Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What is freedom, really?

I've got plans for a fashion post, a re-cap of funny and memorable little boy quotes, and a review of our water filtration system in the near future.... you know, the normal random array of things I talk about here. But if you know me well, or have read this blog for very long, then you know that Jesus is the most important thing in my life. Because of my heart to love Jesus and love others, and because of my life motto: "to speak the truth in love," I simply can't remain silent on the recent developments in our nation. My goal here is not to pass judgment, it's not to try to hate on anyone, it's not to try to be "right". I simply want to explore what freedom really is, how it is meant to function in our nation, and whether or not the Supreme Court ruling really did enhance or restrict personal freedoms in our country. If you are not cool with hearing both sides of the coin as far as people's opinions go, or if discussing morality and politics isn't your cup of tea, then this post is not for you and you can feel free to skip over it.

If you decide to keep reading, one more thing I'd like you to know... The issue of homosexuality is not some far and distant thing that exists outside the bubble of what my life is exposed to. It is something that affects people very close, people I grew up with, people that have visited my church. (And can I just say, I was so incredibly proud of the way my church family was intentionally loving and kind in that particular case.) I am not just throwing these lofty beliefs out at a crowd that is nameless to me. There are dearly loved people, people whose names I know well, standing in that crowd. It is out of love, out of a belief that there is a better way, that there is true freedom to be found for them that I share what I do.

So first let's talk about freedom. I have read many articles proudly proclaiming that in the ruling that homosexual marriage is now legal in all 50 states "love won" and there is now "freedom and equality" for the homosexual community. It sounds really good, right? Who doesn't want love to win? Who doesn't want freedom and equality for all? But here is my question: What is freedom outside the bounds of morality? As I have thought and thought on this question I have come up with one answer. Freedom outside the bounds of morality is destruction. Let me explain to you what I mean. Let's start with something we probably all agree on. Is murder right or wrong? We would all agree it is wrong. But why? Because morality dictates that it is. If one person wants to kill someone else, we limit the freedom of the killer in order to protect the freedom of the victim. It's something society does all the time, we just don't think about it often. Our freedoms are limited by what is morally right on a regular basis. If a man wants to molest a little child, do we give him the freedom to do so in our culture or do we limit his freedom to do whatever he wants because what he wants is morally wrong and would actually infringe upon the rights of the child? Ok, so you're probably asking, what do murder and molestation have to do with homosexuality? Well, according to the morality of our culture in the not so distant past, they were all three considered morally wrong. Our great-grandparents would not have believed a day would come in which homosexuality was not only accepted, but legalized and celebrated. Maybe you feel this is a great breakthrough, a necessary change, or progression to be celebrated... what if in 100 years something that you never would have believed is being legalized in order to give "freedom" to a group of people that right now are doing something our culture believes is morally wrong? There are religions that believe in child sacrifice. The literally burn children alive. We all shudder. What if one such group began gaining strength and numbers and popularity and pushing to have their practices legalized? Is their "freedom" to sacrifice children worth the price that the children would pay? Absolutely not. We would agree that their freedom should be limited in order to protect the children.

So here is my next question: What is morality defined by? Is it defined by popular cultural opinion at the time? If so, the scenario I mentioned above could actually be a future possibility. Or is morality defined by something outside ourselves, something unchanging, something steadfast, something that protects the true freedoms and rights of all people and has been tested over time and proven to actually do just that? If you are wondering if I'm talking about God's Word, the Bible, that is exactly what I am talking about. This has been a nation that has been free for all because of the fact that it was built on Biblical principles. Christianity in it's true intent is the one religion that does not force others to convert to it, the one that respects and honors people with different beliefs, the one that allows people to practice their religion however they wish as long as it is not bringing harm to others. (I am not saying that people acting in the name of Jesus haven't mis-represented its true intent in the past, they have.) The more we stray from the morality set forth in the Bible, the more true freedom will be lost. This is not the first time we have strayed from it as a country, sadly, we stray more and more and further and further all the time. We are beginning to believe the lie that to give freedom to all is to allow them to bring harm to others if that is their wish.... abortion is the perfect example of this. You may say I am crazy, the Bible should have nothing to do with dictating morality, and you actually like the idea that the culture and popular opinion at the time dictates the morality of the age. Here's a practical example to show you just how unreliable and ridiculous that ideology is: How about if you and I were standing face to face, and I felt like slapping you across the face, for no reason. Should I slap you? According to you, no. But if I really want to, according to me, yes. So it's tied, one to one. But what if the person standing next to me thinks I should slap you too? Now it's two to one. Popular opinion says I should slap you in your face. Is there a morality outside of us that gives us a reliable answer to this problem? Well, yes, in the Bible it says to treat others the way you would want to be treated (Luke 6:31). If I were the one about to be slapped for no reason my morality would be shouting that I shouldn't be too. The Bible also says that murder is wrong (Matthew 5:21). It also says that it would be better for someone that harms a child to have a millstone tied around their neck and be dropped to the bottom of the sea (Matthew 18:6). And it says that homosexuality is wrong(1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10).
One more thing... it is a popular belief in our culture today that all truth is relative. That morality is relative. That what is truth for you might not be truth for another person. No one seems to realize that this is a self defeating way of thinking. The phrase "all truth is relative" is either mutually exclusive of itself or mutually inclusive. If it excludes itself as the one truth that is true, then it is self negating, because then all truth is not relative, as it holds itself as a truth that is not. If it includes itself in it's own statement, then sometimes truth is relative, and sometimes truth is not, again defeating itself. Truth and morality are not relative things. They are concrete. If they can be changed on a whim, then all of life is uncertain, you are never safe or protected from another person's sin, and you have no foundation on which to stand if you are violated by someone.

Ok, so what does all this have to do with homosexual marriage being legalized? Marriage and homosexuality are two non-compatible words. A homosexual couple was not made for each other anatomically. They cannot re-produce and will never be able to become a family unit on their own. A male & male soul or a female & female soul were not created to complete each other in the way a male & female soul were. Marriage is a Biblical concept. If two people who believe they are homosexual wanted to touch each other in intimate ways no one in this country was stopping them, even though they were harming themselves by partaking in that lifestyle. But to take it so far as to want the recognition of marriage, a union that was not ever designed for them, is absolutely ridiculous. Marriage will always belong to a man and a woman, no matter what a homosexual couple calls itself, no matter what a court decrees. They may reap the benefits of filing joint taxes now, having a joint insurance plan, etc. but they are not and never will be what marriage was designed for. Now that our country has done away with the original definition of marriage there is no telling where it will stop. As Franklin Graham said, "With all due respect to the court, it did not define marriage, and therefore is not entitled to re-define it." If two best friends of the same gender want the legal benefits of marriage, but don't touch each other intimately because they are straight, are they being discriminated against because they are not gay? If so, then anyone who wants to, regardless of the way they express their love for each other, whether it is sexual or not, should be allowed to get a marriage license. If three, or four, or five guys want to get married can they? Some people are probably fine with this, but really, want kind of legal nightmare will it be when twelve or fourteen or twenty people want to get married, they are all filing taxes together, all on the same insurance plan and then some want divorces? Maybe none of this concerns you. But what if, in the name of love, someone wants to marry a child? What if a large group of people who all prefer to express themselves sexually on children get together and fight for their "rights"? I know this is illegal now because our current cultural morality protects the innocence of children. But what if a day comes when the desires of this large group of adults become more fought for than the rights of the small children? What if that group of adults claims they "love" those children? If morality is an evolutionary thing, this could one day be deemed ok. You might not know it, but there is a movement where pedophiles are claiming that this is their "orientation," and are beginning to push for rights. Once you re-define marriage and take it out of the context it was always meant to operate in (between one man and one woman), the sky is the limit with how ridiculous "marriages" can begin to look. I believe that those who live a homosexual lifestyle are usually people who are deeply hurt. My heart aches to see them set free. The legalization of their sin only further entraps them, and in my love for their souls I grieve for them. It is because I love these people, because I love this country, that I cannot remain silent. You understand, right? Please don't call me un-loving. It is because of my love that I must speak. How can I remain silent when I see priceless souls walking a path to destruction?

True love has a definition, it is found in 1 Corinthians 13 and the person of Jesus Christ. I am absolutely positive that Jesus would have been friends with people who were homosexual. He would have gone out of His way to talk with them, to show love to them. But He would not have left them as He found them. Just as the prostitute repented of her lifestyle after encountering Jesus, and the taxpayer who stole repented of his, just as so many more who were living lifestyles of sin changed their ways at the experience of the person of Jesus, I believe He would have lovingly called homosexuals to a higher way of life. One that brought them life to the full, and not pre-mature death.


If you wonder why I believe that homosexuality is harmful to those that participate in it as a lifestyle, you can read this article or this article or this article, amoung many. All you have to do is goodle "why is homosexuality harmful?" for a plethora of information. I could not bring myself to write about the very heart breaking physical consequences that come from a homosexual lifestyle, and I caution you if you are going to read these articles, as they are quite descriptive of exactly what a homosexual lifestyle entails and why it is so dangerous, both to the individuals who participate and to our society as a whole. I will say this: the Bible forbids sexual practices that cause harm to the human body as we were not designed to function in that way. It is not to limit us, but to protect us that these boundaries are in place. Break the boundaries, and there are serious, measurable consequences.

"Freedom is not the ability to do whatever you want. Freedom is the ability to choose to do what is right."



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Summer Capsule Wardrobe for my Drew bug

I've done a few of these posts in the past, where I show you a capsule of everything I bought Drew for one season. (I show Drew's clothes because he is the only one I am buying everything for, Isaiah and Jaden are getting hand me downs with a few new addition or some things to replace what's totally worn out) It's a little late this year, I always do their spring/summer shopping at the beginning of April, but I just didn't get around to sharing until now. Besides just showing each item I bought this time I also show all the different ways he can wear one pair of shorts to give an idea of how you can really make a small wardrobe go far.
 
In case you aren't familiar with my summer shopping list, here it is again:
5 t-shirts
3 pairs shorts
3 tank tops
2 pairs of gym shorts
2 dressy shirts
A bathing suit
2 pairs of pajamas
sandals
slip on shoes
(sunglasses if the ones from the year before are broken or lost)
 
Here are his five t-shirts, with the addition of the sixth with the dinosaurs on it from Mommom:
 
 
I bought him dark gray, denim and seersucker shorts and then cut off an old pair of brown pants we already had to make another pair for him: 


Here are his three tank tops (some were purchased way on sale at the end of last summer and saved til this year):
And his two pairs of gym shorts:
These are his two button downs (he wore the green one for Easter and the red one is great for summer or through the fall and winter and has sleeves that can be buttoned up or rolled down):
I bought his bathing suit on sale at the end of last summer and just re-used his rash guard from last year with it:
And as per tradition, Drew picked out his own pajamas. He chose a dinosaur pack this time. Of course :) 
Flip flops and slip ons: (and yes, the sandals were new and have already gotten that much wear)
 
Ok, so just for fun, I thought I'd show you some of the different outfits you can make just with one pair of shorts. I just randomly chose the dark gray, but I could make just as many using any of the other pairs.
 
He could wear the gray shorts with either of these tank tops and flip flops, and sunglasses on kids are always my favorite: 
 
Maybe my favorite combo, I love this light gray t-shirt with the dark gray pocket, the gray shorts, and his slip on shoes: 
Either of these striped t-shirts is great with the gray shorts and flip flops: 
And I love this vintage looking t with them as well: 
Drew specifically chose the tiger shirt and loves it, so this would probably be his favorite combo: 
 
So there are seven different outfits with one pair of shorts.
 
The only t-shirt I wouldn't put with them is the dark gray V-neck. That one looks great with the denim or the seersucker shorts though. Here it is with the seersucker two different ways:
 

So with a little layering even the same t-shirt and shorts can have a totally different look. 
 
I've said it before, but when it comes to dressing my boys, less is more for me. I don't have the mental capacity to remember a million different choices for all three of them. Having everything be a little on the simple side and the fact that it all fits in one drawer is so helpful for me. And because most things are all interchangeable means that even if I need to do the laundry there is most likely still something that can be worn together left in the drawer.
 
I've also explained before, but I like to buy new and quality things for Drew since all three boys were born at the same time of year and whatever I get will be getting handed down through two more boys. Pretty much everything you see here was bought at gap during their 40% off friends and family sale. A few things came from the Carter's outlet, and one tank was from the Children's Place outlet.  Most of the time I am not replacing anything that's worn out until the clothes get to Jaden, I just add in a new t-shirt or two for Isaiah.
 
Anyway, if you have little boys, I hope this post is helpful for you!!
 
 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

on staying vulnerable, even when it hurts.

There's this one New Year's goal I set for myself... it's been the most difficult and the most fulfilling at the same time.

It's keeping myself vulnerable to my husband. No matter how I'm feeling.

Somewhere along the timeline of my life, in more places than one, I felt the sting of rejection. I'm sure not near what some people have experienced, but still it hurt. From the time I was a little girl all the way through high school, I never felt that I quite belonged anywhere outside of my family. A private elementary school, the church I grew up in, eventually public middle and high school those beliefs of not belonging grew stronger and stronger. (My family was amazing, and I am so thankful for them, and my parents always encouraged me and prayed with me, they loved me through the hardest things.) Girls can be mean sometimes, and maybe they are really just fearing rejection too, but I reacted to the rejection in a typical way. I built walls around my heart. Through middle school the verse I repeated in my head the most often was "love your enemies, and pray for those who hurt you..." It felt like my purpose was to love the ones who were mean to me. By high school I told myself I didn't need anyone to be my friend, I would be a friend to other people and expect nothing back, that way I wouldn't be disappointed. (I'm sure I wasn't a very good friend to anyone with that mentality, always protecting myself, never really letting anyone in, but I didn't realize that at the time.) There was a boy who pursued me the beginning of my freshmen year that was very authentic and free in sharing his heart and feelings with me, and it scared me out of my mind when I thought about letting my own walls down, so I backed away from that relationship and instead veered toward one in which I was treated in a way that was familiar to me: competition, rejection, manipulation, jealousy... I spent two years in that relationship further emphasizing the building of my walls and the idea that I could be in a relationship where I only gave and didn't want or need anything back. And it sucked. (Please know, I am not blaming anyone, and I would guess some people didn't even know the way things hurt me. I was a kid and a teenager  in relationships with other kids and teenagers and I processed in my immature mind and I kept things to myself that maybe I could have spoken out and dealt with. The Lord has used every circumstance to shape and mold me, and I am thankful for all that has taken place in my life because it ultimately lead me to Him. Also would like to say- there has been mending, forgiveness, moving forward and grace in so many of the relationships that once hurt. Always, always God is a God of restoration and beauty from ashes.)

Finally, after those two years of bad boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, my family began attending a new church. I saw a boy playing drums on the worship team who really loved Jesus. And I thought in my head "If there is someone out there that really loves the Lord like that, why in the world am I settling for this??" I broke up with my boyfriend the next week. That boy playing drums turned out to be Shaun, who I didn't get to know very well until months later, but was the inspiration in my first step toward freedom and healthy relationship.

Sadly, instead of falling head over heels for Jesus as soon as I broke things off with my boyfriend, I got a little lost and spent some months hanging onto my identity as an athlete, pursuing popularity, etc.... One thing at a time all that I held onto got stripped away until it was only Jesus left to turn to. I will never forget the sweetness of that turning away from the world and turning toward my Savior. It's safe to say I hated who I was before that turn. I was living double minded, hated the decisions I made, but made them anyway, then couldn't stand myself. But somehow in Christ I found the strength to turn away from all that had previously defined me. Breaking the pattern of all that has enslaved you and realizing there is so much more life on the horizon than you ever dreamed has got to be the most elating and humbling feeling in the world. I remember a season where all I wanted to do was to journal in my room with a worship cd playing, pouring my heart out to the Lord. I have always processed by writing, and that was one of my favorite seasons. I put my heart and all my trust into the Lord, and I told Him my life was His. All I wanted to be was who He made me to be, all I wanted to do was pursue His heart. I fully let my walls down with the one who knew my heart better than I ever will myself. I still treasure reading back through that journal. Jesus did so much in me in that time. Sometimes gain looks like loss. That season may have looked like loss from the outside... loss of popularity, loss of "friends", loss of status as an athlete... but I gained more on the inside than the riches of this earth could ever measure.

Sometimes though, things that you thought you dealt with re-surface during marriage. I mean, when you give yourself to someone to become one with them and share a home with them and build a life with them, there is nowhere to hide the ugly when it comes out, and some things go deeper than you realized. Shaun is amazing. He has never given me a reason in the world to ever be afraid, to ever fear rejection, to ever put my walls up. But because it was a habit and my only defense mechanism for so many years, if I even thought there might be rejection coming, up the walls went. I would assume the worst, or go into "protect myself mode" even when he hadn't done something wrong, but something about the circumstance just reminded me, even just a little, of a past situation.

Praise the Lord, I finally saw what I was doing. I made a covenant this year to KEEP MY WALLS DOWN with my husband. To let him in. To assume the best. To hear him. To fight the battle together. That means that even if it's late at night and I have something on my mind that is making me mad, even when all that's in me wants to roll over and shut him out and go to sleep guarding my anger and shielding my heart, I need to turn toward him. I need to let go of anger. I need to fight for us. And know that he is never my enemy.

And that whole idea of only giving and never receiving in a relationship? No person can ever fulfill us, the ONLY source of fulfillment is Jesus Christ, and if we go looking for it solely in another person we will always be disappointed. But that idea that I am only supposed to give and will not ever get anything back was wrong too. It's a martyr complex, and it's not the way we were designed to live. It creates a bitter spirit from the beginning. God created a marriage to bring joy. Sometimes the joy is found in the fulfillment of a Proverb: "...he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed..." (Proverbs 11:25) As we love and serve our spouse we will be refreshed through it. And sometimes the refreshment starts with the other person showering love on us. (If you have expectations of your spouse, be sure to clearly communicate those and don't just assume they can read your mind.) But regardless, our source of joy and fulfillment is always the Lord, and through that knowledge you can love your spouse without the bitter resentment of "will I or won't I get anything out of this for myself?"

I am not advocating making yourself vulnerable to anyone and everyone. But to the one you promised your heart to when you said "I do"? Yes, I think it's very wise to make and keep yourself vulnerable to them.

It's interesting, in the process of what we think is protecting ourselves, putting our walls up, shutting our hearts off, we actually lose love. It's impossible to receive love when your heart is so closed. It's in the vulnerability, the open-ness, the pain of the processing of emotion that we experience love in its deepest form. There are Lady Antebellum lyrics that say "I'd rather hurt than feel nothing at all..." Now I wouldn't necessarily rather hurt, but when you open your heart to your husband or wife through the good and the bad, it's guaranteed that you won't "feel nothing at all" and you might just be awakened to a love like you've never known before in your marriage.

I am no marriage expert, I just like to share what I've learned along the way, and I love to be encouraged by other married women who are learning what living out a godly marriage looks like also. Would love to hear your thoughts or things you've learned in your marriage recently in the comments.

xoxo

Friday, June 5, 2015

#4



A Friday night announcement from the Kauffmans:

Baby Number Four is on the way!!! 
Due January 2016

This explains the strawberry shortcake for lunch, the emergency trip to pizza hut in a thunderstorm the other night, my dad coming over to make us fried ham egg and cheese sandwiches for breakfast this morning, and the fact that I almost threw up when I saw Darrenkamp's sign advertising "boneless skinless chicken breast" on the drive to the doctor today. (You should know that I've been eating apple, clementines and bananas too, and had a salad for lunch today...) Might also explain a bit of my crying literally ALL day on Drew's last day of pre-school (I found out I was pregnant two days later) and the fact that I've been enjoying these rainy chilly days in June... perfect for afternoon naps! 


I got to see my little peanut on the ultrasound screen this afternoon.  I am so thrilled about this new little life, so excited to find out more about who this is growing inside me. 

While I was getting ready to go to my doctor appointment this morning Isaiah walks into my room as nonchalant as can be and says "heeeyyy muffin booty." 

I can only imagine the new dose of personality that will be added to our family come January :)