Simplifying Continued

Hey, All!

Sorry for my absence, I’ve been busy growing and birthing a human.  We welcomed little Dax Hezekiah the end of March and we are most certainly in love with him!

Toward the end of my pregnancy I had some medical issues which had me frequenting the doctors’ office upt to 4 times a week and after Dax’s arrival he had a ten day stay in the NICU.  All is well with both of us now, but as you can imagine, it did change my priorites and take its toll on the upkeep of our home.

If you remember a couple posts back I began a journey to live more simply. You can find the full story here, but the short version is I began decluttering our home as an attempt to regain some sanity, create a more welcoming space, live artisticly, and be more attentive to the needs of our community. With nine people in our family and over 50 animals on our “farm” it has not  been the easiest of tasks, but we were definitely making great strides with 42 trash bags,11 boxes, and a few large miscellanous items being donated and over 50 things being sold on ebay within a four month time frame.  I was not completely finished venturing through the house on my decluttering mission when my efforts were forced to the back burner, but I am now easing back into the process and mindset of simplifying.

To begin I trepidatiously entered the kids bathroom and set the timer for 30 minutes.

I started in the medicine cabinet that is shared by 5 of the middle children.  It contained a lot of used, somewhat damp, bars of soap that have rusted the metal shelving; I threw them all out.  Ever heard of a soap dish, Children?! Several unused hotel soaps and shampoos graced many of the shelves which left me a bit baffled since we have not stayed in a hotel in over three years. (Where did they come from?) I allowed one per kid and placed the rest in the donation box for a local homeless ministry. The bottom shelf of Sadie’s section housed a shrine to a Number 8 birthday candle that she is saving for later this year. I left it alone.

Moving onto their counters I removed a dead plant that was adorned with sporadic artificial flowers stems stuck in the dirt (memorial flowers for animals that have passed on), wads of watered down toilet paper like the kind you find on the ceiling of High School bathrooms, and under the barely used bath towels laying on the counter I discovered that one of my adorable Picasso kiddos had created an abstract masterpiece with several colors of finger nailpolish.  Dead plant was trashed, flower memorial was placed in a small decorative pot on counter, wads trashed, towels hung up, and I added finger nail polish remover to the shopping list.

Note to self: get over your fears and make a visit in the kids’ bathroom daily for sanity and health reasons!

Next up, drawers!  Here I discovered more artificial flowers, which went into the donation pile, followed by dead flowers they collected outside, grass, moss, and a realitively small rock collection that now resides in our flower bed out front.  There were more travel size toiletries from the mysterious hotel stay which went into the donation pile, toothless combs, tiny pieces of cut hair from the time Sadie gave herself bangs, and ripped up paper which became all friends with the toilet paper wads in the trashcan.

The cupboards under the sink were empty aside from some cleaner and four of my stainless steel bowls that someone snuck out of my kitchen cupboard for Lord knows what.   Since I had not missed them and didn’t realize they were gone; into the donation pile they went.

The towel cupboard beside the shower had no towels at all in it, but had become the home of 8 empty shampoo bottles!  Not sure why these kids think getting out of the shower, walking a few steps, opening a cupboard to stash empty bottles is easier than the step it takes to put it in the trash, but whatever.

I then quickly wiped down mirrors, counter top, and cupboard doors where I discovered Sadie had crafted with her chopped off hair by shellacking bits onto the knobs with clear nailpolish. Serious creativity!

I removed a magnifying mirror from the wall that was left by the previous owners.  It was mounted too high for the kids to see themselves, so I took it down and placed it in the donation bag.

Time was done!

I finished my 30 minutes with one bag of trash, a few items for donation, and a clutter free nail polish covered vanity.  Progress with a mix of disgust.

Grace Before Social Services

“Grace before Social Services” has become somewhat of a motto in my house or at least in my own mind.  It probably lends more insight into the parenting of my seven, soon-to-be eight, children than I care to admit, but it’s a principle I want to exercise because I so much want others to reciprocate it.  It’s an up-to-date version of “walk a mile in another person’s shoes.”  We don’t do this enough in today’s society.  We barely walk, let alone slip on and lace up another’s kicks on our own pedicured feet.  The tendency of late, is to automatically assume the worst of others and situations.  In general, we lack grace—and grace-before-pic-2dare I say it—especially those of us who self-identify as Christians!  Ever read the comments section on a news story or on Facebook?  Then you know that what I am talking about is true—crushing.  People demanding justice, monolouging online the error of everyone’s way, and the irony of this; this behavior is the exact opposite of what we want so badly. We want people to think and desire the best for us, to conversate with us, and listen to us.  We want cheerleaders, encouragers, mentors, and realistic grace-filled friends. Grace-filled strangers would be even better.  Amen?  However, it seems that the exact opposite is happening.  Empathy has seemingly left the building and armchair activism has taken its place.

One of my friends works at a child development center.  She adores her job and all the little ones she gets to love on.  It suits her mama bear personality well.  As she was recounting various stories to me about the darndest things kids say and the crazy things they do, she told me about a little guy that shirked away from her when she reached for his arm to get him out of harm’s way.  She inquired as to what was wrong with his arm and he told her he had a really awesome tattoo and his mom removed it.  My friend asked if she could see his boo-boo and as he lifted his sleeve, she could see that his bicep was red and swollen and even looked a bit blistered.  Probing deeper, she asked how his mom removed it. He replied, “with an eraser.”

Gasp!  I am sure that as you read this you are probably grabbing your chest in horror as you imagine an angry mumbling mom with a Papermate Pink Pearl Premium eraser rubbing aggressively on a preschooler’s arm.  At least that’s where my thoughts went. I was hoping that my friend dialed the phone right then and there to Social Services.  This woman was obviously dangerous.   Concerned, she continued her Sherlock Holmes style investigation and found out the eraser was the white Magic kind, which left the little guy with a chemical burn in place of his temporary tat.

Magic Eraser!? The brakes of my pessimistic imagination came to a screeching halt and I told the lynch mob in my mind to lower the pitch forks for a hot second while I figured some stuff out, because maybe this mom was—even bigger gasp—like me. Say what you will, but this tattoo removal process suddenly made complete sense to me.  The seemingly grace-before-pic-1harmless rectangle that removes crayon from my wall would probably do an amazing job getting off those supposedly temporary symbols that taunt me with their longevity; lingering on my kid’s skin for weeks like bad perfume in a cheap motel. I am not promoting using household cleaning supplies for eradication, because chemical burns are a real thing, but if I’m being honest, I would have totally done this!  I was most likely three or four kids into life before I learned about the danger of chemical burns.  Did this make me a bad mom? No it made me a naïve one and there is a difference.

The realization that this could totally be my story, pushed me to stop and ask if they had ever suspected abuse before?  “No. Nothing.” My friend answered, “In fact, she’s really great with him and always sweet to the staff.”

She continued to tell me that she called in coworkers to examine his arm, they took pictures and prepared to call the Child Welfare Department, but first someone suggested they phone the director of the center who was on vacation.  At this point in the story I am hanging on every word and cringing, because what if the mom really did have a lapse in judgement? Was the government going to take away her boy for an unintentional mistake? The crisis was adverted when the center director after reviewing the photos and hearing the details, told them to record the information in his file and to talk with the mom to see if the stories matched.  At the end of the day, they erred on the side of grace, before making a possible life-altering phone call. When asked that evening, the mama embarrassingly shared her mistake and thankfully she left the center with her little guy to enjoy dinner together and their normal bedtime rituals.

I am not trying to downplay the possible seriousness of the matter, the potential for abuse is a reality, and there is definitely a time to phone our friends at Social Services. What I am suggesting is that before we call assuming the worst of someone, before we write an outline for our standards on how to be better humans, could we speak in love with individuals, entertaining the thought that there might be more to the story?  Could we slip our foot into the shoe of another for a moment and consider the process that led up to the now?

Eugene Petersen’s The Message phrases the words of Paul in the beginning of Galatians 6 perfectly and points to a life embracing the “Grace before Social Services” principle:

“Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.”

  • Live creatively, because empathy requires imagination.  To be able to identify with others and their possible motives for their actions we need to imagine what they could be feeling or thinking.  It’s grown-up imaginary play or as I prefer to call it, mind LARPing (Live Action Role Play, minus the costumes).  Whether we realize it or not we do it all the time.  For example, my son, Jace, is late getting home from work and didn’t reply to my text, it’s raining outside and I am certain he is dead in a ditch on the side of a windy back road.  In my mind, I see the police car turning in my drive, a knock on the door by a uniformed officer has me collapsing to the ground on the entry carpet between a pile of coats and boots wondering if he suffered for very long before meeting Jesus.  Here’s another one; my friend hasn’t responded to my texts and she always replies quickly.  I glue the phone to my hip waiting for the magical “you’ve got a text” chime, but meanwhile I begin a laundry list of possible offenses I could have committed, because surely that is the only reason she wouldn’t reply.   We don’t know the reality of the situation but we build off of what we know, our past experiences, or worst yet, our fears to answer the unknown. Our creativity is wasted on the negative, but what if instead we ran the situations through a positive filter.  Our thought life would dramatically change and go something like this; Jace is a responsible kid and a defensive driver I’m glad he doesn’t answer my texts when he is driving. Maybe with it raining like it is, he is helping salamanders cross the roads before they get hit by cars. Such a good kid.  My friend must have taken the homeschool lessons to the outdoors on this beautiful day or maybe she ran to the post office with that pile of packages in her office, I know she’s been putting it off.  I’ll check back in a couple hours after I get dinner ready. This way of thinking allows our creativeness to assume the best of others and ourselves.  The reality of the situation is still unknown but our imagination crafts a story framed in grace by utilizing what we know, past experiences and our hopes, not our fears and paranoia.
  • Restore others. If you believe in Christ and have been walking with him for a while you know there is nothing beyond his restorative power.  We need to speak that power over people, because restoration is encouraging.  Believe it or not most people are aware of their faults and mistakes, we don’t need to set up pie charts and board meetings to make everyone else aware.  What most don’t know is that beyond the faults and screw-ups there is a hope and a great love.  Another translation says to “gently and humbly help the person back on the right track.”  Judgment is far from humble or graceful and it’s not our job, most of us want it to be, so many of us think we are chief judge (ahem, comment trolls), but the truth is, it belongs to God alone. Ironic that most tattoo parlors get that word out about this better than churches, “Only God can judge me.”  Don’t go collecting the unemployment check yet, we still have a job; love God; love people—want for them the same stuff you want for you. Simply put; Praise God!  Encourage folks! If you don’t have anything nice to say, figure out something nice to say!
  •  Examine yourself. Maybe, just maybe it is possible that you could wind up in the same situation.  “Well, Erica,” you might be thinking, “your example of the mom was an accident, she didn’t know any better, what about people who choose to do sinful things?  I know better, that wouldn’t be me.”  To that I reply, “Oh, do you now?”  Funny how we know things are wrong, but yet we do them anyway.  My boy Paul says in Romans 7, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.  Instead, I do what I hate.”  Every morning I wake up with the best intentions of being a great person and living for God and then I walk out my bedroom door.  Life comes at me and the battle with my sinful nature begins. I know it’s not right to speed, but I’m late for an appointment and I push the gas pedal a bit further than allowed.  I know I shouldn’t yell at my kids, but for the fifth time this week an entire roll of toilet paper has mysteriously found its way into the commode and one of my precious offspring has decided to repeatedly flush in an effort to help.  Maybe for some it’s bigger than plumbing induced screams, maybe it’s I know I shouldn’t take a hit of this joint or my nightly glass of wine is turning into a nightly bottle of wine, but I just need to make it through the crazy that is my life.  Or, I know that this relationship is not healthy but this guy at work seems interested in getting to know me for me and it makes me feel young and important again.  Failure and mistakes are not very far from any of us, in fact they are like mythological sirens singing to us waiting for us to follow their songs, disguising the dangerous as harmless or necessity.
  •  Stoop down, reach out, share burdens.   You might be thinking, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”  You’re right, we don’t have time for it.  You’ve got to make time for it.  Reaching out and sharing burdens means relationship.  It’s tedious and time consuming and most times really hard work, but all good things are.  Wanting the best for someone, like really truly wanting the best for another human, means giving the best of ourselves and get this, giving the worst too.  We are not saviors, Jesus has that job. Remember ours?  Lovers.  We are called to love God and love people.  So instead of pretending we have our crap all together we need to be honest.  Share our struggles, our weaknesses, our failures because this is what makes us human.  This is what makes us relatable.  This is what makes real relationship.  When we humble ourselves and begin to let people see behind the velvet curtain of our lives, our God suddenly become more attainable and their lives might not seem so sucky after all.  People don’t need handouts they need hands out to help lift them up and then, at least for me, I want that hand to hold mine and journey with me at least for a little while.
  •  Don’t think yourself better than.  In Deuternonomy 17 Moses relays the message from God that if when they enter the Promised land and are tempted to get a king then they need to make sure that he copies for himself “this body of instruction” which were the laws of the time.  The newly selected King would need to do his copy work in the presence of the Levitical priests for accountability.  After he wrote it all down, which certainly had to be a task, that scroll had to always be with him and he was to read it daily because as Moses wrote, “this regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens.”  (Deut. 17:20) I profess to know pretty much nothing about monarchial societies, but I would assume that the king of a kingdom would definitely carry some leverage and would be held in higher esteem by the people than an everyday worker.  However, in God’s plan he says the king and the peasant are equal.  In Proverbs 22:2 It says, “the rich and the poor have this in common; the lord made them both.”  Children’s author Taro Gomi puts it this way, “Everybody poops.”  God wanted to make sure that the king should not think or feel he is above everybody else, there was an equality regardless of class, assignment, or position.  People, we’re equal.

Grace before Social Service. This motto, isn’t for chumps and it can’t be done alone.  We need others to encourage us when life gets tough, to help us up when the world beats us down, and share stories so that we know we are not alone.  Most of all we need God to help us live creatively and love well, because this is hard stuff and it stretches us outside the safe boundaries of our comfort zone.  It also knocks us off the pedestal we have unintentionally, or maybe even intentionally, found ourselves upon.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:1- 2 that if we don’t judge others, we won’t be judged.  However, if we choose to not heed the warning and start dispensing our arbitrary opinions, well then we need to be prepared, because the standard we use in judging others is the same standard which we will be judged by.  Together we can do this.  We can extend one another grace before assuming the worst of each other and in doing so can avoid causing additional harm.  We’ve got to love, it’s that simple.

Here’s some additional encouragement:

Galatians 6:2-3 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

1 Corinthians 10:24 Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.

Galatians 5:14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude

Finding the Church

Finding the churchThe church has always been a part of my life and I truly love it.  Even before my church-planting great grandparents started hanging out in a basement with some friends to start a church called Community Fellowship in 1943, my “greats” to the nth degree went to church.  It’s what our family has done and continues to do.

Jesus lover?  Go to church.

Personally, church is something I have always enjoyed, something I felt gave me purpose, and has been a comforting routine–my touchstone.   For the past two years though, my family and I have been on the search for a church to call our own and we have yet to be successful.  When we first began to look the criteria went something like: an outward-focused congregation; thought-provoking message; seeker sensitive, yet plainly presents the gospel; David Crowder-esque worship music; within a 45-minute drive of our home. Coming from a church similar to this in California we didn’t think it would be that difficult and even though we have found a couple places that have come close to the goal list, something hasn’t felt right, not only for me but for my husband, Brian, and our kids too.  It seems that God is changing our list and it doesn’t include the aforementioned items or even a building, instead God is ironically bringing us back to the name of my great-grandfather’s church…Community Fellowship.

Months ago, Brian and I began working with a ministry that wanted to reach out to individuals being trafficked.  Living in a rural area, many don’t think that something as horrific as human trafficking could exist here, instead believing that it’s reserved for urban areas, but with major routes I-95 and Rte. 40 running through our corn fields and backyards it is more prevalent than we imagined. As we began to raise awareness of the issue I wanted to begin a hands-on ministry that would get us out on the streets to meet those involved and was given the go-ahead by ministry leadership.  After multiple interactions and ride-alongs with law enforcement, a group of men and women from different local churches who were interested in doing contact work at night in a town known for prostitution and drugs was formed.  We set out to meet the girls of the streets equipped with beautiful cosmetic bags filled with personal hygiene items, condoms and lubricant. In our naivety we imagined meeting the girls standing on the corner, we would talk, offer hope….blah, blah, blah.

First wake-up call, you can’t walk up to a stranger and ask if they are a prostitute.  Rude!   Secondly, what do you with all the people you encounter on the way to the girl on the corner? So our team of seven tucked our bags away and went out with popsicles instead and talked with everyone we met.  During these outings, which we are currently offering hot chocolate with whipped cream, we have kicked it with lots of different people on stoops and street corners; business owners, mamas, daddies, addicts, construction crews, homeless, and prostitutes.  The ministry we are working with is still focusing on helping abused and trafficked ladies, but my heart has changed and broadened to just meeting people.  All people.

Like, God created you?

Let’s be friends!

As we have been out there Brian and I have seen firsthand how relationship deprived people are; to include ourselves.  It seems that loneliness spans race, socioeconomic status, age, and issue.  Our eyes have been open to see that consistency and friendship are a kingdom serving ministry in itself and it’s a ministry that many churches are overlooking.  It’s not enough to just open your doors to everyone, your demographic and impact broadens when you go out and meet everyone. Twice a month we walk up and down the streets regardless of the weather and we are recognizing faces, able to follow up on stories, praying with folks Christian and non-alike.  It’s because of these relationships that are beginning to form that I hear a whisper in my heart saying, “you’ve found her, you’ve found church.”   There on the streets a bunch of Jesus-loving redeemed sinners (that’s my friends and me) are able to encourage other believers, pray for moms with cancer, talk business with a restaurant owner, share chocolate with a group of strung-out addicts, and plan sporting events with a homeless guy.  Take away the “what we do’s” and the “what we’ve done'” labels and there is just a Community of God’s creation in Fellowship with one another.

Yup, there it is, Community Fellowship.  We are leaving the building behind; we’ve found church.

 

DISCLAIMER:

My friend Michele encouraged me to write about the journey of “church” our family is embarking on, because if God is stirring our hearts he is probably stirring others too and right now we feel alone.  She thought it would help me sort through feelings, process thoughts, and find kindred spirits.  So here it is, laying it out there looking for our tribe, hoping for input, insight, and encouragement from friends.  In short a virtual Community Fellowship which will hopefully lead to a physical one.

We have no idea what this is going to look like or where it will take our family.  It’s a little bit scary.  I am afraid of failing, of backlash, of feeling foolish, of rejection, but I am more afraid of what I will miss out on if I’m not obedient to what He calls us to do.  The rest of our crew is more than a little uncomfortable too, but they are willing and ready.  (Seriously, is there anything that could make a mama’s heart happier than teens pushing through awkward people encounters for Jesus? I didn’t think so either.)

 

Laundry Washing World Changer

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This women is an artisan in a residential program in Tennessee that provides housing, food, dental, medical, therapy, education and job training for women who have survived lives of violence, prostitution and addiction.

I think most people want to make a difference in the lives of others, but often they don’t know how.

That was me.

Wanting to make a difference in my home, in my new community, in the world, but completely unaware of how to do it.    I wanted to fulfill the commandment of Christ to make disciples in all the nations.  It was a command I had been neglecting.  I knew this command went deeper than monetary support with our sponsor child and missionary support. He was calling me to take action.  I was excited at the prospect and wanted to get messy, get loud, get moving, but I still had a husband and seven kids to care for.  That’s when I sought out Trades of Hope.

They are doing the work.  They aren’t just throwing money at the world’s problems, they are changing lives by empowering women; strengthening community by giving hope; transforming generations by breaking harmful cycles; and because of that they are making disciples in all the nations.

I thought, “Amen! I want to be a part of that!”

Thanks to Trades of Hope I can. I can actively pursue helping others, building relationships, being an advocate, making disciples, and still keep up with my children’s neverending laundry. Life changing and Laundry? Amen, again!

I am now a voice for a woman whose voice is lost across the sea, whose voice is stifled by government, pimps, and culture.  I think you will want to be her voice too and the way to get her talking is wearing her handmade goods. When someone asks you about it, you tell her story and then her voice is heard once more.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31:8-9

Here is where you can start talking on her behalf: www.mytradesofhope.com/ericaberge

Let me know if you are ready to take it further than jewelry and home decor and want to be a laundry washing world changer too, by becoming a Compassionate Entrepreneur.  I would love to have you join my team!

This woman is an artisan from a group in Uganda that feeds, educates, and encourages orphaned and vulnerable children and families in Uganda.
This woman is an artisan from a group in Uganda that feeds, educates, and encourages orphaned and vulnerable children and families in Uganda.

Truth in the Uterus

For decades a debate has raged in our country over women’s uteri and what they can/should do with them.  I have yet to meet an individual that does not claim allegiance to one side over the other.  Both positions are passionate and have fought to the death for their cause.  The Pro-lifers advocating for the lives of the unborn by explaining that every life has value and that life begins at conception. The other side of the coin, Pro-choice, disputes when life actually begins, contesting that a women’s body belongs to no one but herself, and she should have complete authority over what she wants to do with it.  Battling over lives and prerogative, the two sides seem to stand unbending.  Their backers just as resolute in their stance, or at least it seems that way, until  it comes to uteruses like mine, uteruses that have more babies than deemed “normal” by 21st century American culture.  Then some, not all, begin to back away from their steadfastness.

I am currently pregnant with our seventh child.  I haven’t really announced it, announced it, until now for a couple of reasons.  First of all, my last pregnancy resulted in a miscarriagebabyultra and I didn’t want to have to say those words again to those outside of my immediate family.  Telling someone, “I lost the baby,” is more difficult than I had ever anticipated.  Secondly, as our family and close friends celebrate with us over our new addition, many do not.  It’s exhausting coming up with responses or faking laughter yet again, when strangers and acquaintances alike creatively share their witty comments regarding our sex life, my lack of hobbies, or my ignorance about the facts of life.  Not to mention, it makes me a bit angry that I have to defend my family’s size.  Really, I shouldn’t have to.  After all, it seems that everyone falls into one of the two “pro” categories.  Yet, the less-than-humorous comments continue and sometimes even out right mean things are said by individuals of both parties that seem to have lost their bias.

As a woman, is it not my right to do with my body what I want to do with my body?  We with larger-than-most families could really go without the “it’s a uterus, not a clown car” comments.  If we want to rival Michelle Duggar, shouldn’t that be our choice?  Our choice.  Yet the words of some Pro-choice women to a preggo mom with multiple children in tow are as strong as the incense one has been burning or the power in which another grandstands in her corporate heels.  Words that don’t mince the belief that birth control is an option that should have been exercised.  If it had been used they assume the world’s problems could be avoided, after all we are contributing to the world’s  overpopulation, a growing carbon footprint, taking tax dollars for government assistance, and perpetuating the belief that women should be uneducated birthing machines.  At this point, they no longer believe the choice is the individual woman’s, it’s theirs, because our choice no longer matches what they want for themselves, our gender, or our world.

Having a Pro-life bent myself, I would like to say that my family of soon-to-be seven is celebrated by all on my “side”, but it’s not.  Often it doesn’t appear as offensive, but anyone that can read between the lines, a.k.a., everyone, can see the slight disdain in a curled upper lip.  Although the church-going financial supporter of the local pregnancy center with no more than two Baby Gap attired children would never want a mom to terminate, they are bewildered by a mother who would sacrifice comfort to have gobs of babies.  Her concern for moms of many often revolves around the work of more than the number of children she has and the ability to live as comfortably as she would like. The value placed on life is great as long as it doesn’t interfere with her contentment. Do you sense a disconnect?

I’m not saying that everyone needs to have “a lot” of children, what I’m saying is that if you believe life is of value and begins at conception, then you celebrate life. Period.  We don’t need to hear that this isn’t the life you could handle.  Heck, half the time we can’t handle it.  Remind us of the what you believe to be true–every life is a gift and has value.  If you truly believe that a women’s body is hers to do as she chooses, but you think she’s crazy to have a more than three children, then admire a women who is going against societal norm and embracing the beauty and power of what a women’s body can do.  We mamas who make the choice to allow baby blessings in our lives don’t need criticism, supposedly funny comments, or even belly rubs (okay, that last one is my own personal preference), what we do need is the truth.  And regardless of what point of view you agree with, to a mom pregnant with her seventh baby, there is truth to be found in both.