The Art of Affection: How to Give Good Gifts

If you’re like me, gift-giving is a joy, a specialty. You relish the thought of mulling over hundreds of ideas to find the perfect present for your special someone. Your love for him/her is such that you won’t rest until you find a gift that shows just how special (s)he is to you.

After reading that, some of you are thinking to yourselves, “yeah, that is so NOT me.” It’s not that you don’t want to give good gifts, you just don’t know where to begin. You generally give the same gifts to the same people with very little variation or imagination…but not because you don’t love them. You just find it hard to think of what to get them.

I’m hoping this post will help with that. At the heart of it is a desire to learn and apply the art of affection — the intersection between feeling love and showing love.

In a way, this post is “one-size-fits all.” I say that because these principles can be applied to anyone at any time in any kind of relationship.

So here they are: seven practical ways to give good gifts:

Learn to Listen

Honestly, if you just do this one thing it will change your gift-giving game forever. People talk…a lot. It’s what humans do. Even the quiet ones. Without realizing it, people convey what is really in their hearts whenever they open their mouths. Learning to listen to what people are saying is a super easy way to ascertain what they might like to receive as a gift.

What stories do they tell and what is featured in those stories? How can you turn those features into a gift? When they are happy about something, can you turn their happiness into a gift? When they are frustrated by something, can you gift them something that will alleviate their frustration? Did something make them emote – how can you replicate prevent that? Have they been talking about the same thing, event, person, place, etc. forevvvveerrr – it’s a safe bet that you can build a gift around those things.

A few things I do to help me remember what I’ve heard is take pictures of things that people show me, make notes in my phone when they bring up something I think I can turn into a gift, place things in the “save for later” section of my Amazon cart, and copy the links for YouTube videos that provide DIY inspiration based on the things people have said they like, want, or are interested in.

Figuring out how to listen for gift ideas when other people talk does require a little bit of effort, but, as with all things, the more you practice, the better you’ll get!

Recognize the Spectrums

This one is important because it gets you thinking about your special someone on a very specific level.

When it comes to gift giving, there are a few spectrums on which people generally fall. Taking these spectrums into consideration — especially how they correlate with one another — can set you on the path to finding or making the perfect gift for your special someone.

The Meaning Spectrum

This spectrum deals with how much or how little people consider the thought that went into a gift they receive. People who place a high level of emphasis on meaning prefer gifts that show thought and consideration for who they are as an individual; gifts that take personal effort and show sacrifice; gifts that are specifically aligned with their personality, interests, and preferences; gifts that come from a place of very purposeful sincerity.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is a gift’s functionality. Although thought will have been put into it, some people don’t register meaning nearly as much as they register how a gift meets a need or fills a void. If the gift is something your special someone can use and it helps him reach his personal goals more effectively, then he’s over the moon about it.

As the gift-giver, you’ll have to determine where your special someone falls on this spectrum. If meaningfulness is a high priority for them, hand-made gifts are a great way to go. Another great idea would be gifts that show you’ve been thinking about who they are as a unique individual, such as “inside joke” gifts, “this would be perfect for her” gifts, or “walking down memory lane” gifts.

If meaningfulness is not a high priority for your special someone, choose gifts that function well for him. Figure out what he needs to reach or master his goals and get him something that will help him do just that.

The Time Spectrum

This spectrum deals with the way time can be gifted to others.

On one end of the spectrum are people who value gifts because they indicate that intentional time and effort were put into the gift and/or because the gift itself includes spending time with that person’s favorite people — usually the giver of the gift. People on this end of the spectrum feel special when the gifts they receive indicate a desire on behalf of the giver to spend quality time together doing things that are of interest to both of them, things they both enjoy. Although these people will still appreciate doing things that cater to their specific, individual interests, if the other person doesn’t enjoy himself too, the time will be ill-spent because people on this end of the spectrum place a high priority on making sure their loved ones are happy. If both people can’t be happy, the happiness of the receiver is automatically diminished.

On the other end of the spectrum are people who value aloneness and rest rather than time spent with others engaging in various activities. This type of person is happiest at home and values being in places that are familiar and comfortable over places that require her to expend energy doing something new or acting a certain way. Although this type of person loves her significant other, she feels safest and most relaxed when she is by herself. In cases like this, sincere understanding and acceptance of this type of person’s appreciation for stillness and aloneness is a gift in and of itself.

The Cost Spectrum

On one end of this spectrum are people who value gifts that cost a lot of money. Usually this is because they would rather not spend money on or receive gifts of inferior quality when having the best is an option. They recognize that “we get what we pay for,” and are often the ones who will spend a lot of money on their loved ones when it is their turn to give a gift.

People on this end of the spectrum are given to liking and wanting extravagant gifts and, much of the time, maintain interests, hobbies, and tastes that are on the pricier end.

Money is how these people show their love, so, in turn, receiving expensive gifts is how they feel loved. It’s not that they are greedy or money-hungry, it’s that when they love someone they want that person to have the best of everything, so they feel most loved when others do the same for them. To them, the amount of money they spend on someone shows how much that person means to them, so they will often gauge their standing with others based on how much money is spent on the gifts they receive.

On the other end of the spectrum are people who value, well, value. They would rather people not spend a great deal of money on them because, to them, money meets needs, whereas they would prefer for their gifts to reflect the fact that they are wanted, loved, and appreciated.

Whereas money pays the bills, buys groceries, and keeps the lights on, people on this end of the spectrum would rather not have their loved ones spend exorbitant amounts of money on expensive gifts when simple, thoughtful ones are just as special.

These type of people will sometimes see expensive gifts as wasteful, especially if they are the ones in charge of the money used to buy the gift or they know the giver well enough to know that they can’t afford it. These people would rather receive something that doesn’t cost any money at all then be the reason a hardship is created in the lives of their loved ones.

The Experience Spectrum

This spectrum deals with how much a person values doing over getting things.

On one end of the spectrum are people who love adventure, chasing dreams, learning new things, trail-blazing, and experiencing life to the fullest. These types of people respond well to surprises, spontaneity, traveling, adventure, activity, new experiences, crossing things off their bucket list, and doing things that leave them with great stories to tell.

These types of people won’t generally keep mementoes of their adventures, but they will usually take and post 2,000 pictures of every single moment of them and then re-post those memories on social media when real life resumes being mundane and/or hard.

On the other end of this spectrum are people who enjoy collecting mementoes from everyday life of special memories made with the people they love. Although they do enjoy doing things with others, they don’t feel an express need to experience larger-than-life adventures. Instead, they value knowing they have a secure and special place in the lives of their loved ones and collect knick-knacks of those memories along the way.

Often times, these people will have a box (or two or three or twenty) full of reminders of all the special moments they have shared with those who are most important to them. Ticket stubs, receipts, cards, printed pictures, fabrics, toys, gifts, journals, trinkets – you name it. If it holds even the smallest bit of sentimental value, they’ve got it in a bin somewhere.

These knick-knacks are treasured because they provide tangible proof that these people are important to their loved ones — valued, wanted, desired, necessary, irreplaceable. People on this end of the spectrum are the living embodiment of the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and they don’t even pretend to be sorry about it.

The Service Spectrum

This spectrum deals with how much value your special someone places on his needs being met.

On one end of the spectrum are people who have a lot on their plate and often find themselves run ragged by everyday demands. They place a high value on gifts that alleviate the pressure they feel to meet demands, fulfill their roles, and faithfully tend to their responsibilities. For someone like this, being taken out to dinner so he doesn’t have to cook, having a service hired to come clean the house so she doesn’t have to, having his tank filled without asking, changing baby diapers, doing the grocery shopping, running errands, etc.; these are all gifts that are extremely desirable to someone who values the gift of service.

To people on the other end of the spectrum, however, gifts of service are not expressly meaningful because, although they do alleviate some of the demands of everyday life, they are not special, unique, or out of the ordinary. In addition, someone on this end of the spectrum views maintaining a home and a family as a cooperative endeavor and generally feels that her loved ones should not turn a chore into a gift.

Although she will always appreciate the help, she would much prefer a gift that considers who she is an individual — as a unique person with interesting thoughts, hobbies, and desires — not just someone who lives in the house and is responsible for keeping it clean and running smoothly.

The most important thing to remember about the spectrums is that they interact with one another in countless ways and differ from person to person. Your special someone is unique, individual, particular; your homework is to find out where he falls on any given spectrum IN LIGHT OF where he falls on all of the other spectrums as well.

It’s Not About YOU

Tempting as it is, if you want to be a good gift giver, you have to take yourself out of the equation. That is, you cannot give someone a gift that YOU would love to receive, then be hurt when they don’t appreciate it the way you would.

Often times, we think that others will feel special or be helped in the same ways we do/are, but that is usually not the case. This is when listening becomes especially important. Spending oodles of time and money on a gift that speaks intensely to your own heart is no way to ensure you are giving a good gift. Listening to your special someone and putting yourself in his shoes is a much more effective way to think through how to give him a gift he will enjoy.

This becomes especially important when you and your special someone are as different as night and day. Without even realizing it, we can (and tend to) accidentally project ourselves on to our loved ones, but when they are vastly different from us, those kinds of gifts are inappropriate and, in extreme cases, insulting (such as “making a point” gifts which should NEVER be given under any circumstances!)

Regardless of how similar you are to your special someone, the gifts you choose should be about them, not you.

Become a Low-Key Profile Stalker

So here’s the deal: in today’s world, people are much easier to read than they once were. Thanks to social media, we have an endless supply of inspiration from which to draw gift-giving ideas. Even if someone isn’t all that active on social media, you can still find gift ideas that will be well suited to her by low-key stalking her Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc. pages.

What does she post about? Where does he go? What does she do? What has he said he enjoys? Who does she like? What does he want to do? What is she working on? What are his goals? What type of food does she love? Who does he follow on social media? What has she complained about?

You might think negative posts aren’t helpful, but much of the time, they are more helpful than the positive posts. How can you fix a problem, fill a void, meet a need, heal a wound, encourage, solve, mend, etc.? Complaining can be annoying sometimes, to be sure, but being a good gift-giver means listening to EVERYTHING your special someone has to say, not just the easy, superficial, happy stuff.

Plan Ahead

The professor in me couldn’t help including this one. How many times have I heard a student say, “I’m so sorry…I meant to…I’d planed on…I promise I was going to….I had a really big assignment due in another class…I think I still deserve points because…”

It’s easy to prioritize things and people you CAN’T dismiss, like work or a DMV appointment, but people who give good gifts don’t wait until the last minute to throw one together – even if they can.

Planning ahead starts with knowing when your deadlines are. If you have a terrible memory, like I do, a calendar is a great way to help with this. There’s no shame in being organized when it comes to special dates like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc.

Planning ahead also consists of thinking about your gift long before you have to give it to your special someone. If you apply any of the above suggestions, you’ll need a place make notes about good gift ideas and just about any system will work. I use my cell phone to take pictures of things my loved ones point out to me or create a new note to remember what they’ve said long after they’ve said it.

I tell my students this all the time, “If you spend one hour on a six hour assignment, it’s going to show, and your grade will reflect it.” The same principle applies to gift giving: If you spend five minutes on a gift, it’s going to show, and you aren’t going to fool anyone, least of all the person receiving the gift.

Change is the Rule, Not the Exception 

People change. It’s inevitable. It’s what makes us human.

What worked as a gift 10 years ago, probably won’t work as well now because your special someone is a different person today than he was 10 years ago. So much life has happened between then and now. He thinks about things differently, he values different things, he has new or different interests…there are just so, so many variable.

A good gift giver understands that the longer you know someone the more research you have to do to figure out how to make your loved ones feel special. That is, giving good gifts requires an investment in growing WITH your loved ones and taking joy in acquainting yourself with the many new and different things that will interest and define them over time.

Remember, Remember

Nothing says, “I’m not paying attention at all” like  giving someone a gift you’ve already given them in the past. To be a good gift giver, it’s imperative that you make a point of remembering which gifts you have given to which people.

Being a purposeful gift giver involves figuring out a way to remember which gifts you have given to your loved ones in the past, or recording them so that you don’t forget. It’s not very spontaneous, that’s true, but it will keep you vigilant!

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I will admit that this post ended up being a lot longer than I intended. This topic is near and dear to my heart, though, and making people feel special is something I enjoy a great deal. I have learned, though, that there’s a lot more to gift-giving than picking the first thing off the shelf, wrapping it, and calling it a day.

I hope this post was helpful and that I was able to give you a few things to think about. Happy gifting, everyone, and may your loved ones always know how much you care.

Until Next Time My Friends,

S. Taylor

The Taylor of All Trades

 

 

 

 

Homeschooling Basics: A Simple Curriculum Plan for the First Year

Homeschooling Basics2017 was a year of firsts for me. One of those firsts was becoming a homeschooling mother. My sweet girl started school for the first time when we were in the thick of my dad’s hospitalization. He had his first of nine strokes at the beginning of July and it would turn out to be a very long road to recovery for all of us, a road we’re still on and will continue to be on until God calls Papa home.

Now, I’m a planner. I do NOT function well without a written plan in place. When Dad had his strokes, I hadn’t yet begun planning our school year because two months seemed like plenty enough time to get that job done before we started school in September. But life is rarely as tidy as we would like it to be and I wasn’t the kind of teacher I’d envisioned.

It was heartbreaking, really.

For the first two months we hit all of the topics we were supposed to, but Evie’s curriculum was haphazard, disorganized, and topically chaotic. I knew she was learning, but there wasn’t the kind of coherence and order I knew we both needed.

That didn’t last forever, though, and once I finally had the chance to sit down and really think through what we needed to do, I was able to plan out a Kindergarten curriculum that has been working very well for us. It isn’t perfect, but our charter is great at providing all the information we need to succeed, our Education Specialist is a dream, and we have been able to access many of our curriculum books for free through our charter’s resource center.

Depending on which charter you use, you are required to provide samples of coursework from four or five content areas which are based on your state’s content standards for elementary education. Our charter requires Evie to receive instruction in all five content areas — Language Arts, History (Social Studies), Math, Science, and Physical Education — but many charters do not require instruction in PE. We are also required to submit samples for any extracurricular instruction that Evie receives if it has been funded by our charter.

I have been blessed to have an older sister to walk me through pretty much every step of our homeschool journey and I chose our charter specifically because she has had such a positive experience with them. I have also used most of her suggestions regarding  curriculum selections and have found them to work extremely well for Evie. It’s also a bonus that Evie and her cousins are using the same curriculum because having schooling in common is something they excitedly discuss when they see the same books in each others’ homes.

Once I was able to, I created a learning plan (excel spreadsheet) for Evie that spans her first year of school. It includes core curriculum selections as well as her learning path across the four basic learning areas and a list of all our meetings with her ES. Her PE curriculum is not included in this list because it is constructed mainly of local sports team  participation, park play, and at-home exercise programs that she and I do together.

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Our curriculum selections for Kindergarten are as follows:

1. Language Arts

  • Sight Word Flashcards (Aurora City School District)
  • Sight Word Readers (Amazon.com)
  • “Help Me Be Good” Character Stories by Joy Berry; These books double with the Social Studies requirement. My mom gifted me most of the set, but I was able to find individual ones on Amazon. Complete sets can also be purchased on Amazon.
  • Letter writing practice sheets (see below)

2. Math

  • Math-U-See (Primer Level: Teacher Book, Instructional DVD, and Student Workbook)

3. Science

  • Magic School Bus (DVD’s and Student Activity Guide by Scholastic)

4. History (Social Studies)

  • Story of the World (Volume 1: Textbook, CD Audiobook, and Student Workbook)

We also implement the following worksheets which I print almost exclusively from Education.com because the printables on that website are the most comprehensive and effective:

  • Letter practice
  • Number practice
  • Counting practice
  • Shape practice
  • Color practice
  • Concept practice
  • Fine Motor Skills practice

Finally, we use ABCmouse as a “treat” for Evie and she absolutely loves it. I find that it reinforces what she is learning in a fun, interactive way and it is always the last thing we do in our day as a reward for her hard work in areas that don’t come as easily to her as ABCmouse.

Creating a spreadsheet was the easiest way for me to wrap my mind around everything we had to accomplish throughout our first year of homeschooling and I am happy to share a template with whomever it might help — feel free to shoot me an email at taylorofalltrades@gmail.com if you’d like me to send you the template. Otherwise, feel free to use the images provided above as a guide for one way you might structure your first year as a homeschooling family.

Teaching Evie has been such a joy. We have had our fair share of hiccups, that’s for sure, but getting a plan in place and figuring out which curriculum selections worked best for us has proven to be the foundation of a successful learning experience for both of us.

May you find what works for you and may you enjoy every step of your homeschooling journey!

Until Next Time My Friends,

S. Taylor

The Taylor of All Trades

Your Husband’s Not a Dog and Sex is Not A Bone

I’m heartbroken to have to be writing this post. I’m not sure if it’s a generational thing, but the advice often given to younger women in the church regarding sex is not only discouraging, it’s also, I believe, sinful. I hesitate to use that word because I am very well aware of the dangerous types of legalism which are all too easy for nondenominational Christians, like myself, to be tempted by and even guilty of.

But, you know what, someone has to say something and I think that someone’s gonna be me. I can’t keep silent any longer. I am putting my foot down and making a stand because I have to.

Older women in the church keep saying the same things about sex, but what they’re saying is wrong. Someone has to let them know, gently and respectfully, that they are absolutely wrong and that what they are teaching younger women about sex is dangerous, selfish, and idolatrous.

I wouldn’t blame you if you told me to slow my roll, like, right now. The language I’m using may seem judgmental and/or disrespectful, especailly given the fact that I am technically a “younger woman.” “Who are you to point your finger at your elders and say they are wrong,” you might ask. It’s a fair question and one I’m glad you asked.

The answer is actually pretty simple: I am allowed to challenge my elders because what they are saying does not align with Scripture and what I am about to say does. I take no credit for the Truth, I only stand by it. The challenges I bring before the older women in the church are supported by God’s Word – nothing more, nothing less.

So why do I need to challenge the older women in the church? What messages about sex are they incorrectly sharing with others, especially younger women?

There are a few, but the most dangerous ones are:

  1. Women are not sexual beings, men are.
  2. Sex is not enjoyable, so learn to grin and bear it.
  3. Sex is the best way to get your husband to do what you want him to do.

Let’s address them one at a time.

First, older women in the church, including a large number of both male and female christian authors, have been saying for quite some time that women are, for the most part, non-sexual beings. We respond to sexual advances, but we generally don’t initiate or welcome them. Men are the ones with the constant urge to undress and get busy, but women have far more refined sensibilities, hardly any of which involve being naked.

In addition to having a general indifference toward and/or dislike for sex, women take F-O-R-E-V-E-R to orgasm, so much so that the effort required to have frequent, meaningful sex is more trouble than its worth.

I can’t remember which book (or joke) it was, but the analogy a male author used once was that women are like ovens and men are like microwaves. We women need to steep and stew – low and slow – in lavish amounts of relational intimacy, foreplay, and feelings of appreciation and affirmation before we will be “ready” to have sex, whereas men can go from frozen-to-hot-to-finished in less than 5 minutes.

So why is this message wrong?

First, it is clear from Scripture that women were created to desire and enjoy sex just as much as men were. Song of Solomon is a great resource women can turn to for examples of what God intended sexual arousal to look like within the bonds of marriage — for both men and women alike. Solomon’s lover is just as enamored with his body, his touch, and his lovin’ as he is with hers, and what’s more, we are given a very clear representation of longing, desire, passion, and premeditated urges from the woman’s perspective as well as the man’s. Even when they are apart, Solomon’s lover fantasizes about having sex with him, and rightly so…

Which leads me to the second lie older women in the church tell younger Christian women: sex is not enjoyable, so young Christian women need to learn to grin and bear it.

We know from 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 that sex is an expectation in marriage, whether or not one wants to have sex. That is, if we are married, we are expected to have sex. Although Paul does state that his words are not necessarily to be taken as a command, because they are inspired by God we can trust that they are aligned with God’s design for sex within marriage. So that means that sex within marriage should never be an afterthought, should be tended to as often as there is a felt need for it, and that the only reason to abstain from having sex with one’s spouse is for the purpose of serious, purposeful prayer about specific, intense issues. The idea here is that if you are married, not having sex should be the exception, not the rule.

That last paragraph needed to be written because if you are the type of woman who measures her husband’s sexual satisfaction in the frequency of sexual encounters rather than in your and his collective, overall level of sexual fulfillment, then the rule is: have sex with your husband as often as he wants it, whether or not you want to or enjoy sex.

Boy, doesn’t that sound like fun?

No, it doesn’t. And God knows that. That’s why He never intended sex to be something women do out of a sense of duty or obligation. He was wise enough to know that a rule like this needed to be written because, inevitably, women would rebel against pleasing and serving their husbands in every regard, including sex. But in much the same way that God loves a cheerful giver of money, he loves a cheerful lover as well.

God designed the female body to enjoy sex. If you don’t believe me, do a quick google search on the function of the clitoris. It serves but one function in the female anatomy: to provide pleasure and produce orgasms.

Yup. It’s true. We were designed to enjoy sex. We were created by God to feel intense pleasure and, some could argue, even more so than men because women are capable of having multiple orgasms while men are not.

God doesn’t want us having sex with our husbands grudgingly. He doesn’t want us grinning and bearing it out of a sense of duty or obligation. He didn’t design sex to be a chore or a responsibility and we know that because we can see (and feel) that He created us to experience intense pleasure with and because of our husbands.

It is true that sexual stimulation differs from one person to another and that some women take a little longer to orgasm than others. But it is a lie to say that sex is not enjoyable and it is a lie to say that the only way to survive sex in marriage is to grin and bear it.

On its best day, sex is presented to younger women in the church as a means to an end. This leads us to the third lie older women in the church tell younger women about sex: Sex is the best way to get your husband to do what you want him to do.

I cannot tell you how much this lie angers me. I can’t even tell you have often I’ve heard it because I’ve heard it too many times to count. I even heard it just last night.

“You need to give it to him in the bedroom. You have no idea how happy he’ll be to do things for you  if you make him happy in the bedroom. ” “When I have sex with my husband, he can’t wait to do things for me.” “Having sex with my husband puts a magic spell on him — he can’t wait to do things for me right after we’ve had sex.” “If he’s not doing what you asked him to do, just have sex with him.”

I could go on, but I won’t. You get the picture.

Let me be VERY clear: your husband’s not a dog and sex is not a bone.

God gifted sex to husbands and wives as a means of deriving great pleasure, unity, and joy, not as a tool for manipulation in the hands of a bossy wife.

Sex is not an obligation – something you do because you have to not because you want to. Sex is not a tool – a way to get things done. Sex is not currency – a way to pay for having things the way you want them. Sex is not a reward – something you deign to bestow on your husband when he has performed a trick to your satisfaction.

If you think sex is any of those things you have completely misunderstood God’s design for it in your marriage. Your sex life might be in shambles, you and your husband might be sexually unsatisfied, and you might be prone to believing one, two, or all of the lies presented in this post.

But why are these incorrect messages about sex damaging, idolatrous, and sinful?

Because, at their core, they greedily and perpetually worship self.

If you are told that you are not a sexual being, and you believe it, you won’t think it is a sin to withhold sex from your husband. You will think that your husband’s desire for sex is a result of him being the disgusting, insatiable animal he can’t help being, and he needs to get over the fact that he only gets sex as often as you decide he is worthy of having it. You make yourself the gatekeeper of sex in your marriage, and use what little power that fake position gives you to make your husband jump through hoops before you let him in. News flash: that’s horrible. Also, he will resent you for it if he doesn’t already.

Similarly, if you are told that sex is not enjoyable, and you believe it, you will not feel the need to work cooperatively with your husband to create a sex life that is equally enjoyable, stimulating, desirable, and unifying. You will not bother to communicate your fears, worries, disappointments, or questions about sex to your husband and you will resent having to engage in sexual intercourse when you get nothing out of it yourself. If you believe the lie that sex is not enjoyable for women or encourage other women to believe that lie, you are saying that God did not know what He was doing when He designed the female body or when he created the very act of sex. God has very clearly shown us in His Word (and in our bodies) that women should and are able to enjoy sex, so to claim otherwise is a massive lie that cannot be allowed to persist in the church.

Finally, if you have believed the lie that sex is the best way to get your husband to do what you want him to do, please, just stop. I can’t tell you how damaging this particular lie is in marriage. If you feel this way about sex or about your husband, you are debasing him, disrespecting him, dishonoring him, and insulting every noble, honest, brave, good, right, strong, motivating, loving thing that exists within him and you should be ashamed of yourself.

God did not design sex so that you could get your way. Let me say that again a little louder:

GOD DID NOT DESIGN SEX SO THAT YOU COULD GET YOUR WAY.

Sex is sacred. It’s weighty. It’s important. It’s foundational.

Your sex life matters to God. How you think about sex matters to God. How you feel about sex matters to God.

Rather than believing the lie that because you are a woman you are not a sexual being, why not learn about your body and help your husband learn about it too. Figure out how you can emulate Solomon’s lover, both in body and in mind. Figure out what feels good to you. If you don’t already, learn how to fantasize about your husband. Look at his body. Learn how to drool just thinking about it. Learn how to long for his body, for his touch. Teach him how to touch you. Tell him what feels good and gently correct him when he does something that doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to tell him you’d like to try something new. Don’t be afraid to ask him if he’d like to try something new. If both of you consent, it’s not sinful, and its not illegal, by all means – do it! Or try, I should say. It might not be all that successful at first, but try it again and again and again until it’s what you hoped it would be. And if it never pans out, try something else. You get the idea here – sex is supposed to be fun and you are supposed to enjoy it. If you don’t, find out why and figure out how to overcome whatever makes you shy away from it.

At the heart of this message, believe it or not, is hope. I hope each and every woman reading this message is able to experience the exhilarating pleasure God designed sex to produce in her marriage. I hope each and every man reading this message is encouraged to know that his wife is being encouraged to love and enjoy sex. I hope each and every wife reading this message is encouraged to see sex the way God sees it, not the way some older women in the church see it. I hope each and every husband reading this message learns how to pray for his wife in a new and more selfless way. And, if by chance you are not married and reading this message, I hope you carry it with you into your future and remember the most important thing anyone could ever tell you about anything at all: God’s design for your life is perfect, and He is good all the time.

Until Next Time My Friends,

S. Taylor

The Taylor of All Trades

 

 

 

 

 

Clean Babies, Dirty Dishes

I’m a teacher so I have summer’s off. During the school year, I am out of the house roughly three days a week. Although these “away” days don’t afford me the luxury of showering at noon or spending the day in yoga pants if I feel like it, they are still significantly easier than the days I spend being an all-day mom. And without those “away” days, the weeks just sort of melt together in one long string of mommy tasks: feed them, bathe them, pick up after them, play with them, read to them, feed them, discipline them, hug them, wash them, wash their toys, take them outside, feed them, pray for them, talk to them, sit with them, feed them, clean them….and on and on and on it goes.

Well, this week was just another one of those “everyday faithfulness” kind of weeks. Our lives are not exciting. I am not conquering world issues, righting global wrongs, flexing my rhetorically minded intellectual capacity, or fighting crime in a spandex suit during my down time. But I am learning how to be a better wife. How to be a better mother. How to love my calling more, and how to take just as much pride in being a stay-at-home mom as I do in being a college professor.

But you know what? Even the divine gift of loving motherhood can be twisted into something evil by sin.

Just today I woke up thinking, “I’m going to get so much done it’s not even funny!”

But then, because I’m pregnant and couldn’t stomach the smell of the day-old dishes in the sink, and because my infant peed through her diaper and needed an impromptu bath, and because I am one of those “just one wrench in the program and the whole thing gets aborted” types of people (this is a flaw and I know it), my plans were significantly derailed.

And so, before I even began, my super-amazing plans for being extra-mucho productive turned to dust before my very eyes. And all because the baby needed a bath. That might seem like a small thing to most people, but anyone with lower back problems knows that tasks involving squatting, bending, hunching, or lifting constitute a major production.

I cannot tell you how disappointed I was. Disappointed that I hadn’t been able to start my day the way I’d planned. Disappointed that I’d been distracted. Disappointed that the dishes were still dirty. Disappointed in myself for not being the wife and mother I had planned on being. Disappointed that I had failed – again.

But then, I turned around in my seat and saw something, really saw it. Two of the most beautiful, clean, happy, well-fed babies on the planet. And then it happened. The Lord gently, faithfully, and lovingly convicted my spirit.

Clean, happy, and well fed babies.

Clean, happy, and well fed babies.

“Where did you rank your children in your list of priorities today? When were their needs considered in your master plan for success. Who is responsible for placing rigid expectations on you about the cleanliness of your kitchen? Not me. Not your husband. Not your kids. Not your friends and neighbors. Whose will were you planning to accomplish today, yours or Mine?”

And just like that I was brought so very, very low. I had been so prideful, so arrogant. My love of having a clean house had surpassed (or, rather, disregarded) my love for my children. My desire to meet my own set of goals had caused me to lose sight of the most important goal: looking after my children well. My own rigid expectations had caused me to become bitter toward the tasks motherhood had unexpectedly foisted upon me.

But God is a good God, and His correction never lacks comfort. As I repented of my sin, selfishness, and arrogance, the Lord filled me with His grace, peace, and joy. And He granted me a new perspective: His. Children are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3-5), not a burden, not an inconvenience, not a chore. Children are a joy. That’s the truth. Despite how I feel about them, to consider them to be anything other than a blessing is to contradict God. And I don’t know about you, but I never want to live in that kind of mentality for long.

Praise the Lord for being quick to show us the error of our ways and for offering us immediate comfort, forgiveness, and peace when we repent of them. God is good all the time, and for this I will praise and thank him all day long!

Until next time my friends,

S. Taylor, The Taylor of All Trades

Let’s Be Honest

This may look like a mountain, but it's really just a mole hill.

This may look like a mountain, but it’s really just my resident mole hill.

Can I take a moment to just be honest? I started this blog because I truly love to do it all. Or, rather, I truly love to TRY it all. I’m not an expert at anything, really, and it’s taken me a long time to come to grips with that. But you know what? That’s who I am. I can be super steady (I’ve got two degrees in one field, for Pete’s sake!), or I can have the attention span of a gnat (I think I’ve started about 100 journals in my life and can you guess how many I’ve kept faithfully?).

The truth is, I’m curious and I’m a learner. So what does that mean? That means that most everything in my life is actually a mole hill, whether or not I perceive it to be a mountain. My husband is helping me to respond to my mole hills with more ease and less rigidity (as one ought to respond to  mole hills), because I can often treat piles of clean laundry, like the one pictured above, as if they are my arch nemeses, when, really, they are just big piles of clean laundry that need to be folded, put away, and, hopefully, not re-erected. I mean, they could be piles of dirty laundry, right?

Whatever they are, it’s important for me to show them to you. Why? because I feel that it’s very important for bloggers to represent themselves honestly. Writing this post will take me about a half an hour by the time I’m done with it. Others will take much longer. Why do I point that out? Because the tag line for my blog is, “Doing it all, all the time.”

What I mean is that I do little bits of everything on a daily basis, and I love it! But what that also means is that I don’t do little bits of lots of others things precisely BECAUSE I dabble so much.

One of my undergraduate professors said that all of life’s choices are a trade off. To choose to do one thing is simultaneously to choose to not do something else. So, right now, instead of folding my laundry, I am writing a blog post about not folding my laundry. The two are mutually exclusive. So when I dabble in this or that, sometimes other things don’t get done.

I’m not saying X is better than Y, but what I am saying is that I am not superwoman. I cannot “do it all, all the time,” and I want you to remember that. Social/informative media has a dangerous way of portraying its creators as perfect, excellent, diligent master minds, and can sometimes make readers feel inadequate, under-productive, or just plain dissatisfied with their lives.

Please don’t let my blog do that to you! Please don’t read my posts and see anything other than a woman who has her fingers in every pie she’s ever pulled out of the oven simply because she can’t wait long enough to let it cool and because the chef always gets the first taste.

I love my life, and I love that I get to do so many things so often, but if you think I don’t have both mountains and mole hills setting up camp in my living room, you’re dead wrong. My life looks just like yours. Today, tomorrow, and everyday.

Until next time, my friends!

S. Taylor, The Taylor of All Trades