Female Behavior & Social Media

A-harpy-in-Ulisse-Aldrovandis-Monstrorum-Historia-Bologna-1642

The Harpy

Social media behavior fascinates me, and fortunately it’s been around just long enough that we’re starting to see the beginning of what I expect to be a long list of research opportunities on how people behave while on it.  If you’ve been a long-time reader, you’ll know I’ve been interested in why women feel the emotion envy, for awhile.  It’s probably because I’ve never really understood it.  If someone is doing a great job, or having good things happen in their life, why would another person not be happy for them?

I’ve cataloged how odd this plays out online in a few articles, like when women look down on married couples who are actually happy in their relationship and show only each other’s best sides, or when just viewing your News Feed puts you in a negative and depressed mood due to other’s happiness.    Whether you’re a wife choosing not to air your dirty laundry for the public to see, or are criticized as being “fake,” because you don’t want to embarrass your husband, or are simply perplexed to find that other people’s happiness should make you feel depressed, you’re in the right place!

***

“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 sh-t about my husband and I publicly.”

***

When I’ve researched into who is saying things like this quote above, the women who say they secretly hate their positive facebook friends, it’s almost always women who are (self-reporting as) deeply unhappy in their own lives; many are in fact, divorced and trying to survive single-motherhood.  Of course seeing beautiful, happy families makes them feel pain and sadness… and of course seeing a good husband show his wife how much he loves her, leaves them feeling sick.  Hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12), and feeling the pain of that loss, or maybe the pain of never having it at all, is normal.  It’s ok to grieve when appropriate, but it’s crucial to learn how to redirect those feelings and emotions into something positive and graceful.  Otherwise, the intense feeling of pain can quickly turn into self-pity, which then often crosses into bitterness and anger, things that leave you vulnerable to demonic strongholds.

Here is a quote from one such divorced, single mom becoming bitter over her happily married friends –

“I’m also a Michigander but moved to Connecticut in 2001 when my now ex-husband went to school here! I am like you–brutally honest. I think it’s part of our culture. And that’s why I sometimes hate Facebook! Being divorced makes me feel like a loser when I see all these “happy” couples’ pictures posted for SEVEN days in a row! It feels self-serving–like it’s validating to them. But the people are truly good and close friends, so I can’t be (but want to) be honest like you! I have a 9 year old with autism and felt like such a fake liar when I posted the Motherhood Challenge with pictures of a happy, cooperative child. Reality is that he hits me, swears, spits, and has massive meltdowns sometimes. You are right reality is not as pretty. It certainly never gets a “like” or even a “dislike” because reality is a bummer.

No one wants reality from a single mom with special needs who now lives 800 miles from her family and has to face this life on their own. So, to keep my image, I guess I play the pretty picture game too and hope that one day my true feelings won’t come out! Thanks for being honest!”

Her story is hard, and I’m sure having an autistic child IS extremely difficult and involves lots of suffering on her part.  The key is though, choosing what you focus on DOES improve even a situation as bad as that.  Look at people all throughout history who had severe mental and emotional or physical handicaps, who when their caregiver had a better mindset, they achieved much more than what doctors thought would ever be capable.  Miracles have happened with children like this, but mostly it’s only when they had a caregiver who self-sacrificed over and over and over again, giving them the gift of unconditional love and humanity.  I know it’s hard for women to hear this, but accepting the difficulties of one’s life (carrying your cross), as well as choosing not to complain about how hard you have it, IS worth trying to obtain as part of spiritual and personal growth.  Like I said above, self-pity is not good.  The bitterness it can bring from dwelling on how unfair life is opens the door to more spiritual attacks and demonic influence into your life.  Because of all this, trying to give women in positions like this, short-cut answers to their problems by saying those happy couples are “fake,” is enabling them – not helping them to deal correctly with their own problems (like having a special needs child).  The suffering they’re already going through is then compounded by their own bitterness and disappointment in life. 

Allowing themselves to become bitter over how unfair life is, or develop feelings of hostility toward their happily married friends, only makes their own lives that much harder!

*

It’s Coming from Hatred & a Root of Bitterness

The argument for sharing your husband’s flaws publicly online (or flat out humiliating him) has seemed to come from a concocted desire to appear more “real” and to show all of the sides of marriage – and to show-up those wives who only post the positive things!  The problem with this rationale is that it should be socially understood that no one is perfect, that everyone may have some issues sometimes and that marriage, because it is so intricately relationship-based, obviously takes hard work.   Choosing not to show this side publicly when it could harm or humiliate your husband, but rather focus on the positive, beautiful things in life and your marriage (or about your mate), shows wisdom, self-control, and discretion.

And as far as one’s marriage goes, when you love your spouse, you don’t want to air their issues online on your social media platforms.  In a trustworthy marriage, your husband should be able to feel totally safe with what you choose to share online publicly – because he knows without a doubt, that you have his back and are making wise decisions on his behalf.   Like we learned in the Proverbs 31 series, the heart of her husband safely trusts in her, and because she is his wife, he lacks for nothing good.   When we post things that show him in a bad light, no matter how humorous or “well-intentioned,” we tell ourselves we’re being, the consequences could be damaging to his reputation, image, or even his career, which means we’re actually harming him in the long-run, and for social media “likes,” at that!

“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.” 

From here

But wanting to show what “real” marriages look like, as much as these women claim their goal is, is not what this is about.  I used to naively believe that was their actual intentions, but over the years it’s become more and more clear that this attitude is coming from a root of bitterness and even hatred.

“You just hit the nail on the head!

I was so irritated seeing everyone’s posts about love your marriage (from the Love Your Spouse Challenge).

Most of the time I’m irrated at my husband.

How about a hate your spouse challenge?”

-Carla Burke (from here)

Why some women act like this though, is VERY interesting to me.  Why do some feel like everyone should post negative stuff about their mate or marriage?

Because seeing others unhappy or having problems in their lives or marriages, makes these women feel better about their own selves, or about the state their marriage is currently in.  It all comes back to the emotion I’ve studied for years now, envy.

Envy is more than jealousy, it is a painful emotion of which the Bible says is like rottenness to the bones.  While jealousy may come from a valid place of wanting what rightfully should belong to you and you alone (ie: God being jealous for our love), envy is wanting what another has which you have no right to want (ie: coveting something that someone else has earned or is in possession of).  It seems to be capable of completely enveloping a person, and grows the more they focus on the object of their envy and hatred.  The cure is found first in repentance, and focusing on your own life, living in gratitude to God for the gifts He’s given to you, and then choosing to live a life that pleases Him, instead of become embittered by whatever you believe He’s withheld from you.

Beauty, Goodness, & Happiness Often Evoke Envy

All throughout time, there have been countless stories in literature (be it biblical, classical, or in nearly every fairy tale) of women who were either good/beautiful/happy and somewhat naive, and women who gave themselves over to envy over the one who was good/beautiful/happy.  There were women who displayed qualities that seemed almost irresistible to the heroic man in their life, and then the women who played the Evil Stepmother, or the Evil Queen, or the Harpy.  This is something that goes far beyond social media, because it is a heart issue… a feature, not a bug, built into humankind.

Sometimes we get glimpses into what “triggers” these women to act out of their envious behavior, like in this real life example below of a woman’s Instagram post, “making” another woman feel inferior.

25591742_571825059823940_8608708997507394910_n.jpg

So what are reactions like this based on?

“You seem to represent an almost impossible-to-attain portrait of womanhood, and as a woman, I honestly find many of your photos unsettling.”

***

“Something about your photos makes feel strangely depressed/inadequate and I’m alarmed by my own reactions.”

It’s the beauty.  The artistic perfection… the woman’s elegance… her refinement.  It’s all the aforementioned put together that make her realize her reaction is not accounted for, or “alarming,” and worrying to her, as it should be.  It’s also this fact (that the pictures show beauty, perfection, elegance, and refinement) that makes her admit that the woman’s photos are amazing work:

“That being said, this is truly great work and I applaud your abilities.”

What a 180 right?  We just got an inside look at how emotionally tormented a woman feels when presented with someone who awakens feelings of envy.  When another woman is “outside her comfort-zone better than her” in some kind of way, it can be almost impossible for her to appreciate the beauty and goodness due to the painful or “alarming” feelings that may come up.

Even though she’s able to realize at the end of her comment that her observations are “alarming” and coming from a place of feeling depressed/inadequate, she still demands that this woman answer for why she’s “making” the commenter feel thing way, as though this artist can really control this stranger’s feelings.  It’s a normal thing for women (or men) who feel envy, to blame the object of their envy for “making” them feel that way, or “inciting” it with pictures of beauty in their life.  

“Ultimately, while people use social networks to keep in touch with friends and family, seeing those people happy often have negative effects on them.”

From research study here

But even if another woman’s pictures on social media aren’t “perfect,” just seeing other people be happy eventually may become a negative experience for women with this problem.  It doesn’t take artistic perfection, for some even seeing other moms out and happy with their kids or husband, evoke strong emotions of envy.

What is the real problem here?

Envy is literally as old as Cain, from one of the first Bible stories when he felt envy at his brother Abel’s approval by God.  Abel didn’t “make” Cain feel envious or bad about himself, Cain’s lack of self-improvement and desire to please God made his offering undesirable, and pale in comparison to Abel’s offering and disposition.

I used to feel sorry for women like this, because I know envy is a painful emotion to feel (and why not be happy for people who are happy?!?), but now I’m beginning to understand how women who don’t deal with their envy appropriately are not victims, they often know what they’re choosing and seek to place blame elsewhere to hide what they know they feel (the hatred or bitterness).  This behavior is not benign, as it tears apart the fabric of our society in a myriad of ways, harming the future of our children and grandchildren by working to dismantle social norms (think things like fat acceptance, obesity disability, welfare, hostility toward in-tact families, etc.).

If everyone engaged in envy whenever a someone does something praiseworthy or beautiful or inspiring or artistically stunning, our society would be utterly ruled by the ugliness and the decay of the miserable and self-centered.  If any attempt to be better personally – be it spiritually, mentally or physically, or create something beautiful, is squashed by miserable women who claim your attempts to better yourself makes them feel unhappy or ashamed of their own failures, then our civilization’s beauty, art, music, and literature will suffer… and it has.

When God dealt with Cain’s feelings of envy, before he murdered Abel (and there was still a chance for him to turn the situation around by making the right choices), God did not treat Cain like a victim of his own envy.  The Bible says Cain felt anger that Abel’s offering was accepted by God (and his was not), and looked dejected (he pouted).

Then the LORD said to Cain,

“Why are you furious?  And why are you dejected?  If you do right, won’t you be accepted?

But if you do not do right, sin is crouching at the door.  Its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Genesis 4:6-7

God warns Cain that he is on the brink of becoming “had” by sin, which is figuratively crouching at his door ready to overcome him.  God also commands Cain to “master it.”  This may explain why it can feel so hard for women who deal with this problem to eradicate their feelings of envy, because they have to learn how to “master it.”

***

Envy Greatly Affects Women in Real Life

This point, that giving in to envy and allowing it to control your interactions with others online or in real life, harms you and others, is the most important point we should know.  Because it’s a heart issue, and not computer or social media-related, it’s not something that’s just going to go away when you step offline.  It has to be recognized and dealt with in one’s real life as well.

The problem with envy though, is that women (and men) who give in to this emotion and sin, often do not feel any remorse whatsoever.  It is usually coupled with pride in that they feel right to feel embittered, and therefore it’s hard to get them to care or sympathize with how their actions may impact themselves or others.

In fact, studies have proven that people who feel envy (in real life as well as online), actually have been found to report feeling happy when something bad happens to the person they envy – something bad enough to “put them in their place,” so to speak.  It is also linked with efforts to try to harm that person in real life, due to schadenfreude (joy at other people’s misery).  And if that isn’t depressing enough, another study shows us that only 50% of our “friends” on social media actually like us, or feel the same reciprocal kind of friendship feelings we feel toward them.  This would probably account for why those people aren’t happy for their friends’ happiness.  If they don’t even “like” them, then of course they may not feel happy when seeing their social media “friends” happy.

It’s the whole crab-basket effect, which Ian Ironwood explains in detail.

So for over 30 years, more than an entire generation, we’ve seen women at work, women in management, women “competing in a man’s world” . . . even though the “man’s world” looks more feminine than ever.
So . . .how’s that working out for women?
Turns out . . . not so good.  
Dr. Peggy Drexler has published two pieces back-to-back discussing the complexities of women working with women.   The result isn’t pretty . . . and pretty much validates everything I’ve said about the Female Social Matrix.  Also known as the Crab Basket.

If you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s a metaphor for how women relate to other women— how they self-organize, socially.

Thankfully not all woman are like this I’ve found!  Social media does seem to create more opportunities for women who wouldn’t be like this in real life, to let themselves give in to this sin where the consequences aren’t as tangible.  But they do have consequences, women who act like this online still have an overall negative affect on society, because it pulls manners and morality down to a more primal (it’s you or me) level, instead of a more civilized view of if we all do our best to succeed, we’ll produce a more beautiful and loving society.

It happens in Real Life far more than you’d imagine

Recently I happened upon a 3-year-old article where a mother was describing how simply having a good, positive and happy play-date for her daughter and a friend turned into something she was made to feel shame over.

When the mom came back I invited her in for a few minutes. She smelled the aroma of fresh-baked cookies and saw the kids happily playing and said, “Wow, you go all out for playdates. I just usually throw some goldfish at them.”

I felt a little surprised at the disdain I heard in her voice, but when I snapped back into reality I instantly went into defense mode, which for me is self-deprecation in overdrive.

“Oh, Gak is just glue and detergent and I had promised my kids we would do it, and the cookie dough was leftover and my kitchen never looks like this normally but we have company coming over tonight and…” I rambled on like an idiot. Because apparently being a good mom is something I did to offend her.

I felt shamed for doing something fun for my kids—and hers. Shame for even trying to be a good mom. Trying to be good actually brought out the worst in both of us.

This happened to me a lot over the years.  I have heard comments about volunteering too much at my kids’ school,or hosting too nice of parties or making a Pinterest-inspired handmade soccer cookie (one time).

Most people are appreciative, but there are always others that say something along the lines of, “Way to make the rest of us look bad!”

Sadly, this behavior really isn’t just relegated to social media alone.  It seems there will always be women who punish other women who aspire to do good, to be happy, to make beautiful things themselves, or to even make playdates for children happy and pleasant.

The female mantra even all throughout literature, seems to be “do your best, but don’t you dare do too much better than me!”  Instead of women being genuinely happy for each other when another succeeds, if it’s “too much” for one in particular, she’ll deem it as “bad” somehow.

In the past few years of blogging, I’ve seen how this even applies to women in the Bible, particularly the Proverbs 31 woman since she is the idealistic representation of what us wives should look up to and feel inspired by.  Even a decade before I started writing my series, there were already books and articles out there online with Christian women sarcastically slamming the Proverbs 31 wife as an unrealistic “super mom.”  Yes, I’m being serious!  Christian women regularly would mock and put down an entire passage in the Bible, mostly because they said it made them feel “pressured” or “inferior!”  Whether we’re told we’re Pharisees for seeing beauty in this biblical passage, or when we’re told to “Stop Obsessing” over her, or to “Rethink” her character to be a “fictional” one in order to downplay what the Bible calls us as wives to try to emulate and grow into, it’s downright getting rarer and rarer to find someone promoting her as real and what God wants us to take seriously.

It always seemed so strange to me that Christian women would actively hate the Proverbs 31 passage, or seek to ridicule anyone who wrote on it thinking it was applicable to today.

But after reading this article, do you still wonder why?

 

Related Articles

 

Stephanie

Advertisements

Feminism’s Hatred of Stay at Home Moms

Sometimes I’ve had friends or even family members ask me why I identify with anti-feminism.  To them being an anti-feminist is to be anti-women!  It’s sad to me that probably most women in our society, don’t really understand the perspective of the women’s rights activists, nor have they read anything they wrote or spoke about.

If I didn’t know better myself, I would think modern day feminism was about freedom and living life to it’s fullest… but unfortunately it’s not.  There’s a sinister undercurrent that we can feel today when we’re watching our religious liberties be challenged as “harmful” for society, that stems directly from the same feminist attitude toward Christianity and traditional women.

A parasite sucking out the living strength of another organism…the [housewife’s] labor does not even tend toward the creation of anything durable…. [W]oman’s work within the home [is] not directly useful to society, produces nothing. [The housewife] is subordinate, secondary, parasitic. It is for their common welfare that the situation must be altered by prohibiting marriage as a ‘career’ for woman.” ~ Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 1949.

I think it’s important to understand these feminist women.  The ones I use quotes from are the very ones who championed the feminist cause around and after the 1950’s era.  They were famous, and lauded as heroic for saying these things.  These writers and speakers, and pushers of political agenda, not only “disliked” young women being able to choose to stay home with their children or be a housewife, they downright hated them for making that choice.  They hated the idea that women could depend upon their husbands to support them and in turn, make his and his children’s lives easier by creating a loving home atmosphere.

The Bible actually commands Christian women to be “keepers of the home,” so it’s important to understand how anti-Christianity these women’s views and goals were.  Their goal was to have a society where Christian women were not allowed to stay home and raise godly children.  It is the same beginning goals the Communists have always had in places where they took over – in Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba, and Vietnam just to name a few.  Feminism, at it’s core, was championed by women who had a communist-like agenda against religious and personal freedom.

It’s important to understand that this was one of feminism’s main goals.  It wasn’t to allow women “more choice” in order to choose between work or staying at home to raise godly children, but to not have that choice at all.

No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.” – “Sex, Society, and the Female Dilemma,” Simone de Beauvoir Saturday Review, June 14, 1975.

Image result for simone de beauvoir

“No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children.”  – Simone de Beauvoir

Can you imagine a country where women were not allowed – by law even – to make that choice to stay at home to raise their young children?

It’s a lie to claim that feminism was somehow in the best interest for women having rights to more freedom – or to say that the feminists were trying to “free” women from the oppression of their husbands.

No.  These prominent and even famous feminists of the 60’s and 70’s knew exactly what they were doing and saying (making it harder for women to even be able to stay home and raise children – making sure financially, that option was almost gone).  It’s sad that so many women my age and in generation X don’t know, because they haven’t read, these women’s writings and books from back then.  But hopefully in reading these quotes the reader can feel the depth of hatred the women of the feminist movement had for traditional wives and mothers.

It was not about them winning some battle to free women from “the Patriarchy.”  It was about them working to deceiving an entire society at the cultural level, so that any woman who wanted to stay home with her children felt like she should be working, or doing anything else, because staying at home, raising children into wonderful adults, was displayed as having no lasting value for our modern society.

[Housewives] are mindless and thing-hungry…not people. [Housework] is peculiarly suited to the capacities of feeble-minded girls. [It] arrests their development at an infantile level, short of personal identity with an inevitably weak core of self…. [Housewives] are in as much danger as the millions who walked to their own death in the concentration camps. [The] conditions which destroyed the human identity of so many prisoners were not the torture and brutality, but conditions similar to those which destroy the identity of the American housewife.” ~ Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique, 1963.

Betty Friedan even compares women who choose to stay at home to detainees in concentration camps.  Well, at least we know SJWs were comparing situations to Hitler and his camps even back then!  But seriously, really re-read her quote above here.  “The conditions which destroyed the human identity of so many prisoners were not the torture and brutality, but the conditions similar to those which destroy the identity of the American housewife.”  

So the millions of people in the concentration camps in WWII were not destroyed by the inhumane torture and mistreatment (or death itself), but instead it was the same conditions as housewives have?  It’s notable that many MANY women disagreed with these feminists leaders back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s… and they were the anti-feminist women, who still held that staying at home was valuable not only for them, but definitely for their children.

[Housewives] are dependent creatures who are still children…parasites.” ~ Gloria Steinem, “What It Would Be Like If Women Win,” Time, August 31, 1970

Yes, they loved calling us “parasites.”  I guess they never moved past middle school 🙂

“Feminism was profoundly opposed to traditional conceptions of how families should be organized, [since] the very existence of full-time homemakers was incompatible with the women’s movement…. [I]f even 10 percent of American women remain full-time homemakers, this will reinforce traditional views of what women ought to do and encourage other women to become full-time homemakers at least while their children are very young…. If women disproportionately take time off from their careers to have children, or if they work less hard than men at their careers while their children are young, this will put them at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis men, particularly men whose wives do all the homemaking and child care…. This means that no matter how any individual feminist might feel about child care and housework, the movement as a whole had reasons to discourage full-time homemaking.” ~ Jane J. Mansbridge, Why We Lost the ERA, 1986.

“[The] housewife is a nobody, and [housework] is a dead-end job. It may actually have a deteriorating effect on her mind…rendering her incapable of prolonged concentration on any single task. [She] comes to seem dumb as well as dull. [B]eing a housewife makes women sick.” ~ Sociologist Jessie Bernard in The Future of Marriage, 1982.

So… this is (in part) why I’m against feminism.  I wish more women my age and younger would wake up and read a book, or take interest into what the goals of this movement was (and still very much is) for our culture in the US and our society.

Ultimately, I’ve found from feminist literature that our Christian liberties were at the core of what feminists despised so much.  It was never about freeing women to have more choice.  It was only about limiting their ability to choose to be free-thinking people.  To be women who chose to follow God and raise their children in a godly way and in godly households where husbands still guided and protected their families.

These feminists women hated the Christian family, and did everything they could to destroy it.

Stephanie

 

All these quotes came from Stingray’s collection of feminists’ quotes on housewives

The Principle of Sowing & Reaping

IMG_7268 (2).JPG

“Do not be deceived:

God will not be mocked,

a man will reap what he sows.”

Galatians 6:7

I love how often God speaks to us in the Bible about the importance of reaping and sowing while we are here on earth.  This is possibly one of the most powerful spiritual principles to understand, because it impacts almost every area of our life and even into eternity!

And side note: I’m currently reading these books pictured.  Two I’ve read before, but commenter Earl suggested a new one, “Ungodly Rage,” and so I picked it up ASAP.  All three have to do with this principle of reaping and sowing – very interesting to see it applied to our modern day.

Here is the rest of the passage in Galatians 6:7-10:

“Do not be deceived: God will not be mocked, a man will reap what he sows, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

So we must not get tired or weary of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we do not give up.”

It amazes me that we are warned here, “God will not be mocked!”  We have to take this principle seriously, and live as though we firmly believe that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction in this life.  When we sow things in the flesh, we are going to, for certain, reap the consequences of that later on in another season of our life.  This is something that has the capacity to be a beautiful opportunity to sow into the hearts of others around us, however, we should also have a healthy fear of the potential for negativity and darkness coming back to us, and conduct ourselves accordingly.

The Bible actually has many examples we can learn from where people sowed sin in another’s life, and then had to reap that same sin coming back onto their own heads later on.  It’s a mysterious Jewish principle from the Old Testament, that God will bring back someone’s actions onto their own heads if they’ve wronged or even planned in their heart to wrong someone.

“Do not enter the gate of My people in the day of their disaster and do not appropriate their possessions in the day of their disaster.

For the Day of the LORD is near, against al the nations.

As you have done, so it will be done to you;

what you deserve will return on your own head.”

Obadiah 13:13b, 15

So we see this in the Old Testament (and in many more places than just Obadiah), as well as in the New Testament in Galatians (the opening verses).  Modern churches, you could even say modern “Christianity,” teaches that this principle of reaping and sowing, especially the negative aspect, is only relegated to Old Testament earning of God’s approval.  In truth, it is more like a timeless Truth, which is why we see it both in the Old and New Testaments, because regardless of whether or not we are saved, we are still bound by earthly (and even spiritual) ramifications for our decisions.

In other words, even if we’re saved, Galatians tells us, “God will not be mocked,” we’re still going to reap what we sow.

***

Think about all the biblical examples of traps that so many people in the Scriptures left for others they were trying to harm.  They ended up falling into their own traps, and what was intended to harm others, actually ended up happening in the exact same manner to them!  This is not to say that God-fearing people cannot be harmed by evildoers, though.  Here are just a few examples off the top of my head:

  • Haman in his hatred and envy of Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, ending in being hanged on the very same gallows he had built for Mordecai to hang on!
  • Nabal in his treatment of David, ending in Nabal’s death because of his insults!
  • Daniel’s accusers getting him thrown into the lions’ den, then being thrown in themselves after the truth is finally outed!
  • Hagar treating Sarah (her mistress) with contempt when she thought she had the upper hand, then being subject to Sarah disciplining her extremely harshly (and God commanding Hagar to go back and submit to that mistreatment as part of her reaping what she had sown in Sarah’s heart).
  • Saul’s treatment of David, his envy and trying to kill him, ending up losing everything he was trying to keep – his kingdom and his life – being killed himself, but not at David’s hand.

And many many more.  God has an extremely accurate measure of justice.  He admits this several times to us in His Word, and that He cares very much about seeing that justice is done.  This simple, yet profound principle of reaping and sowing, is a way He carries out His justice here on earth.

There’s also a extremely important point we should be aware of and that is that: we will often reap MORE than what we have sown!  This is both good thing and a bad thing, depending on if you’ve sowed good or bad things in life!

If you’ve sowed good in the way of giving and generosity, the Bible does tell us that you will reap more.  I should note that doesn’t necessarily mean you will reap more financially, more in the way that you will be lifted out of living under a curse, and will reap more blessings in your life because of your faithfulness to sow.

“By not making the payments of 10 percent and the contributions, you are suffering under a curse, yet you – the whole nation – are still robbing Me.  Bring the full 10 percent into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house.

Test Me in this way,” says the LORD of Hosts.

See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.

I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your ground, and your vine in your field will not be barren,” says the LORD of Hosts.”

Malachi 3:8b-12

And from the Parable of the Sower –

“Consider the sower who went out to sow seed….

other seed fell on good ground, and produced a crop: some 100 times, some 60 times, and some 30 times what was sown.  Anyone who has ears should listen!”

Matthew 13:8

But if you sow bad things (sin), the Bible also says that, when the time is right, you will reap MORE of that sin than what you actually sowed.

“Sow righteousness for yourselves and reap faithful love;

break up your untilled ground.

It is time to seek the LORD until He comes and sends righteousness on you like the rain.

You who have sowed wickedness and reaped injustice;

you have eaten the fruit of lies.

Because you trusted in your own way, and in your large number of soldiers,

the roar of battle will rise against your people, and all your fortifications will be demolished in a day of war.”

Hosea 10:13-14

In the book Earl suggested, Ungodly Rage, which is about the “hidden face of Catholic feminism,” it is clear that “you have eaten the fruit of lies,” is directly linked with these Catholics in the book sowing wickedness.  The truly unfortunate fact of this spiritual principle is this reaping more of what has been sown, especially in this case.  They sow wickedness and eat the fruit of lies, and reap an entire war.

“Indeed, they sow wind and reap the whirlwind.

There is no standing grain; and what does sprout fails to yield flour.”

Hosea 8:7

Wind may be annoying (and in truth, is sowing literally nothing), but look how much more was reaped!  A whirlwind came back on them, increasing dramatically the force and consequences of what they sowed.

And we also know that when we sow sin, the end result, the final reaping, is death.

“Then after desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.”

James 1:15

 

So what should we do?

Sow in righteousness, sow in mercy, sow in good deeds, sow in repentance, sow in Bible reading and prayer.  Sow goodness and gentleness into the hearts of family, friends, and enemies.

And always remember that bad things can be sowed… lusts, sins of all kinds, fear, envy, pride, etc. and when you sow something, you WILL reap it later on, and with a terrible increase of more than the sin that you sowed.

Every person is actually a sower and a reaper!  Whether you want to be or not, your actions are extremely powerful spiritually, and they not only have real life consequences, but spiritual consequences that are deep and mysterious and hard to comprehend.  You do not have control over those consequences and what they’ll be or look like!  So this is a critical warning about how important it is to understand this and avoid sowing sin into the lives of others.

What is often sowed in tears, will be reaped in joy-

Sometimes doing the work of sowing good things faithfully, is hard and tempting to give up.  Raising children could be a good example of just how hard it can be sometimes to see our end result.

Nevertheless, we need to sow in faithfulness, trusting in God’s will and ultimate decision on what to do with what we sow.

Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.

Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed,

he will surely come back with shouts of joy,

carrying his sheaves he’s gleaned.”

Psalm 126:5-6

I’ve personally found that this is true.  What is sown in tears, will be reaped in a later season (sometimes years after the fact) in joy, as you’ve been given the gift of seeing it redeemed.  Sometimes this is doing a work God’s given you to do, sometimes it is finally seeing vindication.

The Reaping of Your Righteousness Shining like the Dawn-

For me personally, standing on God’s promises remind me of how powerful He is, and how trustworthy He is.  We can faithfully sow, and never worry that He doesn’t notice.

Do not be agitated by evildoers; do not envy those who do wrong.

For they wither quickly like grass

and wilt like tender plants.

*

Commit your way to the LORD;

trust in Him, and He will act,

making your righteousness shine like the dawn, 

your vindication like the noonday.”

Psalm 37:1-2,5

Stephanie

Letters From Mentors: Elizabeth Elliot’s Marriage Advice for Wives

From her book Let Me Be a Woman, Elisabeth Elliot explains how wives can revive the romantic feelings of esteem for their husband:

Marriage is no house party; it’s not a college campus or a stimulating political row or an athletic contest, and the man’s having been a spellbinding orator or a great halfback somehow does not seem terribly significant anymore.

But you ought now and then to remember what he was, to ask yourself what it was, really, that caught your eye.

Come now, you will say to yourself, you didn’t marry him because he was a great halfback, did you?

No, you married this person.

Whatever the inner qualities were that enabled him to do the things he did then are still a part of this person that you go to bed with and eat breakfast with and wrestle over the monthly budget with.

He is a person with the same potentials he had when you married him.

Your responsibility now is not merely to bat your eyelashes and tell him how wonderful he is (but breathes there a man with soul so dead as not to be cheered by a little of that?) but to appreciate, genuinely and deeply, what he is, to support and encourage and draw out of him those qualities that you originally saw and admired.

***

I love reading pretty much anything that Elizabeth Elliot says on marriage and anti-feminism.  She is kind, clear, and to the point, something I admire in a writer.  I thought that some of her pieces may go well in this continual topic series I’m writing called Letters From Mentors.  I’ll be including these in my daughter’s book so that she has access to these other women’s thoughts in one place 🙂 ❤ .

It’s just so beautiful to have different perspectives from older women who have more wisdom or advice than I do right now.  There’s a reason the Bible counsels believers to gather many advisers, and for the older women to be teaching the younger women how to love their husbands and children, it’s because if they’ve been living rightly with God, they should be blessed with the ability to see things a younger (less experienced) woman may be able to see.  

Elizabeth points out something so crucial to marriage in this short script to us. Something so obvious and yet profound.  That we graciously and carefully handle our husbands as the unique man God created him to be.

That we remember his talents and beauty of his soul, and the romantic things about him that made us fall in love with him when dating.

That we genuinely look again at him, from that perspective we had when we were dating ❤ .

That we encourage him in his dreams right now, and for the future.

That we be his best cheerleader in his life ❤ .

And that we try to show him daily how much we love and adore him, just for the man he is and has become.

Stephanie

How To Survive a Rough Patch in Marriage

This music video and song are extremely romantic (aka cheesy to those who don’t appreciate these things 😀 ).

Chances are if you stumbled upon this blog post through a google search or something, you have ZERO interest in watching a sweet couple sing about how they’ve made it through hard and troubled times.  Romance and love might be making you feel tearful because you think that you’ve lost those feelings, along with the chance to have a marriage like this.

You’re in a rut, or feeling isolated and lonely or wondering if your husband even loves you anymore.

For wives who are feeling like this… the number one thing to do is admit you both are probably going through a “Rough Patch.”  And I say “both,” because if you’re feeling stressed or unhappy, there’s a good chance he’s feeling those same feelings, too.

Sometimes even just admitting this is enough to help you see it through to the light at the end of the tunnel.  And in most (almost all) marriages, there will be a light!

Image result for light at the end of the tunnel meme

Science has shown that couples who were unhappy to the point of considering divorce, if they stayed and just survived during that rough patch, that 5 years later they were happier, and guess what?  I’m sure they were SO GLAD that they didn’t pull the trigger to end their marriage, because it wasn’t the “end” – it was just a rough patch!

Here is a great excerpt from that study:

Many currently happily married spouses have had extended periods of marital unhappiness, often for quite serious reasons, including alcoholism, infidelity, verbal abuse, emotional neglect, depression, illness, and work reversals.

Why did these marriages survive where other marriages did not? The marital endurance ethic appears to play a big role.

Many spouses said that their marriages got happier, not because they and their partner resolved problems but because they stubbornly outlasted them.  With time, they told us, many sources of conflict and distress eased. Spouses in this group also generally had a low opinion of the benefits of divorce, as well as friends and family members who supported the importance of staying married.

The key is everyone is going to go through some kind of rough patch in their marriage.  Sometimes even SEVERAL rough patches that they’ll experience just due to circumstances putting way more stress on the husband and wife than they feel like they can handle.

Work schedules conflicting, extremely sick children, parenting issues, weeks of sleep loss due to little children & night-time tantrums, parents passing away and dealing with the grief, etc.  You may be in a period of learning to understand and communicate with each other better, because maybe things have changed some and you both need to learn a different way to connect.  Or you may be learning not to be so sensitive if harm wasn’t meant, and just in general… how to go on when you’re not “feeling” in love sometimes.

We need to come to understand how normal this is, and how successful marriages are made up of partners who learn to manage those rough times where loving feelings and romance is not at the forefront of the marriage.

So #1 – it’s normal and should be put out in the open where you and your husband are able to discuss it or admit that this is a really hard time, but that you are totally committed to the marriage and you’re going to see this through.

Since all marriages seem to go through one or more rough patches, you will probably experience some of these feelings and emotions (or already are), and if no one has prepared you for them, they’ll make you scared that your marriage is over.

It can be over, if you decide to just divorce, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

#2 – Once you’ve been able to come together, maybe over a private dinner or a quiet time where you were able to reflect on how hard it feels and voice these things to your husband, once you’ve at least admitted it to him and yourself that this feels like a “rough patch,” it’s time to decide what you, personally, are going to do about it.

It’s crucial to realize how much power we each have in the way we see things, and in the way we allow ourselves to either dwell on the positives and beauty of our lives, or be overwhelmed in hard times with how much of a struggle it can be.  We all have a choice.  We can either choose to make the best of things and thrive with our husbands going forward (weather out this storm), or we can choose to be overwhelmed by our temporary feelings of struggle and sometimes even despair.

Women’s emotions can feel so insanely real, and yet be so incredibly false.  Whether it’s due to hormones, or sensitivity to certain insecurities, or feeling inadequate, or like we are unappreciated – sometimes a perfect storm can occur to where a wife will start believing these faulty emotions that if listened to, can actually ruin her life!

For me when I’ve experienced this, the best thing is figuring it out with God as to why my emotions are trying to dictate my enjoyment of my kids and my marriage. 

Because that is exactly what it feels like.  Even though I know I can tell my emotions are lying to me, it can still be hard to trust what I know is true.  So part of this deciding what to do, is take a critical look at what is true or false, maybe even writing it down as a reminder if or when those feelings start popping back up again.

Here’s an example:

  • FALSE FEELING – I feel like my husband doesn’t love me anymore.
  • TRUTH – My husband loves us so much that he would die for me and our kids.  He may not know how to respond to hearing we don’t feel loved, so I should let him know (within reason) if it’s something he can do or if I simply want to spend some time alone together just enjoying each other’s presence.
  • TRUTH – When you start feeling like your husband doesn’t love you anymore, you may actually be projecting your own feelings onto him!  You may feel like you’re falling out of love in this rough patch, or because your marriage’s romance has been placed on the back burner for too long.  If that’s the case, initiate some romance.  But realize if it’s actually your feelings that need to be whipped into shape, and decide to stick with him until the romantic feelings come back again.
  • FALSE FEELING – I feel like if there’s no romantic love right now with him showing it to me everyday, then I have no purpose in this marriage (or in life!).
  • TRUTH – Everyone has to find their own purpose in life, and sometimes it may seem small, but is actually very powerful – like being a stay at home mom.  It’s hard to see how much you’re doing right now, but God’s Word promises us that what we sow faithfully, that we later will reap blessings from it!  Your purpose right now may be the quiet, unseen work of sowing seeds into your husband’s and kids’ hearts (and surviving this rough patch in your marriage).  Of course you can’t see what it will look like when it’s reaping time, because it hasn’t happened yet!  Sowing and reaping are never in the same season!  So continue your work in your marriage and raising your kids, resting on God’s promises that you will reap what you sow.  Trust in Him that staying married is better than divorcing in a rough patch.
  • TRUTH – Romance ebbs and flows in a long marriage relationship, and it’s supposed to be that way. If it’s not appearing very much right now, try not to worry.  Just put some effort in (a date night here or there, some long talks or watching a movie together at home cuddled up), and give it time and know it will probably return after this rough patch.
  • FALSE FEELING – If I fight with him enough, he’ll “get it” that I’m not happy and he’ll finally understand how to make me happy.
  • TRUTH – Fighting with him when you’ve realized you are both in a rough patch is not a good idea.  Emotions are or may be out of whack due to the rough patch itself.  And keep in mind, he’s probably experiencing the same set of stressors that you are, albeit maybe in different ways. Fighting and having intense emotions during this time will only prolong the rough patch or make it even more miserable for you both.
  • TRUTH – Fighting and acting highly emotional will never help a man to “just get it,” or understand how to make you happy.  If anything, it shows him you are giving in to emotions not based on truth and allowing your unhappiness to rule your entire life and being (and his by default).  This will make him possibly lose respect for you overtime.
  • TRUTH – Prolonged fighting like this in some strange hope that it will help save your marriage, will do the opposite overtime.  It will kill it, because there’s no “fixing” false feelings through crazy dramatic fights.

 

The Problem with False Feelings… It Puts Your Husband in a No-Win Situation

I’ve actually found that if I react in one of these inappropriate false feelings and allow the negative emotions to just dictate how I experience our life together, my husband is in a no-win situation.  But when women believe their false feelings like this, what else are we doing to our husbands but putting them into no-win situations?

If I overreact to something (be too sensitive), or assign blame to something he did by accident or without thinking (jump to conclusions), then my overreaction negatively affects our relationshipWe then have to deal with my over-reaction in addition to addressing whatever happened in the first place.  Hopefully you can see that allowing false feelings to override truth just compounds your problems!

False Feelings if not stopped lead to –> Arguments or Fights Based on Falsehoods –> Increases emotions and feelings of powerlessness and desperateness –> Your Husband Then Has to deal with your false feelings, along with the arguments or fights, along with rough patch stress and separate (logical) problems that need to be worked out as well

Clearly, if we cut it off at the beginning where we fish out what are false feelings and the Truth, then we can go straight to dealing with any logical problems that may be contributing to the rough patch emotions. 

So how do you get around this?  Remain calm and work on trying not to be overly sensitive, especially once you’ve identified that this may be a “rough patch” where your emotions are out of whack anyway due to surrounding stress from life.  I’ve found that I don’t think as clearly when feeling those feelings and am more apt to take things personally when I shouldn’t.

And… this a big one… Usually the root of the false feelings and emotions is some kind of nasty discontentment, as much as I hate to admit that.  My all time favorite verse is when Paul is talking about how he figured out how to be content in any and every circumstance – and coming from Paul and what he went through, that statement from him is just amazing!  I want so much to be like him in that.  But honestly, if you’re feeling like your husband doesn’t love you, and yet everything logically shows that he does, then there may be something else lurking in your heart that speaks of discontentment with your life that needs to be confronted.

When we learn how to be truly content, it’s because we are accepting of our husbands and of where we are right now – where God has us – and are ok with that.  When we trust that His timing is just right, and that we need to be exactly where we are right now for a purpose, it becomes a lot easier to see those False Feelings for what they are.

And then we need to decide to hold on to those Truths, and make it through that rough patch.

Now go back and listen to that music video at the top, and remember that rough patches are only temporary, whereas a love like that (that survives during those hard times) is timeless.

Stephanie

Letters From Mentors: “The Legacy I Want to Leave” by Linda

This post is part of the series where I feature letters (emails) I’ve received over the years from women I consider to be mentors online and in real life.  I LOVE hearing other women’s perspectives on raising a daughter (or anything I’m wondering about!), and when I see someone I admire or feel inspired by watching their life, I want to know their secret to the success they’ve had 😉  It’s so encouraging to me, to see women who are wiser, already in their 40’s or 50’s, and have worked to build the life that I want to create and am working to create.

Like I said in the last post where Stingray’s first letter was featured, we’re commanded in the Bible to get all the wisdom and understanding that we can.  There’s wisdom in having many advisers, and so forth.  I believe that as a young mom, it’s so vital to have women you look up to and whose lives you admire to be able to ask questions of, and learn from and basically model your life after.

This series is just so exciting to me because of all the wonderful advice and wisdom it will bring here for not only me and my daughter, but also for anyone of you readers who are interested in these letters!  

And if I ask you your thoughts on this subject of raising daughters, be assured that it’s because I really look up to and admire you and see something extremely valuable and beautiful in your life that I want for my own!  I don’t believe women are “island” creatures… maybe men can live like that 😉 (thinking Paul and John the Baptist), but most people seem to really get a lot of value from having deep relationships and sharing ideas that are insightful and life-changing.

Here is Linda’s letter titled “The Legacy I Want to Leave:”

***

family pic, oct2017 less pixels

Stephanie from All Things Bright and Beautiful recently asked me about writing a post for my daughters.  What an honor.  🙂  It has really had me thinking.

I’m working on one post in particular, but in the meantime, to be honest, you could consider this whole blog a gift for my children.  My oldest daughter is in a serious dating relationship with a wonderful Christian young man.  My heart is aware that the time she will remain at home with us is limited…. probably one more year of community college, and then she’ll launch out on her own.

IMG_20170912_111705625

{Oldest and Youngest, 17 years apart}

When she does leave, I know one of her wishes is to take family recipes with her.  She’s asked in the past about that, and about taking a sourdough starter with her–things like that.  Putting recipes on this blog to share with you, and others who have expressed an interest in classes, disciplines me to take pictures and get my home made recipes cataloged in such a way that I will be ready to put her cook book together for her, and all the other children as I know that the next 3 will be following her like dominoes.

My children love looking through old pictures and hearing the stories.  One day, they will enjoy looking through the updates on this blog.

And I don’t want my children to someday look back when I’m gone and think that they never really knew my heart.  I remember thinking that when I helped my mother clean out my grandmother’s home, and the fact that my own mother hasn’t spoken to me in over 14 years—well, we missed something, somewhere along the line!  My children will trust my teaching more if I am real.  I want them to recognize my strengths and understand my weaknesses, but when it’s all said and done, I want them to know me as a woman who pursued God and loved them deeply.  I want them to be secure in our family and have no regrets, knowing that while we’re not perfect and we make plenty of mistakes, we’re growing in God’s grace… a little more every day.

Every devotional I have written is something that my heart longs for my children to understand.  I pray, as they leave home, that we will remain close and be able to share the things that God is teaching us.  Perhaps they’ll visit here to see what Mom is up to.  Even now though, as I take time to share with you, I take every opportunity to teach my children what I’m learning.  Different ages understand different things, but I hope that no matter what I say, my life will reflect the changes God makes in my heart as I pray for God’s wisdom and holiness.  I learned first hand when I was growing up, where “do as I say and not as I do” was often the mantra, that it’s easier to follow an examplethan it is a list of do’s and don’ts.

As time marches forward and my children are growing up, I am realizing that though I have different concerns for my boys versus my girls, I really want them all to catch the lessons here.  What I want my girls to learn about seeking God and becoming Godly women is what I want my sons to come to expect and pray for in a future wife.  What my sons need to learn about being strong, Godly leaders is what my girls need to expect and pray for in a future husband.  Learning to help their father in so many ways will prepare all of them to lead, but also to follow, respect and support the many leaders God will place in their lives.

So what have we been learning this last year?  What kind of legacy do I want to leave?  I want to train up children who understand that:

If you want your life to add up to something, Abide in Christ, and never lose awe over what He has done for you.

In order to lead people to Jesus, you need to love them first.

In order to walk into the good works God has planned in advance for you, you do not have to wait.  God has equipped you with a relationship with Him, a unique story, talents, resources and spiritual gifts… you need only trust Him and be faithful with what is in your hands.

IMG_20171217_102202774

{Our 3 oldest daughters, on worship team at church.  The oldest 5 girls sing for 12-20 churches and special events every year.  God has given them beautiful harmony.}

But no matter what you have in your hands, you are still a sinner, saved by grace, and so He has filled you with His Spiritto make your character like His so your testimony will be believable.

Don’t ever lose faith in God when people fail you.  God isn’t subject to our standards and failures.  He sets the standard, and he redeems our failures.

Remember that God fights for you, and though you may travel through dark and difficult places, and it is He who will bring you out.

And when you do go through trying times, remember that God never makes a mistake.  Trust Him with all your heart.

It is a blessing, a privilege and duty of every Christian to be faithful in prayer.

If you want to have an effective prayer life, run to confess your sin, live life with open hands– forgive others, and always put God’s will above your own wants–pray for His will.  Pray unselfishly.

So many other lessons I have yet to write down.  It takes time. 🙂  But this is a good start.

Linda

Spiritual Post – Are There Really No “Levels” of Evil?

criminal sapd

My husband’s department just caught this man recently.  A fairly notorious criminal.  There are many out there just like him waiting to be caught.  It’s eye-opening to me when I see the photos and look into their eyes.  Which I have done… more than a few times.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw my husband on the news, doing the “Perp Walk” as they call it, bringing in a man who just shot a bullet into another man’s head over road rage (they were actually both at fault – the man inciting the rage kept fighting with him… apparently, that’s normal in road rages cases).

When he arrived at the scene there were brains all over the inside of the car, and a giant gaping hole in side of the man’s head.  He can see this kind of stuff and eat a sandwich at the same time – doesn’t even phase him anymore.

But looking into the eyes of the murderer my husband brought in (and seeing my husband there as well, looking like a darn hero – because he is!), really put into perspective the difference between good and evil, and how shallow Christians are when they try to say everyone is the same in their hearts just because everyone sins.

It is true though that just ONE sin will send someone to hell.  But not every person will shoot a bullet into the head of their enemy, let alone a stranger who cut them off in traffic. Not everyone harms children and goes about with no guilt… for decades, like pedophiles typically do.

Not everyone is a reprobate, and we should never judge all people by lumping them in with the truly evil and diabolic.  Everyone is capable of such evil to be sure!  But not everyone decides to act on their most evil fantasies and basest thoughts.  Everyone is a sinner, but there are different levels of sin and evil that is within someone’s heart.

Something I’m grateful for when watching from the sidelines what my husband deals with on the regular, is that it’s taught me things like this.  It’s taught me to be more appreciative of the normal sinners, even though they clearly still need God, they are not the same, and should never be judged the same by us, as evil doers.  His work and the stories he can tell, have even made me be able to judge character better from afar, which is a safety measure against potential harm and evil doers.

This video above is excellent in explaining the principle God has of reaping and sowing.

The man in the video plainly states that if someone continues sowing sin, they will eventually reap a much harder life for themselves, full of all kinds of problems.  The point is not whether or not they can be saved from their sin, and it’s not even asking whether “big” sinners receive the same punishment as “little” sinners.  No, the point is that some sins have greater eternal consequences and judgments!  If you’re a Christian, this is a super important topic to understand fully, lest you get it wrong and lead many other people astray by adding words to the Bible!  The Bible warns that “not very many of you should be teachers,” because teachers (male or female) will be rightfully judged harsher when they get it wrong or lead others astray, because they have a huge responsibility to first, get it right, and second, to be humble enough to admit when someone has pointed out that they were wrong.

Personally, I’ve found that the Christians who do make these mistakes, are typically not able to admit their wrongdoing, but instead keep plunging ahead into more sin themselves by continuing to lead others astray.  It’s a problem of humility, when we’re not open to corrective discipline or criticism.  Even if an enemy is criticizing you, you always have to check if there is truth in it.

In the video, the man also talks about how Jesus reveals there are different levels of sin (or degrees of evil).  Not only do different kinds of sin have different kinds of real world consequences, they also are viewed differently by God in that they seem to have different eternal consequences.

Either way, the point or “takeaway” should not be that evil people can’t be saved – the murderer that my husband brought in may someday repent – and that would be wonderful!  God tells us in Ezekiel that He craves people like that to finally someday repent, and that He allows them into Heaven, even if they repent right before their death! 

We can’t have a superior attitude that denies even the worst of sinners God’s acceptance if they repent – but we should have a good attitude toward them and accept them back in.

So the takeaway should be a warning that yes, there are different levels of sin, and all sin separates us from God.  Jesus speaks on the different levels of sin a few times, warning people who repeatedly sow evil, or do truly treacherous deeds, that their punishment is harsher, both here on earth, and also in eternity.

Our God is a just and wonderful God, who sees everything and judges accordingly.  For that, I am so so grateful!

Stephanie

Godliness Requires Choice & Action

I know this probably sounds like common sense – but go there with me for a moment.  I’ve only recently really thought about how weird it sounds when Christians make bold statements that whatever good things have come about in there lives, that it was ONLY due to God and had zero effort from them.

I know that I could not have done anything good enough or helped create a beautiful marriage with my own actions – there’s just not enough goodness in me to be able to do that.  So to God be the glory, for all things HE has done!

I know on the surface this looks pretty good and spiritual.  Let’s be honest, the way it’s worded, it’s supposed to look spiritual… but is it actually true?  Can we really be or do nothing good to “help” create a beautiful marriage?   I wondered why it sounded so spiritually fake, until it became clear a few months ago that it is a form of false humility.  False humility is when a Christian tries to look really humble, but in reality they have ulterior motives of pride buried beneath the surface of their spiritual statements.  Let me break it down piece by piece.

Normally, giving all credit to God is a good attitude to have toward our lives and the gifts we’ve been given.  To realize that yes, ,everything good given to us IS from God… but when it comes to being realistic with other people on actually achieving godliness, which realistically, is becoming more like Christ in our marriage, or with our kids, or toward our enemieswe should be honest that the transformation happens through our own choices in responding to God and in allowing Him to do the work in us that changes us.  That’s a huge piece of the puzzle that’s missing from statements like the one previously mentioned – the admission that we have allowed God to have His way with us, and to affect the way we behave toward others.  It is always a choice to follow Him, and a choice to develop godliness by clinging to Him overtime.  So yes, we can have the power to do good in our marriages, with our children, and toward our enemies – that power is given to us from God, but only when we submit to Him and allow Him to.

When thinking about this topic of false humility, these beloved verses came up below.

12 So then, my dear ones, just as you have always obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm], not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ]. 13 For it is [not your strength, but it is] [c]God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.

Philippians 2:12-13 Amplified Bible

These verses have fascinated me since about 2009 when I really started to study them and ask Bible teachers and leaders what they meant.

It’s a two-fold process – we have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (actively be pursuing God daily and growing in spiritual maturity… repenting when we’ve fallen or become discouraged).  AND God does His part by working IN us, making us want to please Him even more, and giving us real grace (power) to be able to do more than we could without the Holy Spirit in us, extending our abilities beyond what they would be.  

The latter verse would not be able to happen without the first.  That means God would not be working in us like that if we were not inviting Him in, pursuing Him and His ways, putting His will over our own as a daily thing, and constantly seeking to grow in spiritual maturity.

I think when it really hit me that the previous mentioned statement is a form of false humility meant to look super spiritual, was when I realized that if it solely depended on Jesus alone – if we had nothing to do with following Him and reaping those rewards – then everyone who was a Christian would look and act exactly like Jesus did by default. ALL Christians would have ALL the fruits of the Spirit down pat, and with perfection.  Obviously, spiritual growth doesn’t work that way LOL!

No… it’s just not true that we have no goodness in us or power to affect our spiritual growth, although it sounds true to give God all the credit for our good marriages, or relationships with our kids, or how we deal with enemies.  It looks good – very spiritual and “right.”  But unfortunately it’s deceiving to leave out the fact that a Christian who has developed godliness in their marriage… or with their children… they did so because they sought after Him.

Remember, the second verse (Phil 2:13) of God working in us, can’t happen without that first verse (Phil 2:12) where we decide to keep working out our salvation in fear and trembling.  We have to invite Him in so that He can have His way.

What a beautiful reminder that the grace God gives us – which is the power to go beyond what we’d normally be able to accomplish – is available to all of us if we only seek Him and live out Philippians 2:12.

Stephanie

Always Have Great Sex!!

Hi Dr. Laura!

My husband is easy. He’s pretty much in the mood all the time. Whenever, wherever… we have sex at least once a day, sometimes two or three (and we’re in our 40’s). But because women are different, I found that it’s good to always stay “prepared”…

One way is, I NEVER go to bed with clothes on. The second is that I have a few things I rotate inside of my head about my husband throughout the day. Things I love about him, things that attracted me to him in the first place. I focus fully on one or two things and before I know it, I’m ready to go. And yes, even with a headache.

My mother taught me to never say no to my husband, but I realize that there is a difference between just being a willing participant and being right there in the moment with him. It’s my very favorite part of the life we share, and I think it’s his, too.

Julie

____________________________________________________________________________________________

I’ve talked on the blog before a few times, about how I listened to Dr. Laura on the radio fairly often when I was a little girl.  My mom always had her on (when she was on air), and wow was it insightful LOL!  The female callers complaining about their husbands were always the worst and most annoying people to behold.  They’d complain about their husband’S normal male-habits, or negative things like having a porn addiction, or that he didn’t clean the house the way she wished he would, or that he had no motivation to move up in his career or make more money, and on and on the complaints were.

She’d speak very harshly to them, although I enjoyed hearing her tell them those things, I always thought to myself that being that harsh with the women was not something I’d want to do.  But perhaps I was wrong… ?  Maybe those types of women truly do need a smack to the head or to be treated as harshly as they’re more than likely treating their husbands.  A lot of the stuff I heard that the men were going through (when the men would call in) sounded like emotional and psychological torture or abuse!  So maybe I was wrong to think they didn’t need some very harsh “slamming” of their own behaviors, perhaps that’s the only way to help them gain humility – by giving them a mirror to see themselves the way other people see them.

And how many women that were like that, were Christian women going to church?  You would think Christian women would set the bar high for being kind and gentle and extremely respectful of their husband and his “flaws,” guarding him and protecting him from strangers’ misjudgment.  I could always tell, even as a young girl, that these women were very sure they were “right” and “good” even though it was pretty obvious they were gossiping and slandering their husbands to strangers on the radio.

The good callers were the ones who were humble, and who listened to Dr. Laura’s advice and allowed her to call them out if what they were doing was wrong.  Like the woman who penned this letter above ❤  She’s taken Dr. Laura’s advice to have LOTS of sex with her husband, and to not only do it because of duty, but to do it enthusiastically and with a good heart towards him!

It’s my very favorite part of the life we share, and I think it’s his, too.”

Yes!  I’ve told my man this many times 😀

Let’s look at her tips for having a better sex life:

  • NEVER go to bed with clothes on (lol… yea that does work!)
  • Focus on good things about your husband throughout the day – things you like about him as a man, and things that made you attracted to him in the first place
  • Don’t just have sex  more, have MORE FUN SEX.  Don’t just give him “duty sex” (bleh) but actually enjoy giving him sex

I actually think there are different “kinds” of sex (no I’m not talking about sex positions – Eek!).  I mean there can be different motivations for having sex.  One of my favorite motivations to give my husband sex is being thankful for him and for everything he does for us as a family.

I call it “Gratitude Sex!”

It’s when you’re so thankful that your husband provides for you, is such a good father to your kids, and is so good in a myriad of little ways, that you just want to knock his socks off with really good (grateful) sex!

I think husbands are often taken for granted.  They’re expected to work hard and expected to do the dirty jobs around the house… but do we as wives really thank them enough?

Is it so bad to thank them with our bodies?

In my experience, it’s more than good 😀

Stephanie

Parenting – Teaching Your Children to Use Their Gifts

IMG_6158

Our oldest is just amazing.  I know I’m his mom and so of course I’m biased… but oh my gosh, God has blessed him with many talents and gifts!  He’s kind… he’s gentle… he’s a strong leader and he’s only 7 years old!!!!!  Watching him is so inspiring to me to be a better mom – to be the mom he truly deserves in life (and yes, I feel like I fail constantly)!  We all deal with some amount of “Mom Guilt.”

Anyway… his school was having a city-wide art competition, and right away I was like, “You have to do this.”  He doesn’t believe in himself, just like I was growing up and still have issues with at times.  But his raw talent and gifts can’t just be shut up inside him and never used or developed!

IMG_6159

This is something I wish I had learned earlier in life myself – that my gifts, whatever they were, were supposed to be used and practiced and developed and strengthened!  It’s nice to have people loyally on your side, watching you with a gracious intent, gently encouraging you to use your gifts, but usually none of us really have people like that around, so we develop self-consciousnesses or neurotic beliefs that we’re always wrong or not very good.

And I see them reflected in my son.  His self-doubt, his belief that he’s actually NOT a good artist, or that he’s not funny, and not that smart (when he makes All A’s and B’s and excels in things like math!!).  It’s weird to me how we can have such a distorted view of ourselves when in reality, we are given so much more than we see.  This is what I imagine Paul was referring to when he was encouraging Timothy to not let anyone look down on him because he was young, but to set an example for other believers and to USE his gifts, and practice them and develop them.

IMG_6160

Practice.

IMG_6161

Develop

IMG_6162

It took him 3 days doing it a few hours at a time, and I had to keep reminding him that he probably wanted to work on it or it wouldn’t be finished in time for the contest, and he did want to finish it.  The more he painted, the more he enjoyed it, too!  As he and our other children grow older, I’m not going to be harping on them as much so that they can learn that if they don’t hustle and do their work on time – or be consistent in it – they will miss MANY opportunities in life and some that they won’t get a second chance at.

 

IMG_6164

 

IMG_6165

But for now, I’m like the woman Jesus talked about who kept pestering a man to do what she wanted 😀  I will encourage him, remind him, love him, prod him, and “train him up in the way he should go,” according to his gifts I’ve seen God has given to him.

IMG_6166

His art teacher came up to me with excitement yesterday when I picked him up from school, and told me with wide eyes that he had placed in the competition… out of THOUSANDS of other kids who entered all over our city!  He won his school somewhere between $1,000-3,000 in art supplies!!!  Of course we were so proud of him!!!

And I asked him in the car when we were driving back home, if he was glad that I pushed him to enter… because he never would have known if he could win if he hadn’t even tried.

I explained to him again that when God gives us special gifts like that, He expects us to USE them for Him, and that others are BLESSED through our gifts – but only if we have enough confidence in ourselves to decide to step out in faith act.  We are also blessed when we bless others!  As he found out when he won that much money for his art teacher!  It’s a blessing to be able to bless other people!

He’s heard about the parable of the talents, but it will probably be a deeper lesson saved for when he is a little older – that if we don’t use our gifts, that God may decide to take them away.  I know it sounds harsh, but we are stewards of the things God has given us, and that includes our giftings and talents.

May we all learn to be more confident in the gifts God has given us, and to use them, practice them, develop and strengthen them for His glory.

Stephanie