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

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Parenting – Teaching Your Children to Use Their Gifts

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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!

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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.

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Practice.

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Develop

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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.

 

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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.

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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

Overcome Evil with Good & Romans 12:19

This will be another post on the things my husband and I talked about this weekend on our long drives.  Although it’s a not really a “feel good,” romantic post, I thought it was a good spiritual growth topic to cover here.

How do you overcome evil with good, especially when someone has done something truly evil against you or someone you love?

How do you deal with Christians like that – true believers who engage in character defamation, spreading slander about you or your family, or worse, who make false accusations against you or your family members, and then go on to feel zero guilt over it?  So disturbing right?  And rightfully angering.

I’ve learned the hard way that it’s much better to trust that God will be your Defender against such people, that He will help “set the record straight” when the time is right for things to be exposed.  And I do believe things are always eventually exposed.  It may take a long time, but God is a just God, and He brings to light that which people would want to be kept in darkness.  You can be sure He doesn’t let evil doers get away with evil acts.  Even more so His own children (Christians), as the Bible warns He punishes those He loves… because it’s the right thing for Him to do.

It’s good to trust God knows what He’s doing.  I personally find so much peace in resting on that promise.  And if you’re going through persecution for speaking truth, you can also rest on the promise that you are suffering through something that will ultimately be a blessing to you.

 

      11“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 

12“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

To me, this is a beautiful promise… we have hope through persecution, and can trust that God will deal justly with those who do insult us, slander us, and falsely accuse us of all kinds of evil.

It’s God’s job, ultimately, and it’s our job to trust He does right by us.

When we run around and try to “correct” any and every person who is mocking or insulting or even spreading falsehoods about us (which I definitely tried to do in the past… unsuccessfully), we’re more concerned about “people-pleasing,” and protecting our reputation than in trusting God.  I don’t think it’s always wrong to try to confront someone falsely accusing you of something, but in trying to, you take on the risk of being more tempted to sin.  So in my opinion it’s best to stand back and allow God to deal with ALL of it, I’ve found it’s much easier to have peace that way – which is what He would want. 

I have found I am able to trust that not only will He provide protection (and He has, God is so faithful!), but He also gives us the promise that He repays and takes vengeance for us.  As unChristian as that sounds, it’s right there in the Bible for a reason (probably to scare people away from doing evil):

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written,

‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,’

said the Lord.”

Romans 12:19

Some commentary from Barne’s Notes on this passage and verse:

“For it is written – Deuteronomy 32:35.

Vengeance is mine – That is, it belongs to me (God) to inflict revenge. This expression implies that it is “improper” for people to interfere with that which properly belongs to God. When we are angry, and attempt to avenge ourselves, we should remember, therefore, that we are infringing on the prerogatives of the Almighty.

I will repay … – This is said in substance, though not in so many words, in Deuteronomy 32:35-36. Its design is to assure us that those who deserve to be punished, shall be; and that, therefore, the business of revenge may be safely left in the hands of God. Though “we” should not do it, yet if it ought to be done, it will be done. This assurance will sustain us, not in the “desire” that our enemy shall be punished, but in the belief that “God” will take the matter into his own hands; that he can administer it better than we can; and that if our enemy “ought” to be punished, he will be. “We,” therefore, should leave it all with God. That God will vindicate his people, is clearly and abundantly proved in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10Revelation 6:9-11Deuteronomy 32:40-43.

The part that my husband assured me of this weekend was so comforting to know.  That if someone does need to be punished, God will do it in His own time (or maybe He already has and you just didn’t witness it).  We don’t need to worry about infecting our souls with the poison of bitterness or hatred – although is it ever tempting to feel those feelings when you see someone get away with evil against someone you love!
My husband said that when someone gives in with actions to those toxic emotions and desiring revenge on their enemies, it affects them and makes them stoop to the same level – even disqualifying their witness.  It’s ok to desire justice, even through a legal system if need be, but it’s not good to take pleasure in seeing someone suffer more than they deserve.  Which is why it’s best to leave vengeance up to God – only He can truly understand “how much” punishment is deserved for someone who has wronged you.  There’s no way we could make that call, although I think it’s totally human (and biblical – think David in Psalm 109 where he asks for God to destroy his enemies in the cruelest of ways possible) to have those feelings.

My husband had me read some verses this weekend along these lines while in the car, and it was so good to hear his opinion on my questions.

One of the passages was David asking God to make his enemies ashamed and disgraced for what they’d done to him.  It’s so comforting to know how human King David was 🙂  I totally relate to his passage of desiring to see enemies be disgraced and ashamed of their actions.  It’s nice to know that he felt those feelings toward his enemies, and yet He was called a man after God’s own heart.  God doesn’t seem to hold our humanity against us regarding our strong emotions, ❤ but He loves us too much to let us stay in those emotions to the point where they would destroy us (and others).

Which brings me to the second passage my husband had me read with him 🙂 which was Jesus’ thoughts on loving our enemies:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor(fellow man) and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, [n]love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him]. 46 For if you love[only] those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers [wishing them God’s blessing and peace], what more [than others] are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles [who do not know the Lord] do that?48 You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

I seriously laughed at how these two passages seem so at odds with each other… and told my husband outright that I much preferred David’s response! 😀  I knew of both of them, but it’s always wonderful to hear my husband explain these things and talk it over him candidly. ❤

They do seem at odds… one calling for your enemies to be ashamed and disgraced for how they’ve treated you, and the next claiming that if you don’t also love them, you haven’t achieved spiritual maturity.  In reality, the second passage also lines up with overcoming evil with good in Romans 12:14-21.

14 Bless those who persecute you [who cause you harm or hardship]; bless and do not curse [them]. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty [conceited, self-important, exclusive], but associate with humble people [those with a realistic self-view]. Do not overestimate yourself. 17 Never repay anyone evil for evil. Take thought for what is right and gracious and proper in the sight of everyone. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for by doing this you will heap [e]burning coals on his head.”21 Do not be overcome and conquered by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

It ALL makes sense when you view it through trusting God to be the ultimate Judge and Avenger of wrongs.

We are supposed to be able to overcome someone’s evil toward us that may have truly harmed us by not allowing their actions to destroy our peace and love in our own lives.  The only way to do that is to be able to FULLY rely on God that He will repay, that we can be kind to them (which heaps burning coals on their head), and understand they are in God’s hands and that we don’t have to concern ourselves with their punishment.

He is just, and like He said… He will repay.

Stephanie

 

Christmas Season Joy!

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A half-done tree 😉  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… 😀

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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

 

Single Women: Character Flaws Make a Girl Ugly & Unattractive to Men

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I love Lori Alexander.  I love her brutal honesty and how she just tells it like it is to younger women.

Yes, men will notice a beautiful woman when one comes by, it’s natural and designed by God in their masculine nature to be attracted to a variety of different kinds of beautiful women.  I think most women have to deal with little insecurities, especially at the beginning of a relationship or even the beginning of a marriage when they’re still finding out how deep their husband’s love goes for them.

But I’ve found that most men love their wives incredibly deeply. 

It is amazingly romantic to understand just how much a good man loves his wife!

So… as long as you’ve picked a man of good character, and you’re not neglecting him or making it easier for him to be tempted by porn or other women, you really have nothing to fear here.  

You DO have to fear, however, if you give in to your insecurities and become the traits that Lori mentions in her journal post.

Anger and bitterness ruin the character of a woman… it doesn’t matter what she looks like on the outside, these traits really do make her ugly and unattractive to even her husband.

The quest all of us should be on is to become what Lori writes here:

“Make yourself more beautiful to him

by becoming more kind,

more loving,

more attentive to his needs,

and more gentle.”

 

This is what your husband needs, and he wants all that in only you.

Stephanie

French Makeup & Hair

This and more of the woman’s videos remind me so much of my mom’s beauty habits, especially regarding perfume – which for me, is hard to live without!

Beauty, in my opinion, should look low maintenance and mostly be able clear skin and bright eyes, and long, nourished hair.

Enjoy the video!  This woman is so cute ❤

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!

***

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.

Motherhood & Childbirth

dreams of mothering

Mother’s Day has come and gone again, and for some reason each year I just feel more and more content and happy with our life that we’re building.  I’m not sure exactly why I feel more content and happy with each year, but it may have a lot to do with the growing sense of gratitude of living this life getting to watch our children grow, love my amazing husband, and maybe just getting a little bit more mature.

I still have sin!  Definitely have to work on things at times, but in this area of mothering, even when it’s really especially hard with lots of tantrums or just stubborn behavior and lots to do, I can still see the end result in mind, especially at the end of the day (happy adults that know they were truly loved – no, adored!) and it somehow gets me through those tantrums.

Motherhood is hard at times.  Life in general has so many unexpected things come up and little struggles or trials, to me, mothering my kids just falls in line with normal everyday things to face.  There are many ups and downs with small children when they’re teething or in a tantrum phase, but I think it’s harder if you don’t really understand the fact that it is going to be hard to begin with.

There’s a new disturbing trend of moms on social media complaining about Mother’s Day, using it as an excuse to say how unfair it is that even on that day where they’re supposed to be honored, they still have to take care of their children (wipe noses or change diapers), or clean sometimes.  From reading several of these kinds of posts and videos for 2 years (posted the week before to prep women to feel jipped), it’s clear these moms don’t understand that life is just hard.  Mother’s Day doesn’t always go perfectly or smoothly, especially with small children – and it comes across as insanely immature of an adult woman who doesn’t understand this reality.  Or one who understands it, but still acts like it’s not fair and has an online virtual pity party about the duties of being a mom.

From one of my favorite books that my parents had loved when I was growing up (and got me reading before I was a teenager:

“Life is difficult.

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.  It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.  Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult.  Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult.  Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy.

They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them….  I know about this moaning because I have done my fair share.

Life is a series of problems.  Do we want to moan about them or solve them?  Do we want to teach our children to solve them?”

                  -The Road Less Traveled

So back to motherhood… yes, it’s hard, but it’s also so beautiful and I think, really grows us as women to have to go through the struggles of mothering.  Anything hard generally (in my opinion) helps us to grow and mature.  At least it can, if we accept the struggle and go through it trying to learn from it and become better.  Unfortunately, as The Road Less Traveled points out, many people don’t allow problems and trials in their life to grow and mature them.  It’s easier to complain and have self-pity for our own struggles.

I love this quote from the 1800’s by Anne Pratt about the virtue of seeing life optimistically as a wife and mother:

“Every one must have remarked how pleasant is that household in which a cheerful spirit of energy is cultivated by the mistress and mother.

It is a pleasant thing to dwell with one who is not troubled by trifling annoyances,

who is skilled in looking at the bright side of things, and hoping for the best;

with one who believes that all the ways of the Lord are right,

and who attaches a deep importance to duty.

Such a one will work willingly, in the belief that God has appointed both her lot and her duties,

and it is surprising how many obstacles are met and overcome by such a spirit.”

~ Anne Pratt

In my life, it IS surprising how many obstacles we’ve overcome together, my husband and I, due to having such a spirit of adventure, optimism and gratitude.  In really hard times, it’d be easier to complain or fight or even blame each other, but instead we work together as a team to solve the problem and learn from it.  It really makes all the difference!

CHILDBIRTH

This is just an update on the pregnancy, but since it’s a “motherhood” post, I thought I’d squeeze it in here.

So because our first child was an emergency c-section, and afterwards we decided to not try a V-BAC, this will be my 3rd c-section.  We’re so lucky these days, even to be able to have c-sections!  I recently heard that death during childbirth affected 65% of women during the 19th century.  Obviously the risk is far less for us now, but still, having had repeated c-sections, medically we know each time the risk increases.  Then there’s always uterine rupture or tears where the scar has been cut and re-cut – these also increase with repeated pregnancies unfortunately.

Last time around I remember trying to prepare Patrick for if I was to die in childbirth during the c-section – I know it’s a slight chance, but you never know what’s going to happen and since there was that possibility, why not mentally prepare for it?  I wanted him to know that I wanted him to be happy and to remarry.  It’s been the same this time, except I’ve been having very strong pains where the old c-section scars are, which my doctor thinks is scar tissue stretching (little tears), and probably not “windows” which are where the uterus is so thin that you’re actually able to see things like the baby’s hair.  Windows are supposed to be painless, so the pain I feel at times is probably just stretching (hopefully!).  The risk of uterine rupture is still there though, even though it’s still likely very small.

Anyway, we really want at least to be able to have one more child after this, but unfortunately it depends on the state of my uterus – sometimes they can apparently become “paper thin,” or if they see windows when they open me up, or little tears, etc.  They’ll likely then advise me that I shouldn’t attempt another pregnancy.  😥  We’ll see, many women are able to have up to 5 or 6 c-sections… but it all depends on that particular woman’s genetics and her unique uterus thickness, strength, and elasticity.

Again, we’ll see.

 

The Truth About Venting (Shaunti Feldhan)

This blog is kind of on standby, it always seems to get that way when I’m pregnant 🙂 but I still like to post updates or fun posts just to have them here.  Enjoying the pregnancy of our little girl, playing with my kids and doing life as well as writing, has kind of taken priority for now.  Life is hard at times, but then again it is so beautiful!

This article on venting being BAD for you made a lot of sense to me in thinking about how we handle emotions or reactions to people who annoy or offend us.

I rarely complain about things to just anyone – there truly are just 2 people who hear my innermost thoughts and complaints in my life, and I like it that way!  You’re supposed to complain and talk to God about problems anyway, but it’s nice to have one or two very very close friends to divulge in or ask advice from.

I’ve seen what can happen when a person lets their entire existence be taken over with complaining or venting.  It’s very easy to do this with blogs since they can become like one’s personal diary of sorts – but it’s still not a good idea for a person’s mental and spiritual health/maturity.  It stunts your spiritual growth and I even believe it can cause mental health problems for the person engaging in that kind of constant negativity or “venting.”

When someone gets upset or annoyed enough to run off to type out a blog post as soon as their little fingers can, that’s them “venting,” and 99% of the time, it’s done in immaturity and not handling their emotions in the best way possible.

But until seeing this article below, I didn’t know for sure just how “bad” venting is – or rather, WHY it’s bad to do it!  I knew it looked immature and ridiculous… not to mention so sad when people in their forties and fifties still do it, but wow!

Here it is, from Shaunti Feldhan ❤

“Your co-worker just made you so mad. Or maybe it was your husband who said something insensitive this morning. Or your teenager who rolled her eyes when you asked her to empty the dishwasher. Again.

You feel like a pot ready to explode, so you just need to let off a little steam. A few minutes of “can you believe he just said…” or “she’s so obnoxious when…” will make you feel so much better. Right? Right?

Wrong.

What is commonly viewed as “letting off steam” or “venting” is actually a myth. It can feel very satisfying, in the moment. But it ultimately changes us. And not in a good way. I’ve seen this truth for years in my own research and in other studies. That’s why the first assignment in my newest book, The Kindness Challenge, is to say nothing negative about the person with whom you want a better relationship.  This includes saying something negative to them as well as about them to someone else.

I do quite a bit of work helping companies develop women’s leadership programs, and one high-level corporate client, Nadia, told me that she could trace her rise in corporate America to this one change.  Years ago, with a harsh boss, she would regularly gripe to a female co-worker.  But even though the co-worker was equally mistreated, she refused to join in.  Finally, she asked Nadia, “If you complain, does it change anything?”  When Nadia admitted that it wouldn’t actually change anything, her colleague shook her head.  “You’re wrong,” she said.  “It does change something.  It changes you.

Brain science researchers like Dr. Brad Bushman at Ohio State University have discovered that our idea of “letting off steam” as a way of dealing with negative feelings is completely wrong neurologically!  Instead, it actually further activates an interconnected anger system in the brain. So when we vent with our friends or co-workers, we’re building up steam rather than releasing it.

A better analogy: expressing our frustrations turns up the heat under the pot – and stopping our negative talk is like putting a lid on the pot and removing it from the heat.  That choice actually changes the way ours brain process the negative situation.   We’re just not as angry anymore!  Even better, if we can actually look for something that is worthy of praise in this person or situation, positive feelings often replace the negative ones – which can help improve even the most difficult relationships.

This doesn’t mean you should repress negative feelings, or that you can’t share something important with a supportive friend.  It does mean to be careful about why you are sharing and how.

A friend recently decided to do the 30-Day Kindness Challenge for her 7 year-old adopted son. As a child from a hard place, he had spent years fighting attachment and exhibiting difficult and unpleasant behavior, mostly directed at his new mom. When she first started the challenge, my friend was honestly stumped about how she was going to participate in her regular support group for adoptive moms since she couldn’t say anything negative!

What occurred was fascinating.  She was still able to share concerns and seek advice, but because she wasn’t sharing those “can you believe it?!” comments, she found she was much less angry with him.  As she sought support, her words were less heated – almost like reporting facts in a news story rather than fueling the fire of her frustration and anger.  In the end she felt more positive about her relationship with her son and she still felt heard and understood by her support system. Win-win!

So the next time you find yourself picking up the phone to call a friend to complain, or start venting around the water cooler, stop yourself.  Remember that it will not make you feel better.    Try it; you will see the difference it makes.   And it will help you want to go the next step, which is to live a life evidenced by graciousness even when others are harsh.  To be kind even when it isn’t warranted.  To notice the things that are worthy of praise, not just those that are worthy of driving you crazy.  And to be the one who reaches out to others, to share the truth that living life this way is a lot more fun.


Visit www.shaunti.com for more.

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I can definitely attest to being amazed how little I care about minor things anymore.  Something seemed to happen when I turned 30 this past birthday – I completely stopped caring about things that didn’t matter, and found true beauty and freedom in depending wholly on Christ for my self-worth and assurance.  Something weird also happened with turning 30… along with not caring about things that didn’t matter, I seemed to find people’s over-reactions or ridiculous anger hilarious or entertaining.  I’m still not entirely sure why… but it’s a nice change of freedom and joy, embracing the beauty of life and freedom of Christ.

Besides… it’s better to live as a happy woman (wife and mother especially!) than an old sourpuss.  Perhaps this is what Christ meant when He talked about living life in abundance?

My Amazing Husband & His Boys

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Snapped this photo when we went downtown to see my husband working our annual city party called, “FIESTA!!”

My husband is an incredible hero.

It’s not just because he wears the badge, although the courage and bravery there are not to be discounted.

It’s his strength, heart, and mind that make him go above and beyond in teaching our sons how to actually be men.

Real men.

The kind that fight for goodness and against evil in our society.

The kind that are God’s warriors and ministers – both at the same exact time.

Words can hardly even describe the intensity with which I love this man so much.

patrickboys