Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Beautiful Home Birth

It has been just over a week since I brought this little person into the world. One amazing, nerve wrecking, magical week of learning about each other and figuring out our little trio.

Birth was, by far, the most incredible thing I have ever experienced. I did not know my body was capable of such intense power. To be able to watch my body perform the way it did, and to work with it to bring my baby out was something I honestly can't wait to experience again. And being able to do it all within the comfort of my home, with the most fabulous, loving birth team over, was a dream come true.

It started on Thursday morning at 2am. My water started breaking, though not as I had anticipated. I expected it to come out like a fire hose but instead it was just small gushes. Still, I was thrilled. Kyle got up, we changed the sheets, I texted my midwife Nicole, and attempted to sleep some more.

I had a few small contractions here and there, but nothing significant happened until Friday at around 7 pm. Those hours of waiting for my body to kick in were long, disappointing, and not at all what I expected. I figured it would be like all the stories I'd heard...your water breaks, you go into labor, you have a baby. Bam. Done. But no. My body had other plans. Apparently I needed a full 40+ hours for my hormones to build up enough to set my labor into action. I kept Nicole aware of what was going on, and we were prepared to start having me take some herbs and stuff and set things in motion if something didn't happen soon. Thankfully, those real, purposeful contractions started coming around 7pm on Friday night.

By early Saturday morning, it was very clear that I was in labor. My doula, Kimby, and her helper, Meredith, came over at 7am and we began our day together. Early labor was actually quite fun. We joked and talked around contractions, and Kimby made me feel like I was in a spa. She diffused essential oils, massaged my back and feet, and just made me feel so loved and calm. We did a few different things to help with the baby's position, since she was concerned he might have a hand up. Between that and massaging the labor pressure points on my ankles, but the afternoon, I was kicking into high gear.

I was so thankful to be able to do a lot of laboring in the birthing pool. It was so comforting and really took a lot of pressure off my belly. We did the pool all the way up until I was ready to push. I had hoped to give birth in the pool, but since we knew my baby was large and had a big head, Nicole felt it would be best to birth in a different position.

I was not paying very good attention to the clock, so my remembrance of the time of events is a little sketchy. I think it was about 7ish when Nicole arrived and I was in hard labor. I began to feel like pushing so they brought me out of the tub and onto the couch. She had me lay on my back to give baby enough space to get under my pubic bone. With his big head and my small pelvis, this proved to be rather hard. His progress was very slow and I was getting very tired.

I pushed for nearly three hours. The whole time, Nicole massaged my vaginal opening and perineum  with olive oil, stretching me in preparation for my baby's head to come through. This was a lifesaver. I cannot begin to express how thankful I am that she did this! Also after coming out of the pool, my legs were incredibly sore from kneeling so long and supporting myself during contractions, so the girls massaged me with arnica oil. Oh so amazing!

The pushing got really intense and his head rocked back and forth for quite a while. All of a sudden his heart rate dipped and Nicole told me to stop pushing and just breathe. I was focusing so hard on the pushing that I wasn't getting enough oxygen to him. So they worked hard with me to get me to focus on taking long deep breaths and not be so intense with pushing. That was the hardest part! My body took over several times and pushed completely on its own. But the breathing turned out be just was we needed. His heart rate came back up and we kept going.

Nicole ran outside to get her oxygen tank and to call another midwife to come assist, since it was looking like my baby was stuck and they were going to have to reposition me. His head was so big and taking so long to come down that they were getting concerned. But just then, his head started crowning! Kimby told Meredith to run outside and get Nicole as fast as she could. He was coming out!!

The most incredible thing to me was that I did not even feel him come out. My eyes were closed most of the time due to being quite exhausted. I opened them just at the moment his head came out, and saw the explosion of water hit everyone. They told me to push hard and keep pushing. I gave it every last ounce of energy I had and out he came! The next moment I opened my eyes, Nicole was wrangling my slippery baby up onto my belly.

And so, Titus Howard Fellows was born at 11:40pm on Saturday, February 13, 2016.

He took just a few moments to breathe, so we kept rubbing him and talking to him, and soon he was howling his head off. Those first moments of holding him were utterly miraculous.

He turned out to be a pretty big baby, just like Nicole had predicted. He weighed 9 pounds, 4 ounces, was 22 inches long, and his head (drum roll please) was 15 inches in circumference! But thanks to Nicole's perineal massaging and stretching, I only got one tiny little tear that didn't even warrant a stitch. Yay!

There are a few things I'd like to talk about that I have found truly fascinating concerning my home birth experience.

My birth team was amazing. Seriously. Their support and love throughout the whole ordeal was incomparable. I have never felt more cared for in my whole life. I was not just another patient in a bed. I wasn't just another birth. I was important to them. They poured themselves out into me with their loving touch, encouraging words, and strengthening prayers. I could not have done it without them.

My husband was amazing. My sweet, calm spirited, low key, loving man was such a huge help during the hardest part of my labor. He helped massage me, held my hands through the hardest contractions, and encouraged me through every push. When I was so tired, he told me again and again to open my eyes and smile at him. He kept me grounded.

Nicole saved me from a myriad of medical complications. I will never be able to thank her enough for what she did for me. By helping me work with my body to bring my baby out, I was spared a birthing horror story. Had I gone to a hospital, I would have been subjected to a multitude of medical procedures. Because my labor was so long in coming, a hospital would have induced me. Because he was so big, they would have most likely done a c-section, or at the very least, an episiotomy. If I had by some chance been allowed to birth without any of those things, I would have tore far worse, because no doctor or nurse would have taken the time to massage and stretch me like Nicole did.
Don't get me wrong...I am glad that the medical community is there for emergencies, and if something had taken a turn for the worst, Nicole would not have hesitated to get me to the nearest hospital. But working with Nicole allowed me to treat my birth as the most natural experience of my life and to bring my baby calmly and lovingly into this world.

Diet and water intake are really important. My diet has gone through many changes over the years, but it has always remained the healthiest possible. I was vegan through the first half of my pregnancy but after that, felt like I was lacking in nutrients, so I added meat and grains back into my life. I remained sugar free and gluten free, and have been loving it.
As a step to help my seizure issues, I increased my water intake last March and began drinking at least 80-120 ounces of water a day. This made a huge difference in my existing issues, and then when I got pregnant in May, the benefits were phenomenal.
I attribute a great portion of my birthing success to my diet and water intake. Avoiding sugar especially helped, since sugar heightens your pain sensitivities...even fruit in excess can be a problem! A good, healthy, balanced food lifestyle with plenty of good clean water is the best thing you can do do for your body and your baby.

Home birth may not be for everyone, but I praise God every day that I was able to have this beautiful experience! And I could not be more thrilled to have this tiny little person in my arms at last.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Modesty, Purity, and other things that aren't the problem

In the past months, the internet has been extraordinarily filled with news about the infamous Josh Duggar, as well as others who have taken inappropriate sexual liberties whilst preaching christian values. Alongside all the chatter, the shock, and the judgment of these people, I have seen an uptick in articles, blog posts, and Facebook conversations, discussing how these great men could have possibly fallen. A lot of them stick to the fact that we all have the propensity to sin, and noted that things like this should be warnings to us all. But sadly, this was not all that people had to say.

With the exposure of people like Josh Duggar, Doug Phillips, and Bill Gothard, came a wave of hurt and bitter young people, blasting the world of homeschooling and teachings of purity, modesty, and other values conservative Christians have held dear for ages.

Oh this is nothing new. There's always someone eager to put down the things they have been raised in. There are whole blogs devoted to exposing the hurt that homeschooling has caused, "freeing" young women from the chains of modesty, or providing a place for the bitter souls of rebels to commiserate.

But the words that I saw coming from these people gave me great cause for concern. Suddenly, Josh's upbringing was the reason he molested his sisters and cheated on his wife. Teachings of sexual purity,  chaperoned dates, and not being allowed to kiss his wife till their wedding was the reason he went looking for love in all the wrong places.

People were quick to point at these stories of men's sinful choices and use them to validate their own hurt and bitterness against the world they came from.

"That's why I'm not homeschooling my kids!"
"That's why the purity movement and all teachings of sexual purity are evil!"
"That's why I don't teach my girls modesty!" 
"That's why I don't go to church anymore!"

Basically, the sins of the few condemn the beliefs of the many. Basically, if someone falls off the bandwagon, the entire system is corrupt.

I shake my head in wonder at this concept, and the one ringing thought in mind and heart continues to be, "You're missing the point!"

Homeschooling isn't the problem.
Modesty isn't the problem.
Purity isn't the problem.
Having lots of kids isn't the problem.
The Bible isn't the problem.

These and many other things that often take the blame for the wrong doings of the few are not the problem. They are still the good things they always were, regardless of who uses them wrongly.

The problem is simply that sometimes, even good people make bad choices.

We have all been given a free will and sometimes, we abuse it. Thank God we are saved by grace, and all our sin has been washed away. But that does not excuse us from the truth that we can, and do sometimes, make the wrong decision, and sometimes, our decisions hurt other people.

We need to stop blaming the good, positive things and instead look at the root cause.

If I said that a certain person was a drug addict because they grew up in a public school, would I be even close to correct? Of course not. I would be grasping at straws, looking for something to blame for that person's addiction, other than his or her own personal bad choices.

So why are these situations any different?

Josh Duggar didn't cheat on his wife because he was taught a standard of sexual purity and homeschooled. He cheated on his wife because he let his sinful nature take hold of his life, and ultimately made one of the worse decisions a man can ever make.

Regardless of how we are brought up, we still have to make choices in life. Our parents can instill in us all the good in the world, but that doesn't change the fact that once we reach adulthood, we stand at a fork in the road, and have to make a personal decision as to which way we will follow. It is our responsibility. Our parents have done their job, as best as they know how. Now it is up to us.

Ultimately, we must remember that no belief system is perfect, and no teaching is without its flaws. We must take what we have learned, chew up the meat and spit out the bones, and decide what to apply in our own lives. We cannot blame a belief, a teaching, a group, or a method as a whole when we apply something wrongly and use it as an excuse to bad choices instead of a tool for good.

Instead of pointing fingers and trying to use another person's failings to validate our own personal hurt and bitterness, let us take these stories and learn from them. Let us strive to find the happy medium and take heed to examine our own hearts and motives. Let us pray for the strength and courage to make the right decision. Let us daily work to put away our bitterness, and never let it distract us from good things.

We are better than this.

Related Posts:
Our Parents Suffered Too: Thoughts on Modesty, Purity, and the Culture That Shaped Us

Friday, August 7, 2015

Thoughts from Grey's Anatomy

So yeah. Its on Netflix, and I've always been curious, so I've been watching it. For some reason I really enjoy medical dramas. I guess they make me feel better about living my healthy lifestyle.

The show has its moments. Its ridiculously dramatic, so much so that Kyle can't even watch it with me because he just laughs at it all and critiques more than normal. The amount of relationship hopping that these characters do...wow. And most of them are so emotionally messed up, its a wonder they even function on a daily basis. But still, the show has its moments.

So naturally there are a few thoughts that have arisen while watching this show. And naturally, I feel the need to blog about them. So here we go...

{WARNING: Spoilers and strong subject matter.}

You do not have the right to demand acceptance/approval.
I'm sorry. You just don't. If you do something that you know people around you are probably not going to be ok with, you need to know that they do not automatically have to welcome your questionable decision with open arms.
Callie knew that her father would not be exactly happy about her dating a girl, and when he was appropriately upset, she instantly threw out the "Why can't you just accept me for who I am?" card. She retaliated by cutting him out of her life. Um, sorry, but he isn't the enemy here! You don't get mad with someone because they choose to stand against something they believe is wrong. You don't get to shove your choice in their face and demand that they be ok with it. It is their God-given right to not approve of choices they believe are wrong. You don't have to agree.
And quit meshing acceptance with approval. They are not the same. I have said this many times before...I can still love you and accept you, but I am under no obligation to approve of the choices you make. It is my right to choose the things I approve of and allow in my life.
So you don't get to demand that.
Get over it.

Sex is not the open door to a relationship.
Literally, like, every single character romance in that show begins with physical contact of some sort. They haven't even gone on a date, and they've slept together. Its so predictable. They see each other, end up attracted, there's kissing, then all of a sudden there's sex. The next day, they are super awkward and maybe, just maybe, they go out on a date and see where it goes from there.
So I have to ask...would they have dated if they hadn't had sex? What if they didn't jump right in bed together, and maybe got to know each other a little bit first? Maybe their relationships would have lasted a little longer.
Sex should not be the first step. Or the second. Or the third. Or the hundredth for that matter. The biggest problem in this world is that we have devalued sex and likened to the importance of a handshake. There are so many steps in a relationship that should be taken before sex is even considered. And yet, so few people take them anymore. Its no wonder that relationships don't last, people are unhappy, children are created with abandon and left with broken families before they can even walk, and no one knows what its like to real, meaningful, committed sex.
Quit using sex as your hello.

Sex is not always awesome.
It actually cracks me up. When Izzie and George got together for the first time, they claimed to have the most amazing sex of their lives. So they fell in love. They started a relationship. But when they went to make love again, they found the magic had gone. They couldn't figure out what was wrong (wasn't hard to figure it out....they were drunk the first time, and barely remembered it, so of course it was amazing). They ended their relationship on the basis that it just wasn't right, and they couldn't make it work. So basically, the sex was bad, so the whole relationship was bad.
Are you serious??
Welcome to the real world. Sex isn't always amazing. Sometimes, it is bad. Sometimes, its nonexistent. But its not the end of the world.

Love doesn't matter if your beliefs don't match
April and Jackson ran off and got married because they loved each other. They hurt several people in the process, but hey, they're in love! Nothing else matters, right?
Fast forward to their first fight. Its a doozy. And guess what they argue about? The fact that she is a Christian and he is not. She wants to raise their children to believe in God and know they are loved by him, but he views her faith in God as ridiculous.
Its moments like that, when you realize that the person you love doesn't hold important the same things you do, that love doesn't matter. All the attraction, romance, fuzzy feelings, and exhilaration...none of it matters.
I once was very interested a guy that believe in God and the Bible very differently than I do. After much deliberation, I chose not to pursue a relationship with him, because I knew that there was no way I could raise children under his belief system. It was a defining moment in my life, because I realized that no matter how much I liked this guy, my beliefs were more important than my emotions.  So several years later when I met Kyle, I knew that I could allow my self to fall head over heels for him, because our beliefs not only matched perfectly, but through knowing him, I was able to expand and develop my beliefs in ways I never imagined. He never made me doubt or feel that what I believed was unimportant. He helped me perfect it. And it was because of that fact that I knew I could love him.
Love and romance are important parts of a relationship, but they should never be what defines it.


There are plenty more thoughts that have arisen while watching this entertaining show. These are just a few, but I felt they were rather important. Have a happy day, folks!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Grace Hurts

Please tell me it isn't so!
What do I do with this? Where do I go?
This new information that rocks my world
Begins by begging that grace be unfurled.
No! I scream. This is much too wrong!
This sin has gone on far too long.
My flesh wants justice. I want revenge;
I am not your family! I am not your friend!
You demand acceptance in the wake of this deed,
Yet to wise words of counsel you never will heed.
How can you expect me to be okay with this now?
This sin...this wrong...how? Tell me how!

I would say it was quiet, but it was not so,
The way grace pressured my heart in the things that I know.
Grace hurts because grace makes me be calm.
Its a stabbing knife and a healing balm.
Grace tells me I'm ok, even though this is not.
I'll move on and keep going with all that I've got.
My stand is not changed by the bad choices of others,
And I can still show grace to my sisters and brothers.
It doesn't mean I approve, or accept, or ignore;
It just means I remember the sin Christ died for.

So acknowledge your mistake and do what's right.
Come out of the darkness and into the light!
With love, grace, and a crying heart, I reprove;
Take a stand, right the wrong, walk a new path, and choose!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Searching for Truth's Power

Generic words so swiftly spoken.
Designed by pros to fix the broken.
Blindly spewing, like lines of a script,
Never knowing how my heart is ripped.
Taking sacred words, twisting into your own.
Amazing, how you think you've grown.
How wise you are! How I bow to your mind!
How I ignore your words, though well-meaning and kind.

Where is the truth? Where are the people
Who won't just repeat what's heard under every church steeple?
Who will read God's scripture for themselves?
Not just snatch and grab from it whatever sells.
Who will be my friend, and speak truthful words?
Who will tell me something I haven't already heard?

Words of truth and words of grace...
Remove the mask that gives you that generic Christian face!
Quit resting your faith in the words of man,
Rewarmed and removed so far from God's plan.
Your watered-down Bibles may be easy to read,
But they've yet to give me any words I should heed!

There's no real answer in the words that you say
You twist God's true will, so I stand back and pray,
God! I need a friend who can meet me here,
At this point in my life, whom I can call dear.
Someone who understands what I need,
Speak strong, truthful words; plant the right seeds.

Is such a one so hard to find?
Is everyone around me truly so blind?
Is it too much to ask? Am I crazy? Insane?
Is there no one in this world who might feel the same?


Will you be a truth speaker with me?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Being skinny won't make you happy. Being fat won't either.

I recently ready this article, and it hit home for me in a unique way. Perhaps not like the author intended, but it created thoughts in my little head that I was eager to share.

The author told how she went through various body changes throughout her life, going back and forth from "bombshell skinny" to "mom of five kids fat" and back again. She told of how, when she strived for that skinny body, she wasn't happy. No one in her family was happy. She was obsessed with losing those pounds. But when she stopped worrying about her body, and just lived and ate as she pleased...life was happy and good again.

While I understand the point she was making, my mind buzzed as I noticed how she fell right into a mindset that is gaining popularity by the minute, and damaging lives just as fast.

It doesn't matter what you look like. You are beautiful just the way you are. So stop worrying about your body image and just be happy. Eat what makes you happy. Do what makes you happy. Because being happy is all that matters.

But wait...isn't that true? Don't we want women to be happy in their bodies, no matter what they look like?

Of course.


That isn't the way to go about it.

Striving for that perfect beach body isn't going to make you happy.
Striving to love your curves and rolls despite the media telling you to lose weight isn't going to make you happy.
No physical body image is going to make you happy.
No amount of eating what you love will make you happy.

Skinny. Fat. Somewhere in the middle. It doesn't matter.

What matters, and what will actually make you happy is being healthy.

Our culture is so caught up in physical appearance in both directions that it forgets to pay attention to what's going on inside. The only way your skinny body or your fat body can possibly be truly happy, at peace, and balanced is to maintain a healthy food life. You should not be happy with your body unless you are feeding it what it needs to perform properly!

Being happy in your body can't be about eating whatever you think makes you happy. I know ice cream and pizza makes me happy, but it surely would not make my body happy. Therefore, I haven't touched the stuff in 3-4 years. I feed my body what I know will keep it bright, balanced, and clean. I feed it lots of pure vegetables, fruit, nuts, and beans that have been unaltered by sugar, gluten, or harmful chemicals. I consume spoonfuls of coconut oil that I know will nourish my brain, and sprinkle nutritional yeast on almost everything because its packed with vitamins and minerals. Everything I eat has a purpose in my body, and for that, my body is happy.

There is one other thing that makes my body happy, and it has nothing to do with food or pounds. I am sure many people have found a thousand different ways to achieve levels of happiness. But none shall ever compare to what I have found in my faith in God. I am nothing in life without Him, and regardless of what I do or eat or strive for in life, if it is not to His glory, then it is in vain.

It is my faith in Him that helps me get through every tough day. Every time my body refuses to work properly, despite my best efforts, it is His strength that gets me through and reminds me to never give up. Even when I am so incredibly frustrated over the failings of my body, it is His peace that runs through my soul and says "It's ok. Try again tomorrow."

This, my friends, is what we should be striving for. Not skinny or fat or whatever pleases you, but a healthy, balanced body that is as peace with God.

This is where true happiness comes from.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

What I know now about the Will of God

During my teenage years, I used to sit around and wonder what God wanted me to do. I would pray fiercely for Him to reveal His will to me and to tell me what to do. There were many times when I became so confused by what was happening in my life, especially at times when I was sure something was God's will, only to watch it vanish before my eyes. But I kept hoping that someday I would figure it out. I just had to be patient. After all, God had a plan for my life, right?

I believe it was March of 2011 when I began communicating with a young man I had met through an online ministry I had begun the fall prior. He was smart, energetic and a very interesting person. He clearly had a good heart and a love for the Lord, from what I could see via the internet, and we agreed  we should meet in person. We planned to meet at the Great Lakes Bible Conference in Wilmot, Ohio, where I had been invited by some new friends in the ministry.

Prior to this, I truly believed that I had actually heard God speak to me and tell me that I was going to marry this man. I believed I had literally heard His voice. I went to that conference believing I was about to meet my future husband. Well, I did, but it was not the one I was expecting.

The young man I had gone to meet was indeed very nice, but wrong for me in many ways, and I could see it almost as soon as we met. I can't really explain why, but I suddenly felt very uncomfortable at the thought of ever being with him. I kept trying to make it work, because I believed it was what God wanted. But no matter how much I tried, it was failing piece by piece.

I had gone there to meet a man who believed he'd come to claim his bride, and in, out of nowhere it seemed, walked my knight in shining armor.

Kyle was totally unexpected to me that weekend. I only barely knew who he was aside from the fact that he looked the spitting image of his brother Curt whom I'd met a few weekends before. The whole time I was trying to make things work with the other guy, I was hearing Kyle's praises sung and seeing his quiet, gentle eyes observing me.

I was terribly confused. What on earth was happening? What about the words God had spoken to my heart? Did that mean nothing? What was God doing?

It was about a week after that crazy weekend that I heard a messaged preached by Kyle's dad that forever changed my life. My family visited their church and Pastor Ted's message became the most influential one of my life.

He spoke clearly and succinctly of how God works in our lives today, and it was unlike anything I had ever heard. He shared how we as the Body of Christ are not be waiting for signs and voices from God to determine what we are supposed to do. We are to use "sanctified common sense", as one wise preacher once said, and he used the Apostle Paul as an example. There were many times in Paul's life where he used his own good judgment and wisdom from the Lord to make a decision. For example, in 2 Corinthians 2:1, Paul "determined with himself" that he should not come unto them. He didn't say "Lord willing." He used wisdom and common sense to determine that it was not a good time to do so. He also used the example in 1 Corinthians 16:5, where the Lord opens a door to Paul, and yet Paul chooses not to go through it (which kinda flies in the face of most Christian thinking).

In rightly dividing the Word, we recognize that in time past, God did indeed move His people where He wanted them to go. The people were under the law, and the law was an "if=then" system...if you do good, then I will bless you.
BUT NOW, something has changed, and as we also recognize that Paul is the apostle to the gentiles and the Body of Christ today, we realize that God has changed the way He deals with those He loves. We are under grace and grace says, "Here is the blessing, now go serve me because you love me. Do what you know is right."

The biggest problem with asking God to reveal His will in our personal lives is that He already has in His Word! We never have to look at our lives and wonder what God is doing, or trying to tell us, because He wrote a book telling us everything we need to know! We never have to wait for His voice, or look for His personal leading in our lives. He has given us all the tools we need. He gives us the wisdom to make good choices, and strengthens our hearts to be able to do the right things. Instead of making some leap of logic in trying to explain what God was doing in my life, I was able to find peace in knowing that He had strengthened my heart and given me the wisdom I needed to make the right choice.

Does this make me deist? Do I believe that my Creator does not in any way intervene in the lives of His creations? No. I do believe that He works in our hearts and minds through His word, and that we can enjoy a very personal, joyous relationship with Him. But I also believe in free will.

I believe that He steps back and lets us make those choices. I believe that the bad things that happen to us are just a result of life here on earth, and are not God trying to get our attention or teach us something. I believe that anything He wants to tell us about our lives here has been spelled out in His Word, and we need never sit in confusion about "what he's trying to tell us."

And it is in understanding this that I have true peace and joy in my life, and was able to evaluate the choices in front of me, and choose wisely the man I would spend the rest of my life with.

"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ."
Philippians 1:9-10

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The one thing wrong with telling the victim, "Its not your fault"...

There are so many people today fighting tooth and nail against victim blaming, and for the most part, I agree with them. Rape, murder, thievery, bullying, abuse...none of it is ever right. My heart aches for anyone who has had to go through anything like that. I cannot even imagine the pain they feel. The victims of these crimes aren't the ones at fault, and the criminals should be punished.

However there is something that bothers me.

I know that most of the time, things happen completely out of a person's control. They took all the precautions, but something terrible still happened. Innocent people get hurt. I get that.

But then there are the stories where the victim so clearly put themselves in a bad situation, and its those stories where I am confused. Why were you there? Why were you partaking in the substances that made you so out of it that you didn't realize what was happening to you? Why did you associate yourself with people that didn't have your best interests at heart, and only sought to do you harm? Why did you stay? Why? 

When you go somewhere questionable, and there are people you don't know, and alcohol is being consumed along with who knows what...what can you only expect is going to happen? You cannot expect that complete strangers, or even so-called friends, are not going to do something incredibly stupid when they are also completely intoxicated. People are stupid, vindictive and irrational, especially when intoxicated. It was your fault for thinking that they were to be trusted in such a state. And it was your fault for putting yourself in a situation where something like that could happen. Its one thing to become a victim of a crime while just walking down the street, or in your own home...but its another thing put yourself in a questionable and possibly dangerous situation and naively expect nothing bad to ever happen.

And I'm sorry if this hits the wrong nerve, but ladies...don't advertise if you aren't selling. People love to jump on the feminist bandwagon by saying that it should never matter what a woman wears; men should control themselves. I do agree---men need to control themselves. But we live in a world where "hooking up" is common, and there are no boundaries in sex. And when you go to a place where the people and their motives are questionable, and you are showing off everything you've got...you are sending mixed messages. You are saying "Look, but don't touch." "Here's my body, but don't you dare lust over it." "I'm gonna dress like everyone else, but I expect you to treat me with a special level of respect.""Control yourself, even though I'm not controlling myself." You see what I'm saying? Double standards and mixed messages help no one. You can't have a mindset of someone with a higher standard while dressing like someone who is looking to get laid. Like it or not, how we look speaks louder about ourselves than what our words say. Your beliefs and goals get lost in what your appearance is shouting. Your closest friends may know you differently, but someone who has no thought towards your well-being and only has one goal in mind doesn't care.

One more topic that irritates me is the constant mantra, "Its never ok for a man to hit a woman." True...but its also never ok for a woman to hit a man. Men just don't get away with it as easily because they are bigger and stronger. We hear all the stories of women being physically, emotionally, and sexually abused by men. But do we ever hear the stories of men being abused by women? They happen, especially emotionally, because women are far better at striking the heart and being emotionally vindictive than men are. Men generally show rage and anger physically, whereas women use their words to cut and damage. We are so quick to tell the story of the wife who suffered years of abuse from her husband, but dismiss the idea of a husband abused by his wife with "Well, he must have deserved it." Wait...isn't that the same argument that society has been fighting with blaming the female victims of rape? Are we just turning the tables now?

Ok so maybe that was three things wrong with telling the victim "Its not your fault." But you get the idea. And I'm sorry if this comes across as judgmental, but this is what is real and raw in my heart. This is what the media will never discuss, because it goes against every progressive, feminist, liberal agenda out there.

A crime, no matter who was at fault, is never right. It is never justified, and there is always pain. But someone is always going to try to pin blame, and there are always going to be three sides to a story...yours, mine, and what really happened. The point that I would like to get across here is this: protect yourself, don't put yourself in possibly bad situations, surround yourself with people you know you can trust, and keep your hands to yourself.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Marriage Set Me Free

The old ball and chain.

Tying the noose. 

Looks like you're trapped for the rest of your life.

Oh, the jokes. Of course, they are mostly geared toward men. Because everyone knows that the wife is the boss, right? Once you get married, for men and women, its the end of all your fun. Oh and then, just give it a year...wait till the honeymoon wears off...then you'll be just like everyone else. Miserable. Then you get kids and they ruin your marriage all together. Just wait. You'll see.

People love to treat marriage like its the end of the world. But the truth is, its only the end of the world if all your world consists of is late-night partying, irresponsibility, sleeping around, and no commitment.

My marriage set me free.

I got married because I wasn't afraid to commit my life to the man I wanted to be with. And in return, I have gained a whole world that wasn't there before.

I now have the freedom to kiss him without judgement.

I have the freedom to be alone with him without speculation.

I am able to have sex with him without any twinge of guilt.

I don't have to wonder if I'm loved, because he tells me every day.

Marriage lets me share he same home with this man, without any questions or want of explanation.

I know you're probably thinking...so what? Marriage set you free from what people think of you? What does it matter what people think? Its none of  their business!

Well, you're partially right. It doesn't matter what people think.

But it does matter what people think.

You can't live your life trying to fit into a mold, or live up to everyone else's expectations. But you do need to live your life in a way that encourages people to come to the right conclusions about you. Just because its none of their business doesn't mean you should throw morals and values out the door. People are still going to judge you, whether they say they will or not. So don't give them a reason to think the wrong thing.

Marriage set me free from people thinking the wrong thing.

So is that it? I just got married to avoid speculation? Haha. No.

I got married because I fell in love and wasn't afraid of commitment. Marriage set me free to live the life I had always dreamed of. It gave me all new territory to explore that I never would have had when I was single. Even when we were dating, it was nothing like what we have now. We are free to build a life together, because we did it against the flow of what society told us to do. They told us we should live together first, try out sex first, just in case we didn't like each other. But we chose to give this life all we have, commit to each other for a lifetime, and then enjoy the benefits. This way, we don't spend every day wondering if its still working, wondering if we like each other. We spend every day proving it. Cultivating it.

Yes, marriage is still work. There are the rough days, the tired days.

But for me, marriage is freedom.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Live With Diet Restrictions {and cook for people who don't}

So let's get one thing straight here. When I say 'diet restrictions', I'm not talking about A DIET. Not your oh-crap-bikini-season-is-coming-I-need-to-get-skinny, forty-day-cleanse, man-this-time-I'm-serious dieting. What I mean is LIFESTYLE. Healthy living, give-it-all-you've-got, no-turning-back-ever, all-out Lifestyle Change. Whether its controlling a health issue through what you put in your mouth, the desire to become a Food Hippie, or needing to loose a few inches off your waistline, this is not about a temporary eating habit that gets ditched with the first Starbucks craving. This is real, long-term, serious life foodiness. Yes, I just made that word up.

The thing is, most of us who have made the leap are dragging behind us friends and family who have not. Its not likely you are going to be able to convert everyone, so you will end up needing to cook meals that you choose not to eat. Which is fine, as long as you practice some serious self-control. But add not being able to taste the food you need to feed your family to trying to reign in your own food cravings, and things can get irritating.

So in the past few years, I've learned some important things about feeding people food that I can't eat. The most important thing is simply...

People still need to eat!
And I still need to feed them. And most people just aren't into roasted lentils and coconut milk smoothies the way I am. So they need food. My husband likes chicken, tacos, pizza, and grilled cheese and turkey sandwiches. And he's always checking the freezer for ice cream. Regardless of the fact that a lot of his favorite foods aren't on my list, my husband enjoys them and he still needs to eat filling man-food. Now, since I am the cook of the house (muhaha), I will make choices about what type of food I feed him. I will get him good, organic ice cream when I can, and strive to make homemade bread that is free of random chemicals and nonsense. I pack his lunch with a nice sandwich, an apple and some yogurt. I offer him better food and he is a happier man for it.

My point is simply that, while I encourage my friends and family to take control of their food lives, I cannot be a Food Snob. Sometimes, I'm gonna have to serve those sugar-laden desserts and crappy pasta dishes. I can edit them and make them healthier, but I still have to feed people.

Follow Recipes!
Recpies are my best friend. They tell me exactly what to do and how to get something to turn out right. Now, I'm pretty good at guessing, throwing together something and having it taste decent. But nothing beats a good recipe with all the right measurements and everything.

Yummly is one of my favorite places to find the recipe I want quickly. Pinterest is helpful too. I'm slightly amused by the fact that I just recently created a board devoted to beans and rice.

Use your Sniffer!
Once you've cooked enough, you will know what certain things are supposed to smell like, regardless of whether you can taste it or not. Memorize how your favorite chili recipe smells, how that awesome spaghetti sauce smells, and what your chocolate chip cookie dough is suppose to smell like. Learn how to utilize that smell memory of yours!

Be Confident!
I highly doubt this is your first rodeo. You know how to do this! You know how to cook, right? So cook, feed it to your minions, make your own meal, and move on. Sure you're going to have some flops. At the moment of writing this, I'm trying to make some chocolate butterscotch chip cookies for church fellowship tonight...and they are flat. Ridiculously flat. I have no idea what happened, but they flopped. So now I am experimenting with baking them in my muffin tin and pie pans, so the dough will hold its shape and not become a pancake. But that's life. You live and learn.

What you are doing for your food life is important, and its going to benefit you in ways you could never imagine. What you get by tailoring your menu and giving yourself a healthier lifestyle gives you leaps and bounds in your health above others that choose not to. You are doing the right thing. Keep doing it!

Let them in Your World!
People can surprise you. And you can surprise people. They might be wary of your foodie habits, but letting them try some of your odd snacks might be the best thing in their day! And they might really like your stuff! So don't be afraid to cook a healthy meal for someone. They just might surprise you and really enjoy it!

Never be afraid to talk about your food life either. Especially if they don't know you, they might not realize why you do what you do. When I start mentioning that I'm a vegan (plus all the other things), people generally automatically think "hippie, animal-rights-activist, anti-hunting guru". But then I have to be quick to clarify that its not cause I think eating animals is bad. I am totally pro-hunting! When I tell them I'm curing myself of epilepsy through food, their jaws drop. They would never have guessed and never thought such a thing was possible.

Share your story!

Be Steadfast!
I don't ever accept the excuse that you can't live a healthy lifestyle because your family won't eat that way, or because you just "can't" give up X-Y-Z foods. YOU CAN. The people around you do not dictate your eating habits, and there is no well-loved food more important than your health. Sure, its hard. But it is not impossible. Don't ever say you could never live with your caffeinated, sugary beverages, your chocolate treats, or your ice cream binges. Don't ever tell me you don't like water or vegetables. They are all just excuses, and bad ones at that. YOU CAN. Period.

You make a choice to take your health in your own hands. With that choice comes a responsibility to yourself. Don't let other peoples' actions dictate your behavior. Just because everyone else is eating it does not mean you have to. Its like the analogy that mom's love to use with their teenagers...if all your friends jump off a bridge, are you going to follow?

We have put a lot of social stigma on food. We have made it so that it is rude not to eat what everyone else is eating, and that requesting something different is considered snobbish. Food is comfort. Its what people do together, and while this may be true, it has caused the good intentions of health-foodies to go down the drain with one simple "Hey, let's go out for ice cream!" Food is important, but it is not the be-all-end-all of our social lives. You have to stick to your guns, tell your story, and say NO to the cupcakes! It isn't worth it.

Cooking your loved ones food that your can't eat is hard sometimes. But its not impossible. And its not impossible to live a food life that no one else around you does. Its kinda like being a Christian (now, just bear with me here). Those fiery darts are gonna come at your from all sides. But what do you do? You put on your whole armor of God and stand strong and courageous!

Well, maybe that's a rough analogy. But you get the idea.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Consent and Respect: We're confusing issues here

In an effort to teach children about consent, we are creating a society of people that believes that they always get exactly what they want and never have to do anything they aren't comfortable with. I believe this is because we are meshing issues that were never meant to be meshed.

In this video, the idea is brought up that parents are accidentally teaching kids that their consent to sexual activity doesn't matter by forcing them to shake hands/hug relatives, by teaching them to respect their elders and so on. The lady in the video expresses that by doing these things, we are telling our kids that they don't have a choice and what they feel doesn't matter, so when it comes time for them to start being sexually active (apparently sometime in their teens), they will be hesitant to ever say no to someone because it will appear rude.

While I totally agree that children need to be taught that no one is allowed to forcibly touch them in an inappropriate way, I believe that these issues are not the same and should not be lumped together into one lesson.

My parents made me shake hands with people and I was told on many occasions to hug my relatives. I was taught to be respectful to my elders and obey adults that were placed in authority over me. And when it came time for me to be in a romantic relationship, I never felt that I could not tell my boyfriend/fiancee that I was uncomfortable with something, no matter how simple or complicated it was. I never felt that I had to keep being in an uncomfortable situation because i might appear rude if I got up and left.

But here is the difference. My parents also taught me something that overruled any idea that my consent wasn't important. They taught me to protect my body. They taught me to respect myself and that my body was special. I knew that I needed to save my body for one special person, and that person should be the one I have committed to spend the rest of my life with.

This is not a popular teaching anymore. We now live in a word of sexual carelessness, preached in the name of expressing yourself. Everything is based on how you feel, and boundaries are yours to choose, even if they are non-existent.

We are creating a generation of selfish, whiny, feelings-driven, promiscuous, irresponsible, wanna-be adults.

I may not have any children of my own, but I have been around them long enough to know a few things (I figured I should get that out there before the thunder of comments began about how a childless woman has no knowledge of raising children). I know that children, especially small ones, do not have the maturity to make proper decisions most of the time. That's why they have parents, and why parents are told to "train up a child in the way that he should go" (Prov. 22:6). Children have small minds, and need guidance to learn how to make proper decisions.

In the video mentioned, the woman talks about how parents don't listen to their children's requests or comments, and end up just telling them what they should think instead of inviting a conversation about what the child does think. She used examples like the child saying "I'm cold", and parent responding "No, you're not, it's hot in here!" Or child: "I'm hungry", and parent: "No, you're not...you just ate dinner!"
She suggested turning it into a conversation and asking the child why they are cold or hungry, instead of just telling them what they should think. In doing so, we are telling them that their opinion does matter.

Now, I see the point, but the problem with this is that in doing so, we are not teaching our children how to have self-control. There are situations sometimes that are beyond your control, such as standing in a funeral home, or sitting in the cart while mommy does grocery shopping. It's uncomfortable, sure. But that fact is that if the parent is constantly catering to the child's every whim and desire, they are not learning that sometimes you just have to suck it up, shut up, stand still and be patient. You are hungry? Ok, but you aren't starving to death. You can wait. You are bored/tired? You'll be ok for a few more minutes. You are not in danger, you are not sick or hurt. The world does not revolve around you. 

And yet there is the logic that was used to create the idea that we are teaching kids that their voice doesn't matter. See? You're telling kids that what they feel isn't important, so now when someone tries to push sex on them, they are going to think that their feelings about it aren't important!

You are comparing apples to oranges. Teaching a child self-control by making them wait patiently in a checkout line or in the car or at a place where they are just clearly not interested has nothing to do with teaching them how to respect their body and protect it.

I knew as a kid that no one was allowed to touch me down there. I knew that if ever I felt uncomfortable with someone, I needed to leave the situation and tell my mom. My mom also was very aware of my surroundings when I was a young, dumb kid whose brain hadn't matured yet and knew what situations not to place me in. I knew that I wanted to save my body for someone special, and that someone special was going to be the man I married. I knew that sex was God's gift to married men and women, and it was not some thing to be played around with by irresponsible young adults that had no intention of getting married.

So you see, I was taught about consent, but my parents didn't mix it with learning how to be a patient, well-behaved child in public. The issues are separate, and mixing them just creates the multitudes of out-of-control kids I see running all over their parents and creating embarrassing spectacles in grocery stores. Parents have become so afraid to harm their tender little personalities or to make them feel like their choices don't matter. Guess what, kid....until you no longer need to be reminded to brush your teeth in the morning, don't need help bathing, can make your own food and take care of yourself when you get the flu...you are an immature child that needs the help of a mature adult to make good decisions. And until you have sufficiently learned how to be a responsible part of society, you are just an immature teenager that needs guidance from a mature adult.

Teaching a child self-control and patience seems to be a lost art today. I grew up in a circle where children were expected to behave themselves and sit in less-than-exciting situations for extended periods of time. We grew up knowing to keep our hands to ourselves and to not let other people touch us inappropriately. We were brought to respect ourselves and to respect others. We never felt like our opinions didn't matter and we knew that our parents would talk to us and guide us in the way that we should go.

We weren't raised perfect, but we weren't raised sissies.

Quit making issues out of things that aren't meant to be that way. Stop making excuses and trying to come up with reasons why kids are being sexually abused. It happens because we live in a fallen, sinful creation. Its never right, and never the kids' fault. How about we try teaching the adults to respect children and know their own boundaries? Oh yeah...its probably cause they were taught as kids to do whatever made them FEEL good and do whatever they thought was right.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Our Parents Suffered Too: Thoughts on Modesty, Purity, and the Culture That Shaped Us

I recently shared an article I came across on Facebook. The writer jumped into the issue of modesty, and gave some interesting points. She built on the idea that it should not be the responsibility of a women to try to control a man's thoughts by dressing (or not dressing) a certain way, and in many ways I agree with that. We cannot seek to dress in such a way that will prevent a man from noticing and admiring the natural curves of our body, because its unrealistic. We can, however, strive to adorn ourselves in a way that lets our character and personality shine. There are parts of our body that should be honored by keeping them covered, but not because we are ashamed of them. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. That doesn't mean flaunt it if you've got it. But I think we have gotten so wrapped up in our ideas of what modest dress should be that we have forgotten to dress with class and dignity.

Its not our responsibility to keep men from lusting after us. We can't control it, not matter how conservatively we dress. However, we do have the opportunity to suggest through our dress what we do want people to think of us. Like it or not, we live in a world where we are judged and given labels based on what we wear. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked if I am or was Amish, just because I wear a lot of skirts and like my hair up in a bun.

Your clothing can say a lot about you. Therefore, your goal should not be trying to prevent people from thinking the wrong thing, but instead, focusing on encouraging them to think the right thing. Be comfortable, be yourself, let your God-given personality be defined, and let the Holy Spirit shine through you.

While thinking of all these thoughts on modesty, a friend sparked a conversation about how to teach our kids about sex when the time comes. I'll admit, its always a daunting thought to me. But it occurred to me...why should it be such a scary idea? Sex is beautiful and fun and why shouldn't I be excited to tell them about it? Sex is sacred and special, and something to be enjoyed to the fullest between a man and his wife. I hope and pray that we can give our kids a good enough example in life and communicate to them how wonderful these things are, so that when its their turn, they can face it with joy and with grateful hearts.

The kids of my generation and circles like to talk about how the purity movement damaged our thinking about sex. How most of us were so burdened by trying to keep ourselves physically and emotionally pure that, most of the time, we were simply plagued with the guilt of thinking we may have been impure by noticing someone of the opposite sex. And when we came to actually doing the deed, we were frightened. Really, sincerely frightened. Now, some will say that these were worst case scenarios, but I think there are a great number of us that experienced this to some degree.

We were extreme. We kissed dating goodbye and fell in love with courtship. We swung the pendulum so far in one direction that we forgot what the middle ground was like. So what is happening next? We swing it the opposite way. We hear the words---.modesty.purity.courtship.---even homeschool---and we run.

And then...we blame our parents.

They were controlling. They were possessive and crazy. They just wanted to shelter us and never let us out in the real world. They just feared the world and all in it, and wanted to keep us from it.

Those bad parents.


I have to say...we are messing this up even worse than it already is. Do we even realize what we are doing?

I realize that there are people who have taken the modesty/purity/homeschool culture way too far. And then you have the Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard scandals. I know many parents have cause irreversible damage and suffering in their children because of the standards and rules they enforced. They really did take it an unhealthy level. I'll never dispute that.

But I will point out one very important thing: they suffered too.

We have lost sight of what came before us and why we ended up where we did. We think its all about us. We were the ones jaded by legalism and tormented by the patriarchal system. But I'll say it again: our parents suffered too.

Most of our parents were not raised the way we were. Many of them were first generation Christians, first generation homeschoolers, first generation couples-that-actually-stayed-married, and so on. Most of them had no idea what they were doing. All they knew was that what they went through as kids/young adults didn't work and they wanted something different for their kids. So the pendulum got swung as far from what they knew as they could get, and the modesty/purity/homeschool culture was born.

They saw that traditional American dating-with-no-goal-of-marriage didn't work very well, and so Courtship was born (or should I say reborn?).

They saw that the public school system was full of crap (still is...), and so Homeschooling was born.

They saw that casual, premarital sex was causing damage, and so Purity was born (or should I say redifined?).

They knew the pain in their own hearts from the lives they had lived, and wanted to protect us from the same pain. They wanted to give us different opportunities and wanted to raise us as Biblically as they knew how.

They saw what didn't work, and went the opposite way. Hey...aren't we trying to do the same thing?

Let us not be so swift to judge the choices our parents made. Their choices were born out of their own pain, and so are our choices. We are making choices based on the same emotions that spurred our parents on, but this is where we have to be careful not to be so anxious to get away from what hurt us that we swing that pendulum so far the other direction and end up in the same hell hole our parents crawled out of.

Let's take what we now know, and turn it into something beautiful. Let's not just focus on "not doing what our parents did", but instead focus on why. We can do better than our parents, because they did better than theirs. And our kids will do better than us. But not if we are stuck in bitterness and self-pity. We had a rough past...ok, so let's get over it and move into the future. Modesty, purity, homeschooling, biblical manhood and womanhood, courtship-also-known-as-dating-with-a-purpose, saving sex for marriage...these are all still good things! Let's bring them out of their extremist past and give them freedom to work they way God intended!

We have a chance to find the happy medium. Let us not waste it nursing our wounds with our hatred of the culture that shaped us into the people we are today. We are who we are because of where we came from. We can't stay there, but we can take what we have learned and let the pendulum settle gracefully in the middle.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another...
Romans 12:9-10 

Thursday, June 19, 2014


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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Lydia

While we were in Missouri, I had one of the most epic moments of my life. Because of the epicness of it, I felt it deserved its own post.

I met Lydia.

In real-life, flesh-and-blood, huggable reality.

Zuriel, Lydia, Me, and Grace

Most people may not understand the immense importance of this, so I will elaborate.

I have known Lydia for Fifteen Years. Fifteen Years. I first came to know her through her penpal ad in her friends' christian girls' magazine. There were several ads, but Lydia's attracted me specially. All the others advertised for penpals of certain ages, limiting the amount of people that could get a chance to reply. But Lydia's was different. She wanted penpals of any age---"from 1 to 100!"

So I wrote to her. And she wrote back. And so it continued in sweet, sometimes sporadic letters over the course of several years. Soon technology entered our lives and we kept in contact through emails and Facebook.

We wished for many years to be able to meet in person, but sadly, Oklahoma is a long way from Pennsylvania. So when Missouri became the closest we have ever been to each other, Lydia made the trip up with her darling mother, sister Abigail and adorable baby girl Zuriel.

The face I've seen in photos, and the voice I've heard over the phone. She's real. I got to hug her.

We looked through all our old letters. Zuriel was thrilled as much as we were, I think! Our visit was short, but beautiful. And it happened. 

To God be the glory! 

We went to Missouri...

680 plus miles.

14 hours in the car.

Driving past what felt like every single "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" small town in the Midwest.

Winding up in a middle-of-nowhere camp with zip cell reception.


"...to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery..." (Eph. 3:9)

I spent the week prior to arriving at this beautiful place fretting and freaking out. All the planning and prep work that had gone into this event had me running in circles. I mean, how on earth does one truly prepare for a weekend of ministry in which you have to cook meals for 45-50 people, make sure everyone has what they need and is happy, all in a place you have never been to before and have very little idea of what to expect?

So I fretted.

Then we arrived.

And my mind was blown.

My soul was completely refreshed, and there were several moments over the weekend where I found my self near tears of joy. Everyone brought food, which was my biggest worry, and we had a beautiful abundance! I had so much help in the kitchen that everything ran like a well-oiled machine.

We spent much time centered around God's Word, listening to grand messages and testimonies, and singing our hearts out to the best music we've ever had.

My sweet husband gave a great message!

Got a photo with all the speakers!
Barney Monroe, Me, Diana & Neil Schnaath, Lee Homoki, Ted Fellows,
Curt, Kyle, Luke Miller, Cody Stead and Billy Elmquist.

We played. We ate. We sang. We hugged. We talked. We smiled till it hurt and laughed till we cried.

And we're going back next year. 

This is my love. My life. This is where my heart thrives and becomes so alive. Friendship centered around the Word of God rightly divided is the most precious thing anyone could ever ask for. 

We are the next generation. We are the heartbeat of the movement.

If not us, then who? 

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