Maternal Instinct

A couple of years ago, I was working as a vet tech at a regional equine hospital during the spring foaling season. A foal came in with its dam due to an illness, and unfortunately the foal had to be humanely euthanized after trying our best to correct the problem. Now, the protocol for such an event (since, in veterinary medicine we can’t explain things to the mare) is to perform the euthanasia and leave the mare with her deceased foal for a few hours to give her time to understand. Then, either the foal is removed, or the mare is transferred to a different stall. In this case, I was instructed to move the mare. So, I clipped a lead rope on her and she followed me calmly and willingly across the facility. Until she saw another mare and foal; then she pulled at the lead, and turned to try to go back to her old stall (where her foal was still laying). She whinnied frantically and kicked me in the hip. I was fine, but very upset. What is wrong with her?? She KNOWS her foal is dead, why freak out now?? I wondered. I’d understand soon enough.

This past spring, my husband and I welcomed our first child to our family. However, in February of 2018, I had a miscarriage with my first pregnancy at about 6 weeks along. I was shocked at how heartbroken I was.  Not because I don’t value life, but because I thought that since I only knew of the pregnancy for a few short weeks I should have gotten over it pretty quickly. When I first realized that I was in the beginning stages of miscarriage I was devastated. The only way I knew how to describe how I felt was the way that mare panicked and cried out when she left her dead foal behind.

I felt this horrible maternal instinct, but had nowhere to go with it. For the next six months I wanted desperately to have a baby, and cried over what felt like hundreds of negative tests. Every pregnancy announcement and image of moms with their kids killed me, and every time I felt that way I understood a little better why that mare kicked me that spring day a year or so before. Maternal instinct isn’t just for people. God created animals to feel that powerful, protective desire as well.

It’s for that reason that the recent battle between pro-life and pro-choice has me so upset. If I hurt so badly after knowing about my baby’s existence for only 2 weeks, how could a mother go on living life normally after aborting her child at any stage, but especially late term? Even the animal kingdom knows better than to abandon their young and not feel pain over it. I even thought that once I had my son in my arms this spring, I would recover more completely from my losses, but I was wrong. I still mourn my miscarriages. It still hurts; I expect it always will. After all, it’s not just about how many kids are in your family pictures. It is about life itself.

Of course, this is only my story. There are many others with similar and even more painful stories out there. God declares that children are a heritage of the Lord (Psalm 127:3), and they are to be valued! The price to pay for hurting one of God’s precious children is high: Luke 17:2 says “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea than that he should offend one of these little ones.” That’s a very vivid picture of the absolute sanctity of life.

I certainly don’t have all the answers to society’s problems, or even the answer to the abortion crisis happening right now, but this I know for sure: life is precious. Deep down, we all know it. Even the animal kingdom knows it. We may not ever succeed in improving the society we live in, but may God help Christians to hold fast to His Word and value our children the way He calls us to.

Suzie Altena

The Proverbs 31 Woman

Proverbs 31 is pretty regularly regarded as the Bible text that describes the type of women that Christian ladies should strive to be. Unsurprisingly, the world paints a very different picture of the ideal woman for us. The world seems offended by the Proverbs 31 woman, thinking that she is overly dependent on her husband, weak, or boring. I won’t take the time to work through every verse in this chapter, but let’s take a short look at this woman and what she is really like, and which woman, the woman of the world or of Proverbs 31, is the strong, capable role model for our young ladies.

The 11th verse of this chapter says that the heart of her husband safely trusts in her. It reminds me of that popular saying “Behind every man is a good woman.” It seems that saying isn’t very far off. The husband of the Proverbs 31 woman rests assured that she supports him, encourages him, and speaks well of him to others. Many times women of the world are heard bashing on their husbands, talking about their shortcomings and downfalls. It simply cannot be true that Christian men are perfect, therefore the indication here is that although her husband has problems and issues, she will not broadcast these things to others.  Her husband knows this, and it leaves him with a feeling of trust and safety with her.

In a good portion of this passage, this woman is seen working with linens, buying, selling and trading. She plants, she sews, and she cooks. She works! In verse 17 she is even described as physically strong. It takes a physically strong woman to be so busy and active with her family and own business ventures. “Stay at home moms” are often regarded by the world as the type of woman who sits at home, just waiting for her husband to come back. That simply isn’t the case with the Christian housewife. She is busy, always working on new things around the house or finding appropriate ways to earn money and be productive. She is anything but weak.

Finally, a well-known verse in this chapter is verse 25 which reads “Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.” Other versions of the Bible like to translate the last part of the verse “She laughs without fear of the future.” In either translation, you can almost picture a woman, bright-eyed and smiling, with her face lit with joy over one thing or another. She isn’t boring! She’s a pleasure to be around. She laughs and smiles and rejoices! She doesn’t do her work with a scowl and mumbling to her family, she is exactly the opposite.  God tells us that women like this are to be honored for their strength.  It takes great emotional and spiritual strength to walk through the life of any Christian and be a person who often is found smiling, laughing and taking joy in life.

The Christian woman, the Proverbs 31 woman, is not an overly dependent, weak, or boring woman. We should never expect any of that of our women in the church. Instead, we should be women of love, strength and immense joy! So, instead of trying to be stoic, tough, and “savage” as the world likes to use as compliments for women today, let’s be the women God calls us to be in this passage. Let’s be the Proverbs 31 woman.

Suzie Kuiper

God’s Commands to the Woman (1)

“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis 3:16).

As a young girl my dream was always to grow up and be a wife and mom someday. My sisters and I would take out our dolls and line them up on the steps, pretending to play church. Every few minutes we would have to take one or two of our dolls out to be spanked because they were “naughty in church.” We would play house with them, pretend to make them supper and put them to bed. This is something probably every little girl does, looking forward to the day when she will be the woman of her own house when she grows up.

Lately, with things that have happened at work, women who find it difficult to bear children, who miscarry their little ones, or by watching my mom and other women discipline their children and work long into the night cleaning the house and doing the laundry, I have been reminded that being a wife and mother is not a romantic fantasy, but a very real and taxing work. Because Eve listened to Satan and took and ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree, God punished her and consequently all women with the sorrows of bearing and rearing children. Pregnancy itself has its sorrows in sickness, in pain, and in the mental stress of the mother worrying about the health and wellness of her baby. There is the pain of bringing the child into the world, and later on there will be sorrows when dealing with the sins of that child.
But don’t let this discourage you young women from longing to be mothers in Israel! If the Lord wills us to be mothers someday, or if He has already blessed some of us with children, there will be and are many joys which come from raising the seed of His covenant. That first smile, the first time a child says “mommy!”, the way a little girl wants to help her mom with her new baby brother or sister, the hugs, the kisses and “I love you’s”, the ability to teach those precious young children the love of their Father, to sing His praises, and pray to Him. There are so many beautiful things to look forward to if the Lord wills we become mothers someday!

So I hope that we can see these things through the light of God’s Word and His commands to us as women. The sorrows come from our original sinfulness, because we too, through Adam and Eve, rejected God and chose the way of sin. Humbly may we fall before God with the realization that without His work in the hearts of our children they cannot be saved. And though we may teach them and pray for them, though they may be saved, it is not because of us, but all of Him. Even now, pray for the children that God may give, if it is in His will. And may we pray for God’s grace and blessing to raise those children through the joys and the sorrows that they will bring.

LK