Monday, June 11, 2018

My Man's Father's Heart

I love this man of mine. He is not a father, but he has such a father’s heart. 

The other day, my nephew had a birthday party. There was tons of water and four-year-old laughter in my sister’s backyard. Howell taught Canyon how to squirt the water soaker before the party started (which means he had half the adults in our family soaked before the kids arrived—thanks, Uncle Hal).

At one point, I look up, and he’s on the playground, pushing a kid on the swing we barely know.

A week before my dad had sent me this picture of him with my youngest nephew, Case. We had a girls night at Board and Brush, and Howell hung out with my nephews and brother-in-law. At the end of the night, I think he said he saw the same three trolls episodes 47 times. Now that’s love.

A week later, we’re in Killeen with his brother’s kids, celebrating a niece’s graduation. Anytime Howell was seated, the youngest was in his lap, and wherever he went, his nieces and nephews were not far. 

And just this week, I’ve listened to him mentor young men, encouraging them at work and counseling them about their marriages or families.

We may not have kids yet, but already God is using him as a father figure in the lives of so many. 

It reminded me of the time I learned about Having Faith in the Gap, that morning when my tears were not lady-like and my hubs pulled me to the front for prayer and a man and a woman who are now friends of ours prayed over us. And I’ll never forget—this is almost 5 years ago—the man looked at Howell and said you were created to be a father. And then he prayed for Howell’s father’s heart.

We’re still in the gap, but you know what? Time doesn’t stop while we wait for answered prayers. And God has the opportunity to impart His Father’s heart into others because of Howell’s willingness to love and invest in those relationships. 

So, Sunday is Father’s Day. If your hubs is a father, thank him for the role he plays in your kid’s life. Don’t criticize, even if you wish he’d do something different. Just thank him. 

If you're a single mom, thank the father figures God's put in your children's lives. 

And if your hubs isn’t a father yet, then speak life into those dreams and encourage him to use his gifts for other young people, the ones we get to practice on til we have our own. :)

This is the body of Christ working together to demonstrate God's heart for us, His desire that we know Him as a good Dad--the best Dad ever. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Smells like Skunk...Again

Last weekend, Rizzoli was sprayed by a skunk. Again. It wasn't quite so bad this time. We think she was running away (lesson learned?) and was only slightly dusted.

But the experience reminded me of this old post, which my heart needed to read this morning, even if it makes me miss my Charlie.


Do you see these two? Don’t they look like angels?

Perfect angels, right?

We all remember Rizzoli’s three near-death experiences, so maybe only one of them fits that description. Unfortunately, even Charlie, “the good kid,” was on my bad list a few weeks ago when both of our dogs got sprayed by a skunk in our backyard.


They had the creature cornered where he could not escape, and they were not deterred by the stinky smells at all. We’re convinced they got sprayed more than once at close range.

It took about four days to get the smell out of the house—and even still, I swear it lingers in a few places.

We gave the dogs 11 baths (Rizzoli, the lucky one, receiving one more bath than Charlie) with all kinds of home remedies, Pinterest suggestions, old wives tales, and vet-recommended solutions. Nothing helped with the smell—at least not on first application. We did have some success with the de-skunk shampoo the vet’s office sells, but it took three applications each.

Even now, almost two weeks later, I still smell it when Rizzoli shakes her ears, her now-shedding hair flying in the air, and I groan.

What a mess!

The timing was terrible, of course. It initially happened just before bed, on a night when we were already getting in bed late.

I fell into bed at 1:00 a.m., exhausted.

The next day we were leaving town, and I just wanted to give up, to lay down and say, “I can’t do this.”

(For the record, my hubs, as usual, was the rockstar. I think he gave 5 or 6 baths in a short span of a few hours.)

Two days later, the smell wasn’t better—for the dogs or our house. I felt so discouraged.
We’d light candles and spray aromas and bought every imaginable wall plug, but all of that only temporarily masked the smell.

Now that I’ve had some time and space from what really was an unpleasant experience at an inopportune time, I feel like the Lord has used that to speak spiritual truth to my heart.

Y’all, maybe I’ve only been masking the smell, but this has been a challenging six months. I’ve been tested to what feels like my core. My patience. My attitude. My humility. My leadership.
Even my values have been tested.

What’s more important: What God says about me or what people say? Pleasing God or pleasing man?
What’s do I value most: Being recognized, validated, defended, appreciated? Or being a daughter, accepted and beloved?

It’s been tough, and I’ve seen my flesh on a new level.

I felt like the Lord reminded me that when I try to do this life stuff on my own, it’s like spraying Fabreeze around my house and hoping it will make the smell go away.

Funny, right? Because it’s so foolish.

Only the Holy Spirit can do the real work, the under-the-surface work, where the skunk’s poison resides, where it’s settled and seeped into pores and pockets.

I recently had someone speak a word over me, and he said that I needed to unyoke myself to the things that trouble my heart. Howell told me afterward that he immediately felt like that meant unyoking myself to other people’s opinions of me.

This isn’t new information or a new struggle—of course I shouldn’t care what others think, and I’ve known this is a habit of mine for a while.

But something about that phrase—unyoke yourself—really got my attention.

I always thought of the “do not be yoked” verses as relating to marriage or relationships. But Howell’s exactly right. I’ve yoked myself to what other people think of me rather than yoking myself to the Lord and letting His opinion rule.

If there’s a spiritual smell to being yoked to others’ opinions, I guarantee it’s worse than a skunk.

What about you, friends? Do you struggle with performing, pleasing, striving?

I understand completely! Let’s let Holy do a major detox in our hearts today. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Your Finances and You

This is the conclusion to my series on finances. I hope this has been helpful to you in thinking about how you handle money as a family. Money and finances are generally not the most fun subjects to discuss as a couple, but those discussions can dramatically alter the direction of your marriage in good or bad ways. We’ve discussed planning, income, and debt thus far. Now, let’s discuss how these things can be applied to your situation.

First of all, we are all in different situations financially. Some are more favorable than others, and all of these are dependent on your goals. If your goals are attainable and measurable, and you both agree on them, they are good goals. This will probably take some compromise from both of you. It’s better to deal with that up front though, than six months down the road when one of you is miserable because you are sacrificing for something you don’t even desire. That is a recipe for disaster. Take the time to seek common ground and agree on goals that both of you really desire.

One thing that can absolutely discourage you is comparison. I’ve done this, so I’m speaking from painful experience here. If you look at your neighbor and think... “Wow, look at that Escalade and the new pool they are putting in. Why can’t we have those things?” You are setting yourself up for failure. I can’t afford a new Escalade and a pool right now. Maybe you can and that’s great. If so, send money. Haha! Just kidding…maybe. Anyway, there will always be someone with more means than you. That is okay. There is more to life than money and what you can and can’t afford. Besides, maybe they took out a loan for all those things and have to eat beans and rice to pay for them. Different people have different goals.

Lastly, stick to the plan. This is HARD! I can attest. Without Laura, I don’t think we could’ve done this at times in our marriage. It’s really easy to get off track quickly. Reaching financial goals like being debt free, affording a house, or retiring take time and discipline. It may mean eating out less or not at all, or not taking a vacation. It may even mean selling your car and buying a cheaper one. The bottom line is that it takes sacrifice. Thankfully, though, you have been divinely paired with a partner to endure it with you and keep you accountable. I encourage you to lean on each other. You are a team!! Now go win like one!

Laura and I believe that every marriage is ordained by God, and He has a plan for each one. Things may not look great for you financially, but know that God’s plan is food on your table and a roof over your head. He loves you. We love you, too, and we are praying for you. You can do this through Christ!


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

When I can't let go of that empty tube of toothpaste

This post is an oldie but a goodie--especially with Psalm 23 still on my heart:

Sometimes I think I’m a product of the 1930s, as if I lived through the wrong generation and instead I'm more like my grandparents, who survived the Great Depression. 

Either that or I’m cheap—and I prefer to think it’s the former and not the latter. 

Right now I have two un-opened packages of mascara in my cabinet, and my current tube is seriously empty, but I am still—and have been for weeks—scraping the edges for some black goodness that makes my eyelashes look longer and thicker than they really are. 

And it’s not just makeup. I refuse to depart with a near-empty tube of toothpaste. Even though I have a new one under the sink, I will squeeze that tube for days, even weeks, putting teeny-tiny dollops on my tongue (yes, that’s where I put it, and that’s why Howell refuses to share a toothpaste tube with me). 

In the shower, I’ll fill my conditioner with water when it gets to the very end and shake it for the stuck sides of conditioner to “rain out” on my head. I’ll do this for at least two or three showers—until it’s really just water I’m pouring on my head—before I finally give in, throw it away, and grab the new bottle under the sink, the one I bought months ago in preparation for this day. 

Why do I do this? I have no idea… Howell just laughs at me and says, “Babe, just get a new one.” 

I mean, I have a black dress from 8th grade in my closet. I wore it faithfully through my senior year of college when I was consistently half my current size. Today, it does. not. fit. It never will fit. 

Why do I still have it? 

Obviously, I have a very hard time throwing things away, and I’m not only talking about cute sentimental things like cards (although, yes, I also keep every stinking card because I am crazy, and I guess I believe I will someday read through those boxes and boxes of paper). 

But seriously, y’all, I can’t even depart with a tube of toothpaste. 

With Howell and others who know me well, we joke about this, but I’ve been seriously thinking about it this week, especially as I (for real) am scraping my mascara bottle’s edges each morning. 

I believe the root of my sometimes comical behavior is fear of lack. 

I don’t think I consciously feel that way—and it’s not like we can’t afford an $8 tube of mascara. (I mean, I have two new ones in the cabinet!)

But somewhere in my heart is the root—

I must hold on or else…

I can’t let go or there won’t be enough….

I’ve blogged about fear of lack before—mostly related to seeing myself as if I'm not enough, as if I can’t contribute, as if I have nothing to offer.

For months, we had this thing on our kitchen counter: “Through Jesus, I am whole, complete, lacking nothing.” 

This is not only true for me as a person, but it’s also true for the Lord’s provision. He is enough, and He will always provide enough. 

I have never not been taken care of. (How’s that for a double negative and passive voice?!) Honestly, though, I cannot recall a time where the Lord hasn’t provided, and there were plenty of dire months where we needed it. 

But even in those paycheck-to-paycheck days, He provided. And He provides now. 

Yes, it’s funny, and we can laugh when I’m still holding on to that tube of toothpaste, but in all sincerity, it’s about my heart. 

And in my heart, I need to believe that I do not lack. 

He provides not only my vanity products like mascara—but my everything: physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. 

“The Lord is my Shepard; I shall not lack.”

What are you holding onto today that might be connected to a fear of lack? Dear friends, I encourage you to remind yourself--as I need to often!--that He is our source and provider.

Click to Tweet: When we're holding on too tight, when we can't throw anything away, do we have a fear of lack?


Monday, May 14, 2018

Who's Responsible?

Dr. Eggerichs ends the Love and Respect DVDs with an important final point: “My response is my responsibility.”

We are to love our spouse or respect our spouse, as unto the Lord, which means it’s not really about that person. It’s about my relationship with God and whether I’m going to be obedient to what He’s asked me to do.

What has He asked?

The message is real clear in Ephesians 5:33: Husbands, love your wives, and Wives, respect your husband.

It’s not easy—but it’s not rocket science. 

So this phrase, “My response is my responsibility,” reminds me I’m in control of my own action and not anyone else’s.

It makes me think of my favorite Danny Silk quote: “The only person I can control on a good day is me.”

Although in the heat of an argument, it’s so tempting to assert that our husbands are making us mad, or hurt, or whatever it is we’re feeling, the truth is, they’re not. We are choosing to feel the way we feel.

Even if your hubs is in the wrong, you’re still choosing your response.

So I’ve been thinking about this message—how great and wonderful it sounds and how very hard it is to practice—and I feel like the Lord showed me that this concept is deeply tied to our identity.

If I know who I am in Chris, then I am secure. I don’t have to defend myself, assert my position, compete, manipulate, or exasperate.

Whatever the circumstance—and really, this truth applies beyond marriage, if I am confident in my position as a child of God, as covered by His righteousness, as whole, complete, lacking nothing, then I’m free to not react or respond in any way except the one He’s called me to.

Regardless of how unloving an action or a statement might feel, if I’m certain of God’s love for me and if that’s enough, really enough, to satisfy me, then I’m not empty in that moment. I’m not in need of approval or affirmation.

And even if our husbands' actions don’t feel loving, we can, from that confidence in our identity, still choose to offer respect in response.

God has asked us to respect our husband, and when we do it, we’re honoring and obeying Him. So if it feels hard in those moments, when your man has stepped on your air hose, remember who God says you are, and remember how He feels about you!

My prayer, friends, is that we would come to a greater, richer understanding of who we are in Christ, that our identity would be rooted into the depths of our hearts. May we know how deep and far and wide His love is. Unfailing. Never ending. Unconditional. May we encounter Him, keeping our connection full.