is a selfish decision if one can’t provide materially for them or provide them the guidance and attention they need.

          Reply
          • Sandi

            “Parents do not all have the same gifts or jobs, everyone of them is different and yet in the differences lots of people make good parents, so I don’t really think you can compare parenthood to a job. There are too many ways to be a good parent.
            Parenting is absolutely a job. If that were more widespread understanding of that, perhaps fewer people would enter parenthood recklessly and with little thought.”
            All I’m saying is that every parent has different gifts and skills and they can all be good parents. There is not a specific skill set or gift set that makes you a good parent. It’s not all about money either, there are just as many good parents with money as there are without money. If it took the same gifts to be a good parent, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that every parent was the same and then wouldn’t they then have the same number of children? My whole point in all of this is that if you are a Christ follower then you need to seek out God’s will for your life, not your own.

            I can see why you are agnostic with the third paragraph. I do believe that God is personal and loving. I don’t believe that He wants His children starving, I believe that is a consequence of sin in the world (not personal sin). It’s also in part that Christians aren’t serving God in the way that they should. If the church took care of the widows and orphans in the way that they should there would be a lot less starving children. In essence it’s human shortcomings, not God that causes starvation, etc… I believe also that those in those situations that are Christian or trust God have a lot more hope then those who are not.

            I way my decisions heavily on whether we should or should not have more kids. We are actually at the junction of deciding what to do next with our fertility. I have had four kids in six years. One was concieved while using a condom. The others I was ready for. This fourth one was a surprise because I wasn’t supposed to be ovulating until two days later. I think that sometimes our plans are different than God’s, but when we let God have His way that He is faithful and provides in ways that we cannot imagine. That’s not to say that I don’t struggle or am always perfect, I’m not and I don’t always want to listen to God’s plans, but I have learned over the years that His plans are better than mine, because He knows the future and has plans to prosper and not to harm. That doesn’t mean we won’t have hard times or that things won’t happen to challenge and change our hearts and those things can happen whether you have one, none or many children. You could get cancer and have medical bills up the wazoo and not be able to provide financially for one child, just as well as I could live without those burdens and not be able to provide for more children. Then you have to decide, even though you planned everything right and things should have worked out, who to trust. I choose to trust God no matter what and trust Him to help me make wise decisions in my life no matter what situation I am in. It’s not self-righteous, just God reliant living.

        • Parenting is a job. It’s work (as is being a spouse or life partner), and it needs to be done diligently and well. There isn’t only one good way to be a teacher or a doctor or lots of other professions either, by the way.

          I’m just saying if you can be a good parent to one it’s quite possible that you can be a good parent to more than one, whether that is 2 or 20.
          All sorts of things are possible. Again, “it’s possible that I could be good at parenting lots of kids” is not actually a good reason to have lots of kids. And honestly, it’s not “quite possible” that someone who is a good parent to one can be a good parent to 20. Are you serious or just being hyperbolic? It’s not even “quite possible” that someone could give birth to 20 kids without serious health complications. Many women experience uterine prolapse before they even reach 8 or 9 or 10.

          I can see why you are agnostic with the third paragraph.
          Seeing as I’ve said nothing about why I’m agnostic, I don’t see how that could possibly be true. You shouldn’t assume you know why I believe what I do anymore than I should make presumptions about your reasons for being a Christian.

          I do believe that God is personal and loving. I don’t believe that He wants His children starving, I believe that is a consequence of sin in the world (not personal sin). It’s also in part that Christians aren’t serving God in the way that they should. If the church took care of the widows and orphans in the way that they should there would be a lot less starving children. In essence it’s human shortcomings, not God that causes starvation, etc…
          I’m perfectly aware that there are theological rationales for why human suffering exists. That wasn’t my point, nor was I blaming God for anything. Whoever is at fault, God or the church or humans, the fact is that plenty of people have children that they can’t provide for. It’s a dangerous lie to tell people that they should just trust that their children will be magically provided for by God when there’s evidence all around us of people living and dying in abject poverty and squalor, and in the current economy, many examples of people who had been living comfortable, settled lives until very recently falling on hard times and living on welfare, or even losing their homes. To tell people just to trust that everything will be fine despite legitimate concerns about finances is hugely irresponsible.

          Secondly, I am sick and tired of conservative Christians claiming that suffering only exists because the church isn’t doing what it’s supposed to. If that’s the case, then put your money where your mouth is – instead of criticizing people for not having as many children as you do, criticize the church for not doing its job in making sure all children are adequately provided for. The fact that people are content brushing off human suffering as something that wouldn’t exist if the church did more (but we won’t actually make the church do more), while simultaneously judging others for their family size, shows where people’s priorities really lie.

          You could get cancer and have medical bills up the wazoo and not be able to provide financially for one child, just as well as I could live without those burdens and not be able to provide for more children. Then you have to decide, even though you planned everything right and things should have worked out, who to trust.
          What’s your point? That life is unpredictable? Isn’t that an argument for being more prudent in managing one’s finances, not less? Anyway, I think it’s interesting that you assume I’m talking about making more money or owning a big house. We don’t own a home. We’re comfortable, but we literally would not be able to pay the rent or feed our kid if we had another child. You seem to have only two options in your mind: “selfish and fearful with fewer kids” or “selfless and trusting God with more kids.” The world is far more complicated than that.

          I’m guessing though that most of these concepts are lost on agnostic thinkers, since God is just there and not personal.
          Your concepts are not “lost” on me. I just don’t believe in or agree with them. Not the same thing.

          Reply
          • Sandi

            My only point is that as a Christian one should trust God’s will and not their own. I said nothing about everyone having to have big families or more than one child. I just think if one claims to be a Christian than they should live as Christ did, a humble servant who loved others, and sought to seek and save the world even if it means self-sacrifice unto death.

    • Margaret

      I had a very similar experience. Between my first and second. First was 3 months old when someone all zealous about radical fertility (and I’m happy to be radical!) told me I should stop breastfeeding the kid because that was birth control. Different person, but same church, went after me for having kids a mere 2 years apart. Was I drinking some kind of special water or something????

      There’s no pleasing anybody.

      Reply
      • Sandi

        Hahaha, breastfeeding is not birth control or I would not be pregnant, lol…

        Reply
  38. I’ve been wrestling with this quite a bit lately, and I’ve written about it on my own blog some. I grew up Quiverfull, and started out that way myself. Our oldest child is 4 years old, and we have our 4th child due in May. I love children so much, but I want to be able to be a good mother to the ones I have. I feel like the Quiverfull mentality is like a curse I can’t shake off. It’s like I am crippled from ever truly enjoying the children I have, because I will always have guilt about the ones I didn’t. I mean, I have 10 siblings, and I love them all. I could never imagine if some of them never came into existence. Everytime I think about limiting our family size I wonder how many children I will never meet, and yet if we continue as we have we could end up with like 16 children, and I don’t feel that is what we are called to.

    Reply
    • Older Mom

      May I suggest that a helpful remedy for this might be that when you find your thoughts running in this direction, gently remind yourself to live and focus on the present. What is happening to you IS crippling, and living in the “what if” world makes it hard for ALL decisions to be made.

      For example: A woman meets a nice young man, they fall in love, and she finds it hard to commit to marrying due to “what if he isn’t the ONE?” What if, what if, what if? At some point, a decision is to be made, and it is “not a lack of faith” to make one.

      What if this job isn’t the one? This house? This city? This country?…..

      Guilt is a trap that is preventing you from seeing what you presently have and are blessed with. My husband and I were done at four. We were happy with what we had, and ready to raise them up to adults and enter the next phase of our life together. I do not think about children that do not exist. (May I say, every time you look at your children and then begin to imagine what isn’t there, you’ve stopped looking at what IS there.)

      I encourage you to listen to the voice of God within, whatever that Voice is saying.

      Reply
  39. Mrs Tiab

    I loved this article. First for your blessings of children:) and some of the comments you made are applicable to our situation of not being able to have children, naturally or via adoption. As difficult as it was and is, we said yes to God by not adopting. No, it is not easy and as we again found out last night (after 10yrs) will never be easy. It is definitely the most challenging thing in our lives. However, it has given us more free to time to volunteer in many areas. I mentor teenage girls at our church, volunteer at my nephew’s public school, help my sister and brother-in-law with child-care. My husband is a co-leader on the men’s ministry team at our church and we are currently is the stages of implementing a college student program at our church. Yes, God has tremendously blessed us in ways we never planned on being blessed. He really does know what He is doing!!! Thanks for the article. It has given me more appropiate answers to those that feel the need to respond in inappropiate ways.

    Reply
  40. “In fact, it’s been the hardest challenge of my life. But it has also given me joy beyond my wildest dreams.” I love this line and the spirit of your entire article. Isn’t that just the way God works. :) I know we all look at things through our own lenses, but I think that in general this is something modern Christians need to hear, and we need to really pray about it. My husband and I were guilty of (trying) to be in charge of our family size instead of turning this over to the Lord. As with all, we are charged to pray and seek scripture to guide our lives, but often we allow culture to dictate our choices (far beyond family planning). Any conversation that makes us stop and really pray is good. Thank you!

    Reply
  41. I have 4 girls. All girls. And I get crazy questions all the time. The “raised eyebrows” and “your poor husband” and “how will you pay for all those weddings?” comments. Mostly, people are convinced we were ‘trying’ to have a boy and that after each girl we felt ‘disappointed’. Can you imagine? Disappointed with one of our girls? They are all different. All amazing. And God is using each one to help mold me into the women He wants me to be.

    Thanks Elizabeth! Lovely words and encouragement.

    Reply
    • Four girls here, too :) And we love it, as does my “poor” husband :)

      Reply
  42. Had my four in just under five years and comments were always quite a treat. When we found out we were expecting our fourth, one relative told us, “Congratulations, I guess.” Yeah, that’s nice. /snark

    I think what frustrated me the most about negative comments from other Christians was that these are the same people who talk about being pro-life. Yet when there was someone joyfully welcoming more into their home, the response is lukewarm at best, and occasionally straight up negative. How can we convince the young woman who is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy in far less ideal situations that she should continue her pregnancy when we treat women who have a few “too many” kids like some kind of pariah? How can we say that life is valuable when we can’t just offer congratulations to someone who is expecting AGAIN?

    Honestly, my experience of having four kids very quickly was probably one of the biggest turn-offs to the pro-life movement, because I saw nothing but blatant hypocrisy. Say yes to life, but be sure to pile on the guilt. Say yes to life, but not to too much life. Say yes to life, but only if you have X amount of money. It’s very difficult for me to align myself with a movement that had a number of people in it who couldn’t be happy for me when I was pregnant.

    But that’s another story. ;-D

    Reply
    • KatR

      Whoa, Alise. You SHOULD write about this.

      Reply
      • I think maybe I just did! I didn’t realize how long my comment was — ha!

        Reply
        • KatR

          I just wonder where the disconnect comes in though. Is it that convincing someone with a crisis pregnancy to continue is a “victory for the Lord”, while Mrs. Smith at church expecting again is just “ho-hum”?

          Reply
    • Alise: your comment just rocked my world. What a powerful insight! THANK you for this.

      Reply
    • Alise- Absolutely! After a young girl in our church got prenant, we heard so many people respond with “what a blessing” when she lost the baby later, but if she had an abortion those same people would have condemned her. It makes me sick.

      Reply
      • Oh, how sad.

        I’m severely jaded by the pro-life movement. I would still consider my ideology pro-life, but it’s not a label I’m at all comfortable using for myself any more.

        Reply
        • Alise,
          I have long recognized that there is a distinct difference between being pro-life and being anti-abortion. Most people call themselves the former but in spirit are only the latter. It’s better than nothing, but it’s not pro-life. I wear the label pro-life proudly knowing that I truly AM. I feel your frustration though. And I figure that people who claim to be pro-life really don’t have any footing when they debate birth-control with me :)

          Reply
    • Oh my gosh this This THIS!! I hope you don’t mind, but you’ve said it so much more elloquently than I can, I’m going to copy paste this into an email to my husband and my pastor :)

      Reply
    • Alise,

      As someone who works in the pro-life movement, I want to apologize to you for the hurt those words caused you. I’m so sorry you didn’t get overwhelming love and congratulations when you announced your pregnancies, especially from those who call themselves “pro-life.” It IS hypocritical, I agree with you.

      My experiences with pro-life people have been overwhelmingly positive. I have loved working part-time for a very child-friendly organization! They’re disappointed when I don’t bring my kids to my office, and they’re very supportive of breastfeeding as well.

      Just today, I spoke at a pro-life event, and in my talk, I mentioned my third and fourth pregnancies. The third ended in a miscarriage, and my fourth baby is due in October. I was floored by the flood of positive comments and encouragement I got from completely strangers as well as friends afterward.

      Anyway, I’m sorry you had painful experiences. And congratulations on your four children!

      Reply
  43. WOW.

    Consider….(my) mind = blown.

    So blessed to have read this!

    Reply
  44. Margaret

    EE–I love that you took this truth with you even when you left the spiritually abusive group that also practiced it. It is the truth, and it is beautiful.

    Also, by far the most viscious and nasty attacks on my family planning (or lack thereof) have come from self-proclaimed Christians. A missionary gasped and said “Oh no! Oh! Please DON’T!” when I confessed my desire to have a large family. A mother of triplets told me that such foolishness would lead to me being like Andrea Yates. A “nice old church lady” confronted me in the grocery store about what a terrible thing it would be if I didn’t stop having children NOW. The ones that weren’t mean were just clueless. Instead of “Congratulations”, I heard “Oh. And how do you feel about that?” when I told my pastor’s wife I was pregnant (yet again). And many people seemed to thing that my second and third sons were merely failed attempts to “get a girl”. :(

    Reply
    • Thank you for seeing this, Margaret. Many times people accuse me of not having sufficiently rejected EVERY belief I learned in a spiritually abusive group. The truth is, I *have* re-examined everything and the fact that I have kept some of the beliefs is indicative of the hard work I *have* done. To me, the value and blessing of children rang true–even outside the controlling church of my childhood.

      Reply
      • Margaret

        ((((EE))))
        It is a hard thing to work through. When you’ve been so wounded, the natural reaction is just to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

        I figure, anybody can take something good and twist it and ruin it and make it a burden. But the *original* thing, that was good before being messed with–it’s still good no matter what crappy stuff the spiritually abusive do. It takes a lot of hard work to sort through all the twisted trash and find out if there is any original good in the middle of it, and I’m so glad you’re doing that hard work. :)

        Reply
  45. Margaret

    Oh yeah, I should have added that I have gotten these commens and I only have *three* children. But they’re all boys, so apparently that makes me crazy.

    Reply
  46. Nish

    EE, I’m so with you on this piece. We have one (adorable. stunning. awesome. etc.) little boy. He’s 15 months old, so we’re in no big rush to pop out another one… but we would like another one. Maybe – BIG maybe – two more, to make a total of three kids.

    I so admire those who have big families. I know it’s not something taken lightly, it’s a wholehearted, beautiful, prayerful decision (or loving accident, whatever) to have so many kids.

    To those who disagree with this post – I challenge you to reread it. Personally, I read it as a commentary on the social and cultural reactions to big families. In this post, I think Elizabeth is asking the question: Big families used to be the norm (and expected!) in mainline Christianity. Where did this norm disappear to, and why?

    I certainly don’t read this as a post supporting quiverful theology, or how more kids means you’re more blessed and highly favored by God. If you’ve read Elizabeth’s blog, even for only a brief time, you’d know immediately that sort of statement is completely opposite of her heart and character.

    EE, you very clearly articulated that big families aren’t for everyone and that’s okay! But I think you do speak out to those whose only hindrance to a big family is unjustified fear. And I think that’s a profound truth.

    Reply
  47. loved the bit about scattering like pieces of dandelion… beautiful. xo

    Reply
  48. Kristin

    God’s love has cast out fear in my life, including the fear of having “too many” children. Now, that I am free of that, He has built a faith in me that has been able to look at other mountains to climb with strength and determination. I am so glad that he taught me not to intentionally limit the number of my descendants out of fear, or some misplaced sense of stewardship. Instead, like Jesus, I have learned to look at what seems to be the impossible, hardest way… and say, “Not my will but Yours be done, Oh Lord.” Not out of duty or of obligation, but for the joy set before me!

    Believe me, I never thought I could “handle” this. But, the more I studied the Bible, the more I could see that others felt the same way. I’m sure Mary felt like she couldn’t handle an unexpected pregnancy, and I sure Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh. I’m sure Moses believed he was the wrong person for God to send to Egypt, and Saul didn’t want to preach to Gentiles. But God imposed on them anyway, out of love. He persisted until they surrendered to His will. Here I am, eight pregnancies later, with five wonderful disciples to raise and three who went to be with the Lord. I truly hope for more. It is so good to know I am safe in His hands whether He or takes away. Even when I am ridiculed by those in the church for leaving something so important, like my fertility, in God’s capable hands. I surrender all!

    Reply
  49. You all make me feel less crazy. Thank you!

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  50. Olivia

    This made me chuckle, because my parents faced “peer pressure” from the church from the other end… We went to a community church with a lot of big families, most with at least 6 kids, and there were a few families that had 10-12 children. My parents had two, my little brother and me. My mom was on the receiving end of “biblical correction” and snarky comments implying that my parents must be selfish for stopping at two. This wounded my mom and dad very deeply because they had struggled with infertility ever since they got married. My brother and I were conceived thanks to a miracle of God’s grace–and nine years of doctors and fertility treatments. My mom has been so hurt by the insensitivity of these parents and their in-your-face quiver-full doctrine that only in the last year (this was ten years ago) has she been able to find a new church. Just wanted to share this for those who perhaps don’t realize the heartache of decades of infertility. I cannot even tell you how much my mom wanted more children.

    Reply
  51. This post nailed it for me. We are expecting our 5th in June :-). My husband and I are young parents – I am only 26, and for awhile our decision to go ahead and have lots of babies really puzzled people, especially on his side of his family. His Grandmother even cautioned us : “we just want you to be able to relax and enjoy life…and not work too hard.”

    Our joy has been multiplied and accentuated by the number of children we have, no diminished. Our marriage, our reliance on one another and God, all of it has been deepened and strengthened each and every time we said “yes” to another soul joining our family.

    Thanks for your great post, I’m tweeting/sharing it everywhere I can.

    Reply
    • Kristy

      It’s funny that people seem to think that when you have lots of children you have a house full of two year olds! They grow up and are wonderful wonderful helpful people! Having numbers 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 etc. is not so hard if there’s some space in between because the older ones are great help. You can actually take a shower by leaving an older child in charge etc! Although, going to the bathroom without being interrupted does not come for many many years….. LOL!

      Reply
  52. Tamra

    I am with you totally. I will be 41 in May. I know I am older and all and I have three beautiful healthy pregnancies and births. I would totally have one or two more. When I say this to people they look at me sideways, but there has been no greater honor in my life (except for claiming the blood of Jesus Christ and bearing the name Christian) than bearing and giving birth to children with the man I love.

    Reply
  53. Kathy K.

    Oh, another comment – when I say to someone that they have their hands full, it’s not meant negatively at all. Hopefully that is understood by my voice tone and facial expression!

    Reply
  54. We are expecting number 10 in a few months. I have gotten so many of the same comments that you have. It’s hard to take some days, honestly. I try to be charitable but it’s hard. My husband gets it alot at work too and even has one co worker that refers to him as the “babymaker” in a not nice way. It’s a shame that people can’t just let things be. I don’t think everyone is expected to have a large family. Only God can decide that. Once we decided to let God be in charge we were blessed abundantly. Not financially but with the grace we needed to do what He wants us to do. We have lost several babies, I have had terrible pregnancies and dangerous deliveries. We got through it all because of God. Thank you for writing this. I needed to read it!!

    Reply
  55. Laura

    Can I say Amen I agree. I only pray that God grant me the desire of my heart some day to be called mom some day. I cringe at so many of the comments I’ve heard from Christians when it comes to families with multiple children. what they don’t realize is it breaks my longing heart because they don’t know how much I long for that same privaledge. For now I am blessed to spiritually mother children thru childrens ministry. I for the life of me will never understand how in our churches today we have to beg for help in such a crucial ministry. Hats off to you mom. YOu are blessed beyond measure!

    Reply
  56. Here’s my personal take: a big family doesn’t have to be biological. With a history of mental illness and PPD/antenatal depression, I don’t really want to put my family through the difficulty of having TWO parents unable to care for them properly. So I’m going to have two babies and work as hard as I can to love and care for all the other babies (and non-babies!) that come into my life. I have an immense capacity to love, but I feel very strongly that God doesn’t want me to restrict it to my biological babies because the physiological burden is so great for me.

    Reply
  57. Katherine

    (Disclaimer – I’m not implying judgemental attitudes from this group, but from the general public. Don’t want to be misinterpreted.)

    If everyone would stop judging – for having “too many” children, for not having “enough” children, for not having any at all, maybe everyone else could go on with their lives, doing what they believe is best in their own unique situation.

    Whether the decision is reached through prayer or discussion or contemplation or however a person/couple reaches a decision about the number of children to have, that decision should reflect their own individual circumstances.

    I have three. They’re all grown now, and I’m too old to have more. The first weighed just over 7 pounds, the second 9, and the third just over 10. I can spot a trend as well as anyone. That, combined with the fact that I was 36 when the last one was born and my husband had 2 daughters from a previous marriage made the decision easy. No more. Those were my circumstances. Everyone’s are different. (If the older 2 had succeeded in selling their little brother in the garage sale that time I might have reconsidered having more. In reality – I made them throw the sign away.)

    I would no more criticize a woman for having 10 as I would for having none. It’s simply not my business. Why are people so desperately interested in making others conform to what they think “should” be?

    Reply
  58. The openness to children has been a running theme in my life since being engaged and married. Before being engaged I was the person that had life all planned out “I’ll get pregnant after we’ve been married 5 years, la-la-la”. But, shortly before our wedding God started softening my heart and putting the idea of being open to HIS plan for kids on my mind constantly. At first I had the “all or nothing” type of attitude that I think lends itself more to the quiverfull mentality. However, after 2 kids (and another one on the way!) and 5 years of marriage, Husband and I just kind of have an agreement that maybe it was the heart’s attitude that needed to change–to move from one of desired control to one of trust in His provision. I think we’ll just always be open and sensitive to the Lord’s leading, but not completely forgo all forms of birth control (although, hormonal BC isn’t for me…).

    I do love the idea of “In the essentials UNITY, in the non-essentials LIBERTY, and in all things CHARITY.”

    Reply
  59. I have 5 too and I totally agree! Its amazing, terrifying, blessed and abundant! God is always faithful, always perfect and always knows what Hes doing. When I became pregnant with our 5th it was not the best timing and I found myself questions why God chose to give her to us in that season, now I know its because shes the most amazing blessing and even in a dark time He found something to glorify, His creation of a new beautiful soul in spite of chaos swirling. Now the chaos is gone and she is here and 8 months old, my easiest baby so far in spite of a rough bout with reflux. If I listened to the world I would not have known such an amazing little girl and her 4 older siblings would have missed out on a sweet one to love on and play with! God knows so much better than we do! Children truly are a blessing, I pray everyday I can be a blessing right back to them!

    Reply
  60. These two lines resonated with me: “the act of procreation is participation with God in the creation of eternal souls!” & “Because when we make decisions from a place of fear we deny ourselves the joy of seeing hope fulfilled.”

    I think you’re right about fear inhibiting us. It is scary to step out and try for another. It’s safe to stay in the semi-known. It’s comfortable & soothing at times. For me, there a couple reasons I teeter totter on whether or not we should try for a third. I’ve thought adoption or foster parent to the endless amount of children who need mamas & papas. Yet, I get fearful about all the ways I have failed, or the stress which came with newborns, the pain in childbirth (my second was pretty hard) because I strongly believe in no drugs in childbirth, etc, etc. Thank you for sharing your heart, but more about encouraging us to hope in a faithful God.

    Reply
  61. Wow– this was an intense conversation! Just entering it, late.

    But, wanted to add something that has been rolling around in my head of late and it is–

    What is Kingdom-Culture, and what is Human-Culture?

    Because Kingdom-Culture would definitely say that “children are a gift.” Absolutely.
    But, human culture translates that a lot of different ways. 100 years ago in America, big families were more normal. Today, in Asia, having more than one or at the most two children is highly unlikely. And maybe in Africa, there is a different standard, too (I can’t really speak intelligently about that, sorry.) But, I think the understanding of how many kids even translates as “large” is mainly cultural. We have three kids, and in America (in Christian circles) that could be seen as small, but here in Asia, we are like the Duggers!

    And it just reminds me that the underlying truth that children are a gift and should be valued– whether you have them or adopt them or teach them in school or hug them as neighborhood kids or support them with a sponsorship program overseas– is a non-negotiable, Kingdom Truth. But the ‘what that really looks like’ in numbers of kids, etc., is maybe more cultural than we give credit for. Or at least there is a cultural element to it.

    Anyway, thanks for the post and following discussion. I was thankful to see the grace with which you handled all the comments. I know it can be a tricky topic, especially among women!

    Reply
    • Thank you for your comment, gives another angle to think about.

      Reply
  62. I’m always impressed with your blogs. Most of the time, I wish I had half of your faith.

    Reply
  63. Interesting. I was an only child because my parents had fertility problems (not for lack of trying), but my husband was one of 4.
    My college roommate was the oldest of 11. She, too, has fertility problems (obviously not inherited) but has since adopted 3 of her own and is still on the lookout for more.
    My best friend and her sister (and their husbands) have 11 kids among them. (5 and 6)
    I have 2, but I’m not done yet.

    Yes, there are valid reasons to not have a large family. I think it is irresponsible to have more kids than you can afford (as in, asking the government to pay for it, not having to skip the new TV or brand new car every 2 years) and there are health concerns for some mothers. But children are blessings. Which of course was your point.

    Reply
  64. Bon

    I wish someone had told me this 30 years ago! I look back and realize I may have missed on one of His greatest blessings! There is a slight ache at times feeling the desire to have had more. I cannot go back now and try to think of the positive! He did give me lots of unloved children to love all these years as a teacher. I feel that was all part of His will, and He found pleasure in this.

    Reply
  65. Very encouraging look at being a family – from the outside of the “normal” American perspective. And that’s a good thing.

    Reply
  66. Love this! So beautifully written. Thank you for the encouragement!!

    Reply
  67. This post was awesome…and really hard for me to read. We had 4 in 4 years. My “infertile” husband and “infertile” I. Then I got cancer. And we got scared. So, I had a tubal ligation. It was a hard decision and I seriously had a panic attack in the OR right before they put me under. I wanted to take my decision back many many times. But babies growing in me make my cancer grow even faster. The voice of reason kept screaming that I should try to stay alive for the 4 I already had. The voice of faith whispered, even after the surgery, that God was in control of conception anyway. What were two burned tubes going to do to stop His will?

    That whisper was right, and 18 months after my surgery, I found out I was in the 0.03% of women that conceive within the first 2 years after a tubal. I had taken every other pregnancy with a grain of salt until I hit 12 weeks, but not this one. The day the test strip showed a plus sign, I loved on that baby like I’d never loved on a tiny dot of cells. I started making plans from day 1. After all, it was a miracle, it was obviously God’s will, and why would I miscarry if God’s will was for me to have another baby??

    All this time, my 3rd child was in the hospital with a 50-50 chance of surviving the week. And, while sitting next to her hospital bed, I started to bleed. I couldn’t believe it. I remember looking at my underwear with complete disbelief. This shattered everything I hoped was true about God…and made me face the REAL God. The One who has eternity in His heart instead of just the 70 or 80 years I might get to spend on this planet.

    The baby had implanted in the burned end of my tube. I hoped against hope, and offered up my body literally as a sacrifice if that baby could just somehow miraculously be in the 0.05% of ectopic pregnancies that survive and are born alive. I didn’t care if I bled to death trying. There was NO way I was aborting that baby. But 3 weeks later, the baby had died. My tube was on the point of rupture and I was bleeding internally. I went to surgery pregnant and came out empty. I remember calling the lab the next day and asking them could they please not throw my baby in the trash? I know it’s cut up already and in wax blocks for preservation and examination under a microscope. But, even dead, and in slices, that’s my child. Not a lab sample.

    I finally found one woman who understood what my heart was begging for. I stopped by the lab a week later and picked up a small manila envelope with the few slices of my baby that remained. We buried him in a silver urn in the ground on the hill where our pets are buried. The kids cried. 18 months later, they still count him when they tell people who their siblings are. Theodore…but he died. To tell the truth, I’m getting a little sick of explaining. Because I’m “over” it.

    But they learned something huge, and so did I. God is in control of when, where, how He sends babies. And a baby is a baby, not a clump of cells. Not a lab sample. It’s our baby.

    (part of me still hopes he “proves” to me again that He can still make it happen.)

    Reply
    • wow Genevieve, parts of our stories sound so similar… though I didn’t have cancer, nor tubal litigation (okay, so our stories are completely different) but we (my husband) had firmly decided not to have more after 4… then we got pregnant. my husband was mad. but we (he) quickly processed through all that and it ended up that we (all) were more excited about that baby than we’d ever been before… then Jesus took him home early at 17 weeks. the loss was tremendous and our kids still count him too. I felt EXACTLY the same about his little body that the lab wanted for a biopsy… I cried when they didn’t/wouldn’t understand and since we were leaving the country (we where headed home on furlough within the week) we could do nothing. sometimes I’m intensely sad about that.

      anyway… your story resonated with me and I wanted to share :) God is fully able to make things happen, and we are fully able to trust Him, it’s us that have trouble with our focus sometimes; the world is full of contradictory and distracting voices.

      Reply
  68. Linda Dinsmore

    Well done!!! Saying YES to God in faith, hope and trust – one child at a time is exactly what we are doing too!! No legalism, just walking by faith day by day!! LOVE IT!!! Indeed, children are a blessing from the LORD!!!

    We have 7 biological children that came in a span onf 8 1/2 years, and 1 adopted child (so far) that came 10 years later. We got all the exact same questions and I have pondered all the same thoughts! You said it all so well!

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  69. Mary

    It’s not a numbers game. Love the ones you have and if you don’t have any “borrow” some. Any busy mom would love the break!

    Having had six (no multiple births) in seven years, I decided to have fun with the questions/comments especially from town folk. My response to:

    “Your hands must be full.” “So is my heart.”

    “Do you know what causes it?” “Yes, and I’d be more than willing to share the secret.”

    When I’d notice some one counting, I’d either hold up the correct amount of fingers or
    outright say the correct number. When walking down the street with the brood and
    obviously pregnant with the next one, after we’d pass a short distance I’d quickly turn
    around only to find them standing still staring in disbelief. The looks on their faces at
    “being caught” made my day! I know, cheap entertainment.

    We went on to have eight with there being 12 years between the last two. Be assured that love is not divided between them, only multiplied. 23 current grandchildren give me a second chance to love, nurture, and treasure blessings/responsibilities given to us. Our own children were great teachers.

    Again, grandchildren are not a numbers game either. If you don’t have any, find some to love on. Most grand parents are even willing to share.
    Mary

    Reply
  70. Thanks for this article! I am currently pregnant with my second and I do want a large family. I want three of my own, and I would LOVE to adopt another child or two. So many people are going for no children or only one or two and they are missing out on God’s blessings! I absolutely adore the one child that I do have, and I am so excited to have two come October. I can’t imagine life without her!

    Reply
    • HippieGramma

      Or… they are following where God is leading them, and will experience just as many of God’s blessings in a DIFFERENT way. ; )

      I have a child and a grandchild with October birthdays. If you’re okay with Halloween stuff, the birthday party themes are a blast. Congratulations!

      Reply
  71. p.s. (a clarification: TRUTH being that children represent hope and life and love….I didn’t want to be misunderstood as saying that TRUTH is that everyone has to have a large family.)

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  72. Nurse Bee

    I love your blog and I do admire large families (a good friend has 5 kids). I just had my second and that may be it for us, as much as I would like to have a third someday. I don’t have fear but there are realities of my husband not wanting more children (the biggest thing) ,working and requiring childcare (not necessarily the finances, but having the time and energy for more children and a job), and our ages. It makes me a little sad, but I just have to trust that our family will be what God intends.

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  73. kharking

    Lovely thoughts. The most important point? Be not afraid. Being wise with who you are and and how God made you is good. But do nothing out of fear.

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  74. Thank you for writing this. After a long journey, we finally have our first child,. and both of us are over 30. We always wanted a big family, but now we were starting to feel irresponsible and scared about the idea, especially give how difficult it was to get to one.

    I need to remember to not be afraid, and that children are a gift from God – if we are meant to have a large family, we will have one. :) If, not, that’s His call, not ours. Worrying only makes sense when you can’t trust the One driving, and I’d forgotten about that.

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  75. Kerri

    Very nice! I have 11 children and one grand-child. 7 are biological plus 2 fostered 4 years and 2 fostered for 3 years. A-21-g, E-19-g, M-17-g, J-14b, S & C (id twin girls-10), T-7-b foster M-10g, S-9b, G & T (fraternal twin boys-4) & grandson 3

    Tonight at a restaurant we were asked if they were all ours. Yes, but two were missing. Well not REALLY missing we knew where they were, they just weren’t with us!

    Reply
  76. Lovely post. I do think there is a point when they stop saying ‘dumb’ stuff about your family size. When we had 7 it just seemed the end of it. Or maybe we developed thicker skin?!

    I now have 15 and one on the way, only 1 set of twins. But more of what I hear now is nicer. I guess I am off in la la land so they figure there is no hope for us. hee hee

    We do have a family blog if your interested. http://www.jeubfamily.com maybe you want to check out some of our posts.

    Blessings to you! Psalm 127

    Reply
  77. Julie

    Oh My Goodness! It is as if you read my mind completely! God never ceases to amaze me! It is truly unbelievable that there is one single person in this world that knows what I go through DAILY. As a mother of five ages 8, 6, 5, 2, and 11 months I can’t tell you how often I think those same responses or hear the off the wall comments. Thank you SO much for inspiring me to go further, to believe more, to hope eternal. This completely aligns with a ton of other things that the Lord has been reminding me about lately, and it’s just like God is saying, “THEY ARE MINE!” I mean seriously why would He not care for His children? May the Lord pour out an extra of Grace for you today and may He continue to stretch your level of Faith as He has mine with your message.
    THANK YOU!

    Reply
  78. Lori

    Thank you so much for this encouraging post! We are expecting our 9th blessing, and although I’m well into the 2nd trimester we have yet to tell anyone simply because I know many will attempt to dash my joy with their thoughtless comments. It’s sad that I actually hope people will just think I went a little overboard at the holidays and put on a few pounds rather than to begin to suspect the obvious and ask questions. If only friends and family would stop to realize what a privilege each child is! Instead they get hung up in the “what if’s” like you mentioned. It’s really sad because they are the ones who are missing out on His potential blessings. Oh, and my favorite comeback to the “You’ve got your hands full” remark is “If you think my hands are full, you should see my HEART!”

    Reply
  79. We started our family before our peers, so when we has 3 kids, that was unheard of in our circles and at the time I was thought to have a “large” family…I considered myself “done” for a number of reasons and then as my kids got older, those around me had 4, 5, 7, 12 kids and I have been left re-examining how I decided that 3 kids was the plan God had for me.

    I actually do agree with the premise that having a large number of kids is a radical act of hope and I will admit some fear when it came to making that final decision, but I also believe that God works in all of us in really unique ways to allow us to live out our vocations in the ways that He created us for and for some of us, that may be parenting a large brood and for some, our radical acts of hope will manifest themselves differently.

    Honestly, I envy those women who believe that their spouses are men who have it within them to stay alongside in a journey that might include lots of kids with a crazy variety of needs. My husband is a decent reliable and faithful man now, but he didnt get there easily or quickly and it was not in time to have any more babies. He spent our childbearing years very regretful, resentful and full of rage that nearly always came to full head on family outings. For a while he was a terror. His resentment finally culminated with him packing his SUV and moving 3000 miles away to a dream job that he wasnt going to let us sway him from. My act of radical hope was remaining a fully married woman despite having no husband for quite a while and then letting him return to the family when he had learned what he needed to learn. Am I glad I went through that time with 3 kids instead of 8?…my weak worldy frightened self says “yes”.

    My friend Amy has 12 kids and she is as cool as a cucumber..she says that she is careful to never “lose it” in public lest she convince large-family-critics that they were right all along. She is also very quick to give a gentle answer to those frazzled moms who look at her and say “I could never do what you do”…she assures them that maximum maternal output is maximum output, regardless of how many kids get the benefit and they work as hard as she does – I admire her so much. She knows the vocation that God chose for me to serve the kingdom and I would dare say that she would be the first to see that mine is as valid as hers and we are both blessed to know what our vocations are.

    I have found that devoted Christian moms in our culture often make the error that if they are certain of Gods will in their life, they are equally certain that GOd has the very same plan for other women too. God is not so small that He has to apply the same exact plan for everyone. My vocation is just as Holy as another, it is just probably different.

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  80. Johnna

    This is really a beautifully written and hopeful post, and I am trying to accept it in the spirit from which I believe you wrote it: to encourage mothers who feel ridiculed, condemned, and judged for the number of children they have.

    But for some reason, despite the spirit in which I believe it was written, it hurts me. I feel somewhat rejected, dejected, condemned, and judged for the number of children I have after reading your post, yet I know this was not your intention.

    I have been married almost 14 years. I have one 5 year old miracle blessing, a child born from my own “total, unabashed hope”.

    My love for my one is no less or no more than your love for your many… It is just glorious Love, wholly in the image of Him.

    Every day of my life, raising my ONE MIRACLE… this is MY act of faith, too. Loving her desperately while I face my own dangerous health complications– THIS IS MY ACT OF FAITH, TOO! I have ONE child because I said yes to God, too. I too chose to act from a place of faith and trust, and He has also blessed me abundantly, even with just one. No, it hasn’t been easy for me either. In fact, it’s been the hardest challenge of my life, also. But it has also given me joy beyond my wildest dreams, no less because I have only one child.

    Your path in motherhood is NOT unique or special because of the number of children you have… Motherhood itself, when done by Christians, is our act of faith, our unabashed hope, and our reflection of His Love, be it one child or five.

    My miracle is no less than yours, even though I have only ONE– a miracle is a miracle, and a miracle finds its greatness in the God Who provided it, not in the numbers of miracles we can hope and pray to accumulate for ourselves. I believe this, and I thank Him every moment for my miracle. I don’t feel my miracle to be any less nor am I less than grateful for my miracle because He has not been repeated it.

    In my one daughter, I too, see clearly the joy of hope fulfilled.

    Please, please write carefully to reject ALL judgement of a woman’s faith based on her number of children. The hurt caused by judgement can go both ways, and you are correct–even unintentional words that imply judgement or diminish the singular gifts of God in one’s life can sting.

    Thank you, though, for what you do for the kingdom. I do appreciate your words so many days, and I know your spirit in this.

    Reply
    • Sara

      Johna-
      AMEN, your post is mine, just substitute the number 2. (A tumor that grew almost as large as my 2nd baby necessitated the removal of my uterus – he should not have even been conceived, much less carried to term according to the doctors).

      I see too many people in my church who turn family size into a Biblical mandate (you must have at least 6 children) when it is NOT in the Bible. And the judgement heaped upon ME for our two is astounding. We hear our own comments – ONLY two, JUST two, “oh you have time since you ONLY have two”, “oh, we went out to eat a lot two when we JUST had two” and frankly I am tired of it. Number of children does no more get you into heaven or more crowns in heaven, than does giving money to the poor. The ONLY way to heaven is through JESUS. I don’t think the authors intent here was such judgment…but really, any talking about it in the way she did DOES come across that way to people like us, whether they mean it that way or not.

      Our pastor recently said family size is a calling….much like missionary work is a calling. I was so glad to hear him say that. Nothing in the Bible mandates number of children. And we are NO less blessed, trusting, joy-filled, pouring our heart out with ONE or TWO children, than someone with 6, 8, 10 children. Why is it even a topic of discussion so much? Instead of focusing so much on family size – why don’t we witness to the lost, help the broken and hurting…..

      Reply
    • Margaret

      I am so glad that you have your miracle baby!

      I am very sorry that you took from EE’s post that “faith=many children”. That was not the point. She made no such judgement. She’s talking about attitudes and the heart. What’s in the heart does not translate exactly the same way in the flesh for all of us. Having only three, and secondary infertility, and losses, and *wanting* many more, I still cannot see how anybody could have read such a judgement in Elizabeth’s post. I am baffled.

      Reply
      • Johnna

        Thanks for your congratulations for our daughter! Ame to you with your miracles! Just answering to explain because you said you were baffled, and not because I mean to be argumentative at all, I promise :

        I know that she did not mean it as judgment. She has a beautiful spirit, not one that goes around offering condescension and judgment. But just as people make insensitive comments to her about having five children, a few of her comments (entirely unintentionally, I know) bothered me as a mom who can only have one and who is ineligible to adopt because of my health complications. They are statements I have heard before that she probably does not understand or has not experienced; therefore, she did not know they would hurt.

        The statement that bothered me the most: “Many Christians today aren’t having large families because they are afraid.” Those words do feel a bit judgmental to me, in addition to being opinion and not necessarily fact. I have people ask all the time, “Are you scared to have another since everything went so badly with your first? God is sufficient, you know.” No. Not scared. Just no miraculous avenue through which I can have more right now, biologically or through adoption… I’m not afraid; I’m actually just thankful for what I do have. It’s a long-sought peace and acceptance that I now have, not fear.

        Personally, I actually believe that many Christians today aren’t having large families because they have a peace that God has designed their family to have none, one, or two children only, like mine. (My opinion, not presented as factual in any way.)

        EE’s other statement about having children being an “act of faith”—yes, maybe for her, but not easy to read after you’ve been asked over and over, “Don’t you have FAITH that God will give you a(nother) child?” Literally years and years and years of that question make me cringe when the words “have faith” and “have a baby” find themselves in the same sentence. Some Christians say it like God’s a vending machine and I just have to push the “faith button” to have a baby. Yes, I have faith. No, I don’t have a(nother) child. (“A” child being in the 9 years before my daughter was born, “another child” being in the 5 years after when questioned often about having an only child.)

        And I agree– I absolutely believe an act of faith (versus fear) is a matter of the heart (God’s calling and our obedience). Faith is just not as much a matter of the womb for many women. This is what EE was writing, too, and I do agree, but a couple of her statements unintentionally stung those of us on the other end of the parenting spectrum with none or only children who have heard similar statements used insensitively so many times before. That’s all I meant, really…

        Reply
        • Johnna

          Sorry- should have said “and” congratulations to you with your miracle children…”
          :-)

          Reply
  81. I can’t say I’m a Christian, but I do believe in a higher power. I also believe there is no greater burden of joy than children. Nearly all of my Christian friends have very large families, and I’m proud to know them. I have only 2 children and probably won’t ever have any more, but every child I meet is a treasure. You having 5 children doesn’t make you “weird” it makes you blessed and rich. Congratulations.

    Reply
  82. Older Mom

    Doesn’t this simply boil down to not being guilted by others for our choices, whatever they be? We could say that those surrounded by the quiverfull are exhibiting as much faith in having 1 or 2 kids, as those surrounded by others (don’t know what “camp” to tag them with) and having a dozen. It takes “faith” to “not condemn ourselves in what we approve.”

    Reply
  83. joann

    I have 2 girls, I don’t have anymore children only because God has not blessed us with anymore. So I guess I am not one of the many Christians you interviewed for this article to get your opinion on why many Christians don’t have big families. (sarcastic)

    Reply
  84. AMEN!!

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  85. I recently had my 10th child. We were expecting triplets and lost two of the babies. I am boldly faced with onlookers making rude comments but with this pregnancy it really hurt when the church judged us. Our pastor actually called a meeting with us. In the meeting, he turned to my husband and told him to get a vasectomy. I was outraged. I think fear is true. Hugs, Daneen

    Reply
    • Kerry

      How awful!! I’m so sorry that you and your husband went through such harsh treatment and rude judgements. What a blessing your children are and I would guess that baby #10 is a little extra blessing considering your loss of two. What a miracle that God allowed you to keep on of those precious triplets!!

      Reply
      • Daneen

        Kerry,
        Thank you so much for your kindness!

        Reply
  86. Ron

    Bless you! I’ve talked with people in their later years who said “we made the wrong choice. We should have had more children.” For example, one of their two died of cancer as a teenager.

    An interesting side light. We were often asked how many children do you have. Our response “one and a half dozen”. After a moment of silence we’d say “seven”. Their response, “Oh, only seven.”

    Reply
    • Michele

      It’s all in how you parse it! A friend likes responding to “are they all yours?” with “no, I left a few at home”. Not technically accurate when the older ones are at school, but hey – she has 3 *under* school age, so she gets comments a lot.

      Reply
  87. Kerry

    Thank you for your post! I appreciated your insight. My husband and I (along with our 3 year old daughter) are currently on our first (and not last) adoption journey after experiencing the painful loss of 2 miscarriages. I have received some hurtful opposition from the folks that we trusted to support us. I plan to share your words with them and pray that God will open their hearts and minds by the time our precious new baby arrives.

    Reply
  88. I enjoyed your article. I have been asked all those questions as a mom of 9 children. Our youngest was just born 4 months ago and a few days after he was born everyone said Well surely you aren’t going to have any more. I told them I was leaving that up to God. Although I felt in my heart I was good. I have 2 special needs children who have rare genetic disorders. But I feel so blessed that God has given me my children. They are a blessing and a gift. I wrote on my facebook page that “Only by His Strength I overcome”.
    In today’s churches I am amazed at the comments that are given when you tell a pastor you have 9 children. Instead of wow that’s a blessing, it’s WOW you have your hands full.

    Reply
  89. Deborah

    Quite frankly, I’m aghast at the number of people here who found this post “beautiful”. Wow. I guess I’m not seeing what they’re seeing. I began reading thinking that it was going to be a good article (I do agree with you, Elizabeth, in that nobody has a right to judge one’s family size), but then quickly was taken aback by some of what was written. One of the sentences that struck me was this one: “I have many children because I said yes to God”. So selfless. So heroic. So virtuous. So… simple. Hmm… I guess I know too many women who, for various reasons, cannot have any children or cannot have as many as they would have desired to have. I also know many women who have chosen to have smaller families and are happy with their decisions – as well they should be. (And “fear” had nothing to do with said decisions).

    On the whole, I found it insensitively written.

    Reply
    • Sandi

      Everybody has different amounts of faith that God has given them and so our decisions reflect that, although it does bother me a lot when Christians say “Well we decided to do this with our family size”… Well that’s fine, but what about God? He is the author and perfector of our lives and if you don’t let Him into your decision making process how can He be that for you? Many of my friends who stop at two (one’s without fertility issues) have the attitude that they know they couldn’t handle more, but I believe that if God gives you more He will help you handle them. It may not be the way you planned on raising them (in private schools or fancy vacations, etc…) but if God wants you to have more children why would you choose to say no to that blessing? I see many of my Christian friends make decisions based on worldly points of view instead of how God views things or even without asking His opinion through prayer and petition and it breaks my heart, because I wonder if they will ever know the true blessing that God could give them if they would just give Him all parts of their lives. I find it as a general idea, not just in the decision of having more children, but in other areas of their lives. They ask what do I want out of life instead of what does God have for my life. If He is our Savior and friend than He has the best in mind for us. Why not let Him show you what that best is?

      Reply
      • Deborah

        Oh, dear. I feel for your friends – this attitude is a touch self-righteous, wouldn’t you say?

        Reply
        • Sandi

          I think you should probably explain more what you mean before I go into answering that one. My goal in life is to rely on God and if that sounds self-righteous to you then I’m not sure what to say.

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          • Carrie

            I think it all boils down to you arguing with everyone with the question “….but what about God?” While you may think you know your “friends” well enough to know the motivation of their hearts, you most certainly DO NOT know the reason why some readers here are saying they feel hurt, etc. I’m glad you trust God, Sandi. I trust Him, too. But please stop assuming you know every single thing that is going on between Him and other people. Just like someone commented that Elizabeth did not interview them for her scientific survey on why Christians aren’t having more children, I would say that your own “survey” involves what you think you know about a handful of acquaintances. Broaden your horizons, dear, and open your heart to really hear and see other people. It’s called compassion and God is quite fond of it.

          • Sandi

            I do not assume to know what others think or feel. I only commented on those who have the attitude of we are going to do this. You shouldn’t assume that I’m self-righteous or not compassionate just because of one post either; those are much less compassionate comments then me saying as a general idea that you need to include God in your decision making process… I think Christianity in America is religious at best, people go to church and they feel better if they do that, but that is not what Christianity is about. It’s about following Christ’s example and seeking God’s will in one’s life, so yes it irritates me when I hear lots of I and me comments when Christians are making huge life decisions. I also know there are many reason’s involved in making decisions, but I’m just saying make sure your reasons are ultimately not interfering with where God wants you to be.

    • Margaret

      I guess I know too many women who, for various reasons, cannot have any children or cannot have as many as they would have desired to have.

      ***********

      As one of “those women”, I found the post beautiful, not snotty or arrogant of judgemental.

      The negative responses, to me, sound so similar to the judgementalism that EE is talking about in this post. It’s always the worst from other CHristians. “We are happy with our decision, therefore, you woman with more children, you must be cultic or judgemental or crazy to be happy about your many children!”

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      • Deborah

        Margaret, I never said that women with more children are “cultic, judgemental or crazy”. I have four children and would have loved to have another but required an emergency hysterectomy after my last. (I am intensely grateful to God for the darlings that I do have – so I’m not complaining, just stating a fact). I think big families are fabulous – I never once said that they weren’t. I just thought it was a flippant remark to say “I have many children because I said yes to God”. Really?? I know I would find this hurtful if I was a woman who had never had the chance to have little ones and wanted to. And I know women who find this precise attitude disheartening. Some of the comments from people have actually implied that women who don’t have large families are not following Jesus or trusting Jesus as they should. This is nonsense and I hurt for the people who have found this kind of unacceptable attitude painful.

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    • Stella

      Amen. Sadly “beautiful” is hardly the word for it.

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  90. The worst comment I have had came during my husband’s deployment when I was taking my six children (ages 6 and under at the time) into a store. A woman passed us and gestured to us, saying loudly “I’d kill myself.”. My kids heard her.

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  91. This was a WONDERFUL article. First, I laughed and had to read outloud to my husband your responses! Second, I found your thought process of not making a decision out of fear right on!
    Children are a blessing from the Lord.

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  92. Sandi

    When my husband and I were getting married we agreed that four kids would be perfect, he came from 3, I cam from 5. Now I am 26 and have a 5, 3, 1 year old and a baby on the way. We are in the process of deciding what to do next on the child front. I have always believed that God knows me better than I know myself, but find it hard to trust hat idea when I feel lke I’m going crazy with what He’s given me. I love my kids more than anything and want to do right by them as well. My life is nowhere near what I had planned, but I trust that God’s plans are better than mine and that He holds the future. If He wants to give me blessings, who am I to say no. On the other hand I’m exhausted and stretched and wondering how I will do another one all the while knowing God has given me these precious gifts. So while I trust God it’s still hard to know what decision to make family size wise. Maybe all the exhaustion and confusion is God saying it’s time to be done, maybe not, but how do you know for sure?

    Reply
    • Kristy

      I would say that this is not a good time to make this decision. Wait until this baby is at least a year old, then ask God what He wants you to do. I suspect the doctors are pressuring you to have an operation to “fix” this while you are delivering this one, like they did me. All of us who have had multiple little ones under the age of 5 know it is very intense. It is through our weakness that God can show up in our lives in big ways. He will not give you more than you can bear, but He may give you more than you think you can bear so He can bring you to new levels of understanding of His grace. Give yourself some space, but don’t do anything permanent unless God is specifically telling you to do that. You may be surprised at how much help your 5 year old can be just being a gopher! And you never know what God might do in the future. If you go 3 or 4 years before you have another one, it would be a whole different story as far as stress. So, if you don’t feel God is telling you anything specific now, than just wait and see what He will do!

      Reply
      • Sandi

        Actually my doctor told me not to do anything permanent. She envy’s the fact that I have more than two and am willing to have more and I think she likes seeing me, hehe. I just at this time can’t see myself with another one especially in 17 months. So far we have let God plan our family, we have a honeymoon baby and our 4th is due right before our six year anniversary. We are having money issues, no matter what I do to try and help. I don’t have any non-people marketable skills such as sewing, knitting etc… I feel I’m going insane and that is the pressure that is leading me to want to make a permanent decision and am confused on birth control options. I know an IUD is not an option for me and most other forms of birth control I would have to remember to take everyday at the same time. Also my mom went insane with hormonal birth controls and we are very genetically/physically/psychologically similar. That all beside the fact that I want each of my children to be able to pursue recreation options and not feel they missed out on anything. I am already sacrificing things that I wanted to be able to give them. There is also the call that I’ve always felt to someday foster, but know that I don’t want to do that until my kids are older and won’t be as influenced by another child’s bad situation. If we continue to have kids, my kids will never be older. It would also be nice to have a break which hasn’t been God’s plan thus far. I know that He knows me better than I know myself, but most days I wonder if I’m missing something He’s saying. It seems the more kids I have the crazier I feel and then mount mama errupts. So somedays I am very done and other days I can’t imagine not being pregnant again.

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  93. Elizabeth – this is VERY well said!!! Thank you for sharing these truths with the world! We have 9 children, and I completely resonate with what you say here in every way. I love your responses to people’s comments – LOL – someday I’ll have the courage to use one of these responses as well. ;) I recently read a good explanation of what we personally did as a married couple when we learned that God desires Lordship in the area of family planning – that it’s good to adopt a large family mindset when you’re still a small family. Prepare your heart and mind and adjust along the way, this makes transition to having a large family then so natural. =) Blessings, blessings on your family.

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  94. I don’t want to offend anyone here, either the author or the commenters, but I get frustrated with the notion that having more kids is what always God wants from us. Why wife and I chose before we were even married to have all of our children through adoption. There are SO MANY children who need homes already, and it seems like a slap in the face of these children to have the capability of raising half a dozen kids and using this capibility to bring new children into the world instead of raising those who are already here and in need. Yes, conceiving children is a blessing and gift from God, but part of our role as His servants might be being willing to lay down this privilege in order to redeem the children of those who have misused this gift.

    Again, I do not want to offend anyone. All children are beautiful, and I don’t think adoption is for absolutely everyone. But when I hear about families who have an entire soccer team full of kids I can’t help but wonder if they could have opened their homes to children who will spend their lives bouncing between foster homes or living in orphanages, their chances of being adopted dwindling with each year. Please, prayerfully think about this.

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    • Abigail

      Praise God you are adopting! You are right…there are so many chilrden who need a loving/godly home… Thank you for seeking to raise a family in this special way.

      Reply
    • Oops, that was supposed to be “My”, not “Why.”

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    • Sandi

      I believe she mentioned that the kids weren’t necessarily going to be genetically yours.
      Although I also have a couple of friends who felt led to adopt and have been waiting almost 3years, so either way you’re going to have emotional ups and downs and there are going to be times when you feel your doing something abnormal. The point is that God has given us each a plan/will for our lives and we should be willing to do that will no matter what it is. If He decides he wants to bless you with a biological child will you be okay with that option as well? Or are you preventing Him from ever letting you have biological children, because you feel His will for you is only to adopt?
      Also there are plenty of kids who just need a non-permanent place until God opens up their permanent home. So would you also consider foster care since there are so many kids there who need loving influences as well? Being open to God’s will comes in many forms and in my case (and it seems the author’s) God is calling us to have large biological families. My plan was to get married, finish college, work a few years, pay off all my school loan’s, save for a home, etc… God chose to give us a very precious gift that started forming on our honeymoon. We chose to let God have his way in our family planning by not preventing biological children in the form of birth control, which our bodies don’t naturally produce. God has since given us 4 children in 6 years of marriage, so according to you we are doing something wrong, but I am still open to however God wants to give us children and not blocking His will for our lives or the children that may come into our lives. Is this what I planned for my life no, but I am certain God did plan for us to have a biological family. There are also some of those families that have soccer team full’s of children that have adopted, so don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Only God knows the heart.

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  95. There is nothing richer than the blessing of a large family. Thank you for writing this.

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  96. Children are a REWARD and gift from the Lord! GOD IS GOOD!

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  97. Oh, what an apt article for me to read right now! Thank you for your encouragement. I, too, have struggled greatly with the responses of Christians to our growing family…and we only have three children!

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  98. Nicole

    I love this. I am blessed in that we live in an area with lots of mennonite families so large families arent out of the norm at all. We have had very few negative comments on our family size even though we have had 8 blessings. I do understand the fear though. Out of our 8 dc we have one with severe autism, one who was born with a heart condition & had open heart surgery at 2 weeks of age & we lost our last child to anencephaly. My fears tend to center around “what if this happens again?”. I remind myself that God IS in control, all the time. we have seen His hand time & time again, even thru the hardest times. Each & every one of my children has been a blessing to us & I would not trade them for anything.

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  99. Hannah

    I have 2 wonderful and beautiful children 10 years apart. During those 10 years I lost many babies, including a stillborn baby boy named Matthew. My second child was an absolute miracle!! She was my least likely to succeed of ALL the pregnancies, everything went wrong and I was in every risk group, seemed like. Without getting into too many details she and I were both in great danger for the duration. Then she did not open her eyes the first 8 days of her life. My family has certainly walked through fear. We have walked through the valley many times now. Yet we have made it out the other side intact and are courageous and blessed. I will not be having any more babies. It is by my own choice. I want to pour into my kids lives all that I have to give. I do not want more sorrow and loss for them.

    My son, Noah was old enough to have lived through emergency situations, immense bleeding, the loss of his dearly hoped for baby brother on his 6th birthday, several miscarriages, a very high risk pregnancy for 8 months, bedrest that interrupted several different years of his life. Plus grief and uncertainty for almost his entire childhood thus far. The fear was apparent to my son who desperately hoped for a miracle baby. God granted our miracle in 2009!! In fact the gift of Sadie Grace has healed many holes in our family. The first day we held her, and she was alert and whole was a wonder. I remember feeling a strange calm. I knew my husband in a way that moment that was new and unburdened. I saw my son Noah as a brave boy with a sister for his happy ending . The clouded struggle had past with God’s good grace.

    The first time I had a miscarriage was a blood event. It was very scary. I have a blood protein issue and we now know why so much blood is present when I lose a baby. My son Noah then 4, crawled in bed and asked me if I was dying (he was in the bath when I realized I was losing the baby, we were home alone). We have a happy ending, a good testimony. I am blessed and grateful for God’s grace in our lives. I trust God but have made the decision to end this quest on a happy note for my son’s sake. I do not understand all of God’s ways, I accept that his ways are higher than mine and above my understanding. I am thankful he carried me through the losses that would have consumed me otherwise. I do choose to exercise my free will.

    That is my story. I am comfortable with my decision and believe it is destructive to to make a blanket decision. Each family has different circumstances. It is truly hard to know what your thoughts might be in a different family situation than the one you are in now. That goes for both sides of this topic. Thanks for reading.

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  100. Madison

    Thank you, Elizabeth! I pray that the Lord will continue to bless you abundantly for your willing and joyful obedience. Thank you so much for humbly sharing your heart on this subject. You have no idea how timely this was for me. I have never read anything you have written before, but I was sent a link to this article this morning by A Holy Experience…. and the Lord encouraged my heart so much thru this.
    I am the eldest of ten and I love children. I absolutely love children. I also absolutely love Jesus and trust Him to do what is best for me in my life. What you put to paper in this article describes what my heart feels about children and trusting Jesus exactly. I didn’t realize until recently that not everyone who loves Jesus really trusts Him completely- especially in this area.
    I am engaged to be married. I would greatly appreciate your prayers duing this season of preparing our hearts to trust Jesus fully and completely.
    Thank you!

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  101. Emmy

    Blessings upon you dear Wonderful, Elizabeth Esther.
    And upon your husband and children!
    Magnificent blessings!

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  102. Maybe I could just print this up and hand it out when people ask why we have 11. As an older woman, I love going deeper with moms about why they want to stop having kids. Sometimes it’s just plain ol’ disorganization, but many times it’s fear of the future. And there’s a fairly simple solution to that.

    Great article. Very well said.

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  103. marcy

    I have to say that I found this entry and many of the comments a bit concerning. I have many friends with large families. Large families are beautiful. Large families are a gift from God. There is nothing silly, or crazy, or embarrassing about them. However, I don’t think that any one person can say what the Lord wills for any other family. It is dangerous to make such a judgement – to presume to know the mind of Christ. Didn’t Christ say ‘do not judge’?
    Be fruitful and multiply. God knows what this means for each and every family in His flock. When we are seeking Him and walking with Him – He will gently lead us. He equips us to handle everything he gives. So, parents who have large families and equipped to take care of a large family – in all ways. My husband and I have 2 children. We don’t know if we will have more or if our family is complete. God knows. Many days we do feel complete – not out of fear, but out of a sense of calling. We find that we are often judged by Christians for not having ‘enough’ kids. So sad. We are all just a bunch of whitewashed pharisees. Looking down on others who don’t follow Christ in the way we think is best. Seek Christ. Seek His wisdom. Seek His Kingdom. Just as one should not fear having a large family, one should not fear the blessing of a smaller family either. Christ is love poured out. And I think His love runs far wider and far deeper than the size of any earthly family. For freedom, Christ has set me free.

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  104. Nancy

    Hi Elizabeth – I love your article about having a big family. I read most of the responses to your article. I’m a gramma. When I was first married I wanted 10 children. Many very serious health conditions arrived during the pregnancy of our third child so we couldn’t have anymore children. I would still love to have more children. I understand and agree with most of the women’s responses.

    There is one viewpoint I have not heard anyone bring up. I take a wider view, or a longer view of having large families. We need to have larger families as Christians because our enemies of the United States of America are having large families. As far as I know, they do not exercise birth control. Their view, and exercise of, family planning is to have many children to advance their religion and populate the countries with children whom they teach to hate America. There are millions in our country and in every country now who have been taught to hate America. As Christians, we are obligated to have larger Loving Families who are patriotic to Jesus and to the United States. We are so used to desiring and having and acquiring so much “stuff” that we can’t imagine living with more children and less “stuff”. God Bless America !

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    • Deborah

      Goodness gracious. Are you in earnest?

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    • KatR

      Having been a long time reader of Elizabeth’s blog, I can promise you that she did not give birth to her children with an eye towards outbreeding the Muslims.

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  105. Lesley

    We welcomed baby #4 into our family last week and all through my pregnancy people gave me evey line you talked about here. I think the thing that frustrates me the most is when these things are spoken in front of my children. Like they are only burdens and not people, not blessings. My six year old is smart enough to pick up on the disdain or disbelief of others. When they say to me, “you sure do have your hands full,” I always say, “Yes I do. Full of blessings.”

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  106. Vicki

    I had to find the same hope and trust in God when I sought a large family only to miscarry, then another, and another, and another, until I had “lost” four (as if I had somehow misplaced them). I envied and resented every young mother, multiplied by how many children she had. Finally, at 34, I carried a seed full term and birthed a big beautiful boy. Almost four years later, a lovely daughter whose name means “pure”. And she is. Two years later they took my baby-womb. No more babies for me. And I find hope and trust. Now I am beyond birthing years, looking forward to a new role as “Grandma”. And I still find the same hope and trust in the same God. Accepted as I am, guilt-free, mother of two.

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  107. Thankyou.
    It’s funny how God speaks to us when we least expect it. I am 29, married for 2 years and currently torn about having children. I always wanted to have them. It wan’t something I thought about a lot but I always saw them in my future. Recently I have found things hard though.
    I think partly because at 29, I feel too old. I had always imagined that I would be married with my first child by 25 and for various reasons, my life didn’t work out that way. And now I feel like I have missed the boat. Also I’ve struggled with depression since the age of 15 with several severe ocurrances and I worry a lot about passing that on to my children. I would hate for them to suffer that. And of course, I worry a lot about being a good mum. About my ability to cope with children and not fall into more depression.
    I would like to have a large family but I’m so afraid. Financially, emotionally, in all ways I feel completely lacking. And I don’t know how to change that. So I just live with this fear and disappointment because I don’t know what else to do with it. I appreciate your post though. Because I didn’t realise that it was fear holding me back. Unfortunately I don’t really know what to do about it.

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  108. I have four kids, and because my husband and I were AFRAID, he got a vasectomy after our fourth baby was born. Now we both have mixed feelings about it. In some ways I feel like I disobeyed God, and I long for another baby. But on the other hand, pregnancy was extremely hard for me emotionally, and it tooks its toll on everyone in our family. I was terribly horribly depressed, angry, you name it. So I am very relieved that we’ll never have to go through that again (and so is my husband!), but I also regret the decision a lot of the time because I feel it probably displeases God when His people cut into their bodies to essentially maim/mutilate a part that GOD FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE. Some people call that modern medicine, and wise family planning. I used to be one of those people. Now? I’m not so sure.

    But I am confident that God can and still will use this situation for good. Either he’ll “work around” the vasectomy, or He’ll call us to adopt. I have a feeling he’ll choose adoption because both my husband and I feel like that is a path we’ll go down some day soon. :)

    Anyway, I love this post, and even though we only have four children, we sometimes get those same questions. It’s strange to me…that four children seems like a lot to people. I think people don’t realize adding more children doesn’t really change the dynamics as much as the imagination lets you think. You adapt, and OH BOY is it ever wonderful! Challenging, but wonderful!

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  109. I love this post and am sharing it on facebook for my friends and family (I’m passive-agressive like that!)

    What I really loved was how you encouraged all families to live NOT out of fear, but with HOPE for the future. So much of our lives as parents is all about safety, and rules that will keep us all safe and protected, when we are called by God to trust him and live boldly, which very often is unsafe! Most of the people who comment on our family size (#8 is cooking and if the Lord is willing we will meet him in June!) express deep regret at NOT having more. The realization after you’ve done something permanent to stop babies seems to be a crushing weight that wears heavy on people who cannot undo it. I am the first to admit that babies and toddlers are messy, tedious, and just plain HARD to live with, and no one wants any more hardship in this weary world. But I have recently learned that my children are a significant part of God’s continual grace and sanctification in my life. I can’t learn more patience if the kids are already past the point of needing me to practice patience in teaching and training them. I won’t continue to trust God’s provision, if I don’t have continual challenges to our budget in new babies, children needing more food, clothes, etc. Knowing myself, I won’t quit being afraid of the future, unless I have the urgency of teaching my own children (and continual stream of them) how God wants us to trust him and not be afraid.
    Being open to the challenges and difficulties of raising more children is how God is continuing to refine me. It is hard, but my hope isn’t that this life will be easy, instead that God has redeemed all of creation and is saving me to enjoy a new heavens and earth, and if I have the privilege of growing the kingdom by adding my own family to that number, then I can rest in that and have no regrets about the difficulties we have endured here.

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  110. Janet Erickson

    Thank you. As a grandmother of 13 BEAUTIFUL grandchildren, I get the same sort of reaction. My two daughters who are married have 9 and 4 children. I will be so happy to share the link to this article with them. Yes, both have a special-needs child; Abigail and Paul (parents of 9) have a son with Asperger’s Syndrome; Ellen and Jon have a son with Sturge-Weber Syndrome, and both consider these little boys a special blessing and trust from the Lord! ps – the nine are homeschooled by a mom who composes, sings and records lovely spiritual songs; today she is in Connecticut singing while her family is in Florida visiting relatives. God’s gifts in all their forms are amazing!

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  111. LOVE this.

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  112. Elizabeth,

    I am a mother of 8 children. Yes, it’s messy and expensive. And it’s full of joy and fun! When I started out I always wanted 3. Now I have to laugh at that. God had bigger plans for my life and has stretched me in ways I could have never foreseen in the flesh. As Christians, we need to trust in the plans He has for us. I think if most people wait to have a family, or even one more child, when they have enough finances, the right house, the perfect job, they will never actually do it. There isn’t a perfect time in the world’s view. There is perfect timing in the Father’s view. Last year our 8th child, Kara Faith, was born with a life-limiting brain and heart condition. These are the things that you hope you never have to face as a parent. Walking through her pregnancy, life, and leaving us has been a test of who I believe God is. On the other side I can say that He is good. I would not trade any of the eight precious souls that God has given me. I know that He knew before I was born who I would mother. I’m resting in that.

    Thank you for your encouragement! It’s interesting, it seemed the true tipping point for most Christians I knew was when I was pregnant with #5. I see you are experiencing that, too. ;)

    Nancy

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  113. Kellee Cogdill

    We have a family of six children. We encounter the same questions EVERY time we enter the public. No matter the context: church, shopping, or leisure activities. Thank You for joining me and counting a large family a blessing. Somedays I dance and somedays I weep but every day I am blessed.
    Sincerely,
    Kellee Cogdill
    Half-Dozen Mom

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  114. Abigail

    I have been married just 8 months and we have decided to not start trying to have kids at least until the one year mark. With that not far ahead I have been thinking lots about it and recognizing that my heart is not wanting to have children yet. Your blog touched me deeply as you spoke about hope and not fearing. I have a lot of fear when it comes to kids…thank you for having 5 of your own and for sharing your words of trust.

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  115. Karen

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I too have five children, all boys! And I also get all the reactions listed above. I guess I have learned to ignore the reactions because I am proud of my children and the fact that we survived very well, thank you :) When people see the joy and pride in my face and voice, I think they just go blank. Oh well…. I agree that many people don’t want large families because they are afraid and maybe selfish. The full-time, two-income lifestyle is much more appealing than being “barefoot and pregnant” which is how I feel I’m viewed sometimes. Maybe that’s just my perception. Anyway, glad to see others who embrace the radical lifestyle of many children. God will make sure we have enough.

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  116. Well said, Elizabeth Esther. I believe children are the best gifts from God. I was unable to have children naturally. However, God blessed my husband and me with two beautiful daughters, one internationally and one domestically through adoption. I believe adoption is also a radical act of hope.

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  117. Julie Howard

    I have 10 children and get the “hands full” comment at least once a day. My response is – Yes, but you should see my heart!!!

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  118. Jeanne

    Hello Elizabeth,
    Know what you mean about people saying the things that they do to people who have five children. I’m one of those with the five, now grown children. We are Christians, but we weren’t always so. I had two children from my first marriage, and my husband has two children from his first marriage. When we got married, forty-five years ago, not many people thought it would work. After we were married about three years I felt that the Lord had another child for me. My husband agreed to another child, and we have been so blessed by that choice.

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  119. ContemplatingFamilySize

    This is a very interesting article and the comments were intense but I was thrilled to see so many people arguing for or against the subject without resulting to name-calling and insults. There are so many factors that come to play when determining family size but one that rang clear from this article is to have faith and trust in GOD in determining this for your family- be it 1 or 100. The meaning of a quiver-full is a decision between God, you and your husband (if you are married). No one else should determine your family size and one is not less blessed or more blessed based on the size of the family. Trust and Seek God, then do as HE tells you. So much to contemplate from this article and the comments that proceed. Thank you for sharing your heart.

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  120. Thanks for the great encouragement. I love finding others who feel the same way about this issue. My husband and I have been married for five years this June and already have three kids. We are allowing the Lord to give us as many kids as he would desire and have definitely seen his blessing and provision in that. I would have it no other way.

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  121. Nadine

    I am from a rather large city, and am one of the few with 5 children, 4 boys and a girl. I love every minute with them, the ups and the downs. These children are LIFE, and basically I was given these kids so I could really understand my purpose in life. I used to suffer from post-partum depression. At one time, I thought I wouldn’t be able to continue, however, at the time I only had 2 children, and really had no idea what a relationship with Jesus meant. One night I turned the radio on, and heard a song, by Casting Crowns, which started my faith journey. The Lord is good. I was a complete feminist, fighting against anything I thought was traditional, definitely did not want a large family, forget about more than 2 kids, obtaining my desires were so much more important than my family. However, God pursued me, and by his grace I was saved. My children are ‘life’, they were a part of my life becoming so much more than just about me and my needs. I never want to go back to the darkness I experienced, I now realize that what is most important is to glorify God in all that we do. You might think I am crazy, but I am not. I am a mom that loves raising her kids in the big city, I love art openings, coffee, knitting, soccer games, movies, music, beautiful creations….. But what I love most, is that God allowed me to see what was most important, through giving me my 5 beautiful children. Life for me, has so much more meaning. I don’t care to chase useless dreams, idols of my own, all I want to do is glorify God, live for eternity, in all that I do. Of course, we need to provide for our families, I am not saying be reckless, but God has blessed our family. Just recently someone payed for all of us to go away on a holiday in the Bahamas…. You know, when I feel fear, I go back to the Bible, and am reminded of how God is in control, and we are to put our hands in his right hand, and he will sustain us from birth to death. If our family loses everything, God will be with us. So I have no fear, of how many children I have, because fear is not from God. I am thankful, and when I have moments where my children all need me at once, I am reminded of friends who wish they could have that moment and are no longer with us, or friends that can’t and desire it desperately. Thank you Lord for all that you have given me. We all have our journey’s, it took me a long time to get here. God pursued me, as God pursued Paul, and I am so unbelievably thankful.

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  122. Jarrod

    I wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts. My wife and I have five children as well and I can relate closely with everything you said. I think you hit the nail on the head with hope vs. fear. Thank you.

    Reply
  123. rachel

    I too have 5 children…..and usually just smile and nod at the comments. Thanks for reminding me there is a Godly purpose to having my children and that I should not be ashamed.

    Reply
  124. Melissa

    Thank you for reminding me that I am *not* a freak show to be stared at and commented about when out in public.

    My husband and I have 5 kids biologically and we are licensed foster parents as well…we felt led by God two years ago that there may be another child out there for us, not by blood, but by love…so even though we are scared about how adding another child to our crew may affect our lives, we are following God’s leading (to the best of our ability!) and doing what we feel is what he is asking us to do.

    No, our kids don’t have the “latest & greatest” of anything, but they are well fed, clothed, sheltered, educated and most importantly LOVED…not only by us, their parents, but by God, our church family and their siblings as well.

    The comments, stares, and whispered looks do get old…but if this is what He wants of us, then we will follow his lead.

    Reply
  125. I’m with Hippie Grandma.

    *sigh*

    Reply
  126. We have eight. People were pretty understanding up until we hit four: our first three kids were boys and most people understood that I wanted a girl. Once we moved beyond that point, well, you can imagine.

    Once a man told my husband “Better you than me.” My husband looked right back and said, “Well, I guess so.” That’s one of my favorite responses. :-)

    Reply
  127. abby g

    So refreshing to hear this viewpoint! It is unbelievable how many Christians I’ve heard claim that it would be irresponsible to have more kids (or any at all!) because we are so overpopulated already. Thank you for speaking the truth!

    Reply
  128. Jess

    Interesting to be reading this right now. I have four children, all now in their twenties, and two grandchildren. Not a really large family, but unusual enough for time and place, to have gotten some of the same comments except when we traveled in Bali where 4 is considered a perfect number and all the comments were positive. Anyway, its interesting to be reading this now when I’m dealing with this issue in my oldest son’s life. He is contemplating breaking up with his girlfriend because she wants children and he doesn’t and I suspect fear is the main reason deep down under all his comments about over-population and ruining a child’s life etc. He is not trusting God for his life or salvation and is living with his girlfriend who is not a Christian either. She is a wonderful person and I had hoped they would marry, I would love to have her as a daughter-in-law. I hate for my son to let this relationship go for fear, though I do commend him for being honest with her and considering her future desires for a family rather than just his own needs for love. Please pray for his change of heart.

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  129. Tammy

    it’s been interesting perusing these comments- but one thing has repeatedly struck me as slightly odd- most people here seem to think that having a baby is a personal choice that can just be turned off or on. like, oh I think I’ll go pick up a burger- so you go and buy one and there, you have a burger (not to equate kids with burgers but rather the thinking that as humans we really have any control over it).

    it took me 4 years to get pregnant with our first. during that time I met many, many people who were spending tens of thousands of dollars trying to have a baby- mostly without any success (i.e. man can make test-tube babies but they can’t guarantee that once implanted that the baby will survive). I’ve also met lots of people who decided to make personal, permanent decisions to limit their family size- only to get pregnant afterwards.

    I think really it needs to come down to obedience to God’s call on each person’s life- whether that be God ALLOWING you to have lots of kids or God NOT allowing you to have any at all, each of us needs to walk in obedience and not tell God what WE think is the proper plan for our lives (be it kids or any other area of our lives).

    the bible says that children are an inheritance/blessing from the Lord- however many God desires for you to have. oh and about the medical issues questions- don’t you think that God knows about them and has power over them? just saying….

    Reply
    • Tammy,
      We were told we could not have any children. We have done fertility treatments to conceive most of our kids.

      Reply
  130. kimberly

    In the interest of time I had to quit reading comments halfway through.I have 3 children and after the third my husband decidedi got pregnent too easily & took matters into hisown hands to visit a dr. I havealways felt my family was missing two & I think that hidden resentment has caused problems in our marriage. To this day he thinks he is right & has no regrets. I didn’t even know about trusting God with the size of your familie until after he made his decision. Neither of us were raised in christian homes. I feel like I will always have this hole in my heart & it is his fault. I have never been able to say that to anyone before.
    Kimberly

    Reply
  131. Kimberly,
    I just wanted to say I read your post and I wanted to send you a hug…I am sorry.

    Reply
  132. If you’ve read David Platt’s book Radical you may see a different take on the ” be fruitful and multiply”. Maybe God means to spread the gospel, both in your family and outside. Be fruitful with the fruits of the spirit and multiply the kingdom of God. Yes children are a blessing, but they are not our reason for life. Loving and worshiping and thanking and bringing glory to God is. Maybe it’s not about the number of children you have…maybe the quiverful is the people you bring to Christ, whether in your own family or outside it. We try to put God in a box, his ways are greater than ours, so no one wins the arguement of many or less is better, it’s not about that at all. In whatever you do do so as if doing for the lord. We don’t have to try to figure it all out, God knows our story and as long as we bring him glory we will have true faith.

    I gained from the original article just to be sure we are not doing anything or doing something out of fear, as fear is not of God.

    Reply
  133. Well said, my dear! It seems to be the only “Blessing” in the Bible that folks now a days don’t ask for! #6 for us is “baking” as I write, and this is coming from someone who was never going to have children…all due to selfishness. Praise God that He changed my heart and my husbands, and has now blessed my husband and I with 5 almost 6 precious treasures! It is difficult, like you said, to go to church and have fellow Christians gasp at the size of our family walking through the doors. But, thankfully the Lord sustains, provides, and blesses us!

    Reply
  134. This is beautiful! I once got the comment from someone, “Are they all from the same father?” I was so taken back and a bit offended I was speechless. Of course later in my feisty spirit I told myself I should have responded, “Why yes, each one has a different father.” Mind you I have 7. Guess, where we were? Yep, in church! This is ultimately to remind us of the blessing of children as the world view on family is so grossly distorted today, and also to remind us that God IS IN CONTROL, not us. Just because we do our human part does not guarantee a baby, just as we can do everything in our power to not have a child and He will still bless us with one. So, regardless of our choices and actions there is Someone Greater and Someone in control beyond me.
    Thank you so much and I am so grateful I have discovered this site,
    Carolyne

    Reply
  135. i think this may also be an American thing. I recently moved to singapore. now when i tell people i have 6, they are in awe. i’ve been callled supermom more than once…and they mean it. they tell me if they could have, afford, more, they would.

    Reply
  136. Catherine

    I just had to throw my tidbit into the mix. I think a lot of people on here who got upset were being ridiculous. The main point of the article is to trust God with your life (all of it, even kids). If you are a Christian, or believe in God, no one should have an argument against that. Obviously, we should ALWAYS steer clear of judging others intentions (since only God can see their hearts), and Jesus tells us this quite plainly.

    HOWEVER, for those who posted about doing birth control and getting a vasectomy, these are both serious sins, objectively (obviously, each person’s culpability can only be determined by God). Only they can PRAYERFULLY determine their family size, but God has clearly taught through His Church that these (birth control and vasectomy) are wrong. We can blatantly say that without it being “judging”. God has given us the means of limiting family size by the structure of the female reproductive system, so doing so is obviously not wrong, but again, it should be done prayerfully always (and by the moral means given us by God – natural family planning).

    My last point, which I’m sure will bring down the fire (if the above hasn’t already), is that due to the fact that God set our female bodies up so that we have a new cycle every month, I believe the question of more children or not should be visited each month (if this wasn’t God’s intent, why are we made that way? Just a thought.). Thus, I think for any couple to say they are definitely done before menopause ends fertility are closing a door only God should close. Be done for now, sure (especially right after a new baby or serious financial troubles, etc., etc.), but to say you are done for the rest of your life, to KNOW you shouldn’t have any more when no one can say where they will be in 5, 10, 15 years?

    I believe the prudent way is to talk about it regularly, pray about it regularly, and ask God for the grace to always be open to HIS will over your own. This way covers all the concerns brought up by the dissenters above, covers anything that could arise, because you are constantly evaluating all the factors, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

    Reply
    • GrandmaMolly

      I am dismayed at the unwise and totally unfounded comments of the mother who portrays herself as being upset about a non-issue. (ie. having a large family vs. a small one and those who have no children.) What is God’s opinion of the widow and her only child, a son who provided a room for Elijah. Were they not greatly blessed? What is God’s opinion of Zacharias and Elizabeth and their only child, John the Baptist? Was God displeased with Anna the prophetess who was childless and who served Him in the temple day and night. A missionary couple took their severely mentally and physically disabled only child with them to serve Him in a difficult area. Did these people fall short of serving God IN ALL AREAS OF THEIR LIVES as another mother commented upon? LET GOD be GOD. He did not intend for all couples to have large families. It’s obvious, is it not? As a mother of four, I was never offended at the comment “you have your hands full”. Why call this a derogatory remark? I do not understand the reams of complaining letters nor the “Holier than thou” attitudes. I am a Grandma who will give support to the very people you are questioning. Why do Christians get agitated so easily, complain so readily, and set themselves upon a higher shelf? What happened to your love and your compassion that Jesus loves to see? NOW THIS IS AN ISSUE.

      Reply
    • GrandmaMolly

      Please provide Biblical backup for your statement that “birth control and vasectomies are serious sins”. The Bible is the authority, not “the church”.

      Reply
      • Stella

        Yes, please do – I am very curious about that myself.

        Reply
  137. If I only had a nickle every time someone asked if I was catholic I could pay for our 11 children’s college. LOL

    Thanks for sharing the heart of the full quiver family.

    I wrote a Quiver Full Frequently Asked Questions on Heart at Home http://ow.ly/414BT

    Reply
  138. ML

    Elizabeth’s story is her story. When she says, “I have many children because I said yes to God.” she is telling the truth for her. Do you want her to lie by changing her story? Your story may be different, but hers is hers and yours is yours. I don’t see how that is being insensitive unless your conscience is speaking. God’s grace is sufficient to accept a story that may differ from yours!

    Reply
  139. Stella

    If I were not a Christian and happened upon this article I would be dismayed and troubled at what I saw for several reasons. There is something that does not quite ring true. If God has led you to have five children that is a wonderful gift. Children are absolutely amazing. I know. There certainly are many lovely God-fearing parents and families out there. However, those of us who do not have children are no less blessed. We are blessed in different and special ways. God uses us and has a job for each one of us to do. God has given me peace, joy and contentment even without children. Not everyone is purposed to have children. Non-Christians who for various reasons are without children would undoubtedly be confused and angered at the self-righteous attitudes and the notion that everyone is to have multiple children, even at risk to their own health. God has given us brains and expects us to use them. No wonder we give Christ a bad name!

    It saddens me that for some reason some folks appear to take a peculiar joy in playing martyr in their role as mother to several children. Not only have I seen it here but in life. I also emphatically agree with the Biblical examples Grandma Molly gives above where Godly parents were blessed with 1 or 2 children (or even 0). As a Christian I am ashamed that some are so quick to judge those without children and to assume that they are less spiritual or less blessed. I would love to know where in the Bible (not The Church) it says that. What about our selfless Christian missionaries serving our Lord all over the world who are single and without children?

    It also seems as though some take perverse pleasure in the shock value of leaving people in grocery stores and churches to stare after you breathless, pointing, in awe and gasping at your large broods. That is just plain silly.

    As a newcomer I am disturbed by the hypocrisy here. We as Christians are no better than anyone else. Period. God is my Judge and I am accountable to Him and Him alone, not to any human, and not to The Church. He is my Lord and Saviour and I am more than abundantly blessed. HE is ultimately all I need. HE is my reward and I enjoy Him.

    Because in life I have been shaken to the core more than once, I see clearly that if I cling to my own plans and desires I will never discover the freedom in losing my life and desires for Jesus. I want to see everything in my life through the lens of His love in quiet confidence that He is working everything for my good and His glory.

    Reply
  140. Nadine

    I feel like I need to respond with no intention of coming across as judgmental, if anyone is reading this and does not agree or is not a Christian, I do not wish to offend at all.

    You know we all come from different backgrounds, stories, experiences with God. I am so thankful that I have my family, however, a dear family member of mine can not have children, however, it has been a journey and God is blessing them in other ways. Not all of us will or can have children, God will use us how God wants if we allow the moving of God in our lives. For me, living in a large city, many of my friends are done at two or one, that is their choice and I will not judge. For me, my children have brought me a whole new outlook on life, one that I would never trade. But, I feel we should respect people’s choices, we don’t know what has gone on in their lives, and we should just really appreciate and be thankful for what we have and how God is moving in us. Some of my friends with no kids have become my kids favorite aunties and uncles, how we are thankful for them!

    If any of you have read “One Thousands Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, then you will understand the word ‘eucharisteo’. I love that word, which is experiencing joy, grace and thanksgiving. Just truly being thankful/grateful amongst whatever we are experiencing. We all have had our ups and downs, we can never truly understand why some things happen, however if we prepare our hearts, we will be able to, with the grace of God, move through what may come our way. Whether we have no children, adopt, 1, 2 , 3 or more children.

    So, to close, let’s not worry about what others think or choose to do, but focus on our relationship with God and on blessing others. Let’s forget about judging and be thankful in the here and now, and truly just live for eternity! That can be such a gift. Blessings!

    Reply
  141. Melissa

    This may have been mentioned already (there’s been a lot of traffic on this post, and I didn’t have the stamina to make it through all the comments :-)), but this is a decision that needs to be made by the husband and wife together, prayerfully seeking God’s direction for their family. I’m five weeks away from the arrival of our second child, and I would very much like more than two children. However, my husband is still unsure about that. As much as my sinful womanly nature wants to try and manipulate the situation to try and get him to see things my way, the simple fact is that I have to respect him enough to follow his lead and submit to his authority. I know, I said the “S” word. ;-) If you and your husband have differing opinions on family size, by golly you need to listen to your husband! And yes, even if you feel like he’s wrong!
    Love this post, by the way… :-)

    Reply
  142. megan

    EE- I have been reading for some time, and may have a commented once or twice. this truly hits home for me! we have three children, a boy (4 yrs) and twin girls (18 months), and we are talking about adding another! almost everyone, especially our families, discourages us— financial stress, emotional stress, STRESS! just telling them that we are thinking about another child, opens up the door for all kinds of remarks. this post was an encouragement to me today… thank you! keep writing! xoxo

    Reply
  143. I can’t believe I made it all the way through the comments! This is such a touchy subject, I’m not surprised at all at the controversy!

    My aunt has eight children, and when people tell her she has too many kids, she says “Okay, which ones should I send back?” :)

    With that said, I loved this post. I’m currently pregnant with my third, and I’m already getting some comments. I have two girls, and I know that if we have a boy this time, people will assume we’re done. We are leaving it up to God, and trusting Him in this area. My mother is the least supportive….. she thinks we shouldn’t have had either of the two we already have, and was extremely upset with me when I told her we were pregnant again. It breaks my heart that my mother, of all people, is so unsupportive…… I’m just glad I have other people who are happy for us for having more.

    I don’t understand why Christians are so judgmental against large families. I know that not everyone is called to have a large family, and that is fine, but not everyone is called to have a small family either. Children are a blessing…. yet they are a blessing we ask God (or TELL God) not to give us. We wouldn’t ask God for a financial blessing and tell Him to limit it to $30,000…… we ask for as big of a financial blessing as He wants to give us! So why not do the same with children?

    I’m not a legalist by any means….. I KNOW there are circumstances when a couple really legitimately needs to wait to have children, or limit their number of children, and each family will have different decisions….. but what is wrong with the people who have multiple children? What is wrong with God calling a family to have more children than what is the secular norm? It saddens me to see so much judgment all the time…..toward large, small, and childless families.

    Reply
  144. “Hope and faith enable us to look straight in the eye of uncertainty and say, “I still believe that what God says is true.””
    Wow. I cannot tell you how much reading that one statement meant to my heart. I do believe that God is in control and he cares about me, my hubby and my little yahoos. Thanks for the great post!

    Reply
  145. I have fun when I am out with four kids and someone comments on our huge family. Then I get to tell them to add one and double it because we have 10. It’s a pretty wild and crazy life, though, and I am not planning on having any more at my age (47) with my youngest turning six this year, and my grandson turning one soon. I really do think each couple has to come to their own decision with God’s guidance, without unnecessary peer pressure from those who think they should or shouldn’t have more children. It is a life of faith following Jesus one way or the other. ~ Virginia

    Reply
  146. I must admit I battle with that fear. I want to have more babies (we have one right now) but I am afraid. I am afraid of all the things you mentioned plus some.
    I had really bad hormonal problems when I was pregnant and after I had the baby…. I used to think that post partum depression was an excuse for women to sit around and feel sorry for themselves and now I know that is not the case. It is very very real…and it happened to me. I didn’t know it when I was going through it but once I started to feel like me again I could look back and see that there was something very very wrong with me, and it affected my bonding with our baby which makes me so sad.
    So, that is my biggest fear about having more. I am so afraid to be in that place again. I was not myself and it was so dark….. I couldn’t relate to anyone or anything including God.
    I am praying so hard that God would help me and give me the courage to be able to face that fear because I know He wants us to have more children. Thank you for this.

    Reply
    • Ashley – I dealt with significant post-partum depression that turned into long-term clinical depression. My husband and I wanted a large family too, but I was terrified of the risk of depression again. I hated that the depression affected my bonding with my two children as well.

      I’ve been seeing a Christian counselor for almost a year, and she and my midwife helped me through the diagnosis process for depression. They connected me with a psychiatric nurse who has worked very carefully and wisely with me to select medical treatment to handle the biological component of my depression. I’ve also gotten a lot of support from other moms who battled PPD. With good treatment and antidepressants (if they’re medically indicated), it can be possible to have more children and not go back into that dark place.

      My counselors and medical care providers walked me through a recent miscarriage and the resulting hormonal fallout. Now I’m pregnant again, and I am actually very excited about this baby. I am looking forward to having a POSITIVE post-partum experience!

      I hope you’ll find the right support and treatment to help you out and conquer your fear. You’re not alone. Email me if you want to talk about how to get help and support with this.

      Reply
      • Samantha

        Hello , I had PPD with my first daughter, I has also been diagnosed Bipolar. I know this may sound wierd but you know what I believe helped me avoid PPD the second time around? I breast fed as ling as I possibly could, up until my second daughter was 1.5 & I asked my therepist if it had any affect on the depression while I was still preggo & the doctors all told me that it was a good possibility because breastfeeding is your bonding time with your baby, it is something you have in common . The power of knowing that it was me & my body giving that baby what she needed to grow & get all chubby & cute & healthy just gives you such a great boost of confidence plus it really helps you bond with baby. When a baby is born they can see about 6 inches away, about the same distance frim your eyes to where you cradle their head as they nurse so the whole time you nurse you & your baby can just memorize eachothers faces & bond :) I hope you have a wonderful post partum experience & a healthy baby :) God Bless

        Reply
  147. Nicki

    Okay…I read this when it was first shared by Ann Voskamp and have stopped by again to connect with you again. Can I say I laughed so hard at the you know what causes that question and response. Belly laughed first and I’m still smiling thinking about it. Anyway, we have five tornados tearing through the house every day with three loved pipsqueaks waiting in heaven for us. I didn’t plan on a large family and didn’t really ‘leave it to God’ either if I really think about it. I did know that whatever I had and when was really God’s will though, not mine. How do I know this? We were given the surprise of expecting our first within two months of our first date…yup the first time we ‘connected’ God had plans for us. The wedding we had (already) talked about was moved ahead by a year so that he was able to come home to us together. A couple of years later when we were ready for another we had our first miscarriage on Valentine’s day. Told to wait 3-6 months before we “tried again”, led us to having a Christmas gift in the form of a howling boy proving to me that while I vowed not to spend Christmas in the hospital it really isn’t up to me.
    Then again we thought we could have another one…giving us two more pregnancies and now angels in heaven. All the while my head spins at what is life as I know it. We have the blessing of b/g twins in 2008 which lead everyone to ask if we’re done, to which I say ‘if God thinks so…’ because at that point I had learned that if you want to hear laughter you tell God your plans. No, I am serious here. I was always quite relieved that my boys were three years apart and thought it a blessing that the twins were a bit over four years after number two. I had no idea how people functioned with kiddos 12, 15, 18 months apart. Hence my take on God’s laughter. After the duo arrived DH made his doctor appointment to take care of things on his end. Laughingly I came to bed one night to share the news of the day like we always do. I said oh guess who’s gonna be having a baby…he named some of our friends and I said oh not that I know of but we are. His face was priceless!! The duo and number five are 14 months apart and I still have NO IDEA how we function either…hahahaha.
    So just goes to show that birth control, avoiding DH or whatever you try, you could end up with another gift from God. Also goes to show that you can try for years every possible option to get pregnant and not. It’s so not up to us. I saw a earlier post that the woman feels slighted because her hubby went and got ‘fixed’ without her blessing, but dear love you’re not listening to his heart any better than he did to yours. Those surgeries don’t guarantee anything, I know this because my DH doctor warned us when he had his done. Who knows what He has planned for us!?!?!? I am a true believer that ALL children are a gift from the Lord. Planned, surprise, number one, number five, IVF, miscarried, preemie, disabled…ALL life comes through Him and only because He gifts it to us that way.
    So the earlier poster that said if all you see is what isn’t there then you’re not seeing what is there. I will agree with you there, kinda like not seeing the forest for the trees in the way. The number doesn’t matter because honestly we don’t control it. We might think we do, but let me laugh at you because I’ve learned that He was laughing at me once, but now I’ve learned to laugh WITH Him. Every single one of us Christian hearted should take time to remember that He has plans for us, those which we cannot fathom nor understand and He does the same for our neighbors, brothers and sisters in Christ, that we don’t forget to support each other whatever may come.
    It’s not about me or you, it’s about Him. It’s not about thumping the Bible and quoting “quiver full” because that means different things to all of us. I don’t just see it as procreation in my house but I also feel that it’s about filling His quiver with His family, adopting them to bring them home, volunteering to give them His love or becoming a shepherd so that we might gather them and guard them from the dark of night. We are His children and so let us fill His quiver, it is our responsibility to glorify Him in ALL that we do.
    As you go about your day keep that in mind. I think any one of us could find offense to something written here…even my words I’m sure. God’s gift to us is free will and We each use it differently but please keep in mind that if you haven’t something nice to say maybe you shouldn’t say it. It is quite sad when we call ourselves Christians but let Satan run off with our tongue. Life is not easy, doesn’t have to be when I have support from my beautiful friends like you!!!
    Deo Volente to you that share His quiver with me…
    LuvNHugz – SupportNPrayerz
    NMV in Iowa

    Reply
    • Nicki

      Sorry, didn’t realize it got so long…
      Luv ya!!!

      Reply
  148. Kyles

    This is something I struggle with. I planned to go on the pill before we got married but after some research we wound up using FAM. I planned to finish my PhD and wait 3 years before getting pregnant. I lasted 4 months before I was begging DH for a baby. Our first was born and my fertility return at 18 months. My boys are 27 months apart.

    After DS2 I had severe depression and CFS. He is 4.5 now and I am still on a lot of medication and function somewhere between 10 and 50% of normal energy levels. My medication causes fetal defects and every time I’ve decreased the dose I’ve become suicidal. I used to cry about not having more children, I wanted 4 but also lean towards letting God take control. I am now accepting that I may not have more, and even wondering if I would if I could. But I know last time the CFS improved to 70% my first thought was that I could handle a baby now. The health didn’t last long though.

    If I did have an unplanned pregnancy I would do everything in my power to protect my baby but getting of the meds would probably land me in hospital so I don’t want to try for a baby. I don’t know the future but at this time I feel I don’t have a choice. I think menopause will be the only permanent action to stop our fertility as a couple and I’m not naive enough to think contraception is failproof.

    I’m rambling. I’ll stop now. I struggle with this. I really do. My heart wants more but my head says it’s not possible, not now anyway.

    Reply
    • Just passing through and I wondered if you had any checks done for a dietary factor to the CFS? Celiac disease/gluten intolerance often masquerades as CFS, and other foods can be triggers, too… The GAPS diet (look it up– there is a great website for it) is helpful in healing the gut so that the whole body can heal.. anyway just a random thought. I’d love to see you off meds and free to figure this out without that factor to worry about!

      –Christina

      Reply
      • Kyles

        Thanks Cristina

        I am currently doing the failsafe diet which seems to be helping.

        Reply
  149. Lisa Suit

    Thank you for this post! My husband told me just yesterday that he has been praying and wants to know what I would think about having another child much sooner than we had originally planned (We have one child together and he has two children from a previous marriage). I’ve always wanted children close in age, but the financial aspect of it has had me in a bit of turmoil over it since he asked me to pray about it. This post helped me see my “concerns” for what they really were-fear! If God chooses to bless us with another child He will certainly not leave us without the money to care for the child! Thank you so much, and God bless!

    Reply
  150. Kim

    Seems that this is certainly a touchy subject, and I think the real problem is not whether someone has one child, no children, or ten children. The question we need to be asking ourselves is what is God’s plan for me, my marriage, and our family. For some people it is fear that keeps them from welcoming the blessing of children, while for others it is a properly discerned decision that having children or more children is not what God intends for them. Something can only be properly discerned, however, when you have a properly formed conscience, and this is where I think a lot of our culture goes wrong.

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  151. Leslie

    I’m gonna go way out on a limb here and say . . . I know many families who go way beyond the point of this blogger. Loved the blog, btw, but you’re just scratching the surface where many families are concerned. I’m #1) Catholic and #2) a homeschool mom (15 years now). In the awesome Catholic homeschool group we belong to (about 150 families), having a family of five kids is actually kind of small. Most of our families have about 4-8 kids, with many having 10 or more. It’s not that any of us sets out to break any records, but most of us practice NFP: Natural Family Planning. We don’t use artificial birth control. We truly let God plan our families. And none of us, as far as I know, would give any of our kids back to God. I know I wouldn’t return any of my five. We lost our sixth during Hurricane Katrina and I truly miss him. It’s amazing to go to P.E. every week and see older kids helping younger kids, parents enjoying being with their children, and for the most part, all 200 or so of them behaving pretty well. We’re raising up souls for the kingdom of God, and I feel honored to share in this task.

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  152. Thank you so much for writing this! I live in Uganda and am in the process of adopting fifteen girls so they can live with me here…what you wrote is Truth!

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  153. Thanks for the caviat about not judging or trying to put a number or method on how families have to interpret the giving of the blessing of fruitfulness. :)

    What really gets me about people going crazy about having 5 kids is that… 5 kids isn’t really that much! I mean, my grandma had 14 brothers & sisters, my husbands’ grandparents were ones of 9 & 11… Just 3 generations back “a lot” of kids was, well, a lot more! I would understand if people were amazed that you had 9 or 10 kids– but 5? You can still count them on one hand! lol

    Press on, sister!

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  154. Stephanie

    Thank you Elizabeth. I have always wanted children. I will be 40 this year, and my father, age 62, took his own life in March of this year. I am so afraid of having children now. My boyfriend seriously wants to get married and have children. He would be the best husband and dad ever, and i am really trying to get over this fear. It does torment me though. thank you so much for your post.

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  155. Samantha

    I love this , it is absolutly beautiful. I personally only have two children (im only 23) But I have 2 other christian families that I call friends who have 6 and 8 children. as long as you keep your body healthy and give yourself time to heal from the last child birth ( and you can provide food , shelter and clothing) I think that it is beautiful for a husband and wife to fill their house with their children. It is very true that children are the embodiment of love two people have for one another. Good luck with the five you have :) God bless & thank you for giving me something so beautiful to read.

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  156. Donna

    I am struggling with a loss from this past Jan were I had to call 911 from hemorrhaging. My husband doesn’t want any more children and with turning 41 this past Nov it has been hard thinking that this is how my childbearing will end. I never thought myself to be a “quiver full” kind of person but as I get older, the more I wish I could have more. We have three left at home, almost 17, almost 6 and 3. I am thankful for what I do have and know that God can change my husbands heart at any time and I am trying to not dwell on what I want but what I do have. I have ask God to remove the desire if I am not to have anymore but here I am still having the ache to have another. It is so bad that there are times it physically hurts and aches to want to have more. Any words of wisdom on how to deal with this overwhelming desire?

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  157. I hurried through your words in such anticipation to share this with a dear friend of mine whom is a very proud mother of six! I must admit that I have been the believer that you described in your story. You know, the one with the stunned look upon her face hearing the number of children some have. I pray God forgives me for such judgment. Thank you for your honesty and choice of words because without this I could not have seen myself in those you describe as fearful…

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  158. Y

    I see your point. As a counterpoint, what do you make of Paul’s views on singleness, let alone having kids?

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  159. ~Amen~ We’ve 4 going on 7 and I am just loving how much each child is such a treasured blessing! Congrats on your beautiful family!

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  160. Megan

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    I have a two-and-a-half year old son who was just diagnosed with high-functioning Autism, and a three-month-old daughter who has severe food allergies and colic, keeping her unhappy most of her waking hours. I know this time will pass, but so often I think ‘Why? Why did God choose me for this challenge?’ It is the most difficult job I have ever had… *will* ever have. I knew (with certainty) that our daughter would be our last child. That I couldn’t possibly handle any more. That I couldn’t risk having another special needs child. We were done.

    For the past several weeks, though, God has been calling to me in everything I do.

    Be open to another child.
    ‘What?!? Are You joking?? How?! How can You expect me to take on more than this?’

    Be open to another child.
    ‘I can’t. It’s too much. You can’t ask this of me.’

    Be open to another child.

    I’m terrified. I want to give myself to God in all I do, but this? How?

    This evening, I got online and typed: “God is calling me to be open to another baby.” This is where I was led. I’ll be honest – I’m trembling as I type this, and it will take all the faith and strength that I have to leave this decision up to God. But tonight, after weeks of asking, imploring… DEMANDING to know how I will do this, God spoke through you: Be not afraid.

    Thank you.

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  161. Renee

    This brought tears to my eyes as I read it. A very good and timely article. We have two beautiful daughters, ages 10 and 7. I have said many, many times, We are done!! But this past Sunday, while in church, listening to the speaker on children are a blessing and a heritage, I had a heart change. Nothing less than a miracle in my book! My hubby is still on the fence, but as I pray about it, think about it, and talk about it, I find myself really wanting one more. I am 34, almost 35. Had 2 c-sections and know that I would have to have another, and we live on a super tight budget, but even all of that grows dim when thinking of having another. I would love to have a baby boy. We are still discussing but this article has really blessed me. Thank you!

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  162. Jacqui

    I read this article at the right time.
    I have 3 four and down (just barely turned 4)
    My husband and I decided not to have more mostly out of fear.
    People constantly say rude things about how close our children are in age.
    But I really think they just don’t think about it.
    I love how close they are, they are best pals and are better people for it.
    All the sharing and empathy they learn.
    I think the number of children people should have is entirely between them and god.
    I realize for myself though after reading this I think we will try for another.

    Although people say things all the time, I have also had many older women come tell me how these are the best years
    And also that they chose to stop at 1 or 2 and never ever got over the feeling of missing out
    or wanting more.

    I don’t think everyone is meant to have children and I don’t think people should suggest one way or another.
    For me though I think I’m meant to be a mom.

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  163. Barbara Fisher

    Yes there are hard times. Sleepless nights. But enjoy them. Play with them, teach them, hug them. Most of all let them know you love them. Be patient with them. It takes a lot of patience. Help them to learn. set a good example. Remember if you are always yelling at them, They will follow your example and start yelling back.If you are happy, they will be happy. Its a family affair.. You and your husband should work together.. Have family Home evening where all can participate. Children love to perform. It helps them to feel like they are somebody.

    All of a sudden the children are grown up and have their families.
    The greatest reward is to see that they all turned out good,and
    Have a Happy Family.

    Good Luck

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  164. Laura

    This is a lovely way of regarding children. Really as long as you can care for your children it shouldn’t matter to anyone else how many you have.

    I have a Son, and am Christian, and was worried that wanting another baby would seem ungrateful to God as he’s already given us such a gift with our Son. Your blog made me feel better and realise that if God blesses us with another then he is wanting us to have another.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Laura

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  165. Do people not realize there are OTHER ways of receiving “blessings” from God? You know, good deeds, being a good person, donating (sorry daddy’s, not including sperm), basically anything not involving YOU and the fruit of your loins?

    The amount of times I see people saying The Lord this, The Lord, that. Based off of a few sentences in the Bible, you are going to have close to a dozen children because a book justifies this? What are you bored? This is absolutely insane. Having 2,4,1 year olds sounds great, but HOLD UP. You’ll be able to afford COLLEGE, clothing, toys, food (not shit food, REAL meals) medical care for EACH of them? And shit, yeah, they grow up. Haha wait a tick, what about individual attention? How can you possibly have a proper relationship if you’re looking after 6 other kids? And clearly none of you have full-time jobs. So being a stay at home mother is the best life decision EVER(or sorry decision God gave you)? Really, ever? THIS IS WHY PEOPLE POINT AND STARE – you’re just a baby maker. You don’t do anything for society except suck up resources. Ever heard of volunteering, traveling (you can take 3 year olds to Paris, they probs won’t remember though), helping others in need, planning events, concerts, wine tasting, whatever else white people do? Having 7 kids sounds like the most selfish thing you can do. It’s also the easiest thing ever.

    You are not special and neither are your kids (I know you tell them that). Getting pregnant (unless you’re unable to) is not hard. ANYONE can have kids, it’s being a good PARENT that is the challenge. If staying at home, rearing 12 kids is “fun” then that’s awesome. Good for you! Really expensive hobby, but that’s fucking cool. But I’m not surprised since I’ve read that those who commonly have a large families are poorer, uneducated or overly religious. Nuff said.

    P.S. I actually LOVE kids. Sweet kids that have involved parents, (not just one parent who works) and kids love me. I know large families and let me tell you – poor and fucked up. Talk on this forum in 30 years, let’s hear how well your kids are doing then. Perfect blessings, right?

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    • Jen S

      Anonymous, are you drunk/on drugs, or just rude? Elizabeth’s post is referring to life with God; sadly, it doesn’t sound like you know much about that, or about discerning His will. Basing decisions on a few sentences in the Bible, as you said, is not what she is talking about. She is talking about discerning, knowing God’s voice, hearing His call, and responding to it with a generous heart. All of your presumptions about large families based on what you’ve “read” are incorrect. And Elizabeth is making a very important point – a Christian should not base decisions (decisions about anything, not just the number of children we have) on fear, but rather on faith. That’s not to say throw all caution to the wind, but to live a life of prayer, of frequenting the Sacraments, of discernment, and with all of the help the Church provides, making decisions based on faith and trust in God. Period. It is a joy; He provides all that is needed and can be trusted. #YouNeedANewWorldview.

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  166. Julie

    I’m not sure how to word this or even if I should be asking aloud and to strangers non the less… But, for some time now over a year more like 18 months or longer I have been wrestling with a strong, relentless tugging at my heart to have another child. I do not really want another one, I already have 2. It is such hard work, I struggled greatly with the last one, and I have a health condition. I have about 1,000 reasons why I don’t think we should have another child and yet this strong pulling, tugging at my soul almost, keeps coming several days a week several times a day no matter how hard I try to shu it away. I love the children God has given me they are my greatest gifts, I am truly, eternally, grateful to God for them. But, logically, rationally, in every area my mind says “NO”. And yet, this incessant pulling continues. I have been talking to my husband and praying about it and I just don’t know what to do? I know that it is my flesh vs. my spirit, my faith vs. my fear. I am praying always because I know how serious a decision this is. I guess I feel like God would have to hit me over the head with a bat with either a “YES” this is me telling you to add another child to your family or “NO” don’t do it! I’d really appreciate some wise and Godly counsel…

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  167. Anna

    I love this , I love my large family so much x

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