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FSM 310       DO/TS
Sweet Rest in His Arms

Copyright © 1997 by The Family

       "My Babies Led Me to Jesus!"       1
       The Lord Lightened My Load!       10
       A Mom at Age 16!       12

"My Babies Led Me to Jesus!"

Excerpts of a letter to Cedar of Jason (22-year-old mother of five), from Mary Mom, Europe
       ({\ul \i Editor}: Mama had received a beautiful heartcry from dear Cedar, in which Cedar shared that she was battling tremendously with having so many children over so short a time period and feeling so physically weak and incapable of caring for them all, while at the same time struggling to keep up with her CRO responsibilities. On top of that she was pregnant - with number 5 -- and experiencing heavy morning sickness. She told Mama that she wished that Mary Mom or one of the other mothers who had made it through having so many children could share with her how they managed. Mama passed on Cedar's request to dear Mary, who sent the following letter and testimony to Cedar. We asked both women if they wouldn't mind these letters being published, so that all could benefit from the beautiful lessons and experiences they share. We hope they're a help and encouragement to you, too!)

Dear Cedar,
       Hi precious little lady! I sure do love you and want to thank you for the special love you poured on me while I was with you at the Summit. What a darling young woman you are! You won my heart! I felt so much love for you and I was so proud that you were there because I know He is going to use all that He has required of you as a young mother. Then to be in your Home and to see the other parts of you -- your precious children -- and your beautiful interaction with and care for them, I just marveled! They are all so very beautiful.
       You can't imagine how awesome and astounding it is to those who even look at you from a distance, like those you witness to, when they see not only your beautiful children, your young years, all the peace, joy, health and intelligence you each have, but how gracefully and with such strength, happiness and joy you carry your God-given responsibility and what a lovely and bonded team you and Jason are. It must knock their socks off! You are fulfilling quite a commission, witness and testimony just walking down the street with your little brood, let alone when you speak! Thank the Lord for such wonderful young people as yourselves!
       I pray that the Lord is blessing you mightily in every way, helping you over the initial battles of pioneering in your new situation, as well as cookin' up a new little one, which I hear is taking a fair bit of your strength. I know He is blessing you, and I am so proud of you for all that He is able to ask of you in your young years. It shows how proud He is of you! He must just be bustin' His buttons showing you off to those in Heaven as He follows your progress.

From Jesus to you!
       Mama suggested that perhaps I could share something encouraging with you, considering I have been through similar battles while pregnant. Well, I hope I can be a blessing to you. In fact, if there is anything out of what I have experienced that could be a help and strength to one of our precious young ones, I am more than happy to try, as you are all the most special kids in the whole world, just because He said so! Before I begin, I wanted to share this prophecy that I got for you:

       (Jesus speaking:) Behold how beautiful and good it is to look upon such a one as Cedar, whom I have entrusted with the care of My children. How lovely in My sight is her daily sacrifice and her willingness to lay down her life for her little ones. How precious and how pure is the desire of her heart towards Me to fulfill My will in loving each one that I give her.
       This jewel in her heart shines as a radiant light, and the beams come up to My halls of Heaven, where I touch them and give them special strength and send them back to her own heart, renewed and revitalized. For though she sees herself as weak and wanting, yet I see her as a cedar -- a beautiful, lofty tree with arms raised praising Me and glorifying Me in her body, in her spirit, and in her heart.
       She is strengthened day by day for the weight of the boughs. Though they meet with storm, wind, rain and snow, yet they praise Me with the same love and simplicity as when there is sunshine and calm, soft breeze. All year round her green-laden boughs give beauty, peace, and strength to all those that gaze on them, and so shall I continue to care for My Cedar.
       I shall dust her. I shall shine her boughs. I shall increase her fragrance. I shall prune her. I shall place her well. Many little cedars shall grow up under her lower branches, and she shall protect them and give them strength to grow as she has grown. She has yielded her youth to Me and I have blessed her with youth to care for and she shall not go unrewarded. For she is a beautiful queen in My eyes and I have gifted her and commissioned her to be a mother, a queen mother.
       So, gird up your loins, queen mother, and be not afraid to go forth into this new battle. Take heart and look not at the waves and circumstances, for you shall defy the forces of the Enemy that seek to tear you down, just by girding up your loins by faith. I will bless you with fruitfulness, with time with Me, with answers to your prayers, with joy in your labors, with pride in your children, with joy unspeakable, as you continue to yield your all to Me.
       For you shall see one day from a different perspective, and then your joy and your youth, no man shall take from you. You shall be filled with wisdom at a young age and this you shall wear as a crown, a crown that is beheld by those who can only dream to have been entrusted with its weight. So worry not! Fret not! For this light affliction shall work in you an exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (End of message from Jesus.)

       Isn't that sweet? The Lord always sees things from such a strengthening viewpoint!
       Well, Cedar, I want to share my experiences with you. If nothing else, it may get your mind off your battles for the time you are reading it! -- Ha! I hope I don't preach at you. And I hope that what I share doesn't make you think that I think you are going through the same things I did, or that you acted like I did. I am simply sharing my own testimony -- I don't want to say you should feel this way or that way, act like this or that, or that I know how young people feel and all that. I just want to "comfort you with the comfort I have felt from the Lord." And He sure has had to comfort me plenty, as I have been such a big baby many times.

My battles with nausea During the early months
       I am sorry to say that I wasn't ever very happy about being pregnant. Having a baby, yes! Being pregnant, no! Whenever I found out -- which was usually just a few days after conceiving, as I would begin the signs then -- I would take a major nose-dive that lasted for the next four months or so. I could walk around for about the first month, but couldn't eat much and would be terribly sick. Then the next two months I would be in bed, barely able to eat or drink. Then the fourth month I would regain strength, get out walking, and try to recover from the spiritual battle that had also raged.
       I have read in medical books, and heard from different doctors that there is a hormone in our body that fights to keep the baby and if there is a large amount of this hormone released during pregnancy, then this can make the pregnant woman quite sick. This is what apparently has made me so sick during my pregnancies. With my fifth pregnancy something quite funny happened. I was in the Philippines and I had a maid helping me in the house. She was always so worried about me and tried to feed me, as I had such trouble eating.
       One day I was moaning and groaning, and she came in so concerned, sitting down beside me to rub my legs. She told me that I should just relax and pray and try to eat! She said that she had had 10 children and was in the hospital for the first few months with every one of them because she was so sick!
       I remember telling her, "Oh, I could never do this five more times! I don't think the Lord would require this of me ever again! It is too difficult and I have too much to do! This is going to wear me down to nothing! I could never do this again!"
       She said, "You could if you had to. You shouldn't say that you couldn't do it." She tried to cheer me up! And I proceeded to do it again five more times and it wasn't until my last pregnancy that I took it all better.
       Although the nausea I had was very difficult, I had such healthy babies, which shows the Lord had His hand on each one. I had these treasures (my babies) in an earthen vessel (my body) that the excellency of the power was all the Lord's and not my own! They were born so beautiful and completely healthy, when in the first months you sure couldn't say I was in good health!
       The nausea was bad, but the lack of nourishment, lack of exercise, and lack of sleep caused me nightmares, because physically things were going haywire in my body. I was an emotional wreck just from the physical state of my body, let alone what would happen when I let myself go spiritually.
       I am not sharing this to say that you or anyone should resign themselves to not eating when pregnant! I became quite desperate each time and really did try to learn all I could about nutrition, which was one benefit of being so weak and sick. I went on the attack when I could eat and I know that did help me and baby a lot! But mainly I am just relating that being sick was a major battle and I was nauseous to the extreme, as a few girls are. But even in my extreme case, the Lord did see me through, though sometimes I thought it was the end of me!
       After a few struggles like this I finally learned that I wasn't being punished with a deathly affliction, but I was just pregnant! -- Ha! I was being rewarded with a child!

Learning to benefit from how the Lord made me
       Now that I look back on it all, I realize that the Lord obviously allowed these periods of sickness in my life. He made my body and made it so that I would have that difficulty, but my spirit was not often able to sustain my infirmities until I learned to rest in the Lord, trust Him, and not question what He was doing, not complain, moan and groan -- because this definitely made matters worse.
       I would question Him every single time, though! Can you imagine? I was rebellious and vocal about how being pregnant was going to make me completely useless, that I wasn't going to be able to care for the kids I had, that He obviously didn't need me because He was setting me aside for yet another three months. I would go on and on about how everyone else was so busy, accomplishing so much, but there I lay, totally useless.
       There would be times when I would repent and cry out to Him and thank Him profusely for the privilege of bearing another child. I would marvel at the wonder of it all and I knew in my heart that what was happening was right, but I just struggled so to be strong, to be like everyone around me, when He wanted me to be weak, and to take that time with Him.
       But I missed so many precious moments and opportunities to grow in spirit, because I was complaining so much and looking at it all so negatively -- looking at my body, looking at the waves rather than looking at the Lord and the daily blessings of being alone with Him, growing in grace and trust, and the end result of a beautiful child. I wanted something different than what He was giving me!
       I guess I just simply hated being sick and weak! I am so sorry for that, because despite my battles and attitude, He would still bless me every time with such a precious child that was such a joy to my life and also became a blessing to others.

My joy over having children
       One thing I never really had a battle about was having a child. I am relating my battles of being sick and out of commission, but I always wanted to have children. Just the thought of another baby would give me some happiness to help me through the weeks of sickness. I love children, and I loved having babies especially. For me, the joy of childbirth is the most beautiful experience of my life (when it's all over and the baby's out, ha!).
       I can't express it, but I think the Lord gave me every beautiful experience a woman is supposed to have in this life when I would push that little baby out and view it for the first time, hold it in my arms and marvel at the beautiful creation and the new little person who already had such a personality and who knew me, too. I really love it and I even miss it now. I am learning to enjoy this through our young girls, as I don't seem to be able to get pregnant any more. Well, perhaps the Lord knows that what strength I have left needs to be given to care for many children. My baby-bearing years seem to be over, at least this month! -- Ha!

Too many children?
       I have heard that many of our young ladies would prefer not to have so many children, and of course this is each person's choice. I can understand it, with all the care they need, coupled with the very big jobs that the Lord is giving our young people. It is quite a lot to handle, I admit! But that just seems to be something I was never tested on or troubled about. I grew up with a very big family and I had a blast with my brothers, all my cousins, aunts and uncles. I just always felt it was so right.
       My children came every two years at first, then almost every year. I schooled my kids all along and had wonderful helpers, starting with number three, that were such a wonderful blessing through the years. For me, having lots of kids around and lots of people is just Heaven! I am probably one of the few people who still likes blobs! I just love having people around and lots of kids to keep things challenging, lively and full of fun. I prefer little people to big people, so I can't be much of a help when it comes to the battles our young people face when thinking of having "so many" children.
       I think some young mommies wonder if they will be able to do a good job pouring into their children if they keep having more and more, year after year. I can understand where that fear would come from -- you could just wonder if you can keep up with all there is to do. These days we are also more aware of the System's scrutiny.
       It seemed that teaching was simpler when I had my first children. We taught "on the go," but they learned! I can't do everything today that I could do when I was young, but as a young mother, I was constantly pouring into the kids. I just followed the Curriculum Guide, checked off the points and exhausted the CCHBs and Activity Books!
       We were very faithful with the few pubs we had and that is basically all we used. It was so simple and easy -- the doorknob was not too high! My kids excelled in memorization, too, because we didn't have so many videos or books in those days. Now there is much more to juggle, and I personally have to have more help too. But I continue to want to make things simple, because I have seen the good fruits of it in my kids' lives.

The advantages of doing things in a big family together
       When families grow in number, I think it is so important to do things together so the children learn to care for one another. This just seems to be God's plan! My kids have had their difficulties with one another, but I would say we have been a close and loving family.
       I know that much of what is in their character today is a result of helping each other, learning to get along with one another, seeing each other through sickness and battles, and enjoying one another's victories and progress. My older children have matured over the years while caring for not only their own brothers and sisters, but others' as well. I was always so thankful I had so many, because they always had someone to play with, someone to talk to, someone to accomplish things with, someone who they knew would support them when others wouldn't. Brothers and sisters can provide unconditional love for each other!
       Some of my children's weaknesses are corrected and strengthened on a daily basis just by living with their brothers and sisters. Some have said that their weaknesses are caused by having to live with more children, but I have seen them grow and be strengthened when learning to share their things, putting others before themselves, understanding others' weaknesses, being patient, kind, considerate, and all that.
       Some folks say that if the kids didn't have so many other kids around them they wouldn't have to be tested in these areas at such a young age, and would therefore be better off. But I have found the opposite to be true -- that these daily battles create a more mature and stronger character at an early age, when, of course, the parents teach and train all along the way.

Proving hat lots of children are a benefit!
       This is not to say that an only child or a small family of two to three children won't learn the same lessons. I am sure they will and do! But since I had lots, I had to see the benefits of a large family! It is a fight, too, to emphasize those benefits. When I came to Europe, I experienced for the first time what it is like to feel rejected or unwanted because I had a big family and I was a single mom, so to speak. I not only heard people say that my kids were a burden to have in the Home, but I even had to move a couple of times because the number of children caused other things not to happen in the Home. I could understand people's feelings, but I had just never been confronted with this before.
       I found myself wanting to go on the attack to prove that children--and lots of them -- are a benefit to the Work and part of the Lord's plan! But on the other hand, I could see that having a lot of children and not being able to care for them properly was definitely a burden on people.
       When I come into a Home, my children usually make up a JETT group and an OC group, mostly boys -- and I add to every other group as well. If those kids are disrespectful, biting their nails, quarreling, behind in their scholastics, not memorizing, not willing to help out around the house, etc., then it can be just too much for everyone.

Looking for solutions!
       So, when I began hearing from our young girls that they didn't want to have so many kids because they couldn't take care of them properly, I found myself thinking, "Why did I have so many? My kids are quite a lot of work and I don't have so much help right now, and there isn't a father figure. It is difficult to support everyone. It is an endless job. ..." Well, for myself -- and I think for you too, because you have a position of leadership -- I felt the Lord showed me all these weaknesses so I that could find some victories, some solutions.
       Since I believe it is the Lord's will to have as many children as He wants to give -- that is my personal conviction -- then I believe there are ways to make it work. There are ways to train them, to train those that help care for our children, to help all the children feel loved, challenged, needed and fulfilled and growing the way He wants them to.
       It is quite a challenge, and now I see that all the time I was complaining when I was pregnant that I was out of a job, on the scrap heap, He was preparing me for my ministry. He was training me in every aspect of it, and that is not only the care of children and meeting all our children's needs, but the care of the mothers and fathers as well. He was training me and using me at the same time, as well as fitting me for what was ahead in this ministry.

Not recognizing the importance of my childcare ministry!
       My biggest mistake in having children was not realizing earlier on that they were my ministry. So in some ways I again missed out on some training or understanding of what I was supposed to focus my attention on, because I had my sights on other things -- my own idea of service. I have spent the last two years getting re-trained in the area of childcare, as I have spent most of this time working and living with my children and other mothers and their children. I have received a refresher course in the mothering, shepherding and training of my children, as well as others' children, too.
       Because of the need to be so personally involved, I have experienced how much more I can do to meet their needs, but it has required all of my time, thoughts, prayers and attention. I didn't always put this much time and attention into them in years past, nor into their childcare helpers and foster parents, and in this I failed to do my job like I probably should have. The Family didn't fail, individuals didn't fail, and the amount of children wasn't the reason that certain aspects of their training went unheeded. But I didn't do all that I could have, because I wasn't content with the ministry of kids and all that it entails.
       Now I am! Yeay!!! Finally! I'm not saying I didn't like the ministry of children before, but it just never seemed to be as important as other ministries that received more attention and fanfare. Little did I realize until some time later that I was being asked to help make the fanfare! Now you probably are too! It's all very important to the Lord!
       So, what is the conclusion? From pregnancy, to being sick, to researching health material, to delivery, caring for babies, caring for well children, caring for sick children, shepherding kids to teens, pouring into your own kids (not only for their benefit, but for the benefit of others), shepherding your helpers, bringing them into your life and making a team, scholastics, teaching your kids about the Lord -- all of that is a full-time ministry, and from what I have found, it is very important to the Lord.
       You know, I have thought that all we learn having all these children may not be fully utilized in this life. Because the world doesn't have much room for big families, maybe we don't get much backing and there are lots of hindrances, from the System mainly. But when we are ruling and reigning one day, then all that will be worth so much.
       Of course, it is worth so much now, because these are the Lord's children. He wants us to do the most and the best we can for them, and we have every means in the Family to do it. You know He gives us the children, so He will always provide their care. And even if we seem to fall short, I know in His eyes we are doing a wonderful job because we are loving them, believing in Him and in His vision for children.
       He has some great new ideas just waiting for you around the corner that will help you do your job with more faith, more inspiration and more joy! Then you can pass them on to others. And I know you will! You've got what it takes!
       I am praying for you, precious Cedar. If there is anything I could ever do for you, please let me know.
       Always in love, Mary M.

Yielded abandonment in His arms!
       P.S. (I hadn't sent this letter yet, so decided to add more!) Hi honey! I sure love you! I pray all is well with you and that you are gaining more strength and health each day! Want to hear a "praise kiss"? "You truly fill my every desire, my dear Forever Love! I worship You with every fiber of my being, and to You and You alone I pledge my complete devotion above all else. Take me completely as I am. I belong to You!" So sweet, those kisses!
       Cedar, I was reading over my letter to you and I got a check that I didn't give the Lord enough credit for all He was doing in my life during my pregnancies. It is obvious that He was giving me beautiful children, but other beautiful fruit was borne too, which just became richer and richer as the years went on.
       You see, I didn't complain the whole time I was confined to bed. You can only grump and groan so long and then it is either "yield" or you're done for! When I would finally yield, I was still quite sick and weak, but I learned what the poem "First Place" says:

       "But there in that lonely desert
       Apart from the busy scene
       It dawned on me slowly and clearly
       Where my great mistake had been.

       "My mind was so full of just service,
       I had drifted from Him apart,
       And He longed for that sweet communion,
       That {\ul \i union of heart with heart}!"

       I had many quiet hours alone with the Lord, lying there in bed -- just Him and me. It is too bad that I often thought He was punishing me, because when I thought like that I missed out on His love, His voice, His touch, His intimacy and much of what He had for me! But in spite of all of myself being in the way, He got through to me each month, each year, with each child.
       Even though it was difficult being so sick and weak and feeling alone and useless, I knew that He was trying to get through to me. He wanted me to Himself and that was the way He chose to do it.
       I used to tell people that my babies led me to Jesus, and it is very true. If I hadn't had those moments, weeks and months of desperation in His arms I wouldn't have the other gifts He was giving me. I had to learn that my own strength kept me from Him. I needed to really learn, as Dad was also trying to teach me through "The Lamp" and "Letting Go, and Letting God," what it meant to let Him be my strength.
       I wasn't a very good student and I suppose I should have learned much quicker, but I can say that I have learned what it means to be helpless in His arms and to receive His strength, His grace, His mercy, understanding and love. Through feeling His love, I have learned to love others. I have more patience, endurance, understanding and compassion that I wouldn't have had without those times.
       But most of all, I cherish those times with Him, because I got to know Him. When you are alone with the Lord and you can't get up, then a relationship develops that [DELETED] well for me, I just didn't want to get away from. I finally saw so much more clearly that the most important place is that of yielded abandonment in His arms, to where He can do anything He wants with you, to you, through you and for you.

What it means to fight in the Spirit
       I also had to learn to fight -- to fight against negative feelings and thoughts. At least for me, learning to fight against the Enemy and to fight against my own weakness of being negative and down has been a long process, but because I wanted to learn, He kept putting me back in the ring. And for me the ring of testing in the area of being negative, is to be sick or weak -- physically attacked in some way.
       I still have battles like that, so I suppose He will continue to work on me in this way. Fighting used to be such a struggle for me, such a work of the flesh, but I guess I had to go through that phase to understand what it means to fight in the Spirit. I can't fight so much in the flesh like I used to because I don't have the strength.
       But fighting is just believing and using the weapons of warfare and not giving up. Even more now I see that it is just resting in Him, letting Him hold me and see me through. I had to learn that He wasn't punishing me, but that He was blessing me. He wasn't through with me, but was training me for greater usefulness. He didn't dislike me, but He dearly loved me and He would help me with any battle He asked me to go into. All I had to do was keep believing and going to Him, no matter how difficult the test.
       I learned those things being pregnant, getting weaker by the year from having children. Those physical weaknesses have developed other strengths that He continues to strengthen. So, all glory to Jesus! I came out in the end a victor! He brought so many victories through it all and I know He will do the same for you too!

Call on the mothers of God!
       And last of all, He is reminding me to tell you that for having had 10 children, I am not doing too bad! It may sound like I am an ultra-weakling now, totally zapped of all my strength! It is true that I don't have the strength I used to, but the Lord said that I'm not in bad health considering everything!
       He also reminded me to tell you that many other women, good women of God, have gone before us who have had many children too. They went through the same things I went through and you are going through, but that was their calling. They have their particular ministry and reward from that training and bearing that fruit.
       Call on some of those women to help you! I often called on my grandmother or great aunts because I knew they could understand. My grandmother was a wonderful woman and she raised her family on a farm as unto the Lord. When she went to be with the Lord, she left behind her seven children, 48 grandchildren, 90-some great-grandchildren (28 of those belong to my two brothers, Gabriel and Michael, and me), and one great-great-grandchild, which was Brunella of Miguel and Cherish. What a beautiful tree!
       So we will stand with the mothers There! Won't we have fun talking about all our children? They are forever!
       ILY! Bye! I'll keep you in my prayers! XXXXXX! --Mary M.

The Lord Lightened My Load!

From Cedar, USA

Dear Mary Mom,
              I love you dearly, and I am eternally grateful for your time, love and care in writing me the lengthy letter and getting a beautiful prophecy for me! It came at a perfect time and was just what I needed to give me the faith to trust the Lord through my affliction and see that He is not punishing me through this weakness in the flesh, but He has allowed it in His love and wants me to grow closer to Him during this time.
       In the past, through other rough pregnancies, I felt like I would become distant and alienated from the Lord. That was because I didn't see it as His love for me, but just thought that He didn't like me and I must be an awful sinner to end up in such a weakened physical state. Usually just to add to the discouragement, I would hit my biggest lows spiritually at those times. You helped me to set my vision more on the long-term victories and get my eyes off of the present-day battles.
       It's funny, this time around I thought I had a few more lessons under my belt after attending the Summit '96 meetings, as far as realizing just how unconditionally the Lord loves just me. I felt I would never doubt the Lord's love again. But sure enough, a few weeks after the Summit, I found out I was pregnant with number five, and my last baby was only seven months old! Sad to say, I didn't take it super well, especially since I knew there were a lot of big changes around the corner for me in having a new job (joining the CRO teamwork) and moving to a new city, etc. I thought this time maybe the Lord did forget about me, and maybe He forgot to check on me, and -- oops, nature took its course and I got pregnant, ha!
       I know this is definitely the wrong attitude, and that each child is a special gift. But as the months rolled by, I felt stranded in our new city, with seven of us in a small trailer in the blazing sun. I couldn't keep any food down and I couldn't get out of bed because I was so weak and sick. I couldn't help myself and had to depend completely on my sister for help with the kids. And there was no way I could help in shepherding anyone else -- then I really wondered what went wrong. The discouragement and condemnation of feeling like a horrible mother because I couldn't even care for my own kids, much less help with the shepherding on our CRO team, almost consumed me!
       I was getting pulled under, feeling I needed to do more, rather than just lying there in Jesus' arms and letting Him love me and take care of me. Your letter rekindled the faith that it's worth it all. Your life story helped me want to stay positive and keep fighting and see that through these trials, the Lord is going to help me have more compassion and love in my shepherding. So I shouldn't feel like I'm not accomplishing the Lord's will, because He's investing in me now what He sees I need.
       Fighting in my own strength not to appear sick or weak, and fighting in heart and spirit to keep positive and not get pulled under by the Enemy's constant belittling and negative thinking, are definitely two different things. I think I struggle so much because I get them mixed up, and fighting in my own strength, I end up fighting the Lord and questioning His will in allowing me to be so weak.
       Since receiving your letter, I've tried to really put your counsel into practice, and when I feel weak and tired and without much strength, I try to spend time loving Jesus, getting in the Word, thinking positive thoughts and telling the Lord how much I love Him -- and things have been going so much better!
       Mama's Home also got some prophecies for me which talked about learning to pray for situations that I may not be able to help shepherd myself, or pray for my children when there isn't much else I can do. Also the Lord wants me to spend time pouring into my kids, as He will use that to teach me other important shepherding lessons. The Lord said He will use this sample of a mommy and daddy with kids who are willing to make the sacrifices of training and caring for them as an important part of our ministry and testimony.
       So all in all, the Lord has really lightened the load, and in spite of my worrying about not being able to do things because of health or children, it turned out that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. It's another lesson on how much the Lord loves us (me!) and doesn't give us more than we can bear. So much of the struggle is just our own bad attitudes and feeling so much like we have to do more than the Lord even requires or wants us to do. I'm not saying that it's always easy. -- I'm still learning to fully grasp these things. Maybe writing them down like this will help me consolidate them in my heart and mind.
       On another point, I want to tell you that I wholeheartedly agree with what you shared about keeping our lives for the Lord and the raising of His children simple. I've even shared that with a few moms lately after receiving your letter, and I think it's a real key in living happy lives and raising happy children.
       Thank you again for your love and concern for me. You are a wonderful mother to so many, and I admire you greatly! You're someone I look up to and thank God for. Though I don't know you much, at the Summit, I felt such a warm, special feeling being around you. If all the breaking, testing and trials turn out queen shepherdesses like you, it's got to be worth it! I'm praying for you in the big job you have, and for your precious kids. I love you so much!
       Also please keep me in your prayers for a safe and easy delivery. I have a number of health problems, but the Lord is doing miracles and is healing me. I feel so much better, but you can keep all of this in your prayers. I love you! Bye-bye!
       Love, Cedar
       ({\ul \i Editor's note}: Cedar had a baby girl, Precious Angeline, number 5! Praise the Lord! God bless you, Cedar, we love you!)

A Mom at Age 16!
Cherish writes Techi about lessons she learned having three small children while in her teens!

From Cherish of Miguel (21, Mary Mom's eldest daughter), USA

Dear Techi,
       God bless you! I love you tons and pray for you. I mainly wanted to tell you how much I love you and am keeping you and your little one in my prayers.
       I also had my first child when I was 16. I had just turned 16, actually, and it was a major shocker! Not because I was pregnant, because those things do happen when you have sex. But I just wasn't expecting it. It shattered a lot of my hopes and dreams of what I wanted to do.
       At the time I was involved in secretarial work. I wanted to keep doing that and become a writer or an editor and go to WS and live there for the rest of my life, etc., etc. I was really into it! Well, obviously the Lord had other plans, but at the time it was extremely hard for me to accept.
       By nature I am a very emotional person -- at least I used to be. And I used to be very negative as well. I'd get on a negative channel easily and then get discouraged, and the vicious cycle continued. When I first started having kids, it was real bad. I would cry about everything and let the Enemy walk all over me sometimes, because I would get so down on myself.
       I was never a single mom, although I've had a year of practice in what that is like recently, as Miguel has been away 99% of the time doing VS work. So I have learned that that is a real struggle and it has made me pray all the more for those who are single. But I did have my share of "toughies," because as you probably know, our first child was born very early and spent the first four months of her life in an incubator and still has problems and handicaps to this day. So as you can imagine, I was very down and out for the first few years.
       I would tell myself all the time what a horrible mother I was, and others' attempts to help me do better only seemed to confirm that. And granted, I certainly wasn't that great of a mother then, because I wasn't very yielded to it to begin with. I was always thinking how much I wanted to do something else, instead of having to take care of this little kid.
       So needless to say, I was constantly your basic discouraged person. I really went downhill every time I'd let the Enemy tell me how rotten I was -- which was every spare moment he could get! I usually listened to him and my morale wasn't very high and then my baby didn't get the attention she needed, because I was so busy being discouraged.
       I also felt like my life was shot, because now I was just going to be doing kids for the rest of my life. Well, I probably will -- but now I have yielded to that. In fact, the Lord really wanted to use those kids to teach me a lot of lessons.
       I think one of the reasons the Lord allowed me to have kids so early was to grow me up real fast. I guess the Lord knew that He didn't have a whole lot of time to let me just sort of namby-pamby around and grow up at my own little pace, but He wanted to make me into a different person -- and right away. So in that sense I am happy that He allowed that to happen, because I really do want to mature and grow into the woman of God that He wants me to be.
       There are a lot of times I sit down and wonder why the Lord allowed this or that to happen to me -- like why I had a handicapped child, or why my second child had health problems, or why I have such difficult pregnancies, etc. And honestly I don't really know most of the reasons why He's done those things. I assume I will be asking the Lord first thing when I see Him what His reasoning was behind all of it. I know He must have some reason, because I am His child, but other than that, sometimes I don't have a clue as to why He would bring some of these things along my path. Ha!
       But I know that if the only reason in all of it (which I know it isn't) is just to keep me close to Jesus, more dependent on Him and not on myself, and to keep a fighting spirit, then it is worth it. I guess all the other reasons He will have to explain to me later.
       Well, back to my story. By the time I had my second child, I still hadn't learned my lesson about looking on the bright side and just fighting through even though I was discouraged or downhearted. I don't mean fighting through by just bearing it and being totally down and out. Or just surviving day after day, to the point where everyone around you knows that you are constantly going through it, but you are plodding on through life anyway -- no.
       What the Lord wanted me to do was to get up in the morning and even if I felt like you-know-what and had zero inspiration or pizzazz about the day ahead, to just forget about it, slap a smile on my face and pretend that I was the cheeriest person around. Let me tell you, at first that was really hard to do. At first I was literally grinning and bearing it, because I certainly didn't feel like grinning at all. To the contrary, actually I felt like moping about it, and going and finding some nice shoulder and crying for a number of hours and going through the rest of the day on a bummer! That seemed like it would have been a lot easier than having to fight to be happy.
       But the Lord didn't stop putting the pressure on until I really buckled under and decided I was going to fight to be in the vic. I knew the Lord would still love me even if I was always discouraged about myself and my work and my job with the kids, but I knew that He wasn't necessarily going to shower down heaps of blessings on me either. And I really did so desperately want to be happy -- to have that simple joy that I used to have every day when I would wake up and know that I was going to do something that day that I really loved doing.
       So I started pretending that I was happy when I was not -- a lot like the story of the young man who pretended to be happy after being blinded in a hunting accident, so he wouldn't hurt his dad, who felt responsible. (See Good Thots, Trials and Triumphs: 375, pg. 1640.) And at first it was really a put on, and I'm sure people around me knew that it was put on as well. But after a year or so (too bad it took so long -- but being so stubborn, I guess it took the Lord a little time to get it through my head -- ha!) it became real.
       Even if I would be super discouraged or bummed out about whatever it was -- either myself or my kids having problems or my marriage, or the Home or whatever, I would still feel cheerful inside. I would still feel like I could slap a smile on, fix my hair, put something nice and attractive on so I felt a little better about myself. (I found that that helped a lot too -- because whenever I looked real unkempt, I felt real un-everything. But when I would spruce up my act a little and look more alive and perky, I would automatically start to feel better, too.)
       All of a sudden I started to have more energy and inspiration. I actually started to get a burden for childcare, and now I really like it a lot. Even though it is a true "die daily" type situation, I have a much better attitude about it than I used to.
       In fact, one neat testimony is that before I used to cry all the time -- at the drop of a diaper (as I always say). Anytime something even the tiniest bit discouraging or sad would happen, I would be in total misery and tears. But after the Lord helped me get this victory with being positive and cheerful, now sometimes when I get totally overwhelmed with discouragement and I feel like everything is going wrong and it's one of those when-it-rains-it-pours type of scenes, I find that even though I want to cry about it, I can't!
       At first I thought it was weird, but I realized it was because the Lord had helped me to get the victory so much over being emotional that now even when I wanted to cry and get some sympathy I couldn't! Ha! I had this inner peace that just sort of stuck there. Even though I was sad on the outside, on the inside, deep down inside, I knew everything would work out, because the Lord was in control, so it wasn't really sad after all. And I was so amazed!
       It was the first time in my life I had felt "stable." Of course our only stability is in the Lord, but I didn't feel like such an emotional wreck. It was wonderful and I am so thankful that the Lord has given me such a wonderful victory over being so emotional. I still have battles and things that I get discouraged about that I have to fight every single day. But I just have to keep bearing that in mind and claiming the promise, "My grace is sufficient for thee," and it really makes a big difference.
       Especially with my oldest child, Brunella, sometimes I just get so discouraged because it can seem like she never makes any progress. I begin to feel that I'm just running round in circles trying to teach her the same things. This at times can get me to the total depths of discouragement.
       (LNF: Brunella is doing much better, and shortly will be attending a day school for children with disabilities, to help her make progress in her weak areas. However, in order for her to attend this school, she needed to get an examination from a doctor. The Lord led us to a really sweet doctor. At the end of his examination of Brunella, he told us that he felt that there is a possibility that with the right kind of therapy and care, she could catch up in her development by the time she is eight or nine years old. Praise the Lord! We are continuing to pray that this miracle comes to pass. Please do keep her in your prayers. Thanks.)
       I feel like a horrible mother sometimes too, because I am anemic and it can be very hard for me to have enough energy through the day to take care of my three little kids who are super-active, and constantly moving. Plus trying to teach them and do their memorization, school time, keep up with the laundry, keep the room looking nice, etc. -- I feel like your basic bad mother because I hardly have the energy sometimes to get through all of this. I just have to keep telling myself that I can only do what I can do and just do my best and know that the Lord will reward me for giving it my all, even if I wasn't as great at it as I wished I was.
       Anyway, I mainly wanted to tell you that it does get easier with time. A lot of times with a little baby, it can seem like it's just never-ending. Miguel sometimes jokes about that. He says, "When people tell you that kids grow up fast, it's a big lie. They are babies forever!" Ha! It &&&really does seem like that when they are first small. But even now that my oldest will soon be five, it is a little easier than when she was a baby. You sort of adjust to life like that and pretty soon it doesn't seem so hard anymore, it just seems normal.
       Well I don't know if that is very encouraging for you at all, but when I was praying for you today, I got this little portion of a song for you, which has helped me so much with the kids I've had and the pregnancies, etc.:

       He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater.
       He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.
       To added affliction, He addeth His mercy,
       To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

       And I also got the verse for you, "And the God of all grace Who hath called you unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strength, settle you. To Him be glory forever. Amen" (1Pet.5:10,11).
       I really love you tons and tons and pray for you that your new life with your little one will be fun, inspiring, challenging, but most of all fulfilling. And you will see that it really is. It has got to be one of the most rewarding ministries there is.
       One time someone told me that I should take up the challenge to be a "professional mother." It really is true -- being a mother is a profession and with time it grows on you. You may not feel like the world's greatest mother right now, but hey, I have three and I still don't. But I do know that I am better now than I was before, because I yielded to what the Lord wanted me to do in my life and I made it my ministry and challenged myself with it. Even though it was sort of put on at first, after a while it became part of me and the way that I was and what I really wanted to pour my life into. So I know it can be done, even if you are young.
       You know one thing that is really fun? That's going out and people thinking that your child is your brother or sister. Because you had the child at such a young age, people are so shocked and amazed that you are taking care of this kid when you are so young yourself. Whenever people express awe (or shock) about me and my munchkins, my chest always swells up with pride, because I love being different. I feel like I did something different, something that in the System's eyes looks real impossible, like, "How did you do that?" I like that feeling! Whenever people ask me how come I have so many kids when I'm so young, I joke that our TV broke about five years ago. Ha! That's always a winner.
       Anyway I'll stop rambling on here and close this up. I just want to tell you how much I love you and am sending big hugs, kisses and prayers to you along with this note. Lots of love from me and my kids.
       Much love always, Cherish

[EDITED: "End"]

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