"Me Time" in 2020

Years back, I offended a mother of 3 on Facebook because I updated a personal status with the thought of dread that my son was going to his dad's house and I'd be missing him all weekend.  She thought I was being ridiculous because she would have loved alone time from her kids and I should consider being a single parent a blessing.  Yes, you read that right and likely you had the same reaction I did.  Needless to say that although I didn't see that time as a blessing, it was a great time of reflection and rest that was much needed after the non-stop efforts. I did take for granted what this time did for me, however, and that is where this lady may have had a point.

The biggest revelation I had after re-marriage was that I had more "me time" as a single mom than I do as a married mom. I never gave much thought to how much this change in my life would affect time alone and honestly wouldn't have felt that it mattered.  I married my best friend and it felt natural to spend every free minute together...that is until we rounded month 3 of our marriage. I began to realize the time I took for granted and almost dreaded while a single mom, became the very thing that built who I was.  I created hobbies, passions, interests and spent time building the "me" I felt I should be. I became the person I thought God would have me be and spent quiet time reflecting on my personhood and my contribution to the world. Why was I here? What did God have in store for me?

While God blessed me with a wonderful life with a wonderful man, lately I have been reflecting during the busy days how I need to get some of that alone time back. Time alone is healthy and needed specifically because it is not truly alone. It is spending time away from everything else in this world to be "alone" with God. To spend time reflecting and understanding. If I do not fill my soul with good and positive things in life then how will I speak into other lives well?

For 2020 I have resolved that my time "alone" is going to happen one way or another. Even if it is 15 minutes per day. I will spend time reading scripture, praying, sitting in silence and just looking inward to be the best person I can be for God, my family, and others.

How will you take some time "alone" this year?

Truth About Women and Friendships

Something that women often think about is our lack of friendships. Committed friendships.  Real friendships.

Deep and invested friendships is crucial to women and yet no one seems to talk about such an important subject. I decided to break my silence and call it what it is...horrible. Women in general treat each other with a superficial care and it creates a hallow relationship. I say hallow because as soon as a tide turns in a woman's life, she can usually count with one finger how many girlfriends have stuck by her side, if any.

This is what I know to be true, personally.

I won't go through all of the ins and outs, but moving to another state, going through a divorce, living as a single mom, then re-marrying has been full of twists and turns in my life. Through those times, I can consistently look to one person who was always my friend through it all. Some would say that one is all you need but what isn't discussed is the heartache of learning that friends you thought were real and unwavering are actually easily lost when life situations change.


Women need friendships. Notice I didn't say "friendship" as a singular but I used it in the plural. We have many aspects in our lives that require different types of friends. If you are lucky, you have someone in your life that you can talk to about anything and everything and that is to be celebrated!  Most women, however can relate to other women one a few levels and therefore we need more than one good and real friend.

My one friend who has stuck with me through it all is amazing. There are some aspects of my life that she and I view very differently but we respect each other despite our belief differences. I can talk to her about most everything else, but when it comes to my relationship with God our conversations are few and far between because she just can't relate to me about this. This is where a friendship of someone I can relate to on this level is imperative.

I've been very transparent to get the point across that women are relational and need to not only have better friends but need to be better friends.  Where in your life could you use a good friend? Are you available to be a good friend to others, as well? Are you being the friend to others that you are hoping to find for yourself?









Moms: We Have A Porn Problem- Blog Re-Post

I read this blog recently and stand behind 100% what she has said here...give it a read and then follow the blog. Original blog: click here.
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My Dear Mama Friend,

I see you outside when our kids are playing. I see you at the pool in the summer. I see you at the bus stop all school year-long. But sadly, I don’t know you as well as I’d like.

Nevertheless, I know you’ve got a problem with porn. Why? Because it takes one to know one…
We need to talk, friend. About SEX. But unfortunately, it’s not a wine-and-chocolate girls night talk. It’s a “oh crap our kids are in trouble” talk. The reason I’m calling this emergency meeting, girlfriends? Is PORN. You see, my dear, we—me included—have a PORN problem. But we’re not alone. Every mom everywhere has a porn problem, and since the first step to recovery is admitting it, I’m here to say: “My name is Jenny and I have a problem with porn.”But let me explain, Mamas. Here goes nothing.

Recently, two prominent secular publications ran strong articles on the harmful effects of porn: TIME Magazine’s cover story for its April 11, 2016 issue was on porn and just a few days earlier on April 8th, The Washington Post published this powerful article by Gail Dines entitled “Is porn immoral? That doesn’t matter: It’s a public health crisis.”

I use the word “secular” above simply because this little diatribe you’re reading now (from yours truly) is being published on a faith-based website. But the TIME and Washington Post articles both make it clear that porn is harmful whether you think it is morally wrong or not, and as Dines says in her piece, “…the science is there. After 40 years of peer-reviewed research, scholars can say with confidence that porn is an industrial product that shapes how we think about gender, sexuality, relationships, intimacy, sexual violence and gender equality — for the worse.”

Moms, you and I have a problem with porn. And not the kind of problem where we watch too much of it (at least I don’t have that particular problem), but rather the kind where it is killing our kids’ sexuality (if it hasn’t already negatively affected our marriages.) If you’re around my age (38) or older, congrats: you’re one of the last to grow up without readily available internet porn. The sexual challenges we faced were far more tame that what our daughters will face and what our sons will have to be strong to resist. It sounds dramatic, but as Dines says, “the science is there.”
Porn isn’t just a private, personal matter anymore. It’s a public health crisis that all parents need to be informed about. It’s as destructive as any cancer, and it spreads much faster in a culture where it’s often times free, viewed as normal (“everyone does it!”), and very, very addicting. Dines cites a study of U.S. college men that showed that “83 percent reported seeing mainstream pornography, and that those who did were more likely to say they would commit rape or sexual assault (if they knew they wouldn’t be caught) than men who hadn’t seen porn in the past 12 months. The same study found that porn consumers were less likely to intervene if they observed a sexual assault taking place.”

Um, WHAT? That is absolutely frightening, not just for our daughters, but for our own safety. It’s study results like this that make me as a woman paranoid about men I don’t know when I’m out and about, that make me hurry just a bit faster to the safety of my car when I’m out at night.

Some other scientific facts that are even more alarming come from a content analysis of what is going on in these widely consumed pornographic videos that our youth are watching. Here, researchers have found that 88% of the scenes of the most-viewed porn films contained acts of physical aggression, and that 94% of the time, women were the victims of this aggression. I’m talking about spanking, gagging, choking or slapping. And then there’s the verbal aggression, which occurred in 49% of these scenes, commonly in the form of calling a woman “bitch” and “slut.”

THIS is what our kids are learning about sex from. THIS is what they’re learning sex IS. THIS is why young girls are being pressured for nude photos by boys before they’ve even had their first kiss. Healthy sexuality, whether you define it as I do in the bounds of Christian marriage or not, is being murdered by porn. Our kids are at risk, and we need to step up as moms and DO something about it.
I would love to be able to put pornographers out of business, but instead I’m going to recommend that we, Mama Friends, start fighting porn in our own homes, by doing four things.

1.Talk to your kids about sex.

Start the conversation young, with age-appropriate topics, and build on it. Help them to understand that healthy sexuality is NOT something that is taboo, secret, or shameful. Be open with them so they will come to you if they see something disturbing or have questions.

2. Have ALL THE FILTERS on your internet.

Make sure they are NOT going to be exposed to porn AT YOUR HOUSE ON YOUR DEVICES. Parental controls. Boundaries and rules for when and where they will use the Internet. Covenant Eyes. Whatever it takes—protect those kids’ eyes and hearts!

3. When they are old enough, tell them why porn is bad.

This is a hard one. I want my kids to live in a world where I never have to tell them that something like porn exists. But we have to prepare them for what might happen if they encounter it. Explain that it sets a phony sexual standard. Explain that it takes away from what should be between a man and a woman only. Explain how porn most often depicts women being submitted to acts and treated in a way that they would be HURTFUL in real life. Explain that sex is about mutual love and pleasure for both partners, and that pleasure shouldn’t come because the other partner is being hurt in any way.

4. Spread the word about the harmful effects of porn.

Share this article. Follow Pornography Harms on Facebook. Read and share everything on Fight the New Drug. Get the word out so that others will see and share the damage porn does and is doing, and so that they’ll take these steps to stop it, too.

Moms, I feel like if we band together, we can make a HUGE difference in cutting back the percentage of people who will suffer from the negative effects of pornography. (And also a HUGE dent in that box of truffles, but that’s for another time.) It starts with change in our homes, and spreading the word to our networks. Let’s do our part to make these awful statistics go DOWN, so that porn’s harmful effects will be less and less devastating with each generation.

And let’s stop denying, it, moms. We have a problem with porn.

Now, with news like this, I’m going to need some ice cream to fortify me before I start figting the good fight against porn. Who’s with me?

Love you all.

Let’s kick porn in it’s bare naked butt,

Jenny

Psalm 91

When my son was born, I remember seeing and feeling the world in an entirely different way.  I suddenly saw all of the potential dangers at a magnified level. I understood how little it would take to destroy my beautiful son emotionally, physically or mentally. I stepped into the role of protector and did my very best to lessen the possibility of any hurt entering his life.



The truth is that hurt will enter everyone's life.  If we look back at what shaped us as adults, we will likely go to two very different scenarios: the times where we felt love and the times where we felt hurt. The times that stand out are usually extreme and those are the reasons we believe how we believe and we react how we react.

My son, like many of your children, has been through quite a journey because of my divorce. He feels all the same feelings we feel as adults but doesn't have the mental growth to deal with those feelings.  When he is feeling hurt for one reason or another because of a burden that was not his to bear, I feel helpless. I cannot protect him.  When the protection of his emotions and well being feels one-sided, I have no other option but turn to the Lord. An option that should be my first instinct but honestly usually isn't.

This is much easier said than done. Just the other night, I was in this place. I cried and pleaded with the Lord to protect my son. I sat with my husband and prayed over my son's journey and that God, who loves my son more than I do, would keep his promise of protection found in Psalm 91. 

I used to read this over my son each night at bedtime when he was little, but now more than ever do these verses drive my comfort.  God knows how to heal, save and protect. The hardest part about being a parent is watching your children hurt. How much more does God feel about the very things that hurt us? I may not always be able to protect my son from hurt or disappointment and some of the things he does and will endure does not make sense to me, but God can protect his heart.  I find rest in that.

My hope in transparency is that you, too, will find solace in these verses. Pray them over your children and know that God cares for them.

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Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

Teaching Children About Real Love


I've often thought about how I would teach my son about true love. The mere feelings of being in love are vastly different from the meaning of true love, as the Bible instructs.

What would I teach him so that he would one day be a good, potential husband for a nice young lady?  And, what if the young ladies that he meets along his path, aren't so nice?  What if he struggles with understanding the difference between true love and temporary feelings?

Truth be told, we all struggle with knowing the difference and our children will also go through their own struggles.  The difficult part will be watching when things aren't positive, but learning what to teach before we embark on this adventure is key.

What can we do?

Teach how Christ loved the church. 

Yes, that is a great thing to do but how will he completely relate? The only answer I could come up with was that we show true love and read direct from scripture. We explain God's intention for love and for marital union.  We show what it truly means to love each other so much so that he will recognize when something isn't real or hints at a lack of genuineness.

Speak truth. Read truth.

I've had great success so far with my son by speaking everything in truth. There is an age appropriation for every discussion but when they are emotionally ready, you speak truth.  My son is only twelve but he is already very aware about sex, temptation and what true friendships will look like.  His school has discussed "sexting" and his friends use terms that are very sexual because they are curious.  Luckily my son knows that there is not a topic for discussion with us that is off the table. Discussions enable proper teaching and truth.

I've found that the more open I am in an appropriate manner, the less curious he is and therefore he feels confident in making the right choices. He isn't wondering about this or that because he's heard the truth about it before he even encounters an awkward circumstance. By age twelve we have discussed everything that he will encounter in this culture related to love.  He has not seen first hand everything that he will encounter, but it is coming. We have to prepare our kids.


Read what scripture says about real love. Back up everything you are teaching with what God has instructed. This is how we are to relate all our decisions, so teaching that scripture is our guidebook is vital as they grow into adults to learn.

Set an expectation.


You give your young adult your expectations and hope for accomplishment.  You share with them mistakes you made and the consequences. You also share the good decisions you have made and those consequences. I'll never forget when my new husband and I spoke of the wonderful outcome of us waiting to have sex until our honeymoon.  We explained the joy we felt knowing we had accomplished such a difficult task in waiting and how incredibly satisfying it was to share that with the commitment of marriage.  How safe we felt and were because we waited.  We also shared how difficult this task was.  My son was both happy to hear this and slightly grossed out to learn that we have sex.  Totally normal, but totally necessary to discuss. We are his examples and even if grossed out by the thought, it was something he'll think about when making his decision whether or not to remain pure.

Give confidence.

Giving knowledge is the first way to equip them but the most important thing you can do is to share with them that you are their backbone. They need to know that you will love them no matter what and are behind them to succeed.  You know they have what it takes to be successful in this part of their life. Be their cheerleader and support.


Listen.

Lastly, the key to knowing when your child needs to have a boost in this area is to listen. If you've created an open line of communication, it is imperative that you put down your phone, set work or chores aside and listen to them. We enjoy my son's non-stop talking at dinner because that's when we learn most of what is happening in his life away from us.  We take time to go on day trips without technology so that we can just talk together. When he talks he has my undivided attention  and I learn so much about how his mind works and what he needs most from me as his parent for him to succeed.

It's a journey full of valleys and hills but creating a healthy foundation will help establish a base for understanding and pursuit of healthy love.



Put Down The Screen

Being that part of my career is in the world of social media, I often feel an addiction to my phone and computer screen. It is so tempting to check on how things are progressing with projects, posts, campaigns, etc. My son also has an addiction to his screen time. He loves video games, television and coding on our computer. My husband however has no problem at all setting his phone down and walking away for hours. I wish we were all more like that.

Studies have shown that too much screen time can create behavioral and mood issues with children. I believe that adults become less social the longer they are on social media. As odd as that sounds, we as adults are growing into a culture that our children are embracing.  We feel more social because we can interact more with others, but it's on a surface level and not an intimate "in person" level.  I even found myself texting my brother, "Happy Birthday" instead of actually calling him! I'm sorry, CJ!  What kind of culture are we becoming when our friends on Facebook mean more to us than our time with real "in person" friends or family?  I can't tell you the last time I took one of my good girlfriends out to dinner and had a genuine conversation.

We use our phones for much more than social media. There are games... fun games. There are apps that cause us reason to want to be creative, sell merchandise, watch the weather, check out the constellations, read our favorite blogs, and so on and so forth.  All of these are amazing and wonderful, however do you limit the time you are taking part in such activities on your phone? I don't know about you but I start to get nervous if my phone battery falls below 50%. I use my phone for my alarm clock, radio while I get ready for work, timer, voice recorder for memos and so much more. If I didn't have my phone I'd feel like something was missing. That is a horrible place to be in. I have even turned down camping trips with my friend because of the lack of Wifi! Sorry Tamara!

Now I could be on the end of the scale that has a real problem with phone separation anxiety but what about you? What are you missing out on in life because of your phone?  What about your computer? Do you realize how many marriages struggle simply because of online activity? The energy that is put into screen time rather than into the marriage?  What about the example our kids are seeing in us parents? They'd rather be on a screen than playing outside.

My point is this, we are in a screen culture. We all love to watch and experience The Screen. Be careful to use in moderation and be very aware of the life lessons and experiences you are missing out on with your true friends and family because of your screen time. Is your phone or computer time really that important? Try putting your screen down for 4 hours and see how you feel after.  That will tell you a lot about the importance of The Screen in your life.

I'll do it first.  Signing off my screen for awhile...

-Meg

Building Hedges Around Your Marriage

When my first marriage failed due to toxic outside influences, I discovered first hand what I had been naive to.  My ex-husband and I neglected to build walls around our marriage in effort to safeguard it from destruction. Unfortunately, without those walls and commitment on both sides to success and protection our marriage failed. A lot was lost and many issues were created for us to sort out. 

Growing up I had always thought of marriage much like a fairy tale. I had never really given much thought to the work it would entail and to the perseverance to protect it at all costs.  Sure, as the marriage progressed I was more inclined to think of things that could harm it, but it was all internal.  Arguments, financial issues, children, etc. were the areas I concentrated on.  I never gave thought to outside influences destroying us quietly and slowly. I naively trusted my ex-husband and never gave thought to where he spent his time, who he spent his time with and how much time we spent growing together.  Because of that we grew apart and developed lives away from each other. We found friends that we didn't share and we enjoyed situations that we didn't speak about or share with one another. By the time it was clear that we were failing, it was too late to build our walls. The desire to make it work was gone, first from him, then from me.  The destruction that caused for our family was heartbreaking but God heals.  God mended our hearts.

The decision to re-marry was huge for me. I knew exactly what that would entail for myself and for Duane. I don't think he was even quite aware of all that would be required from us emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually in order for us to remain protected.  Being able to share the stumbling blocks that ended my first marriage and share with him all that I had learned was vital to our survival as a couple. He shared a lot of the same understandings but some were new to him.  We are finding more and more reasons everyday to cleave to one another and block out any potential threats to our marital well-being.

"Most couples think they're strong so they don't have safeguards in their marriage. But Satan is always looking for an opportune time to tempt husbands and wives with inappropriate relationships."
~ Al and Lisa Robertson, Duck Dynasty


Some would think that over-protection is prudish and based on fear.  Yes, over-protection is based on fear but not an unhealthy fear, but a wise fear.  A fear of the known outcome if we don't protect. In the same way that you shelter your children from a sexual scene in a movie or a bully at school, we are to protect our marriage from anything that could harm it.  Call it whatever you want, but I call it, wise.

I've seen destruction in marriages over things that seem small but over time they become very large problems. Like the first weed in a beautiful garden, if not plucked or removed it will produce more weeds and if left unattended, eventually your beautiful garden is simply a pile of weeds. The only way to continue to see a beautiful garden is to build a foundation that will not allow weeds to grow in the first place.  That foundation will save your garden and keep it looking and feeling beautiful.

Some of the things to consider when laying your foundation:

1) Movies- Do you find it casual to watch a movie with intimate scenes or nudity? How about the woman taking off her shirt quickly exposing her in just a bra? We all know that men are driven to sexual desires by vision, so what in that could harm your marriage? What does that quietly do to a man's desires and to a woman's self esteem? What about "Mommy Porn" like the movie 50 Shades of Grey?  How about watching a movie full of vulgarity in marriage or where a couple treats each other horribly?  Quietly they seem harmless, but what are those messages transmitting to your brains?

2) Friends- Are your friends healthy and do they encourage your marriage and union? Do they gossip about your partner with you or around you? Do they encourage you to have inappropriate relationships or feelings? Do they help you work things out with your spouse rather than encourage anger and divisive feelings?  Are they trustworthy around your marriage?

3) Children- Do your children come before your spouse? The bible is clear that "two become one flesh".  Your children are important but not more important than your spouse. You are a team, unified and must remain in tact for your marital health and ultimately for your children's benefit.

4) Habits- Do you put yourself in situations that could result in harm to your marriage? Do you drink too much? Do you allow yourself to be alone with the opposite sex? Do you confide in someone of the opposite sex, thus creating an emotional affair? Do you spend too much money? Do you enjoy others more than your spouse? Do you have a habit that causes you to ignore your spouse? These are things that are dubbed as "normal" but they are far from normal and over time can create a division in your marriage.

5) Trust- Does your spouse trust you with their most intimate feelings? Are they safe with you or do they hide things for fear of rejection, retaliation or embarrassment? Do you make fun of them or tease them for things they cannot control?

6) Sex- Are you sexually active with your spouse? Sex is the most intimate act you can do with another person and is reserved solely for your spouse. You are their outlet and the only person they are able to experience sexual gratification from. Having sex on a regular basis is very healthy and will encourage intimacy between you both.

7) Respect- Do you respect each other? Do you uplift your partner and speak highly of them to others?  Do you honor their desires and needs as important?  Do other people see you respecting your spouse regardless of circumstance?

8) Last but not least is love. Do you truly love your spouse.  Do you tell them you love them? Do you show them? How do you show them?

There are so many more encouraging ways to build a foundation for a healthy marriage, but remembering that the tiniest and most seemingly insignificant thing can quickly turn your marriage into a breeding ground for weeds is key.  Talk with your spouse regularly about temptations and those things that you feel could destroy your marriage if left to grow. No matter how small, every feeling is important in this discussion. 

Duane and I have had to both make some adjustments and changes in the way we approach certain things in our lives.  The movies that we watch, the things we do in our spare time, and the people we spend our time with.  Everything has a consequence, good or bad.  There is never a wrong decision to do something that will protect your marriage. Others may not understand but it doesn't matter, you are in this marriage and not them. Protect it without apology or hesitation.