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Volume 2 (1996)

Excerpts (text only) from MC21: 8 pages: PDF (0.6 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 2, Number 1

Beginnings and Endings

The evening before Jennifer was to leave for college I sat down to do some writing. I turned on my computer, but I could only stare at the screen. My heart was heavy. Writing suddenly seemed futile---indeed, motherhood seemed futile. I remember thinking, "What is the point of all the sacrifices of mothering---all the work, the sleepless nights, the pain, the tears, and even the fun times---if, in the end, they just walk out of your life?"

I first began to feel the inevitable parting when Jennifer was a high school junior. Friends began asking what she was going to do when she graduated. I didn't want to talk or even think about it. We had been together night and day for seventeen years. Next to my husband, she was my best friend. I would find myself crying quietly in bed at night as I imagined her being gone from home.

College catalogues began arriving. Very normal questions filled the air: where to go, what courses to take, how she would get the money. As she talked over her options with Gerald and me, my mind was listening but my heart was breaking.

I hid my emotions from Jennifer. She was grappling with some big decisions, and I knew she had enough to deal with.

In the spring of her senior year Jennifer had some serious evaluating to do. It looked like lack of finances would keep her from attending college in the fall. Ultimately it became clear that she would need to work full time for a year. She would then be able to start college the following year. I felt a certain sense of relief, but I also felt bad for Jennifer---she wanted to go so much. (Motherhood is such a conflicting series of emotions!)

Things became even more complicated as our family went through a sudden ministry change and prepared to move from San Diego, California to Loda, Illinois six months before Jennifer was to go to college. She had to re-evaluate her future once more. She now had enough money to start college. Should she just go straight to college in the middle of the school year, move with us to Loda, or stay with friends in San Diego and keep working until the fall? .....

A Mother's Job

by Helen E. Aardsma November 26, 1995

The baby---she was beautiful!
The Lord had been so good.
She soon took little halting steps,
As every toddler should.

She rode a bike and tied her shoes
I somehow taught her how.
I watched her gain ability,
She was a `big girl' now. ....

Dear Helen


I just want to take this moment (at 12:30 AM!) to write you and tell you how much "The Mother's Companion" means to me. I have five children (so far!) ages 9, 7, 5, almost 3 and 6 months.

I sometimes get to wondering if full time mothering really does make a difference. I know it does---simple obedience to the Word makes a difference! But when I take my eyes off of Jesus and listen to those of the world I do get low moments of wondering if my stumbling attempts at motherhood, homemaking, and home schooling are less than the best we can do for our children.

I hit one of those low moments last weekend. I had a phone conversation with several relatives---all outside-of-the-home moms filled with glowing reports of newer and bigger homes, decorating and redecorating projects, their "wonderful" baby-sitters, nanny, day care, new clothes for themselves and children, etc. Their children seem to be thriving, too. Then I think of our house---needing so much (let's not mention the vehicle situation!)---and I just wonder if they all aren't right. ...


Dear T.G.:

Your letter brought tears to my eyes. I thought you expressed the doubts and feelings of many women at home quite well. Let me assure you that you are not alone. And many of us experience the frustrating money crunch.

Your being home does make a difference. Money cannot buy the kind of love only you can give your children. Cherish the moments you have with them; before you know it they will be gone. When they are grown, they will be grateful for the many sacrifices you made for them. They will thank you that you thought they were more important than any new car or fancy home. ...

Diapering Q's & A's

Do you use disposable diapers or cloth?

I mainly use cloth diapers. I use disposable diapers if they are given to me or if we are traveling.

I far prefer cloth diapers for several reasons:

They are more comfortable for the baby. Disposables tend to give my babies rashes. Cloth diapers are more economical. (Amy Dacyczyn has done a thorough analysis of the relative economics in The Tightwad Gazette. Amy Dacyczyn, The Tightwad Gazette (New York: Villard Books, 1992), 175-177. She estimates that cloth saves approximately $1000 per child.) Cloth seems to be a better choice ecologically. I never have to make an emergency trip to the store for more diapers. I love the sight of cloth diapers drying on the laundry lines in the bright sunshine. ...

Money Saving Tip

Gerald recently suggested purchasing spring loaded, retractable laundry lines to put up in the house to save running the dryer all winter long. At first I couldn't see where we could possibly put them (we have a 995 square foot, three bedroom house with no basement), so I felt it was an idea we just couldn't squeeze in. ...

At Our House

My husband and I agreed on a "no public speaking" policy when we started The Mother's Companion. We did so based on his past experiences traveling and speaking to large seminar groups.

He had found the speaking circuit to be physically and emotionally draining. He had also observed that there are several subtle temptations attached to speaking to crowds. Most of us never have occasion to think about these temptations; probably few of us are equipped to handle them with complete success.

For example, there is the temptation to pridefulness which accompanies the celebrity status you magically acquire whenever you speak to a large group more than a few hours' drive from home. Also, as you stand beneath the glare of the spotlight with hundreds or thousands of pairs of eyes fixed on you, there is the temptation to blunt the truth to please the crowd. The temptation to greed finds a curiously fertile ground in the large seminar setting. It is relatively easy to learn how to do a subtle sales job on your unsuspecting audience so that the main motivation they have acquired at the end of your talk is the motivation to buy your product.

In any event, my husband felt that involving myself to almost any degree in this activity would put our own family, and the writing ministry the Lord had given me, at risk.

We left a small loophole when we drafted our "zero speaking" policy. My scientist husband phrased the policy this way "zero speaking engagements per year, plus or minus one". He leaned heavily toward the minus side; I, with less experience and more natural enthusiasm for social activities, leaned toward the plus side. ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC21: 8 pages: PDF (0.6 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC22: 7 pages: PDF (0.5 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 2, Number 2

"Seek Ye First... "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33).

Many have expressed interest in the workshops I presented in Indianapolis in November 1995. I thought you might enjoy reading some of the text of the "Great Gain; Living Successfully on One Income" workshop this issue. A small portion of the talk is presented below.

Gerald and I agreed I would be a stay-at-home wife and mother before we were married. This, of course, also entailed a commitment to live on one income. I took the opportunity of the workshop to testify to the Lord's faithfulness in meeting the needs of our large family through the years as we have held to this commitment.

The part of the talk you are about to read tells the story of how the Lord provided a home for us in San Diego, California. We moved to California after my husband had completed his post-doctoral studies at the University of Toronto in Canada. Gerald had accepted a position with the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) graduate school as a professor in the physics department. I trust you'll be blessed and encouraged as you read this small part of our family's story.

Our move to San Diego was a bad move financially because San Diego, California is a very expensive place to live. We had a modest salary and a large and continually growing family. But we knew God's calling is always God's enabling and we knew that we were seeking His kingdom and He would provide all the things we would need.

We moved to San Diego to work for ICR nine years ago. We ended up renting two homes over a period of four years. We had both wanted to own a home, even while we were students, but it was financially out of the question then and it continued to be so in expensive Southern California. We came to the place of completely surrendering the dream of home ownership to the Lord. If the Lord wished us to rent for the rest of our lives that was fine with us. As far as we were concerned, the Lord would have to give us a house or the money to buy one for cash if He desired us to own our own home.

As it turned out, the Lord had other plans. During our fourth year of renting He began to work in my husband's heart, lifting the long-standing prohibition we had felt about going into debt. This was not a general lifting of this prohibition (which we still feel to this day) but a very specific one in regard to obtaining a mortgage to purchase a home at that specific time.

I remember feeling confused about how the Lord was leading my husband at this time, but resolved to trust his leadership under God. We did not know at the time that at the end of that year our lease would not be renewed and we would be house hunting a third time. Remember the Lord has promised that He will look after our material needs as we seek His kingdom. Looking back I now can see that He was simply preparing our hearts, through my husband, to receive what He was about to provide next. ...

From the Heart

The free verse poem on the next page is an original piece by Sonya Contreras, a subscriber and dear friend. I first met Sonya a number of years ago when she was a graduate student at Institute for Creation Research (ICR) where Gerald was teaching. She met and eventually married Joe, another ICR graduate student, while she was there. The Contreras family, which now includes three sons, currently lives in California where Joe practices medicine.

Sonya has a wonderful gift of expressing insights and emotions poetically. I asked her if she might have something she would be willing to share with the newsletter family. Sonya kindly sent the following piece, which focuses on security and follows her own experience with the Lord from childhood to young motherhood.

Master of Security

Dear Master of security,
I was afraid
in the night,
a childish response
to a nightmare.
But I knew
where I could go
to find peace,
I went
to Your lap
where I always found
security. ...

Living Creatively in Small Spaces

Before we moved to Illinois, we lived in a 1300 square foot, three bedroom, one bathroom home in California. It had a large, unfinished basement/garage under the back of the house which we used as a laundry room, workshop, and storage area. We had eight children at home at that time, ranging in age from infant to older teen.

We now live in two adjacent mobile homes. One is double width and has 966 square feet of floor space. It has one bathroom and three modest sized bedrooms. The other is single width with 470 square feet of floor space. It has a bathroom and two small bedrooms. Half of this mobile home (formerly its living room and kitchen) is used as business office space. So our present living space is just 1200 square feet. With my oldest daughter away at college we now have seven children at home for most of the year. We have been blessed with a garage once again, which we use for storage and as a workshop. ...

Homemade Stickers

Children love collecting stickers of all kinds. Unfortunately they are expensive and children tend to be wasteful with them. Here is a way children can make their own stickers and use them to their hearts' content. ...

At Our House

We've had some really cold weather---it froze most of our pipes, and gave me a spell of cabin fever for a few days. But most recently we've had a few glorious, summer-like days, and I know the new life of spring is just around the corner. I can hardly wait to see the green grass, the first peas poking out of the ground, and the blossoming of the apple trees. And it will be wonderful when the little ones are free to run in and out of the house at will again.

But let me back up a few months into the fall. After Mark (almost 17), Stephen (14) and David (8) finished turning the remaining quarter-acre of sod (by hand!) on our now half-acre garden plot, they began putting a fence up around the property. They got it half done before the ground froze. They used wire field fence and alternating wooden posts and metal T posts every ten feet. The fence has a handsome "country" look, and changes the appearance of our property quite a bit. Its purpose is to keep the dog and little ones in come spring and summer. The boys hope to finish it after things dry up a bit and the spring planting is complete. ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC22: 7 pages: PDF (0.5 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC23: 7 pages: PDF (0.4 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 2, Number 3

Titus 2 Mentoring

The following article is an excerpt from a talk I gave in Indianapolis in November 1995. The title of the talk was "Let the Older Women Teach... Titus 2 Mentoring."

A mentor, as I am using the term, is usually an older woman, one who is more mature in godly wisdom and more experienced in the practical areas of daily living than those she is seeking to mentor. The (usually) younger women she mentors---the mentorees---are ones who seek to learn all they can about godly womanhood and the practical areas of being a wife and mother.

I am hesitant to try to define the roles and relationships of mentoring any more closely than this, for Biblical mentoring is not a church program or a new fad which one must play in accordance with someone's prescribed set of rules. It is, in fact, a lifestyle---a lifestyle to which Christian women have been appointed by God. It is a lifestyle in which older Christian women invest themselves as servants of God in the lives of their younger Christian sisters, and younger Christian women, in humble, joyful obedience to their Lord learn how better to please Him in their calling within the home.

After many years of searching for a mentor, with limited success, the Lord used Titus 2:3--5 in my life to show me that I had a responsibility to mentor other younger women. I began to reach out to help and encourage young moms I knew in whatever ways I could. Eventually God gave me the privilege of teaching a Sunday School class for young mothers---we would bring our toddlers and nursing babies and meet together each Sunday morning. Finally I "graduated" to one-on-one personal mentoring. The Lord began to show me that this relatively unseen and unsung form of mentoring was one He could use powerfully in the lives and homes of younger women for His glory.

We break into the talk as I begin to share about a personal one-on-one mentor/mentoree relationship I was privileged to be a part of in 1994.

There was a young secretary named Marilyn at my husband's work in San Diego. She had been married for a few years. We had her and her husband over to our home a few times and they seemed to enjoy our family.

Marilyn had a very untraditional childhood, very troubled in many respects. She admitted to not even knowing what a normal Christian home was like. She was always asking questions. She desired to learn.

After the first trimester of her first pregnancy she asked to be mentored by me, and I was honored to accept. This was an ideal time for Marilyn to experience mentoring by an older woman. ...

Dear Helen


Who would you say has impacted your life the most, from a mentoring perspective?


When I was a younger mom and could not find a mentor near at hand, I turned to written materials to see if there was a woman out there who could encourage me with her writings. In this way I discovered Elisabeth Elliot. I would say that, through her writings and audio tapes, she has impacted my life more than any other woman. ...

At Our House

Hallelujah, it is spring! I can't remember when I have looked forward to a change of seasons as I have this one.

It has been a very dry spring so far, so we have been able to get lots of outside projects done already. The completion of the fence around our homestead is the one that has helped me the most.

There were a whole set of reasons why we needed a fence around our homestead. These included: keeping the many rabbits in the neighborhood out of our vegetable garden; keeping stray dogs from the little town of Loda (on whose outskirts we are located) from bothering or children and future livestock; keeping Mark's black lab, Zak, from straying off our property and into Loda; and providing a clear definition of where the tractors should leave off their disking and planting in the fields which surround us. But the most important reason for the fence, from my perspective, was in relation to the little children.

I have already mentioned the occasional stray dog. Added to this is the concern of little ones wondering off into corn fields over their heads to become lost or run over by farm machinery. ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC23: 7 pages: PDF (0.4 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC24: 10 pages: PDF (0.5 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 2, Number 4

Meet the Dagley Family

I get many letters from subscribers stating how all-alone they feel in their ministry to their families as stay-at-home moms. Many are far removed from relatives and get little extended-family support. Sadly, many also find little support from their church family as they seek to please the Lord in their service at home.

I am privileged to receive letters from women across North America and even internationally sharing their convictions about being home to raise their children for Christ. So I know that there are literally thousands of women just like you and me who have given up the pursuit of worldly fame, fortune, and success to "lose their lives" Luke 9:24. at home for Christ's sake. I thought you might like to meet another such woman this issue.

Lynette Dagley lives with her husband, Mark, on a isolated 120 acre farm in North Dakota. She home schools her seven children, gardens, makes goat cheese... and most importantly, imparts spiritual truths to her children on a daily basis.

What impressed me most about Lynette is her fresh, vigorous faith, and the unique ways she imparts it to her children.

Lynette is a natural writer. She uses this gift to write diaries about her family life to leave as a heritage for her children. She also graciously shares her diaries with other family friends.

She recently sent me some of her diaries. I was blessed and inspired. A few excerpts I thought you might also enjoy follow.

But first, a little introduction to the family from Lynette's pen, April 1996.

Daily Delights

TEENAGERS, TWEENAGERS, TEN to TWO, pre-school, kindergarten, 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade, high school, apprenticeship, "college", "higher education", jobs. Amazing to observe all of these at the same time!

I wouldn't pretend to tell you I plan, guide, and teach all of these fine children, yet they are here daily (except Nathan who is ranching in South Dakota) and are learning continually. ...

Child Training and Discipline

Each spring I need to go out to the garden frequently to tend my morning glories and sweet peas. These plants produce a profusion of richly colored flowers in the summer. As they are natural climbers, they have the potential to transform a fence into an elegant, truly beautiful flowering hedge for several months each year. But in the early stages, they need careful tending.

Growing sweet peas and morning glories on our fence always reminds me of raising children for the Lord. There are a number of obvious similarities. Let me point out three.

1. Foundation

In the earliest stage, after the seeds have been planted, and up until the plants are several inches tall, my role as gardener is exclusively that of provider and protector. I see to it that the soil is adequately fertilized, cultivated, and watered. I remove weeds and rocks, and I keep other desirable garden plants from encroaching on the space I have reserved for these flowering vines. With appropriate care the young plants emerge from the soil, put down deep roots, and soon begin to grow rapidly. ...

Just as these plants require a protecting, providing gardener in their earliest stage of growth if they are to reach their full potential, so the infant child (from birth to about one year) needs a loving, responsive mother who unfailingly cares for his needs, warmly, patiently, and promptly.

Dr. William Sears, Christian pediatrician with a large family of his own, compares two opposing parenting styles. He calls them "attachment parenting" and "restraint parenting". William Sears, M.D., Christian Parenting and Child Care (New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985), 86--87. Attachment parenting is characterized by a strong bond of attachment between mother and baby. Restraint parenting is characterized by deliberate self-restraint on the part of the mother. The "attached" mother cannot bear to hear her baby cry; she is quick to respond to him. The "restrained" mother believes baby just needs to "cry it out"; her response is deliberately restrained.

Dr. Sears is a strong advocate of "attachment parenting". He says, "I have a deep personal conviction that this is the way God wants His children parented. It works!" William Sears, M.D., Christian Parenting and Child Care (New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985), 84.

I also strongly believe in the "attachment parenting" (or "responsive mothering") style. I instinctively began to mother this way with the birth of my first child, long before I had ever heard of Dr. Sears or the "attachment parenting" label. I have raised all eight of my children this way. Dr. Sears is quite correct---it works.

Attachment mothering establishes a deep-set trust within a child. When a mother responds quickly to her infant baby's crying, and meets his needs, an awareness grows within the child that she loves him and that she will take care of him and provide for his needs---that, fundamentally, she is on his side, and that she is looking out for his genuine best interest.

I believe this early bond of trust is quite important to the child's future. King David traced his own trust in God back to this early stage when he wrote, "Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother's breasts." Psalm 22:9b.

I believe this trust is of paramount importance for all subsequent discipline and child training. Without a foundation of trust it is easy for discipline to produce bitterness, resentment, hardness, and rebellion in the older child, rather than the remorse and repentance it should produce.

So I advise investing time---however much time it takes---in meeting your infant child's needs. All of my babies liked to be held close to me, in a sling or snugglie, in the early months. I generally only put them down when they were sleeping, and at night they slept in my bed beside me. ...

At Our House

May 01: Family busy getting MC brochures ready to mail to home school conferences. Praise the Lord for faithful workers in my children.

May 02: Ordered a half ton of hard wheat for home grinding. Will store in pantry and grind fresh as needed using recently acquired second-hand mill.

May 06: Experimenting with local grains like corn and oats with my "new" grain mill. Corn bread made from fresh-milled field corn is much tastier and sweeter than when made with store-bought cornmeal. Grinding locally grown soft wheat for non-yeast breads and other baked goods.

May 10: Successful garage sale. Laura [11] made $9.00 on cookie sales and I got rid of a lot of junk.

May 11: First rhubarb pie from the garden. YUMMY!

May 12: Quiet Mother's Day. Nice to just relax with Gerald and the children around the house. Jennifer [19] sent me a lovely dress she purchased for fifty cents at a lost and found sale at college. (Like mother, like daughter!) Children did meal clean-ups today. Matthew [6] and Rebekah [4] brought me some wildflowers from neighboring fields.

May 16: Paul and Marilyn See last issue, lead article. visiting for two days from CA. Delightful sharing---exhausting but worth it. Impressed with 15 month old Brook---very obedient. "Mommy said NO!" effective, even though Brook's internal struggle, to obey or not to obey, was evident. Good parents! ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC24: 10 pages: PDF (0.5 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC25: 12 pages: PDF (0.6 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 2, Number 5

God, Birth Control, and Me

We had been married eight and a half years, and our third child, Stephen, was sixteen months old when my husband, Gerald, suggested we throw all birth control to the wind and trust God in this area of our lives. This, I now recognize, was a call by God to radical abandonment to Him. It was His call to "trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5. It was not the first, or last, such call we have experienced together. And as usual, I found the prospect somewhat frightening. As Gerald waited for my response to his suggestion, I struggled with my own deep feelings.

I need to clarify up front that we had every intention, right from the beginning of our marriage, of having a large family. And after I had my first child, Jennifer, I discovered such joy in mothering that I wanted more than ever to have a large family. Our motivation for using birth control was only to control when we would have our children, not to stop having children altogether.

This had seemed a necessity when we were first married. I was frightened by the prospect of having babies very close together if we didn't use some form of artificial birth control. I had seen this very close spacing in many families as I was growing up, and I had assumed it was what would inevitably happen if a couple didn't implement some sort of artificial birth control measures. I felt that a new baby every twelve to fourteen months would be more than I could handle physically and emotionally. And since my husband was a full-time university student, it would obviously entail some serious financial hardships for us as well. In short, I was worried about the stresses on my health and my marriage which I was sure would result if we did not use birth control.

We had tried four different kinds of birth control in the first year of our marriage, and found them all to entail serious, unexpected drawbacks. We had opted ultimately for the sympto-thermal method. In this method the married couple avoids sexual intercourse near ovulation each month. The time of ovulation is determined by charting the woman's daily temperature and natural body symptoms. We opted for this method because it did not raise the long-term health worries in our minds which some of the other methods had, and it gave us greater peace before the Lord.

Unfortunately, my natural cycle was such that the "safe" days were very few in number each month, with the result that in actual practice we were not far removed from complete abstinence with this method. It is not easy for a young, energetic, healthy couple in their early to mid-twenties and very much in love to sleep together every night and practice abstinence!

Nor is it good for their marriage. In fact, the unnatural physical strain which this put upon our relationship severely disrupted the closeness and mutual delight which had characterized our love from its inception. In its place, altogether too often, was an unpleasant, unhappy tension.

I knew this could not be God's perfect will for our marriage---that something needed to change---but Gerald's suggestion that we just trust the Lord seemed risky and radical to me. I wished there was someone we could consult with, some other couple who had taken this step of faith who could help dispel some of the fear of the unknown which I was experiencing. But while we knew many fine Christian couples at the time, I could not think of even one which had made this choice or was walking this path. It was strictly between my husband, my God, and me. ...

The Way To Know

Gerald and I have been reading Oswald Chambers' daily devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, in our morning devotions together. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (Box 1219, Westwood, NJ: Barbour and Company). We have found much encouragement and blessing in this little book. Here is an excerpt, from the July 27th reading, which seems especially appropriate this issue. Using Jesus' words in John 7:17, "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine...", as his text he writes:/p>

The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience. If a man wants scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide; but if he wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience. If things are dark to me, then I may be sure there is something I will not do. Intellectual darkness comes through ignorance; spiritual darkness comes because of something I do not intend to obey. ...

Ten Home Schooling Tips (from a 13 Year Veteran)

1. Simplify! If you're feeling overwhelmed with all that needs to be done, just teach the basics. Forget Art, Music, Gym, elaborate science experiments, extra-curricular activities, and so forth and concentrate on Reading, Math, English, Science (from the textbook), History, Spelling, and Penmanship. Ground your children in the basics and they will pick up the extras on their own, especially when they become teenagers and are able to transport themselves to outside-the-home events.

2. Start the day right by preparing the night before. Have everyone help tidy things up before bed (takes us about a half hour), put a load of laundry in, and figure out what the meals are going to be. ...

Pregnancy Diary

If you have read the lead article this issue you know that I am now expecting our ninth child. I thought it might be helpful to keep a diary of this pregnancy, and to share this diary in The Mother's Companion. Some things I share will be unique to me, but many things should also be common to others.

I cover the first three months this issue. I look forward to sharing the second trimester with you next issue.

First Month

My period has been one week late---I am beginning to suspect that I may be pregnant. This will definitely put a kink in my plans and activities.

My period is now two weeks late, and my old, familiar "pregnancy cough" is back. I am also beginning to feel slowed down and very tired. There is no question in my mind now but that I am expecting baby number nine.

I'm now at four weeks. I've been having late afternoon and evening queasiness. I go to bed early to avoid it. My breasts are beginning to feel sore when Rachel nurses, but I plan to continue to nurse her for several months yet. I can hardly keep my eyes open through lunchtime and I quickly head off to bed with Rachel for an afternoon nap. My writing and correspondence, which used to be scheduled during this time, have had to be curtailed.

The first few weeks have been a time of acceptance and adjustment for me. I have had to submit to the Lord's timing and plans for adding another member to our family. I have given my body over to the Lord, to this child, and to God's will for my life. I have had to relinquish my busy schedule to the Lord and to my growing child. I am adjusting my plans, my food intake, my sleep requirements, and my emotions. I see again how one never gets to the point where they can say, "I have conquered my self-will"---we can only walk with Christ one day at a time. ...

Dear Helen


I am thirty-two years old and mother of two. I've struggled with depression and confusion regarding my God-led choice to be a stay-at-home mother. I have only recently experienced renewed hope as I was encouraged at a home school conference that mothering is a ministry and a career pleasing to the Lord. The speaker "gave me permission" to be just a mom. I come from a very liberal-minded family who do not support me in my choice to "abandon" my career and potential.

As I emerge from the destitute wasteland of the last four and a half years, I feel a desire to possibly expand my family. My questions to you are abundant and I don't know if you could possibly answer a letter, busy with eight of your own. I am now holding, by faith, to the scriptures that declare children are a blessing. Yet I struggle in the practical areas, with my own selfishness manifested in impatience and frustration with my four and a half and two and a half year olds. I don't want to ever return to the depression I experienced. I want so desperately to have faith toward God that He will provide the coping ability in me if I should have more children. My heart says maybe four children. My head says you are too old, your body and mind will not survive. I personally don't know of anyone my age who has more than two. I know a few older women who have four but were done when they were thirty-two or younger. I had my first at twenty-eight; the Lord didn't give me a husband until age twenty-six. ...

At Our House

Our half-acre vegetable garden has produced bountifully this year, for which we are grateful to the Lord. This has been a blessing in a number of ways. We have been able to sell most of our excess produce, beyond what we have been able to eat fresh or store for the winter, to local customers. The extra income has been a great help to the family budget.

All the vegetables which have gotten overripe or have not otherwise been fit for human consumption have gone to the chickens. In fact, the chickens entire diet since about four weeks of age has been discarded vegetables, table scraps, and their "pasture" (more accurately, weed-field) where they forage for seeds and insects. So it is not costing us anything to feed them and we are looking forward to meat from them later in the fall, and eggs by Christmas.

The pantry shelves are now stocked with canned green beans, dill pickles, and crates of potatoes, and the corn which we were not able to eat or sell has been done up for the freezer. ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC25: 12 pages: PDF (0.6 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC26: 14 pages: PDF (0.6 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 2, Number 6

Be It Unto Me...

-- by Helen and Gerald Aardsma, 1996

I lay down, but I knew sleep would be impossible. My mind was whirling with so many thoughts and questions and my eyes were still burning from the angelic light. Me, bearing a child---The Child---the long awaited Messiah? "Nothing shall be impossible," the angel had said. But why this dull ache in my heart?

I tossed and turned for hours as my jumbled thoughts slowly untangled themselves. Eventually the problem came into focus.

No, it was not unbelief, nor was it any unwillingness to serve the Lord in this way. Indeed, my heart glowed even now with the same burning joy with which it had responded to the angel's message just hours previously.

Nor was I concerned for my personal safety or reputation. Many, I knew, would not understand my pre-nuptial pregnancy. Ordinarily the Law commanded stoning in such cases, and slander and gossip were inevitable in any event. I had understood the risks and consequences right from the start. I had surrendered myself and my reputation to God, believing He could look after the consequences, when I had said to the angel, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word". I had no desire or any intention of violating these sincere words of personal consecration.

No, it was none of these things. It was Joseph.

The problem finally having come clear, I turned to God in prayer. "Oh, Jehovah, what about Joseph? He is so kind and so sensitive, and I love him so much. How will he feel? How can I bear to wound him with this news? Will he not naturally conclude that I have been unfaithful to our pledge of love? And will this not crush him bitterly? Oh God, how can I let this happen to Joseph? Must my obedience to You cost Joseph so high a price?"

But there was no answer in the darkness---no angelic presence lit the room. ...

Christmas Goody Plate

We are blessed in Loda with some very friendly, helpful, and diligent folk in several places which are quite important to the production of The Mother's Companion: our mail carriers, the post office staff, and our bank staff. Last year Gerald requested that I make Christmas goody plates to give as Christmas gifts to these business friends. I wanted this little "thank-you" to look nice and be tasty, of course, so this is what I did. ...

Pregnancy Diary

I expect to give birth to my ninth baby in late January. Last issue I shared the first three months of my pregnancy diary. This issue I share the next two and a half months, or most of the second trimester. I hope to take up from there next issue.

Fourth Month

The beginning of the fourth month for me always means a transition from feeling rotten to feeling great. I find the first three months the hardest part of pregnancy and I am glad to have the nausea and fatigue behind me.

Unfortunately, this time around, late in the fourth month (17 weeks from the date of my last period) I experienced some vaginal bleeding. This was a scary one and emotionally draining for both Gerald and me. I had experienced a miscarriage during the tenth week of an earlier pregnancy, and I was very frightened at the thought of having a miscarriage at 17 weeks. I have never experienced any bleeding during pregnancy otherwise. Gerald mandated complete bed rest, and I willingly complied. Some local Christian families helped with meals, which were a tremendous blessing at this time.

I slept heavily for a significant fraction of the first two days in bed. The bleeding changed from red to brown and became intermittent and infrequent (usually only at night). I stayed in bed for another day, and then began to do limited things around the house. Activity didn't seem to make any difference to the bleeding, which persisted intermittently for two weeks.

I had called several midwives for advice. They all said that twenty to fifty percent of bleeding in pregnancy is undiagnosed and that I should relax and just watch to see what developed. I was advised to rest, empty my bladder frequently, drink lots of fluids, and to "eat tofu, sweet potatoes, and black licorice (the European kind) to help support the pregnancy". I love black licorice so I was glad to oblige. Gerald, who doesn't put much stock in such remedies but also loves black licorice, said he would be happy to eat some to help support the pregnancy too. ...

At Our House

It will soon be time to get the Aardsma family seed order together for the 1997 garden. I thought I would give you a run down of the vegetables we grew this year, what we learned, what we liked and what we hope to do differently next year. This is the sort of evaluation we go through in preparation for ordering our seeds each year.

We planted a new (to us) variety of cucumber this year called "Hybrid Sweet Success". We order most of our seeds from Gurney's Seed & Nursery Company, 110 Capital Street, Yankton, South Dakota 57079. It was, indeed, a "sweet success" in our garden. The cucumbers could be picked at any stage of growth; they would be crunchy and sweet regardless. This variety grows long (14 inches), thin, dark skinned, and usually curved cucumbers. Folk around here refer to this type variously as "English" or "Japanese". My family and vegetable customers loved them. We plan to grow more of the same next year. ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC26: 14 pages: PDF (0.6 MB): $9.99 U.S.


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