Archive | June, 2008

Teen Pregnancy vs. Sperm Donation

24 Jun

With all the brouhaha going around lately about teen pregnancy because of the supposed pact in Gloucester, MA between 15- and 16-year-old girls to all get pregnant and raise their kids together, I felt like I needed to comment.

The Los Angeles Times has an article on this on their website by Kay Hymowitz (find it here). She “says the Gloucester teen pregnancy story reveals a change in attitudes toward the family. Kerry Howley counters that we need to stop thinking a baby is the cure to an empty life” (taken from the subheader). While I think both women make interesting points, I will make my own in this blog (inspired by their points and other media I’ve read about this).

The media is saying that the reason these teen girls created this pregnancy pact was because they wanted to forge an identity for themselves. They wanted to bond through motherhood. Jamie Lynn Spears made teen motherhood not only acceptable but appealing.

That may be true–Jamie Lynn isn’t a great role model. What ever happened to the Scarlet Letter? But there are plenty of other women out there–in their 30s and 40s no less!–who aren’t good role models either.

They publicly, purposefully, and expensively forego marriage and commitment (or just don’t have the patience to wait for it) to get artificially inseminated by some guy they never met–and will probably never meet–just to have a child who will be raised by a single parent. Imagine if you grew up knowing you were just a result of a random sperm from a petri dish inserted into a your mom’s uterus.

Some women want to be a mother so badly (and so selfishly) that they are willing to pay tons of money and to cheat their child out of a father just so they can assuage their desire. In my opinion, these women should not be mothers. To be a good parent, you have to be selfless. You have to be willing to give up your career, your expensive purses and shoes, your free time, if the need be. So many parents today want kids but also want to live their lives like nothing had changed–they just added a kid, no big deal. (Hence all the rich families who have full-time nannies while the mom is out shopping and getting pedicures all day–they do exist. I have friends who work for them!) Um, life CHANGES when you have kids. If you don’t want your life to change, then don’t have any!!

My whole point is, if these teen girls did indeed create a pregnancy pact, it is quite possible that they did so so because they thought motherhood looked glamorous and trendy. Or maybe they thought their life would be better if they were mothers. But as evidenced by sperm banks and artifical insemination (and SATC), many other older women think the same and you don’t see them getting scraped all over the media. If the issue is about financial stability, then I concede–older women are in a financially better position to be single mothers than teen girls. But if the issue is kids being raised without fathers or women seeking fulfillment through motherhood, no matter what the means, then those teens girls are no worse than a 30-year-old woman, unmarried, who wants to be a mother so badly that she pays for some sperm.

Motherhood is a precious gift from God, just like virginity is. We should respect it and use it correctly, in the way that God intended. That way is a man and a woman who are married, monogamous, and living together, who raise their children up in the ways of the Lord. These teen girls don’t need more sex education. They don’t even need more information about abstinence and the consequences–emotionally, physically, economically–of getting pregnant. They need Jesus. They need the One who really will satisfy their desires and fulfill their empty life. A baby is not the answer and never will be.

Disclaimer: This is in no way intended to be hurtful or derogatory to those mothers (and their children) who are widows. If that is you, I bet you wish your child could grow up with a father. They are a crucial element in a family but sometimes God chooses a different path. My condolences.

No other gods

21 Jun

I was reading 2 Kings 17 this morning (part of my Bible reading plan) and part of it caught my eye. In that chapter, the King of Assyria exiles the Israelites (part of God’s plan because of their disobedience and idolatry). The nations who went to live in Samaria in place of the Israelites were taught by one of the Israelite priests how to fear the LORD. But the nations still worshiped the gods they had gotten from other nations. “So they feared the LORD but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.” (v. 33) The LORD’s commandment had been (and still was) “You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them, but you shall fear the LORD.” (v. 35)

How many times as I like those nations? I fear the LORD but still serve my other gods–approval of man, thinness, wealth, beauty, comfort, ease, success. Am I sacrificing to those other gods? As I giving things up to have them, because they will make me happy? Is life found in them?

Reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis has made me think about the resurrection of my earthly body and my longing to be glorious, as shown in my struggle with my body image. Just as I am content with fewer earthly possessions because of the eternal payoff of giving money to the church and ministries, so I can be content with a less-than-perfect body now because I will get a perfect and glorious one in heaven.

We aren’t meant to be satisfied here! Our dissatisfaction here isn’t supposed to drive us to greater and greater measures to make ourselves happy–more diets, more possessions, more experiences. Our dissatisfaction is supposed to drive us to God and the satisfaction only found in Him. It is supposed to drive us to find comfort in the hope of the gospel:

“…with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body… Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44; 49)

So when I am struggling and wishing I were thinner or my stomach were flatter, I will remind myself that someday I WILL have the body I’ve always wanted–in heaven. That will make heaven even sweeter.

Clinging to the Cross

19 Jun

The Lord gave me a revelation this morning as I was praying on my way to work (I have a 30 min commute). I was expressing my doubt and confusion about how God and the Spirit work inside me to enable me to withstand and endure hard situations and circumstances; how He gives me peace that surpasses understanding; how He enables me to do things that I wouldn’t be able to do myself.

Then I heard Him say, “It’s not about your ability. It’s about the Cross.” I was silent for a few minutes, pondering that thought. It made complete sense. It’s not about me getting strength from God–random strength–to go through tough circumstances. It’s about holding to the Cross, clinging to my hope of salvation and the Truth about God revealed in the Cross: that God loves me and died for me; that He is good and just; that He is willing to do anything for me; and that I am going to heaven no matter what happens in this life.

As I took that thought and applied it to all of the hypothetical situations I had been wrestling with, I saw how clinging to the Cross and the Truth represented therein would really be effective and enabling. I was reminded of a quote from “The Pursuit of God” by A.W. Tozer. It goes something like this (I’m just recalling it from memory so it’s not verbatim): “The man who has long been struggling to fix himself will find that once he turns his gaze from himself to his Savior, everything he has been trying to do to himself will be getting done within him.” I have to keep my gaze fixed on the Cross. I have been trying to fix myself. I have been trying to get God’s power within me so I could fix myself (kind of an oxymoron huh?)

I am so thankful that the Lord revealed this Truth to me. It is very freeing. I have a ways to go before I depend on God and continually look at the Cross for the strength, motivation, and hope I need to live but I’m on my way!!

They accepted our offer!

16 Jun

As of 5:41 PM today, our house is officially under contract. The sellers signed our offer “as is”–which really surprised our realtor. She said that it rarely happens that the sellers sign the offer without changing a thing. Does this have God written all over it or WHAT?!?!?

So Travis and I are WAY pumped about “our” new house–Travis would remind me that it’s not officially ours yet. But I don’t care about those petty little details. This means that I can officially start planning out how I want to decorate the house. It is going to be SO HARD to wait a month and a half to move in! I’ve been looking at magazines, The Nest, and other people’s blogs for ideas. I went on Craig’s List to look for cheap furniture but I didn’t find anything. I know we shouldn’t buy anything right now anyway because whatever I buy now, we have to move later.

The theme of my decorating is going to be “on a budget.” We won’t have much money to decorate with at first so I’m going to go to antique, consignment, dollar, and thrift stores as well as garage sales and Craig’s List to find furniture and wall pieces.

This is what I’m thinking so far: the main bathroom has a mirror and vanity of light-colored wood. The accents in the tiles and sink are a light tan color. The color scheme is going to be sage green, white, and light-colored wood/tan. I want a shower curtain that is white with sage green leaves on it, kind of like this one from Bed Bath and Beyond:

shower curtain

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll buy sage green towels and press wildflowers into frames to hang on the wall.

For the master bedroom, we will keep our current bedspread (light tan with a white vine design) and I want to add details like these awesome pictures, also picturefrom BB&B:

 

 

 

 

breeze2

 

 

 

 

 

They’re a little on the spendy side so what I’m going to do is see if I can find 12×12 scrapbook paper kind of like this (at least the same color scheme) and glue them to a 12×12 canvas from a craft store. The master bath will be this same color scheme: taupe and light blue. LOVE IT!

I have more ideas but it’s time for bed. I’ll keep them flowing some other time. 🙂

Sitting on pins and needles!

16 Jun

The sellers of the house we made an offer on are meeting about our offer right now as I type. I am so nervous and excited!! It’s good that I get to leave work in 8 minutes because I cannot concentrate right now!!

We’re putting an offer down!

15 Jun

After going out with our realtor 3 times to look at houses; having endless conversations about options, prices, and dates with Travis; and almost completely pulling the plug on buying a house due to budget constraints (which were alleviated by my parents, who generously offered to help us with our down payment), Travis and I have found the house we want to buy. It is 3 miles from my work, 8 miles from Travis’. It has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths (one of which is a master bath!), and a HUGE backyard. And it’s move-in ready, meaning we wouldn’t have to do anything to it before we moved in if we didn’t want to.

Our realtor wrote up an offer and sent it to us today. In about 1 1/2 hours, she is going to call us to go over the offer, make any necessary changes, and then sent it to the sellers’ agent. We should know by tomorrow at the latest if they are going to counter or accept. We’re so excited!!

The wheels in my head are already turning with thoughts of how I could decorate the kitchen and the bathroom and what we could put where. Bad, I know, because I’ll be heartbroken if we don’t get this house. But I keep reminding myself that God is sovereign and all of His plans for our lives–including our house–have been pre-ordained by Him. Like our realtor says (in a secular mindset), if it’s “meant to be” (i.e. ordained by God), it will happen and it will be easy. If it feels like putting a square peg in a round hole to get the deal to go through, it wasn’t meant to be (i.e. it wasn’t in God’s plan).

Here’s a picture of the house from the outside:

house on garland
There are 2 huge pine trees in the front but the yard is very green and well-kept. It is a one-story brick ranch (the kind of house I said that I would never buy!) and on the smaller side (about 1100 square feet) but it’s a very efficient use of space and just the cutest little house ever! And with 3 bedrooms, Travis and I can still have an office, a guest bedroom, and our master bedroom. The kitchen and the main bath were both updated within the past couple years so they are very nice. There are 2 big windows, one in the living room and one in kitchen, facing east and west respectively–so lots of light in the main rooms of the house. 2 of the bedrooms have 2 windows and the other one has 1 window.

It’s a one-car garage, which Travis was a little disappointed about. But in our price point and in the neighborhoods we’re looking at, 2-car garages are very few and far between. The garage on this house is oversized, though, so Travis can still have a workbench at the far end. There is also another parking spot on the side of house (note the SUV in picture) and lots of street parking. The neighborhood is very tidy and quiet but there are little kids running around so it’s not just senior citizens (which is good).

Overall, we just love the house and are very excited/nervous to see what the sellers say tomorrow. We are putting an offer in $2K lower than their asking price + $5K in concessions. We’ll see what happens!!

The Crazy Adventures of Save and Spend

7 Jun

So we made it through our first day of house hunting. Travis and I went out with our realtor Victoria (she’s great!) to see 14 different houses today. We really liked 2-3 of them. They were a nice size, with great layouts, in our price point. But some of them were so weird and gross…hard to believe anyone can live like that!

For the past 4 hours, Travis and I have been having a very heated debate/discussion/argument about our finances, spending habits, and mortgage amounts. He tends to get very pessimistic and Debbie Downer during times like this when he feels very pressed financially–“I just don’t want to spend so much money buying a house that we can’t enjoy it or put anything in it.” He also wants to put exorbitant (IMO) amounts of money in savings.

Needless to say, I tend to be very optimistic and borderline idealistic during times like this. I see a problem and start brainstorming solutions–“Well, we’ll just stop going out to eat and only limit movies in the theaters to once a month and save half of our ‘blow money’ to fly to Mexico in March with my family” (or else we wouldn’t be able to make it happen). In a lot of ways, it might end up being like my New Year’s Resolutions: very ambitious but hardly ever carried through.

But I am willing to change our lifestyle somewhat to make buying a house possible. And we’re not talking about a $300K 2,500 square foot tri-level mansion. We’re talking about a $170K 1,000 square foot ranch house (but there are some really nice ones out there!) And we wouldn’t have to reduce ourselves to rags and Ramen. We just couldn’t splurge on new camping gear and plane tickets and going to the Frozen Four for $150 a person. Things would be a little tighter, they’d be a little hard.

But we would grow. We would be forced to depend on God for provision. I don’t think that going into buying a house right now is a poor financial decision. We have about $600 wiggle room for “things that make life enjoyable” each month so it’s not like we’re putting all of our pennies into the same piggy bank, hoping we never need that money for anything else.

So I have proposed a trial run: for the month of July, we pretend that we have a mortgage. And are saving for Mexico in March. And are saving for grad school in September (which is SO CLOSE!) We limit our “date money” and we only get half of our “blow money.” Travis thinks it will be absolutely horrible. I think that it will be doable. (which is very weird considering I’m the spender and he’s the saver…) I think that we just need to be more discriminatory about when we go out to eat and to movies, etc. We have to make it count.

We will see how it goes. But a praise: today, I really felt like I was trusting the Lord to provide a house for us instead of freaking out that the house we like will be snatched up. I even prayed throughout the day when I felt myself getting overly excited for the Lord to remind me of His sovereignty and goodness. This morning, I felt reassured by this verse in Ephesians: “And now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

To God be the glory because I am nothing without Him.

Jesus Recycles

4 Jun

That was the title of Greg Stier’s podcast today on prayer. His main point was “Jesus recycles our hearts in the same way his heart was recycled…through prayer!” A very convicting podcast—as they usually are. But this one was especially so for me because I struggle so much with prayer. I go through seasons when I pray a lot, but most of the time I pray only a couple times a week, if that.

Back when Travis and I were still dating and I was really struggling with trusting God’s goodness and timing, I prayed a lot. I sought His face and reassurances daily, even hourly. But without that kind of deep struggle, my prayer life has wilted.

On the chapel notes, Greg wrote “Jesus wants to use your current personal and emotional struggles to get you in the prayer closet with him. There he will recycle your heart once again and prepare you for what lies ahead.” My current personal and emotional struggles. No matter how trivial or insignificant they may seem, Jesus wants to use them to get me to pray.

 

I know that a huge tendency in my walk with the Lord is do things on my own strength. That’s my personality—I do it with lots of other stuff and get frustrated when other people “baby” me or try to help me do something that I’m “fully capable of.” Leaning on others—including God—is not intuitive or natural to me.

 

So when I have a struggle, or am anxious, or feel depressed or weary, I don’t run to God in prayer. I do remind myself of truth—truths that God revealed to me—but I’m not going through life on His strength directly. I’m going through life on strength that I garnered from my knowledge about Him and my “hold tight, it’s gonna get better” attitude.

 

But I want to run to God in prayer. I want to bring Him all the little anxieties that are chipping away at my self-sufficiency and contentment:

·         feeling like we don’t have enough money to even make nice dinners during the week;

·         being nervous about finding a house and closing on it within the span of 2 months;

·         vacillating between wanting to be thinner and wanting to be free from the desire to be thin;

·         wishing I was doing something else with my life, like writing my memoir and mentoring teenage and 20something girls about God, relationships and sex;

·         dreaming about being a missionary but wondering if I’ll ever get the chance to go;

·         wanting new clothes, new CDs, new books, new furniture and gadgets but feeling like my desires extend beyond my means;

·         missing Minnesota and all my friends and family but also being excited about our adventures in Colorado and our friends out here;

·         loving married life but having it be so hard and hurtful sometimes that I’d rather feel physical than the emotional pain;

·         learning to be my husband’s helper and partner, not his competitor or foe

·         having good intentions and shotgun motivation about my spiritual disciplines, eating habits, exercise schedule, morning routine, spending habits, work ethic, and appearance, but having it fade and dissolve over time, only to wish I could be more disciplined in x and y

 

The list goes on and on. I have tried to keep a prayer journal so that when I sit down, I know what to pray for (another one of my many good intentions!). I also know that quieting my heart before the Lord would bring these things to mind but I never give myself enough time to do that. What I am going to do, though, is print this and put it in my journal. A couple weeks ago, I made a goal for that week of praying every day. And I did it too, even if it was silently while lying in bed with the lights off.

 

I need to pray for God to help me be diligent in prayer. Ironic, huh? But here’s how awesome our God is: even if I don’t pray for diligence in prayer, even if I continue to go on in my own strength (though I hope I don’t!), God still blesses me and works in me—with no thanks to myself. Praise Yahweh!

 

I survived the hike!

1 Jun

But barely. Our first backpacking trip was fun but man, was it hard on the legs! I’m glad that the hike was only 3.5 miles because it was all uphill and I don’t think I could’ve gone much farther. My legs were jello by the time we got to our site.

But I did make it the whole way and we had fun. Friday night, we just camped at a site near the trailhead. We made s’mores over the campfire and laughed at Becky and Scott’s dog, Mader, who was an endless source of entertainment. Then Saturday, we headed up the trail around 9:00, got there around 11:45, set up camp, and then did nothing. We fished a little, I took 2 naps (yes, 2), we read, ate, played Yahtzee. If there was something I would do differently for next time, it would be to bring something more to do. I’ll admit it–I was a little bored. I think I’ll bring a good novel next time and find a spot in the sun to suntan and read.

Anyway, this morning we got up, ate breakfast, lazed around the campsite, and got going back down to our car around 10:30. By 12:30, we were at our car. By 1:45, were back to Lakewood (where the Allens live) and by 2:30, I was sound asleep on our bed in Boulder. Glorious.

I am excited for our next trip!