Reviews of Hope Deferred


Do What You Want To

21 Oct 2015 Posted by Jillian in Becoming More Like Jesus, Blog, Motherhood, Quest for Contentment

Suspicious yellow puddle next to the toilet.


Toilet leaking or another culprit?


My mom instinct says to call my second born into the bathroom to ask his take on how that yellow liquid could have gotten there.


He comes in and sits on the stool he uses to reach the sink to wash his hands.  He sits there in his yellow (ironically) oversized pajama shirt, thinking very carefully about how he will respond.  The silence grows more and more awkward as does my certainty of his guilt.  I’m trying very hard not to smile because he looks so cute sitting there on that stool looking so pensive.  Every silent moment that passes assures me that our toilet seal is just fine.


Finally the kid speaks, “I think you will be mad at me.  I think I will have to go to the corner, but…I wanted to…pee in the trash can.”  He WANTED to pee in the trash can.  The confession of a 5 year old.


That smile that I was trying to hide erupted into laughter.  The little boy sits there nervously laughing along, ducking every few moments to check my face to make sure I am still laughing as I sit on the floor in front of him and in front of the condemning puddle.  I keep laughing, turning my head toward the wall because that is my only hope at getting it together and figuring out how to convince him that this really is a naughty thing that he did, not a hilarious thing to be repeated.


Oh the teachable moments.


I am thankful I could laugh about the pee puddle I found just last night.  I will confess, I started a blog a month or two ago that was titled, “Why I Hate Being a Mom.”  I chose the title because I knew it would grab the eye and people might read it out of shear curiosity.  The reason for writing the blog was because I was really struggling with being a mom, especially being a stay at home mom.  I never published it, because I really don’t hate being a mom.


But being a mom is hard.  There is no other calling in life that will demand so much of you, that will call you to die to your own desires and dreams, more than being a mom.  Of course, every mom has a choice.  We do not HAVE to die to ourselves.  We can still blaze forward, every bit as selfish as we were the day before, but two parties suffer:  Us and our children.


If you want to be a good mom, and I believe deep down every mom wants to be a good mom, then you will have to put the needs of other tiny people above your own.  You just have to.


I have been walking the mom road for 9 and a half years, and I have certainly learned a lot.  I can see evidence that God has grown my character tremendously (Thank you, Jesus).  My third is almost 8 months old and the sleepless nights with him compared to the sleepless nights of my firstborn have a lot less loathing and fear and a lot more cherishing and trust.


The circumstances taking place in the quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) of the night are no different, but I am different.  Branches have been pruned and some have been completely cut off.  God has been doing a good work in me.


Yet, there I was, about a month ago, pulling myself out of bed in the morning with nothing to look forward to.  What awaited me was the same routine of feeding the baby, pumping the extra milk, writing lunchbox notes, making lunches, checking the weather so my kids would know what to wear that day, pouring breakfast for the older two, reminding them that they can’t go to school in their jammies, reminding them of what needs to go in their backpacks, reminding the daughter for the 200th time that if she does not brush her hair, we will have to shave it because it will get so tied in knots, using spare moments to straighten up the house before loading everyone up and taking the older two to school.  That takes me to 8:20 every morning.  The rest of the day has been a tangled mess of feeding, playing with, and trying to help the baby nap while also trying to remember what the floor looks like near the washing machine because it’s been so long since I’ve seen it, constantly cleaning and straightening around the house, mowing the lawn and caring for the many four-legged animals outside, weeding (I really hate weeding), running errands so my family can eat, have money in the bank to pay bills, have clothes to wear, gifts to give, etc.  Sounds like a blast and a half, right?


If you long to be a mom, then I imagine you would read that and think yes, I would LOVE that.  If you are a working mom, you might be thinking, I do all that and more every morning.  If you are a fellow stay at home mom, you might be thinking, I get it or I love this life.


The truth is, we all have our own unique set of circumstances and the grass is not usually greener on the other side of the fence.  Grass stays green if it is watered and cared for.  You can’t jump the fence and enjoy the fruit of someone else’s labor.  If you do, it will not take long for your new lawn to start looking a lot like the side of the fence you left if you do not take responsibility for caring for your lawn.  The problem is not with the grass, the problem is with the owner of the grass.


I don’t hate being a mom.  I really am beyond thankful for the privilege of raising the three wonderful gifts God has given us.  What I realized as I sat at the computer a month ago, pouring out why being a mom is hard, is that I had not been doing a very good job of taking care of myself.  I had being pouring myself out every day, with nothing pouring in.  I was completely tipped over and I had three tiny mouths standing underneath looking for the last drop to fall out.  They needed me, but I had nothing good left to give.  I had a lot of yelling and impatience, but nothing good.


This has been a very full year for us, which explains how I found myself completely drained, but it does not excuse it.  There are seasons of life where it is easy to make time for yourself, and there are other seasons where you really have to fight for it.  It comes down to priorities.


Priorities.  What is important to you?  We make time for what we value.  Sometimes we have to readjust and reallocate our time if we notice that, though our heart might have started in the right place, the product is not what we hoped.  For example, I want to be a good mom, but by dying to myself constantly without doing things that bring me life, I have just been dying.


A big piece of being a good mom, is dying to yourself, but you also have to water the plant and keep it alive.  I’ve learned that I need some alone time with God, and I need to make time to do things I enjoy.  I came to this conclusion from looking at Jesus’s life.  Jesus regularly had alone time with the Father.  Jesus did fun things that I like to do, too.  He did crafts (he was a carpenter).  He went for boat rides.  He travelled.  He helped people.  I see that he enjoyed life, but he never lost sight of the Kingdom of God and his purpose for walking the planet.


How are you doing today?  Are you alive and vibrant or are your leaves and branches a little wilted?  It is not selfish to feed yourself and take care of yourself.  The people around you need you healthy (physically and spiritually).  God is THE source of goodness and health.  If you are a little wilted, make some time TODAY to spend with the Father and do something you want to do (that will bring you joy)…even if it’s peeing in a garbage can.

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I Hate Death

08 Oct 2015 Posted by Jillian in Becoming More Like Jesus, Blog, Quest for Contentment

                                        emma head shot        emma drinking                               

Yesterday we had to say good-bye to our beloved kitty of almost 13 years.  I had the undesirable task of taking her to the vet to be put down.


That was tough.  Saying good-bye is hard.  Seeing life there one minute and gone the next is baffling to me.


Many snot-filled kleenexes later, I am left in the aftermath to process this whole life and death thing, once again, as I do every time I am confronted with the mystery and certainty of death.  We are all affected by death in one way or another.  Whether it’s a person or a pet, death brings pain every time.  Every. Time.


Death usually brings a measure of contemplation as well.


Before I took Emma to the vet, in my head, I kept hearing the phrase, “death has lost its sting.”  I had to mull that one over a bit because death really stings.  It hurts.  It sucks.  When does death lose its sting because the sting has been very present every time I have experienced death?


I knew God had something to show me by getting that phrase stuck in my head.  So I googled it and found it in 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (and Hosea 13:14).


“Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”


Hungry to have God open my eyes and bring some comfort when trying to understand death, I went back in 1 Corinthians 15 and started reading at the beginning of the chapter.


Apparently, many people back then did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.  They did not believe that there was life after death.  This life was all there was.  There was no hope for something beyond the here and now.  For them, death was the very end.  That’s terrifying.


Next week, I will turn 35.  Everyone hits a mid-life crisis at some point.  I might be hitting mine sooner than others because I have been wrestling a lot lately.  Long before taking my cat to the vet today, I have been giving a lot of mental energy to wondering about life after this planet.  I have been realizing that I no longer have “my whole life ahead of me.”  If I live to be 70, I will be half-way through my life.  If I live to be 80, I have a few more years until I am halfway, but in the next decade, I will probably be reaching the halfway marker through my life.  After you hit the halfway marker on a trip, it feels like you are really getting there.  You are closer to your destination than ever before.  It always feels good to be over halfway there.  I have been wrestling because as I travel through this life, reaching the potential halfway marker scares me.


We know (some of us in a very sobering way) that we are not guaranteed tomorrow.  If we are fortunate enough to live until an old age, the reality that death is close is very real.  Since I am still young, I still have a lot of dreams or hopes or plans for the future, but will I still dream or hope about the future in the same way when I am 85 (if I live that long)?


I remember asking Todd’s (then 87 year old) grandma a question that I was extremely hesitant to ask, but was dying (no pun intended) to know.  I asked her, “ What is it like living when you know that you really do not have a whole lot of years left on this planet?”  Her response was something like, “It doesn’t feel a whole lot different, but I don’t make plans as far in the future.  I just live each day and I’m thankful if I wake up that morning.”


If you have ever spent any quality time with an elderly person, you can testify that they are really no different than a 35 year old on the inside.  They somehow just found themselves in a body that is wearing out.


When God determines it is time to breathe the last breath, our bodies are buried in the earth with the promise that that is not the end of the story.


“When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.  Not all flesh is the same:  people have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.  There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.  The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.


So it will be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:37-44).


These bodies are perishable, but one day we will more fully embody who God has made us to be and in that state, we will be imperishable.  The seed and the plant look very different.  The true splendor of the plant comes after the seed has died and been buried.


There is life after death.  What that life will look like is, in most ways, a mystery.  This life is just the seed.  Later will come the glory of these seeds that we are.


After the pain has subsided, I find myself thinking how strange it is that the person (or pet) I lost is no longer here.  They will never again be on this earth.  I can’t wrap my mind around that, especially when I think about the fact that one day I will not be here.


Death still scares me a little because there is so much unknown.  Yet, I am determined to face my fear and keep pressing in to God for comfort and understanding.  The image of a tiny seed becoming an incredible plant helps paint a better picture of how much greater our existence in heaven will be when we leave this life and God gives us the bodies he has determined for us.  If you think of the whole earth as a seed (the roundness helps), I can’t wait to see what the “plant” looks like in heaven.

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04 Oct 2015 Posted by Jillian in Becoming More Like Jesus, Blog, Infertility, Quest for Contentment

Confession:  I have been avoiding you.  Please don’t take this personally.  I haven’t been avoiding YOU.  I have been avoiding the collective you – all.  I have not blogged for a very long time.  (I just realized I have only blogged twice in the past year)  I have had a million blog ideas swirling around in my head for months, many started and left open in a browser window, but I have not sat down and completed anything.  I have been avoiding it.  Why?


I had ideas in my head of what I needed to do if I were to commit to this blogging thing.  I would need to blog every day, or every other day, or at least once a week.  Committing to any sort of frequency overwhelms me.


I will admit that I am extremely slow on the draw when it comes to social media.  I have never Snapchatted.  I have Twitter and Linked-In accounts, but honestly don’t remember the last time I looked at either.  I only recently learned that Periscope exists and I am sure there are a myriad of other cool, creative ways to stay in touch with people that I have zero clue about.  I have never been the social butterfly in real life, so the idea of flitting around in cyberspace has never really appealed to me.  I remember life without the internet.  It was simpler.  I like simple.


Yet here I am, on the computer, contemplating about sending my musings out into the vast unknown of the internet.  I am not techie, so the whole concept of the internet utterly amazes me.  Somehow I will type these words out and post them on a webpage (that my cousin had to build for me and another friend had to set up on his server) and then the whole world could see it if they want to.


The whole world.


The chances of someone in India or Australia or China or Chile reading these words is slim because the people there do not even know I exist.  I am anonymous to them.  I am kind of okay with that.


I know a few of you can relate to those times when you are walking through the store, and you just want to be anonymous.  You do not want to see anyone you know, talk to anyone, or be derailed from your purpose.  You just want to get into the store, get what you need and get out.  Am I alone here?


On these anonymous days, I am usually tired, depressed, or overwhelmed.  I just don’t want to put forth any more effort than I am already exerting to survive the day in and day out of every day.  I am introverted, but I am not shy.  There is a misconception that the two go hand in hand.  There is also the misconception that introverts don’t really like people.  Both are equally false.  The only sticking point here is that introverts get tired being around people too much.  Therefore, if I feel weak when I head out into public, the last thing I want to do is exert more energy.


This morning I felt God forcing me (in a you-still-have-a-choice way) to go “public.”  I read these words this morning and they were enough to literally force me out from under my cozy blanket on the couch to sit on a backless stool at the computer:


“When mankind was barely on the earth, God gave them one command:  be fruitful and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28).


If you know me at all (which I am assuming you do if you are reading this blog) or you have read any of my other blogs, then you know that my wrestle with this verse in the past would have a lot to do with infertility.  God says, “Be fruitful.  Multiply.”  God, I am trying here.  Why aren’t you helping us do our part in filling the earth?  We really want more children…  And so the often one-sided conversation would go.


Here I am, probably at the end of my personal wrestle with the demon of infertility.  So why did this verse stir so much in me?  God gave me a vision as I read it.  While I may enjoy writing, I rarely get a mental picture in my head, and I am not the best at painting those pictures in words, but I will try.


This world is so full of brokenness, sadness, hurt, and sin.  It is overwhelming.  Mass shootings, sex slavery, racial tension, orphans, refugees, hate, self-promoting opinions, divorce…I could go on, and that is depressing.  There is so much darkness in our world.  When God says to “fill the earth,” he gave me a picture of literally taking up more space on the earth.  That the essence of my existence on earth, would actually take up and fill up space on this planet, crowding out the darkness.  Picture the Genie in Aladdin who fills the cave with his presence, yet lives in a tiny lamp.


You see, God lives in me.  He lives in every person who has accepted Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.  His glory shines out of us and fills the earth.  When we are willing to let him shine, his glory increases and takes over those places of darkness.  He fills the space that darkness used to occupy.


Darkness flees.  Light remains.


That’s a big deal.  It makes me want to puff my shoulders and stand a little taller.  So I am committing to blogging.  I make no promises about the frequency, but I will get here as often as I am able so that I can play a tiny part in pushing back the darkness and filling the earth with his light.  I may be weak when I head out into “public,” but I will try to engage, just as I would like to try to engage with the cashier at the store, even on my not-so-good days.


I like to write.  Writing is a good way for me to process the areas that God is at work in me.  I like to share how God is working and helping me to figure things out because I know that we are all trying to figure things out together.  If I can save someone a lot of work (mental energy) by laying it all out there or providing a framework with which to build something new, I am all in.


Some day, I may invest some energy in figuring out how I need to “market” this website so that people outside my little world may benefit from this “anonymous” writer from Michigan.  (If anyone else wants to help with that part, I am accepting any and all suggestions, tips, and help)


I have zero interest in promoting myself or making a name for myself.  I am happy to be anonymous, or unknown to many.  I do, however, have a passion to see HIS NAME be infamous and great.  I ardently want to see his light fill the earth and subdue (overcome, bring under control, conquer) it, especially in each of your lives.


If you know someone who would be encouraged by these blogs, please consider sharing, or snap chatting, or tweeting, or going totally old-school and printing it out to give to someone.


Much love.

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17 Feb 2015 Posted by Jillian in Becoming More Like Jesus, Blog, Motherhood, Quest for Contentment

A couple weeks ago, I was sitting with Joshua (my 5 year old) in one of the hallways of Alliyah’s school, waiting for Alliyah to be done with an after school meeting.  Joshua observed a mom getting into the locker of her child and leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, “Mom, is that a robber?”  I tried really hard to stifle my laughter because he was dead serious.  I carefully explained that the women getting into the locker was most likely the mother of the student who used that locker, so it was okay for her to get into the locker.  He simply replied, “Oh.”  It was an honest question.


Later that week, Joshua and I were talking about potential names for his soon-to-be-born baby brother.  As you can imagine, we have had some pretty creative and hysterical suggestions.  During the conversation, we were talking about the full names of everyone in our family.  Then Joshua asks, “Is Daddy a robber?”  It quickly dawned on me that Joshua had been mis-hearing Todd’s middle name.  Instead of hearing “Robert,” he heard “Robber.”  Todd Robber Heerlyn.  Again, I had to try hard not to laugh out loud.


All this talk of “robbers” has gotten me thinking about a deeper spiritual reality that is playing out.  There is so much that goes on in the spiritual realm that we do not see.  Because we can not see it, it can be easy to forget it exists.  But the bible tells us to be on guard because the devil is on the prowl looking for someone to devour.  There are spiritual forces of evil at work all the time.  Thankfully, there are also angels fighting on our behalf.  In reality, Jesus broke any real power the enemy had when he hung on the cross.  The enemy just does not want us to believe that is true.


Jesus addressed the enemy and called him a thief or a “robber,” implying that the enemy was in the business of taking things that do not belong to him.


“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).


We all have an enemy who hates us and wants us miserable.  He also hopes to fly under the radar so as to not receive credit for his handiwork.  He does not want to be caught in the act and have it revealed that he really has no power, other than the power we give him.  He is opposed to anything that has life, and so he slowly weasels his way across our paths and steals bits and pieces wherever he can.  It is these bits and pieces that can add up real quick if we are not aware of how he is working.


I wonder how many of us could answer with a resounding, “Yes!” when asked the question, “Do you have a full life?”  I am not talking about a BUSY life, I am talking about a FULL life.  There is a big difference and we all know it.


Jesus came to make our life rich and full, not busy.  God wants for our hearts to be full with a fullness that is not altered by circumstances.


If Jesus came to earth so that we could have a “full” life, I wonder why so few of us feel “full” much of the time.  It would seem that some of us are being constantly robbed.


If joy and peace could be measured in a glass, could you carry your glass around without spilling on yourself or others.  If so, I wonder if your glass is as full as Jesus intended.


The “Thief” is crafty.  He uses circumstances, worries of life, money, busyness, etc. to carefully and strategically tip our glasses to where we do not realize anything is running out until we go to take a sip and come up parched.  Our lacking in the joy and peace department results in an inability to share any with others as well.


The Thief is no respecter of life circumstances.  The treasure he seeks is joy and peace and he will steal it from anyone and everyone – regardless of how wonderful their life may seem.  Some work outside the home.  Some stay home with kids.  Some work in jobs they love.  Some work in jobs they really do not like.  Some are “living the dream,” whatever that dream may have been:  get married, have kids, have x amount of money, being able to travel or do whatever they dreamed of doing.  Others are still waiting for dreams to come true.  Too many of us see what others have and think we might be happier if our life was like theirs – maybe not in its entirely, but in part.  Am I right?


You would think that those who are “living the dream,” or have many of the things they ever wanted, would be happy, but I hear too many people say they are not happy.  On the contrary, I have visited places where the poorest of the poor live and most of them are “full,” even while their stomachs may be empty.


The physical and the spiritual operate in much the same way when it comes to fullness.  Hunger alerts us to a need to be filled.  Thankfully, we have all we need to be full always.  We have no need to hunger when it comes to our spiritual well-being.  What does your glass look like?


The fullness that Jesus came to release on earth has nothing to do with how the events of life are playing out.  It has everything to do with our capacity to receive Him and what he offers.  He offers a peace that can not be understood without experiencing it.  He offers unconditional love.  He offers a hysterical joy that can not be quenched.  He offers himself, the whole package:  peace, love, joy, truth…and we can not find the fullness of these things apart from him.


And the news gets even better.  God does not just offer these things until your cup is full.  He offers joy, peace, and love to an overflowing measure.  Our cups are meant to be so full that everyone around us gets soaked by the joy and peace and love that spill over from our lives.  The best part is, we do not have to try hard to give these things away.  It is the overflow of God’s presence in our lives that naturally flows into the lives of those around us.  Our only job is to seek fulfillment in God.


The Thief comes to steal all that God has to offer, but we can be wise travelers and keep our precious belongings close at hand.  Like a traveler that wears their money belt inside their clothes, we need to wear our peace and our joy and our love deep inside our hearts where God protects those precious assets and they can not be stolen, no matter what may come our way.


When we are filled with Him, we truly feel full.  What do you need to do TODAY that you may have a more “full” (not busier) life?

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The Matter of Men

20 Oct 2014 Posted by Jillian in Blog, Marriage, Motherhood, Quest for Contentment

matter of men

I have overheard a few comments this past week that have got me thinking:


“Men are just as insecure as women, maybe more so.” ~My mom


“Most men are insecure; reducing women helps them feel more powerful.” ~Kris Vallotton


“I told my daughter that she can keep the gender of the baby secret if it’s a boy, but if it’s a girl, I’m going to need to know as soon as possible.” ~Random woman at a craft show


This last quote got me thinking the most because I think it captures an undertone I see too often.  If it’s a girl, I am going to want to prepare more by buying cute clothes and decorating her room nicely.  Even from such a young age, the outward appearance of a girl seems to be highlighted and celebrated.  We get excited about little bows, ruffle butts, and huge flowers on their heads.  Because, let’s be honest, all of those things are ridiculously cute.


I understand I am generalizing a lot here, I know I am not speaking for everyone.  I am merely reflecting on a common sentiment I see floating around.  I have bought into it myself, at times, and I am just now wondering how I feel about it.


As I have sat and thought about how I would share the news that we are having a boy, I have worried about people’s reactions.  I have worried that people wouldn’t be as excited for us as they would if we said we would having a girl.  It’s all nice to say I shouldn’t care what people think.  And for the most part, God has freed me from caring what others think, but I still have to fight sometimes.


One of the ways I am fighting is by unpacking why it is that I would perceive less excitement about a boy than I would about a girl.  Does the issue lie solely in my own heart, or is there a an unhealthy mindset that has woven its way into our society at large?  Probably both.


I may not be able to change the mindset of an entire generation, but I can make sure that my heart is in the right place.  I do think we need to celebrate men more.  I know this sounds crazy as we are still fighting hard for women’s rights and equality.  We have yet to see fairness in the workplace and women are still treated terribly in a lot of ways.  However, the solution is not to tear men down.  The solution is to raise men up.  As men become the men God created them to be, women’s situations become better.


I would love to share with you the work that God has done in my heart.  When I first learned that we were having Joshua (our second born, and first son), I was a little disappointed.  I teared up when I went to relieve myself after an ultrasound with a full blatter.  Even though God had made it clear that our second-born would be a boy through a series of miraculous and wonderful things, I still found myself wishing his plan might be different.  I wanted all girls.


It is always a little worrisome to be honest about these types of things because I would not want, for a second, to communicate that I did not want my son, nor that I was not/am not thankful to have him.  This could not be further from the truth.  I now realize what a genius God is.  I could not be more thankful for my son – and second son on the way.  Before I could realize this, God needed to do some work in my heart, work that needed to be done regardless, and he used becoming a mom of a little boy to accomplish that work.


I grew up with a single mom.  It was her and I to face the world, with all its challenges and joys.  I learned so much from my mom, all good things, but she is not a man.  She could not teach me how to interact with boys or men because she is a woman.  I spent the majority of my growing up years very timid and shy around people of the opposite sex because I had no clue how to relate to them or interact with them.


So the thought of having a boy frankly overwhelmed me.  I worried about my ability to mother this little boy well.  I worried that I would not know what to do, how to act, or that I would some how screw him up.  I also worried that he would be crazy and my life would become chaotic.  I worried a lot at first.


Then I snuggled Joshua for the first time, and the worries faded to the background, but that is not to say that it has been easy.  I was peed on and spit up on more times than I could ever count, yet this boy has been the biggest blessing.  He is 100% boy.  He loves to be active and do anything sports-related.  He is a warrior at heart.  He offers to fight (and punch out, and shoot, and kick, and knock down) any bad guy that might come our way.  These are just some of the amazing things in him that I can not explain.  I have never “trained” these things into him.  He has been made by God to be a fighter (in a good way), to offer his strength to anyone who needs it, to enjoy life in an unbridled way, and to also have tender moments where he comes to me for reassurance that I will always love him no matter how many times he messes up.  He is a boy.  He will be a man one day.


There are a lot of wonderful men on this planet.  My husband is my favorite (no offense to all the other amazing men out there – I know a lot of good ones).  If you know me at all, I hope you know that I think the world of my husband.  This has not always been the case.  For the first few years of our marriage, I really thought I was better than him, and I was always looking for him to step it up.  After God convicted me of my arrogance and encouraged me to start focusing on my husband’s strengths instead of his weaknesses, an amazing thing happened.  I started to genuinely respect my husband.  Then I started to notice more things I admired about him, and my respect grew.  As my husband received my respect, he also was growing into more and more of a man I respect.  It became easier to respect him, both because I was better practiced at respecting him and because he was becoming more of a man that is easy to respect.  I can honestly say that I have the best husband on the planet.  Here are some of the reasons why:


Todd understands and celebrates the beauty of severanthood.  My husband loves me and our kids so selflessly.  He is always thinking of ways that he can die to himself so that he can bless us.  He does this by taking the kids outside to play so I can have a couple moments of quiet.  He brings home special treats for the kids or for me to let us know he is thinking of us when he is not with us.  He says, “No,” to things he would really enjoy when he knows that we (myself or the kids) really need him around.  He does the dishes.  Seriously, I HATE doing the dishes and he knows this, so every time he does the dishes, I do a happy dance inside.  He figures out how to fix things and is not too proud to ask for help.  He tells me he loves me daily.  He spends quality time with our kids.  He offers ideas about things he would like to change in our family so that we can become a greater family unit.  He encourages me to pursue the things I am passionate about.  He makes time and space for me to do those things.  He is mindful of me and of our kids and careful to not put himself or his needs above ours.  He loves us well.


This was, by no means, an exhaustive list, but I hope it gives you an idea of some of the ways Todd makes it easy for me to respect him.  There were many times that I had to choose to believe that Todd’s heart wanted to be doing all these things long before he knew how to put them into practice.  Thankfully, he has also done the same with me and my weaknesses.  I am a happily married woman and I want to celebrate that – not to make anyone who is struggling in their marriage feel bad but rather to offer hope.  It is sometimes easier to complain than to celebrate, to see the bad instead of the good, to compare and find your situation less than.


Good marriages do not just happen.  They take intentionality and work.  One of the foundations to a good marriage is for the wife to respect her man and to accept him and celebrate who he is without a “fix-it list.”


I’d be willing to bet that your man is more insecure than he lets on or than you may be aware.  Men and women wear their insecurities very differently, and that is why I think men’s insecurities tend to fly under the radar.  Men cover their insecurities with pride, achievement, putting others down, apathy, and anger, just to name a few.  I challenge you, if you are really struggling with a man in your life (husband or other), to take a moment to carefully examine the things that are bothering you most about him.  I’d be willing to bet that behind the frustrating behavior (or lack of behavior) is a cover-up for a man who is afraid he is not measuring up.  I’d be willing to bet that your man WANTS to be a great man, husband, and dad, but he fears failure.  He fears not being good enough, and if you have ever reinforced his fear, you might be inadvertantly making it more difficult for him to become the man God has called him to be (the man you want him to be).  He needs your prayers AND your encouragement.


I am beyond excited and grateful that I have the opportunity to raise TWO boys.  I am so thankful that my boys (and my daughter) have such an amazing example of what it means to be a man, a good man.  I pray God continues to open my eyes to be able to celebrate the men in my life, and I pray he guides me as I play my unique role in helping the men in my life be all that God created them to be.

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