for my husband; 2 february 2018
for my husband; 2 february 2018
for my husband; 1 february 2018
Over the past year I’ve learned a ton about eating healthy. I can’t claim to eat wisely all the time, but I do try to stay away from certain, harmful things just in general and one of those things is processed food (i.e. food with ingredients I can’t pronounce).
Enter: Lavash bread.
A Mediterranean flat bread with a long history, Lavash bread usually only contains three ingredients: flour, water, and salt. I buy mine from our local produce market.
When made correctly, the final product is a flat, sturdy, oblong bread that is perfect for wraps, and this wrap is one of my favorites.
Here’s what you’ll need…
Unfold a lavash wrap on a flat surface and set aside until you are ready to assemble the wrap.
Open and drain a 5oz can of tuna. You can use any protein you’d like her (chicken, beef, pork, tofu), but I think tuna works best in this recipe. Add the tuna, mayo, salt, and pepper to a small mixing bowl and set aside.
Break off small pieces of cheese by gently sticking the sharp end of a knife through the rough edges of the wedge of parmesan cheese. If the chunks are still too large, cut them down until they are in about 1/2″ around.
Mix it Up
Add the cheese and pine nuts to the bowl of tuna and mix until all ingredients are fully combined.
Layer it Up
To assemble the wrap, just layer it up!
First the tuna mixture….
Then the lettuce…
Then the avocado.
Wrap it Up
All that’s left is for you to roll up your wrap, making sure to pull the ends in at both sides.
Then cut it in half and chow down!
I had this wrap for lunch today and it was AH-MAZING! Here’s to the yummy use of Lavash bread and the variations of this wrap ya’ll will come up with on your own!
Until Next Time My Friends,
The Taylor of All Trades
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.
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.
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!
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,
The Taylor of All Trades
I love green veggies. I mean, I REALLY love green veggies. My two favorite green veggies are asparagus and broccoli…add them to an omelette and you’ve got heaven on a plate. Plus, this particular omelette has got it all…veggies, protein, healthy fats, good carbs…yup, it’s a winner!
Now, this recipe is for a single serving omelette, but you could easily turn it into a party-pleasing frittata or quiche.
So, what do we need?
Tools and supplies:
1. Prep and gather all ingredients.
2. Melt nob of butter over medium heat in non-stick pan.
3. Sautée mushrooms with salt (to taste, I use a pinch) until browned, stirring occasionally (between 5-10 minutes. I like mine really crispy, so I let them go the full 10 minutes).
Remember, mushrooms go through three distinct phases when they’re being cooked…
Slimy (releasing all their moisture)
Spongy (moisture is cooking off, slightly browned, but not yet crunchy-crispy)
Crispy (very little moisture left, edges are nice and crunchy)
At this point, if you need to add more moisture to finish sautéing the rest of the ingredients, go ahead and do so. I use 1-2 Tsp extra virgin olive oil for the flavor, but you can use any kind of fat you’d like.
4. Add your greens and a pinch of salt and pepper to the pan and stir until fully coated and al dente (about 2 minutes, longer if you like your greens soft)
5. Add your pine nuts to the pan and stir until fully combined (like, 30 seconds).
6. Add your eggs (or egg whites) to the pan (try to get even coverage) and give it one last pinch of salt and pepper.
NOTE: I prefer egg whites since there are 3 other types of fats in this recipe.
Let your omelette cook through (about 4-6 minutes), then flip it over. It will only need a minute or two on that second side.
7. Plate up your omelette and add the finishing touches.
Mozzarella cheese, and…
And as a final, optional (but highly recommended) step, have your 3 year-old inspect your handiwork before you dig in. I promise the compliment she gives you will make your omelette taste even more divine!
And that’s it!
I’m not exaggerating when I say I could eat this omelette every single day of the week (because I practically do, guys, like, literally). It’s hearty and clean and, ohmuhgosh, SO.STINKIN.GOOD.
Until Next Time My Friends,
The Taylor of All Trades
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:
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,
The Taylor of All Trades
My story is not unlike the story of many women. The pain of losing a baby is not unique to me. I am not the first woman to miscarry and I won’t be the last.
But just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s easy. And just because I share this story, doesn’t mean it isn’t painful to recount. I would guess there are many women who still mourn the lives that never were, and that’s probably not something that ever really goes away. Not if you believe, as I do, that human life is a miracle every single time it happens – regardless of size or age.
Psalm 139: 13-16 provides a beautiful explanation of why miscarriage is such a sorrowful event:
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
When we lose a child to miscarriage, we are losing a whole person. A whole, eternal soul whose earthly days, although few, have been numbered from the beginning of time.
So even though miscarriage occurs quite often (in 10% of all known miscarriages for women under 40 and up to 33% of all known pregnancy in women over 40, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), it is a loss that is just as real as the loss of any other loved life.
So if you’ve lost a child to miscarriage and thought – even for a second – that your sadness is illegitimate, just know that it’s not. If Scripture is True (and it always is) the gift of life is a divine miracle that is preciously near to the heart of Almighty God. In Jeremiah 1:5 He states, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” God’s eternal plan – which was written in eternity past and unfolds before us according to the perfection of His timing – always included the life of your precious baby, even if that child never grew larger than a lima bean.
That was the case with our most recent pregnancy. We were so excited to welcome our fourth child into the world and were eagerly anticipating the blessings and challenges that newborn lives represent. As far as pregnancy detection goes, I usually know VERY early on that I am expecting because I am extremely regular. In addition to a consist monthly cycle, I had been taking pregnancy tests for a couple months because I knew that we were unofficially trying. As with all my pregnancies, I found out that I was expecting VERY early – around week four, just as I was anticipating the start of my next period. When it didn’t come, I knew I was pregnant. I bought a shirt that said, “THIS IS MY LAST ONE, SERIOUSLY,” and I was elated to be able to “gift” the news to my husband on his birthday. He took the news…um, well, the way any hard-working-man-who’se-hardly-ever-home-and-already-has-three-children-under-five would. A little shocked, a little worried, and a lot happy.
Like clockwork, I began to “feel” pregnant two weeks later. Nausea, raw meat aversions, increased appetite, exhaustion and fatigue, the works. As far as I could tell, this pregnancy was progressing exactly as it was supposed to. I’d had my pregnancy confirmed by my doctor and was excitedly awaiting my first official prenatal appointment and ultrasound which were scheduled to occur at around 10 weeks gestation.
But a few days before that appointment I turned to my husband and said, “I think something’s wrong.” As I thought about it, I realized I had stopped feeling pregnant. My nausea had disappeared and I hadn’t been feeling nearly as tired as I usually did at this point in my previous pregnancies. But Andrew, ever the rationalist, said, “Don’t worry. We won’t know what’s going on until we see the doctor.”
And that’s how we found out we’d lost our baby. Since it was our first prenatal appointment for this pregnancy, when we saw the doctor, he asked us the normal battery of questions – When was the start of your last period? How many pregnancies have you had? Any complications with your previous pregnancies or deliveries? And so on. After he’d finished asking all of his questions, he finished with, “anything you’d like to add?” And so I told him that I was concerned because I had been spotting the entire pregnancy – which was very abnormal for me; I’d never spotted with any of my other pregnancies – and that I thought something might be wrong.
My first clue should have been that he ordered an immediate ultrasound. Usually I have to wait two-three weeks before an opening, but 20 minutes after we saw the doctor, were in the ultrasound room. I’ll never forget how beautiful I thought that little alien was. All head and torso, with the smallest, sweetest little arm and leg buds. Just a perfect, precious person that was mine. My heart was so full of joy and o, how much I loved that child already. Andrew was sitting with our other three at the foot of the bed, and the only thing written in his features was pride. A life had been granted by God and we were ecstatic.
But our joy didn’t last long. I waited for the tech to let us hear the baby’s heart beat, but instead, she asked, “And you started your last period August 6th?” I thought it was an odd question because tech’s usually receive that information from the doctor, but I said, “Yes, the 6th.”
Her response should have been my second clue. “Hmmm,” she said. “The baby is measuring a little small for 10 weeks. More like eight weeks. I’m going to get these images upstairs and see what the doctor wants you to do.”
That should have been my third clue. Seeing doctors quickly is not our provider’s strong suit, and we’ve never seen the same doctor twice in one day within an hour’s time. But that day we did. The tech told us that the doctor wanted to see us immediately, so we headed back upstairs.
When he came in, the first thing he said was, “I have bad news about the baby. It’s small. It measures at eight weeks, but it should be measuring at 10.” Looking back, I feel like such a dunst. When he said that, I immediately thought he was going to tell me that there was something wrong with the way the baby was growing. I somehow thought he was going to tell us that they were able to see developmental abnormalities or physical handicaps or something like that. Not once, not even for a second, did I think he was telling me that my baby was dead. But he was.
“The tech wasn’t able to detect a heartbeat, and because of the size, we can tell the baby stopped growing two weeks ago.”
He kept talking, but I couldn’t figure out what he was telling me. “What?” I thought. “What is he saying? I…I don’t understand what he means.”
And then the hammer dropped. Suddenly I put two and two together and realized that someone whose heart wasn’t beating couldn’t be alive. This baby that we’d prayed for, that we loved so much already, that was so very wanted and precious and joyfully expected, just wasn’t going to come.
My heart was broken.
The doctor kept talking about what had to happen next. Natural passing. Medicated passing. Surgery.
I wasn’t listening. I was crying.
I think he realized we couldn’t process what he was saying, so he said he’d give us a minute to think and talk and then come back.
When he left Andrew and I sat in silence and cried.
We named our baby, Shiloh Lael, meaning, “Gift of God, Belonging to God.” That little life had been gifted to us, but the Lord chose to grant that eternal soul admittance into Glory before ever having spent one moment outside my womb.
We were devastated, but we were grateful. It was a stark reminder that none of our children belong to us. They all belong to God every moment of their lives, both their earthly and their eternal ones.
It doesn’t mean we don’t or wouldn’t deeply mourn the loss of them. Rather, it means we rest in the knowledge that every moment of their waking lives is intimately known by the great I AM, and we can trust that His will is best for them, whether or not it causes us pain along the way.
And, in this case, our pain was complete.
The days following the death of our baby were filled with fervent prayer. I had decided against a D&C because something about it rubbed my conscience the wrong way. Even though Shiloh was dead, the procedure seemed too much like an abortion for me to feel comfortable undergoing it.
And so I “hit the books.” I researched every alternative method to a D&C available to me, and settled on natural labor inducers, such as vitamin C, cinnamon, and intense physical activity.
I’ll never forget how much like real labor my miscarriage was.
I was standing in the kitchen making dinner for my three other children when my water broke.
Liquid rushed down my leg and pooled around my feet. And, because I was miscarrying, blood began to pool on the floor as well.
Not knowing what to do, I made my way upstairs and ran a bath. I called my husband and he made arrangements to come home. Since it was going to be a little while before he arrived, he called our good friend Julia and she rushed over to help with the kids while we waited for Andrew.
Within minutes the contractions started.
Now, I’ve had three babies, so I know what real labor pain feels like. It’s the most hideous thing on the planet. This was not like that. This was real, but it was significantly less intense than the kinds of labor you go into when you are birthing a 7 pound baby. On a scale from one to 10, if live births are an 11, this pain was closer to a 4. It was painful, but it was manageable.
Over the next 5 hours I contracted and bled and collected every single piece of tissue I could. I wanted to see, to really see, my baby. I wanted to hold Shiloh in my hand and know that I had done everything in my power to keep my baby whole. More than anything, I wanted closure.
It never came.
Although I did collect a great deal of tissue, nothing I collected looked like a baby.
When we took the tissue to the doctor the next day, he assured us that the white, brain-matter-looking tissue was our baby.
He explained that since it had been three weeks (by this point) since the baby had died, Shiloh’s body had begun to break down already and wouldn’t have been recognizable as a baby this late in the miscarriage process.
We had no other choice. We had to trust him.
What happened next is the reason I am writing this post.
After showing us exactly which tissues would have been Shiloh, our doctor turned toward the trashcan, opened it, and, as if our baby was nothing more than a soiled exam glove, moved to throw Shiloh away.
I immediately stood up and yelled, “wait!”
I explained we wanted to keep the baby and was surprised when he asked me why.
Did I really have to explain why burying our baby was a significant part of this process?
Shiloh was a real person. Someone who was once alive and now was dead. We were going to honor Shiloh’s death just as we did the passing of any other loved one. Shiloh wasn’t trash. Shiloh was a human being, our fourth child, an eternal being whom God knew before the very foundations of the earth were laid.
That’s what our sorrow was all about. When a child is conceived, a whole person comes into existence, regardless of how many earthly days that life has been granted.
We were grieving the days we didn’t have with this precious little life. We would never be able to kiss our baby’s forehead or count 10 perfect fingers and 10 perfect toes. We would never hear our baby laugh or watch our baby take a wobbly first step. We would never dry our baby’s tears or encourage the dreaming of dreams. Our baby wasn’t called to spend time on this earth and we were grieving all the moments that were never meant to be.
That kind of grief doesn’t just go away. It never just disappears.
Sometimes, when I’ve had a chance to just be still, my mind turns toward Heaven and I think of Shiloh…of how much I love my precious baby and how much I am looking forward to seeing him or her when God calls me Home to Glory.
I am convinced I will know my Shiloh when we meet in Heaven and that the part of me that is Shiloh’s mom will finally be made whole.
But even if that isn’t true. Even if Heaven isn’t about wholeness, that doesn’t change the fact that God is good all the time and His will is perfect in all things.
Miscarrying Shiloh was one of the hardest trails God has ever asked Andrew and me to face. It brought a sadness to our hearts that will likely resurface many times throughout our lives.
But even in our sadness, we see God’s goodness. We don’t know why Shiloh was called home so soon and we don’t know how we will survive another devastation like this, should we be called to it.
But we do know one thing: God’s grace is sufficient.
Because of our loss, our understanding of God’s character has been deepened. We have found an endless vault of peace from which to draw, and our dependence on the Lord has increased in ways we never could have imagined.
Our love for and understanding of one another has matured and our hearts have experienced unity in a way that is altogether new.
Miscarrying Shiloh has brought us to the foot of the cross, and in that we are able to take joy.
We serve a loving Master. One Whose grace is immeasurable and in Whose perfect will we take refuge.
We can’t think of anyone more perfect to care for our precious Shiloh than the One who loved our baby first and wholly.
He who cares for Shiloh cares for us, and by that Truth, our hearts are mended.
Until Next Time My Friends,
The Taylor of All Trades
I’ve been married to my best friend for eight years. He’s just the most amazing man on the planet. He’s the calm to my crazy, the quiet to my loud, and the anchor to my sails. Being that we serve a perfect Savior, it’s no wonder we’re perfect for each other. It’s a match made in Heaven…literally!
But that doesn’t mean we have a perfect marriage. Not by a long shot.
The past eight years have been marked by many, MANY trails and what sometimes feels like insurmountable obstacles.
Those too are a blessing, trust me.
Of course, it doesn’t always feel that way, certainly not in the throes of conflict. And believe me, we’ve had (and continue to have) our share of those!
We’re sooooo different. Like, really, super, mega, massively different. In fact, when people meet one of us first, they are usually shocked to find out we belong to each other. That’s how different we are.
So how do two people who are vastly, vastly different make it work?
It’s kind of a hard question to answer because it’s just not that simple. But, if you forced me to choose just one answer, I’d say it boils down to transparency, which can be defined as the willingness to engage in open communication for the sake of mutual understanding, relational growth, and increased intimacy.
You see, as much as we’d love to think it’s possible, there is no real life Edward Cullen. That is, no one in existence can claim to benefit from relational telepathy. Hard as we try, much as we’d like to, there’s just no possible way to read each others’ minds.
Wouldn’t that be super helpful, though? No, actually it wouldn’t, and here’s why: having to talk about things, having to work hard to understand one another, to be honest when we’d rather avoid conflict, to listen when we’d rather speak…all of this does two things in marriage: it encourages selflessness and builds trust.
TRANSPARENCY: AN ACT OF SELFLESSNESS
Although transparency absolutely has the capacity to be riddled with selfish motivations and consequences, when applied for the sake of clarity, unity, and understanding, it is, in fact, an act of selflessness.
How much easier would it be to keep our mouths shut when we are displeased, clam up when we feel cornered, or avoid topics altogether because they make us uncomfortable?
Super easy, but not at all helpful.
Your thoughts, feelings, and perspectives are unique to you. Without expression, they have no capacity to be understood by anyone else. How you perceive a situation will go utterly unchecked if you choose not to explain that perception to someone else.
It goes without saying that keeping yourself to yourself in marriage is a recipe for disaster. Often used as a punishment, giving your spouse the silent treatment is just another way of raging against the need to be transparent with them. You’d rather punish them for not understanding you than help them understand you.
Perhaps you’ve grown weary of explaining yourself. Perhaps you feel you’ve said everything you think you should or could say on the subject. If the issue keeps coming up, though, that’s a pretty good indication of the fact that your spouse isn’t benefiting from a clear understanding of your perspective. Either that or your spouse is just plain mean, which happens too.
But for now let’s assume they don’t understand you as well as they should. It’s then that transparency, both the expression and reception of it, becomes vitally important.
Even if you’re afraid you’ll look stupid, or cry, or sound petty, or show just how selfish your little heart really is, it’s YOUR job to make sure your spouse knows who you are.
In that way, transparency is an act of selflessness because it is invitation to accountability. Your spouse is the person who spends the most time with you, sees you at your best and worst, knows things about you that no one else does, and has promised to spend the rest of his or her life with you – even though you don’t deserve it. If you can’t be honest with your spouse, who can you be honest with?
The proper response to transparency should be a willingness to engage the content and a commitment to (lovingly) challenge anything residing in the teller’s heart that doesn’t honor God.
As mentioned above, transparency involves both the sharing and receiving of unique information. To share it when you would rather keep it to yourself, and to engage it when you would rather ignore it are both acts of selflessness in marriage.
There should be nothing you don’t share with your spouse. Nothing it all. Your spouse is your first line of defense against the kinds of self-centered delusion that excuse sin and encourage quiet and/or obstinate rebellion against God.
TRANSPARENCY: THE FOUNDATION OF TRUST
Transparency plays a second key role in the marriage relationship: building trust.
To trust someone is to feel you understand the way they view themselevs, others, and the world, and to build a strong sense of predictability in your relationship with them.
That might sound utterly unromantic to you, but it’s a very important aspect of marriage. I’m sure we all know people who constantly shock us. We think they will respond one way and they respond in a totally unexpected way. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with their changing moods, fickle decisions, and self-centered defenses of childish behavior.
I don’t know about you, but being married to someone like that would kill me. In marriage, we need to be able to define and rely on our spouse’s character so that we can build a life around it. And the most effective marriages are those built on Christ-like characters. That’s why it’s so important to ever strive for Christ-likeness. The more like Christ we become, the more our spouses can trust us with the myriad decisions, challenges, victories, trails, and blessings of marriage. And transparency goes a long way in ensuring spouses can trust one another with these things.
To willingly engage in and be receptive to transparency is to offer yourself to your spouse in a way no one else can. Each time you share your thoughts, feelings, and perspectives with your spouse, you lay one more brick down in the foundation of your lives together. The more bricks you lay, the stronger the foundation. The stronger the foundation, the better able you are to withstand disaster.
An important side note about trust: there should never be anyone you seek to build more trust with than your spouse. I’m sorry if this statement seems out of place, but it needs to be said. Building a foundation of trust with anyone other than your spouse is the first step adulterers take. They either don’t like the person they’ve married and so begin confiding in someone else, or they have decided it’s just too hard to build up trust with their spouse so they start building a foundation of trust with someone who makes it easier for them to do so.
It can’t be said too many times: transparency in marriage is grueling work. Sometimes it’s exhausting, sometimes it’s painful, sometimes it’s at the heart of conflict, sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth it, but, oh my friends, it sooooo is!
Transparency – open, honest communication and gracious listening – is the foundation of any successful marriage, especially when you’ve married someone who is enormously different from you.
From joys, to fears, to sex, to parenting, to money, to conflict, to Scripture, to prayer, to fun…there should be nothing you don’t talk to your spouse about, NOTHING.
Of course, timing and tact are key components to successfully transparent interactions, but if you are hiding behind them and using them as an excuse not to engage your spouse, you’re not helping the situation. In fact, you’re doing quite the opposite.
What will you choose, transparency or selfishness? It’s you’re marriage so it’s your choice. But if you ask me, selflessness and trust in marriage seems like a pretty fair trade if all I have to do is practice the art of honesty.
Trust me, you won’t regret it!
Until Next Time My Friends,
The Taylor of All Trades