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Volume 5 (1999)

Excerpts (text only) from MC51: 15 pages: PDF (0.7 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 5, Number 1

All the Days of His Life From Hannah's promise, "I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life" found in 1 Samuel 1:11.

by Helen and Gerald Aardsma, 1998

The following historical fiction is based on incidents in the life of Hannah recorded in the Bible. In writing it Gerald and I, because of space and time limitations, have had to assume our readers had a general acquaintance with the facts of the Biblical narrative: Hannah's long barrenness, her fervent prayer for a son and promise to dedicate him to the Lord, the Lord's granting of her request, Samuel's apprenticeship under Eli, the wickedness of Eli's sons, and God's removal of Eli's sons and elevation of Samuel. If you feel you might benefit from a refresher course on all this before entering into our story, you can find the pertinent Biblical history in the first seven chapters of 1 Samuel.

Scene 1: The Road to Shiloh

On level ground their trip would have taken half a day or less. But they were not on level ground. The path to Shiloh wound through rugged terrain. And though their sturdy donkeys carried all the family luggage, with women and children along the pace of the little caravan was necessarily slow.

The mood was decidedly festive nonetheless. The children had been acting foolish in their mounting excitement all morning. And even the household servants were lighthearted. As the family caravan halted for an open-air lunch they set about to prepare the fire with an unusual jocularity. The whole household was on its way to the temple in Shiloh for their annual religious festival. There would be feasting, special services, renewing of old acquaintances, and opportunity for a little shopping with special treats for all before it was over. Everyone was in high spirits---everyone except Hannah, that is. And she was miserable.

Hannah had come to dread the annual pilgrimage to the temple in Shiloh. Peninnah, her husband's other wife, made sure she did. They had their own separate apartments at home. There Hannah was able to stay clear of Peninnah's clever innuendos and sly invectives most of the time. But on the yearly pilgrimage, safety demanded that the whole family travel together, and there was no escape for Hannah. It is difficult to understand why one person should ever find pleasure in the misery of another, but there was no mistaking the fact that Hannah's pain added measurably to Peninnah's holiday experience.

Each year Peninnah's stabs penetrated a little nearer to the center of Hannah's heart. Whether this was because Peninnah's destructive skill improved with practice, or because Hannah's vulnerability increased with each passing year of her barrenness is hard to say.

In any event, Peninnah had been at it since they had left home five hours previously, and Hannah was beginning to feel that she could not take much more.

The family was now gathering to sit in a circle around the fire to eat. As Hannah approached the fire Peninnah called out, "Come children, come sit down here by Father. Elkanah, would you hold little Eliab for me while I direct the servants? Go to Papa, dear. Isn't he a little darling, Elkanah? When he smiles like that he looks just like you. Elkanah darling, how the Lord has prospered us!" ...

Portraits of Family Life Through the Centuries

The writings and lives of the Church Fathers are well known. But the lives of the "Mothers" are often forgotten. One of these lesser-known figures of the Early Church was Macrina. Had she not been the sister of Basil and Gregory (two of the influential trio of theologians known as the Cappadocian Fathers), she probably would have been forgotten altogether...

Macrina's mother Emmelia was a pious Christian who devoted her energy to passing the faith on to her ten children. Three of her sons---Gregory, Peter, and Basil---became bishops, and they along with Macrina were later canonized as saints. Her household became known as "a nursery of bishops and saints." ...

The One Room Schoolhouse

Recipe for home-school teaching

The requirements are not complex. Parents need only be loving, responsive, and reasonably consistent, and salt these qualities with a little imagination, common sense...

In one sense you are teaching all your waking moments---as models to your offspring. Yet while some parents are more diligent than others, none need to formally teach a full school day. Seldom are more than two or three hours of formal academic instruction a day appropriate. Many mothers and fathers limit their formal teaching to little more than an hour...

Much more important is your working with your children in physical work, helping them learn practical skills and the nobility of work---building character qualities of initiative, industry, neatness, order, responsibility, and dependability, which are hard to find in even one in ten children or young adults today. ...

In the Kitchen

Laura's Spaghetti Sauce (Recipe and Directions)

The following recipe is my daughter Laura's (14) practical (in contrast to gourmet) adaptation of the "Very Tasty Spaghetti Sauce" recipe from the Whole Foods for the Whole Family La Leche League cookbook. (This is on page 199 of my copy; I can't give the date or place of publication because the covers and first few pages of my copy were lost some time ago.) This recipe has worked out very economically for us because, in addition to having lots of frozen tomatoes from our garden, we were given a large number of dented cans of tomato juice by a Christian friend some time ago. The main reason I like it, though, is because it tastes good---in contrast to other spaghetti sauce recipes I have tried over the years.

This recipe makes a big batch of sauce. We freeze it in meal size portions. It makes enough for about 3 meals for our family (with typically 9 around our table). It is easy and fast to make. We use this sauce for lasagna, hot meatball subs, pizza, soup base, fish, taco and enchiladas sauce base, and of course, spaghetti. ...

Gerald's Homestead Notes

Gerald experiments continually with every aspect of the vegetable garden. His goal is to make the time and other resources invested in the garden return as large a profit as possible. Profit is measured both in terms of food supplied directly to our table and sales to our vegetable customers. Gerald explains that because there are so many variables in gardening---soil type, climate, plant varieties, local consumer preferences, etc.---there can never be one correct "recipe" for gardening which is applicable to everybody. Tried and true recipes for successful gardening are a good place to start, but to maximize profitability in one's own garden it is necessary to conduct small-scale experiments and see what actually works out the best. The following is Gerald's record of a simple test of carrot varieties he conducted in our garden this past year.

We have not been happy with carrots freshly picked from the garden here. Their flavor tends to be strong and not very sweet. We have not had this problem in other gardens---perhaps the fact that the cool-weather portion of the growing season is short here is the reason. The carrots tend to sweeten up when stored in our temperature-controlled (cooled) pantry for several weeks, so they are worth growing in any case. But it would be nice to have some carrots fresh from the garden through the summer. ...

Dear Helen

I was wondering if you had any advice about bed-wetting. It seems to "run in the family", so to speak. My oldest was not dry at night until 5 1/2. She potty trained just fine for daytime, but could not make it through the night without urinating at least twice. Taking her before I went to bed around 11:00 did not help. My second child was finally dry at night at 6 years old. I was so thankful for the "pull-ups" at this time so I didn't need to change the bed. He was of course much too big for any kind of diaper and I wouldn't have dreamed of making him wear one. My next child is 3 1/2 and I am again using pull-ups. I feel bad for him, because he desperately wants to wear underwear at night like his brother. But he would be wet every night without his pull-up. Our fourth child is only 5 months, but I expect she will be the same way. We do not make a big deal about this problem. We just wait for the child to grow out of it. Am I possibly doing something wrong with potty training? All three of the oldest trained pretty easily for the daytime. Any advice would be appreciated. ...

At Our House

It was Friday, the day before Labor Day weekend, 1974. Gerald and I were newlyweds of three weeks. Gerald had been accepted in a bachelor of science program at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Classes would begin in a few days.

Gerald was nineteen; I was twenty. We had little money and little experience with being on our own. But God had clearly directed us to the University of Guelph. We knew that the next step in our walk with Him meant setting up our first home there, near enough to the university for Gerald to attend classes each day.

We had already learned that there was a long waiting list to get into the married student residence on campus, so we would be looking for an apartment in the town of Guelph. We would not be able to operate our car while school was in session---a side-effect of the student grant/loan program which was our only source of funding initially---so we hoped to locate an apartment close to the campus to minimize the time and expense of public transportation to and from the university each day.

We packed our meager belongings into a small U-Haul and headed off to Guelph. Gerald's Dad, always generous, insisted on coming along to help us get established. Gerald's brother and one of Gerald's boyhood friends also came along to help.

We arrived in Guelph that same Friday and began to search for an apartment. Much to our surprise we learned that Guelph was full to overflowing with not a room to be had anywhere. Housing was extremely short that year because of an unusually high enrollment. Everyone we spoke with just shook their heads and said we would not be able to find anything at this late date. Quite a few students, we learned, had already taken up residence in tents (not supplied by the university!) on the front lawn of the campus!

We contacted several churches to see if they knew of any places to rent. They didn't. The prognosis looked dismal whichever way we turned.

There was a very large apartment building near one of the churches. We checked it out. No vacancy. And, in keeping with the pattern, the manager reinforced that our quest was hopeless.

We could see plainly that we were up against a sizable problem. But we knew we were in the path the Lord had indicated for us. We also knew there is no problem too large for Him. So we prayed, and we persisted. ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC51: 15 pages: PDF (0.7 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC52: 18 pages: PDF (0.6 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 5, Number 2

Boy #6!

With great joy and thanksgiving Helen and Gerald announce the birth of their tenth child,


BORN: February 12, 1999 TIME: 7:17 p.m. WEIGHT: 9 pounds, 5 ounces LENGTH: 22 inches

Mother and baby are both doing very well.

Once again our sincere appreciation goes out to all who have borne this pregnancy and birth up before our Father's throne in prayer.

A Song for the Day of Rest

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Thy name, O Most High;

To declare Thy lovingkindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness by night, with the ten-stringed lute, and with the harp; with resounding music upon the lyre.

For Thou, O Lord, hast made me glad by what Thou hast done.

I will sing for joy at the works of Thy hands.

(Psalm 92:1--4.)

Hast Thou No Scar?

Yes, baby Caleb has arrived safe and sound---though not without a share of trauma for all concerned. Here is Caleb's birth story. As usual, I share this intimately, "woman to woman".

I have one concern which I must express before we begin, though. I am concerned that any young sisters, who have never experienced childbirth, may mistakenly assume that the following experience is normal. It isn't. To put it in proper perspective it belongs to the category of "worst case" births. The birth of Timothy, which I shared two years ago, belongs in the category of "difficult" births. Helen E. Aardsma, "Pregnancy Diary," The Mother's Companion 3.2 (March/April 1997): 2--9. The vast majority of women have "normal" births. And some even have "easy" births. I would love to share a "normal" or an "easy" birth with you, so you would see that childbirth is not normally all that big of a deal. But I can, of course, only share with you what the Lord has given me.

Birth Diary

Saturday, January 23: Baby dropped down into position. Feel so much more comfortable.

Monday, January 25: Feeling great. Cleaned pantry and garage today. Getting very nesty. Baby less active. Increase in number and intensity of BH [Braxton Hicks] contractions. Nursing Tim (2), but find contractions annoying, and his nursing annoying at times too.

Friday, January 29: Midwives visit. Measure between 44 and 48 cm. Never measured so large before. Midwives predicting a big 9 pound plus baby. All systems go. Love the sound of that heartbeat. Baby not down in pelvis yet.

Monday, February 01: Had very hard BH contractions last night for most of the night. Some seemed like cervical contractions. Was very uncomfortable. Tired and crabby. Staying in bed; sleeping on and off. Baby very active.

Wednesday, February 03: Slept well past two nights. Feel energetic and ready to have this baby. Did my big monthly grocery shopping in Champaign today.

Saturday, February 06: Contractions start in lower cervix around 3 a.m. Dozed until 7 a.m. Feel slightly sickish. No appetite. Predicted I would go into labor this weekend. Called midwife to let her know what was happening. Had contractions all day. Stopped by evening. Slept well.

Sunday, February 07: No contractions. Was able to eat a small but normal lunch. Feel very tired today. Mild contractions all night, 15 minutes apart. Slept through much of it. Baby active.

Wednesday, February 10: Nothing much happening. Feel great, high energy. Want everything in place for baby. (Gerald says, "Don't worry about the house---the baby will never notice!") Some cervical contractions from 3:30 p.m. until supper. Lots of BH too. Set up all the birth supplies on a bench in my "delivery room" (my bedroom). ...

Thursday, February 11: Pass mucous plug 5:30 p.m. Lots of mucous for one hour. All go to bed 10 p.m. Strong contractions 5-10 minutes apart. Relieved somewhat by standing and walking. In frequent contact with midwife by phone. Hard contractions from 10:56 p.m. onward. About five minutes apart. Rest in recliner for half hour. Try to go to bed; makes contractions very strong. Stay up; let Gerald sleep as long as possible. ...

Dear Helen

I dealt with the topic of sterilization two issues ago. Helen E. Aardsma, "Sterilization: Does it Deliver?," The Mother's Companion 4.6 (November/December 1998): 1--8. I have been deeply touched by readers' responses to that topic. Here are three examples. As with my article, "Sterilization: Does it Deliver?", my purpose in publishing these letters is not to give a blanket endorsement of everything they say, but rather that we might benefit from the lessons these sisters have learned in regard to sterilization and bearing children for the Lord without having to make the same mistakes ourselves.

Dear Helen,

Well, I want you to know you've done it again! Actually, I believe with all my heart, the Holy Spirit does it through you.

Just today, when my husband came home for lunch, I said to him, "We really shouldn't have more children". His facial expression fell. While in my heart I love babies and want more, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed about our older three children needing braces.

Then, this afternoon, I got the mail and your newsletter (Volume 4, Number 5) was in it. I was still reading when my husband came home from work. I was crying as I handed him the pages I'd finished. I said to him, "She's done it again!"

That, of course piqued his curiosity and he read. Every few minute, from across the room I'd hear him remark affirmatively. He said to me that in the military if you go to a beach and fry your skin to the point you are unable to work they can "nail" you for destruction of government property. The same goes for faddish hair cuts. As a GI they "are not their own, they are bought with a price", so to speak. ...

Timothy's Diary

We celebrated Timothy's second birthday a week late so I could combine shopping for his party with my once-a-month grocery shopping in Champaign. When I finally got to Champaign I was delighted to find many treasures at the thrift shop which were just right for birthday presents for Timothy. I was able to get one small gift for each of his brothers and sisters to give him.

When the day to celebrate finally arrived the younger children talked of nothing else to him all day. Every time they mentioned "birthday party" he would shout "Yeah!" and smile.

Timothy (2) preparing to blow out the candles. Laura (14) and David (11) looking on.

We had only one guest, our adopted local grandmother, Eldora. Laura (14) made a lovely cake and the other children made homemade ice cream. Timothy had great fun opening his many little gifts and great fun playing with them all. It was an enjoyable evening together.

Timothy is genetically a big boy. He is near the top of the growth charts. He is now 37 inches tall, and he weighs 32 pounds. He looks like he could be three or even four, but he is still just two inside.

I have always weaned my toddlers part way through my pregnancy with the next baby. This means that most have been nursed for about two and a quarter years. This has always seemed a natural time to wean because they are well along in eating solid foods by then and my milk supply is naturally reduced during pregnancy.

I have changed all this in Timothy's case. The spacing between Timothy and Caleb is the shortest I have had with any of my children. If I had weaned Timothy during the pregnancy as usual he would have been weaned before his second birthday. I didn't feel this was fair to Timothy---he is a fast grower and needs the best nutrition he can get.

I was also encouraged to continue breastfeeding by some reading on basic nutrition I had been doing. As I studied this topic I came across several strong statements by medical professionals regarding the benefits of long term nursing. I was particularly interested to find studies indicating a link between breastfeeding and a child's eventual IQ. For example: Patricia Stuart-Macadam and Katherine A. Dettwyler, editors, Breastfeeding: A Biocultural Perspective (New York: Aldine De Gruyter, 1995), 17--18.

More recent studies have shown that even when a number of factors are controlled for, there is a tendency for breastfed children to have higher test scores in intelligence and language tests. ... Major growth activity in the human brain is not complete until 2 years of age and it is possible that optimum development of the human brain is dependent upon the many hormones and bioactive substances found in human milk.

I talked it over with Gerald and he said without hesitation, "Do what is best for Timothy". ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC52: 18 pages: PDF (0.6 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC53: 18 pages: PDF (0.6 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 5, Number 3

Mothers and Daughters

In 1992 71% of teen mothers in America were not married, compared to 14% in 1950---a fivefold increase in the frequency of unwed teen mothers in forty-two years. One birth in three was illegitimate in 1990, compared to one in ten in 1970---more than a threefold increase in the illegitimacy rate in just twenty years. Family Research Council, "A Few Facts About Illegitimacy," In Focus (March 1995).

Unfortunately, the problem of sexual licentiousness is not confined to secular society today. The concern of the Christian community for its own youth is clearly revealed in the eagerness with which courtship and betrothal alternatives to traditional dating are embraced by Christian parents at present, and by the ubiquitous presence of Why Wait? and similar materials in church youth programs across the nation.

I applaud the moral concern of the men who have launched these programs within the Christian community. But I wonder at times whether they understand that they are pinch-hitting. They are pinch-hitting for America's mothers. They are trying to fill a vacuum left by the collapse of traditional mothering in America.

I address this article, not to the daughters of America, but to the mothers. My purpose in it is not to call young girls of thirteen and fourteen years of age to display wisdom and exercise restraint beyond their years. My call is to the mothers of America---to get back on the job. ...

The One Room

Many home schooling mothers ask me, "How do I prepare my teenagers for the SAT and ACT in preparation for college?" Both Jennifer (22) and Mark (20) have taken these tests and have scored very well. Stephen (17) has been preparing for the SAT and will be taking his test May 1st.

What is the SAT, the PSAT, and the ACT? These tests are used by colleges and other institutions of higher education to assess your child's scholastic ability.

Why are these tests important? These tests are especially important for home schoolers. Many home schoolers don't have a grade point average or class standing. In such cases these tests are the only measures of academic competence institutions of higher education have to go on when considering your child's application. They are likely to be used as the major measure of academic ability in any case. Poor performance on these tests will close the doors of many institutions of higher education to your child. Good performance will open the doors and may even result in substantial scholarships.

The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is what most schools require. It is a three hour, multiple-choice test that concentrates on math and english skills.

The PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test) is normally taken early during the junior year. I personally feel that it is unnecessary and have not persued it with my children.

The ACT (American College Test) is a three and a half hour multiple-choice test divided into four sections: english, math, reading, and science reasoning. Many institutions do not require this test---check with the colleges your child is interested in attending.

How do I best prepare my child for these tests? Your child must first have a good academic foundation. This can only come about by systematic study on a regular basis. Gerald often asks the children, "How do you build a house?" The correct answer is, "One brick at a time". Each study-day is a small but important "brick" in your child's education. Working consistently, a lesson per day, through a prepared curriculum in the basic subjects from first grade up is the most important preparation.

To this we add targeted preparation in the student's junior and senior years. ...

Gerald's Homestead Notes

Garden Layout

Our main vegetable garden is a rectangle 180 feet long by 173 feet wide (0.71 acre; Figure 1). It is bordered on three sides by a fence. A two foot wide strip is left all along the inside of the fence for planting perennial fruits and vegetables---presently rhubarb, asparagus, and blackberries. This keeps the perennials out of the way of the annual rotation of crops in the main garden. It also gives the perennials' roots lots of room to spread in all directions without being disturbed by tilling from year to year.

A four foot wide pathway runs all around the garden inside the perennials' strip. Since our clay loam soil is subject to serious compaction, traffic in the garden is confined to this pathway to the greatest extent possible. Four feet is the minimum width needed for turning a front-tine tiller around and starting the next row. It is also the minimum width to comfortably accommodate our small ride-on mower with ten cubic foot garden trailer attached. ...

Dear Helen

Dear Helen,

I have written you before. After reading and crying through your birth story of Caleb I wanted to dash off another letter.

I am praying that you and others will be blessed from what you have suffered. After reading the story I, who have had both my children at home, feel less judgmental towards women who have had c-sections. Many times blind trust in the doctor results in a c-section; but in some cases, as your story clearly showed, they are necessary to save lives.

When reading the birth story I couldn't stand it. I had to look back at the front to see when he was born after I got to the early morning February 12th part. 7:17 PM! Oh no! I did not think I could stand to read the rest, but I did.

I try not to alienate women when I discuss birth. I want so bad for women to turn from relying on doctors and to rely on God and the way He created us. I am met with such amazement when I say that I chose home birth because it is so much safer. My husband is a physician and he has looked at the statistics. Home birth is safer.

Your phrase "intervention breeds complications" is such a simple way to explain it. If you don't mind I am going to use it. Up to now sometimes I tell people this analogy I thought of. Home birth is like flying being safer than driving. It is so rare for something to go wrong that it is considered much safer. However, if something does go wrong it is more likely to be fatal. Well, just saying "intervention breeds complications" says it a lot better. ...

At Our House

We are enjoying our first beautiful spring day as I write. The birds are chirping. Gerald is in the garden with his helpers getting our sweet corn planted for the year. Diapers are flapping in the warm breeze and brilliant sunshine. The aroma of Laura's fresh rhubarb pie is stealing into my office from the kitchen. We have waited eagerly all winter for such days!

In January the boys, under Gerald's supervision, began remodeling my old kitchen. The project was begun out of necessity, not luxury. It had been hanging over our heads for several years. There was not much supporting the old sinks anymore. The old counter was coming apart piece by piece from years of water damage (hard to avoid with young helpers, the original small sinks, and the low grade of materials used in the original construction), and the wall and floor around the sinks were in pretty bad shape too. We had delayed as long as possible because we didn't have the money in hand for such a big project, but it was clear that it could be put off no longer. We would just have to break the project up into stages spread out over several years.

I had plenty of advance notice that something was going to need to be done in the kitchen eventually. If I tended to forget I would soon be reminded by a few more square inches of the counter top delaminating, or yet another cupboard drawer disintegrating beyond all hope of repair, or by the mushrooms which kept growing out of the wall behind the faucets. When the time came for action, I was ready with a plan.

My plan centered around a large, deep, three-bowl stainless sink. I wanted a sink that would hold my large canning pots, that I could bath a toddler in, and that I could put all the dishes in to soak while I did other things. I wanted three sinks, one for washing, one for rinsing, and one for stacking the dishes in to drain and dry.

I had a plan, but despite my best efforts over several years, I had no sinks. ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC53: 18 pages: PDF (0.6 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC54: 19 pages: PDF (1.0 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 5, Number 4

The Wedding

Well, my heart is full to overflowing. It is one week after the wedding and I have so many things I want to share. There is no way I can fit all I feel into this one issue. Where do I begin?

Jennifer's Childhood

When Gerald and I were expecting our first baby, Gerald asked the Lord for a girl. He felt he had so much love to share; he wanted a little girl to hug, to protect, and to provide for. God granted his request and sent us Jennifer Joy Aardsma.

Gerald and I began praying for a godly mate for Jen when she was a wee toddler. I cherish many memories of family devotions centered around the topic of marriage---the importance of this holy bond, and the grave seriousness of this choice. Gerald has encouraged the children over and over to seek earnestly for the Lord's will in this matter of the choice of their lifelong mate, and to surrender it completely to Him. He has told them of how he began to pray for the Lord to lead him to just the right mate from his early adolescent years on, and he has encouraged all of the children to do the same.

One particular family devotional time comes back to me vividly now as I write. Jennifer was in her mid teens at the time. The Scripture passage Gerald had read led naturally to a discussion about marriage versus singleness. Gerald explained that singleness was a special gift that God gave to some individuals so they could serve Him more fully without the distraction of family responsibilities. He told the children that God called most individuals into marriage, and if that was His calling for them they should rejoice in it and dedicate their marriage with joy unto Him. But if He called them to singleness, they should not think themselves strange or left out. They should rejoice in that special calling, and count the opportunity they had for undistracted devotion to the Lord a great privilege. After explaining these things Gerald invited any questions or comments. Jennifer quickly declared that she did not have the gift of singleness.

Boy Meets Girl

Jennifer was nearly nineteen by the time she went to college. She left home without ever having had a "boyfriend". Gerald had told her all through her teen years that he was praying that God would keep the boys away until the one of His choosing should come along. And all the while Jennifer was at home the Lord granted Gerald that request too---much to Jennifer's annoyance.

After a few months at college Jen began dating a young man there. Their interest in one another grew, but eventually Jen began to feel that this young man was not God's choice for her. He was fun to be with, but she could not shake the conviction that he would not be the spiritual leader she knew her home would need.

Jen was looking for a man like her dad---a man who would lead the family faithfully in devotions every day, for example, and who would guard their home against worldly influences. She had grown up in our home without a TV. She was shocked to find Christian classmates exposing themselves habitually to the sensuality and ungodly philosophies of the TV and movie theater. She saw the toll the TV took not only on personal holiness but also on family life. She wanted a home free of this corrupting influence.

God continued to impress on Jen that this particular young man was not the right choice for her. Finally, through one particular sermon, He brought the issue to a head.

Jen phoned home all in tears. She wanted to talk to her dad. She knew what God was asking her to do, but she felt entirely miserable about doing it. Neither Gerald nor I had ever met the young man involved, but the conviction of the Holy Spirit in Jennifer was clear. Gerald said, "Jen, you must follow the Lord in this, no matter how great the pain; He loves you, and He makes no mistakes."

Jen was still in tears when she hung up---and I was too! Her closing comment, sincerely spoken and keenly felt at the time, was, "I'll probably wind up an old maid the rest of my life". But she followed the Lord's leading and broke off the relationship.

Mr. Right

Some weeks passed, and then one evening Jennifer called home all excited. "Mom, guess what?!", she screamed into the phone. "This guy asked me out to the play coming up. Oh, Mom, he's a doll!" She was speaking so fast she was tripping over her words. "I play the piano for his music lesson. He is such a nice guy, I thought for sure he must have a girl back home or something, because he never dates here at college. He is a voice major, has dark hair, a really great voice, and he dresses really sharp!"

I said, "Uh oh. Not one of those stuck-up performing types, Jen?"

"Oh no, Mom, really he isn't. He's great!"

And so Jen and this young music major named Steve Hall began "seeing" each other. ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC54: 19 pages: PDF (1.0 MB): $9.99 U.S.

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The Mother's Companion Volume 5, Number 5

The High Calling of Motherhood

I believe the following article to be of highest importance to Christian women today. It is a sermon by Walter J. Chantry, Pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. It goes to the heart of the rampant confusion regarding womanhood and motherhood our culture is immersed in today, both outside and inside the church, and reasserts a biblical doctrine of motherhood.

When I first read this sermon in pamphlet form some time back I felt immediately that I had to share it with my readers. It clearly articulates the biblical foundation which premises every issue of The Mother's Companion. I wrote the publisher of the pamphlet, The Banner of Truth, and they kindly granted special permission for the sermon to be reproduced in its entirety here. .

This is not light reading. It demands careful attention. But it warrants deliberate study and rereading, until the biblical truths Pastor Chantry declares have saturated our minds and hearts and thoroughly displaced all vestiges of the hell-inspired views which permeate our world today.

Pastor Chantry's text is 1 Timothy 2:9--15, with particular attention to verse 15: "But women will be saved through childbirth, if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety". You will find it helpful to have your Bible open at those verses as you read Pastor Chantry's sermon.

Our generation has highlighted the oppression of women. The symptoms are not difficult to identify. Women have too often been held in contempt. Large numbers of them have been subjected to verbal, social and physical abuses. Women's magazines and social activists have pointed the finger at very serious ill-treatments which subject multitudes to misery.

Our world has little difficulty describing the quandary of women. But it has completely mistaken the root cause. Consequently, women are being offered a faulty solution to their real troubles. False diagnosis usually leads to improper measures of correction. In this case the cure proposed by the world simply compounds female misery.

Scripture Speaks

Contrary to popular assumption, the Bible has a number of things to say very directly about this issue: Paul, in 1 Timothy 2:11--15, alludes to the plight of woman. He suggests that she needs to be saved (verse 15). This cannot mean salvation from sin and God's everlasting wrath. In this context Paul joins salvation to childbearing. He must have in view a deliverance from some other extremity. In fact he is referring to the circumstantial calamities which attend a woman's life. In the passage Paul gives a solution. His views are not simply a parroting of the social philosophy current in his own age. Under divine inspiration he wrote not a private opinion but the very Word of God.

Creation and Fall

`Women's rights' proponents become livid when God's directives to women are read to them from this passage: `A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man, she must be silent' (verses 11--12). `That is the very cause of woman's distress', they tell us. `She has been subject to man. We must go directly to the source of grief. Liberate woman from man's dominance'.

Paul vigorously disagrees. Woman's problem is not her social position of subordination to man. That is not her trouble. ...

My Highest Calling

As Pastor Chantry has pointed out in our lead article this issue, there are signs of hope at present. I frequently receive letters from young women showing that they have begun to discern the issues clearly, and have determined to return to their God-given job of rearing a family for the Lord.

I introduced you to Marilyn and her first child, Brooke, back in Volume 2, Number 3. Helen E. Aardsma, "Titus 2 Mentoring," The Mother's Companion 2.3 (May/June 1996): 1--4. The following excerpt is a diary page Marilyn wrote to baby Brooke in 1995.

In today's culture, here in the United States, many mothers go back to work outside the home after six weeks. You are two months old now and I can't imagine leaving you with someone else and returning to the work-a-day world.

I am so grateful to your Daddy for how he desires to provide for us, and for his appreciation of the new calling on my life---to look after you!

This morning as I ironed a shirt for your Daddy, you resting on my lap, I thought about how pleased I am---a husband who adores me and a beautiful baby, both in need of all that I have to give. ...

Keeping Wedding Costs Down

Last issue was all about my oldest daughter Jennifer's wedding. I asked Jen to write an article for me detailing her actual expenses while it was all still fresh in her mind right after the wedding. My plan was to publish this with the account of the wedding as a practical aid to other families planning weddings. But we had so many pictures that just had to go in last issue there was no room left for Jen's article. So I've squeezed it in here this issue.

"When I began to plan our wedding, I knew we had a very limited budget. I had heard girls at college talking about the cost for their weddings: $800 for the photographer, $500 for the wedding dress, almost $1,000 for the flowers. I was fairly certain that our wedding celebration could be much less expensive, but just as beautiful and memorable as an extravagant wedding.

I found out over the months of planning that a beautiful wedding does not have to cost thousands of dollars. Our wedding and reception cost a total of $1868.89. This included everything from invitations and stamps to dresses and tuxedos for my family to wedding cake and napkins.

We had to decide very quickly what our priorities were. We obviously could not afford everything that we might want, so we had to decide what was most important to us. Sacrificing some things enabled us to have some other very special things. Every choice we made was a matter of priorities that fit within our budget. ...

Timothy's Diary

Spring 1999; 2-1/3 Years

I can't remember when I have enjoyed a toddler so much. Timothy is at a delightful and cute stage. Much of it has to do with his speech. He talks in complete sentences now, but he has a few rules of grammar to get figured out yet. For example, he uses "me" in place of "I": "Me bumped me head Mom!" He also pronounces "s" as "th". "Mom, me thee the geethes in the field." But his speech is quite advanced for his age, and improving constantly. One reason for this is that when I correct him, he repeats the proper way after me. Very few of my other children have been that cooperative!

A few weeks ago I was seated in the living room with all the children. Tim was playing on the floor behind the recliner. He peeked around the recliner and said, "Me cool!" We all laughed---it was funny, this little two-year-old, barely able to speak, using teenage lingo. He saw that he had us laughing, so he peeked around again and said, "Mom cool". That got everybody laughing even more, so he kept it up, peeking around the chair at well-timed intervals, naming each of the children and calling them "cool" until everybody was laughing uncontrollably. Who needs TV?!

Tim continues to do well in the toilet training department. He wets at night about 50% of the time, so I keep him in diapers still at night. He occasionally doesn't make it to the bathroom when he comes in from outside. I don't make too big of a deal about it, but do remind him to come in sooner next time.

Now that it is spring and almost summer Tim is having a blast outside. The first really nice warm day we took the wading pool out and filled it for the children to play in. He played in the pool all day. About half way through the day I suddenly realized he was getting a sunburn on his back. I put a T-shirt on him then, but I was a little late. He woke up several times that night crying because of the sunburn. I put Caladryl on it to sooth it each time he woke. He sighed as I put in on and then promptly went back to sleep. I felt so bad. I have learned this lesson before, about the children needing to wear T-shirts when swimming in the early summer, but I had forgotten it. ...

Gerald's Homestead Notes

The following is Gerald's homestead journal entry for October 29, 1998.

Report on 1998 Meat Chickens

We butchered the last of the meat birds (Jumbo CornishxRocks) at roughly four and a half months of age on October 27 and 28. They averaged a dress weight of six pounds by our target date for butchering of October 15 (see graph). Helen is quite happy with birds of this size for cooking. Thus the time of arrival of these meat birds (June 15) seems to be right and should be adhered to in future years.

This (relatively late) arrival date offers several advantages. It requires minimum brooder heat relative to earlier in the spring when it is still cold outside; chance of loosing chicks due to cold (e.g., brooder bulb failure) is slim in mid-June. It also gives time for the chicken pasture to get established before the chickens begin to run on it. ...

Dear Helen

Dear Helen,

How do you find the time (or when do you make the time) for prayer, and how do you pray? I get up as early as possible to read my Bible, but the children soon follow and the time for prayer slips away as the day takes on a life of it's own. ...

At Our House

The hot days are about over for the summer now; I am so much enjoying the cooler late summer days.

We have had a good growing season and a wonderful harvest this year. It delights my eyes to see the rows of full canning jars on my pantry shelves, and my freezer full to the brim.

We (all of us working together) did up 150 quart jars of beans, and 150 4-cup bags of frozen sweet corn. We also have 1,200 pounds of potatoes for eating in the pantry, in addition to several hundred pounds of seed potatoes put aside for next year. This is the best potato harvest, in pounds of potatoes per square foot planted, that we have had yet. Gerald has also experimented with a late planting of potatoes this year. It will probably add another 500 pounds to the harvest when it is dug in October. We will obviously be eating lots of potatoes this winter! Would you care to share your favorite potato recipe?

Laura and I are still doing up tomatoes. The tomatoes are beautiful this year---many are picture perfect. Gerald expanded our tomato patch from one 160 foot row to two 160 foot rows. I have been selling tomatoes by the bushel at a very cheap price ($10.00 for 50 pounds) to help expand our customer base. I sell them at $1.00 a pound for smaller amounts. ... onoring our request for a quiet celebration. the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:4--8; NASB)

Excerpts (text only) from MC55: 18 pages: PDF (0.6 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC56: 17 pages: PDF (1.3 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 5, Number 6

With Her Own Hands

Dear Helen,

My husband's mother is a devout Christian who is very against us having a large family. She says I'll have to be put away if I have more kids. I have never shown exhaustion or any distress to her, so I don't know why she says that. She's begged us never to have more kids. I don't know why she is so adamantly concerned---she doesn't support us or babysit or even send us many gifts.

While my husband's family is out of state, we live very close to my family. Though also Christian, they too are against a large family. Though they don't babysit or help us a whole lot, they are so opinionated---everyone has an opinion on such a private issue.

I am really hurt over this issue. I want so much to be close to my family, but I feel like they expect me to compromise to gain their acceptance. The sad thing is, while I would never give up having a large family for the Lord, I often avoid conversations defending this point so that I can have their acceptance. I feel hurt, lonely. I know to rely on God, to look only to Him, but Helen, you know what it is to be human.

Praise God my husband is as much for trusting our childbearing to God as I am. I don't have to worry about him being swayed.

I know that I'm ultimately looking for approval from others and I should be seeking it from God, but I want to be at peace with my family and they dislike our `radical' following of God. ...

Dear Helen,

I've just given birth to son #4 and have been urged, cajoled, and almost beaten over the head by my mom to have my tubes tied (or a vasectomy for my husband.) She is a Christian (I believe) and yet she thinks my husband and I are foolish to even consider having MORE children. She thinks it is `irresponsible'. She begins to shudder when I tell her I have a friend who is fixin' to have her 10th (you!!). It's not a God thing to her. I've tried to explain over and over again to her that this is an important area of our lives that we are gong to yield to HIS control, but it is no use.

My husband tells me not to listen to ungodly advice---to hold everything she says up to the Word of Truth. The more I do this the more I realize that God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory. It seems that every time I open my Bible I find more and more Scripture to support this yielding to Him. ...

I love my mom dearly, and I try to honor her as the Bible commands, but it is hard when all I hear is how foolish I am for wanting (or simply allowing for) more children.

I have begun to homeschool our oldest (8 years old) this year. This is another point of contention between us. She constantly comments on either: 1) an area of academics he is weak in---spitting out addition facts, knowing parts of speech, etc., or 2) his lack of socialization and how detrimental that is to his emotional health. Basically, I'm not raising him right---which is very discouraging considering I am finally doing some things I feel the Lord has impressed upon me to do. ...

Critical mothers, and critical mothers-in-law---how are we to handle them?

The Problem

The Bible teaches that older women are to encourage younger women in their God-given homemaking responsibilities. Titus 2:3--5. It is natural for younger women to look to older women for mentoring advice and encouragement. This is especially true in the case of close relatives, and most especially true in the case of mothers and mothers-in-law. We naturally love them. We naturally esteem them. We want to believe they are special people. Their opinions are important to us. These people, we feel, will surely understand our pure desire to please the Lord in our homes, and they will surely come to our defense, though all the rest of the world stands off and mocks.

How very disheartening, then, when these close relatives, rather than dispensing encouragement, join their voices with those of the world in opposition and destructive criticism.

It is not too difficult to brush the world's criticisms aside---they do not know our Lord. But we have reason to hope for better from our own Christian mother or Christian mother-in-law. It is not so easy to brush their criticisms aside. Because of our natural openness to them, their words penetrate deeply. Criticism from this source can leave us with a heart full of pain, and greatly discouraged. How is the young woman, who has set her heart to raise a family for the Lord in this unholy generation, to survive and overcome criticism from this close quarter? ...

Product Review

Classic Clothing for Mother and Child: Preserving the Tradition of American Dressmaking

Here is a catalog I thought you might enjoy getting a copy of. When it came in the mail one day Laura (14) and I spent the next little while oohing and aahing over the beautiful, classic American dresses. The fabrics are pretty and made of pure cotton. The clothes are "made with pride in Nobleboro, Maine". And the prices are not outrageous. ...

A Great Magazine for Girls

Laura-Lee (14, almost 15) wrote this next review at my request.

Even though he is probably half a mile away, I hear the deep bass drone of our mailman's beat-up delivery car. He speeds down our long gravel road and slides to a halt in a cloud of dust in our driveway. I peer out the window, curious to see what he will bring. As he stuffs mail into our oversized mailbox, I catch a glimpse of something big and white. "It came!" I shout.

I run outside, eager to receive it from my father as he brings in the mail. Delighted, I leaf through my just-arrived copy of HopeChest. Running in the house, I wave the magazine around excitedly. "Its here!" I shout to whoever will listen. ...

Gerald's Homestead Notes

I normally share something from Gerald's homestead journal in this column. Gerald keeps his journal to help us stay on track and do better each year on the homestead. It records: garden experiments he has tried, the results of soil analyses, what was planted where each year, weights of our meat chickens at butchering, fencing diagrams, and many other similar items.

But the journal isn't just about hands-on, practical matters. One can also find, for example, the occasional page dealing with our goals, or with policy issues. And, very occasionally, Gerald will take the time to write down observations which range far beyond the borders of the homestead.

The following short piece is an example in this rarer category. It is not from Gerald's homestead journal; it was written well over a decade ago, before we ever moved to Illinois and began our little homestead.

It is about a Christmas experience of some years ago. It was written by Gerald for Gerald, rather than for any audience. As a result its nature is reflective and probing, rather than entertaining. Because of this Gerald is a little reluctant to see it published---he does not wish to put a damper on anyone's holiday.

But we have talked this over and I have prevailed. My view is that a little honesty is needed as an antidote to the gobs of self-serving sentimental goo which one can depend on from Hollywood and other public voices across America at this time of year. Thoughtful readers will, I think, agree.

The Christmas Jesus Went Hungry

With Christmas only a few days away, the frenzy of last-minute shopping was beginning to peak. The shopping mall was crowded with folks hurrying from shop to shop in quest of that last elusive present.

We had come as a family of six. Our goal was to allow each of the children (the oldest at that time just turned eight) to shop for gifts for the others. The way we accomplished this was for Mom to take one child shopping at a time while I, Dad, sat in the middle of the mall with the others

Two booths were set up near where we sat, and it is really these that I want to tell you about. ...

At Our House

I didn't get much sleep a few nights ago. A friend had shown me a magazine article that evening reporting the outcome of a lawsuit between a number of prominent individuals and organizations within the Christian home school community. The plaintiff did okay for herself---she came away from the lawsuit with several million dollars.

Another blurb in this magazine stated that a large, non-profit organization attached to the Christian home school movement seemed to be making very large profits. The leader of the organization, it claimed, based on publically available IRS returns, was being salaried at nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year!

These bits of news got me really worked up. I felt hurt and betrayed. The Christian home school community isn't supposed to be this way. Indeed, Christians aren't supposed to be this way. And here we are, like thousands of other home school families, struggling to make ends meet, forced to pay taxes to a Godless government monopoly on education, while we scrape and scrounge to be able to buy basic curriculum materials to give our children a decent education, and meanwhile these Christian home school "leaders", saying one thing while they live another entirely, harvest their millions!

Like I say, I got pretty worked up. My dear husband, Gerald, heard me out---several times---but didn't say much that evening.

But the next day, Sunday, for our house church service, he quietly opened his Bible to Psalm 37 and began to read it to us. I knew this Psalm, but I had forgotten its truths.

"Do not fret because of evildoers", he read. "Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass, and fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He will do it. And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret, it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place, and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land, and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity."

As usual, Gerald explained what the Psalm meant as he read it, so even the young children could understand it. By the time he had finished I was feeling pretty convicted. I had been doing all the wrong things. I had been fretting. I had been getting angry---I had spent the whole night getting angry. And, yes, to my shame, I had even been getting envious.

How foolish of me. May I share a little of the Lord's provision these past few months? ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC56: 17 pages: PDF (1.3 MB): $9.99 U.S.


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