Monday, March 27, 2017

If Babies in the Womb Were Toddlers

Even in the best circumstances, having a baby is a brave thing. As I sit here writing this, big and pregnant, I know this well. We have 9+ months to look forward to what we hear is a very painful exit of a 7-ish pound baby from our bodies. In the meantime, we get to watch our bodies slowly change and morph into something less than fitting for a runway model. Beyond that, there is the fear of the unknown with the future of this baby that is your, and your husband's, sole responsibility. Your whole life will be rearranged, and money is needed to keep everything going. 

Add to all of those anxieties a less than perfect situation going into pregnancy, and it takes bravery to a new level. I have been enjoying reading pregnancy forums online since being pregnant, where pregnant women get together to talk about what they are going through on a daily basis. Usually it's silly talk or medical questions, but sometimes it gets deeper. My eyes have been opened to some of the situations women are facing that are making them consider having an abortion, because they ask the others in the forum what they should do. Some women don't have stable men (or any partner at all) to help them raise the baby. Some have families that don't think they are old enough to handle it. Some don't have an education in order to make decent money to support the baby in the way they'd like to. Some have pressure from their partners that it's not the right time to have a baby. Others find out that their baby has issues, and wonder if they should just "call it quits". When I think about these women, I feel for them. They are faced with hard situations to which there isn't an easy answer. But, there's always one answer I feel confident in giving: do not end your baby's life with abortion, no matter what circumstance makes you feel like it's necessary. It's murder.

I realize many choose to believe that babies in the womb aren't human yet... or something, but we know that the baby has a heartbeat at about 3 weeks in the womb. That's before we even know that we're pregnant. And we can even hear that heartbeat through ultrasound not long after that. Technology has a way of not letting us keep our eyes closed to truth.

The Toddler Scenario

One example that I think is particularly helpful when considering abortion, is to compare the baby in your womb to a toddler. Take any argument you might make for having an abortion, and apply it to if you had a toddler running around your feet. Would you murder your toddler out of convenience or because they got really sick? Would you choose to end their life because of pressure from your family or partner? Would you think it's ok to kill them because money was low and you couldn't give them the life you wanted? It's ludicrous, I hope to you as well, to even consider doing so in any situation I could come up with... even if it was legal. The choice is not ours to end our children's lives, nor should it be.

So, if you are that woman that is struggling with knowing what to do about your unborn baby, think about the toddler scenario. Your baby in your womb is living, and is depending on you to take care of it, even now. Don't dull your mind into believing what popular culture is telling you that you should, that it's only a bag of cells. I know you are smarter than that. It takes bravery to have a baby. Be brave.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

When Nostalgia Holds Us Back

I recently read an article, by Eric Metaxas, about how Hollywood has been in a real story-telling slump lately. Most movies that come out are not original story lines, but rehashed ones from comic books, past classic Disney cartoons, etc. For example, just consider how many times Spiderman has been remade in the past 15 years, and you'll have an idea of what he's getting at. Of course, Hollywood wouldn't be making rehashed ideas into movies constantly if they weren't selling. There is something fun about nostalgia, and getting to mentally relive something we enjoyed once before. The problem with nostalgia is when it begins to take over innovation and probing for new ideas. Nostalgia becomes an issue when it keeps us from moving forward.

I think we all know those people that seem to always be dreaming of a moment in their life that was what they wish life would be now. They look at those fuzzy pictures and think of the good ol' days more than they take current ones of what is happening in their life now. They find it hard to make new friends, refusing to believe that the ones from their past should be anything but the best they will ever have or need. If we are honest, we look at these people and pity them, and rightfully so. They are loving a place in their life so much that it is causing their current growth's detriment. They aren't moving forward, so the past continually remains the best thing about their lives.

There is a pull in all of us to hang on to that good moment in our lives that we once knew. Life is hard, we find, as it continues to move forward. It isn't as easy as those days we once knew. It requires work, and sometimes it's lonely. But there is something that nostalgia keeps us from remembering. It tells us that everything was once perfect, when, in fact, life before heaven is never perfect. Whenever we are tempted to think of a certain time in our lives as the one we wish we could always live in, we need to call out the lie right then. We are forgetting the hard things that accompanied those good memories, and we are ignoring the fact that God uses trials to shape us for His glory. Sure, the idea of staying where things weren't hard is nice, but it isn't reality. We are called to move forward, right alongside the trials of life, and see the beauty of tomorrow. We serve a God of hope, and hope looks forward with joy.

"Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future." -Proverbs 31:25

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Perpetual Quest to be Skinny and Muscular

It is no secret that in our culture it is "in" to be thin and muscular right now as a female. Most of us, if we are being honest, are constantly attempting to emulate a teenage girl's undeveloped body (adding a 6-pack to the mix), even though we are well into womanhood. The curves that come with growing up with an abundance of estrogen aren't as accepted in our society, so we fight them. We don't really like what we see in the mirror, so we subconsciously attempt to eat in order to fit into our fella's jeans, completely ignoring the fact that God made us with wider hips, not to mention we are the gender that prefers to store more fat than muscle. We work out harder; we eat less. Our time is taken up with the endless pursuit of looking like something our bodies don't want to be. Our minds are consumed with it from the time we are teenagers first getting those subtle curves. Whatever it takes to get rid of that stored fat is what drives us, even in later womanhood. And we're only appeased when our love handles, cellulite, and thighs that touch are non-existent... oh, and our biceps are as big as the guys (to all of which we never attain). In other words, few women in this country are satisfied with the way they look, regardless of being healthy or not.

I would never tell you that it's ok to go to the other extreme by saying being overweight and flabby is a good thing. It's not. Not only is it unhealthy, but carrying excess fat also takes up unnecessary time and money. Although, I don't completely blame people that struggle with being overweight in this country. The food that is easily available to us is high in calories, in general, and our lifestyles create some effort to get in exercise. Not to mention, our lives are largely overly busy. It takes thought and effort to not fall into the overweight category, but we really should put in the effort. But that's not my point in this article. The point is that women in our country tend to view their bodies as not good enough, even if they are a healthy weight.

I would like to make a point that, even at my thinnest and most fit, I thought I could stand to lose weight and firm up. It's very hard to think objectively about your own body, even though others are thinking you look far too thin. My granny would tell me I was too thin, and I would be thinking that she hadn't seen me in a bikini. My butt still had fat on it that could go away. And now, as I sit here big and pregnant, far heavier than I was at that time, with hips that keep expanding and other parts that I don't even recognize, I realize how ridiculous I was. You know what I was trying to do? I was trying to lose the very curves that made me a woman. I was trying to revert back to the teenage body I once knew, and that society tells me I should have even when I'm 30. But, you know what? Experience has taught me otherwise. My body prefers to store fat, rather than the amount of muscle that men's bodies store. It wants to create and sustain a little baby, and it's designed and has been working towards that, even before I got pregnant. 

Ladies, let's face it. We were made to have hips, thighs, and breasts with fat on them. Even a little arm fat is not out of the question when thinking about a healthy body. Each of us stores fat in different ways, but that's just the science behind being a woman and having the ability to nourish another human being with our bodies. And, let's not forget another little fact: most guys find soft curves attractive. Why are we trying to be more attractive to our guy by the perpetual quest to be skinny and muscular? Let your body be what it was made to be, and stop fighting it for this skewed version of what beautiful is. Sure, we need to eat well and exercise. But let's start attempting to see the beauty in the way God made us, adult women with curves.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Best Inventions Ever! #pregnancycomfort

It seems like with each week that passes in pregnancy, I keep finding myself saying, "Oh my gosh, this is the best invention ever!" And it's never about the same things. I've found this occurs because pregnancy takes your body and twists and wrangles it until one day, 9-10 months later *POP out comes a baby! We get a wonderful little baby out of it, but the process can leave one a little harried. I decided to begin writing down some of my "best invention ever" discoveries for mommies coming after me to not have to do as much trial and error as I did in the pursuit of pregnancy comfort.

Morning Sickness
  • Sea Bands
  • Ginger drops (I've also heard Preggie Pops work great, but I couldn't find them at Walmart when I looked.) 
  • Teddy Grahams 
  • Cheese Sticks
Helpful hint: keep protein, dairy, carbs, and water in your belly at all times to help satiate the morning sickness beast. Consider a gummy prenatal while your morning sickness is at its worst. They seem to be easier on the stomach.

Ever-Widening Hips
The roll top is incredibly comfortable.

Huge Boobs
Seriously, you'll never look back. Good shape, and extremely comfortable!

Itchy Tummy (from stretching)
It has vitamin E, so it also is supposed to help heal stretch marks.

Sleeping Woes
I'm a back sleeper, so when I was told not to sleep on my back it was hard to transition. This pillow helped.

  • Tums 
Don't go anywhere without these.

  • Tylenol
  • Robitussin 
  • Humidifier
Wedding Ring
It's silicone, so it stretches. And it's inexpensive. For some reason, my skin started having a reaction to the metal in my normal wedding ring, not to mention that it was getting hard to take off.

  • Praise music/think about Scripture
  • Walks in the sunshine
  • Talk to another preggo.
  • Recognize you're moody, and try to bless the people around you instead of wanting to strangle them.
Peeing When You Laugh/Sneeze
  • Kegal exercises everyday
  • Don't go more then two hours without using the bathroom.
I seriously sneezed at the library the other day and had pee running down my leg. Not cool. Pregnant women need to be aware! 

Pregnancy Info
I love reading the weekly baby updates, as well as the mommy forums in the "Community" section. 
It's a good go-to book.

Sun Spots
My skin is prone to freckling, but pregnancy apparently intensifies that, as well as making the skin more sensitive. I got a nice new spot on my cheek recently. I was told to wear at least an SPF 50, but it made me break out like crazy. I discovered putting it over my other lotion and foundation was the trick. And don't get it in your eyes!

AND my number one recommendation for pregnancy woes is...
  • Rest!
I'm sure my list will grow exponentially as I traverse through my third trimester. What are some of your favorite prenatal relief items? 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Women "Enflesh" Life

It might sound a little weird to talk about "enfleshing" something, and I will admit that I didn't come up with the expression. A book I recently read, Eve in Exile, coined the term for me. The author, Rebekah Merkle, refers to how women differ than men in the way that God made us to be the sex that is able to "enflesh", or bring life to something. Of course that relates to how we literally bring life into this world by having babies, but it also refers to how we bring life to the home. In simpler terms, God has given us the ability to make a house a home. And on a deeper level, women take the theology that is preached, and help people to actually see it in the way they beautify, transform, and make people feel loved and cared for. To quote Merkle, "[Women] shape loves and they shape loyalties... They're important because they take glorious truths and make them visible, and weave them into the souls of the people around us."

The idea that women have the unique calling to "enflesh" is something that my husband and I have been trying to wrap our minds around since I read Merkle's book. It hit home with me as soon as I read it. "Enfleshing" becomes a very practical issue, because it often takes time and a bit of money. My husband didn't understand why I wanted to add curtains to the windows when we got married. He couldn't comprehend what usefulness a cat could serve. He refused to appreciate why I wanted to replace his perfectly good shirts, just because they were from when he was in middle school and had a couple holes in them. And those are just naming a few of the battles we've had in the early days of marriage. In short, he didn't get my motivation to "enflesh", which led to me having hurt feelings anytime he felt I "wasted" money or time on these things.

As a single, I lived in a house with a bunch of other girls. There was also a house of single guys that were our friends. The guys would come over and always note how "homey" our house felt. In contrast, we'd go to their house, sit on the carpet, and just hope for a glass of water to be offered. And, to be honest, we generally met at the girls' house, because the guys just weren't as inclined to think about hosting. Guys and girls are wired differently. I think about those times now, and I'm more aware of how the sexes compliment one another. Men are generally very "usefulness" driven, not spending time or money on things that don't have an obvious practical value. This leads bachelors to have bare white walls, but working furnaces. On the other hand, go to a bachelorette's pad, and you'll feel well-cared for and the cushions will be comfy and smell nice, but the faucet will probably be leaky. Although I hesitate to stereotype, I'd say this is how it generally goes. Men are the prose, while women are the poetry. We need each other for a well-rounded narrative.

My husband admits that he often doesn't understand why I want to do things a certain way, but that it usually ends up making life more enjoyable. If I want to do a family photo shoot, host a party at our house, decorate for Christmas, or replace the ratty shower curtain, he now tries to give me the benefit of the doubt and trust that it will be good for us, and not just assume it's all nonsense. Even being given the time to do these things is something some husbands may not realize that their ladies need more of. It takes time and effort to "enflesh" a home, making it a place where children and loved ones feel cared for, and welcomed continuously. Life is about more than the 8-5 in the world of "enfleshing" (i.e. homemaking); it's about creating a flourishing home that causes people to actually taste and see the gospel.

Having respect for how God has wired the opposite sex is vital to how well we function together. Different is not bad, and we don't necessarily have to understand how or why the other thinks the way they do. We just have to know that life is richer because of the differences, and not criticize or look down on them. Women have a bent that can easily be looked down on, because the perceived value isn't as obvious as more practical endeavors. But a woman that is truly owning her task of "enfleshing" will cause her people to actually touch the deeper truths they've been learning about in church. That is building a household that isn't easily taken down by the storms of life, and I consider that to be of great value!

"Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." -Proverbs 31:31

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Literal 6-Day Creation?

Last night we went to the theater to see Is Genesis History? It was only showing last night, and in select cities. I'm sure you will be able to buy a copy of it in the future, which I would suggest you might like to do. It is an interview-type documentary, arguing for the "young earth" view of creation. It had many beautiful landscape panoramas, so I wasn't bored visually. 

"Young earth" means that God created everything in the literal 6 days that Genesis states, which would put our earth at about 5,000-6,000 years old. "Old earth" refers to the idea that it happened over the expanse of billions of years, which some Christians hold to. I went into the theater with a leaning towards a young earth view, while being open to the old earth view. I am now definitely leaning more towards a solely young earth view. Here's my attempt at summarizing some of what made an impact on my thinking:

1) The first point made that I thought was good was that Genesis is not a book of poetry. It is obvious from the rest of the book that it is an historical account. So, to take the first few chapters and consider them anything less than literal would be an odd way to go about reading the book. That's just logical reading.

2) Darwin's theory of evolution rests solely on the belief of an old earth. In fact, Darwin didn't even come up with his theory until after reading another scholar's concept of an earth that is billions of years old. And that got Darwin to thinking. Atheists (and mainstream media) hold to evolution as fact now, and to dispute it is to become an idiot in the popular view. That is why you can't watch a nature show, or go to a zoo or museum, without them telling you evolution and Darwinism is fact. To our mainstream culture, it has become truth. It's good to remember that science that is unwilling to yield to new discoveries always has an agenda at its core. It's especially troubling with something like macro-evolution, that hasn't been scientifically proven.

3) This point is one I'll struggle to convey. We must step out of what we know right now about how the earth works. The documentary asks us to consider that the different epochs meant that decay, growth, etc. worked at different rates. There is the creation epoch, where God allowed things to work at a much quicker rate, although in the same process that it would now. Plants grew within seconds. Starlight made it to earth light-years ahead of what it would now. There are many other epochs to consider as well. but to judge the decaying process by our current view may not be the way to best understand how things happened in the past. 

4) The flood of Noah's time had a lot to do with how our earth looks now. Things were really bad by the time the flood came. People had become exceedingly wicked, and we have reason to believe that creation had been effected terribly by the fall. Dinosaurs, for instance, had become much more terrible than they were ever meant to be. The rock layers that scientists claim have taken millions of years to form, actually could have happened in minutes with the flood and the following events. The film also mentions how global warming really shouldn't be that scary to us, but something that has been happening all along, since the flood. Watch the movie to understand more about all that. All I have to say is, it's pretty convincing.

All of the points I have made must be taken with the idea that micro-evolution is accepted with the documentary makers, just not macro-evolution. In other words, species have been given the amazing ability to adapt, but never to switch species. This is incredibly important, because to believe that humans are made in the image of God, as a completely distinctive race from any other species, will determine our view of sin, our Creator, and the very value of humanity above every other species.

*side note: Apparently, there will be an encore showing of the film on March 2. Take your family and friends!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sex Before Marriage

Sex is a physical way to say to someone that you are committed to them for life. That's why it becomes so messed up when we take sex outside of the marriage covenant, which includes dating and engaged couples. If you haven't vowed to each other, before God and man, to love each other until death does you part, then the physical manifestation of committed love is skewed and out-of-line. In truth, it is a lie, and lies always cause pain. The point of this article is not to shame anyone, nor is it to brag. I feel motivated to put the "cool" back into abstinence before marriage. Just like the yellow lines on the highway, God's rules show us the way to fewer regrets, and less painful experiences.

Being married, I am becoming more and more convinced of God's wisdom in requiring abstinence outside of the marriage covenant. Not only does it make sex within marriage extremely special and exclusive, it makes any thoughts of extramarital affairs that much harder to fathom if you've already been disciplining yourselves in this area. When you see sex as a gift that God has given to you, as a committed couple only, it becomes somewhat sacred.

It's Possible

I'm going to be blunt: it is possible for both male and female to remain virgins until marriage, even if marriage doesn't come until later in life. I know, because it happened in my husband and I's situation. I also would like to challenge the legalistic crowd that stays completely away from any romantic thought before marriage in order to stay on the safe side. Although I would never talk someone out of a decision to not kiss until the wedding day, I'd like to point out that it is possible to kiss while dating and still remain virgins until that day of commitment. Again, although it took us 9 months to have our first kiss (as well as after saying "I love you"), my husband and I can also attest to this truth. I don't regret kissing either, because it helped us connect. So, there's a gray area for you to do what you want with. Don't flirt with temptation, but realize there could be some good in not treating that person like a literal "sister" or "brother" all the way up to "I do." FYI, I would never agree to marry my brother, nor be inclined to think of him romantically.

Let's Talk About It

To talk about sex is somewhat taboo in Christian circles; I realize that. And, of course, there should be a large element of secrecy for the married couple. But, to avoid the subject in the Church all-together is not healthy. I regularly make it a practice to talk to dating friends about how things are going in this area. I encourage them to fall in love with each other's minds and love for God first. I give advice that I was given and didn't heed as a kissing couple: making out is foreplay, and makes staying pure much harder. Consider sticking to pecks until the big day, which really shouldn't be that far away from the "beginning-kissing" stage.

I sometimes rant to my husband about how ridiculous it is to put off marriage until later in life, if you can help it at all. It frustrates me when singles that want to be married don't pursue it. Temptation is legit, and it doesn't go away. We were, as a human race, designed to be unified in marriage, and make families. I say this, aware of the special single cases God has set aside for His cause, willingly or not. Of course you will be ok, and I'm not encouraging you to go crazy waiting for marriage if you desire to be married, but definitely don't put it off if you can help it.

Abstinence is Never Regretted

Sex is something to look forward to. It is an intricate, well-designed part of marriage. I believe it is a good thermometer for how healthy a marriage is as well. You have to be on the same page, emotionally, in order to have a good sex life. God knew what He was doing when He so lovingly gave us this good gift. Singles, look forward to sex with anticipation, but don't let it rule your life. Pursue marriage. Enjoy each other while dating, without stepping too far into temptation's lair. Resolve yourself to wait. And, when you do wait until your wedding day for sex, you won't regret it. I've never met someone that has.