Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dads and Daughters

I can't TELL you how much this article made me want to shout, "YES!"

Every ounce of it has been our philosophy, our strategy, our life. Did we develop that strategy intentionally? I'm not sure. In some ways - it just kind of happened.

It happens over time, in small decisions and choices you make along the way. Like, years ago, when we heard another dad say, "There's this boy showing an interest in my girl - so I've been pumping iron so I can intimidate him," and you stop to ponder, "Wait - is that the approach we want to take with our girls?"

Sadly, that particular father left his family a few short years after he made that statement. I guess pumping iron didn't make him strong enough to hold his family together, and so I'm glad it hasn't been my husband's parenting approach.

A Dad who encourages and cheers them on

Instead, Nate leans much more towards the wisdom that Jen Wilkin shares in the above article:
Instead of intimidating all your daughter’s potential suitors, raise a daughter who intimidates them just fine on her own. Because, you know what’s intimidating? Strength and dignity. Deep faith. Self-assuredness. Wisdom. Kindness. Humility. Industriousness...
The unsuitable suitor finds nothing more terrifying than a woman who knows her worth to God and to her family.

Can I say it again?...YES!

If we do nothing else in life than raise our children to feel valuable and worthy - to their family, to their Creator and to their Savior - I'll be content. They should never "need" a spouse to complete them - or lead them - or follow them. Leadership is not about the strong looking for weaker people to lead. It’s about the humble looking for those whose strengths offset their weaknesses and complement their strengths. Strong leaders surround themselves with strong people, not with weak ones. Rather than finding the strengths of others threatening, they celebrate them and leverage them.

Male or female, don't we all prefer celebrating and leveraging to intimidation? At the risk of sounding redundant...YES!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

29 Years and Holding, or Counting?

People refusing to age jokingly announce that they are "29 and holding." When our 29th wedding anniversary rolled around this month, I momentarily wondered if that 29 and holding thing was supposed to apply to marriages as well? Nah.

So young and naive...
Unlike aging physically, when your body gets a little more worn out each year - a marriage that lasts for the long haul should be getting better and better. Kind of like aging in reverse, right? Most newlyweds would probably argue that they are SO happy right now, in their newly-married bliss, that it couldn't possibly get any better. (Ignorance is also bliss.) I probably would have argued that 29 years ago. But now?

I never dreamed "happily ever after" would just keep getting more happily with each passing year!

Sure, doing life with someone day after day, year after year, can get dull and commonplace...if you let it. But it can also get richer, fresher and more rewarding, if you work at it.

As time goes on, you can figure out what REALLY works. And what really doesn't. (But no...I do not have marriage, or him, all figured out yet...give me another 50 years.) You've shared the best of times, and the worst of times. Sometimes those stressful-at-the-moment, terrible times turn out to be the memories you love to laugh about in years to come. You've shared so many memories together, you can reminisce for hours when time allows. That fact alone makes a long-lasting marriage extremely rich.

After 29 years, it's become obvious that a great marriage is much more than just "being in love." Anyone can fall in love. Yet many just as easily fall out of love when things aren't going well.

Not that anyone asked...but if I could give one bit of advice to couples planning to get married, it would be this: get it through your head, right now, that this is a commitment - not a storybook romance - and you're going to do your part to be fully committed. It'll be the toughest commitment you'll ever make; but it's worth it. Know that the other person IS going to fail you. She will make you furious. He will frustrate you to no end. She will have bad hair days and extremely unpredictable mood swings. He will reek after a hard day's work and be too tired for conversation. Whatever the disappointment or frustration - big or small - it will happen. You are marrying a human being, after all, and no matter how perfect you might think they are right now...they aren't.

I should finish with some nice, churchy advice and say, "Make God your focus...put Him first," etc. etc. If you're both Christians that's just an obvious, Sunday School kind of answer. And if you're not - it's a moot point. I know for us, it works extremely well. When you and your spouse are both concerned about being the best that God wants you to be - it's beneficial for all of those around you. Anything that takes the focus off of yourself and encourages you to focus on others is rewarding and gratifying for all involved. If BOTH of you are living like that, you'll BOTH feel extremely satisfied and cared for. As Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Life" book so pointedly proclaims...it's not about YOU.

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."  ~~Philippians 2:3-4