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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Why we..." Wednesday {1}

Why we believe that using contraceptives (non-abortive) is okay...

My point in sharing this is not to convince you to believe the same way I do or even because I feel as if I have to explain myself.  I'm just hoping that this post can in some way help someone else who has struggled back and forth with this topic as I have. Let me also add that I have appoached this topic with an unbiased mind set. The issue of whether or not to use a mean of contraceptive has pretty much befuddled me since Jordan and I got married.  Questions, questions and more questions and no clear answers left me even more confused.  So recently I approached Jordan about this mental struggle that I have been having and he realized that he didn't entirely know for sure if it was right or wrong to use contraceptives.  So together we set out to try and figure out what God would have us to believe.  And let me tell you, like Play Doh, we have rolled this topic back and forth exploring every angle so many times it's not even funny.  And we have prayed, prayed and prayed some more while truly seeking out God's truth in this matter through scripture. The following comes from an article that I found on and it really answered alot of questions that we had through scripture:

Desiring God and Bethlehem Baptist Church have no formal position on birth control, but John Piper and most of the pastors on staff believe that non-abortive forms of birth control are permissible. The Bible nowhere forbids birth control, either explicitly or implicitly, and we should not add universal rules that are not in Scripture (cf. Psalm 119:1, 9 on the sufficiency of Scripture). What is important is our attitude in using it. Any attitude which fails to see that children are a good gift from the Lord is wrong: "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them" (Psalm 127:3-4).

There are, of course, some Christians who would disagree with this position on birth control. Some of the major theological objections that have been made to birth control can be categorized according to the following questions:

Is birth control consistent with the truth that children are a gift from the Lord?

It is very important to delight in the reality that "children are a gift of the Lord." But some people go further and argue from this that since children are gifts from God, it is wrong to take steps to regulate the timing and number of children one has.
In response, it can be pointed out that the Scriptures also say that a wife is a gift from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22), but that doesn't mean that it is wrong to stay single (1 Corinthians 7:8). Just because something is a gift from the Lord does not mean that it is wrong to be a steward of when or whether you will come into possession of it. It is wrong to reason that since A is good and a gift from the Lord, then we must pursue as much of A as possible. God has made this a world in which tradeoffs have to be made and we cannot do everything to the fullest extent. For kingdom purposes, it might be wise not to get married. And for kingdom purposes, it might be wise to regulate the size of one's family and to regulate when the new additions to the family will likely arrive. As Wayne Grudem has said, "it is okay to place less emphasis on some good activities in order to focus on other good activities."
When I was teaching a summer course at a seminary in Africa, a student of mine made a perceptive observation along these same lines. He noted first of all that in the creation account the command to multiply is given together with the command to subdue the earth: "And God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Genesis 1:28).'" He then asked how a farmer (he lived in a largely agrarian society) knows how much land he should cultivate. The answer, of course, is that a farmer seeks to cultivate what he believes he can reasonably handle. He doesn't take this command to mean that he needs to make his farm be as large as is naturally possible. Likewise, then, it is right for a couple to seek to have the number of children that they believe they can reasonably nurture in light of the other callings they may also have on their lives. In the same vein, Wayne Grudem points out: "We aren't required to maximize the amount of children we have any more than we are required to subdue the earth all the time—plant, grow, harvest, etc."
In reality, then, although it is true that "blessed is the man whose quiver is full of [children]," we need to realize that God has not given everyone the same size quiver. And so birth control is a gift from God that may be used for the wise regulation of the size of one's family, as well as a means of seeking to have children at the time which seems to be wisest.

Shouldn't we let God determine the size of our family?

Sometimes people also reason that if you really want to "trust God" to determine the size of your family, then you should not use birth control. The assumption seems to be that if you "just let things happen naturally," then God is more at work than if you seek to regulate things and be a steward of when they happen. But surely this is wrong! God is just as much in control of whether you have children when you use birth control as when you don't. The hands of the almighty are not tied by birth control! A couple will have children precisely at the time God wants, whether they use birth control or not. Either way, then, God is ultimately in control of the size of one's family.
The "trust God, therefore don't use birth control" thinking is based upon the incorrect assumption that what happens "naturally" reflects "God's best" for our lives, but that what happens through human means does not. Why should we conclude that the way to let God decide the size of our family is to get out of the way and just let nature take its course? We certainly don't think that way in other areas of life. We don't reason, for example, that we should never get haircuts so that "God can decide" the length of our hair. Farmers don't just let the wind plant their crops in the fear that actively regulating what is grown on their land somehow interferes with the provision God wants to give them. And a family doesn't just trust God to provide food for by waiting for it to drop from the sky, but instead goes to the store to buys it. God ultimately determines everything that will happen, both in nature and in human decisions, and He brings His will to pass through means. Human activity does not therefore interfere with his plans, but is instead itself governed by Him as the means to bring to pass His will. Hence, we should not conclude that what happens apart from our planning is "better" and more reflective of God's desires for us than what happens through our planning. God very often causes us to plan as the means towards improving our lives and advancing His kingdom purposes.
Further, God has revealed that it is His will for us to regulate and direct creation for His glory (Genesis 1:28). God has given us the privilege of being able to make significant life decisions because this exercises wisdom and thus shows the fruit that His word is bearing in our lives. When we rightly use the godly wisdom God has given us, God is glorified. He doesn't want us to simply think we have to take what comes naturally, apart from our efforts, because then our sanctified wisdom is not expressed. In fact, very often it is God's will that we not simply let things move along naturally. Going back to the analogy mentioned above, farmers don't simply collect whatever grain happens to grow in their fields, concluding "this is what God wants to provide." Rather, they go out and plant grain, realizing that God wants to provide not only through nature, but also through the means they employ to steward nature.
It does not work, therefore, to conclude that the use of birth control interferes with God's role in granting children. Birth control can be a way of wisely stewarding the timing and size of one's family. One might be able to minister more effectively for the kingdom, for example, by waiting 3 years after marriage to have children in order to enable the husband to go to graduate school. And one might be able to minister more effectively for the kingdom by deciding to have 4 children instead of 15, so that more resources can be given to the cause of missions and more time can be devoted to other areas. If such planning is done for God's glory and in wisdom, and if such planning continues to acknowledge that our plans are not perfect and that birth control does not absolutely ensure anything, it is pleasing to God.

Does birth control express a lack of faith in God?

Without regulating the size of their family, many couples would end up having more children than they can reasonably support financially. In response, some argue that we should simply have faith that God will provide the funds. However, we don't use the "God would provide" reasoning to justify going beyond our means in other areas of life. We wouldn't consider it wise, for example, to pledge twice our annual income to missions organizations in faith that God will supply the extra funds. God expects us to make wise decisions according to what he has given us, and not presume upon him providing from out of the blue. Reasonable financial considerations are a relevant factor: "If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8).

Should natural family planning be preferred to "artificial" contraception?

Some conclude that "natural family planning" is acceptable but "artificial" means are not. But this seems to overlook something significant: in both cases, you are still seeking to regulate when you have children. And so if one concludes that it is wrong to seek to regulate the timing and size of a family, then it would have to be concluded that natural family planning is just as wrong as "artificial" means. But if one concludes that it is appropriate to steward the timing and size of one's family, then what makes "artificial" means wrong but natural family planning right? Surely it is not because God is "more free" to overrule our plans with natural family planning! Perhaps some have concluded that artificial forms are wrong because they allow one more fully to separate intercourse from the possibility of procreation. But if it is wrong to have intercourse without a significant possibility of procreation, then it would also be wrong to have intercourse during pregnancy or after a woman is past her childbearing years. There is no reason to conclude that natural family planning is appropriate but that "artificial" means are not.

Okay, it's me again. That was a good article, huh? I wish I could take credit for it, but John Piper and his crew at desiringGod seem to know much more than I do! I would, however, like to add something about the above paragraph on natural family planning vs. artificial contraception.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the terms, let me help you out:

Without going into all the details (you can look it up for yourself) natural family planning is a method of birth control  that doesn't require any drugs or devices. I'm just going to be honest here and say that I prefer this method of birth control over the drugs/devices.  Some women have no problem with taking the birth control "pill" but I didn't like it at all.  For starters, I've never liked taking medicine anyway.  Secondly, I hated the side effects.  But most of all, I think that the pill can cause long term damage, perhaps even infertility in some women. In case you don't know here is a run down of how the pill works:

Hormonal contraceptives (the pill, the patch, and the vaginal ring) all contain a small amount of synthetic estrogen and progestin hormones. These hormones work to inhibit the body's natural cyclical hormones to prevent pregnancy. Pregnancy is prevented by a combination of factors. The hormonal contraceptive usually stops the body from releasing an egg from the ovary. Hormonal contraceptives also change the cervical mucus to make it difficult for the sperm to find an egg. Hormonal contraceptives can also prevent pregnancy by making the lining of the womb inhospitable for implantation. (Webmd)

I don't know about you but the birth control pill just seems like it messes with too many things that go on inside a woman's body. ..."making the lining of the womb inhospitable for implantation"? Can this have long term effects? I don't know, but I'm not willing to take a chance on that one.  Also, as it says above, "(it) usually stops the body from releasing an egg from the ovary.  So what happens if it doesn't stop the releasal of the egg? You would probably get pregnant but have a miscarriage due to your inhospitable womb. And is it a coincidence that infertility seems to be on the rise as the pills users start using it as early as there teens and continue using it for years? I don't know...maybe I'm paranoid but I just don't feel right about taking it.  So that is why we prefer natural contraceptives/family planning. 

With that said, let me also say that I am in agreement with the fact that whether you use any form of birth control or not, God is in complete control.  Josiah is living proof of this as he was conceived "on the pill". Jordan and I were only married for four months when we got pregnant with him.  Eventhough we had wanted to wait, God had other plans for us.  And I'm so glad that He did! If you are reading this and thinking, "well, if God is in complete control, then I can just take the pill and not worry about the harm it may be causing my body." Is that not the same as saying, "well, God's in control of my body so I'm just going to smoke a pack of cigarettes everyday" ? You'll probably end up with lung cancer, right? Just like you may end up with health issues if you take the birth control pill.  That's how I view it anyway.  Okay, I'll stop rambling now.  I just think it is an interesting subject with so many different angles to look it.  And I know it can be very personal talking about these things, which is why I almost didn't post this.  But if no one ever talks about it, then no one will ever know, right? : )

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Birthday Fun {Josiah}

This year we decided to celebrate Josiah's birthday as a family and keep it low key.  Last year, we had a big Veggie Tale themed party.  It was so much fun but we just wanted to change things up a bit this year.  So we played outside for awhile and made a good, fun mess with cupcakes. 

Josiah would obviously rather play with sticks than his birthday presents! Still, we are going to take him to Toy's R' Us this Tuesday and let him pick some things out with his birthday money.  I'm curious to see what we will come back with!

Maybe lampshades?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Josiah Neal {2 years}

Oh my! Oh my! Oh my!

Dear Crazy Josiah,

You are two today! And what a wonderful two years they have been.  Crazy, but wonderful! And don't worry, you have totally lived up to the two-year-old expectation of well, being a two-year-old.  Where as most toddlers don't reach the so called "terrible twos" until around age two, you have been in this stage and haven't budged an inch for at least 6 months! So I'm thinking that since you entered this stage early then maybe you will grow out of it faster too.  When pigs fly, right?

Oh, Josiah. I find myself saying that a lot! You surprise me everyday with some new stunt that leaves me fearing for your very life.  You have no fear, whatsoever. Although you are not yet as advanced in terms of talking as some two-year-olds, you move, jump and climb better than most three-year-olds I have seen.  Just the other day, I witnessed for the first time you jumping off the staircase.  And by the way you mastered it, it would seem like that wasn't the first time that you had done it!

Today I watched the video from your first birthday and I couldn't believe how much you have changed in just one year. A year ago you were walking and today you are running, jumping, and climbing.  Your curiosity makes me smile. And scares me sometimes too.  I pray that you will keep that same hunger to know more throughout know the Lord more.  I pray that he will capture your little heart and mind at a young age.  I pray that he will equip your mommy and daddy to teach you in the ways you should go.  Happy Birthday little man!

Here you are at two:

your army of "babies"...this is just some of have them in cubby holes all over the house! Oh, and you never leave home without both hands full of them.

notice how your blocks are all correctly arranged! are very OCD about this! get that from your mommy no doubt!

Daddy loves you!

Mommy loves you!

Eli loves you!

The cutest two year old I know!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Elijah Neal {5 Months}

So I woke up this morning wondering where my newborn went...has 5 months really passed by this quickly? What a sweet reminder you are of how precious life is and how quickly it passes.  You have changed so much this past month.  You no longer need to be in mommy's sight every waking minute and you are building tolerance to be able and sit in your exersaucer watching your big brother play and watching VeggieTales(The Ultimate Silly Songs). He even stops his work/playing to help you out when you get too excited and lose your pacifier. Though you are unique in all your own ways, there is still so much about you that reminds me of Josiah at this age. You have that same energy that he are NEVER still...nope, not even when you nurse.  I just want to tell you to stop, slow down and just be my little baby.

Some other changes/milestones:

You are rolling all the way over like a pro now...and by the grin on your face I would say that you are pretty proud of yourself!

We tried to give you some homemade baby food a couple of weeks ago, but you weren't quite ready...we will try again soon. 

Your new favorite toys are your feet.  And you love to get those little chicken nugget-like toes into your mouth. 

You have definitely discovered your vocals and exercise them constantly.  Your daddy and I think that you sound like a baby teradactyl when you is ear piercing!

Your favorite person is Josiah.  Your little eyes follow him everywhere and I catch you smiling at him often.  When he comes near to you, you try your best to grab him...especially his nose and hair.  He doesn't like this very much, but every once in awhile, when he is feeling sweet, he will give you a hug...a rough hug, but a hug none the less!

Also, I have never seen a 5 month old get as frustrated as you do over not being mobile.  Josiah was bad, but you are worse.  You want so much to be able to crawl and pick up everything in sight.  When we put you on your tummy you look like a little inch worm trying to get somewhere. 

Did I mention how unpredictable you are? Unlike your brother, you have resisted any type of schedule/routine since you were born pretty much.  I'll even watch your body language closely and form a routine from's not like I'm just making up some random schedule.  You'll stick to this routine for a few days  and then out of nowhere you throw me a curve ball and everything changes.  I cannot even begin to explain how frustrating this has been. Your momma is a planner and loves to have a schedule.  I guess you are going to be the one to remind me constantly that it's okay to be spontaneous and just go with the flow.  So just like you, your momma is constantly learning. 

And I could never forget this one:  You started sleeping through the night! So yesterday, we decided to ween you from the swaddle.  You didn't like this too much and woke up several times last night.  I'm sure just like anything, this will take some time and pretty soon you will be sleeping through the night again...I sure hope anyway!

I love you so much doodle. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Building Block

I borrowed the following from

Besides our relationship with our heavenly Father, there is nothing more important than our relationship with our family. It is the building block of our churches, communities, and nation. So when we neglect our families, the foundation of our churches and nation crumbles, and our homes begin to splinter.
If we desire to fulfill God’s calling in our lives and to make a difference in other’s lives for eternity, then we must start within our families. Whether single or married, with children or not, we all have a part in God’s calling to build strong spiritual families.

What a great reminder that our families should be our top priority...not work, school, and not even church.  If you can't manage your own household, why would you ever expect to be able to manage anything else?

I am so thankful for my husband who does a wonderful job leading our family.  I cannot imagine anyone else that I would rather have right beside me as we teach and train our boys to love the Lord. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Embracing Sanctification {1}

Here lately I have found myself having arguments with myself.  No, I'm not crazy or schizophrenic.(At least, I don't think!)  I guess a good way to describe it is like this:  the Lord is sanctifying me as I go deeper in His Word and changing the way that I have always viewed things.  With this sanctification comes a scourging of all things dark.  2 Samuel 22:29 says: Lord, You are my lamp; the Lord illuminates my darkness....Job 12:22 says: He reveals mysteries from the darkness and brings the deepest darkness into the light. So you see, where the Lord dwells, darkness cannot abide. It wasn't until I started studying the word in depth that I began to realize just how much of my way of thinking was wordly and not based upon scripture.  I thank God that he has brought these things to light.  So I am starting a series here on my blog entitled "old way of thinking vs. new way of thinking".  It is my hopes that as I am being edified, you will be too.  (08/18/11)


So you see it everyday on facebook or perhaps you hear about if from your children.  It goes something like this:

Jake broke up with Laura today and is now dating Laura's best friend, Sarah.

a couple of day's later:

Sarah broke up with Jake and Jake is back with Laura.

a couple of day's later:

Laura broke up with Jake and is now dating Jake's best friend.

Sound familiar? I'm sure it does.  Somehow this "in and out of relationships" has become the norm in our society.  Is it even a wonder why the divorce rate is so high? In case you are wondering, allow me to enlighten you a bit.  This cycle of dating and breaking up is pretty much just practice for divorce!

Just think about it for a minute:

You date a guy for a few days, a few weeks, a few months or maybe even a few years.  You make him feel good. He makes you feel good. You love him.  He loves you.  You crawl into bed with him before marriage.  Perhaps even the same night you met him or a couple of weeks after you started dating.  All these emotions are going strong.  You can't even be around each other without having to contantly touch each other.  Physical activities become more important than talking and getting to know one another.  But then something happens. It's not feeling new and shiny anymore.  You begin to discover things about him that you never noticed before....things that would have been apparent if you wouldn't have let your emotions mask who the guy really was. You start having agruments which eventually turn into fights.  The good feelings are far gone.  You want something new.  He wants something new. You breakup.  You begin the whole process over again with someone new. 

Or perhaps you didn't breakup...maybe you married the guy during the "good feeling" stage before you even knew him at all.  It wasn't until a few weeks after your wedding that you found his porn stash and the late night calls to other women he had been making.  It is then that you realize that you don't know the guy at never did.  And now he is your husband.  You might even be pregnant with his child. A divorce is on the horizon.

Yes, I realize that not all dating relationships end up this way.  But so so so many of them do. And it is so sad. Especially when there are innocent children involved.

So how can we avoid this? The answer is courtship instead of dating.  Yes, it sounds old fashioned, I know....because it is! It may be an old way of doing things but what is wrong with that? Especially when it is biblical. 

Here is a link to Stacy McDonald's blog on courtship and betrothal.  Please read it!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Infant Sleep Advice

Oh how I wish that someone would have shared this advice with me that I am about to share with you 5 months ago! It's funny how after you have one baby you think you have everything so figured out until the second one comes along and is completely different from the first.  Take for example, Josiah and Eli...Josiah was sleeping through the night by the time he was two months old.  He would fall asleep nursing in our bed and would sleep from 9pm-5am without stirring.  He hated to be swaddled but loved to be up close to us.  Eli, on the other hand, will fall asleep nursing but only when he is cradled.  He wants to sleep in his own bed without anyone touching him.  He loves to be swaddled though. 

When Eli reached 2 months I just assumed he would start sleeping through the night just like his big brother did.  However, at 3 months, he was still waking up around 2 am and sometimes again at about 5am. This wasn't so bad but out of nowhere he just started waking up at 1:00, 3:30, 5:00, and 6:30 am.  At first I assumed it was just a growth spurt. Eli is now 4 1/2 months old and up until a couple of nights ago, was still waking up around 1, 3, 5 and 6. To get him to go back to sleep I would nurse him for about 5 minutes and he would pass out.  Unfortunately, this established a really bad sleeping pattern for him.  He got in a habit of waking to nurse every 1 1/2-3 hours that his body just automatically woke up at these times even though he wasn't hungry.  I kept on hearing that by two months a baby should be able to sleep up to 8 hours straight, if not before then, but no one ever told me how so I had to figure it out for myself. 

So, a few nights ago, I decided that I had had enough.  Eli could go up to 4 hours sometimes during the day between nursing sessions so why was he waking up so much at night? I knew that it wasn't because he was hungry.  I had to break this pattern of him waking up somehow.  So when he woke up at 1:00, instead of nursing him, I gave him his pacifier and rocked him back to sleep. I did the same at 3:30.  I did the same thing the next night.  By the third night, when 1:00 rolled around, I heard him moving around but he put himself back to sleep without ever crying or having to be rocked.  By the fourth night, he slept from 9pm-2am (6 hours straight), but again, instead of nursing him, I gave him his pacifier and rocked him back to sleep.  And last night he slept from 9pm-5am(8 hours straight)! I probably could have put him back to sleep without nursing him at 5 but any woman who has breast fed knows that going this long between feedings is very painful.  So he fell back to sleep until almost 8 this morning.  (Note: using a miracle swaddle really helps too) It seems as if we have broken his bad sleep pattern.  And this momma feels so refreshed!

I just thought I would share.  If this post only helps one sleep deprived momma out there then I will be happy! : )

And just because:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Allow me to catch up...

Can I just say how glad I am that the major summer events for our youth group are now over.  I love our youth group but boy was I ready to have my husband back! Any woman with small children knows how hard it is to give up their husband for two weeks, especially during the summer months when it is too hot to let the munchkins play outside and get some wiggles out.  It's a hard task trying to entertain these two all by myself for that long! I'm thanking God for my wonderful parents who let me come stay with them during both camp sessions.  They are so good with our boys and such a huge help.  They even let Josiah sleep in their bed eventhough he likes to lay horizontally with his head in Bobpa's ribs and his feet in Gammy's ribs! ....but I'm getting ahead of myself...that's the problem with not blogging for awhile...information overload! So let's start from the beginning...

It's about a 7 hour drive to my parent's house in Mount Enterprise, which is an extremely hard trip to make with an almost-two-year-old and a 4 1/2 month old.  So we decided to break the trip up, stopping along the way to visit family. Our first stop was Jordan's parent's house in Bowie where we stayed two nights.  Josiah thoroughly enjoyed playing with his cousins:

Sweet Miss McKinnley and Miss Skeeter

Miss Bailey...doesn't she have the cutest hair cut? Makes me wanna chop mine off, but it wouldn't be near as cute on me as it is on this sweet face!

Miss Emmerson...or Emmie as we call her...such a personality, let me tell ya! love her!

Miss Paisley- love this toothless little grin!

Josiah enjoying Grandmommy and Papa's swing!

Eli enjoyed the extra attention as well:

Our second stop was in Kemp where Jordan's brother, Jeremy and his family live.  Unfortunately, I was too busy catching up with my sister-in-law, LouAnn, that I forgot to take any pictures.  Oh the shame! I must get some pictures of my other four beautiful nieces and nephews soon!

The next day my parents met us in Terrell to pick me and the boys up and Jordan drove back to Vernon.  After camp, Jordan took a week of vacation and drove to Mount Enterprise. Here are some pics from the two weeks that we were in Mount:

bright eyed little dear!

his smile makes me smile!

Eli and Uncle Steven

Eli and Aunt Ashley

Gammy sharing her birthday cake with Bug Bug

this isn't the facial expression that most kids make when given icing...cracks me up!

sweet boys relaxing in Gammy and Bobpa's bed

they both have a thing with ears when they get sleepy!

Josiah trying on Uncle Trevor's boots...they fit right?

Eli having some avocado for the first time!

this is what it's all about: 4-wheeler rides with Bobpa!

Eli is proud of himself for learning how to roll all the way over while at Gammy and Bobpa's!

melts my heart!
Now, I regret to inform everyone that I broke my camera when we were packing up to leave my!  : (((( With just one slip of the hand it fell from the dining room table onto the kitchen floor.  I was planning on upgrading anyway, but not for a couple months at least.  Now I don't have a camera to take a picture of our new car!

Well, it's new to us anyway! While packing the car for our trip we came to the conclusion that we could no longer avoid the fact that we had grown out of our Hyundai Tucson. So we traded it in for a used but lovely 2004 Black Ford Expedition.  I love it! It has so much room that I could fit six babies plus luggage in there! That is definitely not my plan but I'm just sayin' is all...And the best part of it all is that we still owed 2 k on the "blue bomb" but after the trade in and all, we no longer have a car note! God really answered our prayers on this one!

Okay, I'm done rambling now...thanks for reading! : )