2. How did you come to the decision to have such a large family? Are you and Jim Bob from large families yourselves? Are each of your families supportive and involved in your lives with your children?
Jim Bob has one older sister that is three years older than him. Michelle is the baby of seven children.
When we first got married we thought we would have maybe two or three children. Michelle started off our marriage taking the Birth control pill so we could plan when we wanted children. After three years, Michelle went off the pill and we had our first son Josh. We loved being Josh’s parents and getting to spend all our time with him, but we didn’t think we were ready for more children yet. So Michelle went back on birth control pills after Josh was born.
Then the unexpected happened, followed by the unthinkable: Michelle got pregnant, even though she was still taking birth control pills. We thought that was impossible, but we were surprised to find out different! Between her second and third month, Michelle miscarried. When the doctor told us the miscarriage probably happened because she had conceived while still on the pill, we were devastated. To us, it meant that something we had chosen to do—use the pill—had caused the end of the pregnancy.
As conservative Christians, we believe every life is sacred, even the life of the unborn. Due to our lack of knowledge, we destroyed the precious life of our unborn child. We prayed and studied the Bible and found a host of references that told us God considered children a gift, a blessing, and a reward. Yet we had considered having another child an inconvenience during that busy time in our lives, and we had taken steps to prevent it from happening.
We weren’t sure if Michelle could have any more children after the miscarriage, but we were sure we were going to stop using the pill. In fact we agreed we would stop using any form of birth control and let God decide how many children we would have. Just a couple of months later, Michelle became pregnant with twins. A double blessing!
At first our families had a lot of concerns for Michelle’s health and how would we be able to take care of and support our family. But over the years they have warmed up to the idea and have been understanding about our heart commitment to love children like God loves children.
“The Hidden Message of the Lost Pearl,” had a tremendous impact on us after experiencing our miscarriage. It’s used here by permission.
THE HIDDEN MESSAGE OF THE LOST PEARL
"When I was eleven years old, my family took a vacation in Florida. One morning my brother and I went swimming. The shallow water revealed an oyster bed. We began digging up oysters. It was great fun. During the morning we accumulated quite a collection.
"Our greatest finds were not the live oysters, but dead oysters which still had both halves of the shell joined together. Many were closed shut, and we didn't know until we had pried them open whether they were alive or not.
"The live ones we threw back. The empty ones usually did not reclose, but remained partly open. These we set aside as our most prized treasures.
"Toward the end of the morning, I dug up a very nice, complete oyster shell which was in perfect condition. It was obviously dead because it was already open about an eighth of an inch and seemed empty. It was definitely one that I wanted to keep, except for one flaw-it had some kind of object trapped inside that rattled. I thought it detracted from the quality of my shell.
"The halves of the shell were still very tight and were hard to budge with just my fingers. It took all of five minutes to remove this rather large, round, perfectly smooth object. Having successfully removed it, and being pleased with my now empty and unblemished shell, I threw the object toward the end of the pier.
"At about the midpoint of its flight, a horrifying light dawned in my mind. I was old enough to have known, but young enough to have overlooked the value of what I had just thrown away. I had treasured what was secondary and had lost what was real. My focus had been wrong.
"I visually marked the location of the splash. With great care I slowly approached the spot, trying not to disturb the bottom. For the next half hour I searched diligently.
"Finally, when it was time to leave, I told my parents what I had done. Then we all looked for it. Our efforts were useless and our time was up. Our schedule demanded that we leave.
"When I was twenty-five years old, I got married. For some undefined reason, I rejected for seven years the suggestion that we have children. I thought I had valid reasons, but no one had ever talked to me about it. I had received no counsel or teaching from family, friends, or church. No one seemed to consider it to be a critical issue. In addition, the world had all kinds of new medical methods for preventing pregnancy.
"As I look back, I don't remember hearing one dissenting voice. Down deep I always knew that I wanted children someday. I didn't really want to be childless all of my life. Eventually, I decided that I wanted five children. So, after seven years of some very difficult decision-making, we had our first child-a girl.
"To my great amazement, I found that I actually liked having children. In fact, having a child is one of the greatest things that has happened in our lives.
"The fears which had prevented conception for so long proved to be mostly imaginary. This new member of our family changed our lives. We discovered a multitude of rewards that we had not known we were missing.
"My wife and I have just been told that it now looks medically impossible for us to have any more children! Suddenly, all of our newly established family dreams have been erased. All of the excitement and anticipation of a newly discovered future have vanished. It seems as though there is a void in our lives-like four of our five children have just been killed.
"What makes the burden so heavy is that we had the treasure within our grasp and we threw it away. We saw the outer shell and mistakenly overlooked the treasure within. With our hands we plucked it out and cast it away. We tried to take God's timing into our own hands."