Quiet Faithfulness and Its Reward

He gets up at 4:30 a.m. most mornings, gets dressed in the dark, returns from pushing his body to its limits with Crossfit in his fight against diabetes. I start my day nearly 2 hours later, often to the bath water he runs for me or the sound of him making school lunches.

I am married to a good man.

We met in Bible College more than 20 years ago. I married a Pastor, we served The Church together the first nine years of our marriage.

When we left full time ministry nearly a decade ago, we were desperate for a break and a breakthrough. We ended up discovering a whole lot of brokenness. While we loved working together (offices next door and some killer youth illustrated sermons and vacation bible schools), our glass house needed some attention.

So we quit the only thing we knew how to do.

And spent the next five years finding Jesus in the broken places.

faithful

What started out temporary ended up being transforming and more permanent than we could have imagined.

Those first 5 months out of ministry were like a breath of fresh air. They were also terrifying. We were jobless and homeless (staying in a family member’s rent house). On the sixth month, my husband got a job offer.

He took it and has had the same job for 9 years and 4 months. That’s sort of a long break. And I’m pretty sure we can’t call it a break any longer.

So, this pastor-turned-sales-rep reinvented himself. He is smart and hard-working. And his daily faithfulness to the mundane takes my breath away.

My husband’s dedication to his secular job is the only reason we were able to start Mercy House three years ago. His hard work and consistency provides for our family, and has offered me the freedom to serve without being paid.

I’m still married to a pastor. He shepherds our family. He prays with co-workers and shines Jesus in his work. He is a light in our dark world. He spends evenings and many weekends quietly serving in the work of Mercy House.

It has been a hard road. One with turns and obstacles we didn’t expect.

“Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback. And the point of biblical stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.” -John Piper

But Jesus has been with us down every path. And as we dream of the future and ask God for direction, His invisible hand guides us. For His glory.

Hindsight is enlightening. God rewards faithfulness. Here’s what I’m learning:

  • God uses our brokenness for His purpose
  • What He puts back together, heals stronger.
  • Loving people is a full time ministry (title, position, pay, not necessary)
  • God plots our course for His glory.
  • There are setbacks and tragedies in our journey.
  • But there are also rewards (and sometimes they look like Hawaii!)

[P.S. We just found out that after nearly 10 years on the job, my husband earned a once-in-a-lifetime trip for two to Hawaii in August for being one of the top 10 sales reps in his company.. We are going to Hawaii!]


What Your Husband Really Wants Today

I never had a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day as a teenager. Or most other days for that matter.

When I saw my friends and frenemies with flowers and balloons, I acted like I didn’t care. But every girl cares a little. And then in the 11th grade, a boy I liked gave me a handmade card. It was a doomed relationship of 6 days, but I might still have that carefully crafted red and pink construction paper card in my attic.

My 13 year old who is just noticing these things asked me the other day, “Momma, did you have a lot of boyfriends before Daddy?”

I smile and I tell her of a crush or two, and of the unrequited love that makes up my romantic history. Until her Daddy. He was the first one who loved me for me.

Back then, I wanted what I didn’t have…attention, affection, admiration from a boy. Now as a momma of daughters, I’m so happy to tell them I waited for real love.

She smiles a goofy grin, the dreamy-kind, “I like that story. I like that you waited for Daddy and he was your first real love.”

I like it too, honey.

Because he was worth every lonely Valentine’s Day.

There’s a lot of unspoken pressure to give and receive today, even as an adult.

I’m not going to turn away flowers or flush chocolate down the sink, but it’s not really about all that.

We all know what our husbands want today, right? I bet many of us would say it starts with S and ends with X.

Close. (It’s actually an easy gift to give and it’s free (hola!) )

But really our men want more than sex. Our husbands are deeper than that. It’s really opportunity they are seeking, it’s the chance to please their wives.

“Women, this might surprise you, but even more than your husband wants to have sex with you for his own sexual relief, the truth is, he wants to please you even more than he wants to be pleasured. It might seem like it’s all about him, but what he really wants, emotionally, is to see how much you enjoy the pleasure he can give you. If he fails to do that, for any reason, he’ll end up feeling inadequate, lonely, and unloved.” -Dr. Kevin Lehman, Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage

Knowing that under the layers of desire, there’s the simple fact that he wants the chance to please me is just about the best gift we can give each other.

“And believe it or not, getting enough sex isn’t the point. Nearly all the men surveyed – 97 per cent – said that even if their wives agreed to have sex every time husbands wanted, sex would still be empty if their wives didn’t seem to desire them.

When we say no to sex, we’re usually saying we don’t want sex at that moment. But he hears the much more painful message that we don’t want him. One man said, “When she says no, I feel rejected. ‘No’ is not no to sex; it’s no to me as I am.” By contrast, making the first move once in a while sends a powerful and affirming message to your man.” -Shaunti Feldhahn, For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men

Alrighty, girls. I’ve said enough.

Y’all have a sweet day.


100 Ways to Make Your Marriage Mediocre

This time last year, I wrote this post. I had no idea it would be so popular (pinned more than 180,000 times) or so controversial (comments, whoa). Bottom line: there are a lot of people who want to make their marriage rock. I started thinking about all the things we do (out of habit, ignorance or selfishness) that make our marriages mediocre. Sometimes we just need to see them in black and white.

  1. Stop pursuing each other
  2. Discourage your spouse’s dreams
  3. Don’t worry about romance
  4. Doubt your husband’s word
  5. Remind your wife of the past on a regular basis
  6. Fight unfair
  7. Don’t pray together
  8. Skip church
  9. Play the blame game
  10. Pout often
  11. Let a film of dust cover your Bible
  12. Don’t show affection in front of your kids
  13. Keep secrets
  14. Believe that your spouse would never be tempted to look at pornography
  15. Compare your husband to your friend’s perfect husband
  16. Have sex out of duty
  17. Stay up and watch TV while your wife goes to bed
  18. Never make time for a date night
  19. Overspend
  20. Use the silent treatment often
  21. Disrespect your husband
  22. Criticize your mate on a regular basis
  23. Flirt with old friends on Facebook
  24. Talk badly about your spouse behind their back
  25. Make a mess and never clean it up
  26. Focus only on your hobbies
  27. Be a name caller
  28. Complain about how often he wants to have sex
  29. Complain about how often she never wants to have it
  30. Fall out of love
  31. Don’t ever bring her flowers
  32. Never attend counseling
  33. Or read a marriage book
  34. Look at your smart phone while she is talking to you
  35. Only touch when absolutely necessary
  36. Pick him apart and make every little thing a big deal
  37. Hide your feelings
  38. And then resent your spouse for not knowing them
  39. Use sarcasm constantly
  40. Start an emotional affair
  41. Say “It’s not my fault” often
  42. Over commit your kids and fall into bed exhausted every night
  43. Take a long second (and third) look at your attractive co-worker
  44. Make your life all about you
  45. Nag
  46. Lie about how much you really spent on your shopping trip to the mall
  47. Hold onto unforgiveness
  48. Don’t apologize
  49. Try to change your mate, but never yourself
  50. Be defensive
  51. Make her feel like she’s not a good mother
  52. Withdraw
  53. Be immature
  54. Ignore what God is asking you to do
  55. Doubt your husband’s role as a father
  56. Yell
  57. Live with unrealistic expectations
  58. Get into debt
  59. Be a tease
  60. Don’t do what you say you will do
  61. Read 50 Shades of Gray
  62. Let your spouse carry most of the workload
  63. Use the words “always” and “never” when you’re disagreeing
  64. Don’t call when you’re going to be late
  65. Overreact
  66. Choose anger
  67. Don’t do fun things together
  68. Don’t give your spouse attention
  69. Put your kids before your marriage
  70. Give your children permission when your spouse doesn’t
  71. Resent her
  72. Ignore him
  73. Tell the inlaws all the details of your arguments
  74. Don’t communicate as lovers
  75. Fantasize about other people
  76. Put your job before your family
  77. Don’t work on your friendship with your spouse
  78. Act like you really don’t like your mate
  79. When he compliments you, don’t receive it
  80. Do what you’ve always done
  81. When your spouse asks you to help out or serve them, say no.
  82. Don’t try to make her happy
  83. Don’t try anything new together
  84. Undermine your spouse
  85. Try to fix all her problems
  86. Talk all the time and never let him say a word
  87. Make listening optional
  88. Don’t kiss
  89. Threaten divorce
  90. Collect unresolved issues
  91. Don’t make family dinners a priority
  92. Let the TV stay on constantly
  93. Keep God out of your day-to-day living
  94. Don’t be vulnerable
  95. Or share intimacy
  96. Forget why you fell in love
  97. Be ungrateful
  98. Stop loving and believing in yourself
  99. Believe that your marriage will never be better than it is right now
  100. Give up

What would you add in the comments?


We Go Together {Giveaway}

UPDATE: Melissa E., comment #28, is the winner of this giveaway.

I’ve been working on a project for months in the cracks of my time.

My husband has listened patiently and pushed me gently.

And then last week, some pieces fell together and while I was helping my Kindergartner with sight words after school, I moved one step closer to my goal and that made me squeal. Literally.

She just looked at me like I was crazy.

She’s a perceptive child.

But I knew I wouldn’t be able to truly rejoice until I talked with my best friend. I called my husband at work. His response made my joy complete because he has been with me on the journey.

My husband lost his sister and one of his closest friends a month ago this week. His sorrow is great and there is a cloud of sadness that hangs heavy. It’s unchartered waters, this grief that invades every space at the most unexpected moments. It comes in waves and just when you think you can laugh again, you cry. But he isn’t grieving alone.

We don’t always agree.

We don’t always get along.

But we are one.

We go together. His grief is mine. My joy is his. It’s the sacred gift of marriage, this unexplainable, undeniable act of becoming One. It’s the most precious gift we share.

It’s what helps us thru the valleys and the mountaintops, the sheer pleasure of facing them together.

And that’s why I love Union 28‘s new Valentine’s marriage shirts.

Today, I’m giving away a set of these new ONENESS his and hers shirts. Plus, get 10% off with this code U28LoveMH10  (reader gets 10% off AND Mercy House gets 10% of sale) Code is valid thru 2/16/13

Simply enter code at checkout to get 10% off & give 10% to Mercy House!

Leave a comment and tell me your favorite shirt.

Giveaway ends on Tuesday.


Secrets to a Successful Marriage {FREE PRINTABLE}

I lay in the curve of his arm and breathe deep. He smoothes my hair away from my face and replaces it with a soft kiss.

And after so many years together, we rarely hold back what’s in our heart. “I feel like I’m falling in love with you,” I whisper.

Again?” he smiles with raised eyebrows and pulls me closer.

Five Things that Have Made Our Marriage Successful:

We are good forgivers: Let’s be honest, if you’ve been married for a week or 230 of them, you’ve been given the opportunity to forgive your spouse. Forgiveness releases the other person from their offense, but more importantly, it frees you to choose love. And there’s been a lot to forgive in our 942 weeks together, but we are getting good at it.

We fight fair (except when we don’t): Marriage is the perfect breeding ground for arguments. Couples who aren’t occasionally disagreeing, probably aren’t communicating well. It’s not if we fight, it’s when. Further damage occurs in the how. We can literally destroy each other with words. But when we let kindness be our guide, our disagreements actually move us further along in our marriage.

We write each other letters: He gave me this box years ago. He puts letters in it. I write him notes and blog posts and our words find their mark. There’s just something powerful that happens when you write your heart on a page and give it to your mate. “To write a good love letter, you ought to begin without knowing what you mean to say, and to finish without knowing what you have written.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau

We work on our friendship: We play hard, we laugh hard, we spend time together (on purpose), we have so many inside jokes it’s not even funny…only really it is. He’s my best friend…the one person in this life I want to be with. We are deeply bound by friendships that comes with communication, communion and care.

We choose to fall in love again (and again): You’ve heard it before–love isn’t a feeling, it’s a choice. It’s true. We have had irreconcilable differences and breaches of trust and oh, some really hard days, but we’ve decided on love even when we didn’t feel it or couldn’t find it.

It’s really not a secret at all. It’s deciding to fall in love again and again, with the same person.

Enjoy this free 8×10 printable:

Download here for free.