The Thing About Having A Lot Of Kids I Didn’t Mention…

A while back I talked about what it is like having six kids. Which I feel a little silly writing about in the first place because I know plenty of other families that have the same amount of children, and several that have more.  But big picture having more than 3 kids is out of the norm, and having more than 4, or dare I say 5, qualifies as an alternative lifestyle.

Since it’s popular these days to lament about the struggles of living an alternative lifestyle, I’ve decided to jump into the fray.

Let’s talk about what it’s like to go out in public when you have a big family.

When you have a big family people stare at you. They stare unashamedly. Many times they stare and then shake their heads as they turn and walk away.  I suppose it’s kind of like coming upon a parade while you’re in the grocery store. Heck, spectate long enough and there may even be candy thrown.  ( or toys, or crayons, or cheerios, or the car keys that somehow made their way out of my bag and into the fist of a small child.)

Apparently seeing a mom with several children is one of those car accident situations where you just can’t look away.

I try to tell myself that it is just because I’m insanely attractive and my kids are so cute and well behaved that people stand and stare in amazement.

Probably not. But it could be.

Every time I leave the house someone somewhere will comment about the size of our family.  Like a mathematical equation where 1+1=2 , only in this case me+6 kids= please-comment-about-my-life.

The thing I hear most often and without fail is, ” You’ve got your hands full!”

This is true and I’m sure they mean well.  I certainly do have my hands full.  But the thing that is frustrating about this comment is that people say it because they want to say something about the size of our family but don’t know what to say.  So it’s a safe way of commenting on the pack of kids we have without being obviously rude.

Imagine you are wheelchair bound and someone says to you, ” Looks like you have a hard time getting around!”

That is a true statement, but truly unnecessary all the same.

The ” You’ve got your hands full” comment is the most common reaction I get.

The second one is, ” Are all these yours?”

This one is just a little awkward because it’s being asked by strangers. What if I had a sibling pass away and I now have guardianship over their children and it’s been an extremely painful loss and family struggle, and I burst into tears as I explain that a few are my late brothers children who we’ve adopted…

Thankfully for them the answer is simply, ” Yep! They sure are!”

Those two statements I hear every time I leave the house, no matter where I go- I am not exaggerating.

” Do you run a daycare?”  Is next in the lineup.

What?

This would be understandable if I were at a park, or the zoo, but I always have this said to me when I’m in a store.  Once I was in Woodmans and literally had this said to me 3x in the span of 15 minutes, all as we made our way through the produce section.

Why in the world  if I ran a daycare would I bring my daycare kids grocery shopping with me? I barely want to bring my own kids, let alone someone else’s kids. I’m a little nuts, but I’m not insane.

Next would be the all too clever, ” Don’t you know where babies come from?”

…. why yes. Yes we do. Obviously…

and the beat goes on:

” You must be catholic.”

” Are you farmers?”

” You should watch more t.v”

” You and your husband need a new hobby.”

” How many kids are you gonna have?”

” How do you afford all those kids?”

” You must have to drive a bus.”

” You’re too young to have all those kids.”

” You’re crazy!”

” I can’t believe you have all those kids.”

” Couldn’t you get a babysitter?”

A few years ago I was in a small town grocery store going through the checkout. I had a pregnant belly and 4 kids with me. The cashier said to me,

” Is four kids not enough for you?

Sigh*

Here are some interesting observations:

Observation #1: White middle aged women are the worst.

They make the most comments and do the most head shaking by far than any other demographic.

Black women make comments too, not as often, and when they do they have a very different feel.

An example would be: (as opposed to the middle aged white woman cashier who asked me if 4 kids wasn’t enough for me) I was checking out at Wal-Mart once and the 30 something black woman cashier said , ” Girl you crazy! I don’t know how you do it. I got 3 kids and they drive me crazy. They talking at me every second I’m home an I’m like, go.”

or another time,” Them all yo kids? That’s amazing. You get it girl!”

There’s surprise, but a lack of condescending voice.

Then there are Hispanic women. Who never fail to smile at us and say things like, ” These all yours? They are so cute! I want a big family too, but I only have 3 now.”

There are many reasons why my apocalypse plan is to run away to the Mayan Riviera.

Observation # 2: Seniors are the sweetest

I can’t think of a single time I’ve had an older person say anything to me other than, ” What a beautiful family you have!”

Which just goes to show how quickly culture changes and shifts in what is considered normal. These are the people that most likely had big families themselves or were raised in one.  They will never know how much I appreciate their encouragement.  When I have a wrinkled old couple stop to coo at our baby and ask me how old they all are I want to say, ” Bless you! Bless you!”

Observation #3 People don’t harass my husband… just me

Proof of sexism, maybe? Maybe not.  Regardless of why, it’s true. My husband rarely has people say anything to him while he is out with all of the kids. Because  a daddy with a pack of children is sweet, but a momma? Is irresponsible.

 

I’ve been followed around stores by overly concerned employees before who reprimand the kids if they get a little too close to merchandise. This has happened on more than just a few occasions.

The strange thing is my kids don’t act like animals in public. Sure the baby cries here and there, and I have to tell my 4 and 6 year old from time to time that the stacks of toilet paper in the store are not a good place to take a nap. But all in all they walk along with me, laugh, poke one another, and talk about the stuff they want to buy.

What bothers me most about all of this nonsense is not how it affects me. Sure I get embarrassed or angry, like the time I was at the clinic and a woman walking down a hallway said, ” Oh my g-d ! Are those all your kids? ”  so loudly other people turned to watch our conversation.

What really gets to me is the fact that my children are old enough now to feel embarrassed.  When strangers make these comments it is as if my children are accessories rather than real people with feelings and thoughts; deserving their respect. Imagine someone talking about why you exist in front of you as if you are not there.  The underlying message they get from society is: you are a nuisance, you are too much, you shouldn’t be here.

Society likes to talk real loud about how they care about kids, especially in politics- they are held up as a primary reason for supporting that platform: Do it for the sake of the children!

And yet our culture is very intolerant of them. Parents feel guilt when they have to bring a child along to an appointment, to the store, or with them on an airplane where some parents pass out earplugs and an apology note to the other passengers; because heaven forbid they have to share space with children who you know, act like children occasionally.  We love kids, and they are really important- but could you please put them away, keep them hidden, keep them in school or daycare where we don’t have to mingle or put up with them. And this applies to all parents. It doesn’t matter the number of children you have, at some point parents will be made to feel like they are an annoyance for bringing their kids out in public spaces.

Here is what these people don’t see when they look at us:

They don’t see that my husband and I have been blessed with meeting a sweet new baby six times. There is nothing like it in the world the first time you hold your newborn and we’ve gotten to experience that joy over and over.

  1. They don’t see my 7 year old son who spends the day quietly daydreaming about traveling the world and rescuing animals. 

My 10 year old daughter who is so capable and happy to help her momma, balancing our roly poly baby on her small hip.

Or our 6 year old who sings the most hilarious songs at the top of her lungs while she’s in the bathroom, supposedly brushing her teeth.

The 2 year old who says to me, ” Oh Mommy, I got it!” while he tries to help me fix something or carry in groceries.

Our 4 year old with big beautiful brown eyes who loves to brush my hair and is always setting up a salon so she can brush her sisters hair.

And finally our fat baby.

When I’m alone with her people tell me how cute she is, they stop to ask me how old and what her name is. When we’re all together she becomes just one more.  But she’s beautiful and soft with rolls on her arms and thighs. Her cute smile lights up our family and her crazy adventurous spirit makes us laugh.

They don’t see them laugh and play with one another. They don’t see dear friends who pile up on the floor and watch movies together, run in the sprinkler, or work together to keep our home running.

What people see when they look at them is work.

What they don’t seem to see…

is the reward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Few Thoughts On Racism In America

The world feels volatile. If you had asked me 5 years ago if the United States were a racist country I would have said no. Of course there are always the few and the proud stuck in some delusional world of superiority, but by and large I would have said no, it’s not.

Today in 2017 a few seconds scrolling through my facebook newsfeed,  watching any news channel, or listening to talk radio it would seem as though we are a house racially divided.

I just finished reading an amazing book called “ An Ordinary Man”. It is the autobiography of a man named Paul Rusesabagina who, not only survived genocide in Rwanda in 1994, but managed to save over 1,200 people in the process.  It is an incredible story.

While I read it I felt a sense of foreboding. The mounting racial tension in Rwanda that eventually led to one of the worst acts of genocide in modern history seems eerily close to where America finds itself today.

Paul talks candidly in the book about the racial divide and conflict between two prominent Rwandan races. A history of deeply rooted  prejudice that lingered just beneath the surface of everyday life. A history of power and oppression that continued to drive a wedge between them until one day neighbors, friends, and even relatives took up machetes and hacked their countrymen to pieces in the street.

“ The divide is mostly artificial, a leftover from history, but people take it very seriously, and the two groups have been living uneasily alongside each other…” (Excerpt from “ An Ordinary Man” )

The divide between them was an illusion. An illusion constructed by the real elitists that exploited their cultural differences and feuds to gain power and control over fractured hurting people.

You know how they accomplished this so easily, and so quickly?

Media.

“The thing you have to understand is that the message crept into our national consciousness very slowly. It did not happen all at once. We did not wake up one morning to hear it pouring out of the radio at full strength. It started with a sneering comment, the casual use of the term “ cockroach,” the almost humorous suggestion that Tutsis should be airmailed back to Ethiopia. Stripping the humanity from an entire people group takes time. It is an attitude that takes cultivation, a series of small steps…” ( Excerpt from “ An Ordinary Man” )

Like a poison, racially charged negative media flowed through their ears, pitting them against one another. It created and enforced the idea of victim-hood among Rwandans with the message of,

“Your suffering is because of “them”.

“ Your struggles are because of “them”

“ Your frustration is because of “them”

 

“ There is something living deep within us all that welcomes, even relishes, the role of victim-hood for ourselves. There is no cause more righteously embraced than our own when we feel someone has wronged us…perhaps it makes it easier to explain away our personal failures when the work of an enemy can be blamed. Perhaps we just get tired of long explanations and like the cleanliness of an easy solution.” ( Excerpt from “ An Ordinary Man” )

I see this happening here. I can read it, and hear it from all persuasions of political conviction and walks of life.

“ It’s because of white privilege!”

“ America was never great!”

“ Illegal immigrants are POURING into this country and stealing our jobs. And sucking off of welfare.”

“ Every practicing Muslim is dangerous. Period.”

“ BUILD A WALL!”

“ Trump supporters are Nazi fascists!”

 

Victim-hood. Finger pointing. It truly does make for a clean easy answer to societal problems that are deep and complex.

Despite the United States being known as a melting pot we do not, by and large, melt together.  I do not think that this is necessarily by design or stems from malicious intent, but rather out of a desire for the comradery we find in sameness. There is something comfortable about people who look like we do, enjoy similar tastes in music, food, entertainment, dance, traditions and customs,  religious practice etc. We naturally gravitate toward and surround ourselves with those we can relate to or understand.

This is not altogether a negative thing, but it can leave us with an inaccurate picture of “ others”. Those who are not like “us” (whoever the “us” is for you)

  1. If we are completely submerged within our own cultural norms and never develop friendships or even neighborly acquaintances  with anyone different than ourselves, we leave our minds open to having them filled with rhetoric.

Reaching across the discomfort of engaging with someone different brings humanity to those people in a way that is otherwise unknown.

Without relationship there is no reality to keep the media around us from not only influencing what we think about entire people groups, but creating their entire story.

Complex human beings with lives, history, thoughts, and unique experiences are reduced down to buzzwords that will get the most hits in cyberspace. Buzzwords that tap into prejudice and stereotypes that divide us in order to sell the latest news.

President Abraham Lincoln was correct when he said a house divided cannot stand.

The demise of the United States may very well come from internal destruction just as in Rwanda. Our greatest threat to life, liberty, and happiness could come at the hands of our own countrymen and the divisive hatred that is being fueled within us. Is it only a matter of time before vicious words on a screen turn into real, life taking weapons?

“ All of these come down to a failure of words.

And this is what I want to tell you:

Words are the most effective weapons of death in a man’s arsenal.

But they can also be powerful tools of life.”

– Paul Rusesabagina

 

So, what do we say to our children?

By: Holly

In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election I keep seeing the same question posted all over cyber space by democrats and never-Trumpers alike,

” What do we say to the children?” or ” I don’t know what to say to my kids?”

Anyone who has been paying attention to the election knows what these questions refer to. How do I explain the election of Donald Trump? How do I explain to my children why this base man now holds the highest office in our country?

I’m not writing this to talk about Trump really. That ship has sailed…

I’m writing this because I believe it is a good question. What do we say to our children about evil in our world?

I want to protect my children. I want to keep them from things that would rob them of their innocence, safety, and peace of mind. But I also want to raise young ones that will grow into adults who recognize evil when they see it. As a parent my job is to guide them through the world in a way where they can see that evil does exists and has battled against good since the beginning of human history. I want them to feel empowered to take responsibility for the way they will impact the world. To know that they can choose life or death, blessing or cursing, for themselves and for future generations. They do this by the way they choose to live their own lives, and how they choose to love the people around them.

Most importantly… I want to model that way of life for them. I don’t want to be words, I want to be conviction.

Don’t be intimidated as a parent. Be confident and honest in talking to your children about what is good and bad in the world. Encourage them to make better choices than those who have come before them. Use this election as an opportunity to talk about what makes a good leader, and how we should evaluate who to follow. Talk about the mistakes of the past and how we can change, learn, and grow.

Children can understand and think through morality and logic more than we give them credit for, and it’s been my experience thus far as a parent that children crave that kind of interaction with adults, especially their parents. It sends the message to them that they matter, their thoughts are important, and it encourages them to see the world as a bigger place than what is immediately around them.

Of course we don’t expose our children to things that are too heavy for their little shoulders to bear the burden of knowing. But take the time to have conversations that help them search out answers.

For us, my husband and me, our answers are found in following Jesus.

Our belief in an infinite God that created all of human kind in his image compels us to teach our children that skin color is beautiful and we are all brothers and sisters in the same family… Genesis 1:27

It compels us to try to love our neighbor… Mark 12:31

It has shown us that ” survival of the fittest ” is a result of sin in the world and is not “fit” for human beings, but we are made better by serving one another and caring for those who are weak and vulnerable… Matthew 5:5

It motivates us to teach our children that temporary things don’t matter, invest in people… Matthew 6:19

It gives us answers for why bad things happen… Romans 5:12

We’re encouraged by the truth of family, that one man and one woman committed to one another for life in marriage protects men and women emotionally and sexually, and provides a safe place for children to be cared for… Ephesians 5:31, 5:25

We believe in forgiveness and graciousness because we have been forgiven undeservedly… Ephesians 4:32

Being a Jesus follower has helped me to know how to explain the world to these beautiful children I’ve been blessed with, and it’s given me a foundation in which to stand on so I can say to them without a doubt,

” No. It is absolutely wrong for a woman to be abused. Here is why…”

” No. It is wrong to kill unborn children. Here is why…”

” No. It is wrong to lie and steal. Here is why…”

” No. It is wrong to have sexual experiences outside of marriage. Here is why…”

” No. It is wrong to discriminate against those who look different than you. Here is why…”

.The primary was a disappointment. The election has been disheartening. But real change in our nation isn’t really going to happen through the president … it’s going to happen through us.

It’s going to happen through our example, and what we choose to tell our children…

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Judge Not: Thoughts On Judgment In The Family Of God

By: Holly

This is my first blog post where I’m attempting to dive into subject-matter that is more specific to our Christian readers. Not that it isn’t for everyone, but I’m coming from a place where I may speak some Christianese that someone who is unfamiliar with the bible or the culture may feel a little lost in the lingo.

The past few days I’ve been chewing on the idea of judgment and grace.  I’m sure most of us would like to think that we are not judgmental, but really the word judgment has gotten some bad PR.  Webster’s Dictionary describes judgment as,

” The ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.”

An emotionally healthy person should attempt to make considered decisions and come to sensible conclusions. With this definition it seems like a little more judgment in our lives could save us from alot of pain and conflict.

When we think of judgment the adjectives that usually come to mind are more along the lines of : angry, hateful, shaming, a lack of empathy or understanding, pride, and arrogance.

I’m going to suggest that we’ve confused judgment with condemnation. The definition of condemnation is,

” The expression of very strong disapproval; the action of condemning someone to a punishment; sentencing.”

We have a responsibility to make judgments, we have no right to make condemnations.

Early in our marriage I had a run in with condemnation. We were attending a very conservative church and I was only 19 and just married.  I’d only been very seriously learning about and loving Jesus for a few years and had a lot of immaturity.  I knew that the church my new husband went to was far more conservative than anything I’d ever been part of and was trying my best to fit in with everyone. I didn’t realize that I was missing the mark.

After a few months of attending I got a very tearful phone call from a woman who was a member of the church telling me that the neckline of my shirts needed to be up to my collar-bone, and that some people were upset about the clothes I was wearing and she wanted to talk to me about it privately for fear it would be addressed in church publicly.

I felt embarrassed and humiliated.  I didn’t want to go back. Knowing that I had been the subject of some ( or many) disapproving conversations was shaming.

These Jesus followers we were going to church with had every right to analyze the issue of modesty, to consider it, and then make sensible logical conclusions, but there was no platform for condemnation or doling out punishment.

What I needed were women in my life to be loving examples of decency.  What I craved was friendship and guidance.  What I got was alienating.  Where there could have been opportunity for growth and mentorship there was shame and division.

Good judgment should be part of loving discipleship cultivated between people who love the Lord and want to encourage one another to grow in their faith. Had they taken the time to know me, to know my heart, they would have seen there was genuine love and excitement for God and for growing up in my Christian faith.

The problem is not in making judgments but in our attitudes and application of those judgments.  When sensible decision-making turns into punishment, that is the fertile soil in which pride and arrogance grow. That is where the love of Jesus and the mercy of a loving Father God can get lost in the exultation of our own righteousness, that is often when we miss the heart of God’s people, and can cause us to miss the opportunity to cheer one another on through our weakness as we follow Christ.

John 7:24 Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

Romans 12:9-10 Love must be sincere. Hate what is eveil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Galatians 6:1-3  Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

 

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Finding Equality

When I was in the 8th grade I decided to try my hand at feminist activism. My middle school physical education class was particularly sexist in our biannual fitness testing. Naturally fit and reasonably athletic, it offended my spirit that the girls were required to achieve lower standards than the boys. I was indignant, after all I could pass every test from push-ups to the mile run in the boys category. This was enough proof for me that the standards were  erroneous, and demeaning to the female warrior.

So I wrote a strongly worded petition addressing this outrageous inequality and oppression, collected about 100 signatures, and boldly handed it into our physical education teachers…

I’ve been chewing on this memory today in light of the cultural buzz over gender issues in America. Had I been born 15 years later the reaction from my teachers would have been a little bit different than it was then. Those intolerant bigoted teachers of mine took the next days P.E class to talk to us about the reality that men and women were physically/biologically different, and that those differences lent itself to the necessity of different standards or requirements of athleticism, and physical strength for men and women. That to require men and women to perform equally would actually create inequality, rather than equality.

I wasn’t convinced by the lesson, nor did the after school gymnasium cleaning that I was assigned to for wasting everyone’s P.E class. ( Also something that would probably not be happening today) What convinced me of the validity of their lecture was maturity.

You see, 14 year old me looked at the world through a very narrow lens that had my silhouette right in the front to alter the reality around me. Pride, narcissism, and discontentment hung around in the peripheral to further ground me in the validity of all that I perceived. I only saw myself and what I thought I could achieve. I only considered my own feelings, my own pride, in making an assessment of what true equality is, what was owed to me, and how I thought the world should operate.

It was a simple lesson my teachers taught me that day, men and women are different, you can’t compare the two, the two can’t compete, that would be the true form of inequality.

The more our world takes manhood and womanhood away from us in an effort to create a genderless, sexless utopia the more we will lose true equality. As society tries to erase the lines of distinction between the sexes the more we will be put into an arena of competition. A competition enrobed in discontentment. A man who is pitted against and compared to a woman is faced with feeling that his masculinity is bad, or that he should be more like a woman. On the flip side is the woman whose main goal in life is to  be better than the boys, and inevitably runs into imagined injustices all over the world convinced that men are dogs who only ever succeed because of their maleness. She spends her life discontent and trying desperately to find self worth in her ability to conquer and emasculate.

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And then through the fog of this madness emerges the sexless, the fluid, or the transsexual… the epitome of self loathing and malcontent. To look in the mirror with so much confusion and internal hatred of what you are physically, to be tossed back and forth between imaginary worlds of manhood and womanhood, or to create a reality where mentally your opposite gendered soul is trapped in the wrong biological reality. The mental anguish that takes root, the depression, and sorrow. Are we so surprised by the evolution of gender dysphoria when we have shamed the differences between the sexes instead of celebrating them? When we’ve bred discontentment and strife with who and what we are in our nature?

And who is there to help these souls then? When we’ve spent so much time and energy trying to create neutrality so that we can all battle on the field of genderless, sexless equality? Who are we to champion the idea that there is goodness in accepting one’s biological reality? When we’ve shouted from the rooftops that we’re not different and we should all have the same expectations put on us regardless of our sex. That there is no pride in manhood or womanhood? We’ve taken the very idea of diversity and twisted it into meaning anyone can be anything because nothing actually exists as we float around in relativity. Far from a celebration of diversity we end up with a mass of conformity, of nothingness. Where you are like me, I am like you,and we are all the same.

The truth is there is freedom to be had in looking at yourself and declaring,

“ I am a woman. I am different from a man, that makes me unique in my experiences and my abilities, and there is strength and power in that.”

Or

“ I am a man. I am different from a woman, that makes me unique in my experiences and my abilities. There is strength and power in that.”

And then foster respect between the sexes for the ways we need each other, for the circle we complete by working together, and not against each other. To create a society that celebrates the uniqueness of man and woman, so they can find true peace, purpose, and dignity in the beautiful reality of who they are.

Man and Woman –  By: Victor Hugo

Man is the highest of creatures.
The woman is the most sublime of ideals.
God made for man a throne for the woman an altar.
The throne exalts, the altar sanctifies.
Man is the brain.
The woman’s heart.
The brain produces the light, the heart produces the Love
Fruitful Light, Love resurrects.
The man is strong by reason.
The woman is invincible by tears.
The reason convinces, tears moving.
Man is capable of all heroism.
Woman of all martyrdom.
Heroism ennobles; sublimates martyrdom.
Man has supremacy.
The woman’s preference.
Supremacy is strength, represents the right preference.
The man is a genius.
The woman an angel.
Genius is immeasurable, the angel indefinable.
The aspiration of man is supreme glory.
The aspiration of woman is extreme virtue.
The glory makes everything great, virtue makes everything divine.
Man is a code.
A gospel woman.
The code corrects, the gospel perfects.
Man thinks.
She dreams.
To think is to have a larva in the skull; dream is to have a halo on his forehead.
Man is an ocean.
The woman is a lake.
The ocean has the adorning pearl, the lake, dazzling poetry.
Man is the flying eagle.
She is the nightingale that sings.
Flying is dominate space. Sing is to conquer the soul.
The man is a Temple.
The woman is the Tabernacle.
Before the temple we discover ourselves, we kneel before the Tabernacle.
In short: the man is placed where the land ends.
The woman where heaven begins.

Beyond The Ballot

I had not really intended to write about the political goings on of our nation right now. After all I’m not an expert, talking head, or political pundit. I’m not grossly involved in politics, so I don’t necessarily feel qualified to expound on my opinions or try to convince everyone in the blogosphere of what should or should not be done.

But here we are in the middle of our primary election, and as a conservative Christian woman ( if you need a label in which to define me, there you go) I’m heartbroken.

Where are the candidates of conviction? Where are the honest political servants? Where are the men and women of suffering and hard work? Where are those who have labored for their families? Truly labored. Where are the those who would serve? Who would sacrifice? Who would sit in the white house day after day and meet face to face with an endless stream of American citizens and listen to their woes, their hopes, and their criticism? Where are the politicians striving for unity? Who are unmovable, but merciful? Where are the men and women who understand what America means in all of her complex history, and who have the  conviction to preserve and strengthen the vision that she embodies?

The answer is not that they have disappeared or have completely retreated, the answer is that the American people do not want that anymore. We are not entertained by those types of “civil servants” . We would be bored by a 3 hour long debate between two candidates delving into the depths of their political ideology and vision. We’re too busy checking our social media feeds to take the time to understand and have genuine political convictions. To even know why we would or would not want a certain type of leader to begin with. We want a show, here we are now…. Entertain us.

In the grand scheme of things our real problem is not with Republican politicians, or Democrat politicians, it’s not global warming, welfare programs, or illegal immigration. Those are all symptoms, and sometimes distractions. The real problem is that we as a people have checked out. Not just checked out of the political scene or our civic responsibilities, but have checked out of our personal moral responsibilities. Our individual duty to family, to community, and to the world.

Do we really think it’s going to make one bit of difference who the next president is if our marriages have over a 40% divorce rate? If 35% of children are being raised in single parent homes?  Or over 14,000 women trafficked and forced into commercial sex every year, that we know of? Millions of men ( and women) addicted to porn? Abortion, drug abuse, rape, prostitution… The power to change is in the hands of individuals, not the next President. The power to get stuff done lies with men, women, and families. We can’t continue to ignore that the decay in our lives and in our culture is at the root of our political woes.

Instead of the average American sitting around increasing the obesity epidemic and wondering which politician is going to save the country, we should take a moment to look inward. How am I taking care of myself? How am I taking care of my family? How do I care for humanity? How do I care for the earth and all that’s in it?

How do I care? Am I part of the problem? And what am I going to do to change me?

 

 

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Children in Single Parent Families 

 

 

A Marriage that Heals

I didn’t really think I was damaged when I got married. In fact I felt really grown up, ready, and fully confident in my ability to forge ahead into marital bliss. Something happens though when you are separated from your “normal” and put into a situation where you have to create a new “normal” with someone else.  You see things you didn’t know were there, or perhaps you were in denial of their existence. The shaping of your life experiences begin to rear their head as you delve into new challenges. You find strengths of course, but you also find weaknesses. You find wounds.

I’m not going to act like my childhood was utterly tragic, but like most people there are things that impacted me and followed me in ways I didn’t expect. I grew up with the understanding that men were disconnected, absent, selfish, dangerous, and lustful. It was demonstrated to me that marriage was not only difficult, but nearly impossible, and often times failed. Marriage was like a prison bombarded with yelling, emotional manipulation, selfishness and infidelity.

I found honesty to be dangerous territory, and my childhood mission was always to strive for emotional stability between the adults in my life, or at least to not be another source of conflict. Every day was rife with emotional tension, a guessing game where at any moment fighting could break out, and you never knew if you were on dangerous ground. My younger brother and I use to joke that home life was like a tidal wave, you just had to ride the wave, just wait it out, and ride the wave.

I’ve been married for almost 10 years now which is not very long, but an accomplishment by some standards. I didn’t realize when I said, “I do” that I would be starting a journey of emotional healing. What I didn’t realize would happen over the next 10 years is a restored faith in the goodness of marriage the way God created it to be.

Married love can heal when principle and integrity are the foundation in which your souls safe house is built.  When emotional romantic feelings are guided and cultivated with:

Trust
Respect
Honesty
Faithfulness
Self Control
Service &
Integrity

These are not the words we think of when we dream about prince charming sweeping us off our feet and rescuing our hearts. We think of :

Passion
Romance
Flowers
Gifts
Chivalry
Captivating Conversation
Sight
Smell
Touch

All of those things are fun, natural and easy… but what are flowers without fidelity? What is an opened door and a payed for dining check without integrity? What is touch without faithfulness? What is conversation without honesty? What are gifts without trust?

They are empty, fruitless, and not eternal. They serve only to fade away and leave a woman’s soul more empty than it was before if the heart of the man she marries (or her heart) is motivated by selfishness.

My soul’s healing didn’t happen the times we’ve been dressed up and out for a nice dinner and “feeling the love”….

The healing has happened on the nights where I’ve sat on the couch and cried like a baby because I’m afraid of my husband being unfaithful ( which is my own irrational fear rooted in family history), and with patience he holds me and reassures me for the hundredth time in our marriage that his heart is mine.

It’s been the times where I’ve been so angry at him I’m seething inside, but he still looks at me with tenderness, and chooses not to respond with anger.

It’s been the times that I’ve been sick and he’s come home from work to take care of me.

It’s been the times that I’ve watched him sit on our children’s beds at the end of the day and talk to them about their hopes and dreams.

It’s been the times when he’s chosen to turn the T.V off,  forgo a movie, or put internet protection on our phones and laptops for safety and accountability. Because he himself, of his own conviction will keep pornography or any other objectification of women or sexuality out of our lives.

It’s been the times he’s gotten up and gone to work even though he was up all night sick.

It’s been the times he’s been honest, even if he knew I might be disappointed or upset.

It’s been the times I’ve been wrong or struggling and he’s been brave enough to not allow me to stay in that place.

It’s been the times he has taken one of our kids and corrected bad behavior with a calm demeanor.

It’s been in the times we’ve laid in bed in our dark quiet room and he’s put his arms around me and prayed for our family.

Every instance that I see love exercised with selflessness, and not for personal gratification a stoney part of my soul softens and begins to beat again.

Marriage is a beautiful thing, it’s people who are miserable, and women need to know that misery in marriage has nothing to do with the impossibility of union, but of the selfishness of our hearts and souls. Married life done with purpose and principle to protect passion and romance is what true love really is. It’s the love that binds our wounds and heals us.

For many who love Jesus these verses will not be new, but I want to wrap up here with them anyway. They never feel old to me, because they’re challenging, true, and simple, but hold promises of  beauty for our lives when we embrace them as the foundation of our relationships.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Colossians 3:14
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Ephesians 4:2
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

1 Peter 4:8
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Romans 12:9
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good

Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Do you see the theme here? Relationships in order to be wonderful are going to require us to be patient, kind, sincere, and giving. We’re going to have to hate what is evil and cling to what is good, devoted, humble, and selfless. 
If marriage is ugly it’s because those things were abandoned on the side of the road of life’s journey.  If married couples are getting divorced left and right it’s because they were not ready and willing when life required them to act on the love they professed to have when they stood at the altar and exchanged vows. 

John 15:12
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

A marriage that heals is real, when we love and are loved the way God has loved us.

Holly