“Tending” to Forgive

Dear Lindsey

I recently wrote about our family’s trip to the state fair: A car – which had been left in neutral – had coasted through the parking lot, barely missing my husband and other pedestrians as it reached its destination: crashing into a parked car.  The “unattended car” rolling in neutral to whatever destination the slope led reminded me of many “unattended lives” who coast along in neutral, letting external circumstances determine their destination: a crash.  (See that post, Unattended Vehicles, here.)

PRNDLWhat if instead we put our PRNDL to “drive” – to reach our highest potential for God’s glory?! Purposefully tending to our lives (with God’s will) is the only way to fight our natural tendencies of decline.

When thinking of self-attending, we most likely think of the “eat right and exercise” driving that may avoid a health crash. Or maybe we think of driving the budget to avoid the slide toward excessive debt and bankruptcy. The media will often drive “unattended lives” down their slippery sin-sucking slope toward alcohol, infidelity or pornography among the rest. If we don’t attend to our children, the culture around us will gladly pull them.  Although the list of driving needs is endless: diet, budget, media, parenting, etc, I have recently come to admire the “skillful driving” that some Christians do in the area of

Forgiveness.

It is strange to think of someone driving forgiveness, but at the same time, unless purposefully attended, forgiveness will be lacking and lead to a major crash every time. A natural tendency to being wronged is taking offense, holding the offense, and even wanting revenge for the offense- THAT is the slope of the world in which we live. Lying awake all night unattended, the emotions drive the will of their possessor and result in bitterness, anger, negativity, broken relationships, physical problems and even rage.  I have massive regret when I think of the glory robbed from God every day that I have lacked forgiveness toward someone else.

One author says forgiveness is: never repeating the offense again – to the person it involves or anyone else.  Telling the story or thinking the story only gives the emotions new birth in their old state, removing the benefits of forgiveness altogether. Best selling author, Orrin Woodward once said, “To forgive doesn’t mean we think the snake will never bite again. It means we don’t have a desire to hurt the snake.” We pity the snake. We want to help the snake to become a new creature in Christ. I have often had to force myself to forgive someone who is at the same time holding an incredible grudge against me! But didn’t Christ already show me that it is possible through His own death, when He prayed about his killers, “Forgive them. They know not what they do.”?

Martin Lloyd Jones, in his book, Life in Christ, says that when our pride is in order, no one can insult us. “Whatever the world may say about me, when I know myself, I know that they do not know the truth about me – it is much worse than they think.  When we see ourselves in the light of this glorious gospel, no one can hurt us, no one can offend us.”

I truly believe that the condition of my heart – not the size of the offense – determines the level of difficulty in forgiving the offender. In essence, if my heart recognizes that I have needed forgiveness in the past, I am more likely to give forgiveness today. If my heart is full of pride as though, “I have never needed forgiveness;” “I am holier than they that offended,” or “I would never have done that,” then I am more likely to take great offense at the action and have more difficulty forgiving.  In other words I hold myself in a prison, while limiting the freedom of those around me. It is best said as the old saying: “Not forgiving is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

Those who forgive not only give themselves the gift of freedom from the past, but they bless everyone they meet with the same feeling of freedom.

My 13-year-old son recently read The Hiding Place, a book which details Corrie ten Boom’s time in a

Cover of "The Hiding Place"

concentration camp during WWII. (I highly recommend listening to an audio recording Ms. Ten Boom made a few years before her death. Just hearing her voice again this week brought tears to me, knowing the impact she had on my life when I first heard her on a recording a couple of decades ago.  My 13-yr-old and I listened on the way home from soccer, and sat in the driveway to finish it, because he didn’t want to turn it off.  Download the MP3, or order the CD, “The Greatest of These is Love”  Here. Although the audio recording is appropriate for all ages, the book shares details that may be best for older adolescents.)

Caught in the act of hiding Jews, Ms. Ten Boom’s father, sister and she were taken Ravensbruck_camp_barracksaway to a hell on earth at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp that took the lives of both her father and her sister, while daily threatening her own. Mistreated, starved, and witness to unfathomable atrocities, she somehow was released days before the rest of her camp was marched into gas chambers to their death. I cannot imagine the bitterness that must have crept into her skin, thinking of the good she was trying to do for the Jewish people out of love, and the punishment she endured. I cannot conceive the haunting dreams that must have stolen her nights.  How must she have ached in mourning over the loss of her family, due to those purposeful acts of evil?

Somehow though, she was able to stay in the “driver’s” seat and “attend her life” anyway.

She steered her life with the Word of God, as she miraculously snuck a Bible into the concentration camp, though she was stripped naked and was watched by armed and vicious guards. (Would I have risked so much? Would I have even wanted the Bible enough to even try that?)

She accelerated her days against the negative slope with gratitude. At one point, she and her sister, Betsy, thanked God for the lice! Yes lice! Because they kept the guards from entering her sleeping quarters, and allowed them to study God’s Word together. (Am I as grateful even out of such grave circumstances?)

She shifted into higher gears by serving others. Instead of wallowing alone, or even just praying alone, she invited other prisoners to study with her, sharing her Bible – page by worn out page. (Do I have such a habit? – serving others instead of just meeting the needs of my family and me?)

She stayed on the right road, when she pitied the abusive guards and their lack of relationship with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She focused on where she was headed, not where the slope of the world wanted to take her. With her eyes on Jesus, she could follow His example of “forgiving those who know not what they do.”

She didn’t focus inward on the downward slope of self.

She chose to heal.

She drove to forgive.

She glorified the God who attended to her all along.

Then she did even more. She recognized the “unattended lives” in the post-war community – even including the concentration camp guards themselves. She didn’t watch them ride downhill to their destined crash, but began telling them about the Word of God, the salvation in Jesus Christ, and how and why she was able to forgive. She famously was approached by one of the very guards from the concentration camp that took her father and sister.  Even though years had passed, you can imagine her hesitant feelings when she saw him.  Did it bring back horror and begin nightmares again? Did her eyes lock with his and cause trauma deep in her heart? Did she think of the force with which he struck, or recall the harshness of his words? Did bitterness surface at the memory of him with a full belly while surrounding prisoners went weeks without food, and were severely punished or killed if they took even a bite of the potatoes they were forced to pick?  After she thought she had forgiven, did emotions resurface when she was face to face with the offender?

Anguish over her sister’s and father’s deaths in that camp must have wrenched her insides to want to run… or shout… or hurt!

…but she dropped her emotions and embraced that very man, as he embraced the Christ she represented.

“In that moment,” she later wrote, “something miraculous happened. A current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.”

She proved the Father’s forgiveness of sins when she looked beyond this stranger’s sins and was able to forgive.

Oh, to attend a life so well!

Corrie ten Boom would not have had a testimony, if at the beginning of the story, her “car” had been in neutral.  She would have followed a country’s leader, coasting on the pavement of his plans for evil, riding to whatever crash they led. She also would not have had a testimony if after all of the atrocities, she had “parked” in the prison of bitterness.

Her “attended life” before I was even born influenced my own to make sure I am

-       Steering with the Word of God

-       Accelerating with gratitude, culling surroundings for even the tiniest of blessings

-       Shifting into higher gears by serving others

-       Staying on the right road and pitying those who are not

-       Keeping my eye on the destination: in Christ Jesus.

We can drive forward, my dear friend!

In love,

Terri Brady

A scar is not all bad; it shows that a once open wound is now healed.

Romans 5:5And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Micah 7:18-19Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.  You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Related Posts:

Book References:

Audio Source

  • Corrie ten Boom’s story in her own words: “The Greatest of These is Love”  Here.

Unattended Vehicles

Dear Lindsey,

As we neared the fair grounds, the houses on the side streets had lawns decorated with parked cars. Big signs that said, “$10 parking” adorned their mailboxes at the road.

“Mom! Can we buy a house here? What a business asset the front yard would be!” Christine (age ten) said.  I can’t remember how I responded, but she concluded, “But I would only charge $9.”

Such an entrepreneurial-kid! (Thanks to Robert Kiyosaki’s books.)

The NC State Fair has become a family tradition that began two years ago: It was then that our newly arrived 10-week-old puppy was too new to be left at home, so she rode along.  Her presence only increased the excitement in the car (which didn’t need more excitement!) on our debut to the event. The State Fair, advertised to us for its deep-fried Oreos and Twinkies, (as if they needed hot oil to add to that “nutrition”!) with rides (which didn’t pass the two engineer-parents’ safety factor), stilt-walkers, Blue Grass bands, and the like, was sure to be a fun family day. Our children floated in excitement, while we tried to contain them in the Ford Expedition for the thirty-minute ride to the state capital’s fair grounds. My husband Chris opted for the N.C. State University football stadium parking lot with shuttles, instead of someone’s front lawn.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of cars were neatly arranged in diagonal rows. A yellow-vested worker guided us to the next relatively empty section, where Chris took the liberty of choosing a spot further away from all of the opening car doors.   Our truck’s doors opened like an explosion, opposite of the slow speed by which our children (and dog) unloaded. Chris came to my side of the car, barking out the normal arrival parental questions: “What’s taking so long to get out?!” “Why would you take your shoes off for such a short ride?” “Did you even bring shoes?”

Chris was bent over helping the youngest (age six at the time) tie his shoes, when suddenly the tone and urgency in his voice changed.

“HEEEYYY!” he yelled at a Toyota Corolla that slowly went by, barely missing Chris’s foot!

That’s when he and I noticed there was no driver in the car!

Some people, who were assumedly already riding the shuttle to the fair, had walked away, leaving their car in neutral.  The car was left on its own, silently drifting through a parking lot of families, heading for sure disaster. It was going slowly enough that Chris grabbed the door of the driver’s side, only to discover it was locked. Emergency mode was striking my heart as I tossed the puppy back into the truck and told the kids to sit tight. I ran alongside the passenger door of the runaway, realizing it too was locked. Our comfortable jog was becoming more of a sprint as the car, going slightly downhill, gained speed. Realizing there was no way to stop the car, (My heart is racing at the memory, just typing this.) Chris began focusing on trying to save the people in its path. “UNATTENDED CAR!” he yelled from his jog. Somehow I felt the need to translate the words for the average fair go-er, and I began yelling from my side, “HEEEYYYY! GET OUT OF THE WAY! THIS CAR HAS NO DRIVER! THIS CAR CAN’T STOP! GET OUT OF THE WAY!”

(Yes. My poor husband has taken much heat in our humor-filled family for his best-selling-author-ish choice of words, “unattended car!” since we were in a parking lot…full of “unattended cars.” But, I digress…)

A family, standing outside of their Jeep Cherokee (probably asking their kids where their shoes were), jumped out of the way before the silent killer passed. Fortunately, there were not many people in the path of the car, since it entered the parking section that had been filled hours earlier. We ran beside the car, yelling and working up a sweat, as it coasted to its final destination – crashing into a Honda Accord whose owners would be in for a not-so-fair ending to their day at the fair. Unattended Vehicles will be Towed at Owners Expense Sign-228x228

Unattended Lives

Driving away and laughing that day, thankful to have avoided what could have been a serious situation, I wondered how many times my life has been like the unattended Toyota Corolla. I have strolled through days (or years!) in neutral, allowing the grade of incline of my surroundings to determine my speed and destination.

  • The time at a job I just kept doing, afraid to change anything…
  • The times I was in a crowd of ladies, and I just kept listening, avoiding disagreement…
  • The times I allowed smoke from a conflict to be seen in the distance, without checking on the source of the fire…
  • The time I was done with college and said, “Yay! Now I never have to read another book!”

When we look around, “unattended lives” abound:

  • People who worship their dog or TV, rather than learning how to get along with others.  (Even the bumper stickers quip, “The more I know people, the more I like my dog.”)
  • Families who have never made an effort to keep a budget call out “unfair!” at anyone who has money.
  • Millions who stopped their learning once the government stopped requiring it (when they turned 16) and still get to vote.
  • Married people who think that because they wear a ring, they deserve loyalty from their spouse, so they no longer strive to please the one they married.

IMG_0431It makes me sad to see their vehicles plodding along, doomed to crash.  Unfortunately, innocent bystanders will have to deal with the ramifications of the crashes due to those “unattended lives.”

.

Attending to Life

How do we get life out of neutral?

Learning a little Latin and Greek with my homeschoolers has brought word meanings to mind: some for real, and some I just totally make up. (smile!) However, I did learn somewhere in there that “a” is put at the beginning of words to mean “opposite of.” So therefore, “attending to” would mean the opposite of “tending to.” In other words, the only way to make our lives go in the opposite direction of their fleshly tendencies (sin, laziness, etc.) is to attend to them.

An “attended life” is one in which someone…well…has the car in gear!

Someone who:

  • Determines a direction in which to aim, and then runs toward it. (Run the race set before us, to obtain the prize in Christ Jesus! Heb 12:1 )
  • Reads the right books, listens to audios and associates with people who are directionally correct.  (And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. – Heb 10:25)
  • Understands that education is a lifetime adventure. As Orrin Woodward says, “Education is a lifetime assignment. It expires when we do.” https://twitter.com/Orrin_Woodward

Don’t get me wrong; life has many crashes, that are “accidents,” too. I would be wrong to say all bad outcomes are because we let go of the wheel. We cannot control negative outcomes, only our efforts toward positive ones.  As my father always taught me, “Do your best; angels can do no more.”  Too often, I have looked at the smoke rising from a crashed day in my life and thought, “I could have avoided that.”

Press On

I suppose in order to drive, we must press on the pedal. :)

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.” – Phil 3:12

“An unattended car may be dangerous, but an unattended life can be tragic.” – Chris Brady. https://twitter.com/RascalTweets

To paraphrase Ann Graham Lotz, “It’s painful to watch a Christian who has a saved soul, but is living a wasted, [unattended] life.”

Press on [the pedal], my dear friend!

Terri Brady

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The Book is Here!

Introducing: Letters to Lindsey in book form!

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Thanks to my husband’s initiative and his incredible, creative team; thanks to you who requested it; and thanks to the late Russ Mack who persistently encouraged it: Letters to Lindsey (the book) is available! With a foreword by Laurie Woodward and introduction by my best-selling husband Chris, let the stories begin! The chronicled journeys through infertility and the brain tumor survival,  tea parties and fishing trips, along with enflamed underwear (size 4T) on a chandelier are all decorated with my kids’ cute quotes in Post-It note form.  It’s a short read, a long read or anything in-between. So curl up with a blanket in front of the fire, make some fresh popcorn and hot chocolate, (or just go to the beach!) and relish some quiet reading time as you laugh with me, cry with me, and grow with me!

Enjoy!

-Terri Brady

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Readers (you!) in line for book-signing in Milwaukee, WI.

Tough Breaks

Dear Lindsey,

“Mom,” my eight-year-old began last week, “could you please call my coach and letknee-pain him know I can’t play tonight, because I cracked my leg.”

Seeing he was walking fine, I smiled inside (remembering my own “broken leg” claims of childhood) and asked how it happened. He explained he had been playing soccer with his brother. Five years his elder, that particular brother can be a little over-competitive with his already-powerful kick.

“Did he miss the ball and kick you? Or did you fall? What happened?” I prodded, guessing there might be a little tattling involved.

“He kicked the ball ‘as hard as he could’ [a phrase that always makes me smile inside] and I tried to stop it.”

“Oh my! That’s the kind of shot I stopped one time, and I couldn’t use my shoulder for a year!” I said. “Well did you at least stop him from getting the goal?” I jested to make light of the situation.

“No.” He sulked, and I stopped suspecting his purpose of getting his brother in trouble.

“No? You tried to stop it and it hit you so hard you hurt your leg, but it still went in?”

“No,” he complained, “I tried to kick it really hard, but I missed the ball completely.”

“You missed the ball? Then how did you hurt your leg; did you kick the ground?” I dragged the story out of him.

“No. I didn’t hit anything. But I kicked so hard, I cracked my leg, because I heard it crack,” he surmised.

I relished in the joy of motherhood.

“Well, bud, I don’t think you broke it, so you are probably ok for practice tonight.  Besides, you are scrimmaging the girls. Your team needs you!”

“No, Mom,” the concern in his voice was obvious.  “There is no way I can play in my scrimmage tonight.”

Uh oh…I smelled a teachable moment. What can I say to encourage him away from the wimpy attitude that tries to stop us all when the “going gets tough”?

Bradys play hurt!“? -no…he’s heard that one already.

Story! I need a story!

My kids (like us adults) always learn the best through a relevant story. For me, when it is told through a third-party’s eyes, it takes the offense away and allows learning without feeling attacked.  Certainly I could think of someone overcoming hardship that would relate to this eight-year-old’s heart and mind. Then I remembered an oldie but goodie from his very own oldest brother (whom I knew this younger son would never see as “wimpy”). I started my “once upon a time…” voice with the following true story – but in eight-year-old terms, like, “You know what happened next?” to keep his attention:

When your big brother was eleven…

(From my previous Letter, “Itching to be Tough,” images-1which was inspired by this conversation with my eight-year-old last week, but that day I told it to him in younger terms.)

When Casey was about eleven, I remember that sometimes even he, like many eleven-year-old boys would cry, or fight wimpiness. I prayed that God would help to make him strong and tough.

The very next day, Casey got poison ivy! It was just a little patch, but Casey thought he would have to skip his soccer game. I told him I thought he needed to “play hurt,” because it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

That night, the rash got worse. A lot worse! It was on his face, his belly, his legs and his feet! He itched SO BAD, I prayed that God would take the poison ivy away! fast!

But the next day, Casey got out of bed and you know what he did? He put on his soccer uniform to go play the game!

I couldn’t believe it! Then I realized what a champion he became when he overcame the poison ivy!  I thought back to my prayer just days prior and realized that maybe the poison ivy WAS the answer to my first prayer: that God would make Casey tough, because when I saw him play even though he had poison ivy, I realized my prayer was answered.

I wonder if God ever laughs at me?! One moment, I prayed that Casey would become a warrior, and then when God allowed the exact thing that would make him tough (poison ivy),  I immediately prayed it would be taken away.  Lucky for me, God continued with His plan, and didn’t just listen to my request for the “easy way out.”

Not only did Casey play for his team that day, but he scored a goal!

“Maybe sometimes God allows the struggles so that we can gain the strength we need to persevere,” I told my young son (telling him about Romans 5:3-5) as I finished the story of his brother, hoping it would make an impact on his own toughness factor for the night.

He sat pensively silent. I gloated at my mothering ability to teach through a third-party story. I hoped he got the parallels to his own soccer-scrimmage dilemma.  I got a little choked up, thinking about my now sixteen-year-old who has become such a man.

Then the eight-year-old broke into my prideful thoughts, “Well, that is a good story with poison ivy, Mom, but MY cracked leg is a much bigger problem!

Ha! Don’t we always believe “our mule carries the bigger load”?

I told him he could let the coach know that he “popped” his knee, and that he might need to take it lightly that night.

images-3I would say that the lesson wasn’t learned, but alas, he DID play in his scrimmage that night… “broken leg” and all.  His team was down 2-0 at half-time, but came back in the second half to win the game against the girls. (He wanted me to be sure and tell you that part.)

Enjoying motherhood,

Terri

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Itching to be Tough

Dear Lindsey,

He was struggling between boyhood and manhood. Like a tadpole learning to cope with legs instead of a tail, he was learning to live with mechanisms different from his youth. Tears came too easily for this eleven-year-old and I knew they would need to lessen as his body matured to man.

One night, after an afternoon bout of his crying over someone changing rules in a game or other mildly unjust action, I intently prayed for him to grow up to be the man God intended:

“God please make my son tough.

-       The kind of tough that can withstand struggles.

-       The kind of tough that can lift the weights for his eventual family.

-       The kind of tough that perseveres.

-       The kind of tough that plays hurt.

-       The kind of tough that is a warrior for You.”

I prayed that God would reveal my own “mom-weaknesses” where I may have been catering to my son’s softer side, hindering his growth to manhood.

The day after my fervent prayer, a rash broke out on his belly. He itched and whined, and frankly, made a big deal of it. It did look itchy and uncomfortable, to say the least, but the entire rash was less than the size of my hand. It wasn’t really obvious what it was, but we suspected poison ivy.

“Mom, there’s no way I can play in my soccer game tomorrow!” he said.

“Bud, I know it itches, but once you see that ball on the field, I bet the itching will be imagesless than your desire for a goal. Besides, your team needs you!”  I said as I dutifully washed the bumps in special soap, put some Calamine on it and gave him Benedryl.

That night, I stayed up late into my “productive hours,” getting ready for the Mom-starting-gun to make its sound again the following day. As I passed his room at 2am, I saw my poor son sitting up on his bed, miserably hugging himself, rocking back and forth while tears streamed down his swollen cheeks. The spots had spread like the ivy that caused them – up from his chest to his neck and face, swelling one of his eyes almost closed. It grew down from his belly, hitting his inner thighs and continued to his feet.

He. Was. Miserable.

I gave him more Benedryl, coated what I could with more Calamine, and realized there was really nothing more I could do until we got to a physician.  I sat quietly on his bed, softly stroked his back, and silently prayed:

“Dear Lord. You know the pain in my son today. You KNOW how badly he is suffering with this itchiness and how long it can last. Please, God, take the poison ivy away and restore his skin to fully healed.”

As I lay in bed that night, I thought of his soccer game the following day, and how the coach would not understand that he would miss “because of poison ivy.”  I imagined a phone call I would make, emphasizing how BAD the poison ivy was: it was not just a couple spots on his belly!

When I woke in the morning, I was surprised to see my son already awake. He stood, fully dressed in game-attire, looking at himself in the mirror while he applied his own Calamine.

“I can either sit here and itch, or I can play a game for my team. I’m choosing to play.” He answered the question I hadn’t asked.

I was in shock. I started to make excuses and tell how the rash was more intense than it originally looked; how much worse it might itch with sweat; I started to wonder if others could get it, and a million other excuses for him not to go out of the house looking like a swollen monster covered in pink paint.

But my prayers from two nights before were answered, and my “mom-weaknesses” were silenced.

Not only did he play for his team that day, but he scored a goal!  A tough boy CAsey opponent became a man – and his body caught up later.  

(Note: If he had not come up with the idea himself, I don’t know that I would have pushed him to play that game. I think parenthood is a dance between compassion and pressure. Without the first, the latter causes pain and not necessarily change. (Ephesians 6:4))

I don’t suppose “toughness” is really the lack of tears, nor lack of fears, but the ability to push through yourself for your team, your family or someone beyond the one in your uncomfortable skin.

I thought back to my prayer just days prior and wondered if God ever laughs at me?! One moment, I was praying my son would become a warrior, and then when He allowed the very thing that would make him tough, I immediately prayed it would be taken away.

I am thankful God continued with His plan, and didn’t allow me to get in the way.

Maybe there are some cases of “poison ivy” in life for which we should be thankful instead of resentful: the struggles that made us strong; the trials that toughened our skin; the resistance that built muscles.

Or maybe there are some in my life right now from which I should be learning instead of running?

Because I guess answered prayers are sometimes disguised as itchy monsters covered in pink paint….before the goal is scored.

In love,

Terri

Romans 5: 3-5: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

“We pray for silver, but God often gives us gold instead.” – Martin Luther

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Bradys Play Hurt

Dear Lindsey,

I have decided I know why it is called, “roughhousing”: because it is rough on my HOUSE! Boys are boys! When our oldest was barely one-year-old, “wrestling with dad” became the most exciting activity of the day. It progressed well into toddlerhood and became training ground for toughness with each of our three boys.  Chris and Casey spent hours tumbling on the floor and showed such a different relationship than my own with my son (or my relationship with my husband, for that matter!). The game always seemed to come to a halt in tears, as the toddler would succumb to exhaustion, realizing he was “whooped.”  Chris wanted to raise our boys to be tough though, and he would never let their game end with crying.

“Brady’s play hurt!” Chris (knowing that his son was not really injured) would egg a four-year-old Casey on – never rewarding his sniveling.  Making it fun so the toddler would continue playing, Chris would then let enough time pass that tears were forgotten, and he could end the game on a good note.

This game was daily, no maybe hourly! Wrestling with Daddy still occurs in this house with teenagers…only louder!

One particular day of toddlerhood, though, the game was declared “over,” and Chris rested his eyes, lying down on the couch in our playroom while Casey played with Legos. After some time, the four-year-old suddenly ran and jumped on the couch, landing on Chris’s mid-section, startling Chris from sleep to a shout: “Owwww! Get off of me!”

Casey got a cute twinkle in his eye and said,

“Come on, Dad! Bradys play hurt!”

I laughed out loud!

And the wrestling continued.

Oh my! The number of times the saying goes through my head outnumbers the wrestling events where it was created.

When I want to give up in tears,

when I want to make excuses for my mood,

when I want to scream in exhaustion, “I can’t get it all done!”

I go back to the moment with my four-year-old and am reminded: “Bradys play hurt,” and I stay in the game …just one more day.

Blessings,

Terri

Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.

Hebrews 12:1:  Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,…

1 Corinthians 9:27:  but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

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Finding a Character to Marry, Part Three

Previous Posts on this topic:

Dear Lindsey,

There was a story of a guy and girl who were newlyweds and went to the bedroomimages-2 the night of the wedding.  She sat down on the bed and removed her heels and nylons.  Opening a drawer, she put in her glasses.  She then continued and took off her eyelashes, putting them in the drawer. She took off some special padding, a hairpiece, and a girdle and put them in the drawer too. Her Invisalign, her Spanx, and other paraphernalia filled the drawer. The man looked, stunned at what was left of who he thought he had married and said, “Maybe I should just make love to that drawer!”

My single girlfriend, be the REAL YOU, and your man will love YOU after you are married. Be sure that your real beauty cannot be taken off, or put into a drawer. Make your real beauty shine. (1Pet 3:3)

Summary of FInding a Character to Marry:

-                Be God crazy. (Part Zero)

-                Be someone with character of Christ, worthy of being married. (Part One)

-                Be the best YOU you can be and the right spouse will find you at the right time, just as God intended all along.  (Part Two)

Questions some may be asking:

Q:  WHAT IF I am already married, and now reading these articles, I feel like I have made a mistake in the spouse I chose. (This is my least favorite question to answer here.)

A:  The Bible is very clear: Do not divorce because your spouse does not follow Christ:

1Co 7:12-13 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.

Yet, we can trust that God has a plan for every day (even the ones that don’t make sense to us)!  Trust in Him and not your understanding, and He will direct even you. (Prov. 3: 5-6) You never know what the Lord will do with your marriage – and your unbelieving spouse – through your testimony of peace and loyalty in Christ. They may be won over, without words, by the purity and reverence of your life.  (1 Peter 3:1-6)

Q:  WHY would you write to singles, when you are so “happily married after twenty years”?

A:  Honestly, I feel for singles today! When I struggled with the pain of infertility, I remember feeling like singleness had so much in common with it – waiting while others around me seemed to have what I wanted, and wondering why God didn’t want that for me. In addition for singles, the pull against the Word of God and His direction is so evident in the media today, and therefore it is probably evident in the lives of many singles across the country. I want to put my arms around you and tell you that you are not alone. You CAN glorify God as a single. There is more to life than volleyball and beer, so don’t feel like you have to succumb to that in order to find your future spouse. God DOES have a plan. Do the right thing, and don’t act out of fear that it won’t happen unless you…do the wrong thing, quickly. There are other singles reading this right now who wish they could find YOU. Be ready!  What if you took advantage of being single while you can? Read good books for becoming all God meant for you to be? Dived into serving others who are in need, before your family needs you full-time? Worshipped with no time-limit of hungry kids to feed?

Then one day, right in the middle of finding joy in being single, your spouse will come into your life, carrying you to the next season. It is amazing how the Lord works; believe it!

Q:  So WHAT IF the last decade of my life has been spent with no evidence of the character of Christ?

A:  Jesus knows. Repent, (Ask Him for forgiveness and correct your ways) and surrender your life to Him by praying. Romans 12:1 says you can. He WILL forgive!

Q:  WHAT IF all that purity stuff is too late for me?

A:  Start anew. Ephesians 4:22 says, “Move out.” According to the Bible, it is never too late! We can repent, be forgiven to the point of “white as snow” again. (Isaiah 1:18)  All have sinned. (Romans 3:23) Your sin, in God’s eyes, will not be considered worse than anyone else’s (even your mother’s! :) ). (James 2:10) “Secondary abstinence” is probably more difficult, but oh how it must please the Lord to see your new commitment to Him. Find a local church for support in your new life.

Q:  WHAT IF my parents would prefer I “court” instead of “date”?

A:  Praise God you have parents who care so much! Honor them, and be blessed!

Q:  WHAT IF I am not sure of God’s will for dating, courting, marriage, singleness, my life in general?!

Welcome to the world of “faith not sight”! (2Cor 5:7) To quote the book, Just Do Something, by Kevin DeYoung, (which I highly recommend you read!):

“We must denounce our sinful desire to know the future and to be in control. We are not gods. We walk by faith, not by sight. We risk, because God does not risk.” (p. 48)

“We should spend more time trying to figure out how to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God as instructed in Micah 6:8 as a [single] and less time worrying about whether God wants us to be [married].” (p. 45)

“The better way is the biblical way: Seek first the kingdom of God, and then trust that He will take care of our needs, even before we know what they are and where we are going.” (p.26)

HERE’S OUR STORY:

Chris and I met in a college class, “Real Time Computing in the Laboratory.” Oh the geeky life I led!

At the end of graduation, it was as though everyone (including myself) was expecting me to have a ring, but Chris was clearly not ready. He often talked about taking a year off of work to thrive at being single. He wanted to travel the world before the world was depending on him, so to speak.

I understood; he has always been a Rascal (the appropriate title for a book he wrote).

I waited.

I knew how badly I wanted it, because my night-time dreams involved him poppingimages-1 the question:  One night in my sleep, Chris proposed to me using a plastic “mood” ring. In the dream, when I hesitated in shock over the type of ring, he quickly switched to another…and another…and another. “You don’t like it? Do you like this one better?” he said, nervously showing me another ring of many colors out of his pocket. In his typical fashion (even in my dream), he had me laughing out loud, and telling him, “I love it,” with every one, but when he took out the sixth one (a pearl – Finally! One color!) I yanked it from him and said, “It’s perfect!”

When we had parted after graduation, my job offer was in Dayton, Ohio, four hours from Chris in Michigan, but soon after I was transferred to Fredericksburg, VA:  twelve long hours of driving from the boy of my dreams. Five months out of college, and I was antsy. I felt like guys in the apartment complex were interested in going out, and I was always staying home alone, while my heart was in Michigan.  I was tired of waiting for Chris to decide whether I was the one. I was tired of not allowing myself into the social life of young-twenties, since I was serious about the Michigan boy.  I was beginning to wonder if I had an idol of my heart in Chris that was actually taking me away from Christ. I wanted to be married that badly.

I could stand it no longer. I was resolved to break off the dating relationship. We had plans to meet for an October weekend in Pittsburgh, our college town and basically the half-way point between Michigan and Virginia. A fall sinus infection was threatening to steal my weekend, but I tried to think clearly despite the medicine. As I drove the six hours, I cried and put words together to cut our strings and let Chris go.  I surrendered to God’s plan, since it clearly wasn’t for us to be married, or Chris certainly would have asked by now. I got a peace about being single. I dreamed of youth groups I would help; children to whom I would be a “Big Sister.” I surrendered my marriage dream to God’s timing.

I arrived at the designated meeting place, and saw his white S-10 pickup, with the red striped sticker down the side. My pulse quickened! As he got out of his truck, his smiling eyes seemed to scream across the parking lot to my own. I should have known the depth of those dimples was foreshadowing the ones I see in my own kids today. His joy in seeing me melted my heart into a formation that has not left. There was NO WAY I was breaking up with that man that weekend, but I had agreed to be surrendered to God’s timing.  I was at peace with singleness*.

We spent the day throwing football at Schenley Park, a favorite place of ours near our Alma Mater, Carnegie Mellon.  The next night, we took the incline – a trolley car that rides a track up the side of Mt. Washington for a glorious overlook of the city of Pittsburgh – where it had all begun on one of our first dates, two years prior.  When we departed the train, Chris grabbed my hand and seemed to race to the top of the mountain to the overlook platform. Unfortunately, my sinus infection had taken any oxygen that was left after the altitude had had its share.

“All I want is Nyquil and a pillow!” I famously said as he hurried me along, not seeming to care.

We stood out on the cantilever deck with the $0.25 binocular views, and he put his arm around me, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a ring box.

My heart skipped. NOW? Had I thought about this? SERIOUSLY? He’s going to propose?  Right after I was going to give it up?! Was I SURE what I was going to say? Was I READY? Did God give me THIS so soon after I had surrendered it?

He opened the box, and my heart stopped beating when he revealed a costume jewelry piece, similar to the mood ring toy I had seen in my dream (which I had previously shared with Chris).

“Haha! You thought I was going to ask you something, didn’t you?!” He laughed.

I fought myself to force a laugh, but this was not funny.

I turned my head toward the city lights as the crisp October air chapped my face.

Would he ever understand? This isn’t a humorous time of my life. I am serious and he is not. But I am content to wait. “Really, God, I will wait contently” I silently prayed.

“So you want the real one?” he said to my back as he reached into his pocket and revealed another case. This one looked like a crystal cube, in much contrast to its black plastic predecessor.

He got down on one knee, and my emotional roller coaster began the click-click climbing back to the top.

“Terri Estes, I love you with all my heart.”

(Cue the tears.)

“I know I said I wanted to travel the world before I settled down; but then I realized, I really would rather do that WITH you.  I want to spend our lives together. Will you marry me?”

(I said, “yes.”)

images

How will you know it’s the right one?

When you love something, let it go (to God).  If it comes back to you, (meets you in Pittsburgh and proposes like your dream), it’s yours (and His will) and if it doesn’t, it never was. (smile)

In God’s timing.

According to His plan.

Delight yourself in Him, and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps 37:4)

In love,

Terri

In all things, at all ages, single or married, we can give thanks and delight ourselves in Him and indeed be blessed. (Ps 37:4)

Finding a Character to Marry, Part Two

How to Find a Spouse

Dear Lindsey,

In the previous two Letters, Part Zero and Part One, we have been discussing “How to find a spouse,” featuring advice from Pastor Stephen Davey.  If Dr. Stephen Davey had a list of things to DO, then Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a former radio talk show host who often took calls from listeners expressing their dating woes, had a unique list of Don’ts in her book, Top Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess up Their Lives. Using brash terms like stupid, 51Xwh+JmslL._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_“Dr. Laura” holds nothing back as she allows single women to learn from the mistakes of others. Although my milder personality would probably choose a softer term, I kept the word stupid in this Letter, as I summarized her list.  For the most part, her book says that finding your identity in someone else (and I would add: someone other than Christ) puts your happiness in someone else’s control, and never ends well.

Dr. Laura’s Ten Stupid Things:

Stupid Attachment 

If you feel like a spouse is the answer to all of your woes, you are heading for disappointment.  Overly-attaching yourself to someone is often the number one reason that someone wants to become unattached! Fast!

images-8When my daughter Christine was 2-yrs-old, my little butterfly loved attention of her three buffalo brothers. Once while buckled into her car seat in the third row of our Ford Excursion, she asked Casey (then age 9) to sit next to her. He said he wanted to sit one row forward, so he could more easily exit when we arrived at his practice. She broke into tears and wailed to me, hoping my ears in the front seat would recognize her desperation two rows behind me.  “Mooooooommmmy!!!! Casey won’t make me happpppyyyyyy!” she sobbed.

Let’s all have a moment of prayer for Christine’s future husband.

OK.

Seriously, attaching our happiness to anyone else is a perfect recipe for perfect unhappiness. Become the best unattached YOU, [bringing glory to God]. Have dreams; forge a purpose; have an identity; make a commitment to things outside of yourself. You can only become the best spouse by becoming the best YOU first.

This principle doesn’t end once a woman puts on a ring.  (Read “The Needy Queen” in a previous letter, The Bad Queens for how “attachment” looks within marriage.) Becoming the best YOU, aligned with Christ, will make you a better wife, because that is the One with Whom your husband should be aligning as well.  (2 Cor 6:14 says that believers in Christ should only be yoked with believers in Christ.)

 

Stupid Courtship

If you are dating a jerk, now’s the time to leave him. In Dr. Laura’s words, “You don’t have to settle; you can SELECT!” (Emphasis mine)

You are worth it!

When I was in high school, I had a suitor, who quickly became a stalker with a side of creepy when I didn’t share his admiration in reverse. What began as love notes and personally recorded songs sent through the mail, quickly became threatening phone calls and eventually mystery hang-ups. (Before the inventionimages-6 of caller ID, he would call my house, ask for me, and then hang up as soon as I got to the phone.)  Once I cracked the case of the mystery phone-hang-up artist, my older brother called the guy and told him the familiar poem of the 70’s: “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it is yours. If it doesn’t come back to you, it never was.” Except, my big brother, … in my defense, … being the sweet, protective big brother he is, …said in a threatening tone, “If you love something, let it go. If she comes back to you, she’s yours. If she doesn’t, and you call again, I will hunt you down and rip you apart with my bare hands.”  The suitor never called me again.

I think “stupid courtship” is coming back to someone when you shouldn’t.

 

Stupid Devotion

This one seems so simple:  if a situation is self-defeating, then leave it.  When you have a dream, a defined purpose and a calling, and your significant other is defeating that, it is probably defeating “the you” that God meant you to be. 

 Don’t be devoted to self-defeat.

A true future spouse will be devoted to that which you are devoted, so be sure your devotions are worthy of …um…devotion.

Bryan Heath has a song that says, “I am not my family tree.” You have incredible, God-given value, and nobody –particularly a future spouse – should be trying to convince you otherwise.  Your past (or your family’s past) does not have to determine your future; Dr. Laura says it this way: “History is not destiny.” Your choice in a spouse matters.

 

Stupid Passion

Things happening in the premarital bedroom (or backseat of a car) are not love.   How do I know? Ask any man who has ever paid for “passion”. Why would someone pay for it? Because it feels physically good – not because it increases a relationship with the one he paid.

OK, some will argue it is not all lust, some is expressing love; but it is all against God’s Law. To really spell L-O-V-E, let him show you he loves you enough to preserve you for the wedding night. Show him you love him enough to treat his body as a beautiful temple deserving respect. Express love to each other by waiting.

In this day, movies and daytime television advertise premarital activity as not only acceptable, but expected.  I saw one recently that said, “Wait until the third date.”  The “third date”???!!!!!

images-1

“They” say it is respectable if you wait to go to bed together on the THIRD DATE?!!!!

I hope you didn’t just argue, “Oh good, I’m not THAT bad; I wait until the fifth.”

.

The Bible says differently. It clearly says, “Wait until the wedding night.”

How is that possible in this day and age? While the world says, “No way!” God says, “You can do anything through Christ who gives you strength.” (Phil 4:13)

Stay strong, and your marriage will be too!

 

Stupid Cohabitation (Living Together Without Marriage)

images-4

Statistics show that unmarried couples living together ARE NOT LIKELY to stay together once they are married.  Wow. THAT is worthy of repeating:

Statistics show that unmarried couples living together ARE NOT LIKELY to stay together once they are married.

 So if this letter is How to Find a Spouse, then statistically, STAY IN SEPARATE RESIDENCES. 

This mistake is related to all of the mistakes listed above:

  • Stupid Attachment (You will lose yourself when living with him);
  • Stupid Courtship and Stupid Devotion (You are less likely to do the right thing if it is breaking up, if you are sharing a residence with him.);
  • Stupid Passion (How do you stop from eating the chocolate cake if you see it out all the time?)

Living together is tempting when it “makes sense” financially. It’s ironic to me that people, even Christians, will make this argument. Yet, they would never rob a bank, even though that might make sense for their “financial benefit” – because they recognize that stealing is wrong according to God’s law.

So is sleeping together before marriage! Ugh!

Living together makes it easy for someone to become dependent on someone else.

Living together, statistically doesn’t lead to a good marriage.

If someone doesn’t want to continue dating unless they can “take the car on a test drive,” then go ahead and lose the relationship. It is likely that you would have lost it for other reasons anyway even if you had slept with him, but then you would have been the used car, and you are worth more than that.

 

Stupid Expectations

If someone is a controlling person, you can expect him or her to continue to be controlling.   A wedding ring doesn’t change someone’s personality, so your expectations for after marriage should be about the same as who he/she was before marriage.

I remember dating someone who gave me my every wish. What Terri wanted, Terri got. It was heavenly…for a while. Then it went from heavenly to heavy.  The pressure of being the rudder of “our” ship was too much, although I didn’t recognize the problem at the time.

Later, when dating Chris, things were quite different. He was attending graduate school on a full fellowship with a monthly stipend, and I was living on Ramen Noodles and cold Spaghettios. I felt like he was rich!  Our date night was my “princess” night!

Then one day Chris pointed out the bill. Really? My date showed me the bill and questioned why it was so high?! At first, I was embarrassed for him that he would be such a slave to money. (Oh, the irony of my blindness is killing me here – but I will share anyway.) He went on to say that he loved our time together, but wondered if we could do it without the appetizers, specialty coffees and desserts sometime?

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Some who have heard my husband speak on leadership have said he can punch you across the face, and somehow make you laugh and follow his way. I think that night I got “punched.”  Inside, I was embarrassed that I had been a burden on his budget. But be still, butterflies of my soul! I fell madly in love with the man who would be so strong as to control the rudder of our ship. His courage to stand up to me (on something with which I could only agree!) made a pattern for much resolution in our marriage.  Oh how I pity the woman who has no rudder speaking truth to her.

 

Stupid Child Conception

images-7“First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage!” I sang hundreds of times in the jump rope game of my youth. The song’s principles are not always the case these days.

Somewhere around the age of six, I remember visiting a family friend in the hospital. By chance, we ran into one of my father’s other friends from work, whose teenage daughter had just given birth. In my youthful state, I stared at the young girl and innocently asked my dad, “Where’s the baby’s daddy?”

He looked down with sad eyes and said, “There is no dad.”

In my little mind that day, I had decided that God had made a mistake. I feared for my 6-yr-old-self, (checking my belly to make sure it wasn’t growing) worried that the mistake could happen to me too.  Obviously time and education wiped the cover of innocence from my eyes and I eventually figured out the truth of who was making the mistakes.

The term, “baby daddy,” of the 2000’s was coined because of so many conceptions out of wedlock. (Or would those be misconceptions?)  Careless women and men, who don’t pay attention to some of Dr. Laura’s other listed “mistakes”, will end up in this situation.  Unfortunately, or ridiculously, some women will become pregnant out of wedlock ON PURPOSE trying to get a marriage commitment. Entrapping a daddy, thinking this will change him is as bad as it gets; it’s like risking the life of a child for your own selfish desires to be married.  It only multiplies the number of unhappy people in the house.

Be responsible.

 

Stupid Subjugation, Stupid Helplessness and Stupid Forgiving

Some direct quotes from Dr. Laura’s book on these last three “mistakes”:

“If your someone abuses you, it’s over.images-5

It is the saddest thing when someone won’t stop trying to get love from someone who is abusive and offensive to him/her.  Some women will use the “any dad will do” excuse to stay with bad men in bad situations. A NO dad home is better than an abusive dad home.”

Be strong and courageous, for the Lord thy God is with you. (Josh 1:9)

Until we “part” again (in Part Three),

Terri

Related Articles:

Finding a Character to Marry (How to Find a Spouse)

Note: This is a re-post of Part I on the subject, “How to Find a Spouse“. Since the topic was visited yesterday, with “Part Zero,” the article below is being republished for the purpose of sequentiality.

Dear Lindsey,

Chris and I celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary in May!  Yes, I got married when I was 10!

Wedding Dress For Happy Couple in Love

I thought it would be fun to write a note about “how to find a spouse,” but when I told Chris, he said, “How can you write about that subject, when there is only one as perfect as I am, and you already got me?!” Ha! Yes I do!

Truth be told, Chris was not the first man to propose to me. When I was a young intern at General Motors, every day when I returned from work to my 2nd floor apartment in Sandusky, OH, a man was waiting in the parking lot. He would watch for my car, and then follow me to my place, shouting to my back, “Will you marry me? Please?!”

Having had a previous run-in with a stalker, I was always cautious when I lived alone. I added locks to keep even the landlord from being able to enter without my permission when I was home. In the balcony’s sliding glass door track, I put a long, 1-inch-diamter metal dowel that would prevent the door from sliding if the lock gave way.

When home after work one day, I put on my bathing suit and headed through that sliding glass door to my deck for some sun. I stepped out onto my balcony and slid the door closed behind me. Unfortunately, the rod slid down into the track as I pulled the door shut, locking me out onto my own deck. I stood out there in a bathing suit that was reserved for privacy of a 2nd floor fenced balcony and wondered who would hear my voice from my perch.  I scanned the area, and the only person within earshot was the man who wished to be my fiancé! I decided I would die of starvation on that deck before I would ever climb down in front of him, or ask him for help.

Haha!

Had I climbed down from there, maybe that would have been one way to gain a spouse. But that is not the way I am advocating in this Letter.

How to Find a Spouse

Tony Robbins suggests that you don’t marry someone until you know how he or she will react when: angry, sick, tired or wet. So I suppose you could ask your perspective spouse on a date to get something to eat, then drive around lost, delaying the meal, almost wrecking and drop him/her off in a big puddle in front of a sprinkler system to see the reaction. If you survive the night, you have found a fiancé! Luckily Chris didn’t choose that route.

When I searched online for “how to find a spouse,” there were many answers – which provided mere entertainment for me. Wikipedia, which is a website of “majority of opinions,” provided solutions, some of which were:

-       Make a list of at least 15 things you want, physical features, etc. Then determine which ones you are willing to give up as less important and compromise.

-       “If you cannot picture self with this person and being happy with them for 30/40 years, then they are not the right person for you. Take marriage seriously to avoid divorce.”

-       “Go over your list and see what a person would see in you. If you want to marry someone with money, a rich person with any sense won’t take up with someone who is overly motivated by wealth; therefore, get your finances in order so that you aren’t desperate, can show that you know how to deal with money, and won’t be disappointed (at least not financially) by a prenuptial agreement.”

-       Watch out. Probably not a good spouse if they have one of these red flags: 1. Can’t get their driver’s license, 2. Can’t hold a professional job. 3. Didn’t complete their college degree.

Or my favorite funny WIKI answer:

-       “You don’t have to jump into bed with everyone you date to know if they are compatible.”

(WOW, I’m glad someone shared that!)

Further search online revealed an actual mathematical calculation for how to find a spouse.

Calculus Horribilus

In an article entitled, “How to Find a Spouse: A Problem in Discrete Mathematics with an Assist from Calculus,” Dan Teague states:

If there are N candidates, how can you maximize the probability that you select your best match?

Strategy: Date k people without making a selection. Then, select the first person judged to be better than any of the first k.

We want to find the value of k (relative to N) that gives us the greatest probability of selecting from the best spouse for among the N potential choices.

…The probability of success settles down as k increases to approximately 0.368 as well. Using this process, we find that we can be successful in selecting the best from a group of N by letting approximately 37% of the available positions go by then selecting the first choice better than any seen before about 37% of the time. And this is true no matter how large N is! This is a strikingly high probability. Using this process, you can select the best out of 5000 almost 37% of the time, by letting the first 1839 go by and then selecting the first choice better than any of those 1839.

So, in essence, date 1,839 people, and break up with them. Then choose the next one you like better than the first 1,839 and you may have found your spouse.  This article also suggests to students that marrying your high school sweetheart is not a particularly good strategy, so don’t get too serious too soon. “Go out with a number of people to see whom you like and who likes you. Then make your choice.”

Wow! I guess Chris and I REALLY beat the odds, because he was a number less than 1,839!

Ruth BookPastor Stephen Davey has different (and more helpful!) advice for looking for a spouse. In Chapter 7 of his book,  Ruth (when Fairytales Come True), he says that there are no Bible verses that tell how to find a mate or biblically fall in love. I personally saw some methods in the Bible though: like God making a mate for a guy (Adam) out of one of his ribs (Genesis 2:22). Or having your dad send one of his servants to find you a mate working at the well (Genesis 24). Or maybe this one: work seven years to earn the right to marry your mate’s older sister, then work another seven years to earn the right to marry the one you really wanted (Genesis 29)!

OK, I jest. I am not suggesting those methods, but they seem easier than some of the methods I have heard people share!

Twenty-five percent of couples today meet online. Out of those, it is estimated 90% are lying about something on their profile.  Guys tend to lie about income or current marital status (ouch!), while ladies are more likely to gloss over their physical attributes or their age, according to Davey’s book.

Many singles are trying to speed the process by developing more than one online relationship at a time!

So really, what is more godly: using an online dating service or your dad sending his servant to the nearest well to see if there are any chicks hanging out there? My answer: both are allowed by God…IF you do the right thing, and do not act in fear. (Lying, for example, is acting in fear –  doing the wrong thing for fear the right thing will take too long).  However, as Davey rightly cautions: wherever the meeting, online or at the well, it should be for introduction purposes only.

He continues by saying that the search for a mate shouldn’t be so much about looking for someone compatible – someone like you – as it should be about looking for someone with character – someone like Christ.   “Looking” for a spouse and “waiting” for a spouse are two different actions. If you feel led to “wait” instead of “look,” then by all means wait! God has a plan for the character you will marry!  The following still applies:

Davey has a “checklist of character traits,” that I thought worthy of sharing here. After all, I think this should trump WIKI’s opinion!  This list is not only that which you would be seeking in a future spouse, but also one you should strive to emulate while you are waiting.

As John Maxwell says, we attract that which we are.

Checklist of Character Traits:

Spirituality :

  • If looking for a Christian mate, your search should begin with looking for conversion. Is their Christianity a secret? If they treat Christ dishonorably, they are more likely to do the same to you.
  • Is it a secret?
    • Does your prospective spouse talk about God?
    • Does he/she want to please Him?
    • Does he/she encourage you to follow His ways?
    • Have you ever seen his/her Bible?
    •  A common love for the Lord can erase all other compatibility issues.
  • Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”

Humility

  • “I can’t believe you chose me!” should be his/her attitude.
    • Even after twenty years of marriage, I still feel this attitude from my husband, Chris…and I really can’t believe he chose ME!
  • While a common love for the Lord can erase compatibility issues, a common love for SELF will destroy any relationship.

Priority

  • What matters most to him/her?
  • What does he value most in you – and is it something that you value as well?
    • If Chris had told me it was
      • my potential salary
      • my body
      • my hair
      • my common love for football and ability to throw it
    • I would have realized it was TEMPORARY admiration
  • What your perspective spouse values most will be what he/she values in you and even your kids after marriage, so his/her priorities MATTER.
  • Priorities matter when judging character

Honesty

  • Has your perspective mate been truthful about things, even if it has the potential of ruining the party?
    • Former relationships?
  • Have you seen him/her tell “little white lies?” without guilt?
    • Calling in sick for work
    • Fudging numbers to the landlord
  • No matter how it seems different, if you are the witness to lies, you are likely to be on the other side of a lie one day.
  • If you want an honest spouse, then honesty will be displayed before marriage.
  • If you want honest children one day, then marry an honest spouse.
  • I guess the only real candidates for your spouse should be those who are “candid dates.”
  • (OH, By the way, I did NOT get married when I was 10. I just felt I needed to clarify that lie right now. :) )

Accountability

  • To whom does your perspective mate submit?
    • His drinking buddies?
    • Her girlfriends?
    • You?
      • If your only accountability is each other, you will be like a ship floating at sea with no rudder. You will be lost.
  • Is it the Word of God?
  • You are accountable too!
    • “Become someone who is willing to stay single, rather than disobey the Word of God, and you are worthy of being married. Find someone who is willing to stay single, rather than disobey the Word and they will be worthy of being your spouse.”
  • If that individual does not honor the Word of God, you have no evidence that they will lead an honorable life.

Purity

  • Purity is more than just “not going all the way.”
    • What movies do you watch? Together and alone?
    • What conversations do you have? in texting?
    • You will know it is pure, when you could invite Jesus to sit down next to you and watch or read it.
      • Because He does.

Generosity

  • If you find someone who is stingy and selfish, do not think that he or she will become generous once you are married.
  • Does he think of others?
  • Is she serving and caring?
  • How does he treat his mother?
  • Are there causes on her heart outside of her hair salon?

“This is the kind of person to find…to become…to keep.” - Stephen Davey

Watch for “Finding a Character to Marry (How to Find a Spouse), Part 2” in another Letter to Lindsey soon.

God bless,

Terri Brady

P.S. I was able to shimmy the door on the balcony open, raising the dowel rod and allowing me back into my apartment without summoning a future fiancé or starving to death. I guess my blocked entry was not as break-in-proof as I had thought. :)

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Finding the Character to Marry – Part Zero

Dear Lindsey,

In Finding the Character to Marry (How to Find a Spouse), I featured advice from Stephen Davey about

“How to Find a Spouse.”

I later realized that I should have preceded that Letter with some important information, so I decided to have a “Part Zero” to the topic by stealing your dream.

Unknown

I guess it is not “stealing” it if you already recognize to Whom our dreams belong.  Let me explain: Any time we have a dream that is ahead of wanting God’s will for our lives, it is not our dream to have.  Waiting for God to answer prayers for our future, while He waits for us to submit to His will, is us screaming “My will!” through tears, while He gently answers, “My will be done.” Being single and wanting desperately to be married is a struggle that seems so parallel to my own struggle with infertility. When we can get to the point of “Thy will, not my will be done,” we can become someone worthy of being married in His perfect timing, IF marriage is indeed His will.

A couple of verses come to mind:

Psalm 37:4 says,

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

As a single woman, I would have read that as, “Once I delight myself in God, He will give me a husband! and a family! –yay!”

As my Christian walk has matured, I have come to realize that once I delight myself in the Lord, all other dreams pale, and I am clay to be molded by the Potter’s hands, ready to serve in His capacity wherever that may be.

Be God-crazy, not boy-crazy

Before I talk more about “Finding a Spouse,” I cannot leave the subject behind that it is always possible that God has more of a plan for even you – as a single. Amy Carmichael would not have made the impact on the world, had she been boy-crazy instead of God-crazy. Katie Davis would not be currently making the impact on hundreds of orphans’ lives in Uganda if she had ignored her calling and stayed in the states for her American suburbia marriage dream instead. Corrie Ten Boom, as a married woman, would not have still lived with her father to make the impact on the Jews she was hiding during World War II, and the massive impact she would have on the world with her testimony of love beyond the concentration camp.  Her story of forgiving her captors and situation – even that which killed her father and sister – is a story of forgiving as Christ forgave, which I will never forget.

The unmarried Apostle Paul has this advice (in 1 Corinthians 7:34-35): 

 An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

Of course, with all that said, it is still possible that as you grow more God-crazy, God might be preparing just the right spouse for you, simultaneously!

In essence, whether single or married, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you more delight than you can imagine in anything else.” He has a plan!

Recognizing “Part Zero” of this letter (above) makes the need for “Part II” of this letter even less important. However given the current state of the dating scene in America, I feel compelled to go forward…in the next letter.

Have a blessed and “delightful” day,

Terri

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