Archive for 2012


I've been thinking a lot about expectations for a while now. I've actually started a blog post about this before but never finished it, so I decided to start over.

First off, a follow-up to the last post about exercise. That grand plan didn't last long-- only two and a half trips to the grocery store (the half was when a friend gave me and the kids a ride home after it started raining and because I'd forgotten to use my inhaler before leaving the house). I got frustrated by not being able to get my Moby wrap to work JUST RIGHT so that I could have both hands free to push the stroller and then it was one excuse after another and we just haven't tried again. I need to find some other exercise to do, but I am being more careful about what I eat.

So, expectations. They can serve me or mess me up. When I first started thinking about this, it was in the context of nursing newborns and being a stay-at-home mom and the things that really throw people off in those two efforts. Nursing is a good example of what I've been learning, overall, about expectations-- if I expect my newborn to eat well, sleep for three hours, wake up, eat again, etc. etc., then I could be totally right. Then on the other hand, I could be miserable when that same baby eats for five minutes, then ten, then sleeps for an hour, then eats for fifty minutes, then sleeps for thirty, then eats for ten minutes, then sleeps for three hours...and so on. My attitude and response can vary from "What is wrong with this child I'm not doing this anymore go to sleep go to sleep go to sleep" to "Oh, hey, that was a good hour-long nap."

The only difference between those responses has nothing to do with the baby. It's all to do with my expectations. Newborns sleep weird. They eat for weird amounts of time. They want to eat a lot. That's normal.

Another example: My toddler wakes up at 5:30 am and plays happily for ten minutes, then descends into thirty minutes of being set off by EVERY LITTLE THING. That Duplo guy doesn't fit there-- fall apart and cry. Truck won't stay exactly where I want it-- fall apart and cry. I could go on. So, I can be moaning and whining to the two-year-old, "Stop whining. You know what's wrong? You need to sleep longer in the morning. You get up too early," or I can remember: He ate dinner at 5:30 the night before. I stayed up for another five hours and had a snack, and I can go longer without food. He's probably miserable because he's hungry. Also, despite tiredness, why do I expect the two-year-old to stop whining when I won't?

And finally, I unsubscribed from a bunch of email lists today and deleted some apps that were all about shopping. I signed up for them so that when we do have a little extra money to buy presents or to get things that we need, I'd be aware of sales and have coupons. But really, it was just making me focus too much on material things. My expectation was becoming that "We should have more freedom in our budget right now" instead of "the Lord will provide when we need something." And He has always been faithful to provide.

All this to say that expectations are something I'm working on. I'm not saying I should expect my kids to be terrible and for our budget to always be tight, but I shouldn't expect the opposite of those things either. My expectation and hope should be in the Lord, not in the circumstances of my bank account or my kids' actions. That's so hard sometimes, but it's so important.

What do you expect right now? Where can you see that your expectations for a situation or a child or a spouse or anything are making things seem way worse than they actually are?

Here are some other areas that I find myself frequently having to adjust my expectations:
-when and how I clean my house
-the time I have to write and where to find it
-how my boys handle going to bed at night ( they are sick and overtired and not sleeping)
-how Adam and I handle conversations when we're tired
-how much sleep I need and when to get it
-what uses of my free time I will find fulfilling
-how much free time I have (lol)
-the kind of time I need to spend with God to not be a total grouch to everyone in my family
-how well my infant sleeps during the day
-how long dinner should take to make

Those are in no particular order. I guess I was freewriting a bit. Anyway, expectations. You have them. Are the ones you have right now helping or harming?


I've just started an experiment of sorts. It involves me walking .8 miles to the grocery store and then .8 miles back every day (note the period-- that's 1.6 miles total, NOT 16 miles) with all three kids. The boys ride in the stroller and Lucy rides in the Moby wrap. I ride...on my feet. We pick up some groceries for the day and then head home.

There are a few reasons for this. Follow me down this rabbit-hole of my thoughts and I'll tell you how I reached the decision about this plan...

So, the other day (Wednesday, for those of you who take issue with the phrase "the other day"), I was driving to my parents' house to do laundry (our washer is broken). I realized we'd need to put gas in the car soon and we're on a pretty tight budget, so we have to pay a lot of attention to this sort of thing. But you know, doesn't everybody, anymore? Gas here seems to hover around $3.80 a gallon and it has for a bit now. Yeah, sometimes it'll dip to $3.40ish and everyone gets excited, or rise to 3.90ish and everybody complains, but it's mostly in that upper three dollar range. The closest I get to $2.90 anymore is having a ridiculous number of gas points from Kroger or Shop-n-Save. 

Anyway, I had the thought that we need to get used to this. We have to adjust. We have to stop treating it as this horrible thing the current administration, the previous administration, the environmental preservationists, etc. etc. have done to us that somebody is going to fix sometime. The truth is, "expensive" gas is probably here to stay. And my family just has to get used to that idea. 

This led to me thinking that I should tell Adam we needed to look for somewhere in a city to live whenever he got a job after grad school-- I imagined living in an apartment a couple floors up, walking a couple blocks to the grocery store every day, walking to the park, walking to the library, and so on. We'd save on gas, I'd be healthier! 

And then it hit me: I don't have a car during the week anyway. The one day Adam can stay home from campus to save gas, I end up using more gas than he would have to just run errands. If I'm going to change the way we live, why not start now? I live in an apartment on a busy street, yeah, but it has sidewalks. I'm .8 miles from the grocery store, about the same from the library and a park. I wish the park was a bit closer, but I'll get over that. 

So we're walking to the grocery store every day or every other day and buying groceries for just that next day or two (next day so I don't have to haul us down there at 6am before breakfast). We went yesterday and we'll go again today. I'm sure there are days that I'll want to quit, but I'm going to try to give it at least two weeks before I reevaluate. 

I need the exercise. And we need a lifestyle change. I need to learn to be less dependent on our car. And like I told Adam yesterday, "I don't know why I'd expect myself to walk everywhere just because we live in a taller building-- to get everybody out and down the elevator and out places, especially if we have another baby by then-- if I'm not going to do it now when we already live that close." It's not realistic for me to assume we'll find a place where everywhere I want to go is within two or three short blocks. So here's to experiments and exercise! 

Also, I'll leave you with the other thing I've been doing for exercise! Dancing with the boys to this:

On Marrying Somebody

The other evening, Adam and I were talking about our dating relationship before we got married and he mentioned that by the time we were dating, he was seriously and honestly committed to his faith in Christ. He was choosing to behave and speak a certain way because he really felt he should, not because it was a set of rules his parents or church expected him to follow. And then he said, "But it scares me how easy a lot of that would have been to fake, and how often that happens to people."

We ended up talking about that idea specifically relating to how guys behave in dating relationships, but I've been thinking about it more and more today and it really works both ways. So, I wanted to type some of what we talked about up for my siblings.

I have six siblings, all younger, and only one is married. Four of the others are old enough (by my parents' standards) to date. This is for you guys-- and our youngest brother, for when he gets to this point.

Dear Guire Kids,

There are few controllable things more important to your continued development into a Christ-like person than choosing the right spouse. You're making a commitment for life and while you will certainly face all kinds of decisions and situations you don't have much of a say in, this is one of the few areas of your life where you get this much voice. So, making sure that you're marrying somebody that is interested and invested in you becoming who Christ wants you to be is pretty serious.

I spent my teenage and college years watching friends date other Christians-- kids who came to youth group, volunteered to pray out loud, led worship, showed up for events and Fine Arts-- and sometimes it seemed obvious that something was wrong, other times not. But here are some things worth watching for-- things that are easy to notice in people you don't like very much, but a lot harder to see if you really, really like the person. They're also worth examining in YOU, to see if you're who you say you are.

Caveat: this isn't a definitive list and people aren't perfect. Weigh these things; don't expect to find someone who never screws up, but don't disregard them either. Be careful if you find yourself constantly making excuses for someone. That said:

1. How do they treat people when they're upset?

Not just you-- siblings, friends, people they don't like very much. Especially in the first few months of a dating relationship, it's a lot easier to be nice to the person you're dating even when you don't feel like it. But how do they treat people they've known for years? If they're rude and inconsiderate to siblings and family and old friends, and not apologetic about it or putting out any effort to change, remember that in another five years, you will start to be that old friend or family.

2. How do they talk about their parents?

Some people have crappy parents, no lie. Sometimes people need to vent. But if your dating partner is consistently complaining about, arguing with, and disrespectful toward their parents, expect that to be you in another ten years. That behavior will rub off on you, flavor and sour your relationship with your own parents, AND is likely to be how you're being treated. The dating person who seems incapable of honoring a parent and complaining to you constantly about it is probably going to find a friend to complain to about YOU as soon as they feel like it.

3. How do they handle being treated unfairly?

Sometimes, we're just misunderstood or people believe rumors or scold before they know all the details. But someone honestly trying to develop into a mature Christian, someone being led by the Spirit, will not habitually badmouth authority or other people even when they aren't being treated well (I'm not talking about actual abuse here). If the person you're dating can't ever say anything nice about their youth group leader, boss, teacher, etc.-- or even if they just don't know when to keep their mouth shut-- be careful. How we talk about those in authority does affect our reputation and our witness, even if most of the people around us agree with us.

4. Can they handle criticism or correction?

Are you with the sort of person who can be confronted in love by you or someone else? I'm not talking about how they handle you or anyone else snapping, "Well, you're being a jerk," when both of you are already mad. I mean, can they handle being told they were behaving the wrong way or do they always get defensive and never apologize? You should look for someone who can hear, "You shouldn't treat your mom like that," or "I know it's tough right now, but how can you choose to let God use this for good?" without becoming distant, emotionally manipulative, or whiny about it. If you don't feel like you can say this sort of stuff ("we're not close enough yet!") then why are you dating someone you can't even be friends with? Good friends should be able to do this for each other.

5. Are they willing to confront you?

There might be a lot of times when you're the one screwing up. Are you with somebody who is willing to challenge you and give you some tough love? Or do they always indulge your pity parties, your rotten attitudes, your mistreatment of others? It's a valuable friend that knows when to listen to you vent and when to tell you to get over yourself and pay a bit more attention to what God is working in your life instead of just how you feel about it. Also, can they confront in love? It's a learned skill, but beware of somebody who is ALWAYS confronting you, challenging you, belittling you, or generally making you feel like crap. Hold out for something better.

This is already long so I'll wrap it up there. I might add other thoughts later, though. To sum all this up, look for the fruits. We will know Christians by their love-- showing up for Bible studies, raising hands in worship, and talking about Jesus are all good things but mean very little if attitudes and behavior are consistently selfish and unloving. People need grace, but you deserve better than missionary-dating a Christian who has no desire to change. Don't waste weeks or months and risk a lifetime on someone who is faking it. What fruit does their life bear? What does yours?

Relationship with Faith

Today is day eight of the ten-day Biblical Relationship series and I'm tackling Relationship with Faith. Specifically, Christian faith in God, and a struggle with that faith. 

I have this problem. The problem is that sometimes thoughts pop into my head and my reaction is, "Oh, that must be true." I know better. I lend my brain too much authority; I sometimes trust myself too much. I know I should be taking "every thought captive" (2 Corinthians 10:5) and testing those things within me, but I get lazy and stop fighting, stop bothering.

Recently, my boys were having an unusually hard time falling asleep-- they tend to do great with naps and bedtime, but they were resisting a lot. I started sitting in the room with them singing hymns and songs I've memorized. While I was singing songs to and about God, I started having nagging doubts about my faith:

"Yeah, but do you really believe this?"
"Do you really think that God is real?"
"Are you really a Christian? Maybe you don't buy it anymore."

I resisted the thoughts some, but mostly just let them slide. They scared me but I didn't do much about it.

It wasn't until Sunday morning at church that I realized how foolish I was being about my own thought life (and as a side note here: how important and merciful is the blessing of regular fellowship with other Christians!). Adam and I talked that evening about how getting lazy in an area like thought life can undermine so much

I must choose to fight doubts like that, to give them no ground. God always knows what I need and when I need it, and He is faithful to provide-- I've even been reading scripture and having conversations that were just what I needed this past weekend. But God doesn't have to keep proving Himself to me.

Faith is a choice. Yes, I need the Spirit to work in me and it is only by the Spirit that I can say, "Jesus is Lord!" (1 Cor. 12:3). But I must also choose to say it. I choose to believe it, to hold to that truth. When I was talking to Adam about this, he reminded me that it was a choice and of two verses that highlight that.

The first is in Joshua -- Joshua 24:15. There is a declaration of the choice to follow and serve the Lord. The second is Acts 16:31 -- "believe" is a command, not a description of a mere feeling.

I am supposed to watch what I'm thinking. Is it a battle? Yes. But I was warned it would be. I am supposed to choose where I place my loyalties; I choose faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When I start letting my thoughts, my deceitful heart, run rampant-- when I lend those things more authority than I give the Word of God-- there is trouble. Of course part of my self wants to convince me I don't believe! My flesh doesn't like dying. But die it must. I choose.

Do you ever trust your own thoughts too much?

Also, a song for you, that was on my mind while I typed this post up:

"Live by Faith" by Chris Rice.


This is part of a two week series on Biblical Relationships that I'm doing with a network of bloggers! Check out their daily (or almost-daily!) posts on Biblical Relationships at these links!

Kathleen Guire             Tracey Moore               Charli Utt 
    at Positive Adoption      at Building My House       at WV Urban Hippies

Amerey Campbell blogs at following.through

Relationship with Future

Today, I'm writing about Relationship with Future. I have a really rosy relationship with my future-- after years of struggling with dread as a teenager, I can pretty much say that I'm an optimist. I mean, I struggle with the occasional worry about something happening to Adam or my kids, but as far as "five-year-plan" future goes, it looks good to me.

Adam is in grad school and money has been tight for all of our marriage. Fortunately, we went into marriage with the expectation that it would be. Now he's in the last summer of school and we're approaching another expectation of mine: he will finish and get a job with a good salary. An "I went to school for 6+ years for this" salary.

I'm not very worried about this not happening, to be honest. I can't imagine anyone not wanting to hire Adam-- he's so smart and hardworking. More than that, I just trust that God has a good job for Adam.

I won't lie. I'm looking forward to times I assume are in our future. I'm looking forward to being able to spend $10 without it being a big deal. And therein lies the problem.

I've realized that I fall into the trap of looking forward to the future with hope for the wrong reasons. Because, I assume, money won't be as tight, I'll be even happier, less stressed, less tempted to reside in worry. And before I know what I'm doing, I've envisioned this future where I'm leaving Target after a spur-of-the-moment shopping spree and I'm somehow a more disciplined, patient, contented, loving person.

But it won't happen that way. I have the potential to be those things, but only if I'm willing to learn how to be them now-- and having more money and a larger budget won't make them happen.

If I develop a habit of stress now, I will be stressed later. If I wait until I have a bigger house to be disciplined to clean it, I will have a filthy house-- now and later.

On the other hand, if I learn to be content and refuse to dwell in stress, I will be more Christ-like now. If Adam makes more money, I will be more generous with it, rather than treating it like my security.

We have a home now. We have never gone hungry. We do not have a single need that Christ has ever failed to meet. My future is secure because it rests in Him, not because of a larger budget. The budget isn't a guarantee, but Christ is. I have a longing in my heart for the future, but I must train my eyes and heart to focus properly-- on Heaven with Jesus. That is a hope that is not misplaced.

What about you? Do you dread the future? Do you hope for it? Do you fall into the trap of thinking that if you can just get "there," in another year or two, everything will be better?


This is part of a two week series on Biblical Relationships that I'm doing with a network of bloggers! Check out their daily (or almost-daily!) posts on Biblical Relationships at these links!

Kathleen Guire             Tracey Moore               Charli Utt 
    at Positive Adoption      at Building My House       at WV Urban Hippies

Amerey Campbell blogs at following.through

Relationship with Dwelling Space

Now that I've spent the whole first week of the Biblical Relationships series on Relationship with Self, I'm moving on to other topics! This week will be slightly more varied in theme. Today is Relationship with Dwelling Space. I've realized that how I relate to where I live impacts my daily attitude more than I'd like to admit. Today, first, a verse:

"But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened...those who buy, [should live] as though they did not possess; and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away." 
1 Corinthians 7:29a, 30b-31, NASB

Do you have a relationship with where you live? "I hate my house," "I love my house," "It's a work-in-progress,"? I know I do. The thing I find myself often saying is, "It's temporary." We're renting. We're probably moving at the end of the summer. I can ignore a lot of cosmetic problems because it's not "mine" (read: fake wood paneling on the walls). I look forward to our "first home"-- the place I feel we can wisely invest in painting, altering, updating. 

There are things here, though, that grate on my nerves sometimes. I debated whether or not I should get specific here and I decided that I needed to be for the sake of the post-- this isn't a cry for sympathy or a list of complaints. We have amazing landlords and the stuff we've dealt with is normal "house" stuff. 

In the past year, we've had a broken hot water heater, a twenty-four hour city ban on using unboiled tap water, hot water pressure problems in the kitchen sink, and two separate "times of trial" with a pesky mouse. (Do you think it's any coincidence that most of those problems relate to the kitchen and doing dishes? Often, doing dishes is the time that I'm most challenged to either pray or angrily brood!)

I've been working on being careful about inward murmurings or frustrated, angry attitudes. This involves a lot of prayer and flesh-crucifying. It's uncomfortable when I'd rather seethe or vent. I've found that comparison isn't the wisest thing for me. There are moments when comparison to those in poorer circumstance is healthy, but this humbling of my attitude is not one of them.

I cannot stand at the sink and merely make myself thank God for running water when others don't have even that. I cannot console myself into a good, cheerful heart with the fact that we have clean beds, heat or a/c, a roof. It's a problem because it can so quickly turn to (a) guilt, or (b) remembering that there are also others who have more.

No, I must put my flesh upon its cross with the thought, regardless of the circumstance of any other, "God can give and take away and right now this is what He has given me." For whatever reason, my present circumstance at any given time is where God can work in my heart.

When I was especially struggling with bitter thoughts or attitudes because of a problem with our sink or the mouse, I found myself often singing after/during prayer while doing the dishes. The song that prayer always brought to mind for a few weeks was "Kindness" and this is the part I kept singing:

"Your kindness, Lord, leads us to repentance,
Your favor, Lord, is our desire,
And it's your beauty, Lord, that makes us stand in silence,
And Your love, Your love is better than life."
(Also see Romans 2:4-8)

This is what I find I must focus on to finish putting my flesh to death: His kindness to me, regardless of any other human's situation. This is what humbles me and causes me to lay my bitterness down. His love is better than life. Do I believe it? Am I living as though I "do not possess" and "do not make full use of" those material things that bother me when I allow them to wreck my mind and heart so much?

There are times when God uses my situation to make me more aware of the suffering of others, to cause me to be sensitive to those in need, but those times are usually in retrospect for me. I've found that I often need Him to work in my heart in the moment without the distraction of comparison. I am called to be content whatever my circumstance because God has me there and not because my circumstance happens to be better than someone else's. Then, my heart learns the discipline of content for the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. I am led by His kindness. This is how I must relate to my home, my temporary dwelling-place. 


This is part of a two week series on Biblical Relationships that I'm doing with a network of bloggers! Check out their daily (or almost-daily!) posts on Biblical Relationships at these links!

Kathleen Guire             Tracey Moore               Charli Utt 
    at Positive Adoption      at Building My House       at WV Urban Hippies

Relationship with Self, Part Five

This is the final post in the Relationship with Self part of the Biblical Relationships series. This is an interview, done via email, with my mom, Kathleen Guire, about the issues I had with gender while growing up. My questions are in italics and her answers are presented with only minimal proofreading. If you haven't read the previous posts from this series, I strongly recommend doing so! Start with Monday of this week.

Interview with Kathleen Guire:

1. Did you ever feel like there was something wrong with me? Did it scare you? Why or why not?

Most of the time I didn’t but I had sporadic doubts especially after spending time with friends and family who put seeds of doubt in my mind.  It was hard to think something was wrong with you because you were so full of life, so determined and the boy-wanna-be didn’t dominate everything.  It was a layer on top of you for awhile.  I could see YOU and all of your gifts and talents shining through even when you micro-focused on being a boy.
You seemed to have a strong sense of who you were in your core being.

2. What kind of response did you get from friends and family about the way I dressed and behaved?

Most people thought it was strange that I let you dress the way you did and wear your hair short.  My family chided me.  My sister Anne fought with me, you and wept every time we went to her shop for haircuts.  You whispered to her that you wanted a buzz cut.  She called me up to the chair and cried when she told me that she wasn’t going to cut your hair that short. It amazed me that she had this reaction.  She was a flannel-shirt-jeans-wearing tomboy when she was young.  You cried when you didn’t get your way.  I stood in as peace maker and helped find a compromise, no buzzing, just a cute bob. [Audrey’s note: I remember never being happy about this compromise at the time, but only being occasionally frustrated about hair length in the interim between haircuts.]

3. Did you ever worry that you were somehow responsible for how I felt?

No, I learned during your infancy that you had a determined spirit, this was just one more test of it.  I knew you weren’t miserable all the time.  You were a happy girl and loved to play, along with attempting to run the universe.  I saw your clothing choices and your refusal to be girlie as being independent in a flesh-indulging manner.  

4. One of the earliest stories about me rejecting “girl toys” was so early that it’s not even a memory for me. Talk about the incident at my 3rd birthday.

When you were three years old, someone who didn’t know you very well got you a barbie as a gift.  When you opened it, you looked at it and said, “A Barbie?  I don’t want this, you can have it Joanna,” and you handed it to her. [Audrey’s note: Joanna is still a best friend of mine, and hopefully not just because of that Barbie.]

5. What made you decide to let me wear boys’ clothes? Did it bother Dad? How and where did you draw the line?
You felt strongly about it.  I didn’t think it was that big of a deal for you to be a tomboy.  I made you wear dresses when it was appropriate, even if you pitched a fit- Easter, Christmas, etc.  I drew the line at boy’s underwear. [Audrey’s note: I only vaguely remember this part, but I apparently asked for them frequently.]

6. Did you worry that I was always miserable?

No.  You weren’t always miserable.  When you were involved in one of your self-made projects- making a movie and interviewing neighborhood kids to be in it, writing stories or scripts, playing in the backyard, riding your bike- you were full of energy and life.  It didn’t matter then that you wanted to be a boy (so you said), your core being was shining through and you had a blast.

7. What things did I say that bothered you the most?

God made a mistake.  Fortunately, I did not believe that and knew you liked to say things for shock value.  Parents sometimes focus on statements kids say about their sexuality and blow it out of proportion, what about when kids say, “God should have made me thin, short, blue-eyed, light skinned, dark skinned, not have a disease or learning disability?”  I used to tell my mother that God hated me because he made me a redheaded, spindly legged, freckle-faced girl.  Kids made fun of me because of my physical attributes so I thought they were right and God must be wrong.  My mother set me straight.

8. Were you ever worried that I would decide I was lesbian or transsexual? 

Only when I listened to the wrong people who thought I was crazy for letting you wear boy shorts and play hockey.

9. How did you pray for me? 

I prayed for you the same way I prayed for all of my children.  I prayed the prayers in Ephesians 1 and 3.  I prayed that God would show you the height and depth and width of His love.  I prayed that you would become a woman of God.  I didn’t focus all kinds of prayer on the matter of you wanting to be a boy until some friends pressured me to pray for you about it. It was at a prayer meeting.  Your father was very upset when I told him what we had prayed for. We both thought you were a wonderful kid with oodles of talent and a bright future.  We weren’t overly concerned about your tomboyish ways.  Other people were.

My dad, at my mom's request, added his thoughts:

I didn’t think there was anything wrong with you being a tomboy.  I grew up in the country where girls wore overalls until they were teens and started caring about the way they looked.  I think you wanted to do boy things to be like me, I was gone a lot and it was a point of connection for you. You were also influenced by your friends who were boys; you wanted to dress like them and play like them- Brock, Joey and Cory.


This is part of a two week series on Biblical Relationships that I'm doing with a network of bloggers! Check out their daily (or almost-daily!) posts on Biblical Relationships at these links!

Kathleen Guire             Tracey Moore               Charli Utt 
    at Positive Adoption      at Building My House       at WV Urban Hippies

Relationship with Self, Part Four

This is post four, and the last part of a story about Relationship with Self for a series on Biblical Relationships. The final post, tomorrow's, will be an interview with my mom. This story is about my childhood struggle with my gender. Picking up from yesterday:

My identity crisis, even from a young age, was wrapped up not in abuse or poor role models or absent parents or exposure to the wrong media, but rather in an innate understanding of how wretched I was apart from Christ, in trying to have a happy identity apart from Him. My struggle with my gender was not a struggle with sexual sin, but a struggle with the very nature of sin within me.

I would haven't put it in so many words at a young age-- I lacked the understanding, even if the teaching about sin and Christ's sacrifice was always around me. I just knew I hated myself and my gender was the biggest part of me to hate-- so I assumed that it must be the reason I was miserable. Jeremiah 17 says "the heart is deceitful above all else." And my heart was confused without the understanding that comes from the grace of God.

I didn't know what I wanted or needed, but my parents swinging to one extreme or another would have been disastrous for me. If they had tried to repress every un-girly desire or if they had indulged every whim, it would have gotten me into a confusing mess for years. I needed the grace of God to stop fleeing from who He had made me as an entire person, to recognize those parts of myself that I hated were not my "girl parts," but my sinful tendencies that kept me from Him. Those parts that were truly making me miserable were the very parts that He actually did want to change, to work a new creation. I didn't need a penis; I needed a Savior. I'm thankful beyond words that He found me and I found Him and for the life I have today.

This is part of my story. This was a lot of my childhood. What's yours? Have you ever confused your sinful nature with some other part of you? Is it corrupting or marring or skewing your relationship with self?

Tomorrow, the interview!


This is part of a two week series on Biblical Relationships that I'm doing with a network of bloggers! Check out their daily (or almost-daily!) posts on Biblical Relationships at these links!

Kathleen Guire             Tracey Moore               Charli Utt 
    at Positive Adoption      at Building My House       at WV Urban Hippies

Relationship with Self, Part Three

This is post number three of a five-post story about Relationship with Self for a series on Biblical Relationships. This picks up from where Tuesday left off.

So, I was unhappy and talked about how much God hated me. I genuinely felt like either He'd messed up while making me, or had done it on purpose to make me miserable.

My parents responded with a lot of love without making a big deal about it-- they gave some and required some. I still had to wear dresses for nice events and church, but I was allowed to play sports. My mom let me shop in the boys' side of the Kid's Gap, but also bought me make-up. I told an aunt several times that I would get married-- if I ever did-- in a hockey jersey. She always tried to talk me out of it, but my mom never said much about declarations like this.

My parents didn't take me to psychologists or insist on buying girly toys. I remember them reminding me that I was a girl even if I didn't like it, and that God loved me, but it never went much further than that. They didn't ban me from "gender inappropriate pretend play."

I wasn't romantically attracted to other girls. I was infatuated by men and masculinity-- I largely disregarded and despised women and couldn't stand the idea that I was one. My perception of myself, along with my discomfort with my own body, didn't lessen until I was around 12 and a major family event distracted me from my constant introspection, and didn't really change until I was 17 and rededicated my life to Christ. And that was also preceded by a lot of junk and depression (though those things weren't specifically related to gender).

I love being a woman now. I see value in myself and other women. I don't mind the occasional dress and I like to look cute. I'm glad I'm not the man in my marriage.

But I still like shorts, I never wear make-up or put "gunk" in my hair. I still prefer sneakers to "cute" shoes. I no longer wish I was a boy, but I'm not super "girly" either. But I am content with who I am after hating myself for years.

I told my mom while we were talking about this that I was grateful that I didn't grow up with doctors always giving me the impression that something was "wrong" with me or my brain.

I also said, and believe, that a lot of my discontent and unhappiness with my biological gender was wrapped up in rebellion and an incredibly low self-worth. My perception of myself didn't really change until I both accepted Christ's love for me and truly began to view myself the way He saw me. I have a St. Augustine quote tacked up on my wall that goes, "Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee." I was restless apart from Christ.

Check back tomorrow for the next, and last, part of the story! Friday will be the final post-- an interview with my mom.


This is part of a two week series on Biblical Relationships that I'm doing with a network of bloggers! Check out their daily (or almost-daily!) posts on Biblical Relationships at these links!

Kathleen Guire             Tracey Moore               Charli Utt 
    at Positive Adoption      at Building My House       at WV Urban Hippies

Relationship with Self, Part Two

This is continuing a five-part story about Relationship with Self for a Biblical Relationships series. This is post two, but the proper start of my story-- the previous post mostly served as introduction to gender dysphoria and issues with gender.

First, let me say that I am a happy, content, unrepressed woman. I love being a mom, having boobs, being married to a man, and more. This is not a coming out story. This is a story about an angry child whose parents raised her with a lot of grace, love, and understanding-- and crazy amounts of wisdom.

From the earliest times I can remember, I was upset that I wasn't a boy. For me, it went beyond mere tomboyishness. I said upset-- furious would be more accurate. I cried a lot between the ages of four and nine: when I was told I was a girl, when I was reminded of it, when I had to wear dresses or pink, when I couldn't play football.

I did play t-ball, soccer, basketball, softball, and ice hockey. I begged to be allowed to join the boys' Wednesday night classes at church instead of the girls' ones. My friends were mostly boys-- I avoided the girls, with only a few exceptions.

I was obsessed with ninjas, sports cards, and Batman (my fifth birthday party was Batman-themed). I hated dolls. When I'd play pretend with friends, I was always a boy. I begged my parents to let me change my name, to call me something else ("Alex" was my preference).

I kept my hair as short as they would let me. My aunt usually cried while cutting it, and I would cry because she wasn't cutting it short enough. I wore baseball caps almost constantly and never corrected people who mistook me for a boy. I had one hockey coach's assistant who went several practice sessions before finding out I was a girl. I intentionally fooled friend's visiting relatives when I was ten.

I wore boy's shorts, boy's shoes, and cried (again) every year for years when I wasn't allowed to buy swim trunks. I was mad that I couldn't pee standing up.

One incident related to that last confession was so weird and drastic even for me that I was deeply ashamed of it and didn't even tell anyone about it until this year: When I was six, I made myself a penis out of paper, contact paper, and orange crayon. My plan was to wear it all the time. I abandoned the plan after my first attempt to use it to pee resulted in a huge mess all over the bathroom.

I have happy memories of my childhood, but this discontent was a large, daily part of life for me. It was not a six-month phase-- this was ages three through 16.

I told my mom that God had messed up, that He hated me and had made a mistake or was punishing me. I told her these things often. "I was supposed to be a boy!" was a mantra.

Check back tomorrow for the next part!


This is part of a two week series on Biblical Relationships that I'm doing with a network of bloggers! Check out their daily (or almost-daily!) posts on Biblical Relationships at these links!

Kathleen Guire             Tracey Moore               Charli Utt 
    at Positive Adoption      at Building My House       at WV Urban Hippies

Relationship with Self, Part One

I've recently joined a blogging group and our very first project is a two-week series on Biblical Relationships. I have a lot of totally different things to share over the next ten week days, but this week is primarily going to be about one thing: Relationship with Self.

I wrote this out as one long post and I'm breaking it up into four, plus a day that's just an interview with my mom. I had started thinking about this topic totally apart from the blogging project when I read a post over at The American Conservative, from Rod Dreher. His post is here. In the post, he links to a Washington Post article titled "Transgender at Five."

I recommend reading them if you have the time, but if not, I'll briefly summarize: The article is about a family dealing with a very young child who is diagnosed with gender dysphoria and, though born a female, begins preschool life as a male-- this includes registration as a boy for school and gymnastics, a short haircut, a new name, etc. The parents discuss issues that they haven't had to deal with yet, but may have to in the future, such as hormone repression during puberty and hormone therapy afterward.

When I read both of those things a few weeks ago, my first reaction was to post a comment on Rod Dreher's post. My iPod was giving me trouble so I ended up deciding I had too much to say in a mere comment anyway. It needed it's own post-- I needed to write a full post (or two, or three) about it-- and I thought it fit well into this Biblical Relationships series.

Gender dysphoria is the name given to a condition diagnosed by psychologists and doctors in those people with a profound discontent with their natural (i.e., biological) gender. Very young children are being diagnosed with this and are labeled "transgender."

I was never diagnosed with gender dysphoria as a child, and cannot say for certain I would have been, but I strongly identified with the child in the Washington Post story. The article made me think about things I hadn't thought of in years. I'll post the first part of the things it brought to mind on Tuesday.


This is part of a two week series on Biblical Relationships that I'm doing with a network of bloggers! Check out their daily (or almost-daily!) posts on Biblical Relationships at these links!

Kathleen Guire                Tracey Moore                  Charli Utt 
    at Positive Adoption        at Building My House           at WV Urban Hippies

Biblical Relationship Series

Tomorrow begins a two-week series on Biblical Relationships that I'm doing with a network of bloggers! Check out their daily (or almost-daily!) posts on Biblical Relationships at these links! My first post, on Relationship with Self, goes up tomorrow!

Kathleen Guire             Tracey Moore               Charli Utt 
    at Positive Adoption      at Building My House       at WV Urban Hippies

I'm It, Apparently.

Charli, a good friend and chauffeur (just kidding! :-P ) of mine, tagged me on her blog and it sounded fun, so I'm going to play. Mostly.

The Rules Are:
1. You must post the rules. (Check!)
2. List eleven things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in the post, and then create eleven new questions to ask the people that you have tagged.
4. Tag eleven people and link to them on your post.
5. Let them know you've tagged them.

Aaaand I'm not going to do the second half of three, or four or five. I honestly can't think of very many people I know that well that are blogging that Charli hasn't tagged, so we'll just call it a day.

Eleven things about me....

1. When I was twelve, I wanted to be a neurosurgeon. By the time college rolled around, English definitely sounded better.

2. I'm a total nerd. I'm picky about what I play, but I love some video games-- some puzzle-games and some play-for-70-hours-before-it's-over games.

3. I started drinking coffee regularly when I was eleven.

4. Adam and I were friends for three years before we started dating, but I'd only known him for two months when family and friends started asking me when we'd get married.

5. I struggled with cutting, depression, and reading porn in high school and then gave all that up when I rededicated my life to Christ. He saved me. And I forget sometimes what a testimony I have and how many people I haven't shared it with.

6. I love watching movies with Adam, and I especially love Asian films and films about children growing up. For the first two years of our marriage, Adam and I watched something pretty much every night while we ate dinner. Now that our boys eat with us, we eat at the table, but most nights we still end up watching something.

7. I love to write but I don't do it enough. I'm also interested in curriculum development, for high schoolers and for high-functioning special-needs kids.

8. I am a fan of nearly all things Batman.

9. Adam and I still collect LEGOs. I don't do it very often right now, but I love to sit down with a new LEGO set and instructions and build. I'm super looking forward to when our boys are big enough for "big kid" LEGOs.

10. I enjoy doing the dishes. No lie.

11. My all-time favorite candies are Farley's gummi octopus (octopi?) and Cadbury orange chocolate bars. My friend Sarah and I used to buy the gummis all the time at Shop-n-Save, but they are increasingly hard to find. The Cadbury orange chocolate bars I found in Poland and they've since been discontinued. I am destined to a life of lesser candies.

Now the questions Charli wrote. :)

1. Where were you born?
I was born in Morgantown, WV, in the same wing of the same hospital I delivered my boys in.

2. What's your favorite food?
I like eating healthy in theory, but honestly, I could eat pizza or McDonald's double cheeseburgers almost any time of day or night.

3. What one farm animal would you raise, if you could?
A cow. And then I'd kill it and eat it and it would be delicious.

4. What would your "Priceless" Mastercard commercial be?
Flashlight: $15. Batteries: $7. Finding missing blankie: Priceless.

5. What would surprise me about you?
I majored in English, love books, love reading, and didn't like Jane Austen at all until last year.

6. What was your first car?
A 1984 Volvo wagon and I loved it.

7. What did you want to be when you grew up?
A neurosurgeon. Or a filmmaker. Or the owner of a caviar-harvesting fishery in Canada (I was eleven and my cousin was going to help!)

8. What blog or website do you visit the most?
Uh, facebook. Heh.

9. Have you ever left the country?
Yes, twice. :) Once for Canada, once for Poland. I came back from one with fish, the other with new siblings.

10. What is your favorite local Mom & Pop shop or restaurant?
Oh, hm. I don't know if it counts, but I love this little toy store in Morgantown called Pinocchio's. That, or the Japanese restaurant called Yama.

11. What makes you smile?
Stupid jokes, or my husband's smile, or my sons playing with each other.


So, hi everybody! I was reading back over some older blog posts and thought I'd give some updates:

I have only tried making bread once, in my bread machine, and it was a nearly total failure. I'm going to try again soon, though.

I have gotten a lot better at trying new recipes! They don't intimidate me nearly as much and are comfortably part of our regular meal rotation now. We've found a lot of things we really enjoy eating that way! In fact, my "go-to meals" from two years ago is an almost completely different list from my go-to meals now. Working on incorporating that into my baking, too!

The boys are sixteen months old and have a sibling on the way. :)

Samuel loves flowers and plants. He points them out excitedly everywhere-- books, real life, the computer, tv shows, etc.

Théoden loves lights and light switches, and convincing us to turn them on and off for him.

They're both babbling away and starting to say some words more clearly. They love books.

I'm posting semi-regularly on my other blog, The Grainery ( but only to keep track of books I've read this year. I should be updating that again soon, because I'm only a few hours away from the end of an audiobook and then should be working through some other books pretty quickly after that. (A few hours from the end of a twenty-nine hour audiobook, I should note, so "a few hours" really is almost the end.)

So, not really much, just a quick update on some things. :)


Yesterday, in church, Adam and I attended the young married's group Sunday School. We've recently started a new study series and it's been taking Adam and I a bit of time to warm up to the guy's speaking style (we're watching DVDs). He's definitely winning us over (or rather, the truth in his words is), but sometimes his word choice throws me off. That's a good thing.

The word that bothered me most yesterday was in one of his key points about communication in marriage: Spouses must have the freedom to complain to one another.


Complain? Haven't I been taught my entire life that complaining is a sin? Aside from all the times it was hammered into me by my parents, I was profoundly impacted by a single sermon at a friend's youth group in high school. The pastor preached the whole sermon against complaining and summed it up with: "Complaining is an insult to the sovereignty of God. It's you saying, 'God, I could have done this better.'"

Ouch. Yeah, that's stuck with me. (And on some level, I still think it's true.)

The basis for every sermon and instruction I've ever received against complaining has been founded in two things:

1. Look what happened to the Israelites when they grumbled and complained.

2. Philippians 2:14, "Do everything without grumbling or arguing." Usually added: Emphasis, everything.

So, when this man starts telling us we should have the freedom to complain to our spouses and that the lack of that freedom statistically results in divorce because of the breakdown in communication, my knee-jerk reaction was that this teaching was unbiblical.

Then, he quoted Philippians 2:14. I was like, wait, wait...what? I looked it up. He quoted the King James Version which says: "Do all things without murmurings or disputings."

It still Murmuring isn't quite the same as complaining, so this was enough discrepancy to drive me to a Strong's Concordance. What I found there blew me away. It convicted me. We'll get to that.

First, I should say that after I realized what the verse was actually saying, after all these years, it freed me up to really hear what this man was saying. He wasn't talking about a constant negative attitude and outlook. He wasn't talking about nagging. He was talking about something that I do believe is crucial in marriage/relationship communication-- I just would have phrased it differently. Healthy relationships must have a clear avenue for either person to say, "This is bothering me," "This hurt me," "This scares me," about any situation.

Two definitions of "complain" from include: "to express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure,resentment, or grief; find fault:...
to tell of one's pains, ailments, etc." and the synonyms dictionary further defines complaining (vs. grumbling or growling) as "to protest against or lament a wrong."

Marriage needs that communication. Friendship needs that. I need to be able to tell Adam that I'm not feeling well, or that a situation still bothers me, or that I'm emotionally wounded. And I have-- sometimes too much!-- but I've always felt guilty about it.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't be complaining," I often tag on. He usually reassures me that it's fine, but I'm haunted by Philippians 2:14 nonetheless.

No more. And yet still.

Here is why I was convicted about that verse. Look up "murmurings" in Strong's, and this is what you'll find:

The word is "goggysmos" transliterated. It appears four times-- only four-- in the entire New Testament. It means:

"(1) a murmur, murmuring, muttering
(a) a secret debate
(b) a secret displeasure not openly avowed"

Oh, man, that hit me like a Mack truck. All this time, the verse means almost the opposite of what I thought. I mean, I should have figured, since God caring more about the inward man is sorta a theme of the, well, entire Bible.

Disclaimer: I'm still not okay with negative, pessimistic attitudes and words. There's a difference between complaining to God or a spouse of a real hurt and whining about everything.

That said.


"A secret displeasure not openly avowed," is kind of a big deal.

How many times have I bitten my tongue and kept from whining about doing a job, or taking care of somebody, or serving someone, or dealing with an unpleasant situation, and then become bitter and angry and resentful in my heart?

Oh, that's a dangerous place. Because then my flesh is cheering me on, "Oh, look at you! What a sacrifice! You're not COMPLAINING."

You wanna know the other three places this shows up in the New Testament?

John 7:12, when the Jews are having muttered arguments about who Jesus says He is, but they don't ask him directly. It causes division. That verse lays out a pretty clear line they were falling on either side of.

Acts 6:1, when the Greeks were murmuring among themselves that their widows were being neglected whenever the Jews handled charity work, instead of confronting them in love and lodging a complaint. It created division.

And finally, 1 Peter 4:9 (KJV), which I'm including in full: "Use hospitality one to another without grudging."

A "secret displeasure not openly avowed."

Have you ever been the guest at a house where even though no one was complaining, even though everyone was being polite and saying the right things, you could just tell you weren't wanted? What about the other person in the room in your own home? And you can just feel how much your spouse or child doesn't want you there in that moment?

Oh, man. I told Adam last night, "Sometimes we think hospitality is just for strangers, but it's not. That's part of it. But I have to be hospitable to close family-- the people I live with. I'm serving them, too."

And how often have, instead of feeling awkward, I've been the one making dinner or doing laundry or cleaning up dog pee or straightening up a room at church, and keeping my mouth shut but just murmuring inside of me? I take what should be the joy of service in the example of Christ, and turn it into my own little pity-party. I grow bitter towards others, angry that my rights, my time, my dignity, my needs are being trampled on.

I'm ashamed to admit how often I've treasured and coddled and nursed and loved those "secret displeasure[s] not openly avowed."

And do you know what it does? Rather than me preserving the peace by keeping my mouth shut, my attitude and behavior and SILENT TREATMENT of something is creating division. The other thing the Sunday school teacher said about words is that, "Good words create a paradise, no words create a wasteland, a desert, and bad words create something worse."

I have created that wasteland in my home, in my relationships, in my witnessing opportunities, far too many times.

This is not license to complain (read: whine) every time I'm uncomfortable.

This is a reminder not to indulge. If I'm having a hard time serving with a joyful heart, my heart needs some readjustment, and that requires taking that very-same "deceitful, treacherous" heart to the Throne of God. I need the grace of God to serve in truthful love.

It might mean a little bit of complaining needs to happen. A little bit of being honest instead of proud. "God, I'm tired," or "I don't feel well," or "I still haven't forgiven him for hurting my feelings," and "I need your help to love the way You love."

I need grace to serve. I need grace to change, to grow.

And it's time to stop murmuring. That's not me "processing" something or "working through" something-- there's a time and a place for those things, but too long have I indulged my murmuring heart and called it something else to make me feel better.

It ends.

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