Category Archives: Girl Talk

Motherhood: The birth of Sienna Rose

Dear friends,

I need to first apologize for not being able to continue my pregnancy series of posts (alot of things I wanted to write are in draft form and my hope is that Ill be able to finish them up over time and publish them one by one as I had so much to share). The last trimester of my pregnancy was filled with an almost daily fatigue that I had no control over, which meant I needed ALOT of sleep during the day (nights as well, but considering I was up to go to the toilet every couple of hours, the broken sleep only compounded the tiredness). Lastly, on top of that, I unfortunately developed a pretty bad case of carpel tunnel syndrome which rendered my fingers quite useless as I couldn’t bend them when I woke up in the mornings… it meant that on top of not being able to sit at my desk for long (due to back pains), I could no longer really edit, type, or hold heavy things. Sometimes even squeezing my own toothpaste became impossible, and typing on the phone for messages would be difficult. So I had to hold off doing blog posts and many other things during my last trimester, to just concentrate on staying healthy and comfortable.

Since then, I have given birth to our baby girl,  Sienna Rose. We chose this name, mainly inspired by my husband and I’s love for travel. We loved Italy (particularly the tuscany region, and decided Florence was too old sounding, so it made sense to go with its neighboring city, Siena). Rose, was chosen as her middle name as it has always been something classic, beautiful and feminine and that is how I hope our daughter will grow up to be one day :)

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Sienna actually arrived 2 whole weeks earlier than expected. We went in for a routine check up, only to be told that our baby girl would arrive anytime as she was already engaged in position and the Dr could feel her head. It was quite scary to hear that, as I wasn’t quite prepared to be a mother just yet. I had so many things I still wanted to do, but as life would have it, things never happen as planned as we came back to the hospital a couple of days after that appointment, and our daughter arrived into the world the next day. Due to complications that I’d rather not delve into again, I unfortunately could not go through with a natural delivery as I originally wanted, and had to under go an emergency c-section. It was honestly the last thing I wanted, and I remember being in tears as I was rolled into the OT. I was shivering, and terrified, and if it were not for a really calm and gentle Dr, and my husband holding my hand, I think I would have been overcome and paralyzed by the anxiety attack I was having. I remember thinking, I have spent 9 months planning for this day, but nothing is ever really in your control, and that the best thing I can do is to plan in wisdom given, but also be aware and be prepared that anything can happen. Through that, trust God, and know everything is in His sovereign hands. While that doesn’t mean things will go smoothly, or well, or even good, what it does mean though, is that I can rest assured knowing that someone bigger than me, bigger than life, bigger than death even, and the one who did not even spare His own son for my salvation, has my best interests in His hands. That He works everything for our good.

So, It turns out, the whole cesarian process was over in about 15-20 minutes. The last thing I remember was holding tightly onto my husband’s fingers, and next thing I knew, I could hear tiny shrieks of new born breath in the form of cries filling the blue and white walls of the OT. I knew then our girl had arrived safely, and already with her eyes wide open. But it was not until she was placed onto my chest, and I met her for the first time face to face, that I was flooded with feelings of awe – knowing that who had grown inside of me for 9 whole months and started off from being as tiny as a poppy seed, grew into the little being that was laying on my chest. All 3KG of beautiful goodness wrapped up in swaddles, just looking at me with her already open eyes. It is in those moments, I was completely reminded and floored by what God creates with His two hands. To know that a full human being is formed from just two tiny cells that in essence only have 1 day to find each other, can turn into a human being with a beating heart that will eventually learn to love, with a voice that will eventually learn to call me mamma, with 10 fingers and 10 toes, with lungs that can breathe, with a brain that can eventually learn to process the world around it and learn things like reading, writing, and so on. When I think of these things, it just bowls me over in wonderment and reverence for how clever our God is. He is truly to be praised :)

Anyhow, in this post, I wanted to also share with you how motherhood has been the past 6 weeks, but I might save that for another post as there is so much to actually still process myself, while I am still finding my feet and learning on all fronts. I went through a period of post partum blues, and the past 6 weeks while it involved alot of joy, it also involved a number of serious meltdowns that I still need to work through in my head before telling the world in all its painful detail. Instead, for now, below are some photos that my husband managed to take of Sienna’s birth. I am so glad he was able to cement these slices of time and life for us, since the procedure was quite a blur, and my memory of it all was a complete haze. I am not sure if it was because I was so afraid that I passed out, or perhaps it was the painkillers they gave me… but I don’t remember anything after clinging onto my husband’s fingers. So, these moments are incredibly precious to me, and I share them with quiet trepidation as I am still quite a private person despite so much of my work life being online. Ironic, I know. Things such as these, my husband, and my family are still very closed boxes of my life, and ones that I still like to keep behind sheltered doors. So I hope you enjoy seeing these little pieces of our first memories together as a family of three :)

Next post I’ll be sharing our maternity shoot photos so stay tuned for that tomorrow (uh huh, blogging in that order, totally makes sense right? haha… well, thats what happens when you have a newborn and it now takes weeks to compile a post in between puke, poop, and constantly walking around the house to settle your bub :P )

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Lastly, thank you to everyone who sent us messages, visited, and so on. I know we haven’t been able to thank all of you in person, but I hope with time, we will be able to. In the meantime, please know we read all your beautiful words and they really meant so very much to us. xo

 

Jenny Signoff

Pregnancy: 31 weeks and reflecting back to 12

I’m sitting here with a self-induced food coma, and finally getting this post finished….This entry was supposed to go up 3 days ago…but as life would have it, timing never works out as planned. Being pregnant (and I know that it becomes even more so when one becomes a mother after) you learn over time that you aren’t ever 100% in control of your own time… or your body! Currently, at 31 weeks, the fatigue that plagues the first trimester, has returned and has become a very unwelcome visitor every day this past week. So getting things done has been quite hard as I am always sleepy, my back always hurts, my feet (especially the heels!) are always screaming in pain, and the most comforting place is the bed where I can lay on my side…. the only position left nowadays that brings some long needed hours of rest and relief.

Thankfully though, at 31 weeks, while I am tired ALL the time, I do not have that WRETCHED all-day nausea anymore. Instead, I am hungry every 3 hours (although I cannot eat alot due to the diminishing amount of physical space inside me – it literally physically hurts to overeat, and I have learned the hard way that it is better to eat less, but more frequently instead of eating until I feel completely full and satisfied). Also, on the upside, most foods sit well with me now. Which is such a stark contrast to the first trimester where I hated anything and everything in sight – ESPECIALLY garlic. It is as if pregnancy has amplified my taste receptors to a scarily aware level because if I can taste even the slightest hint of garlic in a dish/food, I get sick… like the kind of nausea-sick I got in my first trimester. Which is sad… because anyone who knows me knows just HOW MUCH I loved garlic before I was pregnant…. I used to heap the stuff on in my food and could eat the cloves by themselves when they were baked in the oven. Now the thought and smell of the stuff sends me running in fear for my life. Yup, anything to avoid feeling as sick as I did during my first 4 months.

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If anyone asks me what I have been loving to eat lately? The usual burgers always hit the spot :D Sausage and egg mcmuffins (I love hashbrowns too but try really hard not to eat them too often for the sake of transfat health reasons haha), juicy beef burgers (although it has been a little sad to tell the kitchen to make the beef totally well done), DURIANS (omg, durians! especially when they have been refrigerated cold!), greek yoghurt with mango, fruits of ALL kinds, chilled fresh coconut juice, crackers and cheese, milk, and a special combination of chicken/rice/fried egg/steamed broccoli which has been a staple lunch for me lately :) The husband has been really really patient with me, and has been graciously providing food for the baby (ie. me haha) as and when I have wanted it. Thankfully, ridiculous late night food runs have not really been happening, except once. So the weight gain so far, has been about 11KG at 31 weeks.

And what has life looked like in the past week or two? Well, in terms of the baby…bub is moving ALL the time…. its kind of crazy that just weeks ago, catching baby movements was as hard as finding gold but now I am aware of when bub is rolling, turning, kicking, or having a dance party in my belly… more on that in the next post… For now, in terms of what life looks like at the moment?  I think the nesting stage has COMPLETELY taken over, because I have always hated cleaning the house. You’d have to beat me with a broom before I would get off my lazy bum and do it, but since entering my last trimester, I have had this intense need to wash all towels, linens, floors, dust shelves, clean mirrors and glass, organize rooms, cupboards, shoes, throw out SO MUCH CRAP, and work on the nursery. I don’t know what has come over me! I might leave “Project Nursery” for another post in my pregnancy journal series though, because all of you need to see what state this room used to be in (think dark, horrible store/junkyard kind of room), what our goal is, and what the end result ends up being :)

On another note, yes I am still working. It is insane how this workload never ends… so to those wondering, yup, I am still editing away, madly trying to finish up everything this month. My poor team members have been burning rubber with me… I am so grateful for them. Without this amazing team, I don’t know where I would be during this pregnancy. They have made it possible to still shoot, while working around nausea, tiredness, keep baby and me healthy, and still produce results that keep our clients happy. Thank you SO MUCH!!

Anyhow, I know at the end of my last post, I left you all with my thoughts on my first trimester, and how the 12 week scan changed so many things about how I felt about being pregnant and carrying a child. You see, when you have been sick for so many months, it is completely natural to question what on earth you got yourself into. Asking questions like, is this worth it? What am I doing? What if I suffer this sickness for the full nine months? All-day nausea was so completely debilitating that there were moments I swore I never wanted to ever be pregnant again. Does this opinion change as you get further along pregnancy? I think so… at least in my case it did :) And the 12 week scan was one of the things that helped kick start the change to appreciating carrying this beautiful God-given gift.

Pictured below is me at 31 weeks, holding my 12 week scan.

For the first time, I saw a baby. Before this, you don’t see anything much except a little black sac on the screen with a little nub that looks nothing more than a finger tip. But when I went into see what was inside me at 12 weeks, I was pretty much blown away that just after a few weeks, the baby looked so much like… a baby. I know this sounds incredibly stupid, but really, to see what you and your partner have created from just two cells in your body, and to see its beating heart, its legs, its arms, its head, is truly truly amazing. I don’t think you will ever understand the magnitude of this moment until you go through it yourself with your own child. So if at this point you think I’m a rambling pregnant lady, that is ok :) I know if/when it ever comes to your turn, you will get what I am talking about :) And just when I thought that was the most amazing thing ever….On the ultrasound screen, we then saw our baby roll around, wriggle its bottom to a different position and lift its hand up as if to say hello to us. It was the cutest thing I had ever seen…. so much so that I almost couldn’t stop laughing, to the point of near tears. It was at that point that it hit me…. bub is really there. It’s really alive. It’s growing. It’s real. And I think at that point is where I fell in love with my child, and was reminded just how amazing God’s creation is. Even despite my incredible sickness and the inability to eat (I lost weight in my first trimester!) for so many months, baby was still growing, looked beautiful, and was deemed healthy by our doctor. There was just so much to be thankful for at this moment. God had truly blessed us. And I prayed all the time from then onwards to please keep my child healthy, and that I would be more grateful for the life inside me when I knew alot of other women couldn’t have children.

I hope for all women out there who are pregnant (thank you, by the way to all the ladies who wrote in to me with your stories. I was so encouraged to know I am not alone, and that there are people out there who care. So much love goes out to all of you. Please don’t ever stop. Know that your words make my days brighter!), and are in the throws of sickness and suffering, know that what you are carrying and the work you are doing to carry a child and keep him/her healthy is truly amazing and a feat in itself. If anyone ever tells you otherwise or makes you feel otherwise, you can send them to talk to me! haha… I earnestly know just how hard it can be.

In my next post, I plan to talk about how pregnancy affected (or in my case, ruined!) my skin and my hair…. the things I did to help it…..baby movements and what they feel like, and how pregnancy has changed my marriage, amongst other things! :D

Thank you again for reading, and as always, my inbox and the comment bar below is always welcome to any questions or thoughts you may have :)

 

Jenny Signoff

Pregnancy: An initial summary

 

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The two sticks that changed my 2015 forever.

 

I am currently sitting at 29 weeks pregnant and finally getting down to this….. I have been sick for so much of this pregnancy, and then following that just so INSANELY busy trying to catch up on work before I entered my last trimester that I honestly haven’t even had time to set up the baby’s bed… bub will be sleeping on the floor at this rate! Anyway, I have been tossing and turning up the idea of sharing my pregnancy journey for months now… on one hand, I felt like it wasn’t anyone’s business to know what I was going through as all the important people in my life who needed to know already knew via personal and direct updates. On the other hand, there have been so many misunderstandings (especially on the work front) because people just don’t really know what it is really like to carry a child to full term for 9 months that it has actually caused me a great deal of stress which I really didn’t need on top of everything else I have been managing while being pregnant.

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Granted, there are a number of you out there who do get it…. you know, those who have been pregnant, those who are mummies, those of you who have wives or know ladies who have been/are pregnant…know that your encouragement and your advice has made the difference on some days. However, there is also a large number out there who don’t know…. those who have assumed I was just ‘under the weather’….those who thought being sick while pregnant was like having a common cold…. those who thought being tired had no idea it meant I was in bed 18 hours a day to just survive….and while every pregnancy is different, I felt it was time to write to clear things up… at least on my end  (Disclaimer: even sharing my stories shouldn’t be used as a benchmark or a comparison, but I hope to at least shed some light so people do not underestimate the monumental task of growing a baby, and grow to appreciate the sheer emotional and physical work it takes to create a fully healthy human being…and for those who have easy pregnancies and do not ever have to suffer what I have been through, I hope you can from this learn to count your blessings and know you are very very lucky woman! :D )

 

So while I am now in my 3rd trimester already, with this journal, to begin with anyway, I wanted to recount the milestones and the highlights (and the bottom lowpits too!) that I remember whether it was something physical, emotional, or something I learned about God in all this. Hopefully, by the time I finish my series, it will be just in time before bub arrives and I can start to share things about motherhood, how to balance life with a baby/family/work, amongst other things that I hope all you readers of Two Threaded Poppies have come to enjoy (ie. beauty, travel, fashion, food, and so on). I hope what I share offers some encouragement to those who may be going through something similar or know of someone going through the same, and for those who are not, feel free to ignore my sharings… or head on over to our instagram where there will be a much more varied mix of posts about all other things Two Threaded Poppies has curated for all of you to see :)

 

So… the back to the beginning. I found out I was pregnant in January. I will admit, that we were fortunate in the conceiving department. I don’t say it lightly, as I know quite a number of friends who have taken a long time to conceive, are still trying after years, or cannot get pregnant for various reasons. Ju and myself know how lucky and blessed we are … and don’t take it for granted in the slightest. To have been able to hold that test stick, and it read ‘positive’ was one of the craziest moments of elation I’ve ever had… It was almost surreal, so we went to the doctors for a blood test and it confirmed I was about 4+ weeks pregnant… and from there, it was a cautious but sure flurry in phone calls to our immediate families and our closest friends to let them know the news. After being married for 7 years, it was a welcomed piece of sharing that those around us rejoiced in together with us. I know most people tend to wait until after their first trimester to tell, but Ju and I have never been that kind of couple… we are fairly open and my only rule was that it was not allowed to be shared online anywhere, only personal and direct telling of friends which is what this kind of news should be received as anyway, right? :)

From there, I was excited, energised and just thrilled that I could finally enter a period in my life where I was granted the permission to eat whatever I felt like (well, almost haha, but we will go into that later) and not worry too much about getting fat! Yup, as a foodie, this was one part of being pregnant I was truly looking forward to. However, after a week of enjoying tonnes of good yummies, the dreaded nausea set in. It wasn’t overnight… in fact, only at about week 5.5 food started to go off in my mouth slowly… as if things that used to satisfy me and gave me great joy to consume began to switch off on my tastebuds. I then learned, this was what ‘morning sickness’ was. No one told me what it would feel like… nor did I know to what extent it could be suffered. Over the coming weeks, my sickness lasted all day, every day, and everything I put in my mouth tasted like poison. And it wasn’t like I was vomiting. It was just a severe WANT to vomit, severe motion sickness, but the body just wouldn’t let you purge or relieve itself. So it was complete torture….. it gave me vertigo, headaches, I went to bed hungry but unable to eat. I couldn’t even drink water without feeling like I wanted to throw it up. It just got progressively worse and worse with the peak around week 9 or 10 …. I remember only being awake long enough to eat my lunch and dinner (there were days I even forgot to shower because I was THAT sick), and I would be asleep the rest of the day/night just to pass the time. It felt like forever and an eternity in those few months. And nothing would relieve it. If anyone asks how I would describe the first trimester, I would use the word ‘survival’ – ie. do whatever you need to do to just get through each day one at a time. So what did I consume during that first trimester? Funny enough, I was able to eat burgers, fries, meat pies, only sweet drinks (I hated water), crackers, and oranges. Not consistently though… what I wanted would change on a daily basis, but it was kind of like within that group of foods for most of the time. I hated everything else… eggs, all meats, all seafood, all vegetables, all fruits (except oranges). And before any of you think I was making my baby suffer, our 8 week scan showed that bub had grown very well despite how awfully sick I was, and was 1 week ahead of size in terms of growth. It just goes to show that God’s creation is so amazing.

Throughout this period though, the house became somewhat of a mess (my poor husband did whatever he could when he wasn’t working/travelling for work), and I also had to cope with my own work. It was hard to explain to people why I was feeling poorly without telling them the reason why… I knew people were thinking with judgement I was either being lazy or slack for sitting at shoots, or not completing editing deadlines on time, and I hated that because if anyone knows me, knows just how hard I worked before I fell pregnant ….thankfully I have an amazing team of people who helped through this period… but would I go through the whole work (ie. my kind of work, which is very physical) AND being pregnant at the same time again? no….my advice to anyone who gets pregnant is to keep your workload and personal and home commitments as light as possible. Get help. Outsource your chores if need be. Do anything to survive those initial few months.

So yes, there were days I cursed being pregnant, and wondered what on earth I got myself into….but then at our 12 week scan, things changed. We did an 8 week scan as well, but at that point, all we saw was some odd shape that looked like the top part of an index finger, in a round sac. And at that point, you don’t develop any connection to your child. So it was hard to feel appreciative. However, at week 12, It was then that our doctor showed us for the first time the life we created. And I nearly cried looking at it. That experience I will share in my next entry along with how my body changed, all my emotional highs and lows, etc… so stay tuned :) And thank you for reading so far with me! If you have any questions, or comments, I’d love to hear them so please don’t be shy about chatting with me! :)

 

 

Jenny Signoff

Marriage Truths

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The both of us :) | Photo by Jose Villa

This personal post is actually a little scary to write. Mainly because it is that.. it is SO personal.  
 
It started off as just a desire to share about two books that have really encouraged me over my walk in marriage, but then with any recommendation, a convincing one would involve sharing why, and how it has impacted my own life. So this has been shelved for a little while as a result of my hesitance to let you all in a little into my secret world. The world that involves those closest to me, my husband, my friends, my family, my God, my deepest dreams and desires, and also my deepest fears and heartbreaks.  Things that I don’t often share about, despite how public my life has become since becoming a photographer. 

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So for this very small slice of time, I wanted to un-shelve, and personally and honestly share why these two books have profoundly affected me. I know alot of people come up to me and say that the life I live is incredible, amazing, and that I am so blessed. And in many ways, I know I am. God has been ridiculously kind and generous. The fact that I have a complete family, good friends (though small in number ), a roof over my head, I never want when it comes to food, I am married, and the reality of a job that allows me to do what I love are all blessings… and I know that. But one of the areas I have struggled much in, is marriage. I find it hard being a good wife. There, I said it. Ironic, I know, considering the fact that I am a photographer that photographs people in love all the time. Realistically however, I have learned in the years I have been married (and talking to others) that while there have been some lucky few that have had it easy (something I thank God for, for you – what a beautiful gift you have been blessed with), I am certain for the majority of the rest of us, we fall into the ‘marriage is hard and tough work’ category.. the honeymoon period did not last. While we all sort of know in our heads that marriage is not ever a walk in the park, I don’t think anyone really honestly tells you when you are walking down the aisle just how hard it can be right from the get-go… I remember being in our first year of marriage and wondering every day, what was wrong… why were we always fighting, always arguing, asking if this would ever get better….It was discouraging. You do end up thinking, if it’s worth it, and entertaining thoughts about giving up….. well I can safely tell you, being on the other side and pulling through, that it IS worth it. And while it isn’t easy, if you fight for your marriage, and remain committed, I can tell you that it DOES get better. In marriage, it is definitely true when they say you reap what you sow…. and that the grass is NOT greener on the other side…it is greener only where you water it. That IS what the vows say right? For better or for worse :)  

I have been married 6 years…almost 7, and while I love my husband to the moon and back, and I know he loves me just the same, it doesn’t change the fact that marriage has not been easy for us. There have definitely been seasons of great joy, don’t get me wrong… but in the 6+ years we have been married, there have also been seasons of deep hurt. The kind of seasons where you sleep in separate rooms. Don’t speak to one another for the longest time. Or you yell across spiteful things to hurt the other. Praise the Lord that we have settled into somewhat of a place of haven in the past 1-2 years, however, it has taken us a long time to get there….the process has involved many tears, sleepless nights, and long hard talks to really understand one another better, and also learning how to make good on the promises we made on our wedding day to love one another unconditionally despite being so different. Yes, we are so very very different as individuals (which is part of what attracted us to each other in the first place)..I say that alot, however, you couple that with the fact that we are both strong characters, stubborn, and aren’t afraid to tell each other what we think, alot of times, we clash heads. So I will admit that we drive each other crazy alot! And there have been days where we sit and say to ourselves, “I don’t know how to make this better“. There really have been moments where I have been rendered incapacitated, and unable to do anything because of how hard some periods have been. But by the grace of God, while we aren’t masters of our marriage or experts in the area, I have seen in hindsight that God has been sharpening us to be better. I don’t think we would be as strong as a couple if we hadn’t been overhauled from the ground up, and inside out…. He has taught us (and is continuing to teach us) lessons of compromise, patience, sacrifice, and unconditional loving when we don’t feel like loving. I can see God’s wisdom in putting us together as alot of our differences complement each other, and we make each other better through those differences. I am a planner, he is not. He is easy going and flexible, I need things in order and stress when plans change. I sit and reflect about things deeply, he likes to think about things only if there is a need for it. He loves being out. I love being home. He needs alot of time to come back to solve a problem, I need it solved right then and there. And the list goes on. But, to be able to say that I love my husband more today than I did when we started going out, is only proof that God has been working. I am amazed, and thankful that by the grace of God, and that alone, we have been together almost 15 years, and married for 6. With hopefully more years to add to that :)
 
I was shooting a wedding recently, and while the couple was not Christian, their vows and promises to each other in their toast really struck home with me. They said “your happiness is more important than my happiness. ” They said “By putting you first, and making you happy, makes me happy“. I swallowed the lump that was in my throat because there was SO MUCH truth and wisdom in that. I used to think that I would only get my happiness if I fought for it… if my husband didn’t listen to me, I would have to push my way, only MY point of view mattered.. .and lets face it, many of us get into those situations all the time…But I have learned that marriage involves so much sacrifice and putting the other person first… and that is scary for us as people. Because we are so inherently self focused, and selfish, and always ask ‘ well what about me‘? You see, what they also NEVER tell you before you get married is that marriage is NOT about you. If you are getting married with the expectation that the other person makes you happy, I can safely say that you may be sorely disappointed. While it isn’t wrong to want the other person to make you happy, a successful marriage is one where each half of the marriage prioritises making the other half happy instead. I read somewhere in my 2 years of absorbing information from all sorts of marriage books, that “A successful wedding day is one where everyone serves you. A successful marriage is one where you serve your spouse.” 6+ years on, I see that truth to be blaring loudest and truest. And while Ju and I haven’t perfected this skill… not even a little, what i have learned from just TRYING is that when both people are committed to putting the other person ahead of themself, it makes the grounds for a great great marriage to grow.


What happens if only one spouse is making an effort I hear you say? Well… I have also learned from personal experience that even if it is just ONE party trying, the other person does eventually notice and it helps in instigating change and is easier to obtain what you are after far more effectively than fighting for it by pushing your own way ahead of theirs. Crazy I know right? But look at it this way… isn’t it easier to love someone who is loving, encouraging, beautiful on the inside to love than someone who is always nagging, or scolding, or criticising? I’m not saying it is easy, nor will it happen overnight… in fact, it can take months or even years…. but I look at the way our parents love us… unconditionally loving us despite us being unappreciative or hurtful, we eventually see their goodness, and it only prompts me to want to be better for them. Similar principal.  But what if they take advantage of that? I also hear you asking… funny you ask that, because I thought that too. But then I thought about the days when couples first get together… they love unconditionally, almost blindly, and will do so without really thinking how much the other person loves them back…. why do we stop doing that in marriage? I sometimes think, because we stop, our spouses also stop… whether it is due to laziness, busyness, or just plain complacency. And why should you wait to be the person who makes the first move to ‘love’ first? It’s a horrible cycle to be caught in if both partners thought that. Someone has to be the bigger person. Why not you? If the rewards are, that your spouse loves you better, loves you more… I think that is HIGHLY worth taking that plunge. 
 
So these books are for those who have found that marriage isn’t a bed of roses (and even if your marriage is, I think it is still a great read and reminder of why and how your marriage is so good). I know there are alot of books out there on marriage, and believe me i have read ALOT (like, in the double digit range – i am too embarrassed to even admit how many I have read), but I have found these two most helpful and most encouraging because 1) They have really helped me get through some very difficult periods, and more importantly 2) they have pointed me back to the heart of the gospel, and driven me back to how God has loved us. Our amazing Lord loved us, and died for us, even when we hated and rejected him, and that is how I hope we will love each other in our marriage. I’m not very good at it, and I suspect for my husband and I , it will be a lifelong journey of teaching, sharpening, and growth (both in painful and joyful ways), but I am so thankful that through faith, I can depend on God to carry us through. He has said that He works for the good of those who love Him, and that is such an assuring thing to rest upon because i know if something is hard, something good is coming from it. And that means, pain, toil, and heart ache are never in vain.  

Tim Keller – The Meaning of Marriage
* Website: http://timothykeller.com/books/the_meaning_of_marriage/
* Amazon/kindle version: http://www.amazon.com/The-Meaning-Marriage-Complexities-Commitment/dp/0525952470

John Piper – This Momentary Marriage  
(this book is also available to download and read for free in PDF format!! Check out the official website below) 
*Website: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/books/this-momentary-marriage 
*Amazon/kindle version: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1433531119
 
I know these books are written with Christians in mind, but I hope those of you who have dared to pick these two reads, will learn that the Christian view on marriage, and God’s view on love is profoundly beautiful. Unselfish, and lasting. I promise I am not trying to be religious here at all.. I just hope you can see that God’s view on love involves joy, deep companionship, belonging, unconditional love, desire, (all of which are great things we all want no matter what religion we belong to) and it shows that by putting the other person first, you gain far more than you ever imagined if you had tried seeking your own happiness first. It gives fruit to a marriage that goes deeper than those initial crazy fireworks, and more rooted and lasting than those hollywood romanticised love stories we all chase after.  And that is a great great thing to rejoice about.  

Remember, good marriages are not about looking for the perfect spouse, it is about trying to BE the perfect spouse.

ps: I would LOVE to hear your experiences about marriage, in the comment box below. We can all learn from each other. So do share your stories, or any tips you have, that have made your marriage better :) Otherwise my inbox is always open to all of you :)

Jenny Signoff
 
 

 

For All the Misfits and Rejects

I am by nature, a writer first and foremost at heart. Even more so than a photographer. During a really tough time in my life, I penned down some thoughts for every person who has ever felt like they never fit in, or belong….As you may or may not already know,  God is a big part of my life… I know a lot of you don’t see that (yet), because I don’t write about Him often (yet), but He is the very very best piece of my existence, and I wanted to share with you partly in this post, why :)
 
Like I mentioned earlier, during a really hard period of my life, when I was feeling weighed down it made me feel quite inadequate as a person. However,  to understand this post better, I need to rewind a full decade and some more. When I do that, you will see that I was not a popular kid in school. In fact, I had very few friends growing up. Continue reading

 I never got invited to sleepovers, or parties, no boys ever asked me out, I never got valentine roses from secret admirers, and I often floated through my school days just dreaming of the time I could leave because while I wasn’t hated by people, there was the occasional teasing for being a nerd, the odd racist comment thrown at my face for being Chinese, and then there was just being ignored by my own group of friends from time to time as they found cooler people to hang out with – I never felt completely accepted or loved by my peers. And it was a somewhat lonely existence, growing up where I was feeling mostly unworthy – for example, it would be a common thing for people to judge me as a cold and snobby person because of the way my face looked. Just like that, the way my face was made, already made me an outcast. Little did they know that deep down, I was just really shy. That I am naturally an introvert, and that I was really craving for their friendship, if they would only give me the chance… Maybe I wasn’t likeable enough, perhaps I wasn’t pretty enough, what was wrong with me? Were some of the questions I would ask myself time and time again.

 
Then, one year, I heard this message from Romans 8:God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And my life completely changed.

It was then that I accept Christ in my heart – to this day, it was the best decision I have ever made. It hasn’t been the easiest decision to live with, but it has definitely been the best thing I have ever done. I was so awestruck and humbled by these words because it meant that even when I was at my very worst, and when I was God’s enemy and had rejected God himself, He died on my behalf so that I may live and have eternal life in Him. It gave me so much hope and encouragement because it meant that I was wholly and completely loved and accepted for who I was – even at my very very ugliest and blackest. They say a good man may die for you if you are on good standing with him, but no one will die for you if you are their enemy. But God did. And that is why I love Him so much… no matter what is going on in my life, no matter who hates me, or what hurdle I am being put through on a work or personal front, I know I have a God that stands behind me, and takes me with open arms, and lifts me up under His wing each and every time without fail.  
 
“… Though the Lord is high, He regards the lowly…” [Psalm 138] 
 
God loves the rejects, and the lowly. I see it time and time again in the bible, how the Lord Jesus gravitated towards the scum of society, the people that were outcasts, hated by their people, and rejected by their own family. And it always amazed me that our God, would associate with and even love the lowliest of the lowliest. He doesn’t have to, but he CHOOSES to. And that’s what gets me every time. God loves the lowly. I have kept coming back to this truth over and over again… To be honest, I’m not even sure why that particular phrase even surfaced in my mind, but I do know that I have been thinking a lot of the souls out there who are having it hard, the misfits, the outcasts, those who have been suffering, or have hit rock bottom…my mind has thought much of you and for you lately…maybe because I consider myself as one of you. A little lost at times. Wondering where we really fit in. And just misunderstood.  
 
So this post is for all the misfits, the outcasts, the rejects, the misunderstood, the abandoned ones, the ones left out, or have hit rock bottom, the outsiders, the lonely ones, the oddballs, or even if you are just hurting and aching inside. I believe there is a place for all of you. And while we may be from different backgrounds and beliefs, my heart, love and prayers go out to you anyway, and know that I am cheering for you. I hope you conquer the world. Show them that the underdogs do win. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, or make you feel that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, or beautiful enough because someone once told me that stars can’t shine without darkness….and finally remember to stay strong – make them wonder how you suddenly shone so brightly one day. I know I plan to charge ahead with my head held high, because I have a God that accepts me wholly for who I am, faults and all, and that kind of fire and hope goes all the way through to eternity and beyond.  

 

Image By Jasmine Downling. http://www.jasminedowling.com

Image By Jasmine Downling. http://www.jasminedowling.com

 

Jenny Signoff