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Candle in the Night

Monday, February 20, 2012

Must be Nice...

When I was pregnant with H, I was still teaching school.  I knew that once she was born, I'd quit teaching, but many fellow teachers asked if I'd be back the following year.  When I told them no, the response was nearly always the same.  "That'd be nice!"  "I wish I could do that!"  "Oh, it must be nice to be able to afford that!"  Ugh.  I am finally going to address this today.  It's been almost two years since H was born and I've wanted to write this post since then, but haven't gotten around to it.


That's the name of the game for Brian and I.  
If I wanted to stay home with my kids, we had to make sacrifices.  

Our first sacrifice came when we first got married.  Brian had saved and saved during the two years he was teaching before we got married and so we had a sizable down payment to put on a house.  We could have gotten something really nice.  The housing market was low then (not like now, but still pretty low), but before we even started looking, we decided we wanted to have the house paid for before we had children.  We knew that we couldn't carry a mortgage on just his salary and I wanted to stay home, so we were going to have to pay off any mortgage we took out prior to having any babies.  We didn't want to wait forever to start our family, so we sacrificed and bought a smaller home.  It cost about $80,000, has three bedrooms, 1 1/2 bathrooms, and a fairly small kitchen.  We won't be able to live here forever since we plan to grow our family, but it suits us for now.  

The second sacrifice came in the form of jobs.  This is one that most people are willing to take since it's a blessing to have any job in this economy, but I can't say that either Brian or I have ever really, REALLY enjoyed our jobs.  But we knew we were working hard so I could stay home and that made it worth it.  I worked for two years in a job that was...okay...although I would have rather been a stay-at-home wife or worked in a Christian school, but I knew that if I kept working where I was, we'd get the house paid off sooner. Brian really is still making this sacrifice.  He struggles with his job.  It's not great fun for him and he would probably rather be doing something else.  If I was working, he might have the freedom to go back to school or get into a job that paid a little less, but had growth potential, but we don't have that luxury.  But that's a sacrifice he's willing to make so our girls can have Mommy at home.  

The third sacrifice on my list is our budget.  We have a very TIGHT budget.  Before we married, we read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover.  We have also gone through Financial Peace University and we made a budget, use envelopes, and stick to it.  This is not only smart, it's a sacrifice.  For me to be able to stay home, we have to stick to our strict budget and not play stupid when it comes to money.  If you have any questions about our budget, I'd love to answer them (I love sharing about Dave Ramsey and becoming debt free) and I may share about it in another post.  

The final sacrifice I'm going to list here is that of our cars.  Brian and I do not drive extravagant cars.  We drive paid-for cars.  Brian's car is a 2000 Kia and mine is a 2003 Buick.  We just keep liability insurance which means that when a deer (without insurance) hit us two years ago, the side panel never got fixed.  Basically, if it doesn't make our car undrivable, it doesn't get fixed.  It's a sacrifice to not drive fancy cars and to deal with small inconveniences like not being able to open the driver's door all the way because of the dented fender, but it's worth it because it means I get to stay home with my girls.  

So that's the post I've been wanting to write for two years now.  We're not rich.  Brian doesn't make a six figure salary (or even half that!).  We don't have some huge inheritance.

We simply made the decision that that was how it was going to be.  Then we did it.  We didn't make it optional.  

We sacrifice.  

We work hard. 

We prioritize. 

And it's worth it.  

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pro-Life Answers

Wow, it’s been a long time since I last posted and this one is going to be a doozy!  I recently became engaged in a debate regarding a hot topic in our country, especially right now as election season draws near.  The topic of abortion.  I want to preface this with a story.  I’ve been asked many times how I became involved in the pro-life movement.  I’ve always been pro-life and have always voted pro-life, but I really wasn’t all that involved until the past couple of years.  Brian and I attend a church that is VERY pro-life.  As a church, they attend vigils, preach pro-life messages, and try to be involved in pro-life organizations.  Brian and I thought all these things were good, but we’d never been incredibly active and were fairly passive about being on the front lines.  Whenever a prayer vigil would come up, we’d think, “Oh, we should go to that,” but then would forget or something “more important” would come up.  Then, one evening, we were headed out to eat dinner and came to an intersection where we saw people standing on the sides of the road holding signs.  The realization came over both of us that it was our branch.  I ducked low and we hoped the light would change quickly.  I guess that wasn’t God’s plan because we were spotted.  Our fellow church members smiled and waved and we waved back.  We decided then and there to never miss a vigil again.  It’s grown from there, and we really feel God’s calling to be on the front lines fighting for the rights of the unborn. 

That leads me to this debate.  I want to share with you some of the pro-choice arguments that are widespread and some solid pro-life answers, but first I want to give a bit of advice. Pray.  Pray every day that when you come in contact with people who are pro-choice, you’ll have an opportunity to discuss their stance on the issue.  And pray for guidance in every word you speak.  Only God can change hearts and we need to be in earnest prayer that He will do so. 

Pro-Choice Argument: There’s no proof of when a soul enters the body.

Pro-Life Answer: The issue of the soul is really irrelevant to the abortion argument.  There really is no “proof” aside from scripture, but if you are debating with a Christian, here are some solid arguments. 

As a Christian, I have all the evidence I need of when the soul enters the human body.  Scripture tells us that it is at conception.  Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that she would (future tense) conceive.  She then hurried to get to Elizabeth. John the Baptist (who is in the sixth month in Elizabeth’s womb) responds to the presence of Jesus within Mary by leaping for joy.  Allowing for travel, Mary would have been no more than 8-10 days past conception.  Jesus was not even fully implanted in Mary’s womb when John responded to His presence.  (Luke 1) This along with many other scriptures about God forming us in the womb clearly shows how God feels about the matter. 

Pro-Choice Argument: No one can prove that what is inside the womb is human.

Pro-Life Answer: The fact that the being in the womb is human and should be given all the rights of any other human being can be made from a secular, scientific point of view as well as a philosophical standpoint.  Really, science can’t tell us to value human life and when; we have an obligation in society to make those philosophical decisions.  Science just provides us with the data we need to make those decisions.  Many on the pro-choice side will argue that a child is simply part of the mother.  This is false.  Science tells us that as soon as fertilization takes place, a new being is formed.  That being has DNA totally separate from the mother and father.  It is a living, self-directing being.  The only thing it needs to survive is nutrition and a suitable environment.  Just like you and me!  There is really no question in the world of science when human life begins.  The question is a moral one as to when we value that life.  Many people look at the words embryo and fetus and see them as calling the being non-human.  This isn’t the case at all.  It is just another phase of human development.  Just as there are babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, and adults.  A zygote is the first stage of human development, followed by an embryo, then fetus, then infant, baby, toddler, child, teenager, and adult.  These stages can be broken down further, but this illustrates an important point.  Calling someone something other than a human being doesn’t make it so. 

Although science shows us that at fertilization, the being is human, for the sake of argument, I’ll go one step further.  The heart of a baby in the womb begins to beat at 21 days past conception.  There are brainwaves at about 42 days past conception.  Abortion literally stops a beating heart.  That is how a person (outside the womb) is pronounced dead.  Also, even if you doubt science, which calls the being a separate entity at fertilization, no one can doubt that this beating heart and these brain waves are not yours.  Let’s not be silly.  You did not grow yourself a new brain or a new heart in your uterus.  They grew from a totally separate being. 

Pro-Choice Argument: If you believe there is a human baby in the womb, it is your responsibility to prove that, otherwise we don’t have a responsibility to protect it. 

Pro-Life Answer: Many on the pro-choice side cling a lot to the idea that the burden of proof lies with those on the pro-choice side of the argument.  Their thinking is flawed here.  The burden of proof always lies with the one who wishes to destroy. In the case of slavery, the slave holder must be the one to prove that the one they are enslaving is less than human.  (The slave holders in our country wanted to prove that their slaves were less than human.  Obviously they could not as their premise was false, and great injustice was done until government and society intervened.)  The same is true with killing someone because their “quality of life” is not good.  We must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that a prisoner is heinously guilty before they are executed.  We must prove that a patient is brain dead before the plug is pulled.  If a building demolisher came to you and told you they were about to demolish a building and they’re pretty sure there’s no one inside, that wouldn’t be good enough.  They would have to prove absolute vacancy before they demolished the building because if there was someone inside, it would be murder.  Also, I believe that most people would try to stop the person and convince them that the burden of proof lies with them.  They must prove the building is void of life before demolishing it.  The same is true in this situation.  You must prove with 100% certainty that the baby is not a human being if you want to destroy it.  If you’re not sure where life begins, it is still your duty to protect the life that could possibly be in the womb or prove that it is not life at all. 

Pro-Choice Argument: Women have rights.  They have the right to “the pursuit of happiness” and the matter inside them shouldn’t take away that right.

Pro-Life Answer: They are right in that every being has the right to “the pursuit of happiness”.  But life is the first right.  You need life to have liberty.  You need liberty to be able to pursue happiness.  The least right cannot overwhelm the greatest or else societal chaos ensues.  That thinking is incredibly dangerous.  It is saying that your happiness trumps someone else’s life and unalienable rights.  You cannot kill to satisfy your happiness.  

Pro-Choice Argument: Abortion is legal.  States can’t make laws against it. 

Pro-Life Answer: This is a big one right now as many states are currently working to place regulations on abortion clinics.  Yes, currently federal law does state that you can kill your unborn child.  In our country, we have faced unjust federal laws before and these laws have been dealt with in the same manner as what this law in Virginia is doing.  Slavery was allowed under federal law.  Some states chose to implement slavery and other states put restrictions so slavery could not be allowed.  Eventually, federal law was changed and a war ensued.  The point here is that abortion, like slavery, is federally protected, but states still have the right to enact legislation that puts restrictions in place.  Even if a state wanted to say, “Yes, this is murder. Let’s all agree it’s murder,” they have only one option at this time.  That option is to put regulations in place that make it more difficult to perform the murder.  This is the right of each individual state until the states lose their rights which will not happen as long as the constitution is upheld. 

Special thanks to my pro-choice friend who provided a stirring debate and got me thinking about my answers to all these questions.  Also, to my wonderful brother-in-law whose words I may have used several times as he has a way of putting things that helps them to make sense and be meaningful.  Also, I must give credit to the 180 movie.  I use some of the same analogies they use because I think they are so powerful.  I pray these words will touch your hearts.  It's time some progress was made in the pro-life movement.  


Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Potty Training Journey: Detour

Well, today was day 3 and the Potty Train has De-railed.  I'm done for now.  Here are the reasons.

  1. With this method, it's important to watch your child constantly and race them to the potty chair so they finish the potty on the chair.  This didn't happen once.  Not once.  When you have a nursling, it's just nearly impossible to set them down, grab the kid, and make it to the potty chair before all the pee is already out.  
  2. I'm exhausted from following H around while carrying M.  Tired.
  3. I think that if we continued potty training for a few more days, she'd be done.  Totally trained.  Unfortunately, this isn't possible.  We have church tomorrow and I'm not putting her in panties and having her pee all over the pew.  
I'll probably have her wear panties while we're at home, but not while we're out and not all the time.  I am excited with the progress she's made.  She is able to hold it for a long time (this morning was 4 1/2 hours) and knows where she's supposed to be, it's just a matter of making it.  So we'll keep you updated, but that's my report on 3 day potty training.  Don't do it unless you have more than three days and have the ability to give your child the CONSTANT attention that this method requires.  

Sorry if I sound pooped (excuse my pun!), but I am.  Just wanted to give you all an update.  


Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Potty Training Journey Day 1

I sit down to write this blog after an exhausting day.  I read a book yesterday called 3 Day Potty Training by Lora Jensen and decided to take the leap today.  When I first heard about the book, I was really leery.  I don't want to be the one who is "trained" to RUN the child to the potty every time they need to go.  I don't want to use methods that upset H.  And I don't want to start potty training too early and end up frustrated.

There were several things I liked about this book.  (I cannot yet vouch for the truth of these things.  I will let you know in about a week if H is pottying consistently in the potty chair or not.)  I like that, although at first, you are running your child to the bathroom, by the end of day three, they are supposedly going to be taking themselves.  I like that this is a loving, gentle method.  Although you provide feedback when they have an accident, these accidents are considered (to use my teaching vocabulary), teachable moments.  The goal is to use each accident as an opportunity to teach your child how it is all supposed to work.  There is also LOTS of praise!  Even if they dribble in their panties, if any pee goes into the toilet, you get to lay on the praise!  The third thing I like is that it's a three day method.  I can't get terribly frustrated in three days.  And if at the end of three days (or however long I decide to try if it hasn't worked by day three), I can quit.

So here's how today went.  7 or 8 accidents, 2 successes.  I thought that was pretty good for the first day.  But what I found even more encouraging were the things H had learned by the end of the day.  When we started the day, if I asked if her panties were dry, she didn't know what I was talking about.  By the end, she'd tell me they were dry and we'd say "YAY!!!"  When they were wet, she'd say "wet", and ask for dry ones.

The other thing she learned was to run to her potty chair.  She was a little late, but by this evening, she'd stop everything when she realized she was going potty, stand there and potty (gotta break that!), and then run to the potty chair and sit down.  So really, we've just got to get her running there a little sooner.  :)

One more cute story about the day and then I'm off to bed.  I decided to see how much she understood, so I stopped in the middle of our playing, grabbed my tummy, and said, "I need to go potty!!  I feel it in my tummy!  Where should I go??"  She took my hand and ran me to the bathroom and pointed to the toilet and said, "Mama, potty!"  It was too cute!  :)

So overall, we're just having fun with it.  Hopefully she'll be potty trained soon, but if not, I really won't regret this time.  We're spending lots of mommy/daughter time and my floors are cleaner than they've been in months.  :)