February 21, 2015

A New Website and a Fresh Start

Hello Friends!

I just wanted to let you know that I will now be writing at a different location: www.kendrabroekhuis.com 

Please check out my new sparkly website, and continue to follow my blog there. You can sign up to receive email updates when I post new articles, at the bottom of the blog page. 

You can also connect with me on social media: go to Facebook and "like" my new page: Kendra Broekhuis: Grace&Peace, and follow me on Twitter and Instagram! @kendrabroekhuis

Thank you so much for your continued reading and support. 

Much love to you all!

Grace and Peace,
Kendra


February 18, 2015

The Train Wreck Called "When Body Met Pregnancy”

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of my human body over which Pregnancy, who likes to think she is sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’”
 - Abraham Kuyper’s Pregnant Wife probably

Clip art of Pre-Pregnant/Pregnant Pollyanna done by yours truly. 

Every. Square. Inch.

As if pregnancy is the latest remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” As if it’s not a beautiful, precious little child growing inside, but rather something sort of like a life-sucking parasite.

This is for those who are pregnant, or who have recently been pregnant, or who remember being pregnant a long time ago because the transformation was simply that memorable. 

And this is for those who do not feel like a magical pregnancy unicorn for nine out of the nine months of gestation. 

(Because it’s better to laugh than to hormonally cry as we already do much of the time.)

We'll start from the top. And work our way down to the deepest depths.


1. Pregnancy Brain. Why did I enter this room? Why did I open the fridge? Did I remember to flush the toilet? What was I going to do? Where did I set that thing? What “thing” did I set down in the first place?

2. Pre-pubescent Acne. Did I get pregnant, or did I re-enroll in puberty? PLEASE NO.

3. Zombie Eyes. Trouble falling asleep. Tossing. Turning. Wanting to punch Husband's peacefully sleeping face straight out of the bed and across the room just because. An endless cycle of daytime cat naps and nighttime insomnia. Being blinded by the light when venturing outside even when it is overcast. All attributing to eyes that look like striped Christmas candy canes and make me a prime candidate for next season's tryouts of The Walking Dead.

4. Fattened Shnozz. Did you know this? That your nose can literally swell when you're pregnant?! Does that explain how I can tell my next door neighbor forgot to put on deodorant this morning?  Or how three days post-chopping, I can still smell onion on my hands? Or how I can sniff out a Big Mac from miles away?

5. Moles on Moles on Moles on Moles. (Moles on ery'thing.) The best kinds are the ones with hair growing out of them.

6. Chipmunk Face. “Doc, you say it’s water retention, but I swear I pee out all of my bodily fluids on an hourly basis.”

7. Gorgeous Locks. Thank you, Prenatal Vitamins. Because of you, not all pregnancy changes are bad. But I’m pretty sure my gorgeous, fast growing hair is just your apology for setting me up on a never ending blind date with Constipation.

8. Sausage Fingers. “Lady Fingers, meet Sausage Fingers. And say ‘goodbye’ to your wedding ring. You won’t be seeing it again until you endure two weeks of Night Sweats post-delivery.”

9. Hillbilly Teeth. "Oh, I’m sorry. Did you only brush your teeth twice yesterday?" snickered Cavities and Gingivitis. 


10. Ring. (See #8: “Sausage Fingers.”)

11. Drool. You thought your pee muscle was the only incontinent part of your body? Wrong. WUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

12. Burning Heart. I be poppin' Tums like Smarties. All because of the three tortilla chips I slathered with salsa. Mild salsa. Maybe I can just pop one of my new water balloon boobs to put out the fire in my chest.

13. Water Balloon Boobs. You can look, but you can’t touch. Or you will be seriously killed. 

14. Stretch Marks. “Spread some cocoa butter on your stomach!” she says. “That will prevent getting any stretch marks!” she says. (Tell that to the purple map of Zimbabwe that miraculously appeared on my stomach and buttox after eighteen gallons of cocoa butter treatment.)

15. Toxic Gases. Now, I’m not quite sure. Was that one called the “Machine Gun,” or the “Crop Duster?” And will the smell stick around for all eternity like a wet booger on the tip of my finger? For the love of potpourri. 

16. Warped Belly Button. Oh, you didn’t know? My belly button is with child too! 

17. Apple Bottom Butt. “How do you fit all that, in them jeans?” sang Jason Derulo to his pregnant Baby Mama probably.

18. Unreliable Sphincter. Meet your new BFF:


And meet your other new BFF: Kegals.

19. CRAMP!!! As if I was actually trying to exercise in my sleep!!! I don't even exercise in the daytime!!! It's like a thousand bees stinging my legs beneath a thousand stinging jellyfish!!! Make it stop!!! I might need to offer Husband a kick to the gut to go with the punch to his peacefully sleeping face!!!

20. Spider Veins. “Mommy, why did you color on your legs with a blue marker?”

21. Sasquatch Feet. Am I pregnant, or did I contract elephantiasis? Will my feet ever fit into anything besides thong sandals again? And by "thong sandals," I mean actually wrapping a stretchy g-string around a thick slab of cardboard, simply to avoid having to walk barefoot up and down the aisles of the grocery store?! (Side note: I swear I just clipped my nails yesterday. Thanks again, Prenatal Vitamins.)

22. Wooly Legs. “Ignorance is bliss,” said every pregnant woman who couldn’t see her hairy legs beyond her beluga whale belly. ("But to know is pain," said every pregnant woman's husband sharing her bed.)

And oh yeah, did I forget to mention...?


Grace and Peace to you who are also on the beautiful, miraculous, awesome (and sometimes interesting) journey of Pregnancy,

Kendra

February 12, 2015

My Boyfriend Didn’t Love Me

I had been dating this guy for awhile. And I liked him. (I liked him a lot.)

We were on another date together, and I don’t remember exactly how our conversation went, but I remember the main point: 

My boyfriend didn't love me.

We had been discussing when we think couples should say “I love you” to each other, and my boyfriend came right out and said he wasn't going to say “I love you” to me. Not yet, anyways.


At first I was a little bummed. After only three months in I knew I was going to marry this guy. (Check that: I knew I really wanted to marry this guy.) I was practically head over heels for him, almost bursting to say those three little words.

But he came from a town where you don’t take a girl home unless it’s pretty serious, and you definitely don’t take a girl to church unless you are engaged. Forever and always. 

So I first thought that was the reason He didn't want to say "I love you" yet. (He’s just a slower “relationship progressor” than I am.)

But then he explained: “Actually, I don't want to say ‘I love you’ to anyone until I get engaged to them.” (Okay, I guess he’s just a much slower relationship progressor than I am.)

His further explanation: “You see, I think of love as a commitment, not just as words you say to someone because you really like them. So I don’t want to say ‘I love you,’ to a girl who I’m not promising to be committed to. Forever and always.”

Okay, he probably didn't say “forever and always.” But now he had my attention, and not just my disappointment.


To him, saying “I love you” didn't mean trying to communicate that he really liked someone. It didn't mean splurging the word "love" over every little thing as we tend to do these days. (“I love the brownie chunks in this ice cream,” or “I love the lyrics of this song,” or “I love everything about winter minus the cold and the snow and my transparent skin tone.”)

“I have never said ‘I love you’ to anyone before, so I want it to be a special thing I give to the woman I marry,” he continued.

That also got my attention.

Because I had told another person that I loved him. And at the time, I really liked that person. A lot. But we weren't together anymore, so did we really love each other? Were we really committed to each other?

Love, indeed, is first and foremost a commitment.

When we say “I love you” to our family, it’s because we know they have been there for us and will be there for us no matter what. They have guided and helped us grow and change and mature. They are committed to us, and we are to them. (Even when we don’t really like each other.)

When we say “I love you” to our friends, it’s because they have seen us through some of our lowest lows and highest highs. They have weathered distance and disagreements with us. They are committed to us, and we are to them. (Even when we don’t really like each other.)

And the same should be true for anyone to whom we say the sweet words of “I love you.”


The words "I love you" aren't words that describe our romantic, fuzzy feelings. Because love isn't a feeling. They aren't words that are used to bribe or manipulate. Because love isn't meant to take advantage of another person.

But they are words that should always be backed by one thing: commitment. 

Because that is the meaning of the words “I love you.” 

I am committed to you. I promise to be loving and faithful. I will serve you with tenderness and respect. I will encourage you. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, ‘till death do us part. (Remix of mine and Husband's wedding vows.)


Now, I know that many couples don’t take the route of waiting that long to say “I love you,” and they still end up with a healthy, committed marriage relationship. (Kind of like when I heard about those couples who waited until their wedding day to kiss and I just thought, “Heck no, that’s not for me.”)

But what I do hope is to encourage us to remember and understand the meaning of love and the weight of the words “I love you.”

When I was in high school my Grandma would always say, "Guard your heart, Kenny Sue."

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

I wasn't always very good at that. (I tend to fall fast and hard.)

But she was right. She knew one way we guard our hearts is by treading carefully through our relationships, not jumping in too quickly or misusing the words "I love you."


While love is an awesome and lovely thing to "fall" into, it can also be dangerous when we only think about whether or not we really like someone, rather than whether or not we will choose to be committed to that someone. Forever and always.

So this Valentine’s Day, I celebrate love. True love.

I celebrate the love of our families, who I know are committed to us and our support and our well-being for as long as we all shall live. (I love you.)

I celebrate the love of our friends, who I know are committed to us through our highs and lows and struggles and celebrations for as long as we all shall live. (I love you.)

I celebrate the love of our God, who is the only One capable of loving us with perfectly unconditional love, for all of eternity. Who is the reason we choose to love others in the first place: We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) (I love you.)

And I celebrate the love of this boyfriend, who eventually was willing to give me not just the gift of those three {huge} words that I cherish hearing every day, but also the lifelong commitment to back up those words.

This boyfriend, who didn't quite wait until we were engaged either, but on one sweet summer night looked at me and whispered the words, “I don’t have anything shiny to give you quite yet, but I love you.” 

This boyfriend, who shortly after made a trip to Zale's to pick up "something shiny," and creatively carved out his commitment to back up those words: "Will you marry me?”


This boyfriend, who I have very joyfully called “Husband” for over three years. This boyfriend, who indeed does love me, and to whom I can honestly say back, “I love you, too.”

So as we celebrate this holiday that everyone loves to hate, as we work past disappointment of gifts and dates (and lack thereof) not meeting our expectations, and as we dress up in red and pink and inhale way too much Dove chocolate, I hope we can remember and celebrate the true meaning of love. 

And Valentine's Day or not, I pray we will share this kind of true love with those oh-so-important people in our lives. I pray we won't hold back the words "I love you" from the people we are committed to, or forget to back up those words with both our actions and commitment.

Grace and Peace,
Kendra

February 5, 2015

I Am My Husband’s Cheerleader

“If you can’t say anything nice…”

Ugh. Sometimes I still need my mother to peek around the corner and yell at me.

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Because honestly. Sometimes I can be the epitome of all those “quarrelsome wife” verses in Proverbs.

A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day. (Proverbs 27:15)

(Did you hear that, Self? King Solomon compares being around a quarrelsome, ill-tempered, critical, negative, nagging wife to Chinese Torture. Congratulations.)

Criticizing how he drives.

Criticizing how he takes care of Toddler.

Criticizing how he dresses.

Criticizing what time he gets home from work.

Criticizing what he didn’t do.

Criticizing what he did do because he didn’t do it exactly the way I wanted him to.

Criticizing how he says something.

Criticizing with a tone of voice that is not called “Talking” but “Snipping.”

Criticizing anything I can think of in front of family and friends.

Criticizing him for how he chews his food, or brushes his teeth, or how he decides to breathe during that one second I’m paying attention.
  
Drip. Drip. Drip. Yikes.

If I had criticism constantly dripping on me, I’d probably call “Chinese Torture” too.

This is a legit angry face.
Because who ever thinks it is a good idea to swim through caves of cold water?
Nobody who is my real friend, that's who.

It’s not that Husband is never at fault, or that he never makes mistakes. It’s not that I shouldn't be honest with him, or tell him how his actions make me feel. It’s not that I don’t wonder if he tries to pick the parking spot farthest away from our destination and park my door right next to an abundant amount of foliage on purpose. (I swear.

And it’s not that I’m above blaming an overly critical attitude on pregnancy hormones. (Because that’s totally a thing.)

But.

Trying to live and work and make a healthy marriage with someone who is too often negative (or critical or downright mean) is difficult.

(Did you hear that, Self? Your marriage isn’t better off with your snarky comments whose sole purpose is to make Husband feel dumb. Your marriage won’t stand if one of its team members keeps tearing the other one down.)

Because here is the truth:

My words as a wife have a lot of power, but it is up to me to choose what kind of power they will have: The power to heal, to build up, to encourage? Or the power to hurt, to tear down, to hinder?

"Let me take a nice picture of you two," she says.
"Act natural," she says.

Last year a few of my friends decided to do the Love Dare Challenge. We thought it would be a good idea to encourage each other to be wives who love and support their husbands.

Here was Day 1:

The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It’s better to hold your tongue than to say something you’ll regret.

“It’s only 24 hours, right? I can go that long without saying something negative, right?” (Probably wrong.)

And then Day 2 came:

In addition to saying nothing negative to your spouse again today, do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.

“Umm…48 hours total of ‘no negatives?’ Um…I can try.” (This is hard.)

And then Day 3 came:

Whatever you put your time, energy, and money into will become more important to you. It’s hard to care for something you are not investing in. Along with restraining from negative comments, buy your spouse something that says, “I was thinking of you today.”

“72 whole hours without saying anything negative to Husband is SO easy!” (SAID NO WIFE EVER.)

How are we so gorgeously tan mid-winter?
We are actually really butt-white right now.

Thankfully, my friends were vulnerable enough to admit that they also struggled to make it three whole days without saying anything negative to their husbands.

But even though Husband probably has no idea I attempted this 40 day challenge because I was that awesome at it…I am my husband’s cheerleader.

And even though I may not be the stereotypical cheerleader personality (says the wife who wore sweatpants and no make-up every day last week except Sunday,) I am my husband’s cheerleader.

And I will cheer him on, in both his work and his life at home. I will focus on the positives that my teammate brings to my life and to our marriage.

And when I am not cheering on Husband (because he doesn’t always need sweet nothings whispered into his ear until the dawn’s early light,) I will do my best to refrain from making negative comments that tear him down: in our home, outside of our home, and especially in front of other people.

I will refrain from being a Chinese Torture Wife, and I will build him up instead.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down…by wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. (Proverbs 14:1, 24:3)

(Okay, at least, I will try really hard.) Try to fill our house with the rare and beautiful treasures of wisdom and understanding, not tear our house down with constant quarreling and criticism.

That is my challenge. That is my resolution. (Am I late to the “Making New Year’s Resolutions” party?)

And if you would like to take the Love Dare Journey for yourself, either to get out of a funk or to simply freshen up the good thing you and Spouse got going on, click on this link here:


(I highly recommend asking friends to take the journey with you, as a way to encourage you and hold you accountable.)

And remember, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Grace and Peace,
Kendra