My Second Testimony
I wanted so badly to honor God in my marriage, from the very beginning. My parents divorced after being together for 18 years and I was determined to break that chain where it began… I am determined. I wanted to begin our marriage with a firm foundation, one built upon a rock, not sand where every wind and storm will turn it into ruin (Matthew 7:24-27). I had a good idea of Pope John Paul II’s teaching of Theology of the Body thanks to my cousin who sent me a fantastic book (Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love by Edward Sri). Because of this beautiful teaching, I knew I wanted to try Natural Family Planning. The problem was, I had no idea what I was doing. I started taking my temperature after doing some research, but had no idea what I was doing.
We were pregnant within two months of getting married with our first child. I was terrified!
We quickly became excited to have our first baby boy arrive in May 2012. We were on cloud nine! Luke deployed when Caleb was 12 days old so our birth control for the following 6 months was a deployment. While he was gone, I found an instructor for the Creighton Method and we “met” over Skype 1-2 times each month for instruction. I learned a lot and was confident in the method! Nerd moment: I found it really cool to learn how my body worked!
When Luke came home in October 2012, we began using the Creighton Method which involved charting cervical mucus to determine the my fertile time and abstaining when I was fertile since we wanted to avoid pregnancy for the time being. That method worked for an entire year until we decided we were ready to try for another. We became pregnant within a month after that. We soon found out we were expecting TWIN BOYS! God surely showered blessings all over us!
We then continued the Creighton Method, something I found very difficult while postpartum (I’m sure it’s wonderful not postpartum and I have talked to many who love it, but it was very difficult for me and Luke). Luke deployed again when the twins were 5 months old and returned just before their 1st birthday. At that time, we were afraid of getting pregnant again since we had one 3-year-old and two 1-year-olds. So we wanted to wait a while before having another.
Since I nursed the twins until they were 17 months old, I didn’t have my I have menstrual cycle return until 14 months postpartum. I then became frustrated when my cycle didn’t return after 30 days. So I threw the chart to the side (I highly suggest NOT doing this!) and we became pregnant with our 4th boy! To say we were scared was a huge understatement. This was also a month before Luke was to get out of active duty Air Force and we’d move back home. (You can read more about that here if you missed it.)
During Luke’s most recent deployment, we fought a lot about our method of preventing conception when he got home since we had just had our 4th child. He wanted a vasectomy – everyone was telling him he needed one. Family members got one and said it was no big deal, which wasn’t helping my case. We even had family members saying, “You’re done after this one, right?”
We fought so much about it that I remember one night specifically, crying my eyes out in bed as I was nursing our newest child, silently praying, “Lord, why are you making me choose between my husband and You? Why can’t it be the same thing? I want to honor You, but how can I do that when he won’t listen? There’s too much pressure around him to get a vasectomy.” Then all of a sudden I felt peace and the next thing that I heard in my mind, which I truly believe was God speaking to me was, “You will suffer because of My Name.” It never even occurred to me that suffering in my own marriage would happen. I was prepared for, and almost expected, a great deal of grief from friends, family, and strangers for our rapidly growing family, but not in my own marriage.
I have to point out again: contraception is the world’s view on children – not God’s. Children are only mentioned as blessings in the entire Bible. God tells us His ways are higher and His thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts for a reason (Isaiah 55:8-9). He asks us to trust in Him.
After that night, the fights became less and less. God changed my own heart so I would learn to pray about it more than nag. I also considered and began practicing a new method, the Marquette Method, where you actually test the hormone levels every morning, and I’m more confident now than I’ve ever been. I believe that was also an answer to unsaid prayers because God knew how much I was struggling with the Creighton Method.
I prayed my heart out and God worked in Luke’s heart. He now openly tells people we practice Natural Family Planning. I think sometimes he’s still embarrassed or ashamed because of the comments we get from strangers, friends, and even family, but I see God working in him!
Natural Family Planning – God’s Method
Prior to the 20th century, contraception was considered immoral with ALL Christians (Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Protestants). But unfortunately, the sexual revolution changed many minds and many Christians now welcome contraception. I truly believe it is no coincidence that the divorce rate has skyrocketed since the sexual revolution.
Fertility is now treated like a disease instead of the incredible gift God intended it to be!
God also doesn’t want us having sex in our marriage solely to conceive just as much as He doesn’t want us having sex while intentionally preventing conception. It’s a vow renewal in the flesh. A renewal of a covenant. If God wanted women to conceive every time they had sex, He would’ve created women to be fertile all the time, too. But we’re not. We’re only fertile for a short window of time each month.
Which is where Natural Family Planning comes in. It is a method husband and wife use to keep track of the woman’s fertile period and they can either use that method to conceive or use it to avoid conception, with both ways honoring God. When you want to avoid conception, you abstain during the fertile period instead of lying to each other through sex by using contraception.
Contraception has made us think we are animals with animalistic instincts that we cannot say no to. This is the complete opposite of the Truth! God made us in His image, with free will and with the ability to reason. Animals cannot do that. They are simply driven by instinct. Taking away contraception in a marriage sounds like it’s restraining, but it actually brings MORE freedom to your spouse, yourself, and your marriage.
Any deliberate form of sterilization is not in God’s plan of love for you and your spouse. He wants you to experience the Love in marriage that He created! Not what the world calls “love”.
First, let me be honest. Natural family planning is NOT easy! It’s not convenient. It’s heavy cross we bear for our Lord, a true sacrifice.
But the fruits of practicing this in your marriage are incredibly beautiful!
The statistics are there! According to a study done by the Family of Americas Foundation, married couples who practice Natural Family Planning have a divorce rate of only 3.6%!***
When Natural Family Planning is practiced, whether avoiding or trying to achieve pregnancy, the martial embrace becomes the bond it is meant to be.
Sex that does not accept the fullness of the other can easily become self-directed, reducing sex to a matter of self-indulgence and physical gratification, so much so that it becomes a wedge instead of a bond.”(see reference at bottom of post)
When you cut out the fruitfully, when you withhold your fertility from your spouse, you’re withholding a very special gift you’re meant to give each other and you, in essence, tell God that you do not accept His gifts of children and His knowledge of your ability to care for them.
Marriage is a miniature Church. The husband symbolizes Christ and the wife symbolizes the Church. Jesus did not withhold any part of Himself from His bride, the Church. He gave His whole being, His life for her. This is the same gift God asks us to give in marriage.
I believe the separation I felt from God was a gift that taught me much, but I know I never want to feel that again! When we die, His Presence (or lack thereof) will be the only thing that matters. Life is better in His will. When we die, the only thing our souls yearn for is our Lord.
A good (and very wise) friend of mine told me we are the only ones who doubt God’s existence. Everyone in Heaven knows He exists and everyone in Hell knows He exists. Only us humans on earth have doubts. This was very profound to me! I have no doubts. And I want to spend eternity with Him in the presence of those in Heaven who also know that He exists!
I love Jesus and I want to show Him I love Him by pleasing Him. This is just one sacrifice I can give Him because I know it makes Him so happy. I find true joy in obedience to Him and my marriage is thriving more each day because we do not withhold anything from each other. Every time we come together, we tell the Truth and reveal the Love with our bodies that God asks us to.
Obedience helps our wills align with God’s and helps us become who God wants us to be!
Accepting God’s Will
In no way did I plan this to happen this way, but God’s timing is funny. We have an announcement that we are excited and, because we are human, terrified to tell everyone.
We found out on New Year’s Day of 2018 that we are expecting our little miracle #5!
I’m sure you are all wondering how that happened since I said I was more confident in Natural Family Planning than I have ever been since I began using the Marquette Method. I’m going to point out first that I still trust this method greatly and will use it for the rest of my life. But there are rules to follow if you want to avoid pregnancy and those rules were not followed to a “T” this past cycle. My fertility monitor missed my “peak day”, or my ovulation day; therefore, we kind of guessed which days were safe and not safe to stop abstaining. (We should have been abstaining for a while before my usual ovulation, but we didn’t). For some reason I also did not use my secondary ovulation tests this past cycle, something I’ve been doing religiously for the past year. Those have caught ovulations that my monitor has missed in the past.
Let me be very honest with you about this pregnancy: Luke and I didn’t even want to talk about it the first week we found out. I’m terrified of telling a lot of people this time because I dread the reactions. I was stomping my foot to God, telling Him over and over, “Lord, I don’t want to be pregnant right now! I don’t understand Your will for our family in this!”
We’re going to receive so much backlash from everyone! SO MUCH! I don’t want to deal with the whispers behind our backs, the eye rolls, or the comments. It’s not fair to this baby the order in which he/she was conceived. They are just as much a blessing now as if they were the firstborn. It’s not fair they won’t be received as well as our other babies.
Why us? We have three dear loved ones who have been trying to get pregnant and cannot right now. They’re going to be so mad at us! We don’t want to make it hurt even more for them! We don’t want this pregnancy to cause pain for anyone.
When I poured these thoughts, fears, and worries out into my prayer journal, specifically addressing our Blessed Mother that day, I began to feel comforted. (I can’t expect anything less from my Heavenly Mother!) I immediately felt peace overcome me and I KNOW she began telling me, “God’s Will is not easy.” She endured great embarrassment and harassment, and even mention of being stoned to death, because God had her become pregnant before she married Joseph. But she knew His will for her and for the child she was carrying was MUCH GREATER than what she would endure with her friends, family, and strangers. She didn’t know why God had her pregnancy take place out of wedlock, but she trusted God beyond all reason and modeled this perfect trust for us. She was telling me I needed to do the same with this beautiful new life inside me and to rejoice in it.
And with this, I’d like to introduce you to our Lord’s newest addition to our family!
Books I highly recommend on this topic:
If you missed Part 1, you can find that here.
If you missed Part 2, you can find that here.
***Reference Used: https://onemoresoul.com/downloadable-pamphlets/why-use-natural-family-planning.html#more-921***
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