Unplanned Pregnancies

Imagine giving birth. (For you mothers it’s not much of a stretch, and for the rest of us we’ll just do the best we can.) Now imagine giving birth without knowing you were even pregnant. “But how can this happen?” you might ask. You got me, but it happened to a woman from a developed nation in a responsible job with top medical care.

Life’s a mystery sometimes.

Now imagine a woman getting pregnant and knowing about it, but never having had intercourse with a man. Sure with modern medical technology this is possible, but let’s take medical intervention out of it. Then what? Again you might be tempted to ask “But how can this happen?” If so, you’re echoing Mary’s question to the angel who told her that she would bear the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Israel. And that’s what happened.

I’ve got another one for you. Imagine an elderly childless woman becoming pregnant. Someone who is well past the age of child-bearing, someone who has longed for a baby, someone who has gone through life watching friends and family around her raise children while she went from day to day – and month to month – and year to year – and decade to decade – without a child of her own to hold. Then, in her old age, her very old age, she is told a baby will come to her womb, a baby who will be used by God for great things. “But how can this happen?” she would be tempted to cry. But God made it happen not once but twice, bringing a child to Sarah’s womb and then centuries later bringing a child to Elizabeth.

The Bible is chock full of stories about people having babies. Sarah, Elizabeth and Mary are probably the most well-known but anyone who reads through the Bible can’t help but run into time after time that God gets visibly involved in people’s reproductive lives. It looks to me like God cares about what goes on in the womb, and about the babies born.

On Kid Duty

One thing my wife and I do is reach out to young families. I say we, but I need to give her the credit for an incredible ministry that I just get to help her with. For over twenty years now my wife has had an uncanny knack for identifying young moms and moms-to-be who need support, help, a listening ear, someone to sit by them, someone to take the kids for a few hours or a few days, sometimes at the last minute.

In fact, we’ve spent two recent Sunday afternoons on kid duty. One Sunday it was a family  who were moving and needed someone to watch the three kids (ages 5, 2 and a newborn) while the moving went on; the next Sunday it was a mom with four kids (18 months to 10 years old) who had recently moved out of town, was back for a day, and needed some time to catch up with a variety of people. Playing with cars, splashing around in the pool, drawing with sidewalk chalk, pounding on the piano keys, getting snacks and drinks together: these are the ways we got to spend those Sunday afternoons. Hey, who said ministry has to be painful?

God cares about babies in the womb and babies out of the womb, and it’s good for God’s people to care about the same things he does. Ministry to young families or families-to-be may not be your gift, but here are some questions for all of us:

If you do these things, what does it look like.

If you’d like to do them, where might you start?

And if this is not something you do personally, how can you support those who do?

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19 Responses to Unplanned Pregnancies

  1. I love the ministry that you and your wife do with young families. This is SO needed, and so appreciated. The fact that it’s also fun for you is just gravy. Today, there’s no school in our town because it is Yom Kippur. A friend offered to take all three of my children along with her kids to a big state fair, allowing me to work and get ready for a radio interview this afternoon. Taking care of my children, and going a step further to do something fun with my kids, is the nicest thing that anyone could do for me.

    • Tim says:

      What a thoughtful friend you have, Ellen. I bet your kids had a great time with their friends too. Sounds like a winning situation all around!

  2. As a mom of five, I can’t imagine the hardship of bringing little ones into the world without a loving support system. Thankfully we have always lived near our extended family, so help is just a phone call away, but many times I have wondered how we would manage if we lived out of town — or worse — if I was a single mom! May God bless your wife for her discernment and both of you for your willingness to bless others in this crucial way!

    • Tim says:

      I have wondered the same thing about people without this kind of support system, Adriana. At work I’ve had some parents tell me the reason they can’t do jury duty is because they have kids. I ask if they’ve asked their friends to see if someone can watch them for a couple days. Sadly, many of them tell me they have no friends they trade off childcare with.

      That is so foreign to our experience, where we’ve always had a fairly large circle of people who have been eager to cover for each other at times like this. Some parents go through life without any such circle of friends. I don’t know if that’s due to their circumstances, their personalities, or what, but it saddens me.

  3. Linda Fern says:

    Tim, you never cease to amaze me! You have hit the nail on the head again. Keep up the Good Work. Bless you and your lovely wife!

    Yrs aff’ly,

  4. Aimee Byrd says:

    Bethany Christian Services just came to speak to our church. They have a great program for ministering to families in need before they have to be put into the foster system called Safe Families. This is a great calling for the church, and a great way to bring families into the church. Much of the needs are met in ways that you and your wife minister, Tim. Also things like providing meals, budgeting help, and wisdom. They emphasized how the foster care system is a reactionary system, but as Christians, we can seek out and be available to families that are in need before they get to this point. I believe Safe Families is available in different cities around the country, so it is something for every church to look into.

    • Tim says:

      I appreciate how they characterized foster care, Aimee. I think God wants us to invest in people’s lives before there is a need to react, and it sounds like that ministry is working toward that goal. It’s amazing how God has similar work being done in his church both in a formal ministry like Bethany Christian Services and in things like what my wife does just because that’s how she’s wired.

  5. Mary Anne says:

    Tim, have you ever read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever? I can’t help thinking about it every time I think of Mary—that oh-so-young girl who is chosen for so great a miracle, and she must’ve been scared half to death. I always think of this passage: “But as far as I’m concerned, Mary is always going to look a lot like Imogene Herdman — sort of nervous and bewildered, but ready to clobber anyone who laid a hand on her baby.”

    Go here for some other great quotations from the movie version:


    As for older women having children—well, I’m at that “hot flash” time of life, plus having had surgery a couple of years ago. When people ask me about having children, my reply is generally something like, “If I’m going to have a baby, there had better be a star in the east.” 😉

    NOT seeing stars,

  6. I totally wish you and your wife lived here. 🙂 What a great ministry! I hope that I can do that for young mothers someday, because it really is hard not having family around.

    By the way, I really love that quote you put up at the top of your blog. Elliott and I were just expressing those sentiments recently. To our more liberal friends, we’re conservative, but in our church, we’re seen as more liberal. I wish we didn’t have to label things like that; there’s such a stigma attached to both words.

    • Tim says:

      All the credit for that quote goes to Laura at her Enough Light blog. I asked if I could use it and she graciously said yes.

      And if you lived near us, Rachel, you’d totally be part of my wife’s circle!


  7. Tim, I wish I knew your family! I’m lucky to have a support system here in town, but I needed all the help I could get after every baby was born!

    We have new neighbors who just moved to town not knowing a soul, and we’re trying to reach out and help in every way we can: playdates, babysitting, or just a friend to talk to.

    • Tim says:

      Those sound like excellent ways to reach out, Anne. And as for knowing my family, I wish we all lived close together so that could happen too!

  8. I wish more people thought about doing such a ministry as you two do. It is really great. I have a very very hard time trusting people to watch my kids, so we rarely go out without them, and when we do, my parents are the ones who watch them (well, mainly my mom, whom I trust since she raised me through biblical details). I would not know if someone happened to watch my boys and hurt them, since one of every 4 (maybe 5) boys gets sexually abused.

    That story about the military woman who gave birth not knowing she was ever pregnant is very odd. Did she not feel her baby moving around in her womb or see her belly growing? I just don’t understand how one would not know….but that is interesting.

    I love all the miracle children in the Bible. There were many. . .granted all are blessings and miracles, but there is a lot of passion and love for babies in the Word.

    • Tim says:

      We always took our kids with us too, Victoria, but that’s because it’s how my wife and I were each raised as well. Every year as they were growing up we even took them with us when we went out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. We saw it as a family milestone, not just a spouse event, and wanted them to be part of the celebration.


      • yeah. Last night Rob and I were talking about how we missed going out to the diner once a week as a date before we had kids and I said, “We can always take them with us.” He liked that idea. Our 12 years of being a couple in general anniversary is coming up in a few days and for all we know we’ll go out with them to celebrate.

  9. KSP says:

    It’s amazing how many forms ministry can and should take. Bless you and your wife for this thoughtful, personal, and real ministry.

    • Tim says:

      I know what you mean, Karen. I see people do stuff for God and think, “I’d have never come up with that in a million years.” I think the forms of ministry must be endless because God is without limit himself and he’s the one who works through his people in building his kingdom.

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