Things I Want My Daughter to Know: Your Beauty Will Fade & That Will Be Beautiful

growing old together

I just caught up with Lori Alexander’s post on beauty fading from a Christian (Proverbs 31 wife) perspective.  You can find it here (it’s great)!

cute

I do think about aging quite a bit, to me it’s nice, but I’m also aware that maybe it hasn’t really “hit” me yet.  When I’m sleep deprived, which is more often than not these days 🙂 , I DO feel like the Crypt Keeper lol.  But when our baby girl actually goes the full night sleeping (very rare), I wake up and feel fresh again.

But I’m getting older, there’s no mistaking that.

To me, aging is a privilege.

“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.”

Proverbs 16:31

elderly

Seeing my husband get older is actually quite sexy!  I love knowing we’re “growing old together.”  It’s very fulfilling in a way that’s hard to describe.

Seeing elderly couples who you know, are actually still in love, touches my heart!

elderly love

I think I’m lucky I married a man who is a dreamer ❤ and together we regularly talk about our plans for when we’re older.  The hopefulness of grandchildren, where we’ll take them, how much we’ll just enjoy having (hopefully) a lot of family around us during the holidays.  The real test of our parenting and relationship with our children will be when they’re finally adults and whether or not they want to spend time with us.  Our oldest son has brought up pretty often that he loves being with us and will be devastated when he moves out – I’m sure he won’t be as devastated when he becomes that age 🙂 , and I do assure him he’ll be “ready,” but at least right now, he tears up and says how much he loves living with us.  Everyone gets older whether they want to or not… as sad as it seems, at least it brings new chapters in life to explore as adventures.  I’d rather embrace these things than run away screaming from them.

asian

But even with saying all that, we still look pretty young – which is good and bad.

Just today a woman at the playground I was at with my children was talking to me, then suddenly actually asked me out of the blue, how old I was lol!  This does happen sometimes, and I don’t get it… it’s a little strange to ask a complete stranger how old they are in my book!  But I told her, and she was surprised and said how it was because I look so young and yet I have 3 kids.  She told me I don’t look older than 25.  A couple of months ago an elderly woman with her grand-daughter saw me grocery shopping alone, wearing my husband’s high school football shirt (where her grand-daughter just graduated), and thought I was probably from her graduating class!  When I told her how we’d been married 10 years, and had 3 kids, her mouth literally fell open.  Still shocked, she told me I looked 18.

I do sometimes wonder if the very cushy life I’ve lived, being married to a good man, having his babies and being able to stay home with them, has led to me still look younger than I would have if I had chosen a different path.  We definitely don’t have much stress aside from his job and some financial tightness of me not working.  But overall, we both feel very comfortable and happy – we have so many blessings we feel guilt over them at times.

But this is something I want my daughter to know and understand.  Even when you beauty does fade, and you start to really show your age (whenever that magically happens), I want her to enjoy it.

Part of enjoying it is enjoying (like Lori A. said in her post linked at the beginning) the relationships you’ve built up over the years with your husband and children.

I do think a large part of why I’m not afraid of growing older is because I feel so secure in the life we live together.  The Bible does say perfect love casts out fear.  My husband’s love for me, his enjoyment of growing older together with me, is probably the source of the happiness I can feel when I imagine being a grandmother myself.

It’s like the ultimate reward for a life well-lived.

Stephanie

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Am I Tricking Men When I use Makeup? Is Makeup Unethical?

So…

the Makeapp …

LOL….

I’m going to try to write this post with a straight face…

….

ok!  I can’t 😉  😀

I’m laughing as I type ❤

Are we women tricking men with our makeup usage?

This is a lot like the constant harpy criticism that we’re all just teaching women to manipulate men… UN-ethically at that!  Oh my!!!

Recently, as you may have seen, an app came out called the Makeapp that allows men (or anyone really) to take a picture or upload a picture of a woman, and completely simulate what she probably looks like without makeup.

It’s not a perfect app, I’ve read up on it a bit and apparently some people actually look better without makeup than this app claims (it adds pimples and acne, so if you don’t have skin problems it won’t be completely accurate).  But overall, it’s pretty correct!

Is it tricking men to use makeup?

This topic has come up before in the world of male – female issues, in fact, I’ve actually written before on women covering their acne with makeup and men responding not so pleasantly to it.

Is makeup tricking men?  Well, to be completely honest, yes, it is, in a way.  But most reasonable people understand that makeup tends to make a woman look better, so they “get it.”  It evens out skin tone, it imitates the flushes and redder lips a woman gets when she’s in ovulation – making her extremely more sexually attractive.  It lengthens her eye-lashes, another thing proven to drive men subtly insane.  Is it manipulation of some kind of form?  I guess it is… when it’s used the way it’s intended (to make men more sexually attracted to you).

I decided to do it 😀

I used this picture… and in it (below) I actually don’t have very much makeup on.  Concealer, some foundation in areas but not all over “full-coverage,” mascara, and light pink lip gloss:

makeapp

LOL… So I guess I look like I have the flu 😀 ….

But ok… so is using makeup really unethical?

I think my other older post answers this question some.  If you’re deliberately hiding major flaws and such, yes, it’s effectively tricking a man into thinking you look VERY different from how you actually look.  You could make some kind of case that doing that was “unethical,” although most women who are doing that are doing it for their own self-esteem issues and not really trying to harm anyone.  But still, men don’t like feeling tricked… even if you’re covering acne for yourself so you can feel more confident 😦  They’ll still (as we saw in the other post) react badly to it if you put yourself out there like that one girl did.  It’s a no-win situation.

If you’re a teen and you’re worried how this app will affect the way guys see you, please try not to worry and just focus on important things.  If it DOES bother you, figure out ways to take care of your skin (toners, acne scrubs, prescription medicine if need be).  The thing that will give you the most confidence without makeup, will be having beautiful skin, and that’s just the truth.

Most men totally accept knowing you’ll look better with some makeup applied.  Heavy emphasis on the “some.”   Too much and it turns them off… usually.

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But almost all men dream of a woman who looks good without makeup and doesn’t need it to be beautiful.  And that’s the truth.  

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And that’s why this new Makeapp where men now have the magical ability to SEE what you look like underneath makeup really gets to women.  To be exposed for how you really look shouldn’t be an issue (a romantic interest will certainly find out anyway!), but for many it seems to be.  “It’s unfair!” some say.  “It’s SEXIST!” others say.

***

Is there any good “take away” from this new app in the hands of men? 😉

Yes!  If you have good, beautiful skin, you’ll look great even without makeup!  Does the app distort it?  Yea, it does, but if it makes men feel better lol…. *shrug*

And technically, this makeapp shouldn’t worry you if you’re using makeup correctly anyway.

On the other hand, the Makeapp can also ADD LOTS of makeup to your face LOL… this was only after adding “one application” of makeup!  LOL… more like cosemtic surgery haha!

WOW!!!

thumbnail_MakeApp-9284628

**Tear!!**  I don’t even recognize myself!!!  What an app!

Anyway… this app is really distracting!  If you’re a single woman, any man who is interested in you will already notice when you’re not wearing much makeup, and he’ll usually like it!  I’ve read many comments and emails where a girl says she couldn’t believe how the first time her boyfriend or husband told her she was “beautiful” was actually when they had been swimming or at a water park all day and all her makeup had washed off, or when they were hiking and it melted off -and guess what?  He still adored her.

If you have beautiful skin, you’ll still look great without all the makeup.  And that’s what men love.  I do believe most men do NOT want a woman who wears too much makeup.  It’s kind of obvious when someone does (unless they’re a brilliant makeup artist, which honestly men, most women aren’t).

But for women, even if you’re married – no, especially if you’re married – your husband wants to see you without any makeup on at appropriate times – first thing when you wake up, in his T-shirt or naked (however it is you prefer to sleep) – he wants to see his bare-faced Beauty and know you are his.

Stephanie

Aren’t You Just Teaching Women to Manipulate Men?

This isn’t just a question I’ve received before via email or in a comment, it’s a criticism that many people have pointed out whenever there’s a woman teaching (in real life or online) other women how to treat their husbands better in order to have a happy marriage.  I’ve seen it time and time again throughout the 4 years of blogging at this site.  And yes, I’ve been accused of selling “snake oil” to wives – manipulative feminine behaviors and techniques to get their husbands to give them what they want.  In reality, anything considered to be “snake oil,” would prove to be false over-time.  And I’ve many men and women tell me that these things are truth.  Manipulative techniques don’t actually work long-term in a marriage for producing good.  So no, I’m not selling “snake-oil” to wives.

This accusation always comes up though… always.  Even when I’ve come across women teaching others about simple femininity (not for wives but in general, how to be a woman), there’s always a few sour women who seem to scream from the sidelines, “MANIPULATION!!!!!! You’re just manipulating your husband into doing what you want him to do!!!”

***Side note***

Here is where a woman I love and admire, and have talked to privately in the past concerning what to do over these accusations (been meaning to email her again soon for daughter advice – if you’re reading this sweet Stingray, heads up for an incoming email), Stingray, has also confronted this accusation (albeit in a totally different way of accepting these tactics as manipulation)!  I’ve emailed with her a few times in the past, and respect her opinion greatly, so I’m adding it in to give you more insight into how like-minded women view this topic.  Click the link above if you want her specific take on this accusation that we’re teaching women to “manipulate” men.

I thought it would be good to go into this on my own blog, and go ahead and answer this question and criticism I’ve had off and on, because it IS important and women have a right to know an answer.

I hope this proves to be a thought-provoking post for you, no matter which side of the fence you sit on.

The Feminine wiles

Even by definition, the feminine wiles are described as clever talk or tricks, used to persuade someone to do what you want.  I’ve seen many women say behaving in a  feminine manner that brings out the best in men (your husband, but also your dad, brother, even sons are affected by this!), is just tricking him into behaving the way you want him to behave.  Using your femininity in order to inspire masculine virtues to come out in any man, is supposed to be a beautiful and good thing.

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But yes… to answer the critics… it CAN fall into manipulation IF the woman’s heart isn’t pure, and into it for the pure motivations of loving her husband.

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Manipulation is ugly.  Manipulating men to get them to do what we want is horrible.

No.  I am not trying to teach women how to “manipulate men,” with what I write or offer up here.  I don’t believe it is even possible long-term, for a wife, or even a single girl, to keep up a manipulative act.  Eventually the act will fall away, and her real self – her terrible character – will come out and chase men (even her husband in a multitude of small ways) away.

This criticism is only looking at the ugly side, and ugly heart motives, when it comes to using these behaviors and actions.  So while yes, a woman CAN use my advice to manipulate a man into falling in love with her or marrying her even, it’s intended to help women who have a pure heart, who genuinely want to love their husbands better and build a beautiful marriage.

I can’t help a woman whose heart is bent on seeing things only through a filter of sinful thinking.  Only she can lift that veil with prayer and making the choice to ask God to give her a clean and pure heart toward her husband.  So since I can’t really help a harpy screaming from the sidelines “MANIPULATION!!!!!!” I’ve gotten used to this false accusation (like Stingray had as well back when she was blogging) that it’s all “snake oil” and “unethical.”  This used to bother me, but now that I’ve talked to more women and have had the chance to see (in real life) the difference in their attitudes when presented with this stuff, I “get it.”  It all comes down to whether or not their heart is pure in wanting to love and be good to their husbands.  The sad thing is that a lot of women really don’t have pure intentions.

I’ve also seen women try to implement these things when their husband is already divorcing them.  If they’ve treated him terribly for 20+ years, and then suddenly try to implement these behaviors and techniques, yea he’s going to have a hard time believing his wife is sincere.  Then I’ve seen the wife (after becoming divorced and getting very bitter) usually complain that applying these techniques only made things much worse for her.  These are often the ones screaming “MANIPULATION!!!” the loudest.  If it didn’t work for her, it can’t work for anyone else!  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!  

Her husband’s strong negative reactions are actually explainable in a psychological way – it’s called “The Pandora’s Box.”  Sometimes it’s salvageable, but often it’s just not.  Usually there’s just been way too much nastiness there, and for decades long.  You can’t just easily undo that kind of trauma you’ve done to your husband, by acting kind and respectful now.  Even if you are sincere now, he has to work through MAJOR forgiveness issues, trust issues, etc. and a lot of men find it too painful.  A lot of men get angry that you’ve wasted so many years treating them horribly, and are only now just “waking up,” and taking responsibility for how you’ve damaged his soul.  It’s all very ugly and dark… but it’s reality when you reap what you’ve been sowing for decades in the heart of your husband.

I may write on that more (I do love to write!), but to me that is why these things are so crucial for women to know before they even start dating!  How many marriages would have been saved if women were only taught these crucial things about what men want when they were teens?  This is why I was motivated to start writing, and why I often target the younger crowd.

 

This is why your Character is important

Your character is talked about a lot on my blog.  Who you are – if you are truly all these things women teach about (including many posts on my blog) – others will understand and take note that you’re consistent.  This is best displayed in real life – with the real life men around you – whether it’s your father, husband, sons, etc, they will be the ones who ultimately know you and your character, especially over time.

I guarantee that your husband is already aware of who you truly are, and you’re either working to have a beautiful character and implementing these behaviors in your marriage to make it flourish, or you’ve let these things slide and you live with a somewhat happy marriage – but with no idea how great it actually could be.

Either way, your “real self” will always be exposed to the people you live with, especially your husband.  I’ve written before that who you are online, when no one is looking or holding you accountable – that’s who you really are.

Having a beautiful character is what will make these teachings work.  Having a pure heart is what will make your actions not seen as manipulative, but instead, sincere and they will inspire your husband’s love for you to grow immensely.

No matter how good you look on the outside (physically and in behavior like when practicing being kind or respectful to your husband), if you don’t have it together on the inside, if your heart isn’t in it, he will know, and he will hate it.

He will hate it because he will feel manipulated by you.  Hence why if I was really selling you “snake oil,” it just wouldn’t work for the long-haul of a marriage.

Your actions will always be manipulation on your part if it’s not coupled together with your heart intentions – in other words, if you aren’t loving him with purity and sincerity, you may as well not be loving him at all.

 

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).

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).

 

Criticism & Being a Stumbling Block

stumbling block

A couple of years ago, one of my mentors told me that you’re never more tempted to sin, than when you’ve been sinned against.

I think it makes a good quote deserving of all caps…

 

YOU’RE NEVER MORE TEMPTED TO SIN,

THAN WHEN YOU’VE BEEN SINNED AGAINST

 

I went to her after I had gone through a time when I was being criticized by a woman running a gossip/slander blog that has now since become private.  Every post I made, this woman found a way to turn it into something to mock… right down to attacking my husband and children.  Other women, even Christian ones I looked up to previously, jumped in on the mocking and gossip, and it was weird to see that even the supposedly Christian ones were doing this.  It lasted for a good half a year before I confronted her at her blog source, only to have the confrontation end in more pain and frustration.  Talking about it being sin with other people was labeled as “gossip.”  It was a very interesting time as I tried to figure out how to handle slander (being called a whore, slut and a bitch by a Christian man) as well as this being tailed for half the year by this Christian woman.  What was even stranger were the other Christian women who regularly commented on these posts mocking what I was writing, yet they couldn’t see they were doing anything wrong.

It’s really sad that we humans operate this way, myself totally and thoroughly included.  It’s part of our “normal” sin nature, but it’s so ugly and harmful, I surprise even myself with how easily I can give in to this temptation.  And rest assured, I’m talking about myself here, having a sin nature is not fun.  It is kind of shocking how bad we can be when we’re not actively guarding our mouths and minds and spirits.  It reminds me of Paul in Romans 7:18-22, where he wanted so badly to do good, but would sometimes find himself backsliding into the flesh behaviors that he hated in himself.

18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

21I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

I think it’s crucial to be honest that everyone has these feelings and temptations from time to time, even a man as godly as Paul.  I believe that, ultimately, it’s how we choose to deal with the temptations that matters in the long-run.  We have to strive to be like Paul and avoid and flee temptation, repent when we do give in to sin, and then allow for enough grace for ourselves and others when or if we backslide.

Last week I was wondering why someone would focus so much energy on giving in to sinful temptations… specifically, the temptation to engage in destructive criticism about another person (aka: Gossip & Slander).  I did an experiment to try to get someone engaging in it to see what they looked like, and to understand it within myself.  I succeeded in making them understand how bad it looked, the experiment definitely worked.  Overall, it was enlightening… and scary at how once you start (even if you think you’re only going so far) it can quickly go down hill.

I think I’ve found the answer… the root of why criticism can lead to being a stumbling block, and it comes from this quote at the beginning of the post that was told to me by my mentor:  “You’re never more tempted to sin than when you’re sinned against.”

 

Being a Stumbling Block through Criticism

stumbling man cartoon illustration

Romans 14 has always fascinated me.  I’ve written on it before, here , but I wanted to look at it again from a different perspective.

There used to be a pretty benign young woman who commented fairly frequently here.  I always had a feeling that she was trying to get me to change my views on each post I made – she was always so full of constructive criticism and gave it out freely.  Everything about me was up for criticism from this young woman – from the way I dressed to my diet and breastfeeding.  A lot of it was good, and I’d take it and make necessary changes, or try to see if I was getting it truly wrong, but overtime, it started to feel more like purposeful fault-finding or destructive criticism, and I felt myself changing inside toward her as well.

It got to the point where I would find myself starting to see flaws in her posts and arguments, whereas I’d never argued with her before over her writing.  And instead of minding my own business (something I’ve written about before!), I’d feel rightful in pointing them out to her publicly – in a “constructive” way like she did though 😉 .  I knew it was probably not the right thing to do, even if I couched it in “constructive criticism“… it’s a little much to be “correcting” someone all the time so why was she doing this?  I justified my fault-finding habit at her blog by telling myself that well, SHE was doing it to me, so why can’t I do it back to her?  Let’s just say being criticized by her nearly every week affected me lol.  I actually still try not to go to her blog because all I see are the flaws and faults in her biblical arguments.  It’s amazing how the way we act toward others has so much power over the way they in turn feel tempted to deal with us.

Why are humans like this?

I think Romans 14 holds the key to this.  Criticism, especially over issues that don’t really matter that much, make us become stumbling blocks.

“Therefore let us stop criticizing one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”  (vs 13)

Why does the Bible warn us that criticism can be a “stumbling block” to other believers?  I think the answer is that when it’s not done in love, or even when it’s done over and over again in a constructive way, it’s actually sinning against the person you’re criticizing or leading them to exasperation with you.  So when you SIN against that person, you’re TEMPTING them to sin back.  Or if you’re trying to just constantly correct someone on their convictions (which Romans 14 tells us blatantly not to), you’re going to make them tempted to view you negatively.  This is especially true if you’ve been overly harsh or engaged in sinful destructive criticism, you’ve just become a stumbling block for that person, making it harder for them in their spiritual walk.

stumbling block2

Wow, right?  Pretty scary how criticism, even when we think it should be “constructive,” can be so hurtful and harmful to our Christian brothers and sisters in damaging their walks with God.

Pretty serious stuff.  Now that I carried out my own psyche experiment on this topic, I think I understand even more so just how important this post was in the past.

Instead of being a stumbling block, why not become a stepping stone to helping build others up on their spiritual journies?  I’m talking to my own inclinations here 😉

stumbling block3

Good food for thought.

Stephanie

 

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Things I Want My Daughter to Know: Your Beauty is Worthless without Kindness

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Every woman wants to feel as though she has beauty to give to this world, you can see it in the way little girls play dress up, twirl and dance around, and long for their fathers to think they’re beautiful.  Even grown women enjoy getting dressed up for a formal with their husband, or for a night out to feel beautiful.  God created Eve with this deep desire in her heart to be the counterpart to Adam’s masculinity, and bestowed on her the power and ability of giving the world feminine beauty.

Feminine beauty is so powerful, that men often went to great lengths in the past to defend and preserve the nature of it in protecting their countries (and their women), from evil forces taking over.  Men going off to war even in modern times, often carry a picture of their sweetheart in their pocket.  Their girl’s picture gives them emotional strength to make it through the bombings and terrifying things they go through, and it does.  My husband just told me last week that he wanted to update the picture of me with our kids he always carries in his wallet.  Everywhere he goes, down dark dank alleys, confronting mischief and evil and often murders, he carries that picture with him.

Beauty and love are powerful things.  But a word of caution:

Your outer beauty is utterly worthless if you do not have kindness and the beauty of inner character.

Even the most gorgeous woman, without kindness toward others, might as well not be beautiful at all.  How you treat others is so important to who you are and who you become.  Always strive to be kind, you will fail of course at times, but try to get back on the path and repent of any unkindness in the past.

It’s not enough to be merely outwardly beautiful for a woman.  Sure it may “win” you special treatment from time to time, but without actual character and a love for treating others kindly, you will single-handedly ruin every relationship you have on this earth.  It is that important, daughter.  Especially in marriage!

Kindness is often painful

You will realize that being kind often brings pain.  For some reason, kindness is something many people seem to take advantage of, I wish it wasn’t that way.  And sometimes the kindest thing to do for a friend, may make them never want to speak to you again.

You may sincerely care about someone, admire someone, or respect them and show them kindness, but they may ignore it, reject it, or even return your kindness with rudeness or insult.  If you’re a tad too sensitive like your momma 😉 , there will be times when you will actually feel goosebumps from the coldness of someone’s response to your kindness.  It will be painful, and you will want to stop being kind ever again.  I’ll be so sad to see you feel that way.  But that’s normal and happens all the time because we live in a dark world.

That’s when you’ll learn that kindness is for kindness’ sake, not because other people appreciate it or not.  Kindness is who you are and part of your character.

You cannot be truly beautiful as a whole person, without being kind and having character.

 

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: Your Sensual Beauty is God-Given

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Something I want my daughter to be very aware of, is how Christians get confused about how God created men and women and their respective sensualities.  She’ll undoubtedly run into some Christians later in life who truly make her question whether or not it’s “ok” for women to be sexually attractive.  She’ll wonder is it ok for a single Christian woman to be sexually attractive to godly men or if it’s wiser to somehow hide her physical beauty?  Is it ok for a married Christian woman to be sexually attractive or should she ONLY be considered sexually attractive at home for her husband’s eyes?

I’m not talking about modesty issues here, they are important and do make it an easier or more difficult stumbling block for a godly man concerning the issue of lust… but this post is addressing the issue of sensuality and simply being an attractive woman.  I’m sorry sweet girl, but this is more than likely going to be an issue in your life.  You’re already uniquely gorgeous as a baby, and I can only imagine how stunning you’re going to look at age 16.

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Sexual Attractiveness… Feeling sexually attractive

I read a post a few weeks ago where a Christian mommy blogger literally said if something makes you feel sexy, you probably shouldn’t wear it outside of your home, but only wear it in privacy.  Your husband should be the only one you wear anything sexy around.  I do understand and agree if it’s only applied to things that are immodest or something meant to seduce (lingerie, low cut tops, very short skirts etc.), but many many things can make a woman sexually attractive, and it gets confusing when “anything” that makes her feel sexy (sexually attractive) should be forbidden outside the home.

Heels… dresses… her long flowing hair… perfume… mascara… red lipstick….  Are they wrong?  Are they somehow sinful because they reveal a woman’s sensuality and often make her feel more like a sensual woman (aka “sexy”)?  A few years ago I heard a Christian pastor preach from his pulpit that a woman’s sensuality is sinful.  He may have meant her sexuality or her ability to seduce, I’m not sure… but it just didn’t sound right to me.

This kind of thinking has never made sense to me and has always made me feel sorry for the people who live this way… almost as thought they aren’t wholly female but instead are cutting off a huge portion of who God made them to be.  I actually believe this kind of thinking stunts a woman’s personal growth and damages her sensuality… making her think it’s wrong or bad for her to ever appear sexually attractive outside her bedroom.  To believe she has to become an asexual woman and lose her sensuality just because it may tempt men who aren’t her husband is so against what God would want for His daughters I would think.  I hope to help my daughter understand that her sensuality, her enjoying feeling like a woman, is God-given because HE is the one who made her female and created beauty and thus, sexual attractiveness.

When God describes (allegorically) the way He saved Israel, He tells the story of Him saving an infant who was aborted and left for dead in the dirt covered in her mother’s uterine blood.  Nobody wanted her, but God had compassion on her.  The baby girl is taken in by Him.  She grows up under His loving watchful care.  She becomes sexually attractive, and He marries her, and then helps her revel in her feminine sensuality.

“You grew up and became a beautiful jewel. Your breasts became full, and your hair grew, but you were still naked.And when I passed by again, I saw that you were old enough for love. So I wrapped my cloak around you to cover your nakedness and declared my marriage vows. I made a covenant with you, says the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.

“Then I bathed you and washed off your blood, and I rubbed fragrant oils into your skin. 10 I gave you expensive clothing of fine linen and silk, beautifully embroidered, and sandals made of fine goatskin leather. 11 I gave you lovely jewelry, bracelets, beautiful necklaces, 12 a ring for your nose, earrings for your ears, and a lovely crown for your head. 13 And so you were adorned with gold and silver. Your clothes were made of fine linen and costly fabric and were beautifully embroidered. You ate the finest foods—choice flour, honey, and olive oil—and became more beautiful than ever.

You looked like a queen, and so you were! 14 Your fame soon spread throughout the world because of your beauty.

I dressed you in my splendor and perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign Lord.”

 

This passage is so interesting to me in the way the Lord describes how he lavishes His love on her with things that enhance her physical beauty.  Even a nose ring is something He gives her… just so different from the way Christians think these days.  Anyway, it is clear that her beauty is what made her sexually attractive, her growing breasts and hair, and then jewelry and fine clothing, etc.  Very interesting to me that God tells us all this.

But back to question or point of the post: is being sexually attractive wrong or something that should be hidden?  From the looks of Ezekiel 16, it doesn’t appear to be.

Things that typically make women sexually attractive to men that are visible even when they’re dressed modestly:

  • Youth or appearance of youthfulness in her face (good skin)
  • Slender body type
  • Proportional breasts and hips and waist ratios
  • Long legs
  • Long healthy hair flowing down her back
  • A positive or cheerful attitude
  • Perfume

All these things have nothing to do with showing too much skin, and yet from what I’ve read through polls and studies (and asking my husband if it’s all true in his opinion), men can be “turned on” by all these things even if the woman isn’t using her sensuality in a bad, seductive way toward others.  There’s a reason why Muslim men force their women to hide their shapes (that would reveal breast, hip, waist ratios) under large burkas, hide their faces in some cases (that show their youthfulness or female features), completely hide their hair from sight, many even don’t allow their women to wear makeup or perfume when out, those things are only to be worn for their husbands. Basically, in Islam, a woman is sinning if she reveals any part of her God-given sensuality (feminine body ratio Breasts:Waist:Hips, feminine hair, feminine facial structures, etc.).  Everything feminine about her, even her desire to wear makeup or perfume – her very sensuality, the very things that make her female, are looked upon as too tempting, sinful, and should be only kept for the eyes of her husband.  Being female is dangerous in their minds.  All signs of being female must be covered up.  Why is that?

It’s because being a beautiful female is equated in the male mind as also being sexually attractive, they are basically one and the same thing.  

When men watch porn for instance, they tend to look at the women’s faces much more than just their body parts (from studies tracking where they were looking most of the time).  Whereas we know when women watch porn, they actually don’t look at the faces as much as men do, but instead spend most of the time looking at the sexual body parts… mostly the genitals.  It’s fascinating to me that men actually look more at the **person** in porn or they at least notice it more and focus on it more, whereas women are the ones who are sexually objectifying the people in porn by only looking mostly at the bodies or body parts.  Society would tell us it’s the other way around.

A Dangerous Beauty

A woman’s sensuality or sexual attractiveness is extremely powerful, and since it’s powerful, it’s also extremely dangerous.  A sexually attractive woman, no matter what she’s wearing (think very modest clothing) is still going to be sexually attractive and draw sometimes unwanted attention to herself at times.  I used to believe that this unwanted attention was bad and even a curse of some kind.  In the Bible, we see a clear example where this scenario can be dangerous when Abraham believes his wife Sarah is so beautiful (sexually attractive to other men), that the rulers in the foreign lands they were traveling in would want her for themselves (to make their wife and have sex with) and kill Abraham.  She must have been extremely sexually attractive in order to garner the attention of men like that – men who could have had any woman (and did!) that they wanted.  I highly doubt that Sarah was dressed “slutty,” or improper in ANY way at all that caused these men to want her so badly.  And yet she was still sexually attractive enough to the highest value men during that time (rulers over whole kingdoms!) to draw unwanted attention to both her and her husband.

So yes, daughter, being sexually attractive can be dangerous, and as we see from reports in the news of couples being attacked when out on dates and the young woman being gang-raped while the boyfriend or husband is held down or beaten… being sexually attractive or desirable can *still* be dangerous no matter what you’re wearing.  However, if a woman dresses slutty, yes, it will draw more negative attention from BOTH men and women because it’s inappropriate or too revealing.  Yes, it can make her life far more dangerous and even make her more likely to be raped, even though modern day women don’t want to admit that.

Men, unless they’re gay or dead, will always notice a sexually attractive woman, even if she’s in a modest one piece bathing suit.  Sexual attractiveness does not automatically mean showing too much skin or dressing slutty.

Your sensuality is very complicated, but it is a gift from God meant to edify you, and bring pleasure both to you and your husband.  In Ezekiel 16, it was clear that His beautiful woman became “famous” for her beauty, yet it wasn’t in a sinful way.  Her sin comes later from pride (due to her beauty) and because of her pride, she becomes an adulteress and mistreats God’s love and care for her.

Eve, like the woman in the allegorical story, was one of God’s most beautiful creations, and her beauty – feminine beauty and attractiveness – reflects God’s taste and art.  Yes, they had to “hide their nakedness” once sin entered the picture, but when He gave her fig leaves to cover up, you notice He didn’t hand her a burka type outfit. 😉   Even the animals skins they used were probably not very long in length or full-body coverage.

There is a reason He created you the way He did, as a woman, meant to enjoy her femininity and not to hide it all under a burka and hijab.  Dress carefully and modestly, but don’t believe the Christians who preach that sensuality is sinful… which really translates to everything that makes you female, needing to be hidden.

 

Trusting God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.