You Can’t Replace a Father

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Summer is always a month of parties for us as a family, we had two smallish ones back to back, Father’s Day and the weekend afterward, and usually do something for the Fourth, this year being another birthday party in the country.  It was lots of cooking, cleaning, decorating and getting the yard presentable going on over here for a few days, but I love it.

 

I love Father’s Day, probably more than Mother’s Day since the latter feels uncomfortable having the day be all about a job I feel I already am loved for ❤ .  But I genuinely enjoy celebrating my husband on this day 😀 just makes me so proud of him and happy.

Our life would be impossible without him in every way.

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We have another family party/get-together today, and thankfully the kids slept in after watching fireworks on our drive back from the big party last night.  We all hunkered down on our wrap around couch to watch a peaceful firework/musical video on youtube – the kids loved it, and it felt so serene.

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Our oldest requested I do one of my cookie cakes for him, and of course it had to be Jurassic Park!!  Things are still all about the dinosaurs over here these days 😀 😉  I love making cakes and things homemade, and I love the designing process.

I love Summer… all the swimming, playing out in the sun, relaxed schedule… this is my daily uniform 😀

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I still do a, “homeschool review day,” once a week 🙂 Because learning still seems important and it’s just a good opportunity to review things, especially math!

This is part of what we did this week:

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We went over the symbolic meaning of Christian’s version, and I did explain that it didn’t mean simply, “problems,” but even deeper to signify problems coming from sin and shame, etc.  Life still does have many problems after taking on Jesus Christ as your savior, but it’s interesting that His yoke and burden are also (in MANY ways), “easier, ” and “lighter,” than the world’s corrupt ways!  It was a good, short lesson.

There’s even a song I sang that seemed to captivate them, that follows this verse.  I can’t find it on youtube, but it is just so beautiful!  Perfectly captures a short lesson on Pilgrim’s Progress!

AND… Yesterday was our 13 YEAR anniversary of being together!  Yes, we got together and apparently our love sent sparks into the night 😛  I can’t believe it’s been that long… it feels like a blink of a an eye!

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Happy late Fourth of July!  We’re off to another adventure….

 

Lego Movie 2 – Teaching Boys to be a Beta Emmet & Not a Rex-Dangervest

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So during our summer vacations we usually make time to go to the movies each week during the, “Kids’ Free Movie,” day.  This past week was the first free movie of the season, and my husband took all of us to go see the Lego 2 movie that was showing (they typically show already released movies since they’re free).  It was like an all-boy day, as we had our two sons and one of our oldest’s good friends (baby girl got to hangout with Grandma 😉 ). ❤  I love being able to take their friends to fun things, get tons of candy at the Dollar Store, and splurge on Icee’s when we get there!  As we were driving my husband and I listened to the cute things boys talk about to each other… it’s just so sweet to me, their boy stuff.

The Lego Movie 2 was mostly centered on a analogous plot of the difficulty in managing playing with a younger sister, while trying to prevent the ever-looming, catastrophic event of Armamageddon (Are Mama Gets In(volved)!.  The general plot is funny, the jokes, sarcasm, and real life/other movie references are always interesting, and almost every kid (and parent) can relate perfectly to the delicate balance of siblings playing together nicely, or else their mama really does have to get in.  When mama gets in, “Armamageddon,” all the lego worlds they’ve created are banished into the, “Bin of Stor-Age!”  A lot of it is simply hilarious, and the music is so kid-perfect there were kids dancing in the theater (ours, too).

It’s a popular movie, apparently grossing over $191 million worldwide.

Yet the Lego Movie 2 is also pretty painful to watch, especially when you think about what it’s trying to teach boys about their worth, what women want, and what women respond to.

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Emmet, the un-hero

The first Lego Movie already introduced us to the main male character, and supposed hero, Emmit Brickowski.  He’s the typical depiction of a beta male, who tries too hard to please everyone, builds his life around everyone else’s happiness, and truly believes his life is, “AWESOME,” even though his emotions and results of his actions prove to him everyday, that it isn’t.

He is the butt of every joke, no one believes in him, and even though he kind of gets the girl in the end, it’s clear she’s not really attracted to him much less truly in love with him.  He’s the reason why both movies are painful to watch, and yet, in the second movie, it’s taken too far.

In Lego Movie 2,

it’s clear the writers try to present his pitiful character as being the kind of man all boys should try to be,

the kind of man women truly want.

I’m not trying to review that first movie, it annoyed me enough back then, but at least I could see it showed some glimmer of truth in that men like this aren’t respected and aren’t something boys should try to model themselves after.

Why on earth would they want to, with how horrible Emmet is treated (in both movies)??  What boy wants to grow up being constantly disrespected by all the women in his life and not valuable to his friends (or boss, or anyone)?  In short, what male child would see this movie, and think it was a good, Life Plan, to end up miserable?  It was a good teaching tool to our oldest, a cartoon-life example to use to show him how women (and most other people) treat men who act like Emmet.  This second movie, however, with it’s outright teaching boys that this is what women want, was too much.  Coming from the point of view of a mom with two sons (who have friends we also care about), yes, it was painful to watch this movie, “teach,” these boys we brought that women want weak, immature, naive men for romantic partners.  That is, undeniably, the opposite of what women actually want.  So let’s be honest here, the Lego Movie 2 lies to children, and most devastatingly, to boys.

Red Pill Matrix References in Lego Movie 2

After the movie, my husband and I couldn’t help but compare notes to how many blue pill and red pill truisms we found and referred to.  At one point, the only red pill aware character (who is of course, also made to be the male villain who tries to “ruin everything) even makes a reference to Emmet wanting to, “go back to the Matrix.”  He was referencing the red pill lingo of when men prefer to go back to being, “blue pill,” where they don’t see that the entire society is trying to get them to build their lives around what women want, as opposed to what’s truly beneficial or good for men.  Blue pill is a reference to being plugged in to the Matrix, whereas Red Pill references having your eyes opening, unplugging, and understanding the real nature of the world.

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The red pill aware character who made this Matrix reference, is called Rex Dangervest, and is a knock-off of the real hero in Jurassic World, and voiced by the same actor, Christ Pratt.

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In Lego 2, Rex and his army of velociraptors are the bad guys, the guys trying to teach Emmet to stand up for himself, be tougher, be more… *gasp* masculine.

Let’s all take 5 minutes to remember right now how Emmet was treated when he wasn’t masculine.

Yea…

right…

his life was miserable.

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In reality, Chris Pratt’s character in Jurassic World, the same man villain-Rex is modeled after, was the tough, but kind and gentle, hero who saved everyone he possibly could, even going so far as to sacrifice himself for the benefit of others. He’s also the velociraptors’ “alpha male,” leader, and is therefore able to somewhat control these dangerous dinosaurs and their killer instincts.

 

The fact that the Lego 2 movie rewrites this classic, good, alpha-male hero, into a villain to represent, “toxic masculinity,” should tell you everything you need to know about the mindset of the creators.  

The message to boys is, “Don’t be like Rex, don’t be tough and capable.  Don’t show, ‘toxic masculinity.’  Be like Loser-Emmet instead!”  However, Chris Pratt’s character was the hero who the two boys in the movie admired, respected, and chose to be with over their female relative who couldn’t save them!  We can trust that Emmet’s beta-male character, all sweet and naive and emotional, would not have been able to save as many lives as Pratt’s character if Emmet was likewise transferred into Jurassic World.

But why did Lego 2 pick Chris Pratt’s male hero to make a mockery and villain of?  Aside from having ample opportunities to make hilarious references to the raptors and his communication style, I think it may go a bit deeper than that.  The main female character in Jurassic World was the typical strong, I-don’t-need-a-man, type who seemed successful at her job of running the dinosaur park.  But over the course of the movie, we watch our heroine leader make a series of devastatingly wrong leadership decisions that end in many people dying for her lack of perception of how dangerous the situation was all along.  Pratt’s heroic male character is the only one pragmatic enough to see the situation for what it was (much like Rex in Lego 2), and has to constantly fix her mistakes, usually too late to save the many men who die because of her decisions.  His and her characters have a strong sexual chemistry, of course, that is made even more obvious by how annoyed she is at his personality.  In the end, she realizes how much she needed him to save everyone and she succumbs to their romance for, as they joke, “survival.”  The subliminal message of the Jurassic World movie was,

“Toxic Masculinity may be annoying to women,

but boy it sure does save their asses (and their children)

when everything goes south!”

I loved this character, and our kids did, too.  He looks and acts very much like my own brother (who is a Chris Pratt doppelganger!!), so for our kids, it was like watching their Uncle on the screen… well, if their Uncle was a raptor trainer in a dinosaur world.  How cool is that?!?!

In Lego Movie 2, not only do we find Rex is a villain, the movie makes a plot twist by revealing he’s actually Emmet – the man he turns into after being hardened by women’s, and in general, people’s true nature.  After spending years under the dryer, forgotten completely, he refashioned himself into a man who could take care of himself and didn’t need saving from the female hero any longer.  He transformed into a real man who could not only save himself, but as Chris Pratt showed in his Jurassic World character, a man who could also save the masses in a crisis.

The movie, instead of admitting that yes, men are most beneficial to society when they are capable and masculine, takes it too far with Rex’s character, revealing him as the villain who tries to destroy love and everything good found in two worlds (the masculine represented by the brother’s lego world and the feminine represented by the sister’s “Systar System” of girlie legos) working together.  

Red pill Rex Wouldn’t Exist without a Hardening of Blue pill Emmet’s character

The honesty in this movie is interesting at times when contrasted to the overall goal of hiding the truth.  The writers admit to the audience that our tough and desirable Rex (knock off of Chris Pratt’s Jurassic World hero) would not even exist if Lucy hadn’t hurt Emmet (along with all his other friends) as bad as they initially did by leaving him under the dryer for years alone, and never coming back for him.  When Lucy does come back for him, he remains in his blue pill state and rejects everything good and masculine Rex was trying to teach him (that Lucy said she wanted).  As a result, Rex starts to vanish ala Back to the Future style, because now that Lucy came back for him, his alter-ego never gets to exist.  It’s almost as if Feminist Females like Lucy realize, “Oh no!  Look at the red pill response we’ve created!” and want to bring their betas back (and old article of Rollo’s).

And you know what? It’s true that most men would never become red pill aware (Rex-Dangerous) if they weren’t brutally forced to face the truth of female nature, either due to divorce or the series of heartbreaks we watch Emmet go through.  Most men are not naturally that self-aware due to the Matrix-like programming they go through in childhood and adolescence.  Some men are, but I think most just aren’t.

We have to painfully watch Emmet go through the slow realizations that Lucy not only doesn’t share his dream, she doesn’t even appreciate what he’s offering.  Lucy looks down on his, “naive,” dream of owning a cute little house together and starting a life as a couple.  Let’s not even mention that even when they weren’t in a war he wasn’t able to get her to settle down.  Is he naive for trying to start a life together in the midst of war?  At first glance, yes, but then we see Lucy’s pessimistic and destructive attitude is the entire reason the war started in the first place, and it all starts to become more clear.

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A Cringe-worthy Romance… Bleh!

The movie shows a clip from the past where Emmet’s ability to make peace with the Sister Aliens could have avoided the war in its entirety, if Lucy and the others only listened to him.  But as the movie keeps on teaching us, no one respects or listens to men like Emmet.  This isn’t unfortunately just female nature, it’s human nature in a nutshell.  His miserable life is unavoidable because of the way he behaves and allows himself to be treated.  He dreams of Lucy being in love with him, wanting to marry him and settle down, but the audience can painfully feel zero attraction or chemistry between them.  And yet Emmet still tries to bring her in on his dreams of building a picture-perfect life together, which realistically, would be anything but perfect!  It is the classic, “blue pill,” form of male-reasoning and living in denial that leads to so many men being unhappily married to women who treat them like Lucy does, and never understanding what’s wrong or what she really wants from him.

The physical struggle between Emmet and Rex was also interesting to watch and listen to, as they literally fought to the, “Lego death,” close to the end of the movie.  It seemed to represent the internal struggle most men have with admitting the truth to themselves (with their blue pill self fighting against it, because the truth is painful).  Emmet (blue pill male) doesn’t want to have to become Rex (red pill male), even though it would drastically make a lot of the problems in his life disappear (the main one being holding on to a woman like Lucy, who doesn’t appreciate or admire him, and doesn’t feel any chemistry for him).

Emmet can’t become Rex, the more masculine version of himself, though, because the writers made sure Rex had all the exaggerated villain-esque and anti-social characteristics of male, “toxicity.”  Instead of giving boys a good, balanced, masculine role model like Chris Pratt’s initial character in Jurassic World, they give us (as the supposed hero) plain old Emmet the way he always was… all positive or masculine changes discarded.  The result of only seeing these two extremes presented as viable options for Emmet to become, fell flat, and didn’t provide a positive ending for our tragic, “hero.”

In the end, Lucy does say she preferred him the way he was before, “naive, sweet, and innocent.”  She wasn’t happy when he grew up and became tougher like she said she wanted initially.  And it’s true, it didn’t make her happy to see he didn’t need her anymore to control and dictate his life.  Women like this routinely pick men they can control, because they don’t want to look up to, respect, or God-forbid submit to a male figure (for all kinds of possible psychological reasons behind it).  But without the chemistry and actual love between them, Lucy’s admission of love comes across as preferring Emmet to be “beta,” or blue pill because back then he was more controllable.  When he was the old Emmet, and not tough and grown up and capable, he followed Lucy’s lead, even though it would regularly lead to bad decisions like war occurring when it didn’t have to.  Her exaggerated hostility toward everyone and anything is actually a kind of good example of toxic femininity that I don’t think the Lego 2 creators bargained for us realizing.  Feminist movie, meet Irony. 😉

Lucy’s Create Their Own Unhappiness

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I had a friend who reminds me of Lucy, and who for years dated a man she would regularly complain about and stress herself out about, almost as though it was a new hobby she was taking up, which obviously, wasn’t healthy for her.  Her boyfriend wasn’t sexually attractive in her mind, she wanted him to lose weight (for his own health benefits so she said).  He was messy, and she expressed to me that she didn’t think she could live with him being that way after marriage.  He played with Legos, and she viewed it as him being, “immature.”  It just went on and on what an imperfect match they were.  Against all my advice to leave him alone, and find a man she already accepted and loved the way he was, she married him anyway, and we lost contact because I didn’t want to see how the drama would play out in marriage.

Women like Lucy are already unhappy.  For whatever underlying psychological reasons, they don’t want to come under the leadership of a masculine male, so they pick and hold on to men like Emmet, even though it tends to make them miserable.  And in truth, men like Emmet often don’t want to lead in the relationship, it’s much more comfortable for them to let the wife lead, or just be a passive, “partner.” 

Women crave a man who will lead her, and lead her well.  And in a balanced marriage, masculinity and femininity work together.  But like Lucy finds out, women like this are in a Catch 22 – wanting their men to, “man-up,” but then despising them when they do.  Psychologically, I believe women like this pick men like Emmet, for a reason – and that’s important to remember when they’re complaining about him.

Well, Lucy, you picked him!

All in all, at least we’re able to use the movie as another teaching tool or manifestation of the way our culture wants to view men.  Even handsome heroes that save children (in movies) aren’t immune to having their (good) virtues twisted to become, “toxic masculinity.”

We should be thanking God for those male virtues, not shaming boys into rejecting them.

End of the Year Homeschooling & Best Summer Science Experiments

 

Our school year officially ended right before Memorial Day weekend, culminating in a week-long celebration of just doing whatever we could think of to have fun and let our son know how proud we were of his accomplishments throughout the year!  And there was so much more he was able to learn at home than he would have learned in school! 😀  It was an overall success and I can’t believe how much fun it all was ❤ .  He was already doing well in school, making all A’s, but hating the structure and the boring busy work, along with the teachers’ negative attitudes.  I’m so glad he doesn’t have to depend on only 20 minutes of recess anymore to get his freedom of play!  And seeing him go on to become even more proficient at math, reading and writing was encouraging to me as his teacher.  He can now, hands down, write a compare and contrast 1-page paper, or a critical thinking paper where he analyzes the truth about a situation, and on top of that (!!) he’s learned how to do all the prep work himself by creating brainstorming pages and learning how to organize his thoughts!  My heart is just swollen with so much pride for him, and he’s only about to be 9.  I can see how homeschooled kids have the opportunity to benefit so much more than public school kids from one-on-one daily tutoring styled teaching.

You just can’t beat 1. Going at a child’s own pace, whether it be faster or slower so they really grasp a complicated topic, and 2. One on one attention with a teacher/tutor.  Consequently, you also can’t accomplish those two deeds with a classroom of 20+ children.  It has been eye-opening realizing that having our son in public school, was actually holding him back from his full potential being realized.

I also loved being able to dig down deeper into the historical facts about the places and people we learned about in the coursework.  Instead of a progressive and anti-Christian/anti-family/anti-male academic environment, he was able to learn so many Christian facts about the European people who construct our history.  And instead of being taught the liberal propaganda of the Native Americans being all good-natured, kind and oppressed people groups, we were able to dig into the realistic advantages and disadvantages of being conquered, and the effects of refusal to assimilate now on some of the residual tribes’ economy and way of life in contrast to other groups who excelled in comparison.  When researching all the early explorers and conquistadors, we were blown away with how Satanic the Aztecs were, and in reading letters and diary entries, were able to, “see,” from firsthand accounts just how diabolical they were in the eyes of Cortes’ frightened, deeply Catholic soldiers.  Walls built entirely of human skulls, the altars constantly burning from human sacrifice, hearts rotting as they were left in offering to the demonic gods they worshiped openly and joyfully.  The entire city smelled of rotten flesh and death, and Cortes’ normally brave men were terrified of all of it.  History books try to paint it as a paradise of sorts, being naturally beautiful due to the island set-up, but according to his men, it was like a paradise in hell.  Do public schools teach all this now?  I’d bet money they don’t!

I didn’t know Cortes was such a strong Catholic that he desperately wanted to place crosses around the city, and over the idols they worshiped.  He repeatedly tried to convince the Aztec chief they were worshiping demons, which they clearly were, and I don’t remember learning the many times he gave them the opportunity to forgo war and be peacefully overtaken.  His men even allowed the Aztecs to still carry on with their festivals, provided they would not engage in human sacrifice, (which didn’t work out, as they refused to forgo human sacrifice and preferred to revolt/have war).  In harsh contrast to the education I had on this man, he came across as humble, kind, deeply religious and overly gracious in his desire to persuade them to avoid war and violence.  It’s ridiculous how much progressive propaganda has taken over the school system with distorted facts parents have to correct at home.  How much better it is to just teach the truth from the get-go!   

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Our curriculum also encouraged us to do a Family Tree project that ended up becoming so complicated we’re extending it into the summer and next year!  Even just today while researching some more on the history of our relatives’ house and the town they settled in, I found out that a different ancestor on my dad’s side (a Texas Ranger Captain), personally collaborated with the town’s founder to scope out the territory that would eventually become my mom’s great-grandparents’ hometown.  How amazing for our son to find out these two families were already in a strange way, connected.

We also learned that their house was written about by the man who designed Central Park, American landscape artist, Frederick Law Olmsted.  The house was already unique (built by Napoleon’s guard and a place where Robert E. Lee once stayed), but to read Olmsted’s description of it in his book, A Journey Through Texas, where he described it in first person, was just amazing.  He calls the town and the people who settled there, in comparison with the rest of Texas, “as far from Texan as possible,” as they were Alsatian, which is a French-German population of people who came from Alsace, a french province that has been passed from France to Germany in ownership I believe five times.

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Here is his excerpt on my great-great Grandparents’ house:

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Perhaps the most remarkable thing is the hotel, by M. Tarde, a two-story house, with double galleries, and the best inn we saw in the state.  How delighted and astonished many a traveler must have been, on arriving from the plains at this first village, to find not only his dreams of white bread, sweetmeats and potatoes realized, but napkins, silver forks, and radishes, French servants, French neatness, French furniture, delicious French beds, and the Courrier des Etats Unis; and more, the lively and entertaining bourgeoise.

I think the best part of this first year in our homeschooling adventure is wealth of Christian knowledge we were able to interject into what he was learning at the time.  Even with our family tree project, he’s finding out how important the Christian faith was in building communities that had strong morals and structure.  Or in crafting strong families with strong roots who were able to be sustained in hard or impossible times.  Even scholastically, our son was able to practice and learn most of his writing techniques in the second half of the year, while using the timeless classic Pilgrim’s Progress!!!!  So much of what he wrote about are concepts that most adults these days don’t even understand about theology and the spiritual journey!  His faith and love for God deepened so much!!  What a success it all was!!! ❤  You can’t get a Christian education within the public school system, and I’m coming to believe that it is our job as parents to give our kids a Christian education.

So even though we did science experiments all throughout the year, he still wants to do more science over the summer.  Hence the video at the top 😀

 

Related Links

Christian Kids Need a Christian Education

Public Education: Trapped by the Progressive Agenda

New Perspective on Mother’s Day – Christian Families 100+ Years from Now

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: You Will Have Deep Roots to Withstand Persecution

 

 

 

Baby Steps to Have a Peaceful Home

Oh  man this lady’s video was SO worth the time to watch and learn!  I love that she has had to learn slowly over the years, instead of having it just come naturally.  I’ve always loved to be clean and organized, but as we’ve accumulated more stuff (especially kid-related stuff) each year it gets harder to stay on top of it, especially if I’ve slacked off on making sure I’m regularly throwing things out/recycling them or giving them away.

I feel like the more children we have, the more it becomes utterly necessary for me to be my personal best for them, and for our life to be as organized as possible.  And after being around larger sized families in the group I’ve been going to 🙂 , I’ve found they have some of the best practical advice for how to run a home smoothly, like this sweet lady with her 10 kids ❤ .

I don’t like to waste time, so making the time to do as she suggests (disciplining properly the first time, helping your children figure out how to organize by basically setting up a ready-made system for them) all those things take time, but they are well worth the time in saving you stress and hassle.

Believe me, so much stress is relieved when you figure out how to organize everything in your house.  We’re still in that process, slowly but surely, every room and area is getting tackled and like she mentioned herself, it’s been a process that has taken me years.  I wish there was a quick fix, but like anything in life, this process of creating a peaceful home takes a lot of work!

I didn’t grow up in an organized home.  My mom worked a ton and didn’t have any time for housework.  It was all she could do to stay on top of the laundry, reading to us every night, praying with us and making sure we were, “ok.”  She always cooked our meals at home and tried to make them healthy, something I’m eternally grateful for.  She set the foundation for my healthy eating patterns and how I’m raising our kids, but as far as organization goes, I’ve had learn all of it on my own starting at square one.  I love it, so it’s been a fun and joyful journey.

Hope the video helps you.  It’s convicting in the best of ways ❤

Email Questions: Resentment, Postpartum Depression, & Happiness?

I received an email from a reader after writing the post containing my short notes on Sofia Tolstoy and her diary, expressing her conviction she felt when reading how she acted.

I read your post in my email the other day and felt like you were a fly on our wall.  I don’t want to feel angry at my husband for the little things in life, or be in what you called, “chronic unhappiness.”  You hit the nail on the head when you talked about someone wanting to play the victim.  I think part of why I feel so much resentment toward everyone in our house is because it’s harder to choose joy when things aren’t going as planned.  It feels good to complain and get sympathy, even though I don’t want to complain about my husband.  I think it can be an addiction because they give you attention if you have something to complain about, which then makes you feel good and you repeat the cycle.

It’s gotten to the point where he doesn’t even want to hear my complaints anymore, and we fight more than ever.  I’m always the killjoy, and I end up going into a rage at our kids.  

I know I’m hurting our family, but how can I stop this?  How can I be more joyful?

I already emailed back asking questions and such, but I thought this was a good starting point for a public discussion since maybe other women thought the same way but didn’t want to write in.  I think… and this really is just my opinion based on what has worked for me in my own life… that the real answer to this would be twofold: humility and gratitude.  I know that sounds so simple, but it is just profoundly true in almost every case.  Even if everything and nothing is working out, one can always choose to be grateful for something positive.

If your husband is basically a good man, a hard worker, etc. why not just choose to be grateful for each and every good thing in your life?  In other words, why allow yourself to dwell on resentful feelings?  Even if he tends toward being angry and grouchy (I’ve seen couples like this), you can still find your own happiness and joy in life that can positively affect your children.  Dennis Prager loves to say that unhappy people often find a happy person to latch themselves on to, and then they make them pretty miserable.  It’s best for happy people to marry other happy people, but because people are human and make BIG mistakes, that doesn’t always happen.  And unhappy people are usually smart enough not to marry another unhappy person lol.

I married another generally happy person, he’s easy to please and has the best demeanor I could have asked for.  Certain situations can make him more broody or annoyed, especially when tired or if our kids are really acting up, but personally I love he has an edge or, “dark,” side… it makes for more flirtation ❤

But if you married a man who is chronically unhappy, we’re not in the day and age where couples were kept carefully away from each other due to purity preservation, so there’s a big chance you saw the red flags but pursued them anyway.  Own your choice and try to make the best of it, knowing it may be harder.  I’m not saying it sounds easy, it looks like the cross someone may have to bear for life, but hopefully this helps with the question of, “well, what if my spouse just isn’t a happy person?”  To a large degree, you can still control your own happiness, something Stingray always brought up at her blog.

I bring this up because the reader pointed out that Leo Tolstoy sounded like a hard man to live with as an excuse to why Sofia was so crazy.  I don’t know what came first, the chicken or the egg!  Was he difficult because she was so awful to him from the get-go?  Would he not have been kinder to a more pleasant and simply happier wife?  Remember, he came to her open-hearted, with love and humility in wanting her to accept him as he was, sins and all, and then she chose to use his sexual past as a perpetual stick to beat him with!  I’ve seen men like that, who started out happy, and are happy around everyone else, but when around their wives they turn bitter, angry and hurtful in their comments… and the horrible thing is that those women often brought all that on themselves starting from very early on in their marriage.  It really is a thing, that you can destroy your husband’s love for you.

Sooner or later,

everyone will sit down to a banquet

of their own consequences.

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And I should say that it’s important to understand feeling negative emotions is ok – it’s natural and normal and you can say to yourself, “Ok, I feel hurt/angry/upset/resentful/envious, but then work through those feelings and get to the bottom of why you’re feeling a certain way.  Ultimately, I believe one works through those feelings with God healing them over time, I don’t think there are any, “quick fixes,” to heart issues that have invaded one’s character to become who they are now.  And that’s what I think happens… negative emotions CAN become addicting, and if you continually give in to them, let them have their way dictating how you behave, then you allow them to shape your character.

Why Humility?

Because when you’re humble, you’re more gracious and understand no one deserves anything in life ❤ everything is a gift, and when you see things that way, everything about you changes.

Resentment can easily happen when a wife starts to feel self-righteous and more Christian in comparison with her husband.  It’s ironic because resentment toward someone else only shows that we have a problem in our *own* hearts, and really has very little to do with our husband.  In other words, resentment is the first sign that we’re NOT doing well spiritually, that we have a problem that only we can address.  But the only way someone will admit this to themselves is if they have humility.  Humility takes the focus off of the other person, and places it on what we can do to make things better, because it forces us to look at ourselves realistically, resentment included.

Sofia Tolstoy, for all her claiming she was a self-sacrificing Christian, didn’t have the humility to admit she was spiritually messed up!  Humility accepts a person’s imperfections or, “humanness,” as I’d call it – it allows a person to be grouchy or make mistakes and can handle it in a loving way.  And yes I’ve walked this walk, so I know it can be done 🙂 .  I’ve also failed at it with other people because I’m human.  Approaching your marriage with humility does a lot in the way of receiving back kindness and love in thanks for your being gracious and loving toward your husband.

This kind of self-righteousness stemming from resentment is especially true in women who play the martyr of the family, though.  The reader was right that it does feel good in a way to have people pity you, or pay attention to you when you are sick/ill/depressed, etc.  Wanting a pity party can be a daily or weekly addiction though.  There are some women out there who live for when they’re sick, because they like the attention it brings from their husband or children – that isn’t healthy!  It’s probably a mental illness to seek out being a victim just to receive attention.

However, if you have real grief over something valid, having what looks like a pity party where friends or family listen to you and support you through your grief is totally normal.  I know there are people out there who like to claim women like me don’t allow women to feel negative emotions or grieve properly, etc. but I’ve never advised that.  What I do promote is women doing what I do, and taking responsibility for their own health and happiness in life, and not staying in a victim mentality or depressive state.  Simply because you won’t heal that way, and no one wins.

I don’t believe depression is sinful or anything like that, but allowing yourself to stay there, especially for months (or decades in Sofia Tolstoy’s case), starts to become a choice, and actions (choosing not to get help for the sake of at least your children) have consequences you may not intend.  The reader also asked if I’ve ever felt like this, or felt depressed for long periods of time, and yes, I definitely have unfortunately experienced scary level depression a couple of times.

The one I’ll focus on just because it makes more sense with motherhood and being a wife and such, was when we had our firstborn.  It was a scary situation with our son coming a month early due to the work-related stress we were under.  We worked together for an apartment complex and our boss was very clear she wanted a different couple, which was totally her choice, but it left us feeling VERY worried we’d lose our job and apartment since the job came with a free apartment.  We were young so I admit this wasn’t the best or wisest set up – we should have stepped down when we realized she wanted a couple with more time.  But instead we stayed and just tried harder, going far above and beyond to try to keep her happy, something that wasn’t possible lol, and this, at least, is what my doctor believed may have caused my amniotic sac to start leaking fluid into my body.  It took a few days in the hospital for the doctors to figure out what was wrong and to start and stop induction, and it finally culminated in an emergency c-section.  It was a stressful time, and our son stayed in NICU for a short week, but even with all that, I felt positive and was settling in to motherhood as best I could.

A couple of months after I had our son, one of my husband’s relatives began harassing him through angry text messages for hours upon hours on one of his off-days when we were out spending time together with the baby.  It was about something minuscule and out of the blue, but it felt like a deluge of rage and anger poured out on us and we couldn’t believe it was happening.  We weren’t even getting any sleep at night, and we were about to start a full schedule of college again, and still working for our demanding boss (there was no maternity break), so to say we were even more stressed to be on the receiving end of her angry tirades all day is an understatement.  Looking back in hindsight, I see us being so naive and young, in our early twenties, and can’t believe a woman who was almost 50 was allowing herself to harass us for hours on end when we had a newborn to take care of.

It’s interesting how negative emotions are contagious, even though my husband was forced to set boundaries with his relative, it still affected both of us for awhile… and for me, knowing this relative had played the victim to the rest of his family and gotten more relatives angry at us for my husband setting boundaries with her, I think caused me to slip into what became postpartum depression.

Why Gratitude?

The postpartum depression was unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my life.  And thank God, I’ve never experienced it with any of our other babies, which leads me to believe this one extremely hurtful and emotional event probably caused it somehow.  I’m a naturally optimistic and happy person, but it was the worst timing to be harassed for hours a day with angry, hurtful words when my hormones were still very out of whack.  The depression lasted for months and was overwhelming and very very dark.  It felt as if the sky was always, “gray,” so to speak.  The only thing, and I mean the ONLY thing that caused me to snap out of it was my husband confronting me when I was in a super negative self-pity mode (months later).  Somewhere in that timeframe, I had become settled into depression and complaining and only focusing on the bad things in the not so distant past… all the time.  He finally had enough, and was able to make me, “see,” and acknowledge all the good things that were still happening, and how even in a horrible situation, God took such great care with us and provided for us continually.  And it was true!!!  We ended up losing our apartment job (and our apartment), which was inevitable, and having to move with an infant, having to drop several college classes even though it was my last semester before graduating, which meant I’d have to postpone graduation (this felt like such a big deal at the time lol), and was too much for me psychologically.  I would go into this, “Woe is me,” drama when we were already well past it, and it thankfully came to a point where he just wouldn’t have it.

Everything was so bleak in my depressive state, I couldn’t see ANY goodness that had already come out of it, or God’s hand in it until my husband got me to stop wallowing in self-pity and to open my eyes.  And once he did open my eyes to all the goodness I wasn’t seeing, I was able to see that through it all, everything had worked out perfectly.  We were able to afford an apartment that was a two-story town-home with more room for the new baby, and closer to my husband’s job and to our school!  It felt like a beautiful little house and suddenly, after being snapped out of the self-pity mode, I enjoyed decorating it with our pictures.  We no longer worked for a woman who was so hard to please and who constantly held the threat of firing us over our heads 😀 and dropping some of the courses allowed me more time to bond with our baby.  It was almost as though we needed to go through those trials so that we could come to a place of peace and rest.

Gratitude was the cure, as well as being forced to admit I was acting ridiculous by still focusing on the terrible things lonnnng after they’d passed and God had already delivered us.  I wouldn’t have come to that place without him confronting and correcting my attitude of resentment and depression toward all that had happened.

Being consciously grateful for how God got us through those trials, how He was able to keep our marriage strong and together, gave me inspiration to live with happiness and joy.  I knew what it was like to feel depressed and anxious and not see anything good, and choosing to be thankful felt a million times more healthy and beneficial to everyone in our house!  Just being a thankful person makes one a joyful person… it’s mysterious in that way.

So to wrap this response up, I believe that no matter our circumstances, when we are Christian we are able to overcome things like depression, anxiety, loss of purpose, or resentment.

If you’re ever tempted to complain about your husband, when you know he’s really a great man and good father, try checking if your heart is coming from a place of humility first, and then gratitude for everything that IS going right.  I believe it will make a world of difference for you.

Sofia Tolstoy’s Destruction of Her Marital Happiness (A First Look)

I noticed a few weeks ago I received more interest in a post I did last year, detailing how a wife could possibly ruin her husband’s love for her.  The post mentioned the marriage of Leo Tolstoi and Sofia, and how through decades, her attitude turned him into a man who could not even tolerate her presence when he was old.

I’ve only read accounts based on his own troubles with her – mostly the variety of ways she would seek to control him, berate him, endlessly try to kill herself or threaten suicide.  However, I recently came across her literal thoughts and words in her diaries, and have had some time to get an insight into how this woman thought and dealt with the life God gave her.

I have to say, reading some of her diary entries only confirm what an extremely psychologically messed up woman she was from day one.  I know that sounds so harsh, but it is remarkable how she viewed her life through a lens of martyrdom and suffering.  After reading several pages (and I will read more to be sure) of her personal and constant complaining, I’m amazed Leo Tolstoy was able to create any masterpieces of literature at all with a wife who intellectually numbed and destroyed his senses.  And the temperament of an artist’s wife (especially a writer) is crucial to his ability to work!

To her credit, she was a hard worker and helped him immensely in copying and writing out his vast manuscripts.  She did, very painfully and resentfully, dedicate her entire life to his work.  But it was at such a high cost he had to pay, with even her own son admitting she never was able to just be happy, to endure her constant complaining and resentful attitude.  That her husband didn’t fully appreciate it, even though she did so much for him, was because her attitude and resentfulness cancelled her, “selfless acts,” out.

In other words, what she viewed as, “selfless acts of dedicating her entire life to him,” which she spoke endlessly about in her diary, were in reality, feeding her neurotic sense of self-righteousness and playing the ever-constant victim.

Her husband could do nothing right in her eyes, except write, and every little thing he did by his own accord, she says she, “rebuked,” him for, and made herself sick (literally ill) constantly worrying about him when he’d go out to do even the most normal of male activities such as hunting.

Here are some first thoughts on the few things I’ve read.  I’m sure I’ll have more to work with later on, but her terrible example is something I’ll teach my own daughter what to avoid in becoming.

It could be said that Sofia, for all her self-righteous assuring us she was serving him selflessly, never allowed herself to be happy… because if she allowed herself that joy, she would have failed in being the perpetual victim she wanted to see herself as.

***

Some first notes…

  1. She frequently speaks in her diaries in classic, “victim mentality,” reference.  It is always bad things happening to her, and many times Sofia seeking out opportunities to feel wounded and offended by her husband’s normal behavior.
  2. She denies him sex throughout their marriage, only having enough to produce children, but then resents him for not having sex while she was pregnant.  She describes wanting more of a “spiritual marriage,” which in those days, often meant to be abstinent in marriage.  She mentions frequently that he has too much passion for her, but that she only desires a, “pure,” and, “spiritual union.”  As an aside note to historical references, there were often marriages like this where the woman would truly want to remain a virgin, or mostly sexless, to create this spiritual union, leaving the husband to have to find whores to have sex with.  Those marriages were almost always very unhappy marriages, even in those days, men still needed sex from their wives.
  3. She frames everything he does as being done to “hurt,” her… and then she goes on and on, “rebuking,” him for his (in her mind) bad decisions.  This from her diary is a direct example where she wouldn’t even let him decide when to go hunting without her permission… and her attitude when he came back is what destroys a man’s love and affection (the chastising and, “rebuking,” she felt she had a right to do to him).
  4. Before their marriage, Tolstoy had a romantic notion that his new wife should know everything he ever did that was horrible and wrong.  Instead of hiding his sins, he wanted to, “bear all,” to her, confess everything, and know that she would still love him and accept him as he was – faults and past sins in total.  He felt very ashamed of everything he’d done before finding a, “pure,” and proper wife, and her reading this and still accepting him, in a large way, would help him heal from his past promiscuity.  I actually understand this very well, because my own husband did something very similar.  We both told each other everything (his past being much more sordid and sinful than mine sexually), and I understand from my husband’s heart how much he needed to know that I *knew* how bad he had been, and yet would *still* choose to love him and receive him.  Yes, I was sheltered and virginal like Sofia, but it still didn’t harm me to know his past sexual sins.  If anything, it made me even more sympathetic to him because I could feel the shame he felt for having failed in that area.  Men seem to understand that this kind of acceptance in marriage is a kind of redemption God uses to help ease the pain of past sins.  It does for women, too, if they first acknowledge how sinful they were and are humbled enough to know their husband is doing them a great act of love in accepting them even though they come to him soiled and impure.
  5. Unfortunately for Tolstoy, his wife was horrifically repulsed by his past, and used it for the rest of their marriage to throw in his face and punish him for.  She did not, at all, accept him as the man he was, and she ensured her own unhappiness by perpetually reminding herself in her diaries of how horrible his past was… how she could NEVER get over his former relationships.
  6. I do believe that even with this single, but monumental, rejection of him when he was so honest and open with her, that she may have ruined a lot of his love in those first years when she kept throwing it in his face.  I think when he realized she could not, and would not, ever make peace with his past or love him beyond his past (without holding it against him constantly), that he fell into a depressive state that caused him to bristle at even her voice or presence (which is talked about both in his and her diaries).  How different their marriage might have been if Sofia had been wise enough to realize the power she had when he was so romantically open with her about his past, in helping him heal and redeem his value before God and society.
  7. I’ve heard callers complain about things like this to Dr. Laura, where one spouse – it’s almost always the woman – can’t get over a husband’s past or long-gone sexual relationship, and her response is always that they are simply looking for (literally digging around in their spouse’s past) something to beat the other spouse with.  This is a classic way a wife with a real psychological disorder seeks to continually, “punish,” her husband over his past sins.
  8. Continually using his past, especially his past relationship where he fathered a son who still lived on their land, to berate him for, was abusive.  Sofia, again for all her endless self-proclamations of serving him selflessly and lovingly, was an abusive and toxic wife.  Again, I am amazed he was able to create the masterpieces he did with the ever-present berating, punishing and abusive things she’d say to him.  I should say here that I’m aware that our modern society views his treatment of her as, “abusive,” because she had to, in some authors’ words, endure his “slights and insults.”  I wonder if he felt he almost had to be that way, in order to survive the war-like atmosphere she made sure she created at times (it’s notable that not all of their life was lived this way… they had short periods of happiness, again making me wonder from a psychological-standpoint, if she wasn’t bi-polar).
  9. Consider families where the wife really did sleep around for years before a husband married her, even producing offspring with a man she never even married.  What if the husband acts like Sofia decided to do, and holds a huge grudge against his wife for those things done in her past, and never lets himself, “get over,” her past sexual experiences with other men, continually bringing them in to their current arguments and never allowing his wife to fully, “pay,” for the sins she’d committed?  We’d then be able to see it clearly as the husband’s own psychological disturbance, and not attribute any further fault to his wife.  With Leo Tolstoy, many people, including Nobel Laureates, side with Sofia in this being an excusable and logical offense she held against him for the length of their entire marriage, when obviously, it’s anything but excusable and logical.
  10. She, several times in her diary, expresses murderous intent toward his former lovers and the one son he had who still lived on their land!  She obsesses over his sexual past to the extent of wanting to commit murder several times.  Again, as much as I feel sorry for her, I am amazed at the extent of her insanity and what Tolstoy had to put up with for a lifetime of marriage.  A healthy woman would have accepted him as he was, but Sofia still used his son’s mother against him in arguments even into their old age!  I feel so sorry for him, and amazed he was still able to create the works he did.
  11. Side note – the more I read her words and the conclusions she comes to, the more I believe she probably had a severe psychological disorder.  Her family described her as not having an easy time being happy in general… even as a child, it is noted she was never able to really be happy.  I believe people are able to *choose* happiness, and I don’t excuse Sofia for literally ruining her life over the most mundane reasons to be unhappy.  Her entire diary seems to be one of constant finding fault, constant taking offense (oftentimes where it’s unclear if she even understands it was intended!).  She is a very sad and pathetic woman, what an eye-opening experience reading her mind’s workings.
  12. So back to this issue of holding a spouse’s past against them.  My own husband has a past sexual history before he met me, and it’s something I’ve never held against him because when he married me, he committed to me wholly, just like Tolstoy did to Sofia.  It would be incredibly foolish and perverted to continue to, “punish,” him for things he did in his past before he even knew me, or had taken vows to me.  Like Tolstoy, my husband wasn’t even a real Christian back then, so to hold his sins against him would be wrong.  Sofia’s immaturity and psychologically disturbed thinking gives me an even more sympathetic perspective to how Leo managed to live with her successfully all those years at all.  The fact that he was able to produce such magnificent and powerful novels, even while being relentlessly torn down by such a mentally disturbed woman, shows remarkable strength and resilience.  It’s sad that I although I do feel sorry for her, I also feel even more correct in my first assessment that she was one of the women who make sure they are chronically unhappy no matter what the circumstances may be.  She constantly pities herself, and hates her life.  She resents the life she could have had if she were a single woman.
  13. She absolutely hated him spending time with the peasants, teaching them and mentoring them. She hated having them around their house, taking care of them, and despised her husband for loving this service he desired to provide to the poor.  My own great great grandparents also had peasants and homeless people living around on their estate property (which was not large… so they literally had homeless people living in their backyard)!  Their adult children talked about this a lot in the document they left, which is the only reason why we know about it.  My great-great grandfather was a doctor, one of the only ones in that entire area, so it made sense these people would flock to this strong Christian family, who were both husband and wife, very loving and kind people who would physically and spiritually care for them for free.  They were probably like a beacon of hope to destitute people, and this is what Jesus said we should be like.  I know they viewed this service as a beautiful charity, and I’m amazed in contrast, at Sofia’s selfishness and greed and disdain toward the poor.  For all her admonitions and self-proclamations of thinking she was super religious and selfless, we see she was anything but!  But that is how self-righteous people operate.  They see themselves as put-upon, as an ever-perpetual victim, but in reality, their lives are much more complex with their causing their own problems.  She hated the poor, hated serving them, and hated her own husband for loving them and having them on their property.  I am so grateful my great-great grandmother did not feel this way, how awful it would have been for their marriage if she’d behaved like Sofia Tolstoy.
  14. Sofia would frequently use threats or actual attempts of suicide in order to manipulate him further in order to control her husband.  This is classic psychological disorder-type actions.  I believe she was probably bi-polar, or Cluster B-type, but it would take a very skilled psychologist to go through everything she did (and especially the disturbed way she thought) to untangle what she had.  But it’s clear she was not mentally healthy, and probably wasn’t from a young age.
  15. Tolstoy went on to become a fervent and very strange, type of Christian (note that he wasn’t when we was whoring around in his young years).  In his later years, he came to the strong convictions that it was morally wrong and horrible for young men to do what he had done, to sleep around so much before marriage, and praised and promoted abstinence before marriage for both sexes.  I do admit he took his views a little too far in his old age, but after decades of living with a wife who tortured him mentally and emotionally, I think his views that people shouldn’t get married at all (or have sex – he became asexual in ideology) probably are the reason for his extreme views.

I’m sure I’ll write more when I have time.  It’s interesting to read someone else’s diary… very eye-opening to see how someone else’s mind works.

I myself, am an avid diary-writer ever since I was 6 years old.  My husband has read all my diaries LOL, so reading about Sofia and Leo reading each other’s diaries, and such, leads me to compare and contrast the differences between their relationship and ours.  It’s so sad that she chooses to constantly write herself as the victim to her own life’s story… never taking ownership of her glaringly obvious faults, and everything always being other people’s fault… her always the perfect, selfless martyr who resentfully dedicates her life to others in a way that makes them feel they’re taking advantage of her.  It just doesn’t have to be that way.

We’ve been through many trials in our marriage of different kinds, but we’ve remained remarkably happy and are closer together in every way through having gone through those trials.  It’s strange how some of the very same things that caused so much hostility in the Tolstoy marriage, have only caused us to grow closer together and more strongly bonded.  I do believe a lot of that has to do with how I chose to respond to our trials in ways that encouraged my husband, and didn’t tear him down or berate him for, “failing.”

Major outside stresses that could have broken us, didn’t, and when I read the old diaries, they’re filled with this stuff (getting kicked out for wanting to marry him, living in poverty for a few years, having a baby before we were financially ready, doing too much at one time like school, work, and child-rearing, extreme in-law problems, losing jobs early on that made it more financially stressful, miscarriage, parental health decline, caring for dying grand-parents, etc.)… the diaries hit on all those events, but at the same time they’re also filled with so much joy, optimism, and hope and ways/ideas to be better in the future.  They read in stark contrast to the way Sofia wrote and thought about life.  It’s been a very important spiritual lesson to see the way she saw things, how she couldn’t get past them, and then how those, “hang-ups,” caused her to destroy her own happiness or future chance at happiness.

When I went to a counselor a few years ago because my husband wanted me to after my dad had his stroke, he was amazed how good our marriage was even with going through as many difficulties we’d already been through.  He had some kind of checklist for “major,” trials a couple may have experienced in marriage, and our marriage checked almost every one!  By all accounts, we should have been in a horrible marriage where I resented and hated him for, “failing,” me as a husband.  The counselor was very proud of how in love we still were, how strong our marriage was, and how even after everything we’d been through, we still had a joyful and cheerful outlook on life and the future.

It really makes me wonder how different Sofia’s marriage may have been, if she’d just been aware enough to understand how much she contributed to her own unhappiness?  Do people like this ever know how off they are in their reasoning, or are they truly mentally disturbed?

 

 

 

Quick Link reference for those who don’t have a copy of her diary:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/jun/02/sofia-tolstoy-diaries

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.

❤️

One of the BEST Articles on Motherhood I’ve Read Lately

Originally posted on The Road: By Rachel Jankovic A few years ago, when I just had four children and when the oldest was still three, I loaded them all up to go on a walk. After the final sippy cup had found a place and we were ready to go, my two-year-old turned to me…

via Motherhood is a Calling — It’s the Women, Not the Men!

Life Updates & Homeschooling… Again

I have many posts in draft, including one that has been asked several times here or via emails on what I think about women in ministry… it is coming, it’s just so complicated and long I’ve been trying to pare it down to a more easy-to-read post.

We’ve going through lots of things this past school year!  Homeschool has been amazing, even though sometimes it can be harder some days than others.  For the most part, it has been wonderful getting to really focus on teaching our older son (and to some degree our younger son) things that we feel the school system was deliberately leaving out or twisting to be seen from a false narrative.  And we’re able to focus so much more on Christian ethics and morals in our lessons, and involve the Christian aspects behind historical stories and even in science.

And going through Pilgrim’s Progress has just been AMAZING for our son.  Again, I cannot reccommend this book enough to families with children!  It is a MUST read for the strengthening of their faith (and for yours!).  Just read it, and honor it in your house.  I’m sure the sweet author John Bunyan may have gotten some things wrong, but overall it is very on point and a good tool for building a child’s faith.

***

In other news, some of you may remember we’ve been trying to have another child.

It’s just been taking longer than we expected, which isn’t really “bad,” but every month when I find out I’m not pregnant, I feel this emptiness and longing… and tell my husband how I just simply want to have another of his babies.  It’s a very strange and sad kind of emptiness.  And I’m so so sorry to sound so selfish to any women out there who have dealt with never having a child.  I’m not in any way trying to minimize your pain – I’m sure I should be happy that we have 3 already (and I am!), but it IS just a strange kind of thing that I’m going through each month that I’m not able to conceive.  I knew it would probably take longer… I’m far older than I was when we had our first (almost a decade!) and I’m accepting that maybe it’s not possible.

I definitely am not trying to make it a big deal, and some people in our circle think I’m ridiculous for even wanting more children 😦 , but to be honest, it has just been a little depressing and hard.  And I never thought I’d feel those feelings when needing to wait or having to accept that … maybe 3 kids is “it?”  It’s ok, and I still love and trust God so much, but I’ve been surprised at these feelings inside.

***

That and we’ve been through an intense few months of my husband studying for a work thing… something that took him away almost every second of him being off, but thankfully that season is over and we’re more into a, “let’s finish school strong,” mode 🙂 .

We’ve actually become busier as I’ve started to teach another sweet little boy (5 yr old) who is the grandson of our neighbor.  His father and mother had him out of wedlock in high school (she was only 16), and have both abandoned him to other life choices (her drugs and he’s off at college very far away).  He’s practically an orphan and it is just so hard to see up close and personal what that does to a child.

We’ve watched ALL of this play out over the years we’ve lived next to his grandmother.  And now she’s called upon me to kind of repair what they’ve broken and neglected.  He can’t even read or write well, and I’ve been gently teaching him just the basics, and thankfully it’s been working and hopefully in a small way, it will help him.  It’s so tragic.  He is so sweet, and my husband even wants to adopt him.  He’s basically become almost a part of our family as he’s over every day, and just kind of folded into the fabric of our life.

***

Something that’s been such a blessing in this busy season has been the mom’s group I’ve talked about before.  It’s a group that’s mostly made up of very large, home-schooling families… think 4+ kids per mom who attends!  It is incredible the stuff I’m learning in this group ❤ and SO fulfilling to be around other like-minded women and children it’s hard to describe how nice it is.

….

So with all that above, we’ve just been so. incredibly. busy.  And I’m exhausted, but it’s a good exhausted. 🙂

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: God’s Word Revives Us Daily

Image result for morning quiet time with god

We’ve been in such a busy season recently, that I’ve again come to be so grateful for having an established morning quiet time reading God’s Word and connecting to His grace.  We still have a very packed schedule, even though with homeschooling there is lots of relaxing time and outside, unstructured play… if I had to pinpoint it, the most strenuous part of our day is our workout routine (lol).  Yesterday my husband and I ran 6 miles (!!!), so I’m not kidding when I say it is intense and somewhat brutal.  So I need the peace and replenishment of morning quiet time ❤

There is something so strange and powerful that I feel when I make these morning quiet times a priority in my life.  I was reflecting as I was reading yesterday morning, yet again with our little daughter up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed sitting right next me reading along with her baby Bible book as well, just how wonderful it is to do this practice.

I came across Psalm 19 –

“The instruction from the Lord is perfect,

reviving the soul;

the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy,

making the inexperienced wise.

The precepts of the Lord are right,

making the heart glad;

the commandment of the Lord is radiant,

making the eyes light up.

The fear of the Lord is pure,

enduring forever;

the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous.

They are more desirable than gold;

and sweeter than honey -than honey dripping from the comb.

In addition, Your servant (me) is warned by them;

there is great reward in keeping them.”  Psalm 19:7-11 CSB

No wonder I’m a forever optimist!!! 😀  Look at what happens to a person when they make the time to read God’s Word with an open heart and understanding in the morning!

Let me break down all those words again in a list.  God’s Word is:

  • Perfect
  • Trustworthy
  • Right
  • Radiant
  • Pure
  • Reliable
  • Righteous
  • Rewarding

And here is how we are told it effects us when we read it:

  • Revives our soul
  • Makes us wise
  • Makes the heart glad!
  • Makes the eyes light up!
  • Gives us good warnings
  • Gives us reward in keeping His ways

Wow, right!?!?!  That is what I feel though when I make time in the morning.  I can testify that all these things talked about in Psalm 19 are true; it’s why I’ve tried to always guard this time, even when we have babies still not sleeping through the night.  It’s almost crucial to my mental strength, as you can see, His Word has the power to renew one’s faith and optimism, and it renews daily!

And… can I just say… these are MORNING words in my opinion 🙂 .  “Reviving the soul,” and, “making the heart glad,” and “making the eyes light up,” these really do sound like a daily morning renewal before one tackles their day.

And what better time to get your replenishment and renewal of faith and optimism, “making your heart glad,” and your “eyes light up,” than in the morning? 😀  It’s like your spiritual cup of coffee (jk… but seriously), just like I couldn’t imagine going without that stimulant in my morning routine, I know how I feel when I bypass this practice because I’ve slept in (been lazy) or just too busy to make the time for it (refusing to meet with God even though I could have).

All this is not to say that you can’t also read it at night and feel relief after a terrible day – that is true also – but I’ve found it to be better to do what Jesus did, and get up early in the morning to devote the first fruits of your day to Him.  But God’s Word is powerful and can’t be “boxed,” in, hence why I believe this is also true when one reads it at night.  David has many Psalms where he meditated on God’s Word in the morning AND at night, but here is main morning one that convicts me,

IN THE MORNING, oh Lord,

You hear my voice;

IN THE MORNING,

I lay my requests before You, and wait in expectation.”

Psalm 5:3

Here is what I wrote in an older post on this topic… it’s interesting to look back and see what I was describing to be found so clear in this passage of Psalm 19, again confirming what I was trying to say.  From here

Rising Early … with babies?

Throughout the years of our marriage, even with having multiple children – babies nursing at all times of the night, I still find that waking up early (5am or 5:30am) to spend that quiet time with God is so crucial to my faith longterm – and it impacts my entire day!  I’m just not the same without it.  He literally changes my perspective and helps me deal with the day ahead with a much better attitude.  I’m definitely not perfect or always want to follow through with this goal.  There are some times when I’m not able to get up early, but I do notice a difference in my heart and attitude if I miss a couple of days in a row.  I need God all day, but especially in the early mornings before anyone else has woken up, so that I can spend time alone with Him and reading and studying His Word.

There’s also the principle of giving God your “first fruits.”  For anyone who has ever seriously studied the Bible, it’s apparent that God wants our best – and yes, that usually means we are required to sacrifice in order to give it to Him.  He wants our “first fruits.”

The first 10% of your pay (the normal tithe), the firstborn of your children (an Old Testament Jewish custom), the first day of the week devoted to Him (the Sabbath), even the first of the people’s grain (their food) was to be given to the Lord – before they were allowed to harvest anything for themselves!  It makes total sense that a woman’s early morning time should probably be first devoted to God, no matter when she wakes up. 🙂

In fact, Jesus Himself spent time alone with His Father early in the morning.  There’s something just very mysterious about that early morning time that even I can’t put my finger on.

 “AND IN THE MORNING, rising up a great while before the day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” — MARK 1:35