A BABY AND A RAISE
My husband and I married in 1979 after a four year courtship. We didn't use birth control because we both longed for a child. It was five long years before the Lord granted our prayers and blessed us with a little girl. Two years later we received another precious girl. After that, for six long years, I didn't get pregnant again!
At the end of October 1992 we attended a Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar. Our children were now eight and six years and we had a 12-year-old foster son. Bill Gothard showed scriptures that proved that children come from God. We prayed from this perspective that evening and by the first of December, I was pregnant!
We had no money and no extra room for another child, yet we knew that God would provide and provide He did! Little by little as friends became aware that I was expecting, they would ask me if I needed baby clothes, or a crib, or some other item for the baby. By the time our Hannah was born, we had every item we needed and had not spent a penny! The only item we bought was a small car seat, but found out that evening that Denny's mother was going to buy one for us. We got ahead of the Lord on that one!
When Hannah was six months old, Denny got a promotion and a raise and we moved to Florida to a bigger home with plenty of room. When Hannah was 10 months old, we found we were expecting again. We were struggling financially again with the cost of living in Florida. However, within a few months of Tricia's birth, Denny once again got a raise! God's timing is perfect.
We are praying for another baby even now and know beyond any doubt that should the Lord choose to bless us again, that He will provide more than we can imagine.
We celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary in August 1996. With two long periods of infertility, we know all too well that the Lord grants children or withholds them for His glory. We don't take for granted for one minute that we'll have more. We know it is completely in His hands.
Casselberry, Florida, USA
Here are the names of Denny and Samantha's arrows. They love to tell everyone their full names: April Elanor Margeret (12), Stephanie Suzanne Sarah (9), Hannah Leigh Harriett (2) and Tricia llene Melody (1). Their foster son is now living with his mother and doing very well.
WE CAN'T AFFORD NOT TO
I am a registered nurse, and quit working about a month before my first child was born. I had always known I wanted to stay home when I had children, but the actual doing it was not easy. I was pressured from everyone at work to return, at lest part-time! They thought I was crazy for giving up what I did.
When we found out I was pregnant, we immediately began putting all of my paychecks into savings, so that we could learn to live on my husband's salary. I had to give up a lot of things – eating out, a new wardrobe every season, etc, and these things were very important to me! I was terrified when I quit my job. In the back of my mind, I figured we'd probably last about a year before we went through all of our savings, and I would have to go back to work.
Well, here I am, nearly five years and two more babies later, and I'm still home! We're about to begin our first homeschooling year, so it's going to be a long time before I go back to nursing, if ever.
I don't remember any miraculous circumstances, other than that somehow we made it through that first year – which was the hardest one, by the way. Then we made it through another year, and another, until it was just a way of life. I think that the Lord uses common-place things to provide for us, rather than a big miracle. This may be a part of His provision we overlook because we don't want to have to change our way of life. I give a lot of credit to my husband who is very frugal. He would not allow us to rack up credit card bills, and has always put money into savings. We don't buy a vehicle until we save enough to pay for it, rather than finance it.
I feel God has honoured our decision to be home with the children. We have always had enough, and now we are better off than I ever would have thought possible five years ago. The Lord has changed me in lots of ways. One example is taking away my materialistic tendencies and wanting to “keep up with the Jones's” although I 'm still working on that one! I now love thrift-store shopping, whereas before, I would never set foot in one.
Many people say to my husband, “It's so nice you can afford to have your wife stay home, we just can't.” I “can't afford” to stay home either, if you look at it by the world's standards. However, seeing the benefits of my being home with the children and establishing a stable home life, how can we afford not to?
Converse, Texas, USA
The McDonalds have three treasures, Matthew (4), Gabriel (2) and baby Grace born April, 1996.
DROPPED AT OUR GATE
Most of the years of raising our children, we didn't have a second car, and we still don't. If I wanted to go anywhere, I had to walk. For a number of years, while still in New Zealand, we rented a home which was on a country road and far from the shops. One day I needed a lettuce for the evening meal and had no way of getting one. “If only I could get a lettuce somehow,” I cried to the Lord. A little while later, a vegetable truck passed our gate. As it passed, a lettuce fell off the truck and landed right at our gate! I picked it up ad prepared it for dinner. If God is watching over the tiny sparrows, we can certainly trust Him to watch over us, can't we?
TEACHING OUR CHILDREN TO TRUST
Here are some of the ways we teach our children to trust the Lord.
At Family Prayer time, we list all our requests in a folder and date them. When these prayers are answered we date them and give praises to the Lord.
If we are in a store and my children ask for something, I don't say, “We can't afford it.” I simply tell them to ask the Lord and according to 1 John 3:22, if it is His will and they are obedient to do those things which are pleasing in His sight, then they will receive it in His time. Most of the time the Lord acts within days. Juania and Andros wanted some roller-blades. I heard of a few garage sales and told the children that we would head out that way and ask the Lord for their blades. The last house we stopped off at was just packing up and I saw two sets of blades without a price on them. The lady said that I could have them both for $1.00.
Cassia wanted a nurf bow-n-arrow just like Andros so she prayed and the next day I stopped at what looked like a garage sale, but in actuality the folks were moving. The lady then said that I could have whatever was on the table. You guessed it – a nufbow-n-arrow was right there. Then she proceeded to shower me with many more gifts because her children were too old for them. I also got a few things I was praying for, like a popcorn popper and a pepper-mill, all for nothing. God is so good.
This is how I get clothes and everything else in our home. I call upon the Lord and tell Him the desire of my heart. It has never taken more than a week and I get a phone call or a knock on my door and there is a bag of clothes. I even asked the Lord for toilet paper. I had the money (if I scraped my change together) – but I looked at my last roll and said, “Providing toilet paper isn't too hard for my Lord.” Twenty-four hours later there was a knock on my door and there were two bags full of toilet paper!
It is such a blessing to say to my children, “This is from the Lord. See how He works in our lives today, not just in Bible times?”
Vallejo, California, USA
Dan and Margie are blessed with five little blessings, Junia, Andros, Cassia, Bryanna and Onycha
GOD IS NEVER TOO LATE
“What do you think, honey?” I asked my dear husband. “I'm not sure,” he answered,
“I think we should pray about it.” We had just spent some time in the scriptures, searching out God's will for us in the area of family planning. We read verses together and discussed their meanings. We were both more than a little nervous at the prospect of halting our use of birth control. However, as Christians who had recently rededicated our lives to God, we were determined to put every area of our lives in subjection to Him. We had given every part of our lives in subjection to Him. We had given every part of our lives that we were aware of over to our Lord. Suddenly a new area came to light, one that we had held for years with a stingy grip.
With our son and two daughters safely tucked in bed, we continued to discuss how making this decision would change our lives. “What will our parents say?” “How many children can we handle?” “Can God be trusted?” Of course He can, we recognized. He had proved Himself faithful through many trials in our married life, even through all our disobedience and faithlessness. We were no strangers to the Refiner's fire. We knew that He could be trusted to bring us through it; a little scorched maybe, but also stronger and wiser. We were now at a place where a decision had to be made. We could no longer continue in ignorance since God had clearly revealed to us His will in His word. We chose to place our fertility into the hands of our heavenly Father.
As we prayed together that night with a bit of trepidation, we asked God to bless our dear little ones and made a pledge to trust Him with our family size. Our fourth child, was conceived that very night. At the time we made this decision my husband had just returned to work after being disabled for some months, having had surgery on his spine. We moved into my mother-in-law's one bedroom condominium with her, as it would take some time after my husband's dissablity to recover financially.
This was a difficult time for us, to say the least. We disagreed with my mother-in-law about many things, particularly issues that pertained to our children. Our recent conviction about family planning was a particular sore spot, and the announcement of our current pregnancy strained things further. My husband's job required him to be away for long periods of time, and I was so lonesome for him. I felt weak and vulnerable, persecuted, alone. I needed someone to lean on, and I decided it best to lean on God, who had never disappointed me. I spent a great deal of time in God's word and in prayer. God used this time to draw me near to Himself and teach me about patience, peace, and contentment.
As my pregnancy progressed, I became increasingly apprehensive about bringing our new child into the stressful atmosphere of my mother-in-law's tiny apartment. I prayed God would find us a home. We had been looking for a residence for weeks, but could find nothing in our price range in a neighbourhood my husband felt comfortable with. Our desire had been to move out-of-state, but it just didn't seem possible given our financial circumstances.
Time passed, and our new baby's birthday was quickly approaching. My mother-in-law had decided to move in with one of her children and lease her condominium. We were running out of time to find a new home. There were many times I contemplated what it would be like for all of us to live in our car, something that I felt was a distinct possibility at the time. With only one week to spare before the new tenants were scheduled to move into our present abode, God gave my husband a new job. His new job not only paid more than his present one, but it allowed him to transfer to another state. With God's help, we were moving!
We packed everything we owned into a moving truck and piled into the cab: hubby, three children, and my eight-months-pregnant self. It took four days to reach our destination, but it felt wonderful to be in our own home again. Within the first week God put me in contact with a Christian midwife who agreed to deliver our baby for a very low fee, and a pastor's wife (mother of seven) who to this day is one of my dearest friends.
Our sweet baby girl was born five weeks later. We rejoiced and praised God for His goodness to us. We thanked Him for giving us our own home in a “new land”, and a precious newborn daughter. Our gratitude toward Him continues to this day, after a move into a larger home and the birth of another beloved son.
God has shown us that the anxiety we felt when first relinquishing control of our family size to Him was so unnecessary. It exposed the weakness of our flesh and our underlying lack of faith. His faithfulness is vast and everlasting. He can be trusted.
We now anticipate with joy any future blessings and will count each one as great gain; assets to our family. We have enjoyed our children so much more since realizing what they truly are – gifts from God. They are the delight of our lives. We are no longer fearful of our Lord adding to our family, for we know that with each little lamb God provides more grace, more love, and more joy.
Omaha, Nebraska, USA
The Smiths have five precious lambs, Ashley (10), Adam (8), Linsay (4), Kaitlyn (2), Josiah (3 months).
MY BRILLIANT CAREER
All I ever wanted to do was to be a teacher. My mum was a teacher, my uncle was a teacher – it must have been in my blood. I used to line up all my dollies and teach them the alphabet, or numbers, or spelling ever since I can remember. It was my favourite game.
I had my life perfectly structured and planned, or so I thought. I was going to finish school with flying colours, work for a year to save up money for a car, then to to college for four years to earn a Bachelor of Education Degree. I would be 21 when I started my teaching career. So I figured by the time I was 25 or so, maybe I would get married, if the right guy came along, then I would keep working. Then maybe, if I felt it wouldn't interrupt my lifestyle too much, I might think about having children at 30ish....maybe.
I am now 24 years old. I have been happily married for seven years. I have two children. Are we talking about the same person? Well – yes and no.
What happened to my perfectly planned out life? Well, when I was 16 and finishing my senior year in school, I started to get a bit turned off the whole idea of being a teacher at all. I didn't have anything else in mind, but I couldn't work out why I was feeling so unenthusiastic about something I'd wanted to be all my life. God had something else in mind! It was about this time that God revealed to me that I was going to get married the next year. At first I thought I had voices in my head – grand delusions for someone who had never even had a boyfriend! I knew it was the Lord, but I kept the whole thing to myself – just in case. After a few months, I decided that I had better ask the Lord who it was that I was going to be marrying.
The answer didn't come straight away, but one Sunday in church, the Lord revealed to me the identity of my future husband. I remember at the time asking the Lord to send me to Ethiopia as a missionary instead! My husband was to be a man who had been a friend, or more like a big brother to me since I was nine years old. The whole idea didn't impress me too much, so I asked the Lord to change my heart, and left it at that. I wasn't going to make any effort to win him, and especially since he was already engaged to be married to someone else, I felt that the Lord had some changing to do in his heart too!
Well, needless to say, we were married. I had already deferred my college course, so I got a job with a bank and had been working with them for a couple of years when we decided we'd like to start a family. It took eleven months for me to conceive – finally we were going to be a family! The pressure was on – would I take maternity leave, then put my baby into daycare and continue in my banking career, or would I quit the bank and commence a career in motherhood?
For us, the answer was easy, but it is amazing the amount of pressure that society puts on young people to conform. It is said that you need two incomes to get anywhere today. You have to have money to be successful and you have to have a nice car and a smart home to keep up with the Jones's! Just because we are Christians does not mean that we automatically escape this pressure. In fact, our Christianity can sometimes intensify our desire to be successful, if only to prove to the world that the Lord looks after His own.
I quit my job with the bank towards the end of my pregnancy and began my new and exciting career. Longer hours, harder work, no union backing, no 45 minute lunch-break and NO PAY – we were going to have to change our lifestyle and trust in the Lord.
On the 16th of November. 1991 I delivered a beautiful baby girl – our inheritance from the Lord. We have been through many challenges and heartaches since that time that have taught us to rely on the Lord for the provision of all our needs. There have been sometimes since our change to one income when we have struggles, mostly due to our own mismanagement of money, but we have always been faithful to God in paying our tithes, believing that He will rebuke the devourer on our behalf. I have never, and will never return to full time work until all of our children have left our family home. This has been a promise that we have made to God, ourselves and our children, and if it means going without some things – then so be it. The sacrifice is definitely worth it when it produces children lovingly nurtured in a warm family home.
We now have two children, Kaitlyn Joy (4 and a half years) and Shannon Elizabeth (18 months), a cat, two fish and a bird! The Lord has always been faithful to us. We have never gone without anything that we needed. But far and above that, the Lord has blessed my husband with what we feel is the best working situation for our family at this time. My husband received a promotion that involves working shifts. He is only away from us for three days every two weeks. He alone earns more money now than we used to earn when we both worked full time. God is so faithful. We're just a simple couple who love each other and their children more than life itself. We have a desire to have more children and continue in our ministry to our family and church.
Oh, by the way, I do not feel that I have been robbed of my lifelong desire to teach, because I am going to home school all of my children and make fulltime motherhood my career. All my old plans for myself would not have made me as happy as I am now. The Lord has given me more than I could have given myself. I always wanted to be a teacher – and I am.
Logan City, Queensland, Australia
Tears rolled down in self pity as I acknowledged that ministering to women was what God had called me to do. He had in fact released me from the work force a number of years before when my children were very small. My testimony was so encouraging that it was the very first one ever printed in Above Rubies, way back in September 1977.
And yet.....I was trapped again. In 1982 we moved to Australia with Colin and Nancy, to help establish Above Rubies in Australia. We purchased a car, built a home and furnished it. The mortgage repayments necessitated my input into the weekly wage packet but he truth of what I had done tugged at my heart strings. I cried out to God, apologizing for what I was dong. The ladies with me praying constantly that God would release me from the necessity to work outside my home. It was a constant prayer and ache in my heart.
Several years elapsed and still I received no answer. In fact, I felt as if I was even more ensnared in the trap. At this stage, I had two secondary school children in a private Christian school and had taken on a second job to help with the costs. Now I was working day and night, besides other ministries in the church. My husband was working two jobs as well. I would day-dream about how God was going to miraculously provide all the needed money, and whoopee, I would be free. But it never eventuated.
Finally things began to happen, but none of it even slightly resembled my dreams! My eldest daughter got caught up in the ways of the world at the sweet age of seventeen. My heart was broken. We sold the house, and purchased another, one of the reasons being to help me get over the torment. It just got worse!
The day we moved into our new home my mother, who was living with us, died. Unknown to us, our new home was built by crooks who wouldn't let us move in until we paid exorbitant interest costs which they had incurred. What a mess. There was no electricity because the builders refused to release it to us. I had to hold my mother's funeral without power in the midst of a three week downpour of rain. There were no paths and mud was everywhere.
The asthma I occasionally suffered from flared up and I tried in vain to avoid a spell in the hospital. Each day my work suffered as I tried to cope with the new technology.
I was fed up that nothing was happening to set me free from my trap. I had been waiting for God to do something – to miraculously provide all the money we needed. He was waiting for me to do something – to step out in faith and obedience and trust Him!
So I took a step of faith. I asked God if I could be free by the 1st of December, my husband's birthday. Bill and I had already agreed that it would be best if we sold the house and cut our losses, even though it was not a seller's market. It was in this situation that I took my step of faith and asked Bill to release me. I shared with him that I no longer felt capable of the demand it made on my life. It was robbing my precious children even though they were high school age. With each passing day, the truth of what I had done by abdicating my home lay heavier and heavier upon me. Because I was so caught up with work I didn't see the danger signs and had left my precious daughter defenseless. But I had two more children who needed me, and with God's help, perhaps they could be protected.
Although my husband agreed, he released me with reluctance. Suddenly, all the responsibility would be on his shoulders to bring home enough for his family. It was a scary time for him. I was rejoicing that at long last something was happening when all of a sudden it dawned on me that I had asked God to release me at the worst possible time of the year. I had Christmas before me and several family birthdays. Help! I quickly changed my prayer to February and this time I chose my birthday, but it was too late. God had already taken me up on my word. Through circumstances at work, I was forced to leave on the 1st of December, the date I had told the Lord. Now, as I sat at my computer on that Friday, in the last hour of my shift, I knew I would have to trust Him. I felt totally out of control when the office lady came and asked me to sign for my week's wages, my final pay, and a small superannuation.
I couldn't believe the amount of money I received and questioned her. To keep their books in order they had to pay me for two extra weeks. Later, when I added up the money it came to exactly what I would have received had I worked until my birthday in the February. That night I handed my husband, for his birthday, an envelope full of encouragement. God was watching over us.
The house sold but we lost our deposit an still had to pay one account. Others who had been ripped off at the same time as we were lost much more.
One of the aches in my heart had been, that if I couldn't walk in faith, how on earth could I ever teach my children and other mothers that it was possible? It is now seven years since I took the step of faith to trust God and not a weekly wage packet. During these years I have traveled extensively in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea and have been used of God to share with the precious mothers of our nations the importance of motherhood. Most exciting of all, however, is the restoration of my daughter, who is now married with five precious children.
My youngest daughter, Helena, whose baby died last May, now has a beautiful daughter. Jessica Ellen was born at home on the 29th of March and weighed 8lbs 4oz. Both of my daughters walk in faith, having very little financially, yet neither of them have any desire to abdicate their homes for a lesser calling. My step of faith has, and is being, rewarded.
We no longer own our home but rent instead, yet I have never been happier. I am free when my daughters call for help, which isn't very often, as they are so capable. I praise God that one step of faith has led to so much blessing. I shudder to think what my daughters would have accepted as normal, if I hadn't obeyed and stepped out in faith. I am reminded again in Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
Benowa, Queensland, Australia