What does it mean to be beautiful, both in the eyes of others and in the eyes of God? Through some study and meditation, I believe there are three ingredients to true beauty: Holiness, Righteousness and Humility, otherwise known as purity, integrity and modesty.
True beauty is discovered when one realizes their identity and value in Jesus Christ. When one is sure of their identity, and builds their life on that unshakable foundation, one has a confidence that shines. When you know who you are, and when you see yourself as God sees you, you are truly beautiful!
Every human being has value — value as a human being, a creation of God. This intrinsic value is not based on what we’ve done or said, or what others think of us or assign to us. It’s just there. Just because God made you, you are valuable! Every believer has value — value as a child of God. He chose you, He saved you — obviously there is value in you, or else why would He have sacrificed so much for you? We were created for a specific purpose and a specific function. We are valuable and beautiful, because God made us that way. He declared us “good”!
The first ingredient of beauty is purity. True beauty shines pure. Emotional, verbal, physical, sexual and spiritual purity are required to have true, God-given beauty. Purity is an ingredient of beauty as it reflects God’s holiness. We are called to be holy as God is holy. Our body and mind is a temple of the Holy Spirit,  and as such should be treated with respect. We can’t sully our bodies with abuse of drugs, laziness or  over-indulgence. We can’t poison our minds with negativity and bitterness, pornography and violence, or humanistic philosophies. And we can’t defile our spirits with chasing after things of this world rather than “living in the light of eternity,” as the song says.
Holiness is the ultimate purity. It is more than just cleanliness, it is sanctification. We are cleansed of “all unrighteousness” and therefore blameless before God. We are to present ourselves as living sacrifices in worship to God. How can we do that without being holy? And this is a very doable thing: If it were not, God would not require it of us. He is incapable of leading into temptation, but instead He “delivers us from evil.” He promised that there would be no temptation too strong for us to bear,  and that there would always be a way out. We are called to be pure. As purity flows through our lives, we shine with God’s beauty, and become truly beautiful.
The second ingredient of beauty is integrity. True beauty shines real. Our actions must match our beliefs and attitudes. Integrity is an ingredient of beauty as it reflects God’s righteousness. We are called to live rightly as God is righteous. Do we say we believe one thing, and then act differently? Do our mouths spout off platitudes of discipline and devotion to our friends or on our blogs, but if people were to observe our days, the majority of them is spent in front of a computer screen, ignoring the things (or people!) screaming for our attention.  Our appearances must match our heart, and we need to be real!
Honesty is a major part here. We need to be honest with ourselves and with others. God looks at the heart and He knows what we really believe, no matter how much we try to deny or fake it. And no matter how much you try to fake it, it will show. People can sense when someone is being fake. You can come across as fake, even if you don’t mean to, because we can be really good at lying to ourselves. If we will be honest, God can lead us to be righteous. It is a commandment not to lie, and to live a lie is a sin against God’s righteousness.
Integrity and righteousness go hand in hand. The Bride of Christ will be clothed in “linen of righteousness”. Righteousness is not merely “good deeds” but the willingness to live rightly with God, the genuine desire to obey. Integrity is a part of someone’s character, not just their behaviour. In being righteous, and godly, we are genuine in seeking His kingdom, not our own whims and wants.
The third ingredient of beauty is modesty. This may seem strange, that true beauty is modest. But its true. Modesty shines as Jesus shone. God is a gentleman, and true beauty requires this gentle Spirit. We are called to live humbly, meekly, with modesty. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) Gentle spirits and modesty do not mean weak. Humility is not weakness. It takes more strength to stand firm, unresisting, fighting the urge of fight or flight, than to react to provocation. Jesus was a meek man, but no one would have called him a weak man. His anger cleared the temple. His strength so impressed the captain of the Roman guard, that upon Jesus’ death, the captain declared that he must have been the son of God. Modesty is a strength that comes from our confidence in God. Modesty is uncomplaining, gives rather than demands, serves rather than commands, and gives up the need to control others. It is self-control, not arrogance.  Modesty comes from a confidence in who we are and how much we’re worth, so that we don’t need to flaunt our assets or prove our attractions.
When one thinks of modesty, one thinks of modest dress. Modesty has more to do with attitude than appearance. Women can be covered from neck to toe, and be more provocatively dressed than a woman dressed in more skin-revealing clothes with an attitude of modesty. Modesty has a confidence that has no need to flaunt or embellish. We are called to be modest as it reflects God’s love. Love has no need of boasting in itself. Love is genuine, aware of others’ opinions, but not willing to bend to peer pressure. Modesty in love leads rather than follows.
Modesty is a form of humility. Modest beauty knows who really is deserving of all the credit — God! Modesty gives all glory to God. After all, we did nothing to create the face, body, talents or skills we may be gifted with.  True beauty is modest, and a reflection of God’s glory. Modesty is an attitude of service, service for the sake of serving God and others, and not for any reward. It is service done in secret, and letting God reward them. Modesty shares, and is generous, not self-serving.  It is a respect for others, and a respect for oneself.
Beauty is found in confidence in God. When we know the value God placed on us, how can we devalue ourselves? How can we declare “ugly” and “worthless” what God declared “good” and “very good”, and worth the biggest price: the sacrifice of His Own Son?  To do that, calls God a liar. We can be secure in His love. Believe it, young lady. Rely on it, young man. God loves YOU! He loves you more than you can ever imagine. And because He loves you, you can be confident that there is nothing you need to enhance, to dress up, to prove, to give away, or to flaunt in order to demonstrate that you are beautiful, to get the attention every human being craves. God loves you because He made you. And that’s all you need to know. True beauty shines out of this confidence, reflected through purity, modest and integrity. May we all be beautiful in the sight of God.

 

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Even though my world is crashing
Even though it’s all undone
Even though my heart is smashing
Even though my dreams are gone
Even though it hurts so much
Even though there’s so much pain
Even though I don’t feel your touch
I know you remain
Yet will I hope
Yet will I receive
My God is here and He will help me
This truth I will believe
I can’t see you through the darkness
I can’t feel you in the fog
I can’t hear you in the silence
I can’t stop here in the bog
I can’t go one more day
I can’t do this yet again
I can’t figure out the way
I know you remain

 

Dictionary.com gives this definition of “to submit”: “to give over or yield to the power or authority of another.”
Sounds scary, doesn’t it? To voluntarily give someone else power or authority over yourself is something that no human being wants to do, nor do we do well. Yet, this is what God calls every single believer to: submission.
Submission is a dirty word, today. To submit has images of punishment, of slavery, of powerlessness and without choices. But what is submission really?
Submission at its core has this concept of giving up one’s own desires, wishes, self-interest, in favor of the interest and desires of another. That instead of doing what we want, we do what someone else wants, even, and especially, if it costs us something.
A true believer is called to submit to God. We who desire to follow Jesus are to give over to His power and authority. Most of us can accept this. After all, shouldn’t the Creator of the Universe, the One who made us and knows us inside out, the One who gave His life for us, be trusted to know what’s best for us? Working this out daily may be tougher than accepting it, but still, for the sincere, submission to Jesus is not something we actively fight against, knowingly. Instead, it’s something we actively fight for. We daily “pick up our cross” to follow him.
Psalms 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (NIV) Part of submission includes a desire to please.. to “take delight.. in the interests of some one else.  When we submit to God, there is a promise: that He, God, will give us what we most truly want. The desires of your heart are soul-satisfying, ultimate and deep. The desires of your heart include the childhood dreams, the things we crave and are afraid to even admit we want — and it’s those that God promises to give to us, when we submit to him.
God also calls us to submit to human authority. Here, part of submission includes the notion of honor. Paul in Romans calls the Church to submit to the human authorities, as they were placed there by God, and to give what is due to them, whether honor, deference, or tangible dues. He also declares that “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things, there is no law.” If we are really submitted to God, and have His Spirit guiding us, we will automatically submit to human law, because no one rules against the products of living by the Spirit.
But, what about the call to the Christian woman: to submit to her husband. This is a much, much, harder to accept and accomplish. Especially in this world of feminism and “equality, we rebel against this actively, and almost, angrily.
Why should a man be over me? we argue. What makes him any better than me? I can do just as much and more than he can! We justify ourselves: well, if he would lead better, I could submit better. If he would just do his job, I would do mine.
Feminism has deceived even the Christian woman into thinking submission is an outdated, old-fashioned model of marriage, and that it leads to at best, discrimination and loss of identity, and at worst, abuse. None of this is true. Submission is the model God put into place for the best. It allows for the best way for a woman to shine, use her gifts to the fullest and be protected, spiritually, physically, financially, mentally, or socially.
So why do we argue and resist God’s best plan so much? I believe it’s because we have been lied to about true submission. Some of those lies include: that submission means he’s better than me and somehow I have less value than him, that submission means I don’t get a say, I’m not allowed to have opinion, and that submission means I have to do whatever he says, even to the point of abuse.
All of these lies come from a wrong understanding of submission and a wrong understanding of leadership. Submission does not equal slavery. Submission, real submission, means less responsibility, and more freedom.  Leadership doesn’t equal dictatorship, but rather, it means less self-interest, more responsibility and service to others. As someone who has been in an abusive marriage, I’ve struggled with these concepts. Sin has corrupted marriage, like everything else, and both my husband and I had wrong ideas of marriage, leadership and submission, which caused our marriage to derail.
In looking at marriage and submission, I am awed by God’s plan and provision for women. He even provides for the failures of the human race, by declaring that He is “Afather to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5, NIV). It is incredible to me, that in my time of need, as I am without a husband, and my children without their father, that God Himself fulfills that role.
The truth of the matter is that submission, real submission, means that because I have worth, because I am valuable, I need to be protected. Peter calls wives “the weaker vessel”, but I don’t think he meant “weaker” as in less able, I think he meant weaker, as porcelain is weaker and more fragile than common stoneware. We wouldn’t dare handle porcelain teacups without due care, but stoneware often ends up chipped and worn because we are less careful with it – it can handle the rougher treatment. In my submission to my husband’s leadership, I am recognizing, and he does as well if he is leading properly, my true value as something that needs protection, and doesn’t need the rough handling of the world. His leadership then is self-sacrifice as the go-between, between his family and the world, and my submission is the support and help and rest he needs to face that battle.
Another definition of “to submit” is “to present for the approval, consideration, or decision of another” or “to state with deference; suggest or propose”. Part of submission is giving of suggestions and opinions. So that by default means that submission cannot mean I don’t have a say in my marriage. It means the opposite: that I am required to give my opinion and suggestions to my husband. How can I submit if he has nothing to approve? Submission without giving something to submit isn’t submission, that’s non-participation. You might as well not be married then. A real leader welcomes and needs the input of those under his care, and those under his care must, if they expect him to do his job well, let him know what they need.
Leadership doesn’t mean “final say” and submission doesn’t mean “compromise always”. True leadership and submission in marriage is not a dictatorship and “giving in”. There should never be a need for one to give in to the other unwillingly. Instead, in cases of disagreement, partners in marriage work through it till they come to a mutually satisfying conclusion… and are in unity. Submission will always equal unity.
In a marriage of God’s design, the wife who submits to her husband is freed from the sole responsibility of decision-making for the family, and protected from the world’s demands, free to pursue her heart’s desire and develop her gifts and talents – which development will only benefit the family, especially her husband (look at Proverbs 31: he had no lack of gain because of her!). The husband is freed sole responsibility of decision-making for the family, from feeling threatened and dishonored, and won’t have to constantly fight on two fronts: the world and his wife. Submission creates partnership, creates a team, a “one-flesh” arrangement that maximizes the strengths and protects the weaknesses of both people, and leads to ultimate satisfaction.
The key to submission is trust. If the husband properly takes his role, loving his wife as Christ loved the church, then nothing he does will be without consideration of the best interests of his wife (and family). He will not make a decision without thinking of her. A wife can then safely submit to her husband, because she trusts that all his decisions will be with care of her, and it is easy for her to submit. If the wife properly takes her role, honoring her husband as leader, as the Church honors Christ and helps with His mission, then nothing she does will be without consideration of how she can best help her husband (and family). She will not decide anything without thinking of the effect on him. A husband can then safely lead and protect, and rest in, his wife’s care, because he trusts that she will be behind him 100%, never hurting him, and he won’t be watching his back while he is trying to forge ahead. It is then easy for him to lead on, and develop his gifts and talents to further the family. And she can safely help and support, resting in her husband’s care, because she trusts that he goes before her 100%, never hurting her, and she won’t be afraid to open up while moving ahead.
Submission creates a partnership that is strong, united and confident. When both have the best interests of the other, mutual submission happens. And ultimately, that’s what marriage is all about.

I really should be more consistent with this. Oh well.. one of these days, maybe I’ll get my act together.

So many changes. My baby girl joined us April 14th, and her arrival was soo different than what I’d planned for. First of all, she was late (I’d been expecting/hoping she’d be a week or two early!).. 3 days past my due date, in fact. Second, she was born in a hospital — had been planning a home birth — but due to an ice storm that damaged power lines and downed trees, we had no heat, power or running water in our home. Can’t have a baby without those things! Third, and this I still don’t quite understand, I didn’t realize I was actually in labour! I had 4 children previously, and I don’t recognize labour? Wha.. ?  But it’s true. Mostly because I’d been having contractions for days, and when contractions started on the 13th, I didn’t really pay much attention to them.

It worked like this: we had no power in our home, and we have several small children. We were wanting to go to my mom’s for the time it would take to restore power — a little longer than typical at our home, because of specific storm damage. But… due with a baby, so we couldn’t go just then. Like I said, I’d been having contractions, so I called my midwife and asked if we could turn the what-I-assumed-were-false contractions into the real thing, through some kind of augmentation.. breaking waters, stimulation, etc.. so we could have this baby and then go someplace safe. She agreed, given that I was already overdue, and because of the circumstances, and told us she would meet us at the hospital at a certain time. So we packed our kids off to relatives, and headed out.

I was still contracting, and noticed they were getting stronger, but didn’t really think much of it. We were on the road by 11:30 Saturday night, and walked into the hospital at midnight. By then, I had an inkling that maybe augmentation wouldn’t be necessary — the contractions were making it hard to walk! My midwife took one look at me and smiled. She knew..  Things kind of sped up then. I got undressed and settled in, and the contractions were coming fast and furious, about a minute or two apart. I tried to focus on some music on a playlist, and cracking jokes with my midwife between contractions. I didn’t keep track of time.

Every delivery is different! Some have been so overwhelmingly fast, I never felt anything but pain. With my 2nd youngest, I had enough breaks between contractions to feel her moving into the birth canal. With this one, I had the overwhelmingly fast contractions, but not so overwhelming I couldn’t feel her move! I felt the smooth move down, and then felt her shoulders stick a bit — a first! Definitely my biggest baby. But I only pushed for a few minutes, and we had a beautiful baby girl, 8 lbs 4 oz… at 1:35 am! Only an hour and a half after we had arrived at the hospital. One of my fastest labours ever! And she was almost a pound bigger than my last biggest baby.

My midwife was amazing. She put orders on my chart that I wasn’t to be disturbed unless I needed something. And that I was feeding on demand, so there was no nosy nurse wanting to insist I feed her on some artificial schedule. She slept that night for almost 4 hours… then nursed for almost 3 hours, lol. We stayed over Sunday, and Monday night, where she slept again for a 4 hour stretch before feeding again.. lovely sleeper (which has continued!) We did hit a minor hiccup, when the hospital almost didn’t want to release her because they thought she might have jaundice, but again, my midwife went to bat for us, and signed the papers after a blood test, because she had no worries. The child was eating fine, after all.

So.. discharged from the hospital, went back to the house, and while our newborn slept in her carseat, I proceeded to pack up clothing for 5 children and 2 adults, along with all the baby paraphernalia, for a week! Then we picked up our kids, showed the baby off to various relatives, and hopped in the van for a 7 hour ride to Grandma’s!

The only downside to the hospital stay? Both baby and I came down with a cold… but we were fine, and she was back up at her birth weight before the week was out.

Today, she is a happy, healthy, smiling, cooing, rolling over almost-4-month old, adored by siblings and parents alike. And she sleeps 6-7 hours at night! This is a happy mama…

I keep meaning to write more, but life.. ah, life! Life in a household of young’uns is challenging at the best of times, and can be downright chaotic.

Take this morning for example. My preschoolers (ages 3 and 4) found a roll of toilet paper — we’d had it downstairs for toilet training purposes and had forgotten to take it back up — and the next thing I knew, I had toilet paper pieces all over the living room. Along with the paper they had ripped up earlier.. Fun times with small fries..

Speaking of little ones, I am getting so very excited to meet this new little one. I always do at this stage. Officially 36 weeks pregnant today. LOL — I love telling people I’m 9 months pregnant, because the look on their faces is hilarious. Most people don’t realize that technically pregnancy is 10 months long (40 weeks), so you can be 9 months pregnant without having had the baby. I am feeling very pregnant, of course, and changing positions has to be done carefully. I can’t always see where I’m putting my foot/behind, and with active tots, hehe.. things can get a bit hairy.

Something I don’t like about this pregnancy are the nightmares I’m getting. Oy.. as if I don’t have trouble enough sleeping! Hormones do funny things I guess.

I’m  hungry now, so I think I’m going to go feed my kids… all 5 of them!

I so mean to keep this updated more often, but the last week-and-a-half have been insane with crazy weather, crazy kids, and well.. crazy life! LOL

First, my husband works as a snow plow operator, so when we get snowstorms (which isn’t as frequent as you would think, given that we live in Canada!) he’s got weird and wacky hours. For example, with one storm, he ended up working 30+ hours out of 70 or so. He would work 12 hours and come home, eat quick and crash for a few hours, and then head back out to work. I always appreciated snow plow drivers before, but now? I understand way more how hard the job can be at times.

So when he’s working weird hours like that, it throws our whole family life off. Because he’s working nights (usually) and then sleeping during the day, not only am I the only adult home at night, which is nerve racking in and of itself, but then I’m the only adult during the day too! It feels almost like solo parenting again. Plus, either I make our meals to fit his schedule, which can be next to impossible, or I feed the kids at semi-regular times, and try to eat with him.. or everyone eats at odd times, which is more likely. So our whole daily routine gets thrown off too.

Oddly enough, speaking of routines, we are slowly falling into a routine around here. I’m becoming more consistent with doing preschool with my middle girls, and staying on top of the regular household chores (though the place is in desperate need of a thorough spring cleaning!) And I’m able to fit in working too, which has been a goal of mine for a few months now — being more consistent in my business approach, as well as my roles as wife, mom, teacher and housekeeper.

I really do love my crazy life.

 

You would think after four children I would have maternity clothes that fit throughout a pregnancy, right? Apparently not. I’m running out of decent, going-out, look-nice, cover-all-the-necessary-bits, feel-comfortable clothes. I’m down to about 2 pairs of pants, and maybe 3 shirts that I can wear going out. Now, I have plenty of shloppy, baby-stained, mommy clothes that are comfy. They don’t look the nicest, but at least I’m covered and clothed.. it’s going out places and looking decent that is a problem.

Part of the problem is that I guess it took 5 pregnancies for my body to actually get the idea that it’s supposed to show a baby bump. With my first pregnancy, you couldn’t tell I was pregnant — even at 9 months! With my 2nd and 3rd, I looked barely pregnant (think 4-5 months along) when I was close to my due dates. With number 3, I finally had a decent baby belly at 9 months, but I honestly only looked about 6-ish.. With this one? Oh anyone can tell that I’m having a baby. I’m not used to not being able to see my toes. I’m not used to not having a lap to hold children on, or finding it this difficult to get up out of a soft chair. It is definitely different.
Another part of the problem is that maternity clothes are so danged expensive! And even if I weren’t on a limited budget, I still refuse to pay $50-60 just for a shirt or a pair of pants I’ll wear for just a few months!! To me, that is frankly ridiculous. Now, I know the chances of me wearing it again are fairly high (hello — pregnant again in a year? probably!), so I’d probably get my money’s worth, but there is that limited budget thing too. So.. I shop clearance, I get used, I look for donations.. which means actual maternity clothes are few and far between for me.
I do need to start looking for a few postpartum and nursing undergarments though. That’s one area I will not skimp on, as those are daily usage, and need to not only be comfortable, but durable. So far, the durability thing doesn’t seem to be working for me. I wear them out by the time I’m done nursing (or pregnant again!) but I guess the daily usage is harder on those items than I expect.
I’m still needing to limit my activity levels. Which, as a busy mom, is inconvenient to say the least.. But whatever it takes to avoid a premature baby is worth it. I want my baby at home, in my arms, not in a hospital because I couldn’t be bothered to take care of myself properly. I hope I’m a bit more responsible than that. LOL — I’d better be, yes?
Being off my feet so much, however, has allowed me to focus on a few projects I’ve been wanting to get to — like blogging a tad more regularly. Also, working on a preschool/kindergarten curriculum for my girls, since I can’t find anything that I like! I will post more when I have some more things pulled together, but at this point I’m satisfied with my nice framework. I have 6 weeks of topics, coordinated by theme and Bible story, so I’m kind of proud of that. I’m covering basic language and numeracy skills, and skimming over some science, art, music and theme topics weekly too. My girls love variety, so I’m hoping to strike a balance between the repetition necessary for learning and the creativity they thrive on.
Pregnancy limitations does have its uses, I suppose! It’s been interesting, though I can see my library expanding in the near future.. LOL, I’ll probably end up starting a lending library eventually, with all the books I’ll collect. But we love love LOVE books around here, and I’d rather buy books than toys, so I think it’s worth it!