And To My Listening Ear

What a week! We have enjoyed some time at our lake home. I hesitate to call it “vacation,” since we are still actively online and phones and extra travel, but we are vacationing from the scheduled soccer and school. God’s artistry in sunrises, sunsets and everything else seems so beautiful when reflected on water.

photo

Reflections on water can lead to reflections on life.

I love “early morning fishing” with my kids. I select one (or sometimes two) of my children, put them in a canoe with a trolling motor, some poles and lures, and we head out to watch the sunrise, while we entice the unseen creatures below.

Why early?

At 5:30am, the lake is serene – no boat wakes or phones with which to contend, no schedules to compete for my kids’ time, just peace outside of two voices – theirs and mine. Oh yeah, and some say the fish bite more at dawn.

Why Photos?

The entire family doesn’t fit into our 3-seated vessel, so we share our victories via camera.  Sometimes, on a day without bites, it is fun to go through the photos, to remember the big ones will come!

photo

IMG_3951photophoto photoIMG_3954

But it’s not about the fish.

Mom, it doesn’t matter if we catch any fish today,” my 8-year-old serenely said as the trolling motor left a silent “V” sketched in the placid lake behind us. “It is just nice being with you.

It is a time of reflection – of the new sun off the mirror of water, and of my kids’ thoughts of this turning world. They ask questions in those peaceful hours that maybe get lost in our ninety-miles-per-hour  days.

“Do you think I am not catching fish today because I sin too much?”

Pensive.

“Is it ever ok to get angry, because… didn’t Jesus get angry?”

Fighting strong, but wanting answers with a friend along at 5:45am!

My kids’ discussion questions roll out with the line behind the boat.  I just want to make sure they know that I am here; I have a listening ear; I am ready with open arms when the storms send unsettling waves. If they don’t know that when they’re 8, they won’t know to look for it when they’re 18.

I LOVE our early times together.  I couldn’t help but see the parallel to morning quiet times with God.

Quiet Time with God

Why early?

Before the sun, the world is serene – no waves or phones with which to contend, no schedules to compete with the time (except for the pillow – the evil contender!)

Pen & Paper

Why Notebook?

Like a photo to share with family, a notebook records my wrestling moments, my tearful prayer requests, and the gut-wrenching thoughts that once prevented my sleep.  The answers received through these early morning times with Him are revealed when I read the journal years later. It encourages me: today’s resolution will come in His timing, too.

But it’s not about the ritual; it’s about the relationship.

It is a time when I can tell Him, “It is ok if I don’t catch anything today, I just enjoy being with You.”

Test Shot with My ESV Journaling Bible..

In His Word I am reminded that He is here. He has a listening ear; He is ready with open arms when the storms send unsettling waves – which sometimes are the lure that got me there in the first place.

“Don’t let your child be the ‘one that got away’,” is the advertisement line from Zebco fishing equipment. Maybe someone at that company had some good fishing conversations with his kids, too.

Girlfriend, don’t be the one who got away from God.  As Rick Warren says,

“If you feel far from God right now, guess who moved.”

Tomorrow: tell the pillow to have a good day without you.  Grab a pen, a notebook and a Bible, and enjoy a relationship with Him. Read, pray, speak and listen.

“Failure in my life almost always begins with a famine of God’s Word and prayer.” – Anne Graham Lotz

“It’s better to be sleep deprived than God deprived.” – Jill Briscoe

Eternally His,
Terri

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

Dear Lindsey,

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

Chris and I attending a wedding

 

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. 🙂

Related Posts:

It Began as a Walk in the Park

Positive Influence

Trees

The seeds had been planted 5 years earlier, but they didn’t actually begin to sprout until one day when I took a walk to the park.  I was married with one child. After walking my then one-yr-old to the park on a Thursday morning, I found teenagers playing on the playset. Disappointed that these “truant hooligans” were using the equipment for tag, I turned my stroller around to head home, since running teens would not make a safe environment for my newly walking one-year-old.

That is when one of the teens yelled, “Hey everybody! Get off of the playground equipment! There’s a baby here to play!”

I had somehow become accustomed to rude teenagers at this park, who were too often self-centered, (and likely skipping school). I couldn’t believe my ears! One of the girls came over, confidently looked me in the eyes with a smile and said, “Here, you can have the playset; we will go over to the woods to continue our game.”

“What planet are you from?” I asked.

OK, not really, but I could have asked that, because I was that surprised by their respectful behavior toward my son and me. Not one of them was wearing something I would not wear – nor wearing something I would be embarrassed for her to wear if she sat next to my husband on a plane.  I realized they might make good babysitters, so I asked them for their phone numbers. They excitedly gave me their names, when I realized I WAS ASKING COMPLETE STRANGERS TO BABYSIT MY KID!

I decided I needed references – which is when I asked which school they attended and found out they were homeschooled. For the first time, I thought, “These homeschoolers are different, and if this is the fruit of the homeschool tree, maybe I should stop judging them and investigate how those roots began!”

I had never heard of homeschooling until I was an adult.  Chris and I had gone to public school, and no other path for my children had ever crossed my mind. The first I heard of homeschooling was as a newlywed when I attended a family funeral where I met Chris’s cousins who homeschooled. “That is bizarre!” was my only thought.

It is sad, but my first look at almost any change is always a negative look, with my mind locked shut.

The family almost whispered about those cousins, as if they agreed on my “bizarre” label. My judging response was in the form of questions that I didn’t have the courage to ask – because I wasn’t seeking answers, only judging:

  • Isn’t that against the law?”
  • Do they think they are better than the mass public, so their children need different teaching?”
  • Do they know they can’t shelter their kids forever (assuming that is what they are trying to do) and those kids are going to have to face the real world one day?”
  • I hope they know what they are doing; lives of children are at stake!”

But seeds were planted, and they grew in God’s timing – which happened to be five years later– when I took the walk to the park.

Negative Influence

Fast forward from my park story two years, and I had a three-year-old and a baby.

My neighbor two doors down in that park’s neighborhood also had a three-year-old within a couple months of Casey’s age. She and I were very different. While my husband and I worked on beginning a business of striving for excellence in life and attended church regularly, she and her husband headed in a different direction. I devoured Dr. Dobson’s parenting books, chose to avoid allowing our children to watch TV or movies, and strived to improve myself with the same disciplines.  She had favorite soap operas, used R-rated language in normal conversation with her children or me, and often referred to her husband as the #@#$#%#$ bleep who wouldn’t clean the toilet! The f-word was her favorite descriptor; her husband was considered her servant and her children her burden to bear if they ever stepped away from the television. I will never forget the chill that ran down my back the day she excitedly told me, “Our boys will be able to walk to school together!”

I have heard that we are a product of the books we read, the words we hear and the people with whom we associate. I suddenly realized that although as an adult I can choose my books, CD’s and surrounding people, my some-day-5-year-old, would not have that option. He would be a product of his zipcode that determined which school he would attend.

During this same time, a good friend of mine innocently shared a story of her 1st grader.

English: A blackboard or chalkboard from the c...

She had gone to school to help with the class, and took pity on her son’s classmate, a 6-yr-old who was working through his lettering book. While the rest of the class used the “writing station time” to go through one letter at a time and had mostly progressed to the “R-S-T-U-V” stage, this little guy was still on the “D-E-F-G” pages. She knelt down and helped him, while he got more and more frustrated. The teacher ran over to my friend and told her to stop helping the boy. The teacher then turned to the almost tearful boy and gave him a verbal lashing for being so slow and behind the class, and he “would surely be doing letters in summer school if he didn’t pick up his pace!” My friend was upset, seeing the damage the teacher’s words could do to the boy, but not sure what to do about the situation. Obviously, there may have been much behavioral history with that child in that class, but the teacher’s lashing threats didn’t seem likely to inspire improvement. Besides, there were twenty-five other students that needed the teacher’s attention; she certainly didn’t have time to cater to every rabbit and snail, so she was choosing. I may have done the same if I were a teacher of twenty-five 6-yr-olds!

It was around this time that it dawned on me: If I were hiring someone to watch over my children 30 hours/week, it would not be a light decision. I would be interested in the person’s love for children, patience and understanding during challenges, religious stand, interest in flying planes into buildings and the many other rights and wrongs which people in our country coexist in disagreement. I believe we should take the same approach to “hiring” someone to be with our children (plus 20-30 others in the classroom) for thirty hours a week. Even if MANY kindergarten teachers could teach my children better than I, have more patience, more experience and more creativity than I, NOT ONE could love my child more than I, and therefore, we chose to homeschool…at least for a while.

Define what you want;  Learn from somebody who has it; and Do what they have done.

I hunted down the mother of those teens from the park two years prior. I was sure she thought I was crazy, (Since my oldest child was three, I was hardly putting him in school!) but I liked the fruit shown in her girls that day, and I wanted my children to display it. I wrote down a list of questions, and invited this otherwise stranger to lunch so I could grill her on them. I saved the list – and recently came across it. (The list and her answers are attached at the bottom of this letter.)

As with major decisions, we prayed while we listed the pros and cons of each schooling scenario, and then made the decision that was best for the Brady family. My goal with this week’s Letters on homeschooling is not to make my decision be your decision, but to encourage you to strive for excellence even in the education of your children. I am embarrassed to say that there was a time when I didn’t believe that my children’s education fell within my responsibility. “Isn’t that part of paying taxes?” Now I think differently.

Homeschooling

chalkboard

I have been very impressed with the homeschoolers I have met, and would love them to influence my children. When I hear, “Mom, can you wake me up at 6am tomorrow, so I can read before school?” from my daughter, or “I am selling my ski-boat that I bought when I was 13 with money from the business I started,” (selling CD’s of his piano playing) from a young man at church, I recognize fruit on a homeschooling tree. Homeschoolers do not go without criticism, though; I have met many that are too shy, some that seem non-perseverant, and a friend this week told me she knew a family of them that was “rude, just rude!” But in my humble experience, the odds are that the fruit is the kind of sweet that I want to experience in my home.

I am sure that God will continue to write a testimony for each of us. I am including links below of news articles in the past few weeks alone that continue to keep me happy to be a homeschooling mom.

In love,

Terri Brady

Related Letters to Lindsey:

Recent SHOCKING News articles:

April 13, 2013: A father finds a note in his fourth grader’s bag that says, “I am wiling toConstitutionalCrayon give up some of my constitutional rights in order to be safer or more secure.” READ MORE.

May 2, 2013: “’Can I kiss you?’ That’s what middle school girls were told to ask one another during an anti-bullying lesson at Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook, NY.” READ MORE.

April 10, 2013:  MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry says, “We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.” READ MORE.

January 23, 2013: “Common Core” is Obama’s “War on Academic Standards.” Accepted in 45 states, it will dumb our country down, one student at a time. “It doesn’t start with the ‘low-information voter.’ It starts with the no-knowledge student.” READ MORE

March 21, 2012:  Statistics of homeschools compared to Public Schools: READ MORE

 …

hs quest

My original questions of the “stranger” homeschool mom from the park: (Her answers in her words are in red. On a future Letter, I plan to include more FAQ’s with my own answers as supplements.)

  1. How do I get official requirements?
    1. Go to www.hslda.com and look it up.
  2. Are there associations (for social interactions, etc.)
    1. Yes. Search for the nearest homeschool store, and they normally have a list. [HSLDA also has a list of homeschool associations by location.]
  3. Trading kids for certain subjects: what do you think?
    1. We have not done it often, but it is helpful in higher maths, or foreign language if you don’t have the experience.  Also, we have found that apprenticing is the best training there is, so we often trade kids to apprentice in new skills at our businesses.
  4. What about sports?
    1. In Michigan [where I lived at the time], it is the school’s option to include or not include homeschoolers. [Since then, Tim Tebow has made homeschoolers in sports a little more visible, since in FL, they are allowed to play on school teams. It varies state by state, but there are many competitive sports (gymnastics, travel soccer and baseball, for example) outside of school that are even more competitive than the school sports. Today, there are many homeschool support groups that supply sports teams which compete against local private schools.  We have also recently learned that the highest level of competitive high-school age soccer does not allow the players to play for their high schools in addition to their clubs, anyway, so homeschool’s possibly limiting sports in school would be a moot point.]
  5. What about socialization?
    1. Socialization doesn’t occur with kids – peer pressure does. Social skills come from parents.
  6. How do homeschooled kids fair in college?
    1. They do as well as public school kids. [That was her answer in 2000, however my research as my oldest entered high school shows that colleges include homeschoolers as a “normal” part of their admissions. They have pages dedicated to homeschool requirements for admissions. Also, some states (at least FL and NC that I know) have a “dual enrollment” program that begins at age 16. Academically gifted students can take college courses for “free” at the local college, and actually earn an associates degree as they graduate from homeschool high school.]
  7. Do you schedule time or do it “as you go”?
    1. We do better with a scheduled start time and rotation, but many are more flexible than I.
  8. Do you have a formal setting for school? Chalkboard? Multiple ages together?
    1. It is as formal as you like. Subjects like history – where it doesn’t matter the order in which you learn it, we all are together. Subjects like math, I do each child individually. I used to think I needed a chalk board, since that is what I was used to growing up, but I found it unnecessary; it is more intimate on paper together.
  9. Gym class? Art? I don’t want to limit my son to my ability.
    1. Oh yes! There are plenty of classes available, so you are never limited by only your ability.
  10. I am all for a Biblical foundation, but am I limiting witnessing to other people who don’t have that opportunity if I don’t put him in a school with them?
    1. By homeschooling, you help create a foundation that will be strong for witnessing. If God calls you to homeschooling, then He has other plans for the timing of your kids’ witnessing.

Another wise mom, Sue Gray, taught me her principles for homeschool:

F – Fear God not man.

A – Acknowledge where strength comes from.

C – Conform to Christ not culture.

E – Endure all things because Christ did first.

 

Related Posts

The Stranger’s Sketch

“The stranger’s sketch was a little more like, …gentle,” she said, fidgeting her fingers, as she looked at someone’s sketch of her, based on the stranger’s description.

A friend sent this Dove commercial to me, and I thought it worthy of sharing. Take the 6+ minutes today, and see the points. But PLEASE read on, my friend.

The gist of the video is that a forensic artist who had spent decades sketching “bad guys” based on a witness’s description, used his talent to draw two separate sketches of the same woman. The first sketch was based on the woman’s description of herself, while she sat out of the artist’s sight. The second sketch was based on someone else’s words, describing the same woman to the artist through the curtain as he drew. Each completed drawing amazingly resembled the woman who was described, yet the resulting sketches, though of the same woman, were very different.

I smiled, and even teared up as each woman saw the sketch made from her own self-description compared to the sketch made from someone else’s description.

“I look more open, friendly and…happy,” one said, speaking of the sketch from the other’s description. No matter which woman self-described and then was described by another, the sketches came out as similar comparisons: the self-description sketch was not as attractive as the one drawn using another person’s description.

Maybe it was the sad background music, but I mused in retrospect, as my melancholy personality saw the gloom in it: “Yeah, but what if someone who had known me for a longer time – not the stranger in the waiting room – had described me for drawing? Then it would have been more true…uglier.”

Get thee behind me satan!

Beauty Tips

External beauty is not the goal and never has been.

I loved the video for pointing out to me (again!) how much the beauty dragon blows fire into our lives. Any time we are measuring ourselves and our worth based on bones in our chins, (yes, I’ll leave that plural for the fun of it), our skin tone or eyelash length, we are doomed for unhappiness. True joy doesn’t change.

What is neverchanging is our real worth. What really matters is not our self-description, but JR sermon notes_2who we are in the Lord’s eyes. “Whose we are” should radiate!

If we encourage another woman today, we can have the best facelift available (and give one too)!

If we are mournful of our sin, no one can take away our comfort! (Matt 5:4) And that is worth some crows’ feet to get there!

When I truly think that God, His son not sparing, sent Him to die on a cross for my sins, that I may be white as snow…then the number of imperfections of my face fades in comparison.

You are beautiful, my friend. You are a child of God. Any stranger can see it. No matter your past, the weight of the imperfections you try to carry, in Christ alone, you are perfect.

In his sermon yesterday, Dr. Stephen Davey shared that we are “…identity thieves. We have the sinless identity of Christ. It was His gift to us. Practicing our identity in Him is our gift back.”

So how do your eyes look now? Radiant! Just the way He intended. Much like His.

In love,

Terri Brady

P.S. How about these verses to douse the dragon’s fire?

1 Sam 16:7: But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

John 7:24: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

Ephesians 2:10: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Proverbs 31:30: Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Recommended Reading:

Do You Think I’m Beautiful by Angela Thomas 

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Shout Out to Moms!

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:

Image of a modern fountain pen writing in curs...

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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Tumor Humor, Out of My Mind (with a Brain Tumor) Part IV

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Dear Lindsey,

After a week of letters (I, II and III) of my brain surgery story’s drama, I have to tell you how

Laugh

much laughing Chris and I did before, during and especially after the surgery was successful. If you are in the middle of a health battle, I hope humor can help take weight off. I never mean to offend.

God knew we needed a laugh to ease the nerves as I checked into the hospital on October 14. After fasting 15 hours, driving 2 to the hospital, going through the extensive check-in process, having IV’s started, and then sitting for hours waiting for the arterial scope the day before brain surgery was a good time for some distraction! Chris and I began going through text messages on our phones that we had not had time to read the week before. Many of them had scriptural references, so I had a Bible ready to look up the verses, while Chris read both of our phones.

A friend texted: Psalms 71:21. So I looked it up: “You shall increase my greatness and comfort me on every side.”

Another was Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

We continued, one after another, until one stopped me in my tracks: Our Florida pastor, Tom Ascol, had sent Chris a text referring to Romans 8:32, so I anxiously read the verse from my Bible,

“… He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth.”

What?! I read it again silently.

“… He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth.”

A lamb to a shearer? Right before they shave part of my head? A sheep to slaughter? Before brain surgery? Why would Tom send such a note today? I don’t think that’s a funny joke. Tom has a fantastic sense of humor, but his timing is really off on this one; there must be a mistake.

“What was that reference again?” I asked, hoping Chris had read the reference wrong or something.

“8:32,” Chris said.

Yep, that’s where I was and I couldn’t believe it was true.

“Romans?” Chris asked, hoping he was getting his friend Tom out of hot water.

OHHHHH I thankfully realized that I was in the wrong book: I was reading Acts 8:32.

(I laugh now when I see that I pridefully assigned blame everywhere but myself. I laugh harder to think I would EVER have thought Pastor Tom would have texted such a verse. ha!)

We went on to read Romans 8:32, “ He that spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

Much better.

We called the Ascols in Florida right then from the hospital bed to share the story. We laughed and praised God for the humor to relieve the stress.

In previous letters, I alluded to some of the lingo we used on purpose during this time. It’s more fun to laugh than cry, and these colloquialisms have different meanings for brain surgery patients:

– I gave the doctors a piece of my mind.

– I am no longer in my right mind.

– I am a little out of my mind.

– They had to take a piece of my brain, so I would be back on level with my husband.

– I need to have my head examined.

– I thought something was wrong, but it was all in my head.

– I needed to have the head surgeon present. (from Part II)

– This brings the urgency of life to a head (from Part III – did you catch it?)

– I think I have a screw loose. (My skull was “put back together” with titanium screws.)

– And my friend, Jen, just texted, “Your blog will really help some people, but don’t let that ‘go to your head’.” Love!

Thank You

Although I know this letter is titled “Humor with the Tumor,” I have to get a little more serious for an acknowledgement section:

There were many heroes and heroines in this story, and I wanted to take some time for acknowledging them. I did not even know the definition of the word, “serve,” until God put these people in my life. I recognize that they did not do it for me, but to serve the Lord; I was blessed by them, anyway.

I must begin by saying that if friendship is like a bank account – and love is the currency of deposits (and unfortunately withdrawals)– then the year previous to the surgery, I had bankrupted all of my friends. In my survival mode, I felt like I had nothing left to give, and had even inadvertently offended many friends by not returning calls or asking them to pick up my slack, without explaining why. I am indebted to these heroines, since they loved me anyway, and served as only Jesus could. Of course, I can’t name everyone – especially the number of strangers who visited the surgery-update blog, or sent prayers and cards that began with, “You don’t know me, but…” and took time to encourage. What a blessing they were!

First, thank you to my hero and husband, Chris. My loving knight in shining armor read the recount in these Letters to Lindsey last week and had a whirlwind of emotions again. He regretted that he didn’t do more during the year of pain, but I don’t know what more he could have done. He took over chores and diminished expectations, knowing I was going down. I think maybe God was teaching me to swim, and restricted use of lifejackets – even from my husband. His love for me then and now is irreplaceable. I kept saying his job was much harder than my own in the hospital bed – all I had to do was go to sleep.

Thank you to my brother, Tim, who traveled from Colorado to be with Chris during the surgery days. All three of my brothers returned my calls within minutes when I left them voicemail. That love cannot be duplicated.

My friend, Anna Huber taught not just me, but all of the other heroines in the story just what the word, “serve” means. Since 2008, I have often been in a position when I didn’t know what to do to help someone and I thought, “What would Anna do?!” However, many of the other ladies listed here have told me that they now ask the same question – after having experience working with Anna! She sent me cards every day leading up to the surgery, organized food for those staying in the hotel near the hospital, arranged rides for my kids for weeks after the surgery, arranged food to come to my house in the boondocks for weeks after surgery, and at one point when I texted and asked her if someone was coming to get one of the kids, she replied, “You are not supposed to be thinking! Let me do that!” Anna and her husband Mark drove the four hour round trip and visited with Chris during my less conscious moments.

My great friend and confidante, Tracey Avereyn sent me countless scriptures via text. She was the shoulder on which I could cry. She updated the blog when I was unable. In the weeks after surgery, when I required 24 hour care, she stayed with me more than her share of shifts, and made extra meals without milk and beef to be sure my son could eat as well. Of course the 6lb jar of peanutbutter delivered to my hotel room in Louisville was a favorite love note from her.

Thanks to Laurie Woodward for practically begging me to get the second MRI. How God used her! Woodwards sent flowers to Christine for her 5th birthday, a thoughtful gift the day before my admission. Laurie also flew to Michigan from Florida for a surprise visit seven days post-op. She and I could hardly visit, because the kids kept saying, “Can I play with Mrs. Woodward now?”

Nancy Jones was an immeasurable friend. Her physical therapist background combined with a caring heart provided for incredible help in my time of need. She voluntarily made the trip to the distant hospital, and massaged my horrendously sore neck (the muscles had much involvement in the surgery). On her birthday, (which I forgot in my ill condition), she helped Chris bring me into the house from the hospital discharge. She insisted on staying with me for “a shift” of nursing a week or two later, just to make sure I was really doing as well as she had heard.

Susie Hallstrand was incredible. From many phone calls before, advice on local hospitals, to voluntarily staying with me in ICU (which was a huge fear for me), her nursing background was the cherry on top of our friendship. Her faith was unwavering and a great stronghold for me. Her selflessness in keeping one of my children for the week – the one with food allergies no less – as well as making the four-hour round trip to the hospital is a quality I hope to emulate.

Shirley Barker was used by God when she “randomly” texted a friend to see if I needed muscular help, since she had a cancellation in her massage therapy schedule. She drove from Indiana to use her gifted hands on my neck muscles and really shot the starting gun for my road to recovery.

Friends and business partners, Bob and Nancy Frazzini, approached me at a meeting and asked if they could can my garden – a task that had clearly left my list of things to do that fall. It was so sweet of them to 1.) remember I had a garden and 2.) offer the service I would never have thought to ask. Every soup I had that winter reminded me of the Frazzinis’ gift and I asked myself the question, “How can I serve people like that?”

Wow. This list gets so long, but I am SO grateful to all!

Thank you, God, for sending my in-laws, Jim and Gayle Brady. One memory I have from the hospital was Chris’s mom in a heated discussion with the hospital staff. I was barely conscious to hear, “This woman has given birth four times! If she says she’s in pain, SHE’S IN PAIN!!! NOW!” She has taught me a lot about having an advocate to stand up for you in a hospital setting – especially if you will be unconscious. Being a retired hospital nurse herself, she knows how busy the setting can be for hospital staff and that it doesn’t hurt to have another eye on the situation.

Thank you to people who made the long drive to visit us in the hospital: Eric and Lori Stewart, Norm Walworth, Pastor and Mary Dickie, Chris’s brother, Pat and Jenny Brady, his parents and Mark and Anna Huber, who stayed all night with Chris.

Thanks to Tim and Amy Marks who sent food to feed the entire waiting room, probably for a year. 🙂

My parents, Ron and Sue Estes, came 1300 miles and stayed with me for three weeks, about two weeks post-op, to help me ease my way back into motherhood, which took time. It was helpful having parents who would let me do some things, and then also let me crash for lots of napping. My dad and I had some special walks outside, arm in arm, on the driveway in the cold fall air to ease my cabin fever.

Who can you trust to take your kids from you when you are having serious surgery – knowing that if things don’t go well, they will be the only buffer between your kids and the news? Four families volunteered – one for each child. What a blessing! Thanks to John and Tammy Sonnenberg, Rob and Susie Hallstrand, Doug and Tiffany Huber and Don and Chris Freeze.

Girlfriends stayed with me for eight-hour shifts, 24 hours-a-day for the first 10 days. Apparently this was needed due to my short hospital stay, and my risk for falling. At one point JR (who was 3) told me he would help me walk so I wouldn’t fall. So precious! But God sent other angels to keep me upright: Jackie Lewis, Cassie Birtles, Marsie VanBuskirk, Mallory Purdy, Tracie Clouse, Beth Morgan, Heidi Smith (who pulled an all-nighter when I was having pain-control issues, despite the fact she was working the next day), Tina Jacklyn, Meredith Cordes, and Corrie Jones – in addition to the others already mentioned. These ladies really saw me at my worst – after their love tanks were probably emptied by me the previous year – and they loved me anyway. What true friends and gifts from Above. May they hear, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant!” one day.

I know I have missed someone – but please know your reward is in heaven! I am so grateful that God allowed you to help in such a time of need.

Ladies groups made quilts and crocheted blankets, praying at the corner stitches. These afghans still reside in my house as a reminder of my leper experience. Thank you!

Val Brimsmade sent a note I still remember, and it often brings myself to right thinking. She said, “We are commanded, not requested, but commanded in Joshua 1:9 to be strong and courageous in His name.” I believe Martin Lloyd Jones says that we are abusing the gospel if we do not approach the crossing into eternity with JOY.

Thank you to the pharmacy and hospital staff: nurses Sarah, Wendy, Michael, Robin, Heather, Jackie, Keyonna and hospital executive VP, Patti who was so kind to the family.

Thank you

Thank you to people who brought or sent food and or gifts:

  • Randy and Rusti Spence – Thanks for reminding me to dance in the rain!
  • Kelly Johnson – The homemade card shower that lasted for months after surgery! (and still does today!)
  • Brenda Overman
  • Paul and Lois Nobels
  • Sarah Kingsbury
  • Mary Ann Markel
  • Sheri Stroh
  • Jen Golden
  • Ed and Lynette Zentner
  • Billy and Peggy Florence
  • Val Taylor
  • Dallin and Karree Larsen
  • Hugh and Karin Pobur
  • Brigg and Lita Hart
  • Guzzardo Team
  • Jerry and Sherry Daniels
  • Dave and Claudia Walker
  • Manase and Lisa Fotu
  • DarkAngelos
  • Manteises
  • Gertslers
  • Rhodes
  • McGlinchys
  • Nancy Deats
  • Holger and Lindsey Spiewak
  • Mike and Vi Gowen
  • Jamie and Lisa Cirello
  • Dave and Tracy McDade
  • Charlie and Polly Ballmer
  • and so many more that did not get written in Chris’s notebook during the surgery dates.

As I look back to the “leprosy” days, (referring to Luke 17 where Jesus healed ten lepers, and one came back to say thank you), I really believe that to truly say, “thank you,” to the Lord, we must also say, “thank you,” to the people He sent.

Summary

In summary, let me recall a poem I wrote years ago regarding the Luke 17 story:

THANKS AGAIN

Ten lepers were healed

By Christ’s words that day.

He said, “You are new,”

And sent them away.

They danced and they sang

With their limbs now anew.

Showed friends their new health

And all they could do

One returned thanks,

The others took for granted;

But Jesus gave freely

His gifts not recanted.

Lord, help me to be

The one of the ten

Who thinks to come back

and say, “thank you,” again.

-Terri Brady

May God bless you with much, and may you bless Him with thanks.

– Terri

Out of My Mind (with a Brain Tumor) Part III

For those who are just joining, it may be helpful to READ FIRST:

Out of My Mind (with a Brain Tumor) Part I and

Out of My Mind (with a Brain Tumor) Part II

Dear Lindsey,

In some ways, 2008 seems like yesterday, but as I recall my history, it seems like a whole different lifetime. As I said in part I and II of this letter, headaches led to MRI’s which revealed a tumor. Although the tumor seemed unrelated to the location of the pain, its speed of growth required surgical removal. When it rains it pours, and so did other “unrelated” health issues of skin cancer, a noise in my ear and swallowing problems which led to coughing issues…but the brain surgery took priority.

My story continues…

The Two Weeks

For the two weeks before surgery, anxiety woke me daily before my alarm.  My 5am quiet times would finish with the Lord’s arms around me like a warm blanket on a frosty morning. (Thanks, Alice Doan, a woman of our church for praying that to happen.)

I was already scheduled to speak in Phoenix, AZ and Louisville, KY those two weekends. I know anyone would have understood if I had decided to cancel due to impending brain surgery, but what happened in those two weeks was a wonderful alignment of priorities.

What is important now?” dominated my thinking.

If I were truly given only two weeks left to live, what would I do? The song says, “I’d go skydiving; Rocky Mountain climbing; ride a bull…” but none of that came to mind.

Although I think the chances of handicapping my voice were greater than the chance of death (The surgeon had said he wouldn’t come close to the life-threatening vein.), it brought the urgency of life to a head, as well as the momentousness of the ability to use my voice.  I wanted to live my life on purpose, and I felt like my message to the stadiums those two weekends was my purpose, or I would never have scheduled to leave my children, even before the diagnosis.

Each weekend, I changed my originally planned speech and told of the upcoming surgery and the heaven that awaited for those who have faith in Jesus Christ – whether the finish line would be October 15 or any time before or after.

During this time, the news of a fatal car accident jarred me to remember that we are all dying. EVERY day is a day that may be the end of our “dash”, and priorities should be lived as such, impending surgery or not.

Telling the Kids

The moment I dreaded had arrived: we needed to tell the kids.  We knew we had one promise we could make: not “Mom will be ok,” nor, “It will be just like always,” but that God is in control.

Pride of being a mother is a difficult thing to fight. Feeling the heavy weight of responsibility yet keeping perspective that if God chooses, it will be relinquished in a moment can only be accomplished by surrender. I surrendered (again) that I was not the one taking care of my children; God was.  If He chose for me to reach my finish line during brain surgery, my children would still be in His care.

True surrender is the most humble act.  I would have told you I surrendered when I was led to Christ at the age of thirteen. Again, a deeper surrender occurred when I “lost control” (which of course was never mine to begin with!) during infertility challenges.  I have often surrendered during my battles with pride.  But I had never before completely surrendered to the thought that the world would just keep turning in my absence. After a funeral and time, hearts who may have missed me would heal, and life would continue as it was…without me.  The church would find another musician; friends would get back to laughing; business would grow. I am the proverbial pea in the ocean. God’s ocean. Removing me was not a big deal. I suppose that is the humility with which we should live at all times, but nothing brought this to realization like a life-threatening storm.

We told the kids the good news: they would get to stay with friends, and then we told them the bad news. Chris grimly went through the recovery information, and the risk, and we prayed as a family. Within ten seconds of the word, “amen,” Nathaniel (8) said, “Can I tell you about the Scooby Doo movie now?!”

I know his comment frustrated my husband who wanted more concern, but the child’s words were a little note from Above: the kids would be fine.

To the Hospital

After a party for my daughter’s 5th birthday the day before, I wrote a little post on a blog my brother Tim had set up to give friends and family updates during my surgery. (The blog has since been deleted (after we printed it), because it wasn’t renewed.  There were more prayers/ comments in 10 days of that blog, than there have been on Letters to Lindsey since it began 15 months ago!)

I had indescribable peace as we made the two-hour trek to the hospital.  I was no longer preparing a basket with pitch and hyssop (from my Basket Case letter), but like baby Moses, I was riding inside, waiting to see where the Lord would have the water take me.  I decided everyone’s prayers were like a river on which I floated. So many prayers were said for the surgery, I bet Chris could have performed it! (but I opted for the surgeons instead.)

I believe PEACE comes from knowing that in all outcomes: God is in control. Thoughts at the time, while reading Trusting God (Bridges) were:

      • God is in control if I am healed completely.
      • God is still in control if I have nerve damage and live a life as handicapped. (Ask Joni Eareckson Tada if she agrees.)
      • God is still in control if I have reached my finish line; it would be heaven. Heaven is the finish line no matter what happens to my today.

First Surgery and a Friend’s Call, October 14

The first surgery on the 14th went better than planned; the arterial scope revealed there was no need for embolization to stave bleeding…answered prayer! Because of that, I was able to stay in a regular room and have one less night of ICU.

That night, while lying flat in bed as directed, I received a call from a friend who could hardly speak as she cried, “I don’t know if I know how to pray, but I just need to know, Terri, if I pray for you tonight, will God save you?”

Seeing her in her humble state, asking of the Lord for possibly the first time, I replied, “I don’t know if He will save me here, but I know if you pray to Him tonight, He will save YOU for eternity.”

She and I prayed together on the phone from my hospital bed, as I felt her come to the knowledge of what it means to be a sinner who is completely forgiven and saved by Christ.

Chris and my brother Tim visited with me before heading to their hotel, and I waited for the morning. I glowed with the joy that only comes from knowing a soul will be with me in eternity.

TT bed

Today’s the Day, October 15th

The morning of surgery, I sat up in bed and posted a favorite hymn on the surgery blog:

Day by day and with each passing moment

Strength I find to meet my trials here

Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment

I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.

When rolling my bed to surgery that morning, one of the medical students said to me, “I can’t believe you have such peace about this!”

It was ironic that this guy who was probably used to trying to calm people’s nerves was trying to figure out mine. “I need not worry about tomorrow, God is already there,” I quoted a favorite saying. I knew I was in my proverbial “basket floating down the river,” – two IV’s, arterial lines, tubes coming out of every angle and all. Like baby Moses, I was secured by God’s plan, waiting to wake up 2 to 14 hours later, to see either Chris, or Christ:  completely surrendered to His will.  Oh! How I pray I live that way out of the hospital bed!

Post Surgery News

I guess the 15th was quite an exciting day full of drama, according to the surgery blog, which I was able to read weeks later.

The summary:

    • The tumor was surrounded by a sheath, which protected any nerves from being touched. No nerves to my mouth were damaged!
    • The tumor had “fingers” that went into my right ear, so, unpredicted by the MRI’s view, several bones from my ear were “eaten through” and were removed.  In one of my few memories of recovery, the brain surgeon motioned “YES!” with a clenched fist when I reacted positively to noise in that ear. Although hearing was lost for several weeks due to swelling, the nerves were not severed, and hearing was restored by 4 months post-op.
    • The surgery went as well as it possibly could. I stayed in ICU only one night, and a regular room one night and then went home! (I stayed longer for an emergency appendectomy a year later!) Although I have virtually no memory of that week, my husband tells me that I was in a lot of pain, and he was sure I would get meds in a more timely fashion in our house. (He cholerically took over.) Friends stayed with me 24/7 for ten days post-op, giving me medication and stabilization from falling. I learned what it means to serve one another in love.  I only wish I could erase some of those shower moments from their memories. (yuk!)
    • Although unable to get what the medical world calls “clear boundaries,” due to the tumor’s proximity to the main vein, the brain surgeon had confidence he got all he could see through his microscope. This has been confirmed by four years of clear MRI’s. (Praise God!)
    • I found out a couple years after the surgery (probably because my memory of the events was tainted) that there had been a 24-hour prayer chain during October 14-15, 2008. Apparently, all through the night, every 15 minutes, people were assigned to pray – on the phone with one another- in Michigan, Florida, Phoenix, Salt Lake, Louisville, etc. Wow. I learned what it means to be part of the body of Christ.
    • The headaches, the swallowing problem and the ear noise were all healed.  By January 2009, Chris was forgetting I was recovering and asked me to go snowmobiling! (I said, “no,” and reminded him the helmet would not feel good.) Really, less than three months after surgery, I felt better than I had felt in years. Chris said, “I feel like I got my wife back!” I still stand in awe.
    • I never before 2008 thanked God for a reflex like swallowing, but it still comes to mind. I learned that I have taken the body’s involuntary reflexes for granted.

When Bad Turns to Good:

I feel extra-blessed if I get a glimpse of God’s plan, when something I perceived as bad turns through a winding trail to be better for me after all.

    • My brother’s melanoma was such bad news, but if he had not called me, I may not have had the skin exams – which led to my recognizing the skin-healing problem. I cannot imagine I would have survived brain surgery lacking the ability to heal.
    • The rejection from the insurance company was a disappointment the day I received it; however, that rejection (along with Laurie Woodward’s encouragement) is what spurred me to get the second MRI. God’s thoughts are always higher than my own, and He meant it for my good. (Is 55:8)
    • The physical pain was bad, but it was good because it forced the solution. Without the substantial physical pain, I may not have sought help as fervently, and the tumor would have grown inoperable. (It reminds me of sin! But I will save that for another letter.)
    • I believe my friend (who prayed on the phone with me from the hospital bed) was changed for eternity. Heaven instead of hell… when my illness caused her to humbly reach for a Savior  (John 3:16). There is no greater joy for those who ask.

Despite whether we see the good coming from bad, we can be thankful for the struggles, because they promise to give us perseverance, character and hope (Rom 5:3-5) and increase our pain tolerance, too!

During a horrible storm that was tossing a fishermen’s boat in the billowing waves, Jesus said, “Peace be still,” and the winds and waves obeyed His command. (Mark 4:35-41)

The old hymn says, “the winds and waves still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.”

Although He may not remove you from the water, may you experience His peace as He calms the storm within.

In Christ,

Terri Brady (See below for Frequently Asked Questions)

FAQ:

1.  Will the tumor come back? – I was told there is a documented average 20% chance of return when they get clear boundaries around the tumor’s location. Since they did not get clear boundaries, the chances would normally be considered greater, but my surgeon was very confident that he got every cell, so any return would be due to its ripe environment for growth. At the five-year mark, the chances of its return decrease significantly.

2. Were there residual effects on me? – Yes. The biggest effect is that I am more grateful for pain-free days than ever. The other effects are minimal in comparison, and I don’t like to talk about medical things. 🙂

3. Do you still have headaches? – Yes. I am back to “normal”. In October this year, I was even speaking in front of a crowd – lights and all- with a migraine. To me, it was a testimony of increased pain tolerance. The occasional headache now comes as a blessing, reminding me of my past as “the leper” who comes back to say thank you.

4. Was the brain tumor caused by cell phone use? – I have read probably too much information on this topic. Although evidence is still questionable, it can’t hurt to hold cell phones far from the ear, and limit children from holding phones to their heads. (Their skulls are softer and the radiation has been measured much further into their brains.) My guess is that a cancer survivor who thought it had nothing to do with smoking could probably have written a letter like this in 1950, but of course my guess could be wrong.

5. Do you think your healing was a miracle? – I don’t feel worthy of the term, “miracle,” considering the miracle of a virgin’s birth or raising of a Man from the dead. However, I don’t take from God that He provided answers that the doctors were unable to predict. To God be all glory.

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Out of My Mind (with a Brain Tumor) Part II

“Compassion is showing our scars to those with open wounds.” –Gary Hallquist

Dear Lindsey,

In my last letter, I gave Part I to this story. I originally hesitated from sharing this brain tumor journey: Was I afraid of dwelling in the past? Was I afraid I would scare readers into getting themselves checked for brain tumors? Or was it that my heart aches for so many people still in their “Holland,” with worse problems, bigger tumors, cancer in multiple family members, unrelenting back pain, life-changing car accidents, addictions, etc., but they are still living through them today? A friend reminded me that suffering is not a competition. If showing our scars can be helpful to those with open wounds, then sharing the past is celebrating God’s victories. So I continue to write:

When we last left the story, my insurance application had been rejected unless I would get another brain MRI.

September 6, 2008

I had the MRI early in the morning. I “checkmarked the box” so I could get the new insurance. The diagnostic center gave me the normal line about how I would hear from my doctor within two weeks to review the results. I knew from booking this appointment that the neurosurgeon was on vacation that week, so my follow-up appointment to review the MRI was scheduled for September 22. I was not worried, just like she had told me not to be at my previous appointment, months earlier.

The following week, the caller ID revealed the hospital’s number on a phone call. The kind woman told me that they needed to get another scan for clarity.

“I am flying to Salt Lake City in the morning,” I told her and we booked a time for the following Monday and ended our call. I figured my brain must have moved during its photo shoot, and blurred their view. (smile) It’s hard to hold still for 45 minutes – even if your head IS clamped.

The phone rang again within minutes. “I spoke with your doctor, and she said you should not get on the plane.”

“Is something wrong?” The dumb question escaped my mouth as my nerves escalated, realizing they had called that doctor on vacation –obviously, something was wrong.

“No, we just need a better view. It is actually not an MRI, but a VRI we will be taking,” she said as if that was a logical answer to my panicked question.

“So why can’t I fly? Is it the plane pressure? I am supposed to leave at 10am.”

“Well you could come in at 7am, and if the radiologist clears you, you could be out in plenty of time to make your plane.”

The following morning, I went back on the cold table into the tube. It screamed a sound similar to the old dot-matrix printer, seemingly through a microphone directly into my ears. Halfway through the test, the young (and obviously naïve) technician started my IV as normal and asked,

“So how long have you known about this?”

Known about what?! Went through my head, but I played it cool: “A while,” I said, not sure if we were talking about the same thing.

“Can they operate?” she asked, curious.

Oh. My. Word. Am I in a Twilight Zone? Did I miss a phone call somewhere? Last I had heard, this kind of tumor is common and no big deal… “Uh, I don’t know yet. I think that’s why I’m here,” my heart began to race as my mind wandered in “what ifs,” but exteriorly, I was calm.

“Is it cancer?” she asked me.

“I hope not,” I said quickly, as if the speed of my answer would bat that chance away.

“Well, you must be scared,” she said as she rolled the table with me on it back into the tube.

I lay on the hard, skinny table surrounded by my own cocoon for the second 20-30 minutes of the test. I thanked God that the technician was talking to me and not to some little old lady who didn’t know my God of peace. I knew the tech wasn’t supposed to talk to me like that, but regardless, the cat was out of the bag!

The radiologist released me, I guess, because I made the plane to Salt Lake City… with a headache.

In Salt Lake, we met with close friends and business partners. I told a small few, trying not to initiate panic, but asking for prayer and still hoping it would all blow over.

The following Monday, the 22nd, I saw the neurosurgeon, and she was less jovial than our first meeting months before.

“Your tumor has grown over 50%. This is a much more serious situation than I originally thought. It is compressing one of the two main veins to the brain. If it continues to grow at this pace, it is life threatening. It is unclear, but it looks like it is close to pushing your right brain to the left, which will cause seizures, so this is becoming an urgent situation. I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. I am sending you to a specialist a few hours south of here. I assume surgery is your only option. We made you an appointment for next Monday. Bring your husband. You will want him with you.”

She handed me 2ft x 3ft films to hand-carry to the specialist neurosurgeon in the Detroit area. It felt like the entire office staff was looking at me with a, “poor girl,” glance as I walked out, but it was probably just in my head. (“Just in my head” began a whirlwind of puns, humor which Chris and I enjoyed to relieve the weight of the situation.)

I got to the car, dumfounded. Opening the humongous envelope that held the films

Not my brain, but similar tumor, opposite side.

Not my brain, but similar tumor, opposite side.

and spreading them across steering wheel, I could see a lot of gray matter – like any picture of a brain- except one big difference, the white, oblong golf ball on the side. It looked big for my small brain. I searched for my name and date to be sure they were really pictures of my brain.

As I drove home, my mind was silent. The chatter of “things to do today” was gone. The bother of the other drivers wasn’t registering on my new Richter scale.

.

Really? This could be IT?! The finish line is sooner than I thought?

But,… my “dash”?!

I remembered hearing Lou Holtz read the poem, “The Dash,” about the symbol on a tombstone between the birth date and the death date. The dash represented what was done with the life during the time on earth.

My dash may be done?! But I was going to make a difference in this world; I was going to raise my kids to be difference-makers; I was going to spread the Gospel: I was going to…

I drove past an abortion clinic, and I was reminded of how many in there didn’t have a chance to even start their dash. Life is not fair. I don’t deserve more than they.

What would I do differently? Ironically, that week I had just read the account of Hezekiah in 2Kings 20, where Hezekiah was granted another 15 years of life, after he was told he was dying. What would I do now if God chose to continue my dash?

In my quiet car that day, my priorities aligned, as if seeing a ghost of Christmas future and being pleased. What?! PLEASED? Yes, pleased. I did not think about where I could have been in the work place had I only held on to my position in engineering. I didn’t think of patents I could have owned or promotions I might have possessed. I realized more than ever that I was blessed to have invested the time of my dash (so far) into being a mom and wife and encouraging other moms and wives. I recognized the GIFT my husband gave me in being a stay-at-home mom! If God’s plan was that I would never speak again, I had no regrets of missed words with my children. I wish that for every woman who chooses to be a stay-at-home mom! If it were all over, I had no regrets.

I called Chris to let him know the doctor’s news, and by the time I arrived home 30 minutes later, he had a dozen coral roses on the kitchen counter, accompanied by his warm embrace.

As the week progressed to the appointment with the specialist neurosurgeon, my quiet times with the Lord progressed to depth. It is always during storms, when I seek the Son most.

Chris and I kept our secret, trying to protect our children, then ages 11, 8, 4 and 3 from fear. The night before the next neurosurgeon appointment, we decided to tell our parents of the impending days.

I had difficulty spitting the words out to my mother and father in Colorado, imagining they would feel helpless 1300 miles away, and fighting their own medical battles.

My mother immediately reacted as if packing her suitcase, “We will leave within the hour, and drive all night.”

I could barely keep her from hanging up the phone to pack, when I told them it was just a doctor’s appointment, and I would let them know if indeed surgery was scheduled.

Skull-base Neurosurgeon, September 29

“The fast growth rate of the tumor tells us it is likely NOT cancer; less than 4% chance.”

The appointment gained speed as the skull-base-meningioma specialist went through the options of treatment. “The brain surgery where the child is outside playing later in the day as seen in some commercial is not an option. The size of the tumor (3.6cm) exceeds the limits of our non-invasive radiation treatments. Waiting longer to see how the tumor acts [if it would shrink] is getting to a dangerous point, and we have zero data of a tumor that has ever grown at this rate and then stopped. In view of what lies ahead for you, if you have always wanted to go to Hawaii or something, now is a good time to go.”

I had never had to endure such a speech, and yet it continued.

“At your age and health, your body will handle the surgery well. However, due to the proximity to the vein, I don’t know that we will be able to get it all. I will use scissors so small that the tips can only be seen under magnification, but if even one cell is left, the tumor will grow back. Regular MRI’s will hopefully allow us to catch it small enough to use a radiation “knife” or other noninvasive options next time.”

He laid out a plan for future surgeries and radiation treatments dependent on my age at the time of diagnosis and size and growth rate of the tumor. This diagnosis did not look like it was ending… ever.

His informatory speech continued with how he would enter the cranial cavity (my head!) by cutting a football shaped piece, extract the tumor and then create a seal to replace the missing skull. The location of the tumor seemed to him far enough from the ear to be able to avoid hearing damage, but it looked like it was directly on the nerves of my mouth; one nick of a nerve would cause permanent paralysis and inability to use my mouth, so he would have a feeding tube team standing by for insertion.

“Is this why I have been choking?” I asked, grimly.

“The location could definitely cause swallowing problems.”

He continued to talk about the tumor’s location, also pressing on the main vein, as he gave us an anatomy lesson of the sinus vein and its relation to the body.

“I will not get close to touching that vein. I will get every cell I can –as long as it is not touching that vein. If it is nicked, bad things happen.”

My heart sank, knowing the tumor was visibly pushing on the vein in the MRI.

Chris excused himself, and I noticed that he, too, was going green in the face.

His absence didn’t stop the doctor’s progression.

“It is a two part surgery. The first is done by a vascular surgeon, who will go through an artery in your leg all the way to your brain, to put a “super glue” (for lack of a better word) into the tumor, to stave off bleeding. This pre-surgery often avoids the need of a blood transfusion. The second surgery is by my team, the following day. The head surgeon here [no pun intended] will want to be involved, due to the nature of your case, so we will schedule a day for both of us, although I am hoping only one will be needed.

You will be our only patient for the day. This second surgery will take 2-14 hours. You will be in ICU one night after the arterial procedure, then 1-2 more nights of ICU after the brain surgery, and 3-5 days in regular room. It usually takes two-three months to feel 80% healed and a year before patients feel 100%.”

It had been so long since I felt “100%,” a year didn’t seem like a long wait.

“So do you think this will take care of my headaches?” I asked, hoping he would give me a different answer than the last neurosurgeon.

“It’s hard to say, but the location of your headaches does not look related to where this tumor is. Unfortunately, I hate to say, but sometimes it can make headaches worse.”

I held the tears until Chris and I were alone in the car.

So let me get this straight:

If I leave the tumor alone, its growth will likely lead to seizures, paralyze me and end in death;

If I have surgery, there is a chance of paralysis or death.

If I go through the two surgeries and a hospital week, and IF I survive and happen to get myself back without paralysis, the chances are high, that I will not feel any better than I have for a year, and I may even feel worse.

– And this is likely not the last time to have to go through all this.

Surgeries were scheduled for October 14 and 15.

As I called my friends, it felt like I was dropping a bomb on each one. I hated to make the call, and yet, I found through their tears, the love of Christ in our friendships was shining. When talking with my friend, Tracey Avereyn, I was the one who broke down. Through tears, I tried to master the language of cry-talking. I said, “I know that all things work together for good, but is it sinful that I dread this SO much?!”

Being a sister in Christ, she didn’t hesitate to sharpen as iron sharpens iron, “Terri, even Christ went to Gethsemane.” In other words, even Christ asked that the cup be taken from Him, but yet He conceded to God’s will being done.

The Son of God does not shine so bright as when our world is in its darkest state.

I knew Jesus had been through worse.

…..……...to be continued…….

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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

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