Posted
October 20
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THE HONEYMOON #3

(Image by Hillary Kupish)

UNASHAMED

And the man and his wife

were both naked and

not

ashamed. 

Genesis 2:25

niv

Dear Daughter,

One of my favorite things to watch is a woman freshly home from her honeymoon. A transformation takes place in that week of intimacy, a metamorphosis. She stands before her husband in all the glory of her wedding finery, sees her beauty reflected in his face, gives herself with purest abandon to his love, and emerges someone else entirely.

Gorgeous.

There is a swagger to her step, a sort of flirtatious look of confidence, a knowing. As if she’s got a secret just bursting to be divuldged.

She belongs. She is known. She is cherished. She is loved.

Simo, hang on to that. Because that is truth— he loves you, he cherishes you, he is captured, intrigued, irresistibly drawn to your beauty.

But there is an enemy who would convince you otherwise. A sneaky serpent who uses subtle strategies to steal the freedom of a well-loved woman. One who knows that a woman who dances in the reflection of her husband’s love is a dire threat to an enemy hell-bent on destroying beauty.

It started long ago. On that fateful day when Eve shared the forbidden fruit with Adam, shame was born. A new emotion, powerful enough to send her into hiding.

…then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Genesis 3:7

… and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid… Genesis 3:10

And every woman since has felt those cords of shame tighten around her freedom. Call it inhibition. Call it embarrassment. Disinterest, angst, or ambivalence.

We blame the beauty industry— an easy scapegoat with it’s distorted images of haughty, airbrushed, photo-shopped fakery.

Or we blame men— we’re sure they’ve elevated a certain standard of gorgeousness that is unobtainable by the average woman, or at least by ourselves.

We look in the mirror and see everything wrong:

Not thin enough, not curved enough, not firm enough, not soft enough…

Too big, too small, too tall, too curly, too straight, too much, too little…

And those cords of shame wrap tentacles so tight we can scarcely breathe, let alone glory in our own bodies or relish the response of a husband who loves us.

And in our shame, we hide. 

But Simo, it’s all a trick. A lie. A strategy to destroy what God said was good.

Give into this lie and you’ll live a life of less-than. You’ll struggle and wonder why, you and Matt will misunderstand each other. You’ll hurt. You’ll pull away, so will he. You’ll miss out on the wonder of being that woman who knows she is pursued, sought, cherished.

Beautiful.

And so, since I love lists, here is one for you, dear one. A way to combat the lies that would bind your beauty with cords of shame.

How To Be The Beauty You Were Created To Be:

1.  Believe that God crafted you beautifully.

He used His artistry to weave you together in your mother’s womb in just the way He wanted. Dare you honestly say you think He messed up? That He made one woman more lovely than another? That somehow He wasn’t quite on the job when He made you?

2.  Acknowledge that beauty is not perfection. 

Authentic art includes contrast and proportion, texture and shading. An artist chooses from a wide variety of medium to tell a uniquely compelling story. Copy-cats are considered fakes in the world of valuable treasures.

When women determine to fit themselves into a mold of someone else’s making they only hurt themselves.

3.  See your beauty through your husband’s eyes.

When you uncover yourself to him and he responds with enthusiastic arousal, he is adding an exclamation mark to your beauty.

Drink it in. Let the truth of his response sink deep. He sees your beauty.

Choose to neither hide nor deny what you see reflected in his eyes.

Allow yourself the luxury of responding to his response.

4.  Never compare your beauty to another’s.

It doesn’t work that way, anymore than comparing a Rothko to a Rembrandt. Relish your uniqueness, flaunt it, be who you are. Like who you are.

5.  Give your beauty freely to your husband. 

He needs to see you, to feel your skin, to run his hands over your softness. To hide from him is to rob him of the one of the greatest joys of marriage. He loves what he sees, let him feast his eyes on your loveliness.

And not just now, when you’re young and lithe and tan and wedding-day slim. He needs to see you when you’re 9 months pregnant, and 4 months post-partum, when you’re wrinkling and aging, when you’re surely no candidate for a beauty contest.

Because He sees what you cannot— that you are beautiful by being who you are.

6.  Guard your beauty. 

Like a lovely garden of the finest flowers, a woman’s beauty must be cultivated and maintained. Neglected, we go to seed. Nourished, pampered, smoothed, and cared for, we flourish.

My dear daughter, to be naked and not ashamed in the presence of your husband is to enjoy a place in which freedom and beauty reign. Do all you can to stay in that holy place, to guard your heart against the lies that slip in unnoticed.

From my heart,

Mom

P.S. For those who are reading:

Men, are you getting a glimpse into the soul of a woman with these insights? Pay attention, the woman you love is struggling to see her own beauty.

Women, is this new to you? Have you bought into the lies? Can you share your stories and strategies with us? 

Posted
October 16
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WORK OR PLAY?

(source)

Reaching back into my journal from my summer of silence…  

WORK or PLAY? 

Yesterday I cleaned the garage.  It was a hot, dusty, spider-filled day.

And, as it was my long procrastinated attempt at sorting through my too-much stuff again, I was fairly overwhelmed with decision-making.  I’ve struggled and failed to find a matrix that works for sorting through 36 years worth of accumulation. Throw in a few childhood memories and I’m sunk.

By the time I came inside to de-cobweb my hair and wash off the sweat of a hard summer day’s work, my little cottage was filled with all manner of pretty things stacked in haphazard disarray. My grandmother’s china overflowed a table in the hallway, vintage creamware cluttered the kitchen counter, boxes and boxes of books awaited my attention.

Isn’t that just the way of life? One mess leads to another until cleaning up messes overrides the best of plans… and I think that maxim applies to relationships as much as to garage cleaning…

So when I woke up early this morning with a rare day alone on the agenda I was torn. Should I spend the day studying for that Pastor’s Conference I am speaking at in Uganda? Or… should I play house with all my pretty things and spend my day creating beauty?

I did neither.

Instead I picked up a catalogue and feasted guiltily on pictures of cozy rooms and elegant arrangements. Between sips of steaming tea, I glanced at my Bible and tried to ignore that insistent sense that I really ought to first listen to the One I’ve given my life to.

I wanted to decorate all day… but I was certain that He would tell me to get to work. And so I stalled and sipped tea and wondered where to put what, feeling like a naughty girl ignoring her chore list as if I was ten years old again. Memories of sneaking a few pages of my Nancy Drew mystery instead of dusting my room came flooding back.

Guilt, guilt, guilt.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I tossed the magazine aside and picked up my Bible. How can I call Jesus my Lord and ignore Him as I ready for my day?  With a sigh I opened to where I’d left off the day before, ready to listen yet secretly wishing for the freedom to do what I wanted.

What I read… and heard, made me fall in love with my Father all over again. Because He’s not who I seem to consistently think He is: He’s not a taskmaster cracking the whip or a teacher clucking His tongue at my flakiness. He is not waiting for me to open my Bible so He can show me my chore list.

Yes, I listen for instruction. Of course He often corrects me. And sometimes He calls me to deny what I want to do in order to accomplish what I am called to complete. But that’s not the whole picture, not even close.

Here is where my morning reading took me:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.

You believe in God; believe also in me.

My Father’s house has many rooms:

if that were not so would I have told you

I am going there to prepare a place for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you,

I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

John 14:1-3

I could fairly feel the brush of His Spirit against my soul as I breathed in His truth— He’s not mad at me for wanting to decorate my little cottage on Firwood Road!  In fact, He is spending His holy hours doing the same— preparing a place for me, a place where we can relish intimacy, a place of rest, a place of untangling troubled hearts caught up in self-imposed pressures.

His love wafted over my stringent should’s like the fragrant candle burning on my bedside table. I breathed deep— and smiled.

And so, this morning, before I get up and putter about arranging my pretty things, I want to remind you what I am just now remembering for myself. Because some of us get it wrong sometimes… and we lose peace… we miss His joy and stagger under a load He hasn’t meant for us to carry.  And then we work too hard and feel guilty because we’re crabby and short-tempered and generally hard to live with. (yep, that is me confessing who I’ve been this last week!)

This, then is truth:

Jesus is… a Redeemer lovingly restoring a broken world back to Himself.

He is… a Creator inviting you to play along with Him.

He is… a Maker of Beauty.

 

From a heart delighting in who He is,

Diane

P.S. Are you like me? Do you impose rigid rules on yourself that actually aren’t from the Father? Can you name a few to help us recognize them in ourselves?

 

 

 

Posted
October 13
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chairclothes

THE HONEYMOON #2

 (image by Hillary)

Naked

And the man and his wife were both

Naked

and unashamed.

Genesis 2:25

Dear Son,

The most invaluable, unforgettable, intimate gift a woman can give a man is her body. To unveil herself, to strip away her coverings, to allow the man she loves to see her as she is— this is an act of intimate trust.

When Adam first saw Eve standing naked before him, he broke out in a song of endearing enthusiasm:

This…

is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!

she shall be called woman

for she was taken out of man.

Genesis 2:23

niv

He was enthralled with this one who was so like him… and so intriguingly different. He loved her, he wanted her, he responded to her beauty.

When your wife reveals herself to you… for the first time, for the second, and for the thousandth time, she will be asking a question. Always. No, she won’t write it down. She won’t ask it out loud. She might not even realize what she’s asking. But somewhere deep inside, her soul is crying out,

Am I beautiful?

And you, my dear son, have the power to answer that question in a way that will be forever inked on the skin of her soul.

Answer well… and you will be propelled into a lifetime of unparalleled passion. Of beauty. Of love.

Hesitate…or evaluate… or send any sort of signal of not enough-ness… and you will miss out on the greatest treasure a woman has to give— herself.

And so, my son, I have a list. This is my list for men who want to experience the thrill of a wife who gives herself to him with abandon, with such confidence in her own appeal that she bathes her husband in her beauty.

How To Make A Woman Beautiful:

1.  Tell her she’s beautiful.

Tell her every day. Every. Single. Day. When she’s sweaty from working out, when she’s sleepy and unadorned, when she’s got a pimple on her nose, and when she’s seducing you in the glow of candlelight. Tell her that you see her beauty, get specific, be prolific.

2.  Show her she’s beautiful.

Let your face express your awe. Don’t be covert- that was fine for dating days but now that she’s fully yours she needs you to be fully aware. Look at her. Follow her with your eyes. Let her catch you looking. She needs to know that her beauty excites you.

3.  Remember she’s beautiful.

In the everyday-ness of life, it is easy to forget about beauty. There is work to be done, bills to pay, conflicts to work through. But you have the power to remind yourself that your wife is a treasured gift of beauty from God. Be purposeful about remembering.

4.  Remind her she’s beautiful.

Do not allow your wife to swallow the lie that she is not beautiful. Ever. Use all your man-like warrior skills to combat Satan’s deceptive ploy to steal your wife’s beauty. She may never model for a glossy magazine but she is hand-crafted by God to mirror His beauty in a way that only she can. Your job is to show her. To tell her. To remind her. To insist that she see her own beauty the way you do.

5.  Let her stay beautiful.

Beauty in the mirror costs bucks in the wallet. It pains me to hear men complain about the cost of make-up and hair cuts and all those shoes that crowd a woman’s closet… and then to secretly wish their wife looked better. All that effort a woman makes into being as attractive as possible is for you—really!

Do not begrudge her the joy of adorning herself with girly beauty. Budget for it. Sacrifice for it. She will repay you with the swaggering confidence of a feel-good-about-herself woman.

6.  Thank her for being beautiful.

No woman stays beautiful without effort. It takes time, discipline, self-denial, money, creativity, and determination. When your wife takes the time to clean herself up, to spray on some scented loveliness, to coax her feet into high heels and in any way bring her beauty to your attention, let her know you love it. Leave off with that male bluster that makes it sound like you don’t care— because you do care about her beauty and so does she.

7.  Tell others she’s beautiful.

There is something about being praised in public that means more to a woman than most men realize. Loosen those barriers that hold you back from saying it— in front of her friends and yours, in the presence of men and women, do the unorthodox— tell the world that you find your wife incredibly, classically, intrinsically beautiful.

8.  Thank God for her beauty.

The surest way to keep on seeing her beauty even when wrinkles line her face, babies distort her body, and age greys her hair, is to thank God every day that He entrusted you with this beauty. She is a gift. Her beauty is a gift. Make it your habit to thank God for her, to bless Him for the blessing her beauty brings into your life.

When I walked into the hospital room of my friend, Isabel Moore, who lay dying at the age of 92, I was struck by her stunning beauty.  Her normally coifed hair was brushed back from her face, no make-up covered her wrinkled skin, her stylish clothes had been exchanged for a hospital gown. Yet she glowed.

As her friends and family took their turns to whisper good-bye, she took each person by the hand and pulled them close…  spilling one last dose of beauty onto each of us.

I walked out of her room knowing I had experienced beauty in its truest form. I saw a woman whose beauty had, over months and years and decades, been nurtured and magnified, loved and celebrated. With the insistence of her husband, Tom, over a span of 69 years, Isabel’s beauty had made it’s way from her skin, down deep into her soul. She knew her own beauty intimately— and that knowing compelled her to give it away.

Make that your goal, Matt. To find and notice and cultivate Simona’s God-created beauty. When she’s 22, when she’s 52, when she’s 92.

And then watch as she spills that beauty back onto every one who touches her life, and especially on you.

From my heart,

Mom

P.S. For those who are reading:

Girls, can you chime in? Has your husband/ friend/ boyfriend/ fiancé helped you to see your unique beauty? How?

Men, do you need help with this? I know it’s not easy, but I also know that a man’s courage can be daunting when he’s on the warpath to protect someone he loves. I applaud you for trying t

Posted
October 10
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GOD IN THE MOMENTS OF OUR EVERY DAYS

(source)

As I write these words I am nestled in a soul-refreshing nook carved deep in a canyon in the hills above the Pacific Ocean. There is a camp here, built in the 1960’s, restored recently, used by those who need to get away and think.

I am with a small group- less than 100 of us— talking about global church planting. Phil and I are the older, more experienced, supposedly wiser couple, though Chris and Meryl Wienend of Genesis Collective are the real brains behind all that’s going on here this week.

Last night we answered questions and I was surprised by how few wanted strategy and how many wanted to know about life and love and ministry and how to manage all the important pieces well. We feel honored and humbled by their queries, knowing full well how often we have stumbled and failed and managed nothing well.

I look into their faces and see courage.

Trust.

A choice to leave the comfortable place and dare— to dream and do.

I see greatness.

And I know that these choice men and women will struggle. Planting a church is by far the most difficult, challenging, stretching, exhausting endeavor we have ever undertaken.

I wouldn’t want to do it again.

Yet…

I am so glad we did.

I don’t tell them that. Instead I pray and give courage where I can.

I scurry back to my room to write their names down because, gosh, they will need me and anyone else they can gather as stand-in-the-gap prayers.

I want to hold them close and remind them that it is worth it- that He is worth it.

And I want to hand them each a great big stash of cash so they won’t have the worries inherent in any act of heroic faith. I want to take all the girls shopping because doesn’t a new outfit just make everything easier? 

Instead I know that they have chosen to do without. To leave comfort to embrace a vision. They have heard God beckoning them to come, to follow, to trust.

I am so proud of them I could burst.

And so are you.

You are listening, seeing, hearing God in the moments of your days. You look for Him. You find Him, sometimes in surprising places. And when you point Him out to others, to me, to us here on this site, we see Him too.

That’s why we are starting an Instagram called @hespeaksinthesilence. And that’s why we are inviting you to send us your own glimpses of God in the moments of your every days.

So that we can see and hear together.

In the innocence of your toddler’s joy, in the comfort of your friend’s embrace, in the beauty of something God has created and called to your attention— in any and every place you see and hear and delight in this One who we get to call our Father.

Want to know a strange thing about me? I am deaf woman who hears God better than she sees Him. So when people take pictures or create beauty of their own, I feel like a blind woman seeing for the first time…and I love that.

So, if you’re a lover of Instagram like I am, I invite you to join us. Please. Show us what you see in your own moments by tagging your pictures #hespeaksinthesilence. Tell me what you are hearing.

Then let’s see and hear together and call out our absolute delight in a God who speaks. 

From my heart,

Diane

P.S. Here’s a great spot to tell us what you’re hearing and seeing. And how you hear best. One thing I love about listening to God is the discovery that He adopts our own dialect to make sure we get what He is saying.

P.S.S. I’m keeping @dianewcomer too just for fun and dedicating @hespeaksinthesilence to listening and seeing God in the moments of every day.

Posted
October 6
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THE HONEYMOON #1

(image by Hillary Kupish)

INTENT: goal, purpose, design, plan, aim

Dear Matt and Simona,

You’re married!

After months of planning and preparations, endless lists and endless work, the wedding is over. The two of you stood before friends and family, before God Himself, and said, “I Do.”

The wonder of your wedding day is still sending ripples of delight in my mind, memories I will cherish for a long, long while.

Simona, your elegance cast a magical beauty over the entire day. Matt, your laughter lit the night with joy. Could your grin have gotten any bigger?

We waved you off with our blessing and our prayers. And then your dad and I turned to each other, grasped hands, and prayed. We asked God to fill your night with the joy of discovery. To fill your hearts with confidence. To fill your minds with pictures of beauty. To fill your honeymoon with memories you will both relish forever.

And we prayed that you would both remember what we’ve told you:

That the purpose of your honeymoon is to know and be known. It is the beginning of a lifetime quest for two people to so understand each other that they begin to think as one. To meld bodies and lives and hopes and dreams into an unbreakable bond of wholeness.

To become one.

And to that end, it is a set apart time.  This is not simply a vacation. Not just an expensive adventure.  If you get a little sightseeing in on the side, great! But you’ll have lots of vacations and only one honeymoon.

Your honeymoon is a time for the unveiling of yourselves to each other. For undressing, and uncovering.  It is a long anticipated choosing to be “naked and unashamed”.  To be before each other just as you are, without masks or covering.

You have both waited for this— have guarded yourselves and each other in anticipation of a lifetime of unrestricted passion. You love each other. You want each other. You have waited for intimacy on the promise that this gift is best unwrapped under the covenant of forever.

Forever begins now.

But a great honeymoon doesn’t happen by accident. Like most things of high value, you will have to be intentional about this time. You will not want to squander the potential of this beginning.  And so I have put together a short list of ways to purposely create an environment in which you will both thrive. A list of guidelines in order to intentionally write your history well.

Six Guidelines For A Great Honeymoon:

1.  Guard these days

That may mean you’ll need to turn off your phones. Do not return texts. Don’t like anybody’s pictures or messages or requests. Instead, turn all your attention to each other. Too soon you’ll be stressed by the tensions of all the other demands on your time. Now is the time just for one another.

2.  Give yourself completely

It takes a tremendous amount of trust to unveil your real selves to another person. To not pretend. But those who do will have the reward of a love that is real.

Two cannot become one if there is hiddenness.

This is the time to tell each other what hurts deeply, what gives you courage, why you fell in love and what you hope the years ahead will hold.

And it is a time to be all about the other. To coax and allure each other into a safe place.

3.  Laugh a lot

Instead of taking yourselves too seriously, allow room for hilarity. Sex is fun! Sure, the timing can be complicated, but learning is the best part. Be gentle with each other, be friendly and affectionate, don’t try too hard to imitate the movies- sex just isn’t always so hot and instant, especially at the beginning. Have a blast learning to get it right.

Then bask in the rush of emotions that will have your redefining the word happiness.

4.  Affirm each other frequently

You both need to hear the unedited pleasure of each other. Don’t hold back, say it, show it, tell each other what makes you feel like you’re coming out of your skin with the joy of it. And then say it again.

Please, please, please do not allow even one discouraging word to shadow your intimacy. If you have a mean moment, apologize immediately.

This is a sacred time, honor that.

4.  Spend time alone with God each day

As absorbed as you are with each other, you’ll be in danger of imposing too much need on each other unless you each spend time alone with the One who is your “life that is truly life.” Honor each other’s individual-ness by giving each other space to be alone with God. Then come together and share what He’s telling you. This is the way to greatest intimacy.

And one last word of advice:

6.  Have Fun!

Flirt, rest, jest, tease, talk, sleep, eat, indulge, play! Be lazy. Relish beauty. Find gifts for each other. Write notes. Tell stories. Crack jokes. Swim in the ocean, splash in puddles. Saturate all your senses with the pure joy life.

My dear son and daughter, take these days as the gift that they are. You are free, you are healthy, you have plenty, you are loved.

With much love and hope for the two of you,

Mom

P.S. For those who are reading: Do you have anything to add? Or any questions to ask?

Let’s start a conversation for a few weeks on what you hope, what you wish, what you’d do different in order to intentionally write the story of your first days as husband and wife.

Posted
October 2
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WEDDING WEEK HAS COME AND GONE

(source)

Wedding Week has come and gone.

All that remains of months of work are the pictures of a day so filled with beauty, so packed with goodness, so overflowing with love that a sort of mystical halo will forever surround the memories.

I thought I’d share with you some of my favorites:

(photos by my friend Jodi Stilp)

Simona’s mom, Natalia. She radiated joy, peace, serenity, knowing, wisdom, gentleness. She is the softest strong woman I know. A woman who stays in the background serving. A woman who loves with the fierceness of one who has known pain and chosen to embrace grace rather allowing herself to be distorted by bitterness.

(photos by my friend Jodi Stilp)

Scarlet’s march down the aisle way ahead of the other flower girls who were dutifully following instructions to sprinkle rose petals along the way. That look of sheer determination, along with her cousin, Sunday’s look of chagrin (she was supposed to be Scarlet’s keeper, but who can “keep” a girl with that kind of moxy?) started me laughing and set the tone for the entire wedding.

(photos by my friend Jodi Stilp)

John Mark’s little brother jokes. All the formal, Romanian loveliness of the day combined with the hilarity of my preacher-son’s memories of his little brother’s antics had our family laughing out loud and elbowing each other right up to the vows.

(photos by my friend Jodi Stilp)

Matthew’s tears. Gosh…

(photos by my friend Jodi Stilp)

Simona’s vows, which included: “You are my Hans Solo…” slipped in between profound words of commitment and honor. I don’t think she could have said anything that would have cemented Matt’s love for her more. Wise woman, my girl!

(photos by my friend Jodi Stilp)

My dad. Thirty-six years ago he walked me down the aisle, this time I escorted him. Slow, careful, loving the moment and hanging on to some of these last times together. How I wish every girl had a dad like mine.

The dancing. Which was really more of a bunch of grown up children bouncing, laughing, shouting, reveling in shared joy. So wholesome and good. Fun.

(photos by my friend Jodi Stilp)

Rebekah and Steve, John Mark and Tammy, Jude, Moses, Sunday, Brook and Elizabeth, Scarlet, Duke, Phil, me and Simona’s whole family… surrounding Matt and Simona with our love and prayer and teasing and support and advice and commitment to be a family. This is the kind of community we are made for, the kind we are called to bring to the church and to the world. Imperfect but faithful.

And I feel a little bit of what God felt all those millennium ago… when He rested… and saw that it was good.

Not perfect, but good. Very good.

From a heart at rest,

Diane

 

Posted
September 29
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CharmingLuggage

OUR HOUSE

(image by hillary kupish)

Our house is a very, very, very fine house

With two cats in the yard,

Life used to be so hard,

Now everything is easy cause of you…

I’ll light the fire,

You place the flowers in the vase that you bought today.[1]

(still my favorite love song…)

 Dear Matt and Simona,

Saturday was your wedding day. A beautiful, romantic day you have both dreamed of for many months. Today the two of you are flying across oceans and mountains, glaciers and jungles… to a place just for the two of you. Alone.

And I sit here in my tiny cottage in the woods trying to condense all that I want to say into these few words on a screen. I type and I delete. I walk around the block and think of too many things I want to say. I try again.

And there is only this:

A love that lasts a lifetime doesn’t happen by accident.

It is not a romantic ending to a good story. It is not in the stars, not because you found the One. The kind of love you hope for isn’t because of good luck or good personalities or good timing. It does not wear out or go away. No one falls out of this kind of love.

A love that lasts a lifetime is a love that is lived on purpose.

It is a love that is gone after. A love that is done daily. A love that is thought about, sacrificed for, worked towards.

Even on bad days. Especially on bad days.

Yes, love is a gift. But perhaps more, real love, the kind of love that all of us long for, is a skill. A vocation. A calling.

And that is why I am writing these letters. Because I dare to believe that this is a kind of love that is possible. I believe that you two and anyone else can have a love that lasts for a lifetime. I believe that any of us— all of us— can become excellent lovers.

And more, I believe we are called to do this kind of love.

Everyday.

For the rest of forever.

That is what these letters will be about. The doing of real love. The craft, the skill, the expertise it takes to navigate real life and cultivate true love. I want to pass on what I am learning about how to “walk in the way of love” (Ephesians 5:2) so that when you are both old… with all the inherent greying and sagging and wrinkling and slowing that old age brings… you will still be in love.

Because I believe it’s possible, this whole-life love. Maybe not normal, but possible. And I don’t believe it has much to do with luck, though no doubt about it, some people have an easier time at it than others. And though I may have started off life as a dreamer, a romantic, a head-in-the-clouds innocent… I now have three plus decades of church ministry under my belt and all the inherent sad, tragic, disgusting, horrifying real-life-marriage stories to off-set my fairy tale take on life.

And I believe more than ever in the theory of redemption:  that our God is a fixer of broken things. That your mess-ups and mistakes do not define you.

Nor is all that messiness a predilection for future failure. I read it in God’s Word and I see it in real life.

I have seen people tuck their broken, repentant, honest selves right into Jesus. I have seen Him exchange their sorry state with His glory, with His beauty. I have seen—close up—two people collide and fall on their faces and call out to God. I have seen the beauty He brings out of the ashes of fire-ravaged lives. How He melds two people into one.

And I am one of those: broken, selfish, spoiled, self-indulgent, and… redeemed. And so is your dad. You know that.

God doesn’t automatically make repentant, dependent people good, instead He fills them with God. With Himself. And then He slowly begins that painstaking process of smoothing off the ugliness. Something like the way He used glaciers to craft great swaths of smooth tundra, so slowly the movement is almost imperceptible.

The key, I have come to see, is patience. Patience with each other first, but also patience with yourself. We learn to love well. God Himself trains us in the way of love. Scripture is filled with wisdom to get us started and then to stretch us further until His way becomes, if not natural, at least a whole lot easier.

So, before the letters even officially begin, let me leave you with just a couple of things to tuck away.

  1. A love that lasts a lifetime is possible.
  2. A love that lasts a lifetime is not natural or easy or automatic.
  3. A love that lasts a lifetime requires the humility of daily brokenness before God.
  4. A love that lasts a lifetime involves skills that can be learned.
  5. A love that lasts a lifetime takes a lifetime.

And this…

A love that lasts a lifetime is worth it.

From my heart,

Mom

P.S. While I am writing these letters to my son and new daughter, they have agreed to let you read along. What I am hoping, is that you will bring your stories and wisdom and questions and comments with you. I get tired of talking all by myself. So please, let the conversation begin.



[1] Published and recorded in 1970, by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I’ve been whistling this one under my breathe for longer than you’ve been alive!