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Author Archives: Rebecca Greebon
1 Peter 2:17 – “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”
We live in a completely irreverent age, don’t we? Everyone has an opinion, and now most of us have the means to express it on a large scale, thanks to social media. Public personas and authority figures are popular fodder for ridicule and disrespect more than ever before. With a push of a button, we can easily destroy someone with our words and/or images, and then bask in the adoration of sarcastic “friends” or fans clicking Like as they join the fray from the safety of their home computers or phones.
We are always in a hurry. We shoot off a text with quick statements and become impatient when we actually have to wait to speak to someone, or listen as they speak to us. We want immediate answers, quick results and no-muss-no-fuss interactions.
While the decline of common courtesy in human interactions may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it is, because it represents the deterioration of part of our human condition.
All of us have a deep-seated need to feel worthy. One of the most effective ways to show another person you view them as someone of worth is through respect – of their time, their energy, their opinion, their gifts, their presence, their role in your life, their contribution….feel free to add more to the list.
Manners matter….because they show the people around us that they are worth respect and caring.
I have a dear friend who, several years ago, called to check on me after the birth of one of my children. As we were chatting on the phone, I walked into the living room and asked my husband to please turn the television down (a constant conversation in our house) since the baby was finally sleeping and I was desperate for that condition to continue. I used a gentle voice, a term of endearment of some sort, and the words “please” and “thank you” specifically. The reason this story sticks so vividly in my memory comes from my friend’s reaction. She had know Gregg and I throughout college, and after my request to him, she started laughing.
“I can’t believe you still talk to him like that after all these years”, she exclaimed, “I don’t remember the last time I spoke to my husband that way. I just yell at him to turn the thing down and move on.”
Sadly, I received a call from her a year later that she and her husband were getting divorced. It broke my heart for her….and for him.
I’m not saying that my friend’s marriage fell apart because she didn’t ask her husband to turn the TV down nicely enough. The thing is, that example, and her acceptance of a lack of graciousness as their communication norm, was the outward manifestation of an inner problem.
Left unchecked, lack of respect will eventually destroy a relationship.
This is true for marriages, friendships, parent and sibling ties as well.
Think of someone in your life who treats you with respect and cordiality. How does this make you feel? What kind of interactions do you have with this person? What in particular do they do that makes you feel respected or important to them?
Matthew 7:12 – So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
How well do you do this? Are you making it a point to treat others the way you would like to be treated? Do you take the time and make the effort to show them they matter?
List three action steps for this week to use for improvement in this area. They can be simple, such as:
- Be intentional about having a focused conversation without interruptions/distractions from your cell phone (nothing says, “I don’t really have any interest in what you’re saying” like someone who checks their phone or answers e-mails or looks at Facebook while you’re talking to him/her)
- Begin a conversation with “How are you today?” and then listen for the answer before getting down to business (this is so effective in a work place environment, and makes a huge difference, I promise).
- Say “thank you”….for everything.
- Ask another person for his/her opinion….and then actually consider it. Come back to them in the next day or few days with a question or comment about it.
You may have other ideas that are more effective than these for your life and circumstances. That’s great. Use them, liberally and frequently. I bet you’ll be amazed at the result.
Solidarity, sisters. Aretha knows….
A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.
Everyone has their own distinct communication style. We think differently, we process through things differently. We express ourselves in unique ways. And when we don’t stop to take the time and make sure our expressions of love are being effectively communicated, we open the door for a whole host of issues based on misunderstanding and confusion.
Dr. Gary Chapman has an amazing book titled The Five Love Languages. In it, he categorizes the way people express and receive love into five main themes: Physical Touch, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service and Receiving Gifts. He explains that we tend to show love in our primary love languages, and often miss it when others use their language to show love to us (when the two aren’t a match).
Embracing this concept has smoothed over many a tiff in my marriage over the years.
It’s important to respect the way others express and receive love. We must take note of their preferred communication styles, and care enough to connect on their level.
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
I love fresh flowers….like, really love them. If you brought me flowers every day, I would never tire of them, never decreased in my thanks or enthusiasm. Some of this may stem from all of my years as a performer, getting flowers at a show. Much of it stems from the fact that Gifts is one of my primary love languages. The result – Hi, my name is Rebecca and I am a flower junky.
My husband is most definitely not. Gifts is the lowest of his love languages. He is super practical when it comes to budgeting (fodder for many fights with his more whimsical wife, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog), and finds it silly to spend money on something that is “useless” and is going to die in a few days anyway. This has been a back and forth topic with us for 20 years.
No one said the learning curve for this stuff was quick, friends.
Last summer, we planted our first garden. It’s been such a cool experience to grow our own vegetables and to have healthy, organic food come straight from our yard to our table. In the midst of our planting frenzy, my resourceful husband had a moment of pure brilliance. He showed up one day with a gorgeous pink rosebush and planted it by the garden as a love gift surprise. German practicality meets girly whimsy. Everybody wins.
Sometimes, he is a genius.
It was brilliant, and the reaction it garnered from me was probably even beyond what he expected.
You see, the reason gifts are so important to me is based less on the actual item and more on the fact that to give someone a gift (a meaningful one, anyway), you have to pay attention. You have to know them, think about their preferences, and then take the time to find and obtain something that shows this to them.
It’s about focusing on the person, and caring about what touches their heart.
I know for a fact that people who communicate primarily in the other languages feel this way when we use their styles effectively for this same reason.
Think of the people in your life who most effectively communicate love to you. How do you know they love you? How do they make you feel loved or important?
Do you know your love language? Or the love language of those closest to you? Take some time to list examples of “love exchanges” you’ve had with others. What do they have in common? What made these interactions effective? Or ineffective?
Do you take the time to really listen to the people around you? Have you spent the energy to truly focus on what makes them tick? Are you listening when they speak (in whatever form)? Are you taking the time and figuring out how to show them love in ways they receive?
Expressing our love to others in ways they accept it is one of the biggest keys to building strong relationships.
Every time I look outside and see my beautiful pink roses, I am reminded that my husband loves me, that he knows what makes me smile and cares enough to find ways to show me. He’ll walk into the house carrying a beautiful pink rose or send one of our children in with one for me….and I melt a little every time. It never loses its charm.
Three weeks ago, he planted me a red rose bush as well.
When he gets it, he gets it…..
Solidarity, sisters. You can never learn too many languages.
Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
The world is harsh, isn’t it? Life gets tough, and it often seems that we live in a hostile climate that’s just waiting to take us down. We get tired and frustrated, distracted and discouraged….and the weight of our worries can overwhelm us. Everywhere we look, there are stories of failure or negativity, and the news, social media, pop culture gossip circles are circling like vultures, circulating the stories and barbs as fast as they can.
It’s disheartening. It’s dysfunctional. It’s not at all how God expects us to treat each other.
Jesus was an encourager. He spent His lifetime spreading the message of hope and salvation, and reassuring us that He had overcome the world – I think we lose that part of the message sometimes. We forget that He led by example in this aspect of relationship as well.
He took the time to meet with people, to talk with people, and to build them up by His very presence and definitive actions.
It was an integral part of His ministry and relationships. So, it should be an integral part of ours.
Hebrews 3:13 – “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
Think of a person in your life who is a source of encouragement to you. List examples of how they build you up. What part of that list has the most impact on you?
Think about your most important relationships. Do you act as a wellspring of encouragement to the people on that lineup? How do you show them support?
Are you sending a message of hope and encouragement to those around you in your daily life? Or are you exuding frustration, despair, or discouragement? Think about the conversations you have with others, the tone of your exchanges, the expression you wear…. What are you communicating?
I’m not saying you can’t ever have a bad day, or vent to your friends and/or family. But, if that’s the norm for you, if it’s the case more often than not, you might need a heart check. Pray about this. Read John 16:33. Absorb the truth in it, and then pass it on to others.
Don’t ever underestimate the gift you give someone when you take the time and effort to encourage them. We all need it. Why do you think all the Pinterest memes are so popular?
Think of someone in your life who may need encouragement (hint – the correct answer is anyone you know, or have ever met). Reach out to them. Be specific. This shows attention to their circumstances as well as care for their well-being. And we all want to be cared for, don’t we?
1 Thessalonians 5:11 – “Therefore, encourage one another ans build each one another up, just as you are doing….”
Solidarity, sisters. Ready? OK!!!!!!
Remember the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland? He spent the entire movie scurrying around and stressing over how late he was for “a very important date”. Every time he appeared on the screen, he was running and checking his watch and freaking out and running while checking his watch again. The poor guy looked completely exhausted and frazzled, and missed pretty much all of the great interactions because he couldn’t stick around for any of them. I don’t think he ever even knew Alice’s name.
You know what else? He was running alone in every scene – no partner, no friends. Just him and his watch.
Every feel like the White Rabbit?
In her book Living Well and Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life, Ruth Soukup writes,
“At our very core, we all want to be loved and accepted. We crave those special friendships that will build us up and keep us going when times are tough. We long for someone to laugh with, someone to cry with, and someone to cheer us on. Even so, I think many of us struggle when it comes to making and maintaining true friendships. Life gets hectic, and it is hard to keep tabs on your own life, much less someone else’s. “
Read Luke 10: 38-42
Martha, Martha, Martha…..Sister, did you get it wrong or what? I know we normally look at this scripture through the lens of accountability for Quiet Time and prayer and reflection in God’s presence. All of that is wonderful and true and relevant. But let’s shift the lens a little, shall we? Let’s look at it relationally, seeing Mary’s choice to stop and spend time with Jesus her friend, as well as her Savior.
Friendship (and all relationships, really) takes an investment of time. To have good friends, we must be a good friend. To have people who invest in us, we must invest in other people. To send the message to another that they are important, we must prioritize them, and find ways to be present in their lives.
When’s the last time you did this? Write about the last time you reached out to a friend with a pure interest in catching up with her (or him), and no agenda otherwise – that means no need of a favor, or advice, or chance to plug your own recent events. Write about the last time a friend did this for you. How did both of these instances make you feel? How long has it been since either happened?
Do you tend to be the one reaching out to others? Or are you the one waiting for friends reach out first? Why do you think this is?
In this day and age, it’s so easy to drop someone a quick text or message. Make a pledge to reach out to a different friend each day for the next three days. Note what happens when you do.
It’s hard not to feel left out or neglected when we think our friends are ignoring us, or don’t know (or possibly care) what’s going on in our lives. Be proactive. Make it a point to extend the first hand, ask the first “How can I pray for you?”. Chances are, they are just as busy and overwhelmed and harried as you are. They may just be waiting on someone to show some interest and caring.
Solidarity, sisters. Solid friendships are a work of art. Be the artist.
“The one truth everyone seems to agree on, from Moses through Jesus and on to Augustine and the Reformers, is that it’s virtually impossible to please God without loving our neighbors.” Michael Wittmer
I’m going to make this really easy today, and give you several scriptures that say pretty much the same thing, so none of us gets confused about the point. Read each of the following.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
“The most important one”, answered Jesus, “is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
A new command I give you: Love on another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
This is my command: Love each other.
So, let’s hit the first point. GOD should be the focus of our love, our hope, our trust. Period. He says so, multiple times, in both the Old Testament and the New. He’s very clear. And while “Because I said so” would be apt reasoning from the all-powerful Creator of the Universe…. as usual, He set it up that way for our own good. Not His.
Not because we owe Him. Not because He needs something in return for all of His efforts. Not because He needs our adoration to recharge Him. He’s God. As such, He is perfect. He is powerful. He is patient….and present…..and perpetual. He sees everything, and knows everything. He is the Alpha and Omega, here from the beginning of time to the end of days.
He knit you together is your mother’s womb, ensuring that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, as all His works are (Psalm 139:14).
He has chosen you…you, and will never reject you (Isaiah 41:9).
He loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
Everlasting – as in, lasting forever. Always – without end. His vision and plan for us are without end, and He always fulfills the points on His agenda.
Get this: YOU are the agenda.
And so is your neighbor.
People are going to screw up. They are going to make mistakes and let us down and say things that are hurtful or wrong. They are going to wound us. It’s inevitable, just as it’s inevitable that we’ll do the same to them. If we are dependent on other human beings as the source of our self-worth or happiness…. If we focus our attention on an Earthly individual or individuals…..the effects of this cycle are devastating.
But if we lift it up, as the song says, when we turn our eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face, then the things of Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
Guess what else this helps us do? The second greatest commandment.
You see, the part of that creed we often miss is what I feel is the key to success in it.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” implies a component of self-love <- not conceitedness or selfishness. More along the lines of self-worth and acceptance. If God Himself loves me with such a fierce intensity, who am I to contradict that? Who am I to argue with Creation and all its splendor? He is intentional in every single thing He does. It would be foolish to think I am the one exception to that truth. It would be foolish to think you are the exception. Or that my neighbor is – or co-worker, or family member, friend, waitress, fellow shopper, frenemy, etc.
You get my point.
When we fully focus on God’s love, accept it, return it, bask in it……we can translate it to others => love our neighbor as ourselves. Unconditionally, with forgiveness, grace and selflessness. With humility. With kindness.
There are no perfect people. None. Yet we are still lovable, still valuable.
And we treat things of value with care.
Galatians 5: 13-15
For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.
Think about the people in your life with whom you have the best relationships. What are some characteristics they share? How do you feel when you are in a conversation or interaction with them?
Now, think about individuals in your life (past or currently) with whom you have poor relationships. What are some commonalities of those connections?
Who are the people in your life who make you feel most loved? List three examples of how they do so.
How can you better emulate those traits to those around you?
I find Paul’s choice of analogy interesting, when he gives us the option to either serve each other, or devour each other. Can you think of times when you’ve experienced each of these paradigms?
It may seem we are exhausting the topic of love and loving others and remaining in love….but we aren’t. God is very particular about repeating His big messages, and this one appears over and over again in countless reminders. It’s important. We all are.
After all, “the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13b).
Solidarity, sisters. It’s better to build up than bite.
Ever have those days where “relationship” is a four-letter word? When people in general just suck, and everyone gets on your nerves, or you get on everyone’s nerves, or you feel lonely, or overrun by others, or like you’re never going to figure out how not to kill every person you’ve ever met? Every felt left out? Injured by someone’s words or actions? Hopeless when it comes to figuring out your significant other, or child, or neighbor, or boss or random Facebook commentor?
People are hard, and tricky to deal with…..and everywhere.
We have to deal with them in just about every circumstance and setting. We’re called to be in community with them, and to enter into healthy relationships and have fruitful interactions, showing love and respect to those around us.
It’s exhausting at times, especially when we think we’re the only ones struggling with this issue. If this sounds familiar, rest assured that you are in good company. Everybody has to work at this. It’s so much better when we do so together.
I am part of a fabulous little Facebook group that began a few months ago. It’s a safe place to put together relevant topics and read/write/pray over devotional series. We just began a new one, 10 days walking through relationships the way God calls us to. Today was our first session, and I thought it might be fun to share here as well. Every day, for the next 10 days, I’ll post a reading with some guided questions to facilitate reflection/journaling. It’s a super simple forum, and doesn’t usually take very long.
I know this is not the usual format for this site, but let’s give it a whirl, shall we? The more, the merrier. Let me know what you think.
Here’s Day 1
Relationships – Day 1
I think in order to effectively study the topic of relationships according to Biblical principles, we have to open our minds to a profound concept: People, ALL people, are important to God.
Read 1 John 4: 7-21
What jumped out at you?
Here are a couple of mine…..
v. 16: And we have come to know and to believe the love God has for us.
Therein lies the 1st step.
We have to believe that He loves us – beyond limits, without strings, without end, beyond what human words can express.
Do you believe this?
Do you see it in your everyday life?
Do you marvel that He created an entire planet just so He would have a place to put us? And then, when our ingratitude and lack of comprehension continued to distance us from Him, He sent His Son to walk among us, build RELATIONSHIPS with us, and save us for all eternity?
It takes your breath away, doesn’t it, when you truly grasp the idea?
List 3 examples of God’s love in your life.
What made you choose those instances?
v. 27: And we have this command from Him: The one who loves God must also love his brother.
You don’t get much more straightforward than that.
It’s a command.
He loves us without exception, and He expects us to do the same for each other.
So, what if we did?
What if we sat back, took a deep breath, and opened our minds (and hearts) to the possibility that EVERYONE around us deserves to be loved…because they actually already are.
What do you find most encouraging about this?
What do you find most challenging?
Write down the names of 5 people you find easy to love.
Write down the names of 2 people you find difficult to love.
Write down the names of 3 people you’ve never prayed over before.
Mention all 10 names in your prayers today.
I bet you’ll be surprised at what this does for your heart.
Much love to you all.
I am having guilt. And writer’s block. This is not a good combination.
I had this grandiose plan to launch my new site and blog look…I even have a fun new book to give away in my first ever River Chick Giveaway Extravaganza! It’s by one of the fabulous women I have met on the For the Love Launch Team journey. She’s been patiently waiting to see the post with her name tagged in it pop up….and I’m sure by now she is wishing she had picked someone else for this project.
I blame technology.
Truly. I do. All technology hates me. I am not even kidding. If there is a way for some kind of technical or machine-driven thing to go wrong with or around me, it will. The weirdest things happen to me when it comes to this. They’ve started asking me not to walk by the children’s check-in area at church when volunteers are trying to print name tags for the kids because the printer breaks every time I go by.
Every. Single. Time.
It’s ridiculous. If there ever is a Rise of the Machines type apocalypse, run far away from me. I’ll be the first human they come after. No joke. Give me the zombies any day. And please, God, don’t let the release of functioning robots into society happen in my lifetime.
I digress. Sorry. Just so you know, I now want to go watch something starring Will Smith on Netflix.
Because of my lack of skills in the cyber/tech arena, I finally broke down and reached out for professional help with upgrading the blog and website. Which was absolutely the right and necessary thing to do, and was going swimmingly, until three days before my projected launch date…..when the precious, helpful, wonderful bundle of talent who is pulling this miracle together ended up in ICU…..almost in a diabetic coma…..having never before been diagnosed with diabetes. For the love…. I can’t make this stuff up.Who does that even happen to? Me, obviously.
Lest you think I am horrible and selfish, he is on the mend and doing well, and gave me permission to tell that story. Even he was laughing in disbelief. I’m just grateful he still wants to help me and wasn’t scared off by the overt need of the Universe to mess with me in this area.
I am sure we will find an underlying mechanized cause of his illness.
All this babble to say “I’m still here! Please keep tuning in and reading!”
I promise to have more salient points next time. And perhaps a new look.
I refuse to speak in absolutes at this time. No need to push my luck.
Solidarity, sisters. Thanks for hanging in there with me…..
This past Saturday was World Down Syndrome Day (the date, 3:21 signifies the presence of a third 21st chromosome, which defines Down Syndrome, or Trisomy 21). While I couldn’t get it together enough to post on the actual date (it was a Saturday, we were on vacation, I can’t write when locked in a small condo at the beach with my children – let’s all hear it for rainy days during spring break), I can’t let this occasion go by without comment. I won’t fire out a bunch of statistics for you today. You can find plenty of that on Google, or more qualified sites than this one. And that’s not what my point is anyway.
My point, very simply, revolves around the basic human elements of love and friendship.
One of my favorite people on the planet has Down Syndrome. His name is Aaron, and he is incredible. Our entire family loves him (as do so many people), but none more than his little BFF, our youngest child and princess, Emry.
They are buds, pure and simple. They generally get along well, mostly because Aaron lets her boss him around, and that’s an important trait in a friend to her (I’m sure she’ll outgrow this). When he gets tired of her orders, he walks away….sometimes shaking his head, sometimes stomping off in irritation. They always reunite, though, with lots of hugs and plenty of smiles. It’s beautiful.
Don’t ever try to tell her that he’s “different”. It irritates her, and she gets impatient with that conversation. I’ve only tried it once, due to an unfortunate cucumber-to-the-face incident (apparently, there are times when walking away just doesn’t get the point across strongly enough). I opened with something along the lines of, “You know, baby, how God makes everyone unique?” It earned me a glare, a raised finger in the universal sign for shush-it, and an indignant, “Don’t, Mommy. Just don’t. He knows exactly what he’s doing, and I do not want you to tell me he can’t help it.”
Okay, then. I’ll just go get you an ice pack…….
He’s her forever friend, and she loves him, pure and simple.
She doesn’t want his idiosyncracies explained away. She doesn’t want him labelled, or categorized, or put in a diagnosis box. She doesn’t want limits put on him to explain what he can or can’t do, what his behavior looks like, or what his goals should be (she’s still a bit bitter that he started Kindergarten before her).
Over the weekend, I was talking about Aaron to my husband, and I made the comment that he is beautiful (because he so totally is). Emry, ever listening from across the room, perked up and whipped her head around. This made me a little nervous about what might come out of her mouth, since she tends to have issues with compliments not aimed at her. We just recently got her to quit announcing, “I’m cuter than her/him” every time someone admires anyone who is not her. I’m pretty sure she still says it silently to herself, but at least we’ve started the appearance of humility. It’s a work in progress.
Back to the conversation. It went a little something like this….
Emry: Aaron’s beautiful?
Me: Yes, he is.
Emry: Um….no, he’s not.
Emry: Aaron is handsome, Mommy. Not beautiful, handsome.
And then my heart melted a little. Because she loves her friend, and sees him as handsome. Because she corrected me to use a word she knows is socially appropriate for boys – we call her brothers handsome. Same goes for her friend. Because she didn’t have to think twice about it, or qualify it, or add anything other than the simple statement of fact.
And a little because she actually gave another person a compliment without hesitation or competition.
She gets it. Most kids do. It’s the adults who screw things up.
I have hope for this generation. I think if we get out of the way, if we don’t try to categorize, or label, or define everything for them, they will surpass and surprise us at every turn. I think they get it right a lot of the time, and they deserve our forgiveness when they don’t. I think if we model grace and acceptance, they won’t need to attack that which they don’t understand or recognize, because it won’t be scary.
If we stand behind them, instead of barricading paths in front of them, and teach them to do the same, we’ll let the world move forward….and spend less time focused on differences from this angle. How great would that be?
Solidarity, sisters. Happy Belated World Down Syndrome Day.
Hi, love:You don’t mind if I call you “love”, do you? After all, you’re about to be a part of our family now, which makes you a person of great importance in my life. As such, please know that I really do love you and truly have your best interest at heart.
I know you haven’t asked, yet, but I’d like to give you a few pieces of advice. Before you roll your eyes and prepare to ignore every word I write (or say), please consider my qualifications:
1) I raised your husband, and know him incredibly well.
2) I’ve managed to stay married to his father for a not-insignificant amount of time, so have experience in this matter.
3) I am totally, 100% vested in the success of your marriage, with no agenda other than the happiness of my son and stability of my grandchildren’s home.
There are just some basic principles I’d like to review – some dos and don’ts, if you will. Ready? Here we go:
Don’t be crazy
It’s not cute. It’s not cool. It’s usually manipulative and sometimes cruel. No one likes that girl, believe me. They may tolerate her, but they don’t like her. He’s in love with you. It’s that simple. He wants to spend the rest of his life with you. Trust in that. Playing with his emotions or trying to control him via tantrums, or threats, or hysterical crying fits will eventually lead to more problems than you can handle.
Contrary to the proclamation of Miss Taylor Swift, boys do not only want love if it’s torture.
I’m not saying you can’t ever have an outburst, or meltdown, or bad day. He’s lived with me (and with his sister) for many years. The boy can handle some drama, let me tell you. I’m just saying save it for the really necessary or special occasions. He’ll just learn to ignore you if you overuse the melodrama and mood swings.
Please, for the love of all things everywhere, don’t be a Bridezilla
No one is disputing that you are the Princess of Your Wedding. You absolutely are. You’ll be the prettiest, best dressed, most sparkly focus of the entire event. We will all bow to your wishes and carry out every one of your ideas with enthusiasm and smiling faces, no matter what our true feelings may be. After all, you’re one of the two most important people of the day.
The groom is the other one, in case that isn’t obvious.
No matter what the bridal magazines or your girlfriends say, it’s not actually all about you. He’s sort of a big deal, too. Without him, there wouldn’t be a wedding.
Marriage is about two individuals coming together as one in the most sacred relationship you can have with another person on this earth. The wedding is the celebration around your formalization and public proclamation of love and commitment.
This is one of the happiest days of your life.
Focus on that, and don’t let anything else take precedence.Your groom may have an idea or two as to how this looks.
Listen to him.
He comes from a family that loves music and parties. We are all hoping to enjoy ourselves at this, his most important party.
FYI – there may or may not be a Mother-Son breakout dance number in the works.
It’s not a competition
You win. By definition, as his wife, you have officially displaced me as the most important woman in my son’s life. Believe it or not, we’ve spent years ingraining this mentality into his way of thinking – through Biblical teachings, in talks we’ve had, by example in our marriage and way of life.
Ephesians 5:31 – “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife….”
You don’t have to wonder if he loves you best. He does.
You don’t have to wonder if you come first. You do.
You don’t have to test him or make him prove it to you over and over by declining invites to our house, or haggling over holidays, or announcing that your cooking is better than mine.
There is no contest.
I know my place, and I will do my very best to respect it.
That being said, this is probably going to require patience on both our parts. Just because I know the new order of things doesn’t mean I like it. It’s going to take some getting used to.
I’m working on it.
Love him most
It’s a simple, three-word sentence, and it will change your life if you can embrace it. Love him most, as in more than all else.
More than Facebook (or whatever social media is in vogue now)
More than your job
More than your house
More than being right
More than your pride
More than your agenda
More than anyone else on the planet, including your parents, your siblings, or your best friend.
Love him with all your heart, and watch him bloom. He’ll become more than the man of your dreams. He’ll thrive in every area. He’ll treat you like the Queen of the World, and give you the moon. Trust me. He’s his father’s son. I know this to be true, because I’ve lived it his whole life.
Keep the main thing the main thing
You are getting an incredible guy, which I assume you know.
He’s breathtakingly handsome (I may be a bit biased, but still…..truth is truth).
He can cook.
He can dance.
He’s smart and creative and motivated.
If he’s stuck with the lessons we pay so much money for, he’s a great musician by now.
He hunts and fishes, and cleans his own game (mama started that from the beginning).
He loves me, and adores his sister, which means he is tolerant of and sensitive to women.
He is a hugger, and loves to make other people laugh.
I am aware, my dear, that he is not perfect. Unless miracles have occurred, he’s got some things that may very well drive you crazy.
He leaves his shoes out. Constantly. You will always trip over them.
The hunting/fishing thing means camo everything all over the place – and it has to be washed with special, non-scented detergent or all hell breaks loose (you can thank his dad for that one). It also means you will spend your life fighting for vacations that do not revolve around those two activities (again, go see your father-in-law…not my area), and finding bait or bullets in weird places. He can’t hear a word you say if the TV is on. Ever.
He has no concept of time when he’s distracted. Which is often (that one may be on me).
Love him anyway. Pick a hill or two to die on. Three, max. Then let the rest go. Come see me when it gets to be too much. We’ll sing the song together.
Wherever you go, whatever you do….seek God with all your heart. You’ll find Him, I promise. He’s there. He’s already got you in His arms, you just need to discover Him for yourself.
And once you encounter Him, keep Him in your sight.
You’ll wander a little, I can almost guarantee it. That’s okay. You can never go so far that He can’t find you and bring you home. Remember that.
You’re so young. Currently, as I write this letter to you, you may not even be out of elementary school.
I’m already praying for you.
I’m praying for your health and well-being.
I’m praying for your growth and development.
I’m praying for your strength and purity.
I’m praying for the day you meet my son, and for the life you will build together.
Talk to God. All the time. The sooner you learn to do this, and the better at it you are, the easier your life will feel. Your paths will be clearer. Your heart will be lighter. Your steps will be more secure.
There is no truth stronger than this.
We’re excited to meet you.
I know we’re a loud bunch, and can be a lot to take in. We love big, we laugh big….we’ve got big hair.
We’ve also got big hearts.
And we’re really fun. I promise.
We’ll always have your back. And we’ll all be dancing at your wedding, celebrating with absolute joy.
Just know that in my head, he’ll look like this that night, because he’s my baby even though he’s your man.
Solidarity, sister. Welcome to the family.
My dear husband has this habit (we’ll call it “quirky”) of picking out the most obscure movies to watch in the evenings. He scrolls through Netflix, finding enigmatic westerns or war flicks (generally starring one or two A-list actors supported by a cast of actors I’ve never seen or heard of), and since neither of these genres are remotely interesting to me, I tend to come in and out of the room while doing laundry (because, let’s face it, this house is the black hole of never-ending laundry), cleaning the kitchen, or, on nights when both of those options are just over my capacity for functioning at that hour, curling up on the couch next to him with a book, so that we are actually spending time together in the same general vicinity (funny how our definition of “hanging out” changes over the years, isn’t it?). Last night was no exception to this rule, and laundry made my preferred function list (Ok, not preferred….but necessary. The pile was getting embarrassing). This time, however, his choice caught my attention, and before I knew it, I had become wrapped up enough in the story to set the laundry down, run and get a notepad, and return to the couch to sit on top of the clean clothes pile while watching and writing (Apparently, I have now picked up the sit-on-the-laundry-instead-of-folding-it habit from my family, which is unfortunate, because it gives me fits when they do it….and I yell at them for this. Luckily, the kids were in bed and didn’t witness my lapse.). And, yes, I was taking notes during a movie. Don’t judge me. I already had to ignore the raised eyebrows and snickers from the other end of the couch.
The movie Gregg picked was Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson story, and it was based on his autobiography, which has the same title. I don’t know if you are aware of who Dr. Benjamin Carson is – I wasn’t until last night. I am now fascinated with his story, especially his earlier history.
He was born in 1951, one of two brothers, and raised by a single mother from age eight years old. His is a story of early struggle, redemption and triumph over any circumstance to burst through the other side a shining star. And while this is impressive, the theme that caught me was actually the backstory and fortitude of his mother.
Her scenes were my favorite, and I was in some degree of tears throughout most of them. She was a hard-working African-American woman, fighting to give her boys every opportunity for success in a time when her race hindered her as much as her lack of education. She had only attended school until the third grade, and had been raised in foster care until she married her husband at the age of 13. She was unable to read and had no special skills, yet had to find a way to feed and clothe her sons after her divorce (He had another family and children on the side. How’s that for a devastating blow?). In one heart-wrenching scene, she walks to a Psychiatric Hospital and stops an exiting nurse with this cry for help:
“I’ve got a darkness inside me I can’t control.”
My tears flowed freely at that declaration. They continued streaming down my face as she sat across from the kind doctor who met with her and poured out her story; a mother, terrified for her children’s future, doing the best she could while knowing deep inside it wasn’t nearly enough. Plagued by self-doubt and regret, she rocked and wrung her hands, while stating, “I’m so dumb. I can’t do much – just clean houses and babysit. I’m not worth enough. I’m nothing. And I’m terrified my boys will end up the same as me, in a place like this.”
I sat there and cried, because her statement was so heart-wrenching, and so loudly echoed the doubts and dark places, not only of my mind, but of the minds of so many of my friends and sisters out there.
And because when I watched her, the incompetent woman she described was not who I saw at all.
I saw a warrior, a fierce lioness who refused to give up. I saw a woman who, while not very educated, was extremely intelligent and resourceful. I saw a woman who personified some huge lessons we all could use in life. She was fierce, to say the least….and knew how and when to roar.
Lesson 1: Comparison truly is the stealer of all joy
When her sons would pop off about what everyone else was doing, her response was, “Don’t you worry about everyone else. The world is full of everybody else’s.” She refused to bow to the expectations of the social and political climate of the times, and she refused to allow her sons to settle into comfortable or careless routines. She had goals and plans, and she stuck to them, dragging her reluctant boys along with her. Her every action, every step was aimed at the achievement of her goals and the vision she had for her sons…not the movements or fortunes of her neighbor.
Lesson 2: Emulate the habits of those who have achieved success
Mid-way through the film, she began a new job, cleaning the house of a college professor. She was amazed by the number of books in his home. They were piled everywhere in his study, reaching to the ceiling in walls completely covered by bookshelves and covering the television set. When she asked him if he had read all of the books, his reply was, “Most of them.” From that day forward, her boys had books in their hands. She went home, turned off the TV, and set strict rules about what and how much they were to watch (and this in the days before the endless blogs and lists and studies about whether too much TV is good for or harms our children). She encouraged (ok, forced, initially) a love of learning and study patterns that changed their lives forever.
Lesson 3: Know when to ask for help
When her depression got to be too much, when she could no longer control the darkness, she went out and got help. The right help. She put aside her pride, shared her story and accepted the necessary treatment; going so far as to check into an inpatient facility for two weeks so she could get herself pulled together. And when she came home, she came home – recharged, reset and ready to hit the ground running again.
Lesson 4: Have faith
She raised her boys in the church, as believers, and taught them to pray. She opened their eyes to the fact that God is out there and miracles do exist, telling them, “You just gotta see beyond what you can see.” She stuck to that, no matter what, and never lost sight of God’s hand in her life….even on the dark days.
Lesson 5: Be an encourager
She was a genius coach and cheerleader, who used emboldened statements as she spurred her sons on to new heights of achievement. Never once did she express her doubts or concerns to them, choosing instead to fortify their spirits and energize their minds, while guarding their hearts from the lowering comments or mindsets of others. She pushed them, with love and discipline, to become the men her heart dreamed of and that her God had created.
They would go on to become successful, educated men – one an engineer, the other a doctor.
Ben, her baby, proceeded to gain notoriety as a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon; performing the first ever successful separation of craniopagus twins (Siamese twins joined at the head) in 1985, and later becoming the Head of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Today, he is a bestselling author, speaker, political commentator and outspoken Christian with a beautiful wife and three sons of his own.
Quite a legacy from a humble and unschooled mama, don’t you think?
I admire her. Her story touched my heart and humbled my spirit, while inspiring the woman and mother in me.
I’m going to post the list of these lessons in plain sight, and remind myself of them daily. They are clear and simple and profoundly truth-filled. They are possible. They are proven.
Who’s with me?
Solidarity, sisters. Go ahead and roar.