Saturday, January 7, 2017

Haiti

What an amazing experience! I was completely overwhelmed when we arrived. I was thrilled beyond words to see our boys, but the thought of being there for ten days was almost more than I could handle. The heat. The mosquitos. The crazy traffic. The poverty. The lack of warm water. The fact that the running water wasn't clean. I wanted to cry the second night. And I was mad at my selfish American self.

I looked around at the people in the Tlucek home, the people who have given up years or months of their comfortable lives to serve in this country, who give up all those things on my list above and for much longer than ten days. And I thought of the people I saw on the streets when we were out who know nothing different and who have an emptiness I can't understand. Or some who I'm sure know Jesus and the hope He gives and know it in far more real ways than I do. I truly am selfish. I'm not beating myself up about it. It's just a reality. I'm used to the comforts and conveniences of my life, and giving them up is incredibly difficult, even for a short time.

For those who know me, you know I don't shy away from serving others. I love being the hands and feet of Jesus, and I think I do a good job of that, but I do it in a first world country where sure, I sacrifice time and money and energy, but I still have a cushy life. I was slapped in the face with this reality when I was in Haiti. It was hard.  Everyone needs to experience life in a third world country at least once.

We spent a lot of time processing with the kids, David and Sarah because it was new to them, and they are young, but also with James and Jason because it's different to process it after living it with them. I am in awe of them. It's almost indescribable . . . The feelings I have about what they've been doing. They were on vacation from preschool while we were there, so there was a lot of down time, but there was still a lot of work to do. They work hard, and they do it with great attitudes. I loved seeing them interact with the Tlucek family, and I loved watching them interact in the community and with the kids at the Crèche (children's home). The kids love them.

I so enjoyed Byron and Shelley Tlucek and Sue, and it was a true blessing getting to know them and all the Tlucek children better. We really love them all. It was fun going to James's and Jason's church and meeting some of their support system. It was great to see places they hang out and eat at places they eat.

Other things I loved . . . dinner time at the Tluceks. I think the smallest number of people at dinner was 20. We prepped and cooked and ate and sang worship songs and did a devotion almost every night. It was cool! I loved hearing Jason and James playing guitar and singing with the Tlucek kids, who are all very talented. I loved the Caribbean Sea. It was warm and beautiful! The fruit was so incredibly sweet. We had finger bananas, pineapple, mango, oranges, and grapefruit. Delicious!!! We had some amazing pizza at this place called Clay Cafe. It was such a neat little spot for dinner and hanging out. I loved how easy it was to put a smile on the faces of most of children at the crèche. I loved seeing where James and Jason do life, and am excited that when they talk about their days I can now picture the places they are. I'm still in awe that they serve so many children in such a small area. I think it must be like the fish and loaves story in Scripture, only with space instead of food.  It is truly amazing!


 This is a picture of our kids with most of the Tlucek kids.  Such a fun, talented, servant-hearted group of young people.


James with one of the boys at the creche, Gabe.  This little guy was not happy when we arrived, and it took James quite a while to get him to stop pouting, but when he did, he had the most precious smile, complete with beautiful dimples.


I loved going to visit the creche.  This is Ludemia (sp?).  She was quick to warm up to us, maybe a little too quick, but we enjoyed holding her and playing with her.


Sarah and Belle in the pool.  They spent several hours playing in the pool on two different days.  It took them a bit, but they became great friends.


Sarah with Ludemia.


We spent two days at a retreat center on the beach south of Port-au-Prince.  This gazebo was even better than the water.  We spent a lot of time sitting in there, singing worship songs, doing devotions, playing games, and enjoying the breeze.


Our last family picture for this trip.  I'm so proud of my family!


The ocean from inside the gazebo.  It's so blue!


James with Xander, another child at the creche.  Xander is a bright boy, fluent in both English and Creole.  James and Jason said that he is a big helper at preschool as far as language goes.  He can translate for them or help them when the don't know how to say something.  He loves the Jungle Book and was dancing and singing The Bare Necessities while we were there.  So cute!


Swinging!!


David and Dom!  They are just a few weeks apart in age and enjoyed each other's company.  We all loved Dom and his fun personality!


This is the Haitian version of Tic-Tac-Toe.  I never figured out what they were doing.  I'm going to try to post a video of James and Gabe playing. Hopefully it will work.  It was interesting!


This was at the Clay Cafe.  It had such a cool atmosphere.  This was a reading area for kids.  Beside it is a place to play corn hole (bean bag toss), and they played that later, along with the rest of the kids.


The kids were fascinated by David's crutches.  They liked taking the bottom piece out and putting it back in.  They were proud of themselves when they accomplished it.  Silly, but great for their fine motor skills.  Whatever works, right?


Xander fell and bumped his head pretty hard.  He was loving every minute of the attention, even quite a while after we knew he was really okay.


Jason has made a lot of progress on his guitar playing since he moved to Haiti.  This is Ben, who helped and encouraged him a lot while we were there.  All the Tlucek kids who we heard play an instrument or sing had great talent.


That is James and Sarah on the beach.


Gabe with the crutches now!


And now Rowen!  If you look on the metal gate there, you can see where Brent put his creativity to use.  Sue, who manages the creche staff and lives there with the children, asked us if we would do some games that would get the kids active to run out some of their energy.  She got out chalk for them to draw and for hopscotch, which we did, but they also had a soccer ball, so Brent put points on different squares on the gate, and the kids kicked to see how many points they could get.  They loved it, and it was so simple.  However, they were frequently distracted by those crutches!  Most of the houses have cement walls around them and big iron gates that lock, and the Tluceks have a guard on the premises all night long.  It's a strange feeling to know that you have someone walking around the property in the night with a gun in order to protect you.  At the creche there are armed guards at the gate to the neighborhood, rather than at the house.


Another gazebo picture!


Here we are getting ready to swim in the Caribbean!!!  We were all really excited!


Brent, James, and Sarah got up early one morning and walked on the beach collecting rocks and shells.  Sarah found some beautiful shells!


More walking on the beach!


More swimming!


When your adult kids live in Haiti, you have to get creative with stocking stuffers.  This was a winner . . . the couch pouch!  It can be used anywhere, including on the water.  Jason enjoyed it to lounge in the sun.  I think he was reading Anthony Limiero's and Tyler Ferris's book that they recently published!



Our first night in Haiti!  We were exhausted, but we were all together, which makes a mom's heart very happy!


Spot it!!!  Another favorite!


Belle and Sarah playing ping pong.


One of the dinners we had with the Tluceks.  It was nice to eat outside.  Usually by this point in the day it was cooler outside than inside.  Shelley, and all her helpers, prepared delicious meals, and the fellowship around the table was fantastic!


A little morning jam session!


More morning jamming!


A little idea about the traffic.  It was unreal.  There are no street lanes . . . or lights . . . or stop signs (we saw one of each the whole time we were there).  People just drive wherever they want.  There's no such thing as "no crowding" or "no cutting in line" in their world.  And both pedestrians and cars are on the street.  Pedestrians put out their hands, sometimes even touching the cars, when they want traffic to stop and let them through.  It's unreal and terrifying!


Playing at the beach.  Sarah didn't want to go out so deep, so she played on the shore . . . until later in the day when she got braver.


Nothing like swinging in the hammock with your big brother!


Belle and Sarah with Jason!  His hair is so long!  He usually has a hat on, but it really does look good down!  It just won't stay out of his face.


Ping pong . . . David learned how to play even with his broken leg.  He became quite good at hopping on one foot.  We are lucky he didn't break something else!


Another dinner picture!


More time at the creche.


Hopscotch . . . they draw it differently than we do, but it's otherwise the same.



Sarah and Ludemia on the swing.

video

More traffic, only at night.  We were on our way to Clay Cafe.  There were probably six people riding in the back of the truck.  That's not very many compared to some of the trucks we saw.  It didn't really seem safe to me, but people don't drive as fast in Haiti, at least in the city, and that is how everyone gets around.  The trucks have metal railings welded into them (I guess) for people to hold on to while their are standing in the back of them.

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Jam session!

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Driving to the coast . . . We drove out of the city through some pretty scary stuff.  Once we got into the "country" it was interesting to see the housing.  For the most part all along the way there were small towns or villages, some very small.  You might drive a stretch of land with no houses, but it never lasted long.  I would say never more than a couple miles before there would be stretch of buildings.  The buildings or houses were always right next to the road.  Most of the time you could see beyond them and there was just land.  In front of the houses, there would be a little table and sometimes a makeshift tent or umbrella where people were selling things.  They know traffic will be coming by and might be interested in buying.  I didn't actually see a lot of begging, but there was a lot of peddling.  Everybody wants you to buy whatever they are selling. I was impressed though that most people were working for their money, not expecting handouts.  We also liked the fact that people were walking in and out of traffic selling cold water and sodas.  How convenient.  What if while you were stuck not he 405 someone came buy with something cold for you to purchase to drink?  I'm sure we can all think of a time that would have been great!!!  Also, something interesting, they sell individual waters in plastic bags, about the size of a sandwich ziplock.  Again convenient for them.  They are small and not too bulky to carry.  Usually they had a larger plastic bag full of the water on their heads.  I wish I had taken a picture of them.  Another interesting and sad thing is that they don't have any littering laws.  All along the roads, and sometimes in the middle of the roads, there are huge piles of trash.  Sometimes the trash is burning.  It makes you appreciate the fact that we do have laws about things like this.

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Here you can see both how colorful the buses can be and how people ride on them.  They fill them up inside and then sit on top and hang on to the back.  I saw other buses or trucks that had multiple people holding on on the back or the side.  They don't drive as fast as us, but they aren't always in traffic either, so they do get to going probably 45 to 50.

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A time lapse of the sunrise at the beach.  Beautiful!

It was truly a remarkable time . . . both the good and the not so good.  It showed me so much about others and about myself.  I highly recommend everyone go spend some time in a third world country. It stirs something in your heart that calls you to action and helps you to realize how blessed you are to have been born in the United States.  Our poverty is nothing compared to what we saw there, and even those in poverty here have more opportunities for making money.  Things seem so hopeless there.  And we could be in the midst of that hopelessness, if we had been born there.  Stop, look around you, and be thankful for all of the comforts and conveniences you have and figure out what you can do to make a difference for those who do not have even the most basic comforts.

It is not expensive to go to Haiti; I'm sure we will go back again.  Brent would like to organize a short term team to go do some work and to experience preschool in action.  Hopefully we can do that in the future!  

Note:  Well, my videos aren't uploading, so I have to try to figure that out, but I'm posting anyway.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

James is 21

This morning as my first baby turns 21 and I reflect on his life, I am in awe.  I say this every time one of them has a birthday, but . . . where does time go?  I remember people saying when the kids were little, “You will never wish you spent more time at work (or more time cleaning the house or whatever equivalent you might put there), but if you spend too much time at those things, you will wish you spent more time with your children.”  I think that no matter how intentional you are as a parent, you will always wish you had more time when they were little.  You will always wish you could have done something different.  As I reflect on James’s life, it is pretty incredible.  We were babies when we had him . . . I remember being both scared and overconfident at the same time when he was born, knowing that we were going to do our best to do things right yet wondering what “right” looked like.

The memories flood me . . . the good times and the not so good.

I remember the moment he was born . . . the fear because of how difficult the labor had been, the relief that he was okay, the uncertainty when we were told he had a cleft, the hope we sensed as family and friends rallied around us and helped us find the perfect doctor.  I remember holding him . . . I even remember dropping him (only from my arms to the bed, but it was enough for me to deem myself an unfit mom and breakdown into tears, which I later learned was completely normal for a person who has just delivered a baby).  It seems like yesterday, and it seems like a lifetime ago.

I remember finishing college those first three months after he was born, my amazing professors who let him come to class with me, my college friends who watched him in their dorm when I could not take him to class, the lack of sleep as I dealt with a new baby and approaching finals, Brent’s incredible help during that crazy time.

I remember planning and preparing for his surgery, the night before when we went to Tulsa early to just enjoy some time the evening before, taking him swimming for the first time, looking at his big, beautiful cleft smile that we knew would get smaller after surgery and wondering if the risk of surgery was worth it while knowing it was necessary.  I remember the anesthesiologist taking him from us and wondering again.  I remember the incredible peace God gave us throughout the surgery.

I remember his first day of daycare and his first day of pre-kindergarten.  I remember his raspy voice and his ability to talk to adults like he was the same age as them.  I almost can’t remember when he didn’t talk!!!  He could say 30 words at his first Christmas.  He wasn’t even 11 months old yet.  I remember correcting him a many times because he sometimes came across as disrespectful because of how he related to adults, almost as if he thought he was one of them.

I remember parenting mistakes we made, like spanking him too much when he was a little guy or initially trying too hard to make him fit a specific schedule (that only lasted about two weeks) when the schedule was better for me than it was for him.  I have been far too impatient at times and far too emotional at times.  There are other parts of parenting that I still haven’t decided about.  He argues with us about things we should maybe do differently with David and Sarah. 

I remember parenting moments that I think were right.  I remember requiring a lot of him, of all the kids, but especially of him being the oldest, to serve others . . . to help with our church plant setting up and tearing down . . . providing resources to people who did not have resources, providing a meal, but more importantly, a conversation to people who did not have food or a home, and probably didn’t feel like they had dignity.  We taught him to stand up for what he thought was right but to do so while treating others with respect.  I remember when he was being bullied in junior high, trying to work through that with him in all the peaceful ways possible and finally being so frustrated that we told him to just do whatever necessary to stand up for himself, and we would back him . . . then going and asking the principal for help.

I remember the moment he said he loved Jesus and wanted Him to be his Savior.  He was only three, but he was able to explain what it meant to us, and he has been dedicated to serving God since that time.  I remember many phone calls to Brent when he was at work because James was asking questions from the Bible that I could not answer.  Sometimes Brent could answer them, and sometimes he had to get out the commentary and continue the conversation the next day.  James kept us on our toes.

I remember (oh, wait, it was only a couple days ago) his stubbornness and his argumentativeness.  That also kept us on our toes.  One thing I can say about James is that it wasn’t often that he was outright defiant.  It was just constant that he was telling us what made our rule or position wrong, and he would argue it vehemently.  Sometimes his arguments were valid, but usually by the time we reached the point of his validity, I was so frustrated, there was no way I was giving in.  I guess he comes by the stubbornness naturally.

I remember all the emergency room/urgent care visits.  I remember crazy stunts that should have landed us in the ER or UC but thankfully didn’t.  He was so cautious when he was little.  I think Jason walked up and down stairs before James, but once James got over this phase, he was willing to try about anything.  Letting go has never been easy for me.  From sliding down the stairs on mattresses to cliff diving to sleeping on the beach at night by himself to moving to Haiti, none of it has been comfortable for me.  Sometimes I feel like I’d rather not know.  But I do want to know because I don’t want to miss out on his life.

I remember his ability to start up conversations with homeless people . . . when he was 12 or 13 . . . and the compassion he showed to other people.  Even when he was little, he chose friends from the kids who were often unchosen.  It was hard because it has not always been safe and we have had to set boundaries, but it has been beautiful to watch.  When he talks about his “friends on the street,” they really have become friends.

Today as we celebrate his life and send him out to continue this mission God has called him to, I ache.  I ache to get moments in time back . . . to be able to gaze into his eyes while holding him in my arms . . . to be able to kiss his scrapes and his bruises . . . to even correct him when he touches things he shouldn’t touch or refuses to share with his brother.  But I am just as excited about his future.  He has such a heart for the Lord.  He is such an incredible role model for so many.  It would be a waste of everything God has created him to be for me to selfishly hold him here.  So I will cry . . . I have cried . . . and I will miss him so very much, but deep inside I am happy for him and with him and proud of him for doing what God has called him to do.


And for those of you with young kids still, I don’t know if you will ever feel like you have truly spent as much time with them as you wish you had.  Don’t beat yourself up about that, but do seize the moments and cherish them.  More than anything, cherish them!!!!  Capture the moments in your mind because you can’t really relive them, but you can remember them.  And be ready to set them free to be all that God has called them to be.  Remember to love them with everything you have in you, but remember ultimately they belong to the Lord, and you have to be willing to give them back to Him.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

"Run for Haiti"

As most of you know, our family has a HUGE heart for the people in Haiti.  James made a decision a few years ago to spend his first year out of high school serving at a preschool/orphanage that Brent had visited a year earlier.  From that point, Maranatha Children's Ministries has become something we talk about daily in our home.  Last year David told us that he wanted to do a "Run for Haiti" with his friends and got Sarah excited about the idea as well.  He came up with it completely on his own, and we have been thinking about how we might be able to make it happen since then.

As a senior at Valley Oaks Charter School, Jason has to take a class called Senior Seminar in which he has to write a research paper and do a project on the research that he is writing.  He decided to write on the importance of the English language for people in Haiti.  Because Maranatha has a preschool and English camp in the summer, which Jason had an opportunity to help with last year, it seemed we had a perfect opportunity to combine Jason's project with David's vision and Sarah's excitement.

So on November 7th we will be having a "Run for Haiti."  It will begin and end at our house with dinner afterward (nothing fancy . . . keeping it cheap so all the money we raise can go to Maranatha). We've mapped out a one mile circle inside of our neighborhood for running/walking.  The kids will be handing out flyers to their friends hopefully this week, but I thought I would provide some background for parents or other people interested.

The money will go to Maranatha and will be used for children who attend preschool and English Camp.  They have a sponsorship program.  As a family, we pay $50.00 per month to sponsor one child, who goes to preschool during the school year and English camp in the summer.  He is provided two meals a day during both programs.  For some kids this is the only good nourishment they receive.  Our hope is that the kids and their friends can raise enough money to sponsor one child for a year ($600.00).  If it is more, then that's even better.

Those who are interested in participating can ask friends or relatives to sponsor them.  Checks can be made directly to Maranatha (it is a nonprofit, so the money is tax deductible).  We will have plenty of adults and high schoolers for supervision during the walk/run, but we would love for this to be a family event and have lots of parents hang out, too.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Big Decisions . . . and Resulting Lessons

What a week!  I had to announce a big decision.  My boys were in Haiti.  Taxes were due.  There were stressful occurrences at work.  Money was tight.  I was super glad when we got to 6:00 last night!!!  At least I get a weekend break!

Only one of the things in that list pertain to what I want to write.  I had to announce a big decision this week.  I knew it was going to be painful to some people.  I'm being a little vague because there are still some people who do not know.  I prayed through my decision, sought counsel, and trusted God with the decision I made and the fact that my announcing it was going to be difficult.  It was one of those decisions that was more difficult.  It wasn't, "Of course you have to do this; the other is sin."  No, both choices were perfectly good, righteous choices.  But in my time with God and in my conversations with people, I could just feel my heart stirring and leading toward the decision I made.

Once the decision was made, I began asking God to show me when to make the announcement and how to do it in such a way that would be edifying and hopefully not discouraging.  So I wrote a letter.  I had Brent read it.  I reread it.  I made some changes.  I reread it again.  And I prayed that God would give me the courage to give the letter.  I was going to give it in person.  The purpose of the letter was simply so that my words would be down on paper, hopefully preventing my anxiety and stress from doing the talking instead of my real feelings.  In my time praying, I just hoped that God would make the announcement easier . . . make the person receiving the announcement more understanding, calm my nerves, etc.  I was still stressed when I did it, but I had on some level convinced myself that because I was seeking God and following his commands and direction for my life, it was going to go well.

It didn't.  I guess it could have been worse, but it certainly wasn't good.

So the rest of the week was a challenge.  The people it hurt are people I have to see all the time.  And it's hard to face people you've hurt . . . even if your intentions were not to hurt them.

As I thought about this and prayed through it almost constantly, I was reminded of how silly it was for me to expect God was going to make this easy on me.  I thought about Scripture and how often people suffered for following God and making the decisions He wanted them to make.  The list is endless, but the most significant, of course, is Jesus.  He had a choice, and He made it for us, even though it hurt him.  And every time I don't live my life according to His will, it hurts Him again.  And he was hurt for me . . . there was nothing in what he did that he deserved.  Every analogy breaks down.  And this one does quickly.  The decision I made will benefit me in many ways.  There are things I will sacrifice, but not a lot . . . not my life like Jesus.  There are people who will benefit from my decision, but there are people who are hurt because of it.  Jesus' decision was for the benefit of all mankind, and only hurt him.  Life is not easy.  Sometimes we have to walk through some really hard things, maybe because we were hurt by someone, but maybe because we did the hurting (even if it was unintentional).  So as I have been walking through this over the past several days, I have been trying to see what God wants me to learn through it.

My friend, Isabel, says, "It's easy to love the lovely.  It takes Christ's love to love the unlovely."  One thing I have learned this week is that the unlovely is sometimes someone you would not typically put in that category.  I have also learned that though I want to run and though I want to be angry with the unlovely person(s), God can help me love through those feelings, if I will submit them to Him.  And this love that comes from God and exudes through us makes a lasting impression on people.  I will continue to have to face this challenge (these people/person) for a while, maybe forever, I don't know, but I am praying constantly that God will help me love so that He will be glorified.

And then I look at the positive.  While it didn't go as well as I had hoped, the announcement is made, and I am excited for the change. My boys are back from Haiti . . . they are healthy . . . Jason loved it . . . they are both seeking to serve the Lord in incredible ways.  We didn't owe on our taxes, and I got them done on time.  And the stress at work, while it will continue because of the nature of the job, is allowing me a little break, and overall the lives I have seen changed outweighs the stress.  Money is temporary, and we have so much more than so many people.  And we ended the work with with an amazing time of worship and praise with great friends.  God is amazing . . . providing for us as we need.  We don't normally have Friday night praise and worship nights, but He knew how much I was going to need that last night . . . He is truly incredible!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Love and Respect

I haven’t blogged in a long time, but I have something on my heart that I thought I would share for those few of you who might read my blog occasionally.  A couple things before I actually write this.  First of all, I know my opinion about this is not going to be agreed upon by all, and I don’t really want to get in a fight on my blog.  These are just my thoughts.  Second, if you do want to argue my points, I would rather you read the book (with an open mind), then come back and give me your opinions.  Third, I don’t agree with everything in the book, but I did get a lot out of it and would say that I agree with almost everything.  And one final thing to clarify . . . I may be completely wrong, but Brent always thinks that people might view me as somewhat feministic, I guess based on the fact that I have always worked and that I have furthered my education.  I want to make it clear that I am not at all.  I say this because the book might really bother some of you who lean more toward feminism.  I really think that the best-case scenario in families is the traditional (or old-fashioned as some might say):  Dad works; mom stays home and takes care of the kids.  I would have been perfectly happy in that situation, but God had other plans for me, and I followed them.  But to go along with that, I have said and will say again that I don’t think my working outside of the home or being in school has hurt my children; in fact, in many ways it has benefitted them in ways that my staying home would not have.  The thing I would say about our choices or really, if we are honest, just the way things fell, is that we have not been perfect by any means, but we have tried to keep God in the center and our marriage and children a priority.  Has it been hard at times?  Definitely.  But here we are . . . by the grace of God making our lives work.

With that said, I guess you are probably wondering what book I read . . . Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs.  We have had it sitting in our house for years.  I’ve picked it up a few times, but I have never made it through.  I finally determined a month or so ago that I was finishing it no matter what, and it took longer than it should have, but I finished it while I was on the plane to Virginia the other day.  It was a hard read for me . . . not because it is super intellectual.  It’s not!  It’s actually a very easy read.  But because it was incredibly convicting.  Now that I’m putting it out there, too, I’m opening the door for a ton of accountability.  While I do not consider myself a feminist, I definitely do not consider myself a submissive wife either.  Any of you who know me probably can see that I would struggle with that.  I think I can fairly say that I want to submit to Brent, I really do, but my strong, way too independent personality gets the best of me so often.  It is hard for me.  And as I read about respecting Brent, I was sad because I know that my natural tendency is not to show him the respect he needs or deserves.

What made me even sadder, though, was that Brent really does do a pretty great job loving me.  He is a romantic . . . that’s what drew me to him so many years ago.  He loves with all his heart, and most of the time, he treats me like a gem.  I was sitting in a session in my class today and the professor asked us (if we were married) to think about when we first knew we loved our spouse.  I know I would not have articulated this at the time, but the first memory that came to mind was this:  Right after Brent and I started dating (actually we had not even been on an official date, but we were spending a lot of time together in groups, and I would say our friends and other people at our college would have identified us as a couple), I got a little freaked out, and I broke up with him.  Initially he was mad, but the next day, after being out of my dorm room, I returned to find a single yellow rose with a card that said something to the effect of “If you are too scared to be in a relationship, I want to at least remain friends.”  (I know it was worded better).  I think that may have been the moment, though I would not admit it right away.  But after I cried a little, I went and called my dad for advice and a day or two later called Brent and apologized, and the rest is history.  He always took me on amazing, thoughtful, romantic dates.  He planned an amazing proposal (which I ruined, if that tells you anything).  He wrote me a song and had it sung at our wedding.  He had flowers at the house after the kids were born and when I found out I was pregnant.  He will cook and clean and do laundry.  And his thoughtfulness extends beyond me . . . he’s just all around a loving man who desires for others to know how much they mean to him.  Is he perfect?  No.  But he’s pretty amazing.  I say all this because I think for his personality, the loving part comes much more easily than the respecting part comes for me with my personality.

I’m headstrong and stubborn, and I think I know what’s right.  I’m argumentative . . . ask my parents because I always have been.  I also have pretty high expectations.  Am I all bad?  Of course not.  I work hard, and I love my family, and I would give the shirt of my back for other people, but my personality is more of a challenge when it comes to respecting my husband.  So as I read that book, I was convicted, and I was challenged because I can’t figure out how I am going to do a better job and not let my natural tendencies get the best of me.

I hear ladies talk about their husbands or I see things on social media, and it just hurts me for their husbands.  I also see and hear things that hurt me for wives, don’t get me wrong.  As I read in the book about the CRAZY Cycle (which is what Eggerichs refers to when he talks about marriages that are struggling), I could see how very difficult it is to get off of it.  Our human nature keeps us on it.  He’s not loving me, so why should I respect him?  He’s thinking the opposite.  She’s not respecting me, so why should I love her?  Now would either of us admit that we are thinking or saying that?  No, but it shows clearly in our actions and in our words.

The thing I really liked about the book is that, though I know it’s not going to be easy for me to show respect like I should, the book spells out how I can do a better job . . . in detail.  It also spends time talking about how we should work on not taking things personally when our spouse messes up.  On the occasion that Brent is not being loving toward me, I need to remember that he does love me, and he is just messing up like we all do . . . and try not to take it to personally or try to get to the bottom of it.  Did he have a rotten day at work?  Is he stressed about something unrelated to home that is causing him to be short?  Sometimes our feelings take over our logic.  We need to remember what is true and that our feelings often lie to us.


I highly recommend reading the book.  There will be things you do not agree with, as there are in all books, but there are many great truths.  I have learned as I have “grown up” that most books (even those I can’t support) have good principles I can grab, learn from, and implement.  Read the book with an open-mind, with the desire to be the person God calls you to be to your spouse.  Even if you do not agree with all of it, what does your spouse think?  When you got married, you agreed to sacrifice for the other.  For some people, you may not agree with submission and respect, but if that would help your marriage, shouldn’t you do it anyway?  Your husband may not feel like he needs to love you the way you need to be loved either, but don’t you want him to do it any way?  We have to serve each other in order to make our marriages work.  If we are only seeking what we want and not seeking to serve our spouse, our marriages are doomed.