If You Give a Sanguine a Marker, She Might Change the World!

C text room wreck

“Everything looks like junk to me and treasure to her!” my husband vented in a text to me, while he was trying to help my daughter finish packing her room for our move across town. Our family’s recent move put us all into fights and flights – where personality differences are most evident.

Bedroom door decor

Bedroom door decor

A flurry of creative design, my sanguine daughter’s bedroom is a sight to behold. I pray daily that I will see God’s design in that “butterfly”, and allow it to fly, while teaching her (age eleven) the necessities of being a future wife and mother who lives on THIS earth, even if her mind lives elsewhere. Today, I found cut up toilet paper inserts, decorated with cupcake papers to create perfect little owls. She also took two advertisement magazines I thought I had discarded and cut them apart to mix and match. The clothing models looked like they were ready to take a rest in Pottery Barn magazine’s color-coordinated beds. Where does she come up with this?!! Look out, world, if she ever finds Pinterest!

The model on this magazine cover is cut out and pasted from a different magazine's ad.

The model on this magazine cover is cut out and pasted from a different magazine’s ad.

So how was she supposed to pack her room? How could she part with toilet paper inserts, advertisement magazines, coffee cans and the rest of what she must have absconded from the recycle bin in the garage?! She told me her room was “completely packed,” so I went to inspect. I found one gigantic box in the middle of her floor, full of those “recyclable treasures,” but not one stitch of clothing was packed; her bed was still made; the toothbrush must have seemed optional along with her school books, because nothing was packed except the “treasures.”

My choleric son (age fourteen), however, was “done packing” exactly oneIMG_5417 half -hour after I had asked him to start. The hallway outside of his room was lined with trash bags, labeled, “throw away.” I think he wanted to save six or seven shirts, and the rest he didn’t think worthy of unpacking in the new house, (or giving as hand-me-downs to his younger brother which I always do) so he wanted them out of his way – choleric style. DONE! (I pray A LOT for his future wife, LOL! And, I filed the clothes away as hand-me-downs.)

Today’s story of my butterfly’s latest flight began because during the packing weeks, she found the brand new markers – black, blue and red – and the way Miss Kristen (who was helping us pack) was using them to label every box as she packed. My daughter wanted to be where there were people – not in her room where she was supposed to be packing; so Butterfly began drawing on the boxes. She was thrilled to have markers with ink (since they hadn’t been lost, and nobody had left the caps off…yet) and she wrote …and wrote….and wrote. I didn’t stop her, because honestly, I knew that if she were with Kristen or me where we were packing, she wasn’t somewhere confiscating the bubblewrap for future crafts.

Butterfly’s writing on the boxes was a little different than Miss Kristen’s or mine. Ours said simply,

“FROM: old living room.

TO: new family room.

CONTENTS: photo albums.”

Butterfly’s messages were more like

“Smile! God is with you!”

“Turn that frown upside down!”

“The sun will come out tomorrow! Look up!”

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I was amused with her continuously encouraging words and wondered who she thought would read them. (Though I was reading them…and they had blessed me already!)

That’s when I noticed her younger brother had picked up on the trend. He drew big smiley faces, or cartoons with talking bubbles, making the readers (including me!) laugh.

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IMG_5454Miss Kristen was uplifted as she packed books…thousands of books…into boxes, each one being decorated as soon as it received its closing tape.

“Who are you writing those messages to?” I asked my daughter as she fluttered from one box to the next.

“Well, aren’t people going to move these boxes?” she asked.

“Yes, we will have movers,” I said.

“Yep, then I think they are the ones who will read it. But really, whoever God wants to read them!” she said with delight as she saw another room full of boxes she had not yet decorated.

I continued working, huffing a little on the inside, debating whether I should force her into aIMG_5451 working mode, instead of a coloring mode, but grateful for her joyous spirit. As a mother, it seems like a constant debate for me: when do I let my task-oriented personality reign, and when should I let them flutter in their own personalities?

Moving day arrived, and our house was covered with the most artistic moving boxes imaginable. The men quickly filled the house, moving box after box onto the truck. Day one was New Year’s Eve, originally planned to move only the piano, but boxes went onto the truck…rode for four miles and then were mixed up and taken by different hands off of the truck. I wondered if the men noticed the messages.

By the time the movers resumed January 2nd, it was an entirely new crew of men. This next crew loaded the truck again with boxes. As darkness fell, they drove four miles and unloaded the same boxes…different hands touching each one.

An underestimation of truck size caused need for yet another day of moving, so another IMG_5453set of men arrived on the third day to load and unload more boxes… and the messages they carried.   As they walked by me in the foyer of the new house, the movers asked me to confirm the destination room of each box they held. I giggled at my 9-yr-old’s jokes on the side of the box, “Two movers walked into a …oops! Watch where you are going!”

Next was the unpacking – as more hands made the work light, and boxes were unpacked one by one. Even I – who had been looking at boxes for weeks – was amused by each of the boxes’ messages. SMILE! Kept going through my head.

When the boxes were unpacked, they were broken down and stacked in enormous piles in the garage. We offered them on Craigslist, and takers came within a couple of hours. The first was moving to Boston. The second was putting their house in storage while they rented, deciding if it would work out to retire in Florida. The third couple was starry eyed about moving to Oregon to start life together. Their dreadlocks and tattoos would probably not have been my daughter’s usual circle of influence, but they took her decorated boxes.

As I walked away from loading the last of the empty boxes into someone else’s car, I was IMG_5456in awe of my daughter’s God-given ability to encourage; she had no selfish ambition in her coloring (although she definitely received joy in the giving process). She has often said her goal is to “Spread Smiles” with her life.

If you give Christine a marker…

She might write some words…

Which will make her brother write…

Which will make her mother smile…

And Miss Kristen will smile…

And the movers who load the first truck will smile…

Which will make their wives smile when they get home…

The boxes will make the other workers smile while they unload the truck…

The unpackers of the boxes will smile while piling the now empty boxes into the garage, where…

More people will smile while they load the boxes into their cars…

Where the boxes will ride to another house to be packed…

And then their movers will smile while they load the boxes onto a new truck…

Where the boxes will ride to Oregon…or Boston…or eventually Florida…

Where the boxes will be unloaded by smiling workers,…

And unpacked by a family in a new place, where hopefully they are reading the words and smiling…

at the influence of a smiling 11-yr-old girl in North Carolina.

 

If you give a sanguine a marker, she just might change the world!

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Smiles,

Terri

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Disposing of my Disposition (Personalities Through the Lens of Me)

Dear Lindsey,

The personality differences have always amused me. I have read many personality plusmarriage books, not because our marriage seems in need, but because I want to be all my husband needs ( 🙂 ). Although I have favorites, (What Did You Expect?, Love and Respect and Becoming the Woman of His Dreams) no books have done so much for my role in my marriage as Personality Plus (Florence Littauer). I could say that this book rivals for top position in all of my parenting books as well. Why? Because my own personality had blinded me, creating a distorted view heading for relational disaster…in most relationships. And don’t marriage and parenting rank as the most important relationships I have?

Though I highly recommend you read the book to get the full extent of how to work well with the personalities surrounding you, the brief summary of characteristics is this:

If we took a set group of people and played Twenty Questions with only yes/no answers, the population would fall into two groups: those who are task-oriented and those who are people-oriented. (Left and Right side of the diagram below.)

Those two groups can then be divided again into two groups: Introverted (enjoying being alone) and extroverted (comes alive in a group of people), shown as the top and bottom of the diagram. I am on the line between these two…depending on how much chocolate and/or sunshine I have had. 🙂

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Of those four created quadrants, there are four personalities:

“Melancholy” is the task-oriented introvert.

  • Strengths: detail-oriented, self-disciplined, can be musicians.
  • Weaknesses: None. (just kidding – I am a Melancholy, and like to think I am perfect!) A Melancholy’s weaknesses are that tasks often get more attention than people’s needs. Can be obsessive-compulsive and inflexible.
  • Motto: “Anything worth doing is worth doing perfectly!”

NOTE: I think it is funny that I wrote about Melancholy first. AND I put it in the top left quadrant – the premier place. I assume it is how we are: we put our own personality in the limelight and then adjust the rest around us!

“Choleric” is the task-oriented extrovert.

  • Strengths: self-driven, gains followers quickly, gets the job done.
  • Weaknesses: Can run over people while “getting the job done.” Can be bossy.
  • Motto: “Get it done…NOW! And Hurry!”

“Phlegmatic” is the people-oriented introvert.

In other words: he or she loves and adores people, but doesn’t need to be in the limelight at all.

  • Strengths: Gets along with everyone, great team player, easy to be with, flexible
  • Weaknesses: Can be lazy, un-dependable or have difficulty making decisions.
  • Motto: “Yes. Unless you prefer no, then no. Why is everybody going so fast?”

“Sanguine” is the people-oriented extrovert.

  • Strengths: A blast to be around! Creative genius! Caring
  • Weaknesses: Loses keys…to the car, to the job, to life. He or she may battle with dishonesty and lack of integrity – when facts are fudged, because frankly, it just makes the story better.
  • Motto: “Wooooo hoooooo!!!!!!!!”

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Of course, even with four groups of personalities, there are unlimited variations. I am mostly melancholy with a lot of sanguine – which means I am split between exact opposite quadrants. One book said I was “dysfunctional.” I always knew I was a “misfit toy”! However, it was the way God made me – and I will do my best with my “dysfunctionality”!

The first time I read the book, it was about ME.  Therefore, I:

  1. Took offense that someone thought I deserved a label.
  2. Recognized a little of myself somewhere in it, and decided maybe the label fit.
  3. Was entertained by how much they knew me.

The second time I read looking for traits of family and coworkers. I realized my mother’s sanguine side is what made her invite the entire church over for lunch…with no notice except that she thought of the idea that day.  Phlegmatic was the friend of my son (since opposites attract!) who wouldn’t tell me whether he wanted mustard or ketchup on his hotdog and instead looked at me and shrugged his shoulders.

The third time I read the books I had a goal to diminish my weaknesses and magnify the strengths in those around me. It became a game. Have fun with it! The purpose of the book is not to label someone into a box, but to learn how to best deal with people who are naturally in their own box. If I notice the only people I get along with are Phlegmatics (who get along with everybody!), then I may have a problem! If I realize that I only admire people who fall into the same quadrant as myself, then I better work to expand myself to see strengths in other quadrants! The Bible says we should go into all the world…not “make everybody come into my world.” Don’t read to find out who you are, but read to find out who you can be! I became a better wife and mother when I learned how to not only identify and diminish my weaknesses but truly appreciate the strengths of my husband and kids!

Personality Clashes

How did knowing personalities help my marriage?

I noticed that according to the book, a weakness of my Melancholy personality is that I can be oversensitive, or assume things are about me. (Really? There’s something not about me?! ) Someone can say, “The sky is blue,” and a hyper-melancholy will take insult because she has brown eyes, so the person is obviously saying that he doesn’t like her brown eyes. OK, I exaggerate, but you get the point.

Isn’t it funny that God would marry a Melancholy like myself with a images-1Choleric? Watch the weaknesses line up: If a Choleric “runs over people” and a Melancholy “takes offense at small bumps” I was feeling dead on a highway under a steam roller. How’s that for a marriage?

After studying personalities, I started noticing the phenomenon.

I was cooking one day, obviously, stirring a pot on the stove, when my husband accessed the drawer on the other side of the stove to get out a spoon. He cut in front of me, bumped me backwards, so I obviously had to stop stirring, and he retrieved his spoon, never saying anything, or acknowledging me, and left.

The old me would have been hurt. “He did it on purpose to disrespect me. He obviously thinks cooking is not as important as whatever he is doing. He obviously doesn’t value me. (Aside: ‘Obviously’ was one of my favorite observational words back then, but I learned that “obvious” is not so obvious with other personalities. My common sense was not common – just “mine”!) Maybe I should let him be on his own for dinner tomorrow night, since he obviously doesn’t honor the role of cook?!”

Having the value of these personality books fresh in my arsenal, I said to my husband, “I know you didn’t do that on purpose to hurt me.”

He looked like a deer caught in the headlights.  There was a LONG silent pause while I could see the gears in his brain turning, not sure if those were fighting words or what my intentions were.  Then he gulped and said quietly, “Did what?”

It still makes me laugh. I would have been so offended – assigning motives and planning my next chess move, but the personality delineations explained he wasn’t even playing the game! He was just…getting a spoon…in a choleric way! Ha ha!

A melancholy might have begged the cook’s pardon before reaching to get the properly-sized spoon for the meal.

A sanguine might have bounded in, telling a story, grabbed a fork and come back for the spoon later – if she remembered why she needed a spoon.

A phlegmatic might have sat until the soup was cold before ever implying that he actually would have preferred to have a spoon.

A Choleric took the spoon.

In parenting, I have often realized how my interpretation was making me want to reprimand a child – when there was nothing wrong in his/her heart – only a difference in his/her personality. My sanguine daughter, for example, can drive me crazy with her messy room and lost articles. However, when I recognize her strengths – like the ability to make great art out of junk, or ability to LIGHT UP anybody’s world with her smile – it makes a lost sweater here and there nothing in comparison. Therefore, we have focused on her learning ways to remember where she took off her sweater (to one day help her find her car keys) or how to meet expectations of a clean room without dimming her bright light of a personality that has an amazing effect on our whole house!

At one point I even noticed that I had been using the personality terms in a negative way! UGH!! My kids made me realize it when the Sanguine said to her brother in a fight, “You are SO CHOLERIC!!” Bahaha! I am sure she picked that up from me! No personality is wrong – despite how my “perfect Melancholy” wants to make it seem that way. They are just different…the way God intended!!

When my oldest son was in high school, he complained about his vision, so I took him to the eye doctor for the first time. Of course, they immediately saw a solution in the form of glasses – and we ordered them. Within two weeks the glasses arrived, and I watched them transform his world into something I didn’t even know he was missing. He had never mentioned it. I remember almost crying feeling bad I had no idea that he couldn’t see. (I have never had glasses.) He put on the new specs and walked outside on that bright sunny day and exclaimed, “I CAN SEE!” In the car he asked, “Can we go back and watch every movie I have ever seen AGAIN, so I can really SEE them this time???”

That’s how I felt once I understood how my own personality was clouding my vision to see others. I wish I could go back and see, really SEE every person I had ever met, befriended, done business with, been in class with, or loved…because I feel like I could have made the relationship better.

Correct your vision utilizing personalities and you will see others through lenses for which God created them.

Blessings,

Terri Brady

Romans 12:4-5: “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

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When Pain Mocks the Song – Even in the Christmas Update Letter

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! As I debated on what to write for a Christmas Letter to Lindsey, I thought the actual Brady family update letter might be appropriate…in case you didn’t receive it in the mail yet. 🙂 I changed it a little, but the message is the same: from our house to yours, Merry Christmas!

(If you prefer to skip the personal update and get to the meat of the message – skip down to “Life’s Railroad and the Train of Time.” I won’t be offended. Sometimes I save the Christmas update letters for after Christmas too.)

Dear friends and family

I wanted to give you a joyful update – about Casey’s college choice, Chris’s new position: you know- the “norm” of decking the halls with boughs of blessings – or is it boughs of bragging?

But, it didn’t seem right, and almost seemed fake, since that would allude to perfection that 2014 did not necessarily hold. It just seemed that hiding the struggle wouldn’t give honor to the ones I lost – or those who are in the middle of strife right now.

So here goes: 2014 was an up and down year.

On January 2nd Chris took a new position at our company – a major adjustment in imagesfunction, but not in purpose. The new role brought a massive change to close relationships – like getting on a ship to a new destination, knowing it was directed by God, but bringing tears as you lose sight of the shore.

January 15th was when the call came that Terri’s mother had suffered a heart attack and stroke. We rejoice that she recovered with minimal permanent damage.

Seven days later, on the opening night of Christine’s youth theatre musical another call came from Colorado, this one telling the shocking news of the loss of Terri’s younger brother Mike. Terri spent 10 days in Colorado with her parents, and Chris was able to fly out for the funeral.

A few weeks later, barely out of sight, grief struck again with the short illness and passing of our dear friend and business co-founder, Jackie. Staying for that snowy funeral in Michigan clearly took precedence over our family’s trip to the Cayman Islands, and it was rightfully cancelled. April brought a trip back to Colorado to celebrate Terri’s Uncle Buck and his presentation of WWII Legion of Honor medal, as well as to be introduced to Adelyn, the first great-grandchild for Terri’s parents; Mike would have been a proud grandpa!

June was triumphant as Nate was selected to play Academy level soccer, and Casey’s team took the N.C. state champ title – finishing 2nd in the region in Baton Rouge, LA.

July 25th marked the 98th birthday for Terri’s grandmother in Kansas, now a great-great-grandmother of two 2014 babies! She has 5 “kids” in their 70’s!! Must be a record!

Our summer was filled with lake time. J.R. wowed us with his wakeboard abilities between his Lego masterpieces. Christine showed us that artists could handle the waves as well. Visitors to N.C. were plentiful – friends from Michigan and Florida; family from Pennsylvania and Colorado. We even had a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for Chris’s parents held here! We joked that our guest room needed a revolving door! And we were blessed by all! (Although when Terri’s mother fell down the stairs and broke bones in three places, she might not have felt like a blessing.)

Autumn brought news of Casey’s decision to play soccer for college in South Carolina next fall, paying his own way with athletic and academic scholarships. Wow.

Life’s Railroad for the Train of Time

I used to think that there were years on mountains and years in valleys. Of course now I can see mountain hours, separated by valley hours, or even a joyful mountain moment in the midst of the depth of sorrowful valley moments. I like it best the way author Kay Warren says: “Life is like a set of parallel train tracks, with joy and sorrow running inseparably side-by-side throughout our days.”

Yet, all the while, the train of time still carries us down the middle of the rails toward our destiny.

Often Christmas cards come (and I have written many!) with the updates – telling the joys of the year. But this year, as you can see, had such HIGH highs and LOW lows in the parallel tracks, it seemed strange to only share one side. I am guessing that most people have had years like that. Many are on the “low” right now – not ready to even celebrate Christmas, wondering if there will ever be happiness again. My prayers go to them.

I mean, really, when you look at the news of 2014, it seems odd to be celebrating anything doesn’t it? My house was not the only one who experienced pain – and by far not the worst pain compared to others I know. Many have lost loved ones, received dooming medical news, had diagnoses since last Christmas that ended life before this Christmas! There are words on the TV that don’t necessarily scream “JOY!” : Ferguson, Isis, North Korea, Ebola. You know the list could go on and make a railroad track far worse than my own. But suffering is not a competition. The Lord knows and cares for each inch of the tracks of life that have been laid and knows and cares for how we handle each inch of that track – since everyone handles it differently.

Christmas is a time of joy – when we celebrate the birth of the Christ child. Yet I recall that the promise of joy AND sorrow met in the manger that first Christmas. The promise of redemption and eternal life rested in that baby, … yet the sin He would carry away was in the forecast. While He slept beneath the famous guiding star, His future of being mocked, scourged and publicly executed by crucifixion rested in that bed of hay. The miracles making the lame walk, the deaf hear and the blind see rested in that manger…as did the weeping over the loss of a friend, the anger needed to turn over tables and the prayers so strong to cause sweat as drops of blood. I suppose it’s the moments when sorrow’s side of the track seems to be leading that make us truly recognize the value of its parallel Joy if we can see it.

I recently read that the hymn, I heard the Bells on Christmas Day, was written by Longfellow after a not-so-perfect year. Already a widower due to an 1860 fire that took his wife, he found out weeks before Christmas of 1863 that his eldest son was nearly paralyzed at the hand of an enemy in the Civil War. The song’s words weren’t written as the happy song I sing today. They were penned in the agony of grief, on Christmas Day, 1863.

And in despair I bowed my head:

‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said,

‘For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.’

 Though I did not walk in his shoes, I can relate to pain that “mocks the songs”. So I hold his next words dearly:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men.’

Whether you have had a perfect year, or less-than-so, may you follow a star that leads you to the only “perfect” there is: Christ. Let us bring our gifts, our sorrows, our whole selves, because that is all He asks. May you make room in the inn of your heart in which He may reside forever. And may you know that the destiny at the end of the tracks is in His arms: the Peace that Passes Understanding.  The true JOY of Christmas is knowing that the destiny at the end of the tracks is HEAVEN. The no more crying heaven…The no more darkness heaven…The no more imperfect moments, days or years heaven. But alas, I cannot waste my days on earth – I want others to know!! And hence I write Christmas Update Letters so they will know the reason for my real JOY this Christmas and always!

Blessings to you and your family, Merry Christmas!   

Chris, Terri, Casey, Nate, Christine, and J.R.

2 Cor 4:5-6 For what we preach [should be telling in our Christmas letter] is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord… For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

– THAT is the best Christmas update letter there is!!

“Behold! I bring you good tidings of great joy – for unto you is born a Savior who is Christ the Lord!” 

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“Overparenting:” a Leading Cause of Busyness

Dear Lindsey,

I have been meaning to write for weeks, but I have been…umm…busy!

In his book, Crazy Busy, Kevin DeYoung lists several diagnoses causing busyness:

      • Trying to look good, instead of actually doing good. (and its close cousins: pride, people pleasing and perfectionism),
      • Trying to do more than what God expects me to do.
      • Not setting priorities…even in serving others.
      • “Kinderarchy”:  Freaking out about my kids
      • Being addicted to technology
      • Not resting enough

The Kindergarchy chapter hit too close to home for me, as I find myself SO wrapped up with my children’s (now ages 16, 13, 10 and 8) schedules. Kindergarchy could probably be defined as overparenting, and I dance with it daily. I want what’s best for my kids. I don’t take lightly the responsibility of raising them for the glory of the Lord, and sometimes (as said in my last Letter), my attempts at “better” have only left me more flustered or frustrated, and not the kind of mom I want to be for my children.

But sometimes, it is simply “overparenting” that causes us to be overbusy.

For Our Kids

At a recent neighborhood event, one mom said her chief regret in raising her kids was their playing travel soccer. Not knowing that I was the proverbial travel-soccer mom, she was simply lamenting how busy she had been when her kids were young, just rushing from one city to the next for… soccer.

I took her words straight to my heart. Will I regret being a soccer mom? It was a great moment of reflection for me, as I aligned my priorities and analyzed my busyness.

I believe the busyness  of “Kinderarchy” to which Kevin DeYoung refers in his book could be summarized by:

  1. Our kids are doing too much.
  2. We’re doing too much for our kids.
  3. We think our kids’ future lies too much in our responsibility.

Kids today have opportunities that didn’t exist in our youth – much less our parents’. My parents were both raised on farms. After starting his day milking cows at 4am, before feeding the hogs, or getting ice from the pond in the valley to carry to the icebox (yep…pre-refrigeration), then walking uphill (both ways, barefoot…in the snow) to the one-room-schoolhouse in Kansas, my father hardly came home to ask if he could join the travel soccer team!  But my dad grew up to be pretty awesome, and I wouldn’t mind if any of my kids turned out just like him!

Since I don’t have cows to milk, hogs nor an icebox, we have time for activities outside of those! But that doesn’t mean we need all of the activities that are offered. As my neighbor aptly pointed out, travel soccer is time-consuming! Our kids only have one childhood, and I only get one shot at providing for its growth toward excellence. For two of my boys, it has been travel soccer. They have dreams of going big in the sport, and my telling them, “Your chances are slim,” would only solidify that in their minds – for not only soccer, but also any other dream they chase. When they put the mental toughness, physical training, and immense effort into their goals, Chris and I want to reciprocate –even if it means sacrificing some time for travel soccer.

However, if I were about to invest a percentage of my income in something, the investment would be prayed about and researched regarding: return on investment, ability to reach goals, cost to invest, comparison to competitor investments, etc. Investments in time should be considered under the same scrutiny.

Too often, I hear of people getting tutoring for their 6-yr-old, or putting their 4-yr-old in travel-hockey, or paying big bucks for swim-lessons for the 6-month-old, without considering if the outcome is really worth the investment of time and money. (Yes, I did some of that!) Our kids could end up being pushed right out of the activity that was intended for their good. In my busyness case, I get burnt out of the motherhood I was intending for God’s good. Sometimes our kids are simply doing too much.

For Our Kids

Other times, we are busy because we are doing too much for our kids.  For example, I overheard a woman behind me at a high school sporting event talking about a history project her son (a junior in high school) was doing. She was exasperated at the amount of work it entailed. She didn’t know when he could possibly get it all done. She wasn’t quite sure what the teacher wanted, and whether the entire project was due on such-and-such date, or whether that was just the draft. Wondering if it was biographical, or if it could be an opinionated project, she debated into her friend’s ear on whether the project should be during World War I, or maybe during the aftermath.  She talked and talked… and talked. Then, she turned to her friend and said, “How is your son going to get it done?!”

“Oh, I don’t know what he’s doing for that class. That’s up to him,” her friend replied.

If I had been sipping a drink at that moment, it would have been one of those – spray the back of the head of the person sitting in front of me on the bleachers – moments. It was funny to me, that while one woman was giving a discourse on the project, debating the intricacies of the due dates, pondering the eras about which to write and discussing her stress level on the sidelines, the other simply said, “That’s not my job; it’s my son’s class.”

Can’t we see that doing too much for our children not only hinders their ability to handle responsibility, but also creates “freaked out” moms who look too busy for the very kids they are trying to help?

But being a mom who holds the “It’s not my job; it’s his job,” mentality risks a multitude of embarrassing moments, because our pride is on the line when we allow our children to fail. When they don’t complete a project, I can be embarrassed – but it is worth the short-term embarrassment for the long-term lessons he learns. Failing to bring his soccer equipment at age eight makes less failures at age sixteen.  Doing it for our children instead, only takes away their opportunity to learn the lesson.  Whether it is because he forgot part of the soccer uniform, didn’t get the intricacies of the history assignment or in some other way missed the bar, I know failure can be the best teacher for the future.  Imagine if instead of nagging with a soccer checklist every time, I trusted that he had it. (Once he forgets a cleat, it is never done again.) What if instead of bugging a teacher for assignment details, we let the “to-do list” be in his head instead of ours?  We would be left to focus on our own to-do list – to be a mom!

Doing too much for them – only makes me busy and takes away from their ability to gain responsibility.

For “Our”? Kids 

Lastly, and definitely my favorite point of the Kindergarchy chapter, we often think our kids’ future lies too much in our responsibility.  We try to be the perfect parents: feeding the perfect meals every meal, running to tutors, lessons, leagues, and friends to make the perfect combination of fertilizer for the garden where our children grow.

But we have less to do with their growth than we think. Don’t we believe God knitted them together before they were born? (Ps 139:13) Don’t we know that God has a plan for them to prosper, not to harm them? (Jer 29:11) Can’t we  trust in Him and lean not on our own understanding?  (Prov 3:5)

One of my favorite lines from the Crazy Busy book was this:

“There are ways to screw up kids for life but thankfully the Happy Meal is not one of them.” (p. 73)

Ha! He is not saying, “Give up on feeding them healthy food;” he is saying we would be better if we stopped freaking out!

Usurping God’s Role

I try to avoid using these Letters to brag about my kids; I really do. But this lesson I recently learned is too good to skip, although the ending shows I am a bit proud of my daughter (age ten).

Let me begin with this:  admittedly, I often suffer with the “I stink at being a mom,” syndrome. It’s a sinful, self-centered, lacking-of-faith and lacking-of-gratitude “sin-drome” that requires my refocus on God and His wondrous gifts.  One particular day, I was having those negative “I am a failure” thoughts about my mothering my daughter. Her hair was messy…as usual. Her room was too. With the sweetest heart in the world, she runs around loving on everyone, and leaves a path of evidential mess in every room she touches. Her brothers have called her the “tornado,” because you always know where she has been.

And then it happened.

The violin lessons paid off….NOT.

The soccer league she left tried to recruit her back…NOT.

The gymnastics lessons she had when she was seven saved her life…NOPE.

I unwrapped my birthday present and it was this:

turtle

THAT is a turtle.

I cannot draw a turtle. (You never want to be my partner in Pictionary.)  I cannot describe shading, much less do it with watercolors.

My daughter created that artwork, because, thank God, she was not in a sports league to follow her brothers. She was not in gymnastics because it was what the neighbors were doing. She drew that because she was not too busy to notice the details of a creature, capture them with her God-given eye and express it as a gift of love to me.

She made the painting, because God knows her more than I do, and He gave her talents to use for His glory, not mine.  I think He can make her the best she can be if I let go enough of who I think she should be.  Maybe for her to be the best daughter she can be, her mom needs to be the best daughter (of God) she can be, instead of being the freaked-out-lunatic parent trying to make perfect children.

So if I am letting go of “Kindergarchy,” then what do I consider to be most important for being a good mom?

Be a good me.

    • They need to see my trust in Jesus… for my life and theirs.
    • They need to see my love for their father, (yes – my husband)…and his love for me.
    • They need to see me sane.

The busyness disease can leave “freaked out” parents eclipsing what is most important for their children’s future.

No amount of “perfect parenting,” vegan dieting-without-Happy-Meals, travel-soccer momming, music lessons, sports leagues, or homework-“helping” can make up for a lacking in me. Too much busyness can take the life of any priorities in a heartbeat, taking our beating hearts along with it.

Delight yourself in the Lord (Ps 37:4)…and let the busyness drown like the Wicked Witch of the West melting under a bucket of water*.

In love,

Terri Brady

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Book Recommendations

* reference: Wizard of Oz

Letters to Lindsey is now available in book form.

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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.

Nobody Wins

Dear Lindsey,

“Nobody wins an argument,” may be true, but I still have to laugh at the professional soccer players. They look so cool on the field, so suavely athletic,…until that whistle blows and the theatrics begin. Following the referee and screaming at his back, do they really expect him to turn to them and say, “Well, now I see your point; I am glad you argued and brought me to my senses, so I will reverse that call in front of this crowd of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and blow the whistle on the other team instead.” Of course not! But they scream at the ref anyway.

Sibling bickering is a song that plays in the backseat of my car too often. When my younger two were four and five-years-old, they had the “did not!”, “did too!”, “did not!”, “did too!” chorus perfectly memorized for performance any time and any place.

I have often said that children act the way adults would if tact didn’t bridle us with censors.  I guess I can say I prefer the “control-top” version of my mouth, at least when it comes to the aftermath, but I have often had a giggle over the things the kids say…that I wish I could still say…just once in a while.

A few years ago, this was the conversation in the car from my backseat toddlers (age 4 and 5):

English: Cow Pasture Looking towards Cowhills ...

Christine: “Look at ALL those cows!”

J.R.: “Yeah, but look! There’s a horse in the middle.”

Our car sped by the barnyard.

Christine: “There was no horse! They were all cows.”

J.R.: “Yes there was a horse. It was all brown. The cows were black. There was a horse.”

Christine: “No there wasn’t J.R.! They were all cows. Farmers don’t put horses in the same yard with cows!”

J.R.: “Well THAT farmer did, because I SAW A HORSE!”

This continued and even escalated a bit, so I calmly interceded, with those “Mom lyrics” I seem to sing over and over:

“Christine and J.R. please stop the noise pollution. Remember who wins an argument? NOBODY. So just change the topic. We will never know whether there was a horse there or not. Arguing will not convince anyone and only makes it unpleasant for us all. God knows whether there was a horse there or not.”

There was almost thirty-seconds of silence in the car.

Then J.R. broke it and said matter-of-factly, “Yeah. And when I get to heaven I am going to ask God and He is going to tell you it was a horse.”

Haha!

My daughter, Christine (now age 9) is reading Dale Carnegie’s, How to Win Friends and Influence People for her homeschool “business-ownership” class. She came to me today, and explained how she doesn’t understand why anyone would ever need to fight! “All they have to do is agree with the other person and say, ‘sorry.’ Then the other person can’t argue any more. But if you disagree with them, then they will never back down!”

I like her (and Carnegie’s) thoughts. If it were only as easily done as said, there would be a great reduction in noise pollution around the globe! And in the mean time, we can look forward to one day finding out if it was a horse or a cow that we sacrificed in all of our arguments that we dropped. (smile)

God bless,
Terri

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The Ring

Dear Lindsey,

(Español: El Anillo)

My mother handed me the ring with a deep grin that punctuated the significance of the gift.ring  It was a tiny ring, just right for my 7-yr-old finger. “This is a REAL diamond,” she said, handing me the tiny fraction of a karat in a size 4 band.  She explained that she had bought the ring before I was born and saved it for when I was old enough to wear it.  I could hardly believe she would allow me to hold it – much less have it in MY size! I thanked her and felt that special warmth in my heart my tomboyish buffalo skin normally tried to repel. I headed out to play.

“Tether ball” was a favorite sport of mine. The two-person game involved standing on either side of a pole that had one ball tethered to it from the top. One would hit the ball clockwise, while his opponent tried to hit it counterclockwise with greater force. As the opponents smacked the ball, it gained potential for more height.  My trick was to hit it with strength at the angle to send it just out of my opponent’s reach, elliptically landing back within my reach so I could send it in the same pattern again the next time around. The game increased speed as the tether shortened, wrapping around the pole, until the tether was tightened to the last inch, proclaiming the winner.

It was at the end of such a game in the neighbors’ backyard when I realized that the ring I had possessed for less than 24 hours was gone. I searched below the pole, combing the grass with my fingers to no avail.

grassHeart-broken, and mad at myself, I couldn’t help but think that maybe I should have been “a good little girl” playing with dolls or makeup like other girls instead – then I would not have lost the ring.  I sinfully didn’t tell my mother about the loss, because I figured it would take her a few weeks to notice, and that would sound better than, “I lost it in the first 24 hours.”

Besides,” I thought, “I didn’t want that ring anyway. Who wants something that doesn’t even stay on during tether-ball?!”

It was my nature: when I felt defeated, I would convince myself that whatever I didn’t get (or couldn’t keep) was something I didn’t want anyway. It was easier than admitting I needed to change.

Anniversary Gift

On our tenth wedding anniversary, Chris decided to get me a ring. The buffalo in me liked the idea of a simple anniversary band, with no “annoying stones” to get snagged on my pockets when they warmed my hands. Chris had a different idea.

The solitaire was a diamond to be admired by any passerby. The round cut magnified the colors that only God could place in such a gorgeous gem. Its clarity drew in light, seemingly multiplying it in the reflection with a disco-ball effect on the ceiling of the store, to my embarrassment. “We’ll take it!” Chris said, while I shied away, telling him “no way!” But inside, I felt pretty just being treated as pretty.

The store sized it to fit my finger like a glove, although any glove worth working would not fit on this ring without getting caught.  Chris glowed with pride as we traveled to the resort where we were staying that night. We had a beautiful evening celebrating our first decade together, and I wore my ring with pride, almost wanting to point it out to strangers, as I did my engagement ring the night he popped the question in Pittsburgh, PA a decade prior.

I felt loved.

The next morning, I rose early and headed outside to enjoy the sunrise for my quiet time with God.  As I recorded the previous evening’s shopping and date in the journal of my mind, a feeling of sadness surrounded me. I felt like a phony. “I don’t even LIKE rings. I forget to put on jewelry that I already have! I am not pretty enough to have people looking at my hands. My nails are chipped; my hands are rough, because I don’t know how to ‘act like a lady.’  I cannot fake this. I am not the jewelry-kind-of-girl. Did he forget who I am? Where I have been? I am not worthy of its cost, much less its beauty!”

As I continued trying to read my Bible, the self-degrading thoughts continued. I started planning how to return the ring, and how I would tell Chris. Tears trickled down my cheeks, thinking about how we would owe the store for the custom sizing, even if they gave us our money back. Regret overcame me as I realized I had worn it the night before as a phony – mesmerized by its sparkle, as if that fit me.  The conflict was still vibrant in my heart when Chris awoke and came outside to where I was sitting.

“Are you wearing the ring?!” he excitedly asked as he approached, looking for my hand.

I wiped my eyes and confessed my thoughts to him. “I cannot own a ring like this. I am not meant to wear something so valuable. We need to get it back to the store. Today. We can see if they will give us all our money back, even if we have to pay for the sizing. I’m sorry.  I have never had such a tremendous case of buyer’s remorse.”

He stared at me dumbfounded for a split second, then kneeled down on one knee, cupped my face in his hands and said firmly, “We will not take the ring back. You cannot have buyer’s remorse, because you did not buy the ring; I did. It is my gift to you; now stop insulting me.”

He kissed me, as if it were the first time our lips had met.

The tears disappeared from my face.  My quickened heart rate sent a cleansing blood through my body.  A peace came over me as I realized he loved me so deeply to look beyond what I saw in myself. He didn’t give me the ring because of who I was, but because of who he is.

Hating Myself

As I recall that story, another story comes to mind: the one where I say, “I hate myself! Why can’t I be like others? I keep doing wrong. I can’t change. I will never get better. I am worthless!!”

And God gently answers, “I created you. Stop insulting Me.  I knitted you to be an original.  Your hands are My design. I know the depth of your heart, the chasm of your sins and I sent my Son, Jesus Christ, to take it all. I have a purpose for every strength you have, and for every failure it took to gain that strength. I have a purpose for EVERY weakness you possess, since My strength is made perfect in your weakness. You can’t change, but I can change you. My purposes are greater than your vision.  I created you just the way I intended. I bought you for the price of my Son, and I have no remorse. Now stop insulting Me.”

The Gift of Forever

Girlfriend, that eternal salvation is a gift that was bought before you were born to fit you God wants usprecisely. It is ironic that we cannot have the peace of His gift pumping into our veins until we have the remorse over our sins cleansing the path.  No one can comb through the grass to find His gift, and none of us deserves its worth. It is ours because of Who He is, not who we are. He loves us so deeply to look beyond what we see in ourselves.  It is amazing that just when we say, “I have such remorse!” He answers, “You can’t; I’m the One who bought you!”

I hope you feel loved, because you are.

I guess I am not a buffalo, or a butterfly or even a buffafly after all. I am a new creature in Christ, and I want His glory to reflect from my life like a disco ball!

In Christ,

Terri

God knitted you before you were born. Ps 139:13

His strength is made perfect in my weakness.  2 Cor 12:9

I am a new creature in Christ. 2 Cor 5:17

Salvation is a gift from God, because of who He is, not who we are. Eph 2:8-9

Confess your sins (with remorse) and you will be forgiven. 1 John 1:9

The gift of forever: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

The Bad Queens

It is better to live on the corner of the housetop than to live in a wide house with a [bad queen]. Prov 25:24 AND Prov 21:9

Dear Lindsey,

In a previous letter, “If I am to be Queen, I Shall Be a Good One,” I talked about being a good queen (or wife), determining to be so after the story of young Queen Victoria.  But of course, history is filled with bad queens – as are marriages!  I could not speak with such details about such queens if I had not walked in their shoes at different times in my own marriage. Now, I see these queens walking around, torturing their miserable kings, and the country song, “Could’ve Been Me!” plays in my head: I know I have had moments of bad “queendom” in my life. I could’ve been those wives.

FOUR BAD QUEENS IN MARRIAGE:

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1.  Script-Writing Queen:

A script-writing queen has her script written in her head of how the day, her life, and even the lives of others are supposed to go. This queen is not always the star of the script; she can disguise herself as humble – like she wants to be in the background, yet she knows everyone’s lines by heart.

The worst part of the script-writing queen is that she doesn’t tell anyone what the script is! She surrounds herself with eggshells, as everyone walks cautiously, guessing what his or her line was supposed to be to make the play turn out as the bad queen intended.

The Remedy for the Script-Writing Queen:

  • Pray.
  • Stop writing scripts in your head.  Discuss your expectations with those who are involved in meeting them, and then determine if it is an agreeable plan.
  • Give your king (husband) grace if expectations are not met. The more you have needed forgiveness, the more you are willing to forgive. If you have never needed forgiveness, then forgive anyway. (smile)
  • Recognize God is the only script-writer, and live with His plan for your day. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” In other words, no matter how much planning I do, God’s plan for my day will always prevail!

2.  Motive Assigning Queen:

English: The Queens pub sign, Queens Hill This...

Motive assigning queens think they know the thoughts, desires and intents of their kings.

When my kids were toddlers and they would fight in the car, one would often yell from the back seat, “Mom, he hit me ON PURPOSE, AS HARD AS HE COULD!”

I giggle inside at the silliness of the thought, “on purpose, as hard as he could.” It is as if the child has a measurement method for determination of the purpose and intent of his sibling as well as a gage which deciphers the magnitude of the hit in comparison to the overall ability: “on purpose as hard as he could!” Ha! But, haven’t I been like that with my husband?

  • “He left that dirty dish right in the middle of my clean sink just to see if I will clean it up.”
  • “He is driving like Speed Racer and putting my life in danger, because he thinks it’s funny that it freaks me out.”
  • “He has selective hearing and only hears what he wants to hear, but suddenly can’t hear when I tell him things I need him to do.”

Motive Assigning Queen translation: “He didn’t listen ON PURPOSE AS HARD AS HE COULD!” It is simply assigning a motive to his heart. Maybe my heart is the one that needs a checkup.

The Remedy for the Motive-Assigning Queen:

  • Pray.
  • Recognize the ailment:  Anytime we catch ourselves saying, “He thinks ___,” “He wants___,” or “He did it because___,” we are assigning motives.
  • Confirm your intent analysis and strength measurement with him.  In other words, ask him!

“Why are you …?” in my calm voice has often yielded answers like,  “Sorry! I didn’t even notice I was doing that!” and I can thank God, because he didn’t even notice what I thought he was doing “on purpose, as hard as he could.” Haha!

3.  Needy Queens:

The needy queen is one who depends on her husband for everything.

Spa Utopia Vancouver

  • She needs him to be in the kitchen, go grocery shopping with her, notice if she changed something.
  • She needs him to serve her.
  • She needs him to be her source of happiness, and when he messes up, her life is messed up.

If my value comes from how my husband views me, I will be subject to his imperfect views.

    • “I made his breakfast and he didn’t like it.”
    • “I worked so hard to get the house straightened, and all he asked was why I wasn’t ready for the meeting.”

The Remedy for the Needy Queen:

  • Pray.
  • Do all things for the glory of God, not your own glory or even your husband’s glory.
  • Recognize, you are not married to a perfect person; and neither is he.
  • There is only one King who is perfect, and we must be dependent on Him.

When we live a life with God as sufficient for all our needs, it is truly amazing how much better marriage can be. The weight is off of our kings’ shoulders as we put all our weight in The King.

If I am doing all things for the glory of God (1Cor 10:31), then I am not waiting with bated breath for my husband’s opinion.

If I go to the car and get my own things instead of asking my husband to be my errand boy, it’s amazing how many times he says, “Here, let me get that for you!”

Need God. Love your husband.

Need God. Love your husband.

4.  Checkmating Queens:

Lewis chess queen

Ugh.

This is the worst set of queens, and I am embarrassed to have once been a founding member. The marriage vows of the checkmating queen say, “…to have and to hold, to compete with to the death of the king and/or the marriage.”

In Lysa Turkeurst’s book, Unglued, she talks about harboring “retaliation rocks.” My checkmating queen would pick up one rock for each mistake her husband has ever made, and harbor it for future needs of throwing it at him to win a battle. Or at least she would write down his sins and mistakes to show to some counselor one day so the checkmate can be declared as the queen wins! And the marriage loses.

In chess, there is a white queen and a white king. The white queen is on the same team as the white king…always. And together, they face the other side. It is NEVER the white queen against the white king, as a checkmating queen’s marriage is.

I don’t know if it was due to the sibling rivalry of having all brothers, or the world-against-men attitude in the male dominated workplace of engineering, but somewhere along the way, I began competing against my husband, instead of being on the same team. It was never a declaration, or public announcement; it was more of a subtlety in the background of our marriage.

  • I wanted the last word.
  • I wanted the funniest joke (and horribly sometimes at his expense).
  • I wanted to look smarter in front of friends, make more money at work, receive more awards, etc.

The Remedy for the Checkmating Queen

  • Pray.
  • Remember, it is you and your king against the evil forces in the world – NOT you against your king.
  • Edify one another, lifting each other up as better than yourself. (Romans 12:10 and Phil 2:3)
  • The picture you paint of your marriage in front of others (especially your children!) is influencing all of those around you. If you want your son to be a king in his house one day, show him how a king is treated. If you want your daughter to have a wonderful marriage one day, then model what a wonderful marriage would be -when the king and queen are on the same team – always.

The Story of the Brady Marriage…and my “Queendom”

As a newlywed, I was in a community band. I’ll admit: it was an awful band; but I just wanted to keep up my saxophone playing, so I attended regularly, despite my full-time job as an automotive engineer.  The night of the concert, I got dressed in black-tie attire, and I headed out the sliding glass back door of our basement apartment.

That’s when I noticed that Chris was sitting on the couch, in his casual after-work hangout clothes.

“The concert starts at 7,” I said, assuming my reminder would be enough to eject him from the couch to his closet to get dressed for the concert.

“OK, Good luck!” he said, not moving from his position.

“Well, you’re coming aren’t you?” I asked, recognizing he was not.

“No, I have some things to get done,” was his nonchalant reply.

My simmering mind went to a full boil. The script-writer within me had not allowed for him to have things on his agenda. My script for the night was for him to drive a second car (since I had already conceded that he would not want to be there an hour early for my warm-ups).

I stormed around getting my things. Subliminally, I hoped my stomping would communicate my disappointment and manipulate him into coming. Words did not come out of my mouth, but smoke was leaving my ears. I was hurt. Surely he didn’t love me if he thought anything was more important than seeing my concert. He came to my concerts in college. Now he won’t even come to this? Was he misleading me in college just to marry me. Yeah, that’s it… he didn’t love me.

“Well, I love YOU!” I said, and I drew out the word, “you” to be long and sarcastic, as if I were portraying how much more my love for him was than his love for me. Checkmate.

I then proceeded to “slam” the sliding glass door.

Have you ever tried to “slam” a sliding glass door?

Have you ever tried slamming a sliding glass door that desperately needs a WD-40 massage or all my might to close it one inch at a time?!

Temper makes us look so silly!

But I was needy. Chris’s lack of attendance was messing with my happy that night.

I had a script (that I had not printed out for him) and he wasn’t following it.

I assigned motives – he must not love me.

I was checkmating – I definitely loved him more. I was going to show the world I was better than my couch-sitting husband who must have tricked me into marrying him.

Ha. It makes me laugh still. That door – stuck in its tracks, took away from my dramatic departure. It screeched to a halt, and I couldn’t get it to shut. I bent in my formal gown, trying to get the door to shut, so I could leave in a huff – my new script.

………………………………….

This letter could go on to many more bad queens:

  • the Manipulating Queen :  Close cousin to the script-writing queen, she tells half truths, or twists words to mean what she wants them to mean.
  • the Victim Queen:  She determines that she is a victim and nothing is her responsibility to fix.
  • the Beauty Queen:  Her day revolves around her “self” and so do her priorities – spending hour upon hour at the salon, tanning booths and plastic surgeon, to the point where her “self” becomes an idol of her heart, and anyone who tries to mess up her “good hair day” is going to have a bad day being around her.

Christian Marriage

Oh but wait…the Good Queen exists, and with God’s help, can beat out any Bad Queen

Marriage

within us. (Go back and read, “20 Ways to Encourage Your Husband” to start the process!)  In Chess, the queen doesn’t beat the king on her own side, but she does defeat the opposing queen.

Do not grow weary, my friend. Focus on the good and become it…for God’s gloryon purpose as hard as you can!

Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. –Prov 31:29

In Christ,

Terri Brady

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Happy Birthday, Chris Brady!

Dear Lindsey,

Saturday was Chris’s birthday. A friend asked me how we celebrated it, and I told her thatChris I was with kids in Wilmington for a soccer game and he was with other kids in Roanoke for a soccer game. (We celebrated a different day!)

I have heard that a great way to tell your kids you love them is by telling someone else (in front of the kids) how much you love them. That’s true for husbands too! Of course, maybe this letter is fulfilling the #15 on the list of ways to encourage my husband, but I not-so-secretly hope others husbands see what my king does here that makes him such a great king!

I am so thankful God brought Chris to earth! March 16th became such a special day for me – because I get to celebrate Chris! I would not be me if there were no Chris; he has helped me more than words can say.

Humility

God used Chris’s immense example of humility to give me some. He is a leader of quiet strength. I have watched him see other people (including me!) get credit for his work – and he gladly shares the joy. I have watched Chris back down from a soapbox that was rightly his. He has coated many hammers with velvet in order to aggressively love while humbly teaching truth.

Uplifting

I didn’t think words of affirmation would ever pierce my tough skin – until they came from someone as admirable as Chris. His words have melted me. He says nice things, but yet somehow convinces me he believes them! Most of all, he stands behind those words and shows me where they apply so repeatedly that slowly I start to believe them too. He loses himself in the uplifting of others.

Marriage Fun

Marriage can have some not-so-fun moments. Chris is fun in the middle of them! (Warning  to men: some wives might not have my sense of humor; tread lightly before copying. LOL!) For example, if I were about to lose control over kids stacking dirty dishes (instead of putting them in the dishwasher) I could see Chris putting a dirty dish half-full of cereal on my purse on the counter …to make me laugh.

An outstanding example of his humor in the midst of intensity was years ago, when checking into the hospital in labor with our first baby.  I was asked, “Marital status?”

“Married,” I said (in pain).

Chris looked at me in front of the nurses and the waiting room. With disdain in his voice, he said, “You’re married?!!”

Chris kiss

Overcoming Adversity

He handles adversity.  There is a saying he incorporated into our lives that has probably changed our family’s course: “Doesn’t matter! Doesn’t matter! Doesn’t matter!” Picture him saying it in a fast cadence – like the sound of hitting speed bumps in a trailer park at full speed. (Not…that I would know that sound…) He has used that saying to make sure we keep the main thing the main thing. When obstacles come our way, trying to stop us from keeping our eye on the prize, he will chant it, in crescendos if necessary, “doesn’t matter! DOESN’T matter! DOESN’T MATTER!” And whatever it was, it usually didn’t really matter, despite how my Chicken-Little thinking wanted to make it matter. It didn’t matter that the second story bathroom was leaking water through to the living room, right on top of the baby grand piano.  In the grand scheme of things, that was NOT grand. (Pun intended.) Financial goals were met when we shut off that bathroom’s water and waited 2 years until we could afford the time and money for a plumber to fix it.  I look back at those 2 years without a master bath, and realize it really DIDN’T MATTER. His living by priorities clarified what DOES matter, and he has shown me how to live that way.

Christian Leadership

Leading is a requirement of any good king. By far, that has been the most attractive trait of Chris – his leadership. It has not always been easy on a marriage (See “turning off water to master bathroom for two years example above.), because his leading sometimes meant that my following required going in a direction against my natural grain. That didn’t stop him from leading. Tough conversations happened. He led. I questioned. He still led. I don’t mean head-down, nose to the grindstone, “I don’t care what you think, you’re doing it my way!” leading; I mean, “I love you; I have prayed; I want what is best for God’s glory, for you, for me, for our kids, and that makes me lead in this direction” kind of leading. It is easier to follow a man who is following the Lord. A velvet hammer. A strong man. Thick skin. A soft heart. A man I will follow to my destiny…born on March 16th.

Chris’s morning begins by reading his Bible; his day is full of working his utmost for his Highest.  I am blessed to be joined in this life with him.

Happy Birthday to my babe!

Love,

Terri Brady

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Valentine’s Posing Pansies

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Dear Lindsey,

Chris and I have never been much for the typical Hallmark holidays. We love each other,

English: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, one with ...

and tell each other regularly…in our own ways.  It might be my making his favorite meal, or his taking the kids so I can go for a walk ALONE on a sunny afternoon. We each have love languages that are outside of Chapman’s book, but it is good, because we have discussed it and both agree our language is right for us. (Shouldn’t chocolate be another Love Language? Or fishing? Or …oops, I am off my story.)

I love that for our anniversary one year (ok, many years), he stopped at a convenience store and bought me my favorite candy on his way home late at night. Somehow it makes me feel special that he trusts me not to be a high maintenance girl, and he can count on me to not be needy when he is living life for a purpose, our purpose. I know it’s weird, but it flatters me just the same. Of course, I have never been offended by his brag-worthy gifts, either!

For his birthday, I spell “Happy Birthday” with cookies since he likes them better than cake, and I am confident that it is one gift he cannot get for himself. I guess that’s how we speak love in the Brady house.

But one Valentine’s Day a few years ago, he decided to dare to be different. Or actually, he dared to be typical, since he was usually different.  He dared to get me the typical Valentine’s gift: a dozen red roses.

Children's Valentine, 1940–1950

I am guessing he planned on walking in and creating a dramatic moment, carrying the lovely vase of abnormally gorgeous flowers in full bloom.  He probably imagined his bride descending the stairs and covering him with grateful kisses, while kids oohed and aahed by our side. He knew the “typical” would be a surprise in itself, since it was different than our norm.

But I was not home. He had forgotten it was my day with the homeschool group at church.

By the time I got home, the flowers were proudly displayed on the kitchen island.  Immediately putting my nose to them to take in the fragrance, I realized they were silk. Silk? Yes, fake flowers. I tried to think through his reasoning:

“Silk flowers will prevent her allergies from bothering her.”

“Silk flowers will last forever, while real flowers will die away.”

“Silk flowers look perfect, and have more vibrant colors.”

“Terri likes silk, which is why she had them at our wedding.” (In reality, we had silk wedding flowers, because we got married Mother’s Day weekend, and no flower shop would commit to live flowers…oh yeah, and they were cheaper.)

But then I got real:

“I bet he didn’t even notice they were fake. He probably stopped at the store and was on the phone. He grabbed the first thing he saw, paid with a credit card and brought them home.”

 When he was done with his conference call, I went into his office and told him thanks for the Valentine’s Day flowers. He never explained the silk, and I never mentioned it. He was beaming that I was pleased.

The next day, I couldn’t hide it any longer.

“Did you know those flowers were fake?” I asked him in his office, mid morning.

Pause…

…Long pause…

“Are you kidding?” He looked up at me with those sparkly eyes, which seemed to be restraining the grin to sheepishness.

“The flowers are fake?” He asked me.

I giggled, “yes.”

I continued, in order to relieve his awkwardness and bring the humor we both love, “Let me guess: you stepped into the flower store at 90 mph and picked up the prettiest thing you saw. You couldn’t get off the phone, patiently waiting while someone was talking in your ear; you paid for the order and brought it home to the counter, never noticing that you had purchased silk flowers.”

“Guilty as charged,” he said, with a full-out grin, which burst to laughter. “I even held it carefully with one hand on the passenger seat, trying not to spill the ‘water’ on the way home!” He laughed some more.

A man who can laugh at himself is easy to love.

The flowers didn’t make me sneeze.

They were vibrant and colorful.

They made a beautiful year-round decoration, and even survived a move or two.

Discount Flower Delivery Detroit   3 Dozen Red...

They reminded me that I married the man of my dreams as a playmate. The humor of the situation bonded our marriage further and was truly my favorite Valentine’s present ever.

Any Prince Charming could have given me flowers. Mine gave me a story.

May you cherish the stories with your Valentine!

– Terri Brady