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    Thirty by 30: Installment Two

    April 28, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    I‘ve been feeling less than well for about a week now. Pregnancy just doesn’t seem to give me a glow like other women. There are some ladies I know who are never more beautiful than when they are pregnant. They are just beaming all the time. And they do cool things like all their housework and all their homeschooling with time leftover for socializing.

    This is so not me, which is unfortunate since I have been pregnant at least part of every calendar year since 2001.

    But feeling under the weather puts me in a reflective mood. I spend more time resting, which gives my mind leave to wander. This is good when it comes to this series, which requires a certain level of determination if I’m actually going to finish it by my birthday, which is in less than two weeks.

    So…on with the list!

    1. Men are different from women. I know that everyone has to learn this eventually, but it took about two years of marriage for some of the more profound differences to become evident to me. Perhaps the most striking to me was that men typically say exactly what they mean. Now, as I say this I can also think of a couple men I have met in life who are exceptions to this rule, so this isn’t hard and fast, but I have talked with enough of my friends about it to know that it generally seems to be true.

      Women aren’t like this. Women begin as girls, and girls can be quite devious. They don’t say what they mean, and sometimes what they say can mean exactly the opposite, while other times what they say means what they said, plus some other meaning that was meant to hurt the hearer. Women express themselves in a veiled manner. Women use various types of social maneuvers to punish others.

      I knew all of this because I was a woman and, even though freed by Christ from bondage to these sorts of behaviors, it’s not like I’ve been perfect or left untempted.

      But this lesson I learned wasn’t about women. It was about men.

      I think that more than half of our “adjustments” {I don’t like using the word argument because I like to reserve it for the real deal} to marriage were escalated because I didn’t trust what my husband said. I imagined him as a woman, imagined what I would have meant had I said what he had said. Which, of course, had nothing to do with what he had actually said, but everything to do with what my evil female brain could have conspired to make such a sentence mean.


      So, to recap: If he says dinner was a bit too cold {I don’t think my husband has ever actually said this, but it is a nice, neutral example}, that’s what he means. He doesn’t mean that you can’t cook, or that he hates your recipe, or that you look fat in your apron. He just thinks it would have tasted even better had it been warmer.

    2. The essence of modesty is found in not drawing attention to yourself. When I first starting considering the idea of modesty, a lot of what I read was caught up in dress codes. Not that each book or article ascribed to the same code, but each author had their own guidelines for what they would consider modest and what they wouldn’t. For some, this meant always wearing dresses. For the more strict, this meant very specific dresses at very specific lengths. And then there were shirts. They could be cut too low, pulled too tight, or have patterns or seams on them that accentuated body parts they shouldn’t.

      When I read these things, I felt, to be honest, too poor to be modest. It wasn’t that I had this totally immodest closet full of clothes, but almost everything I owned seemed to fail in some way according to some author. And yet, it would be asking too much of my family to revamp my entire wardrobe just because I was feeling some sort of pull to a certain ideology.

      Around the time that I was struggling with these things, I saw a family out and about. All of their girls were dressed perfectly. They would have met every modest dress code out there. And yet, many of those same girls had, in my observation, something flamboyant about the way they carried themselves, the way they talked, the way they walked.

      It was then that I realized that modesty is, first and foremost, an attitude of the heart.

      There are definitely some clothes that I used to wear that I will wear no longer. And part of that has to do with changing lifestyles. When I was single, I didn’t have children to bend over and care for or pull at my clothes. I learned my lesson about wrap skirts the hard way when my oldest was a toddler!

      But there is one thing about modesty that anyone can afford, no matter the budget, and that is the direction of the heart. Some hearts are screaming, “Look at me! See how wonderful I am!” No amount of clothing can cover that up.

    3. Girls shouldn’t call boys. My mother taught me this when I was quite young, and I found it to be true. Boys in this modern world have too much access to girls as it is. And now, with the overwhelming adoption of the cell phone, kids are walking around on their phones all the time.

      Girls, there is no amount of mystery left when you are available 24/7 to those boys. There is no challenge in attaining your company if you are calling them daily, nonstop. At the end of the day, you are not a prize to be won, a treasure to be sought. You can, through phone calls, text messages, and other such behaviors, become easy without being all that that word might entail.

      This age of feminism has told us that girls can propose to boys, initiate dates and relationship-defining conversations, without any repercussions. And, frankly, now that I am an old married woman, I can say that I think the ease of access and the aggressiveness that has been encouraged in these girls makes them quite dull to most of the male species.

      In my opinion, girls do best when they are responding, rather than initiating. So, can a girl return a phone call? Well, my mother typically allowed it. And she also allowed the occasional “necessary” call. {Of course, those calls were to be limited in time because they were to serve a purpose only, and that purpose was informative, not social in nature.} A girl can also return a smile, return a greeting, and so on. I don’t think these sorts of things should be taken too seriously.

      However, comma…

      At the end of the day, a girl won’t know what kind of man she’s marrying if she is the aggressor. After all, he hasn’t proven he can lead. He hasn’t proven he can make decisions. He hasn’t, perhaps, even shown he has initiative to decide when and if he wants to go on a date at all.

      I suppose if all a girl wants is a one-time date to the prom, this doesn’t matter. But if she’s looking to be married, things like this matter a lot.

    First installment is here.

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  • Reply Kansas Mom April 29, 2008 at 3:17 am

    I’m sure you’re right about where the baby is. I never seemed to have trouble breathing with the first (but had to go to the bathroom every hour for nine months). I can’t remember much about my daughter except that she was always moving. She’d keep me up at night. This one, though, is a trickster. He or she seems to be bouncing from the bottom to the top of the womb. I either can’t breathe or have to run for the bathroom!

    At least Kansas Dad and I can laugh about it.

  • Reply Brandy April 28, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Rebecca, I knew we had many of the same rules growing up! 🙂

    Kansas Mom, I like that: drawing attention to your face. That is a good point. It also puts the correct focus in the interaction, I would think.

    About slowing down at 29 weeks: Is it just me, or is that breathing/singing struggle linked to the baby’s proximity to your lungs? My younger daughter carried very low, and I don’t remember having trouble with singing, but my son was very high, and I just felt like I would faint if I sang at full volume!

  • Reply Kansas Mom April 28, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    p.s. Pregnancy treats me pretty well once I’m out of the first trimester, but I realized at church yesterday I’m going to have to start slowing down again (at 29 weeks) when I couldn’t catch my breath as we were singing. (I wasn’t even moving!)

  • Reply Kansas Mom April 28, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    I know just what you mean about changing clothing styles with kids around. I try to be very careful about what I wear when little ones around me will be pulling on my skirts — literally! (They also try to hide under them occasionally, but I discourage that once they’re out of the womb.)

    I read a great book about fashion in general that talked a lot about what modesty was. She did have some rules, I think, but what I liked most was that she stressed clothing is supposed to draw attention to your face. If people are looking elsewhere, they’re not paying attention to *you* – who you are inside.


  • Reply rebecca April 28, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    All good lessons so far! I wasn’t allowed to call boys, either. I think it was one of the best lessons she taught me!

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