Good Grief

Dear Lindsey,

Two new holes were left in my heart this past winter, and last weekend represented the first events where these loved ones “would have been there.”  I had been dreading the events without them.

First, I lost my 42-year-old brother, Mike, (from Colorado) completely unexpectedly, after his medication cocktail (due to back pain) proved lethal. Weeks later, my dear friend Jackie Lewis (from Michigan)– also unexpectedly – went to be with the Lord at age 32 after a short week’s illness.

When my uncle, Buck Seitz, received France’s Legion of Honor medal in Denver, CO, last week it was the first time that I was at a family event…without Mike. Afterward, I flew out of Denver, directly to Florida, for a business event. It was at this business convention where Jackie and I would have shared the stage at night, sat together by the pool during the day, or been boating in the ocean together as in past years.

It brought to me an irony of grief: “good grief,” I guess you could call it.

Beginning (every day) with the end in mind has been an effort of mine for years. Physical

Mike Estes …...1971 - 2014

Mike Estes ……1971 – 2014

death is not “unexpected,” as no one has avoided it as of yet. And when I know heaven awaits for those who trust solely in the Lord Jesus, I would want it to hasten its call for believers. That is the “good” part of the grief. But oh, how it aches to have that hole in my heart of one that once was here…not here anymore. To know my lifetime ahead will happen absent of these loved ones cuts deeply into me, and even more deeply when I look at the children and spouses, and those closer to the deceased than I.

The degree of grief has taken so many different forms within me. I am no psychology major, but I know that what I experienced is probably not unique to me alone.

Sadness:

The depth of raw heartache cannot be described. What once was…no longer is. There is nothing I can do to change it for the future. There is nothing I can do to change any past, although with these two, there was nothing I would have changed. If my mind ever wanders from the sorrow, something comes to remind me of it: a waiter named Mike, a bookmark bearing Jackie’s signature, a song that instigates a flash flood of tears. It is amazing to me how I see the resemblance of their faces in SO many people – like a mirage due to a deep longing to see them again.  My heart skips a beat when I see a red head. (They both were.)

Pure Joy:

I say, “pure,” because it is the true sense of the word.  Joy: that despises

Jackie Lewis 1981- 2014

Jackie Lewis 1981- 2014

circumstances. My pure joy: in knowing that Jackie is with her Savior in heaven. There is no more crying, no more pain, no need to wait for a sun to brighten her day, because the eternal Light is always there.  There is such pure joy in knowing that she finished her life at such a peak. Her husband raves about their marriage  –which gives me joy to thank God for the timing of her death to be at such a high! She was a speaker on stages across the country, and her desire for excellence was an influence on thousands of lives to live better.  The wrinkle fairy had not yet waved her wand in Jackie’s direction. Haha! She was beautiful, so beautiful. Her love for the Lord exuded her being in all that she did, and her testimony video was recorded just this year. What a high! I have a joy in knowing that although the dash between her birth-date and her death-date was too short for my liking, its brevity is what interested tens of thousands to watch her story, which could have eternally impacted them. I have joy in knowing that though 32 years seems so short, and I wish she had lived to be 105, I can look at the grand scheme of tens of thousands of years in eternity, and the difference in a few decades on earth is so, so small.

timelineGuilt:

I know some experience guilt after the death of someone due to words that were said, or not said… Visits that were not made… Time that had passed taking for granted the love and friendship of the newly deceased. Those feelings hopefully spur us to be reminded of the preciousness and finiteness of time with loved ones.  But my guilt was different. It was as though every smile I gave brought with it a weight. Wasn’t I sad? Does my brother know I miss him? If I smile, will he think I don’t? What about other friends and family – am I offending them if I smile when they are not? I know it’s a strange subliminal guilt – my brother cannot “think” anything anymore. He is gone. But inside me, there is a pang, like a weight from below that feels good and right being sad, and guilty being happy. This “guilt” is probably most dangerous, because it is not from God. He is the one who allowed a weight to lift…and probably listened to the prayers of many to give me that moment of lifted weight…and yet I sometimes regretfully have given the unfounded guilt power in my day. I tend to think I need to “justify” my happiness, “Well, Jackie would have loved that I can laugh at this video now.” Or “Mike would have been laughing with me at this.” That justification may be true, but I just don’t want to miss the opportunity to say instead, “Thank you, God, for making the sun rise on my life again, because that night was long.”

Wanting to hide/avoid:

This part of grief seemed to have an undaunted allure. Do I have to attend that event? Everyone will be looking at me to see how I am handling it. What if there are expectations of how I am supposed to “look” and “act” in mourning? There will be others there grieving; I hate to look at others and see the pain I know will be in their eyes from their loss.   Events with people who didn’t know the deceased were even more difficult: it seemed disrespectful to be with people who didn’t even know or care about the ones I miss so deeply. My local church family didn’t know or love my brother. Couldn’t I use a few more hours of sleep? Couldn’t the world just turn without me for a while? I am hurting.

Doubt (with a capital “D”):

Have you ever prayed so intensely that it hurt? Physically, hurt? Have you ever lost entire nights of sleep or days of meals while praying for someone’s life to be saved? Have you ever visualized the victory so deeply, that you almost forgot whether the prayers had been answered yet or not, because you trusted that much that victory was imminent? Have you ever felt like you sweat blood?

Have you ever prayed that much and God still answered, “no.”

And that was His “final answer.”

Not, “No, check back with me next week.”

Not, “Wait… I like how you are depending on Me. Keep depending on Me. Let Me work on it.”

Just, “No.”

“She’s gone.”

Or “We lost him.”

Did you ever go back and doubt that your hours upon hours of fervent prayers were even heard?

I have.

Is doubt sin?  YES

Am I proud?  NO

The Bible talks about doubt:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. James 1:5-8”

But there was a time a few years ago when I doubted my prayers were heard, and I am ashamed. I have to tell you a little secret though:

I told God about it.

A. Weatherell Johnson, in her autobiography, Created for Commitment had this to say about a time of doubt in her life:

“I went to God and bluntly said, ‘God, I’m sorry but I don’t believe You always answer prayer.’ Immediately after I had spoken those words aloud, I corrected them. ‘God, I do believe but I don’t understand.’ God then gave me His loving assurance. He said, ‘My child, wait for Me. I have not finished.’ My very voicing of unbelief (to God alone) delivered me. I started to praise Him.”

Reading that, I remembered my own gut-wrenching tearful surrender that was so similar.

However, since answers to prayers do not always take the same shape of the mirages I have created, I believe we have to have the attitude my friend Diana had when she admittedly felt like prayers bounced off the ceiling back to the sickbed where she lay.

“I don’t understand, but I trust.”

The truth of the matter is that we cannot be afraid to speak out our doubts honestly, and immediately to the Lord. The very voicing of the sin can deliver us from it. How can a drowning victim be saved if she won’t admit she’s drowning? Besides, do we think He doesn’t already know our heart?  Do we think He doesn’t see behind the fig leaves with which we cover?  Are we surprised when He asks, “Who told you that you were naked?” (Gen 3:11) He already knows.

Jesus, Himself, prayed for His circumstances to change so earnestly that His sweat was like drops of blood, (Luke 22:44) yet He humbly submitted when God said, “no,” so His life was used to save mine.

The Lord holds our tears in a bottle. (Ps 56:8)

If we can just …hold on to Him a little while longer. (Haggai 2:6-7)

When God Says, “No”

Just recently, Pastor Stephen Davey shared about the topic, “When the Answer is No.” (I love it when I have a blog half-written and someone else covers the exact topic!) You can read his message: here or listen to the audio here.

He taught five components to our response to God when He answers “no” to our fervent prayers. We should respond with humility, gratitude, surrender, praise and readiness.

The Bible is clear that there is a time for mourning, a time for tears. (Ecc 3:4) Even Jesus wept at the loss of his friend.  (John 11:35)

And yet, the fact that Ecclesiastes says, “there is a time,” to me, says that the time is finite. It ends. Yes, I will miss these loved ones, but there is more.  There is more to come in this life than mourning….when I respond with humility – recognizing that my desires do not include the whole world like God’s desires do. When I respond with gratitude – recognizing that the fact I miss these loved ones means I have some memories for which to be thankful. When I respond with surrender – recognizing that I am not in control…and really never was. When I respond with praise – recognizing that I do LOVE the One who IS in control. And when I respond with readiness – recognizing that there is more to come. This is not the end.  I want to be ready to serve the Lord as Jackie was, to spread laughter as Mike would have done.

Just wait, there’s more.

I once heard it said, “Everything will be all right in the end; and if it is not all right, it is not the end.”

Girlfriend, it is not the end. Last weekend as I lived without these two was a sort of victory for me. It wasn’t the end! Yes, I cried again… at the loss… and the change… and the grief of continuing life without them. (I even held my brother’s newborn granddaughter, whom he never met.)  But the victory was in the ability to say, “I am ready, God.  I don’t understand, but I trust.”  I guess that is the good that gets squeezed out of the grief.

“Good” grief!  I couldn’t have said those words together a few short weeks ago. But God knew the day would come.

The world still turns, even though there was a time when its turning seemed impossible.  As I shared at Jackie’s funeral, I feel like God is holding on to my heart, saying, “Just wait. There’s more…”

May we heal through worshipping Him in a real relationship, no holds barred, no doubts hidden, in real communion, as we wait on His “more” to come.

“The difference between waiting on God and wrestling with God is worship.” – Stephen Davey in Nehemiah: Memoirs of an Ordinary Man

 

– Terri Brady

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Books

Psalm 42:3-4 says:  My tears have been my food

day and night,

while people say to me all day long,

“Where is your God?”

These things I remember

as I pour out my soul:

how I used to go to the house of God

under the protection of the Mighty Oned

with shouts of joy and praise

among the festive throng.

A Disease Called Busyness

Featured

Dear Lindsey,

Having lunch with my 13-yr-old last week, I asked him a question of where he wanted to be in five years. What kind of person was he aiming to become?  Did he have goals for himself?

His answer surprised me, since he said that he wanted to be more like his older brother:

“Everyone likes Casey.  My [12-yr-old] friend, Zarec, said it best: ‘The reason Casey is so much fun is because he seems like he is really having fun when he is with you!’ Most teenagers aren’t like that. I guess I want people to feel that fun from me.”

He wasn’t envying his brother, but admiring a trait he’d like to emulate. I like it when my kids think. I don’t know if he realized that his thinking convicted me, but I realized how “not fun” I live some days of my life.

The culprit?

A Disease called Busyness.

I think it is amusing when I ask my kids a question like, “How many times have you flossed this week?” and my eight-year-old will say, “I haven’t had time.”

Haha!! If you don’t have time when you are eight?…

Don’t we each feel that way though – whatever we are doing seems important enough to feel BUSY?

As an engineer (before motherhood), I

  • drove 50 miles each way to work
  • worked in three plant locations involving travel
  • volunteered at church directing the children’s choir
  • sang in the adult choir, and filled in as accompanist at times
  • taught piano lessons on the side
  • picked up kids who needed a ride to church
  • played on a softball team 30 minutes from my house (part way to work)
  • played in a county band
  • made meals from scratch
  • worked out every day
  • flossed my teeth 🙂
  • stayed involved in elections, attended weddings and baby showers, traveled to out-of-state family, practiced instruments and other things that happened on a non-daily routine

I am sure you could make this list for yourself.

“It is not enough to be industrious, so too are the ants,” said Henry David Thoreau, “but what are you industrious about?”

For me, I have LOVED to be busy my whole life.   In highschool, my mother would continuously say (to my back as I was leaving the house), “You are burning the candle at both ends; it cannot last!”

I wore it like a badge.

My highschool yearbook looked like I was trying to be Jan Brady (or was it Marsha?) with all of my activities: Shakespeare Club, high school musical, jazz band, church plays, babysitting, softball teams, marching band, (county, district and state bands), Science Fair competitions, indoor drumline, National Honor Society, nursing home visitation, and winter ski club.

I could have sung the Veggie Tales song to any friend who asked for time, “I’m busy busy! Frightfully busy! You’ve no idea what I’ve got to do!”

But there are so many pitfalls to busyness!  A book, Crazy Busy, by Kevin DeYoung inspired the following:

Pitfalls of BusynessPitfall3

  1. Makes us lose sight of direction.
  2. Robs our happiness.
  3. Masks our growing further from whom we were meant to be.

1.  Busyness makes us lose sight of  the direction we intended.

I like to list those activities of my engineering days, because it is clearly eclectic, and pointless for where I am today.  What was my goal?  We have twenty-four hours in our checking account to spend, 365 days a year. We cannot add to that number in any way. My eighth grade teacher, Mrs. Romberger, taught me a valuable lesson on busyness, when she had us actually keep an account ledger of our time. We took a lined piece of paper, and labeled each line with fifteen-minute intervals of time. Then for one week, we were supposed to stop every fifteen minutes and write down what we were doing. I remember being shocked – even at that young age – of things which I had no intention of doing that took my time! (Maybe I should do this today? I cannot figure out what happened to my 11am to 2pm yesterday!!!) If we could look back at our account ledger for the last six months of time, we would likely be able to predict where we will be in five years!  Our hourly account ledger tells where we are headed. Does it have the direction we intended? It is “what we are industrious about” that matters.

2.  Busyness robs our happiness.

OffCliffRecently I had a day when I got miserably tired. You know the kind? Once my daughter, exhausted and teary at age seven said, “I am so tired, my heart has been at the edge of a cliff, and it just went over. Wah hah hah”– That kind of tired.

.

.

When my heart, “went over the edge,” I analyzed the day I had had:

  • I had gotten up early for a good workout and Bible time,
  • Then went to have coffee with a friend in need, arriving a little late.
  • I came home shortly and did some homeschooling work with the kids, then let them work on their own assignments while I
  • Volunteered playing piano at the high school where my oldest son attends.
  • I came home and paid the cleaning lady quickly before leaving in a hurry,
  • To drive my daughter to homeschool youth theatre practice, while eating lunch out of my lap.
  • I volunteered with music for that group for 2 hours
  • I came home in time to say hello to my teens before dropping them at the soccer carpool.
  • Making the family dinner took a little longer than expected, so I didn’t get to sit down.
  • I ate dinner from my lap while driving to an evening orchestra practice at church which I had been looking forward to.
  • I came home and the younger kids wanted me to read to them before bed, but
    • It was late
      • And I was tired.
        • Chris wanted to tell me about his ideas, and spend quality husband/wife time, but my body had had it!

I felt like saying, “Do you know the kind of day I have had?!!!”

Then I actually thought about the kind of day I had had:

  • I had started with exercise and quiet time in prayer.
  • I had spent time with my kids.
  • I had given of my time and talents in volunteer work.
  • I had played in an orchestra at church – a kind of worship for me, cleansing of my soul, once a week when my schedule allows.
  • I had eaten healthy – even from my lap – since I had prepared the meals.

That day would have been called “rest” back in my engineering days (and most of my “normal days” now), but clearly, the happiness had been robbed.

I ended too tired to read to my kids.

Volunteering had become a chore when it affected my meals!

Any of these events taken separately would have been a blessing, but all together, they were a strain.

A thief came in to rob my happiness through the door of my calendar.

The sad part is that most people have busyness robbing their happiness and they do not recognize the cause, only its effect.

3.  Busyness masks our decay.  

If we are not growing right, we are growing wrong!! There is no staying the same.

Growth in a specific direction takes specific intent for growth.   Growth in a bad direction takes no work at all.

If I want to be a healthy weight, it takes massive intent and work.

If I want to gain weight, it’s a piece of cake! (Pun intended! 🙂 )

Growing in a right direction requires tending to the calendar, not just riding along in an “unattended car”Keeping ourselves busy disguises itself as productivity, when in actuality it is often masking decay.

I believe this decay due to busyness is very evident in marriages:

Nobody plans for a marriage to decline to a status of “acquaintance management,” but lack of HappyCakeplanning is the root of the rot.   Personal busyness usually does not involve the spouse…who frankly has his/her own reason to be busy, leading him/her in different directions.  Our busyness often is exclusive of those who are closest to us, leaving what matters most in our hearts, out of our mind while we RUSH – often trying to serve the very ones we ignore. While we think we are working to get things done, things are becoming undone within us…as individuals and in our relationships.

Rest is not the antithesis of productivity.

“Tending” to our growth, personally or professionally, means we know when we need rest, too.  Rest can actually halt the decay cycle.  My husband wrote a whole book on the importance of rest! (Maybe I should rest from writing and read it again!  He says, “Sometimes you have to go slow to go fast.” A Month of Italy: Rediscovering the Art of Vacation.)  Rest allows time to think. Unscheduled time allows planning for the future.

If we have every minute filled with who we are, it will be difficult to find time to become who we are meant to be!

Leave space!!  Just because there is a blank in the calendar does not mean it needs to be filled!  (Okay, I am screaming, “Preach it, sister!” to myself in my head – because I am SO preaching to myself. I suppose I better close this letter before my “self” starts answering.)

One last note: According to author Bryan Caplan, secondhand stress is a leading complaint among kids.  In an “Ask the Children” survey, researcher Ellen Galinsky interviewed more than 1000 kids in grades 3-12, asking, “If you were granted one wish to change the way that your mother’s/father’s work affects your life, what would that wish be?”  Who could have guessed the kids’ answer would have involved their parents’ attitude?! When asked to “grade” their parents for “appreciating me for who I am, “ or “making me feel loved,” or even, “attending important events in my life,” the parents scored well. But “controlling his/her temper when I do something that makes him/her angry” got the worst marks on the parents’ report card! They feel our stress!

Okay, I do not remember that lady interviewing my kids, but wow! She might have been here. It’s not that I “blow up” at my kids. I have even worked on many systems to avoid the repetitive nagging. But, I often wonder if my kids are going to say my most commonly said word was, “hurry!”

I don’t want them to remember me as the “hurry!” mom. I want them to feel the fun I have with them.  I want them to remember me as the mom who loves them and who loves Jesus, and who stresses only in things eternal. I think my infliction with the Disease called Busyness may be masking my most important message…to my kids, to my husband and to myself.

To be continued,

Terri

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Itching to be Tough

Dear Lindsey,

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

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

“God please make my son tough.

–       The kind of tough that can withstand struggles.

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

–       The kind of tough that perseveres.

–       The kind of tough that plays hurt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

He. Was. Miserable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In love,

Terri

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

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

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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

Related Posts

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

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