31 August 2010

Where Do Babies REALLY Come From?

Are children only a result of marriage or are there Someone who open and close the womb?
The past year I have had some interesting conversations with people who knows us well enough to know that we have 8 children. We are looking forward to have even more children since we want all the children the Lord wants to bless us with.  In general conversations about our babies, I would comment that I have come to love babies soooo much and don’t know what I will do when the Lord decides my time for having babies is over.  The other person, would then usually tell me that they will not have anymore babies.  I would often hear that she and her husband had prayed about it and now have peace that the Lord approved that she won’t have anymore babies, most of the time because  of some medical condition or financial or other circumstances.  She would either have had a tubal ligation or he had a vasectomy or they will practice some kind of contraception.
This is a very interesting concept to me. 

Most of the time the people I come into contact with are committed Christians.  People who earnestly seek the Lord’s will for their lives.  People who want to please the Lord and confess that they trust the Lord and know the Lord and has a personal relationship with Him..  How come the area of babies/children don’t fit into their picture of surrendering their lives to the Lord?  What is the motivation behind real committed Christians’ reasoning to believe stopping their own fertility or taking their fertility into their own hands fit into the Lord’s will for their lives?
Another interesting point is:  If it is God’s will for them to not have children anymore, why do they need the tubal ligation, vasectomy or whatever contraception?  If it is  His will, then surely He will not allow pregnancy and they would be ‘safe’ from having more children. Does He really need their intervention? 
What lie makes them believe their God isn’t bigger than their medical condition or financial circumstances?
Is it possible that we are hesitant to trust the Lord with our fertility, since we have a wrong believe system about: Where does babies REALLY come from? The wrong believe that babies is only a result of a s*xual act and that God has actually nothing to do with falling pregnant.  Do they believe that choosing to have no more children and being conformed to the world in this area of their lives, actually doesn’t matter to God so much, since He is not involved?  

Baby CJ

In the Full Quiver, Rick and Jan Hess addresses this issue in answering the question, Where Do Babies Come From?  
(Please note:  The accent of this excerpt  is not on infertility and therefore why do some couples experience infertility, but on contraception and the roll of a couple in contraception.)
There are two ways to answer the question - Where Do Babies Come From?  A proponent of what we will call “philosophy A” would say that babies are simply a product of a random meeting of sperm and egg.  Those who hold to this also teach that parents are the only thinking, responsible agent behind the conception process.  If this is true, it follows that we are the only ones who can and therefore should or must exercise control in conception.   
Therefore we have the right to decide we will stop this process of getting pregnant.
Now it’s time to meet “philosophy B”.  This concept is different.  Really different. So different, in fact, that those in the philosophy A camp cannot fathom why philosophy B people believe what they do - except for one thing - they know it has something to do with the Bible and God.

But what is in the Bible that runs contrary to the random probability theory held so much of our society?  Maybe you yourself believe that your own existence began solely at a change uniting of a couple of cells.  Then please read on... Let look at some important Biblical passages that talks about conception:

Old Testament Examples:
We begin our study of beginnings near the beginning of the book of beginnings - Genesis, chapter four. Verse one provides the perfect starting point, as it records the first birth of a human being.  Lets see how new mom Eve answers the question, “Where do babies come from?”  When Cain is born she testifies, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.”

Baby Heidi-Mari

Eve, who had enjoyed a first-person relationship with God, speaks not as a lettered theologian but as a practicing mother.  She fully realizes that God has been necessary for the birth of her son and that Cain’s arrival did not happen without His intervention.

In Genesis 16 we find the angel of the Lord counseling Hagar, Abraham’s exiled servant-wife.  In verse 10 it reads:  “more-over, the angel of the Lord said to her, ‘I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they shall be too many to count.’ ”
The angel of the Lord, speaking for God, said a very interesting thing.  What he did NOT say is even more interesting.  He did not tell Hagar, “You will have so many descendants that they shall be too many to count.” He specifically said, “I will greatly multiply your descendants.”  God Himself was going to personally multiply these people.

In Genesis 17:20 God promises Abraham, “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.”
The wording is again significant.  God did NOT say, “You will multiply exceedingly’ but assumed total responsibility for creating Abraham’s descendants - “I will multiply you exceedingly.”

The next passage is in my opinion profound, since it address ‘the womb’, itself.

Next stop is also in Genesis: chapter 20. We know well the story of an embarrassed Abraham having to tell king Abimelech that his step-sister was also his wife.  But have you ever dwelt on verse 17 and 18? They read, “And Abraham prayed to God; and God HEALED Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they bore children.  For the Lord had closed fast all the wombs of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.”
Here is a direct statement of God’s control in matters of conception.  The household of Abimelech was suddenly barren - we do know who was the cause and cure of it.

The following passages also dealt with conception:

Rachel and Leah:
Genesis 29:31 through Genesis 30:24 is one of the most amazing Scripture passages concerning God’s causal relationship to conception.  Rather than quote the whole passage, let’s examine it, using the framework of a multi-year football game.  The two teams are known by their start players, Leah and Rachel. 
During the First Quarter the Lord opens Leah’s womb four times. 
After dominating the opening quarter, Leah has no more children, so Rachel takes over on offense in the second quarter.  We must point out a very innovative aspect of this game - both teams have the same quarterback - Jacob! Most unusual.  Well, Rachel’s demand in the huddle is, “Give me children, or else I die.”  Rachel really want to get in the game.  She also thinks that on this team the quarterback calls the plays, but Jacob knows full well it is the Coach who does and responds to her, “Am I in place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”
Now we see an unprecedented move: the first substitution.  Rachel benches herself and sends in Bilhah.  Also Leah sees the fruitfulness of substitution and sends in Zilpah for herself.
In the Third Quarter Leah is back and has three more children.
In the the Fourth and final Quarter Rachel has a real ‘winner’ in Joseph.  The final score is Leah 7, Rachel 2 (the second being Benjamin).

Let’s watch an instant replay of God’s part in the story of Rachel and Leah.  Please study carefully the following references (All from the book of Genesis):

  • “He opened her womb.” (29:31)
  • He has therefore given me this son also.” (29:33)
  • Am I in the place of God, who has withheld children form you?” (30:2)
  • “God has vindicated me... and has given me a son.” (30:6)
  • “And God gave heed to Leah and she conceived.” (30:17)
  • “And God gave heed to her and opened her womb.” (30:22)

These inspired examples show, without a doubt, God’s total control over the events of contraception and birth.  He “opened’ and He “withheld.”  

Baby Josua

But maybe the above examples was only for ‘then’. So let’s look further.

The final quote from the Pentateuch comes from the well known blessing/cursing chapter, Deuteronomy 28.  In this passage God tells Israel just how good things will be if they will be obedient and just how horrible life will become if they are not.  Speaking through Moses, in the eleventh verse God says, “And the Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body.”
The important word of this verse are “the Lord will”.  Is it God who gives offspring?

Let us now look at the beautiful book of Ruth.  Ruth 4:13 clearly states, “So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her.  And the Lord ENABLED her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.
So Obed was born, not as a result of a chance fertilization at the proper time of some month, but because and only because God ‘enabled’ it.  By the way, do you think it is both biologically and theologically accurate for each of us to place our own name in the place of “Obed” in the above sentence?  But even more profound: This new son may have looked like any other little bundle of Jewish joy, but he was to be King David’s grandpa!  Who knows what great place in God’s plans a future little one, which He could give to you or us, might play?

The birth of Samuel is yet another illustration of the reality of who is the actual source of ALL people’s lives.  Our interest in the story begins at 1 Samuel 1:6, which says, “Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb.”
God did not say that Hanna was barren because she had a tipped uterus, blocked Fallopian tubes, endometriosis or irregular periods. 

Although, trust me in this area, there would sure enough be a diagnoses for her barrenness. Because there is a diagnoses don’t exclude God from the picture!!

The Great Physician proclaims quite matter-of-factly His diagnoses of the cause of the barrenness. He had closed her womb; i.e., He was not giving conception.
But after a visit with Eli the outlook improves tremendously!  In 1 Samuel 1:19 we read, “And Elkanah had relations with Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.  And it came about in due time, after Hanna had conceived, that she gave birth to a son.”
What do we learn from this?  Simply that Elkanah and Hannah had Samuel because God Himself accomplished it, according to His will.  But we are not finished with the story!  
We know that Samuel was given to the Lord by Hanna, who had wanted a child so desperately.  We also know that God rewards His people for giving Him their most treasured possessions.  So what was God’s reward to Hannah for “returning” Samuel? 1 Samuel 2:20-21 tells us, “Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, ‘May the Lord give you children from this woman in place of the one she dedicated to the Lord.’ And they went to their own home.  And the Lord visited Hannah; and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters.”

The text does not indicate Hannah’s response, but do you think she was disappointed?  Here we see a case in which God gave five children and thought it a reward!  Ask yourself, how would you feel if God rewarded you with five? A lot of work? Certainly.  A lot of blessing? We know it is - once you learn how to capitalize on it!

Baby Danika

Or would you rather use worldly methods and stop the possibility of having five?
Some of you are sitting out there anticipating our next passage Psalm 139. There could not be a more amazing section of Scripture than this which chronicles so wonderfully the Divine beginning of each of our lives.  In verses 13 - 16 David says:
For Thou didst form my inward parts;
Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Thy works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from Thee,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
Thine eyes have seem my unformed substance;
And in Thy book they were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

Putting aside for the moment the question of whether babies-in-the-abstract come from God, think about where YOU in-the-concrete come from.  Psalm 139 tells you that you are not a statistical product, but were begun - ‘formed,’ ‘woven,’ ‘wrought’.  Even the number of days you are given on the earth from conception to decomposition has been specifically chosen by God.  None of us is an ‘accident’!

Psalm 100:
The teaching of the Old Testament may be summarized by saying that children are not simply the result of a s*xual intercourse and conception, but it denies that conception is inevitable, or that parents possess the power to make it happen.  In fact, Psalm 100:3 states the matter with crystal clarity: “It is He who had made us, and not we ourselves.”
Saying that we parents do not possess the ability to ensure conception is actually one of the understatements of all time!
All these Scriptural examples prove that God controls the process of fertilization; that you and I are NOT products of probability, but of His ability.  Gad has ordained the specific starting point of every life ever lived, including any future children He might give us or you. 

Baby Andrew

Yet, what about the New Testament? Was this only for the Old Testament?

Now it’s barren Elizabeth’s turn to be blessed.  In Luke 1:24-25 it is written, “And after these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant; and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, ‘This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days, when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.’ “
There was no question in Elizabeth’s mind as to who should get the credit for her great joy.  God had ‘looked with favor’ on her and created John.

Luke, A doctor’s diagnosis:
Dr. Luke submits the medical report for Elizabeth in Chapter 1 verse 58: “And her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had displayed His great mercy toward her; and they were rejoicing with her.”
Luke, for all his medical training and experience, had a far more scientifically accurate concept of origins than most of today’s scientists and doctors, for he understood perfectly that Joh’s life was a direct result of God’s “display of great mercy toward her.”

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews held to the same view.  In chapter 6 verse 14 he quotes Genesis 22:17 saying, “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply you.”  And in chapter 11 verse 11 he holds up Sarah’s faith in God as the Giver of children to encourage our faith: “By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of live, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.”

It is a joyous fact that God opens and closes the womb! He alone decides when and if anyone will have any (more) children!  

Baby David

To come back to my opening statement regarding couples’ belief that choosing to have no more children and being conformed to the world in this area of their lives, actually doesn’t matter to God so much, since He is not involved in conception:  
According to the above evidence, God is very much involved!  To say the least, He has total control!

Baby Daniel

God is THE ONE who open and close the womb, with a purpose, in due time, to fulfill His Devine plan on this earth!
He is trustworthy with your medical condition, as well as your financial circumstances to surrender your womb!
Are you a Bible-Believing-Christian?
Who do you believe is in control of conception?  
Are children only the result of a  s*xual act and the probability of a sperm meeting an egg or does God open and close the womb?
You decide... and then act on it.

Baby Michael

This article does not address the issues surrounding infertility, rather the issue of interfering with your natural fertility. If you are struggling with the deep emotional and spiritual issues of infertility, you may already be intimately familiar with the roll God plays in conception and pregnancy. For reasons we may never understand in this life, God, in his unfailing wisdom, may have decided that you are not to have a baby of your own. Although this is very painful, I encourage you to look beyond the barrenness, into the loving eyes of Jesus, who is infinitely bigger than our biggest and deepest pain.
With love

28 August 2010

Preparing for Spring!

We are like bees buzzing around our rose- and vegetable garden, preparing for Spring! My vegetable garden was a huge disappointment during the winter months. This was my first winter season of having a vegetable garden and I didn’t know the sun’s position would change so much during the winter!  Only three and a half of my 7 raised bed’s had sun during the winter.  

We planted beans in a bed which had NO sun during the winter, but I didn’t know when I planted in early autumn and they started beautiful during autumn, but when winter came they all withered and died! 

We planted two varieties of carrots (bought from two different suppliers) - the one variety sprouted very well, but then one morning there were nothing left!  Some bugs must have had a feast during the night.  The other variety didn’t even sprout.  This bed did have sun! I was so disappointed. By the time the bugs had their feast, it was too late to sow anything else and the bed stayed empty the whole winter season.

In the other sun bed, we had rainbow corn, and this was a huge surprise and treat.  We only got a few cobs of corn, but at least we had a harvest and could give away and save some seed for the next season!  By the time the corn was harvested, I was so disappointed in my vegetable garden, I just left the bed to rest for the remaining season.  
In the other bed, in full sun, we had a plentiful harvest of lettuce!

In the half bed with full sun, our broccoli grows beautiful, but it feels like ages!  We hope to pick broccoli in the next two to three weeks!
And that was it for the winter!  I need to make serious changes in my vegetable garden for the next winter.
But now for this season!  Am I so excited and have high (maybe to high) expectations!  This year I’m more prepared for spring.  I have 7 beds f to start with, in comparison with two this time last year! I have heirloom seeds and I have a little more experience now.
So what are we doing?

CJ, Josua, Andrew, David and Daniel prepared our beds.  

We added horse manure, bone meal, peanut shells (for drainage), river-bed sand, left over coffee beans and the every day’s ash from our fireplace to the beds.  

This we’ve done at the beginning of August, so when we plant by the middle of September, the horse manure would have decomposed a little.
My compost heap is not doing well. I must still be doing something wrong.  I just don’t get the temperature right.  CJ got me a few bags of horse manure and after Christo and CJ pruned two big trees in the front yard, CJ put all the little twigs 
through our shredder.  The first two days the temperature was high and steam came out of the heap.  But a week later it was cold!  I don’t think it gets enough son.  As a result I can still not use what is in my compost heap for the beds.

Christo and CJ made me 3 light boxes, with growing lamps, for my seedlings to germinate. Having the seedlings in a controlled area helps increase the germination rate of the seeds. This way I can win a few extra weeks into the planting season.  By the time the weather takes a turn for the better, my seedlings wiild be strong little plants, and I can replant them in my prepared beds. Luckily we don't have frost in the Cape.
Heidi-Mari and I prepared seedling soil for our seed trays.

The soil for my previous seasons was not what it should be.  The seedlings were a pale green, a sign of nitrogen shortage, due to ‘too fresh horse manure’.  This time we could do it right! 
My Worm farm had done well over the past few months.  I’m tapping off a good amount of worm tea every second week and I got some vermicompost to put in the seedling soil, mixed with sifted potting soil and peat moss.  This ‘recipe’ we got from Jane’s Delicious Garden book.
After preparing the seedling soil we could fill our seedling trays, 27 of them. We emulate the conditions a seed would find in nature.  To do this we created two levels soil. The lower one firmly pushed down, for anchoring the plant's roots and a top one loosely sprinkled on top in which the seed can germinate.

We planted lettuce, tomatoes, onions, butternuts, squash, peas, beans, watermelons, basil and coriander and put them in the light boxes.  After 3 days the first seeds were germinating!  

It is so exciting to go check which seeds germinated every morning.  Heidi-Mari, Danika, Josua and I take turns to spray our seedlings every day.
In our rose garden we also spent some time.  Last year I attended Ludwig’s finger pruning demonstration and found it so helpful.  This year I attend the winter pruning demonstration and did my own rose pruning.  It was so much fun!

After pruning we worked in a thick layer peanut shells, for irrigation and plenty of horse manure.  I also gave every rose bush a good shot of Bokashi.

The first roses budded beautiful after pruning.

The Cape had a dry winter season, although we are a winter rainfall season.  August was a sunny month and after only twee weeks the roses looked like this.

Christo and the boys also pruned some trees in the front yard and afterwards showed the little ones how to use a saw, cutting the “logs” into smaller pieces. 

I observed a tendency with Home School Parents to always get someone from outside to teach their children a skill.   Isn’t it much more fun when Mom and Dad teach their children a skill themselves?  And if Mom or Dad don’t have a certain skill, why not study it together.  
Our boys are learning all their life skills from their Dad. Over this weekend the boys will help their dad adding an extra consulting room to his health shop. They will learn carpentry, painting and practical thinking. 

I teach my daughters the skill of cooking, baking, sewing, all by myself.  I couldn’t sew, but taught myself and now I pass it on to my daughters. Heidi-Mari and I are teaching ourselves the art of cardmaking and it is enriching our relationship. Together we also enjoy experimenting with different ingredients in baking. Isn’t this what home schooling is all about?
When we started our raised beds, we used all our available finances to build the beds.  We hoped to have finances as soon as possible to put concrete blogs and pebbles between the beds.  The irrigation system spills water between the beds and one has to ‘swim’ inbetween the beds to pick vegetables or tend to the plants and beds.  

But it was only now that we could start buying concrete blogs and pebbles and we’re not finished yet, but at least we’ve started.  

It looks beautiful. 

We still need to clean up loads of garden rubbish, piled up over the years.  

But Rome wasn’t build in one day!  Everything in due time.

For now, we will nurture our seedlings, sow some more seeds in trays, work in extra coffee beans and ash into the vegetable beds, replant our young strawberry plants and look forward to planting day!
With love 
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