Raising Daughters Who Are Worthy of a Good Man

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I’m raising five boys.  Three of them are already journeying through the teen years, but that part doesn’t scare me.  You know what does, though?

The fact that we’re inching ever nearer to the day they will be ready to consider marriage.

I’m not afraid of them marrying, exactly, but it’s a bit concerning when I look around and see a world full of young women who are terrifyingly bold and assertive.  Even more so, however, is the fact that girls are no longer being taught to respect themselves as the treasures they were created to be but are being encouraged to seek full and complete liberation from Biblical roles.

And this is not simply a “worldly” epidemic.  It is totally infiltrating the church from every corner.

I’m not impressed by the flesh-baring, egocentric, selfie-obsessed society I find myself raising children in.  Not impressed, yet it is my reality and it does me no good to sit and complain about what is or pining for what isn’t.  My time is much better spent helping my children navigate their way carefully toward what will be.

My hope and my prayer is that each of their will be’s include Jesus every step of the way.  Even the step that leads toward marriage, if one is in His respective plan for them.  But what kind of girl will be suited to walk beside my guys as they continue on in their faith experience?  As the mother of boys who is also raising girls, this is something I have thought about often.  Here are some critical components to their “princess” training we are striving for…

 

Join me over at Raising Homemakers for the rest of the article.

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things I wish I knew before I married

Nothing like flying blind, you know?  Bumping along the road toward marital bliss seems so, well, blissful.  Until it isn’t because it won’t be.

Marriage is hard sometimes, plain and simple.

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And therein lies the problem.  Or at the very least, part of the problem.  We expect what isn’t and what is totally isn’t what we were expecting.  Confused?  If not, then you’re probably already married.

There are things I wish I knew about men, husbands, before I ever uttered that little word yes.  I still would have said it, mind you, but I would have known better just exactly what I was saying.  Because I would have been saying a whole lot of things I never saw coming.  Like, perhaps…

  • Yes, I will marry your need to internalize.  And I will respect that you think best when you’re left to think until you’ve thought it all through.  I won’t barge in and demand answers you’re not ready to give.

 

  • Yes, I will marry your desire to be close.  And I’ll cherish the fact that you chose me to be close to.  It doesn’t mean I’ll never have moments where I just want to scream “hands off” to all the grasping hands that chase me through my busy days, but it does mean I’ll think before I scream.  Because if I do that, I’ll never scream at all since I’ll realize how blessed I am to have little hands to need me and your big ones to pursue me.

 

  • Yes, I will marry your concern over finances.  And I’ll walk beside you as we learn to make them stretch.  I’ll use your hard-earned money with care and caution and will control needless spending that results in extra hours at work.  I will not buy stress and then attempt to make you think it was a good purchase.  I will seek to honor your desire to provide well for our family and not make it harder for you to accomplish than this fast-paced world has already made it.

 

  • Yes, I will marry your preference to see your clothing hung according to style.  Never mind that my side of the closet will likely always be an explosion of disorganized pieces.  I can and will sacrifice those few extra seconds so that when you walk to the closet and look for something to wear, your mind isn’t assaulted by what you find.

 

  • Yes, I will marry your inability to multi-task as a mother must.  You are not a mother.  I will be grateful for every free-will offering  you drop into the treasury of our marriage as you seek to lighten my load in the best way you know how.  Sometimes I might laugh a little because you are just so cute trying to fill my role.  But always that laughter will be shared and not slung.

 

  • Yes, I will marry your need to talk about work.  It’s a part of who you are.  It’s the space in your life you rent out in order to meet our needs.  And it matters.  I care even when I don’t understand entirely.

 

  • Yes, I will marry your love of trucks.  I may never, ever grasp what you see in them.  I might not get how you can point them out time and again and still be thrilled by what you see.  Nope, I probably never will but I can certainly allow you your frivolous passions.

 

  • Yes, I will marry your flaws.  All of them.  I won’t promise to love them but I will promise to love you.  I’ll take a step back when they threaten to overwhelm me and I’ll attempt to see you as He does. ..A man with faults but also with a thirst for that which is right.  I won’t try to fix you but I will leave room for Him to work when He decides the time is right.  And I’ll also leave room for Him to fix me since I know all too well how very broken I am.

 

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Because marriage is more than flowery words and warm, fuzzy feelings.  Marriage is choosing to love right through the hard stuff.  It’s making allowance for late bills and unexpected expenses.  For doctor’s visits with a sick child and rocking all night while they burn with fever.  For making mistakes and saying the wrong things and forgiving when you have every reason not to.  For spaghetti splatters and to-do lists that never get done.  For loving with a smile or a hug when there’s no energy for words.

And for saying yes when saying no would be easier.

 

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And That’s Why We Don’t Have a Household Schedule

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I’ve got a five-part And That’s Why series planned though this is only segment two and I honestly have no idea when the other three will come to life.  I’d make a horrible for-real writer because I simply don’t make it a priority.  I’m more of a “when the spirit moves” kind of girl which ties nicely in with this particular post…
 
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For years I stressed myself silly over being the perfect housewife.  I was sure I needed a schedule and a strategy for executing that schedule.  I was determined to fit my young and growing family into a very nice, tidy mold that made me feel good about myself and the job I was doing.

The trouble was it created absolute chaos.

If 9:00am was supposed to be morning devotions as a family, at 8:55am the dishwasher would begin spewing out bubbles {don’t even ask how many times a child-in-training has put dish soap, rather than dishwasher detergent, into that little compartment} and the baby would decide it was the perfect moment to have a panic attack.

Naturally, the need to tend the task at hand would throw us off schedule and I’d feel my hackles rising.  The very thing that was to be a tool to create a peaceful environment was absolutely thrashing any dream of peace my family may have had.

I’d find myself pushing through and scrambling to regain my footing.  Perhaps by lunchtime we’d be on track.  Unlikely, but possible.  However, with lunch scheduled for 12:30 sharp, I’d find myself shrugging off the hugs of little people vying for my attention.  For pity’s sake, child…don’t you understand we must eat on time?  Give Mama some space so I can serve you well! 

And I’m ashamed to admit how many evenings during those tender years I rushed through the bedtime ritual, missing the opportunity for quiet moments beside their sleepy bodies because I had a list of things I was determined to get done in order to be ready for the next day.  Is this not one of the saddest stories you’ve ever read?

In my own defense, I was trying for all I was worth to get it right.  My heart yearned to be the wife and mother He wanted me to be.  And I need to offer myself grace even as I look back on my struggle.  But I was missing the point completely.

Life isn’t about schedules, though being prompt and efficient are certainly excellent qualities.  Life is about little moments that flavor eternity.  It’s about tossing the notion that morning chores must be done by quarter after the hour or that school must commence at the pre-determined time, without delay.  If all that happens, terrific.  Gold star for mama.  But most of the time it won’t.  And oftentimes it shouldn’t.

She’s a heretic, you might be thinking.  Listen to her stomp all over my pretty little scheduled life.  I’ve worked hard to establish this pattern to my days and it’s working great for my family.  If that’s the case, go for it!  Keep up the amazing work.  And definitely pay no attention to the pinch of green-eyed envy you see when you glance my way.  I simply wasn’t wired as you are.

For me, I tend to be all in or all out.  And while I truly enjoy calmness and predictability, I find I rush past way too many moments in my hurry to be “predictable”.

If my toddler implores me with dewey eyes and an “I hold you, Mama?” I don’t want to be scurrying off to the next thing.  I want to breathe in the moment, forgetting all about what’s next for a spell.

If my daughter wants help with her crochet project, I don’t want to brush her off leaving her to think the laundry is more pressing.  I want to sit down and find a Youtube video that explains it to both our novice minds.

If my teenager gets that look in his eye that says everything his words just can’t, I don’t want to even think about what’s for supper.  It can wait.  Most likely my boy can’t.

If my husband looks weary and clearly needs a few minutes with me, sitting still, I want to be still for him.  Surely that should trump whatever is supposed to be happening at that moment instead.

So you see, it isn’t the schedule I have a bone with.  It’s the idea that the schedule is the rule rather than a guide.  It’s the deception that a successful day is one in which it was adhered to closely even when life tried to get in the way.

I say honestly, I believe it’s far better to let life go ahead and get in the way.  Far, far better.

What do you say?

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Part One:  And That’s Why I Hold My Husband’s Hand

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Raising Boys Who Respect Girls…and Girls Who Respect Who They Were Made to Be

It’s a tired subject really.  So tired, in fact, that we hear it without really listening.  It’s an endless volley of disconnect and dissension.  And while it seems harmless to many, it’s the very poison that’s taking out marriages with alarming veracity.

It starts young.  Long before marriage is even a real consideration.  Adolescent girls cram online feeds with seductive selfies and their male counterparts ante up with the expected and much coveted responses.

And so the story goes.  Boy learns to like seeing what he shouldn’t see while girl keep showing him what she shouldn’t show because she wants to be noticed.  Liked.  Appreciated.

Only that isn’t what happens at all.  The boy doesn’t come to like her.  He simply enjoys the shell within which she is housed.  Not the same thing by any stretch.

No big deal, right?  I mean, come on.  This is an age old saga and you’re never going to manage to rewrite the script.  It’s just what young people do but it all turns out fine eventually.  Or does it?

Picture me standing here screaming from the rooftop that IT DOES NOT!  It truly doesn’t.  Nakedness, even “vegetarian” nakedness, doesn’t beget love.  Or respect.  Or honor.  It gives birth to lustful passions bereft of sanctity which results in the begetting of a whole bloodline of sin.

But with a world steeped and basted in moral corruption how is it even possible to raise youth who don’t end up standing in the doorway of destruction?  There is but one true answer:  The grace of God.

And in His infinite grace and mercy, He will equip us with the tools we need to raise kids who will turn from temptation in its most tempting form.  Here are a few ways we are seeking to arm our children for battle…

  • Get them in the Word.  While the world around us is drowning in the devil’s pool of perdition, we need to be keeping our families bathed in God’s Word.  It is there we find hope, strength and power to withstand the assault of evil when it comes dressed up and disguised.  Our family is reading through the Bible six chapters a day.  We’re just finishing up 1 Samuel which was 31 chapters of question-inducing Scripture that opened the door for a whole lot of conversation we likely never would have had otherwise.  Six chapters is a pretty hearty portion in one sitting but we’re finding it’s just the right size for this season in our lives.  You make that determination for your own family.
  • Get them out of Sodom.  Take ownership of what you’ve been allowing your kids to do.  Maybe they’ve had the liberty to be on Facebook or Instagram where their feeds are being filled with unsavory people and their postings.  Perhaps they’ve even been commenting on that trash.  Pull the plug, cold turkey.  If you let them dance with the devil they’ll learn to like the way he dances.  It’s time you cut in.  Warning:  Don’t steamroll your errant youth in an effort to bring them into the light.  Be willing to listen to them even before you talk.  Why are they drawn to those people?  How do they feel about it?  How can you help to bring their minds back to safety?  Kids who feel bullied into sanctification only bide their time until they are free to make their own choices.  Draw their hearts gently but with unfettered determination.
  • Exemplify gender roles.  Men and women were never intended to be equal.  They were created to be two unique parts that came together to create one whole.  Marriage, in its degenerate form, has become about women competing with men and fighting for dominance over them and men who either take a strong (arrogant/unloving) hand or cower under, emasculated and defeated.  It’s ugly.  Require your boys to nurture the women in their lives, deferring preference to them.  Instill the values that define a gentleman early and they will grow to know nothing else.  Likewise, teach your girls to respect themselves enough to honor the men in their lives, without feeling threatened or inferior.
  • Insist on honorable clothing choices.  So long as your kids are in your care you have the final word on what they wear.  Do not waver or compromise.  A young girl can look nice, and even trendy, without her cleavage or thighs exposed.  Don’t even let her step into that boat or you’ll find the current is much stronger than you realized.
  • Train them to guard their eyes.  Trash abounds and sometimes you can’t avoid it if you want to leave your house.  Since we all need to leave home sometimes, our children need to know how to avert their eyes when confronted with that which shouldn’t be seen.  This practice strengthens the muscle of self-control and will serve them well when they are older and making decisions for themselves.
  • Encourage them to wait on the Lord.  It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of the dating scene.  Everyone’s doing it and posting pictures to prove it.  But the reality is, adolescence is a time to get to know yourself and who God created you to be.  If your children are distracted by the opposite sex they’ll end up missing out on much of this crucial step.  It’s a nasty deception that you must date many to discover what flavor you like.  Invest time in preparing them for the day God opens that door so they may step through.  But don’t let ‘em barge through before it’s time.

What might you add?  I’ve got teenagers who will be spreading their wings before long…I love to hear how you are training yours to be prepared.

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And That’s Why I Hold My Husband’s Hand

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Left to myself, one might never be able to tell the guy who walks beside me is my husband.  Or at the very least they might struggle to know I actually like him.  But I do.  I really, really do.

It just doesn’t occur to me to touch him much.  Maybe it’s because I’m so busy touching and being touched by my kids.  Or that my hands are so often in the dishwater or laundry basket.  I don’t know what it is except sad.

It’s sad because my husband is the exact opposite of me.  For him, a touch is equal to bliss.  Sheer, unadulterated marital delight.  Stress and worry will melt away when I lay a hand on his arm.  He’s just wired like that which makes for really cheap therapy.  Unless the therapist is distracted, that is.

And if you’ve never met me you couldn’t possibly know just how distracted I really am.  If there are crumbs on the counter (seriously, when are there NOT crumbs on the counter) I’m busy swiping at them.  If there are dishes in the sink, I’m busy trying to remember who’s supposed to be doing them.  If there’s a meal to make, I’m busy scrambling to figure out what it’s going to be.  If there’s laundry to sort, I’m busy hiding from it.

I wasn’t blessed with a personality that calmly waits for the next thing.  Relaxing doesn’t come easy to me.  It’s something I have to consciously force myself to do.  This translates well for me as far as my house being clean but the more important things are sometimes left undone.

For instance, my husband being reminded he is loved.

Most moms go to bed at night wondering if they gave enough of themselves to their kids.  Yeah well, I do that, too.  But I also wake up in the morning worried I’ve barely tossed scraps to the man who loves me beyond reason.

Really, how difficult is it to slow down and truly hug him?  Would it be so hard to put the slotted spoon down for a minute and  let the soup simmer without me?  Who cares if it boils over or scorches the pot so long as my people can see my Jesus in the way I love them?

All questions with a very simple, straight-forward answer and yet I get them wrong all the time.  I whiz by my guy, barely noticing how his dark eyes watch me.  Just waiting.  Always just waiting for his turn.

The priority line up is supposed to look like this:  God, Husband, Family, Home.  That means my husband was intended to trump even the kids.  And definitely the dust, dirt and dishes.  We can argue it but we’ll never win.

And for the love of Pete (whoever he is) why would I prefer the company of housework over that of a handsome, doting, forgiving, long-suffering, back rubbing man who not only makes my life easier but fun to boot?  What’s wrong with me anyway?  Feel free NOT to answer that.

So if when you see me holding his hand, you can know three things for certain:

  1. I love him
  2. He loves me back.
  3. It’s totally worth whatever I stopped doing to free that hand so it could be wrapped in his.

 

Are you making your husband a priority or is this an area where you struggle?  Have the years passed leaving their mark in complacency and neglect?  It’s never too late so long as there is breath.

 

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Dear Survivor of Sexual Abuse

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Yes, I’m talking to you.  I know the easier thing is not to talk about it but you and I both know that isn’t the best thing.

You’ve stuffed it down for so long, trying to pretend it no longer touches you.  But the truth is it reaches out gnarled hands and grabs you when you’re least expecting it. It drags you down and leaves you feeling vulnerable and exposed.  All you want is to cover up so the scars don’t show and the pain doesn’t creep back in.

You married and pledged to give yourself fully to your husband, yet you cannot. Not always anyway.  There are just times when you erect walls you don’t mean to because you feel powerless without them.  He tries hard to understand and to be patient but his idea of working through it is to chip away at the wall when you really need him to live on the other side of it for a moment.  You just need to catch your breath.

But that isn’t marriage and so you feel guilty. Like you’re a bad wife or, at the very least, an incompetent one.  And so you take a deep breath and let him back in.

But it’s the kind of letting in that is replete with vulnerability.  He feels it and you know he doesn’t quite understand though he desperately wants to.

His love is like a balm and a threat all in the same moment.

Clothing is your shield.  Without clothing you feel shamed, exposed, dirty.  Normal people can handle allowing their husband to see them, yet there is nothing normal about you.  At least that’s what you tell yourself.

And so because you want badly to be what you’ve never been since it happened, you try to be brave without your shield.  But your heart races and your cheeks flush and you feel all over again like a victim.

A victim with your own man.  How terrible is that?

Time passes and you think you might be getting better.  The dreams don’t come as often and when they do you shrug past them more easily.  You don’t feel quite as shy or scared and you’re a little more willing to swing the door wide open for him.

Progress.  Sweet progress.

And then it happens.  Something takes you back there.  Sort of like a sight or a smell that transports you to another time or place from your past.  Only this place is not good.  It’s a black hole and you feel yourself teetering on the edge.

You try to run.  You only need to get away from the hole.  Can’t he see it?  Doesn’t he see the danger you’re in?

You’d never have an affair and you’re fully committed to your marriage.  But there is a third party involved and it’s one who cares nothing for your happiness.

It looks a little like fear but that isn’t it entirely.  It’s more like a rich blend of distrust and guilt and apprehension.  Throw in a thick swirl of the need for absolute control over a situation and you’ve got a caustic brew.

Here’s the thing, my sweet friend.  You are a survivor.  Which means you have the victory.  You walked through the fire and you’re entitled to some scars.  You are okay.

When you feel threatened, tell yourself He sees.  He saw what was happening and cried right along with you.  It’s a sin-sick world but it’s also a battleground.  If He stopped all the bad stuff the battle would ultimately be won on terms considered by some to be unfair.  So He has to stand back and weep as He witnesses our pain.

But He feels every last pang.  He knows the damage runs deep.  Maybe it’s time to stop wishing you were whole or normal and learn to live with the pieces of you that remain.  It’s okay if they don’t always fit as you’d like them to.  And it’s okay if sometimes they feel as if they don’t fit at all.

Time and trust are the healers of all wounds.  Give yourself to your husband as fully as you are able but don’t swim in guilt over something you had no control over.  Guilt is a bondage that, when released from its awful grip, will afford you wings you never dreamed you’d find.

Sincerely,

A fellow sexual abuse survivor

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