Peace in the Face of Death & Persecution

This is part of Lori Alexander’s most recent post, I thought it was an amazing testimony many of you would like to read and think about.  It was from a woman in her online chat room:

 

“Friends, I know that with the church shooting, many are experiencing fear and apprehension that such a thing could happen. Mentally, we know God is sovereign and in control, but we still experience worry for our families and ourselves. Could this happen to us? I wanted to tell you my story, not to sensationalize, but to testify to God’s faithfulness to his promises. (Warning, it may be upsetting to some.)

During my senior year of nursing school, I was sitting in class taking mid-terms when a classmate came in and began shooting. This was fifteen years ago when the only school shooting had been Columbine. No one knew what was happening and it took a while for us to realize. He shot one professor immediately. Our second professor was very vocal about her Christian faith. (She would always end her lectures telling us that she couldn’t talk about it in class, but if we ever wanted someone to talk to about where she found hope or someone to pray for us,to call or visit her any time after class.)

My classmate then turned, pointed the gun at her and asked, “Where is your God now?” She answered boldly, “Whether I live or die, does not change that God is right here, right now.” He then killed her and turned the gun on the class.

Countless times in scripture God tells us, “Do not be afraid.” I want to tell you that He is faithful to His promises. Hiding under the table that morning I knew I was going to die, but the most amazing thing happened, I felt no fear. There was only peace. I remember being sad about how upset my parents would be, but also at peace that God would take care of them.

The most real and authentic prayer of my life was also going to be my last. It was: (CLICK HERE TO READ THE END).

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How Do You Deal with a Critical Christian?

This is another idea that is fascinating to me… that a Christian would continually give themselves over to being critical, nit-picky, or sarcastic (which means using humor to try to partially cover up the sting of their criticism).

A critical-spirit Christian, just like a “grouchy Christian,” is a walking oxymoron!

No Christian should allow themselves to be critical, sarcastic, or grouchy toward others, because by definition, those behaviors are behaviors of the flesh, and are no way representing Christ to the world.

But what about the benign Christians who are always critical and try to be humorous about it, and genuinely see nothing wrong with their hidden contempt?

What do you do with a woman who is intent on enjoying pointing out the flaws of her Christian brothers and sisters?  All the intricate ways they are “getting it wrong?”  What do you do with a Christian woman who loves to nit-pick, harp on her many pet peeves that annoy her, and allow these things to bother her so much that they get in the way of her enjoying Christian songs – things that should be enjoyed with a kind spirit?

I recently used an example to teach other women, of what a Critical Spirit looks like, where a woman was so annoyed by the lyrics of Christian worship song, she let it occupy her thoughts so much, that she felt she just had to share her annoyance publicly with others from her blog.  Not only was this woman a perfect example of tearing down another Christian’s work for the pleasure of humor, but also of letting her annoyances and “pet peeves” dictate a pretty big part of her mind and work for God (her writing).  It’s consistently become part of her blogging career bread-and-butter, this delighting (with humor!) in the ways other Christians are “getting it wrong.”  She saw nothing wrong about her actions, literally felt no prick in her conscience when confronted.

People like this perplex me, because while they’re SO critical of their Christian brothers and sisters, they often fail to see the giant plank in their own eye.  They literally have zero concept of their own sin in their behavior that makes them so critical or annoyed or “worried.”  LOL… they will forever be “worried” over all the Christians “doing it wrong,” only so that they never really focus on what God wants them to be learning or discovering about themselves!  To them, seeing other’s flaws is much more interesting!  And a very convenient distraction from growth.

No Christian should be dwelling so much on the ways other people annoy them.  Not only is it sinful thinking that will eventually find it’s ways into our words and actions, but because it will actually cause them to be that much more critical of someone or something basically good (not worth being so critical over), the next time they’re tempted to.  Giving in to constant criticism (that springs from an untamed Critical Spirit) is allowing themselves to continually sin in their hearts toward others.  It’s a pattern of behavior that if they see nothing wrong with it, they will continue to engage in without feeling guilty.  Obviously, sinning continually and never feeling guilty for it, is extremely dangerous.  No Christian should be focusing so much on their brothers and sisters failings that they make their blog or writing career based on pointing those things out, even if it is for humor’s sake.

For a woman who consistently behaves this way, always finding something new to be annoyed or “worried” about, always focusing on outward annoyances around her instead of inward where she can actually change something, is she truly living the Christian life the way she’s meant to be?  Is she really allowing her words and actions to impact the world for greater, or for worse?  I personally believe it’s for worse.  I think a Critical Spirit Christian tempts other men and women to become equally sinfully critical as well, and what’s worse, they learn to hide their sin underneath a facade of humor so that it’s more socially acceptable.  I also think it’s catching, and the fact that many of the people who have this sin tend to act more perfect or righteous (of course!  Because if they didn’t feel this way, they wouldn’t be so critical of other people!), and deny that they are sinning at all, makes it even harder for their community to be at peace with them.

How can you deal with someone so obviously living in sin against you and others, when they are adamant that they’re “right” and doing nothing wrong in harming the unity of the Body of Christ?  How do you make someone take their sin seriously, when they’ve so carefully hidden it in humor, that it almost looks socially acceptable?

Basically?  You can’t 😦 .

I believe, and am teaching other women, that for Christians like this, the best “tools” in your spiritual tool box is simply prayer and avoidance.

A hardened, yet saved heart that enjoys the sin of focusing on their annoyances about other Christians, can only find healing and help when they begin to see themselves in actual sin.

You can’t help them with this unless you’re an older, trusted adviser – an outsider will be brushed off quickly and without any prick to their conscience.

Since they already believe they are so much better, and “doing these things (that they are so annoyed or critical of others about) right,” it would be extremely hard to get through to them.  It would take a lot of humility on their part, which usually isn’t the case.

It’s just one of those situations where it’s explained perfectly in the Bible:

 

Philippians 4:8-9? “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, [for good] will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

From here: The Bible doesn’t promise peace to those who dwell on the faults of others! It says, “[The Lord] will keep them in perfect peace, whose minds are stayed on [Him]! (Isa. 26:3).

 

Barbie Knows How to Be Fruitful & Multiply!

be fruitful multiply

This is so cute!  A fellow police wife and friend has a daughter who takes toys to the store sometimes.  Apparently the whole Barbie family had to go on this grocery outing LOL!

This is what she said —

“My children fully believe in the word of God

and know that we are to be fruitful and multiply,

this includes Barbie world.

I must say that I will miss these days

when I’m caught off guard

either by carrying around a huge stuffed animal that is a duck

or pregnant Barbies…..

it’s Saturday y’all.

That’s all I got.”

This is partly why I love Texas.  It’s the South, the Christian women are REAL.  And little girls still play with Barbie and want to have BIG families.

I know… I’m sorry you’re not Texan 😉  Feel free to move here, though.

Stephanie

Email Questions: Why Don’t You Write More About Being a Police Wife?

I recently had a younger woman who is about to marry an LEO, email me asking me if I could write more on what it’s like being a police wife.  I don’t really write about being a police wife.  Why?  I think I’ve answered this before, but with a blog that has 500+ posts, I’ve even forgotten when and where I gave that answer.  So I’ll give it again.

I don’t write about it because there are so many other blogs out there that do it much better than I would probably.

That’s it, lol.  They do a really great job, especially on handling the emotional side, and my focus was more marriage advice anyway, which applies to all wives because it’s general enough and true enough to apply on a broader scale.  The blogs solely for police wives are great though!  I’ve linked to a couple in the past I believe, and again I just feel they do a much better job than I would.  I learn from them and go to them when I’m looking for something specific.

Some of the awesome police wives I know in real life who read here, were adamant that I needed to adapt the Proverbs 31 series I had up, to make one specifically for police wives.  So I’ve been adapting it to fit a police wife’s version… but you probably won’t find it here when I’m done 😉  There’s too many people looking to destroy books Christian women write.  So it will be incognito.

But back to the question… is there anything I could say about being a police wife – to other police wives?  Yes!  Let me come up with a few things that may be of interest….

***

It’s funny that I just got this question.  I’m our event chair for our wives’ organization, and I just got back tonight from our annual Halloween event where we served around 1,000 Police Officers and their families.  As exhausting with 3 littles as coordinating all of that was, it was SO fulfilling and wonderful.  To me, all that work to pull off that kind of event, coupled with the difficulty of doing it with small children, and the immense fulfillment I get from seeing so many families enjoy it today, kind of symbolizes what it’s like overall in being a police wife.  Exhausting… overwhelming at times… fun… lots of hard work… and tons of pleasure at seeing your marriage grow in all of it through the years.

Being a wife to a Police Officer has been incredible, think of it as a beautiful opportunity that will be filled with a lot of sacrifice for you, and unfortunately also for any children you have.  Sacrifice is by definition, painful, so being a police wife is filled with a lot of unseen pain at times.  This is also true for your children, which is hard.  But it’s the kind of pain that produces beauty of character if it’s harnessed well.  Often it’s not, and I believe that’s why the divorce rate is higher for our marriages.  I’ve seen a lot of blue-marriages end in divorce.  I’ve seen quite a few Police Officer men go on to remarry younger, sweeter, kinder, 2nd wives who handled it all much better than their 1st wives did.  It all comes down to attitude and character and how you learn to handle the daily stresses that often go with supporting your husband in his calling.

Oh yea, that reminds me… it IS a biblical calling.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 

Romans 13:1-5

Because Police Officers have this biblical mandate, I believe being married to one is well described in this way of being married to a prophet – in the biblical sense (I know it’s abstract… stay with me here).  Debbi Pearl describes it well in this video:

She mentions many things that apply to what police wives need to be prepared for:

  1. You have to be strong.  Mentally strong, emotionally strong, definitely spiritually strong, and yes, even to some degree physically strong in order to handle all the things you’ll have to do by yourself because of his schedule.  This one point is immense and could be written into a chapter, so I’ll keep it short for here.
  2. You have to be confident in yourself.
  3. You have to be self-sufficient.  I wasn’t really raised to be as self-sufficient as I needed to be being married to a Police Officer, so this part has been a learning experience where I’ve failed in the past at times and had to change.  In truth, I actually never wanted to be married to a Police Officer, it’s kind of funny how God certainly has a sense of humor in that He hears you say “I’m NEVER going to do XYZ…” and He answers, “Oh yea?  Watch this!”  You can make many plans for yourself, but ultimately God directs your steps. 😉
  4. You have to be able to support your husband by having faith in him and his calling – even when he may not feel it himself.  Even when you are tempted to get him to do something less dangerous, it’s your job to support him fully – that means getting past those temptations and strong emotions and being his true help-meet.  This is actually incredible that we are capable of being there for our husbands on that kind of level, when the world is up against them or when they start to lose faith in their calling or in themselves.  It is an extremely high calling to be married to a Police Officer because of this.  You are so important to his soul and to his effectiveness as a minister of God.  It is amazing and such a blessing to be a part of something so crucial.  God’s trusted you with something important, and because of that I think Satan often tries to attack our marriages in ways other couples may never come to face.
  5. Supporting him and having faith in him, means for us, that we also have to learn how to live our lives without fear.  Yes, that’s hard, it’s so easy to give in to fear when his job is that dangerous and has become a million times MORE dangerous after the whole Ferguson incident.  It requires taking your feelings and emotions daily to the cross and asking God to give you the grace you need to be the wife HE needs you to be.  Your feelings and emotions are able to change (thank God!).  Your inner strength is able to grow overtime, so take heart!  You can **become** the wife he needs through prayer and asking God for the Spirit’s direction.
  6. You have to be able to keep the home-front going – as Debbie says.  This is part of the “being self-sufficient,” but even more so on a mental-strength level.  You have to have a sense of purpose and direction for your family that is beautifully matched with what your husband wants – even though he’s not there most of the time to see it through.  This means your communication with him has to be very effective and complete – making the most of your time together.  You have to keep the home a sanctuary for him and your children, keep everything running smoothly and calmly as best as you can – and doing it mostly alone.
  7. You have to have a great attitude and optimism.  This is something that may be hard for some types of women who aren’t naturally optimistic.  I’m lucky in that I’m generally very optimistic and love to plow through what needs to get done, but what can a woman do who has a hard time keeping optimistic?  Pray and ask God to change your heart toward whatever you are negative about.  Also start a gratitude journal where you write down at least one thing a day you are immensely grateful for (preferably at the end of the day).  It is so worth it to develop an attitude of gratitude in your life if you haven’t already.  Your marriage will flourish and life will be so much easier even when getting through the tough times if you can keep it all in perspective with gratefulness and optimism.

Hope that gives some insight for any LEOWs out there reading.  Thanks for the question, it was great to work through tonight!

Stephanie

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.

***

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.

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.

***

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.