Help Issue 4 - Part II - Copyright 1989 Mary Pride, 1997 Home Life, Inc.


Marcia Jones, FL

I thought I would tell you about the various ways I've seen and tried having young children in worship service with you. Dutch families use long-lasting, very sticky candy balls-seems to work best with two year olds as long as no dentists go to your church. In England most families bring books (special Sunday books or quiet books) or coloring books or pencils and paper. In Kenya, the noise level of the service was higher, people coming and going and moving around, so children could wiggle and whisper questions or run outside to the bathroom without disturbing others or adult wrath falling upon them. In India, men and women sat on opposite sides of the room and children could move between, leaf through the Bible, watch bugs, and (because services were often three hours long) doze off.

My children have sat through sermons in Hindi, Swahili, German, Dutch, Persian, English, and American and truly have learned about God in all of them-either from whispered questions or other adults' loving responses, from comments in the sermon that caught their attention, or leafing through their Bibles. Sunday is their favorite day. Having children in the worship service in this culture is often difficult but worth working at. I find most of the problems are with me, not to try to impress other people and to demonstrate to my kids how to worship in a body of believers.

I have just one final thought to add here. It seems to me that the main problem with keeping kids with us in church is the attitude of other people about how we deal with our children. If we felt that the group supported our necessary discipline and that other people enjoyed having nursing babies around, there would be no real "need" for nursery. Paper play and other distractions are designed to substitute for training children in developing a reverent, anxious-to-learn attitude, since we are nervous about being stern with our children in front of other people.

It was different when I was a child. Both Bill and I remember our parents taking a hard line with us about attending church. Neither of us ever was in a nursery, and neither of us ever disrupted a meeting, either, although both of us started going to church at birth!

(In case you're wondering how I ended up a feminist before getting saved if my parents had me in church from birth, let me just say that the church we attended never taught the true way of salvation. It became super-liberal during the Vietnam War and I agnosticized my way out of it.)

To sum up, if our churches would make a commitment to allowing the small amount of necessary noise required to train children to act like adults in church, and if the pews nearest the exits were reserved for families with small children, and if we could be sure that our fellow worshippers would not consider us child abusers if we administered a few warning pokes as needed to overboisterous offspring, and especially if the sermons were more pointed, direct, and understandable, children could truly worship with their parents just like they did in the New Testament church. -MP

Laurie Sleeper, WA

We recently started changing our regular type of visiting to Work Weekends or Work Days. We started doing this with one family once a month. We go to one or the other's house and help with projects. Example: I needed my refrigerator cleaned, she needed mending done. Women pitch in and work on that project. Men did wood cutting with their chain saws. Girls worked on a quilting project. Little guys had play-but we are planning some projects for them next time. We also used this as an opportunity for our home schooled children. In the evenings they give oral reports of the month's work, give a recitation, sing songs, or whatever. What great fellowship around a working-together theme!

I really have a hard time just having fellowship as the family gets bigger and there is so much work that needs doing. This idea grew out of the desire to keep on working while having fellowship. "In all labor there is profit, but talk leads only to poverty."

Lee Stewart, from the Fall 1987 NAPSAC News

When our first baby was born I remember working hard to have and express the attitude that I was glad to see my child and glad that he was here. As time went by, with this continual practice, this attitude became easier and easier. To this day when I see any of my children across the room, at school, or playing outside, my eyes light up and my heart swells with love. To me they are like a light in the room wherever they are. And I have noticed that they feel the same way. No matter what age they have been, from baby to toddler, to teenager to young adult, when they see me across the room their eyes light up, and they are glad to see me.

So it all comes back full circle. What you give, you receive in return . . .

NAPSAC stands for InterNational Association of Parents and Professionals for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth. It is a wonderful organization, with support groups all over the United States and scattered about the Western world. The NAPSAC bookstore is a great source for information about home birth, or birth in general. To join, send $15 (US) or $17 (other countries) in U.S. funds to NAPSAC, Rt. 1, Box 646, Marble Hill, MO 63764.

Martha Pugacz, OH

I recall going to a garage sale with our youngest when he was a toddler and overhearing someone say, "You can't be sick when you're a mother or the children will tear the house apart." To this I mentioned that ours would stay by the bed and hold my hand and rub my head. They asked if this was my only child and said I must be lucky. My reply was, "With one it may be luck-with seven it must be something else!"

Pamela Boswell, CA

The main thing I wanted to write about was the opportunity we, as Christians, have to leave an amazing legacy through our families. I wanted to share the example of my grandparents, who had eight children, 30 grandchildren, and (so far) 43 great-grandchildren. These two people have made a great impact on the lives of so many-not only their direct descendants, but on the husbands and wives of two generations as well. In fact, my husband credits my grandfather as being the most influential person in his decision to become a Christian. All of their children and grandchildren are Christians, and all of my cousins are building Christian homes for the next generation.

Only in recent years, as I've seen more and more of the world around me, have I become aware of what a blessing it was to be born into this family. Last summer we had a family reunion in Portland, Oregon, and the memories are still sweet today. . .

The point I want to make is that your idea of "evangelism through reproduction" is a realistic goal. My grandparents began as poor farmers in Missouri. Their first child was born in 1916, and now, seventy years later, their influence has spread to 11 states and dozens of their descendants working for the Lord. All of us could duplicate this and in a relatively short period of time make a marked change in the course of our nation. . . .

Betsy Michalik, TN

I just had to write you to pass on this story that recently happened to me and my children. I had to go to Children's Hospital here in Knoxville to get a blood work-up on my three-month-old daughter. As usual, I packed up the troops (three boys ages 7, 5, 2-3/4, and baby Julie) and off we headed.

Upon arrival, there was all kinds of paperwork and computer work to take care of (about 30 minutes' worth). My boys behaved as I expected them to-good little guys. Julie sat calm and relaxed in my arms. Before our departure for the lab, one of the receptionists said to me, "Your children sure are well-behaved; most that come in here aren't." I thanked her and off we went.

At the lab, a technician came out and told me she'd sit with my three boys while I went in with Julie. I did not know this, but while I was in the lab this girl was talking with my children and, finding out that they were home-schooled, asking my seven-year-old to read to her, etc. As I came out of the lab I heard her say to another technician there, "Not only does this lady have four kids, she teaches them at home! You should hear him read!" The technician I walked out with said, "Not only does she have four kids and teach them at home, her baby doesn't even cry when we put a needle in her!" We all laughed and then several other technicians going on a lunch break all started asking questions. One lady thought home schooling was "just wonderful." Another woman was really probing with her questions-"Is that really legal?" etc. etc. They asked questions for about ten minutes. It was an opportunity for me to share things these women had never thought of before, all because my children had been under control. The girl that had watched my boys for me thanked me for letting her watch them and said, "They didn't need me, though."

I went home and promptly called my husband to share the events of our exciting morning. As I recalled all that had transpired, he said, "Yes, it's Superfamily!" We laughed, but it really was an encouragement to us as I hope it is to others as they read this.

Mrs. D.B., AZ

The Lord began to deal with me about birth control after my third baby. I was finding every time I got one walking I longed for another one . . . still do! So when my fourth baby was born, I finally got my husband to reluctantly agree to attend Natural Family Planning class. Well, there's nothing natural about it. The emphasis is still mainly-don't get pregnant! Remarks from the instructor like, "I decided to stop being a baby machine," and "You pay for your slip-ups," made me realize it was the same old thing in a new cover. On top of all that, my signs were fertile about 90% of the time.

You can imagine how my husband loved all that abstinence-months of it.

Martha Pugacz, OH

Once when we went 2-1/2 years without my being expectant, one of my non-nursing friends who had babies every year said, "Why don't you take your temperature and so on if you really want and love babies." To this I can only say, "Just as I don't believe in birth control, neither do I believe in breeding like people breed animals." I feel that a man would not be as favorable towards having children if his wife wants his love only for this purpose. Yet we know that out of our married love God may choose to send them. That's why I don't think NFP is natural at all.

These letters raise some interesting questions about "Natural Family Planning," popularly known as NFP. NFP consists of becoming aware of the wife's ovulation cycle through temperature-taking and checking the consistency of her vaginal mucus secretions. Once a couple is aware of their fertile and infertile times of the month, they can use this knowledge either to attempt to enhance their chances of conceiving or as a means of pregnancy prevention.

John and Sheila Kippley, a Catholic couple, are founders of the Couple to Couple League International, the main agency for education and promotion of NFP. Mr. Kippley initiated a correspondence with Mary some time ago, in which they discussed the virtues and possible drawbacks of NFP. Here is part of that correspondence.

John F. Kippley, President Couple to Couple League International

I . . . have some reservations about your broadside [in The Way Home] at even natural family planning. You can look at the letterhead and say, "No wonder!" but it's deeper than that. I admire couples who willingly accept every child that God gives them, even to the point of eight or ten or 12 children. One of our employees has eight, but at that point they decided to get serious about NFP; one of our volunteers has 13, and at that point they felt that they should limit their family size with NFP.

I invite you to join us in trying to get Christians to recognize the truths about the evils of unnatural forms of birth control-these truly are the parents of abortion. I invite you to recognize the various values of chaste natural family planning; for many it is an exercise of Christian prudence to practice natural family planning. I also invite you to continue to champion the value of the large family.

Autobiographically, we have five children ranging in age from 23 to 8, the youngest being homeschooled. I am 57, my wife is 48 and still highly fertile according to all signs. The prospect of having another baby right now is not at all frightening, but the prospect of raising a teenager at age 70 to 78 is not at all attractive. The contraceptive, anti-Christian, anti-trusting approach would be sterilization, and I invite you to be more selective in your criticism. Based on our experience in teaching NFP for 16 years, I think you need to be more open to the reality of Christian prudence, the counting of your energies etc. in the family planning decision.

I wrote back: Sorry, I remain unconvinced that "limiting" and "spacing" represent God's perfect will. Re the prospect of having a baby at age 50+: I was recently talking with Walt Hibbard, president of Great Christian Books. His wife died, and he subsequently married a younger woman. He sounded positively gleeful as he described taking their baby for a walk and being asked if that were his grandchild. Mr Hibbard is 62! Not to mention Abraham and Sarah's example of desiring a child at ages 100 and 90, respectively.

We too have five children and are expecting our sixth in July, by the way!

Mr. Kippley responded: You mention Mr. Hibbard and his being a "new father" again at age 62. Wonderful! However I suggest that the real question comes as to what he and his younger wife will do now. Will they continue to let the babies come . . . and will they do this all the way up to her natural menopause . . .?

I'm enclosing part of a letter from a recent correspondent that speaks of this issue. I have had to delete part of it . . . because her particular church follows the way of The Way Home and does not even condone natural family planning.

I am also enclosing an article that addresses the very real problem of the Christian flight from fertility. There is no question at all that natural family planning can be used selfishly. It is for that reason that natural family planning instruction should only be given in the context of marital chastity and the call to generosity in the service of life . . .

[The enclosed letter said that according to the woman's "own experience" and that of her friends, "in most cases unrestricted fertility becomes a greater burden than they can bear." The writer used the word "desperation" to describe how she felt after her fifth child was born when her oldest was only seven, and thanked Couple to Couple League for showing her the way to natural family planning.]

My reply: Re the woman who found her fertility a burden: my focus is on helping Christian to enjoy their children rather than on helping them to prevent children. We have five under age nine and are expecting our sixth, and have yet to experience the feelings of desperation, frustration, etc. reported by this woman. My strong belief is that children are meant to be a blessing (Psalm 127) and if we don't find them so it is because we have somehow strayed from God's path . . . not because there are "too many" of them!

I have heard this desperation/frustration argument from mothers of one or two as well as from those of larger families. It all seems to come down to lack of faith and inadequate child raising methods and philosophy. Kids left to TV and their peers just get too hot to handle. Conversely, large families we know who follow more old-fashioned (read "traditional Christian") lifestyles are peaceful and happy.

I was not holding up Mr. Hibbard as an example for all time so much as using his example to show that it is possible for older people to be happy about having children. Again, Sarah and Abraham strike me as an example . . . or John the Baptist's parents Zechariah and Elizabeth!

I still see a real conflict between welcoming and enjoying children and trying to prevent conception. Every reason offered for NFP-prevention is the same as that offered for abortion: too old, medical problems, too many children, can't deal with the children we have, etc. I am not saying that NFP-for-the-sake-of-prevention is the same as abortion, but rather that I hear NFPers saying things that reveal a similar anti-child, defeated-parent mindset . . .

Really, I think the best message you, or I, could offer, would not be Natural Family Planning (at least not with an emphasis on child-prevention) but Natural Family Enjoyment. The rest would then take care of itself.

Mr. Kippley again: I have no problem in your "still see[ing] a real conflict between welcoming and enjoying children and trying to prevent conception." That places the matter at the level of your opinion, and it's open for discussion, agreement, or disagreement.

I also like your emphasis on enjoying your children-a well-deserved emphasis. I don't enjoy at all the realization that some people are probably misusing the gift of NFP by using it very fearfully and selfishly. But, then, God gave us the gift of sex knowing full well it could be widely misused.

Your problem with NFP may be reduced by a couple of things. First of all, it is used by many couples for spacing rather than prevention. We consider it a benefit of NFP when former users of contraception switch to preventive NFP and then-as they grow comfortable in it-change to spacers and start having babies.

Secondly, we are all sinners and we all deal with other sinners. It may be better for these people to have more babies and to start right now, but I believe it is not for either of us to judge that those other sinners are sinning by having recourse to periodic abstinence to avoid pregnancy for a few months or a few years.

If I may make a suggestion: continue your exhortation for generosity in the service of life and for enjoying your family. But recognize that there are many who, for whatever reason, believe they are not called by God to have more children-at least not right now. Then add your voice to ours in condemning all unnatural forms of birth control. Keep in mind that unnatural methods go beyond the Pill, the IUD, and the barriers. Unnatural methods also include all the different forms of Onanism [explicit description follows]. There's no way we're going to have a return to pre-marital chastity while there's such an almost universal practice of marital unchastity . . .

My personal feeling is that if you continue to place NFP in the same category with unnatural forms of birth control, you aren't being realistic . . .

I hear what you're saying. NFP at least makes it possible for people to find the way to welcoming children, since unlike other forms of child prevention, NFP can also be used to enhance one's chances of having children, and furthermore it doesn't cause any damage to the reproductive system (other than the damage caused by waiting until one is older and likely less fruitful). I can also see that a couple using NFP is probably less rigidly anti-child than one using other methods. I say "probably," because several readers have shared with me stories of NFP leaders and users who treated NFP as just a natural kind of Pill-"do this and you can avoid pregnancy."

I still, however, hear a mixed message. You seem to be saying that people ought to welcome children, unless they have (real or perhaps imagined) difficult circumstances, such as being older. We are talking about OUGHT now, which is a different thing than the idea of presenting NFP as a less-damaging, more positive method of birth control to those who OUGHT NOT to be using birth control at all!

It seems to me that one can't simultaneously accept the idea of children-as-burdens and children-as-blessings. If children are a burden to older parents, or very young parents, or unhealthy parents, or poor parents, they are really a burden to ALL parents-it's just that young, strong parents are able to grit their teeth and handle the "burden." If, on the other hand, children are really a blessing, they are a blessing to the old, young, poor, and unhealthy just as they are to the rest of us . . . and we ought not to encourage those already suffering from difficult circumstances to miss out on this God-given joy!

The point at which parents lose control of their children seems to be the point at which their joy in their children departs. This is a function of overloose or underloving child-training, not a function of how many children one has. . . .

Your most consistent position, it seems to me, would be to emphasize that EVERY married couple should welcome children . . . and then say, "If you're not here yet, then we can at least help you keep healthy and chaste in the meantime." This would avoid all mixed messages . . .

Next issue we will share our present conclusions about NFP with you, along with any further comments you may wish to send in to us in the meantime!

Jane Swanson, WI

After eleven years of an active sex life and planning our children via the Ovulation Method (I don't use a thermometer) I know when I ovulate. Having this knowledge now makes it difficult for us to let God decide when and how many children we should have. We feel as if this knowledge of how God designed our systems puts us in control.

How do I give up this knowledge? If I were on pills I'd throw them away. All those other methods too. I just can't come to grips with this one.

Some friends of ours, Rick and Jan Hess, have written a book that answers this question beautifully! (It's not published yet, or we'd be selling it. I'm pursuing a possible publisher right now-will tell you if it works out.) The Hesses point out that conception does NOT occur by "chance" or by random statistical processes (including time-of-month activity), according to the Bible, but that God sovereignly opens and shuts the womb as He pleases.

Statistics are really just compilations of "what God has done in the past" and do not necessarily reflect what He will do in the future . . . or in your individual case. In other words, you may determine that today is a "fertile" day and yet not conceive on it, while another day that theoretically shouldn't be fertile might be the day a baby is started!

No birth control method, NFP and other similar methods included, has 100% accuracy, for this very reason. God can always overrule our attempts at control-but it's not terribly obedient to try to control our reproduction and hope God bails us out if we've made a wrong choice! A natural sex life acknowledges God's sovereignty. "I am the handmaiden of the Lord; be it done to me according to Thy will," as Mary, the mother of Jesus, said.


C.F., CA

When I was pregnant with my second son, I started experiencing uterine contractions at my seventh month. My doctor decided to put me on medication to stop the contractions and he ordered bedrest for the next two months. I was allowed to have a shower and trips to the bathroom but that's it! My first son was 19 months old and very active. We lived in a small mountain community and traveled 1-1/2 hours each way to the doctor.

I asked my mom if she could come help, and although she lived in another state, she came to lend a hand. The situation, however, became very tense, and although she was a great help I always felt guilty asking her to do any specific thing and I sensed that she was not enjoying being cooped up with us (she is not a Christian).

My son was born four days early, and he was healthy, praise God. . . .

Before you know it, this fertile couple was expecting number three. And as Murphy's Law would have it, I again experienced pre-term labor at seven months of pregnancy. This time I ended up in the hospital twice with pre-term labor, enduring overnight stays and I.V. needles and lots of medication. This slowed down but did not stop my contractions. Bedrest was again prescribed, this time with two lively little complications. My two oldest sons were 4 and 2, not quite old enough to police themselves and be low-maintenance. Fortunately, we were able to just barely afford to hire a lady from our church, a true gift from God, to help while my husband was at work. You see, this time our families basically made it clear that we were on our own . . . .

God provided help through our friends at church with meals and outings for my boys, and our third son was born 16 days early, also healthy. He is such a joy and the easiest baby so far. Despite difficult pregnancies, we look forward to the next addition to our family if God should so choose to bless us. . . .

We intend to plan for our next pregnancy to be a difficult one, and to make as many preparations in advance as possible. I can prepare and freeze meals in advance while I am still in the early stages of my pregnancy. I can organize things better from the bed to help the household run more smoothly. I have a teenage girl as a mother's helper who cleans and does odd jobs for me. My children will be a little older and I plan to prepare them to take on a little more responsibility. If necessary, we will set aside the funds to again hire some extra help. Whatever happens, we know God will not leave us out on a limb, and His will will be done in our lives.

Lauri Lienhard, NV

I found out I was pregnant with our fourth child in October, 1987, began bleeding in November, and spent the next six months in bed. In order to handle the worry and emotional strain myself, I had to stay in the Word, and the Lord was faithful to give me truth, comfort, hope, and encouragement. We also had lots of prayer support and didn't hesitate to ask for prayer each time a new worry came up.

As for practical coping with everyday living with three children through this situation (ages 8, 5, and 2-1/2), here are some ideas.

We called on our church body to help at first-i.e., meals, house-cleaning, childcare-but that was soon impractical as time went on. So we developed an attitude of "Do only what's necessary to function daily." In other words, don't worry about cleaning the corners, messy closets, drawers, etc. . . . We developed a daily routine of breakfast, dishes, school work, lunch, school work, dinner, clean-up, family time, bed.

My children learned to cook easy things (oatmeal, scrambled eggs, french toast, meatloaf, frozen vegetables, sandwiches), how to work together to wash dishes, keep their toys picked up, etc. I laid on the couch and read directions from the cookbook, did the book work, corrected school papers, and read stories with them.

We saved laundry and general house-cleaning for Saturday when Dad was home, and had help from Grandma and Grandpa. We had friends take the kids on occasional outings, and made plans together as a family as to what we would do after the baby came (i.e., camping trip, zoo, lake, etc.). . . .

My husband and I also learned a lot and grew in the Lord. We made time nearly every weekend to have an evening or day alone together. We had candlelight dinners at the couch and lots of time to discuss things and encourage each other . . . We also tried to have our friends and brothers and sisters come over frequently for informal dinner, pizza, or just to visit. This was encouraging to me, as I had no regular fellowship, not going to church during that time. It also kept us in touch with everyone and kept our perspective on the world outside our situation.

I personally tried to use my time productively by reading, doing Bible studies, listening to tapes, catching up on correspondence, making plans and menus, and organizing closets and rooms in my head. This really helped when I was on my feet again. I refer to those lists and schedules I made when I had time to really think things out, as now I don't have as much time. . . .

My children learned a lot of practical things that I wouldn't have thought them capable of. Life is easier now with four because everyone helps, than it was with three or two children when I did all the work. . . .

God used this difficult time to make all of us better people and also blessed and rewarded us with a beautiful baby boy (3 pounds 5 ounces at birth-now 7 pounds and doing great!).

Liz Messick, DE

My pregnancies haven't been bad at all, just what I would consider the normal aches, pains, swelling, etc. But my deliveries have been hard. Both of our children were born by cesarean section after rather long, unproductive labor.

I am determined not to submit to a planned cesarean delivery-you know, choose the time and place and go in, lie down, and have a baby cut out of you. I believe very strongly in letting labor start on its own, especially since Tim was born four weeks (exactly) after his "due date" and Debby was a little more than two weeks "late." I also believe that labor has a purpose in preparing a baby for birth, and breathing, and all that, so I want to go into labor spontaneously and labor until it's obvious the c-section is necessary. (Of course, I hope it won't be necessary!) It's scary to do this, but I want to give my baby the best possible start.

The worst time is being in very hard labor and being prepped for surgery flat on your back on a cold metal table, husband banished. It really is worth it, though, to do all I can to help my child be born healthy. If I would just go in and have the planned c-section, I could have local rather than general anesthesia, my husband could stay with me, no labor pains either-but maybe the doctor's convenient time wouldn't be the date God chose for my baby's birthday. Maybe without the stimulation of labor, his or her little lungs would have more trouble adjusting to the outside air.

Pamela Harrington, IN

I have some other things to write that may help the woman who suffered so severely from morning sickness; she had to go to the hospital and take B6 injections.

I have suffered a lot with morning sickness with my three pregnancies. (Who named it morning sickness?) I'm sick for 24 hours, seven straight weeks, about the 3rd week from conception to the 10th week. Then things are gradually better till I am not sick at all! I lost 10 pounds with my first child.

Anyway, morning sickness is caused from a toxic liver. It seems that God has a woman's body clean house before starting a precious life in there. All of those toxins being eliminated cause the liver to overload, thus causing morning sickness.

Since my pregnancies, I've found out about two different remedies for this condition, both being to detoxify the liver.

My naturopathic doctor has certain food supplements he gives to help the liver to function more efficiently. I took them during my last pregnancy (after morning sickness was already over-didn't know about it sooner) to help a digestive problem. They really worked!

Also, my midwife was telling me about a severe case of morning sickness she treated using lemon juice. (I went to her after my morning sickness so I didn't try the treatment myself.) The particular woman was desperate (considering going to the hospital) and the lemon juice did the trick. I think it's taking a half lemon with warm water in evening and morning. If this person is interested, I can find full details. You can give her my address. [We have it.] Then I could give her the name of my naturopathic doctor (treats with food supplements and herbs) and my midwife (also uses supplements and herbs).

There is a danger in taking too much lemon juice in too short a period of time so a pregnant woman would have to follow specific instructions (as with everything) from the midwife. I certainly plan to try it if I ever get morning sickness again.

Help Issue 4 - Part III