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Archive for the ‘child moments’ Category

My children have a special tradition that they do with their Grandma every time that a new baby is born into our family. They bake “baby brownies”! All of the children from the oldest to the youngest get to help prepare and decorate brownies to be enjoyed when Mommy, Daddy, and the new baby come home from the hospital. This allows the children the chance to make wonderful memories with their Grandmother while she is caring for them, and teaches them that babies being born is something to celebrate and look forward to!

This is the third time that they have made “baby brownies”, and let me tell you,they keep on getting even tastier every time. After all, they are made with more and more love each time, as another little set of hands gets their turn to help!

Aprons on! Everyone is ready to get started!

Kassidy has got the right idea!

 

Kaitlyn adds some oil.

Here comes Kourtney with the eggs!

Time to start the mixing!

More mixing with Kyle.

Kassidy keeps it going.

Kourtney gets her chance to mix it up.

Okay, time to bring in the big muscles with Kory!

Time for the yummy chocolate frosting!

Kyle is the official frosting-tester…now that is a great job to have!

Ah! The finishing touch…rainbow sprinkles!!!

Here is the final product…delicious!! These did not last long, let me tell you!

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I know that it has been a while since I updated here. But I have a good reason. No, really, I have a GREAT reason!!

THIS is why I have been MIA for a little while:

Kolby Bradford was born on August 12th, 2008 at 5:51am!

He weighed 4 pounds and 15 ounces, and was 18 inches long.

Isn’t he just a sweetheart?

Everyone is just loving him and enjoying him so much!

Big sister Kaitlyn was the first sibling to hold him.

Next it was big brother Kyle’s turn.

Big sister Kourtney gets her chance.

Big sister Kassidy has been waiting patiently to hold her new brother.

Kory is a big brother now!

Welcome home baby Kolby!!! We love you!

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Kaitlyn and Kyle with their arts&crafts painting projects!

Kaitlyn, Kyle, and Kourtney check out some other projects.

 

 

Kassidy thinks that the fair is lots of fun!

Kory enjoys one of the free coloring books they gave away.

Kaitlyn with her tree poster project.

Kyle with his tree poster project.

 

Kassidy and Kory like their flags!

Kaitlyn found stickers, candy, and a flag!

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Kaitlyn

 

Kyle

Kourtney

Kassidy

 

Kory

 

Thank you Jesus for the gift of our children!

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Here are some miscellaneous shots of some of our children from a recent birthday celebration we enjoyed. I love having family time! We can make special memories that will last a lifetime.

Little girls love to play with ribbons. Kourtney is no exception!

Mommy helps Kassidy learn to read the card first!

Kaitlyn, Kyle, and Kassidy hanging out and having fun.

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My previous entry featured the series “Embracing God’s Gift of Children”, that has been the topic this week, on the radio program “Revive Our Hearts” with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Part 2 of this series addresses God’s provision for families and the children He blesses them with. It is a good reminder that if we trust the Lord with all of the aspects of our life, even when it is a counter-culture decision, that God will supply all of our needs. We do not need to be afraid to obey the Lord, He is always in control! You can read more below:

The transcript for this interview can be found at this location:

http://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/roh/today.php?pid=9956

More follows below:

God’s Provision for Children 
Series: Embracing God’s Gift of Children

Tuesday, July 8 2008

 
Leslie Basham: Holly Elliff says, “Don’t be quick to assume God doesn’t want you to have children.”

Holly Elliff: I do think we’re seeing a large number of Christian (committed Christian) couples who are saying, “We will not have children so that we can be more free to minister.”

First of all, I would love to be able to sit down with them across the table and do for them what someone did for us, which is simply to challenge us to pick up God’s Word, putting aside what we know in our culture, but to simply get to the truth of God’s Word and say, “What does God say about this area?”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Tuesday, July 8.

Have you ever felt limited in the size of your family—by the size of your budget or your ability to parent? Today Nancy will continue our conversation with a pastor’s wife and mother of eight, Holly Elliff. She’s seen God’s faithful provision time and again. Let’s listen.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We’ve been talking this week with one of my very special friends, a dear prayer partner. Her name is Holly Elliff. Holly is a pastor’s wife. She and Bill are the parents of eight children.

We’ve been talking this week about a difficult and controversial subject, but we believe such an important one, and that is this whole matter of childbearing. Holly, welcome back to Revive Our Hearts.

Holly: Thanks.

Nancy: You’ve been telling us something of your story and how after the birth of your fourth child, thinking at that point that your quiver was probably going to be full, how the Lord challenged you to go to the Word and to evaluate, based on the Scripture, not based on the culture around you, why it was that you’d come to that conclusion and what it was that was the Lord’s viewpoint on children and on childbearing and on these practical issues of life.

Holly, it’s been interesting to me to hear you say a couple of times that you were doing what God called you to do. You’re talking there about the bearing and nurturing of life. I so appreciate hearing that perspective because I think so many women in our culture have lost sight of the biblical viewpoint that God has given to women, a distinctive call to be bearers and nurturers of life.

I think about Paul saying to Timothy in 1 Timothy chapter 5 that the younger widows, he’s speaking of particularly, were to marry, to bear children, to keep house. He’s talking about not just widows but the role and the calling of women, that a huge part of their purpose in life is to be helpers to their husbands and bearers and nurturers of children.

In fact, he goes so far as to say in a passage that admittedly is complex, but in chapter 2 of 1 Timothy, that women, in some sense, are saved through child bearing. We know from the rest of Scripture he’s not talking about their eternal salvation, but in that same passage he talks about Timothy being saved through preaching.

I think what he’s saying is Timothy’s God-given role is to be a preacher, and that he would demonstrate his salvation and his perseverance and his faith through doing what God had called him to do. Likewise, women generally are called by God to give birth to children, to rear up children who have a heart for God and that in so doing they demonstrate the genuineness of their profession of faith, that they demonstrate they are committed and submitted to God’s will and plan for their lives.

Holly, I guess what concerns me is that so many women today are making choices that they are making for some of the reasons that you described, which really do in many cases come back to “What do I want? What’s best for me?” Reasons that are selfish, rather than saying, “Why did God put me here on this earth? What was God’s purpose in creating me? How can I best fulfill that purpose?”

As you read through the Old Testament, it’s so exciting to see that God is the giver of life. He’s the Creator of life. A big part of God’s means of taking the redemptive story and Gospel to the world is through the willingness of godly parents to have a godly seed, to raise up children who will take the Gospel to the world.

One of the concerns is that this world is so violent; it’s so evil. “I don’t want to bring children into this kind of a world.”

There’s an understandable fear that I think many mothers have as they look at the world around us today. But the challenge, I think, for women of God is to not give in to that fear but to accept this calling to bring forth children into the world and to trust that God is going to use those children to be a light, to be salt, to be different, to be difference-makers and to be the ones who deal with the issues facing the world and take the light of Christ’s Gospel into the world.

So really, the problems we’re concerned about, in part God’s way of addressing those issues is to say, “Women, are you willing, and couples, are you willing to bring forth children into this world who will be part of God’s solution, part of God’s means of taking the Gospel into this very dark world?”

I know you, Holly. I’ve known you for a lot of years. I think you’re a remarkable woman. I thought that when you had fewer children, and I really think it now.

I can just imagine some women if they could know you thinking, “Well, you’re just a superwoman. You can handle having all those children.” You do seem like a pretty calm person. Of course, I don’t live in your home. I don’t know. Are things just always calm at the Elliff household?

Holly: There are a lot of words I would use to describe the Elliff household. “Calm” would not be one of them. I don’t know if it’s because I was a speech pathologist or what, but all of our children basically were born talking. They are all talkers. They are all lively children. Half of them are boys. It is never calm.

Nancy: I’m the oldest of seven children. I can think back to times around our dinner table when I would look around and realize that everyone was talking loudly at the same time. I have no idea who was listening, but we were all talking loudly at the same time.

You’d see these old TV programs with people with lots of children and they all just spoke one at a time and it was all so picture perfect. Our family just didn’t look that way. It sounds like yours doesn’t either.

Holly: I have known a family whose children sat in little chairs and never spoke unless they were spoken to. I wish I could say that’s what mine is like, but it is not.

Nancy: So if someone is saying you’ve just got exceptional ability to handle this kind of pressure but another woman says, who’s got three toddlers right now, “I just could not face that kind of pressure. I couldn’t deal with it. I’m not like you, Holly Elliff.”

Holly: Well, I would remind her that I did not start out with eight children. I had one at a time. We actually thought twins would be kind of fun but God never chose to give us twins. So we have received our children one at a time.

What I have found is that with those children comes corresponding grace to nurture those children, to love those children. I am not saying by any means that that is always easy or that I do not struggle with the realities of laundry and food and dishes.

We have home schooled for many years. I remember sitting down with Billy one night and saying, “Okay, I can do school and laundry, or I can cook and do school, or I can clean the house and do school or laundry. Which ones would you like for me to actually get accomplished because there is no way I can do all of these things.”

So we really did talk about what things were going to be the most important to us. I really was a little bit of a perfectionist in the early days of my married life. That has so far gone out the window that I am just grateful now if everyone has clean underwear and if towels get folded.

I have had to release areas that could no longer be the priority in my life, ask the Lord constantly for wisdom. I’m so grateful for James 1. The funny thing is I memorized that in college, not knowing why I would need it later.

Nancy: What part of James 1?

Holly: James 1:2-5 where it says,

When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your life don’t resent those things as intruders but welcome them as friends. Realize they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. Let that process go on until you become mature and complete and lacking in nothing. And if along the way if any of you lacks wisdom he has only to ask of God who gives to all men generously without making them feel foolish or guilty.

I cannot tell you how many times I have stood in my laundry room with the door closed, reminding God that He has promised me wisdom, that He has promised to give me what I need when I need it as I raise my children.

But what I say to that mother of three, has this been simple or easy? No.

Nancy: I’m so glad that you’ve shared with us that you’ve had to make some choices and that you don’t do everything.

I think one of the things I’ve watched as I have had some friends with many children and some of them home schooling and at a season of life that’s very challenging. I’ve watched some of those women really end up looking very frazzled and continually frustrated because they are trying to do everything in this season of life.

You’re saying that that mom doesn’t have to do everything, that everything doesn’t have the same priority.

Holly: I do think God can give wisdom on what really matters.

I was talking with a young wife the other day on the phone and she said, “My husband is so frustrated because I have a new baby and I can’t get everything done.”

I said, “I want you to ask him what are the two things that he really wants done, and then you make a commitment to get those two things done.”

She came back the next day and she said, “Okay, he wants food and he wants to be able to see the countertops in the kitchen. That really bugs him when the kitchen is dirty.”

I said, “Okay, you focus on those two things. If you can get more done, that’s great.” If you are a student of your husband enough that you know what his hot buttons are, then you can meet those needs.

My husband could care less if we eat peanut butter and jelly for dinner. If when he comes home he can sit down in his recliner and my children look mostly normal—they’re clothed. I did call home yesterday at one point and found out that my three youngest had a mattress in the front yard of my neighbor and were sliding down the mattress into the street.

So just because I have been doing this for many years does not mean it always happens perfectly. But you know, my life is real. What I have found in the midst of my very real life is that God truly is who He says He is and that He really is sufficient.

Nancy: Holly, let me back up a minute to a woman who called you recently, the young mother. I think it’s so great that as a young mother there was a woman she could call and could say, “This is hard. I’m struggling. Could you give me some counsel?”

I don’t know if you yet consider yourself an older woman. I’m not sure at what point we qualify. But you’re certainly older than that woman. And really you’re providing practical encouragement and assurance and counsel for her just out of your life experience. You’re fulfilling your God-given responsibility as an older woman to be teaching younger women.

Speak to the younger women about the importance of having an older woman in their life that they can call and who can provide that kind of encouragement for them.

Holly: Well, I really would encourage young moms especially when you have several toddlers and a busy husband . . . Motherhood can be a very lonely place when you are home all day with those children and no one is speaking coherent English to you. You do start feeling like your brain is mush, like you could not have an intelligent conversation if somebody was there to talk to.

What I find is that our society tends to isolate us and that if we are not careful we really do miss a lot of the benefit that God’s Word says we are to have through older women teaching younger women.

Nancy: Of course, now we don’t have the extended family, the aunts and the grandmothers. So women do tend to be more isolated.

Holly: Right, and we do tend to go in our houses, close our doors. I would encourage those women to look for a role model in their church or in a Bible study they’re in, to look for a godly older mother. It doesn’t have to be a lot older, but somebody just further down the road than you are who can encourage you toward godliness, who can encourage you and remind you of the truth.

Many times we know the truth in our head but there are moments when we’re so overwhelmed with our circumstances, we just need somebody to hold our arms up a little bit like Aaron and Hur did.

Nancy: Maybe just somebody to say, “You’re going to make it.”

Holly: And somebody to just remind us that every day will not feel like this day does. If today has been crazy, tomorrow won’t be quite as crazy perhaps, and that God really is still on His throne and knows what my life is like and has provision for it.

Nancy: It’s kind of easy sitting here in this studio to talk about those things. But I’m thinking about some of the questions that those who’ve been listening to this program may be asking. For example the woman who says, “We just can’t afford to have any more children. My husband doesn’t have a great income, and I can’t work full time because I’m taking care of these children. How are we going to afford having all these kids?”

Holly: Obviously, this area is very counter-culture. Our culture is so centered on materialism, on what we need.

Nancy: Or think we need.

Holly: Or think we need, or what we want. What we have found as we have raised our children on a pastor’s salary—my husband does have a secure income and we’re very grateful for that. But even so, our kids do not have everything they want.

Really, when you look in Scripture at what God says are needs, there are very few things that we actually need. There are many things we want.

So what we tell our kids is, “If there’s something you really want, then you ask God to provide that for you.” There’s nothing wrong with our children seeing God as the provider of the good things that we have.

We are not people who started putting away money with our first child to finance college educations. So we really have had to trust God.

Billy encouraged our older children to start praying for God to provide a certain amount of money. Totally unexpectedly we got a letter in the mail from an aunt who never had children of her own, recently went to be with the Lord, and provided the money we need for our son to go to college—and totally out of the blue.

It was so wonderful to be able to go to our children and say, “Look at this. This is an avenue we never even dreamed existed.” A woman who lived very simply but chose to do this.

God has illustrated to our children time and time again that when there are genuine needs there, He will meet those needs. It is very contrary to Scripture to assume that God would give us children and then not give us the ability to provide basic needs for those children.

Nancy: Holly, listening to that story I’m reminded of the fact that those who don’t have children, either because they’re single or because, as married couples, God has not blessed them with children, that we’re a community, we’re a Body.

We’re a family and there are roles that those of us who don’t have children can have in being an encouragement and a help, perhaps in the financial area as that aunt was. Perhaps in help with time, with encouraging those mothers who have their hands full with all those children.

This is a way that the Body can be a Body and encourage each other.

Let me raise another question that I hear sometimes. How old were you with your last child?

Holly: I was 43 when I had Jessica.

Nancy: Did you get some people saying to you, “After 40, there’s a higher risk of . . . ”?

Holly: Actually, it is amazing what I had even Christian physicians say to me. One doctor was compelled to read me this long list of things that could happen when you had children into your 40’s. At the end of that list I said to him—and this was someone I knew fairly well—but I challenged him as he dealt with women, not to place fears in their heart that God did not put there, that man has put there, and that if they are trusting God to give them their children and God allows them to get pregnant at 40 or 43 or 45 . . .

I was not the oldest mother on the floor. There was a woman there who was 46 and having twins when I had Jessica. So I felt really good about that, that I was not the oldest mother there.

What I have found is that we really have adopted or accepted a great deal of the world’s philosophy in this whole area and that it’s really very simple in Scripture if we will just look at the truth of God’s Word and trust Him.

Nancy: Okay, help the woman who says, “I want to have more children but my husband isn’t for that. He’s not open to that.” How do you encourage that woman?

Holly: I talked with a young gal in our church a couple of weeks ago who has one child. Her husband has decided that’s all they can afford. She desperately wants more children. I encouraged her first of all to go to her husband and make an appeal and share her heart honestly with him.

Scripture says we can always ask God to give us the desires of our heart and then leave the outcome to Him. So I encouraged her to go to her husband and share her heart honestly and then if her husband still feels very strongly about this, then it becomes an issue that she takes up with the Lord who is her intercessor.

If she goes before Christ she can continue to tell Him the desire of her heart and even to ask Him to change her husband’s heart because she’s praying something that’s in accord with Scripture. She’s not praying outside God’s will. She’s praying about something that God loves. So she has the freedom to go before God and say, “This is something I desire. Would You allow me to have more children?”

Nancy: I read an article recently in a major Christian women’s magazine by a woman who was a married woman in her thirties who was explaining why she and her husband have chosen childlessness.

She said when she was thirteen years old, she looked around and, for various reasons including all the evil in the world and she saw these moms with all these kids and they seemed so trapped. She just came to the conclusion that she did not want children.

Now as a Christian woman she’s writing an article in a major publication telling why choosing childlessness may be God’s plan for some women.

Do you find that there are younger women today thinking more this way? Is there a trend in this?

Holly: Well, I do think for about thirty years that we have been listening to voices other than Scripture to give us our philosophy in this area. I think it is real challenging for Christians to say, “Where did I get my beliefs in this area? Why do I believe this? Is it biblical?”

I was astounded to look back on my own life and realize that I had not even considered, “Is this biblical?” up until the point where we began to be challenged by God to do that. I do think in talking with my daughters and their friends and their married friends, we’re seeing a large number of Christian (committed Christian) couples who are saying, “We will not have children so that we can be more free to minister.”

Nancy: What do you say to that?

Holly: First of all, I would love to be able to sit down with them across the table and do for them what someone did for us, which is simply to challenge us to pick up God’s Word and to examine it, in light of Scripture, putting aside what we know in our culture, but to simply get to the truth of God’s Word and say, “What does God say about this area? Is there any way I can justify what I believe biblically?”

If I can’t—as a Christian if I cannot prove what I believe biblically, then there is a problem with my belief system.

Nancy: So we’re really coming back to what we’ve been saying all week and that is, in this area as in every area of life as the children of God, we must go to the Scripture, let the Word of God be our ultimate authority and then surrender ourselves to His sovereign plan and will in our lives, to embrace what He says about children, about our role as women and how our lives are to center around marriage and family and why that is part of His redemptive purpose in this world.

As we surrender to that plan, God may or may not have marriage for us. And the woman who surrenders her child bearing to the Lord, He may or may not give her more children. He may not give her any children.

So the key issue becomes, “Do I really trust God to make those decisions for my life?” In spite of my fears or things I may not understand, am I really willing to let Him be the Lord?

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Holly Elliff, mother of eight, about God’s provision—His provision of time, of patience and of money. They’ve been talking about a true counter-cultural subject—allowing God to determine the size of your family.

 

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This week on the radio program “Revive Our Hearts” with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, they have been discussing the important matter of allowing the Lord to determine your family size. The series, “Embracing God’s Gift of Children” , features an interview with Holly Elliff, mother to 8 children. Their discussion addresses many of the typical questions that arise regarding giving control of your womb over to the Lord. You can read more below:

The transcript for part one of this interview can be found at this location:

http://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/roh/today.php?pid=9952

The discussion follows:

A Full Quiver 
Series: Embracing God’s Gift of Children

Monday, July 7 2008

 
Leslie Basham: Bill and Holly Elliff are parents of eight children, but they didn’t always plan on having such a big family. Here’s Holly Elliff.

Holly Elliff: We did marry in college in the early 70’s. We immediately started using birth control. I don’t remember us praying through whether we wanted to do that or—it was just kind of the normal thing to do.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Monday, July 7.

You probably pray and seek God’s wisdom on many issues, but have you sought God’s will regarding the size of your family? Today we’ll hear from a woman who did seek God’s direction in this area through prayer and the Bible. Here’s Nancy to introduce today’s guest.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Over the next few days, I want you to get to know a very special friend of mine. Holly Elliff and I have known each other since the early 80’s, and she has been one of those very wise and godly women influences in my life. Holly, welcome to Revive Our Hearts.

Holly: Thanks, Nancy.

Nancy: Holly is a pastor’s wife. Her husband, Bill, is a pastor in the Little Rock area, and they are the parents of eight children. Yes, you got that right, and actually, that’s at the heart of some of what we want to talk about over these next few days. this is a matter that has been a topic of great controversy and one that I think is so important for women to address because it goes to the heart of a part of our role and our calling as women.

We want to talk about this whole matter of childbearing and what is God’s purpose? What is God’s plan? What does His Word, most importantly, have to say about this major area of a woman’s life?

Holly, take us back to the days before there were little Elliffs and when you and Bill first married, even when you were dating, perhaps. Had you thought about how many children you wanted to have? Did you always intend to have a large family? Where were you and Bill on that matter?

Holly: Well, actually, Billy and I have known each other since junior high school. In high school, when we thought we might get married someday, we used to make lists of names of our children.

Nancy: How many names were on that list?

Holly: Oh, three or four probably. We did marry in college, in the early 70’s, and at that point, immediately started using birth control. I don’t remember us praying through whether we wanted to do that or—honestly, it was just kind of the normal thing to do.

I had a degree in speech pathology, and Billy was headed for seminary. We had negative ten dollars a month in our budget when we got married, and so for four years I taught, and Billy went to seminary.

At the end of that time, we decided we were ready to start a family. So after four years of marriage, our first daughter was born—Jennifer. For the next several years, we continued to use birth control and stopped whenever we felt like we were ready to have another child.

We had always wanted four children. That was kind of the number that was in our head, and so, not until I was pregnant with the fourth child, did this really become an issue in our life.

Nancy: And when you say it became an issue, why did it become an issue? What kept you from just saying four—that’s the number, and that’s where we’ll stop?

Holly: Well, at that point, we were living in Oklahoma. We were exposed to some larger, godly families.

Nancy: And by larger . . . ?

Holly: By larger, I mean five, six, seven, eight.

Nancy: That seemed like a lot to you.

Holly: Actually, I had grown up as the oldest of four, and I didn’t really want to have to work as hard as I saw my mother work. I was not at all looking to have a large family. My goal in life, as a young woman, was to become a clinical speech pathologist and drive a little, red, sports car. That’s what I wanted to do with my life.

Well, needless to say, God, over the course of those early years, changed those things as the goal for my life. As we were confronted with some of these larger, godly families, suddenly, it became very strange to us that we had a number of children that we thought we were supposed to have and had no idea where that number came from.

At that point, we really began to question, what does the Bible say about this? Why are these other families choosing to have more children? I thought it was a very radical thing for them to be doing that, and it did make me very afraid.

Nancy: Afraid of—what were your worst nightmares as you thought about . . . ?

Holly: My worst nightmares were wearing maternity clothes for the rest of my life and weighing 400 pounds. I really had a vision of mothers of large families that was not very flattering, and personally, I did not want to be one. What happened was that we began to be troubled about this.

Eventually, we went to the parents of one of these large families that we knew were a godly couple. We knew they sought the Lord in the decisions they made. We went to them and asked them why they had such a large family. I think they had seven or eight children at that point. What they did was really challenge us to do what someone had challenged them to do, which was to pick up our Bibles, become like Berean Christians . . .

Nancy: And Berean Christians were those who didn’t just accept the apostles’ teaching. They went back to the Scripture and checked it out for themselves to make sure that what the apostles were saying was really consistent with the Word of God.

Holly: Right.

Nancy: So you were being challenged to take your viewpoint and put it up against the grid of the Word.

Holly: Really, we didn’t even know what our viewpoint was at that point. I don’t remember anyone ever challenging us to think that through, to put it up against the standard of God’s Word. It was the norm for that day, and that’s what we did. Here we were being challenged for the first time to really examine that in light of God’s Word.

Nancy: So you’re a pastor’s wife. You already have now four children, or the fourth on the way. I assume there’s some question about income here, perhaps living on somewhat of a limited income. That had to be a factor in your thinking. As you went to the Word, were there some hesitations or reservations that you found affecting your thinking as you began to study God’s thinking on this?

Holly: There was tremendous hesitation, and it really began a process that, for me, took about six months of going to God’s Word, looking at the Scripture, saying:

What does God say about the whole area of children?
What do I believe about children, about why God would put more children in my life?”
What about the whole issue of God’s sovereignty in that area (which had never occurred to me).
I had never wondered, “Is there any sense in which I might be violating God’s sovereignty in controlling the size of my family?”

As we got into the process of really looking at God’s Word and what He said, it took my husband about two weeks to feel like he had studied the Scripture, knew what God said in this area of children:

that they were a blessing
that they were from Him
that God controlled that
that He opened and closed the womb
that it was a good thing.
I remember vividly the day he came out of his study. He had this wonderful vision of what it would be like of someday sitting on my front porch and looking out and seeing scores of children out there. We would have every temperament type represented. We would have every spiritual gift represented, and our children would know how to relate to everybody in the world because they live with all different types of people.

I immediately said to him, “Well, that’s very easy for you to say because I’m the one wearing the stretch pants for the next 20 years, and I’m sorry, but I just don’t want to go there.” I really did not want to go there. It was a very frightening thing to me to think of taking my hands off that control in my life.

It took me about six months to work through what I believed the Bible said about that whole issue, and I became an avid student of God’s Word and just began to search the Scriptures for every reference to children, to children as a blessing, to God’s sovereignty in that area as far as opening and closing the womb and looking, honestly, for a way to avoid releasing that area in my life because my preference at that point was not to relinquish that area to the Lord.

As I did that, over and over and over, I found the same things:

that God was the creator of life
that God knew who He wanted to create
that He knew what we were going to look like
that He had a plan for every person
that it was all His business.
I remember vividly one night sitting down at my kitchen table with a legal pad and a sharp pencil and making a list. At the top of the list, I wrote, “reasons I don’t want to have a million children,” and I began to make a list of all the objections I had to what I was seeing in God’s Word.

Nancy: And tell us, what were some of the things you wrote on that list?

Holly:

Fears about what it would do to my physical body.
A fear of being pregnant every nine months for the rest of my adult life.
Financial fears—if we have these children, can we support them?
Can we love a larger number of children? Is that possible?
Fears related to what other people would think.
I got to the bottom of that list, and I laid down my pencil. I read back through that list, and a sudden sense of the total selfishness of everything I had put on that list swept over me. I looked at it, and I thought, “I cannot believe that’s what’s in my heart.” Everything I had on the list was rooted in selfishness.

Nancy: Now, some would look at that list and say, “Some of those things weren’t selfish. Some of those things were just sensible.”

Holly: Well, the bottom line was, it came down to whether or not I was better at making decisions than God was. Was I going to be better at determining what my financial state ought to be than the Lord? Was I going to be better at determining the number of children I could love than God Himself?

It suddenly became very clear to me that this was a heart issue, at least in my life. It was a surrender issue. It was a matter of me choosing, just like I said God was Lord in every other aspect of my life.

We prayed through what to do with our money. We prayed through when we bought a car. It was a huge issue that we prayed about and trusted God to give us direction, but in this area, it was as if we had said, “This area is ours to determine, and we will make this decision.” For the very first time, I was confronted with the fact that I had never really said to the Lord, “What is Your will?”

Nancy: As God began to turn your heart on this, and you saw it as a surrender issue, were you just quickly then able to say, “Okay, Lord, however many children You want us to have, I’ll just throw away this list of objections and . . .

Holly: Well, that night was a real turning point as I really saw the groundwork of my heart a little bit and the selfishness that was there because, even though my husband had quickly come to that decision, I was the one that I thought was going to be pregnant every nine months. It was very difficult for me to release control of that area.

Nancy: Did you do that that night?

Holly: That night, I really did see it suddenly as an issue of surrender, and I did surrender to the Lord in that area, not knowing what that meant. I really thought at that point, “Lord, I’m going to have 25 children.” It scared me to death, and even as I surrendered to it, it was a very frightening thing.

Nancy: Yes. Yes.

Holly: Part of the reason it was so frightening was that during the four years that we had used birth control, I had not given a thought to getting pregnant. I went to my doctor at the end of that time ad said, “We think we’d like to have a child.”

He said, “That’s fine. It will probably take you six months to get pregnant.” Well, I got pregnant two weeks later, as soon as we quit using birth control, and that continued to happen. Every time we decided we were ready for a child, stopped using birth control, I was always pregnant the same month.

Nancy: So you figured you’d be pregnant all the time.

Holly: So the thought of never again using birth control, relinquishing that area to the Lord, to me, honestly meant, I will be pregnant every nine months.

Nancy: That turned out not to be the case for you, right?

Holly: That’s exactly right, and actually, our two closest children occurred while we were using birth control and thought we were in control of that. Since that time, our children have not been any closer than that.

Our closest ones are 18 months apart, and it was astounding to me that my husband and I could just live as a husband and wife and that I did not get pregnant. It blew me away to realize that God really was controlling an area of my life that I thought for years I had been in control of.

Nancy: So as you came to the point of releasing this area of your life to the Lord, practically, how did that affect decisions that you and your husband began to make then after the birth of that fourth child?

Holly: Well, really, the next time that we dealt heavily with this was after our fourth one was born, and we had to make the decision after that pregnancy, will we pick up birth control again? Have we laid it down forever, and so really, after Joshua was born, we did go before the Lord, say, “Lord, is this an area of our life that You want total control of?

After months of searching God’s Word, trying to find a reason why we would not do this, we really became convinced that God was saying to us through His Word, biblically, that we were to totally release that area of our life to Him. It was still frightening to me, but at that point, that is the decision that we made. After the birth of our fourth child, we simply just lived.

Since then, God has given us four more children. I’ve actually been pregnant six more times, and I can honestly say looking back, I have absolutely not one regret about that choice.

Nancy: What happened when you began to share with others—your parents, friends? Did they think you had lost your mind when you told them the conclusion you’d come to?

Holly: Well, you know, Billy and I really did not think of ourselves as radicals. We were pretty traditional people. God just simply took us to the place where this became an issue in our life.

As we relinquished control of that area, we did receive some interesting reactions. I remember vividly telling my mother that I was pregnant with my fifth child, and she cried.

Now, somewhere between number five and number eight, actually ten pregnancies total—somewhere in there, she just decided we were kind of crazy anyway, and she was not going to worry about it anymore. She actually said to me one time, “If you really want to shorten your life by doing this, I certainly am not going to stop you,” and initially, that was her concern.

Choosing to have many children or to allow God to give you whatever children He desires you to have is not necessarily something you want to do if you want to be free, if you want to have lots of naps in the afternoon, if you want to have an agenda that is simple. Having a houseful of children is not simple, and it is not easy.

Nancy: But, Holly, help the woman who says, “We’ve already got four children. They’re age six and under. I have no time of my own, and besides that, there is no way I could possibly handle one more child. I don’t have the energy for it. I just couldn’t do that.”

Holly: Well, I’ll tell you what I have found, and it’s really been an amazing thing. Somewhere in there, about my fourth, fifth child, saying to the Lord one night, “God, I really don’t know that I can do this. This is so hard. I am so tired. I never accomplish enough. No matter what I do all day, nothing is ever finished.” I was so frustrated.

I wanted to be involved in ministry, and Billy’s mother, who is a very wise woman, one day said to me, “Holly, I know this is frustrating right now, but if you will just raise the children God gives you, God will give you that platform. You will have something to say because you’ve been there, and you have done that.”

Nancy: Have you found that that’s been true?

Holly: I have found that that has been true—not perhaps the platform I would have chosen for myself at twenty because my goals were so different. But what I have found is that now, the life message that I have has been worked into my life through the reality of living that message.

I find that when I sit down with women, because I have eight children, they know that I know what they experience. They know that I know what it’s like to be tired and to struggle with relinquishing what I think I need because I have so many demands in my home. What I found was:

I really did not need as much time for myself as I thought.
I could learn to have a quiet heart even in the midst of chaos.
I could hear from God while I was sorting laundry or picking up children’s toys or school books late at night.
The quiet moments became very valuable to me, and even sitting up late at night nursing a baby or rocking a child who’d had a nightmare, those times became very precious times when God’s Spirit just really ministered to me, not because I had time to go spend hours in Bible study, but because I was, I believe, in the center of His will accomplishing part of what He had called me to do.

More and more my children became a tool that revealed what was in my heart, that revealed the need in my own life, that there is always a need for God to work His life out through me as He lives out His Spirit in me.

Nancy: Really, again, we’re saying, “This is the fundamental issue of life, not so much how many children do we have? Where do we live? What kind of car do we drive, but is Jesus Lord of every area of my life?”

I like the way you made that so practical because you said, “We went to the Lord and said, ‘Lord, what do You want us to do in this area of our lives?’” You had asked God that question about other areas of your life, but now in this area, there was a new sense of release and relinquishment to the will of God. The fact is, you and I are not totally free until we have released ourselves, our lives, our future, our marital status, our childbearing—every aspect of our lives—fully to the control of Jesus Christ.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss talking with Holly Elliff about trusting God in every area of life. Do you have thoughts about today’s program? You can post yours and read what others have to say. Just visit our listener blog at ReviveOurHearts.com. Click on the title of today’s program. It’s called, “A Full Quiver.” You’ll see the listener blog located below today’s transcript.

I’m so thankful for those transcripts, and one reason is because you can read from years’ worth of programs. That means when you’re facing a particular issue, you can hear Nancy’s biblical teaching on it, no matter what series we’re currently airing.

One listener used the Internet to catch up on some programs she missed. She then wrote us to say these programs saved her marriage. She said, “I was so humbled by my own sin, and I just cried as the Holy Spirit convicted me so strongly about the way I’ve been treating my husband for the past eight years.”

Well, I want to offer thanks to listeners who help us provide biblical counsel on womanhood and marriage. The listeners who donate to Revive Our Hearts make this kind of life-transformation possible.

From the inception of Revive Our Hearts, we’ve needed listeners to catch a vision for this program and allow us to continue through their support. If you like what we’re doing, we need to hear from you. Would you make a donation at ReviveOurHearts.com or call us at 1-800-569-5959?

Well, tomorrow, Holly Elliff will recount some of the challenges she’s had as a mother of eight and tell us how God has given her strength. We hope you can be here for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

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