Trusting God

The past couple of years have been hard emotionally.  I haven’t wanted to write about any of it really, because I usually want to try to learn something – or at least understand it – before writing about it.  I think it was Hemingway who said “Never write about something until you’re through it.”

Well, what if it doesn’t have a clear “end?”  What if you still haven’t learned anything profound from it?

What if you’re never really “through” it?

Losing my dad has been so horrible.  I don’t write about it, but I think about it often.  Sometimes I become extremely depressed when thinking too much on it.  Which is partly why I gained weight last year.  Remembering how much my dad wanted me to enjoy life in it’s fullest with a healthy body – and to be happy with my body, is why I started being healthy again right before we got pregnant with our 3rd.

He’s gotten much better, but the stroke (if that’s what it was) really changed his personality, and I miss him so much.

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And then on the blue line side of things, seeing so many innocent men and women die – seeing the public generally not understanding or thinking “this is what they signed up for” – that they literally signed up to be assassinated in a country that used to be free – has been hard to understand heads or tails of.  I didn’t want to write my thoughts on all the police deaths for many reasons: the anger, the depth of heartache, facing the truth that most of them are racially motivated, the ugliness of it all, and just plain not being able to understand it.

Something that HAS really helped, has been leaning on God, even when I was extremely depressed or terrified.  Trusting Him and trusting in His goodness even though knowing He allows the worst to happen has been healing.

The only thing I could find that’s close to explaining what I’ve been learning about God’s protection, even when He allows murder and death of good people, is this audio of Elisabeth Elliot.

She explains it well and it brings peace to me to know that no matter what happens in this life, our ultimate ends are safe and secure in Him.  Which is why it’s better to trust in God, even in times like these.

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Tragedy & Joy

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I wanted to write some kind of update awhile ago, we’ve just been so busy or I’ve been distracted – or distracting myself.  I don’t even know what to write now really… so much has happened in just one month.

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I think I’ll try to put it into bullet points what we’ve done or has happened in these past 4 weeks.  Sorry it will probably read pretty strange…

  • We had our adorable daughter, everything went well as far as the surgery.
  • The recovery had a hiccup when I started swelling in my right leg, and then the left leg… I called my doctor, and it was thought to be maybe the anesthesia.  After my milk supply came in and was pretty established, I took a couple of diuretic pills (“water pills”) to flush out the swelling fluid – and it worked well.  Apparently the “postpartum swelling” can be a big issue, and after we got home I began to look like I was 6 months pregnant again the swelling had gotten so bad.  This had never happened with our other two, but the diuretics worked fast and I ended up looking normal again.
  • Our little one wanted to breastfeed so often – every hour for 5 nights straight – that I actually ended up getting Mastitis in that very first week!!!!!  LOL  I didn’t even know you could get mastitis that quickly!  It was very painful but a bit hilarious – thank God for antibiotics!
  • In only the 2nd week of her life, 2 of our officers were shot when contacting a felon.  They were shot right when they stepped out of their vehicle.  One was shot in the face and the other in the chin, the former ended up dying and the latter dragged his partner to safety even after having been shot.  It was so traumatic, and both were about my husband’s age.
  • I’m in a wive’s group that supports our husband’s in their career, one I’ve blogged about here.  I’ve become an officer that deals with events – the coordinating and planning, and since all of the other group officials were either on vacation or unable to come, I had the task of coordinating getting donations for desserts, wives to volunteer, and serving the people at the funeral.  A police funeral is typically a devastating ordeal, but with hundreds to sometimes 1,000’s of officers from around the country showing up to pay their respects to the fallen officer.  Coming together like a family is so appreciated.  Everything about the funerals, though, is physically and emotionally draining and tortuous.  From volunteering for hours, to listening to the family pour out their hearts to us, to serving the army of Police Officers who have come who need encouragement, too… it is painful.  The last funeral before this I cried so much I had to actually go and completely redo my makeup before we had to serve the 1,000’s of guests.  We are in a war.  We lose officers almost every week or other week now.
  • Since I had to bring our 2 week old to the funeral to lead the volunteers, I kept having to disappear to breastfeed.  One time when I was tucked away in a tiny section of the ladies’ room where they provided couches to sit while you nurse, one of the officers who came to the funeral sat down next to me – exhausted – and started to talk.  She was part of the Honor Guard – which is the official name for the group of officers who go to the memorial services and funerals around the U.S.  She was a Sergeant, and from our city.  She knew the officer who had died that day 😥 .  For some reason, relaxing in the hidden corner of the restroom on the couch with me, she felt comfortable enough to let me know how tired of all this she was – how she felt she needed a break, that many of them do, from all these relentless funerals.  All these senseless assassination-style deaths.  I tried to encourage her and let her know how much we appreciate the Honor Guard and her love for these officers’ families.  But I could see it, too, when I was serving many of the officers face to face – they are so tired of seeing these decent men and women killed.  The collective Honor Guard are some of the best people, the ones who travel to show support and give encouragement to the families in need, but I’m starting to see in their faces just how hard this is on them emotionally to be constantly going to another funeral every other week or so.
  • Police deaths have spiked to 39% in 2017.  Again, it feels like we are in a war.  Like our husbands are deployed everyday that they go into their shift.  At the same time, it feels like we’re not alone.  The police community as a whole, is a safe place to show our emotions to each other.  At the last funeral when I was crying almost uncontrollably, one of the older Honor Guard officers came up to me and hugged me – it meant so much, but I felt so sorry that I knew I was making him feel pain, too.  I could tell that my tears almost made him cry 😥  and I don’t want to add more pain to these officers.  It was so touching though, that a perfect stranger would come to not only support us, but even hug one of the emotional wives there behind the counter.
  • I haven’t written about this myself before… probably because I’d have to write it in bullet points like this.  The emotions are hard for even me to put into words.
  • We had a second funeral for one of our officers who passed away from cancer.  We were thankful that he didn’t lose his life in the line of duty, but it still felt like an added insult to an injury.  The funeral was only a couple of days after the first.
  • Even in all this tragedy, my husband and I were invited to one of his favorite Police Academy instructor’s retirement party.  It was actually a wonderful time celebrating this man my husband looks up to and learned from.  We were able to get my mom to watch our boys so it was almost like a date night together with our tag along baby girl.  At the end of the night, his wife let me know they had felt almost guilty holding a celebration like this after all the recent tragedies – her husband had wondered if he should have cancelled it.  I told the wife that of course they should have had it!  It was good to celebrate something positive even in the midst of this.  Everyone there was focusing on the hilarious stories he had, looking at his adorable pictures of when he was young and in charge of the streets, and enjoying celebrating with him the end of a great career.  We needed that.  He did, but we all did in a way.

We’ve also just been enjoying time together as a family.  I’ve had my own thoughts of feeling so much joy when looking at our daughter, and then guilt that I’m feeling that way when our city (and officers) are enduring another tragedy.  It was nice having my husband off for a month… he missed his work and the excitement, but he had fun taking the boys on adventures and us all going out as a family for hikes and walks in the parks close by.

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Spiritually Preparing for Childbirth

I finally found what I was looking for to help with understanding the spiritual side of pregnancy and giving birth.  I’d been feeling frustrated with the difficulty of this pregnancy, as my last was very easy and I didn’t have pelvic, cervical, or inner c-section scar pain.  It may just be that my uterus is not very good at carrying babies.  And then I felt frustrated that I even felt frustrated when it isn’t really that bad.  I knew deep down that feeling frustrated or dwelling on all these feelings wasn’t going to help anything – in fact, I think it only increased my stress and gave me fear about dying – something I thought wasn’t normal, but it seems like quite a few women feel this way when you talk to them.

So… I went searching online for other Christian moms’ opinions on these issues, even searching out the fear of dying during childbirth because it’s so interesting, and I had started to really feel it.

This is another great reason why women blogging can be such a wonderful blessing to all kinds of people they’d never normally have the chance to touch!

The best blog post I found about this topic was written back n 2009!  8 years later, her writing is STILL helping women lean more on God and grow in their faith!

We have instant access to some of the best wisdom and advice from people we’d never usually meet in a lifetime due to distance or the fact that they’ll most likely never find the time to write books with their thoughts in them.  And so we have blogs.  Some really great, edifying blogs.

I came across a woman’s blog Passionate Homemaking that was so inspiring and encouraging with the solid advice and Scriptures, that I couldn’t believe how completely God answered my prayers for me to find something to get me through this with more grace and mercy, keeping focused on Him!

Her posts are largely tailored for natural child birthing experiences, but they still applied in so many ways to getting through a c-section, your own fears of what could happen to you or the baby, or any painful contractions you may have beforehand like I’ve had.  I wish I had been more aware how much you can lean on God during my long and ultimately failed labor with my first, or when I was a tad scared with our second!

It sounds so obvious for a Christian mom to understand this is how we should be dealing with child birth, looking at it from a spiritual standpoint, but our human emotions and struggles take over and seem to aid us in missing these blessings!

Reading different testimonies around online as well of Christian mothers who prepared spiritually for their children’s births, it is more than obvious that the peace and trust in God’s sovereignty during some of the worst pain or even traumatic outcomes, helped them handle it all significantly better than if they hadn’t chosen to rely on God in those times.  It’s a conscious choice.

Women all over who experience pregnancy and search online to find something to help them manage their births can gain something from these verses!  So if you’ve found yourself here because of that, please follow the links below, and ask God to reveal to you what you need to know and meditate on.

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Scriptures from Passionate Homemaking:

Philippians 4:6-7 – “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

2 Cor. 12:9 – “My grace is enough; it is all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become!” (NLT)

 

From Lindsay (author of blog)

“Reflect upon the blessings of children!

Psalms 127:3 – “Children are a blessing from the Lord; the fruit of the womb a reward.” Don’t fret over the changes, the upcoming sacrifices, but rather rejoice in the gift and the Giver!

Deut. 28:4 – “Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.”

Reflect upon His beautiful workmanship!

Psalms 139:13-14 “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

Giving Birth

Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.” Keep your mind on Jesus and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7). Focus your mind during your labor…do not let it stray to focus on the pain and process, but rather on Jesus and His sustaining grace. This verse really spoke to me while preparing for my birth. I memorized it and quoted it to myself throughout the most challenging moments of my delivery. It was such a blessing.

1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Faith and Perseverance

Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen, it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

Proverbs 3:34 “The Lord mocks the mockers but is gracious to the humble.” The Lord blesses those who put their trust in Him, not depending upon their own strength, but humbly acknowledging their Source!

Hebrews 10:35-36 – “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! [A baby!] Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.” (NLT)

I am walking in God’s will when I demonstrate patience! It brings great reward! My little one is coming!

James 1:3-4 “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (NLT)

This birth is one means of God working to grow me in maturity and endurance. I will be stronger in my faith if I rely completely upon Him to accomplish His good work.

Psalm 40:1 – “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry.”

Psalm 119:165 – “Those who love Your law have great peace and do not stumble.” Store up the truth!

 

This final poem was a blessing to read as I prepared and welcomed my new little one!

Gift from God

I give thanks to You alone
Who sits on the throne
To loan me this precious gift
And to call it my own.

May I always see, Lord
In every waking hour,
Your majesty and grace
In this delicate flower.

Help me, O God,
To guide and preserve,
This wonderful blessing
to love and to serve.

-Doran Richards”

 

Articles:

Mental Preparation for Embracing the Pain and Letting Go of the Fear of Death

Amazing Scriptural Preparation for Child Birth (for natural birth but I got tons out of it as well)

Fear of Labor for Natural Birthing Mothers 

 

Pregnancy, Pain, & Frustration

This past couple of weeks have gotten increasingly hard around our house.  I’ve made it to 37 1/2 weeks, but wow!!!  I’ll just say it’s been a brutal couple of weeks and feel like I have a ways to go still.  We only need to make it until next Friday (10 days), but handling two – just two!!! – active and loud kids has become embarrassingly hard now.  We know several families who have many more (4, 5, 6, even one family with 9!!!).  And yet here I am, struggling with only 2!  I have the hardest time walking in the afternoon/evening, and had made plans in my head a few weeks earlier that once Summer started, we were going to go out everyday and have fun at a water park we’re close to, but I soon realized that all that walking, being in the heat, and not even being able to really handle well our toddler’s tantrums when I’m out, would have made those plans nearly impossible.  That or they’d have possibly made the baby come early.  So home it’s been for the most part, and the baby is so low I feel like she could just fall out. :O

With all this going on, I’ve been really struggling with whining and complaining to my husband about any and everything.  I hate hearing myself complain, as I’m sure most people do.  It makes you feel like a failure and feel worse than before (at least for me).  But in these last stages where there’s so much pain at the end of the night, mostly where her head is putting “lots” (doctor’s own words!) of pressure on my cervix, I feel bad that he’s had to hear about all the pain and stress and frustration with our kids, after he’s just dealt with annoying people and criminals for several hours and is exhausted, too.

I’m working on trying to find peace and really asking God to help me better endure this short time left of the pain, and the difficulty of managing the other two kids with less of an attitude that I shouldn’t have it “so hard.”  This article was great for dealing with toddlers when they’re “driving you nuts!”  Getting help from my mom has been a God-send for me during this time ❤ and knowing my husband will be taking a month off after she’s born is so comforting.  And tactic #9 was used today, as both kids had high fever viruses and the little one had an ear infection.  Taking him in to the dr. while having contractions off and on was ridiculous, but my mom came with me and we got through it somehow.

We also had a false alarm yesterday, contractions were coming every 3-5 minutes and I forgot to wait it out to see if they’d go away, and instead drove to the hospital with the kids (while contracting… probably not the smartest idea).  My labor with our toddler came that way when it was his time to be born, and he was coming so fast the Dr. on call had to come in immediately to do the c-section.  This time though, the nurses and my Dr. said I was definitely having contractions, but by an hour or two later, they had gotten much less frequent and it wasn’t really labor.  We’re supposed to wait for a c-section in 10 days anyway, but our babies just tend to come on their schedule!

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So all this being said, I’m really trying to find some sort of spiritual blessing or something I can cling to that will help me get through with a better attitude until she arrives.  Some things I’ve thought about:

  • It’s hard right now physically (and emotionally) to be so pregnant and have a toddler, but that also means she’s so close to coming
  • Perseverance is a good thing… right?  LOL  Paul did say about our sufferings (not that this would really count to most people as a true suffering, maybe I’m a wimp but… ) that perseverance leads to character, and character leads to having hope.
  • Patient enduring of trials is good, even if it’s hard and not pleasant
  • Trials don’t seem to last forever, usually they come and go, and this particular one is so temporary, and there’s such a blessing at the end – a new baby! – to look forward to.

Deeper Look into Envy & Social Media

This is a really interesting topic to me, and I considered titling this post “Women prone to the sin of envy need to stay off social media.”  It wasn’t meant to be a command or anything, just merely an observation which even female Christian leaders and teachers are coming to admit is becoming necessary.  You won’t hear them come out and say it so directly, they’ll usually just advise a woman to take a break from social media or not spend too much time on it, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that even modern women in church leadership are now recommending it for the mental health of the women who become dissatisfied with facebook or instagram (or blogs, etc.).  Even with staying off of social media however, women with this particular sin still have to do some major heart-work & self-evaluation to keep the envy from creeping into their real life interactions.

The sin of envy is a lot older than facebook, so staying away from blogs, facebook, instagram, etc. for them isn’t really a “cure,” for their sin.  It’s a heart issue that stems from not focusing on thankfulness, God’s perfect provision, and being content with what God’s already given you.  And it’s pretty tragic that it seems to take some women well into their late adulthood before they ever learn to really deal with it appropriately.

So even though it’s not a “cure-all,” staying off social media entirely for women who have the sin of envy, is a very good start to get them on the right path spiritually.

I love Proverbs 31 Ministries, it is extremely rare that I disagree with something those women post about – they are usually very on point, and the post linked above isn’t some exception here.  ❤

Karen Ehman wrote a post for Wednesday morning titled “Coming Apart at the Seems,” where she wrote the premise for a woman tempted to envy happy people on social media, is that it makes it “seem” like their life is so much better than the woman who’s envying.

There are so many points you could make on this that it’s hard to know where to start, but the main difference I’ve found between women who go to social media and come away feeling depressed, unhappy, and dissatisfied with their own life, and the women who can have social media and still be happy seeing other people’s happiness, is a heart issue.  One woman is sinning with social media use (envy) and another woman isn’t, at least not in that particular way.  Karen doesn’t cover in depth the women who are able to have social media and enjoy seeing their friends’ happiness because the post would probably be too long, but since I find myself always in that category, I can offer some perspective from the other side.

I’m weird.  I find myself even being happy for people I don’t really like if I see something good is going on in their life – it really makes me happy for them and even contemplate if I’ve misunderstood or misjudged them.  Unless I’ve determined they are an evil person (like terrorist-level evil), I really don’t want to see anyone come to harm.  But again, envy has never been a sin that I’ve wrestled much with.

Karen pointed out in her article that the women who feel depressed or dissatisfied after scrolling through facebook and seeing people doing positive things or being happy, compare their own life to the ones they’re viewing online.  This one word compare is so important here.  If you compare your life to someone who looks to be happier than you or has more material or physical blessings than you, you may feel more depressed.  If you compare yourself to someone who isn’t doing so great in life or failing at things – even making bad decisions, you may start to feel superior and prideful.  The correct response is humility and understanding blessings but also that life isn’t fair for everyone.  Some people really will have much worse life outcomes than others, and it’s not always their fault.  Karen doesn’t touch on those outcomes, but I think it’s important to know and understand that comparing either way can lead to deception and sin.

Her examples were interested to me when coupled with the word she chose “seems” though … keep in mind, this is from her perspective of “comparing UP:”

  1. “Wow.   Seems like she sure has academically brilliant children.   Student of the month awards for both her kids at once?”
  2. “Man.  Look at that fancy dinner with her smiling husband. They seem so in love and happy. And we could never afford a night out on the town at a restaurant like that. Nope. Our nights out are often spent in a spat while we split an entree at a chain eatery to keep the cost down.”
  3. “Oh lovely. A workout selfie at the gym. Look at how flat her stomach is. And those sculpted arms? Seems like she has oodles of time to devote to exercise and a body and appetite that cooperate. Maybe I’ll finally start my diet tomorrow. Or next Monday. Oh, who am I kidding? Seems I’ll never look like that.”

Ok, so since this is so interesting to me (nerd alert), I want to analyze #1… first, the opening word “Wow.” looks like she isn’t really that impressed in a positive way.  Usually, when I say “Wow” about something, there’s real enthusiasm there and it’s expressed more like “Wow!…”   Then we see her go on to say it “seems” like this other woman has academically brilliant children because they both have gotten Student of the Month awards.  Academically “brilliant” may not be an accurate description exactly, Student of the Month surely isn’t that hard to get at most schools, but more of an exaggeration in Karen’s mind.  People who think grandiosely about others tend to have problems idolizing them or feeling really bad when compared next to them – it’s like they don’t realize that they’re exaggerating this other person’s life and success at all.  Again, “Student of the Month” awards don’t necessarily mean her kids are “brilliant.”

From my point of view, when I see someone’s kids succeeding and doing really well, I’m really happy for them or even have a feeling of being over-joyed.  It’s weird… and I don’t know why I’m like that.  Granted our oldest has gotten all-A’s this year at a really hard science and math school, if he was doing very poorly seeing other people’s kids succeed may have affected me differently.  When you’re comparing from a point of view of lack (having a child that doesn’t succeed in school) it may be painful to see friends who have kids who easily excel.

Analyzing #2….  “Man.  Look at that fancy dinner with her smiling husband. They seem so in love and happy. And we could never afford a night out on the town at a restaurant like that. Nope. Our nights out are often spent in a spat while we split an entree at a chain eatery to keep the cost down.”   Again, with the opening word “Man.”, she just doesn’t sound that happy or really impressed with what she’s viewing.  She notices the dinner is “fancy,” that the husband is smiling, that they “seem” so in love and happy.  The “seem” word is what is so interesting to me in Karen’s post.  I get it that there are people who are really faking it on social media… who really may have horrible marriages but put up a front that they are really happy and post pictures to try to “prove it,” so maybe “seems” is the correct word to use just in case.  But I’m certain it’s impossible for those people to keep faking it 100% of the time, eventually an unhappy marriage will make it’s way to the light in one way or another.

I can think of 2 couples my husband and I know who are great examples of truly happy and fulfilled marriages – we know them from real life circumstances, and their facebook posts reflect accurately what is going on in their reality. It is so clear from us knowing them personally, they really DO have more joy and happiness in their marriage than the average person does.  A LOT more joy and happiness.  They are much older, too, so this happiness and joy over that many years is pretty rare to see.  When they post a picture of them out on a date and the husband is smiling, they really ARE having fun and loving being married to each other in that moment.  You aren’t seeing something that “seems” to be happiness, you’re getting a tiny glimpse into their reality.

After saying to herself that they “seem” so in love and “seem” so happy, she promptly compares her date nights to theirs.  We have never had a ton of money, so our date nights really are very cheap and I feel I can relate here at least in that way.  Want a look inside my mind?  For some reason, I just don’t feel envy when I see our friends or family out on expensive dates and enjoying themselves.  Those kinds of dates are rarely in our budget (maybe once or twice a year at most!), but even if they were, we just don’t spend money that way and probably wouldn’t enjoy it if we had enough to try.  If you are familiar with my family’s background I’ve written about before, you’d know that my parents acted like spending money lavishly was insane.  They had a “millionaire next door mentality” almost to the extreme, and thankfully, I married a man who thinks the same way.  So we actually really enjoy going out on frequent dates and spending practically nothing!  It’s like something we’re passionate about or find extra happiness in – in NOT spending money on fancy dinners, etc.  So I don’t relate to her being upset or feeling down that they can’t afford fancy dinners.  When I see those posts on my facebook, I still feel happy for the couple (we need more happy marriages in this world!), and move on with my life.

Our nights out are often spent in a spat while we split an entree at a chain eatery to keep the cost down.”  This is sad!  I have a ton of respect for Karen for being so honest so we can really get a look into what envious women are thinking, but this is tragic to me.  If a married couple can’t even enjoy date nights – nights that are usually carefully planned and away from kids where you can relax and enjoy each other – without fighting (“our nights out are often spent in a spat”) then it makes me wonder how often they fight when they’re doing just day to day struggles??  So from our point of view, when we have date nights, we’re out having fun and enjoying ourselves, and we try to do this to the max.  We laugh and tease each other, we play and flirt and make sexual innuendos – we REALLY enjoy our time alone together and it always ends in having sex when we come back.  No fighting, no little spats, just fun, massive flirtation, adventures together, and good sex.

Sometimes we do snap a picture and post it to facebook, but usually we’re too busy to remember.  But if another woman with Karen’s point of view sees our photo on her news feed and has her same line of thoughts, saying it “seems” like we’re so in love and so happy, she’s getting a peek into our reality.  She really may have a marriage where they fight often when they’re supposed to be out having fun and relaxing, but that’s not the case with us.  Seeing a glimpse into our reality makes her feel bad and feel tempted to envy, or tempted to feel superior by thinking that “well it’s only PART of their lives and who knows what’s REALLY going on.”  If she knew the whole story, how this is just how our marriage operates and how satisfied we are by the end of the date night, cuddled up together after a fun adventure and great sex, feeling both so loved and fulfilled emotionally inside that it feels like a real-life fairy-tale, she’d probably even feel worse about her own marriage knowing our reality was so much better than hers presently.  It’s sad 😦 her reality is the direct opposite from our reality – both in the way we view things (not desiring fancy dinners, being optimistic in hard times financially) and in what’s really going on (fighting every time they’re out on dates versus us hardly fighting ever).

One can see why staying off social media altogether for women prone to this sin would be a good thing, especially for their mental and spiritual health.

Analyzing #3…..   “Oh lovely. A workout selfie at the gym. Look at how flat her stomach is. And those sculpted arms? Seems like she has oodles of time to devote to exercise and a body and appetite that cooperate. Maybe I’ll finally start my diet tomorrow. Or next Monday. Oh, who am I kidding? Seems I’ll never look like that.

So again with the opening words of her facebook observations, this time it even sounds sarcastic.  Maybe it’s not, but it would make sense with the depressive attitude she has while scrolling.  Again, I really commend Karen for being so open and honest here.  So she looks over this woman’s selfie at her flat stomach and sculpted arms, and then makes a judgment that it “seems” like this other woman has “oodles of time to devote to exercise,” and has “a body and appetite that cooperate.”  I think I can relate here somewhat since I see those selfies all the time, too.  But being a part of a fitness group where even extremely overweight women lose ALL the weight overtime, I know for a fact it doesn’t take “oodles of time,” each day to get your body to feeling great, fit, and strong.  Realistically, all it takes is about 20-30 minutes a day… that’s it!  It may take a couple of years doing that though, and usually does for women who have over 100 pounds to lose, but when you’re not that far from your goal (50 pounds or less), it just doesn’t take that long if you’re consistent and committed to yourself succeeding.  So it’s sad from Karen’s viewpoint, she already shoots herself in the foot before she’s even begun by making it “seem” to out of reach.  Then we see her talk about “maybe” starting a diet soon, but there’s no real conviction or commitment in “maybe,” so it’s highly unlikely she’ll really try hard enough.  And finally she ends with a definitive sabotaging statement, giving up and claiming she’ll “never look like that,” anyway, so why try?

Just very tragic to see how these women think when scrolling through facebook or instagram (which is worse since it’s nothing BUT pictures).  The woman taking the selfie really IS probably much happier in her life – not just with her body, although that definitely adds a lot to a woman’s overall happiness, but also the fact that she’s getting up and going to the gym, meeting people there, making friends to support her in her fitness goals and filling her life with positivity.  It feels incredible to take care of yourself physically, and it’s kind to yourself to prioritize your health – the rewards bring so much joy and happiness to a woman’s life.  While Karen is sitting down in an already depressive mood, staring at this other woman’s picture who is out and about, having fun and making positive life choices to make her life happier, it’s only Karen who is the one hurting in this case.

You can read the rest of her post to find out how she brings it around in a lesson of finding contentment in your own life’s choices.  It is a great message and was fun to analyze for me.  So again, staying off social media doesn’t “cure” the sin of envy, that sin will still show up in real life when the woman is tempted to feel that way about coworkers or relatives or friends.  The only thing that seems to combat envy on social media is developing the habit of thankfulness or living every day with “Thanksgiving,” for the blessings in your own life.  Women prone to this sin also need to be wary of feeling prideful if they delete their facebook or social media – using the attitude that it’s “all nonsense anyway,” and looking down on the women who can still have it and not be tempted to envy.  Realizing with humility that it may be too much for them to keep a pure heart, or that they have a heart issue with contentment and gratitude so facebook isn’t “for them,” is a much better response than merely feeling superior because they don’t use it anymore.

 

Something to think about:

If a woman is going through a very rough period in her life, or has experienced many losses all at once, staying off social media altogether would be extremely beneficial to her until she fully heals emotionally and spiritually.  It would be extremely hard to be going through trauma or tragedy and still keep a grateful heart when seeing the happy and beautiful posts/pictures of her facebook acquaintances every day.  It’s almost cruel 😦 .  Same goes for a woman who is already in a depression.  Seeing happy posts or pictures will either tempt her to sin or tempt her to become bitter and more resentful at her own internal feelings.  It’s hard to be happy for other people when you’re depressed – and that’s normal, so giving herself grace and time away from a computer is taking care of herself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

 

 

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.

 

This is the True Joy in Life…

This is the true joy in life,

the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.

The being thoroughly worn out before you’re thrown on the scrap heap,

The being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community

and as I live it is my privilege – my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die,

for the harder I work the more I love.

I rejoice in life for its own sake.

Life is no brief candle to me;

it is a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got a hold of for the moment

and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible

before handing it on to future generations.

-George Bernard Shaw

I watched another Freedomain video recently, and he ended it with this quote, along with the latter below from his own mind:

“Wear yourself out in the pursuit of virtue, and leave only the barest husk to be thrown in the grave.

Just be used up completely.

Be emptied of words, be emptied of power, be emptied of dedication, be emptied of challenge, be emptied of courage – SPEND IT ALL.

Let only your skeleton be what the worms get – nothing else.

Have everything else spent to the last penny, and let that last penny of spending be that which kills you, because you have nothing left to give.

And that I think is the satisfying life.”

Stefan Molyneux

***

When watching this video over the course of a few days, the ending quote hit home with why I started blogging in the first place almost 4 years ago.  It really was mostly a creative outlet, but every Wednesday, I’d try to post something on marriage.  We’ve seen and known so many horrible or even “just limping along” marriages, that I wanted to impart some basic knowledge to people who didn’t know these things, and yet were searching for it.  I think this is normal for people who find out great truths to want to impart that knowledge to someone else.  Why on earth would you hide something that can help people with building better marriages, which in turn, creates healthier, happier children, and less divorce, better societies and more productive, good people in this world?!?!

Seriously, if you have that information and are not sharing it somehow, you may want to really ask yourself why you are keeping that valuable help from other people?  This isn’t meant as some kind of condemning judgment, and obviously sharing it can be done in a million different ways, I’m not saying everyone has to go start a blog or youtube channel and try to make a difference in those venues – but it’s just pure fact that by not sharing that information (which is like a treasure really) with people in dire need of it, is morally wrong.

It’s easier to see this fact when you apply it to being wealthy and not generous in your giving.  If a wealthy person isn’t giving in some way to society – to purely good, helpful causes, not the kind that perpetuate problems in society – then it is just like the rich man in the Bible who stores up grain all for himself:

Luke 12:13-21

[13] Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

[14] Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” [15] Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

[16] And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. [17] He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

[18] “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. [19] And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘

[20] “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

[21] “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.

Being “rich toward God,” is sharing the gospel and biblical truths about how life is meant to be lived.  Sharing that often comes in form of writing, books, blogs, but doesn’t have to only be in those ways.

“The lips of the wise broadcast knowledge, but not so the heart of fools.”

Proverbs 15:7

The best sharing is face-to-face with people in your real life, but writing and blogs is also extremely beneficial to many people – and is a better way to “broadcast” that knowledge and wisdom.  I know this personally because I’ve had the amazing opportunity of being told by those I’ve been blessed to touch!

Looking back, it’s been awe-inspiring to affect so many women’s and men’s lives through simply writing about marriage and sex or parenting.  Giving other people Truth so that they can better live their lives the way God would want them to, has been a privilege that I didn’t foresee when starting out writing as a mere creative outlet!

Our own marriage is in large part as good as it is because of other people who took their own time, energy and heart and passion to write great marriage books that I read during our first year when I worked at a Christian bookstore!  If they had thought what they had to say wasn’t important, didn’t need to be shared, or were neurotically worried that men reading their books would “compare their wives to the women writing these valuable books,” we would probably not have the marriage we have today.  The Truths we learned from these godly authors were SO valuable and important – their books were their ministry.  Many people who benefited from their writing would have missed out on those blessings if the authors had decided sharing these Truths were wrong – including the authors themselves!  Because sharing with others Truths that are life-giving is a blessing in and of itself!

While studying what these authors had to say on a wife’s role in a marriage during our first year, I was amazed it is so easy to get married when one has literally NO IDEA how to maintain that marriage or live together in a compatible way.  Even driving a car takes more time and effort in studying the laws of what is right and wrong to do while in it and out on the road.  I mean seriously, you get more instruction and valuable information when getting a driver’s license than you do before you get married – no wonder there are so many divorces or miserable marriages!

Most of it is likely due to lack of knowledge of how or what a good marriage actually looks like from day to day.

So make your life count!  Don’t live an “unlived life” full of complaining, slander, and wasting your time doing things that harm you!  You are meant for so much more than that ❤

Here is Stefan’s video, and again, it look me days to get through it little bits at a time.  And it’s not for children’s ears!!  He’s an atheist, so he cusses sometimes, but the overall messages he does are full of wisdom.

Unhappily Married Women Claiming Happy Couples are “Fake” on Social Media

Around our last anniversary in August, I saw a viral blog post going around that blatantly told happy married couples (those on facebook) that their happy photos and positive notes they post to each other makes certain married couples feel bad about their own marriages.  Here is the specific post, “I Cannot, In Good Conscience, Participate in the Love Your Spouse Challenge,” where one woman took the self-righteous approach of declaring that the challenge participants were so fake, that she just couldn’t participate by honoring her husband for 7 days posting positive things about him and their marriage because it wouldn’t be “real” enough.

There are enough articles and comments out there that explain the same general feelings of married women on FB:

“You happily married couples can’t really be that happy (we realistic ones know you’re lying to us), plus you make me feel bad because my marriage isn’t like that. You’re faking it in your photos and not being “real,” let me show you what IS real by posting negative shit about my husband and I publicly.”

And boy these women really meant it!  The blog post that went viral has actual photos of the writer and her husband angry at each other, fighting and arguing in the kitchen, her denying him sex because she was “too tired,” and on and on.  Obviously they were all staged (nevermind the irony of having to fake “realistic” negative pictures at the same time you’re criticizing posed wedding photos!!), but the message was clear: REAL COUPLES POST NEGATIVE THINGS ABOUT THEIR MARRIAGE ON FACEBOOK.  Fake couples only post the positive things and therefore aren’t “real” enough for these hypercritical women.

Just imagine if it were turned around on the wives!  What if husbands suddenly thought it was great to start complaining on facebook about how their wife doesn’t look the same anymore or turn them on as much as she did 10 years ago?  What he posted about how annoying she’s been to live with or how she doesn’t always do certain chores in a timely manner and this drives him crazy?  These are all things women complain fairly open about in one way or another, and it’s accepted easily in our society.  But wow!  Imagine if a husband decided to write an article posting the worst parts of their marriage (in pictures!!) so that other men could commiserate with him?  It just wouldn’t happen, and if it did, it would be shamed by men and women alike.  It’s not acceptable for a married man to complain publicly about how annoying his wife is, or share pictures of her without makeup on his FB to be “real.”

Sharing your grievances about your spouse publicly in any venue, should never be considered appropriate.

It’s disrespectful and a violation of his trust and privacy.

Our spouses know our most intimate flaws and failings.  In a good, healthy marriage, there’s usually a boundary there that the spouses protect each other from – it used to be called “not airing your dirty laundry.”

And then we get to the chosen method for this sharing of “real life.”  These women choose facebook (or blogs) to “vent” about how difficult their marriage has been.  Their husband is more than likely “tagged” into the post, meaning ALL – and I mean ALL of his friends – past and present, coworkers, boss or Supervisors, even acquaintances or possibly worse, people who don’t like him or are competing with him in the workplace, will be exposed to his wife humiliating him and divulging the private (negative) aspects of their marriage and for what?

To be more “real” with her facebook friends.  It looks more like betrayal to me when I see women engaging in this kind of public behavior.

His honor, respect and privacy must be sacrificed so she can compete with the other women by being “more real,” than the ones who post only happy and positive things about their spouses.

It kind of boggled my mind for awhile, wondering why other married couples would be that angry at seeing happy ones?  Why would they care?  Why would posting about fighting, or how they’re usually too tired to have sex with their husbands make them somehow more “real?”

Anyone reading this probably already understood this was what was really going on, but apparently I’m not that smart.  I thought these couples really did believe that the happy ones were lying.  They may actually believe that, but there’s something else there that I finally caught on to:

They really ARE that unhappy seeing the happy couples, because their marriage IS less fulfilling, less passionate, and less enjoyable.  😦

This is probably obvious to everyone else (especially the red pill readers who come here), but somehow it took me months to figure out (lol sad).  I had completely forgotten about this viral post, and only recently caught on to what was really happening after seeing a few more couples we knew divorce in that time, and reading what the wives said afterward.  Their marriages really WERE miserable, and mostly due to miscommunication and lack of meeting needs for the spouses that spiraled into ugly fights and damage beyond repair to their relationship.  Of course when you’re fighting bitterly with your spouses day in and day out, it’s hard to be happy for the happy, successful couples.  I think they truly believe the happy couples live that way as well, and are “hiding” their misery behind a charade of happiness.

It also became obvious when reading these new-trending posts on a couples’ anniversary where the wife feels like it’s necessary to quantify her happiness by explaining that they’ve also had a miserable marriage as well (or have almost divorced), that this is the “new norm.”  Being positive and genuinely happy isn’t looked at as “real” anymore… in fact, it’s looked down upon.  Happy couples are not “real,” unless they were genuinely miserable in their marriage at some point, too.

One woman told me “Well, you want to be relate-able.”

I just don’t know about that.  Relate-able sounds like “average.”  Relate-able falls in line with the status quo, and with so many married couples getting divorced, I really don’t want to be relate-able in that way.  I don’t want to have to complain about my marriage to somehow be “relate-able” with other women.  If our happiness makes others think we’re fake or makes them feel bad about their own marriage, we don’t have control over that.  So it’s not our concern 🙂  Plus, they are only harming themselves mentally when they dwell on how fake the happy marriages are – what does it do to us? We’ll just continue being happy, while the miserable couples will continue dwelling on their misery.

It’s a little hard to want to be relate-able in our present day culture to be honest.

Relate-able means being overweight since so many women now are overweight, and it’s rare to see a fit mom that’s had multiple children.  Relate-able means complaining constantly about housework, or taking for granted the gift of being a mom – things that science has proven actually make us LESS happy when we vent our frustrations.  Relate-able means valuing the secular things of this world more than the spiritual maturity that comes from a steady walk with God.  Relate-able is having had sex before marriage – so you’re not relate-able if you married as a virgin and saved that gift for your husband.  Relate-able is having had an abortion or a devastating past full of bad decisions and multiple sexual partners.  I’ve never really been that “relate-able” in these ways, and you know?  I don’t want to be.

Relate-able seems to be a lot of **negative.**

Even just being Christians, I believe we’re called to acknowledge we’re all sinners, none of us are perfect, however we called to a higher standard than just trying to come across as “relate-able.”

Maybe we’re supposed to be different for a purpose.  Maybe complaining about our marriage or sharing how miserable it’s been on FB isn’t what Christian women are supposed to do.

 

“For it is GOD who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose.  Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.  Hold firmly to the message of life.  Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run in vain or labor for nothing.”

Philippians 2:13-16

 

 

This is one of my most favorite verses in the Bible… Philippians itself is probably my favorite book because it explains so much about gratitude and joy in life.  But if you’re a married woman reading this, re-read this verse and really allow it to sink in.  Apply it to your marriage.  To your children.  To your housework or anything that tends to annoy you daily.

You’re not called to be relate-able ❤ .  Your purpose is higher than that.

Jesus was so unrelate-able the Pharisees killed Him!  He’s the perfect example of someone pure and faultless getting falsely accused and hated because of His purity and Truthfulness that shamed those who weren’t like Him.  You don’t have to fit in by doing what the masses are doing – whether that’s having sex before marriage, or complaining online about your husband or sharing how miserable your marriage has been so others can relate to you.

You’re called to shine like the stars with your purity as children of God.  It feels wrong to type that phrase because it is so not politically correct and many Christians even take it the wrong way, accusing women who aim for this as being prideful and arrogant.  Even from a Christian woman I’ve gotten the message, “There’s nothing special about you!  How dare you think you could ‘shine like a star’ with being pure and following God!  How dare you have something to say or correct someone like me who knows so much more than you! You’re just full of pride and don’t know anything or have the experience yet.

We have a much stronger testimony when we aren’t striving to fit in with the status quo, when we’re living out our faith and convictions day by day.  Our testimonies actually mean something when we’ve walked that road of doing the exceptional for Christ, and have experienced the trials of living “unrelate-able” when it’s going directly against the grain of our culture.  Anyone who’s lived by their convictions knows this truth that it’s often isolating, painful, and full of self-sacrifice.

Instead of merely aiming for average, we can choose to be inspiring and encouraging, focusing on what Philippians 4:8 tells us to:

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.

Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

 

Go out and shine like stars in purity as children of God,

Stephanie

 

Related Reading:

I Cannot in Good Conscience Participate in the Love Your Spouse Challenge

Dear Happy Couples: I Hate You

Updates!

baby-sophie

I’ve been really neglecting this blog, but writing the Proverbs 31 study hasn’t stopped for me (even though it’s stopped online), it’s just taking a different avenue than I expected as there’s been a request to tailor it to police wives specifically.  So I’m writing (offline) two different books essentially, one that will hopefully be in our family for however long the children and grandchildren value it, and another that may go on to be for police wives all over the country.

So you’ll start to see the posts in this series being removed and no longer available online here.  They’ve been up for months and months so hopefully anyone who was interested has gotten something out of them, and if someone wants the ending posts, just comment or send an email to let me know.

I haven’t officially posted about this here yet, but all of our “real life” friends and family are already aware – I’m 6 months pregnant with our 3rd baby, and IT’S A GIRL!!!!

With that in mind, the Proverbs 31 series, which was written primarily for our own family and future little ones (children and grandchildren hopefully), we are OVER THE MOON to have this opportunity to raise a girl.  Raising boys into strong, godly and fierce men is extremely important, and I’d say raising girls into virtuous women that fiercely hold onto their beliefs in this culture is equally as important, and it’s great that this study/book for our family will have a feminine reader when she’s ready!

I had kind of thought honestly that I’d have to wait until we had grandchildren to get a girl in our family, so this was unexpected, a little scary, but VERY much welcomed!

So after the posts disappear, I’ll probably get back to writing here on various topics concerning anti-feminism, etc.  My husband’s expressed interested in writing more as well, which is so exciting for me personally – he has the greatest ideas and I love that he’ll be expressing them here.  It will be a place where his thoughts on these times we’re in will be recorded so that our sons (and daughter and maybe our grandchildren) will be able to read and understand how he reacted to things during this strange time in America.  I’m planning on printing all his posts and keeping them in a binder (or just having them professionally bound later on when they’re “completed”).  I think it’s great to have them here, too, because anyone else that is interested (not part of our family obviously), will have access to them.

It will be like history for our family in a way, to be able to read and know intimately what our Patriarch thought!  Just so awesome!

 

And random news:  I’ve started a new blog a few months ago about fitness, and especially focused on fitness for women who want to stay in the best shape possible even after having multiple children.  Disclaimer: It shows a lot of women in bikinis :/ it’s just the best way to look at body percentage fat, etc. and is a woman’s blog intentionally.  So if lots of skin bothers you, it’d be better for you to avoid it altogether.  That blog is especially important to me in regards to our coming daughter – her perspective on fitness, the perils of being overweight, and how our culture is becoming more and more insane in almost every dimension (but especially in regards to unhealthy choices), are all extremely important issues to us.  We want her to understand the lies behind “body-shaming,” and “fat acceptance,” and come into adulthood with a healthy and godly mindset that acknowledges what true fitness really is and looks like for women.

I want her to understand how hard it is to keep fit over the course of her lifetime, but also how rewarding it is for her to do so!  I want her to be compassionate toward others who are failing in this area of their lives, but also strong in her beliefs that being overweight is not “good” or “ok” for people, or even God’s best for them.

So every post there, is written in mind for her to read it in the future.

Read if you dare 😉

THE FIT YOU

The Proverbs 31 Woman’s Stewardship of Her Talents

“She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.”

Proverbs 31:24

Welcome back if you’re still following this series of posts about the Proverbs 31 woman!  It’s been a lonnng time since the last post, but it’s been good for me to take a break in order to fully process all the things happening regarding the police and violence against them in our country.  I could write many posts just about all the emotions I went through during this time, but I may save that for another lesson series in the future.  For a few more weeks, this blog has the purpose of focusing on what God sees as beautiful, feminine character.  We’re still zeroing-in on the virtues and powerful example of the woman talked about in Proverbs 31.  For all the things that have happened during the course of writing this little series, it has still continued to prevail and change lives.  I’ve had the wonderful experience of getting to hear how God’s used these posts to help open up women’s minds to new ways of looking at what truly matters, and it is so humbling to know that God is using these posts for His purpose in blessing others.

When I was researching for these verses, the image illustrated in my imagination was that of her going about their society, taking her merchandise to the ports in order to sell them to the merchants, walking through the markets buying the food she selectively picks out from them as we saw in verse 14.  She moves through their city, going about doing good for her family, dressed in fine linens and yes, this strange and seemingly worldly choice of extravagant purple.  She is a walking advertisement for the beauty that her hands create!

Let’s dive in fully to the meanings behind this verse.

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She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants –

Another look into our virtuous woman’s talented mind for business!  The word, “merchants,” used here, is literally “Cananites,” and it is talking about the Phoenician merchants.

“She delivered these goods to the merchants or traders.  These were Phoenician traders, according to the meaning of the Hebrew word.  Phoenicians were known for their trade and commerce and their skill as a seafaring people. Phoenicia’s two major ports were Tyre and Sidon.

The virtuous woman provided a source of income for her family through her business. “When other women impoverish their husbands by buying, she enriches her husband by selling those valuable commodities for which there is a constant demand” (George Lawson, Commentary on Proverbs, page 567).

“It is only modern pride and laziness which has introduced the idea that it is inconsistent with the dignity of a fine lady to make profit of her own manufactures.  This virtuous woman, although her husband sits among the elders, does not think it a discredit, but an honor to herself, to make fine linen and girdles for sale; and the wise will praise her on account of it” (George Lawson, p. 576).” (2)

These were the same merchants she more than likely bought the purple cloth or garments, or the dye itself, from.  She would take what she was able to afford, and increase it to bless others from the work of her hands!

She used her God-given talents to financially bless her family –

The woman in Proverbs 31 is much like Tabitha in that she makes clothing and looks after the poor and needy as we’ll see in verse 20; however, unlike what we know of Tabitha, she also uses her talents to gain a financial blessing in return.  Let’s look in depth at what it means to use our gifts that God has given us in Matthew 25:14-30.

The Parable of the Talents the Master gives his servants:

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a] and entrusted to them his property.

15 To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more.

17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.

18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’

21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.

22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’

23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’

26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.

28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.

But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

 

What an incredible parable!  And how convicting is it that we should be taking our callings, our gifts – our purpose so seriously.  Historically, a “talent” was actually a large sum of money, however since Jesus loved to teach using parables, this was never really about the money!  Still the comparison is important to understand because of how it relates to us and our relationship with God.

Here is some history regarding the setting of His story:

The outward framework of the parable lies in the Eastern way of dealing with property in the absence of the owner. Two courses were open as an approximation to what we call investment. The more primitive and patriarchal way was for the absentee to make his slaves his agents. They were to till his land and sell the produce, or to use the money which he left with them as capital in trading. In such cases there was, of course, often an understanding that they should receive part of the profits, but being their master’s slaves, there was no formal contract.

The other course was to take advantage of the banking, money-changing, money-lending system, of which the Phoenicians were the inventors, and which at the time was in full operation throughout the Roman empire. The bankers received money on deposit and paid interest on it, and then lent it at a higher percentage, or employed it in trade, or (as did the publicani at Rome) in farming the revenues of a province. This was therefore the natural resource, as investment in stocks or companies is with us, for those who had not energy to engage in business.” (11)

The “talents” represent the gifts God’s given each of us –   

“By the talents here we are to understand gifts or endowments conferred for a spiritual end, powers of body and mind, abilities natural and acquired, health, strength, long life, understanding, judgment, memory, learning, knowledge, eloquence, influence, and authority over others, wealth, privileges, or offices, civil or religious, and indeed every power and advantage of which a good or bad use may be made.” (12)

Jesus’ particular comparison of our gifts with large lump sums of money given to us, spoke to me deeply as I’ve been researching and studying for this post.  It’s as if He wants us to look at what He’s already given us – our specific gifts, artistic abilities, talents, etc. as we would a hundred thousand dollars in the bank.  We often feel so ill-quipped for the task, so wrongly chosen!  But we forget that it’s Him who has already equipped us – if we were able to do it all on our own ability, how would He receive the glory?  Throughout the ages, God has made it His signature move to call people who never thought they’d be the right one for the job.  The surprise of having God call you to do something that you’ve never expected yourself to do is bewildering and even terrifying.  Yet He expects us to use our gifts, skills, abilities, talents, hobbies, passions, and even connections to invest them in different avenues so that we can multiply our return on those investments for His sake!  Everything we do is ultimately done for the glory of God, and can be used to further His Kingdom.  Whatever impact we have in our sphere of influence, He wants us to use it to glorify Him.  Whether it’s teaching children, teaching Bible studies, cooking, drawing, sewing clothes, taking care of little children, taking care of our own families, or painting, God has a unique plan for the gifts He’s given us.

In plain speak, this parable is calling us to take seriously the work we do to further His Kingdom.

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Whatever we do, we must do it well, and to the best of our ability because God is our Master.  It’s not acceptable to hide our talents, to squander the gifts He’s given us.  We will all be called to account at the end of our lives like the servants were, when we’ll have to answer to God for what we chose to do as stewards over our lives.  It’s incredible to think about the fact that we’ve all been given a specific blessing!  No matter who you are, no matter if you’ve realized it or not; God has a specific and glorious work for you to do for His Kingdom!

A warning against comparison –

This doesn’t mean that all our ministries will look the same, we are different parts of the Body of Christ, fitted to do drastically different works and functions.  Whatever your specific work is, be assured that it is precious and valuable in God’s sight.  The servants in the parable were given different amounts of talents, each according to their ability.  This is huge and so important to comprehend!  Some were given more gifts than others, and some less so.  One might be tempted to say that this means God isn’t fair or just – otherwise He would give everyone the same amount to work from.  In my opinion, this parable actually proves how just God is: that He only expects from us what He knows we have the ability to produce!  His fairness comes into play in that He never expected the servant with the one talent to be able to produce 10 like the first did.  He takes into account our weaknesses and humanity.  He takes into account our discipline and proven record of stewardship.  If we’re faithful over a little, He promises to give us more to be responsible for.  This is why we’re not supposed to look at another woman and compare ourselves with what she’s able to accomplish (more or less) than what we’re accomplishing in our lives.  Our focus should be on our own spiritual development and industry of our talents.

I’m curious to know what was really going on in the last servant’s mind.  Was he focusing on how he’d only been given one talent compared to the others? Did he feel disadvantaged?  Ill-equipped?  He said he was afraid of the Master judging him if he didn’t at least preserve what he’d been given stewardship over.  Isn’t that a bit like us when we say to ourselves that we don’t want that extra responsibility?  That extra liability?  When we lack faith in what God’s done for and in us?  That if we dare to step out in faith and teach that class, write that book, start a small business, invite those neighbors over, help when we can meet a need, make that first move toward whatever ministry we’re called into, we don’t even try because we may be judged a failure for it?  That was the main excuse of the last servant, but he paid dearly for it in the end!

Comparison binds us and can prevent us from fulfilling the will of God for our life.  Satan would love for us to compare ourselves to what others are given or able to do, and come up short, discouraged, and ultimately, defeated.  He wants us to have a fear of failure so that we’re never brave enough to even start!  He wants us to be the opposite of what God has planned out for our lives: Unfruitful, unproductive, not letting our lights shine, miserable, and taking longer, more painful routes than needed on our journey.

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The devastation of a missed blessing –

Now that we’ve looked at the possibilities of why the last servant chose to bury his talent rather than use it to produce more for God, let’s focus in on the end goal of why this lesson is important.  When we refuse to act on what we know God’s called us to do, when we run away from His purpose for our life, rather than embrace it whole-heartedly, when we are too insecure that God could or would ever use us, or afraid that He’ll judge us harshly if we fail along the way… we are setting ourselves up for the devastation of a missed blessing!  When we use our gifts to bless our families or the people whom God puts in our path, we are actually receiving a blessing ourselves.

It’s in the giving!

‘Well done, good and faithful servant.  

You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.

Enter into the joy of your master.

Receiving those words at the end of our life when we’ve completed this marathon race with perseverance, having not given up or given way to fear, are what we’re hoping for.  Setting our eyes on the “prize,” as Paul refers to it, helps us keep our focus and purpose clear, rejecting the weights that would pull us down, make us slower, and distract us from the path of righteousness.

 

The Proverbs 31 woman’s main ministry –

Let’s not forget what we learned about at the beginning of this series:

“Her main ministry is to do her husband good and not evil, if she succeeds at anything else, and yet fails in this area of serving her husband, she has lost everything because she’s failed to maintain the most important relationship on earth that God has given her.”

This again is so beautifully displayed within the Parable of the Talents.  Not everyone will be able to handle extra ministries around their church on top of having toddlers.  Not everyone will be able to manage a full-time business that brings in money to bless her family, and also have babies.  There are some women can do those things and do them well, but it’s my opinion they’ve been blessed with a “talent” that is rather rare, and God knew they would be a good steward over this added responsibility because of their personality type or discipline.  The more normal example to see is productiveness based on the different seasons of life, however we have to keep in mind that our main ministry is to do our husbands good (look back over that chapter if you want to refresh your memory, “good” encompasses a whole lot!).  Simply just managing to be the best wife and mother to your children may be all that you are able to handle at this time, and that is totally ok!  You’re working for God’s approval, not for another woman’s opinion on your life.  If we’re tempted to compare ourselves with someone else able to do more, we have to keep in mind the season of life we’re in, and our own particular strengths and weaknesses.  God doesn’t want to burden us down with expectations that we can’t meet, and He knows what we can and cannot do.  If He had expected the servant with the one talent to produce as much as the servant given 5 talents, our God would be a harsh and cruel Master.  But that’s not how the story goes, He is compassionate and takes into account our natural abilities and gifts when He judges how much we’re able to produce for Him.  A woman with young children may not be able to spend her time volunteering or making substantial money, but she may have just enough time to deeply study God’s word and prepare lessons to teach it to her children.  A woman in the middle of growing her family may not be able to write books and teach a woman’s Bible study, but she may be able to give to those in need when the opportunities come up, or carefully plan out how to bring extra meals when a woman in their church needs assistance.  We all need different amounts of rest and sleep, just like we all have different amounts of discipline and energy.  The most important thing is that we’re working on and cultivating the blessings and gifts God has already given to us, and doing our best to serve Him with them.

Lydia a woman faithful over her talents – 

Let’s look again to another woman from the New Testament, a rather obscure woman like Tabitha, who was yet again, another example of a real life Proverbs 31 woman.  When we looked at Tabitha, we saw a loving, kind woman who spent her time giving herself fully to mission work, and making clothing for the persecuted Christians in need and widows of Joppa.  Lydia at first glance, is so entirely opposite of Tabitha it’s striking.  This is a great example of how becoming a Proverbs 31 woman will look different for each of us, according to the plans God has for us.  It’s not known whether Tabitha was rich or poor, and some scholars have debated either way, however, Lydia, we know, was a very wealthy woman.

According to Acts 16, Lydia was a seller of that same strange, brilliant color we learned about before; the same color that the Proverbs 31 woman dressed herself in: purple.  Placed in the right region at the right time, Lydia was a resident of Thyatira, an ancient Greek city in what we now know of as modern day Turkey.  Thyatira was known for it’s many “guilds,” which were medieval associations of skilled artisans or merchants, and that often had considerable power (13).  Lydia more than likely belonged to one of Thyatira’s most powerful and influential guild, the Dyers Guild.  Because Thyatira’s waters were so perfect for dyeing, the city produced indigo, scarlet, and purple dyes, with the latter making the city famous among the region.

Again we are faced with the strange element of where the spiritual meets the secular world.  The examples of this in the Bible are always important because they teach us how to be in the world, but not of the world.  Having now studied deeply in the last chapter, the sheer status symbol of this color purple, of the wealth and secular usage behind it’s being purchased, sold, or worn, it again reminds us of what truly matters to God.  Lydia was immersed in the secular world of fashion, outward appearance, the arts, brilliant and costly dyes, and great wealth obtained from selling purple.  And yet we’re told that this woman loved God and was capable of opening her heart to him!  Let’s look at the passages to learn more about this woman:

Acts 16:12-15 (NLT)

12 From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days.

13 On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. 14 One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God.

As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying.

15 She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests.

“If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.

The impression Lydia made on the missionaries was so welcoming that they actually returned to her house to receive rest after their imprisonment in Philippi for preaching the gospel.  Her gift of hospitality to God’s messengers was greatly needed and appreciated!

Acts 16:40 (NLT)

40 “When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town.”

Paul also writes to the believers of Philippi (Lydia being one of the prominent women of the church), in his letter written from a jail cell, at the end of his life to the Phillippians.  If you read closely, you can almost hear the affection in his words for the believers:

Philippians 1:3-10

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.

9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

Lydia’s occupation as a seller of purple might have been a “questionable” calling to the Pharisees, but we can’t deny that her simple yet powerful example has been put in the Bible for our betterment.  Blogger Heather Whidden has a unique perspective on this “unlikely meeting,”

“Consider for a moment how unlikely it is that this meeting even took place to begin with. Lydia, a seller and producer of the much-coveted color purple that can only be afforded by the wealthiest, the Roman elite, crosses paths with Paul, the most influential apostle of Christianity at a river. That’s about as likely as Billy Graham meeting Vera Wang at the local bus station. And yet, this is where God chose to open the door for the gospel to be taken to the hearts of the Roman world and beyond; in the heart of a woman who sold purple.” (14, Emphasis mine)

Because of Lydia’s unique position in society, having influence and access to multiple sellers of the dyes and clothing, as well as her belonging to the Dyer’s Guild, she would be in the perfect place to bring the gospel to people who could spread it even further through their trade.  When the Lord opened her heart after hearing Paul speak at the river, we see that she grew an immediate desire to give the gift of hospitality to the missionaries.

Let’s look at a few things in common between Lydia and our Proverbs 31 woman:

  • They both show the gift of hospitality
  • They are both godly women with whom God is pleased
  • They both are humble and pure in spirit
  • They are both dealers or sellers of the expensive purple cloth
  • They may both be women who wore this purple color in their clothing choices
  • They both use their talents to obtain wealth that they use in turn to bless others
  • They are both good stewards over their talents and skills, being mindful to use them to further God’s Kingdom

Lydia’s work brought in blessings which in turn, blessed the believers of the new church!  God used the rather secular work of one woman, who was being faithful over the stewardship He had given her, to reach many others throughout the region!  Let’s never discount the affect we can have when we choose to be productive servants, and use our gifts and talents for God’s glory to encourage others and bring them closer to His will for them!

Next we’ll be looking at how the Proverbs 31 woman’s proceeds are used to bless not only her family, but also paved the way for her to reach out to the poor (verse 20), and the needy.

 

Interesting/cited Articles –

  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
  2. The Middletown Bible Church
  3. Matthew Poole’s Commentary
  4. Tabitha: A woman who lived for Jesus
  5. Beautiful in God’s Eyes by Elizabeth George
  6. Natural History by (Henry) Pliny the Elder
  7. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
  8. Greek Lexicon
  9. The History of Purple Cloth & Fabrics
  10. Hebrew Lexicon
  11. Elicott’s Commentary for English Readers
  12. Benson Commentary
  13. Lydia Bible Gateway
  14. The Power of Purple

Applications will be written into the individual posts during the next few weeks