Chosen!!

Standard

Rejected & Not Perfected

61142_154119_block_cancel_deleteDo you remember those days in school when two kids got to pick teams for a classroom or outdoor game, and you waited in worried anticipation about whether or not you would be eagerly chosen or be embarrassingly left as the last one standing?  Did you ever walk away feeling the sting of rejection telling you were not good enough, smart enough, or popular enough?  I don’t know about you, but I did occasionally feel that bitter sting nobody wants to feel.

But those games were minor in comparison to the sting of personal rejection in the overall game of life.  You see, I grew up feeling rejected a lot by others and myself.  Not only was I a middle child who often felt left out and like I didn’t fit in, but I was also a perfectionist who felt I had to look pretty, act nice, and always be secure and confident for people to like me and really want to pursue me to “be friends.”  I mean, who wants an average-looking or ugly friend to hang out with as it may make them look bad?  And who wants an insecure, needy, shy “wall flower” following them around?

Much to my embarrassment though, more often than not, those negative things are exactly how I saw myself.  I know this did not give my peers a good starting point because since I had already rejected myself, I really struggled with viewing not only them, but also God, as accepting and loving me unconditionally.  After all, seeing how I didn’t measure up to my own “likability” standards, I was sure I didn’t measure up to theirs of probably being cool or holy enough as well.

Constantly Stalked but Chosen

Now you’d think that as an adult, I’d outgrow these things, but unfortunately, that perfectionist and rejection mentality has continued to closely follow me, keeping me its prisoner and slave.  And sadly, it has often times made me feel rather lonely, depressed, and rejected because still so few intentionally pursue me in friendship or community, let alone have time for me, because they are too busy with their own family, friends, and activities.

Knowing this all may sound rather depressing and like a self-pity party, I must say I feel hesitant and rather humbled even sharing these things .  . .  but I share them primarily because my frustration with others’ seeming rejection and busyness has made me realize how God must feel about my often being too busy to pursue and really spend time with Him.

Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."  (John 10:11)

Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

Too busy with the life He Himself has given me and too busy worrying about why others have not chosen me when He–the God of this great, big, magnificent universe–has CHOSEN ME out of the billions of people on planet earth to be HIS CHILD.  For He says, “I have chosen you and not rejected you.  So do not fear(Isa. 40:9-10).  And “brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved . . . that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:13-14).

So why did He choose me to be His child?  Well, why do we as parents usually have children?  So that we can do life with them and have a growing, close relationship with them over the years, and that is exactly what God our heavenly Father and Jesus His Son want with us as well for “He [Jesus] died for us so that, whether we are are awake or asleep, we may live together with him” (1 Thess. 5:10).

All Grace but Good News

But why do so many not choose God?  Or in other words, not receive His free gift of salvation and live for and with Him in relationship?  I think it is because it is so hard for our simple, faithless hearts to really accept and believe these insurmountable truths that we are actually desired, loved, and pursued by a holy, almighty God and that He’d want to make us His own cherished children.  It just seems too good to be true or often times even too foolish to believe in our human understanding.

And God reminded me on Friday through Galatians that there is a bigger reason we often struggle with. You see, of our flesh there is a strong desire to be loved for who we are or what we do because we are so performance-driven and worshipers of self.  We want to feel and be seen as beautiful and good in and of ourselves, and we want the glory instead of giving it to Christ.  But in the gospel, Christ gets all the glory because He’s the beautiful, perfect One who rescues us from God’s just wrath over our sin.

So God did not choose me, love me, and make me His child because I was measuring up to my perfectionist standards of pretty, nice, secure, and confident.  Or even measuring up to His holy, perfect law of righteousness because “a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ . . . because by observing the law no one will be justified (Gal. 2:16).  And “if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Gal. 2:21).

Did you get that then . . . the gospel or good news of Jesus Christ that is?  He chooses and accepts us simply because He loves us, and He makes us right with Him all because of grace, not works!  Our only requirement is to “believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31).

The Ultimate Insanity

Now you may want to fight the simplicity of it all, but you know what?  We’d be insane to reject God’s offer of salvation as unworthy as we might feel or as much as we want approval for what we are or have done.  After all, once you accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord, “you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has also made you an heir (Gal. 4:7).  And who wouldn’t want to move up in life from a slave of self and Satan to a son and heir of God Most High?  Only a fool.

 Conclusion

So today I praise and thank the Lord for choosing me as His child, as underserved and humbling as that is, and Lord willingly, I will start doing a better job of choosing to spend more time with Him as well as choosing to value His perfect opinion of me more than the imperfect opinions of others because “if God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things” (Rom. 8:31).

Our Gift from Heaven

Standard

A Most Precious Gift

Evan in his sweet dog hat which he gets many compliments on

Evan in his sweet dog hat which he gets many compliments on

“You’re such a sweet and precious gift, such a beautiful, wonderful gift from heaven, O Evan, I love you.”  These words I have often sung to my greatest blessing of this year–our new baby boy Evan Robert.  I was never really a baby person before, but he has definitely captured my heart and attention over the last several months.

It is hard to believe but as of November 2, he is now five months old. He’s doing well and growing seeing how at birth he was 6 pounds, 12 ounces and 20 inches long, and now he is somewhere between 14 and 15 pounds and 24 inches long.

He’s a happy, sweet, good baby overall although he can be challenging in the fact that he has not napped well from early on. So without those good, long naps that I’m sure every mother longs for her baby to take, he not only keeps me from getting much done at home but also keeps me wondering what to do with him as he becomes fussy or discontent and very hard to please.  Some days I truly feel accomplished if I just get to make my bed and take a shower as crazy as that sounds.

Praise the Lord, Evan did start sleeping through the night though in early September which was a big relief and blessing because I never felt so exhausted in my life as those first two or three months of his life.  I used to have problems sleeping but not since my pregnancy and post-pregnancy days for some odd reason.  I am not complaining though as it is so nice to be able to sleep more than three or four hours a night!

All Energy & Excitement

Anyways, Evan continues to be very alert and active as he was early on, with much movement of his arms and legs.  It is really fun to watch him move them back and forth so quickly and with such pure excitement and forceful energy.  He looks like he is having the time of his life, with his eyes beaming forth delight and with his laughter or shouts filling the room, that I have to wonder what is going on in his little mind.  Micah and I find our favorite things about him are his smiles and laughter which happen often.  These precious gifts really help make all of the hard moments melt away believe it or not.

Evan also will often look at the ceiling  as he doing all of his moving around as if there is something up there catching his attention, but I couldn’t tell you what most of the time. It is very amusing that babies are so enraptured by the simplest of things like ceiling lights, ceiling fans, blank ceilings, or a flying musical monkey that goes around and around over them on a play mat.

New Skills & Development

As far as new skills or abilities, Evan can hold up his head quite well, and he is grabbing things like my hair (and boy, does he have a strong grip!), small toys, and his feet.  He is turning over now from his back to his tummy but not so much from his tummy to his back.  That is about it, so no crawling yet.

He is also teething, and therefore, he has been drooling and blowing bubbles a lot and kind of sticking out his tongue.  In the last month or so, he has also been talking a lot of baby gibberish and making throat noises.   He really is too cute!  :)

Interests & Disinterests

And for Evan’s main interests?  Eating, moving his body around, being out and about, being with people/socializing (I wonder who he got that from?!), laying on his little bouncer seat in the kitchen, or sleeping in his car seat (but if at home, it has to be rocked or swung and if in the car, we need to be moving . . . No stop signs or stop lights, please!).  I really don’t know what I would do without that wonderful invention!  Since he refuses to take naps in his crib during the day, most of them actually take place in his car seat even though they can be short, as in less than 30 minutes at a time.

Evan on his bouncy seat in the kitchen

Evan on his bouncy seat

As for those things he really does not like?  Tummy time still but he has been doing a little better with it lately.  I just hope he does not get a really flat head in the back, but the poor child acts as if we are tormenting him by putting him on his tummy for five minutes or less.  He just does not know how good he has it, does he?!  He also has taken a strong disliking to his swing which baffles me because it’s like a car seat in constant motion or a dream come true, but I guess not.

Conclusion 

So there you have it . . . an update on the baby, something I have learned that draws the attention and interest of both the very young and the rather old as well as family and friends and strangers and foes.  Is it any wonder then that Jesus came to this earth as none other than a BABY?!  After all, babies are definitely great bridge builders or conversation starters at least.

And as a new mother, who can be rather stressed and very discouraged at times, I would still wholeheartedly agree with King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived and the author of Psalm 127, that “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (vs. 3).

So thank You, God, for this most precious, fearfully and wonderfully made gift named Evan!  “Your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psa. 139:14).

Doesn't he look so beautiful?  I love how he looks when he's asleep.

Doesn’t he look so beautiful? I love how he looks when he’s asleep.

No Greater Sacrifice

Standard

My Veteran Heroes

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  (Jn. 15:13)

IMG_0973aBeing that today is Veteran’s Day, I just want to say a big “Thank you!” to all of those wonderful men and women, living and dead, who served in our country’s military in the past to protect our freedoms in the present from outside threats.  You are my heroes!

What stands out to me the most about you is first of all your courage because you were actually willing to die–and grievously, so, so many of you did die and pay the ultimate sacrifice–for the good, happiness, and life itself of others.  There are very few people today who are willing to do that, so I stand completely amazed.

Secondly, what stands out is your self-sacrifice because you gave up all the comforts of your home and family to undergo hard training; probably deep loneliness and sleepless, fear-filled nights; and horrific, heart-wrenching wars for the sake of your fellow countrymen.  To think you were given only one life to live, and that you chose to live it in this way, is just incredible!

Our Ultimate Hero

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  (1 Jn. 4:10)

At this time of honor though, may you also consider what Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son, sacrificed for you, His precious creation made in His image and for His glory.

  • Because we had an outside threat (Satan and his demons) trying to destroy us, Jesus left the comforts, glory, and praises of heaven for this darkened, decaying planet to rescue us, its sin-stricken, sickly people destined for an eternity apart from God in a horrific place called hell.
  • Because He knew we needed to connect with Him in a personal way, Jesus left His role as the Almighty Son of God to become a lowly Son of Man by becoming a mere baby to becoming a child and then a man.  Jesus did not have to come in this extremely humble way, but He did so that we would not fear but come near to Him.
  • Because we needed a perfect substitute to take away our sins and satisfy God’s wrath, Jesus vigilantly lived out a holy, perfect life in our place and then took our sins upon Himself as He was unjustly put to death on the cross.  But He willingly and lovingly gave Himself up for us though.  In other words, no man took His life without His permission.
  • Because He knew we needed hope beyond this life and the grave, Jesus rose victoriously three days after He was buried to bring victory over sin and death and eternal life and peace with God for all men and women.

Honoring by Believing & Following

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.'”  (Matt. 16:24-25)

Following in the footsteps of Jesus and our veterans will always involve a cross or death to ourselves for the life and freedom of others.

Following in the footsteps of Jesus and our veterans will always involve a cross or death to ourselves for the life and freedom of others.

So in light of all this and doing what our veteran heroes could never do for us–by living perfectly on our behalf and fully taking our penalty for sin and all–why not remember Jesus’ self-sacrifice and honor Him today as well for all that He did.  And how can you honor Him most?  Simply by believing Him and thereby following Him because “faith without works is dead” (Jas. 2:26).

And while you are at it, honor our veterans in the greatest way you can by believing that what they sacrificed was good, honorable, and true and thereby following in their footsteps of courage, self-sacrifice, and fighting for freedom for the generations to come.

“The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  (Gal. 2:20)

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’  He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”  (Gal. 3:13-14)

“Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”  (Rom. 5:1-2)

A Marathon Like None Other

Standard

My Almost 20-Hour Marathon

I don’t know about you, but I have never been a marathon runner because I do not like the discipline, energy, endurance, and pain a marathon requires.  But beginning Sunday night, June 1, and ending Monday, June 2, I “ran” and completed or endured and succeeded my first one and an almost 20-hour one at that.

Kristen, the assistant midwife, was wonderful!

Kristen, the assistant midwife, was wonderful!

You see, on that Sunday night, now almost a whole month ago, at 7:00 p.m. my pregnancy labor officially began with contractions starting every five minutes for a complete hour.  As the night progressed, the contractions grew worse so that by midnight or so, I was having intense ones in my lower back and lower abdominal area every three to four minutes.

There to help me through these intervals of the uterine muscle tightening and relaxing–and thereby trying to push my baby out into the world–was my friend and Bright Lights co-leader Katie who arrived around 10:30 p.m. It was such a big blessing to have another woman I knew there with me, especially one who had just gone through a natural childbirth the year before and could relate to what I was going through.

Katie was so gracious too to stay with me until Kristen, my midwife’s assistant arrived to our home around 2:00 a.m.  Shortly after Katie left then, my midwife Jeannie arrived and sent me and Micah to bed to get rested up.  Believe me though, the contractions soon had me jumping out of bed and up for the rest of the night.  There was no way I could stay still, but every movement, even going to the bathroom, became a labor of pain.

Praise the Lord that Kristen was there to so lovingly and patiently encourage and help me through the contractions the rest of the night.  I don’t know what I would have done without her!  Seeing how we had a home birth, no drugs were available, but that was okay because I was determined to go all natural all the way through until delivery.

A Surprising Sign & Alarming Situation

Well, around mid-morning, I started feeling this urge to “poop,” and when I told Jeannie this, she surprised me by saying that is what she was waiting to hear.  Unknownst to me, that desire is a sign of delivery soon approaching, but who would’ve ever guessed that a precious baby’s birth would be associated with waste elimination?!  :)

So Jeannie checked my cervix’s dilation and found it to have opened to about nine centimeters.  However, it needed to be at 10 centimeters, and my amniotic sac or “water” also had not yet ruptured which indicates as well your baby is about to be born.  The sac was so tight that around 10:00 a.m. or so, Jeannie went ahead and broke it, and then she proceeded to go out and get something from her car.

She soon returned to my bedroom horrified though because her car, parked in our driveway, had been broken into overnight, and her purse, including a large amount of cash, was stolen.  Understandably, she immediately called the police, but having never had a child before and not knowing what to expect next, I was kind of freaking out inwardly because I thought I could be delivering anytime soon without a midwife on hand possibly.

I really felt that this was just another spiritual attack of our enemy Satan because the whole preceding weekend seemed to  dish out to me unexpected conflict situations in regards to my labor as well.  They were emotionally difficult for me to deal with most of all, but by God’s grace, I made it through them.  This was just another time to trust that God was ultimately in control and working for my good as He did in each of the other situations.

Endurance Is Key

Jeannie, our main midwife, did not look like a midwife as I imagined.

Jeannie, our main midwife, did not look like a midwife as I imagined.

So while Jeannie was distracted and discouraged by a broken car window and stolen goods, I became very distracted and discouraged with an unexpected new level of pain and labor.

You see, after my water was broken, my cervix dilation went back down to seven centimeters because the tight sac made it dilate more than it actually was.  Thereby, I had to start exercises–such as squats and rolling my hips in a circular motion while being draped over a yoga ball–to bring the baby’s head down more and more to open up the cervix more so that I could officially “poop” the baby out.  And  because my water was broken, my contractions became even more painful than they were before.

Now the exercises in and of themselves were not the worst of it though but the increasing urge to “poop,” and not being able do so, was.  By this stage, I thought for the first time that I was going to end up in a hospital and have to undergo a C-section which I did not want at all.

I kept asking the midwives if I could quit these tormenting exercises though, but they would not let me.  I don’t know how long all of this went on for, but finally, Jeannie said she would check my dilation once again.  I was back to nine or nine and a half centimeters, so she finally gave me permission to try pushing.

Evan was quite alert since the moment he "came to"

Our precious Evan was quite alert and wide-eyed since the moment he “came to” which was not too long after Jeannie worked on him.

Well, come to find out, I did not have what it took to push the baby out.  I could not believe it, but praise the Lord, Jeannie thought to try pulling up a lip in the cervix.  This made a big difference because after doing so I tried pushing again, and much to my relief, she said I had the power needed to push now.

So for the next 30 to 45 minutes (I really have no idea of how long but that is how long it seemed to me), I started pushing with all that I had.  I was nearing the finish line and just wanted our baby out no matter the pain.  The pushing was nothing though in comparison to the contractions.

Micah, in the meantime, was cooling my face with wet washcloths as I was sweating like no other time in my life probably.  Suddenly, at 2:45 p.m., as a thunderstorm was going on outside, our new baby boy Evan Robert suddenly popped out head and all.  I was amazed that his whole body came out so quickly but thankful it was all over so soon.  And surprisingly, no blood and guts went flowing all over.  It really was a rather clean experience overall.

Baby Scare

Upon Evan’s arrival though, a new dilemma arose.  Seeing how Evan didn’t cry upon coming out, Jeannie began frantically patting him all over and taking a nasal aspirator to his nose and mouth to suck out all of the “gunk.”  While she was crying out, “Oh, God!  Oh, Jesus!,” Kristen, who had closely monitored Evan’s heartbeat after every period of pushing, was exclaiming that the baby’s heartbeat had been just fine.

Our little man Evan Robert weighed in at 6 pounds, 12 ounces, and he was 20 inches long.

Our little man Evan Robert weighed in at 6 pounds, 12 ounces, and he was 20 inches long.

You would think that by this time I would be freaking out, but honestly, I wasn’t.   I had a peace that I can’t explain because normally I am an easily-fearful person.  God is truly so gracious and meets us in our time of need by giving us His gracious strength which is “in quietness and trust” (Isa. 30:15) or waiting upon Him and His goodness and tender care.

As the verses that often comforted me before my labor and delivery state:  “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isa. 41:10).  And I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). 

A Double but Troubling Surprise

Well, another big surprise to top off the whole birth experience was to learn that our little Evan had a twin!  Kristen, as she was taking out the placenta and all, found a wee four-week-old baby who had died along with a dead part to the placenta.  It would be so interesting to know what caused this little one to die, but we shall never know this side of heaven.

What makes this all so very interesting too is that both of Micah’s brothers have twins, and Micah’s cousin has twins as well.  Is that not all so crazy?!  And to think that I literally have three children now, although two sadly never lived to see the light of day here on this earth.

My After-Birth Thoughts

Now someone asked me if I’d do a home, natural birth all over again, and my answer was and still is–absolutely YES!  First of all, I LOVED having a home birth with a midwife, and I cannot imagine giving birth anywhere else but home now.  It was just so much more comfortable because . . .

  • I did not have to worry about going anywhere in the middle of the night.
  • I did not have to worry about forgetting anything I needed at home.
  • I did not have to worry about what doctor I would end up getting at the hospital as there is usually more than one who work together nowadays and usually one that you really do not care for.
  • I did not have to worry about going through difficult contractions and groaning  in an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people.
  • I did not have to worry about doctors trying to rush me or nurses trying to give me drugs.
  • I did not have to worry about how long the hospital would want to keep me and about a mounting hospital bill.
  • I could sleep in my own bed that night with my baby in the same room.
  • I could have visitors right away the same day the baby was born.
A big praise was finding out the Sunday before I delivered that I finally passed the Strep B test so that I did not have to deliver at this birthing center a little over an hour away.  God was so good!

A big praise was finding out the Sunday before I delivered that I finally passed the Strep B test (after three tests and two remedies–a natural one and then an antibiotic) so that I did not have to deliver at this birthing center a little over an hour away. God was so good!

As far as going all natural, labor and delivery really was not as bad as I might have imagined or as people even described it so I did not even feel a great need for intervening or numbing drugs.  Yes, it was hard and painful, but for me at least, it was not “horrible” as one woman described it or a time of screaming or hating my husband as others described it. Those all sound like torture, such as having a body part cut off, but it did not even come close to that.

So in spite of the car being broken into, the extra work to bring the baby down, the baby scare, and the lost baby, it was all in all a positive experience and such a blessing.

I just praise the Lord that I and Evan made it through safe and sound and that women like Jeannie and Kristen dare to be different today.  How’s that?  Just by their courage to do what they believe God has called them to do and that is simplistic midwifery at its best and home births of all things.

My Hymn of Praise

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible,
  The only wise God, the only wise God,
Be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. Amen.
  Be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen
.
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.  Amen.”  (1 Tim. 1:17)

 

The Abundant, Refreshing Blessings of April’s Showers

Standard

A New Birth Springing

file0004913053Spring is in the air here in Michigan, and with it, many “new blessings” came my way in April.  First of all, warmer weather, greener grass, budding trees, and blooming crocuses, daffodils, and tulips appeared at long last!  As always, it has been an exciting and refreshing time to see the “new birth” of the earth.

Even though people don’t recognize or acknowledge God as the earth’s Creator, He truly is its Creator and a very loving and gracious One who faithfully brings out His glory and wonders in each new season, year after year, for us to enjoy in spite of our personal rebellion against Him and ensuing decay towards death and destruction.

Just ponder with the Psalmist, “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you” (Psa. 130:4-5).  And “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:21-23).

A New Year Dawning

Along with that “new birth” for the earth though has also come the dawning of a “new year” for me as I celebrated my 38th birthday on April 7.  It is hard to believe I’ve made it this far as so many times I dreaded and often thought I’d die on a plane in my many travels in life, especially throughout my 20’s.  Can you tell I do not like heights or not being in control?!  :)

Even though my birthday was not necessarily warm and sunny out as desired and did not go exactly as I planned or wished for, it was still a good and special day.  Micah and I were treated to lunch at Jimmy John’s by his Grandpa and Grandma Weaver who are such loving, good grandparents.  Then that afternoon I spent with some friends before going to dinner with Micah and an older couple who have been like family to me since I moved here nine years ago.

I actually had a royal birthday celebration having visited King Gyro's and Dairy Queen, the official "king" and "queen" of this area!  :)

I actually had a royal birthday celebration having visited King Gyro’s and Dairy Queen, the official “king” and “queen” of this area! :)  We live such upscale lives, don’t we?!

We went to King Gyro’s, one of my favorite restaurants in this area. Not only do they serve really good Greek gyro sandwiches but also large portions of delicious french fries, and all at inexpensive prices.  We ended the day enjoying “Cookie Jar Blizzards,” ice-cream blended with Oreos and cookie dough, at Dairy Queen with the two sweet children of some  friends.

A New Life Growing

In April I also experienced the increasing reality of a “new life” as I have felt more and more movement within my womb and have a growing belly to show for the baby’s growing body.   People often mention how small I am, but it really does not feel that way for me as this is the biggest and heaviest I have ever been.  It is hard to not think of  myself as being “fat,” but Micah faithfully reminds me that I’m “pregnant.”  I think I have put on about 17 to 18 pounds since the beginning, and I am 35, almost 36, weeks pregnant now.

With just 30 days left before the baby is due to arrive, I am kind of scared of the major life changes coming our way, but I know God promises His grace is sufficient or enough for our needs.  After almost four years of marriage and seeing how it has opened my eyes in greater ways to my sinful depravity, I see this new role of parenting as just another tool God is going to use to refine me and make me more aware of my brokenness, which is really scary, and thereby make me even more aware of my desperate need for Him in multiple ways–

  • For His grace to change my own rebellious, stubborn heart to submit more to His ways as I have seen and will continue to see more and more of my own selfishness as I hear children have a tendency of bringing that out in you . . . Lord willingly, having children will spur me on in greater ways to change seeing how I don’t want them to imitate my bad behavior.  Yikes!
  • For His companionship, comfort, and joy as I know I’ll probably feel even more alone, being more restricted to the home
  • For His supernatural contentment as I know I’ll be doing lots of seemingly meaningless, endless tasks such as feeding, changing diapers, and laundry, and I won’t be running around or doing things as much which is what the world is always calling me to do to make me feel my life is worthwhile
  • For His wisdom, direction, and peace in rearing a godly child in a very ungodly, scary world
  • For His great mercy in helping me to be a godly, loving mother as I know that I cannot do this in and of myself

A New Season Approaching

I have also become more aware of the “new season” of motherhood soon and quickly approaching through  experiencing three lovely, lavish baby showers given for me in April.  At each one, friends and family, and even some strangers–wanting to prepare me with the many, seemingly overwhelming necessities of a baby– poured out on me many gracious, undeserved blessings.  Now as much as I don’t like being the center of attention, I do love the profound sense of love and support I’ve experienced at bridal and now baby showers.  If it was not for these showers, I really don’t know how people could survive in a way as things are not cheap.

Me with the sweet ladies who helped prepare me with my first shower held at Life Action

Me with the sweet ladies who helped prepare my first baby shower held at Life Action

As for my first shower, it was held the evening of Friday, April 4, and hosted by my dear friend Renae for ladies from my church and from Life Action.  I was so encouraged and blessed by the 43 ladies and young girls who attended that night.  I received big group gifts–including a car seat, a stroller, a diaper bag, a diaper pail, and a high chair–as well as smaller individual gifts which included mostly clothes and gift cards.

My second shower was held the evening of Monday, April 21, by my mom and aunt down in Florida as Micah and I eagerly went down to visit for a week.  My mom invited about 50 lady friends, half of whom I did not even know, and 26 came out.

Since we were flying back to Michigan, my mom kindly asked them to bring something small or to give a donation for a pretty upholstered rocking-reclining chair I really wanted from La-Z-Boy.  She was skeptical that I would receive much for the chair, and I had my own doubts since the chair was not inexpensive but most are not.

Well, through that one shower, I received not only many more cute baby clothes but also more than enough money for the chair!  And that money even came through ladies who could not come to the shower or who had never even met me.  That was so amazing!  God truly poured out His grace on me abundantly and freely through His people!

My aunt, me, my mom, and two of my mom's friends helped put together the shower for me in Florida

My aunt, me, my mom, and two of my mom’s friends helped put together the shower for me in Florida

While it is so humbling, I must say that it is also such an honor to think that God cares so much about me and the desires of my heart, even when those desires may seem frivolous or not “really needed.”

Just to show God’s eager attention and care too, the dear husband of one lady who got sick and couldn’t come drove 20 minutes or so to the shower just to hand deliver their card and monetary gift for me!  Another lady I did not know very well came at the very end of the shower just to deliver her sweet card and significant monetary gift as well.  Wow, so humbling!

My last big shower then was this past Tuesday night, April 29, at the home of a long-time friend of Micah’s Grandma Weaver.  Thirteen ladies attended and blessed me with more cute clothes, a lullaby CD, a parenting book, and a bedside sleeper for the baby in his first several weeks or months.

A New Level Reached

Now as you may or may not remember, Micah and I set out this new year with the God-sized resolution to pay off our house loan by December 31 of this year.  We took on this challenge not only because we want to be completely debt-free but also because we want to be more dependent on God and see Him do miracles because paying off over $29,000 is no small feat, for us anyways.

Well, I’m happy to report that from January 2 to April 4, we officially paid off about $10,000 of that house loan bringing us down to about a remaining $19,500!  We were able to get this far in just three months due partly to the fact of cutting out the majority of our extra spending/cash flow, and thereby doubling our monthly house payment.

But really, our big help has been from gathering together any reserve savings–money left over from our wedding, which we wanted to use for a missions trip, and savings Micah had for a dream sports car.  Also on April 3 we sold my 2000 Hyundai Tiburon sports car for $2,100 which helped make a big dent in the loan as well.

Aww, so yes, I lost my faithful companion of 11 years to a Mexican college kid/young man.  The sale was bittersweet since I had that cute, stylish car since December 2002, when I lived in Washington, D.C.  It was time for it to go though seeing how 1.) we hardly used it with Micah working from home, 2.) the insurance on it being rather high since it was a two-door sports car, 3.) it was terrible on the winter roads with it being so light-weight, and 4.) it would not be practical or easy to use with a baby.

Its current value was about $1,700 but with its lower mileage, we attempted selling it for $2,200 and got $2,100 in cash instead just a couple days after putting it out for sale.  I was amazed but I just praise the Lord for His quick provision, especially knowing it needed over $700 worth of repairs which the new owner was informed about.  The Lord is good!

With all of our extra resources now used up though and with nothing else really left to cut out of our budget, we now face a greater challenge of finding extra income to pay off the remaining $19,500.  This is where “the rubber meets the road” which is rather daunting because from here on we are really dependent on God’s  supernatural work and grace.

So please pray for us.  I know our prayer lives should definitely increase in regards to this matter, especially with rising costs coming our way with the addition of a new baby the end of May.  If anyone needs a website though, please let me know because Micah designs them for a living and is looking for side work.  Hint, hint!  :)

Conclusion

Well, I hope you had an abundantly-blessed April as well!  I know I desperately needed a refreshing month  as March was a very hard month for me.  Thanks be to our great God and Savior for His steadfast love which never ceases and His mercies which never come to an end.  They are definitely new every morning!!  Great is His faithfulness!!  (Lam. 3:22-23)

One of the big blessings of April was being able to visit my family in Florida for a week.  Here we are on Easter Sunday doing our silly family pose.  The only one missing is my sister Kristy, but she actually arrived later that night.

One of the big blessings of April was being able to visit my family in Florida for a week and have gorgeous weather for most of the time we were there. Here we are on Easter Sunday doing our silly family pose. The only one missing is my sister Kristy, but she actually arrived later that night.

 

My brother and Leann have been married almost a year now.  It's hard to believe his kids have gotten so big now too.

My brother Jeremy and Leann have been married almost a year now. It’s hard to believe his kids are growing up so quickly, and I was surprised to find Victoria now wearing glasses and purple ones at that!  Like grandmother, like granddaughter.  :)

Easter Sunday was kind of dreary most of the day but got prettier and sunnier as the day progressed.  Here is its glorious sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

Easter Sunday was rather dreary most of the day but got prettier and sunnier in mid to late afternoon. Here is the glorious sunset over the Gulf of Mexico to end a most triumphant day in Christ.

And look . . . Even the Easter bunny came to the beach on Easter Sunday to view the glory of the real reason for the Easter season, the Son of God Jesus Christ.  He is risen indeed!

And look . . . Even a bunny came to the beach on Easter Sunday to view the glorious handiwork of its Creator who is the real reason for the Easter season, the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  For “the Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”  (Col. 1:15-17)

 

 

 

 

God’s Gracious Guidance

Standard

The March of Time

This little girl was the highlight of my February.  My sister Kristy and Emma came to Michigan for work purposes, and I got the joy of babysitting her a few days.

Spending time with my sister Kristy and her little girl Emma was a big highlight of my February. They came to Michigan for work purposes, and I got the joy of babysitting Emma a few days.

Time seems to march on ever so quickly, doesn’t it?!  Even with a long and lonesome, bitter cold, and rather snowy–the snowiest since I moved up here eight years ago–Michigan winter, which kept me home more often than not, the days have literally flown by.  Six months ago, when I first learned I was pregnant, never did I dream the days would go by so speedily. You see, today marks Week 31 of my pregnancy, leaving me just about two months away from my due date of May 31.

Now over the course of these six months, I’ve been through alot of stress between my first trimester food aversions, nauseousness, and increased anxiety issues to my second trimester midwife problems, but the Lord has been so gracious and kind to me throughout.  Not only has He continually assured me of His ultimate control over the life of this baby He is creating within me, but He has also so graciously and miraculously directed me to a “real” or old-fashioned midwife not submersed in and relying on or pushing the typical things of today’s “modern” medicine.

All of my problems began though with just “assuming” that hospital midwives were your typical midwives of the past–simple, natural, holistic, and not promotional or pushy as far as testings, shots, medicines, and such–but I was very wrong as I discovered too late.  So after my last dealing with one of today’s modern, medically-indoctrinated midwives in early January, I set out on a quest to find one of those rare relics of the past, if such a woman even existed however.

I was sad to see them go

I was sad to see them go, and Emma looks sad too.  I love that little girl so much.

Life Out of Death

Never did I imagine that I’d find my relic or my dream come true so soon after my quest began though and by way of a funeral of all things!  You see, back in early January, after my last midwife appointment, I called our local Child Evangelism director to seek new teaching materials for our Good News Bible Club over the winter.   Well, as we were talking, she mentioned that she had two funerals to attend over the next few days.

Thinking that was a bit unusual, I asked her who died, and much to my surprise, she said the first funeral file00020091143was for Penne, a very dear, sweet, radiant Christian lady I knew who had been struggling with cancer and whom I had been trying to keep track of as far as her health was concerned.

I initially met Penne at her small church I believe when I first moved back to Michigan in 2005, and then she turned out to be my neighbor after Micah and I got married in 2010.  Like me, Penne had a great heart for evangelism and children, so we even did a Good News Bible Club at her home for the neighborhood kids over the course of one fall.

I had not contacted Penne or her pastor’s wife, whom I am friends with, to check up on her in awhile though, but I had been meaning to, so it was truly divine providence that I learned of her death and was able to attend her memorial service on Saturday, January 11, held only a day or two after I found out.

At the luncheon following the service, however, I sat next to a girl named Amber, whom I had met before but only about once.  She was the relatively-new wife of a guy I knew from Penne’s church, and since Amber was pregnant as well, we started talking about pregnancy stuff and my midwife frustrations.  Amber then told me of her midwife and how she wanted to get together with me and Micah and go over some stuff seeing how she is heavily involved with natural medicine and childbirth.

So the following weekend Micah and I had Amber and her husband over for dinner which led to them inviting us to go with them to their next midwife appointment on Friday, January 24.  We went and talked to their midwife Jeannie for at least a good hour after their appointment, and I left feeling joyful and very much at peace for the first time.  I was just impressed with . . .

  • Her proficient knowledge and successful and extensive experience in delivering babies, both as a hospital nurse and as a midwife (She has delivered over 2,000 with rarely a problem!)
  • Her view of labor as a joyful, beautiful, and sacred experience, and thereby, her treating it, not as a dreaded, painful disease, but as a gift from God
  • Her calm and non-paranoid, non-pushy demeanor
  • Her common bond as a fellow follower of Christ

That night I could not help but want to seriously celebrate, and since then, I have been further reassured of Jeannie being the woman for us by her minimalistic, simple methods and mindset.  I mean, do you realize how weighed down our medical personnel  and system today are with the fear of getting sued or “covering themselves” so that they want to perform every test imaginable and warn you and treat you like a worst-case scenario?

To prove my point, remember my whole fear of my hypothyroidism early on due to the hospital midwife I initially went to wanting me to do everything from 1.) taking a chemical drug called Synthroid to 2.) having monthly $200 bloodwork tests done for my thyroid to 3.) finding a regular medical doctor to regulate my thyroid.  And all of this because I had “mild” hypothyroidism!  Do you know much money that would equal over the course of my pregnancy?  A lot!  The medical system seriously thinks they can charge or perform whatever they want on you because “Oh, medical insurance will take care of that!”  They easily forget that they we do have deductibles to meet which are not always low for everyone.

And on top of that, this hospital midwife added the emotional trauma of telling me my child could have “mental problems” if not treated.  Okay, what do you immediately think of when you hear those words?!  I don’t know about you, but for me, it meant “mental retardation” which no parent wants to hear.

But then I went to Jeannie for my first appointment on February 13 and showed her my bloodwork results, and how did she respond?  Basically, that I had nothing to fear because my thyroid was not “that” bad!  Wow, do you realize how much of our culture is driven by fear and darkness?  It’s so sad to think of how many lives are negatively affected and how much money is needlessly spent on things people do not really need.

Home Sweet Home

home-sweet-home-wonky-witch-needlecraft-counted-cross-stitch-chart-350x300Anyways, another way the Lord has been so gracious and kind is allowing me to do a home birth.  Yes, you heard me right . . . We are having my labor and delivery at home, Lord willingly, and it won’t be the first birth in our home as Micah’s youngest cousin was born in this house.

I never thought I’d be open to this route, especially with my first child, but that’s what Jeannie does and of course recommends.  After talking to her and several others though, I am more and more convinced and at peace that this is the way to go.

Jeannie has even assured me though that she is not a risk-taker and will send me to a hospital if need be, such as for delivering a breeched baby.  And thankfully, she can even tell before your labor if a hospital will be necessary.  She will also have an assistant mid-wife along to help which is good.

One really cool way though that God confirmed to me or gave me more peace about having a home birth is by having a very friendly lady, and a total stranger at that, stop me at the gym one morning.  I was about to walk my usual two to three miles on the track when she excitedly stopped me and commented on my “baby bump” and inquired about my pregnancy.

Come to find out, this sweet lady named Susan is a labor and delivery nurse for the very midwives I left at an area hospital.  When I told her I was going to potentially have a home birth with another midwife, she was wholeheartedly and enthusiastically supportive of it and said “they all” (I’m guessing she meant the hospital nurses) would recommend it.  Needless to say, I was shocked!

She went on to say how it has not been until the last 100 years that ladies started having hospital births and that I’d be totally fine.  What a confirmation from God that was for me that I was on the right path.  When I saw this lady again on another day, I curiously asked her why she recommended a home birth over a hospital birth seeing how she was a hospital nurse of all things.  She gave me the following reasons which I thought were so good and enlightening and some of the same ones that Jeannie gave me:

  • You are in a familiar, comfortable environment being that you are in your own home instead of a morbid hospital.  (Micah is thankful for this as he does not do well in hospitals himself.)
  • You have less risk of infection.  (Just this month I learned of a toddler who got a staph infection when he was born at a hospital three years ago and has not been doing well since then.  I had no idea such things happened.)
  • You don’t have doctors trying to rush you in labor and perform needless operations.
  • You don’t have nurses trying to give you IV’s or drugs you don’t need or want.

Now since we made this decision to have a home birth, it has not been easy to tell people as we’ve gotten mixed reactions and as we have seen childbirth can be such a sensitive issue.  While most have been very supportive, like my own parents and random people like this nurse, others have not been.  This has been very hurtful to say the least as we are doing this only because we feel that this is where God has led us personally and given us the most peace about.  We don’t condemn those who choose to have a hospital birth by any means as God equips and directs each of us differently.  I think so often it is easy to forget God works in vastly different ways in each of our lives, or in other words, He can’t be “put in a box.”

A Most Unusual Birthing Class

Moving on though, not knowing anything really about labor and delivery, Micah and I felt we should educate ourselves by taking a natural birthing class as I’d really like to go through this experience without any drugs as much as the pain people always talk about scares me.  I have heard that your after-birth recovery is so much better and quicker when you don’t use the drugs though.

So in later February, I asked Jeannie whom she’d recommend, and she told me of Pat, a Mennonite lady in the city right next to us of all things.  What a blessing as I was afraid she’d recommend someone farther away as Jeannie herself is in a city about an hour from us.

I called Pat the next day then and found her to be very refreshing–such a joyful, encouraging, knowledgable, and easy-to-talk-to woman of God–and once again, I felt very much at peace in the path God was taking us on.  Pat even said she could be our doula, a woman trained to assist another woman during childbirth.  This brought me much comfort as it was recommended to me to have a doula, especially at your first birth, and as Pat lives much closer to me than Jeannie does and could be at my home in the matter of 15 minutes.

Shipshewana, a big Amish community, has always been a favorite place for me to visit.

Shipshewana, a big Amish community, has always been a favorite place for me to visit.  While the Amish live radically-different lives than modern society, they are a much more relational and probably content people because they are removed from the technology, materialism, and conveniences of today.  While I’d never want to be Amish, I think their close ties with family and friends is especially wonderful!

Now what is so interesting about our childbirth class is that we are meeting at the home of a young, very kind Amish couple in Shipshewana, Indiana, about an hour from our home.  Pat told us she could meet us at our home or at their home, and we opted for theirs because how often do “the English” (the non-Amish)  get to interact with the Amish?!  Some people may think it strange, but I’ve found it to be rather exciting and interesting.  I am always up for a new adventure though and love simple, down-to-earth, friendly people which is what the Amish are known for, so I’ve heard.

We have been meeting now then since early March but just once a week for two and a half hours.  Since we started, we have learned much about labor–from what to expect in its mounting stages to its different breathing, coping techniques to its preparatory exercises to be in our best shape possible when it comes.

We even watched, via video, a couple of births, which none of us had witnessed before and which were rather eye-opening and kind of gross to be quite honest.  I felt especially sorry for the guys having to see all of this, but I guess they need to be prepared.

A Continual Learning but Strengthening Process

So life is definitely a continual learning process with new and challenging experiences, isn’t it?  And based on what the mothers from the birth video said, childbirth is an empowering or confidence-building experience.  Seeing how I have a low tolerance for pain and can often lack a lot of confidence in my seeming weak abilities, it shall be most interesting to see how God uses this childbirth to change me.  Lord willingly, it will only make me better and much more confident in myself and in my God.

There’s the story of our baby journey so far then.  It did not start off easy or pleasant by any means last fall, but I can look back on the hardships now and praise the Lord for them because without them we would not be on the current path we are on and see God’s tender care, faithful provision, and gracious love for us and even the baby.  As that Christian song Through It All so accurately states:

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
there’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation,
God gave me blessed consulation,
that my trials come to only make me strong.

Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.

Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

I thank God for the mountains,
and I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.
For if I’d never had a problem,
I wouldn’t know God could solve them,
I’d never know what faith in God could do.

 

Me and Micah as of yesterday, on our last day of Week 30

Me and Micah as of yesterday, on our last day of Week 30 . . . God has been so faithful to us by bringing us this far, that is for sure!  Please pray the next 10 weeks will go smoothly and well as March as been a very hard month for me as I’ve been sick a lot between having a sinus cold, an ongoing cough that’s been hard on my body, and the stomach flu this past week.  Thank you!

P.S.  Just to let you know and help explain my background, I have the viewpoint of today’s modern medicine that I do because I started dealing with a lot of health problems in college and was never really helped by regular medical doctors.  My greatest help or solutions came through the means of alternative doctors but ultimately through the Lord.  Because of my health problems also, I have done quite a bit of research on modern medicine and not been impressed.  I realize everyone has different experiences though and once again that God works in a multitude of ways.  This has just been my own experience, and I just want to be clear that in no way do I want to be offensive.

P.S.S.  Remember Amber, the girl who first told me of Jeannie our midwife?  Well, she had a handsome, healthy baby boy this week at her parents’  home, and everything went so well and just beautifully I heard.  Praise the Lord!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Great Compelling . . . Will You Join?

Standard

Our Adopted Child

Srey Vet at school

Srey Vet at school

Since May of 2010, a month before we got married, Micah and I adopted a child but one who would never live with us in our home or bear our last name as most “adopted” children do.  Knowing this may sound rather odd, we adopted our child, not to rescue her from an orphanage, but to help rescue her from the poverty of her family and community and to share God’s love with her.

Through World Vision, a wonderful Christian humanitarian organization, we began sponsoring a cute, little girl in Cambodia named Srey Vet, who was eight years old at the time, but who has quickly grown up over the last three and a half years to be 11.  She, along with her two older sisters, are the daughters of farmers who grow corn and rice as well as lots of banana trees along with papaya and jackfruit trees in their yard.

They also raise at least two cows, dogs, and cats, and Srey Vet helps out with both house and farm work alike.  She does not sound like a typical American child of today, does she?  Like many American girls though, her favorite color is pink, and she likes to read before going to bed at night.  Her favorite animal/pet is a black bird though which I found to be quite interesting.  :)  I mean, how many kids do you hear say that?!

One of Srey Vet’s first letters to us in September 2010 though related how her sisters were students while she never went out but how she had recently returned to school.  I believe it was our sponsorship that allowed this change, which is such an honor and joy to be a part of.

When she first wrote us as well, she said she wanted to be a medical doctor, but since then that dream has changed to being a teacher which is cool since that is what I always wanted to be after my second grade teacher made a big impact on my life through her love and care.  Lord willingly, her teachers are also making a positive, big impact on her life.  Another interesting fact is the last I knew Srey Vet’s class size was 37 students . . . That seems like alot of students compared to American elementary school classrooms!

A Great Burden

In the spring of 2012, I felt led to start giving an extra monetary gift for Srey Vet and her family out of birthday money I received in April. This extra income directly goes to her family and community to purchase their current basic needs. Well, the first year Srey Vet's family purchased this water pot along with basic necessities such as shoes and school clothes.

In the spring of 2012, I felt led to start giving an extra monetary gift for Srey Vet and her family out of my birthday money which I received in April. This extra money goes directly to her family and community to purchase their current, most basic needs. Well, the first year Srey Vet’s family purchased this water pot along with personal necessities such as shoes and school clothes.

I share Srey Vet’s story with you today, however, because after reading World Vision’s latest magazine, I was very burdened for the children it told about . . . from the one million precious children of war-torn Syria being forced to flee to refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey who are now crying for their country . . . to the innocent children of Bangladesh brothels forced to see their dear, young mothers trapped in an evil slavery of selling their bodies to men’s lusts.

It was very heart-breaking to read of children so young go through so much heartache and evil that I felt compelled to encourage you to reach out to at least one of these poor and needy children around the world who desperately need love and support from people who will tell them of their great worth and importance to God.  It only costs $35 per month to sponsor a child, which is about $1.13 per day.

To see the powerful life transformation sponsorship can bring, read (by clicking on the orange link above) about nine-year-old Maya whose life dramatically changed for the better in the slums of Delhi, India, when a lady in Washington state simply took an interest in her and started sponsoring, praying, and writing letters to her.  You can even write emails and send electronic pictures to your sponsored child via your World Vision sponsorship page, so your writing is not limited to postal mail.

Conclusion

From my heart to yours then, will you please, please read at least one, if not all of these stories, and look over all of the wonderful, heart-touching, beautiful photos at WorldVisionMagazine.org?  From seeing the tear-filled eyes of a mother weeping for her children’s condition to the sorrowful, big, empty eyes of children without a real home, I believe your heart may just be moved as mine was.

Then will you please really pray about how God might have you possibly invest in the life of one of these World Vision sponsorship children for eternity?  You can see their pictures and read their stories at WorldVision.org.  God cares even more deeply for these children and their physical and spiritual poverty, and He has given us so much that helping one of these little ones in Christ’s name is the least we can do for Him.  “But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these'” (Luke 16:18).

If you do decide to sponsor a child, please let me know as well as it would bless my heart so much, and I would love to give thanks and praise to God on account of you.  Thank you!

 Last April, with my extra gift, Srey Vet's family bought a latrine for their home, part of it pictured here.  Wow, there is so much we take for granted!


From my extra gift last April, Srey Vet’s family bought an “Easy Latrine” for their home.  These three cement rings actually make up part of it which I found to be very intriguing and confusing, so much so that I looked it up and found this interesting article on the latrines, which included this insightful video on sanitation marketing in Cambodia.  Sadly, the people there don’t buy latrines for the main reason of them being too expensive.  Wow, there is so much we take for granted!

Last year the community got more new chairs with the extra money given.  They have to share their gift with the community, by the way, so their neighbors don't get jealous.

Last year the community got more new chairs with the extra money given.  By the way, the family has to share their gift from me with the community so that their neighbors don’t become jealous.