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Why I Chose to Have Babies, Against My Feelings

Why I Chose to Have Babies, Against My Feelings

I’ve never shared this publicly, but . . . I’ve never been one to “ooh” and “aah” over babies. As a twelve-year-old eager to start earning money, I chose to detassle corn and work on a turkey farm (think hard, dirty, physical labor) rather than babysit. When I did babysit as a favor for my neighbors in my late twenties, I put the baby’s diaper on backwards. And while I longed for marriage for years, I never once dreamed of becoming a mom. First female president of the U.S., sure; mom, no.

And yet here I am, less than two weeks away from giving birth to our second baby. So what would motivate me to have not just one but two babies?

A practical factor that forced me and Trevor to address this issue early in our marriage was my age. We married when I was already in my thirties, and we knew our time was limited if we were going to have babies.

So several months into marriage, my husband asked one of our church elders, “Why should we have kids?” I will never forget his response:

“Why shouldn’t you have kids?”

From that moment on, I knew our course was set. I would not have babies because they made my heart melt; I would have babies out of obedience to Christ.

What Motivated Me to Write This Post On Babies

Forgive me if I sound like a martyr; just being honest here. I write this post for different people for different reasons: 

  1. If you feel like something is wrong with you because you’re not yet excited about the arrival of your baby, I want you to know you’re not alone. Sidenote: We took this selfie just after learning we were pregnant with our firstborn. Notice my red nose. (I turn into Rudolph when I cry.) I may have chosen to say “yes” to having a baby, but that didn’t mean I was excited about it!
  2. Non-pregnant women, rather than asking a newly pregnant women, “Are you excited?!” consider asking, “How do you feel about being pregnant?” Give women room and permission to mourn the loss of their independence and dreams, and allow them to be honest about their struggles. (Yes, myself and women like me know that many women long to have babies and can’t; trust me, we already feel guilty enough about our lack of excitement.)
  3. With less than two weeks ’til D-Day, I write this post for myself. I could use a reminder of why I said “yes” to another baby, as this season will not be easy.
  4. And for the Christian woman who refuses to even open herself to the idea of having babies, my hope is that something here will challenge your thinking just a bit.

What Motivated Me to Have Babies

That said, why would I—a woman who values deep, adult conversation—choose to forfeit that, and more, in lieu of a baby’s cries?  

  1. In Genesis 1:27-28, God commanded us, as His image bearers, to be fruitful and multiply, so the whole earth would be filled with images of Himself. While I believe this can be applied to producing spiritual children (see 1 Tim. 1:2), I don’t think it negates God’s call to married people to physically have babies if they’re able to.
  2. Christianity is a call to die to self. Didn’t Jesus promise: “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:25). I know by now how life works. If I live for self, I end up the loser.
  3. God’s ultimate purpose for me is re-forming me into Christ’s image (Romans 8:28-29). How can having babies not help accomplish this goal?
  4. God says children are a blessing and a reward (Psalm 127:3). Will I take Him at His Word—this God who never lies—or will I choose instead to listen to myself and the culture? Who will I ultimately believe?
  5. These reasons aren’t as big, but they’re timely: I just watched my husband’s grandma die. It was heartbreaking. I want someone there with me when my time comes (1 Tim. 5:16)–someone who will care enough to bury me.
  6. I just read 1 Timothy 5:9-16, which includes “bringing up children” as a good work. Verses 13-15 even seems to indicate that having babies is a protection for me against becoming a lazy gossip who strays after Satan. Again, I’ll take God’s Word for it. If babies can help keep me from selfishness and sin, I’m interested.  

How God is Changing My Heart Re. Having Babies

God has already moved and changed my heart. When I was pregnant with Iren, I was full of dread, anxious that I wouldn’t love him. But God took care of all of that, and Iren has brought such unexpected joy to our lives!

While I’m still not excited about baby number two, I’m also not filled with dread or anxiety. This is progress! Having babies has been a big faith journey for me–and I’m sure it will continue to be if we choose to have more in the future. It has been a death to self in many ways. But as can only happen in God’s economy, much life, laughter, and joy has come from that death.

How about you? Do you think it’s a prerequisite to being a good mom to feel excited about having babies before you hold them in your arms? Why or why not?

If you’ve had babies, what was your reasoning for doing so? If you’re currently opposed to having babies, how you would answer our elder’s question: “Why not have babies?” Do you think your reasons are selfish or wise?  

Turning Down a Great Job Offer

Turning Down a Great Job Offer

“I feel like I’m in a pinball machine,” Trevor told me. I felt like I was in a pressure cooker.

A few weeks before, Trevor’s sister had told him about an amazing opportunity with her company. Trevor has lived in Syracuse his whole life; I remember him telling me when we were dating that he had no plans of ever moving.

Still, I encouraged him to interview for the position. A former elder from Missio is co-leading a church in that city, so we would have a place to plug into. Plus, the job would provide a substantial pay increase and growth opportunity for Trevor’s career. “What do you have to lose?” I asked. And so he dusted off his suit and traveled to the interview.   

Weeks passed, and we thought that was that . . . until he received the job offer. We had just one week to decide.

Should We Stay or Should We Go?

We were torn down the middle; we both believed we could say yes or no in good conscience. We could glorify God and be devoted to good works in either place. Neither decision was sinful. “It’s not even that one decision would be wiser than another,” one of our elders remarked.

We prayed, we searched Zillow.com, we talked, and we both completed an exercise of best and worst-case scenarios if we did or didn’t go. We also sought counsel. A couple helpful pieces of advice/questions we received:

  • The burden of proof lies with the new place. It’s up to them to convince you that it’s worth all you’d be giving up. If you are divided right down the middle, it doesn’t sound like there’s enough there for you to say yes.
  • Who do you want to do life and ministry with?

“I want you to weigh in,” Trevor told me more than once. It was a good opportunity for me to learn not just to dutifully say, “I will go wherever you go,” but to really engage my mind and heart in deciding along with him what would be best for our family. 

As Trevor processed the potential move, he said more than once, “I feel like I’m missing an opportunity if I don’t take it, but leaving family and friends . . . I just don’t know that I can put a number to that.”

The night before he had to give his answer, we sat across the table from each other. “On the count of three,” he said, “show by thumbs up or thumbs down if you want to move. One, two, three.” And both our thumbs pointed down.

Syracuse, We Choose You . . . Again

We felt relief, but also a mixture of sadness the next day. It would have been an adventure, for sure. But there’s something about suddenly being given an opportunity to start over somewhere that shows you just how much you have right where you are.

God has blessed us big time, and unknowingly, we had begun to take this place and these people for granted. But thanks to this difficult decision process, we are recommitting to this place. Syracuse—among the top ten most poverty-stricken cities in the U.S.—is where we want to be a part of giving every man, woman, and child repeated opportunities to see, hear, and respond to the gospel. And the people at Missio church are the ones we want to do this alongside of.

In a world full of pressure to climb up, up, up, I am so grateful for a man who is committed to this cold, needy place. Syracuse, we happily choose you. Again.

How about you? Are you fully engaged where you live, or have you grown lax? Are you taking your influence on the people around you for granted?

In the words of Jim Elliot, “Wherever you are, be all there.”

PS: Through this process, we prayed that God would keep or move us to the place He knew would be most strategic for His kingdom advancement. That appears to be Syracuse. When you think of us, please pray for increased boldness and gospel-success in our neighborhood and city. Thanks so much!