How [A Dad] Really Loves a Daughter

This beautiful guest post is from my husband.

I’ll never forget the bright eyed smile staring down into the home made wooden pin at seven feisty golden retriever puppies. They were almost as cute as my cotton topped 9 month old peering over the edge with wonder.  And then it happened.  It was the last thing I expected to hear.  I had been coaching her for weeks…”Da Da.”  I was taken aback when she squeeled and uttered the words, “Pup Pup.”  I was so proud.  It was adorable.  I should have seen it coming.  Today it is clear.  I was raising a very independent, strong, beautiful girl.

Over the years I’ve dressed up as a princess, carted bundled baby dolls, unhooked slimy fish, played in the mud, and taken her on her first real date.  I was made to be her dad.  Unfortunately, no one gave me a manual on how to do this.

The last year has had it’s challenges, more for me than her.  She is becoming a young lady.  This tween of mine has new distinct interests, and freely shares her autonomous, informed opinions.  Part little girl and part emerging woman. And me, I struggle, holding a handful of fine grain sand and the delicate balance shift that plays out between authority and influence.

My advice, embrace this transition.  That’s just what she and I did a few weeks ago at a unique event held annually  The Father Daughter Summit.

What I loved most about this purposed day was the format of the summit.  A general session followed by a Dad’s only or daughter’s only session, capped off with one hour of Daddy-Daughter Dialoque. My favorite part was the amazing talks with my girl during the Daddy Daughter Dialogue.  I want to share some of the things that I learned with you.

Investing in your children has legacy and eternal implications

Time, love, and availability translates into stability for our daughters

Your daughter sets her expectations about how a man should treat her by observing how you treat her mother.

As a father it is my responsibility to shepherd and develop my daughter’s relationship with God

The five needs of daughters (from www.fathers.com)

Comfort

  1. Allow her to express her opinions
  2. Actively listen to her – Dad’s this means undivided attention
  3. Respond with empathy

Guidance

  1. Discerning
  2. Correcting
  3. Teaching

Encouragement

  1. Become comfortable affirming her verbally
  2. Get involved in HER (emphasis added) pursuits
  3. Demonstrate confidence in her abilities

Vision

  1. Cast a positive vision
  2. Speak destiny – tell her  the future has great things in store

Protection

  1. Be aware and guard – this includes people, media, internet, clothing etc.
  2. Prayer – we can’t always be there be we can pray for her protection

A very special moment for me in this conference was the first Daddy-Daughter dialogue time.  We were discussing which needs and fears were most important in my daughter’s life.  I leaned in close and tried to maintain my composure as I watched tears stream down my 11 year old’s face.  “All of my friends parents are getting divorced.  I am really fearful that this will happen to you and mom and we won’t be a family anymore.”  I held my little girl in my arms and cried with her.  I assured her that divorce was not an option for Kristen and myself.  I then took her face in my hands, looked deeply in her scared eyes and said, “Honey, your mother and I love each other and we love you.  We are not ever getting a divorce.  I want you to know one thing though,  we may disappoint you sometimes and we may let you down, but your heavenly Father will never disappoint you or let you down.  As much as we love you, he loves you more.”

I certainly don’t know everything about raising a daughter, but I learned that day how important it is to love her mother!

How to Really Have the Marriage You Want

[Alternately titled: I Married a Stud]

I crawled into bed, weary from the day, pulling covers to my nose. My hubby kissed me and locked us safely in our home-the last I remember until the sun and small warm bodies wake me the next morning.

But the night was just beginning for my man. At the last minute he decided to go for an early morning ride and while prepping his bike, he cut his index finger–deeply. He needed 5-6 stitches.

Instead he muffled his pain.  Tried to stop the bleeding and quickly washed his finger, careful not to leave a blood-trail or make a mess. Next, he super-glued the wound closed. (!!) He took ibuprofen, wrapped it tightly, and crawled in bed, over an hour later than planned, never waking me.

This is what it feels like to be married to a stud.

I was shocked the next morning, considering my own pain tolerance.

I would have called him from the ambulance.

But my hubby didn’t want me to worry about him. He wanted to protect me, even in his own pain, he put me first.

I think one of the great answers to building a great marriage is simply, but profoundly, found in treating your spouse like you want to be treated, putting their needs in front of your own.

The greatest commandments are to love God and love others. Sometimes loving people outside the house is easier than loving the one that forgets an item on your list, leaves his clothes piled up high, and sometimes acts like your fourth child.

Tonight my hubby took over cooking my pot of soup while I finished up a couple of things. He veered from the recipe and added a can of green peas to the soup. I don’t like peas and I let him know it.

I acted like a complete baby, stomping out of the kitchen.

When I realized I was acting ridiculous, I found him with a spoon meticulously picking out peas! I felt terrible.

I acted like a brat. He responded with love.

He still doodles our names

I’ve been married nearly 17 years and I’m still learning how to have the marriage I really want. Here are some tangible steps:

  1. You never arrive-marriage takes consistent, conscientious work! We never attain perfection or reach some plateau. Daily communication and a commitment to work hard are a must. Throw yourself into your marriage!
  2. Work on changing yourself- We spend a lot of time blaming our spouse for the rough patches. If we focus on changing our impatience, our expectations, our control issues, our marriages will improve and spouses will too.
  3. Serve-If you make a habit of putting his/her needs in front of your own, it will revolutionize your marriage.
  4. Invite God in- If your spouse will pray with you, then pray together daily. Be quick to forgive, slow to anger.

By the way, the soup was delicious. Peas and all.

How do you really have the marriage you want? What would you add?

P.S. As I publish this, my hubby is at the ER, getting stitches. After two hours of profuse bleeding (from another finger injury), I begged him to go. Honey: you’re still a stud.

P.S.S. An accident-prone stud.

How to Really Get Your Kids Talking

*Updated with Book Winners* Leslie, reader SandiW, and Cindy Roberts!

I never thought I’d write about getting my kids to talk.

Because they talk a lot. Or make noise. Is this the same?

Seriously though, they are v-e-r-b-a-l.

But as my daughter moves into her tween years with her brother at her heels, I’m realizing that while they are still talking, they aren’t telling me as much as they used to.

It’s part of growing up, internalizing, maturing, thinking through some of life’s rough spots.

But this is when I really want them to open up. I want them to know that sometimes I feel different in this world, alone. I want them to tell me when their heart aches and they feel afraid. I want to know the last time they cried.

I want to walk with them, not just beside them.

I’ve told y’all about our dinner routine. It has really opened the door to some amazing communication. Recently, we’ve add this little book (150 Quick Questions to Get Your Kids Talking by Mary DeMuth) to our routine. It has taken us down a road of deep thoughts, engaging conversations and just good family time.

(I’m just digging into some of Mary DeMuth’s parenting books and I’m learning a lot!)

So, how do you get your kids talking:

  • Ask them questions–and not just “how was school?” Dig deep. Don’t press for answers though. We offer a FREE PASS on all questions. But just because they don’t answer immediately, doesn’t mean they aren’t processing and may even open up later.
  • Answer the questions yourself–our kids need to hear about our own failures and struggles. They need to know that a VERY long time ago, you roller-skated out of the bathroom at a junior high party with toilet paper wrapped tightly around your skates, only to be mocked by party-goers. Not that it happened to me. *ahem*
  • Accept their answers-the other night a question came up and I was very surprised at my kid’s answers! I wanted to say “well, what you really mean is…” but I stopped myself and just listened. They were giving the answer they knew and I realized I needed to do a better job teaching them in that area.

How do you really get your kids talking? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win one of three copies of Mary’s book, 150 Quick Questions to Get Your Kids Talking.

How to Really Make a Home

I used to think making a home required loads of money and an eye for style.

I was wrong.

(Good thing because my money tree is withered and I’m nearsighted).

It has so little to do with square footage and updated flooring and *stuff*.

Making a home has a lot to do with perspective and inspiration.

I’ve had a millionaire in my home with more money than I can imagine. I watched their eyes take in my small space and simple taste. I wanted to offer excuses.

I’ve had religious refugees in my home with less earthly possessions than I can imagine. I watched their eyes take in my wealth and excess. I wanted to offer excuses.

Perspective: My house is big to some, small to others, but it is more than enough. It may get smaller next year or it may get bigger in five years. Size doesn’t matter, decor isn’t important. It’s putting myself in the shoes of the people who walk through the door and realizing that there is no comparison. What I have is a gift.

I don’t have designer brands or well-known pieces, but I have inspiration on my table:

I have soul-stirring words at every glance:

I have reminders of perspective in my kitchen:

And words to live by on my walls:

Pieces of the globe perched in view, celebrated like memorials, so I will never forget:

Simple invitations to stop and give thanks for life’s simple gifts, bird and nest:

Inspiration: Making a home is really simple. It’s providing a safe, warm place for the inhabitants to grow closer to each other and God. A place that encourages them to love one another and Him….

How do you really make a home?

Where I got my inspiration:

*I’m not getting paid to link some of my favorite things, but there are a couple of affiliate links thrown in.

Can We Really Raise Counter-Cultural Children?

My heart beat fast, I could feel the hot, red crawl of indignation course its way up my neck as I listened to another Christian mom say:

“I know kids. Sooner or later all kids will cave to the pressure around them. How can they not? They are exposed to sin and the world all day long and they are only human. And then she looked at me and said, “Your kids are like everyone else’s. When you’re not around, they act like every other child.”

My kids walked up to the conversation as I turned to leave, but before I did, I said, “I  disagree with you, I’m not raising perfect kids, but I am raising them counter-cultural.”

[Go against the flow]

[Be different, be yourself]

[Know who you are in Him]

[Don’t be ashamed]

[It’s okay to be alone]

I know my kids are going to mess up. I’m not so naive to think that we’ve figured out perfection or even aim for it. But I believe in setting God’s standard before them, so that when they do face pressure and even fail, they know where they stand and they know how to get back on track.

So, I’m turning the table this week….

Can we really raise kids who are counter-cultural? or am I kidding myself?

Kids who not only say no, but stand and say yes.

I’m in.

How to Really Pray for Your Kids

[Note: We are learning how to really live together. This isn’t an instruction guide. The posts in this series are my open journal. Please include your thoughts in the comments. Let’s find out together how to really live!]

“Mom, close the door.” It was the way he said it. Lip quivering, wringing hands. I knew he needed to talk and as I walked to his bed, holding my breath, mind racing, I knew this would be one of those moments I wouldn’t forget.

As soon as I sat down, he threw his arms around my neck, nearly climbing into my lap and a volcano of emotions erupted. We both held on tight.

It’s not a story that needs to be told here. It’s his. But it involved pressure from the world and one little boy standing up against it.

Oh, my heart.

Immediately, I thought of  I Corinthians 10:13, one of the verses we had just memorized as a family with crazy hand movements to help us remember, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

In learning it, we pretended that “temptation” was a heavy rock trying to crush us, but God, being faithful, helped us escape from the heavy blow.

And so sitting in my 8 year old’s son bed, I felt the weight of the rock. But The Rock was there, holding the pressure at bay. In the scope of his life, this was such a small thing. But it’s in winning the small battles, we prepare for the big war, the one that vies for our very life.

He talked, I listened. I talked, he listened. God was near.

I walked down the steps with an urgency to pray for my children. Not just with them at table and bed, but for them, over them. I try to practice this, but there’s nothing like watching your child overcome that sends you back to your knees.

How to really pray for your kids:

  • Pray over them-at night while they are asleep, in the car before you drop them off, in tense moments
  • Pray with them-ask them to pray, even when you know they will say no, keep asking
  • Pray for them-God loves them more than we do, there are no secrets. I pray for their weaknesses and for mine.
  • Pray in front of them-let them see you pray, on your knees.
  • Pray without ceasing——pray God’s best for them, not yours.
  • Pray to receive God’s best-because odds are there will be valleys that are hard for mommas to cross

How do you really pray for your kids?

an extensive plan with scripture to pray for your kids for a year


How to Really Love Your Kids

I love my kids.

You love your kids.

It’s part of the whole parenting gig.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that what they need in order to feel loved, isn’t always what I give them.

On any given night, my son will press into my busyness, and ask a question that makes me stop in my tracks. “Want to snuggle?” It makes me stop because I always think, what if this is the last time he asks?

I could have spent the entire day doing things for him, but this is how he receives my love: time spent with him and affection.

I run my daughter to school early for Honor Choir, pay a hefty fee to rent her flute every month, buy her what she needs and sometimes what she wants, and I feel like all these things scream I LOVE YOU.

But she needs me to listen. She tells me of her locker jamming, the new science project, the girl who tries to steal answers from her in class.

It’s in these moments, my kids need me to engage to feel my depth of love for them.

  • Discover how your children receive love best? It’s different for each and it unlocks the key to parenting, to really loving them well
  • Engage-even in the most hectic days, I try to engage with my kids before the day is over. Make eye contact, hold their hand, touch them with assurance and listen
  • Let some things go-their hair, clothes, rooms will never look like we want them to. Reserve the fight for the real battles.

This hangs in my kitchen, near the dinner table:

It’s a constant reminder to live in the moment: to say yes, to laugh more, to stop yelling and love them the most when they are unlovable.

How do you really love your kids?

How to Really Fight For Your Marriage

Many of you know our story.

It was painful to live, painful to tell. But with great pain, there is an opportunity for great healing.

And with healing there is testimony.

Through the process of nearly losing my marriage, I learned to fight for it.

With my marriage dangling by a thread, both of us broken and afraid, I remember declaring that I would not give up easily. I threw out all my preconceived ideas about marriage counseling,  not having enough money in savings to afford “help” and I went to battle, not against my husband, but with him.

The very fall of man, put husbands and wives at odds with each other. Marriage is not easy. At it’s best, it’s difficult.

But don’t be fooled:  Satan wants your marriage to fail. He is a vicious opponent without mercy. If you won’t fight for your marriage, he will.
I believe every marriage is worth fighting for and while some have Biblical reasons for divorce, I still believe God can rescue every marriage-IF- there are two willing people and sadly, that’s often not the case.

But if you are married-whatever condition your marriage may be in today-you need to fight for it.

How to really fight: [there are so many ways you can do this, here’s what has helped me]:

  • Ask hard questions-Is there intimacy in our marriage? Are there secrets?
  • Prepare yourself for unexpected answers-don’t rule out counseling. It’s not just for broken marriages, it can truly make your marriage better.
  • Trust -Believe in your spouse. Choose to trust.
  • Pray-simply said, hardly done. Pray for your marriage and your mate.
  • Eliminate distractions-turn off cable if it’s unhealthy, throw out edgy movies, only accept purity in your marriage.
  • Don’t condemn-this only causes strife.
  • Submit your marriage and your life to God. We have found the closer we are to God, the closer we are to each other.
  • Forgive-some things seem unforgivable. But in the end, we must forgive. (This doesn’t mean we have to continue to live in abusive, dangerous or unfaithful marriages)
  • Let your husband lead your home, submit to him on the big stuff. If you doubt him, pray that God will speak to him.

If you have an unbelieving husband, practice I Cor. 7.

Our marriage is not perfect and at this rate, it never will be, but it’s real and it’s good and it will last.

How do you really fight for your marriage?