A New Perspective on Mother’s Day -Christian families 100+ Years Down the Road

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Something I’ve been thinking about off and on for a few months is the long-term effect of Christian families, really generations, throughout time.  The picture above is of my kids and I at a river where my Great Great Grandparents would let their children play.

My Great Grandfather played there as a child, as well as his daughter (my Grandmother), and cousins, etc., and now our kids, over 100+ years later on, are doing the same thing.

We recently took a short trip to their small town to look around and engage in some sentimental pondering of what we know of who they were, what their lives were like, and wonder if they ever could have imagined how important their faith was to someone as far removed from their day-to-day lives as their great-great grand-daughter?

I wonder if they realized when they were doing it, the legacy of faith they were building?

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Their house built in 1852

This coming weekend is Mother’s Day weekend, and again, like every year now, I’ve seen the regular online articles claiming how awful Mother’s Day is because women are expected to still change diapers… the regular old complaining and whining and such.  I’ve written posts to counter those articles before, but I thought I’d take a widely different approach this year.

What if we looked at Motherhood through the lens of something we’re building that is eternally glorious?  What if we really saw for the first time, how important our “invisible,” efforts are in the lives of our children and even future generations to come?

My Great great-Grandparents were in my opinion, remarkably wonderful and kind people.  They came to the US as immigrants, him being already a doctor and his wife, a happy and capable homemaker.  They had 12 children, and raised them with a fiercely strong, passionate Christian faith.  They were good parents, as two of their sons made overt gestures when adults to dedicate a Christian monument in the town  (a giant crucifix to their, “loving parents,”) and to write a long, 20 page document detailing their parents’ characters and lives.  They were clearly people who their children liked, looked up to, and respected as fellow Christians.

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After my Great great grandfather died, my GG-grandmother turned their house into an inn.  We’ve read that artists and writers stayed there, and she lived out her last days very happily.

These were just not ordinary people… their Christian faith and the way they devoted their lives to living it out in their community, and with their children, inspires me to take our own efforts in how we raise our kids that much more seriously.  To know that their faith was a critical building block to who I am today, prompts me to pray for my own children’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and so on.  To pray continual blessings over them.  To pray hedges of protection around their lives.  To pray that they will be able to withstand life’s hardships and trials or testings, and still pass on the faith that was birthed in our family probably 100’s of years ago (we’re not sure when… we’d probably have to look for genealogy records in their old country).

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Their great-great-great grandchildren visiting their church!

Going back to see in person their house, their old church, to walk where they walked and see what they saw, it gives real meaning and understanding to all the verses where God promises that He will be faithful through generations of believers.  I always thought that only meant God is the same, from generation to generation, and I’m sure that is still what it means.  But I wonder if He also may have been reminding us that His promises and faithfulness proves true through literal familial generation to generation.

“And His mercy is for those who fear Him,

from generation to generation.”

Luke 1:50

I felt a strange sadness knowing that we didn’t get to, “know,” these relatives beyond what their children wrote about them (and how sweet that their children actually did!!!).  And just an overwhelming longing for the wisdom that my great-great Grandmother would have given me about parenting her 12 children – a feat she did successfully, or her advice on supporting one’s husband, or on building up a community that is 98% full of Christians making the town and surrounding areas better.  Thinking of her and her husband made me look at my husband and long to have 12 children with him like she managed, because he’s such a good and godly man, and our children already love him so much!

It’s sad how much wisdom from past ages is, “lost,” with time when it isn’t written down and preserved.  This is why I’m working together with  my own mother (who is their great-grand-daughter) on leaving a book for my own daughter and future female descendants, that will include much of the wisdom she passed down to me, which I felt was crucial to how I now live my life as a wife and mother.  It may end up not being appreciated, but I feel like to not even try to deliver this information to future generations would be wrong!

After all, God does tell us we should care about the future generations of Christians,

So even to old age and gray hair, O God,

do not forsake me, until I proclaim Your Might to another generation,

Your Power to all those to come.”

*

“We will not hide them from their children,

but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord,

and His might, and the wonders that He has done.”

*

Let this be recorded for a generation to come,

so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord

Psalm 71:18, Psalm 78:4, Psalm 102:18
***

But what if you didn’t have a mother who took her role seriously?  What if you had a mother who always complained, or made life in  your house generally miserable?

My grandmother (my mom’s mom) came from this wonderful, godly lineage, but she didn’t choose this path to be a joyful, happy mother.  Yes, she had great difficulties in life, but they are no excuse for how she chose to be chronically unhappy, complaining, and verbally abusive to her children and her husband.  She’s now left a legacy of warning, an example of what NOT to emulate, that my mom passed down to me (having grown up herself in a house with a mother like that).  So I very much understand from a personal viewpoint, how this kind of mother, even if she does have reason to be upset or complaining or whining all the time (chronically unhappy), she still should make it priority number one to NOT allow herself to act on those feelings.  Acting on those feelings are tantamount to ruining her legacy, and harming her husband and children.

Even though my grandmother came from this very same family, she didn’t truly have a relationship with God until she was on her death bed when she finally accepted Christ as her savior, that’s how stubborn and bitter she was about life.  She literally lived almost an entire life wasted, and never had a good relationship with her daughter (my mom).

Even if I’m the only voice saying this out there (I’m sure I’m not, thankfully), I’m going to say it:

Don’t allow momentary afflictions to destroy

what you’re trying to build

that may last for centuries,

because YOU chose to be an unjoyful, unhappy mother.

***

It’s true what us mothers are building is hard work.  We’re supposed to be helping children grow into adults who honor God with their entire life and being, in a world that wants very much to destroy everything Christianity stands for.

It’s true that our work goes largely unnoticed, in the crevices of unseen life.  I have to admit, raising children is sometimes heart-breaking work as you feel they constantly don’t, “appreciate,” you as their mother.  But the fact that it can last for generations, or that one woman can turn it back around like my mother did to redeem a family’s lost legacy, brings hope.

The Invisible Woman by Nicole Johnson –

“It started to happen gradually. I would walk into a room and say something and no one would notice. I would say, “Turn the TV down, please.” And nothing would happen. So I would get louder, “TURN THE TV DOWN PLEASE!” Finally, I would have to go over and turn the TV down myself.

And then I started to notice it elsewhere. My husband and I had been at a party for about three hours and I was ready to go. I looked over and he was talking to a friend from work and I walked over and…he kept right on talking. He didn’t even turn toward me.

That’s when I started to put it together…. He can’t see me! I’m invisible!

I’m Invisible!

Then I started to notice it more and more. I would walk my son to school and his teacher would say, “Jake, who’s that with you?” And my son would say, “Nobody.” Granted, he’s just five…but NOBODY?

One night a group of us gathered and we were celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just taken this fabulous trip and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed and I was sitting there looking around at the other women at the table. I’d put my makeup on in the car on the way there, I had on an old dress because it the only thing clean, and I had my unwashed hair pulled up in a banana clip and I was feeling pretty darn pathetic. And then Janice turned to me and she said, “I brought you this.”   It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. And then I read her inscription: “With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”

You can’t name the names of the people who built the great cathedrals. Over and over again, looking at these mammoth works, you scan down to find the names and it says builder unknown. They completed things not knowing that anyone would notice. There’s a story about one of the builders who was carving a tiny bird inside a beam that would be covered over by a roof. And someone came up to him and said, “Why are you spending so much time on something no one will ever see?”

It’s reported that the builder replied, “Because God sees.”  They trusted that God saw everything.

They gave their whole lives for a work, a mammoth work, they would never see finished. They showed up day after day. Some of these cathedrals took over a 100 years to build. That was more than one working man’s lifetime. Day after day. And they made personal sacrifices for no credit. Showing up at a job they would never see finished for a building their name would never be on.

One writer even goes so far as to say, “No great cathedrals will ever be built again because so few people are willing to sacrifice to that degree.”  I closed the book and it was as if I heard God say, “I see you. You are not invisible to me. No sacrifice is too small for me to notice. I see every cupcake baked, every sequin sewn on and I smile over every one. I see every tear of disappointment when things don’t go the way you want them to go. But remember, you are building a great cathedral. It will not be finished in your lifetime. And sadly, you will never get to live there. But if you build it well, I will.”

At times, my invisibility has felt like an affliction to me, but it not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my own pride.

It’s okay that they don’t see. It’s okay that they don’t know.

I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college, “You’re not going to believe what my mom does. She gets up at four in the morning and she bakes pies and hand bastes the turkey and she presses all the linens.” Even if I do all those things, I don’t want him to say that. I want him to want to come home. And secondly, I want him to say to his friend, “You’re gonna love it there.”  It’s okay that they don’t see. We don’t work for them. We work for Him. We sacrifice for Him. They will never see. Not if we do it right, not if we do it well.   Let’s pray that our work will stand as a monument to an even Greater God.

❤️

Almost … There … The End is in Sight!!!

I thought about writing an update, but there’s NOTHING to really update with 😀 still… I’ve gotten some emails asking how it’s going and…

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And it feels like how Grumpy Cat (RIP) must have felt with that face LOL 😀 !!!

Very much ready to be done, but I have a little more than a week to go.  At least it’s another scheduled c-section, so it’s not like this is going to go on forever, but with how 2/3 babies have come earlier than scheduled, no one really knows what to expect!

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We had a scare this past week where I was having regular, intense contractions for HOURS… but at the hospital the dang contractions just weren’t showing up on their monitor (when googling, this seems to be a normal thing if it’s lower or back labor – go figure!).  The nurse thought I was probably in, “early labor,” which can last for weeks … Greeeaat!!!  LOL

So it’s been on and off again contractions since then, but I’ve resolved not to go back unless I think he’s about to fall out.

Cleaning has gotten fun.  Last night there were some crumbs from the kids’ dinner under the table and I foolishly tried to reach them (why I didn’t sweep I have no idea – pregnancy brain?) and I practically rolled away trying to reach that low!  Apparently the floor is off limits now for how round I’ve gotten.  I’m thinking this baby must be bigger than our last (each baby has curiously been a little heavier than the last, which is normal statistically, but still kind of odd to me).

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So apparently, since I’ve had 3 c-sections before, it’s actually fairly risky for the laws/guidelines and hospital policies to force physicians to push out scheduled c-sections until after 39 weeks.  I know I’ve thought of this before, but I’ve never been interested enough to look into all the details.  Apparently, it’s better for a woman whose had 3+ to schedule for as early as 37 weeks, because the risk of having a uterine rupture (from contractions – which I’ve been having!!) is higher.  There isn’t much literature or research out on this yet, but I found a very good article here .  (You have to register for Medscape to read the full article, but it’s more than worth it in my opinion!)

Here are some quotes from the article

Waiting until 39 weeks increases maternal risk,” said Laura Hart, MD, a fellow in the division of maternal fetal medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. “The optimal time of delivery is 38 weeks for women with 2 previous cesarean deliveries and 37 weeks for those with 3 or more.”

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to analyze maternal and perinatal morbidity by the number of previous cesarean deliveries,” said Dr. Hart, who presented the results here at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine 34th Annual Meeting.

So this research was presented back in 2014, and I haven’t been able to find anything else that was more recent.  There’s a lot of money involved in this decision though, with insurances and Medicaid not wanting to pay or cover elective c-sections unless medically necessary.  It’s interesting to me that physicians haven’t tried to push the research to show that earlier deliveries for repeat c’s are medically necessary due to increased risks, but perhaps with time we’ll see more studies like this.

“Despite the intention to wait until 39 weeks, some women will go into labor, have spontaneous rupture of membranes, experience placenta abruption, or develop complications such as hypertension,” she noted. This often leads to more unscheduled and emergency cesarean deliveries, which can increase the risk for further complications.

Delivery before 39 weeks has been discouraged for uncomplicated pregnancies because of concerns about neonatal morbidity in early-term infants. However, supporting data are limited, said Dr. Hart, and the wait could actually increase the risk for women with multiple previous cesarean deliveries.

In general, I’ve noticed doctors don’t agree with the new-ish policies in place where they aren’t allowed to make the decision to schedule earlier (hospitals often prevent them now from even trying to schedule earlier).  It sounds good in theory, to wait until 39 weeks, but from a doctor’s perspective, it puts the patient (and them) into this situation where the baby could come early, and risk an emergency c-section situation where they feel rushed, instead of it being calm and planned – or have other complications.

Delivery at 39 Weeks Not Optimal

Only about 60% of women with 2 previous cesarean deliveries were able to delay delivery until 39 weeks, and only about 50% of those with 3 or more.

So I’m in that 50% that may or may not make it to the scheduled date before going into active (and dangerous) labor.  It’s interesting at least.

I will say, with our second, I had to wait it out and scheduled for the FIRST day of that 39th week, and yet our little viking son came the day before.  And he came so fast and with so many contractions closer than 3 minutes apart, the Dr. had to really rush to get there in time and it *did* feel like a very rushed and emergency-like situation.  VBACS are possible, technically, but very risky for uterine rupture once one has been cut open this many times.  I didn’t feel like risking it back then, and now, after so many, it really isn’t wise to try.

I wondered the other night if March of Dimes had anything to do with putting pressure on physicians and hospitals to be forbidden from delivering before 39 weeks, and low and behold I was right!  I do love how much they advocate for pre-term babies, but I did notice they are pushy with their ideas.  They are one of the major lobbyists who have been trying to pass bills into law where women with repeat c-sections no longer have this right to choose an earlier (much safer and controlled) delivery.  They’ve succeeded in impacting low-income women, who already have higher rates of risky pregnancies and maternal death, as March of Dimes succeeded in taking away their Medicaid coverage for elective repeat c-sections before 39 weeks, essentially forcing them to have to wait.

Instead of only affecting the lower income population though, it’s hard to find a practice and hospital where the doctor is also allowed this freedom to choose for you what is, “medically necessary.”  Becasue of the medicaid issue (at least in our state), hospitals are now forbidding anyone to be able to schedule at what used to be considered full-term (37 weeks).  You just have to wait it out, hope your baby doesn’t come early, and hope that when the contractions do start, you can get to a hospital before your uterus ruptures!  Ok… a little too dramatic but labor contractions – especially when you have a uterus isn’t supposed to go into labor – get intense and dramatic pretty fast 😀

I’m not too worried, more annoyed if anything that we’ve lost another medical freedom due to pushy lobbyists who don’t listen to medical advice or allow individual doctors and their patients to make their own professional/preferential medical decisions (but hey… follow the money).

Anyway… enough of that stuff.  I just thought it was interesting and worth mentioning as I’m having to wait it out.  We did choose a date for sentimental reasons that is closer to 40 weeks anyway though, because I just wasn’t thinking about the risk of coming early, but who knows when this little one will arrive!

I took some last chance pregnancy pictures – just because it’s kind of fun to look back on and see how big I was in relation to past times or even to the postpartum deflate-gate LOL

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So this is full-term… 38 weeks and a few days.  Baby feels incredibly heavy but I LOVE feeling him move and knowing he’s ok in there.

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Sorry – making a face 😀  I just feel SO. VERY. HUGE and puffy, even though I know it’s mostly just belly… I did gain quite a bit this time, although with the miscarriage being right before, I wasn’t tracking it as well due to feeling so down.  It’s funny how each pregnancy has been so different though, almost based on what the baby may need.  I’m also pretty tall, so 45-50 pounds doesn’t show the same as it would on someone much shorter.

I thought it’d be interesting to post a close-up face picture, because I look really puffy and haggard with this pregnancy (and it was like that from the beginning to be honest).  That supposed, “glow,” and gorgeous skin never appeared this time, and apparently pregnancy can age you up to 11 years (with subsequent ones)!  From this linked article:

Earlier this year, researchers from George Mason University found that childbirth could age a woman by as many as 11 years.

While it may be nerve-racking to learn that having children can accelerate the aging process, scientists still don’t fully understand why this happens and don’t want women to worry.

My dermatologist tried to warn me after our daughter that it would be hard, “on my face,” her exact words, but I don’t care so much.  It’s almost like I’m too tired to care, plus our kids are so cute and SO worth it!  And realistically, it may have something to do with my thyroid, how we had just found out it was underactive right before getting pregnant after a miscarriage.  A low thyroid contributes to premature aging as well, and I could see fine lines and just an overall, “haggard,” look right from the get-go.  This picture isn’t filtered, although there is some very minimal makeup.  Mostly it’s just to show the fine lines.  I’m aging… that is for sure.  It will be funny to see what my longtime dermatologist (who’s seen me since I was a preteen) will say this time after the baby’s born.  She’s very much about aesthetics… we just have different views on whether kids are worth it or not.

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I do love and appreciate how my husband loves knowing we’re aging together.  To me, it’s actually romantic (but then I find almost anything romantic)!  Both of us getting wrinkles, pure white hairs for me, grays for him, feels more like a journey – and one I’m not alone in.

Yay to babies, their toll on your face LOL, getting older and feeling haggard – or not!  I could do without the haggardness and exhaustion, but hopefully after the delivery my energy and life will come back and I won’t feel so much like a zombie.

Fingers crossed 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: Remember Who You Are

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I came across this phrase, “Remember who you are,” from a fellow blogging friend who described hearing it over her family’s Thanksgiving holiday.

Always on the look-out for tidbits of wisdom to add into my daughter’s book of short little entries for her to have later on in life, I couldn’t resist asking for permission to add this one in!

From Days of Sunshine (please consider this in the same vein as a guest post) –

“We spent yesterday driving up to Lake Hartwell, Georgia, to spend Thanksgiving with family. Along the way, we decided to stop in and see good friends who relocated to Georgia from Kentucky, whom we had not seen in years. They have found a truly beautiful spot to live here. The Georgia forests are alive with fall colors. We found ourselves gasping at the woods and creeks with each curve of the road or descent into a valley. It was a spectacular drive.

While we were visiting, one of their teenage daughters asked permission to go out with some of her friends from school to look at a display of Christmas lights. Her parents asked who she was going with, who else might be there, who was driving, and so on, before telling her she could go.

As she was walking out the door, her mother stopped her and said, “Remember who you are. Make good decisions.”

Remember who you are. Make good decisions.

***

That succinct delivery of wisdom stunned me. Her daughter received the words thoughtfully too, even though you knew she was accustomed to hearing it. I told our friends that I was going to make a note of those words for when Elise is old enough to venture into the world independently. That will become my mantra too.

As a young adult (heck, even as a mature adult), you get so caught up in being popular or trying to attract the attention of certain people that you tend to forget existential decisions often seem like small matters. That pushing through what seems like a porous boundary on one occasion – what might seem like a small or even reasonable gamble – can end up having life-altering consequences.

And beyond that, we now live in a society that is actively encouraging children to forsake the wisdom of millennia for cheap pleasures or a fleeting sense of belonging. How do you tell a child to be wise when every other social influence – even perceived authorities and institutions – are telling them to be stupid and make mistakes? How do you help your child navigate cultural influences that now have quite the track record for producing lost and miserable generations?

Our friends are Mormon. Although I am Roman Catholic, I have always respected the practical wisdom of Mormon parenting and felt a kinship to their virtue ethics.

After our conversation last night, I Googled the phrase “remember who you are” and learned that this is a common refrain in Mormon communities. The reason the words are so effective is they cut to the core of what it means to be a person of faith and live with dignity.

When someone tells you to remember who you are, you do not only think “I am a person from a good family, who was raised correctly, who genuinely wants to live a good and virtuous life and bring honor to my family name.” It goes well beyond filial piety (not that filial piety is a bad thing). Rather you think, “I am a child of God and everything I do is a demonstration of my relationship with God. What will doing this say about who I am as a person and what I value? Do the people around me care about what they are doing in the same way?”

To that end, I enjoyed reading this article on Mormon parenting:

We have been up in Logan this past week caring for Richard’s wonderful 91-year-old mother who sleeps about 20 hours a day and retains her wonderful, sweet personality, though for the last two or three years, she can’t remember who we are or who she is. Seasons revolve, roles reverse. She took care of me in that same house on Fifth North when I was a small boy, and now we take care of her in the same rooms.

I don’t want the forgetting part to happen to me, but I do want what she has had — another really good 20-plus years beyond 65. During that autumn of her life, she created lesson plans for a national chain of preschools, wrote a remarkable history of her Swedish ancestors, managed her investments, real estate and rental properties, dabbled in poetry and art, traveled around the country and around the world, and maintained great relationships with every one of her children and grandchildren. She’s in her deep winter now, and in her lucid moments wishing to go to a better place to be with my dad, who has been gone for 50 years.

There is a certain irony in the fact that she can’t remember anything, because I used to think I was the only boy with a mother who, every time I left the house, and I do mean every time, would yell at me, “Remember who you are!” I have since learned that it is quite a common parting shot among moms, including Teddy Roosevelt’s mother.

You guys know I love Teddy Roosevelt, so the idea that Roosevelt’s mother used to say this too is just fantastic. But anyway, back to the article:

“Remember who you are” means a lot of good things, like uphold the family name, make me proud, don’t do anything stupid, be careful, think, etc. But have you thought what it means in the eternal context? Remember who you really are — a child of God, a spiritual being having a mortal experience, a person who has taken upon himself the name of Christ, a priesthood holder, etc.

We want our children to remember those things not just so they will behave better, but so they will feel more self-worth, treat their body with respect, make good choices, be kind to others, protect themselves and their standards. We could give them continual lectures on all these points, but maybe the best way to say it really is “Remember who you are.”

It strikes me, however, that this approach only works on children if their lives up to that point have had some sort of spiritual information.

If you told a child who was raised by moral relativists to remember who they are, they would not respond with “I am a person who genuinely wants to lead a good life.” They would say, “I don’t know. Who am I?” This is one of the many reasons social institutions now fail to produce kids who are capable of flourishing at all, let alone flourishing through periods of adversity.

You can’t ground someone who has come to view their personhood as some plastic cultural context. Similarly, a person who does have a life with spiritual content cannot remember who they are without placing the small stuff within an eternal context.”

~ ❤ ~

Christian Leaders are saying lies about you — Mario Murillo Ministries

Why would I begin the New Year with a blog like this? Because, you and I as believers in Christ are in a war against evil. The one thing you want to do in the coming New Year is to defeat evil. And evil is about to take a nasty turn—a turn you need to […]

via Christian Leaders are saying lies about you — Mario Murillo Ministries

Email Questions & More Ponderings

First, a Pregnancy Update 🙂 

I’m finally in the third trimester of this pregnancy and am currently in between week 30 and 31.  It’s been amazing how much more difficult this one has been, granted I am older (33), but somehow the problems have seemed much worse than in the past pregnancies.  Last pregnancy was hard at the very end, but not as early as this one has been, if that makes sense.

I’ve had a longer time of nausea/vomiting (5 months worth, and then it just came back at 7 months for a second act!), a couple of tiny varicose veins that are a little painful and annoying (just thankful they’re tiny!), and just a general exhaustion that probably comes from being a mom to three kids under 10 already 🙂 .  I have to ask my doctor about another problem that just popped up, but it looks like from online diagnosis’s that I might be put on bed-rest in a couple of weeks 😦 .  I’m so glad it is close to being over, and that the baby is growing fine and doing well – I have to think on the happy things to keep from feeling overwhelmed.  On a side note – compression socks are AMAZING lol and really seem to work for the circulation problems I’m experiencing.  My mom bought a bunch for me right away when she found out I was having issues, and I can tell the difference when I wear them or forget to, they really work!  And to note – I never had anything remotely like this with the past 3 pregnancies!!!  So varicose veins… bad circulation… all that is very new, and (I guess?) contributed to age.

Our Last Baby…

I had one email from a reader asking if I’m really ok that this is our last baby, and how my husband not wanting more is the reason we’re stopping, and how I’m feeling about all that.  You know… I really am thankful God has made this pregnancy so awkward and difficult, it DOES help with accepting that my husband doesn’t want anymore 😀 !!!  That probably sounds so shallow and non-spiritual of an answer 🙂 but it IS the truth!  I wrote a more, “wise-sounding,” spiritual answer here if anyone is still interested.  I’ve never really let it bother me much anyway, I always just accepted his limit, and honored it by not allowing myself to get upset or bothered.  I’ve actually thanked him many times over this pregnancy for calling it quits in light of how hard it’s been.

And he really is giving us a grace in setting his own limit.  It’s not just hard on me, a difficult pregnancy is hard on the whole family, because so much of what I do gets backed up or not done as well.  It’s hard on him having a very sick wife for 5 months plus, and it’s VERY hard on our other children, almost not really fair to them to have a mom that is so sick for so long (and now looking at potential bedrest for the last 6-7 weeks – you can imagine how hard that will be on them and him!).  So in light of all that, his decision has proven to be very wise in my mind, and I’m so grateful he had the courage to do it even though he knew I wanted a lot more than four.  It’s been wonderful watching his confidence as our spiritual leader and head of household grow through the years.

I think it’s good to respect your husband’s decisions as the head of the household, even if other people try to get you to feel offended or feel bad for you (had a comment like that last pregnancy)!  Recently my husband had a conversation with his parents where he could hear his dad in the background, angry at one of my husband’s boundaries and firm decisions (over something super minor and of little consequence to them!).  It immediately made me so sad he has parents who act offended at him having boundaries, I actually apologized on their behalf to him, since to me that’d be painful.  Luckily we figured out a plan where my parents could accommodate his parents’ wishes, which will hopefully make them change their mind.  We have countless examples of experiences like this with them, but it still kind of shocks me each time how they react in anger at what I’d view as, “normal,” boundaries.  The only good thing God’s shown me in this, is that it makes my husband turn closer to us as an immediate family.  The more someone reacts in anger at another person’s boundaries, the more it kind of just pushes that person away, and makes them not want to be around those people much.  Growing up in a household where he wasn’t allowed to have boundaries makes his spiritual growth in this area even more remarkable in my mind.

Fear of Childbirth

I was asked if I was scared again of another c-section… a reader remembered the last pregnancy where I mentioned this since it’s well-known multiple c-sections are kind of risky, with even the possibility of death.  I wrote about the last experience with our daughter here – in preparing oneself spiritually for childbirth (all the fears etc.).  I really was somewhat afraid of dying for some reason… it is a little more risky with multiple c-sections, so much could go wrong, yet usually doesn’t.  But this time around, it feels very different.  There’s a confidence that even if I do pass (which I’m sure is still highly unlikely) there will be contentment and peace in God allowing that… it’s almost a whole new level of trust.  I really don’t understand this kind of peace, and I haven’t experienced it before except right before each birth when I really just have to let go and trust God while being awake and cut open, knowing He has the final say in the operating room.  Last time there was a lot of scar tissue, which is normal for repeat c-sections, but it does cause complications at times because the different organs/tissues stick to each other (have literally grown together!), and need to be separated.  Last time I remember it taking them quite some time to sort it all out, and from just a little research online, most doctors don’t like opening a woman up and seeing that mess – and I don’t blame them!

Overall it’s been a fast pregnancy, and we’re so excited for the coming baby boy to add to our fold in 2020!!!!  ❤

Happy New Year Readers!

You’re My One Thing – Rich Mullins

 

I love Rich Mullin’s songs, especially all the songs on this particular, “Songs,” album!  I grew up constantly hearing his music in our house, and almost know each song word for word by default 🙂  He was SUCH an amazing man (passed away too young, but God must have wanted him early), and was an authentic Christian, living out his faith by severely limiting his income from his fame and song writing/performances.

To me, he was the real deal 😉

The song above I’ve actually felt so clear, and in an almost new way, sometime time last year somehow… imagining myself hanging over some kind of dark pit, or sometimes off of a cliff we are constantly climbing (representing hard times) and holding on to God’s Hand.  In my imagination of this scenario, I’m telling God that, “He’s my one thing, the only thing that matters,” as everything else fades away.  Somehow holding tightly to His hand brings so much peace and contentment, no matter whatever is going on in the physical realm.

Here is the verse this song comes from,

“Whom have I in heaven but You?  And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.

My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever.

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;  i have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Thy works.”

Ps. 73:25-26, 28

Embracing Fall with Joy & Thanksgiving!

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This past month has been full of wonderful surprises and blessings as we push through to the end of the fall semester.  Our oldest has been doing great on his tests, even completing two comprehensive science tests that spanned 4 pages long each!  His grades were fine when he was in public school, but he learns even more complex details for each subject now, and his grades are still averaging out to all A’s with the harder, more complex material!

There’s just no comparison to how much better homeschooling has been as far as actual learning goes.  We’re beyond elated!!!

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And we still love our weekly outings getting to take in the beauty of Texas.  It really is so incredibly beautiful if you know how to seek it out.  I could not believe the incredible fall colors in these pictures (and these are not edited, this is 100% as much as the camera lens could capture – and even more perfect in person)!

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When our kids come back from these outings, I can sense the change in them immediately ❤ they’re calmer, happier, and have this overall sense of well-being as they relax on the car ride home.  They also seem to have a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation for the colors of nature as we’re driving home!  The effects of being surrounded by so much beauty are long-lasting. 😀  I just love it!

I’m so grateful that with the freedom of homeschooling, things like this are doable.

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The ducks, turtles, and egrets around made it even more exciting for them.

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Love having my mom on these trips in the mornings!  She used to paint, so seeing all this beauty in nature really touches her heart, too ❤  And the kids just love being with her – she’s like a real life Mary Poppins in heart and attitude!!!

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Cuties ❤

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They have so many places to just sit and stare at the trees reflected on the water.

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One of my favorite pictures (above), a wooden dragonfly hovering over the still and peaceful water.

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Our boys love hopping over this garden wall.

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Our oldest tried to teach his brother how to play chess, while we just sat there and talked as a couple of hours passed by.  It was so peaceful and relaxing… definitely a luxurious November day.  I do wish we had snow, but then it wouldn’t be as easy to go out and enjoy days like this for as long as we’re able to.

Here’s a link to an article I read (and loved) recently:

Scientists Show How Gratitude Literally Alters The Human Heart & Molecular Structure Of The Brain

From the article,
“Researchers are now discovering that the heart also responds and that it might actually be the heart that’s responsible for sending these signals to the brain. ….

Their work, among many others, has proven that when a person is feeling really positive emotions like gratitude, love, or appreciation, the heart beats out a different message, which determines what kind of signals are sent to the brain.

Not only that, but because the heart beats out the largest electromagnetic field produced in the body, the Institute has been able to gather a significant amount of data.

According to Rolin McCratey, Ph.D, and Director of Research at Heartmath?)

“Emotional information is actually coded and modulated into these fields. By learning to shift our emotions, we are changing the information coded into the magnetic fields that are radiated by the heart, and that can impact those around us. We are fundamentally and deeply connected with each other and the planet itself.” (source)

The article goes on to talk about the mysterious power of prayer… give the article a look for some gratitude inspiration!

Dr. Laura Ponderings – Holidays, Family, and Death

I don’t get to listen to Dr. Laura as much as I’d like, it’s easier to read things online in between breaks rather than listen to a podcast (plus some of her content isn’t child-appropriate).  Over the past 6 months or so though, I’ve had some opportunities to listen here and there, and I’m always amazed at how her advice is so simple, but can be elusive when it’s problems one can relate to.  It’s so hard for people to see reality at times, and I find that fascinating, especially when thinking about our own questions.

Perhaps it’s easier to solve other people’s problems when you can see the bigger  picture and they can’t, because they’re in the thick of it (or their emotions get in the way of logic and reality).  The Bible acknowledges this, telling us to get wise, godly counsel, and that with many advisers, plans succeed, etc.  We’re not supposed to figure everything out on our own 🙂 and that’s why podcasts like hers are great!

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Question 1 – Traveling with Kids for the Holidays

A father of 5 was scared of traveling to see all the relatives they usually do because it’s so hard on the kids (and parents) to travel.  It ends up being stressful and not fun for any of them and kind of ruins the holidays in a way.

Dr. Laura frankly told him it’s insane to try to travel long distances with that many kids (LOL why is this so hard for us parents of young kids to understand?  We always try to anyway), why not just stay home and create your own traditions and invite family members you want to see to your house instead?  She went on to add thoughts on how families of young children really shouldn’t be traveling anyway for the holidays, and should put the needs of their kids and immediate family first.  Holidays shouldn’t be that stressful (beyond the normal stress I guess), but filled with joy, peace, and happiness.

I know for us our kids seem to have a very hard time sleeping when we travel to see family, which in turn, causes us to be extremely sleep deprived (one time I got 2 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period)!  This makes the holidays even more stressful and difficult when you’re operating on very little sleep (and your kids are having behavior issues related to the lack of sleep).

The family also has to be worth it to travel with little ones.  Dr. Laura always tells parents that if their family is unwelcoming, it’s ridiculous to go; you’re teaching your kids to think that’s normal and ok.  Most counselors agree the kids will be much better off spending holidays around people who truly love and accept their parents and want to see them (not just the kids).

The father of 5 was relieved to say the least, to feel like he had an, “out,” to not have to pack up his brood and trek around to various family members’ houses.  I found that call adorable.

 

Question 2 – Feeling Relief When a Relative Finally Dies

A older woman called in and was worried about how she’d feel when her mother died (background story of abuse/emotional abuse and manipulation, which led to her cutting her mother out of her life entirely).  She was worried she’d eventually feel guilt – especially after her mother passes away.

Dr. Laura frankly told her that she’ll feel RELIEF when her abusive/controlling mother dies, not guilt.  Aside from this sounding so wrong, this is something I just cannot understand at all – my parents were so loving and wonderful growing up, the only rift we had was when I got married, and even that was fixed a couple short months after and they’ve been our biggest supporters and source of comfort for 12 years now!  I was *always* very close to my parents, and even now my mom is over sometimes several times a week to help out, and goes on outings with us weekly.  My parents also adore my husband, and really go above and beyond to show him love and acceptance (which is consistent with how they were my whole life).  Feeling relief at their passing is something I just could never comprehend.

But for people who grew up with emotionally or physically abusive parents, apparently feeling relief when they pass is a normal thing (unless amends have been made).  This may explain why people who grew up in an environment like that, typically want little to do with their parents when they’re adults (and as a result, they don’t see them often, or are estranged off and on).  Their parents are a psychological burden they carry with them silently – other family members, even siblings, don’t often understand this, but a spouse does.  A spouse sees it clearly, and understands intimately where it’s coming from for them – a place of deep pain and suffering that no one else really understands.  It just sounds so harsh to say they’ll feel, “relief,” but now I can see how realistic that is.  It’s a relief of the burden they’ve carried (their parents) since early childhood!  Of course it will be nice when they just don’t exist anymore.

 

Question 3 – Estrangement and Criteria for Reconciliation

This was a more recent call my husband and I listened to together, about a woman whose family wanted to get back in her life (she’d cut them out for 7 years), and had sent letters to her regarding this.  She felt guilty, and wanted to know if she was obligated in any way, to allow these aging parents back in her life.  She claimed those 7 years without them were bliss!

Dr. Laura asked her if they’d done any of these three things first: Did they show any remorse or apologize in any of their letters to her?  Did they take any responsibility at all for their part of the problem?  And did they try to fix any of the past problems at all, in any way that she could tell?  She answered no to all three.

Dr. Laura advised her it was *insane* to allow her parents back in her life without any of those three things happening first.

I think when a person does try to reconcile, without any of those 3 criteria being met first, it just doesn’t work out, and may be detrimental for people like her parents because they never have the chance or opportunity to repent.  If God just allowed us to be reconciled to Him without the repentance and forgiveness, we’d be taking advantage of Him all the time, and never have the opportunity to grow into better human beings.  Feeling remorse, feeling the pain or suffering of separation from God (estrangement), or going through the humility of making amends or apologizing, is good for us as humans because it brings us closer to God and who He wants us to be.  It’s the exact same with human relationships.

Reconciling without those 3 things happening may even embolden the family members to act worse, because they still feel no remorse for the past problems they helped to cause, and believe their adult child was the problem, and may now feel enraged at the previous estrangement.  Narcissistic parents often feel the estrangement was completely and utterly uncalled for, and therefore view the child or couple as needing to make amends to them for putting them through the estrangement!  Obviously, those kinds of emotions of deep resentment coming from parents like this causes a multitude of new problems for a couple to deal with, hence Dr. Laura’s advice in the first place.

Dr. Laura pointed out that if they haven’t changed, then the problems will just continue.  It is just very rare for people to truly change, unfortunately.

I loved this call and loved how she gave this woman freedom to do what she needs to, without any guilt, and gave her confidence to make choices that are best for her.  You just can’t fix everyone, and some things just can’t be fixed here on earth.  Accepting that, moving on with your life, and leaving things in God’s hands gives one so much peace.

Hope you readers have a great holiday season.  You can hear Dr. Laura’s, “best,” calls here , give her a call, or send her an email if you have a question about the holidays that are coming up!  I’ve always found her advice so wise and helpful!

Letter from Dr. Laura’s Listener on Envy

Dear Dr. Laura,

I think your topic about comparing yourself to others is great. I think we all do it, and it’s very difficult to avoid. It can certainly be destructive. Envy is not one of the deadly sins for no reason. Coveting other people’s spouses or possessions has certainly led to the downfall of many. I am constantly on the watch for that type of thing in my life. I don’t want to fall into that trap.

I do think there can be a positive side of this. If you know someone who has something great going for them, it’s natural to compare yourself. But if you’re coming up short, being envious and petty is not how to handle it. If you can figure out what they are doing which caused them to have such a great situation, you can earn that for yourself.

I get told all the time it’s unfair to judge the marriages of the people around me as compared to mine. To a certain extent that is true. But sometimes that statement annoys me. My husband and I are an unusually good match. I think it’s rare to find a partner who clicks as well as my husband and I do.

The thing is, I am as female as the next woman. There are days where I want to be snotty just because I feel like it. The difference is I choose not to do it (and when I do, I apologize and try to avoid it in the future). We don’t agree on everything, and we have habits that annoy each other. The difference between my marriage, and the marriage of many of my friends, is we CHOOSE NOT TO FIGHT. It’s a choice every single day that we are not going to make each other’s lives hell for the sake of saying we “won”. When you alienate your spouse, you didn’t win any damn thing, in fact, you lost more than your spouse did.

Instead of saying my husband and I are unnaturally in sync with each other, if more people asked “How do you guys get along so well?” – they would see how they too could get along. When I find someone with an attribute I admire, I do compare myself. When I come up short, as I often do, I try to figure out what they are doing that gave them the attribute. Then I do the WORK to earn the right to call that quality mine. None of the people we look up to got where they are without work. They all had to decide what they wanted to be and work hard to get there. The only good reason to ever compare ourselves to someone, is when we are willing to do the work to change ourselves for the better. Otherwise, it’s just a form of torture.

Kristy

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I love this letter, it’s what I’ve been saying for years about how actively pursuing an excellent marriage gives you a much greater likelihood of achieving an excellent marriage!  It’s always bothered me that friends or family would say we are just well-matched.  Yes, I guess it’s true, BUT I’m a lot like this letter writer in that I just don’t fight with him about ridiculous things (that other people complain publicly about with their spouses).

My husband and I have been married for over 12 years now, and even through the different trials of life, the years have been astonishingly easy together. We’ve had what I would describe as an unusually blissful marriage. Whenever I mention our past trials, I always feel like I need to qualify that statement with explanation that they weren’t major things inside our relationship that drove us apart from each other, or anything resembling ugly fighting between us. These were difficult and profound outside trials (things like being extremely poor in our early years,  getting married in college and working multiple jobs (managing a good marriage in the midst of graduating and working)…  having a premature baby (no one seems to understand how hard that is, until it happens to them personally), managing hostile family members, postpartum depression, etc.). Nothing dramatic between us, but rather things that we faced together.

What has always surprised me has been knowing other couples who went through similar trials, and ended up divorcing because of them.  What drove us together we’re the same things that drove them apart.

When reading this letter, it’s easy to look back on those hard times and see why we fared so well – we didn’t incessantly attack each other… which would have made our trials infinitely harder.

Our love for each other and willingness to make each other’s lives easier, has thankfully saved our marriage, and made us a much stronger couple in order to face the outside forces we have, and still retain marital happiness.  We have a playful happiness coupled with a deep joy that we truly are together in this world as a team.  And we make such a great team! ❤

If you’re reading this and coming from the other side (and wanting a better relationship), maybe try to look at your spouse as you would a best friend and lover – someone who was meant to be by your side through everything.  Perspective and gratitude solves a lot of problems, especially the immaturity of making mountains out of molehills 😉

 

Why Beautiful Things Makes Us Happy

I’ve always loved trying to defend why beauty matters… from tastefully creating an aesthetic environment in one’s home, to simple actions such as making your bed everyday, symmetrical beauty designed with order, brings us peace and happiness at a chemical level response!

This is my fourth pregnancy, and the sickness and exhaustion has been much more than any of the prior pregnancies, so cleaning in the early months has been especially difficult.  It’s like we were thrust into survival mode, where only the bare minimum was done, but thankfully all that’s over now (praise God 😀 ) and I’m finally getting back up to speed.  There’s just nothing more pleasant, inviting, and peaceful than a home that is well-managed and tidy.  Clean floors are like my holy grail of perpetual achievement (LOL), and although it’s a simple task and really shouldn’t be so important, it feels like heaven just knowing my floors are 100% clean.  It does help that this time, in very early pregnancy, before the crazy sickness really kicked in, I did an intense deep clean of everything, including the tile grout – and that helped to kind of off-set the coming months thankfully from needing too much intense care and correction.

On the physical front of defending beauty, I’m all in!  I think physical beauty is not to be necessarily considered vain, but that it’s also important in its own right, especially if you’re married.  I’ve written before on how it impacts your husband in several ways here, as well as how the Christian culture devalues it.  I’m sure it does sound vain though to say you make it one of your priorities 😉 but I do try….  Thankfully with pregnancy, women already are given a certain, well-documented, “glow.”  Their breasts also grow a couple of sizes, and their hair grows faster and thicker – it’s great for maintaining your mane!  You may not be able to use facial products that combat aging, or exercise at the same intensity, but there’s a lot naturally that happens that can make you feel beautiful, even when pretty darn ill.

But back to the topic of beauty in general.  In the female form, keeping in shape, eating foods that aid your body, instead of the laced-with-poison options that freely abound, actually does contribute to the delay of the aging process, and therefore, in a way, preserving the natural beauty of youth.  Of course you can’t preserve it completely, or even for very long, but it’s nice to be able to, “age well,” especially forgoing any attempts to un-naturalize yourself with injections of Botox, etc.

On the topic of food causing the destruction of natural beauty, in other words, things we’re not supposed to ingest (but seem to be in a lot of food/dyes, etc.) cause free radicals (molecules that have been, “radicalized,” and only have 1 electron, making them extremely unstable) which go on to cause damage to surrounding areas in your body.  Enough damage causes cancerous cells that are usually nipped in the bud early if your body gets enough sleep and you have enough anti-oxidants to neutralize those highly charged 1-electron molecules.  But if it’s too much damage over time, and you don’t get enough sleep and self-care, the damage builds up and creates wrinkles/aging skin at best, and disease or cancer at worst.  Good self-care, lots of sunscreen of big hats when out in the sun, eating and applying anti-oxidants really do a lot to help when they’re all done consistently.  Even exercise itself has been proven to repair the ends of your telomeres (the caps of your chromosomes that protect them from damage!), which means that exercise itself is a powerful anti-ager!!  Don’t neglect it for long, there’s just so much that benefits from it!

On art that is produced, I’ve always had a fascination with it that I can attribute to my parents ❤  We’re a family of artists, that goes back generations mainly found on my mother’s side, but somewhat on my dad’s maternal side as well.  Both of my mother’s paternal and maternal families had a propensity for creating and appreciating art, with her paternal side including the Cowpokes creator ❤ , and her maternal side getting their artistic abilities from their Polish roots (I think, at least).  The poles weren’t really good at warfare, financial success, or anything very note-worthy,. but they did produce some of the world’s best artists, musicians (loved Frederic Chopin when I was growing up! And then of course the Goo Goo Dolls LOL), and actors/actresses.  Maybe I’m biased (obviously), but it also seems Polish people, and the surrounding Eastern European countries, seem to produce some of the most beautiful men and women (particularly women)!

Now… off to eat some anti-oxidants and make our space more beautiful for our children ❤

Young Nurse Does Everything Wrong, But is Still Redeemed by God’s Grace!

This was such an interesting and encouraging testimony.  A young woman who didn’t take morality seriously, moves in with her boyfriend in college, becomes a nurse and assists with abortions, has her own abortion (that ends up rendering her almost completely infertile), finally learns through many trials what reliance on God and redemption are!

Just an overall feel good story!

Best quote from this woman’s article?

“Two decisions forever changed the direction of my life~ 1.) breaking God’s protective commands regarding the sacredness of marriage (having sex before marriage) and 2.) disregarding the sanctity of life (participating in abortions and having an abortion).”

From here

Why didn’t I value myself or life when I was younger?

That is a question I will always ask myself. My low view of life harmed us more than we could ever have known at the time.

It took 19 years before we could have a child.

The reason?

We had not obeyed God’s commands before and after marriage, and we suffered consequences that would reach over many years. In some ways, those consequences still continue today, though forgiven.

Today I am the 60-plus-year-old mother of three active and involved young adults (now all three married as of Nov. 2017), but as my husband and I look back over what the Lord has done, we marvel at God’s grace and mercy. Our lives would have turned out so differently, and we can’t imagine life without these young people!

I will tell you the sad story.

The early 50s, when we grew up, saw increasing prosperity. After the horrors and hardships of WWII, families in the U.S. were focused on getting that new dishwasher, television, and maybe, even two cars. Women were leaving home for the job market in record numbers to have the desired extras.

…. Continue Reading at Deep Roots at Home