Posted on

Let Him be Her Dad

Let him be her dad. It is a lesson I have to relearn often because dads are imperfect. It’s really easy from the outside to see how I might have handled things differently, but he needs the freedom to be who God made him to be. God gave each of us the perfectly imperfect parents we were meant to have.

To let him be her dad, I had to learn humility and my Heavenly Father’s perspective.

On this Father’s Day, I spent a lot of time thinking about my dad, my step-father-in-law, my father-in-law and my daughter’s father. Each of these men did things differently, wonderfully, imperfectly. But each were great dads.

My husband’s role as a father started young. He was already a dad at the same age his boys are today. And his role as a father had many pause buttons due to his service time, except you can’t pause kids. He still feels cheated for all the moments he has missed in his children’s lives.

My husband spent much of our daughter’s first year in Iraq, from just days after we finalized her adoption until after she turned 15 months old.

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

I was her everything for that year. We had brief periods of visiting family, but very few and far between. It was the all-mommy-show, all the time. It was hard in many ways, but it was also easy because I didn’t have to compromise, I could do everything my way.

I didn’t have to be a wife. I just had to be the mommy.

Then he came home: a bit lost in this new little-girl-land after two boys. He almost didn’t know how to be with her, this tiny, willful stranger. It was hard, his learning to fit in with us, us learning to let him back in.

This adjusting is part of the returning from war people don’t really understand, the reintegrating after the reuniting.

Adjusting as a family after he came home from war, meant learning to let him be her dad. Click To Tweet

I had to learn how to share her, how to share him, how to let him find his own way with her.

We had to find our family normal again.

One of the lessons that I had to learn was to let him be her dad. He is going to do things I never would. He is going to tickle her until she screams and throw her too high in the air, and give her ice cream for dinner. He is going to discipline her when I just want to wipe her tears.

Where I'm all poses and perfect smiles, he will make silly faces with her. I just need to let him be her dad.

Where I’m all poses and perfect smiles, he will make silly faces in pictures with her and kiss her cheeks until he leaves whisker burn because she loves his “grouchy whispers.” Someday, she will associate manhood with the way his cologne smells, like I do with my dad’s Old Spice.

He will define manhood for her in many ways by who he is.

He lets her style his hair with a penguin and wears her jewelry. When she hides under the covers, he pretends he doesn’t see her and hysteria ensues.

I need to let him be her dad - He teaches her to take life less seriously, catch a bass, identify a bird as it flies overhead. He will be a window into a different world than mine.

She held a kite soaring magically through the sky for the first time with him. They have daddy-daughter dates to fly kites and go fishing.  He holds her hand at the beach.

He teaches her to take life less seriously, catch a bass, identify a bird as it flies overhead. He will be a window into a different world than mine.

My world is full of books and words, emotions and communication, dresses and bows, learning and education. It’s a good world, but it isn’t the only world. His world is full of animals, dirt, bugs, cooking, living outdoors, patriotism and honor.

And she needs them both, like she needs us both.

I need to love and respect him, let him be her dad, so they can continue to learn together this father/daughter mystery. I want her to look up to her first superhero, to see his gentleness and intelligence, his bravery and creativity, enjoy listening to his stories and learn to take directions.

It’s easy to see the ways she fits with me so perfectly. But while I see the stark differences between her father and I, I recognize how perfectly God planned her family so that she would have the best of us both.

Now, if I can just relax, close my eyes, and let him be her dad, frogs, mud, and all.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Posted on

Are you Best Friend Material?

A need for a best friend is written on our hearts by our Heavenly Father, and He convicts me to focus on the kind of friend I am. Am I best friend material?

Am I best friend material? I’m a good person. I’m loyal and kind. I would have said yes to this question a few years ago.

And I would have been wrong.

God has been walking me through a deeper understanding of friendships and relationships because part of ministering to women is knowing how to love them. I knew how to teach them, how to speak to them, but I needed to learn to just love them.

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

Do you have a best friend or two?

Friendship and acceptance are basic human needs written into our hearts by a loving Heavenly Father, so why does it seem like making friends so challenging?

For me, I had to stop worrying about what kinds of friends I wanted to have, and start thinking about what kind of friend I wanted to BE.

I had to stop worrying about the friends I have, and think about the friend I want to BE. #NationalGirlfriendDay Click To Tweet

When everyone on Twitter is trending #BestFriendDay, do you instantly know the friend you will tag in a glowing social media post? She will be awed by your eloquent words and laugh because she was going to post the same picture of the two of you?

Yeah, that won’t be me today. I wasn’t one of those girls who made a best friend in kindergarten who is still my best friend today.

In fact, I’ve struggled to build deep friendships since leaving my last job. Maybe, the challenge is partially this transient military life, partially my introverted nature. Also, this season of young motherhood and deep parenting limits my time and energy for others.

But I long for those kinds of friends.

I’ve also become convicted that God didn’t give me just one friend, but many if I take the time to really look around my life. And some of the silly social media games we play, end up hurting those who we exclude, even if that was not our intention.

And I’ve realized I have different best friends for different areas of my life.

I have friends who need my wisdom more right now. I have friends who make me laugh more right now. Some friends are super encouraging cheerleaders! Some friends convict and push me deeper in my walk with Christ. Some are just slugging through the trenches of marriage and motherhood with me.

God has planted several women in my life who are not my one and only best friend, but are the best kind of friends, the ones who will drop everything and pray for me with just a text message.

A best friend will stop and pray with you. Are you best friend material?

Over the past couple of years I had to examine my friendships, especially those real heart sisters, and ask myself . . .

Why is she my best friend?

  • I can always call her, no matter the time of day.
  • She is supportive, cheering me on when I am full of self-doubt.
  • I can count on her to take time for me, even when her own life is boiling over.
  • We don’t let trivial stuff interfere with our love for each other.
  • She encourages my walk with Christ.
  • When my life is falling apart, I know she’ll listen, offer to punch someone 😉 , and give me gentle advice after validating how I feel.
  • She genuinely celebrates my joys and successes.
  • No matter what is happening with her, she always leaves room to talk about my stuff.
  • She will drop everything and pray with me or for me. She prays for my children.
  • Grace comes first in all our interactions. She is honest with me when I hurt her feelings, and we work through the issues to untangle our conversations.

A need for a best friend is written on our hearts by our Heavenly Father, and He convicts me to focus on the kind of friend I am. Am I best friend material?

Proverbs 18:24 ESV “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

The number of friends I have that meet all these criteria is tiny, one hand kind of small, but they are my tribe.

It’s taken me a long time to realize that not everyone has TV-sitcom friendships. Women come in and out of our lives for a season. But knowing what I’ve learned about friendship recently, I am convicted that I have missed the chance to build deep friendships with some women around me.

I was too busy looking for a best friend. I missed chances to be one.

Being consumed with being a wife or mother, I’ve overlooked someone who needed a friend. Or I let small hurts or slights be a barrier instead of seeking unity and peace within the body of Christ.

Today, instead of feeling rejected, I want to feel convicted.

#BestFriendDay Instead of rejected, I want to feel convicted! Am I best friend material? Click To Tweet

Am I best friend material?

I want to stop worrying about how many friends I have and focus what kind of friend I am.

Proverbs 17:17 ESV “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

  • Am I a friend people know they can call?
  • Have I learned to let grace season all my interactions?
  • Do I forgive small hurts and continue to seek out friendship?
  • Am I encouraging and supportive?
  • Have I learned to listen as much as I speak?
  • Am I willing to love someone who can’t love me back right now?
  • Do I draw people to Christ because they see Him in me?
  • Do I love them as much as I lean on them?

Deep friendships take cultivating to produce fruit, lots of grace and forgiveness, and devotion to Christ first, then the relationship.

Cultivating Friendships takes hard work to produce fruit. Are you best friend material?

I thank God for the friends I have, because that small handful of ladies make me a better friend, better woman, and better Christian.

And I’m going to continue to seek women who need a friend, whether they can be one or not, and work on being the kind of friend God asks of us as part of His family, whether the relationship is for a season or a lifetime.

Being used by God to love & reach people is always right where I’m called to be.

I think I might just be best friend material, yet.

[jetpack_subscription_form subscribe_text=”Enter your email address to get more of this encouraging content for the modern Christian mom!”]

Save

Save

Posted on

The Devastating Agony of the Night Before Deployment

The nights before deployment were some of the most difficult of my married life. Every moment is full of the devastating agony of letting go. Each second is rich with longing and fear.

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

Seven years ago this week, the night before deployment, I began writing an army wife blog. As he was running around the house searching for random gear to pack in his last dufflebag, I began to write about the bizarre juxtaposition of emotions in the waiting for good-bye.

While he was gone, I wrote about our life on the homefront, my daily experiences as a geographically single mom, waiting for his return and doing my best to survive without him. I realize that this old blog might still be encouraging or helpful for someone, so I dug it out of the archive.

I will also add any new thoughts or things I’ve learned in the years since at the end.

*          *        *         *          *          *          *

August 2010 – Day 366  (the night before goodbye)
The nights before deployment were some of the most difficult of my married life. Every moment is full of the devastating agony of letting go. Each second is rich with longing and fear.
My husband kissing our infant daughter goodbye in 2010

So . . . here it is. After months of looming, the day is finally here. His last day at home before leaving for Iraq, AGAIN.

It’s the night before deployment.

I try not to cry when I ask if I can leave a few minutes early today. Supportive smiles are good, but the pitying looks at various levels of understanding are hard to face.

We live near a military base; people, for the most part, get it, but unless you have gone through it and sometimes even unless you’ve gone through it more than once, the nuances of this military life escape even the most sympathetic friend.

By the end of the school day, I am ready to race home, take off my heels and see my husband, but there is a heaviness surrounding our exchanges. So many words hang in the air, unsaid but felt.

Dealing with deployments-the night before goodbye is full of unsaid words and not enough time. Click To Tweet

He wants to tell me so many things, but his mouth can’t seem to juggle the marble ideas in his head and spit them out. Instead he grasps my fingertips with my arms wrapped around the baby and whispers, “I love you.” And takes her, wanting his last few minutes with her too.

By the time he sees her again, she will be crawling, maybe even walking. Today she smiles and is working up to giggling, but is still very much a newborn. When he comes home, she will have celebrated her first birthday and be several months closer to the next one.

How do you fit an entire year into one last night?

I watch him feed and snuggle her. Her whole faces explodes into a Cheshire grin when he smiles at her. I am worried that his deployment will subconsciously make her feel abandoned by men or sad.

Even though, she will never remember this year without her daddy, I will have each day etched across my heart.

He wants to eat at his favorite sushi place. I think raw fish should still be swimming in someone’s tank, but I concede. He is deploying to a place he affectionately calls “the armpit of the world” or “prison” depending on his mood. I can give in.

We have sushi and spend our last precious evening on the couch watching TV, because even though, I have raw and deep emotions, I don’t really know what to say. If we haven’t loved each other enough all year long, the next ten minutes or just the right phrase, won’t fix it.

Saying goodbye before deployment is standing on the edge, leaning over just enough not to fall. Click To Tweet

Saying goodbye before a deployment is almost dangerous, walking a fine line between rich and hopeful and breezy belief that this is just see you later. I feel like I’m peering over a cliff’s edge, leaning over just far enough not to fall.

We stay lighthearted as we start to discuss the most ridiculous news headlines of recent days. The laughter pulls us together. We laugh and want to fall asleep, but he has to go inspect barracks, so we kiss goodnight.

His goodbye is only for a few hours yet, but the word tastes bitter on my tongue. I fall asleep and wait to wake up for the real good-bye. My dreams are frantic and jumbled, some with him and some in which he is already gone.

At some point, I reach across the bed, and he is there. I am tempted to stay awake just to memorize the safe warmness of him, but drowsiness wins and I slide back into slumber.

He wakes just before four, and I get up to say goodbye.

The nights before deployment were the most difficult of my married life. Each moment is full of the devastating agony of letting go, rich with longing and fear.

Some wives will spend the morning sitting in the gym bleachers, listening all the speeches, etc. but it’s the second day of school. I shouldn’t miss work and can’t see waking the baby this early will help her adjust to this new routine, so we decided that good-bye is the same whether we say it now or in two hours.

Besides, I don’t have to have a brave face for anyone here at home. I cry ugly sobs when the minute comes.

Despite really trying here, I can’t quite capture the horrible lead-weight-in-my-chest feeling with words.

Quietly, I tell him to come home and be safe.

Then, he is gone. I stumble around the house picking up cast off items that didn’t make the final duffel bag. I finally drop back into bed for an hour or so before my first day as a temporary single, working mom commences.

*          *         *        *         *         *

I haven’t had to say goodbye like that in seven years now. But just reading it, I remember every second like yesterday.

Nights before deployment were difficult, full of devastating agony, rich with longing and fear. Click To Tweet

I shouldn’t have to do it again as we near retirement. But for younger wives, letting go and saying goodbye is a process that begins with his orders.

You start mentally preparing a world-wind family vacation tour, and a slew of honey-do lists that will help you start this year alone- because everything breaks when they leave.

You start measuring every moment against, “What if he never comes home,” which is the pendulum swooping ever closer that dangles over every interaction until he leaves.

I watched every second between him and the baby. As her mom, I wondered if these small moments and pictures or recordings would be enough if it were all she ever had of her dad.

Those days before deployment definitely help me now be more mindful of today’s blessings. Even when life is hard, it isn’t deployment hard.

And it reminds me that none of us have a guarantee of tomorrow.

[jetpack_subscription_form subscribe_text=”Enter your email address to get more of this encouraging content!”]

Save

Posted on

50 Shades of Green Valentine’s Day

Do you picture a 50 Shades kind of Valentine’s Day?

Are you doing Valentine’s Day wrong? I was for years and didn’t realize it until recently. The gift that made me realize just how much I’ve changed wasn’t really for me and involved new socks. And real love isn’t 50 shades of grey; it’s one shade of dark green, trust me.

This year my husband has to work late, may not even make it home for dinner, and will probably barely drag himself through the house and to bed after the week he’s had, and I’m okay with that.

In fact, when my husband “warned” me he has to work Valentine’s Day, I calmly replied, “Uh, okay? But we can celebrate another day, right?” He looked at me like I had two heads. That is just not the response I would have given a couple of years ago. 50 Shades of Green Valentine's Day - Heaven Not HarvardBecause I had gotten Valentine’s Day all wrong, caught up in the hype, the commercialization, feeling like this one day had to measure our relationship or how much he loves me.

And it sucked .  .  .

. . . all the joy out of celebrating our relationship. My husband got stressed about not disappointing me. He didn’t feel loved by worrying about whether I really wanted flowers even though I said I didn’t. He didn’t know if ‘I’m on a diet’ meant ‘don’t buy me chocolate’ or ‘you better buy me really good chocolate worth the extra treadmill time’.

So what changed? I did. I learned that I’m worth loving because God loves me. I learned to let God be my true love every day.

Psalm 73:26b (ESV) “. . .  God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

I started searching out and focusing on the promises of God’s devotion, paying attention to the times I see God at work in my life, then I started to worry less about getting love and more about being loving.

Lamentations 3:22-24 ESV The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

When I started hoping in the Lord, I stopped placing unfair expectations on my husband.

I EXPECT him to be faithful. I EXPECT him to have a job, work hard, help care for our family.

There are many things that I might like or hope for, but don’t expect, because 1 Corinthians 13 says nothing about rigid expectations in what loves is and does.

In fact, my new attitude gives him permission to relax, and that is when he is his best romantic self. He took me out last week for a surprise trip to the theater to see a musical because he was going to miss Valentine’s Day.

But you know what got me really all week in the knees? He bought himself new socks. THAT ALL MATCH.

Heaven Not Harvard - 50 Shades of Green You may not understand the joy of this if you’re not a military wife. This will save me the weekly headache of matching ten pairs of socks by discoloration, wear, and amount they’ve stretched out.

But what made me happy is that he listened to me. I once told him how much frustration matching his old nasty socks caused me, and he remembered.

And Thursday, when errands kept me out later than he had to work, I came home to a clean house. He mopped, vacuumed, cleaned the counter tops, straightened up. I almost cried.

Our baby girl is sick. We’re going to spend the night home, on the couch, and maybe do some hot hand-holding after we germ-x each other.

Besides, the best way I can celebrate Valentine’s Day now is demonstrate what love should look like to my daughter, not expensive gifts, but true love, the real, hard, messy, wonderful stuff of folding army socks and kissing snotty faces.

This 50 Shades of Green Valentine’s Day beats 50 Shades of Grey, because real love will say, “I want to do disgusting things with you!”But you won’t see any of them in that movie.

Real love will say, 'I want to do disgusting things with you . . . like change diapers.' Click To Tweet

Real love asks you to wash someone’s dirty underwear, clean up puke, stay up all night rocking a feverish baby, drive him to work in yoga pants with no make-up, and other things so disgusting you couldn’t imagine doing them until the person you love needs a bandage changed or help after surgery doing even the smallest things for themselves.

But real builds a love so deep and lasting, you’ll forget what greeting card love ever was.

So whatever you do this weekend, don’t get the two confused.

Posted on

Fairy Tale Proposal and Happily Ever After

God Above All Else Christian Strong Ladies Summer Tee Shirt Click To Shop

Eleven years ago today, I got pulled over by the sheriff. I couldn’t imagine then how one “traffic stop” would change my life.

In 2016, I was so excited to sit in the very spot of this momentous encounter with our sheriff with my daughter and watch this video of her daddy’s surprise return from Iraq which had a bigger twist than I realized.

I was stunned. I had no idea what was happening. Until I watched the reply, I wasn’t even sure what I said – on NBC, MSNBC and now YouTube!

Now I can say, even with all the challenges we have behind us and all the challenges we have before us, I would say YES again.

April 6, 2006 felt like an ordinary Thursday, not a Fairy Tale Proposal.

Today, reflecting on where we’ve been, I can see how much God has grown our marriage since that day. And we’re so blessed to have had it filmed to share forever, and have such a wonderful start to our lives together.

When the sheriff pulled me over, I couldn't imagine how this would become a fairy tale proposal. Click To Tweet

Struggling with a terrible surgery, disability, and recovery, I’ve had a really rough year. And my husband stepped up. Despite working early mornings, long shifts, and short weekends, he has selflessly given to me when he has been home to do so.

He has cooked and cleaned. Even shooing me away from doing chores a couple of times, he said, “I’m trying to take care of you! Would you just let me?!” Sometimes, in order to be a blessing, we have to let others be our blessing. And what a blessing it is to have someone offer to care for you not out of obligation, but out of love.

Sometimes in order to be a blessing, we have to let others bless us. Click To Tweet

I have felt my husband’s ‘thank you’ for all the times I’ve served him quietly, and I felt God’s love through my husband. Even in the worst moments of the past few months, I’ve had reasons to be grateful instead of complain.

Even in the worst times, I’ve had reasons to be grateful.

I live in a country which has wealth more abundant than 90% of the world can imagine. I have the luxury of being sidelined and sick because we have a stocked freezer and pantry. And internet to allow me to visit friends all over the world from my couch.

And my husband has sacrificed his time, his energy, and his hobbies to be home to care for me. He spent all day Sunday (during Turkey season!) making a gourmet feast because my being stuck on the couch for months we haven’t been able to go to our local Mediterranean restaurant for my favorite dish. So he made fresh from scratch fettuccine Alfredo with wood-fire grilled steak in a balsamic reduction sauce with fresh homemade bread. I know, I’m spoiled!



Why did I originally share this post on Veterans Day?

My husband is a soldier. He has served overseas many times in various capacities during his time in the Marine Corps and US Army. He spent four years of his life in Iraq, trying to defend our values and nation from those who spread hatred. While not untouched by war, he has come home alive and unhurt. Not everyone can hug their veteran today.

Also, Veteran’s Day is our wedding anniversary. We are celebrating 11 years of marriage this November. Six months prior to getting married, he came home from Iraq and surprised me with this outlandish proposal.

I thought I was getting arrested, but instead I was getting a fairytale proposal.

Military life isn’t easy. We can spend time complaining or be grateful. We live in a country so free people can scream from the top of their lungs ideas that are completely opposite of what our nation stands for, and a soldier will say, “but I fought for his right to say it.”

Eleven years ago today, I got pulled over by the sheriff. I couldn't imagine how one "traffic stop" would change my life with a soldier's fairytale proposal.

My marriage isn’t perfect, but it is growing stronger. We have enough. We have each other, a lovely home, and amazing kids. I get to choose my perspective. When I choose to focus on God, the complaints die away unsaid, my heart turns from bitter to blessed.

Every low moment in our lives is a chance for God to whisper His perspective into our hearts. Each small joy is a gift to us. Every challenge a chance to grow and overcome. Even in moments that destroy and devastate, God shows up. He is present, giving us rest, using people to love us.

I am supremely grateful for a husband who has given me so much, I honestly couldn’t think of anything I really want except to grow closer.

The fairytale isn't having perfection, it's having perspective, God's perspective. Click To Tweet

James 1:2-4 ESV  “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

I’m counting it ALL JOY, learning to be complete, realizing in Christ, I am truly lacking in nothing. And that is how our fairytale proposal turns in our Happily Ever After.

 

God Above All Else Christian Strong Ladies Summer Tee Shirt Click To Shop