Fifteen Things to Look for in a Man

Today is our 15th anniversary! And while it is commonly known that the traditional gift for 25 years is silver, and the gift for 50 years is gold,  it is a lesser known fact that the gift for 15 years is a blog post. So since I am a slave to convention,  here ya go babe! This one’s for you!

Fifteen Things to Look for in a Man

1. A man that knows and loves Jesus and the Word of God

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2. A man that will join you in your hobbies

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3. A man that loves Chik fil a….. enough to wear cow ears

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4. A man that puts your happiness above his pride

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5. A man that understands your love for Movember and is not threatened by your pre-teen crush on Magnum P.I.

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6. A man that will drive 23 hours straight to take you to the place of your birth

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7. And drive you the very next summer across the country to California to see your college roomie

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8. A man who cares for and respects the elderly

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9. A man who loves your family

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10. A man that loves and respects his mom

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11. A man that will fly you back to NY, just to meet your fav talk show host

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12. A man that dances. Your daughters will thank you

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13. A man that regularly shows affection963860_10153121206960510_998525973_o

14. A man who can wrestle. Wrestling is really important

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15. And last, but definitely not least, a man with whom those sparks fly!13567184_10157067265085510_1930858657536733103_n

Here’s the truth. Having a list is important. But a list won’t get you to fifteen years or even fifteen months. It takes more than ideals and standards to build a thriving marriage. You need love. But not just any love. You need the greatest love. Jesus told His disciples that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another. Listening to Kelly Minter recently brought new depth to that verse for me. Yes, Jesus laid down his life at the cross, she reminded us. But that wasn’t the first time He laid down His life. Every day that he stepped foot on this earth was a day that He laid down his life in heaven for us. Having a beautiful marriage requires this kind of love. Laying your life down every dang day for the person on the pillow next to you. That is the greatest love. That means laying down your right to be right. Laying down your pride. Laying down what’s fair. Laying down past pains. Laying down insecurities. Laying it all down and loving with an everlasting love that can only come from God. Without a doubt, Paul is truly more than I could have hoped for or imagined, but we have been through many ups and downs. We are broken people with hurts we are healing together.  We have had horrible fights (aka “strong fellowship”) that left me doing the ugly cry,  and we have had utopian moments when I thought my heart would burst. Yet without exception, our marriage is the strongest, happiest, and the sweetest when we are mutually seeking to serve the other through the power of our loving Creator.

The Unexpected Solution to Losing Your Happily Ever After.

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After finding the love of my life, I had a hard time watching the predictably pathetic chick flicks that fill the summer blockbuster lists. The plot lines were all the same and went something like this:

Two gorgeous people meet and are horrible together, except the lovin’ is good. So after 1.5- 2 hours of dysfunction and drama, inflamed by alcohol, an affair or both they part ways. Then…they see each other from a distance at a club/restaurant/mall/park and can’t stay away from each other realizing in that moment that they are destined. Credits roll, and lonely women walk out of theaters nationwide dreaming of such “love.”

YUCK!!

I just kept thinking how much more I preferred my real life love story to the manufactured Hollywood versions. The details of  how we met, the waiting and wondering, the chemistry, the ups and downs. Then one day I stumbled across a writing challenge on facebook and I decided to begin writing our own story in novel form. The twists, the turns…the other woman, the vow! And the strangest thing happened. My love for my husband came alive in a way I didn’t realize had even died. I remembered the way I dreamed of being with him while simultaneously battled fears that it would never happen. I remembered the pain I felt each time we had to say good night as I wished we were just married already. I realized that so many dreams I had for our future were now fulfilled, yet where was my happy ever after?

Living in the minutia of life had given me an amnesia of sorts. Where was the girl who bargained with God for just one more date with her apparent soul mate? Where was that girl that promised to lavish love on her fiance every day of their life as long as they both shall live? How did they become an old married couple at the age of 30 something!

I guess sometimes life gets in the way of really living.

Diaper changes, physical exhaustion, mental burnout, hormonal imbalances, lost jobs, lost dreams, lost family members all enter the plot line unexpectedly and we forget. We forget we have the one thing we always hoped for.

So I think it’s time to remember. And a great way to do just that is to literally write your own story. The details, the conversations, the feelings, the warmth, the angst, the plot twists and that final moment, the knee hits the floor and your heart soars……

Remember and write.

Literally. With a pen and paper. Or fingertips and keyboard. Put words down, and watch your heart grow.

Here are some steps I took to prime the pump:

  1. Dig up the past: find old emails, old love notes, go through old journals, photo albums,anything that has any details of a time now forgotten.
  2. Enlist help:Send emails to close friends that knew you during those days. Ask them for any stories they remember, their perspective, anything will help.
  3. Talk about it: Use date nights to reminisce. Ask your spouse one of their favorite memories. Jot it down in on your phone for later. Tell bits of your story as bedtime stories for you kids. They will beg to hear more!
  4. Organize your information: Start with events that stood out to you, then start filling in a time line by days, months, years, whatever makes the most sense going by what bits of information you have. Start folder on your computer. Throw any pertaining journals, photo albums, keepsake boxes into a bag to keep it all together.

There are a few roadblocks to this challenge, two majors being motivation and time. So let’s start with motivation. Who doesn’t want romance? Just think of the popular show “The Bachelor.” Every season 24 perfect looking people go home alone, but not before crying into the camera the exact same line:
“All I want is someone to share my life with,”
And you, my married friend, have that! Even with their great careers, great looks, great bank accounts, they weep because they do not have what you have.
So you possess this coveted treasure. What are you going to do with it?
Here’s an idea.
Make it awesome. Make your OWN romance novel. Be the heroine of your own novella and watch your feelings follow.
I know, you say,  but who has the time? You do. We all do. If you are alive, you have time. You decide what you do with it. Ten minutes a day adds up! It does seem that time and money are always on short supply because we can never have enough.

But the truth is you do have time for what you do have time for.
It’s that simple. Tweet that!

I have talked to so many friends that have these amazing beautiful love stories. But just a short time later and that adrenaline is long gone. Bring it back, I say, using this simple technique. Write it out. If not for the big screen, do it for your children, or friends, or family.

Think of it as a beautiful keepsake to pass on to your children someday.
Just recently I had conversation with my dad about his story with my mom. Back in those days, he was considered an old bachelor at the age of 27.

What took you so long to get married? I asked him.
I guess I just hadn’t met anyone that made me want to give up my freedom, he replied.
So what was it about mom that did? I continued.
Well, she was intelligent, and beautiful, and I didn’t want to lose her.

Swoon.
The rest of my parents story is also Hollywood worthy, I might add, including a proposal, FROM ANOTHER MAN, literal writing on a NY subway wall, and more.
But this one line from my father just took the cake. I shared it with my mom. And ya know what she said?

“Really?”

Oh, my heart, just thinking about the sweet surprise in her voice. Forty-four years later…. a tender revelation….. simply because we took the time to remember.

Memory is a powerful tool……

Did you know people are divorcing these days simply because of memories that are dug up on facebook?
Can’t we make the contra-positive true? Can’t we keep people married by cherishing, exploring and chronicling our own precious memories?

There are copious amounts of verses in the Bible that implore us to remember, and in addition to remembering we are challenged to WRITE IT DOWN! This verse in particular stood out to me:

For whatever was written before was written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we may have hope. (Romans 15:4)

Remembering and writing can bring you hope.
That’ll preach.

But here’s the reality. Maybe your story wasn’t great and you would actually rather not remember. In fact remembering makes it worse. Now what? Well here is my advice for you. Write a new story. Sometimes the most magnificent love stories have the most wretched beginnings. Become the heroine in this new chapter. Be the woman that opens her heart, gives her all, lavishes her love on that stone hearted man and watches a change take place. Or be that man that serves his wife and breaks down the wall around your wife’s heart brick by brick with every act of selfless love and kindness. Stop searching for the perfect romance on Netflix and make your own. Become the sexy seductress that brings excitement to your time together. Look into your mate’s eyes and be what you want to see.

One of my “Grandma Moses” dreams is to publish a series of real life love stories. I have heard some of the most amazing love stories in just the last few months, and have even BEGGED these women to start writing. Maybe it’s you. Start now. Start small. But just start. We live in such a microwave speed society that we forget some dreams take years of work with nothing to show for it before anything comes to fruition. In this case, however there CAN BE immediate satisfaction, however, because as you remember, your heart will grow towards your mate while you begin chronicling the story that God wrote for you!

Is that you? Take the first step! Be bold! Write the synopsis of your story in the comments today. Send me your email address and I will send you reminders and encouragement to keep writing! Let’s do this together 🙂

The Fair Minded Friend- Paul

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It’s “Friday Friend-day” people!

This is where I share with you some of the life changing lessons I have learned from friends who displayed God’s character in ways I needed to see. Here’s the catch, and what makes this a little….awkward. Sometimes when God is trying to teach me a lesson it is painful. It usually happens in the form of someone rubbing me the wrong way. My initial reaction is to reject this lesson, or person, in order to make that uncomfortable feeling stop. However God has been so gracious to me by letting me learn what he was trying to teach me before it was too late.

After this “Friday Friend-day” blog entry, the rest of the friends I introduce to you will not be in any specific order of “friend importance” mostly because I am not that organized, but also because, well, how do you even rank friends? I can’t. The only order I have is that my hubby comes first, and not because he is supposed to, but because I genuinely like him the best of anybody I know.

However……..I do remember the first time I had serious doubts about this man I married. We were sitting around the dinner table with family, and someone was airing their grievances, at which point we all rallied around said family member in solidarity, decrying this clear act of oppression of which they had been a victim. All of us, that is, except my new husband, who unwittingly replied, “Well, I can kind of see their (the clear enemy’s) point of view.” In that moment my head whipped around so fast to appropriately glare at my other half realizing I did not even know him.

What was he saying?

Obviously there was no other side, but our side. You stick up for the ones you love.

They vent, you agree, and we all demand justice! That’s it! What was he talking about? I was so embarrassed. The tension in the room, whether real or imagined by my own insecurities, was palpable.

I wish I could say that this was the last time my dear husband forgot where his loyalties were supposed to lie.

But it wasn’t.

So many times over the course of our marriage I would share my latest woe with him expecting sympathy, outrage, and the like, but more often than not, I would receive silence.

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Is he even listening? I wondered. Doesn’t he know that his required response to my outrage is very simple? We need more outrage people! Who did I marry? What is life?

Then one day God told me the answer to that question….who did I marry….

The answer?

A pastor.

While he didn’t have the position when we married, he already had the heart. You see when God was knitting Paul together in his mother’s womb, he gave him distinct parts of his personality too.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:6

What I didn’t realize at the time, was that God created Paul with this beautiful ability to step back from the emotion of a situation, and see both sides. Knowing that as a pastor,he would be put in the middle of countless disputes, discussions, and disagreements, our Sovereign Lord created him with the natural inclination to be slow to speak, slow to form opinions, but quick to see the point of view of another.

 Proverbs 18:17 The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

What I saw as a lack of loyalty or refusal to back me up, was actually a desire to get to the truth, and help me in a far deeper way then a momentary affirmation would.

There was another reason for his silence. He knew that his opinion would likely not be received well. So while I was unloading the drama of my day, he was trying to decide how much truth, if any, I would accept, versus how much I would take as a personal affront to my character. This is a hard thing for me to admit, yet it is also a common source of conflict in many relationships.

What happens when you share a story? Does the listener have freedom to give their take on the situation? If someone has a different point of view, are they allowed to share it without being shut down? We live in a time when we are married to our ideas. An attack on my philosophy feels like an attack on who I am. However, looking at the life of Christ we see a different response.

How did Jesus respond to the  people yelling “Crucify Him!” or the soldiers that literally nailed him to the cross?

“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

He saw their point of view, He had compassion, even though they were wrong.

Do you have friends that are allowed to offer a different perspective to the situations in your life, especially the difficult ones?

Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Proverbs 27:6

As we have matured in our relationship, Paul and I have found a middle ground. He has learned to first try to empathize with my hurt feelings or my anger at a perceived injustice, before jumping in with a birds eye view of what might be really happening. Likewise, I have learned that his disagreement with my opinion or perception is not a personal attack.  I have learned that listening to another person’s point of view doesn’t devalue your own. In fact, it can often enhance it.

I have not mastered this skill. It is a daily discipline to receive concerns or critiques without contempt. But I am thankful for the grace of God to place a friend,a husband, in my life who could faithfully display this image of God, “the God who sees” – El Roi.