For the Momma’s

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Now that I’m a Mom, I know that my Mom- and all our Moms, have regrets or wished they would have done things differently.  Maybe there are a few out there that feel like the did perfectly well- but for the most part, us Moms are always looking at how we could have done better.  It’s in our blood.  So for this Mother’s Day, I wanted to make a list for my Mom of all the things she taught me- all the things she did beautifully.  I wouldn’t be the person I am without the person she is, and I’m so very very thankful for her- and that I got her as my Mom. So, without further ado, here’s a list of things my Mom taught me without her even realizing it!

1.  Find your passion and cling to it in a fierce and mighty way

I’ll never forget sitting outside the tent, covered in tall tree’s deep in the forests of Oregon.  I had on my red flannel bear jammies, some serious bed head, and a lot of tears.  I didn’t want her to go.  I watched her as she hesitantly put on one cycling shoe, then the other.  As her shoes clicked the ground, she walked to her bike, threw one leg over and looked at me.  She didn’t look sure.  She looked nervous.  She clicked her foot into one pedal, and I cried more.  Then in a flash, she raced off for the first of what would be decades of joy and healing for my Mom.

It was her first Oregon Bike Ride- where she and her friends would ride their bikes for a week around the beautiful state of Oregon. It was intense, hard, and beautiful.  Every night she would camp under the stars and listen to the howl of the foxes and then wake up and ride her bike all day long.  Think camp, for crazy athletic adults. It’s been almost thirty years since that first OBR, and shockingly I made it that week without my Mom just fine.  And because she didn’t let a few tears and a bratty preschooler stop her from something she loved- she’s spent the past three decades doing this ride- it’ part of her very being and she’s never missed a year.  It brings her joy. It heals her.  It’s hers.  This year- for the first time in twenty years she’ll be going without her husband, my bonus Dad. He’s had some health stuff, and although she’s heartbroken he can’t come, she’s still going.  She doesn’t give up, this Mom of mine.  And I love her for it.

I’m no longer wearing those jammies, I’m not crying anymore, and I have my family and my passions.  I get it even more now. I get how important those passions are. How healing they can be. How joyous.  So I will cling to mine too Momma.

2. Tomorrow is a new day

We have a saying around our house- tomorrow is a new day.  If it’s been a rough one with lots of timeouts, sicknesses, or stained carpet, so you call CleanerUp stat- we always remind each other that tomorrow is a new day full of fresh starts.  I learned this one from my Mom.  We had lots of Mommy daughter wars and fights in my teen years, and as we reconciled and ended she would always hug me and tell me tomorrow is a new day- and she meant it.  Every new day I would walk upstairs for my cereal, and she would be happy and ready for the day- never holding against me whatever I had said the day before.  I try my hardest to give that same gift to my children.

3. You are what you eat

Anyone that knows my Mom knows she’s pretty much a walking encyclopedia on health and wellness.  We grew up thinking spinach and cheese were desert, had no clue what soda was, and candy was the stuff of Satan. We didn’t eat “organic” how you all know it to be now but very much ate “organic” because we lived in a place that just did things that way. No hormone fed meat.  A lot of veggies.  A lot of fruit.  After basketball games, when it was my Moms turn to bring the snacks- I dreaded it because without fail it would be sliced oranges and water.  All the other Moms did Capri Suns and fruit snacks or muffins.  Not my Mom.  I’ll never forget when it was her week, she would cut those oranges saying over and over again, “athletes need nutrients, not sugar.” It was like a mantra.  Everytime.  EVVVVVERYYYYTIME. Ok Mom, got it.

Now- though we are a little more relaxed and allow treats from time to time- my kids love their fruit and veggies.  When my son see’s shrimp out, he asks if it’s farm raised or fresh.  My favorite foods to this day are veggies on a salad.  I love pure, good, food.  Not fake food, not candy, but real food.  My children act like kids in a candy shop at the produce section at any store.  That’s all because of their Grandma and the things she taught us.  Thank you, Mom!

4. There’s nothing a day outside can’t fix

Fresh air.  FRESH AIR.  Your feet on the soil.  Smelling the roses.  Or the rain.  A day at the beach. A run around the river.  Feeding the ducks at the park.  Hiking through the thick forests, up above the top of the tree’s, and looking all around- taking it in.  Breath.it.in.  I can still hear her- “Get outside.”  If you were happy- going outside would make you happier.  If you were sad, going outside would heal it and make you better.  If you were sick- fresh air would make you better. I’m surprised we didn’t live outside. Seriously.

On September 11th, 2001 my Mom and I sat glued to the TV- like the rest of the world.  We watched in horror as the buildings fell over and over again.  I couldn’t stop watching.  Suddenly, the TV shut off and in good old Mom fashion she threw her hands up and said, “lets get outside.  Lets go for a walk.”  We put our shoes on, and we walked along the McKenzie River for a long time.  We talked. We soaked up the sun. We listened to the water hit the rocks. I will never forget that walk, and how needed it was.  I can still smell the air and I can still feel how walking outside with my Mom made me feel safe in a world that was less safe then it was the day before. Unknown to me, it was the last time we walked that path, one we walked many times before, in a world without constant war. I treasure that memory.  I treasure that on one of the most life-changing days for our world- I have a memory of my Mom and I was just walking along the river.

In the long winters of Fargo, I find myself craving a handful of soil.  Not to eat, don’t worry- but just to feel it in my hands.  Sometimes I want to roll in it.  I know, that’s weird.  But I grew up OUTSIDE.  I grew up in the dirt.  I grew up smelling the rain covered roses and rhododendrons. We camped in the forest- not camp sites, but THE FOREST.  As in, we hiked and found a good spot to call home.  Usually, by a tiny little lake, we were sure nobody knew about.  Yeah, that.  Man, I’m thankful for that.

5. Speak your Mind

So this one gets me into a lot of trouble.  And sometimes, I’m sure it backfires on her…but my Mom always told me to tell people how I feel.  I was raised to be strong and opinionated, and well, I am.  To this day- I don’t shy away from sharing my thoughts, and it’s one of my favorite things she instilled in me.  Not only did she instill this in me- but she respects it too.  Even when I speak my mind against something she says or believes, she doesn’t take offense, and she still loves me.  Of course, she tells me what she thinks too- but because of this honesty and openness, there are no secrets in our family.  We are open, we challenge each other, we bicker, and then we come to understand each other more and love each other more.  I wish more families were like this!  This is all from my Mom and her firecracker spirit.  She doesn’t step down.  She doesn’t quit.  She doesn’t let people walk all over her.  She’s a force to be reckoned with, and I love that.

6. Last but certainly not least, MOM ALWAYS GETS WHAT SHE WANTS.

Because it’s true. We have an ongoing joke in our family- if Mom wishes for something that we don’t want, we all just accept that it will happen because MOM ALWAYS GETS WHAT SHE WANTS. ALWAYS. ALWAYYYYYYYYS.  It’s near freaky.  I mean really.  Mountains will move.  Weather will listen.  It’s best to be on her right side.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list- these are my most treasured lessons from her and how she lives her life.  I’m honored to be able to call her Mom.

Mom- thank you for being you.  Thank you for being the exact Mom you are and were.  I’ve grown to love who I am, and I am that person because of you.  I love you so very much and am so very glad you’re my Mom!

God, THE Man

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God has been doing a number in me about a specific idol for some time, and it’s been an incredibly uncomfortable process.  I’ve been praying, repenting, making different choices, letting go, holding on, begging God not to let it be so and of course…by the grace of God relenting.  I have tried with all of my might to find my way around this- to use reason and logic and playing with words so I could just keep this idol where it was.  Upon ridding my life of this idol I was met with hostility, confusion, sincere questioning to better understand, and judgment from all sorts of people- people that even claimed to be just like me.

I did a quick google search of what exactly an “Idol” was. Here’s what I found:

From Gotquestions.org it reads, The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God. The most prevalent form of idolatry in Bible times was the worship of images that were thought to embody the various pagan deities.

From the beginning, God’s covenant with Israel was based on the exclusive worship of Him alone (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7). The Israelites were not even to mention the names of false gods (Exodus 23:13) because to do so would acknowledge their existence and give credence to their power and influence over the people.”  Now I know this isn’t some deep theological essay on explaining idols, but for now, it will do.

One of my favorite quotes from an author is when John Piper in, “A Hunger for God” said, “If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”

I was full.  I didn’t think I was lacking.  I didn’t even think this idol was…an idol.  This idol of mine was comfortable.  It was accepted by the masses.  It was needed.  It was so needed and so important, our government ran most of it and did everything they could to make sure everyone had a chance to have it.  I guess you could say it was a right.  I had a right to it. It dictated when I woke up and how I dressed.  It consumed me for six hours a day.  Six hours.  It took me away from my family for that six hours- intentionally separating me from them. There was no part of my life, my soul, or my mind that wasn’t consumed by this idol. This idol consumed every thought of everyday.  Would I get enough sleep?  Will I do good enough for it??  What if I don’t do good enough?  I have to try harder!  I have to do better!  It’s up to me and only me to do good enough.  The biggest lie of all-if I didn’t do what the idol said I needed to do- my life would be nothing. I would become nothing.  Life would be hard, and a hard life isn’t worthwhile. My identity was deeply rooted in this idol.  Deeply.

When God first called me to rid my life of this idol….well…it didn’t go like that.  First, God had to tell me it was an idol.  It had never even occurred to me that this would ever be considered an idol. It took almost two years for me even to get what God was telling me. TWO YEARS.  Through some random (by random I mean God ordained) health issues of my son, a side comment by a mentor, and the purchase of a new house I reluctantly (and unknowingly)  took the first step away from worshiping this idol.  And I’ll be honest- it wasn’t easy. It STILL isn’t easy.

First came the questions from family members.  Why was I doing this? Why did I make this choice?  I honestly had no clue what to tell them.  In all reality, it made zero sense.  It looked RIDICULOUS.  Stupid even.  Heads shook, from not only family but friends.  When strangers found out for whatever reason, I was met with strange looks, or the awkward laugh followed by some comment on how I can’t do that.  Now that I can see how enslaved I was to it- I get the head shakes. I understand why people don’t see a problem with it. I understand why so many people, most of America really, is a salve to this idol.  I get it.  I lived it. It’s so engrained in who we are and how we live that nobody questions it.  It’s even taboo to question- trust me- I’ve tried. It’s so vital to who we are that we compete, on a national level, with other countries. We compare ourselves to other countries and even try to be better then them. I was an absolute slave to this idol.

But here’s the thing- the Bible says we can serve only one master.  In Matthew 6:24 it says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Slowly God kept chipping away at this idol, and slowly I stopped fighting so much.  Before I knew it, I was saying yes the things I use to say no to- yes to family, and no to the idol.  Yes to friends, no to the idol.  Yes to relationships. Yes to the community. Yes to togetherness.  Yes to calmness.  Yes to freedom.  You guys- yes to JesusIt’s.all.about.Jesus. 

Though I know there’s more to chip away at still, and always will be, Jesus is whom I want and all I want. Truly.  Jesus is why….why I do everything I do. Jesus is why I don’t do the things I don’t do. It’s all about Jesus. 

Jesus- His people, His community, and His commandments always come first.  School can wait. Yeah, school.  The tricky, sneaky, amazingly brilliant idol that is school.

Academics can wait.  Chemistry can wait.  ABC’s can wait. Prom and the school play don’t matter.  When Jesus says He is enough, that He is sufficient- He means it.

Jesus, compassion, service, love, forgiveness, creativity, prayer, truth, freedom, and relationships cannot (and will not) wait. They are now.  Jesus IS coming.

So I let go of curriculum.  I let go of MY schedule.  I let go of expectations.  I let go of comparison.  I let go of pleasing everyone.and.their.mother. I let the standardized tests go.  I let the standards of the state go.  Gods standards are now our standards. Our allegiance is to Jesus and Jesus only. And guess what?  True, God driven learning happens, and it’s the best kind out there, hands down.

We.are.FREE.

Friends- I’m convinced the American Educational System has, for a long time, been one of our biggest idols.  “School” is our God.  And this isn’t a homeschooling vs. public school rant.  Homeschoolers fall into this trap all the time. I know I did.  Private schoolers fall into the trap too. This also isn’t an anti-academia rant, learning is important! However, we’ve falsely believed that we cannot obtain knowledge and wisdom without “school.” I falsely believed I could not GIVE knowledge and wisdom to my kids without school. An American Education was my God. I needed it. It was what I worshiped.  It dictated every choice I made for myself, and almost every choice I made for my kids- until Jesus people.

Until Jesus.

14″ Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. 16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the [e]bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one [f]bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one [g]bread. 18 Look at [h]the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? 19 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. “- 1 Corinthians 10

WIlderness

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I was reading an old journal the other day- before online blogging was a thing.  I found this one from when my husband was in school.  I wanted to share it.

’12 Moses said to the Lord, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this person,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now, therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” And he said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 And he said to him, ‘If your presence does not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? MLS it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. (Exodus 3:12-19)

This passage has been brought to my attention on numerous occasions the past few weeks. As well as any verse about trials and tribulations. And any verse about being prepared. As much as I love the Word of God, this theme had me unsettled. No God, I don’t want a trial. I don’t want tribulation, no..donot prepare me for trial, prepare me for blessings!! Shamefully, this is what I thought. No more God, no more!! Enough!! I screamed this in my head, as I leaned over to Levi and told him to prepare for a trial, because we were going to have one- or more. He looked at me concerned, but nodded his head and just said, ‘ok’ as though God had been preparing his heart in the same way. We both took a deep inhale and turned our focus back on the sermon at church.
What would this trial be? How many? How long? Would there even be a trial? Maybe I’m just imagining this and need to have more faith, more hope that everything will be picnics and butterflies. Yes, that sounds nice.
James 1:12 reads:
‘Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.’
1 Peter 5:10:
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Levi is currently taking the toughest courses yet for his 4 (ahem 6) year degree. During this time, we’ve had serious health scares considering our oldest son, we had the shock of our life and got pregnant, both Ayden and I had Influenza A, my pregnancy had complications and left me in the hospital for two weeks on and off, I had two surgeries, every virus is known to man kind, had a baby, bought a house, repaired the car at the towing and auto service place, moved, and lived your typical life with kids. All during school for Levi. During all o that, my wonderful husband took care of us. He stayed up days at a time, worked full time, and somehow did his homework. He stepped it up, for me. He got sick and pretended he wasn’t, for me. Now, is my turn. 1 Peter 4:12 ‘Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you.’

As my husband’s helper, best friend, and Mom to his children he needs me. He needs me now more than ever. I can’t be sick. I can’t need him. I have to rely solely on Christ. I know we are supposed to do that all the time, but I admit I don’t. I rely on my husband, then Christ. This brings me to the passage in Exodus. Moses trusted God and relied solely on Him. 40 years in the wilderness Moses waited!! 40 years! Moses had no idea how God would bring them out, yet he was steadfast. He prayed regularly.
The other day, I brought this passage to a friend who seemed to need it and wouldn’t you know…she pointed out to me what I never noticed- Moses doubted God. Not in an unfaithful way, but in a true, sincere way. When my dear friend pointed that out, I finally exhaled from that big inhale at church. Moses doubted. Moses didn’t understand. An entire nation of people was looking to Moses and Moses didn’t know what to tell them. But he prayed. Moses prayed. Moses met with God. Moses was steadfast. Moses heard the call, never fully understanding and obeyed God.
I am so doubtful. And so weak. But we know this is the path God wants us on, so we will be steadfast. I don’t know why. I don’t see how. I want so bad for Levi to quit school. I miss him. I miss my companion, my best friend. I miss movie nights; I miss being taken care of only the way Levi could when I am sick. I’m scared. I’m dreading. I’m doubtful.
But I’m going to pray. I’m going to step it up by Gods strength alone. With God by my side, I’m going to serve my husband in a way he never has been served (sad, I know lol). I know this isn’t the first or last of our trials but right now- this my wondering, this is my wilderness.

Poison

 

Rule number one men- stop looking at porn now.  Not like when you get married, but now.  That shit is so not real and will forever haunt you and your wife. This isn’t like a little hick-up you just fix quickly.  This isn’t some car accident where you can just call the best towing company in the area to take you back home and fix everything up. This is poison; it slowly takes more and more away from your life.  Here’s a little story…

Do you like my heading?  Well, I don’t.  I hate this word. I hate it exists.  But just because I hate it, does not mean I shouldn’t face the reality of the impact it has on my – and your- life.  I can hear all the gasping, and “oh no she isn’t” as you read this, but yes- yes I am going to write my very first blog about Porn.  I would like to say it again, and perhaps you can say it with me to loosen up a bit- P-O-R-N, PORN.  I know, it’s not a very popular word but what the problem is, is it’s a very popular form of entertainment, and more sadly- sin.   But I don’t want to focus JUST on Porn; rather I would like to concentrate, wives, on our reaction to the discovery of our husbands using that form, if entertainment.
I don’t know anyone that isn’t affected by Porn.  Porn is poison- it can destroy people, families, and societies.  I am sure some of you are thinking “No, not me. I don’t struggle with it, and my husband would never do that.” Or perhaps you are thinking, “My husband use to fight, but he’s fixed it and doing better now.”  I hate to burst your bubble, but to those that are wrongly assuming they are immune to porn and its effect are wrong.  Every man, every,  I know struggles with porn- if you don’t believe me do a search on your computers history.  If you think your husband has “fixed it,” ask him. Check up on him and continually pray for him.

I recently walked in on my husband looking up Porn.  This, sadly, was expected.  I wish one of these days I could walk in on him steam cleaning my carpets lol!!!  Someday, yes? (Honestly, I think husbands cleaning carpets is probably the sexiest thing ever.  I mean…maybe I need to get out more, but really.  Ok I am digressing). Porn for my husband has been a struggle since he was in middle school. When we got engaged, he was very open and confessed to me his struggle.  He told me he deleted it all and was doing good. I believed him and carried on like sin wasn’t something to fear.  Then, a little over a year into our marriage, eight days after our son was born, and one week before he was set to deploy I discovered he had not only been lying to me and looking at porn but lying for over a year and even blaming things on our friends.  My world came crashing down, and my response was what you would expect.  I flew off the handle, let him have it, and made his life a nightmare.  I cried all day, every day.  I wouldn’t touch him.  I threatened him.  I also bought the book “Every man’s battle” and we, together and in one week, read through that book, prayed, cried, and tried to save our marriage.  When my husband deployed, I can’t say things were good.  I wasn’t sure where our wedding stood, nor was I sure of where my husband’s spiritual well-being was…or mine.  There I was, all alone with a newborn baby and I had been let down by my hero- my husband.  My foundation was quicksand…and I was sinking.
Wives- if you hear one thing hear this- the way I reacted, the way a lot of you react when we find our husbands looking at porn- is not ok! It is not about you! It’s not only NOT ok; but it’s also ultimately destructive to our marriages.
Since I recently discovered my husband had fallen into the trap of sin again- I noticed one big difference. The difference wasn’t in him (although I wished it were) it was in me.  God is brilliant and intentional…so having my husband deploy for a year after my foundation was shattered forced me to seek God- and use Him to rebuild our life. I didn’t have my husband, I didn’t have a companion- but I needed them.  While my husband was gone, I focused microscopic on him.  Don’t get me wrong- I sent him emails, packages, and we talked every day.  But I set my eyes on someone that will never let me down; I dove right into the promise that will last.  I built, brick by brick the foundation for my life alongside my Savior.  So this time, when my husband confessed to being looking at Porn, I realized I wasn’t heartbroken.  Nothing in me changed.  I didn’t say anything at first- it just didn’t feel right not to feel shattered.  I even tried to be mad, and heartbroken. But the compassion for my husband overtook it all.  Christ tells us to love others as ourselves and to love God above all.  How in the world could it be loving of me towards God and my husband if I fly off the wall and USE my husband’s sin to in fact sin, myself!?  Wives- it’s not ok to make your husband’s sin, about you!  What’s going on here is nothing new- we are ALL sinners in need of a savior.  There is NOTHING new under the sun.  I repeat- there is NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN.  This has happened before; it will happen again.  Porn is a sin.  Wives, when you turn it around and give into your feelings that can so easily deceive us, you are giving into sin just the same way your husband is.
I’m not trying to poo pay porn or say it’s ok- it’s not.  I hear all the time how porn causes so much divorce, and families are shattered by this.  Although I agree, I can’t help but wonder if our (our being wives) reaction to the discovery of nothing new, to the discovery of our husband’s sin could do just as much damage as looking at porn?  I don’t know where I stand on that one yet- but what I do know is we, wives, need to buck up.  We are not helpless; we are not damsels in distress.  We have the hope and strength of our heavenly Father!  We wives, when we look at our friend’s husband and how we wish our husband would buy us flowers like another man are doing the same thing…we are giving into envy…we are giving into sin! Matthew 7:5 sums it up nicely “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Wives- we are all on the same page here, sinners in need of a savior. Stop using your husband’s sin to belittle him, to kick him while he is down, gossip about him, and please stop using it to make yourself look perfect.  This kind of attitude is far more destructive, in my opinion, then porn.  I once heard someone say that our societies view of “romance” is like female porn.  You know, wanting picnics and butterflies- all the romantic movies where we look at our snoring, drooling husbands and immediately become bitter because he doesn’t buy us a Lexus for Christmas every year (with a perfect red bow on it too).
What these realizations left me with was- how are we suppose to react when we face the reality of our husbands sins?  Although I don’t at all know everything, I do know how I reacted the first time did no good. It harmed me, and my husband.  It made him afraid, to be honest with me.  When we come to our Father with the confessions of our sin, he takes it, cleanses us, and forgives us. God restores us. God loves us. God weeps for us.  I am reminded of Jesus, and how he rarely spent time with “perfect” people.  Jesus spent time with prostitutes, liars, murderers, and so on and so on.  If the Savior of the world can love a murderer or a prostitute- surely I can love my husband.  As I grow closer to God, I take my husband off the pestle I had him on and see him as, still, the love of my life but also a wretched sinner in need of a savior- just like me.  I sin miserably on a daily basis, and I love my husband.  When I see him struggling with sin, it breaks my heart.  When I see him trying to fix it on his own- without the help of our Savior- I lovingly nudge him to Christ and remind him of the love our Savior, and I, have for him. I don’t want to enable it- porn is wrong- so we need to set up accountability, we need to be praying for our husbands, and loving them and checking in on them- sometimes even ask for no reason, at a time and place he can be honest if need be.   I hope- next time this happens, I can remember this and love my husband, and forgive.  I hope the two of us can battle this together with Christ as our battle gear and protector- instead of selfishly using my husband’s sin as the reason to sin. No more bouncing back and forth.

“And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another just as God has forgiven you in the Messiah.”  Ephesians 4:32

A Man and a Boy

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In my last post, I used my husband as an example of a real man.  Now, after what we experienced when we moved into our house, I would like to present some boys.  You know, for a good visual. And I don’t mean like, little kids having fun in their bouncy house because they’re four- but boys that can shave.  Read on readers.

After a few days of living in our new home, Levi and I were watching HGTV after cleaning the entire house (because that’s what every first-time homeowner does at 11 PM, right?) and we heard what sounded like arguing next door.  I asked Levi if he heard that, and he thought it was just kids.  Realizing the vocabulary that was being used was far to advanced for kids, we tried to just tune out the yelling.  Within a few minutes, it got so loud Ayden woke up scared and confused.  We moved Ayden into our room and just sat there, listening to the argument.  It was getting more and more heated, and more and more frightening.  Being concerned, Levi looked out our window since we could see directly to the home and he saw the male throw the female on the couch.  Then, at some point, there were loud thuds and then weeping from the female.  After that, it got very, very quiet.  We decided to call the police, afraid of what had happened.  Within 2 minutes 4 officers had the house surrounded, and were demanding the door be opened even threatening to kick it down.

Once the police separated the two, someone showed up in a car, and I heard the male respond “Mom, I didn’t do anything I swear!”  I was a little confused as to why he was worried about his Mom, and why his Mom was even called.  As the next few days progressed, I saw the two that were fighting, and it became clear to me why the Mom was there- these two people were kids.  They were, essentially, children.  There is no way they could be out of high school.  I was shocked and saddened.  The people who usually live there are older (but not by much), and I’m sure, these kids look up to these guys.  They are the guys that seemed to have forgotten shirts are for wearing, belts exist, underwear should be UNDER, and think base so loud that it shakes the ground is how you define being a man.  I’ve seen young women after young women come and go.  I’ve seen children no older than four years old play around one of these guy’s while he smoked and tried to woo this kids Mom. I’ve seen tow trucks come and take their many vehicles. I’ve heard talk of smoking pot (which, coming from where I do doesn’t scare me lol) and so many curse words I have had a lot of explaining to do with Ayden.

So why this long story?  Because I can’t get them off my mind, and out of my heart.  At first, I judged them and rolled my eyes at their efforts to be men.  I’ve wanted to become that neighbor that asks from over the fence if they could use their “replacement words.”  I’ve tried ignoring them.  I have.  I can’t.  God won’t let me.  Why??

Then I remembered this house is God’s house.  We very much intended this home, this neighborhood to be a means of reaching out to our community.  These next door neighbors don’t need my scorning or judgment; they need Christ.  They need to know what real men look like.  They need guidance.  And the women they bring by, they need to know all those things as well.  They need to know what a real man is, what real love is, and who Christ is.  Having NOTHING in common with them, where do I even start?  I’m afraid reason and logic here, won’t cut it (as much as I love that).

God recently brought me to Paul’s speech in Acts 17 where he uses storytelling, and the very language of the audience he was reaching to bring them to Christ.  It’s amazing. I’ve never noticed it until now- I’ve read this passage too many times even to count.  I missed it.  In Acts 17 Paul gets on stage in Areopagus (what would be the nowadays Hollywood), and gets up as though he’s putting on a production. Paul is entering the Pagan story, retelling it, and then capturing the pagan audience with the Gospel.  He quotes pagan sources, and not once uses Jesus’ name. Paul ge the audience to agree with everything he says then pull them for a loop when he brings up repentance, judgment, and the resurrection.  Wow.  Do I ever have a lot to learn from that?

I’m not sure what this means for the neighbors next door.  What I do know is I’m praying about it.  I also know I too often rely on reason and logic to help me think and process, and not enough on Christ.  I also know I have a husband who loves God like mad and, in his life, had many real men step up and fill the void his Dad left.  Although nobody trumps your Dad, nobody can deny the impact one, if not many, real male role models can have on a young boy.  These kids next door- they need Christ- but they also need to see what a real man looks like.  So the past few weeks, I’ve gone from rolling my eye’s towards them, to crying for them.  Potential. They have such potential to be men.  Those girls- have so much more value, and beauty then just what they can do to sexually please a boy.  So.much.more.  I hope by writing this, and by processing it this way, somehow God can use us.  Not that we have it figured out, because we don’t…at all.  But we have Christ, and He figures it out for us.  He takes the broken, the messed up, the confused, the lost, and restores them.  Daily. All that’s lost, God restores.

So now, we have a good visual of a man and boys.  See the difference, yes?

I Present a Man- and a Man that Loves

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For us to talk MEN, I think it’s good we define our terms- that we know what a man is, and is not. Real men work hard and love hard.  They don’t go taking out loans to get money when they can’t pay it back.  They came home dirty (unless you work in an office, that’s cool too) and tired because they used to work for every penny they have. Also, I want to thank Beth at Branch Out Marketing- she encouraged me to start writing! So thanks!

 

So lets look at an example!

My man is just…he’s a man.  I wrote this to him one day in a journal and thought it would make the best post ever for my new site.  If more men could be half what he is, this world would be a better place.  So read, enjoy.  Boys- take notes.

When we were young, and still just teenagers- it was how you sat on the phone with me until the wee hours just to make sure I would fall asleep.  You knew sleeping was hard for me, so some nights on the phone you even read me stories. I remember one time, waking up after falling asleep to your voice- and you were still reading.  Nobody was there, I was asleep- but you chose to keep reading because you didn’t want to wake me up by stopping.  We both had school the next day, and you had practice.  But the lack of sleep didn’t matter to you, only my abundance of sleep did.

Or that time I had been traveling all summer and was set to come home. My step Dad invited you over for pizza and a game of chess so you could be there when I got home.  Being the brat I was, I walked in and was mad you were there, so I stormed off to my room.  You didn’t chase after me, or even get hurt. You continued to play chess with my step Dad and eat pizza.  Eventually, I came back upstairs, and you acted as though I hadn’t done anything and wasn’t the rudest person ever.  To this day you still love telling that story because “it was cute.”

Then there was the time I broke your heart and shattered your world by ending our two-year relationship at the tender age of 16. You waited for me. And you prayed for me. You prayed for me every day for ten years. You watched me date other people; you watched my heart be broken, you watched me make a mistake after mistake. And you loved me still.

You even did everything you could to protect me- to protect me from myself. It’s almost like you tried surrounding me with those inflatable rentals lol.   In our college years, you heard, I was dating a man that had been fired from a Christian Organization for quite literally preying on young girls.  Despite the fact we hadn’t talked in years, you reappeared into my world and just started showing up at the gym I worked at.  You started building a relationship with me, never accusing me or scaring me but very intentionally watching me. Every day you came to “work out, ” and you treated me lovingly and respectfully.  I didn’t know it, but you prayed fiercely for me then.  And you didn’t know it, but your meekness, love, and respect nagged at me- in the best way possible.  Even from a distance, ou set a standard of what a real man was, so- when I found myself with boys that called themselves men- I knew better.  Although it didn’t stop me from making poor choices, it did stop me from making even poorer choices- and because of that I thank God every single day.  How much worse it could have been.

Do you remember that one night, at the company Christmas party?? I was there as a date with another guy and you happened to work at the same company.  I didn’t know I would see you, but my heart stopped when I heard a familiar voice say my name.  It’s slightly possible I had too much to drink that night, but my only memory is you never left my side.  I still have no clue what happened to my date, but word is he found another young lady to take advantage of. Working with this man, you probably knew what was ahead of me for the night. Your constant requests for a dance, and your constant questions about how how I had been, and how my parents were- were intentional and calculated.  I remember having so much honest to goodness, pure fun. I needed that.  And like a typical hero you vanished after that only to reappear as an even better version of yourself while at war in the east.  Saving people seemed to be something you were good at.

I’ll never forget when we reconnected for the millionth time- knowing that this time it would be the last because we would always be in eachothers life- for every second of every day.  You were off saving the world, and I was rebuilding my life after illness.  Your voice over the phone sounded more mature, more manly, more confident.  It was like you knew things I didn’t, like you were privy to some knowledge and you weren’t surprised at all that it was me on the other line saying, “I love you Levi.”  We talked about the past ten years, and what we had been up to.  I listed the many men I dated, shamefully, and you just casually told me I was the only person you really ever dated, no- I was the only person you ever loved. But you stop there and not say anything else- you would hesitate.  I didn’t know why until the night before we got married.  You handed me a bible with a letter in it.  It was the bible you had used in high school when were together and it even still had my scribbles on it.  In was a letter you had written when were 16.

In the letter it was dated, and you said that God had told you that we would be married someday.  I realized then, that for ten years when you saw me around town holding the hands of other people- you saw your wife.  When you saw me sick and battling a disease- I wasn’t just some friend struggling but you saw your wife incredibly ill.  Yet during all this you never had the ability to treat me as your wife, so you stayed back and prayed.  You remained visible and protected me- but trusted God.

After we got married, I unpacked all our belongings into that tiny apartment with that carpet that was the cleanest and softest ever in North Carolina and stumbled upon your prayer journals.  Everyday for ten years you prayed for your, “wife.”  You knew that was me.  You prayed for me for me everyday for ten years.  In one of the journal entries you confessed you hadn’t loved any other person but me.  This wasn’t a creepy obsession- but a confidence and trust in the promise God gave you.  So you confidently and patiently watched me live, and asked God to make you into my husband. And He did.

As you took immature me as your wife, you let me grow into what God wanted me to be.  You lead by example, and you loved tenderly. I was a hot mess of a person when we got married- a liar, selfish, dramatic, and incredibly confused on God and who He was.  Yet you never pointed any of those things out.  You just pointed me to Jesus and loved me.  Oh how you loved me!

Like when you rode your bike in Iraq, at night, one mile each way to call me everyday for 400 days. And if you couldn’t call because you were on a mission, you found a way to secretly tell me so I wouldn’t worry.  Or the times you called me from rooftops as you pulled security- always sounding at ease and happy and always listening to me complain about how hard it was to raise a baby without you. You never told me the day before a friend had his bottom half blown off from an IED. Or that you would have given anything to change your sons diaper instead of burn you and your fellow soldiers poop.  You never told me about the time you got in an accident in Afghanistan and passed out only to awaken in the Armies tow truck- which was a far cry from our local Fargo towing company! You never held my self centered ways against me.  The grace you offered me overflowed.

And to this day, you let me sleep in and clean the kitchen just because.  You come home from working out in -35 degree weather building steel buildings and before you even take off your boots you kiss me and ask about my day.  MY day. My day in our beautiful home you’ve put your heart and soul into. You, you ask about my day in a heated house with coffee and kisses from our kids.  When I have the nerve to actually complain you sit and listen while your stomach screams of hunger.  You never hold it against me when I don’t have dinner waiting for you.  I say sorry over and over again, saying how the day got ahead of me and I just didn’t get dinner done and you just smile and hug me. Then you head off to the kitchen, battered and bruised, to make a bowl of cereal. Fruit Loops.  Then you head into second shift and bathe the kids, read to them, and put them to bed.  You come downstairs and take one look at my frazzled self and you don’t say a word.  You let me be.  You let me unwind.  You let me finish thoughts.  You let me write. You let me ignore you.  Then like clockwork, I exhale and look up at you ready to spend the evening with my best friend and you adorably smile and say, “hi,” as if you’ve been expecting me.  Usually one of us gets up to be closer to the other and your eyes never leave me. You always tell me you love me and we settle into eachother  for the rest of the night. Sometimes I ramble on and on, sometimes I never say a word, sometimes I even cry because life is hard and painful but most of the time we laugh because dear- you’re really funny.  But you never waiver. Your strength but tenderness never conflict. Your humor and sarcasm are perfectly tuned, never going to far. Your control is mastered.   Yet your adoration and love for me you let run wild.  And I love that.

Thank you for loving me something fierce, yet somehow meekly and tenderly.  You my love, are a man of men.  You my dear, set the standards.  You love good.  You love me good.  You love us good.