Brotherly Love – A Sister’s Perspective

AMH brothers

Photo Credit: Katy Roberts Photography

I remember the day my dad was shopping with me for a special dress. We had moved to a new town ahead of the rest of the family, so in a mutual state of neediness in Mom’s absence, I was his escort to a fancy dinner, and he was my shopping buddy.

Standing in the busy department store, I slid the hangers along the metal pole. I would hold one up and check for his initial response. A squinchy nose meant: “don’t even bother”, while raised eyebrows and flattened frown indicated:”perhaps, perhaps!”

I have two distinct memories of that day. The first was what Dad said when I walked out of a dressing room with a colorful tea-length dress on. “Oh, you wear that one well!” My father was always very careful with words. I knew he purposely chose NOT to say what most might, “That dress looks good on you.” He chose to make it about me. “I” wore it well. He complimented me, not the dress.

The second memory is of the conversation that followed. I tried to make a comparison of men to dresses. Some men garnered a “don’t even bother” first impression. While others seemed nice enough at first glance: “Perhaps, perhaps.” And eventually one will be just right for me in that my loveliness is enhanced by the relationship.

Instead of extending the metaphor like usual, Dad offered a bit of a rebuke.

“You just seem to be going about this ‘boy’ business all wrong. Statistically, every male on this planet will ultimately be your friend – a brother of sorts. One special man will be your husband. I see you combating the odds. You treat every guy like he might be your husband, and very few like brothers.”

Wow.

He was right. How many last names had I paired with my first – scripted in cursive on spirals over the years? How often had I allowed my emotions to run rampant and race the relationship across the threshold of healthy friendship?

I thanked Dad for his honesty, but chided him a bit for not offering this age-old advice just a decade or so earlier.

Though I had not yet learned the discipline of treasuring platonic friendships, I had spent my whole life enthusiastically enjoying the company of my three younger brothers. My brothers had always provided the purest source of camaraderie. They would poke fun at me relentlessly, be brutally honest, and then unconditionally committed. They told me they love me… and their kind words, quality time and acts of service lead me to believe them.

Today, 20 years into my relationship with my husband, I see even more clearly the wisdom my Dad shared that day. He was right. Only one man has my heart, but several have my back, so to speak. I thank God for the brothers in my family. And I thank Him for brothers in the faith – these men who are friends of my husband, husbands of my friends, partners in ministry, and worthy opponents in the occasional bout of “Words with Friends”.

How rich an existence with access to such provision and protection!

My husband, Philip, is a loving brother to many. He is a good listener and “king of the side hug”. He has rescued stranded motorists, fixed cars in parking lots … he even removed a snake from a mini-van once! He treats others like he wants to be treated.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.  James 1:27

I am not a widow or an orphan, but my dad has been in heaven for 18 years and my husband is sometimes called away to work for weeks at a time. Dads cannot be replaced, but the void of their affection and care can be lessened by a sensitive word or a kind gesture from a Godly man.

I had a pastor, once, who spurred me on and encouraged me just like my dad had always done. “You have a great sense of comedic timing … you should definitely write more.”

One Father’s Day, I sang a solo in church, and an older, portly gentleman, put his arm snugly around my shoulders and tearfully shared what a blessing my song had been and surmised how much my father would have enjoyed it.

Once, while Philip was away, we had a storm blow through that ripped a hole in part of our roof. Philip’s best friend was over at our house immediately, climbing onto the roof and patching it the best he could in the rainy darkness.

Another time my boys – who were preschoolers at the time- were missing their nightly rough-housing with their dad. They had become so rowdy, I could hardly stand it. I took them to the church playground to let off some steam. Our pastor and his family were there also. He purposefully and repetitively threw my boys into piles of leaves and wrestled with them against a mountain of gravel until they were squealing and panting – good and worn. In total relief, I whispered to his wife, “I just can’t rough-house like a Dad can.”

There is an older man in our church who often stops me to look me in the eye and say, “I sure love who you are.” as though he were delivering a message straight from my dad.

My dad appreciated me – no matter the dress I wore or the boy I liked. And he left me a legacy of love and a powerful truth – flowing straight from the Heavenly Father’s will: brotherly kindness.

I want my sons – like so many other Godly men in my life – to be highly skilled at brotherhood. Statistically, every girl on the planet will need them to be her brother. Only one will ultimately be his wife. Godly brotherhood – “unstained by the world” – is a life skill and a relational calling. Men should prepare to serve and protect; and learn how to step in and provide. This is true religion and pure love.

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.  1 Peter 1:22

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Falling In Love….Again

Red Heart Shape

I remember the first time I saw him.

A new family moved into our church’s neighborhood and while I say they were new, their family had been going to our church for years, but this one branch had finally settled with the rest of the family.  I was a young girl in college, playing the piano at church on the weekends.  The woman sang in the choir.  She situated herself so that she sat beside me when I stepped down from the piano.  She would whisper to me about her son that would soon be visiting, place photos of him in my Bible…just plain harass me about the guy.  I asked my mother to always be a bearer between me and the crazy lady.

Then her son finally started coming to church with her and he would stare at me through the entire service.

Creepy!

But one Sunday I didn’t play the piano and sat on the back row.  Low and behold if the son didn’t sit right in front of me.  I thought about slipping out…but then I noticed his shoulders and his hair.  Broad and blond…his hair was blond, shoulders broad.  He was a professional boxer and had just had his last fight, retired at the age of 28.  He had come to his parents’ home to recuperate and plan his future.

His mother decided I was his future.

And I guess I was.  We’ll be married 26 years this June.

It was not love at first sight, but there was lots of laughter and the love soon followed.  He chased, I told him to get lost, he teased, I laughed, he offered free food and I accepted!

Looking back over the past 26  years…well 28…we dated for two years first….I’ve noticed that sometimes, we take each other for granted, the specialness of our relationship is sometimes missing, we just expect things from the other person because it’s always been given before.  Words of thankfulness don’t always appear in our conversations and worst of all, communication sometimes lacks completely.

It’s not that there isn’t love; it’s that the love relationship hasn’t always been tended to.  We’ve been busy making sure there are groceries in the cabinets, the cars are all running, the bills are being paid, and the clothes are being washed (just to name a few distractions).  These are all good, but not the most important thing.

The love must be nurtured above all else.

But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.  Luke 10:42 KJV

Unfortunately, this could also be said about some spiritual relationships.

I look at new Christians much like I look at newlyweds and I’m envious.  I want that spark and sizzle I see in them, that “can’t stand to be apart from each other” attitude.  Their love just oozes….it would be sickening….if it wasn’t so sweet.

When did you fall in love with Jesus?  Was it just a few years ago and is the tingly feeling still there?  Or has it been many, many years and you sometimes find that you take Him for granted….no need to pray, He knows your every need, and He’s always come through for you in the past….no need to read the Bible, you’ve read it before, nothing has changed, Genesis is still the first book of the Bible, Noah still builds an ark, Jesus still goes to the cross.  You know those “stories”, why re-read them?  They are kind of hard to understand anyway and sometimes depressing.  You would much rather focus on the “Polly Anna” verses…those that make you feel good.

I also remember the first time I met Him.  I was a little girl watching Billy Graham on TV.  I felt something, this strange heart-racing fear that if I didn’t do exactly what Mr. Graham said, I would not be in Heaven with my family.  I ran to the den, hid behind the sofa and prayed for forgiveness of my sins.  I begged Jesus to be in my heart like He was the rest of my family’s.  I didn’t want to be left behind; I wanted to be with Him and with them.

Don’t ask me what words I said.  All I know is that when I stood up from behind the sofa, the fear was gone.  I felt….loved, chosen, special.

Much like a bride on her wedding day.

My beloved is mine, and I am his…Song of Solomon 2:16 KJV

Just like our marriage, our spiritual relationship takes work.  We have to choose to spend time with The Groom, talk to Him, and listen to Him.  We don’t do things to win His love…we already have that….we do things (like love, be kind, follow Him, study His Word) because we want to please Him, we want to know Him on a deeper level.

It takes commitment, it takes obedience, and it takes time.  Little by little, we come to the place where all things pale in comparison to Him.  We fall in love with Him.  We choose Him over activities, over hobbies, over our own private time.

I interpret Luke 14: 26, 33 and Psalm 37:4 in this way:

If you love anyone else more than you love Me, you cannot be my bride.  You must love Me so much that even the love you have for your parents, your children, even your spouse looks like hatred.  You must forsake all for Me!  But, my bride, I will give you the desires of your heart, if you will only delight yourself in Me.

So this month…the month of love…what are you doing to fall in love with Jesus again?  What are you doing to revamp your relationship?

I’m sure you’ve been reading this month on some way to re-ignite the fire in your marriage.  I challenge you to do the same in your spiritual marriage and you know, most of the suggestions will work either way, for your earthly husband or your heavenly Husband!

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His Interests

Man giving woman gift.

The other day, my husband was sitting at the computer looking at motorcycle stuff. Exhausts….helmets…handlebars…..you name it. Our oldest son saw something he wanted me to see and began with the, “Mom, look! Look!”.  Before I could even reply, my husband answered him. She doesn’t care. Our son asked again, and again, before I could reply, my husband chimed in with the same answer- She doesn’t care.

I would have been upset by his refusal to let me answer, but something else stopped my dead in my tracks.  The small trace of what I detected as rejection and hurt in my husband’s tone. Honestly, it surprised me. I mean, he is right, I really don’t care about motorcycle stuff, but I guess I thought I had hidden my indifference a little better. I didn’t think my lack of interest mattered to him.

But it did.

It does.

While I don’t make motorcycle parts a priority in my life, I should make my husband and his interests, and let’s be straight here, that is a choice sometimes. A choice to remember that when he invites me along to help fill deer feeders with corn or set up game cameras, he is wanting to spend time with me. When he asks me to look at exhaust or handlebars, or when he wants to talk UFC, he is relating to me not as the woman who cooks and cleans for him, but as his friend. Who doesn’t want that from her husband? Isn’t their attention and time things we, as wives, most desperately long for?

Would you like to know something else? Sure you would….

Not only did his reaction surprise me, but it also caused an ache in my heart. A hurt which was a direct result of the knowledge that I had hurt him. I felt bad for it. I was remorseful about it. I don’t want him to think I don’t care about him or his hobbies.

While I don’t see myself climbing aboard the bike anytime soon, I do see a shift in my attitude and my actions about it. I can take the time to stop and share in my husband’s hobbies. I can choose to be interested instead of flippant when he desires to include me in them.

What about you? Are there areas where your husband’s interests have been put on the back burner? Would he echo my husband’s statement that you don’t care? What would his tone tell you?

If the answer is yes, then join me in re-prioritizing today. Join me in esteeming our husbands above others – people, chores and things. Let us each be as intentional about cultivating the friendship we have with our spouse as we would be with new friend from church, work or school.

He is worth the time.

He is worth the effort.

Our marriage will be the better for it.

*To put a disclaimer at the end, if his hobbies (or yours for that matter) are causing marital strife or are not godly in nature, please seek biblical counsel about how to address those situations. Please don’t climb on board with activities that are detrimental to your marriage and yourselves. If you need prayer, let us know.

 

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The 21 Day Husband Project (Day 5)

College student texting

Ok ladies…this is the last day of our mini “Husband Project”.  I hope you have had a little fun with the projects, and that you may have been challenged to love your husband in a variety of different ways. I know I have.

Remember you can keep it going by purchasing Kathi Lipp’s book The 21 Day Husband Project.  Let me know if you do!

Now onto Day 5.

Project #5: E-flirt.com ~ Text or E-mail Some Sweet Nothings

“I turn on my computer. I wait patiently as it connects. I go online. My breath
catches in my chest until I hear three little words, “You’ve got Mail.” I hear
nothing, not a sound on the streets of New York. Just the beat of my own heart…
I have mail, from you.”
~ Meg Ryan as Kathleen Kennedy in “You’ve Got Mail”

Your Project
Send a flirty text or e-mail to your husband.

Getting Creative

  • Use an e-card service (hallmark.com or americangreetings.com) to send a cute and flirty note.
  • Don’t know how to text? Ask any teenager in the general vicinity.
  • Most phones have a camera feature where you can send a photo message. Be sure to keep it G rated so that he doesn’t get in trouble at work.

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The 21 Day Husband Project (Day 4)

MP900387871

Project #4: Heart vs. Stomach ~A Treat Just for Him

“You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jellybeans.”
~ Ronald Reagan

Your Project

Get a food treat for your husband that he’s not required to share with you or any other family member.

Getting Creative

Stumped for ideas? Here are some thoughts:

  • Get his favorite pint of Ben & Jerry’s and hide it behind the frozen chicken. Even if you buy it on Tuesday, you’ll have it ready and waiting for his special night later in the week.
  • Is there a certain cut of meat that your husband loves? How about having the butcher cut something just for him?  Most supermarkets will even do the marinade for you – one less thing to think about.
  • Is there a certain candy that your husband loves from his childhood? Check out www.candywarehouse.com. They have all the nostalgic candy you could want (Black Jack Gum, anyone?) while also carrying any modern favorite you could be looking for.
  • My husband’s family loves something called “noodles and mashed potatoes” (we lovingly refer to it as “The Starch Fest”). I learned how to make this special dish just for him.
  • My guy loves the smell of baking almost as much as he enjoys eating the treat. Have some brownies in the oven when he gets home from work or working out (I know, it negates the workout, but isn’t chocolate always worth it?).
  • Our friend Scott mentioned that he loves cranberry sauce, but eats it only at Thanksgiving. His wife intentionally made the holiday treat for him this past July.
  • Are you a wife who is an expert at low-cal salads and other forms of chick-food? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Man Food at www.kathilipp.com for ideas.

Keep going, we have one more day left of our mini “21 Day Husband Project” .  You can do it!!!

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The 21 Day Husband Project (Day 3)

Man Hugging Woman at Bar

Project #3: You da’ Man ~ Spreading Great Gossip About Your Guy

Your Project
Say something nice about your husband to someone else. Make sure you tell him what you said, and to whom.

Getting Creative
Who are the important people in your husband’s life? Your kids, his parents, his friends? Be intentional about who you chat with when you brag on him – it’s almost as important as actually doing it.

Having a hard time coming up with something? I still brag on my guy for things he did years
ago. He loves when I tell the story of how brilliantly he proposed (there were waterfalls and stuffed portabella mushrooms involved…).

Here are some other areas to think about when crafting your brag:

  • His parenting skills
  • His patience level
  • The way he treats your mom
  • His culinary ability
  • His job

This is me speaking again… it would also be great if you can say it in front of him to another
person.  In my book (I don’t have a real book :) that earns double points.   Don’t forget to check in here at the AMH website and let us know how you are doing.

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The 21 Day Husband Project (Day 2)

Businessmen playing table football

Project #2 ~ Back in the Day

Do Something He Enjoyed Before You Got Married

“Lust is easy. Love is hard. Like is most important.”

~ Carl Reiner

Your Project
Initiate an activity that your husband used to love. Whether it’s his favorite hobby, sport, or pastime, it’s time for you to get involved – be his buddy today.

Getting Creative
Many a man’s hobby has gone by the wayside due to matrimony. Is it possible that it’s time you learned to golf or fly fish? Don’t try to beat him, just join him.

Possibly the only thing your husband would enjoy more than playing chess with you is teaching you how to play chess. Ask for a lesson so he can teach you something that he is an expert at (or really loves). Just your willingness to learn will be a huge boost to your guy.

Pick up a magazine about your guy’s now dormant hobby. Ask him questions about why he loves it so much. Learn a couple of technical terms so that you are better able to discuss it.

Do a little research. Find out what the definitive website is on your husband’s favorite subject. Maybe there’s an event in town, a lecture to attend, or a game to watch.

OK Ladies…make sure to check in by leaving a comment and letting us know how things are going with your trial run of the “project”.

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The 21 Day Husband Project (A 5 Day Trial Run)

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Hello A Martha Heart Friends,

A few weeks ago I was listening to the Focus on the Family talk radio program, and I heard author Kathi Lipp talking about one of her books, The 21 Day Husband Project. I know the title of the book seems kind of strange, but as I listened to the program I was so intrigued.  Kathi talked about how we honor God when we serve our husbands, and I agree as the Lord has been teaching me that lesson over the last decade.

Later that night, I went online to look up information about Kathi’s book. Basically, the book is a 21 day Challenge/Project for a wife to love her husband through acts of service, affirmation and other ways.  I quickly decided that I wanted to buy the book because my husband has really been going through a difficult season, and I knew that he could use the encouragement and affirmation.

While online I visited Kathi’s blog and found a mini 5 Day Husband Project that anyone could post on her blog/website.  So before I bought the book, I decided to try the 5 Day project on my blog and with my Facebook friends.  So far, the project has been well received and it has been great to hear about wives finding ways to love their husbands through Kathi’s “projects”.

I asked the editors of the A Martha Heart website if I could post the 5 Day project here as well.  They agreed quickly and I am so happy to let you get a little glimpse of what the “21 Day Husband Project” is all about.  If you complete the 5 days and you want to keep going,  you can purchase Kathi’s book The 21 Day Husband Project (visit www.kathilipp.com ) and complete the entire project.

The project is meant to be completed consecutively for 21 days, but for our trial run here I will post a new “project” every 3 days or so. That way you will have a little time to complete the project and then come back here to the AMH website and let us know how it went. I will also keep you updated on how things are going with my husband :)

So are you ready?  Below is Day 1′s project…

30 Minutes is All it Takes

Create Some Free Time When He Gets Home

“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”

~Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

Your Project
Focus on your husband’s transitional 30 minutes today. Would he like to be left alone to rest and rejuvenate, or does he want some undivided attention from you? The point is to let your husband know you value what he does out in the world, and that he has a safe loving place to come home and get refreshed at the end of the day.

Getting Creative
There are plenty of reasons why it might not be easy for you to give your husband some transition time at the end of the day. You need to look at what can work for your relationship. Be creative, like the stories listed below. Brainstorm with your friends until you find a situation that will work for you and your guy.

  • My friend, Joann, purposely scheduled her daughter’s dance classes twice a week at the same hour that her husband gets home from work. That way, her hubby comes home to an empty house. He gets some quiet, and she gets a more peaceful man.
  • One husband has his workshop out in the garage. His wife encourages him to go and hang out there for a while before dinner. (Since starting this arrangement, her husband has started helping out with the after-dinner clean up. Nice side benefit.)

Crockpots are The Husband Project’s best friend. Set your crockpot to be finished thirty minutes after your husband gets home from work. Let him know that you don’t need anything until dinner is ready. Don’t know a crockpot from a flower pot? Check out the recipes in The Ultimate Guide to Man Food at www.kathilipp.com

Does your husband already have a great transition routine after getting home? Find some other little thing to bless that time. Maybe it’s making sure the TV is available, his favorite sweats are clean and ready to be changed into, or there’s a cold soda waiting for him in the fridge. It may be so small that he doesn’t even notice. That’s okay – you’ll know what you did.

What if your husband works from home? Maybe the best way to help him relax is to ask what he would like the schedule to be. Does he want dinner before or after he gets some time to recharge? Ask him what would make his night better.

“Lust is easy. Love is hard. Like is most important.” ~ Carl Reiner

OK, you have Day 1′s project to complete.  Make sure to come back here to the AMH site and let us know how everything turned out.  I can’t wait to hear your stories.

Oh,  and by the way, don’t tell your husband you are completing a “project” on him.   Just let him be the recipient of all your loving kindness and encouragement :)

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Tearing Down or Building Up

Kissing Newlyweds on the Beach

Every wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands. -Proverbs 14:1

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. I pray every day that God would allow me to be wise and never foolish when it comes to my household. I wanted to share with you today some practical tips on how “not” to tear down our house and how to build up those that are closest to us.

  1. First, we should never tear down our husbands. Second only to God, our husbands are the next and most important foundation of our house. They give us love, support, and security. Our husbands need to feel love and respected. When we constantly tear them down by nagging, rejection, sarcasm, bitterness, pride, and sometimes even hatred, they no longer become a solid foundation for our house, but they become a mound of sand, beaten down by our negativeness towards them.
  2. We must never tear down ourselves by saying that we are “only a housewive” or “only a mom” or “only” anything else. We are nurturers of our homes, lovers of our husbands and children, friends to the friendless. I am so blessed that my job description is that of being a homemaker.
  3. There are so many opportunities to build up our homes when our sole responsibility as a woman is to care for her family and her home.
  4. We must never tear down our children. As mothers, it is our job to love and be a nurturer to our children. In the past, I have been just that kind of mother to my children, tearing them down and not even realizing it. We have to encourage them to be a child and not to grow up too fast, and to be who God wants them to be and then help them achieve that. Nurture and love your children. That is what they need more than anything!
  5. Last but not least, never tear down your relationship with Christ. As a wise woman, we must know that ALL our strength to care for our homes and our families come from none other than Jesus Himself. Strengthen your walk with Christ and your family will thrive daily!

Today, as you make a decision to either tear down or build up, I pray you choose building up. God will be proud, and your family will definitely love you more for the encouragement you offer them. Look at the list above and choose the one thing that needs the most work and begin working on that this week.

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