Wednesday, June 29, 2005

First tooth?

I think Jonathan might be working on his first tooth. It'd be a bit early for teeth, and the one that seems to be coming in isn't in the front like most first teeth are. But he's drooling quarts, and he's fussy all the time (or at least, it feels like all the time!) which is unusual. Jessica and I both think we can see/feel a little nubby spot in his gum. We'll see if a tooth erupts. :)

...and trusting God

My friend Jessica pointed out that my argument (in the second to last paragraph) breaks down if you consider that our bodies are fallen bodies. I agree…that fact makes the logic less convincing. The trouble is that, even when there are some logical leaps in the argument, I can’t get away from the feeling that God is telling me to trust him. Lack of trust is my most besetting sin, in almost all areas of my life. And so when I feel so strongly that God is saying “no, Emily, you need to trust me and do this my way”…chances are that he really is saying just that. And so I’m trying. Pray for me, please.

Making babies

Disclaimer:
I’ve been doing some pretty serious thinking about the arguments for and against birth control for some months now. This is the current result of that thinking. I’ve tried to write it with grace and I hope that no one will be offended. I did find, however, that it is not possible to write about controlling birth without mentioning how babies get made. If this bothers you, please read no further. :)

A few hundred years ago, a normal family might have had eight, nine, even thirteen children. They simply came as God gave them…and they often went home to be with him early in their lives. Since then, medical science has given us the ability to save the lives of many children who would have died. It has also given us the ability to see that they never live at all.

This ability has created a moral quandary for Christians. Do we make use of the knowledge we now have, choosing the size of our families as we desire, or do we allow God to give us children as he sees fit?

“It’s not God giving you all those children, you know, it is just nature running her course.” This is a standard objection raised when one dares to suggest “letting God plan our family.” I don’t find it very compelling, however, as it is God who created the natural order of things, including this fact: sex leads to babies. Since he has made it clear that sex within marriage is an abundant good, not to be avoided under normal circumstances, we must assume that his plan is for us to have babies…thus “nature runs her course” with his blessing and guidance.*

Birth control as commonly practiced involves some barrier between the act of sexual union and the creation of a new life. This could be an unnatural hormonal barrier, causing eggs not to be released; a chemical barrier, killing sperm before they reach the egg; a physical barrier, placing a blockade in the way of the sperm; or a combination of these.

I have found that these barrier methods seem to erect a barrier in my heart as well…something that asks me “why not accept with joy that life that this act is meant to create?” And so I am not easy in mind or heart while barring life from love.

The Catholics have it right on this point, I believe. Life is inextricably tied to the act of love. It should not be separated, and cannot be without a loss of something precious in the act itself. Those who have never known sex without birth control probably can’t know the loss, having never known the fullness. I have known both, and know that there is great, glorious, expansive joy in making love with the intent for children.

Having said this, I think that the Catholics have made a rather crucial logical error in their acceptance of “Natural Family Planning”. The claim is that this method is natural, working with the body’s fertility cycle instead of overruling it entirely. It requires sacrifice on the part of the couple, emphasizing the truth that sex cannot be taken lightly, simply as a recreational activity. Sex has natural results (pregnancy) and if pregnancy is not welcomed, sex cannot be either, at least during periods of fertility. This is all true, but I think it misses the point.

Ultimately, both barrier methods and NFP come down to the same thing: deciding not to welcome children at that particular time. Both take the issue of children out of the hands of God, with the parents choosing to take on the responsibility of deciding when the family should grow. The difference in method is real, and of the two choices, NFP is certainly more natural, working with the woman’s body instead of against. But it still places family planning into the hands of the parents, instead of those which formed us.

Our Father in heaven knows us. He knows our needs, our desires, our fears, and our joys. He knows what is best for us. We claim to believe this, and in every other area it is considered virtue to “leave it in God’s hands.” Why then would it be virtue to take this one crucial part of life in our own?

One compelling argument for birth control of any form is that of stewardship. God has given us finite resources, we say, and so we must be careful not to stretch those resources too thin by having too many children. This is compelling because it is hard to see where the money for the clothing, the extra bedroom, and the piano lessons will come from. Yet when Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he said that we should pray “Give us this day our daily bread.” We are not to ask for a comprehensive budget that makes sense for the year…we are to ask only for our daily bread and trust that he will provide for our needs. And so where is our trust? Has he not carried you thus far? Do you think he’ll drop you if he’s carrying you and another child? The arguments for stewardship of what God has given seem inconsistent with choosing to refuse another gift.

Another aspect of stewardship, which I find particularly strong right now, is that of stewardship of the body. The female body needs time to recover from pregnancy and labor and birth. It needs time to heal, time to regenerate, time to lose those extra twenty pounds (at least, we think we need that last one!) These are real needs…and God has provided for them without our intervention. If a mother feeds her child in the way God intended (breastfeeding), then infertility for a time is unavoidable. This time is of different lengths in different women and at different times. Some will find themselves infertile for over a year, some six months, and some as few as two. It is tempting to say that two months is too short a time period…heaven knows I think that it is…but God knows your body better than you do. And his plans are for good, not for ill.

Choosing to bar life from the marriage bed, no matter the method, chooses to see only part of God’s plan for love. It limits both the love of the couple by refusing to share it with others, and limits their acceptance of God’s love in the form of the gifts he would give. Alternatively, embracing life opens our hearts for the fullness of our love for each other, and the opportunity for joy in the family that God, in his infinite love, allows us to create.

* The argument in outline runs something like this:
1) God created the natural order of things.
2) The natural order of things is that sex leads to babies.
3) Sex is a good thing, not to be avoided.
4) Therefore babies must also be a good thing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Daddy time

Jonathan seems to have inherited his father's temperament. He's just really...placid...much of the time. This is particularly funny in the evenings, because Gabe comes home and wants to do "Daddy time" activities with Jonathan. This tends to include such things as being held high up in the air, flown around the living room, or "inspecting" the inside of the freezer or microwave. Jonathan suffers these attentions with a slightly puzzled frown on his face. Tonight, however, Daddy finally got a smile in response: evidently Jonathan really likes having Daddy's nose nuzzled in his neck.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Which theologian are you?

You scored as Anselm. Anselm is the outstanding theologian of the medieval period.He sees man's primary problem as having failed to render unto God what we owe him, so God becomes man in Christ and gives God what he is due. You should read 'Cur Deus Homo?'

Anselm

100%

Karl Barth

93%

Augustine

80%

Jonathan Edwards

73%

Friedrich Schleiermacher

67%

John Calvin

60%

Martin Luther

53%

Paul Tillich

33%

Charles Finney

27%

J├╝rgen Moltmann

13%

Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Doctor appointments and nightmares

Apparently, these are related.

Jonathan got his first set of vaccinations yesterday morning. Poor kid, he cried and cried…but evidently he has a very short memory, because once it was over and I cuddled him, he calmed down within about thirty seconds. I think it was harder on me than on him, really, at least initially! He’s been really sleepy, and really sad since then, though. I guess it’s because his body is working so hard…I wonder what’s going on inside him. When he wakes up sometimes he’s ok, but sometimes he cries like he’s in pain, and I wonder why.

I’ve decided that doctor’s visits are traumatizing for mommies. I spent most of last night having nightmares about being in a doctor’s office, with a doctor telling me that Jonathan had a 103 degree fever (that I hadn’t noticed, somehow) and a multitude of other ailments (including cancer) and yelling that they had to treat him NOW and I had to make all these decisions and couldn’t get in touch with Gabe…it was horrible. And that was after a “well-baby” visit!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Ahngoo!

is Jonathan's favorite sound this week. There are some varieties on the theme, and he's still cooing (aahh, etc.) as well, but this is the main vocalization. He definitely has the "g" consonant sound down. A week ago he would talk in the morning but almost never through the rest of the day. Now he'll talk to me (on and off) all day long! It's so much fun to have him responding to me...somehow it makes it much more fun to sing nursery rhymes and recite poetry over and over and over and over... :) We can have little "conversations" now.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Hmm...

"What's your theological worldview?" (created with QuizFarm.com)

Do you think it's accurate? Try it. :)


You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Yes, well,

I thought that he had forgotten his thumb. I guess he just remembered. :)

No more thumb. :(

It seems that Jonathan has forgotten all about his thumb. Evidently babies have exceedingly short memories!

Muscles!

This past week, Jonathan has been experimenting with the use of his legs. He started out just with some rather spasmodic jerks against anything that touched his feet, but has now progressed to pushing himself up to a nearly standing position if I hold him on my lap. It must be hard work…he makes funny grunting noises while he does it, and seems pretty tired after awhile. I find myself cheering him on, and being inordinately proud of my strong little boy!

He’s also been showing lots of intense concentration lately. I can’t always figure out what he’s looking at, but whatever it happens to be, he’ll look at it for a very long time, and hold his whole body very still while he looks. It’s fascinating to watch his brain absorb so much.

Have I mentioned that I really like being a mom? And I really-really like being a stay-at-home mom? It's lovely to be here all the time; to know him so well and notice every new thing as he grows... and to have the time to enjoy it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Jonathan has found his thumb!


He can consistently bring his fist to his mouth now, and with some work, eventually get his thumb in his mouth. Now, this is an accomplishment, yes. But it is extra specially wonderful because it means that he can now calm himself down. Last night I fed him at eight, and he went to sleep at 10pm. Gabe and I resigned ourselves to waking up in a hour or so, and went to bed with him. Imagine our delight when we woke up at 2:30am to find our son happily sucking on his thumb! He wasn’t upset or crying or really even fussing…I woke up because my shirt was soaked with milk. :) So last night we got two lovely 4+ hours stretches of sleep, and I feel better than I have in two months…maybe longer!

What a difference sleep makes in my outlook on life. Last Saturday I felt that life was quite grim…I had wanted to do so many things with the day, and somehow most of them didn’t happen. I desperately wanted to lie down and sleep, but didn’t because there was so much to do, and so spent the day in a haze of frustrated exhaustion.

Today I feel that I can take on the world, and win. There are roses on the table, the kitchen sink is clean, Jonathan is washed, diapered, and fed, and it’s 8:30am. Jonathan is happy, I’m happy, and the whole beautiful day is ahead of me. I don’t even mind that the workmen who came to fix some weather rot yesterday punched a whole through my kitchen wall. :)

Family visits

Mom, Dad, Jonathan, and Christopher were here this weekend, visiting. Jonathan had his Baja car competition in Arizona, and so they all came for a visit while they were in the area. I’m glad they could come, because little Jonathan is already getting so big, and we aren't visiting up north until August, and Dad and Jonathan and Christopher hadn’t seen little J at all except in pictures. On Sunday we had a barbeque here at our house…Aunt Susan, Uncle Gary, and David (my cousin) brought the food, we provided charcoal and plates and cups, and we all had a grand time. Then yesterday morning I drove down to Aunt Susan’s house to spend the morning with her and Christopher and Mom while Dad and big Jonathan were down in Carlsbad with a customer. Mom and Aunt Susan very politely fought over whose turn it was to hold Jonathan, and I got him back only when he was hungry. There are perks to being a breastfeeding mom…no one can replace you! :)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Conversations

On Wednesday Jonathan held a conversation with a panda bear. We were over at Jessica’s house, and Brigid has a small black and white stuffed panda. Jess propped it up on my lap so Jonathan could see it, and he stared at it for a minute, and then started talking to it. It was wonderfully cute to see him interacting with something…he’s been cooing at us during his happy times, but this was the first time that he decided to interact with a toy. I wonder what it was about it that intrigued him? Does he recognize a face, albeit an animal one? Or does he just like those colors? I wish I could see inside his mind…it must be a fascinating place.

Pooping baby!

Last Monday we had our first really amazing episode of “explosive bowel movements” (as the baby books refer to it.) Jonathan has just grown out of the size one disposable diapers. I knew they were getting small; just the previous day he’d started being able to kick out of them slightly. But I had been lax in my laundry duty and had run out of cloth diapers. Thus, he was wearing a too-small disposable, and doing his utmost to make sure it did not stay on. Gabe was holding him, standing next to the computer desk, talking to Sarah, (who was visiting us) when suddenly we heard the most amazing sound, and poop exploded – not in his diaper where it belongs – but up and out the back! Gabe and I laughed and went to clean it up, while Sarah exclaimed over how gross it all was. Oh the difference being parents for a few months can make. :) It really was a terribly funny experience, although I imagine only parents who have had the same thing happen can truly appreciate the humor. :)