Christmas Season Joy!

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A half-done tree ūüėȬ† We waited until my husband got home to do the star at the top, which is always down by the youngest in house who is able to walk ‚̧¬† Watching my husband pick up our 2nd son and let him put the star on is like winning the lottery.¬† So. Much. Love.

We got our decorations up last week, it’s been so much fun decorating with the kids and seeing all the ornaments come out again.¬† I get so much pleasure from just seeing everything again – like seeing old friends… LOL.

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My mom got us this sweet decoration a few years back.¬† I know Santa is a controversial figure, but I do love the story behind him, the legend if you will.¬† And I love this decoration because it kind of epitomizes the importance of Jesus’ birth amidst all the craziness of Christmas shopping, Santa visits, or whatnot.¬† It’s really about this, when it comes down to it.¬† None of the other stuff matters, and it’s nice to be reminded of that.¬† We can have all the other joyful stuff, as long as Christ is still the at the center.

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Love lights ‚̧

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And at night….

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Our famous skyline.

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The top of the building in the center of the above pic, is where my parents bought their chunks of land in the country back in the 80’s.¬† All the way at the top in the penthouse.

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So cute… ūüėÄ

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Our river ‚̧¬† There were less lights for some reason this year.¬† It was still gorgeous and we can’t really complain – but apparently we have new boats that light up the water below them.¬† LOL

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Our cutie…

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Christmas Candle… I always try to get one every year and light it every night, at least through dinner.¬† It’s just a simple tradition, and the light is beautiful for the kids (and me) to look at.

LOL our mischievous one!¬† Wait… they’re both mischievous… oh well!

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Enjoy this season readers!¬† Please go out and have fun!¬† Do joyful things… go listen to some carolers, or watch a ballet of the Nutcracker.

Do something to remind yourself of beauty this season!  To recapture how you felt when you were a child.

Go see some glittering, brilliant lights around in your city.  Really look at a well-decorated Christmas tree at a hotel.  Enjoy some wine!  Go out dancing!

Do something this season to bring more joy into your life, please.

‚̧

Stephanie

 

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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.

When Changes In a Spouse Can Lead to Divorce

I understand that many Christians (or religious people) think that divorce isn’t an option, that because Christ never said it was ok to divorce (except for marital unfaithfulness)¬†in even dire circumstances, that He truly meant that divorce was never an option.¬† That leaving a marriage was never a valid decision.

Yes, I believe marriage is sacred, and the Bible clearly states that God hates divorce because that is not how marriage was intended to be – the pain, devastation, and trauma of a divorce isn’t something that we were meant to go through.¬† But I also understand how different circumstances can make marriage a living nightmare, and how fixing the problems are not always possible when one or both spouses refuse to work together with each other to solve the issues.¬†¬†One of these circumstances would be when a spouse changes in such a way as to greatly undermine the stability of their marriage.

I genuinely love reading Matt Walsh’s blog, he states things that most people are too politically correct to say, and fearlessly is dedicated to finding and exposing the basic truths of confusing situations.¬† A post from a month or two ago was concerning marriage, with him disclosing a conversation he had with a man concerning divorce happening simply because people change.¬† Walsh, as usual, took an assertive position against this being a valid or even credible argument for divorce, he mocked and degraded the man’s simple excuse and compared the issue to his own marriage to his beautiful, loving wife.¬† To him, change, no matter how detrimental,¬†was just a part of life – something that has to be dealt with in a marriage, and not a cause for marital demise.

I’m not trying to call him out really, many people can be very vehement when it comes to certain topics that they feel they understand everything there is to know about them – I’ve certainly missed the bigger picture when being too passionate or assertive in what I saw as right or correct – to the degree of losing some critical aspect of wisdom that involves humility in admitting that maybe there is an exception.

It is na√Įve to think that people don’t sometimes change in ways that are extremely negative to a marriage.¬† I can think of various examples where the change of one spouse is incredibly – undeniably¬†unfair to the other… because they didn’t know beforehand that their partner would act/think/behave this way.¬† They end up being trapped in a betrayed position of having to stay married to someone who isn’t the same person they thoughtfully, deliberately, and maybe even prayerfully chose to marry.

When you marry, you are marrying for yourself (yes, it sounds selfish¬†– but even the Bible says that you must love yourself… “Love your neighbor, as you love yourself.”), and you also marry for the other person, your future children, and extended family even.¬† Marriage is a partnership where you make promises to each other to fulfill each other’s needs emotionally, and it’s also understood that you fulfill each other’s needs physically.

Every marriage is different and unique, and this is in no way trying to make wide judgments on what is or is not unfair changes, there are things I have left out (emotional or psychological issues that a spouse refuses to treat, or a husband refusing to work to provide for the family, etc.).  These are simply a few of the major examples in which change can greatly undermine a marriage.

RELIGIOUS CHANGES¬†can be hard, my husband and I were different denominations of Christianity when we were first dating, he was Catholic and I was Prostestant.¬† Many people didn’t understand why we would date each other, and it could’ve been a real wedge in our marriage if we had stayed in different denominations.¬† We were constantly talking about the differences though, and debated back and forth on what the Bible actually said.¬† He eventually came to see that he really didn’t believe in a majority of what the Catholic church teaches as “Truth,” and decided to look for a protestant church he agreed more with.¬† In truth, he didn’t even know much of what his denomination taught on different topics until we talked about them together, because his family hadn’t had open discussions about their religion and why they believe what they say they believe.

When a person suddenly changes to a different religion once they are already in marriage, however, it is incredibly unfair to the other spouse (no matter even if I agree that they changed to a good religion, the change is still difficult and unfair to the spouse who couldn’t have predicted it would happen).¬† This kind of change, depending on how much the couple lets it affect their life and decision-making (even concerning¬†finances), can cause disagreements and fights that drive a wedge to truly destroy a marriage.¬† When kids are involved, it becomes even harder, as the parents most likely won’t agree on which religion to teach to their children.¬† Religion is usually something people are very passionate about, making it hard for them to think clearly as to what is fair concerning the spouse who didn’t agree to marry someone of that religion.

Again… extremely unfair to the spouse who didn’t know their chosen partner would suddenly change.¬† The best thing to do in this situation, in my opinion, would be for the spouse who changed to be extremely understanding and delicate towards the other, they are the one disadvantaged here.¬† They need to allow all decisions (even concerning their children) to be worked through together – which means they won’t get their way all the time – even though they feel they are in the right.¬† The only other option, that many Christians will disagree with, is to divorce.

 

SEXUAL CHANGES I think, are probably the most common kind of change that occurs in a marriage, with usually one spouse deciding that they don’t like or need sex anymore, and refusing to try to fix the problem because it would inconvenience them to be told that they have an obligation to meet their spouse’s sexual needs.¬† There are even marriages where a wife (although it can be the other way as well) tells her husband to have a mistress, and to be ok with allowing someone else to meet his needs in that way.¬† I was listening to Dennis Prager, a Jewish¬†radio talk show host, (and the inspiration for this post), when he pointed out that the U.S. is practically the only country or culture who looks down on this kind of behavior, that in most other countries, having mistresses is a normal (acceptable if kept quiet) thing.¬† Obviously, if you’re Christian, you know this is not the way God intended for marriage to be.¬† Monogamy can be wonderful if you have a spouse who understands what they’ve committed to, and is able to maintain a healthy sex life in your marriage.¬† Or monogamy can mean a life sentence of sexual frustration, or even celibacy!¬† Either way, when one spouse changes in this way, it is incredibly unfair to the other, and usually leads to affairs and divorce.¬† The best thing to do in this situation is to try to convince the spouse to go to counseling to save the marriage, to understand what marriage even means.¬† Most times, the spouse who loses sexual interest doesn’t understand how much it truly affects the other.¬† Counseling can sometimes open their eyes so to speak, however, there are many times that even counseling doesn’t prompt the spouse to change, and the other is left with a lifetime of misery and frustration –¬†or choosing to divorce and find someone who cares about their needs.

 

PERSONALITY/BEHAVIORAL CHANGES are equally as difficult, when one spouse becomes addicted to gambling, over-spending money, drugs, alcohol, or¬†porn; or they acquire a hostile attitude and personality, constantly degrading their partner, it is again, extremely unfair to the one who hasn’t changed.¬† These are self-explanatory, and rarely do these kinds of problems ever fix themselves without major intervention – and willingness to correct the behavior on the part of the person who changed.¬† The best thing in this situation is to try to convince the spouse who changed to seek marital counseling in order to save the marriage – its not uncommon for the offending partner to refuse counseling, unable to admit that their problem is hurting the marriage.¬† Again, sometimes the other spouse is left with decision to either stay with a changed, unwilling to fix their issues-partner, or decide to divorce.

 

I understand that many people probably won’t agree with my perspective on these things – they will still vehemently and passionately, like Walsh, think that everyone changes and that change is just a part of life and living your life with another person… “so just deal with it!”¬† I just can’t help but have compassion for men and women who find themselves in these (and other) horrible situations, however… it truly isn’t fair, they weren’t allowed a say in their spouse’s change of religion/addiction/personality/behavior, etc. and so I find it incredibly hard to judge them for choosing the path of divorce.

It’s a less judgmental, more sympathetic view of life and people.

 

 

(Side note: I’m not covering abusive situations, if you are in an abusive relationship, please seek professional help immediately!¬† Abuse is not one of the debatable points of a “person changing,” the safest thing is to call the police, get to a safe place, and seek professional counseling to understand why you were in an abusive relationship).