Motherhood & Childbirth

dreams of mothering

Mother’s Day has come and gone again, and for some reason each year I just feel more and more content and happy with our life that we’re building.  I’m not sure exactly why I feel more content and happy with each year, but it may have a lot to do with the growing sense of gratitude of living this life getting to watch our children grow, love my amazing husband, and maybe just getting a little bit more mature.

I still have sin!  Definitely have to work on things at times, but in this area of mothering, even when it’s really especially hard with lots of tantrums or just stubborn behavior and lots to do, I can still see the end result in mind, especially at the end of the day (happy adults that know they were truly loved – no, adored!) and it somehow gets me through those tantrums.

Motherhood is hard at times.  Life in general has so many unexpected things come up and little struggles or trials, to me, mothering my kids just falls in line with normal everyday things to face.  There are many ups and downs with small children when they’re teething or in a tantrum phase, but I think it’s harder if you don’t really understand the fact that it is going to be hard to begin with.

There’s a new disturbing trend of moms on social media complaining about Mother’s Day, using it as an excuse to say how unfair it is that even on that day where they’re supposed to be honored, they still have to take care of their children (wipe noses or change diapers), or clean sometimes.  From reading several of these kinds of posts and videos for 2 years (posted the week before to prep women to feel jipped), it’s clear these moms don’t understand that life is just hard.  Mother’s Day doesn’t always go perfectly or smoothly, especially with small children – and it comes across as insanely immature of an adult woman who doesn’t understand this reality.  Or one who understands it, but still acts like it’s not fair and has an online virtual pity party about the duties of being a mom.

From one of my favorite books that my parents had loved when I was growing up (and got me reading before I was a teenager:

“Life is difficult.

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.  It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.  Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult.  Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult.  Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy.

They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them….  I know about this moaning because I have done my fair share.

Life is a series of problems.  Do we want to moan about them or solve them?  Do we want to teach our children to solve them?”

                  -The Road Less Traveled

So back to motherhood… yes, it’s hard, but it’s also so beautiful and I think, really grows us as women to have to go through the struggles of mothering.  Anything hard generally (in my opinion) helps us to grow and mature.  At least it can, if we accept the struggle and go through it trying to learn from it and become better.  Unfortunately, as The Road Less Traveled points out, many people don’t allow problems and trials in their life to grow and mature them.  It’s easier to complain and have self-pity for our own struggles.

I love this quote from the 1800’s by Anne Pratt about the virtue of seeing life optimistically as a wife and mother:

“Every one must have remarked how pleasant is that household in which a cheerful spirit of energy is cultivated by the mistress and mother.

It is a pleasant thing to dwell with one who is not troubled by trifling annoyances,

who is skilled in looking at the bright side of things, and hoping for the best;

with one who believes that all the ways of the Lord are right,

and who attaches a deep importance to duty.

Such a one will work willingly, in the belief that God has appointed both her lot and her duties,

and it is surprising how many obstacles are met and overcome by such a spirit.”

~ Anne Pratt

In my life, it IS surprising how many obstacles we’ve overcome together, my husband and I, due to having such a spirit of adventure, optimism and gratitude.  In really hard times, it’d be easier to complain or fight or even blame each other, but instead we work together as a team to solve the problem and learn from it.  It really makes all the difference!

CHILDBIRTH

This is just an update on the pregnancy, but since it’s a “motherhood” post, I thought I’d squeeze it in here.

So because our first child was an emergency c-section, and afterwards we decided to not try a V-BAC, this will be my 3rd c-section.  We’re so lucky these days, even to be able to have c-sections!  I recently heard that death during childbirth affected 65% of women during the 19th century.  Obviously the risk is far less for us now, but still, having had repeated c-sections, medically we know each time the risk increases.  Then there’s always uterine rupture or tears where the scar has been cut and re-cut – these also increase with repeated pregnancies unfortunately.

Last time around I remember trying to prepare Patrick for if I was to die in childbirth during the c-section – I know it’s a slight chance, but you never know what’s going to happen and since there was that possibility, why not mentally prepare for it?  I wanted him to know that I wanted him to be happy and to remarry.  It’s been the same this time, except I’ve been having very strong pains where the old c-section scars are, which my doctor thinks is scar tissue stretching (little tears), and probably not “windows” which are where the uterus is so thin that you’re actually able to see things like the baby’s hair.  Windows are supposed to be painless, so the pain I feel at times is probably just stretching (hopefully!).  The risk of uterine rupture is still there though, even though it’s still likely very small.

Anyway, we really want at least to be able to have one more child after this, but unfortunately it depends on the state of my uterus – sometimes they can apparently become “paper thin,” or if they see windows when they open me up, or little tears, etc.  They’ll likely then advise me that I shouldn’t attempt another pregnancy.  😥  We’ll see, many women are able to have up to 5 or 6 c-sections… but it all depends on that particular woman’s genetics and her unique uterus thickness, strength, and elasticity.

Again, we’ll see.

 

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Why Do Women Have Instinctual Strategies for Marriage?

This man is a red pill genius.  We love listening to Stefan’s videos because they’re not only entertaining and hilarious, they are so on point – especially regarding the sexual market place.

This video answers some basic questions of

Why would a woman in her late 20’s suddenly be interested in settling down or stopping her sexual promiscuity to land a ‘stable’ guy?”

“Why would this be a BAD DEAL for that poor guy who ends up marrying this woman who wasted her 20’s in promiscuity?”

Watch the video to find out ❤

“The BEST Homemaking Advice”

A few weeks ago, in mid January, I wrote a post titled “Just do the next thing,” and imparted some basic wisdom I’ve gleaned from one of our main Bible study leader women. It was nothing too profound, but sometimes I’m not so sure that what I write is always “right,” and it’s great to have confirmation that someone else thinks the same way.

I’m SO excited to bring you readers another post of the same advice that was just written this morning by an extremely popular blog Keeper of the Home, headed and run by mommy of 6 children, devoted farmer’s wife, Ann Timm.  After I read it this morning, I jumped up and ran to my husband and showed him that it was the exact same advice I gave lol!  Yay for being on track.  I know it’s silly, but I still wonder quite often why anyone reads what I write and if I should actually be writing anything at all.  🙂

Here is their post, and I know it could go without saying, but I completely agree 😉

The BEST Homemaking Advice

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By Elsie Callender, Contributing Writer

One of the best pieces of homemaking advice I’ve ever encountered was written in calligraphy and framed above our kitchen doorway. I read it every day of my life from the time I could read until it was packed away before our move to Costa Rica when I was a teenager. The words were simply this: “Doe the next thing.”

And they didn’t make a lick of sense to me.

“Doe?” A deer? A female deer?

“Do,” my mom explained. “Do the next thing. It’s an old spelling.”

Do the next thing. Well, that still didn’t make much sense to me! Don’t we always do the next thing? What else would we do besides the next thing?

Now that I’m all grown up, I get it.

We don’t always do the next thing, even when it’s staring us in the face.

Sometimes we don’t do anything at all.

Sometimes grown-up homemakers like me get so overwhelmed that we over-complicate everything and end up feeling like the only thing we can do next is cry.

There are days when dirty dishes are toppling off my limited counter space, when Little Dude has half a dozen immediate needs, when the dark side of adulthood (i.e. bills and taxes) makes me want to bury my head in a book and only come out for my birthday.

Those are the “this is harder than it should be” days; the days when homemaking gets complicated and I need a simple response.

Do the next thing.

Remembering that little quote can make all the difference between feeling overwhelmed verses feeling purposeful.

It reminds me to keep on keeping on, to be a woman of action, faithfully doing what needs to be done, even if it’s a mundane task I don’t particularly relish.

Clean dishes

Image from pixabay.com

Want to try it? Here’s how you can apply this mantra in your homemaking:

1. Identify what needs to be done

Whether you’re mapping out the week ahead or just trying to get through the next hour of a rough morning, take stock of what needs to happen. This might include housecleaning, meal prep, children’s activities, work deadlines, anything. If you’re one of those list-lovers, like I am, you can write out your to-dos!

2. Prioritize

This is where I (and I suspect many other women) get sidetracked. I can have 10 million “to dos” whirling in my head at once, and all of the options make me dizzy. It’s vital to assess what the nextthing is. It’s not always the easiest thing or the most pleasant thing that needs to be done next. Here are some ways I’ve learned to prioritize in my homemaking, even when I’m in a busy season.

3. Take action

Time to “do!” You’ve accepted the fact that you need to pay that phone bill today, so sit down at your computer and do it. Or you know the house won’t clean itself and company is imminent. Raidyour cleaning arsenal and get busy!

Cleaning the floor

Image from pixabay.com

4. Follow through

Sometimes I don’t finish what I start, even if I began with the best intentions. Don’t trail off on what needs to be done around your home. You’ll waste time and have to summon your motivation all over again.

I have no idea where that original framed quote has gotten to, but I know it’s in my mind for good. When a little disaster strikes, I call it to mind. When I’m feeling depressed and my responsibilities are weighing heavy, I repeat it in my head.

And at the end of another day? I revel when the “next thing” is to snuggle into the couch with a book and a cup of tea.

Sometimes the best advice seems almost too simple, right? Here's some of the best – but simple – advice for homemaking! Being a keeper of the home isn't easy, but this advice will get you through the hard times to the good times.

What is the best homemaking advice you’ve received?

*Note from Ann: I can so relate! What a great quote to carry with you through life. It reminds me of something my mother used to say, “If you pick it up, don’t put it down until you put it where it goes”!! How many times do I handle the same item over and over in a single day? And I’m totally guilty of not finishing what I’ve started and wasting precious time. There is a reason I’m one of this list-lovers:) Thank you Elsie for remembering and sharing the wisdom that your mom shared with you as a child. 

Watching Plants Grow

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I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like in my spiritual life, I’m just watching plants grow.  I want so badly to do the right thing, to be what God wants me to be, but it amazes me how far off I feel I constantly wander off.

The exciting thing about a new year is all the possibilities to implement any new changes that need to be made.  Looking back on my failures and mishaps in 2015, a year I thought would be a relatively peaceful, quiet year, I’m so grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, but also sad that it took me so long to learn them.

I’ve been reading several books and learning and growing so much!  It’s incredible to be so convicted, work to make changes, but then to feel constantly like one cannot attain that perfection of spirit.  Just as I think I’m making great progress, I find myself sliding back down again and acting in pride or getting irritated by things that are trivial and don’t matter!  It’d be comical if it wasn’t so annoying and sad.

I’m learning that I can’t do this on my own – it’s God who works in us, and in His own time, and that the more I submit myself to His will, the more He works in my spirit to make me into the creature He wants me to be.  In contrast, the more I spin my wheels trying to perfect my own spirit, the more frustrated I’ll grow and discouraged.

So I’ll stop watching plants grow, and trust that He’s doing His work and finishing what He’s started in me nearly 25 years ago.

Just Do the Next Thing

housework

Something our main Bible study leader has repeatedly told us, and that originally came from the teachings of Elisabeth Elliot, is that no matter what happens, just do the next thing.

It’s such a beautiful lesson really.  It’s so easy to get distracted with worry over how we’ll get all our tasks done in the day, or what needs to happen this week, or caught up in feeling overwhelmed when our families are going through a particularly busy time.

I’ve even heard this advice applied to when we’re caught up in our own or our family’s crisis, when we wonder how we’re going to survive this heartache and feel as though we can’t go on.

Just do the next thing.

Don’t let yourself give in to worry, it doesn’t help anyway.

Just do the next thing.

When you’re exhausted and there’s still so much to do, and you feel like giving up because it seems impossible that you could manage to get everything done,

Just do the next thing.

Don’t worry about all the things you’ll have to do after you finish one task, just focus on the one thing you’ve decided is next and get it done.

If you’re overwhelmed with housework because you’ve had a busy couple of days, running errands that needed your attention, taking your children to their extra-curricular activities, and you step in your house and suddenly see the tornado-like disaster, stay calm and,

Just do the next thing.

It’s true that a lot of housework can just be managed by being proactive, but there are also times when we’ve just been busy.  Don’t be overly critical on yourself, if you need a quick nap to feel recharged for the day, by golly take a nap!  I have a scheduled nap time for our household everyday that is a wonderful time for me to either catch up reading online or curl up and nap along with the baby.  Our older son doesn’t usually like to nap anymore, but we still make him have this quiet time so that he can relax and learn how to have time to himself to re-charge.

It’s normal for wives and mothers to feel overwhelmed with all the things that depend on them to get accomplished, but the wise woman chooses not to stress out, and instead she will just do the next thing.

 

A great blog post from Lisa at Club31women.com that goes with this topic is 5 Steps to Follow When You’re Overwhelmed with Housework !

Featured on The Peaceful Wife!

About a week or so ago, I left a comment on friend April Cassidy’s blog The Peaceful Wife, about how I learned to communicate with vulnerability and directness to ask for what I needed from my husband.  She thought it would be a great post all on it’s own about how important it is to NOT nag our husbands 🙂

Here is the post she featured, click here for original:

A guest post from a sister in Christ, Stephanie. I’m so thankful we can share our stories as we learn together on this road:

We got married in 2007, and we were so young (I was 20 about to turn 21, he was only 23), and still in school. I was lucky that in our first year, I had a job at a Christian bookstore, so I had endless access to great marriage books that I read when the shop was super slow or on my breaks. I ended up buying a lot of the books, and they are still in our library now, although some I’ve given away to other women I was encouraging in their marriages. But it was mostly from these books and some books I brought from home when I moved out that helped me understand what I was doing wrong in my communication style.

In that first year, I was taken aback by how my husband would wait to do chores, and wouldn’t do them when I thought they needed to get done (which was as soon as I wanted them done – no matter what else he was working on or focusing on). So instead of trusting him to get them done on his own time, I nagged him, and when nagging didn’t work, I’d get angry and start a fight. I’d nag more and tell him that he wasn’t helping me out and then I’d jump to the conclusion that he just “didn’t care about me!”

LOL it was a funny cycle that just repeated itself whenever I got fed up with not getting things done my way. Thankfully, since I was working at the Christian bookstore, I was already reading marriage books trying to learn about how to have a good marriage, and almost all marriage books cover a section about nagging, and explain why it doesn’t work.

  • Once I understood from reading a book about how to understand men, meet their needs, and communicate effectively with them – I started to simply just ask him to do something that needed to be done, and ask him in a respectful, kind way, and then give him the time and chance to do it.

If he procrastinated, he would realize it on his own a couple of days later, and then apologize to me and do it. He apologized and did it right away (faster than when I nagged) because he actually felt bad about not doing it when I had asked in such a sweet, kind, respectful way. My not nagging him (which was disrespectful) made him want to do things right when they needed to get done.

Now when I really need his help (which is a lot more often with two boys), he is so faithful and helps me so well and much more quickly than that first year when I’d nag and nag. The nagging created such a hostile, awful environment that I think it made him just drag his feet doing anything that I wanted to get done. But now he helps me immediately because I treat him with respect.

I realized that nagging him was actually dishonoring him, giving him the message that I didn’t feel like he was responsible enough to do and get things done on his own, without me standing over him. I didn’t believe he would be responsible enough to do things on his own. Nagging him was me treating him almost like a child, like an incapable man – that message was SO disrespectful!

There were also times when I’d just expect him to help me with something I needed to get done, or I’d be girly and feminine, and **hint** that I expected him to get something done by some vague time frame, and then I would get angry and even resentful when he didn’t do it. The marriage books I read in that first year also covered this topic of being direct with men, even though that felt masculine to me, and not like how women communicate with each other, it was actually what was needed for better communication in our marriage.

Being direct really is a more masculine style of communicating, so even though it feels awkward and unnatural for most women, it’s helpful to teach engaged couples or young wives that this is what their husbands will need from them. It’s not wrong, it’s not being demanding if you say it in a nice, respectful, gentle way.

Expecting our husbands to act more like a woman, to read our minds and understand our feminine hints concerning what we want, and then getting angry at them for not knowing, isn’t helping to create a healthy relationship within a marriage.

After we got those things figured out, we’ve still had tricky situations where I didn’t know how to breech a subject without sounding disrespectful, but now it’s MUCH easier to understand what each other needs or is thinking because we’ve learned how to communicate openly and honestly. It’s been a beautiful journey and I’m so grateful we’ve learned so much.

Staying Focus: Video Lesson

Back in the beginning of October, I wrote a post about what God had been convicting me of in August and September of this year.  I was encouraged to try to do a video series about what God’s been teaching me, there is something great about getting to hear tone of voice and see a person’s disposition that I believe was missing from my writing.  Writing and words can seem so harsh, and that’s not what I desire to convey here – a harsh message of truth without the love and encouragement of Christ.

 

Bible verses mentioned in video:

“Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above (the heavenly things), not things that are on the earth (which have only temporal value).”  Colossians 3:2 (AMP)

“Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],

Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of [b]scoffers (ridiculers).

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.
 
And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].

 
The wicked [those who live in disobedience to God’s law] are not so,
But they are like the chaff [worthless and without substance] which the wind blows away.
 
Therefore the wicked will not stand [unpunished] in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
 
For the Lord knows and fully approves the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked shall perish.”  Psalm 1:1-5 (AMP)

Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage]
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity].”  Proverbs 4:25 (AMP)

“For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose].”  Romans 8:5 (AMP)

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable andworthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely andbrings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, thinkcontinually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”  Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],

Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].”  Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you.”  Psalm 32:8 (AMP)

The [intrinsically] good woman ( text says man) produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure[stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil woman (man)produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for her mouth speaks from the overflow of her heart.”  Luke 6:45 (AMP)

How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless],
Who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord.”  Psalm 119:1 (AMP)

Single Women: Don’t Do Messy-Girl Style!

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Single women… men notice your counter tops!

Not those counter tops – not even your kitchen counter tops, although those matter, too.  I’m talking about your counter space in your restroom, and the storage of your feminine beauty items.  A woman’s restroom and how clean she keeps it is actually more important than you think.

Growing up my mother always tried to instill in me to keep my bathroom area – mainly the counter top space – clean and organized, free of clutter, but it always seemed like a chore and slightly unnecessary.  Especially when one is single – who sees your counter top in your bathroom?  It began to make more sense in college when I would see my friend’s dorm rooms and see guys using their restroom.  If it was dirty or unclean, the guys would mentally make note of it, sometimes even say something about it.

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A few years ago, I read an article over at Into The Gloss, the chicest resource for what the models and celebrities secretly wear and do for their beauty regimen, a brief instruction to all the female readers to not be a “messy girl” and that one of the greatest sins of chic they could commit was to have a messy bathroom, especially a cluttered up counter top.

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It’s true.  Since then I’ve read many comments from men, talking about how much they wish women were aware of what they accidentally show them when they enter their apartment. Or (gasp!!) use their girlfriend’s bathroom.  Men love to have the idea of a woman being polished, together. Seeing you outside of your home, looking beautiful and polished, only to find out that your inner world is a mess is disappointment to them.  Most men are completely and utterly turned off by the messy girl life style.  It demonstrates low value, that the girl doesn’t care about her possessions, that she isn’t responsible enough to take care of where she lives, and that she doesn’t have the integrity to be disciplined and clean behind closed doors.  When reading Into the Gloss, where it showed pictures daily of the Top Shelfs (bathroom storage) of the beauty supplies, perfumes, candles, etc. the models and designers, producers, and leading women in the beauty industry – all women of high value – each and every top shelf was organized and clean.

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I don’t want it sound like this is the most important thing in attracting men, because obviously it isn’t!  The models and designers that have their bathrooms go on photo-shoots probably clean like never before!  But it’s still something beautiful and good to aspire to.  It’s unreasonable to expect 24/7 organization, but the key here is to learn how to make it easier, more manageable, and give you that boost of enjoying a clean, organized bathroom space.

Even Elisabeth Elliot had something to say on the beauty of cleanliness in a woman,

“The way you keep your house, the way you organize your time, the care you take in your personal appearance, the things you spend your money on, all speak loudly about what you believe. The beauty of thy peace shines forth in an ordered life. A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul.”

***

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Tips to keep your bathroom looking like a Top Shelf:

  • Keep your vanity counter clean by wiping it down every night after you use it, this helps dust and debris from building up over time.  My dad taught me this and continued to do it himself for years.
  • Only keep a few key feminine or favorite pieces on your counter top to avoid clutter.  Clutter just looks horribly messy, believe me I wish it didn’t!  So just stick to a couple of key pieces that are beautiful, even better if they can provide dual functions like a toothbrush holder. I have a couple of elegant pieces right now, 2 that serve as dual functions.  My Grandma’s antique angel jewelry holder is the stand for my contact case, a beautiful tiny vase holds my favorite nail polishes and glasses, along with little things like bobby pins at times.  And an antique, glass perfume bottle I found at a thrift store for $1, just to add a more feminine touch.
  • Store your bulky beauty items that you rarely use either under the cupboard in trays, bags or boxes to keep out of the way and yet still organized and easy to find when you need them.
  • Store your more regularly used beauty products on a shelf – a Top Shelf is great for this.  It’s out of theway, and easy to reach, and it forces you to only keep so much at a time – making you periodically have to go through your items to put away things you don’t use anymore, or throw away old bottles.
  • The hardest thing for me to keep on top of is dust getting on the things that are on the counter top itself, even the flowers.  Either weekly or monthly, depending on how much dust you collect in your house, try to just dust off the key pieces.  It’s hard for me to notice when it’s building up, so having a somewhat steady time when I dust there is better overall.
  • USE WINDEX!  In this age of the Selfie, how many girls and young women do you see posting up selfies with dirty mirrors?  Men actually make fun of this phenomenon, that the girl is so narcissistic that she’s focusing so much on herself, that she can’t see that the mirror itself is dirty, giving the photo a horrible overall look.  Use Windex once a week when doing your regular bathroom cleaning duties, it makes it so much more beautiful to have clean mirrors rather than dingy ones.

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We all try to look our best when out in public.  Single women especially, try to look polished.  But a truly polished young woman will care about the little details of her home, and work to keep even her counter tops clean and organized.

It all basically comes down to being clean and organized.

Men appreciate this, much more than society tells us.  So enjoy the beauty and peace of a clean, elegant space!

Letters of Thanks

Back in October 2013, I decided to start a small blog to post ideas, thoughts, and advice on beauty, health, fitness, dating, cooking, fashion, marriage, sex, and parenting.  It was a supposed to be a very tiny venture, meant for mostly myself, to have one place where all my thoughts were collected.  And now has become a blog that has over 100,000 views since I started 2 years ago this month.  I don’t know what’s in store for it, I don’t think it will ever become super popular thankfully, but it’s been fun to write out my thoughts and ideas.  I’ve often felt like I’ve learned more from some of my commentators, and so I thank you readers who have spent the time to either comment or email me your thoughts or your own advice on topics or post ideas.

For a long time, I hesitated to add “Spiritual Growth” to my blog because I felt like I still had so much growth to do in that department, and didn’t want to come across as knowing much about it.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe one can know a lot about something like theology or religion, but that doesn’t mean they have a good grasp of how to apply it in their daily lives.  So anything I say on spiritual growth has usually come from after a long time (even a year or more) of thinking on it, trying to figure out the pieces and how they fall together, and so, I usually don’t write about the things I experience immediately, but occasionally do if I feel there is a good lesson there.

But over these two years, I’ve received quite a few comments thanking me for the posts or the blog in general… these things really humble me, that anyone reads my blog at all, when I just started it as something very modest and only for myself, blows my mind.  But thank you to my readers who take the time to leave comments or emails – they really are encouraging.  ❤

One of my favorite emails, from a police officer in Virginia:

“Hi there,

Thank you for writing encouraging things about your family.  I found your blog from a link on the advrider.com forums (it’s a motorcycle touring website) in an off-topic (for the forum) discussion about Red Pill Theory of male/female relationships.  They were complimentary of you.

I’m not quite sure what draws me to discussions about males and females, but I read about it a lot.  The evidence would show that it touches a nerve in me somewhere. I’m not a victim of bad relationships, my parents are still married, my wife’s parents are still married, and my wife and I are mostly traditional.  She’s glad I’m a man and I’m glad she’s a woman.  We’re certainly behind the curve on being trendy or progressive, and we’re not complaining.  We’ve been married over 17 years.  Still, I feel like somewhere deep in my mind is a narrative that “manly” is a synonym for “dumb, of little use,  irrelevant” or even “threatening, harmful”.  I perceive, rightly or wrongly, that the importance of men is diminished and derided.

I’ve worked as a police officer for over 16 years, and I end up getting snapshots of many bad relationships.  Though no professional has ever made it official, I believe staring at depravity and realizing that I have no authority to do anything about relational patterns that take decades to do their damage has led to struggling with depression at times, yet feeling no energy to get out of what I do for a living.  Faith has helped on that front, but I still get distracted while someone’s complaining to me about their ex-(fill in the blank) when I notice the blank-faced looking 5 year old 10 feet behind the complainer and can’t help thinking “This is burning into that little brain.  I wish I could explain that this is not an aspirational way of life, that needing the police to intervene in your personal relationships is a symptom of a bigger problem.”

So, when I read things such as you write, I’m relieved.  Not only do you appreciate men and women for being men and women, you love them, too.  I am impatient for Jesus to come back and fix everything that’s wrong, and staring at all of the problems causes me grief.  So, when I read your take and see your appreciation for your husband and kids, I feel great relief that somewhere out there is a family that loves each other.  By writing you this note, I hope to encourage you to know that you are helping people you don’t even know (who doesn’t love feedback?).  Thanks so much for your thoughts, and, truly, best wishes to you and your family.

Jim in Virginia

And more from Jim in another email,

“Yes, my favorite aspect of your thoughts is your “tone”.  So much of the discussion about gender seems generated out of anger or hurt towards the opposite gender.  So much of the learning stems from painful experiences and retaliatory strikes at the offenders.  It doesn’t even seem popular these days to say that you like being married; it seems much more prevalent to list the annoying things (complain) about your spouse. Therefore, it’s remarkable (noteworthy?) when there are voices who appreciate the strengths of both and who seek to edify both of them.  It’s unusual (wow, it shouldn’t be) and, bummer, you may not qualify for a Reality TV show because harmony doesn’t sell commercials or newspapers.  There is no profit in everyone getting along.

Yet,  the foundation you two are giving your kids, the “safety” of your relationship and their home… as they grow older, you will be amazed at the problems they DON’T have just because you two love each other well.  I believe it’s a big part of doing the Lord’s work. My opinion is that we don’t even realize how important, significant,and eternal it really is.  It’s really a great thing.  Thanks for being salt and light.

Okay, getting rambly here.  Go love the world by loving your husband and kids.  I pray you receive much joy in your work!

Jim