Letters

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March 4
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A New Series To Start

For weeks and months now I’ve been writing Letters To My Son, a series of answers to his question, posed a year or so ago,

 “Mom, what should I look for in a wife?”

Such a simple question.  Such a long and involved way of answering.

I think he assumed I’d answer by talking, the way mothers do, about beauty being more than skin deep and all the fine qualities a good woman should have.

And I suspect he thought all this talking would take an hour or so.  At the most.

And now I’m finally just about talked out.  Thirty-five letters and ten months later.

I’ve loved your responses, mulled over your questions, treasured your insights. What has emerged from my mail is a generation of men and women who want to do relationships right. Who’ve seen what happens when a man and a woman mess up.

And you want more for yourself.

You have astounded me by your willingness to read and learn and ask questions and gather wisdom and wait for the right time.  You have no idea how honored I’ve been to be a part of the conversation.

But now I think its time to talk about some other things.

Because, you see, I’m hoping all this talk about dating and marriage and falling in love and honoring God and each other will actually lead to some of you falling in love and getting married!

And so, at the urging of some of my advisors…

(part of our blog team: Elizabeth, Kristi, Abi and Fallon)

and my niece, Brittany…

I am embarking on a new series.

A series I’m calling He’s Not Your Prince Charming.

While the Letters were written for men about women,

this new series will be written for women about men.

I’ll be attempting to explain what I’ve seen and to make sense of what the Bible says about how men work and what they’re called to and why its sometimes so hard to fit our lives with theirs.

Now I am certainly no expert on men or marriage or much of anything else. I’m just me- a woman,  a wife, a mom. You know my story, how God allowed my me to go deaf and in turn taught me what it means to listen.

And since that near failure of my faith and the subsequent failure of my hearing, I have focused on listening to God in the everyday messiness of life and relationships.

And in all that listening, I’ve gathered some things to pass on to you. About what love really looks like, about conflict and communication, about honesty and humility and intimacy. I want to tell you how I found  joy in the midst of tension and rest in spite of my perfectionism. I want you to know that marriage can be both a crucible for building character and a refuge from all that performance-based scrutiny that is real life.

But first, I want to tell you more of my story.

Because this will be a series of letters to my girls about things like finding satisfaction and dealing with disappointments and learning how to love the men in our lives with skill and wisdom.

A mixed bag of lessons learned along the way of listening with both my Bible and my heart wide open.

So for the next couple of weeks I’ll be inviting you into the intimacies of how I met and fell in love with Phil all those years ago. I’ll tell you what I saw in him, why I fell in love, and what I thought my life would be.

And I’ll let you know mistakes I made and lies I believed. I’ll tell you what I was thinking then and what I think now. How I’ve changed and what I wish I’d known.

Most of all I will remind you over and over again that fairy tales are not real life. That our stories include great beauty and dark disappointments.

That falling in love is not the end of the happily ever after, but the beginning of learning to love our neighbors as ourselves.

From my heart,

Diane

P.S. I’d love to hear your questions. Though I’ll not be able to answer every one (partly because I don’t know!), I will attempt to include answers in every post.

I promise to pray and ponder and listen in the hopes that we can mine for God’s wisdom together.

Posted
February 18
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LETTERS TO MY SON: A NOTE FROM DAD

(PART TWO)

Dear Matt,

Last week I posted the first part of Dad’s letter to you. He packed so much wisdom into his letter that I decided to give it to you in smaller bites so you would be able to absorb it all.  Here is the rest of what he wrote about dating and pursuing a woman and listening to God in the midst of it all.

I know you know this, but I’ve just got to say it again— you have a rich heritage of faith gifted to you by a father who has pursued God single-mindedly for all of your life and many years before.
And for all those who are listening in, may you grow to be this kind of man by keeping your eyes on the finish line.

Love,

Mom

Dear son,

After thanking God for His peace and His promise to guide you, here is my “practical” advice:

This is what dating is for!

1. Take it slow

2. Have fun

3. Become friends…

  • Can you be yourself with her?
  • Do you like just being with her?
  • Do you like talking to her?
  • Can you share your dreams with her?
  • Does she listen as you share your heart with her?
  • Does she really like who your are?
  • As your generation says it: is she “into you”?
  • Do you look forward to the next time you get to be with her?
  • Is that growing or diminishing the more you get to know her?

4. Stay pure 

  • I know I’ve told you this again and again and that you’ve made that commitment already— but remember what 1Timothy 5v2 says.  You are to treat young women “as sisters, in all purity”. You wouldn’t make out with your sister!

5. Does it ‘click’? 

  • I believe God has made us three-part, body, soul, and spirit. When God brings the woman to you that He has for you, it should ‘click’ in all of these three areas.
    • You should be physically attracted to her; you should think she’s beautiful! Your wife will need to know this and will want to hear you tell her often!
    • You should click in the area of the soul. Do your personalities, your goals, your dreams fit together well? You won’t be the same but you must be a good match, i.e. if you want to have three kids soon after getting married, and she wants to wait ten years and maybe not have any, it’s not a good fit.
    • You should fit well in the spiritual area. You both need to know Jesus, love Jesus, and be walking with Jesus.

6. Spend a lot of time with her around people you respect.

  • Most should be older and wiser than you.
  • Let them observe the two of you together.
  • Let them speak into whether or not this relationship should proceed to marriage.
  • Although it sounds self-serving, I believe your parents will be a huge part of this.

7. Do you have peace?

  • Is God giving you continued peace as you proceed in the relationship? Granted peace is a bit subjective but here’s what I have discovered about peace. You know when you don’t have it!  And if you don’t have it, as your Mom said: “Wait! No peace? Don’t move!”
  • Because it is either: 
    • Wrong girl, wrong time.
    • Right girl, wrong time; God is saying, “She’s the one, but not yet” or “first finish school”, or “you’re not ready” or “she’s not ready”.
    • OR…Right girl, right time!
  • And if it is right girl, right time — Go for it!
  • Keep praying, keep seeking counsel, enjoy her company…and when you are ready and able to both support her and spend the rest of your life with her just say…

8. “Will you marry me?”

Love,

Dad

Posted
February 11
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LETTERS TO MY SON: a note from dad

(PART ONE)

Dear Matthew,

Last week I wrote to you about that worry you have experienced more than once about whether or not you should pursue someone.  My answer rambled on a bit in mom-like fashion, but at the end I promised that your dad would write this week with his ever-so-practical and always Biblical perspective.

What follows is a wise man’s advice to his wise son’s query about finding God’s will in the area of dating and marriage. I’ve actually split his letter in two so that you can think long and savor his wisdom.

One more thing: while you read this, take note of why I am still so in love with your dad. As I’ve said before, a woman’s love grows and deepens and expands along with her respect for a man. Pretty good reason, if you ask me, to stay hard on the path to wisdom as you follow close to Jesus and soak yourself in His Word.

I love you,

Mom

Dear Son… and other Dudes reading this,

First, I am so blessed to have a son who is seeking to know and do God’s will, and God’s will only! I believe God is eager to direct anyone who truly wants to be led by Him.

My advice is to begin by thanking Him that He answers prayer, and that He will show you the way you are to go!

One of the many favorite verses I go to myself, and share often with people seeking to know God’s will is Psalm 32v8. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Here the God who created the heavens and the earth, and who made you, promises to give you His private counsel. That’s both amazing and comforting.

As you know son, we must always look at Scripture in context so take a look at what the writer says just before in verse seven; “You are my hiding place. You preserve my soul from trouble; you surround me with songs of deliverance.”

As you hide yourself in God you can thank Him that He will protect you from making a mistake or going in the wrong direction.

Look at verse nine.  As is common in Scripture, there are conditions to the promise. “Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you.” In other words, as long as you don’t go running off like a wild horse who refuses to be tamed and led by its master—God will give you His counsel. To me, that brings great peace and great comfort!

Instead of saying, “God, I really like this girl so I’m going after her now. Please bless my plans!” Say, “God, I really like this girl— so I’m going to get to know her, and as I do, I thank You that You will reveal to me if she is right for me!” 

Instead of saying, “Bless my plans…my will be done”.

Say, “God, show me Your plans…Your will be done”.

There is a huge difference.

While I do completely agree with your Mom that there are no two perfect people who form a perfect match who have a perfect marriage with zero issues to work out. I also know from experience and from the Scriptures that…God will be as involved in your life as you allow Him to be! 

I believe your Mom, was the one God brought to me when I was searching, when I was praying, and when I was being careful not to make a mistake. In that very real way, ours is a ‘marriage made in heaven’.  I still love her and I still think she’s beautiful after 35 years of marriage. This week marks our 36th Valentines Day celebration, and yes, I got her a present!

My advice son, is to begin by thanking God that…

1. He is leading you

2. He will protect you

3. He has promised to guide you

Now.. let His peace, which is subjective but very real, flood your heart and soul.

Love,

Dad

Next week more about how to determine if you should continue to pursue a particular girl.  

Posted
February 4
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LETTER TO MY SON: A CHECK IN THE SPIRIT

Dear Son,

Many months ago you came to me with a pressing question. I could see all the bottled up worry working its way through your limbs… fidgets, incessant nose rubbing, scratching imaginary irritants—you were itching and twitching with anxiety.

And of course, that got me worried! What’s going on? What’s the matter? I barely got my concern out of my mouth when your words burst like an unkinked hose.

“I don’t know what’s the matter. I want to move deeper into a committed relationship with this girl. She’s perfect in every way. She loves God passionately, likes me, encourages me, shares my goals, is funny and gorgeous… but I feel like God keeps saying ‘No, wait’. And I don’t know why. What’s wrong? Is it me? Is it her?”

On and on you spilled your angst at not knowing what God seemed to be saying to you. You thought you knew your own heart, but not God’s. And that bothered you…A lot.

So I told you what I learned, “You are experiencing what the preachers and writers and listeners from times past used to call ‘a check in your spirit’”.

My advice? 

Wait… “If you do not know what you ought to do stand still until you do.” F.B. Meyer  wrote that 
Be still... Shh. Quiet all that noisy self-talk  
Stop talking… to your friends, to yourself 
Listen… until you’ve had a chance to hear that voice and figure out what He’s hinting at 

What do you hear in the silence?

Is there a nagging worry you’ve tried to ignore? Something not quite right but not blatantly bad?

Or are you just afraid…

That you’ll be labeled a player if a few weeks from now you realize you just don’t click? 
That you might get hurt? Embarrassed? Rejected? 
Or are you, perhaps, still ingrained with the mystic idea that ‘the one’ is waiting just around the corner to fulfill all your dreams? The perfect match. Your soul mate.

Son, you know,  I don’t believe in perfect-soul-mate-matches-made-in-heaven. More often, I see two God-centered people blending and giving and compromising and rubbing off rough edges and working it out and figuring it out and becoming one… and that’s rarely easy or ideal or especially romantic. 

Too many soul-probing questions without definitive answers?

I have learned not to push those questions underground because God speaks so quietly. He presses on our soul subtly. He asks us to lean in a little closer, He invites us to linger over Scripture a little longer.

So here’s my list of mom-made advice:

  • Wait
  • Watch
  • Stand still
  • Lighten up
  • Go play soccer with some friends
  • Savor a cup of coffee and a good book
  • Relax
  • Don’t force it
  • Have fun

And then go talk to Dad, because he’s not so mystical about finding God’s path. He’ll ask questions and write pro’s and con’s charts on yellow pads of paper.  He’ll say, “Invite her over!” and then he’ll embarrass you and make everyone laugh and you’ll know a lot about how you really feel.

And so next Monday, I’ll post just what your dad has to say. Maybe he’s got a story to tell…

From my heart,

Mom

Questions & Comments: Go ahead and ask and I’ll try to answer as best I can.

  • How this looks in real life?
  • Do you have a question about what I mean? 
Posted
January 28
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LETTER TO MY SON: PROTECT HER PURITY

(PART FOUR)

Dear Matthew,

I know your iron clad commitment to sexual purity. I admire your decision to keep a close guard over your passions, reigning in all those desires that can make life a constant battle for a man. I have just the faintest clue of how hard it must be and that sets me to praying for you every day; for strength, for wisdom, for protection from an enemy who would love to sideline you through spur-of-the-moment stupidity.

And then I go to a gathering of Believers on Sunday and see all those beautiful young women vying for men’s attentions. Some are chaste and subtle and content to remain hidden until God brings them to a man in His time.

But others are not. Many are not. And they dance their bodies before the eyes of men who must look away or burn with forbidden desire. Too much skin, too tight jeans, too bold in their beauty.

Why do they do it?

What are they saying?

What do they want, these women who love God and allure men with suggestions of more?

Here’s what I think— because I’ve been there and done that and just barely escaped giving more of myself than I ought. And we’re all the same, us women. Deep down we need and want and long for the same things.

Five Things Every Woman Longs For:

1.  Every woman longs to be desired.

This is why women flirt, why some uncover too much. There is this little girl inside of every woman that longs to draw a man to herself. To be sought after, to be wanted. And yes, this goes for the sexual area of her relationships as well. A woman cannot separate her sexuality from her soul. To be desired sexually feels like being desired as a whole— that is what every woman thinks and believes and feels.

2.  Every woman longs to be loved.

It is a woman’s deepest need; for a good man to love her for who she is, to love her no matter what, to love her forever. Every woman is born wanting this and many— far too many women spend their entire lives hoping and wishing and working and sacrificing everything in order to get this kind of love. Yet few ever do. And I think God weeps.

3.  Every woman longs to be cherished.

To be valued and considered, to be wanted. To be treated like a fragile piece of crystal rather than a disposable plastic mug. Paul goes so far as to command husbands to cherish their wives, comparing women to the Church and husband to the Savior. (Ephesians 5) This translates in a woman’s mind to carefulness— with her feelings, with her body, with her soul.

4.  Every woman longs to be protected.

It is there even in the fiercest of women, this need to be watched over and guarded from harm. Instinctively, a woman knows that God created men to protect women, to represent God’s warrior-like protection over His creation. Which is why a woman who marries a man who did not protect her purity while dating or engaged, often feels an inexplicable distrust of him.

5.  Every woman longs to be led.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… and again… and again. Women want to be led. Not bullied, not dominated, not forced. And we all know there are mean men out there who are tyrants. But the complaint I hear by far most often from women is not about abuse— it’s about passivity. Men who cannot summon the energy or the confidence to step out and lead, or initiate, or communicate where in the world they’re headed.

To lead takes tremendous courage, I know, but dear sons who are listening, I pray you will have the courage to lead as you are led by Christ.

From the heart of a mom who prays for you and for your friends,

Mom

 

Posted
January 21
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LETTERS TO MY SON: PROTECT HER PURITY

(PART THREE)

Dear Matthew,

I’ve been writing to you for the past few weeks about sexual purity in relationships. First I told you Rebekah and Steve’s story. Then I wrote a list of how’s.  In this letter I want to talk to you a little about why.

You see, my son, I have spent many hours listening to stories and wiping tears and praying over shattered young women.

And my heart has broken with their brokenness because those wounds are hard to heal and marrying her doesn’t make it go away.

I am a mom— not a psychologist, not a doctor, not a researcher with numbers to prove my point. I’m just a mom who loves women and loves to listen and wants to help.

This is what I know:

  1. When a woman gives herself to a man, she gives her whole self.
  2. She risks rejection in the hope that she will gain his love and faithfulness forever.
  3. Men are not like that. Men are fully capable and comfortable with being intimate sexually without giving their hearts away.
  4. Many good men have no idea how deeply they are wounding the woman they love by exploiting her vulnerability. They mistakenly assume that she wants what he wants— and its just not that simple.
  5. She wants more than he wants. Sex for a woman is not simply release of pent up desire, it is a craving to be desired, to be the center of a man’s universe— forever.
  6. When a man does not honor a woman’s true desire and he takes her sexuality to slake his thirst for sex, he is responsible for deeply wounding her soul, even when she is a willing participant. And she will bear those wounds for the rest of her life.
  7. And marrying her doesn’t make it go away.
  8. One last thing that every man needs to know: God made a woman’s sexuality to be inseparable from her soul. When she gives herself away, she gives herself away.

And that, my dear son, is something to think about.

Matthew, next week I’ll tell more of the story I know. Because you need to know and so does every young man whose heart is good but who lives in this world of mixed messages.

  •       Why do women dress provocatively if they don’t want sex?
  •       Why is she flirting?
  •       What does she want?
  •       How can a man give her what she wants without taking what she has no right to give and he has no right to take?
  •       What happens when a fully committed man and woman choose to indulge their passions before marriage?

From my heart,

Mom

Do not let sin control the way you live;

do not give in to sinful desires.

Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin.

Instead, give yourselves completely to God,

for you were dead, but now you have new life.

So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

Romans 6:12,13

(NLT)

Posted
January 14
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LETTERS TO MY SON: PROTECT HER PURITY

(PART TWO)

Dear Matthew,

Last week I told you a story about your sister, Rebekah. I described to you a story of a man who took his responsibility to protect the purity of a woman seriously.

This week I want to tell you how.

Every movie, every TV show, every story you see in public is rife with impurity because our culture sees impurity and immodesty and immorality as manly… and sexy… and cool.

What you never see is the shredding of trust, the feelings of insecurity, of being used and abused and abandoned. That stuff.

You know a better way because you have read The Book.

Words like:

You shall not commit adultery. Exodus 20v14

and

You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5v27-28

and

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. I Thessalonians 4v3-6

So here is a mom-made list of how to protect a woman’s purity:

  1. Tell her right up front exactly why you intend to keep your relationship pure. (That way she won’t wonder about the weirdness of a relationship that doesn’t get all hot and heavy)
  2. Make rules for yourself. (As in ‘Do Not Touch’ except for fondness and affection)
  3. Do not spend time all alone together. (You’ll be less tempted to go too far if you always have an audience)
  4. Tell some trusted friends that you intend to keep this relationship pure. (Just the ones who will face this battle with you instead of laughing all over Facebook)
  5. Invite people to question you. (Make it easy, don’t be defensive, they’re not saying they don’t trust you… just that you’re crazy to trust yourself)
  6. Don’t look at pornography! (It’s the fool who thinks he can feed a fire and not get burned by it)
  7. Be honest with her when it’s hard. (But please do not make this a frequent topic of conversation!)
  8. Assure her often of your feelings for her. (Women are conditioned to think that men who paw at them actually love them— and they can get insecure unless you tell them otherwise)
  9. Date for a long time to get to know each other well, then be engaged for a short time. (There is something about that engagement ring that can make it really hard to stop)

It takes a man to follow this kind of advice.

It takes strength, determination, moral muscle.

It takes a man who is so passionate about Jesus that he chooses to curb his own God-given passions.

You are such a man, Matthew. May He give you all His grace.

From my heart,

Mom

And girls… do not settle for anything less.