Best Advice #5…leave the parents

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The walk down the aisle on our wedding day was more than just a ceremonial tradition. It was more than just a photo opportunity. It was more than just “what you do” at a wedding. That walk was symbolic of my life as their child and leaving that place to become TJs wife. I walked one last time as Gary and Shea’s baby, with him on my right side and her on my left, down that aisle. And I walked out as TJ’s wife…with no parents beside, in front of, or behind us. Just us. Man and wife.

Why is this important to understand? To me, the independence of TJ and me, is part of the start of us becoming one flesh. Leaving the comfort and dependency of a parents home–emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially– is truly a must when making the decision to become husband and wife. For if I still depend upon my parents for anything that my husband is responsible for…am I taking away from him? Am I truly able to submit to him and his authority if I am still clinging on to my parents and their ways? Is he truly going to lead me and be my head if he is still relying on his parents? Is it possible for the hanging on to create serious issues for a husband and wife? I’m not meaning that a sever of the parental relationship is required…on the contrary, that relationship is only changed. Parents become a source of wisdom and advice instead of a source of responsibility. This transition period should begin way before the marriage. TJ and I are already in preparation for the leaving of Autumn and Scout for the joining of her/his life to her husband/his wife. We desire that we, as well as they, know and are ready for what it means for them to leave us and begin their own lives. It’s natural. It’s commanded.

This “separation” will be different for everyone. And for those who know me, you know that I’ve put a “one hour away living zone” on my children when they grow up and marry. Meaning, neither are allowed to live more than one hour away from me…it’s my reward. I think it only appropriate. No laughing or judging. So the distance between houses is not the greatest focus of the leaving of parents when married. It’s leaving the dependency. Leaving the checkbook. Cutting the cord as they say. A man and woman need to understand, and accept, that marriage means more than just sleeping in the same bed and cute photos and a “Mr. and Mrs.” on the mailbox. Marriage requires a massive amount of grown-upness (tressaism). It requires a couple accepting responsibility for themselves and their decisions. It is necessary for the couple to mess up…then learn better…and make wiser decisions the next go around. It is good for a couple to royally mess up financially and then work to fix it and do without and struggle and cry and be stressed out…ALL THE WHILE learning together as a couple. If parents come in and “fix” everything for the wife (their daughter) or the husband (their son) then it belittles the marriage. It says to the husband “you can’t do it” and to the wife it screams “you still need us because he’s an idiot!” Now, I am NOT saying that in the event of NEED that parents shouldn’t be asked or willing to help…THAT is a role they play for their children for AS LONG as they live/are capable. But come on, we claim “NEED” all the time right?! We all know the difference between need and want. It cripples a marriage when it knows that it requires no real responsibility or accountability because parents are always available to “fix it.” A man should be in a position to provide the needs of his wife and the wife should be in a position to respect the direction her husband is leading her. If this is not possible financially, emotionally, and physically…maybe the marriage should wait a bit.

If you are blessed with parents who know and love and obey the Lord, then use them as the vessels of wisdom they should be to you. Rely on them for advice in areas of your marriage as you grow and change and learn and mess up and recover. They’ve been there. And when they are willing, utilize their experiences and wisdom. And count your blessings 😉

A husband and wife should grow together spiritually. Each should be focused on maturing in the role he/she accepted when he/she became a husband/wife. This is a lifetime process. This should never stop. Prayer should be offered continually for the strength and courage it takes to stand alone as a couple in this world of spiritual living…all the while being held tightly by their Maker – the center of them!

TJ and I made the conscious decision to be completely independent of either set of parents once we married. We were dirt poor. And were completely rich. There was a time right after I found out I was pregnant that I needed 4 new tires…and we had a one income situation that was unable to sway off the budget path. I mean, wieners and kraut was a common meal…bless his heart that man just ate and never complained! Anywho…the tires. A need. A must for my safety. And my sweet mother offered to buy them for us. That was never forgotten. And so appreciated. But that next year when we wanted to take that baby I was preggers with the year of the tires to the beach…we didn’t dare ask or let anyone know that we “needed” money to make that happen. No, we cut grocery corners just a bit–Autumn and I didn’t go anywhere for a month–and we saved up enough dough to spend 2 nights in a motel about 8 miles from the beach that should’ve offered a tetanus shot with the room key at registration. And our wittle baby girl had the time of her life. She knew no better. Water is water and the sun was the sun. We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and water from facets and survived. It was simple. Gross a little (lol) but ours. All ours. And it is moments like that which create a sense of accomplishment and pride in a couple for doing things independently and just as they can.

God is very cool and wise in the ways and commands He established…He’s always had a purpose and it’s beautiful to come to the understanding of things. So, my best advice coming in at #5 is to be a couple who accepts –the successes and failures– of being independent from their parents. That’s part of the reward process too for parents…leave my home—leave my money!! Lol


Best Advice #4…date while married

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imageOur first baby was just a doll. She was a good sleeping baby, a sweet baby girl, and she smelled like the best smell in the universe. I literally stared at her in amazement that she was this perfect little mirror image of her daddy. Beautiful. And ours.
From the 1st heartbeat we heard of hers, we knew that she was going to blow our minds upon arrival and we would be those typical parents who’s baby is THE most gorgeousest beautifulest perfectest super baby ever to be born and breathe oxygen! You know them. You probably were/are then! Lol
The amount of love that is felt once your baby is felt by your arms is just the best. I mean, there’s just NO comparison to this. None. So it is very tempting to allow this perfect little baby human to become your complete and utter purpose in life right?! You put her first, you care for her every need, you hold her, you snuggle with her, you focus on her. Like that momma hawk in her best getting NO sleep ever from constantly watching for that stronger faster eagle…that’s you. That’s a momma. We all feel this way and we have all dealt with this feeling of “my baby is more important than my husband…he/she is helpless and my husband can take care of himself!” Remember? Feeling it now? If you are a mother, you have. If you are an expecting mother you will. Or if you plan on having a baby in the future, be assured this is coming.

So. What do we do? Is it a selfish thing to desire to have a close intimate relationship with your husband -as your priority- once becoming a mother? Should he be placed on the back burner? Will he understand if he is? Does putting him first benefit your family as a a whole? Or the baby first? These are all questions that mothers will be asking, thinking, contemplating, and ultimately the answer(s) may save your marriage from future temptations or destroy it.

I have had many conversations with young first time mothers and my main advice to them is this:
•keep your husband as your priority. Your marriage is ’til death do us part’ … your babies are only going to be in your home for 18ish years!” Make time for your relationship with your husband. Keep the fires of passion alive. Date him. Love on him. Give him praise for being the man he is…even when he doesn’t neccesarily deserve it. Don’t forget you are his wife…don’t be just a mother.
Autumn was 6 weeks old when TJ went on our first date. Just a simple high school football game. No big deal. I had everything put together for Autumn, planned ahead, and my parents kept her for 4 hours. I breastfed her so I had pumped a bottle for her. All was ready. And for those 4 hours we were simply being TJ and Tressa, husband and wife, and not feeding-burping-changing-rocking-bathing-pacifying-cleaning house-washing clothes-being at work, just US. We made a vow that we would continue this pattern throughout our parenthood years. And we have. We have gone on cruises together…the first being when our babies were 4 and 2 1/2. We make weekend beach trips together, we go out to eat alone, we stay in and just watch and movie sometimes, we have even made a week long “once in a lifetime” dream trip to Hawaii…withOUT our kids. And it has worked. Our marriage has been kept as a priority. I’m his wife and I want to always be his girlfriend. We text sweet little “you are amazing!”‘s and we flirt with each other. Have we had times of boredom and blah? Yep. Has stressed ever caused an emotional barrier between us? Yes. Have I put forth more effort than he and he more than me? Sure. Yet we talk and hold each other accountable for what we KNOW it takes for this marriage to be what God intended. We KNOW what will work. We KNOW how important it is to stay boyfriend and girlfriend and date each other years and years and years after becoming husband and wife. We KNOW that 50+ years is A LOnG TIME and it’s very likely that if we DON’T make THIS a priority…that those years may be spent without each other in them. And I/we just don’t want that. God doesn’t want that. He wants for us as wives to continue in being just that for our husbands…even when we become mothers to their babies.
I remember telling my mother “Autumn is going to grow up and leave me…in 18 very short years. And I want TJ around and happy LONG after that so HE will be my priority. She is a result of my love for him, not the other way around. She is important, and I love her with all I got, but I love him more. And if I don’t put him first, when she leaves we won’t know each other…that’s IF he’s still around!”

We have always talked to our children about this. They know why we do what we do. They have been trained to see a husband and a wife be in a relationship that takes priority over them. They know that this is just another way we show them what a God centered marriage looks like. They realize that we really like each other and enjoy being with each other…I more than TJ sometimes but he deals. Haha so I advice also for you to talk to your kids about this. Don’t leave them in the dark or may them feel they aren’t important. Explaining that the decisions you make in your marriage and parenting are revolving around what God has said is just HUGE! And when they know why…and they see the positive results…this is a pattern they will emulate when they become husbands and wives and daddies and mommies!

A husband and wife should be a daddy and mommy…but never replace them. Remember to date. Remember to pursue. Flirt. Be silly. Make alone time. Make him a priority. Adore him. Praise him. Shave your legs for heavens sake. Lol And that my best advice #4 slot.


A friend who sticks.

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imageSo I’m at the beach again right?! This time not for a physical cure for a physical depression, not for a much needed connection time with the husband, and not for a family vacation. This time is different. This reason is different. This…is friendship.

It’s 2005. My cousin is getting married. She and I are also 1st cousins so we have had a long time relationship. I remember the first time I ever saw her — I was 6 when she was born — “man at that red hair!” was my reaction. I love her. She loves me. We’ve been more like sisters over our lifetime than cousins really. I was asked to be a bridesmaid for her and I lovingly and humbly accepted this role. So during her planning, she tells me that a friend she works with is her matron of honor, her name being Lindley Hollander. I respond with a “who is that?” because I did not know her. Fast forward to the friends Bridal shower we threw for the bride and this would be the first time I ever laid eyes on this Lindley “Matron of Honor” lady. And instantly, almost unrealistic, we connected. We complimented one another with a “wow, you’re so pretty” and a “you remind me of Genevieve” (a lady on a remodeling show on TLC. We talked in the crowd, we laughed, we just in that moment started to get to know the other. And from that moment…we became friends.

I remember the first time I called her cell phone to set up the arrangement for me to fix her hair for the wedding. I was doing my cousins and my own so she had asked if I would be willing to do hers. I dialed the number, got her voicemail, and heard the sweetest greeting…”Hello, you’ve reached Lindley Hollander and I cannot come to the phone right now. Please leave a message and I will return your call as soon as possible. Thanks and have a blessed day!” To which I was like “aw, I love her.” So the rehearsal comes and we casually talk throughout the night, you know-nothing out of the ordinary for women in a bridal party. Until the dinner. When dinner is served, my sweet and big eyed baby boy, with his precious duck fuzz for what should’ve been hair, got ready to eat. He was 2 and seriously the most adorable creation ever. Lindley asked him if he wanted a bite of her potato and the next thing ya know, he’s in her lap eating her ENTIRE potato. And this was BIG because Scout was a momma’s boy. He didn’t very often even sit with TJ let alone someone he did not know. And she fell in love. She did not hesitate in feeding my baby, a baby she had never known, her entire potato. Like, every bite. And when I watched her love on him and give him what was rightfully hers…I was amazed. I witnessed a very selfless young woman, with no cause except a heart of service/love/and giving, become my best friend in that very moment. I didn’t know this at the time of course. It was be an unveiling blessing.

A spend the night with the beautiful and hilarious bride and a sweet wedding later, we embarked on a friendship that will undoubtedly stand the test of time. We would share in some big time life events together…my husband took a job that required us to move to Anderson, SC…a 6 hour away move…and in less than a month after meeting each other. We visited, we called, we kept in touch during this 6 month relocating. Blessed fully, we were able to move back to AL that December! She was then pregnant with her second child. Her oldest had just turned a year old that November. So in March of 2006, I drove her to hospital, in labor, singing “Harder and Harder to Breathe” by Maroon 5!! We have suffered devastating news about our parents health together. We have struggled together in parenting our babies. We have learned and failed and messed up and been a success at being our husbands wives. We’ve done doubt, worry, anxiety, joy, ecstatic, depression, clueless, faith, disappointment, disagreement, up, down, “Sex and the City” (for the funnies and friendship..not the sex), breaking habits, starting new ones, desiring to know and be who we are supposed to be, back and forth all together in our 10 years of this blessed and God gifted to us friendship. Before you ask, NO! No we haven’t always agreed on everything. No we aren’t a perfect edition of the friendship illustrated. No we don’t do exactly the same things or believe the same things, or live the same ways. No we aren’t a more special than any other best friendship relationship. This is not a comparison writing, it is not a “this friend is better than my other friends” downgrade. This is not to be mistaken for any of those. Don’t miss the meaning of this post. This is about celebrating this woman and our decision to become really close people in this life. It’s about encouraging women to be this friend and to have this type of closeness with others. It’s about building faith in friendship. It’s for the encouragement that SHE or a whole of SHE’s is out there…waiting…wanting…needing a God fearing/husband respecting/children loving…YOU! You are needed by someone. You are being waited on by someone. You are called to be this someone.

We decided last summer that we would make a “BFF getaway” an annual thing. Our 1st trip was interesting to say it best. These are some highlights from last years adventure:
•no hotel
•attempts to sleep in car
•selfie with Mr Policeman (he was super nice and understanding)
•not arrested for sleeping in public area
•dead car battery
•ride to Waffle House with total strangers who we were pretty sure were not supposed to be seen together
•beach and back (6 hour drive) with no sleep..ALL in a 24 hour period!!

We set a high standard right off the bat! Lol

This year we celebrated 10 years of being each other’s person. Our trip this year was much more planned and relaxing. Hours and hours of just talking. And listening. And truly trying to be who we are supposed to be for the other. Friends.

Lindley is an amazing person. She is a fabulously fun and deep caring woman. She loves her Lord, her husband and babies, her parents and family, and every single person she comes in contact with..you just feel her goodness. And she deserves to hear this. She’s my biggest fan and my source of confindence and strength on so many days! I am thankful, honored, and just tickled pink that she is who she is and allows me the privilege to love her and be loved by her. No matter the changes, the years, the LIFE that happens to/around us…I know, with pure confidence, she will be in mine and I in hers.

Being 6 years older and married for 3 years longer…a mother for 3 years longer…she has been such a great and patient friend in learning and growing with me in these areas. She has admitted at times that she didn’t quite agree with or understand why I was so hard on my children when it came to back talking. And that was because at the time, her babies weren’t back talking. When the time came that her boys began smart mouthing…the little light bulb flashed on and she was like “oooooooooooooooh ok, NOW I get it!!” And she paid attention to what worked for me in this and tried it in her own life. It worked for her as well. She has voiced on several occasions about learning from me about being a wife…a Christian…a sister/daughter/friend just by watching my life. We never know how valuable our example is do we??!! Our conduct is an absolute key in showing the world around us that we love God, love Jesus, and want to obey the commands given to us. I am thankful for Lindley being a friend who can learn and appreciate the life that I am diligently trying to live in His kingdom!

So now, what kind of friend(s) do you have? What kind of friend are you? Women all around you need you to be a friend who sticks. Be a friend who endures. Be a friend who is valuable to her friends. Be a friend God wants you to be. I know I have failed people in my life at this..I have been a disappointment, a failure, hard to love, and easy to leave. I have forgiven and been forgiven and have some of the greatest women in my life. Ones that have proven will forever be in mine and I in theirs. THAT is so valuable. THAT is such a true blessing. And I will never take these women for granted but will build up, edify, grow with, laugh with and sometimes at, forgive and then forget what had occurred, all the days I have to live loving them! And THAT…is just unbeatable.

And if you haven’t watched “Ew” clips of Jimmy Fallon’s show…you just haven’t lived. #checkemout #youtube #ew


Best Advice #3…fist bump YeS!

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So for the young sweet ladies — this is your pre-“thinking and searching and finding my husband” advice. I mean, just can’t even stress this one enough here girls. There are SO many reasons why this statement is true and this may produce future posts but for this one I’m gonna stick with the best friend advice.

So when you make your list and check it twice I strongly advise that “being my best friend” is at the top. THIS is what sustains marriage (aside from the given being God as the center and foundation). Your best friend should be your husband because he is going to be the one who will be with you through all the highs and lows of your life. Because let’s be honest here ladies…looks diminish, money comes and goes, jobs change/disappear in a flash, personalities can change, and all the fluff can become flab—but a friendship being the basis for the relationship can surely stand the test of a lifetime of this!

Laughter is such a phenomenal characteristic trait to be embedded in a relationship…a hobby per say shared between two people in a marriage…a tool used to bring joy, happiness, and sometimes comfort! The night that I fell in love with my husband was a random, very common night of us just hanging out. We had been friends for 15 years…survived 13 years of school together…survived each other’s relationships…and on this particular night — I laughed SO HARD that my mascara was running into my eyes, I was driving and had to pull over because I could not see to drive. And look, this was at a time I had nothing to laugh about. My life was pretty crappy. But he had (and still has) the ability to just bring about this LIFE in me with laughter. He knows just when I need it! He is my rock. He is my best friend. And when changes come in our life whether HUGE, small, significant or of none, he is solid. He is my best friend. And I cannot imagine marrying anyone else. For many reasons, but THIS one being at the top of my list.

So when you picture your life…at 75 years old, and the wrinkles replace the gorgeous skin, and the hair that you once ran your fingers through is gone, and the bank account is just enough to by your ensure, and the vacations are trips to the doctor and the pharmacy, and the passion is as dried up as your ovaries…what kind of husband do you want by your side? I want my best friend. My laughing partner. TJ. And that is reason #2 I chose him.

For you wives…consider this: your husband can become your best friend, if he isn’t already, by you entrusting him with that blessing. Rely on him. Confide in him. Lay all your worries and frustrations and doubts and fears on him. And then, allow him to do the same. Open up that avenue of friendship. You know, the one that you have with your best long time girlfriends. Desire that in him. Pray for that in him. Build that in him. Start today with a heart to be his best friend…his safe place…his refuge from this cruel and punishing world. Be soft. Be gentle. Be loving and patient. The best time to create a best friendship with him is now. It may take work, sacrifices, prayer, and time.
it. Will. Be. Worth. It.

The best friendships are the ones you give your best to. Your marriage deserves your best!


Best Advice #2…have THIS talk.

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There are just some moments that happen in which make no sense whatsoever while they are happening, like make you scratch your head…and them BAM! 5 years later I’m like “ahhhhhhh…so THAT was smart!!” Best advice #2 is one of those moments.

TJ has not even proposed yet. We have decided that we are so ready to be married but no “formal” proposal had taken place. He drives me to a beautiful area of hunting land that he was a club member to hunt on at that time. And he asks me this question:
“What are you going to have to have in order to be happy married to me?”

Ok. So something that is important in understanding why this was a scratch my head moment — I had loved this man from the first visual contact at the age of 5. There was this precious little BIG beautiful blue eyed boy wearing a #12 Roger Staubach Dallas Cowboy jersey and I was just wrapped. We did not date through school. We went on one “date” in the 11th grade simply because his dad bought him a Toyota truck and I was (and still am) a Toyota truck lover. We were just the very best of friends. We were simply “TJ and Tressa” without the complications of dating. And when I fell madly and completely in love with him at the age of 20…by sheer “accident”…there was not any single “thing” I wanted more than to just be his. Simple. His. Every second of every minute of every hour of every day…his. So when he asked “what are you going to have to have in order to be happy married to me?” I was like….um, nothing. Just THAT–married to you. Oh poor naive little Tressa who truly thought that THAT would just always be enough. Hahahaaa. Good thing TJ knew better!!

So my answer was “being married to you is what will make me happy…so that’s all I have to have!” he went deeper with the meaning of the question. What he meant was what was important to me that I would have to have in order to maintain a happy state of mind with him. He foresaw the icky mushy gushy stuff of newlywedville not being enough. I did not. See, he is clearly a planner. A thinker. He analyzes and contemplates and weighs and thinks ahead. I do not. Not when it comes to him…I am just weak and in awe of him. LOL. So when he explained what the question meant, to think BIG PICTURE and LONG TERM I started to comprehend what he was asking. This is what I realized I would have to have:

-His attention. I would need to be noticed by him. I would need for the things I do for him to be appreciated…like cooking a hot meal, having his clothes washed and prepared for him, having his home a place of quietness and solidarity, being respectful and polite to him, etc. I would have to be told “Thank You” for things. I am a woman, based on certain circumstances in my life, who will shut off after a time of being under appreciated…overlooked…ignored…not valued. I will quit. So to be provoked to think about that BEFORE I married him was just genius.
-His compliments. I would have to be reminded how beautiful he thinks I am. I cared (and still care) a great deal about my appearance FOR HIM. I want him to see me as a beautiful woman outwardly because I know he does inwardly. I would need for him to remain attracted to me…which would require a great deal of effort on my part POST baby making days. I need for him to be proud of me for the efforts I make for him in this area. A simple “you look so good today baby” or “I love your hair dark, I’m so glad you went back to natural” is all it takes. Just a simple compliment for all I do in order to maintain a clean and healthy appearance JUST for him. This would prove to be the hardest for him.
-His affection. A hug. A surprise arms around my waist while I’m standing at the stove cooking for him. For him to put his arm around me and pull me close to him while sitting beside me. A hand on my leg while driving. A kiss on the cheek before leaving for work. A kiss on the cheek upon returning. I am a woman of affection. I love to hug. It’s just a thing I do. If you are someone I really like you just might get a kiss on the cheek with the hug. It’s an innocent form of affection I use to show you I love you. He…NOT.SO.MUCH. It’s a difficult thing for him. It’s weird even. So this as well would be a huge challenge for him. But hey, he asked right?! lol
-His leadership/protection/providing. I would have to know that he is always willing to lead me. And that that willingness would provoke in him an action to do just that. I would need to feel safe and protected. I would have to know that he will always provide for me…spiritually, physically, emotionally. I was a woman at that time very much STARVING for this. My dad, God love him, just wasn’t this for me. Most of not all of his “failure” was at no fault of his own, but the affects were what they were. I had never had a father who led me, protected me, or provided for me. And I was CERTAIN I would NEED and WANT this in my husband and the father of my children. This has never been hard for TJ. He has the mental capacity and spiritual desire and love within him to accomplish this with blue ribbons and first place trophies.

So that was mine. My verbal confession of what I would have to have in order to be happy with him. I felt so empowered to say those things to him and for him to listen and receive those “requirements” and not just throw me out of the car and leave me to be eaten by whatever wild animals live in this area. THIS was a mark of evidence of his true love for me.
I return the question. Expecting (in arrogance) to hear “you already give me everything I need to be happy” …yes it’s appropriate to laugh…and his was much more simple. Imagine that right?!

-His time. He would have to have his time to hunt, be alone, work outside, whatever he wanted because THIS is how he survives. Time alone. Easy. Simple.

And doesn’t that just explain man and woman in a nutshell?!

Now for the explanation for THIS being best advice #2…see, when you and your man discuss and communicate honestly about what each of you want/need, and accept each other’s wants/needs prior to marriage, then there will be an avenue of accountability down the road. Several times I have been justified in reminding TJ that he KNEW before marrying me that I had these desires in order to be happy. This should eliminate the element of surprise in you and your husbands relationship. Be aware that these will change, some will completely disappear, some will just be modified, and some will stay exactly the same…and that’s ok. Always always communicate. Don’t be shy about saying what you need or/and want and always be willing to listen to him.

TJ and I now, 15 years after the wedding, still remind each other “you agreed to understand that I would need _____!” and that has eased many of the areas of our lives that have brought about the biggest needs…i.e, babies, hormones, age, …LIFE. So talk. Be honest. Say what you need. Ask what he needs. Listen to him. And be willing to have your heart set on being/doing all you can to fulfill him.


Best Advice #6

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The wedding. Our wedding. THE moment that I had SO prayed for since falling in love with him…to become “Mrs. TJ Bragwell” was here. I was standing across from this radiating beam of love and truth and honesty and humility confessing to God, me, and everyone in the room that he would be my husband until death parts us. The words that just flowed from his mouth were perfect. Nothing short of perfect. The whole thing…perfect. And once we were finished professing this make you wanna gag vow session – hahahaaa – our preacher uttered some of the WISEST advice I have ever received…
“What goes on in your marriage should stay within your marriage. Be careful with the private matters you share outside of your marriage.”
Yeah yeah preacher…we are 24 year old “know it alls” and we are just dying for you to get to the part where we are pronounced “husband and wife” right?! So, he does. We kiss. We are introduced as “Mr. and Mrs. TJ Bragwell” and down the aisle we RUN.

Fast forward 15 years, 2 kids, moving twice, job changes, family, and ALL that is life later…

Those wise words projected from our preacher’s mouth truly stuck. It wasn’t long after life began as husband and wife that we were proven to that THIS is just spot on. And here’s the sentiment that follows the advice:
TJ and I can have a “knock down drag out” (as my sweet mother calls it) and just be totally and completely ON FIRE mad. I call my best friend and unload on her all that makes TJ just the worst. Tell her everything he said in anger and what I smart mouthed back -in which case I am really good at (prayers for me please lol)- and what does that leave her with? I mean, TJ comes home from work and simply runs his finger up the middle of my foot, smiles and me and says “I’m sorry baby,” and it’s totally over. Forgotten. Done. I don’t even remember what we were fighting for honey. We kiss and go on about our fairytale way. But…the BFF is left with an impression. She doesn’t know the intimate love and forgiveness side of us. She won’t get the “I’m sorry baby” that I will. He won’t smile that gorgeous smile that only TJ has at her. She is left with the memory. The visual. The knowledge of how mean he was/I was. So, this done over a period of time will cause hard and unforgettable feelings toward my husband/our relationship. See that?!!

People are curious by nature. Some people genuinely care. Most people are just hungry for that ONE story. That one spat or fight or argument or angered moment. They are looking for that piece of information that will prove to them that you are not as happy as you claim. And simply because of the age old theory “misery loves company.” So when you give a person an insight into your angered moments…your spats…your heat of the moment disagreements…you are giving them a reason to look at your relationship/marriage in a way that will not be productive. They will form opinions. They will spread these opinions. You can/will forgive and forget even why you were mad…they will not. They cannot. At no fault of their own. It’s yours/mine.
Now when you have that person/those people who truly love you and care for you and are that ear of concern, wisdom, compassion, and trust…use them. I have a couple of those. And I do NOT ever want to know what my life would be like without them. And I am that for them. I listen, without judgment or contempt. I offer help, they return that. And those relationships you just CANNOT beat. When you can know very intimate and ugly and disgusting info and want nothing more than to just listen, cry with, and love that person and her relationship in simple heart felt love…THAT is a true companion. Keep her…be her.

So, “Be careful who you open up to. Only a few people actually care. The rest are just curious.” Is my BEST ADVICE #6. I know I haven’t given #1-5…this was just where I started and it gets #6 because I’m sure there are 5 better. Lol.

#think


Just don’t. But, when you have…

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Sisters. Does this prick you the way it totally did me? Read it again. Now, consider its truth.

Through obedience of my children’s souls, there came a true humility to my own. That humility has lead me to accept simplicity in God’s plan, His will, His intention for me. I read Titus 2 and know beyond any convincing or debating or demanding by humanity that God instructs older women to teach younger women things of being a woman. So this simplicity has caused me to self reflect and to come to an understanding that some “things” I hold precious or important or even once accepted as truth must change. See, through the truths taught to me simply from God’s word and not from human wisdom, have caused a choice. I have been shown from His word that so many choices I have made have been made outside of Him. Unknowingly I might claim…ignorance for sure…acceptance of human tradition or pattern or teaching…because that’s what I was told to do…whatever “excuse” I may use will not hold water for when I am asked by Him “Why did you do ________ when you came to an understanding that it was NOT what I wanted from you?” Just picture that scene. I do. I mean, I have a whole list of questions for Him. Like, “how did You deal with Judas?” and “what’s up with not making me a man?” and “why in the world did You create mosquitoes?!!” And yet no answer He gives me for these will be of ANY importance right?! But what about my answer. What about the defense I try to muster up for the WHY that He demands of me? A simple question. Why? There’s a popular hymn that causes one to think “what will your answer be?”

So. “Don’t go outside of obeying GOD to get something because you will HAVE to stay outside of God to keep it.” really caused me to admit that I was/am guilty of this. I have gone outside of God/His word/His authority to do what I want to do. In His name of course, because come on…we as “Christian” women in today’s world just do not outright rebel. We do what we want to do and claim that that is what God wants too…we can quote some big time scripture and back them up with some fantastic explanations that have taken us about 3.6 minutes to memorize. We have the highlights set on automatic…”I do ____ because of ____!” Our answers are quick, proud, with extreme confidence and we spout off exactly what we have been fed.
Think:
How many of us women have ever been willing to be taught instead of being the teacher? How many of us have ever wanted to be lowly, submissive, obedient, silent? How many of us desire to be the woman of God’s plan over the woman of our own desires/fulfillment/understanding? How many of us are selfish in the kingdom yet claiming selflessness the whole time? Better yet, how many of us have ever questioned what we SO PROUDLY claim to KNOW? I cannot answer for anyone other than myself…and I KNOW that I have been guilty of “leaning on my own understanding.” Pitiful. Sad. Playing the role of a Christian woman and yet NAILING the role of a hypocrite. Which I am pretty sure just disgusts Jesus. That’s what I gather anyway. And for heaven’s sake…I don’t want to disgust Him, any longer.

We -my husband and myself- had come to the understanding we had gone outside of God in making some of our decisions. And we knew that we would have to stay outside of Him to stay true to those decisions. One specific area was in my role in God’s kingdom. We had been blindly following, in good conscience, a humanistic understanding of my role. It made sense. It worked. It was productive. It was accepted. Everyone was on board. There was an universal agreement that THIS was obedience to God’s plan. It was easy. It was liked and pretty and fun and smiled upon. Every single Christian we knew agreed to this way. So the right thing to do was to just continue in it right?! Surely if all the good and honest and strong and faithful Christians were doing this it MUST be right!! And yet…the “but…’s” just could not be shaken. So, “seek and you shall find” became a promise we held Him to fulfill.

So, a journey of study began. Individually and collectively we studied His word. We relied on His word. We sought His word. We began looking to Jesus and The Holy Spirit’s message with the intent to obey THAT! We stripped away all preconceived ideas and all patterns and all accepted “truths” that had been preached to us for years and years and years. And THIS is when our lives were (to steal another’s writers words–Jen Hatmaker) “Interrupted.” When we began listening to HIM over the wisdom of people, what we began to hear was truth. His truth. THE truth. And so began the recognition of choices made outside of obeying God that we now would have to CHOOSE to continue outside of Him to keep. And it was like taking our hands and doing the up and down version of weighing the two. THIS over here is what GOD HIMSELF says…this over here is what these people are saying…hmmmmm, what to do what to do. Are you kidding me? I mean, THIS is what we do. It sounds ridiculous and I am willing to guarantee that some of you will think “oh no, not me, I never ever do that!” when in fact we ALL do. We are born and trained to believe “a way” — “a teaching” — “a denominational pattern” — and we seldomly if EVER question what we are taught. We just do it. We believe it. We practice it. We defend it. We even teach it to others and tell them they are wrong if they are not doing it, believing it, practicing it, defending it. And let me interject here and say that IF we are trained in God’s way, teachings, and patterns then when we do question them, we will find that our way, teachings, and patterns are in line with His. BUT what do we do when we find out they are NOT??!

Hence this post. Hence the calling to think. Women we are being taught and trained and programmed to believe all this stuff that most of is NOT what God has said but what we as humans want God to say. We twist and turn and pervert and change what IS to what we think it IS. Hmmmm, seems like somewhere I have read about leaning on our own understanding….and being proud in ourselves…and directing our own steps…and doing what is right in our eyes…so, we/I rely on God. We are searching diligently for truth. And once we understand through prayer and seeking, we obey. Simple –spiritually, it’s so simple. Physically…it’s so not simple. It’s hard. It’s heartbreaking. It’s controversial. It’s angered people. Many many people have turned away from us and no longer socialize with, fellowship with, or recognize us as saved in His kingdom. We are “in error” to them and therefore they understand that they must pull away from us. We understand this thinking. We knew this would be the outcome. We saw it in scripture that THIS is the result of truly obeying. Physically it’s hard. Jesus knows that too. Spiritually it’s worth it. Jesus proved that.

I am a woman submitting to my Lord and Master’s will for me in being submissive, and obedient, and silent when commanded to be, submitting to the authority that He has placed in my husband as my head, and choosing to obey Him over men. I am a woman who loves her God with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. I am a woman who is learning what that REALLY means. And in that, learning more and more of what it means to love my neighbor as myself. I am a woman committed to obeying His clear and undeniable commands to teach younger women the things of being a woman. I am learning to choose Him over me. Learning to listen to commands over wants. Trying my best in sacrificing over fulfilling desires. I try. I fail. I repent. Beg for forgiveness. I try again. I succeed. I fail. The pattern will more than likely repeat for the course of my life. But I now know, through a continuation to study, that when I make choices to go outside of obeying God to get something…I have to stay there to keep it. And I just do not like outside of Him. It’s scary out there. I want to be “All In!!” Inside of Him by obeying His word.

I pray for courage to let go of any “thing” I gained outside of obeying Him. I pray for pride to not be what drives me. I pray for strength in enduring the “persecution.” I pray for all of my sisters, ones I know and those I don’t, to be ruled by humility. I pray for wisdom in loving my husband and children. I pray for time to become all that He wants me to become. I pray for understanding of my role in His kingdom and then courage to do just that, no more/no less.

I just LOVE quotes that make me think.
Hope you enjoy reading my thoughts. :)