An Ordinary Hero

An Ordinary Hero

Lori Greiner of the ABC hit show Shark Tank, states that she can spot it instantly: a hero or a zero. Greiner is an entrepeneur and visionary, able to do what most cannot- deduce quality at a mere glance.  Longevity and quality, Greiner would maintain, stand out to her.

And so it was when I met my husband.  Sitting in the class at our church that Sunday morning, I glanced around the room and my vision locked in on him.  Kindness, was the first thought.  Gentleness, the second.  My college-honed eyes were accustomed to weighing guys in the balance.  Nope, not for me, was the regular inward refrain.

Until that Sunday.   The day that changed his life, and mine.

Twelve years have since have come and gone, and with them stretched skin and shadows and lines around our eyes.  Our life together shows itself, and not all of the lines are from laughter.

What Makes a Hero, Anyway?

The past dozen years have also displayed that I made the right assessment, and that he is indeed, a hero.  Not the kind of hero my toddler still believes exists.  But the kind that flies below the radar of recognized greatness, quietly owning his obligations.  To borrow the words Aunt May spoke to Peter Parker’s Spiderman: With great power, comes great responsibility.  And it is in his exercise of responsible leading, my husband has become ever admirable to me.

hero quote

Let me show you what ordinary heroism has looked like to a Mom with a handful of small children:

  • Committing to vows which defend, guard and maintain a marriage
  • Standing beside a hospital bed, gently coaching our little ones into the world.
  • Staying up long nights, to share the challenge of months of broken sleep.
  • Focusing on his life at work, so that he performs not one role, but two.  And well.
  • Noting the discouragement of an overburdened wife, and encouraging her to continue on, because it matters.
  • Defending the values of our home, so that our family is protected and bettered.

And in all of this, exercising patience and mercy. If your husband does any or all of these things, you have a good man on your hands.

The Heroism of Ordinary

In many ways, it would be easier for my husband or yours, to be the kind of hero our media- minds are accustomed to.  The kind that bursts into life at terrifying moments- saving, rescuing, solving.  And is then whisked away until the next time he is needed.  Ultimately, that would be more exciting.

But instead, he vows his faith and single-minded commitment to each day.  Always waking to greet his responsibilities.  Always going to sleep when they have been met.  There is very little excitement and to be honest, not enough praise.  And this is where his ordinariness plants him in a category reserved for those brave enough to face thesame old with grace and love and determination.

Hebrews refers to the ordinary as something far greater than we make it.  By faith Abraham, Isaac, David and the prophets lived.  By faith they persevered.  And by faith, they attained the crown of righteousness.  Simple men living ordinary lives, yet by faith.  God calls these men out as worthy of notice and praise, and we should do no less.

Your ordinary man is gifted by God to do what he does best – to live by faith, and through that example to inspire faith for future generations.  It takes grit.  It takes resolve.

And in that daily and determined expression, lives a quiet but inspiring heroism.

********

Maryanne Helms is Mom to 4 beautiful children.  She has a passion for encouraging women in the high call the Gospel places on their lives.  She blogs at For Your Tomorrow.  (www.foryourtomorrow.net).

10 Ways to Grow a Friendship

Friendship

 

Deep friendships are something that most of us long for…
But they take work and time and energy and effort.

As moms, it often becomes more difficult to develop friendships because of the needs of our families, but if I ever find myself longing for closer friendships, this is a list of suggestions that I go back to…

Praying they will be an encouragement to you as well–

10 (and many more ways) to grow a friendship:

1.)  Be a friend.

If you find yourself feeling lonely, desiring deeper-realer-solider-friendships…
(Because we all know how that feels).
The best thing you can do is be that friend– deep and real and solid.
Don’t wait for friendship to pursue.
Be a pursue-er of friendship.
Make a call. Plan a dinner. Talk a walk. Write a note. Invite for coffee.
Be the friend you are looking for.

2.) Pray and look and listen.

Ask God to give you friends.
Pour out your heart and ask Him to fill that space and longing.
Look for those already on the path with you.
Look for someone who needs a friend.
Listen for those who love Him like you do.
Watch for where you could give the gift of friendship.

kidsinchurch

3.) Don’t just think about it. Actually follow through.

Call or write or text or email.
Tape the note on a car windshield because God nudged you to do it.
Drop off the Popsicles when her children have a stomach bug and you know the night was long.
Send the text that asks how a doctor’s appointment went.
Offer to share the car ride when you know her week is hectic.
Email a quick hello when there’s been a bit of quiet.
Stop and pray a prayer when God brings her to mind.

4.) Find a way to regularly connect.

Set up weekly-morning-walks or phone-call-Thursdays during naptime.
Plan monthly potluck dinners or go to the cemetery for memorials.
Share weekly Costco baskets or treasure trading in the spring.
Commit to yearly camping, birthday coffees, nerf gun wars, or Sunday basketball in the church gym.
Because it’s those Bands of brothers and Star-light-parades that weave friendships into–
Family.

nerf wars

5.) Love your friends’ children.

Learn her children. Know them. Love them.
Even if it means…
Extra kindergarten graduations or preschool Christmas programs,
Or researching diseases because they are part of her life.
Even if it means…
Buying a purple cowgirl hat for her daughter who will love it or capturing a bug because she has a boy-who-just-loves-bugs.

camping

6.) Be in it for the long-haul.

Expect that there will be hurt and disagreement and frustration and misunderstanding.
We are all just sinners-saved-by-grace.
Give her the grace you give yourself.
Trust that God can heal wounds inflicted,
That He can forge golden-strength friendship,
Friendship that withstands the fire, curing under the pressure,
Because friendships are a mess worth making.

7.) Rejoice with. Weep with.

Through the promotions and raises and adoptions and good grades and soccer-victories.
Through the depression and diagnosis and death and disabilities and near-divorces.
Be willing to dig-into-the-messy.
Not fixing, but walking through it all together.

“The Bible assumes that relationships this side of eternity will be messy and (will) require a lot of work. Every painful thing we experience in relationships is meant to remind us of our need for God. You can’t take the gospel seriously and not take your relationships seriously. Conflict with others is one of God’s mysterious, counterintuitive ways of rescuing us from ourselves. The problem with relationships is that they all take place right smack-dab in the middle of something, and that something is the story of redemption.” ~Tripp/Lane

8.) Enjoy the just-for-fun.

There is often great purpose, in those times that don’t feel purposeful.
Relationships forged over garage sales and duck eggs hatching.
Over silly movies meant for middle-schoolers.
Over 80′s Proms and white elephant gifts, girl-weekends-at-the-coast,
And left-overs.

ducks

9.) Love God together.

Through songs, and hymns and spiritual songs.
Through morning prayers while walking circles around the block.
Through little children in long-church-bench-lines.
Through service, sacrifice, sanctuary and rejoicing in shared–
Salvation.

10.) Remember your Ultimate Friend.

Our example, our constant.
The one who lived-out putting others before self (Phil 2:4).
The one who laid down His life for ours (1 John 3:16).
The one who promises to fill the void when there is a hole.
The one who will never leave you, nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
The one who shows us how to be a true friend.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
~John 15:3

 

*In August, I will be following up with a post on how we can help our children grow friendships…

Blessings,

Kara @TheChuppies

Why Your Husband May Not Be The Problem…

nottheproblemAhhhhhh! I walked into the bathroom and slammed the door behind me! I was confident my dramatic outburst would show my husband just how much he was hurting me. I desired reconciliation, but more so I wanted him to understand my perspective. I wanted him to admit that he was wrong and validate my feelings through a sincere apology. Until then I would camp out in the bathroom and withhold my heart from him.

With my back against the wall, I refused to look at the situation from a different point of view. My convictions were powerful, convincing me I did not need to reassess in any way. Motivated by fear, I could not comprehend, nor receive or extend grace for my behavior or his. I just didn’t know how to let go of the emotions swirling inside my heart and mind.

In the early years of my marriage, my husband and I fought daily. I often thought to myself, who is this guy? My husband was not living up to my expectations of a husband and I doubted the love we had. With every contention that boiled between us I stewed in my frustration desiring nothing more than my husband to surrender.

I was convinced that he was the problem for our marital misfortune.

I even prayed to God and asked him to change my husband. I could not stop believing that he was the reason we fought and hurt so much. I also told my husband how he was the problem and how changing his ways would heal everything.

The real problem was me.

I failed to recognize how I was contributing to our marital fights. Living in denial, I was not willing to accept the truth that my character was flawed, that I had sin that was affecting my husband, that I was imperfect.

It took a few years, but God finally got through to me. He unveiled me and helped me get to know the real me. I experienced God’s amazing grace and it felt so good. I grasped an understanding I never had before, that it was ok I failed and that God loved me no matter what, that I had the opportunity to extend grace to my husband, and that grace is a gift that can be given at any moment not necessarily after an apology.

Grace is bigger than fear!

God showed me areas of my life in need of transformation. He also transformed those areas and behold many of my marital fights dissipated. I learned how receiving grace and extending grace could transform marriage!

God also taught me that it is good to pray for my husband and it was necessary. However, it was all the more crucial that I pray for myself and allow God room to move in my heart.

For those of you who may be in the midst of a marital battle or believing that your husband is wholly responsible for your unhappiness, I want to share this simple truth with you today. Your husband may not be the problem! I know this sounds harsh, and I don’t want it to hurt you. I just want you to be aware that marriage is affected by both you AND your husband. I am not saying your husband is not influencing how certain situations erupt, I am simply addressing that you play a very vital role as an influencer as well. The point is not whether your husband is at fault, he very well may be, the point is that no matter who is at fault, you are responsible for you! Only you can make a heart change in your heart, and that ability is invaluable to marriage.

I wish as a new wife that I had recognized how powerful my actions affected our marriage. I wish that someone had urged me not to blame my husband for everything. I wish someone was firm with me and shook me out of my selfish way of thinking. I wish I had always known grace. Yet, I know now and I share it with you now!

I urge you to pray and ask God to unveil you. Ask God to show you areas of your life that need to be transformed and then ask Him to renew you! Receive grace from God for your past and ask God to help you extend grace to your husband. God will honor your humility and your marriage will benefit greatly as God molds your heart. And don’t stop praying for your husband too! Ask God to speak truth into your husband’s life and to transform him as well.

Marriage can either be a tug-of-war led by pride or it can be a river running in one direction guided by the banks of humility.

Have you ever been convinced that your husband is the problem with disregard to your behavior?

- Jennifer Smith    UnveiledWife.com

Forget About It … For Good

forgetaboutit_july2014
My husband Ted is a smart man. He’s even-keeled. Playful and thoughtful. But he’s also forgetful.

And, you know what? I’m glad.

Yep, you read that right. I’m grateful for my husband’s sub-par memory.

Perhaps I should explain.

There’s a running joke at our house and it goes like this: If it happened more than five years ago and wasn’t life-changing – you know, like our wedding, the births of our four daughters, or one of our many cross-country moves – Ted probably doesn’t remember it. At least, not in any great detail.

For example, the name of the movie we saw on our one-year wedding anniversary? I doubt he can name it.

Or what month and year he first realized – thanks to me – that Disney vacations are fun for adults too? Probably not something he’s committed to memory.

What about when we bought our mini-van? A detail that’s handy when it comes to warranties and such. Nope. He’s asked me more than once.

Oh, and my birthday? It slipped his mind our first year of marriage.

Some wives might find this maddening. After all, it’s the moments of life that make up the whole, right? But, for the most part, I don’t. Why?

Because my shortcomings are what Ted forgets more often than dates on a calendar or details of purchases. The ways I’ve messed up or disappointed him. He just doesn’t reserve a spot in his memory for my sin. He doesn’t hold grudges against or harbor unforgiveness towards me. Instead, he’s quick to … let it go.

(I’ll pause here to give you a moment to free your mind from the earworm my words just set loose.)

It’s true that Ted doesn’t love me perfectly. Just like all husbands, he has his faults and imperfections. He’d probably be quick to tell you what they are, with forgetting my birthday near the top of the list. Even so, his love often reminds me of God’s love. Not resentful. Long suffering. Patient and kind.

And he inspires me. I find myself eager to do the same for him. To be forgetful where it matters most.

The truth is, though, it’s not always easy for me like it is for him. You see, when it comes to the details – to the little things in life – my memory is better than his. Much.

That film we saw on our one-year anniversary? Return of the King.

The point in time he concluded that Disney is fun for grown-ups too? September 2002, when as a newly engaged couple, we spent a few days there with my family.

And the year we bought our mini-van? 2005. August, to be exact.

Yet, it’s been my goal to be more like my forgetful husband. To reflect to him, like he does to me, the “east is from the west” character of our sin-forgetting God.

It’s my hope that when it comes to his shortcomings, to his messes, and to those areas he disappoints me, that Ted too can confidently say, “My wife Ashleigh is forgetful. And I’m glad.”

Ashleigh
AshleighSlater.com

teamus

For more practical ways to cultivate and strengthen unity in your marriage, check out my new book, Team Us: Marriage Together. Also, download my free printable “10 Winning Strategies to Strengthen Your Team Us.”

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