Tag Archive | quiver-full

I am the Older Woman Now

psalm127

This article from Raising Homemakers appeared in my inbox this morning, and I thought I would share it, because the topic has been so much on my heart lately.

As you know, I would have loved to have more children, but after our fourth, my husband felt that it would be irresponsible to have any more, so we had a break of 7 years, and when we finally started trying again we had a run of miscarriages, so four it is.

My husband isn’t a believer, so he has no faith or reason for confidence that there is a good and faithful God whom we can trust to provide for us, and of course the prevailing culture tells us that ‘two is enough’ and any more is over-population. Please. My heart weeps for the church and our culture, because we are cutting off God’s blessings before they reach us, and we don’t know what we are missing.

I would like to encourage anybody who is considering a larger than average family, or even allowing God complete control over your family planning, to stop listening to the faithless counsel of your peers and know that the Word of God is trustworthy: children are without a doubt a blessing, and we do indeed serve a God who is faithful and good and who can be trusted completely.

the_bible_calls_debt-71559

But (and this is not meant to be a caution to put you off but rather a heads-up so you can plan your house-building, being fully informed about the cost) taking a leap of faith like this will require you to go deeper into God – to be willing to trust and obey completely in the areas of finance and time management to name but two aspects. It’s not a journey for the easy-believer or the faint of heart.

If God has laid this matter on your heart, take it back to him in prayer, seek his heart and his will, and be open to his leadings. Don’t miss out on one of the sweetest blessings he offers.

In my experience, it is a very rare couple indeed who end up inundated with children, and the hardest part about trusting God with your fertility is the possibility not that he will give you too many children, but rather that you might not end up with as many as you hoped.  ❤

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Your Desire Shall Be for your Husband

I have been contemplating my relationship with my husband recently. It is pretty good now overall but we have had our fair share of ups and downs, and for years I resented him – not because we had had miscarriages, of course that wasn’t his fault, but because he had decided, despite knowing that I desperately wanted another baby, to wait so long (7 years) between our last baby and trying again, by which time it was too late.

I think that probably I was too ill by the time we started trying again, although I didn’t realise until much later that that might have been a factor. (I read a couple of years ago that women with chronic conditions such as ME, Fibro, MS, PCOS etc. tend to experience miscarriage three times as often as healthy women) .

I have mentioned before that I am not yet at a point of acceptance, of being able to get some closure and say now we have finished building our family. But I have been thinking more and more lately about trying to work out for myself what the shape of my life should look like now going forward if there’s not going to be any babies in the picture. I’ll be 45 this year, so the chances now are next to zero – especially after 4 years of no conception at all (and obviously not using anything to prevent conception!) It’s not beyond the realms of possibility, but highly unlikely. I know that.

I remember once, before we started trying again in 2010, my husband asking me, “Why am I not enough for you?” That is to say, why do you need a baby as well? At the time I thought it was a ridiculous thing to say, the two things weren’t in the same category. But I wonder now whether there is something in it. What is it that makes women like me want babies, and keep wanting babies even with a big family? Well, as I’m sure I have mentioned before, I was raised on the Waltons / Little House on the Prairie as well as having family friends with a big family which seemed really idyllic which fed into the same fantasy. Large family life just seemed much more homely and loving and fulfilling than our quiet, standard small nuclear family. When I had my own family I knew which style I wanted to emulate, and it wasn’t what I had grown up with. But additionally, maybe also a kind of tender intimacy, feeling needed, having somebody to love and adore? (Come to that, why do most women not continually desire that?)

My husband had two sisters, so not a specially large or small family really and I don’t think he was fussed either way. But I do remember once discussing with him that I wanted ten children, and he actually agreed. I suspect now that he thought I was joking. (We have produced 9 in total though – including all our losses – so one more and I would let him off the hook!)

Obviously I have also had thoughts about having a career and started taking steps towards that, but there have been obstacles and it hasn’t happened so far. I have been toying with the idea of working but I think I am basically unemployable. I would be so unreliable with ME – most days I wake up in so much pain I can’t get up, and who would want to employ somebody who might need more sick days than work days? So I have begun to wonder about what sort of things I could do from home. But I would still be at home.

I’m not really convinced that I am cut out for housewifery. I may have the excuse of homeschooling and having the kids around all day and having lots of extra educational materials and books hanging around, but I do not keep a very tight ship. If burglars ever broke in, they might be forgiven for thinking they were too late and we had already been burgled. I wish we didn’t live in a mess but we do.

Perhaps if I were well enough I could take a bit more pride in the state of the place, try a bit harder to keep things ship-shape. But I don’t think I would find that very fulfilling, and sitting at home reading books all day for the most part does nag me with a twinge of guilt at times. So being at home without babies, now that my kids are nearing the end of their education, is beginning to feel a bit odd. What will I do when the children are grown and start to fly away?

I did start some serious writing projects, but I haven’t given them the time or effort to see if they could amount to anything yet. Too busy letting myself get distracted with blogging, although I have given facebook and twitter the boot recently and I have pleasantly surprised myself to find that I really wasn’t addicted at all. (It’s nice to be able to discover new things about yourself at a time when you’re beginning to feel old and staid and boring!)

Going back to my relationship with husband though, I have been thinking more about the necessity of adjusting to this different way of life as empty-nesters (actually I think it will be a long way off for us as youngest is still only 12 and eldest who is 20 seems to have no plans to leave to go somewhere he might need to cook and wash his own clothes). I know it’s not uncommon for some couples to grow apart and end up separating when the children are gone, but that is not something I want to happen to us.

I keep thinking about the phrase in Genesis in the Bible where God tells Eve, “Your desire shall be for your husband“. The context is that it is part of the ‘curse’ after the Fall, and I know that many anti-feminists interpret it to mean that part of the curse is that women desire power over their husbands. (Just as an aside, I posted a question about Christian feminism on a Christian forum recently, asking for reading recommendations, and wasn’t at all surprised to be told that the whole concept of Christian feminism was power-seeking and unChristian. Good grief.) Anyway, what was I saying?

Yep, I don’t honestly know what it means, what the relevance or significance might be to modern Christian women. Perhaps none at all. But I can’t stop thinking about the phrase somehow. I remember when we were first together, before we had children, he told me that he didn’t want me to let myself become dependent on him, because I was perfectly capable to look after myself. But inevitably, as a non-earning housewife and mother of course I did become dependent on him and I still am. I’m not actually too worried about that, as I don’t think it reflects my worth or capability, and I know that things can change in an instant – the universe turns on a pin, after all. There was a time when I went out to work and he stayed at home. It’s not inconceivable that the roles could reverse again. I might get well. (Pigs might fly, hopefully the former is more likely than the latter.)

But I would really just like to be satisfied. Content. With him. With our life as it is, without wanting or needing any babies, or a bigger house, or more money, or some great career or some other monumental success in my life. Is that lame? Or is it a reasonable way for a middle aged woman to think? Yuck! I hate that phrase, ‘middle-aged’. I’m just ‘mature’, right?! (Hahaha, who am I kidding!)

So we are back to gratefulness again. I am grateful. I am thankful. I have lots of good things in my life, and I am totally grateful that I do have such a good, faithful, long-suffering husband. He thinks I am crazy, but he still loves me, and thankfully he seems perfectly happy to accommodate my wish to keep quite a bit of baby-making practice going. 😀

 

Trim Healthy Mama?

A few years ago the Trim Healthy Mama diet was recommended to me, so I read the book, and looked at the recipes, but found it too complicated and of questionable scientific basis, and so I never actually tried it.

But the recommendations keep coming, and I see that the diet has become enormously popular in the US, and has a growing following in the UK. I joined the UK THM group on facebook, which is friendly and helpful. (The main American group is enormous and far too high volume for me to keep up with).

One of the things that I find attractive, and one of the reasons it has been recommended to me again and again is that THM is good for keeping your blood sugar levels balanced – something that’s important for everybody, but especially those with a tendency toward insulin sensitivity, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes (and that of course includes women with PCOS who are susceptible to all those things due to the nature of the endocrine disruption that PCOS causes).

So I am investigating Trim Healthy Mama again. I think my book is with most of our other books in storage, which is frustrating. I have no idea when we’ll be in a position to retrieve them. But there is plenty of information on the web, including the facebook groups, if you want to follow the diet without getting the book, or before buying the book, if you decide to.

You might like to start with these:

http://gwens-nest.com/trim-healthy-mama-quick-start-guide/

http://workingathomeschool.com/2014/03/30/freeprintables31daysofthmmeals

The diet is based on the idea of separating carbs and fats, separating your meals, at least three hours apart, into S (for satisfying) meals which include good fats and only very low amounts of carbs, and E (for energising) meals which are based on limited amounts of good carbs and low fat. It is quite an appealing idea. There are also FP (Fuel Pull) meals which limit carbs and fats, and Crossovers. I never did discover what Crossovers are.

But I am not sold on the idea that 3 hours is sufficient for your body to switch from one primary fuel to another. I remember Atkins saying that, since our bodies are used to a carb-based primary fuel, it can take several days before ketosis – fat-burning – starts to kick in.

Another thing that I found in my notebook from when I read the book is a question about a quote the authors made concerning insulin: “Glucagon helps to halt insulin’s stimulation of fat synthesis” Does it?

I’m not sure the way insulin etc is described is quite correct. As I understand it, glucagon is a hormone that tells the liver to dump stored glucose (glycogen) into the blood, which would seem to be the opposite of what they’re saying, which again makes me feel that the authors don’t really know what they’re talking about. But then I’m no expert, despite dealing with Type 1 diabetes for the past three years.

Perhaps somebody more expert in the way of body chemistry can confirm?

On the negative side of THM is their recommendation of what are commonly called ‘frankenfoods’, allegedly natural but really not at all healthy and really rather fake food, processed ingredients such as de-fatted peanut flour, glucomannan, stevia and a bunch of other things.

Here are a couple of articles which question THM:

http://stevenandersonfamily.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/my-review-of-trim-healthy-mama-thm-good.html (the authors of THM are part of the Above Rubies network which is part of the Quiver-Full movement, so I am surprised that they would be promoting stevia if it is really abortifacient but its implication in infertility and miscarriage is something that concerns me.)

http://www.nourishingherbalist.com/4-reasons-why-im-not-a-trim-healthy-mama/

The claim that THM isn’t another fad seems a little bit nonsensical. And also, from a vegetarian point of view, I remember when one of the authors was promoting the raw vegan diet – I still have her book (and video)! There is no obvious accommodation for vegetarians or vegans in this new diet, it is very much meat-based.

So, read the articles, weigh it all up and decide for yourself. I’d be interested to hear from anybody who has tried it and loved it, or tried it and hated it 🙂

Questioning the Bubble

The Duggars, if you’re not familiar with them, are an American conservative Christian large family, and not just large, but very large and famously so. Although they’re not Roman Catholics, they don’t believe in using contraception.

They’re the poster family for an American movement called Quiver-Full. They’re famous for putting their family into the public eye on the docutainment programme ‘Sixteen and Counting’, which has risen year on year until I think now they may even be ‘Twenty and Counting’.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that on the surface. I myself, as you know, wanted a much larger family, and I had some contact with the Quiver-Full organisation, read some of their books, would even have considered myself ‘quiver-full’. But of course, fate or destiny, or God, if you will, stopped us at four.

I never quite clicked on the idea that the Quiver-full organisation and community was especially patriarchal until I started hearing stories a few years ago of women who had left the movement and told of abusive husbands and churches. But I suspect it is no more patriarchal than American conservative Christianity in general.

My own feeling is that those of us in the UK who have felt some affinity with the American quiver-full Christians, have done so from a very different cultural background and if the negative stories are true and abuse does go on in a big way, we were quite oblivious to it.

Which brings us back to the Duggars. In the US, in a way that isn’t really true or possible in the UK, conservative Christians are able to surround themselves with a bubble of religious friends and really have no concept of what is outside that bubble – what is going on, how people think. It almost strikes me that they have a completely alien concept of reality, and they’re strong enough in number not to care or to assume that everything they think and do must be right and good.

Las week, the story broke that, when he was 15, the Duggars eldest son Josh molested some of his sisters and possibly another girl outside of the family, but presumably from within that same ‘bubble’.

He apparently knew he had done wrong and confessed to his parents, and their reaction (after some prayer and soul searching which “brought them closer to God”) was to arrange for him to do some penance in the form of helping refurbish a friend’s house, although they called it counselling.

The molested girls, it seems got no counselling at all but were told to ‘forgive and forget’ as though it were nothing more serious than having their pocket money stolen.

All of this was known prior to the Duggar family going on the air with their vision of family perfection and wholesomeness. It would appear that the police knew but chose not to pursue the matter (because the cultural climate there was sympathetic to conservative Christians perhaps), and the television company knew and chose to ignore it.

Since the story came out (it was leaked, apparently), there has been the kind of reaction that you might expect from the non-Christian side of things, all hell has broken lose upon their heads! But from conservative Christians it appears there has been an astonishingly stupid attempt to defend the Duggars by saying that it wasn’t really abuse, or that it wasn’t serious, or that he had adequately repented, or that it is ‘normal’.

Jesus.

My God, I hope and I pray that this is not anything like ‘normal’.

I do have some sympathy for the Duggars, because I myself grew up in a similar ‘bubble’ of American Christian conservative fundamentalism that believed we were right and the rest of the world was wrong. They’re innocent and naieve in a way. It is possible that they genuinely did not understand the gravity of what he did.

Living in a family where sex and sexuality is a taboo, awkward subject, in a culture that covers up nudes in classical art absolutely invites covert exploration.

BUT

Incestuous molestation of minors is no small thing! It is a felony crime! The girls in the case were sexually abused! This was not something that could or should ever have been brushed under the carpet as though it didn’t matter.

The Duggars were put into the public eye as representatives of American, conservative, large family, homeschooling Christians, with the television company knowing full well that this business had happened. I can imagine them telling the Duggars not to worry about it. It almost makes me suspect that there was a cynical plan all along to build them up only to tear them down. This does, after all, reflect badly on everybody the Duggars appeared to represent, and how juicy is that!

Do I believe that Josh Duggar’s repentance could have been genuine? That he could have reformed and never even considered or fantasised about doing anything like it again? Yes, absolutely. I have to believe that people can change.

But having repented and reformed, the right thing to do was anything but go on television and present yourself as the face of wholesome Christian family values.

It is likely now that social services will have to investigate Josh Duggar and his own children, the Duggar family and others they have been in contact with.

I hope now that the molested girls will receive appropriate counselling, that the Duggar family will realise what they did wrong and why it was wrong.

Will they pursue a more humble and contrite, private walk with God and question their ‘bubble’? It’s sadly unlikely with all the support they’re getting from within it.

Quiver-Full

I just wanted to share with you the fact that, since my husband is not a believer, although we agreed at the outset to have a large family, he changed his mind after our 4th baby was born.

I’m not posting with the intention of complaining about my husband, just really out of a kind of desperation. After five years of waiting, hoping and praying he would change his mind to no avail, this desire to have more children is still so painfully strong and won’t just go away on it’s own, and my husband’s mind is resolutely against it.

I ran a group for several years called the UK “Quiver-Full” fellowship, the word “Quiver-Full” coming from Psalm 127:3-5

“Lo, children are a heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.  As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.”

It was designed to be a place of support and encouragement for those who are allowing the LORD to determine their family size and spacing, and those who are seriously considering this monumental decision.

When believers think of the spiritual armour Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6 (and it’s worth cross-referencing with Isaiah 59), one ‘weapon’ that is generally not considered is “arrows” – most of the armour and weaponry we’re used to fighting with is intended for close combat, but actually, our blessed little arrows are intended for long-range fighting.  Have you ever wondered about why the enemy is waging such a desperate, prolonged and appallingly wicked onslaught against children (not just abortion, but all the things that even believers take on board – the myths of over-population, the lie that children of believers don’t belong to the LORD, the lie that children are a burden instead of a blessing)?  It’s because he knows something we don’t seem to know – that the next generation of believers are the next generation of the warriors of the LORD, his enemy.

I don’t honestly know what G-d’s plan is for us, and I hardly know what to pray for anymore. I just know that the heartbreak of being denied something that I have desired so strongly for so long is more than I can bear, so if my husband won’t change his mind, I wish the desire would subside.