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Topics: Parenting, Spiritual Formation

Trapp Family Planning Wisdom

June 20, 2014

by Candice Watters

This morning I heard a distressing report about “Obvious Child,” a new movie being billed as an “abortion comedy.” Last night I read a far better bit of wisdom about how to handle untimely conceptions. This from Maria Augusta Trapp, matron of the family singers immortalized in film in “The Sound of Music”:

Many years later I happened to learn about planned parenthood and birth control to guard against unwanted children. I must say … Johannes [had] not been exactly planned for that very moment, and as far as being wanted is concerned, I would have gladly said many times, “Oh, won’t you please be so kind as to wait for just six months.” Yes, many times on the flight, on the boat, on the bus, on the stage. But thousands of years ago God assured us–it’s in the Book–“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways My ways.” So if there is any planning to be done, why don’t we let Him do it? Looking back now, I know that He chose the only right moment for Johannes’ arrival. The predictions of the doctor in Munich proved beautifully wrong, and Johannes promises to be a fine American boy.

Johannes was the third child born to Maria–and the 10th of the children she mothered after marrying the widower Captain von Trapp. Maria was warned early on in the pregnancy that the child “has to be removed, of course, immediately” because of an infection in her kidneys. She was indignant. “What do you mean, ‘of course’? That is not ‘of course’ at all. On the contrary, it is absolutely out of the question–we are Catholics, you know.”

To which the specialist replied, “The child won’t be born alive; this much I can tell you. I just hope, … I shall be able to save the life of the mother. She has to go to bed and stay there and keep a very strict diet.”

She promised to follow the doctor’s instructions. But that was easier said than done. Soon after her diagnosis, the Trapp family fled Austria after the German invasion, and as it turned out, their departure landed one day before the Nazis closed the border. From then on, Maria was less able to stay in bed–she and her husband moved their family across the ocean to America where they landed in New York with little more than $4 between them. So too, the special diet was out. She ate what they could afford. But God provided.

This, and countless other encouragements for faithfulness in family, including rock solid commitment to doing the “will of God,” are captured artfully, humorously, and delightfully in Maria’s autobiography, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. This is a romantic comedy and human drama that will lift your spirits and inspire your faith.

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