Strong-Hearted Women and the Men Who Love Them

Strong Hearted Women and the Men Who Love Them

I’m not sure what started it.

But I suspect it had something to do with this one book I’d read a few years back. I’m not saying the author intended to communicate this message, but it’s certainly what I concluded.

If I wanted to be a a good wife – a biblical wife? Then I needed to tone it down a bit.

Okay, a lot.

I needed to swallow it, hold it back, and keep it down. I was far too intense for my own good. Or at least for my husband’s good.

So I started this new, radical campaign. I didn’t even tell my husband what I was up to, but decided that from then on, I was going to mellow out. Keep it quiet.

Now for those of you who know me, you probably find that rather funny. You can’t even hardly picture it.

But I really did try.

And I kept it going fairly well . . . until one day when we were discussing a certain subject while standing by the piano—a subject that I felt, ahem, passionate about. And suddenly, I couldn’t take it any longer.

I nearly shouted, “I JUST CAN’T DO THIS.”

Do what??” his eyebrows raised.

“I can’t simply keep my mouth shut and not express all that I’m thinking or feeling!” I was practically shaking with frustration.

Then – being the sensitive soul that he is – he burst out laughing.

I resisted the temptation of throwing the old red hymnal at him. But only barely.

I’m glad I did though, because I might have missed what he said next . . . .

“But, Baby, I don’t want you to ‘zip it’. I married you because I appreciate your strong mind and passionate heart. Don’t you see? I love that about you.”

Oh. You do?

And at last I was able to reconcile being a strong-hearted woman and being a biblical wife.

Now some of you might not see the struggle here. What? What’s the issue?

Well, the “issue” is that Scripture talks about the “beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (I Pet. 3:4) and I truly wanted to fit that description. But I wasn’t so sure that I did.

So maybe you’re a strong-hearted woman too. You don’t give up, you’re willing to stand up for what you believe is right, and you’re passionate about your family and the world you live in.

Boy! do I get that.

And guess what? It’s okay.

So all my strong-hearted friends, be encouraged.  Here are some  beautiful truths for you:

A Strong-Hearted Woman can keep a quiet heart. She’s not agitated in her spirit, yet remains strong in her convictions. A lovely example of this is Elisabeth Elliot – one of the strongest women of my acquaintance and also the author of Keep a Quiet Heart.

A Strong-Hearted Woman draws her strength from Christ – not from herself. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).  Always remember the true Source of your strength.

A Strong-Hearted Woman readily respects her husband. She uses her strength to support her husband. Not to go up against him (Eph. 5:33).  (More here: The Highly-Rated Habit of Respecting Him)

A Strong-Hearted Woman cultivates a sweet spirit. Sweetness and strength are not opposites. These two qualities actually can - and should - go hand-in-hand.

A Strong-Hearted Woman walks in humility. She knows that just because she might feel more strongly about something doesn’t necessarily make her right (and you know what I”m talking about!).  Don’t let your intensity triumph over all.

God gave you that wonderful, passionate heart and, as long as you’re submitted to Him, then you’re right where He wants you to be. Not only that, you’re right where your husband  wants you to be.

Yes, your man loves that about you.

In His grace,
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25 Tips I Want to Share With Younger Wives

25 Tips I Want to Share With Younger Wives

She asked if we could meet for coffee. Clearly, something was on her mind.

She’s a wonderful young lady and full of the hopes and dreams that come with youth. She wants a beautiful marriage. Yet she’d also been around long enough to know that a strong, loving marriage isn’t a guarantee.

So we sat down in a quiet cafe and she asked me outright. What does it take to build a lovely marriage? What advice could I give? What would keep the two of them loving each other in the years to come?

And I thought about the things I wish I would have known from the beginning – those things that really matter at the end of the day. Some are big and some are small, but they all add up over the years to a strong, loving marriage.

Here’s what I want to share with her and any others  looking for that kind of love . . . .

25 Tips I Want to Share with Younger Wives

1.    Hold hands whenever you can. We do and always have. We’ll clasp hands when sitting next to each other on the couch, while we’re driving along in the car, and when we’re out walking. A simple connecting that goes a long way.

2.    Pray for him every day. Faithfully. What better gift than to offer up a prayer for him? Ask God to bless him, protect him, and work in his life.

3.    Look for the many ways to love on him. Small gifts and thoughtful gestures. Those little things that say, I love you and I’m thinking of you.

4.    Make friends with people who’ll encourage your marriage. Surround yourself with those who will support and pray for you both as you grow together.

5.    And avoid those who pull against you. If they were “friends”, I’d ditch them altogether. (Real friends are going to cheer you both on). It’s harder with extended family members, but I’d dodge those as much as possible too.

6.    Go to the Word of God for the best marriage counseling. You can get good advice from others, but there’s no replacing the loving, powerful Truth to be found in Scripture.

7.    Cultivate your friendship. Marriage isn’t merely a business deal.

8.    Never give up on each other. People go through difficult seasons and we get to persevere through them. Don’t let go.

9.    Confess your sins to one another. Doesn’t help to smooth it over; instead repent and ask forgiveness. (Jas. 5:16)

10.   And then forgive freely. (Col. 3:13)

11.    Be patient with him. Love is long-suffering, remember? (I Cor. 13:4)

12.   Show him respect. It’s in the Bible. And it’s what he needs (Col. 3:18).

13.   Leave off with the complaining. It only drags the both of you down (Phil. 2:14).

14.   Focus on those things which are true, pure, and lovely. (Phil. 4:8)

15.   Speak kindly to him. Gracious words are sweet to the soul (Prov. 16:24).

16.   Let the little irritations go. Is it really worth bothering about? Probably not.

17.   Keep the home fires burning. Intimacy is still important. Yes, even long after the honeymoon.

18.   Stand by your man. You’ll probably find loyalty toward the top of his list.

19.   Make loving him your priority. Over your job, your friends, your extended family. Even over your children.

20.   Give him – and yourself – room to grow. I know that we’re not done growing yet and I’m guessing you two aren’t either.

21.   Express appreciation for the man that he is. Be an encouraging voice in that otherwise thankless world he lives in.

22.   Protect your marriage. Value your relationship for the treasure that it really is.

23.   Never leave off with kissing. No matter how old you grow. My husband’s 80-year-old parents still kiss each other goodbye – on the lips!

24.   Decide you’re going to stick together. With God’s help, you’re going to stay together throughout the years. (Mark 10:9)

25.   Put on love. Above all things. (Col. 3:14)

May you be blessed with a truly beautiful marriage!

In His grace,
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My Husband is My Real Hero (and I hope he knows it)

My Husband is My Real Hero

The Lone Ranger lives on.

No, really he does.

I know this because most every weekday our little boys run next door and watch him save the Western Frontier over at Grandpa’s house. It’s 3:00 in the afternoon and the whole house shakes as they come pounding down the stairs and go flying out the front door.

Slam! Slam! Slam!

Three boys. Three slams. Without fail.

And even though this event takes place nearly each day, it’s still a special occasion. The Lone Ranger. Grandpa. And Fruit Snacks. Our boys’ world filled with goodness and heroes. Just the way it should be.

But boys aren’t the only ones with heroes.

Girls can have them too.

It’s a fact. Because this girl is married to one.

Oh, I’m not saying that he can leap buildings in a single bound or save the big city from an alien invasion.

He’s more of an everyday hero. An ordinary, hard-working, honest sort of guy. Taking care of his wife and looking after his children. Standing up for what’s right and watching out for those who are in need. Following God.

If you ask me, those are the best kind of heroes.

And probably the kind  of guy you married too. Simply doing what must be done. No one would ever guess that he’s actually a superhero in disguise.

Even he might not guess it – but it’s evident to you. So it might be about time to reveal his secret identity. He’s your hero.

You might as well let him know….

You need him.
Like I need mine. Not too long ago I was looking for a rescue. It’s not that I couldn’t handle the situation on my own; it’s that I didn’t want to. Some bad guy went on the internet and started flinging insults. Against me. Personally.

So I brought my laptop over to my husband and showed him what he’d written. In his opinion, the whole thing was rather ridiculous (not me, the guy’s accusations), but he went out there and defended my honor. I loved what he said and how he said it. But mostly I loved the way he protected me from this big Internet bully.

My hero. Girly sigh.

You lean on him.
And why not? It might sound out-of-step with today’s independent woman, but – as capable as we are – I’m thankful to have a man I can rely on. He’s the first one I’ll call if there’s an emergency or disaster. He’s slain mice in the pantry. Mopped up overflowing toilets. Calmed down an out-of-control neighbor. And he’s held me in his arms while I sobbed my heart out over a deep and devastating loss.

A true hero. Quietly loving me.

And you’d be lost without him.
Maybe this feels a bit over the top? It’s not. My oldest daughter would likely have died if it wasn’t for him. When she suddenly stopped breathing miles and miles away from any medical help, his quick thinking and fast action kept her going until LifeFlight could arrive. I could see it in the headlines:

DAD KEEPS DAUGHTER BREATHING. While Mom Watches and Weeps.

He never made it into the papers that day. But he should have.

A great hero. On the front page of my heart.

So in this day when the world is desperate for goodness and heroes, make sure your husband knows he’s just the kind of guy for the job. Doing what he’s doing. Honest. Hard-working. Looking after his wife and family. Standing up and watching out. Following God.

An everyday hero.

The kind you and I need. And certainly the kind this world could use right now.

He’s a real hero.

In His grace,
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Those Funny Ways You Can Seriously Help Your Marriage

Those Funny Ways You Can Seriously Help Your MarriageHe says he doesn’t understand why we need to have 100 pillows on our bed.

But, just for the record, there really aren’t 100 – only 10.

I know because I counted them.

I also know this because I often find them flying at me while I’m trying to crawl into bed at night. Seriously. The guy will lie in wait until I’m finally ready to turn in….

Then that’s when the pillows come soaring through the air.

It’s like one of those games at the fair. I dodge the blitz the best I can, but the fact is he’s got a pretty good arm.

An awfully good arm, actually.

And no matter what the day has been like, I can’t seem to help myself and I’ll start shrieking.  Our kids say they can hear me from across the house. That they can always tell when there’s a party going on. And that they’ll forever have memories of mama laughing while everyone else is heading for bed.

I’ve tried to convince them to feel sorry for me and imagine what it’s like to be dodging pillows while you’re desperately searching for those cozy covers at the end of a long, hard day. But they inevitably take his side and find it all rather amusing too.

But you - you feel sorry for me don’t you?

Good! Because now I’ll tell you some of the ways I get my revenge. I’ll crawl in next to him and put my icy little feet up against his warm back (hah!). Or the next morning I’ll sneak in while he’s taking a hot shower and suddenly turn the water to cold (how did he know it was me??). Or drop down a Screaming Monkey from the balcony when he’s reading in his favorite armchair.

Oh yes, I have my ways.

screaming monkey

So what does all this have to do with marriage?

Nothing.

And everything.

Would you believe those pillows have helped us to have a better marriage? I really think they have.

You see, my husband I both lead very busy lives. And we feel the pressures bearing down on us. Work, home, family, finances, ministry and more. And we can get waaaay too bogged down in it all. We can even forget that we like each other. That there’s supposed to be a little fun in all this.

So he starts a pillow-fight. And then I laugh at his goofy jokes (although I’m known to laugh at my own too). Because let’s face it….

Every good marriage could use a good laugh now and then.

So now, in all seriousness, let me encourage you to have some fun together….

Take a break occasionally. Forget your troubles, at least momentarily, and enjoy one another. Don’t wait until all your problems are solved because that might not come for a long time.

Purpose to lighten up. Sometimes he and I go out somewhere and we forbid certain topics to come up. We pledge to put those aside those heavies and simply have a good time together.

Remember to laugh. I guess I could have taken offense the first time that pillow came hurling through the air. Instead of giggling like a girl. But I’m glad I did. It’s more fun this way.

Consider the savings. Honestly? Laughter is way cheaper than therapy. I figure those pillow-fights have saved us hours of counseling. (Not sure about the Screaming Monkey though – that one might have added an hour or two).

I don’t know how many pillows you happen to have decorating your bed right now, but it might be time to invest in a few more. Might need 10 or 100. Then see about getting a really good pillow-fight going.

Hope you enjoy some fun!

In His grace,

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{Photo credit: The picture above is of my charming nephew and his lovely wife taken by Brenda Jacobson Photography}