The 14 questions my husband asked me

{November = a thankful blog series! Whoohoo! I thought I’d start the series off right as I’m celebrating a decade with my man. Each week we will share someone’s story of thankfulness. Get ready for some good reads.}

IMG_6336.PNG

by Heather Spring Gilion

May, of this year, I received an email from my husband. He had questions for me. Oh boy, did he have questions. Fourteen, to be exact. He asked me to take some time to consider them and respond as honestly as I could. With his permission I’m sharing his questions.

 

Do you feel confident that God has equipped me to lead our family?

Where would you offer areas of improvement regarding the above?

Do you want me to speak into your life?

Do you feel confident that God has equipped me to do so and that I do so in love?

Do you feel overwhelmed?

Do you feel tired most of the time?

Do you feel under-appreciated?

Do you feel confident that I know how to pray for you each day?

Do you feel confident that you know how to pray for me each day?

Would you feel better loved and cared for if we prayed together more often?

The role of a Godly wife and mother can be expressed in a family in a variety of ways.  Here are two that I respect, but their roles are expressed very differently:  {*Bev} and {*Amanda}. (*I changed their names.) If your role in our family exists on a spectrum somewhere between those two, where do you want it to land?  Where do you feel called for it to land?  Are they the same?

What do you need me to know/do right now so I can love/serve you better?

Do you have any questions for me?

Do you know that I love you more than anything else on this earth?

I love you

 

I’ll come back to these questions in a moment.

TODAY, is our ten year anniversary. We’ve been married a decade! A freaking decade! A mere 3,650 days ago (give or take a few) we stood before family and friends and before our God, and said, “I do.”

“For better. For worse.

In sickness and in health.

In riches or in poverty.

Until death parts us… we do.”

I do. He does. We do. We will.

I write this blog post for a few reasons. If you don’t have a significant other, I’m not trying to throw mine in your face and brag about what I have versus what you don’t. I’m writing this for the widow that is laying alone on her side of the queen-sized bed, wanting desperately for all the wives out there to not take their anniversaries for granted. I’m writing this for the widower that wishes he had one more kiss from his sweetheart. I’m writing this for the divorce’, who wonders what could’ve-would’ve been if different choices were made. I’m writing this for the single lady that watches women who sport a blinged-out ring finger, only to spew negativity, complaining more than applauding their spouse. I’m writing this for the husbands that are desperate to know how to love their wives—to really love them the way God has called them to. I’m writing this for women all over the world that have said, “I do” but don’t.

Because there have been times in the last decade that instead of, “I do” I chose to not. Unfortunately, there have been moments I’ve chosen to shrug and “whatever” my way through an impasse. But by His grace, our love for one another grows and our love for God multiplies.

People say you have to fight for your marriage. It’s true. If you want a thriving, healthy, God-glorifying marriage a good amount of fight must accompany your days. We can get caught up in fighting with one another because, if we’re honest, we are self-agenda-bent divas. (You fellas can be divas too!) But fighting for health in a marriage is not an easy task. Things shift and change. You have new mountains to climb, and valleys to trek. There are job changes. U-hauls to be filled and unfilled. Babies come and loved ones go. Money rolls in just as fast as it rolls out. Health is questioned. The scales go up and up and up (sigh) and then down (yay!) and then up again (sigh). You get that phone call. You don’t get the phone call. You feel numb. Just to feel everything the next month. Or sometimes we sin against one another: Hurtful words are wielded. Time together is wasted. Purity is challenged. Faithfulness is questioned. Hobbies are worshiped. Kids become idols. Time with God is neglected. (Are you tired yet?)

But when I closed my eyes last night, thinking about the last ten years, I thanked my God for the man He has given me. And I whispered in my heart to God, “I do. He does. We do. We will.”

We will. Because God does and is doing and will do. He is fighting for our marriage and offers us into the fight.

There’s this couple in the Bible: Boaz and Ruth. You may have heard of them. When I was single, I remember reading their love story unfold and just aching for that kind of redemptive “fairytale.” A widow, minding her own business, mysteriously finding herself in her “kinsman” redeemer’s field! That sucked me right in! Ruth found favor in Boaz’s sight as she worked to provide for her grieving mother-in-law. As a widow, myself, I remember reading of this Boaz, and waiting for there to be something wrong with him. But he was as great as they come! He was respected among the town, treated others with grace, and at just the right moment… he noticed Ruth among the masses. In a knight-in-armor sort of way, Boaz offered her protection and care. He noticed her inward beauty and spoke only words to encourage her heart. He was careful with her. (If you are curious about how it all went down, you should totally read the book of Ruth from the beginning to end. It’s fantastic.) I remember attending a conference where the speaker encouraged us single gals to find our Boaz and leave the Bozos behind. I wasn’t really looking for a Boaz or a Bozo for that matter. I was pursuing Someone much more important—my Ultimate Companion—Emmanuel: God with us. He was with me and is and will be. But He had a story to reveal, in His timing, he led my “Boaz” to begin pursuing this girl.

IMG_6432.PNG

Back to the questions…

The questions arrived in my inbox after we had been experiencing a shift in our home. Dallas was striving to lead in our marriage. Reevaluating where we are and the trajectory of where we were headed. There were many tears shed over those questions, but it led to deeper intimacy.

When I received that email, it made me wonder, if Ruth’s story hadn’t come to a close in chapter 4 what would we read about this couple? Had it kept going and going, would we have read about Boaz’s email to Ruth nearing their ten-year anniversary? Would you have read his questions that communicate his love for his bride, for their children, for their sphere of influence? Would you hear his desire to see them thrive and grow?

I think so.

God is writing His love story upon our hearts. We can fight for it or fight against it. But what if we said to one another: I do because God does. And by the grace of God we will.

So even after ten years: I do. I still do. And by the grace of God we will.

I encourage you to share these questions with your spouse. We ask these hard questions to anchor our marriage on the One that holds all things together. We answer the hard questions, giving one another the benefit of the doubt, pouring over our responses with grace upon grace. Seeking to come into the light because that’s where He is… in the light. HE IS LIGHT! And when we are exposed we can honor the Scripture, “Be naked and unashamed.”

It’s been TEN years. Ten good years.

So we love on. We fight. We grow. We celebrate the Scripture and commandment to be “naked and unashamed.” And with that, all the husbands say a hearty, “Amen!”

IMG_6433.PNG______________

 

Want to hear more of the story?
Sisters, Holly Snell and Heather Gilion wrote a book about their journey called Dancing On My Ashes.
It’s a beautiful picture of restoration, and recounts God’s faithfulness on every page.
Prepare yourself to weep and rejoice with them.

You can also watch their 3 minute story here.

Or click below to order your copy of Dancing On My Ashes.

 

b59b9-domacover

I’m over at Missouri Women Bloggers today!

Hey, I have a guest blog post on the Missouri Women Bloggers site today! The theme was guilty pleasures. This is a quick, funny read… BUT there really is a purpose in my “guilty pleasure” confession.

BEWARE: there’s some bathroom humor in this post.

Read and share… well, if you want to.

Go Here:

http://www.missouriwomenbloggers.com/2014/10/08/guilty-pleasures-when-you-gotta-go/

IMG_4770

{p.s. If you are in Missouri and are female and have a blog… JOIN US! You can register on the website.}

xoxo
Heather

We love. We lose. We grow.

{by Heather Spring Gilion}

It was like one of those frustrating, sappy-love-story movies that you invest 2 hours of your life on, just to bawl your eyes out in the end because one of the main characters, that you’ve fallen in love with, tragically dies! You want to punch the director {and the actors, for that matter}, because your heart doesn’t like to be yanked around, you know! I mean, come on, things are supposed to end up happily ever after! {Especially in the movies.}

Well, that’s how I feel right now. If we are Facebook friends you have seen my recent pictures of Max the dog. We agreed to dog-sit for my mom and dad as they were off visiting family in Texas. “Oh sure, we’ll watch Max! My boys will love this!” I said.

To be honest, my hubby and I are not huge “animal” people. We don’t dislike them, but we’re not the type that have ever longed for an animal in the house. Our motto has always been to keep things simple. To add yet ANOTHER thing to our already busy lives was not high on our priority list. But dog-sitting? Sure we can do that. BUT we had no idea what “trouble” we were getting ourselves into.

Max was not your average dog. He was special. He fit right in and the boys fell in love. A few days into our time with Max, I started to hear, “I wish Max was our dog.” “Can we get a dog?” “I wish Max never had to leave.” They’d even put those words to song. They would be building Legos and I’d hear Noah singing, “I wish you were our dog, Max. I looooo-oooove you, Max.”

We were in trouble.

IMG_4615 IMG_4628 IMG_4637 IMG_4663 IMG_4661

I jokingly “warned” my mom that she might never get Max back. I was half kidding. But when it came down to it, we were falling for Max. We loved how he greeted us when we came in the door. We loved rubbing his belly and chasing him around in our backyard. I loved having my new hairy friend follow me around the house.

I started thinking, “I shed more than Max and the hubby keeps me around! So maybe…”

When my mom offered for us to keep Max we were all set to say no, but we just couldn’t. He had to stay! Although my mom loved Max she knew he’d love being around the boys and he’d get a little more attention here. So… you can call us “Suckers,” but we caved. Max was here to stay!

IMG_6038

But a sad turn of events happened…

We got a dog, fell in love with the dog, and then had to say good-bye to our dog.

Like I said, it was like City of Angels all over again. The lovebirds are finally together and then Meg Ryan just has to ride her bike without her eyes open! “Open your eyes, dummy! Are you crazy, lady?”

Two-weeks into our doggie honeymoon and he gets sick. We think he’s just got some digestive issues. Or we reasoned maybe the transition, even though he’s happy with us, we wondered if he was anxious from all the change. We took him to the vet to get him looked over. They are more concerned about how skinny he was and his lack of appetite, and they showed us how he had noticeable muscle loss. We were newbies so we didn’t know he should be thicker or be eating more than he was. The vet suggested changing to a better dog food. Sure, not a problem. I had given him a rawhide bone so we were wondering if it was giving him tummy issues. But the vet assured us that wasn’t the issue. “There’s something else going on with this dog, I just can’t put my finger on it.” The vet said. “Watch him closely and let me know if he gets worse.”

He got worse.

By the next evening I was racing him to the emergency vet, imagining a surgery was in his future.

I felt like an imposter sitting in this vet clinic. How did I end up here? I’m still processing that I’m a pet owner. I waited as they looked him over and took x-rays.

IMG_6115

Waiting

IMG_6117

More waiting…

IMG_6116

Still waiting.

And then the news.

“Max isn’t going to make it.” A chronic illness within his small intestines that had been going on for a while finally manifested itself and it was too late. Two days ago he was his happy self, but today was a different story. Surgery wouldn’t even save our Max. I was faced with putting my dog to sleep. What a failure for this first time dog owner! Oh my word… who does this happen to?

I spent some time petting my doggie. My dog. I took in this beautiful masterpiece. I was so emotional and so in awe of the love I had for him. God had made Max. He created this animal with such wonderful detail. I was thankful for the two weeks I had with Max, learning and understanding more about the bond people have with animals.

I remember after losing my first husband James, I had someone come up to me after I shared my story and they said, “I know how you feel. I lost my dog a couple years ago.” What?!?! Are you serious, right now? Well, I’m not saying that’s completely the same. BUT for that person, and I don’t know their story, but their dog may have been all that they had, a companion to them that they considered family. I have a new compassion for those that have grieved the loss of a furry family member.

I watched him breath his last breaths.

Death is just sad. I can’t wait until the day that death isn’t in our vocabulary anymore.

Two elderly women were in the vet clinic with their coughing doggie. They asked how Max was. “He didn’t make it.” I whispered through my sobs. Their hugs were gifts from my God. They cried with me. A stranger’s empathy spilled into the room and covered my aching heart. I needed that hug.

Now to tell the boys.

We all four bawled our eyes out. We experienced the entire realm of dog ownership in a two-week time period. We loved, we enjoyed, we cared for, and then… we lost.

“We were a family of four. Then we became a family of five… but now we’re a family of four again!” – said through sobs, Zman (5 years old)

“Can we pray him down from Heaven?”

“I’m gonna miss the way his collar jingled when he walked through the house.”

We’ve had a lot of good conversations. Death is hard. In this life we learn, we love, we lose, and hopefully we grow. I have a new appreciation of our great God who expresses His extravagant creativity in His created.

So sometimes you watch that sappy 2-hour movie and want to kick something because you loved just to lose. But today I’m thankful for our short love-story. Max was worth it.

Maybe someone out there is scared to love because of the fear of loss. We aren’t promised the happily-ever-after ending, BUT what we are promised is far greater! In HIM we are offered fullness of joy. We are offered real love. We are offered God IN US! So whether we say good-bye or hello, we can trust that we will be forever changed for the better. The happy-ever-after will come… and HAS come in the person of Jesus.

Love on.

“There is no fear in love.” 1 John 4:18

The Busy Disease

{by Heather Spring Gilion}

There is this tree that stands in my backyard. It’s dying. I didn’t know it was dying until all the other trees were sprouting buds and it remained unclothed. Naked. Well almost. There’s still some sign of life, but it’s dwindling. It’s taller than my house, so obviously at some point it was healthy. But a vine wrapped itself around the trunk and wound itself through the branches and started stealing from it.

It began just like every other tree, I suppose. A seed was planted. The rain came and the earth drank and the seed began its process of establishing roots. Breaking through the surface of the earth, it stretched its arms upward, making its ascent toward the sky. With every passing year it gained height and dimension. It grew. And grew. Birds made their home in its branches. Squirrels zipped up and down its trunk with ease, hunting nuts and racing other squirrely friends. This tree endured winter as the temperatures dropped and the sun hid her face. It stood tall as the ice thawed and the sun gave reason to awaken the buds to come alive once more. But something has happened. My tree is dead…. or is dying. Whichever it is, I’m left to wonder when it’ll have to be taken down before it takes down my house.

I love trees. I love looking at them. I love the different shapes and sizes and styles of trees. Go ahead and say it, you think I’m a tree hugger. I enjoy paper like the next person, and I wouldn’t wish away my toilet paper to keep the shade over my head, that’s for sure. But there have been moments when the mere sight of a tree has sent my heart swooning for my God. The Bible says that God shows some of His invisible qualities through creation, so no one has an excuse.

Nope, no excuses here. God is awesome. He’s a genius.

God said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” {John 15:5}

I’ve been busy, y’all. Way too busy. And maybe you’ve been busy too. I’m confessing here, friends. I’ve let the “busy” wrap around me like a weed, it’s been subtle but destructive, as this busy disease continues to suck the life right out of me. My abiding has been more like fast food dinners or hurried nibbles off of my kid’s plates. Half-eaten cold hamburgers is definitely NOT what God had in mind when He said, “Come and eat!”

 “They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.” {Psalm 36:8}

“Abide in Me.” He says.

“…apart from Me you can do nothing.” He says.

So this girl became a tree in her mind today. I asked the Lord what kind of tree I was. Aspen? Elm? Or maybe a Sugar Maple? That sounds inviting. Or, a better question—am I growing? Thriving? Or… could I be… *gulp*… dying?

IMG_4019

So this is how our conversation went as I confessed my lack of abiding in the midst of the busyness…

“Lord, I want to grow!”

“Abide.” He says.

I stretched out my hands toward the sky. My arms and hands extended like the branches of the tree. I’m still. Still. I haven’t felt that in a while. A tender sway in the gentle breeze calms my spirit. He’s near. He’s been near. With my gaze upward I dream of stretching high enough that I might reach the Heavens. I whisper, “Forgive me, my God, my Vine and Source of Life, for the season of busyness that I’ve let rule my days, hours, and minutes. I need YOU and only YOU.”

“Sweet girl, when you remain IN Me, you are ‘like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” {Jeremiah 17:8}

“God, I have felt the drought, and I’ve allowed the “busy disease” to tangle and taunt me to do on my own. But our mysterious entanglement is what causes me to stand even now. You remain my Source of strength.”

“When you remain in Me you are strong, immovable, and glorious. The roots beneath you are growing deeper with each passing day. This is necessary as the winds come and storms rage. For the winds will come. But don’t fear, my love, for if you remain in Me, you might bend, but you won’t break. You will be shaken, but you’ll never fall. For I AM your strength and you are never alone. For when you remain in Me, I remain in you. Abide.”

“I want to be everything You want me to be. I want to be just like Your Son, Jesus.” As those words left my lips, and with my arms still spread-out before the Heavens, I saw Him. Jesus with His arms and hands stretched out—but He was on a tree. A tree fashioned into a cross. And looking up to the Heavens, even then, He knew we would be. I would be His and He would be mine.

His tree sheds light on this little tree—me.
His tree sheds light on my busyness.
His tree sheds light on why I do everything I do.

The invitation to abide sounds less like another thing to do, but the only thing worth doing.

*He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

{*lyrics: How He Loves}

____

Want to hear more of the story?
Holly and I wrote a book about our journey called Dancing On My Ashes.
It’s a beautiful picture of restoration, and recounts God’s faithfulness on every page.
Prepare yourself to weep and rejoice with us.

You can also watch our 3 minute story here.

b59b9-domacover

 

Suffering: A journey into the deep

{by Heather Spring Gilion}

suffering

People always say that tragedy changes you. It does. It has.

Fourteen years have come and gone. It’s been fourteen years ago today when I changed. I’m not the same girl I once was. Maybe she went underground when I buried James. I don’t know.

Most of the time it feels like an entire lifetime has passed when I stop and reflect on the Other Heather and the Other Heather’s life. And yet there are fleeting moments that it feels like just yesterday I was standing in my sister’s cute, little house in Calais, Vermont, pulling my hair back into a ponytail to get ready for another day as camp guide for a bunch of campers at Pathway Ministries.

I had no idea that the day would end with so many questions.
When someone you love goes missing…
When you wonder if you’ll ever see them again…
Surely you’re going to see them again? Right?

The fact is, when the life you’ve been living becomes a pile of ashes, there’s no going back. There’s no “undo” button to push for a do-over, as much as you might want one. It’s not an option.

Married one moment. Widowed the next. That was my story, and my sister’s.

But it’s been fourteen years. I never thought I’d be able to say that. But look at that!

{Last year on the anniversary I wrote on coping with hard days on the calendar: No-Good-Rotten Anniversaries. It’s been one of our most read and shared posts, so obviously there’s many of you out there wrestling with some of the same things we are. Feel free to go back and read it if that interests you.}

Holly and I have some new friends from Africa; two women, who are as close as sisters, who lost their husbands in the same accident this year. These widows are beginning their journey among their ashes, weeping more than they’re laughing, aching more than they’re sleeping, but trusting in a God that is near the brokenhearted. I recently got to Skype with one of these lovely beauties. We laughed. We cried. I listened. She listened. She reminded me of me. As I prepared for our conversation I thought, “What would I have said to me? What love was spoken over me in my darkest hours?” She made me remember my journey. She’s broken but she’s clinging. I’m proud of her. Oceans between us, but the hug felt the same.

She said, “I know the answer to this question… I mean, I know God is sovereign and good, so I know the answer to this question,” she repeated, “but… is it going to be okay?”

With tears streaming down my face, I could confidently say, “It will be.”

Today is yet another anniversary where I remember when everything changed. Over the last few days I’ve found myself in deep thought. So here’s what I want to say on today of all days… and I’m praying that it will be a blessing to some of you out there as you journey on. For those who have walked through tragedy, you’re going to get this. Whether loss, rejection, suffering, torment, warring internal or externally—however your “tragedy” may have played out, you began a journey into the deep. This journey would forever change you. In honor of my journey, I want to share a few key lines from a movie I just watched with my boys.

Noah is crazy about turtles. So after a “turtle” search on Netflix we stumbled upon—Turtle: The Incredible Journey.

It is the story of a little loggerhead turtle that begins life on a beach in Florida. The narrator takes you through the turtle’s life into the sea with all its perils and hardships. “But the odds are stacked against her; just one in ten thousand turtles survive the journey through the deep.”

On a side note, I paint as a hobby and I’ll admit, I originally turned on the movie for the boys because I had a pallet to paint. I was enjoying listening to the boys rooting for this turtle. But as I painted, I listened. The narrator may have been talking about the turtle, but I felt as though she began telling my story. Line after line, I took it in. I was rooting for her—for me.

And so she becomes an ocean traveler. Her flippers are made for going not staying.

There was a moment, wounds and all, that I moved into the waters. I was not made to stay. I was made to swim—to swim in the deep. But living after your life is wrecked is not the easiest thing to do. You want to shut down. You want to hide under the covers. You want to run to whatever doesn’t make you feel the pain… even if it’s for a second. But there was a time when I started swimming again, because that’s what I was made to do. I wasn’t made for staying. I was made for going. You were too. So you go. You may cry as you go, but you still go, for you are not alone.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” {Isaiah 43:2}

Time is for her to grow strong, for her shell to harden, for her skin to thicken.

I was growing and didn’t even know it. Obstacles would come, such as sleeping alone, making decisions, fighting off tormenting thoughts, serving others in need, grocery shopping by myself, getting a job, mowing my grass. All seemed like small, meaningless tasks, but God was using each to grow me up. I remember talking to a pastor who reminded me that when his son broke his arm; he obviously couldn’t use it for a while. He had to wear a cast for an extended amount of time. But when the time was right the cast was taken off and he started using it again. At first it felt awkward and a little stiff, but as time passed, he entered back into his normal rhythm of life—pre-fracture. He reminded me that broken bones actually grow back thicker and stronger than they were to begin with. His words gave me a small glimmer of hope. Could that be possible in me? Will it be okay? I mean, I know it will, but how?

She takes her place among the other travelers of the blue highway.

I wasn’t alone. I’m not the only one trying to survive. I’m not the only one fighting for my life. I learned who to “swim” with. But there were others in the waters that at times I couldn’t avoid. Unfriendly travelers I had to face straight on, whether I chose to or not.

The Blue Shark is here too. But the turtle is no longer afraid of her. Her shell is harder.

I remember the time I felt confident in my singleness. There was a strength within me that can only be attributed and explained as an anchor in Christ. A relationship with God had developed that satisfied my longing for a man to call me his bride. I was already “taken,” “sought after,” “redeemed,” “loved,” “cherished,” “His!” So when the enemies of the deep, a.k.a. my Blue Sharks: loneliness, bitterness, solitude, jealousy, anger, memories of my past—as they taunted me to give up or as they tried their best to swallow me whole, I was no longer afraid of the fight. For my shell was harder. I was ready come what may. I was confident that there was indeed One fighting for me, through me, and with me.

The storm threw her off course. But she is not lost. She’s never lost.

At some point within the first few years, new dreams would rise up. Dreaming again was a scary thing for me. To watch your world go up in flames and then to rebuild among the ruins was scary to say the least. But little by little, I would swim in one direction, only to have a storm push me around and seemingly thwart my course. Sometimes there were tears, wondering why I ever dared to dream again! Other times, there was a reassurance within my soul that nothing was lost, because He was in charge of my path. I could count on that. Reassured that He would never leave me or forsake me, I would press on. Pressing on by pressing my ear against His chest. Listening to His heart. Striving to follow His leading. I wasn’t lost. I was never lost.

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” {Isaiah 30:21}

The Loggerhead Turtle’s journey was emotional for me. But just as I finished painting the piece I was working on, I heard this line,

“If she had come here before now she never would have survived.”

I sat there for a moment, my paintbrush hanging on the last stroke. And ever so kindly, I heard God speak to my heart. “If you would have come here before now you never would have survived.”

I sat back and looked at my painting. It was one of those moments for me.

10492946_1651102848447209_533561569402393795_o

It was all too much. He’s too much. His kindness to this loggerhead turtle is just too overwhelming. Most turtles die on their voyage. Why am I here? How did I survive? It’s not because I was strong enough or read the right self-help books, or memorized the right Scriptures, or sang the perfect songs for what I was going through… although God did use all of those things at pivotal times along the journey through the deep. I’m alive because of His great love for me. For HE knows the plans HE has for ME! I can only boast in one thing.

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” {Galatians 6:14}

I know for me, today, I’m reflecting on my journey in the deep. There’s purpose in the deep. There’s purpose in the pain. There’s purpose in every leg of your journey. And at just the right time, you will be able to look back and see His hand along the way. This turtle’s journey into the deep has forever changed her life. I’m different now. I’m stronger. A little wiser. A lot bolder. I see life a little more clearly. I love differently. The Other Heather is dead and gone, but new life has risen in her place as today I celebrate the ashes He’s made beautiful in His time.

To my fellow turtles out there: swim in the deep. Your flippers were made for going, not staying. There will be predators that threaten your life. There will be storms that try to throw you off course. You will wonder if it’s worth the effort. But as one turtle to another—swim! Go deep. For He has plans for you… an unforgettable, purposeful journey.

____

Want to hear more of the story?
Holly and I wrote a book about our journey called Dancing On My Ashes.
It’s a beautiful picture of restoration, and recounts God’s faithfulness on every page.
Prepare yourself to weep and rejoice with us.

You can also watch our 3 minute story here.

P.S. Dancing On My Ashes is ON SALE for a limited time

when you order through us:

Paperback $9 {+ shipping/handling} & the first 100 ebooks sold are ONLY $3. Click HERE!

b59b9-domacover

What I learned running a 5K with my son

{by Heather Spring Gilion}

Noah, my seven-year-old, was eavesdropping on a conversation I was having with my hubby about an upcoming 5K. “I want to run with you, Mom.” The hubs and I looked at each other and I started coming up with all the reasons why that probably wasn’t a good idea. I mean, he’s never run that far, that I know of. He’s all boy, so he basically runs everywhere, all day, everyday, but is he ready to RUN? Is that DFS hotline material? I mean, it sounds like child abuse if I let him, right? Is he old enough to be doing that sort of thing? But every reason seemed to fall flat as we heard his pleading and true desire to mark this off his bucket list. (If 7-year-olds have those sorts of things.)

We came up with a plan: we’ll do a practice run. If he perseveres through 3 miles running with mom through boring neighborhood roads then I’ll say yes.

We laced up our tennis shoes and headed out on our “rehearsal.” Little four-year-old brother, I’ll call him “Mini Me,” was SO distraught as we were leaving that he convinced me that he was up for the challenge too! (Now you’re calling the cops aren’t you? Well, no need.) Daddy Long Legs came to keep Mini Me company if indeed his legs tuckered out.

So, you’re wondering how did it go?

Actually… It was like eating double-stuffed Oreos. It was better than I thought it would be. And I wanted more. It’s always fun when your kids get old enough to introduce them to something you enjoy. The boys and I discussed what we saw in the clouds, I heard their little feet hitting the pavement, and we laughed about seeing worms and birds and cement trucks. They did great! At one point Noah and I left Daddy Long Legs and Mini Me so they could walk a bit. But Noah and I continued our trek around the neighborhood. When he needed a break, we’d walk. I’d point towards a landmark and say, “Do you think you can make it to the trash can up there?” And then off we’d go. During the last mile, I pointed toward a mile marker to see if he could make it there before we walked and he suggested we pick one farther out. “I like to push myself, Mom.” Well, okay, then 😉

Daddy Long Legs and Mini Me were waiting in our driveway to celebrate our arrival. As we entered our street, I told Noah that I usually sprint the last little bit.

“Why, mom?”

“Well, I know I’m about to finish, so I give it all I’ve got. I push myself, knowing that the end is in reach and so I just go for it. Are you ready?”

“GO!” He said. We sprinted. As fast as we could, we ran. We gave it all we had. Daddy Long Legs and Mini Me cheered for us. We made it, laughing, high-fiving, and beaming because we did it!

We completed our 5K rehearsal!

We completed our 5K rehearsal!

A few days later as I tucked Noah in, I told him I’d be waking him up really early for our race. “I’m going to try and get good sleep tonight, Mom, but I’m just so excited, what if I can’t fall asleep?” Noah said as he yawned and drifted off to la la land.

Morning came and as I woke him, before he even had the energy to open his eyes, he grinned and said, “I’m ready for our race!”

We snacked on a banana and grabbed some toast for the road.
We drank our water, arrived on site, and checked in.
With our numbers fastened to our shirts, we stretched and then went one last time in the port-a-potty.

10443495_10154390024835294_8519814546927761516_n

Joining the other runners, we took turns grinning and nudging one another during the National Anthem because the time had come! I probably hugged him too much, but then again, probably not.

And without further ado… gunshot! The race was underway.

It’s one of those moments in time that I wish I could mentally have on video to replay anytime I wish. Our feet pounded the pavement and our smiles stretched from ear to ear. We were off. “We’re all running together,” he laughed. I laughed.

One thing that’s pretty unique when you’re running with a kid, everyone cheers when you pass by. I LOVED watching his face light up when someone called out a cheer or encouragement his way. Every time, his speed picked up and I would have to push myself to get back in rhythm with him.

10461730_593150647448868_6133216246934161433_n

I love this picture because he’s excited that he sees a water station.

We talked. We laughed. We ran. We passed people. We were passed by people. Strangers and friends were cheering for my little athlete. He was working hard. I felt like every few minutes I’d say, “You want to walk a bit?” Most of the time he wouldn’t take me up on it. Or if he would, someone would pass us and he’d immediately want to start up again. He put me in my place quite often, “This isn’t really running, Mom. This is jogging.” Well, he was right. But we were making good time.

We drank our water and I even showed him how to wear it.

10456057_593151107448822_3004182875724339935_n

We talked about school, summer, and what he’s learning. We talked about the horse that we jogged by and how creative God was to make all this. He again, didn’t like it when someone passed him so he would speed up as if he was saying, “Oh yeah?”

As we approached the last leg of the race, the anticipation of finishing started to set in. I was so proud of him. I told him so. As I was explaining to Noah that we were about to enter the park and that the finish line was less than a half a mile away, I started hearing more cheers. Strangers and friends were loving on my boy, encouraging his little heart and his little legs to not give up. His speed picked up. I saw him grab his side at one point, “Noah, you want to walk for a minute? Seriously, we can walk, buddy.”

“No, I’m fine.” This kid was booking it. I was almost laughing at this point and it’s hard to laugh and run at the same time, but I had to focus to keep up with him. The cheering continued and there it was… the glorious FINISH line! Mini Me was standing on the side-line waving with all his might. His brother was trucking along, and we had our sights set on the finish line.

We sprinted.
I was cheering.
Others were cheering.
And TOGETHER we crossed the finish line! Our time was 35:36!

10445449_10154333973985113_5358489121019597388_n

It was glorious. It was a celebration. My partner in crime pushed himself and completed what he set out to do. Was he tired? Yes! But it was a good tired. A happy tired. A satisfied tired as we told Daddy Long Legs and Mini Me all about our great adventure! Now where are the pancakes?

So, here’s two lessons I learned (am learning) from all of this:

1. Take a walk/run with the short people in your life. Okay, maybe your 13 year old is taller than you now, but you get what I’m saying. There’s something about physical activity that makes you feel good, plus you have a destination and a goal that you are moving toward, and you’re doing it together. The company is sweet and the distractions end up being “good” distractions. They usually lead to some real bonding moments.

2. Encouragement is fuel. Noah ran faster when people were cheering for him, to the point I struggled with keeping up, towards the end. What a picture of how we are to live this life. There will be times when you are running the “race” and at just the right time you hear it—applause, the cheers, verbal confidence that others believe in you—and it fans your flame. In that moment, stopping is not an option, even though you may be at your end, strength rises up and you push harder and dig deeper. You are not alone. As a mom, to see the impact that encouragers from the sidelines had on my sweet boy, it was priceless. They became a part of his race! And that’s how life is, isn’t it? When I look at my life and think about all the times I wanted to give up, but at just the right time, God sent someone in my life to encourage me:

When are you going to write that book?”
“You’re doing a really good job!”
“Are you weary? Can I pray for you?”
“I’ve been meaning to tell you that…”

Words can be like healing salve or gas in your tank. The Lord gave us one another to spur one another on (Hebrews 10:24). Applause should never be the reason we do what we do, but it can be just what the Lord wants to use to help you or someone else persevere.

“Just keep swimming” – Dory in Finding Nemo

This has caused me to evaluate my relationship with my kids. Am I encouraging them enough? Do they hear my cheers? Do they know I’m proud of them? How can I speak confidence into their little lives at just the right times? And then, in my relationship with my spouse and in my friendships—am I spurring them on to run with their eyes fixed on Jesus? Do they hear my cheers? Am I using my words to build up and not tear down? Do I use my opportunities enough to encourage my fellow racers? Or do I just assume they know I’m proud of them?

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” {Hebrews 12: 1-2}

Encourage someone today!

And go run with a short person, you won’t regret it.

{Most of the photos in this post were taken by the amazing crew from the Heavy Duty Rebuilders Duck Waddle 5K Run/Walk.}

Brothers Gotta Hug: breaking up fights and teaching love

{by Heather Spring Gilion}

I LOVE summertime! Being under one roof is one of my favorite things. Yes, yes, I love a good date night or the occasional run to Target without Thing One and Thing Two running the aisles and throwing unapproved items in my cart. But for the most part, I like the relaxing days that summer brings. I’ll admit, we’ve already had a few days of changing out of one set of pajamas only to put on fresh ones for the night. (Don’t be jealous or judge…whichever you’re prone to do.)

My boys are the best of friends.

IMG_1580

{This wasn’t even taken on Halloween. Just a normal day at the Gilions.}

IMG_4857

But…

There are other moments. Moments when their smiles turn into scowls and I can see it in their eyes, they are done playing nice. A car is stolen. A Lego that ought not be played with is now laying in pieces. A beloved, stuffed kitty cat is bait as Thing One runs away from Thing Two. It can happen in a moment. They could have just smiled and given one another the biggest hug while saying, “You are the best brudder in all the world.” But when a line gets crossed, it’s almost like watching the Incredible Hulk take form. Their once sweet little hands that love high-fives and pushing cars through their Lincoln Log city, tighten up into fists. Breathing accelerates, a growl in the form of a war cry fills the room, and one tiny human storms the other. Before you know it someone is crying.

The worst is when you try breaking up a fight when you’re driving, right moms?

The other day, I heard a loud smack and then tears from my four-year-old. “Noah hit me!”

Noah tucked his head in his hands as I sternly asked, “What is going on?!?!” Zach through broken sobs repeated the offense, “Noah hit me!”

I exploded. Even in that moment, I knew it was not the way to handle the situation, but I’d had enough of their lack of love and respect for one another. In my best mom voice I yelled, “No! No! We are not going to do that. God didn’t give us hands to treat one another like that.”

“But why did God make us to hit one another?” Noah asked.

Before I could get out my explanation, Zach, (I’ll remind you again, he’s four!), stepped up, “God did NOT make us do that! We CHOSE to do it!”

The car grew silent. Taken aback, I said, “That’s absolutely the truth. God gave us one another to love, not to hurt one another! As your mom, I’m NOT going to stand for it! It breaks my heart when you hurt one another. But I get it. Sometimes we get frustrated and we don’t know what to do with how we’re feeling, so we lash out. But listen, Noah, God gave you a brother to care for. And, Zach, God gave you a brother to care for. Look at each other. Do it! Look at one another.”

They locked eyes. “You all were given a gift… one another.”

And then Noah asked this: “Who was the first person to ever hit?”

“Two brothers.” Even the answer caught me off guard. The irony of that was almost too much for me.

And then, as if we were in a scripted, cheesy, Christian movie, Noah asked, “What happened to them?”

I’m glad I had cooled down or I might’ve blurted out, “ONE KILLED THE OTHER!” But I have to admit, there was a lump in my throat as the gravity of that sentence played over and over in my head. We arrived at our destination and I was able to turn around and calmly talk to them about the gift of family, the responsibility we have to care and protect one another, and how God has called us to use our hands and our words to build one another up, not tear each other apart.

They were sorry and were soon hugging which turned into another wrestling match. {Yes, right there in the car.}

Two brothers. Cain and Abel. Were these brothers just like my Noah and Zach? Did they laugh and giggle, push and shove, wrestle and joke? Did they laugh at farts and like to be tickled by Daddy-Adam? Did they race one another to the tree or see who could jump higher? The Bible doesn’t give us all the dynamics to their relationship, but they were brothers so I can only imagine how many questions Eve had, being the only female surrounded by testosterone and stinky boys. But unlike me, she didn’t have a mom-gang to vent to via Facebook. She didn’t get those reassuring nods and hugs when they had play dates and shared life over coffee, “You’re not alone. They’re just being boys, Eve.” She had no self-help books on raising boys or how to deal with all the raging hormones. I wonder if she ever tried the get-along-shirt?

The get along shirt via http://danpearce.com

Or did Cain experience time outs or spankings? My thoughts could go on and on…. but the fact is, in the end, one brother was left with the other’s blood on his hands.

As a mom, you don’t get over that, I’m sure.

This mom thing is tough stuff. I want to raise godly men. Men that learn, even as boys, that their hands are not meant to tear down but to build up. For the brothers placed under my care, I want to train them to fight for one another and not with one another. I long to watch two brothers love enough to choose not to raise a fist to the other. I know. I know. They won’t be perfect and sin will raise its ugly head in my children, but I’ll continue to plead for their hearts. Because that’s what it boils down to anyway, right? When we lash out at another it’s because at the root of our disagreement our heart is ugly.

I like what Zachy said, “God did NOT make us do that! We CHOSE to do it!” It is a choice how we respond to one another. We can live always apologizing for our outbursts, (and we should confess and make things right when we sin against one another), but God offers us more than that. He offers strength to overcome the temptation to turn into the Hulk, wisdom to know how to use our words to build up, and love that shows grace even when we believe another deserves wrath. God warned Cain that if he didn’t get his anger under control, sin was crouching at the door. {Genesis 4:6-7} God told Cain that he could rule over that sin. And then in the very next sentence Cain lures his brother into the field and takes his life.

That’s really sad.

I bet Cain never thought that his anger would lead him to that field.

None of us do. So today, as you deal with the anger in your own heart or if you are wearing out your voice breaking up the quarrels-gone-wrong between your children, just remember we all make a choice in how we respond. Dads. Moms. Siblings. Family. Friends. Coworkers. Are you building up or tearing down? How’s your heart? What’s going on in there? What selfishness or pride is leading you to turn into the big green monster?

Part of my role as a mom is leading by example, so today, may I let God reveal the sin in my own heart.

 _______________

{If you’re new to this blog and you want to subscribe, there’s a little button to push at the top of the page.

If you want to learn about Dancing On My Ashes: go here.

Glad you stopped by today! We pray that you were encouraged.}

Happy Mother’s Day: Why I’m glad you’re NOT perfect

{by Heather Spring Gilion}

This year for Mother’s Day, we didn’t procrastinate—we came up with the most spectacular gift for our momma! We are rarely ALL together, so we seized the moment and made plans for a mother/daughter photo shoot.

Here we are.

View More: http://cassieloreephotography.pass.us/wall-sisters

Holly, Heidi, Mom (Diane), Heather, Hannah

We spent the night before making flower crowns, (which is not as easy as one might think), we coordinated outfits and tried on each other’s clothes. And ta-dah!

But you’ll never guess what led up to this picture right here.

View More: http://cassieloreephotography.pass.us/wall-sisters

Or this one.

View More: http://cassieloreephotography.pass.us/wall-sisters

I’m serious. You’re not going to be able to guess in a hundred million trillion years.

View More: http://cassieloreephotography.pass.us/wall-sisters

You would never know moments prior to these pictures we almost got arrested, our cars were towed, and we were crawling on our bellies under a chain link fence to escape fines, charges, and mug shots. (Yes, even our Mom! Ooops! Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!) I can almost imagine our mug shots, though. {They would’ve been the cutest mug shots EVER, if there could be such a thing!}

View More: http://cassieloreephotography.pass.us/wall-sisters

I told you, you wouldn’t guess, because look at our smiles! And we are REALLY laughing in some of these. We “look” like everything is right in the world. Like we don’t have a past or minutes before we weren’t running for our lives! We look like life is perfect and we are a bunch of flower-lovin’ hippies that just want world peace. Right? (And maybe, just maybe, we’re smiling because we’re not sitting in the back of a cop car in handcuffs.)

Sometimes when you peer into another person’s life via one little snapshot you assume you know their story. But the fact is you don’t know the road they’ve walked or the obstacles they’ve encountered or the mess they’ve made… you may just see a perfect little happy family. But life is untidy and chaotic and we can be careless with one another at times.

Can I take a moment to reflect on family for a minute? It’s a lot like this photo shoot from top to bottom. When we come together there’s opportunity for drama, adventure, trouble, poor choices, forgiveness, grace, laughter, tears… raw life. I can attest I’ve been schooled by all of these lovely ladies at one time or another, in a manner that has led to my growth. They have forgiven me and I’ve forgiven them. (Except for that time Holly called me a klutz or when Heidi cut my hair too short. I’m almost ready to forgive… almost.) But to really love one another we need Jesus at the center. And that’s when you get moments like this:

View More: http://cassieloreephotography.pass.us/wall-sisters

A bond. It’s quite special, really. It’s called unconditional love. A love that grows as the clock ticks and tocks.

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

In this picture I see it. An awkward, messy, highly hormonal group of girls knowing one another and being known.

Here’s my thoughts on Mothers Day. I’m a fan. Not just because I’m a mom or I have a mom, or that I have the most amazing mother-in-law {Loretta} and mother-in-law {Penny} or because of my “other” mother {Glenda} that keeps me in line. No doubt, these are all extraordinary reasons, but there’s more to it. I think about the times I’ve failed as a mom or the times I’ve been frustrated that MY mom wasn’t perfect. Because of these imperfections I always come running back to grace. I’ve plunged headlong into it’s waters that have no shore. I’ve let His perfection cover my imperfections and I’ve swam in the deep. I’ve needed grace and I’ve extended it. I’ve learned as much by my mother’s shortcomings as I have in the moments she gets it right. In our weaknesses, and downright ugly moments even within the walls of our homes, we hear a whisper, “There’s more.”

This is a weird Mother’s Day blog, maybe, but what I’m getting at isn’t how frustrated I am that these women in my life aren’t perfect, or that I’m not perfect, it is in these shortcomings that I’m forever face to face with the truth that we have a GREAT NEED! There’s MORE to this life than living in the vicious cycle of trying in our own strength and failing over and over and over again. To be in family and to get it “wrong,” is an opportunity for grace to abound—for the gospel to actually play a role in the healing, restoration, and the bringing about of beauty. I’m not excusing our wrongs, I’m just saying, we’re going to hurt one another. But thankfully, if we let Him, He matures us and makes us more like Himself! “I’m finally growing up, Mom!” The ultimate Forgiver gives us this gift of pardon, simply to ask us to wrap it up and give it away to others. When you walk hand in hand with another you are going to be aware of their need for Jesus. {And boy, do my sisters need Jesus! *wink*} So when I look at these pictures and see the smiles on our faces and our flower crowns and our pretty dresses, I also see us crawling under the fence while getting my lace skirt stuck on the barbwire—I see the rest of the story. I see our mug shots in my mind—a picture of what we deserved. I see the entire journey that led us to this money shot. And we smile because we live and receive and give grace.

View More: http://cassieloreephotography.pass.us/wall-sisters

When we look at our family, and we see it’s flaws and shortcomings and if we’re honest all we see is a legacy of let-downs, we can make a choice to stop casting stones and to start using those stones to build. What if we bowed low and viewed each stone as an offering to our God? Maybe you’ve even got your rocks lined up, ready to hurl every last one of them. They deserve it, I’m sure! But what if you took your stones and started to build? Loving family can be messy and draining as well as healing, freeing, and legacy building. But stone by stone we build. Not on the sand that shifts and cannot withstand the waves when they come. But we build our home on the rock… THE ROCK.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-27

We want to build. Our Mom is a builder. {She’s the one in the middle. You might’ve thought she was one of the sisters.} And she’s raising us to be builders—her baby girls now have babies of their own to invite into the legacy building. I’m not wasting my time on sand, my foundation is on the Rock. And the cool thing is we’re building a safe place where family is welcome, flaws and all. So thanks, Mom, for not being perfect.

P.S. We really, really didn’t mean to trespass.

P.P.S. All these lovely photos were taken by http://www.cassieloreephotography.com

Heather asked me a very important question

CAM01578

{by Heather Spring Gilion}

Here’s me and my friend Heather. I met her a couple of years ago at our church. When we learned that both of our names were Heather, we were instantly connected. EVERY Sunday when we see one another we do our little thing, “Hi, Heather.” “Hi, Heather.” And then we hug and giggle. I LOVE this girl!

At our women’s retreat she came over to me and asked me a very important question. With her hand propped on the back of my chair and the other playing with her hair, she stood tall and asked, “Does Dallas treat you like a lady?” With confidence I could answer, “Why, yes. Yes, he does!” I said, “Why do you ask?”

“Well, Charlie treats me like a lady.”

“And who’s Charlie? Your boyfriend?

“Yes.”

“Well, that’s good. How long have you been dating Charlie?”

“Ten years.”

“Wow, that is a LONG time, Heather! So, how does he treat you like a lady?” I asked.

“He opens the car door for me. He puts my seat belt on for me. When we’re walking into a building, he opens the doors for me.”

“Woah…woah… woah… HOLD ON! Charlie puts your seat belt on for you!?! Now, Dallas doesn’t do that for me!” I told her the next time I got in the car I was going to wait until he put my seat belt on for me. It sounded very flirtatious.

Here I am waiting!

IMG_3210

“If you love me, buckle me, buddy!” Ladies, it’s actually very romantical 😉

This little conversation has stuck with me. Here are some take-aways that I’m now sharing with you.

1. I’m thankful for Heather… and all the people that the Lord has allowed me to live life with. There is so much we can learn from one another! I need you. You even need me. We need one another.

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. Hebrews 10: 24 & 25

There is so much we can glean from one another. I love seeing our Creator’s creativity displayed through smiles and eyes and laughs and hugs and tears and hands. Don’t miss the moments of beauty all around you today! Ask God to give you eyes to see His handiwork displayed in the people that are all around you. Do you see how genius our God is? There is no one like Him! As cheesy as this sounds… you are you-nique! There is no one walking around on this entire planet that is just like you. Your fingerprints, your DNA, your soul is specific to you and only you! {Even if you are an identical twin… you are set apart and uniquely different.}

If you’re engaged in a conversation with me and I start smiling and you didn’t say anything funny, I’m not laughing at you, I promise! I’m enjoying moments of His reflection displayed through your adorableness. For you were made in the image of our God! And to see glimpses of His reflection is stunning and breathtaking. Scroll back to the top of this page… look at Heather! Aren’t her eyes glorious!?! And that smile! She’s always smiling, friends. She is generous with her hugs and hands them out like she’s the richest person on the planet. May we be so generous with our affection and our love toward one another!

The other take-away I gleaned from my convo with Heather:

2. Let your hubby buckle your buckle now and then. And offer to buckle his buckle. That’s sounding more like an innuendo than I’m meaning it to, but however you’re supposed to hear it, HEAR IT! May we find ways to serve and love our spouses in unexpected ways. Hey, wives! I’m speaking to YOU on the other side of the screen there: let’s love our husbands and treat them less like our employees or roommates and more like men that are loved and respected. May we strive to look for ways that send this message loud and clear. It’s so easy to get caught up in the tasks at hand and miss showing real love. I get that you’re busy! I’m busy. He’s busy. We’ll probably always be busy. But how do we weave love and respect through everything we do? In the way we speak, in how we go about marking tasks off our to-do lists, in how we talk to him on the phone, in how we delegate tasks, or how we partner and parent in our home, and how we respond when we’re tired or had a hard day or are on our beloved time of the month. {EEK!} It’s easy to be selfish. It takes work to be selfless. Oh the beautiful things that arise when we love with no strings attached! When we give a back rub without the promise of one in return. Oh to care MORE for another than you care about yourself. {Ouch! I’m stepping on my own toes, here!} It’s when I let the hugs linger and when I don’t rush to look away from his gaze, that I see… I see this human being that I’ve vowed to love and cherish, to be true to, to uplift and support, to frustrate and challenge (*wink* – God’s on a mission to make him more like himself, people… and He uses me!), and most importantly to respect and show selfless love as God has shown to me and equips me.

God, may You give me eyes to really SEE my man! May You show me how to love him the way You designed me to. May You continue to teach me how to speak his love language; how to pray for his heart, mind, and soul; and remind me to join him in the war for the purity of our home. Thank You for the grace that covers my failures as a wife, and the generous gift of Your very Spirit that leads me to even know how to love. For I can only offer love when I first understand Your love for me. May I serve him and accept the ways he serves me.

That’s all I’ve got today. I hope you’ve been encouraged today!

Buckle up! Loving one another is a bumpy ride!