In 13 Years

 

{www.marriedtocraft.com}

{www.marriedtocraft.com}

It was 13 years ago that I stood in front of several hundred witnesses, promising all sorts of things to a man I realize now, I hardly knew.  I still remember the day – how beautiful I felt, and yet how self-conscious.  How excited I was, and yet how my hands were trembling.  How I loved my veil, and hated my shoes.  How I thought my eye shadow was too dark, and I wondered whether anyone else would notice.  How my heart fluttered at the sight of Pat, all the while my eyes filled with tears at the thought of leaving my Dad.  I recall the conflict of emotions as my very first man walked me toward my new man, letting go of my uncertain hand and ushering me toward adult-hood.

That was 13 years ago.

In the span between, 4 children have been born to us, and we have been thrown into the bigger realities at the speed of life.  There have been good days and bad.  There have been good years and bad.  And whether the sun has shone or the days have been dark, we have learned.

13 years in, I feel like we are barely scratching the surface of what we know of love.  But there are a handful of truths we have absorbed along the bumpy way.

 

Love is a Verb

I am a words woman.  I faithfully express 20,000 or so on an average day – more if we are disagreeing.  My husband, like many men, does not.  He daily expresses 7,000 or so – less if we are disagreeing.

One of the monuments I built to self when we were dating, is the confidence that I could make Pat a talker.   That with enough coercion, I could make him a chattery girl-friend, who would read my thoughts and intuitively speak to my every insecurity.

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After 13 years, I have grown to recognize that my husband does not need to exhaust the English language in order to demonstrate his love for me.  Rather, like most prefer, he loves with action and intent.  He meets needs with kindness and loyalty.  He steps into many exhausted situations and rescues.  He does this because he equates love with service.

And the simplicity of love = service is the oil that keeps the engine of a marriage running on many a weary day.

Children Rescue

Children are absurd, aren’t they?

I truly think our kids are the funniest beings around, and daily they surprise me with their quick wit and easy humor.  Kids possess a unique ability to dismantle tension through simply not noticing it.

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They take the shambles of a difficult day, and force laughter and light with their jokes and antics.  Their joy and love not only  supports and reinforces our married love, but working toward their mutual good solidifies our unity as a couple.

Our kids save us many days, and I hope we always let them know it.

 

As You Multiply, You Will be Tempted to Divide

Nonetheless, there are challenges associated with married parenting. The sweet little blessings who share our DNA, mirroring all that we appreciate best and dislike most of ourselves, have a strong and steady hold on us at all times.  As I type this post, our oldest rarely goes to bed before 10pm anymore, and our youngest seems to have taken to moon-lighting, waking up at 3 am with urgent needs like, “My slipper fell off”.

tiny baby

Parenting is not for cowards, and one of the most daunting take-away’s is perpetual exhaustion, which becomes spousal lethargy.  My Dad {a father of 5} once warned us of the temptation to divide as we multiplied our family.  His words have spurred us on in various ways, one of the simplest of which is securing a monthly baby-sitter.

Too many marriages are becoming mathematical statistics, and I do not want ours to be a lesson in division.

 

You Will Break Your Best Goals Sometimes {And that is Okay}

Pat and I cooed at one another while dating, stating that we would never raise our voices at each other, or our future children.  13 years in, there is a basket in our living room that has the top smashed in because I broke my word and something had to take the rap {or the wrath, in this case}.  Marriage can, and will reach a boiling point from time to time.  But our basket survived, and somehow there is healthy symbolism in its damaged, yet functioning top.

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Life is Hard, But God is Good

Marriage has its challenges not so much because it is intrinsically difficult, but because it takes place in the middle of every other part of life.  Better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health is the broader context for our vows.  And being poor {not rich}, facing long-term illness {not health}, living through the worse {not better} years, can be discouraging, and will easily force to the surface the integrity of married vows.

We were not meant to “do” marriage alone, as solitary units.  We have a God who has gone before us and who stands behind us in all of the intricacies of family life.

We trust His goodness, and not our own.  We rely on His grace, because we will run out.

And we rest our confidence in His faithfulness, because He alone will enable us to be faithful, ’til death do us part.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Dad Factor: The Best Gift Ever

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My children are excited to give their Dad a gift we found him for Father’s Day this year.  And they are counting down the days til we present him “the best gift ever”, as my oldest called it.

The gift we found him is fun.  I would not call it the best, but it is fun.  Yet without fully realizing it, my daughter’s best gift ever may just be the man she presents our fun find to.  And here is why.

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Nancy Pearcey recently noted an article from the Washington Post, in which the author sets the record straight as to statistics regarding women and abuse.  Though the subject of abuse is a painfully common one, there are distinctives that bear emphasis.

As the Post article states, the simple statistical truth is that:

Women and girl from homes with married Dads, are safer.

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The article begins by acknowledging a very real problem:

Across the United States, millions of girls and women have been abused, assaulted, or raped by men.  

But then it goes on to clarify the contexts for the presence of much of this abuse:

This social media outpouring makes it clear that some men pose a real threat to the physical and psychic welfare of women and girls. But obscured in the public conversation about the violence against women is the fact that some other men are more likely to protect women, directly and indirectly, from the threat of male violence: married biological fathers {emphasis mine}.

The bottom line is this: Married women are notably safer than their unmarried peers, and girls raised in a home with their married father are markedly less likely to be abused or assaulted than children living without their own father.

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Father’s Day is coming.  And on this day, we will take a moment or two to pause and acknowledge our Dads – why we love them, and why we are thankful for them.  Our families might grill hamburgers and have the kids deliver hand-made cards.  And we will spend a little extra time doting on the men who make our worlds go ’round.

But this Father’s Day, my heart is thankful for a fundamental truth which is often obscured in the shuffle of raising a family:

That simply by coming home each night to us, my husband is doing his job best.

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When he steps in the door each night, he immediately begins “doing” all sorts of things: helping with homework, cleaning up dinner, disciplining when I cannot “get through”.  But none of these functions are helping us so much as his being there, is.

I confess that far too easily my voice is raised impatiently as we juggle family needs and tensions.  And truthfully, I am good at missing the forest for the trees.  Making mountains out of miniscule household-task molehills, I ignore the bigger picture: He is protecting us best by his dedicated presence.  Not by loading the dishwasher.

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This Father’s Day, simple statistics are enabling a deeper love for my husband.  His is an ordinary life.  A quiet life.  A mundane life.  But he knows a great truth: It is not about him anymore.  It is about them.

And he wants to give them “the best gift ever”, which is a healthy, safe and protected child-hood.

And he is.


Ian and Larissa: {When Love Didn’t Give Up} & Giveaway!

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The story of Larissa and Ian has been shared in several places in the Christian world.  But Desiring God has been doing a particularly excellent job of keeping those interested in Ian and Larissa up to date with their progress.

To those unfamiliar, Ian and Larissa are a married couple whose story is unlike most of ours.  They have encountered many trials, and have persevered in a tenacious, Christ-like love.

Ian and Larissa were like any other college-aged couple – enjoying the carefree fun of dating  – until the day Larissa received a troubling phone call.  Her boyfriend, Ian, had been involved in a car wreck.  Larissa immediately began to pray that God would spare Ian’s brain, as she drove to the hospital to be with him.

ian and larissa before accident

But Ian’s brain had been traumatically injured.  And for several hours he was in surgery, as doctors worked and Larissa prayed.  Miraculously, Ian pulled through surgery and began to make progress.  Brain-activity tests showed him to be gaining ground.  Larissa made the decision to move in with Ian’s family, so that she could become a part of Ian’s daily care.

The two continued to date, though Ian was unable to talk.

“We just prayed that some day marriage would happen.  We watched all of our friends get married, and that was challenging.  But we just tried to hold out hope that that would be us some day”.

And it was.  Eventually, step-by-step Ian re-gained the ability to communicate enough.  And he and Larissa began to pursue engagement.

I think what helped me, Larissa states, is knowing that Ian would not have left me, if the roles were reversed.

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Ian and Larissa were married.  And they began to build the foundation of a marriage, though with a unique set of challenges.

We are able to love each other with just a more Christ-like love I think, because of Ian’s disability.  And we are able to understand that picture a little bit better than if you were healthy, Larissa offers.

Agree? she asks Ian.  Yes, he states firmly.

In the past 3 years, Ian has made continued progress.  He is able to walk on his own, enjoying increased freedom of movement.  And he and Larissa move forward in building a solid, married love.

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When asked: How have you seen God at work in your marriage? Ian is quick to respond, A better question would be, how have I not seen God at work in my marriage?

 

 

Ian and Larissa have been at work writing a book, sharing their adventures and experiences in seeing God’s faithfulness to their marriage.  Entitled Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up, the book releases August 28th of this year.

ian and larissa book

In honor of their dedication and perseverance, and in conjunction with my birthday which is also 8/28, I have pre-ordered 2 copies of When Love Didn’t Give Up: Eight Twenty Eight – one for myself and one to give away.

If you would like to be entered for this giveaway, please leave a comment at the end of this post.  Or, click over to the Facebook page and leave a comment there.  I will leave the giveaway open until Friday, as Summer fun has slowed blog traffic down.  And please take 8 minutes to watch Ian and Larissa’s beautiful story on the video above.  It is well worth a few moments of your time.

Happy Monday, all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Parenting Older Kids {A Series of Untidy Packages}

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I was recently intrigued by a conversation some friends had about the social-media hush from Moms with older kids.  We tossed some thoughts around – but the consensus we came to about our more mature Mom-friends went something like this:

Raising older kids is not a series of pretty little packages.

The baby years are tough in their own rite.  No new mother would claim that her existence is anything but taxing.  Very quickly it is learned that your life is lassoed by these tiny people, and you are ruled and reigned by them.  Yet, in most of these moments there are sweet and innocent themes.  After all, a toddler is a toddler and at the end of the day, you are still kissed with sticky hands pressing against your face.

But Moms of older kids are drowning in a different pond altogether.

One of my children recently remarked: Mom, sometimes I feel like you enjoy nagging me.   And though there was prompt addressing and forgiveness asked, nonetheless these are the types of statements kids with maturing understanding level.

It is sobering to sit beneath the razor-sharp mirrors of their growing discernment.

 

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The Cute Factor

So where are the Moms of tweens and teens?  In a quick scan of Facebook statuses and blogs, it is easy to note that most updates of any sort come from the little-years camp.

We are just beginning to dip our toes into life with bigger kids.  But already, there is more at stake.  Our fear is greater.  Our concern for their future is greater.  The future always felt so far away, but suddenly it is looming on the horizon.  And sadly, there are already a handful of regrets trailing behind.  So, there is simply no time to waste.

But it is also not as cute in the bigger-kid years.

It is not cute having to install open DNS on a computer, so that pornography cannot destroy your children.

It is not cute to find a man old enough to be her grand-father, following your daughter on Pinterest.

It is not cute to note character concerns which will affect them down the road, and realizing your reign of influence is limited in its power to harness them.

 

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And yet, I wouldn’t trade these years for anything.  For as I have grown to see, as I raise them, they are raising me.

My sin used to be better buried beneath piles of paper drawings of “me with Mom”.   The affirmation was constant, and the trust unchallenged.

But, since they are developing consciences of their own, they are bringing to light what I would prefer not to see.

But isn’t that always the way with sin?  We only acknowledge it if we have to.  And bigger kids force our hand in the arena of sin and repentance.

Moms of Older Kids need a Different Kind of Faith

As I arrived at the airport a few days ago, I stood next to several couples who appeared to be jetting off on honeymoons. It was fun watching them- all body contact and whispers and smiles.  Newlyweds have made promises which they fully intend to keep, but the faith in the marriage they have begun is vastly different than the faith that will keep them married.

They just do not realize it yet.

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Likewise, the faith that Moms with tiny kids possess, is exactly what is needed.  But that faith is much different still than the faith it takes to not give up as big kids begin to flex the muscles in their minds and wills.

As my own children become older, I can anticipate the temptation to disappear.  Especially on days where every drop of emotional energy has been wrung out. But I come back to Satan in the desert.  Standing with Jesus, he knew the opportunity was great.  You can have all this, he motioned.  Because he is conniving, he knew the wide-open vulnerability of solitude.

Likewise, a solitary Mom is a desert.  She is lonely, discouraged, and maybe even hiding her fears and inadequacies by staying where no one can see her.

But part of continuing to help our kids get to the next step, is leaning on one another.

We might go a few inches under-ground when it comes to social media- and perhaps this is even wise- but we need to stay above ground in our willingness to reach out and ask: Can you pray for me?

There is a marked powerlessness in walking solo.

But there is great power in humbly relying on a village of other parents to help you raise your child.

 

 

 


Miss Kay Robertson: “I Told God that I would FIGHT for my Marriage”

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By now, we are all familiar with the Robertson Family, A & E network’s Duck Dynasty royalty.

Miss Kay, Willie and Jace have nearly become household names as they chronicle their lives as business owners and as members of a tight-knit family.

Theirs is large, happy,  and functioning unit- full of quirks and resulting humor which makes them easily identifiable.  But the Robertson’s are perhaps best-known for their Christian convictions. They are strong advocates for traditional family.  And they are equally determined in their outlook on marriage

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To look at the Robertson family, you might assume that theirs has been a “simple” journey of boy-meets-girl meets the American Dream.

But written behind the story-line of what we all see on television, is a back-story.    A story of a 14 year-old girl,alone and vulnerable.  Married at 16 to a 17 year-old boy, angry and addicted to alcohol.  A girl kicked out of her house by this self-destructive husband, left to fend for herself and her three little boys.

A teenage-Mom, lost and found by God, when brought to the end of herself.

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Kay Robertson vowed as a young woman, “I will FIGHT for this marriage”.  And fight she did.  Praying each night with her young sons, Kay begged God to change her husband’s heart.  To work repentance into him.  And over the course of months, God began to work in Phil.  One day he showed up at the house where his family was living, wanting his family back.

He was changed.

As Phil Robertson claims of his new-found understanding of the Gospel:  “It was profound.  That Jesus had died, been buried and rose again.  I had never heard that before”.

“I decided I was going to live as hard for God and my neighbor, as I had been living for the Evil One”.

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Phil and Kay began working to put together a solid marriage.  And Phil slowly began to earn his family’s trust.  “Is the Devil is going to leave Dad this time?” the boys would ask at times, insecure in their trust of their Daddy.  But Phil and Kay persevered.  And slowly, they built a family.

“It takes a lot of time to learn the fruits of the Spirit: to be patient and kind”, Kay acknowledges.  But God was with them in their “fight”.  And ultimately, His love won.

Phil and Kay have been married now for 47 years now.  And Kay still calls Phil the “love of my life”.

Yesterday, I wrote about the ease with which divorce is handled in our culture.  But today, a journey of a nearly-broken marriage, redeemed by a gracious Savior.

Phil and Kay Robertson’s story is inspiring, because ultimately, their is a story of all of us.

Of being lost, and then found by God’s incredible, saving grace.

 


“He Walked Out” {And Why Divorce is Too Easy}

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Standing in the aisles of Target, I was sorting through purchases.  Sufficiently distracted enough to nearly miss an old friend, standing just a few yards away.

We greeted one another, and with that keen fondness of a few shared memories, began to sort through the past handful of years.  Kids, jobs, life.  Noticing she had not mentioned her husband, I inquired.

How is Jay?

And without missing a beat,  Oh, he walked out on us last Christmas.

Heart sunk and confused, I remembered Jay as a great Dad and a sensitive husband. 

Oh no!  What happened?

Well, my friend replied,  I still don’t really know.  He hasn’t said. 

But I think it is just too easy to be divorced these days, and he chose the easy way.

 

Unhooked

My friend at Target made a keen observation that day.

Divorce is easy these days.  Too easy.  Whereas a century ago there was tremendous stigma associated with the notion of breaking a married commitment, to post-moderns adults, divorce is easily explained.

Be Happy is the cry of our entitled hearts, and marriage not-withstanding, we will attain it.  In the world of 21st -century singles, self-fulfillment trumps even promises.

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Lauri Sessions Stepp, author of Unhooked, has written a fascinating book on the problem with marriage in the 21-century.

And one of the most discerning observations Strauss has made upon speaking with many now-singles, is that the partner who splits and runs often places blame on “the marriage”.

The marriage was not connected. 

The marriage was difficult. 

The marriage was stifling. We just could not make the marriage work.

To many, The Marriage is handled as an impersonal object, devoid of singular responsibility.

On Forgiveness

Dave Harvey, author of When Sinners Say I Do, challenges this laissez-faire approach to commitment.

People do not fall out of love, Dave reminds.  They fall out of repentance.

Married love is a climb.  And due to life’s obstructions, one requiring enormous perseverance.

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Alistair Begg preached a sermon a while back, and in it he noted:

Many find that when they cannot reach the summit with all that they hold in their hands, they let go of the summit and pitch their tent in the plain. And the plain is so very full of tents.

Often, marriages stop flourishing when both partners stop climbing up in accountability to God, and fall out of fellowship with those who will hold them to His high standards.

In turning our backs on who and what builds up, we easily turn our attention toward things that slowly undermine us.  Without intending to, we find a home in the plains.

And statistically speaking, over 52% of married couples are now pitching their tents there.

Two Good Forgivers

Ruth Bell Graham likes to say that a happy married relationship is a bond of “two good forgivers”.

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Don’t you agree?

It is not so much the commonalities shared, mutual agreement, or even perfect sexual connectivity that makes a union “work”.  Good marriage is built upon layers and layers of forgiving the un-forgiveable.  And this theology of forgiveness links right back to our understanding of God.

Because His grace covers all, our grace needs to do the same.

A marriage grounded in humble repentance can scale the highest mountains of anger and disappointment and still find someone to love at the top.

As Alistair Begg reminds, it IS easier to pitch our tents in the plain.  Avoiding the last great haul toward the summit, with all of our baggage strapped on our backs.

But it’s the view from the top we miss if we give up.

And the sun doesn’t shine as bright in the plain, either.


Loving Your Husband: {It’s Not a Competition}

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I was fascinated when Kirsten Dunst revealed herself to be a traditional girl at heart.

And then Matt Walsh spoke out against men and women competing over whose role is more difficult.

And in the moments following,  I realized how refreshing it was to hear voices speaking toward the harmony that should exist at home, and against the wars that can find a place there instead. 

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What Are We Competing About?

A few years back, I heard it said: Your mate is not enemy.

At the time, I was full on in a stage of diaper-changes and interrupted naps.  And this did not lend itself to a kind or gracious spirit.  Sadly, much of my frustrated energy was pointed in Pat’s direction.

There were more than a handful of times when he became a target, rather than an ally, as I sought to make sense of a life of continual serving.

It took honest self-assessment and devoted prayer to see that I was directing much of my exhaustion toward him in anger.

And the accomplishment of this misdirected frustration?  A marriage not as close as we desired.

Clearly, nobody was winning.

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You Both Work Hard

Some of the statements tumbling out of my mouth in those conflicted months, sounded like this:

I was up all night.

I do this chore and that chore.

I work day and night.

I am always on-call.

In hindsight, I can see that it takes no effort at all to argue over marital role divisions, but it takes a strength of humility to concede that both partners contribute equally.  And both work really, really hard.

But they do work differently.

Mothers notice details. Mothers notice everything and all at once. Built into every component of a woman’s DNA, is a marvelous ability to observe detail about her family, and to compile that information into a whole which benefits her family.

Fathers notice the big picture.  Fathers note when the family is off-course, and they arm themselves with a plan.  They observe the “holes” in their family lives, and they seek to patch them.  Built into every component of a man’s DNA, is the keen ability to observe the big picture, and to use that information to better serve his family.

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Let’s Get Together

It is so easy to become tangled up in wars at home.  Women keep mental lists of the details we attend to, and we want our husbands to tap into our minds and read our thoughts, about what to do next.  We become so impatient when they fail to do so.

Likewise, men want women to notice the big picture.  Men recall the rescuing and helping they do- and they don’t want to be corrected in the process, but simply respected for it.  They become distant when we fail to do so.

These tensions allow us to feel stretched to the limit sometimes.  But, marriage is not a competition.  If it were, one of us would have to win.  And one of us would have to lose.

We are equals in this fight, matched by God to play for the same team.

We grow weary because we both work hard.

So instead of comparing notes, let’s lend a hand, tip our hats to one another, and keep on loving.

 

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{Loving Your Husband – A Valentine’s Day Tribute, can be found here.}

{Loving Your Husband – An Ordinary Hero, can be found here}

 

 


Loving {Your} Husband: An Ordinary Hero

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Lori Greiner of the ABC hit show Shark Tank, states that she can spot it instantly: a hero or a zero. Greiner is an entrepeneur and visionary, able to do what most cannot- deduce quality at a mere glance.  Longevity and quality, Greiner would maintain, stand out to her.

And so it was when I met my husband.  Sitting in the class at our church that Sunday morning, I glanced around the room and my vision locked in on him.  Kindness, was the first thought.  Gentleness, the second.  My college-honed eyes were accustomed to weighing guys in the balance.  Nope, not for me, was the regular inward refrain.

Until that Sunday.   The day that changed his life, and mine.

Twelve years have since have come and gone, and with them stretched skin and shadows and lines around our eyes.  Our life together shows itself, and not all of the lines are from laughter.

What Makes a Hero, Anyway?

The past dozen years have also displayed that I made the right assessment, and that he is indeed, a hero.  Not the kind of hero my toddler still believes exists.  But the kind that flies below the radar of recognized greatness, quietly owning his obligations.  To borrow the words Aunt May spoke to Peter Parker’s Spiderman: With great power, comes great responsibility.  And it is in his exercise of responsible leading, my husband has become ever admirable to me.

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Let me show you what ordinary heroism has looked like to a Mom with a handful of small children:

  • Committing to vows which defend, guard and maintain a marriage
  • Standing beside a hospital bed, gently coaching our little ones into the world.
  • Staying up long nights, to share the challenge of months of broken sleep.
  • Focusing on his life at work, so that he performs not one role, but two.  And well.
  • Noting the discouragement of an overburdened wife, and encouraging her to continue on, because it matters.
  • Defending the values of our home, so that our family is protected and bettered.

And in all of this, exercising patience and mercy. If your husband does any or all of these things, you have a good man on your hands.

The Heroism of Ordinary

In many ways, it would be easier for my husband or yours, to be the kind of hero our media- minds are accustomed to.  The kind that bursts into life at terrifying moments- saving, rescuing, solving.  And is then whisked away until the next time he is needed.  Ultimately, that would be more exciting.

But instead, he vows his faith and single-minded commitment to each day.  Always waking to greet his responsibilities.  Always going to sleep when they have been met.  There is very little excitement and to be honest, not enough praise.  And this is where his ordinariness plants him in a category reserved for those brave enough to face the same old with grace and love and determination.

Hebrews refers to the ordinary as something far greater than we make it.  By faith Abraham, Isaac, David and the prophets lived.  By faith they persevered.  And by faith, they attained the crown of righteousness.  Simple men living ordinary lives, yet by faith.  God calls these men out as worthy of notice and praise, and we should do no less.

Your ordinary man is gifted by God to do what he does best – to live by faith, and through that example to inspire faith for future generations.  It takes grit.  It takes resolve.

And in that daily and determined expression, lives a quiet but inspiring heroism.


Loving {Your} Mother-in-Law

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I love my mother-in-law.

In fact, I am forever in her debt.

My mother-in-law tirelessly raised her son from the ground up, to be the man I love most in the world, and that is a debt that can never be repaid.  I will always owe her honor and gratitude for the years she has invested in the man that is now ours.

The older I get and the more time I spend immersed in the raising of my own sons, the more I am uncomfortable with the manner in which mothers-in-law are culturally referenced.  The way they are criticized and dishonored.  The way they are spoken about in impatient tones by younger women who sadly, do not yet know what these older women have given to them.    It sobers me when I hear the jokes and see the eyes rolled.

Sadly, youth is arrogant.  There is no way around it.   To be young is to see only what is in the immediate, at the expense of much else.  Not enough life lies behind with which to claim humble perspective.  And too much lies ahead, which has not yet been taught.   This combination can lend itself to a pride that can too-easily become cruel.  And in my experience, mothers-in-law become the butt of too many unkind jokes, stories and girls-night tales.

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If you have a moment, click on over and Google mother-in-law.

Notice that the first several links you will find, are all negatively connoted.  Each one implying a relationship that is strained, difficult and unappealing.

Now, Google Scripture.

See what God imposes on man at the beginning of time.  Exodus 20:12 is a time-worn passage, but telling.  God commands the Israelite nation: Honor your Father and Mother, so that you may live long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.  So great was God’s desire for his people to honor their elders, that the punishment of stoning was used to discourage cursing and rebelling against parents.  And just to clarify that the New Testament reflects the Old, Ephesians 6:2 reminds us that honoring fathers and mothers, is the first commandment with a promise.  God intends us to honor our parents.  He designed the family, and in that design is the good plan of in-laws.

Too easily I fear, women forget the humanity of their mothers-in-law.  That she is a person. That she has feelings. That she responds to love.  That she desires appreciation.  And that she loves your son with every bit of fierceness with which you love him.  After all, she is his mother.

I have heard of daughters-in-law whisking their men off into the sunset of their territorialism, never allowing them to return.  It is heart-breaking.  I have heard stories of women my age who have prevented their in-laws from communicating with their sons and grand-children for months, years at a time.  So cruel.

I realize that there are exceptions to every rule, and not all of us are blessed with smooth family dynamics.  But I think we need to be careful that exceptions do not become excuses.  God’s Words are written to the rule, and His rule is that we honor.  Always, honor.

We honor the mother-in-law God gave us through the good gift of our husbands now, because that obedience is pleasing and good.  And we encourage our husbands to invest love in their mothers always, because that honors her and it honors Him.

Any of us with sons are going to be the mother-in-law one day.  And don’t you hope that when the time comes, your son chooses a girl who is kind?  One who is appreciative?  One who does not wrap herself up in a shroud of criticism, but who sees all the years that you gave for her husband?  I do.  I pray for two such women, even now.

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As Christians, we need to be careful to ever assess cultural trends through the lens of Scripture.  And God’s Word is clear on where we are to land on the issue of our in-laws.  They are our parents and as such, we are to give them honor.  Proverbs 31 :28 speaks of the response children should have to the years of sacrifice mothers make:

Her children stand up and encourage her, as does her husband, who praises her.

Your mother-in-law has spent nights and days, months and years loving and shaping your husband.  She has put in a lifetime of mothering, fulfilling endless needs, living out the very same call that you now many days find yourself drowning in.  She knows a thing or two.  Do not allow culture to tell you that she has less value, and less a place now that you have landed her son.

Love her.  Stand up for her.  Encourage her.

And by all means, give thanks for her!

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This is part of a series on Loving {Your}, unpacking what the Bible says about love in varying relationships.  I wrote about Loving {Your} Husband, here.

 

 

 

 

 


Loving {Your} Husband

My husband and I love one another deeply.  He is truly the friend I did not have until we met, and the ally that strengthens me continually through his steadiness and gentle loyalty.  He is a man of strong character and faith.  I am better for his place in my life, finding the longer we are married that we are a healthy balance for one another.

Marriage is a good ordinance from a good God.  I see this more now than I ever did as a newlywed!

 

 

 

But marriage is like any other relationship, in that it has seasons -some which are smooth, and some which are more challenging.  If the past 13 years are an accurate assessment, it would seem that each year we settle into one a valley or town in our relationship.  These are the periods in which we do not connect well and seem to have a more difficult time than usual living with understanding and grace.

These are the seasons in which we are grateful that marriage is founded on a staying commitment that is not tossed about by feelings of love – because the stick-with-you promise is the love.

 

The simple reality is that marriage is committed work, and sometimes we tire of hard work.

The Bible identifies our underlying issue as one stemming from a theology of sin: our world is eclipsed by it, and sin now dwells in the deepest corners of our hearts, pulling us into ourselves.  Thus, his heart is more easily focused on his needs, and my heart is steered in the direction of my needs.

And we hold on to our individual desires for dear life.

In general analysis of the past 13 years, the biggest heart issue that hurts my marriage is this:

Sometimes I fight to love a man that does not exist.

In the valleys of our relationship, I stand in front of Pat and I see a shadow behind him, a vision of who I want him to be.  And all the while I say quietly in my heart: I will love you when you are THAT man.  I will accept you fully when you are THAT man.  I am angry with you for not being THAT man.  See that shadow behind you?  I love THAT man! 

The problem with my vision is two-fold.

First, it is founded on untruth – the lie that perfect human love can be sought and found, and tied up neatly in one person.  This belief denies sin’s pervasive reign and rule on this earth, tempting me with an unrealistic view of one man’s ability to measure up and deliver.  This lie I believe exhausts my marriage if I do not identify it readily.

The second problem with my vision, is that I begin to justify my lie.  One lie always leads to another.  As I commit to belief that perfection should be found in my spouse, I begin to blame him for not meeting my expectations -my unreasonable expectations.

But married vows are based on the premise that perfect love will never be found this side of eternity.  The vows we speak on the day of our wedding when all of life’s bumps lie ahead, are made public to ensure that we know and others know, that we are all in

Countless untruths circulate about married love, particularly the lie that only the one who meets your every need, want and desire is worthy of your love. But healthy marriage cannot be based on continued thoughts of self-advancement.  Real marriage requires tremendous reserves of humility, grace and mercy.  It requires depths of compassion, kindness and desire to elevate the needs of another above your own. It requires a very different temperature of love than that which our misled generation states it will.

 

Someone has beautifully said that marriage is a process of falling in love time and time again, but always with the same person.  And how true!  Marriage is an overall cumulative climb toward the strengthening of the foundational relationship in society.  In the weaker moments of my marriage or yours, the reminder that a perfect mate is not the goal, is helpful.  Til death do us part means loving through every bit of weakness, with a firm foundation of: “ I am with you in this.  I will stand by as God works in you, as He works in us”.  This is the stand-out beauty of committed, married love.  This is the victory!

And this is the truest blessing of being hand-in-hand with one man forever: we are learning through falling down, to fall in love repeatedly in new ways, with new resolve.