Being Quiverfull

My friend MamaArcher started a QuiverFull Blogroll recently and would like members to post about their own Quiverfull Journey. My husband is going to post about the journey itself; I would like to ramble a bit about being here.

Let me start by saying that I understand that God gives some families fewer children. I am not talking about those who couldn’t have more children, but those who chose not to – for any reason.

Unlike many other large families, we have never received an overtly hostile comment, though many onlookers seem unsure what to think or say. We receive many of the same comments over and over. Some are simple observations:

  • Better you than me.
  • You sure have your hands full!

Fair enough. You never wanted a houseful of children. I won’t try to convince you that you’re wrong. My hands are full, though I firmly believe that even a single child will keep a mother’s hands full. 8 children really are not 8 times as much work. Children require our full attention whether we have 1 or a dozen.

Some comments are unqualified compliments:

  • They’re beautiful!
  • They’re so well behaved!
  • Are you Christians? I could just tell…

But many comments sound more like excuses:

  • I don’t know how you do it. My two kids keep me busy/drive me crazy.
  • I would love a large family, but I just can’t afford more children.
  • I’m just not patient enough.
  • I would have had more, but pregnancy was too hard on me. I just wasn’t made for it. (***Or my doctor advised me not to have any more.)

This may sound harsh, but I think all of these really are just excuses. I think that many people, for many reasons, just honestly don’t want large families and when they see a large family they instinctively feel a bit defensive. We obviously disagree with their choice in family size. Knowing or assuming this, they will seek and find the excuse they need to justify their decision.
But an excuse is not a legitimate reason. “I can’t, because…” doesn’t sound any better coming from an adult than from the child who doesn’t want to do what he’s told. If you see a large family and immediately feel the need to defend your choice not to have a large family, maybe you need to reconsider. Do you think we couldn’t use the same excuses?

If we believe that children are a blessing from God and that large families should be the norm, we need to act upon that belief regardless of whether we really think we’re ready for the job. No excuses. Who among us is really ready and fully equipped to raise even one child? Can any of us really expect to succeed in this monumental task by our own strength and virtue?

Can you guarantee that you are patient enough to raise even one child? Do you think I was equipped to be the mother of this crowd when I was a newlywed? Do you think I’m the perfect model of saintly patience now?

Do you really have the financial stability to commit to providing for a child for 18 or more years? How do you know where your job or bank account will stand at this time next year? Are you sure you’ll even be alive next week?

Do you think pregnancy is always fun or easy for moms of many? Our hips and backs hurt too. Labor hurts, every time. We have gestational diabetes, ligament pain, fatigue, anemia, c-sections, morning sickness, children with handicaps, stillbirths and miscarriages. We do this joyfully because it is our service to the Lord, not because it sounds like fun.

Why do we do this? It certainly sounds foolish to some people. They see a large family crowded into a small home, driving an old van, counting their spare change to decide if they really ought to order off the dollar menu or just buy a bunch of bananas, all for want of a few dollars’ worth of birth control.

This is foolishness to some. Some would say it’s also foolish to pay tithes when you can’t pay your bills, or to thank God for the food you raised by the sweat of your own brow, or to abstain from premarital sex. We think Scripture teaches differently, and we are not ashamed to appear foolish in the eyes of the world.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.

***If your doctor advised you not to have more children, I understand that yours was a hard decision – but it was a decision nonetheless. You had a choice and you made it. Not everyone obeys their doctor’s advice; not every doctor offers the same advice, and not everyone who goes against the advice of a doctor winds up regretting it. I’m not saying that you should have decided differently. Only that you did, indeed, have and make a choice.

see the follow-up post here: Quiverfull Clarifications


  1. God will not put you through anything you cannot get handle. He will be with you all the way. God would not give you a child you were not meant to have. Great Post! Thanks for posting! Children are a blessing.

  2. Interesting postings all! I just came across this as I was trying to figure out what the Quiverful movement had to say about adoptions (I heard some see that as a no-no), but it’s an interesting post, one that has been intensely discussed on a mama group I’m a part of.

    Disclaimer: I’m Catholic so this will probably sound Catholic, and I know to some that throws me out of any serious consideration. I hope very much God will bless me with a large family (1 now).

    God is a God of love! “God is love” screams John in the Bible. We, made in the image and likeness of God, are called to be like God, to be love. Love, by its nature, seeks to embrace somethings and reject some other things. When you get married, you embrace one and reject all others. You don’t do reject the others because they are bad, but because the one is so good. Similarly, when one chooses for a time or for the rest of their life not to seek another child, it is not because that child is bad! On the contrary, children are so so so good! But you may ‘reject’ them for your ability to parent the other children you have now well, or for your ability to be a wife to your husband (which is the 1st priority, the marriage itself), or for another reason God calls you to (missionary field for instance). It would be wonderful to say that there are virtually no situations in life, which, prayerfully considered, make postponing another child wise. But for a great number of people, there are. The beautiful thing about the great gift of freewill that God gave is that he trusts us to use it in cooperation with Him. We do this in many areas of life to prayerfully consider where to live, how to raise our children, where to work, whom to marry; so why then would it be considered wrong to do it in the area of fertility? We shouldn’t distrust ourselves that when it comes down to making the right decision, we will fail. God gives us all the grace we need to say yes with Him! I do believe that each couple can and should discern each child entering their family, for the welfare of the overall family, be that number 8 or 1. Creating a child is one of the most important things we do in life and each one deserves more prayer and discernment than almost anything else in life receives.**

    In the end of our life, we will be judged on our love, whether that was welcoming 15 children into our families or none. We please God when we are trying to be the most generous toward him. I have met very large families who could still be more generous towards him, and families of 3 who are struggling so much as is and are being as generous as they possibly could at this point (remember the widow’s mite?). But I have met other small families for whose reasons, to me, aren’t the most generous. All we can do is be as generous as we can, encourage everyone around us to be as generous toward God as they can, and be encouraged by their steps forward. The Christian walk is all about one step after another. After all, the God who knows us best, knows when we are being self-seeking and when we are being generous. In the end, God’s measure of our love is the only one that matters.

    ** NFP (natural family planning) actually never “closes the womb” like other birth control does. It merely gives the couple the opportunity to choose whether or not to engage in the marital act during a fertile time. That is where prayerful discernment of a new child each month plays in.

    Also, I love ‘surprise’ babies. Our first child whom we lost to miscarriage was a surprise. Surprise babies are God’s way of saying, “you and your family need this baby”. God’s beautiful reminder than He is always ultimately in control.

  3. Melanie says:

    Thank you for sharing! So encouraging!

  4. Sheila, Mama to Seven in September... says:

    Yes, Kat – your response is certainly in line with what I believe to be “quiverfull.” That we are OPEN to what GOD wants, concerning children.
    And, yeah, KimC, the “contest” thing. Often you do hear of someone pregnant again, and a comment will be made like, “Oh, are they trying to keep up with the Duggars? (or whomever)” It’s kinda funny for those of us who aren’t trying to keep up with anybody. 🙂

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