Thursday, September 8, 2011

On Having Children....from a Mama of Many=)

I asked my friend Tammy if I could steal her blog post so I could share it with you! She is the wife of a missionary to Guatemala and a mother to 7 (almost 8!) beautiful children. I read this post and just loved it. Read this with an open heart and you will be blessed!

"Weddings, Having Babies, and Eternal Rewards..."

By:Tammy Coates

       I looked at some pictures of a Mormon wedding today online, and something that really struck me about it was that there were SO many children in the pictures of the extended family. Their family is large and beautiful, and children are clearly welcome. It made me think sober thoughts about how the Enemy has lied to true believers about the importance, the value, the *necessity* of children. Those who have the true Gospel have, unfortunately, bought into his lies. In fact, some of our most respected teachers and preachers actually counsel young couples to hold off having children, and then be careful to "space them out". And those are the couples who are actually planning to have any children at all.

      We have forfeited God's long-term blessings in favor of short-term convenience, or so that we can have more luxuries, or the designer "one of each" kind of family. We've lost sight of the eternal, and fixed our eyes (and affections) on the temporal. How far removed we are from the godly men and women of Bible times who begged God to bless them with children, who rejoiced to see them born, who blessed young brides of the next generation with a blessing of fruitfulness!
"Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways... Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table." {Psalm 128:1,3}

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it." {Genesis 1:28}

"And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people." {Genesis 28:3}

"And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase." {Jeremiah 23:3}

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate." {Psalm 127:3-5}
Do we believe that the fruit of the womb is His reward? Really? If we believed that, then would we be counseling young couples to prevent pregnancies? The fact is that Christians today have an unbiblical view on childbirth and family planning. We've accepted the world's philosophy on it, while other groups.. cults.. (not just Mormons) are multiplying and teaching their young their false doctrines, raising up a healthy generation of hell-bound zealots. And we look around us, bewildered at their sheer numbers, wondering how we'll ever be able to win them all to the Lord.

Well, the answer to that dilemma is right in our homes.

       The fact is that YOU can't win that many people to the Lord in your lifetime. It's impossible. You will only be able to reach a limited number of people, and that's it. Meanwhile, people continue to be born, grow up without being taught the truth, and will likely, eventually, die lost. Will your influence only extend to the end of your life? Not if you have a whole passel of children, and train them up to walk in the ways of the Lord! I challenge you to do this:

1) Rethink your philosophy about childbearing and family planning. Does it line up with Scripture? Do you see large families as being abundantly blessed, or as unfortunate souls who perhaps haven't figured out "what causes that"?

2) Realize that children really are a blessing from the Lord, and treat them as such. Do not balk at the woman in your church who is "pregnant AGAIN??", and instead bless her with words of affirmation and joy. (Check out Luke 1:42!)

3) Encourage the young mother who is tired, who wonders if it's all worth it, who just had a baby and needs the support of others while she is resting. Give her the support she needs, lest she get discouraged and decide in her heart that this one's the last one, because she can't take anymore.

4) If you are married, of childbearing age, and you are physically able to have children, pray about taking your hands off the controls and allowing God to open and close the womb according to His will.

     I have never heard anyone say they regret having a child, but I have heard many regrets from people who wish they would have had more. "Father, give us YOUR heart attitude about children!"

***This post is not intended to hurt those who cannot have children, nor to cause distress to those who could have, did not, and now it is too late. To those brothers and sisters, I say now is your opportunity to encourage the next generation to welcome children, and bless them with your words, your love and support!*** -Tammy Coates

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mrs. Dixie Sasser-Wife of the Week

Husband’s Position - Missionary to the Jewish People
How long have you been married? almost 18 years
How many children do you have? We have 5 boys: Cody 17, Daniel 13, Joshua 9, Christopher 7, and Timothy 5
1. How did you meet your husband? I met my husband at a convenient store I was working at while I was in college.
2. When did you get saved? I got saved when I was 11 years old.
3. Please share your testimony. I got saved as a young girl and tried to live my best for the Lord, but unfortunately as a teenage girl I started to get away from Him. Looking back I see the chastening hand of the Lord upon my life and am so grateful for this.
4. How long have you been in the ministry? We have been in the ministry since 1999.
5.How did you know the Lord wanted you in the ministry? Was it hard for you to submit to that or did you know 100% sure right away that this is what God wanted for your life? My husband got a strong burden for the Jewish People in 1998 but did not get called to preach till 1999. I was willing to do whatever the Lord wanted and knew my place was to be submissive to my husband in whatever the Lord wanted out of his life. It wasn’t really hard for me to submit to the ministry as a whole; however at times it was hard to submit to certain aspects of the ministry.
6. How old were you when you your husband first held a position of leadership? I was 27 when John got called to preach.
7. And if you were young, did you have a hard time adjusting because of your age? Did you feel “ready” to be in that position?  I didn’t feel young at the time and compared to some I wasn’t but to others I was. My age didn’t seem to bother me.
8. Once you had children did you find you did less in the ministry and was that hard for you? I had children when we started in the ministry. As more came along I did find I wasn’t able to do as much in my husband’s ministry. However, I now had my own ministry raising my five boys for the Lord ,so in this ministry, which is my primary ministry (along with taking care of my husband), I have more time because my husband and I realized that this is where I needed to be and that this was a full-time job for me.
9. What are some ways you included and involved your children in the ministry? In the Jewish ministry I have always included the children. We of coarse travel with John and we do go out and visit with him. I would take the stroller out and go with him. This was always an open door because people just love babies and toddlers. Now that the children are getting older they are able to go with us in visitation. The boys help put up the tent during the tent meetings and this is a big help.
10.  Do you ever worry that your children would resent the ministry and what are some ways you tried to make it fun for them? I guess there is always a worry that the children would resent the ministry. I know the devil is after the children of every preacher. They have a tough time sometimes of not being able to do all that some other children get to do because we travel so much. We always try to make sure we spend time with them and do something fun with them were ever we go. We try to always keep an open line of communication with them concerning their feelings.
11. What would be the best thing you would tell a mom who is raising her children in the ministry? The best thing I could tell another mother is to not neglect your children for the ministry. Remember God made you to be “keeper at home”. Yes, you are there to help your husband but that is his ministry. God gave you a ministry and that is to take care of your husband and your children. Part of helping your husband is helping in the ministry, but never, never neglect your God given ministry “keeper at home”. I tried to be super woman and do it all and soon found myself burnt out. When I started to study God’s Word and saw that my place was as a “keeper at home” it really made me see that I was trying to do to much to look good in other peoples eyes.
12.Are you naturally a submissive person or do you sometimes have a hard time easily following your husband?  LOL, I don’t know any woman that is naturally submissive. I think that is part of our sinful nature. I do know some women who do have an “easier” time submitting. I use to have a hard time submitting to the leadership of my husband at times. It was then that I would have to go to the Lord in prayer. Now, I have an easier time with submission because I have learned that by submitting to my husband I am submitting to the Lord.
13.What do you do to encourage your husband when he is discouraged with the work? I try to just be extra conscience of his needs at that time and go out of my way to make things easier for him at home. I also realized a long time ago that these times are going to come and that I need to pray more fervently for my husband during this time.
14  How do deal with any criticism toward your husband from others? This is one of my weakest areas in my spiritual walk. I get in the flesh so bad when any one criticizes my husband. I really have to take time and calm down. I will admit I have spoken too quickly and gotten too angry over this. It is an area that I am working on. I am learning to turn it over to the Lord and not take man’s words to heart.
15.How do you deal with personal criticisms? Personal criticism does hurt me but I can get over it quicker than when someone criticizes my husband or children. I have learned that I can’t please everyone and that I only have to please the Lord first of all and then my husband. As long as these two are happy then I shouldn’t worry what others will say.
16. Do you set aside date nights/days with your husband? Now that my sons are older, we do try to get out once in awhile. Set date nights are hard since I don’t know what may be going on in our lives. We travel a lot and have a lot going on.
17.What is the biggest thing you have learned about being married to a man in the ministry? The biggest thing I have learned has been that life is full of surprises.
18.What are some ways you protect your husband from “those” women in the church? I give “those women” the evil eye. No really I just talk to my husband about the women that I have noticed who seem to maybe go out of their way for him or get his attention. My husband never counsels a woman alone and always makes sure that I am around or one of our sons when other women are at church.
19. Do you and your husband have devotion or prayer time together daily? We don’t have a devotion or prayer time with just us two. We daily do this as a family. We do talk a lot about our prayers and time with the Lord.
20.Do you have a hard time sharing your burdens with your husband in fear that it will discourage him?  I do have a hard time sometimes sharing my burdens with him for just that reason. My husband is my best friend but I do not want to overwhelm him. I do go to him with the important things but sometimes I try to keep the petty things to myself and work them out between me and the Lord. My husband has enough on him.
21. What do you do to encourage yourself in the Lord? I try to quote Bible verses and sing songs that magnify the Lord when I am going through a discouraging time. I start just thanking God for all the goodness in my life.
22. What is your favorite Scripture?  My favorite Scripture is Proverbs 14:1 “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”
23.Do you have a favorite song? No, I don’t have one favorite song.
24.What is your biggest struggle in the ministry? My biggest struggle in the ministry is feeling like I am not adequate enough for the Lord to use. I feel like I am always letting the Lord down and my family down. I let the devil defeat me in this area too much. I forget that the Lord uses the “foolish” to confound the wise. It is not that I am such a great wife and mother but it is I have such a great God to help me be a great mother and wife. I have a hard time believing that I am worthy to be called “blessed”.
25.Do you have find that you are not able to have close lady friends in your church? This is one area that I struggle with also. I don’t have any close relationships per se. I have friends all over the country and I am very grateful for that but I do miss being a part of a church group. I was able to have a lady’s Bible study when my husband was at Life and Liberty Baptist Church. (One of our supporting churches was about to close down so my husband went to over to help them as a pastor for a little over 3 years till they where able to get another pastor in. ) I miss just being a part of this and developing close relationships.
26.When you are discouraged, do you feel like you can “show” that feeling to ladies in the church? Or, do you feel like you always have to portray the “perfect” happy Pastor’s wife? My “church” is different ever week. No, I don’t feel like I can show this to the ladies and pastor’s wives at the churches we are at. How would it look for a grumpy missionary’s wife to come into service. I feel like during this time I have to “put on a smile” and be the happy missionary wife. I have days where I just don’t feel good but I don’t want to show it because I don’t want my actions to hurt my husband’s ministry and I am not at a church sometimes long enough for them to see that I am not usually like that but just having a “bad day”.
27.Have you ever made a big mistake or offended someone, and if yes, how did you go about restoring that relationship? Yes I have made mistakes and at times offended someone. I do try to go talk to that person but have found that sometimes it doesn’t always mend the mistake.
28.Do you have other lady ministry friends that you go to for counsel and “venting” purposes? I do have many other lady ministry friends but I don’t usually go to them for “venting”. I know many of them have a lot on their platters too. I try to seek counsel from some when I can.
29. Other than praying, what is the most encouraging thing ladies in the church can do for you?  The most encouraging thing that ladies can do for me is to just show genuine interest in my life and the ministry. When you see that someone really cares for you and are sincere that means a lot.
30.What is your favorite way to serve the Lord in your church?  I love to be able to do Ladies Meetings or Bible Studies. I get nervous doing them and feel unworthy but I will admit I love sharing things that the Lord has showed me through His Word.
31.Do you currently have special Ladies Bible Study, meetings, or fellowships? Since I am not a pastor’s wife I don’t have Bible Studies, and Oh, how I miss them.
32.What ways to you encourage your ladies to get involved in the work of the church?  I would try to teach them from the Bible and then lead by example.
33.What is the most important thing you want to pass down to your children? I want my children to see that serving the Lord is the most important thing in the world.
34. In all of your business, how do you fit your personal time in with the Lord each day? My personal time with the Lord is often the hardest time to fit in. I try to get up first thing and read and spend time with the Lord. I also find that sometimes I have to slip away for a quick alone time with the Lord doing the day.
35.Out of all that you have learned being in the full time ministry, what is the most important thing you have learned?  The most important thing that I have learned would have to be not to get to attached to this present world. I had to learn to let go of worldly possessions and to trust God to supply my needs. I have learned that so much of what we think is a “necessity” is not and that God will never let me go without my needs being met. I have learned that when you put God first that He will bless beyond all that you can imagine.
36.How would you describe the “perfect” Pastor’s wife? The “perfect” pastor’s wife (or missionary’s or evangelist’s) is one who realizes that she is not perfect in herself. She has to look to the Lord daily. She does fall but trusting in the Lord gets back up and goes on. She has her priorities in order: her walk with the Lord, then her family, and then the needs of the ladies in the church.

Friday, September 2, 2011

"My Struggle With Infertility" By: Christal Shipman

       I grew up like most little girls, playing dolls, setting up house, and dreaming of being a "grown up" with my own family.  I never had big career dreams.  I just knew I wanted to be a wife and mother.  Most of us never think about "if" I get to be a mother, we simply think "when I am a mom".  Part of those dreams came true when, at 25 (I know, an old maid, huh) I married my wonderful husband, finished up Bible College and began life in the ministry.  We chose to spend a few years just the two of us before adding to our family.   When the time came that my heart could wait not longer and I assured my husband "we" were ready, I only assumed it would happen in no time that we would be expecting a baby.  Time came and went, and we were leaving our first place of ministry and heading out on deputation to start a church.  

Time continued to march on and I began to wonder what was wrong with me and why God was keeping this from me.  I had no idea what was wrong, but knew it shouldn't take this long (almost a year now).  The movie FACING THE GIANTS came out about this time and Caleb and I sat down with his brother and family to watch it.  I had never fought so hard to fight back tears in my life.  I sat in the dark with a giant lump in my throat as I watched this family face the heart ache of the possibility of a childless home.  A few weeks later I sat at my sisters table during one of her daughter's birthday parties and looked around to notice all the friends and family that I grew up with there at that party with their kids.  Not just babies, but 2 and 3 kids...some seven or eight years old by now.  "God, I am way behind... Why are you leaving me out?"  My eyes were filling with tears and I wanted so badly to get to the bathroom before anyone asked me what was wrong.  I have always confided in my mom and we had talked about how I was feeling and what might be wrong.  No time to really look into it, we were busy on deputation and of course without money or insurance.  I tried to put on my brave face and focus on the upcoming church plant, but my heart was always distracted with questions like "Why, God"... "Did I do something wrong?" "Did I need to have more faith". "God, I want to be strong, but I just don't think I am strong enough to be one of those people that never has kids." 
      During the remodel of the church building we purchased, one evening I took a sharpie to the unfinished wood of the platform and began to write scriptures on the altar, below the pulpit and piano concering there signifignace. At a particular spot I wrote the verse in I Samuel where Hannah "poured out her soul before the Lord" and that is just what I did there. Time marched on some more, and now we had started a church and "I" was a pastor's wife.  Everything was so people to meet every week, secretary work to do, doors to be knocked, people looking to me for advice and watching my expressions.  Kindly people would ask, "When are you going to have kids?", or say "It's about time for you guys to have kids now". To which I would politely reply, "We are ready when God is", or "Sometime soon".  It was always hard when people would ask "those" questions.  I know they had good intentions, but I felt so vulnerable like they could see right into my heart or know that tears were about to overflow.  Many days I just waited to get home and go to my quiet place and sob my eyes out to the Lord.  I told Him everything.  How much it hurt.  How I didn't understand what He was doing in my life.  How could I find purpose in my life when all I ever wanted was to be a good mother.  He always listened, put up with a little self-pity, and drew me closer to Him (I now think that was His point all along). 
      I had time when I was angry with God, times when I had faith, even if it was just a little.  I began to study the Bible concerning barren women.  I was searching for God's purpose in all of this.  In the mean time my mom found me a doctor that would charge us very little to help us determine what was going on.  I found out I have PCOS (basically I do not regularly ovulate... kinda need to do that in order to get pregnant).  I had come to two conclusions by this time. 1. It was God who opens and closes the womb, and no matter what I did medically, He was ultimately in control, and 2. All though I did not know how I would make it or ever get over the hurt, I was going to serve the Lord, no matter the outcome.  I was given some medicine to help my body do what it was supposed to do and my 6 month roller coaster began. 
    You start out with high hopes, spend agonizing time waiting... and then heartbreak. Over and over again!  December was my last month before I had to take a 6 month break.  The soonest I could take a test was Christmas day, and there was know way I wanted to spend that day crying and sad, so I waited until the next day. Then one more day, I just couldn't take the hurt.  Well, the next day came and when I saw a different result and I "was" pregnant, I did just what I told the Lord I would do... I litterally fell on my face on the bathroom floor and thanked Him while I wept.  When I gained my composure, I took my husband to the auditorium and told him the news at  same spot on the altar where I had prayed to God. 
I usually think of this story and think how God gave me Olivia, but truly God had answer my prayers beyond that. When I would pray I would figure," if I'm asking God for a baby, why not just ask Him for children... I wanted kids". I figured if He can give me one, then two would be just as easy for Him.  When I later got pregant with Grant, to me it may have been a surprise, but God was just remembering my prayer and being His wonderful Self. 
      I know not everyone's story ends like this.  Some may have struggled for a few months, others years upon years.  I only know what God had done in my life and how I will never forget to praise Him for it.  My sweet little sister, Emily, and her husband are facing the same struggle.  My brother and his wife have recently faced three miscarraiges.  God has given me a tender heart toward others and I ask Him to use me to minister to them and pray for them.  The night Grant was born my sweet brother-in-law had to leave the room because his heart was so broken over his own desire to be a father.  I hardly slept that night as I pictured his face and the pain I saw in it.  I thank the Lord for letting me know that pain so I can weep for others and pray that they can fall into the arms of God and know Him more.  Know that people show their hurt in may different ways, but they are all just crying out for someone to care and hurt with them. 
   I know God was drawing me to Him and reminding me that I needed Him.  If you want to read a book that will help you better minister to people facing infertility, I recommend the book HANNAH'S HOPE by Jennifer Saake.  Like a lot of books, I cannot endorse everything in it, but it can be very helpful in understanding the heart and hurt of those facing infertility and even misscariage. My desire is that my trial was not in vain, but that God would use it to strenghten me and to allow me to help others and pray for them.