The One Question that Defines your Marriage and Tells your Future

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A single, simple but profound question passed my mind the other day:

“What’s the purpose of marriage?”

I asked this question while reflecting on the the deep heartache, brokenness, and loneliness that appears rampant (and silent) in marriages. The type of relationship where it’s not that you hate each other, but you don’t feel fire either, the joyful pictures on social media masking the pain and suffering inside a house of roommates. It’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking that we’ve come so far from the altar where we committed our lives to each other. What’s the meaning of this? Where do we go from here?

The marriage night behind us, the ring on the finger, we’ve slowly shifted our affections from the pursuit of our beloved to our own desires. We’ve started to sleep with our list of failures and hurts instead of in the arms of our love. We’ve set our eyes on our own goals, dreams, ambitions, expectations, and placed them on the shelf to stare at. We’ve fatefully held our spouse, this person fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image, to an impossibly high standard of perfection and waited for the moment they fail.

adult-alone-anxious-568027We’ve forgotten our own sin, our own unfaithfulness, our own wandering, and how in our sin and hardened heart, the Lord still chose us. We forgot that we are two imperfect beings, made perfect by the blood of our Lord. We are two beings prone toward ambition, pride, control, jealously, greed, creating our life in “our image” and yet we’ve been unified in the covenant of marriage, two that became one, set apart to love one another, serve one another, and be a reflection of the gospel, a reflection of Christ and his Bride.

Over time, we’ve turned our marriage covenant into a marriage contract.

IF I am happy, then we will remain married. IF you make me happy, you are deserving of my heart.

Is that your definition and purpose for marriage? Happiness?

And what IS happiness? What have you filled this blank with “If only I get ________ then I will be happy. If only he does ________ then I would be happy.” Happiness is fleeting. Your definition of happiness changes with the season. Health comes and goes. Mental wellness comes and goes. Beauty comes and goes. Jobs come and go. Fertility comes and goes. Children come into your home and leave. Prosperity blesses us and fades. He gives and takes away . . .

When we build our marriage on these fleeting moments and things, and define our love by these grounds, we are bound to fail.

We set our spouse up for failure, and we set our minds on an idol, some picturesque Disney perfection that was never meant to be. In these hard, defining moments “happiness” is not what carries us into patience and mercy, forgiveness and grace, bearing each other’s burdens. Happiness is not the force that drives us to love harder, to serve when we aren’t being served, to listen when we aren’t being listened to, to pursue when the other no longer has the energy to return this affection.

While happiness IS a worthy goal, it is not THE purpose. When I further reflected on the question, further reflected on who I am in Christ, and His pursuit of His Bride, this is what came to mind:

10171289_2239024742052_1638737377_nThis spouse of mine, is my brother-in-Christ. First and foremost my purpose in this marriage is to lead him toward Christ, not to create myself as his savior, as his happiness, or as his answer. I am not. I cannot provide that. And neither should I look to him as the provider of such things. My JOY and my PURPOSE is to see Tucker as the Lord views him, to serve him faithfully, to confess my sins, to be sanctified little-by-little, to walk this path with him, to bear his burdens, to not hold his failures above his head, to show him mercy and forgiveness, to see his brokenness and instead of saying “HA! SEE! I knew you couldn’t provide that for me . . . ” is to instead point him toward his identity and worth – defined by Christ alone. To point him toward a joy that’s so much deeper than what this world brings. To show him peace so much more profound and lasting than what he can find in a picturesque marriage. To pray for him. To love him. To speak Truth and Light into his life. To bring him to the Living Water, and draw his pail. 

Tucker, I love you. Oh, how I love you. Thank you for constantly pointing me to the One who Saves. Thank you for instead of building my marriage on YOU, you’ve pointed me to Him. We’re aren’t perfect, but His Love is. We got this. Let’s do this. ❤

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A little of your time, mommy

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Tali broke my heart last night. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

One of the most difficult jobs a mommy has is balance: balancing career, mommyhood, cleaning, cooking, time with your husband, self care, quiet time, and everything else.

Different days have different sacrifices; sometimes our family is put on hold for work crises. And other times work is put aside for quality time with the people that matter most. Other times, we assume what our child wants most only to be reminded that the simplicity of their wish comes down to desiring our love, attention, and affirmation.

Yesterday morning, I left the house while Tali was still asleep and went to work, the usual. Work was busy, satisfying, and fulfilling. After work, I met Tali (daughter), Tucker (my husband), and Parker (son) at community group, an event we have every Tuesday night with our closest friends. We share a meal, the adults talk pleasantries, and the kids play; they play HARD. These kids have known each other their whole life.

After we got home, after what I would consider a long, satisfying day, I told Tali we need to get ready for bed. (It was about 9:00 PM).

Tali then suddenly cried, “Mommy, why haven’t you played with me today?” I opened my mouth to explain how we’d talked in the car on the way home and how she played with her friends tonight and had fun and how it’s late, but the words just felt empty to her emotional plea. “Mommy, I want to play with YOU, don’t you want to play with me?”

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Even after playing with her friends, spending time with daddy and Parker all day, what she really needed to feel satisfied was a little bit of my time, a little memory and token of my affection to carry her off to sleep that night.

In that moment, I didn’t know what to do. We’d been up really late the night before. I was exhausted and still needed to get her baby brother down for bed. If I gave her “10 more minutes” to play then it would turn into “ . . . but last night you played with me!”

Instead I hugged her, told her “Mommy is so sorry. I love playing with you. Tonight though we played with our friends and now it’s bedtime. How about mommy reading you a book?”

That moment really stuck in my mind, and has all morning. I think I’ll even ponder on its meaning for a few years, while Tali probably woke up without even a glimmer of it.

Our babies need us. They need our time. They need us to put down our email. Put down our phone. Place the world aside to show them that they are worth our undivided attention. Keeping them “happy” and “busy” with playdates and activities and other things aren’t enough. They need US. They simply need us.

And honestly, we need them too. We need them to remind us what’s most important in life. It’s the people in front of us. It’s the simple things in life.

Motherhood: Finding Common Ground Beyond the Labels and Mom Tribes

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Hi Crunchy Mamas! Hello Vaxers and Nonvaxers! Hi fit mommy, stay-at-home mom, working mom, formula and breastfeeding moms! Hi public school or homeschooling mommies! Hi adoption and foster moms! Hi homosexual and heterosexual mommies! Hi secular and religious mommies! Hi helicopter and hands-off mommies!

You know what’s beautiful? We all have something in common: motherhood.

The first time we laid eyes on our baby. The heartbreak of experiencing a sick little, helpless one. The heartbreak of miscarriage. The feeling of being inadequate and questioning our role, questioning if we give them everything we can. The ever-lasting battle of life balance. Of watching our bodies change. The beauty and awe watching our baby peacefully sleep in our arms….

When we start here, at this common ground, we start a REAL conversation. We recognize each other as mommies first, not the titles above. We recognize the love, gentleness, thoughtfulness, and life experiences that shape us, that shape our decisions (decisions that even we question while in our firmness advocating for them).

I want to hear why you don’t vaccinate, even when I choose to. I want to hear about healthy eating and how it would benefit my child, even though I eat… McDonald’s . I want to hear why you’ve chosen to homeschool, while I will go to work each day and send my kid to public school.

Because I believe these conversations are important. I think these conversations expand our worldview and help us relate as mothers. I think these conversations help us break down barriers and remind us that we are all working toward being better: for ourselves, for our babies, for society.

We have different views, yes, and we always will. But name calling, putting each other down, snubbing, etc. doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t open ears or eyes. It doesn’t empower. It doesn’t encourage. It isn’t inspirational. And wisdom doesn’t come from that place. Growth doesn’t start there.

And I’m not even sure I’m advocating that we can’t be frustrated at certain views! But unfortunately most people end the conversation from frustration, instead of letting frustration be the springboard toward dialogue and much needed conversation! Frustration should be the start of conversation, not the end! We have so so much in common beyond these labels!

There’s so much beauty in those we can’t possibly agree with, just start the conversation. And listen.

Listen to the heart first, not the label.

The Baby I Wouldn’t Hold Had It Not Been For the Death of The One Before

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I’m now in my third trimester with our sweet little baby boy. I feel all his little kicks, squirms, and wiggles. He’s already showing differences with how he moves and responds to touch than my daughter, my first pregnancy. Our boy is much more squirmy than my daughter was, and is quite active at night (in fact, as I write, I’m also watching my belly move!). And, we’ve FINALLY begun getting the third bedroom set up for him. Now, you can see the floor, and the crib is in place. His clothes are mostly hung in the closet, although I still need to clear my own out… oops. Yes, I’m guilty of taking up part of three closets in the house. (Gotta rotate seasons!)

This morning I cried in the shower. I don’t know why my miscarriage hit me so hard. I was thinking about this sweet little boy in my womb, and then I began thinking about our angel baby Jordyn. I thought about how much I wish I knew him/her, what s/he would have looked like, what s/he would have felt like. Jordyn would be 6 months old by now.

As soon as the thoughts swelled inside my heart about holding and meeting my little Jordyn, I realized that had that longing come true, I wouldn’t be holding this little one this summer. Had it not been for the passing of Jordyn, this little man wouldn’t have been conceived and wouldn’t be making an appearance in the world. His genes would have passed by, never having formed into being. Life almost went on without him; and, yet, I know the moment I see him in a short three months, I won’t be able to imagine life without him.

Once I hold my son, could I really wish Jordyn here? Is it possible to wish for both babies at once, while knowing the reality is it would be one or the other? Absolutely.

I then wondered if Jordyn had been a boy or a girl. I imagined how much different life would have been had Jordyn been a girl and we had two girls instead of the girl and boy we will have now. We’d have a house FULL of ladies! Pinks, purples, dress up clothes, tea parties, nail painting, all things girly. I imagined how my daughter would be the big sissy and would probably play dolls with Jordyn, and, perhaps, as older girls, they’d go out, talk about dates, and perhaps even share clothes.

Now, we will be blessed with both a daughter and a son. There will be batman toys mixed in with Barbie, swords in a dress-up basket with tutus, and muddy tennis shoes laying beside little princess high heels. The bond they share will be just as sweet, but much different than what sisters share. How easily life could have taken another route!

I miss Jordyn. I wish I met Jordyn. On the other hand, I’m so happy to meet this one, and hold him in my arms. I wish for both babies. I both mourn and I celebrate. I can’t help but to feel the sacrifice that Jordyn made to bring this brother here into the world. Without that sacrifice, I’d never have known my son.

The Honest Truth: My Second Child, My Sweet Baby Boy

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In October we found out we were expecting, and on January 24th we got to see our squirmy little baby BOY on the ultrasound monitor. Making it to this ultrasound was extra special – for one because it’s the ultrasound we never made it to with Jordyn, but also because seeing my second baby on the monitor suddenly made things REALLY real. I’m going to be a mommy of TWO sweet little children, a girl and a boy!

I had never considered, TRULY considered, what it may be like to be a little family of four. As a lay beside my joyful, squirmy little daughter while reading her a book, I’ve teared up thinking about how this time with her, my undivided attention, is slowly coming to an end. I KNOW there will be so many joys to come, but with every stage of life, there is something sweet you must leave behind for more blessings to come. 

At night we always do “family hug” before she lays down for bed. My husband takes us in his arms while I hold my daughter and we all embrace. I think about my new little addition and where he will fit in this family hug. Will my daughter stand by my leg and I hold this little boy in my arms? Will I attempt to hold my daughter on one hip and this little boy on my other hip?

I smile when watching my daughter play — knowing that she will be such a sweet, caring little lady. I imagine her watching her little brother and wanting to help me take care of him. I imagine him smiling up at her, laughing at her little gestures.

Then, I wonder if my daughter will feel misplaced, forgotten, or ignored. I pray that she won’t. I pray that if she does it’s temporary. And I pray that I never get so consumed by bottles, diapers, baby cries, and sleepiness that I forget to love on my daughter too.

I also think about how I’m a full time working mom. Sometimes I allow the guilt to creep in, that perhaps I shouldn’t have a second child when I only have evenings with them, and weekends — but I know that thought only comes from lies from within of insecurities and silly things I’ve heard hinted by people who don’t understand.

I can’t wait to meet this sweet baby boy and have him in our family. I’m both anxious and joyous to think of the changes this will bring to our routine, our life, our experiences, and our family. What a beautiful blessing.

I’m ready for the dinosaurs, trains, swords, and Hot Wheels to mix in with the shopping cart, stuffed animals, gaudy jewelry, and dress up pink hats.

❤ Welcome to the family sweet baby boy. ❤

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To the Friend that Only Called When They Needed Something

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I love you.

I’ve heard so many people speak down about your type. The one that’s here for a season for assistance and then gone for a year. The one that only calls to ask a favor, but never calls to say “how are you?”

We all have seasons.

Some seasons are harder than other seasons. Sometimes, you need attention. Sometimes, you need to know you’ve been heard. Sometimes your current backlog of issues are so overwhelming that hearing about someone else’s may make your anxiety and depression crumble you to pieces. Sometimes you don’t have the confidence that you could help anyone, so you don’t ask. Sometimes you haven’t learned reciprocation. Sometimes, you don’t know how to communicate you care. Sometimes, you’re so extremely busy with work and kids and marriage and school that it’s difficult to fit one more thing in for a friend. Sometimes mental illness only allows you to reach out when it’s really bad. And, perhaps you called me because your closest friends wouldn’t listen, or ran from you when things got bad.

Call me.

You may not ask me “How are you?” although I’d love for you to. But, I’ll be here to listen either way. Because someday, that might be me on the other line — too overwhelmed and distracted by life to realize I never asked you how you were doing before I began crying on your shoulder.

You may not stick around for my season of need.

But I’ve learned a lot from you. I’ve learned how to be a listener. I’ve learned how to calm someone down. I’ve learned to be patient with you. I’ve learned that sometimes it doesn’t have to be about me. I’ve learned to say “No” when I can’t help you more. I’ve learned life from your eyes. I’ve learned that when I give you my time, it doesn’t mean I’m owed anything in return. I’ve learned how to love this moment because it means you trusted me enough to call.

Of course, I hope you stick around. I hope you call me just to ask how I’m doing. I hope that you’ll be there in my time of need, but perhaps that season is for another friend. And, that’s okay.

In the meantime, I’ll love you. In the meantime, I won’t demand anything in return. In the meantime, call me anyway.

Announcing early after a miscarriage

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SURPRISE!

That’s right! We are expecting baby number 2 in June 2017! 

Anyone who has followed our journey knows that we had a traumatic miscarriage earlier this year — a loss that was truly unexpected and sudden, happening days following our first ultrasound, where we witnessed our baby’s heartbeat healthily beating, a checkup that came with the diagnosis of “Looks perfect! Congratulations. See you back in a few weeks.” The week that followed our miscarriage was filled with confusion, worry, regret, grief, depression, and lack of knowledge. We passed baby naturally, and ended up burying our second child under a Japanese Maple Tree. We sought closure as we named our baby Jordyn, and found peace in the fact that our child never experienced earthly suffering, our baby WAS with us all along even if for a short time, and that our child was in the arms of the One that we would have wanted him to be in all along.

Today, we announce our 3rd pregnancy while at 7 weeks pregnant. Some people are surprised by an early announcement. Yes, I acknowledge that the unthinkable could happen again. I understand the risk I am taking.

But here’s the thing — I want to announce baby now, because I want time to celebrate the LIFE that I feel and know and am experiencing. Miscarriage shouldn’t be taboo: I think society NEEDS to understand how unfortunately often it happens, and recognize the suffering that families experience from such a loss. There’s strength in community, even in one filled with pain. There’s strength in knowing you aren’t alone. 

Whether or not my baby survives, baby is living right now, with a heart beating inside me. I don’t feel the need to “wait” to see if my child will be alive later when my child is alive now. 

In only announcing the death, I miss the journey (whether short or long) of fully celebrating this beautiful child’s life now. If I announce only death, I am the only one that truly experienced the joy of the life now. I would experience it alone, and only in death would there be community.

I take a risk. But, tonight, I celebrate the beginning of life.

——-

*NOTE: This post is NOT to shame those who wish to wait to announce their child. And, if you’ve experienced a miscarriage, I mourn with you and am truly sorry for your loss. There is NOTHING wrong with waiting or desiring privacy — or wanting to keep personal matters private, or keep mourning private. This is only my own personal reflection of why I wish to not wait, and how I wish to give other moms courage to announce and celebrate life, even when paralyzed by fear.

Body Image: Your body’s sole purpose isn’t to please a gaze

 

 

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My body wasn’t meant to please your gaze. My body’s purpose is not to sell your brand of clothing, makeup, hair color, shoe brand, etc. Its sole purpose is to not be a over-sexualized symbol to turn the heads of men. Its purpose is not to wear a bikini in the summer. It’s not for other women to have an object to compare their body to. Its purpose is not to retain my 16 year old figure.

My body is meant for many things in fact. And a sexualized, ‘perfectly shaped’ being is not the highlight.

My body is for usefulness: it’s to move, to jump, to run, to breathe, to child rear, to breastfeed, to digest, to hear, to see, to feel, to climb, to make, to read, to create, to go, to write, to play music, to contribute, to renew, to grow, to age . . .

My body is made to express: love, art, kindness, compassion, beauty, gentleness, frustration, anger, to serve, to hug, to kiss, to hold, to be held, to assist…

My body is to create: to create peace, to create shelter, to create art, to create music, to create joy, to create new things, to recreate old things, to create a space for community, to create a family, to create beauty…

My body is for my husband: to love, to make love, to serve, to hold, to assist, to laugh, to cry, to grow old with, to behold, to take care of, to admire, to create with…

My body is for my children: that I may bring them into this world with the growth and marks of pregnancy and the pains of labor, that I may pick them up when they are sick and cradle them. That I should chase them when they take off the first time they ride a bike without training wheels. That I should have bags under my eyes because I didn’t sleep because they were awake and lonely. That my hair and nails aren’t done because instead I spent the money to go on a trip with them…

At the end of my life, I want my body to be marked. Marked with smile wrinkles. Marked with scars from adventures. Marked with stretch marks, my tattoos left by my children who forever changed my life. My breasts will hang differently from breastfeeding. My hips will be worn and achey from playing on the ground with children and grandchildren. My skin will be aged from playing in the sun and gardening. My nails will be torn and worn from working hard and serving others. My feet will have callouses from staying active and moving.

And, my life will be full.

Women, allow your body to be marked by life — in the most beautiful of ways. Embrace the shape you are in, the skin you are in, the hair you are in, the type of clothes you can afford, the color of your features, the shape of your legs, your thighs, your marks, your scars. Remember all that your body is and does and has been through — and its endless beauty in these moments — It’s not just some outer covering meant to please some passerby’s eyes. It never has been. It never should be. And it should never be your definition of its worth.

Miscarriage: The Invisible Child

Today I cried a bit.

And yes most people don’t talk about miscarriage publicly. I do. I do because so many women have experienced it. I didn’t realize just how many until I experienced it and those who never spoke about it sent me a message. I probably got over 30 messages… And those were only the ones who felt they could tell me. So, I want you to understand.

You don’t truly “get over it.” You don’t just “get better.” In some ways, it never “gets easier.” Just, mourning takes a new shape with passing days, months, years. And it hits you, the emotion, when you least expect it, publicly. Talking to a friend. Someone tells you they are expecting. A pampers commercial comes on. You see a mom holding a baby in the mall. Someone has the same month due date and every picture they post reminds you of where you should be but you aren’t. Someone celebrates a child’s first birthday and you stand at a party where everyone is laughing and tears unexpectedly fall… but you try to wipe them away before anyone notices. The due date month comes and goes and you imagine what it would have been like, but instead the halls are quiet in your house at night. Quiet enough that you hear the silence and drown in it. It’s a silent type of suffering… Pain that’s buried in the mundane routine of life, that’s hiding in a corner and there’s no warning it’s there until you take that corner to get where you’re going. Maybe I’ll have another baby someday. Maybe we won’t. But you don’t “replace” the loss. The invisible child grows with your family. And each year that passes you see your invisible child taking their first steps, playing with their siblings, blowing out their birthday cake candles. The invisible child is always with you. You never kick him out. But you embrace him for what he is. Laughter you can’t hear, but feel. A hand you can’t hold, but that touched your heart.

 

Dear Daddy (Open letter to daddies with little girls)

 

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After long streams of four-year-old run on sentences, ramblings, stories, and observations, I looked up at my dad and asked, “Daddy, do I talk too much?”

With a smile, my dad said reassuringly, “No sweetie. I like hearing what you have to say.”

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Both of my parents were absolutely wonderful. I was truly blessed with a rich and loving childhood. While both of my parents made a huge impact on who I am today, I want to focus on daddies. While my father was a positive influence on my childhood, not all of my friends had this experience. I’ve sat down with many of my very best lady friends who have shared with me the struggles they faced and still face due to a relationship that could have, should have been beautiful, fruitful, and uplifting. Daddies have the potential to have such a huge impact on their daughters – and they will whether they intend to or not. And, sometimes us daddies don’t realize the impact until it’s too late. Today I want to remind the daddies, from a daughter herself, of what your little girl sees with her eyes, hears with her ears, feels with her skin, and what’s carved into her heart, mind, and soul.

  1. You teach her how to view her body.

When you’re with your guy friends in the evening sitting in the living room, and your sleepy, tired little girl gets up out of bed scared and slowly creeps into the living room holding her teddy, what does she hear you say with the guys? What does she see you watching? When an overly large lady walks in the store, what do you say under your breath, what are your facial expressions?

Children are perceptive, they remember (and understand and process) more than you know. A little girl will learn about her body from a male’s perspective first from you – in how you treat her and talk to her, but also how you speak about and view other women, including, and most notably, your wife – her mama. I’m not speaking simply about “lust” – but also body image, size, color, shape, skin texture, the whole gamut. Help her learn that her body is her own and is to be respected and valued. Teach her not to be embarrassed or ashamed by her feminine form. Teach her that her body is beautiful in whatever skin color, size, or shape. Teach her how to take care of her body, but not to become obsessive and abuse it. Teach her that she doesn’t need to look like a pin-up to have the affections of a respectable male. Teach her that breastfeeding is beautiful and acceptable – and don’t make rude comments toward a lady who chooses to do so. Yes, have intentional conversations, but SHOW her in your actions, in your speech, and in what you own. Do you tell her mama she’s beautiful even when she’s sweaty and without makeup? Do you keep your eyes on your beautiful daughter’s face as she’s talking to you at the pool when an attractive woman walks by in a bikini behind her? Your actions speak volumes, but so do your words. Lack of words can also speak volumes, and can sometimes unintentionally communicate shame and embarrassment. Talk to your daughter about her body – truly. You should. And show her how a real man treats women.

  1. You teach her positive touch.

The first male, more than likely, she will receive touch from is you – perhaps the first time you hold her in the hospital after she was born. That first caress is life changing. The hugs she receives from you when you get home from work, the pat on the back when she’s feeling blue, the high five when she catches her first softball all teaches her positive and acceptable, loving touch. She NEEDS this from you.

Unfortunately, some fathers are uncomfortable with touch – until it comes to discipline. The touch your daughter receives from you should not only be when she’s done something wrong – grabbing her to put her in time-out, pulling her abruptly off of her brother in a fight, etc. A daughter needs to learn positive touch from YOU (not her teacher, not a boyfriend, not a brother) – from YOU, least she internalizes that she should only be touched by a male when he’s mad or lusting . . .

  1. You teach her the value of her mind and aspirations.

Set aside time to intentionally talk to your daughter and take interest in what makes her eyes glow. Pursue her mind. Ask her questions; answer her questions; read her books; get involved with homework; take her to work and let her shadow you. Teach her that her mind is to be cultivated and valued by men – teach her that she is every bit of worthy of becoming a doctor, an engineer, a police officer, etc. And when she takes interest in this, do not laugh, do not tease – believe in her.

The key word here is INTENTIONAL. Looking back on your life, you don’t want to remember all the times your daughter came up to you as a toddler, begging for you to read her a book – but you told her, “Not now, daddy is watching football.” Or then as a middle-schooler she came to you to ask you about life and instead, not putting down your magazine, you nodded and said, “mhm,” “yeah,” “that’s great sweetie.” In the long run, your conversations and engaging her mind will have a huge impact on who she is – and how seriously she expects a man to take her dreams and pursuits. Put down the remote, and pursue her mind.

  1. You teach her about dating and marriage, how a woman should be pursued.

 In this culture, marriage is advertised all around us girls from a young age – from dress up, to Disney movies, to TV shows, religion, everywhere. But, where us girls will experience marriage first hand is watching you with mommy. Your relationship with your wife (or girlfriend) will resound and echo in your daughter’s heart and mind for the rest of her life. Yelling at your wife will cause not only your wife pain, but also your daughter, as bringing home flowers for your spouse will make your daughter’s heart sing as well (until the teenage years when she throws up in her mouth!). She will learn how a husband (or boyfriend) should treat his wife (or girlfriend) first from you – and her years and years of experience watching and learning about marriage will take place first and foremost in your home. Pursuing your wife, and learning to be a team, to love one another, to deal with stress, to talk through your problems will do just as much for your marriage as it will for your daughter’s future – not just her future marriage, but any situation she works closely and as a team with a male.

Show your daughter how she should be pursued whether it’s dating, the first year of marriage, or years into a marriage. Pursue your wife in love, respect, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Assist your wife at home with chores. Value and cultivate your wife’s mind and hobbies too! And if your marriage is bad, don’t give up and don’t give in to petty name calling, yelling, and the cold-shoulder (how childish!!). In fact, honestly, I don’t think you should EVER yell at your spouse in frustration, when they’ve made a mistake, when they’ve forgotten a task, etc. etc. There’s no reason to – there’s NO fruit that comes from it except to cultivate abuse, intimidation, manipulation, and to drive a wedge in your marriage. And no, this isn’t “idealistic” – I’m a product of a few generations of family that yelling at one another is absolutely unacceptable. YES we make mistakes, and this doesn’t come easy for all of us. Seek counsel if you see this trend. Seek counsel from a male role model who is a good example and will hold you accountable and offer constructive criticism, speaking into your life. Put your spouse first. Put your family first. Cultivate the relationship you said “I do” to “for better or for worse” and the little girl who grew from this relationship will be cultivated in love too.

If divorced, realize that your x-wife is still her momma, someone she still loves. Calling her mama (who she sees as half of herself) a “whore” or “worthless” or “ugly” or any other name will directly affect her own value and insecurities – to hear the man she loves call the woman she loves such ugly names. Yes, your x-wife could be wrong, and could have done awful things, but speak to your daughter like an adult. Explain to her what went wrong and why it hurt you, sure. But, be mature. Be the adult, not the child.

Lastly, teach your little girl that marriage does not have to be the ultimate goal for her life. Teach her how to be a strong, independent woman. Teach her that mommy was already complete and valuable without you, but that you chose to be together, to be a team, and to pursue each other out of love. Instead of joking about a third grade crush, talk about the science project. Instead of only buying her kitchen sets and Barbie and Ken, buy her a toy chemistry set as well! Marriage is beautiful and valuable, don’t get me wrong . . . but teach her to be secure with or without a man.

  1. You teach her about your faith.

Let me get a little ugly on this one before being encouraging: Here’s where actions definitely speak louder than words. What does your lifestyle say about your priorities and your values? If you claim to be a Christian, going to church every Sunday without fail, and then proceed Monday through Saturday to treat your wife poorly, to ignore your daughter, to yell at your coworkers, to hide porn magazines under your bed, there is one thing she will learn for sure, she wants NOTHING to do with your so called ‘god’ if that’s the type of man a Christian is (which I would argue you probably aren’t a Christian at all . . . [neither are you a car if you stand in a garage and claim to be one] but let’s continue.).

This is a resounding story I’ve unfortunately heard from both men and women in my life – watching their father attend church, put on a suit and a face, then do nothing to practice what he preaches at home. If you’re a man pursing the Lord, it’s a lifestyle, not a fancy church date. Does your daughter see you in the Word (and are you learning from it)? Does she see you serve your wife selflessly (and do you desire to do so)? Does she see sound leadership in your family from you? Does she see you show kindness and respect to strangers? Do you have a prayer life? Do you pray over your family? Do you pray with your daughter? Do you teach her your values in word and deed? Do you support and respect your wife and other women? Do you have other men in your life that know you intimately and hold you accountable in your daily walk? Do you understand your faith and believe in its principles and values NOT to gain some earthly reward or title but to gain Christ? And if not, and you desire to be here in your life, ask God, who is the provider of all things, to help you and humble you (Matthew 7:7-11). Realize you can’t simply “fix” yourself – humble yourself before the Lord and be faithful to prayer and reading the Word, and your heart and mind will begin to change (Ezekiel 36:26-27, Galatians 5:22-23, Ephesians 1:17-21, others). Pursue Christian community, not just on Sunday, but throughout the week – invite people into your home and your life, holding you accountable and being mutually encouraging (Hebrews 10:24-25, Galatians 6:2, Proverbs 27:17, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Psalm 133:1, Romans 12:4-5, etc.). Be encouraged that you are NEVER too far for the Lord to change. The most loving, healing, faithful Father will give you strength to be a father when you place your life in His.

 

There is so much more I could say here, but unfortunately not many of us have the leisure of sitting down and reading a blog post for 45 minutes – so I’ll leave you with the gist of the matter. If you would have given me that kind of time, thanks, you’re really sweet. 🙂

Last, NONE of us are perfect. And no dad is super-dad. As dads, you will overreact. You will be too harsh. You will be too tired. You will be too trusting – or not trusting enough. You will be too stubborn. You’ll get bored playing princess or tea party, but more than often, if you are pursuing her, and you keep the above in mind, she will remember the good, she will have grown for the better, and she will look back and smile and look forward with joy and hope. She may be a moody teenager and want nothing to do with you in high school, but she’ll come back to call you her best friend when she’s in college. Don’t lose heart, dad. You got this. And you have the sweetest little lady to cherish.

 

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