Reminders From My Oldest

“I know who I want to marry”, he said.

He wasn’t joking.  He has told us who.  Even told us why he wants to marry her.  It’s simple really.

“I just do.  She’s my friend.  I like playing with her.  I have fun with her.”

Let me be clear.  My son came up with this all by himself.  We are very intentional about not talking about having a girlfriend, not even in a joking manner.  He’s five!  Discussions about dating and related topics will be discussed age appropriately as they are brought up or it’s deemed necessary.  The only reference we have ever made to such relationship has been in the context of family members {my sister, cousins, etc.} who are in dating relationships.  So you can imagine we were quite surprised when he announced that he’s picked a wife.

I admit.  This whole thing is rather cute.  But apart from the cuteness of it all I was reminded of a few things.

  1. It is important to have fun with your spouse.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from his answer as to why he wanted to marry her but it wasn’t her outward beauty {although she is adorable}, it wasn’t what she has or doesn’t have.  It was simply that he enjoys her, he has fun with her.  She’s his friend.  Friendship with your spouse is so important.  Friendship is what keeps you connected.  Your spouse should be your best friend.  In a post on the Resurgence website Pastor Mark Driscoll says, “when both spouses make a deep, heartfelt covenant with God to continually seek to become a better friend, the marriage is marked by ever-increasing longing and love.”  Driscoll and his wife, Grace, speak a great deal about friendship with your spouse in their book Real Marriage.  If you don’t already own a copy, you should.  It has been a valuable resource for Derek and I.  Ladies, for some practical tips on friendship with your husbands check out this Mars Hill Church blog post:  7 Ways to Enjoy Friendship with Your Husband.
  2. Cultivate open communication in the home.  I want to be having these same conversations in ten, fifteen, twenty years from now.  When my boys are dating.  When they are seriously considering marriage.  I want them to feel the freedom to talk to us about dating and girls.  I want them to feel comfortable asking us questions about marriage.  I don’t want them to have any fear about talking openly and candidly with Derek and I.  I pray that the Lord would help us cultivate that sort of atmosphere in our family.  We are not here to be their best friends but we are here to teach, train, and nurture them.  I want my boys to know that they can tell me or ask me anything.  I don’t have a step by step on how this happens. {Wish I did.}  I do believe it involves being there.  Really being there.  Spending intentional time together.  Listening.  One way our family is intentional with our time together is Family Fun Night.  One night a week is set aside for just our family.  We watch a movie and eat popcorn, go out to eat, or play games.  The boys count down the days until Family Fun Night!
  3. Our children are watching and listening.  This whole conversation was started because of what he saw and heard about mine and Derek’s marriage.  He hears many of our conversations, he sees the way we interact with one another, he is aware of our habit of date night.  It’s easy to think that because he’s young he doesn’t quite understand it all.  I would argue that he understands and is aware of much more than we give him credit for.  I need to be mindful of this.  One day they will, Lord willing, be husbands and fathers.  We can have many “talks” but at the end of the day much of what will stick will be what they saw.  They are learning from me even when I don’t think I’m teaching them.  Like when I hear one say “what the heck?!” and I jerk my head back in shock and say “where the heck did they hear that?”  Oh yeah.  Me.  Or when the older one shows the younger one how to hold  his spoon “like Daddy does”.   As a child of God I should be imaging God to others so that they see Him and glorify Him.  This imaging God to others includes imaging God to my children.
  4. I should pray for my future daughter-in-laws {and those DIL’s husbands!}. I told the boys they had plenty of time to find a wife.  Which is true.  After all, they are only five and three.  It will be at least twenty years before either one of them tie the knot.  But chances are she has already been born.  She’s on this planet somewhere.  I must pray for her.  Pray for her heart.  Pray for their relationship.  The idea of my boys being married is crazy talk right now but I know it’ll seem like only the blink of an eye and they’ll be men.  Men.  Part of my job as a parent is to raise these boys into men.  While I pray for my daughter-in-laws I should also pray for my sons as they become men.  Men who one day may be husbands and fathers.  I pray often that my boys will “be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong, and that all that they do will be done in love.” {1 Corinthians 16:13-14}  I do pray for Connor’s wife and Graham’s wife.  And in my prayers for my boys I pray for their homes and marriages.  Because one day, Lord willing, they will need to realize the importance of being best friends with their wife.  One day they’ll be navigating through parenting just as their Dad and I are doing now.

These were reminders to me, not things I’ve mastered so I’m passing them along to you.  No, I am not an expert on any of these points.  I wouldn’t need reminded if I was.  I’m learning as I go.  Learning as I fail because I do.  Daily.  Learning through, and because of, God’s grace to me. His grace upon grace.  {John 1:16}

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Rethinking Our Wedding Song

A song played over the radio that sounded very familiar.  About ten seconds in I realized what song it was and felt mildly embarrassed that it had taken me so long to recognize it.

The song had been sung at our wedding.

My initial reaction was one of nostalgia.  Derek wasn’t with me but I wished he had been.  We would’ve had “a moment”.  Reminisced a bit about Back Then.  Back Then when we thought we knew it all and had it all figured out.  Back Then when we were so blind.  Blinded by love.  Love that we were unaware could ever be any deeper or more true.  Convinced that it would always be pure bliss.  Instead I had an inner “awww” moment.  Then I began listening to the song.  My inner awww turned quickly into a nearly outward what?!

I wonder what God was thinking when He created you.  I wonder if He knew everything I would need because He made all my dreams come true, when God made you He must have been thinking about me.

I remember the first time I heard the song.  A very dear friend who lived two dorms down from me shared it with me while Derek and I were engaged.  I immediately loved the song and made the decision that it would be sung at our wedding.  It was an absolutely perfect song for our wedding!

As I sat in the car and listened to the lyrics I was a slightly embarrassed that we had it sung at our wedding.  It’s simply not true.  There’s no wondering if God knew everything I would need.  He knows.  He knows what I need better than I do.  He knows what I need before I know I need it.  He knows needs in my life that I am unaware of.  He is God.  He is sovereign.  He knows.  Furthermore He was not thinking about Derek when He made me nor was He thinking about me when He made Derek.  We use a little book titled My 1st Book of Questions and Answers to teach our boys catechism.  {We also use these Questions & Answers cd’s. The boys love them!  I recommend!}  One of the very first questions in the book is:  “Why did God make you?  To glorify him and enjoy him.”  When God made me, when God made Derek, He was thinking about Himself.  I was made to glorify God.  Derek was made to glorify God.  I do believe all of my days are planned by God.  He knows all things past, present, and future so when He made me He also planned who I would marry.  However, my reason for existence is not my spouse.  My reason for existence is to glorify God. I can most certainly do this in my marriage.  I pray I do!

I found grace in the fact that these lyrics did not sit well with me.  Grace because when I put that song on my wedding program I believed it.  I lived out of that.  If the first years of our marriage were a reality TV show you would see it plainly.  I believed that my dreams were coming true because God had made Derek for me.  Derek was there for me.  It was all about me.  Me.  Very shortly after the wedding my dreams didn’t play out in reality as they had in my head.  Derek didn’t fit into the mold I had made for him.  Derek failed me.  He wasn’t always there.  It wasn’t all about me.  Turns out Derek wasn’t a good savior after all.  He didn’t make all my dreams come true.  Because he was never meant to.  He wasn’t made for me.  He was made for his Maker.  It’s all God’s grace that I see that now.  Years passed before I was even aware of this.  Earlier I said we were “blinded by love”.  It’s true that we were blinded by love, love of ourselves.  I see this now but I still fall prey to the lie that it’s all about me.  Even on my best days I’m tempted to believe that God was thinking of me when He made my husband and I live that out in the way I talk to, expect from, or look for security in Derek.

I have an amazing husband.  He is so patient with me even in my selfishness and greed.  We’ve been married nearly eight years and oh, how we have grown and changed since the day we said ‘I do’.  We look back now and feel detached from Back Then as if it wasn’t really us.  Thank God it’s not who were are today.  My hope and prayer is that eight years from today I can say the same about today.  God may not have made Derek for me but He gave him to me.  My husband is a gift.  My marriage is all God’s grace.  John Piper quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book This Momentary Marriage saying,

“Welcome on another…for the glory of God.”  That is God’s word for your marriage.  Thank him for it; thank him for leading you thus far; ask him to establish your marriage, to confirm it, sanctify it, and preserve it.  So your marriage will be “for the praise of his glory.” Amen.

Indeed, I was made to glorify God.  Derek was made to glorify God.  Our marriage should be one that brings glory to God.

I don’t mean to bash this song.  It really is a pretty song and our friends who sang it in our wedding did an outstanding job.  I understand that it’s meant to be a love song and perhaps I am thinking too deeply about it.  I don’t doubt that the singers {who are Christian artists} would argue the fact that we were made to glorify God.  However I haven’t been able to escape these thoughts.  Maybe I simply needed to be reminded.  Reminded of the immense grace that God has given me.  Reminded of the very thing I drill my kids on, I was made to glorify God.  Reminded that my marriage isn’t about me, rather it should be all about His glory.

Progressive Date

Every heard of a progressive dinner?

A progressive dinner is a dinner party in which each course is prepared and eaten at a different residence or location.  I have heard of a few variations, including a fast-food progressive dinner.  I don’t recall ever participating in an official progressive dinner but for date night Saturday Derek and I had our own version.  We’re calling it a Progressive Date.  We began with dinner at Southern Culture Kitchen & Bar.  Thanks to a Living Social deal we were able to “splurge” a bit more than we normally would have.  This was our first time to try this restaurant and we were so glad we did!  Greenville friends, if you have not eaten here, do it!  You won’t be disappointed!  While I really wanted to try their banana pudding in a mason jar, we already had plans for our second stop for the evening.

My sister’s birthday was Sunday and we were in charge of picking up the cake.  Mom had ordered the cake from Brick Street Cafe.  This just happens to be one of my favorite Greenville restaurants {if not my most favorite!}.  And they just happen to have the best cake.  Dessert at Brick Street was a must.  I mean, we were going to be there anyways, it’d be silly not to sit down for a few minutes and eat cake, right?  My cake of choice is the coconut cake.  Derek’s choice is peanut butter pie.  We were both full very content from dinner so we decided sharing a slice would be wise.  {Plus, if you’ve ever had cake at Brick Street then you know 1 slice could feed a family!}  We had to compromise on our cake selection.  We chose German chocolate.  The two of us couldn’t even finish the 1 slice!

Brick Street Cafe is in downtown Greenville.  My favorite Greenville coffee shop, Coffee Underground, happens to be downtown too.  Convenient, huh?  Wanna guess where our third and final stop for the evening was?  It was most certainly Coffee Underground for a latte.  Granted, it doesn’t top Seattle, but it’s close enough.  Certainly satisfied my coffee appetite.

I was so grateful for our Progressive Date.  It’s been a long time since we’ve had a real date.  We really enjoyed each other.  We laughed, we didn’t talk about all the chaos and circumstances of our life right now, and we didn’t even talk about our kids!  We just had a good time together.  We made it back to my parents house, which is currently “home”, and ended our date with a couple episodes of Duck Dynasty.  Because, really, what says “date night” better than Duck Dynasty?!