Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Our Obsession with Beauty

This is what showed up under an article I was a reading this morning.  That's right. Two articles are about ways to get skinnier. Three are about women who "weren't pretty enough," so they decided to succumb to someone else's ideal. Two of these women did so primarily for revenge on an ex. The last one is a click bait type article showcasing a scantily clad "sexy" woman. Every single article shares one glaring message: you aren't pretty enough.

I'm a heavyset person.  According to my BMI I am obese.  I wear plus size clothes.  I have dimples around my elbows.  I have an extra half chin.  I have to buy wide shaft boots because my calves are too thick for standard ones.  And yet, a lot of my friends tell me I don't look "too fat." When I had jaw surgery a year and a half ago I lost about 20 lbs.  When I was finally given clearance to chew food again, I told my doctor I would be getting a burger on the way home.  He told me not to go overboard because I didn't want to add all the weight back on I'd lost.  I didn't  realize I felt that way.

I'm becoming more and more aware of the visual obsession in humanity.  I used to say it was just our society, but as I do more research I realize it's been an obsession since the fall of mankind.  Don't believe me?  Check out Genesis 3:6-11

With the fall into sin, mankind became obsessed with appearance.  Using the Bible as the original history book, you will find passage after passage that talks about our obsession with our appearance. Judah's daughter-in-law, Tamar, uses her beauty to trick him into sleeping with her.  Joseph is imprisoned on false charges because his boss' wife thinks he's hot.  David's daughter, who just happens to also be named Tamar, is raped because some slime ball thinks she's pretty. Did I mention the whole Bathsheba episode?  How about Esther and the beauty contest?

The obsession continues in the New Testament.  Jesus called out the men in his sermon on the Mount, saying that if they look lustfully at a woman they've already committed adultery. Here is Romans 1:22-27
Then, there's James chapter 2, 1 Peter 3, and others.
Just a quick glimpse into fashion history will reveal that the Bible isn't the only place where our obsession with appearance shows up.  Cleopatra was considered one of the most beautiful queens. Historians have documented all sorts of beauty rituals she followed.  The Greeks and Romans used vinegar, goat fat and ashes to bleach their hair, as blond hair was considered more beautiful.  From powdered wigs, to crinoline cages, to breaking little girls feet, history comes alive with example after example of mankind chasing an unattainable standard of beauty. Even more recently Hitler's obsession with Aryan Beauty caused the death of millions.
Let's not forget the crowning achievement in the pursuit of beauty: the corset.  They were originally made of iron or animal bones. They were worn with such regularity that women's bones eventually shifted and warped to the shape of the corset.  Even some girls were expected to begin corset training at nine years old so their figures would be the right shape as adults.

Along with our historical obsession with beauty, comes an overbearing sense of shame.  Our sin nature likes to remind us ad nauseam that we aren't good enough.  It's the same attack that forced Adam and Eve to cover themselves with fig leaves.  Ad campaigns like Dove's "Real Beauty" are intended to help us get past our shame, but in light of human history, they are limited in their capacity.

So, where is the hope in all this?  How do we overcome such overwhelming oppression?

First, we must recognize that we are cursed.  You can't break a curse until you admit it actually exists.  I realize this probably sounds very mystical and archaic to some, but it needs to be said.  The curse of sin is real.  Jesus is the curse breaker.  The only way to overcome the curse of sin and death is to admit and accept that we are cursed and then ask Jesus to take it away.

Second, you have to actually believe the curse has been lifted.  You can't think of salvation as a one time deal that just gets you into heaven.  That is not victory over the curse.  Sure, it's nice to know that there is a heaven awaiting you after death, but what about now?  If the crucifixion only covered our ultimate fate post mortem, then why pursue it right now?  Oh sure, there's the whole, "You never know when you might die" argument, but that whole line of thinking comes across kind of pessimistic and fear based.  How is anyone supposed to look at God in a positive light if they are being told that they should ask him for fire-insurance in case of accidental death.  Salvation from the curse is for now, and freedom from shame is just one of the perks.

Third, you have to start renewing your mind.  This isn't a new concept.  Every culture in the world understands this concept.  The Yoga practice of Savasana teaches students to symbolically lie in a death state and let everything negative fall out of us into the floor.  The Hindu's celebrate Dwali as a time of renewal.  The Buddhists have Fusatsu, a time for renewal of vows and purification. There are more.
Let me be clear here: I don't recommend any of these religions.  I think they are like taking ibuprofen to cure cancer. I think they take bits and pieces of God's redemptive plan and elevate them to become just another distraction from true freedom from the curse.  I'm simply showing that mind renewal is not a new concept.

As you allow God to renew your mind, several things will happen.
  • You will begin to see yourself through God's eyes: His beautiful creation, as He intends you to be, not as fashion dictates you should attempt to be.  
  • You'll begin to realize that beauty isn't defined by the rich and famous, but by personal preference. 
  • You will realize that diversity is not just about gender or skin color or sexuality.  It's about everything from the size of someone's calves to the way their eyelids close.  It's about God loving everything He made from Jennifer Aniston to the Duggars to Tess Holliday.  
  • You will not only stop feeling shame for yourself, but you will start to see value in others. The people you once saw as undesirable and unlovable will suddenly have more worth in your eyes.  
These are only a few of the benefits of freedom from the curse of shame.  Everything you do will start to change, even how you eat and exercise. You will stop seeing yourself with the shame of the curse, and begin to see yourself through the eyes of a loving God who wants to have a relationship with you.

If you want to know about how to begin the process of healing or want to share some ways you've found freedom from shame leave me a comment below.

Friday, July 17, 2015

When God Says Wait... a response

Dear Laura,

I read your guest post on Bobi Ann Allen's Blog.  For the most part I knew exactly how you felt.  I too struggled with secondary infertility.

I know the pain of having people ask, "When are you going to start trying again?" when you've already been trying for over a year.  I understand the embarrassment of being outspoken about loving kids and wanting lots of them only to have people question when that big family is going to materialize. I know the frustration of gaining weight post Cesarean and having folks congratulate you only to explain that it's just fat, and you aren't carrying a baby.

I understand the guilt of feeling like you have no reason to complain when you have a beautiful child to hold in your arms.  I understand the confusion of trying to decide how to live your life with just one child when your entire life plan centered around raising many children.  I understand the doubt when the specialists recommend drugs and your Christian upbringing questions the use of chemical fertility treatments.  I know the frustration when the doctors are just as baffled as to the cause of the infertility.  

The only thing I cannot empathize with is the miscarriages.  By God's grace I never lost a baby.  I understand second-hand the pain and sorrow of losing a baby, as my best friend went through this multiple times.  However, I cannot personally say that I've experienced this.

How many times must we sit through sermons about the blessings of children and question our standing before God?  How many times are we reminded of God's gift to the righteous only to search our souls for a sin that is preventing God's blessing?  I bet you have Psalms 127, 128, and 139 practically memorized.  I bet you're pretty sick of hearing about Isaiah 54.

I don't know you.  I don't know what God is teaching you through all this frustration and struggle.  I just know that there were some things I needed to learn from my journey.

1) I learned to love my son.  
When I initially started dealing with infertility, I didn't realize how my discontent reflected on my son.
He was strong willed and difficult.  My parenting style revolved around splitting time between siblings.  All my mentors were women who were great at managing large numbers of children.  I was planning to homeschool my brood, and having an only child limited that decision.  I didn't realize how angry I was with God for forcing me to change my plans.  It took three years for me to really fall in love with him.  By the time he turned five I was finally ready to focus all my energy on just him.

2) I learned to love my husband.
I didn't realize until I was staring 18 years of motherhood in the face that I was going to be alone with my hubby for a very, very long time.  We got married when I was just 18, and I assumed there would be a good 15 years of childbearing ahead of me.  I assumed that we would probably have children around the house until I was well into my fifties, and then we would have loads of grand kids to babysit.  It wasn't that I didn't like my husband.  He's a great guy.  It was simply the fact that I didn't think I'd need to work on one-on-one time until later in our relationship.  I'm so thankful for that time we had to really connect.  He truly is my soul mate and I love that I get to be with him for the rest of our lives.

3) I learned to be a blessing to others.
Because I had so much time on my hands only managing one child I realized I was in the perfect position to provide support to moms with more kids.  I had a friend who lived in my neighborhood who had three small children, and many times I would call her up and offer to take her kids to the park so she could rest or get some organizing done.  When other ladies in my church were having babies I offered to come take care of the newborns for a couple of hours so Mommy could get some sleep.

4) I learned to be a mother to the motherless.
Realizing that my body refused to bear another child, forced me to consider other avenues to motherhood.  During that time my husband and I were able to have realistic discussions about adoption and fostering.  Although we decided at that time not to pursue that path, those discussions have finally born fruit.  We are now fostering a 2 year old and hope to continue this ministry for a long time.

4) I learned that trials equip you to minister.
Perhaps the best lesson I learned is that overcoming a trial gives a person greater authority to pray for others.  Faith is like a sapling, and the more trials you overcome the bigger and stronger that sapling becomes. Aside from empathy, I can now offer hope.  After 4 years of trying to get pregnant, God gave me my second child.  Then 20 months after that, He gave me a third.  Three years after that He gave me a fourth.  Because of this experience I have been able to pray in faith for other women dealing with infertility and they have gotten pregnant.

I agree with James 1 and pray that you will have many healthy children in the years to come.  I pray that God will restore to you seven-fold everything the enemy has taken away.  I ask for supernatural protection over your home that you will be able to bring forth every blessing God has in store for you and that the locust would not be able to destroy anything in the future.  I pray that you will learn every lesson God has for you through this difficulty and that you will reach the peak of this mountain you are climbing in victory.

Perhaps God is planting seeds of ministry in you.  When you finally do give birth to your next child, I hope you will be encouraged to pray over women dealing with infertility and continue the cycle of hope.

God Bless,
No Longer Barren

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

New things coming...

Hey there my faithful followers.

In the not too distant future I will have something awesome to share.

Thanks to the hard work of a homeschooling buddy of mine, we hope to present a children's book.

The name of our Publishing Company
It will be available on  I'll publish a link as soon as it's done.

Here is an excerpt:

"From the blackness below, a bellowing is heard.
Then she is upon us, a malevolent dragon, barring our way.
In one motion, you jerk me behind you and draw your sword.  
Your knees bend, ready to spring.
Her fiery breath beats down upon you."

And here is a snippet of the artwork:

(c) Jean Huber 2015
Stay Tuned!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

To Vac or Not to Vac
I'm getting pretty tired of seeing the vaccination debate on my news feed. I've seen pro-vac, and anti-vac information shared by my wonderful parenting friends ad nauseam.  I get it.  I really do.

If you are pro-vac you want to make sure all the other parents are vaccinating their kids, because you want to make sure their kids have the best chance of fighting off these awful diseases that have plagued our country in the past.

If you are anti-vac, you not only want the pro-vac people to leave you alone, you want to make sure all those parents who are vaccinating their kids realize the dangers of current vaccination procedures and ingredients.

Well, here's my take on it.  How about we treat other parents with respect and stop trying to shove our opinions down their throats.  I understand you want to protect these innocents from the foolishness of their adult protectors, but lay off.  There are a whole lot more heinous acts being perpetrated on the children in our nation.

If you believe in evolutionary process (I do not) then survival of the fittest dictates that parents who aren't vaccinating will eventually remove their genetic strain from the gene pool.  This is the sad outcome of the evolutionary process.  

If you believe in a Divine Creator (I do), then have the peace that comes from knowing that the same God who gave you your children with the understanding that you were the best person to raise them, gave other parents their children with the same understanding.

Regardless what side of the fence you stand on, please, PLEASE, I beg you, do NOT get the government involved.  Every time you get the government involved, you give up more freedom to parent your kids the way you choose, and you raise taxes.  It may seem tempting to force other "uncaring" parents to show their children more love, but I promise you one day the tables will be turned and you will suddenly be face with a government agency demanding that you do something you are not comfortable with.
Here's something to think about next time you're tempted to post yet another article about why everyone should wise up and vaccinate their kids.  If you used government authority to force your best friend to vaccinate their kids against their will, and their child died of complications, how would you console them?

Now let's take this the other direction.  If you used government force to deny your best friend's child the vaccinations they needed, and their child died or was horribly deformed from a preventable disease, how would you console them?

How about this situation: if you had the choice to force congress to adopt a vaccination policy, or raise public school teachers salaries, which would you choose?  What if you could increase foreign aid?  What if you could reduce taxes?  What if you could give our military more support?  There are million things we could do with our tax dollars.  Is forcing the vaccination issue really the most important thing right now?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Trouble with School Lunches
I've seen several documentaries, news stories and articles over the past few months about the low quality of food served in American Public Schools.  When compared to countries like France, Korea, Spain, and England our cafeteria food looks downright embarrassing.

My first reaction to this information was, like many parents, why can't we feed our kids better food?  Then I started to really analyze the data.

First, almost every nation brought into the comparison has a ridiculously smaller population.  It's much easier for a smaller system to sustain better quality food service.  When the entire country is the size of our single state of Texas it's easier to find local, fresh food sources.
Second, most of the countries compared to ours are in worse financial situations.  This means they are serving their children delicious healthy meals, but these kids will grow up to inherit exorbitant national debt. In countries like Spain and Portugal, they're looking at total bankruptcy.
Finally, many of these countries really don't treat children well in other ways.  One of the countries I researched as the largest population of orphans in first world nations.  Upon further research I learned that the majority of the orphans were simply given up by their parents because they weren't interested in their continuing care. Another country has an extremely high rate of children below poverty level.  These are children who aren't even enrolled in government schools.  They roam the streets and steal or beg for their lunches.

As I scanned through the information on site after site the information only became more depressing.  Logical analysis of the data made it seem like the only two options were:
1) Go deeper into the taxpayers pockets to serve the children healthier food, or
2) Neglect a higher percentage of children, and focus on serving a smaller quantity of lunches overall.

I believe there is a better way.  If each school district was responsible for raising the money for the school lunch program, the system would be broken into much smaller, more easily managed budgets.  If, as a parent, I knew I was providing healthy meals to my children, and their peers, I would be more emotionally involved in the decision making process.

Now I know this doesn't take into account really low income districts.  The first objection to a change of this kind is that kids in "rich" districts will be eating filet, while kids in "poor" ones will still be stuck with chicken nuggets.  This is where two options would come into play.
The first option would be a benefactor program.  People with incomes in a higher tax bracket would get a tax exemption for donating to local school lunch programs with a higher percentage of children in low income or poverty level families.  In other words, Mr Richman gets a small tax break if he donates a portion of his salary to Sally Poorkid's school.  This would remove several middle-men, provide Mr Richman with opportunities to show his benefactor status, and would add extra funds to Sally Poorkid's school lunch program.

The second option (which really should go hand in hand with the first option) would be to set up a mandatory lunch rotation with school parents.  Each child who attends the school would need a parent to work in the cafeteria a minimum number of days each year. For instance, there is an average enrollment of 694 students per school in the state of Florida.  The average number of children per family is two. There are approximately 180 days in the school year.  This means the parents would need to work in the cafeteria a minimum of 2 days per year.

As one final note I'd like to add the following:

What do you think?
I welcome rational discussion.  Ad Hominem, Straw Man, and other comments containing illogical fallacies will be removed.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Truth About Direct Sales

I've heard a lot of negative feedback over the years about Direct Sales companies.
The salespeople are pushy. The companies are illegal pyramid schemes. The prices are way too high.

But keep this in mind.

There are pushy sales people at Sears, but folks still shop there.  Car salesmen are pretty pushy at times, but we still buy cars from them.

The companies wouldn't be around with the type of longevity they have if they were illegal pyramid schemes.
The prices are higher because the product is usually better quality.  Go ahead... tell your mama that the Tupperware she's had in the cupboard since you were a wee babe is not as good as something you can buy at Walmart.

The prices are higher because here in America we pay people better.  Sure, you can find lower quality nail wraps at Walgreens, but I bet those folks who made them over in China would love to cross the Pacific and get a job at Jamberry USA.  The higher prices reflect better compensation, not just for salespeople, but for hostesses as well.  In reality most of the ladies who are in direct sales are looking for a way to pay the bills without losing out on quality time with their families.

The prices may be higher, but the customer service is usually far superior.  When was the last time someone in a blue vest at Walmart offered to deliver your items to your door?  Sure, Sears has a delivery service, but they charge extra for it.  The person who actually sold you the product doesn't deliver it.  They process the payment and then you're pushed off onto someone else.  Have you ever tried to return an appliance to a Sears store?
Sure, there are horror stories.  I have a few myself.

Nearly 20 years ago my husband and I were invited to dinner at an older couple house.  After a tasty meal, they pulled out a white-board and began giving us the Amway sales pitch.  We were so frustrated.  We thought this couple would be great mentors to us as we were just starting married life.

I knew someone who was such a pushy salseperson that I stopped buying from that particular company completely because I never wanted to deal with them again.

Another couple I've known for a very long time have bounced from MLM company to MLM company, always trying some new business and always calling me to talk about the latest "opportunity."

These stories have taught me some things over the years.

1) Never, EVER trick someone into a business promo.  If I ask you over to my house, it's because I genuinely want to get to know you.  I don't want your money.  I don't want your friend's money.  I just want to know the amazing person you are.  If you ask me about my nails, I'll tell you, but I'm not going to try to trick you into the business.
2) Don't be obnoxious.  Honestly, if I'm being obnoxious, please, please tell me.  I try to keep all of my business stuff separate from my personal life.  I look for ways to market my products without targeting friends and family. Even recently, I asked a couple family members to try the product for free, not because I want their money, but because I value their feedback based on their line of work.  I'll offer the opportunity to try a product I firmly believe in, but a no is a no.

3) Don't jump into MLM's lightly.  It's like the boy who cried "wolf".  Sure there are lots of direct sales companies out there.  I've hostessed parties for many of them, and will continue to do so.  These ladies are my friends and I want to support their businesses, but I also love their products.  I didn't join Jamberry to make a ton of money, although that is a perk.  I joined because I wanted to be able to wear the wraps without it impacting my budget.  I'm not going to be that lady who used to sell ____ but now she sells ____.

And that about sums it up.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Magic City Comic Con

I'm heading down to Magic City Comic Con next weekend to help a friend with her booth.  If you're in the area, stop by and check out her awesome Wibbly Wobbly Wares.  This is the second time I've worked with Julia.  The last time was pretty fun, and I'm expecting this one to be no different.

Julia hand makes beautiful necklaces, rings and other jewelry.  Although her favorite by far is Doctor Who, she also makes items from popular comic/super hero fandoms, Harry Potter and more.   Here's a picture of some works in progress:

One of my favorite things about going to Comic Con is seeing the creativity of the cos-players.  Where else can you dress up like your favorite character and walk around all day and not have people stare at you like you're some weirdo?

In anticipation of MC Comic Con I've been trying to come up with Jamberry Wraps that would complete a Costume.  Here are some pairings from my favorite Sci-Fi show.

The Doctor and His Companions

Ninth Doctor: Black and White Quad, Date Night, and Moon Glass
Rose Tyler: Anglophyle (NAS Custom order), Rose-Colored Glasses, China Rose Tips
Tenth Doctor: Champagne Toast, Navy Quatrefoil, and Luna
Eleven: Atlantis, Cherry Ice, and French Tips Bows
Amy Pond: Metallic Silver and White Fishnet, Fire Engine Tips, Tinsel Town
River Song: Snakeskin, Sea Glass, River (NAS Custom Order)

The Tardis

Just a few wraps with this one.
Gallifreyan (NAS Custom Design)
Berry Blue Tip and Berry Blue Glimmer
Darkest Black and Black Tips.

Doctor Who Villians

Weeping Angel: Diamond Dust Sparkle, Stone Tip or Midnight Celebration
Daleks: Progression, Marsala Mirage, or Fade Out
Cybermen: Metallic Chrome SilverRose Gold Sparkle, or Copper Penny Nail Lacquer