P.S. I Eternally Love Chocolate and Brad Pitt

Okay, I’m taking a break from heavy issues like Duggar daughters and fake virgins. I promise, this post is much lighter in nature, like it or not…

Ryan and I love to watch movies together. It’s one of our favorite downtime activities to do with one another so I thought I’d compile a list of some of my favorite movies of all time, and in the process, hopefully, reach out to readers to get some new suggestions for our lineup.

1.    Chocolat
What’s not to love about a bold, outspoken woman who moves to a small rural town in France and begins to shake things up a bit?  And, let’s not forget, she makes really good chocolate and ends up with Johnny Depp. This is such a feel good, slower moving movie with a really deep message that conveys the idea that just because things have always gone a particular way, doesn’t necessarily mean that way is correct or shouldn’t be changed.

2.    Moulin Rouge
This movie holds a special place in my heart as a favorite from my past.  “Tell our story, Christian. Promise me” and “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”  Enough said. 

3.    P.S. I Love You

This one is kind of obvious with the death of a spouse involved, but what I really love watching is the process the main character goes through as she deals with her grief and then finally determines that her life must move forward.  Ultimately, she decides to pick up the pieces and live again.

4.    Legends of the Fall
This story is heart wrenchingly wonderful and depressing, and who can forget the scene when cowboy Brad Pitt arrives out the blue, thundering up to the ranch on his horse?  It is a captivating plot with layer upon layer of creativity, history, and pain.  I’ve watched this movie probably more than any other movie, and it never loses its beauty or appeal.  

5.    Minority Report
This is a sci-fi that Ryan and I both enjoy.  The story is again fantastic and intriguing, and I love the message it conveys of rising above a societal evil and also the depiction it portrays of how evil often thrives in secrecy.

6.    Walk the Line
Love me some Johnny Cash, and I tell you the truth, I watched this movie over and over years ago, loving and envying the house the singer owned in the hills of Tennessee, and I told myself, “I will do that one day.”  Here I am, doing it, living in my dream house, in the hills of Tennessee, overlooking the beautiful river.

7.    Armageddon
Uh, Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis saving the world?  Not too difficult to figure this one out.   Really though, I love the depiction of manhood in this movie.  Two men willing to lay down their lives for humanity, one for a daughter, another for a future wife, a true representation of a man willing to sacrifice everything.

8.    Couples Retreat
This is our favorite and our go to when there is nothing else on.  There are some raunchier parts, but there is really a good moral at the end and many side splitting hilarious parts – totally worth a watch for the laughs. 

9.    Benjamin Button
This movie is also a beautiful story and without fail, every single time I watch it, I psych myself up for the ending and tell myself over and over again that I won’t cry, but I do.  Inevitably, the tears start dripping down my face.  Watching a baby die is not something I handle well.  I am immediately transported back to my pregnancy with Lucas where I didn’t know if he would die in my arms.

10.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
One thing about this movie, there is quite a bit of questionable language, but I am such a sucker for a great story.  This film is interesting because of the concept it presents which is along the lines of being able to erase all of the painful memories(and in the process good memories as well) with someone and start over fresh, and who hasn’t wanted to do that occasionally?    Ryan would say I’m also a sucker for depressive movies which isn’t necessarily true. I appreciate truth in movies, and if a movie depicts an element of truth, I’m usually interested.

That’s it, my top 10.  I would love and appreciate some suggestions from my readers if y’all don’t mind!

Just keep livin!!

The Duggar Daughters and Fake Virginity

Disclaimer – This post is outside my normal. It is something that I absolutely believe has to be talked about in our sexually saturated world, especially with our young people.  It is something I will talk to my children about as they enter their teen years. I use sexually graphic terms to get my point across.  You’ve been warned.

Apparently four of the Duggar daughters have written a book called Growing up Duggar.  I have never watched an episode of the Duggar show. I have my assumptions about the family, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable even going there because they aren’t based on anything I’ve seen or heard first hand.  That being said, this family does seem to elicit controversy in regards to some of their child rearing techniques, and the daughters attempt to explain these beliefs throughout this new publication. The controversy boils down to their relationship philosophy which states that they will not kiss or date before marriage, a shocking idea in our sex crazed world.  Here’s Mom, Michelle Duggar’s take on her daughter’s beliefs:

I’m conflicted as a mom who has children entering their pre-teen years. Ryan and I are already fielding questions about boyfriends and girlfriends and who’s going with who and first kisses and when to have a first kiss. It is way too young for my kids to have any knowledge of sexuality (in my opinion), but they do, and I will not be that mom with her head stuck under a rock refusing to acknowledge the reality of what my kids are facing.  Looking at the Duggar system of dating, I have to say, I respect this belief system much more than what typically occurs in many young, religious, social circles I’ve been a part of and many others which I’ve heard second hand accounts from.  

The premise of the message in many of these faith based circles is well meaning, but the reality is not necessarily truthful. The admonishment begins innocently enough from those in authority, as kids praise the Lord, declaring as one united body, purity rings wrapped around naïve, young fingers:

“SAVE YOUR VIRGINITY! YOU HAVE A PRECIOUS GIFT THAT MUST BE SAVED UNTIL MARRIAGE! IF YOU GIVE IT AWAY YOU CAN NEVER GET IT BACK AND YOU’LL BE RUINED FOR LIFE!”   

I took this loud declaration from my youth group leader very seriously until I just didn’t anymore and lost my virginity on a whim. The thing was, all of the youth group mantras of “SAVE YOURSELF FOR MARRIAGE!! IT’S A PRECIOUS GIFT FROM GOD THAT YOU CAN NEVER GET BACK ONCE IT’S GONE!” started to seem a tad bit blasphemous as many of the same young people who were “saving” themselves, (yours truly included) were also playing a popular game, a holier than thou type of game, a game I’ll affectionately refer to as fake virginity, toeing the purity line as far as possible, and this in some profound way saved their virginity for their one, true, God appointed marital love while those who allowed penetration with release had damned themselves to eternally giving up the only precious gift to ever be able to give another person. I didn’t see the difference between sex and almost sex; they both conjured the same empty feelings as if something wasn’t quite right – something was missing.  Yes, both were fun in the moments but neither one left a satisfied soul in the wake because neither one was quite the way God intended sex to be.  

Fake Virginity – A misconception involving a belief that you have actually saved yourself for marriage by expounding the virtues of virginity to everyone on why you’ll NEVER give “it” up in an attempt to make yourself appear spiritual but behind closed doors allowing for anything sexually oriented (oral, anal, complete feel ups, nakedness and even penetration) EXCEPT for penetration with release within the female cavity.

Yes, for some of you with your mouths open in horrific disbelief, this does occur with many of our Christian youth and it’s not a new concept.  The sooner we, the adults, are aware of what’s going on the sooner we can have real conversations about it and not just mindless, feel good rants about “saving your virginity” while slapping a purity ring on our kid’s finger which our teens can then smugly convince themselves and convince us that they are following the rules by keeping the hymen intact.

Webster defines virginity as the state or condition of being a virgin.  
The state or condition of being pure, fresh, or unused.  

I don’t think putting naked genitals anywhere near another person probably constitutes as an “unused or pure” act outside of marriage.  True virginity, in my opinion, involves an absence of nakedness, an absence of putting things in places or on others where they don’t belong – it involves something that looks similar to what the Duggar family is promoting. 

The Bible provides limited sexual directions because it has no absolute definition of what virginity is or is not.  It does repeatedly speak about fleeing from lustful desires and sexual immortality which can be interpreted as a broad banner covering most sexual activities including oral, anal, penetration, and nakedness with another person who is not a spouse.  It never specifies that virginity is an actual breaking of the hymen which is the relevant train of thought in our modern twenty-first century.

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” Matt 5:28.  

This verse condenses what is allowed in a Godly sexual relationship and what is not, and it is a stringent order.  According to this verse, any kind of lustful relationship, physically, emotionally, or spiritually with a person who is not a spouse, is adulterous in nature, so unfortunately for the fake virgins this covers any kind of naked activity as well, not just limited to hymen breaking. This verse also seems to point to virginity beginning in the mind rather than below the waist, an interesting concept to mull.

Many of these well intentioned mantras proclaimed by those in authority have also become something they were never intended to be.  What was intended to spur youth toward Godly living has the potential to become a guilt induced, shame driven type of philosophy, and this in turn breeds an insane loophole permitting for everything but penetration with release within, (I keep making this distinction because it is a game young people allow for, release outside, no virginity lost, release within, virginity’s gone) pretending to themselves, pretending to God, pretending to their parents, pretending to those in authority over them in church, and even pretending to their future spouses that they have “saved themselves for marriage.” The thought process is infinitely flawed – Biblically, worldly, physically, and emotionally flawed; there is no difference in the spiritual realm between the two categories. The “V” word becomes the end goal, but instead it’s only a trick played on ourselves, on our future spouses, and one we try to play on God.  

This highly touted “virgin” premise also has a tendency to make Godly men and women feel like scum if they gave away the gift, “the most precious gift in the whole entire world” and the thing is, God doesn’t make anyone feel like scum. People, often Christian people, make others feel like scum.  The truth is, the most precious thing in the whole entire world is not my virginity or your virginity, or lack thereof for that matter, but it is instead Jesus Christ and what he did at Calvary.  That is the most precious gift, a gift that completely covers every single stupid mistake anyone ever makes if they ask for mercy. I’ve known many women who should be blessed for their incredible sacrifice of saving themselves for marriage, their sex lives with that special someone, their forever someone, but they’re not blessed at all.  In fact, these women hate sex and avoid it at all costs.  On the flip side, I’ve seen women who had been around the block a time or two or three before marriage, express true repentance over those decisions, and have amazing, loving, fulfilling, Christ centered sex lives full of passion. Why?  Because Jesus is good like that.  He can take the ugly, the mistakes, the nasty, the scum, and the fake virgins, and he can redeem it all in an instant and make it white as snow. These mantras we chant to our youth often lead to lies and mistruths that our youth tell to give an appearance of something they believe we want from them – perfection.  We need to instead point our youth to Jesus and trust that he will help them sort out how their purity is going to look according to the convictions and standards God sets in place for them, and we need to trust that Jesus will be able to handle all of their questions, struggles, and mistakes.  

I wholeheartedly agree that virginity and fake virginity are incredibly sacred. I believe in the sanctity of marriage and in the sanctity of sex.   I believe that you should save yourself sexually for marriage.  I believe that fake virginity is just as sinful and just as damning as actually losing your virginity – no difference, in my opinion.   I believe that a husband and wife share a beautiful, special bond together through a sexual experience that can be recreated through the redeeming blood of Christ if a husband and/or a wife was not a virgin on their wedding night, and they can experience that bond with one another that supposedly only true virgins get to experience. This is true for anyone who desires to have wholeness and oneness in their marriage. Christ is in the business of restoring beauty from ashes; my life is a living testimony of this fact.  Christ is also in the business of making things even better than they ever were before, thank goodness.

If you choose to be a virgin until marriage, do it, be a real virgin, man or woman or Duggar up and physically, emotionally, and spiritually be what your convictions say to you.  Don’t hide behind fake virginity, hold your head high and truly live what you believe to be your truth. If you’ve already lost your virginity, it’s not the end of the world. Godly people make mistakes and lose friends, respect, positions, and trust.  You lost an intact hymen; the things on the list above seem like a much bigger deal to me than a piece of skin, and God can restore it all.  He can restore friendships, respect, positions, and trust, and he can spiritually restore virginity.  I believe this wholeheartedly.  What the locusts have eaten, he can restore.   

Just keep livin!!

A Bittersweet Day

Mothers Day has come and gone.  It was a huge improvement over last year’s very special day which I detailed in a semi-rant post called My New Mother’s Day.  The other night Ryan questioned how exactly I wanted my day to look – men need specifics – and I jokingly replied that my deepest desire was to take a bath for as long as I wanted, without one single person asking or telling me anything through the door (but then that would make me NOT a mother, right?).

My day was good – peaceful, solid, void of any huge pains or heartaches, good.

But – this day is also a constant reminder of a gigantic ache for three of my children and that makes it bittersweet as their mom. As a family we attempt to not dwell in the agony of the past. There is a difference between honoring where you come from or choosing to wallow in the pain of what the past has handed you. Ryan and I do our best to model joy in the life we have and not allow ourselves to use the past as a crutch. Bad things did happen to all of us, but we move forward in praise for what we have been given – recognizing that this life is fleeting – and honoring God’s faithfulness through our thankfulness.

My biological children embraced Mother’s Day with all the joy and giddiness it held and showered me with 500 billion homemade cards and pictures.  Two of my adopted kids were also excited for what the day represented and fully participated; however, I’m sure they also have moments of pain and confusion but their angst wasn’t as obvious as one of the kids.

This particular child was not into this day at all.

This child was angry and had been angry for a week leading up to the day.  I noticed a tenseness every time a commercial came on T.V about Mothers Day.  The other kids would run to make me some thrown together picture declaring their love or they would hurry outside to pick another beautiful bunch of weeds, and this child would sit quietly, not meeting my eyes, not saying a word, just silently aching for the loss, and I didn’t know how to make it better.

I can’t make it better and that is incredibly difficult as a mom. My mama heart wants to be enough – so much so that the loss won’t hurt and in numerous ways, I know I’m a good mom for all of them, but it doesn’t erase the ache and how this day is a blatant reminder of that pain.  As a mom I want to take away the agony, take away the void, maybe even erase the memories because then it won’t hurt so much, but I can’t.  I can’t because at times I even question God’s decision in the matter.  Being a biological mother, I have a difficult time understanding how the best choice for my children would be another woman raising them.  It doesn’t seem like the best choice but then God’s ways are not our ways, and he doesn’t owe us any explanations.  It only makes sense in that his ways are so much higher than we can comprehend, and I don’t believe that our comfort and well-being are exactly the end all be all to His ultimate plan or purpose here on Earth.  I believe that his ultimate plan and purpose probably looks much more like an adoption than a biological conception, a choice to love others as ourselves, rather than a inborn, feel good instinct toward one another; a choice to love God and choose his ways over our sinful nature that wants to have things our own way.

This child and I got into it the night before Mother’s Day, as we do occasionally, both of us having a black and white tendency that needs to be right and both of us having mouths to match that desire. There was outright disobedience –  something that has never occurred before.  We talked and aired our frustrations and mourned and reaffirmed our love for one another, and I held my child and offered reassurance of my love and that I would keep trying to be the best mom I can possibly be.

And isn’t that all we can do for our children?  Those of our wombs and those of our hearts?  Just be the best we can possibly be for each individually and collectively, relying completely on God’s grace and mercy in their lives and in our lives as we repeatedly stumble and pick ourselves back up.  Praying that somehow all the pain and the loss and the aches will be gone one day, and it will all make perfect sense when we come to the end of our races here on earth and come face to face with the one who orchestrated it all, our Abba father who has graciously adopted each one of us into his eternal family.

flowers

These were the beautiful flowers I had waiting for me the next morning – from anonymous child.

Just keep livin!

Avoiding Milton and Other Necessary Evils Through Food.

I only have one final exam separating me from complete freedom. The two classes I took over the past few months have been overwhelmingly stressful, but I’m so thankful I pushed through and can now look back relieved and satisfied that I’m one step closer to a degree.  You would think I’d be frantically studying right now, but instead I’m coming up with every excuse under the sun to NOT pick up anything having to do with Milton, including cooking everything that comes to mind and sharing it on the blog.

I’m not really a cooking blogger, but I do immensely enjoy the art of making food, (and eating it) especially anything homemade. 

Here are two recipes I tried over the weekend.  They are about the easiest, most cost efficient things in the world to make.  The first was homemade yogurt.  I eat organic yogurt with honey every morning.  I am very much a creature of habit.  I eat extremely clean and healthy for breakfast and lunch and splurge on whatever I make the family for dinner.  I saw this recipe in the book French Women Don’t Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano, (a fantastic book) and I thought, that sounds way too simple.  It was really easy, and it worked.   I figured the yogurt I purchase is about $3.59 for 32 ounces.  The same amount homemade is about $2.00. Here’s the recipe.

 Homemade Yogurt

1 saucepan
1 large bowl
1 small bowl
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
1 quart regular or 2% milk


Yield: 8 Servings (4 ounces each)

 Warm up the milk on medium-low until steam rises to the top and bubbles form around the edges.

Pour into large bowl to cool until temperature hits 110-115º on thermometer or if you don’t have one, do what the locals do: the temperature is correct when your index can stay in the warm milk for ten seconds.

Put starter in small bowl, add some of the heated milk and stir until well-blended. Pour small bowl mixture into large bowl a third at a time, making sure to stir and blend well before each addition. End with a final stir, making sure all is well-blended. Cover with a thick towel and keep in a warm place 4-6 hours until set. ( I let mine sit in the oven, turned off, for 24 hours)

Refrigerate for 8 hours before serving.

yogurt2

 (Sorry, not a Pioneer Woman quality pic, but you get the point)

 Next, we ran out of sour cream which is never a good thing in our home. After some research on my good friend Google, I discovered a simple technique for making the homemade version.  I tested it out last night by putting some of the homemade in a store bought sour cream container and some of it in a glass jar.  Mya, our nine year old, has the pickiest taste pallet by far.  She took what she believed to be the store bought container of sour cream, and I never heard a peep about the weird taste or “yuck what is this”, she just ate it.  All of my kids did without having a clue about the difference.  Now, Ryan knew that it was homemade, and he thought it tasted different, but that could be a mind over matter issue. 

Homemade Sour Cream

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup Buttermilk

Instructions

In a jar with a lid, combine the heavy cream and buttermilk. Shake the ingredients to thoroughly mix and let stand, covered, at room temperature for about 24 hours or until it becomes very thick. You can store your sour cream in the refrigerator for up to one week. Make sure that your sour cream is well chilled before using.


sour cream

Let me know your thoughts!

Just keep livin!!