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.

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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

If I am to be Queen, I Shall Be a Good One

In 1831 in Great Britain, a little girl was studying English history. Reading through the royal lineage, she saw her own family tree and innocently realized that she was to be the next queen. The thought overwhelmed her and her tears drew the attention of her tutor. The little girl explained her plight and her tutor confirmed her destiny. It was recorded that day that the young Victoria said, “If I am to be queen, I shall be a good one.”

Of course, Queen Victoria reigned through much of the peaceful 1800’s so well, that the Victorian era is renown as a pleasant one. Furniture and architecture styles bear her name.

When talking with other wives, I am often asked questions like: How do I get my husband to be a spiritual leader? Or how can I motivate my husband to do more?

My answer is not an easy one – and I didn’t like it when I first came to this conclusion:

If I want to be married to a king, I must determine to be a good queen.

A Chess piece.

Last week, I read the book of Esther. Following a series of sermons on Esther that my pastor did last year, it struck me how much Esther had to do to be queen!! The year’s worth of beauty treatment and selection process alone are evidence of the Almighty hand in this suspenseful, twisting, true tale of a heroine. (I highly recommend reading that little 10-chapter book of the Bible again NOW!) But the biggest thing that struck me during the book this time was the respect with which she treated the king.

I have been guilty in the past of looking at other women married to successful men and thinking wow! It must be cool to be treated like a queen! I can’t say I ever really thought about what it would take to behave like one.

I come from the same educational background as my husband: engineering. We both had high scores on the GRE (100% in logic – I know…GEEKville), went to the same college and had companies pay tuition through our scholarships. We went to work in the automotive industry. He worked on engine components; I worked on transmission components and together, we made the car go:).

It is a blessing when a woman can use her abilities to work outside of the home, when she has her Biblical priorities in line (Proverbs 31, for example)…but I hope her husband still feels like a king.

Too often, a woman will use her God-given talents to advance her family, (Her heart is right.) but somehow end up turning her husband into a pawn instead of a king, and then wonder why her husband won’t act like a king. (Of course, I would be equally disappointed with a man treating his wife as anything less than his queen, but I digress from my point in this letter…)

Maybe there’s something to this “act-like-a-queen” stuff!

A spiritual leader will be his best when he has spiritual followers.

I am no linguisticologist (although I can make up words!), but it seems like the word, “encourage,” would break down into “in” and “courage” or, “to put courage into.” (And “discourage,” would be the opposite, or: “to take courage out.”) I don’t know about you, but I always do more when someone is pumping courage into me. What if we pumped courage into our kings? Then we would be queens!

I recently read a blog which inspired me to make my own list of ways to encourage my husband. I am sharing the first 20, but I would love if you attached comments to add more!

Look out, ladies! This past weekend, I read this list aloud to a mixed-gender crowd of a few thousand people in Louisville, KY. I was shocked by the response of the men, who shouted, “Read more! Read more!”

I guess men, like women…and kings, like queens, crave encouragement. Don’t wait to receive in order to give it.

Make your own list… And then live it.

Determine to be a good queen.

20 Ways to encourage your husband:

  1. Enjoy a great time in the bedroom with him.
  2. Send him an email that lists the A-Z things you love about him. (If you can’t do this, it may be part of the problem. Think harder and longer; take your time…even a letter a day.)
  3. Know what his dreams are and make a scrapbook out of them for his review.
  4. Ask him not what he can do for you, but what you can do for him. It is not, “Do unto others only if they do unto you,” but “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.”(Matthew 7:12)
  5. If he is concerned about eating healthy, prepare meals that align with his desires and have them ready. If he would rather eat differently, treat him like an adult…an adult king.
  6. Do “his chores” for a week, expecting nothing.
  7. When he fails, forgive quickly.
  8. Leave him a note in his briefcase or lunch bag, for example: “I am so glad to be YOUR queen.”
  9. Write his goals on the bathroom mirror with dry-erase marker (if he likes your encouragement on his goals, and if he likes to keep his goals to himself – let him! After all, aren’t there some goals we girls like to keep to ourselves, too? :)).
  10. Take care of yourself. Eat well, sleep well, and exercise, so you are the best queen. If you can’t live with yourself, it’s virtually impossible for anyone else to live with you either. Self-discipline helps so many more than yourself, but I could write another whole letter on that subject alone!!
  11. Let him be his own boss. (Too often, I am the captain of the ship when Chris travels and it is easy to let my command-giving fall onto the king’s ears when he returns. – Not a good method of encouragement :))
  12. INITIATE a great time in the bedroom.
  13. Buy his favorite soda.
  14. Have the kids make a “Yay, Daddy!” party complete with notes why they love him.
  15. Talk nicely about him to others, in front of him and behind his back.
  16. Be his advocate when speaking to your kids. Stand up for him, even if you need to buy time, for e.g.. : “I am sure Daddy didn’t mean it that way. He loves you. When he gets home, you can talk to him and clear it up.” How a child talks about his dad tells me A LOT about his mom.
  17. Don’t keep score. “his hours of free time” “his money spent” “his reading time”
  18. Greet him at the door in lingerie (First, make sure he’s not bringing business partners home with him that night!)
  19. Protect his time. Don’t invite people over, or to ride to an event with you, or stay with you, unless he agrees. Your “followership” encourages his leadership.
  20. Stop what you are doing when he comes in the door. (Don’t be on the phone if you are expecting him.) GREET him as though you are happy to see him! “What you have done for the least of these, you have done unto me,” said THE King. (Matt 25:35-40)

Feel free to add more in the comments below…(and kings could anonymously give us queens some ideas, too…)

I can see the crown beginning to grow on your head!

In love,

Terri Brady

Recommended Reading

Esther, of the Bible

Sexual Intimacy within Marriage by Cutrer and Glahn (Good for marriage – with or without existing physical problems.)

Intended for Pleasure by Ed and Gaye Wheat

His Needs Her Needs by Harley, Jr.

Becoming the Woman of His Dreams  by  Sharon Jaynes- My FAVORITE marriage book: what 300 men wish they had in a wife (and it had nothing to do with chest size! Phew!)

King & Queen

Saved by Submission

“I am the leader of the house, and my kids need to know it! I can’t just keep allowing my kids to be affected by Continue reading

It’s not Where but Who

Dear Lindsey,

After Nate (12) looked at my photos on my iPad from last year’s trip to Bora Bora, he said, (conniving a trip for himself) “I think Dad’s next book should be: A week of Bora Bora“! Continue reading

Shout Out to Dads!

Dear Lindsey,

You probably remember from my recent post, “Shout Out to Moms!” that I love audience participation and would love to hear from YOU. This time, I would love to Continue reading

Balloon Ride to Rome (Love at Every Altitude)

Dear Lindsey,

I am just arriving home from Rome, Italy!  Ah, the beautiful country and Continue reading

Bridal Shower, Recipe Shower

Dear Lindsey,

A friend asked me for a few recipes. When I started to type her the personal email, I thought you might enjoy the recipes as well. Continue reading

Trip Advisor on the Guilt Trip: Terrorism

Terrorism.

Dictionary.com defines it as “systematic use of intimidation to achieve some goal.”

I never thought of using it to describe my child’s methods, but Chris was using the word correctly (of course!) when he referred to our 17-month-old.

The word could well describe the methods of many mothers, husbands, wives, friends, bosses, children, and …of course foreign radical religious leaders. Read more of this letter

Family Traditions

GOLDEN AGE CHRISTMAS TREE ORNAMENTS

“These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family.”  Esther 9:28

I have tremendously enjoyed taking a few days off this week – as much as any mother of four can take a few days “off”. I have read more, slept more, worshipped more, “blown more bubbles” (my term for whiling away the hours with my children–in their love languages) and wondered why I don’t do this MORE?!

In these days of rush-hour lives, it seems almost impossible to slow down  and fight against busyness (B.U.S.Y. = bound under satan’s yoke) to enjoy each other. It’s easy to let hours, days or years go by and wonder where they went. Families need to combat the unraveling and stay tightly knit;  one way is through family traditions. 

“Chips!” my three-year-old screamed when he came down one Christmas morning, despite the toys that surrounded the chips. On video, it truly sounds like a 4-letter-word, but our funny home video reminds the Bradys that Christmas mornings bring chips, since our son’s food allergies prevented the “normal” Christmas morning sweets.

As Christmas approaches, fresh cranberries are strung with popcorn to hang on the Brady tree; Chris’s favorite cookies are decorated, and the Legend of the Candy Cane is repeatedly read.  Dad’s calendar is opened to reserve a day for “stealth” family shopping and an evening for ornament painting.  We buy (or make) one new labelled ornament for each child, so when he or she leaves the home one day, his or her new tree will bear years of memories on which to build new ones.

Some traditions bless others while creating family bonding. When I was growing up, my mother would volunteer to work holidays at the nursing home where she was a nurse. My father, brothers and I would then join her and convene with the elderly, bring dessert and lead singing.   My 14-year-old son recently worked 5 hours at the Operation Christmas Child warehouse – something that could become a tradition as our family gets old enough to participate.  Caroling in the neighborhood, adopting a family, cleaning the house for toys & coats to donate, visiting the sick, and making cards for the elderly are great ways for the family to act as a team in blessing others.

Most important would be those traditions that revolve around God’s message to us. Traditional attendance of a church service, memorizing Scripture, and singing songs are wonderful “habits” for my children to take along to their own families one day.  One family of nine visited us last Christmas and simultaneously recited all of Luke Chapter 2 at the dinner table (upon our request once we heard it was in their repertoire). What a great family Christmas tradition each of the children will remember forever!!

What are your traditions? I would love it if you attached a comment below with a tradition- even if it is one already mentioned -even if it seems silly, like “chips!”. (note: Comments here stay with this letter, although Facebook comments disappear with the timeline.)  You may inspire another reader -including myself- with a new tradition that knits families for generations to come.

Enjoy your family,

Terri