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Posted
January 26
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Features, Our House
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HOW TO SET YOUR WIFE FREE

OUR HOUSE: The Bedroom #2

And you husbands

Love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church.

He gave up his life for her…

In the same way,

Husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies…

This is a great mystery

Ephesians 5v25,28,32

NLT

Dear Matthew,

When you were a little boy you lived for the moments when all of us were all about you: Vanquishing your older brother with a wrapping-paper-tube-turned-Star-Wars-light-saber. Taking piggy-back rides on Bekah’s back, reading stories on Elizabeth’s lap.

Those were your happiest times, the moments when you were fully yourself and wholly free to be anything you wanted to be.

And now you’re a man— and a husband.

As a husband, your are tasked by God Himself to partner with Him in setting your wife free to be fully herself and wholly free to be everything God created her to be.

Your God-given instructions are found in Ephesians 5vs 21-33, but for today there’s just one word I want you to think about:

Radiant.

God instructs husbands to so love their wives that they become radiant women.

That, my son, is a task for a lifetime.

Because for a woman to radiate, she must be washed and soothed and immersed in true love, in the kind of love that only God can give. And yet… He tasks you to represent Himself to your wife.

He goes so far as to tell husbands that they ought even to love their wives as their own bodies. Which leads me to suggest that He’s hinting at sexuality here too.

God is saying that your coming together in the bedroom is not so much about releasing your pent up, pulsing, driving need, but about unleashing her more hidden, yet-to-be-fully-discovered passions.

But how? Men and women are so distinctly different. A man is aroused primarily by what he sees, while a woman is aroused first by how she feels.

And so I’ve put together a list, of course. And I’m hoping the women who read this post will add their own ideas in the comments.

Six Ways To Set Your Wife Free:

  1. Be nice— all day long. A nice man, one who is kind and thoughtful and quick to give way rather than demand his own way, is incredibly appealing to a woman.
  2. Be humble— learning the art of the apology. The minute you’re short or disapproving or critical or in any way rejecting, apologize profusely. “I was wrong.” “I was a grouch.” “It’s not your fault.” Those are the words of allure to a woman.
  3. Be generous— with words. You don’t have to be poetic or prolific, but she craves your words, relishes them, blossoms under her husband’s generosity— and freezes under his silence.
  4. Be generous— with beauty. She needs beauty. She was created for beauty. She needs you to get that and to figure out a way to recreate the beauty of Eden in order to thrive. And she needs you to tell her she’s beautiful over and over again until someday she believes you.
  5. Be affectionate— the kind of touch that isn’t (initially) for sex often leads a woman to want all of you. Women respond to touch, it is part of her sensuality mechanism. Purposely showing fondness in words and touch and flowers and kindness goes a long way.
  6. Be honest— “I am entrusting my sexuality to you and to you alone. That scares me because my need is so great, but I am trusting you.” She has no idea how much you need her, how often you think about making love to her, how often you really want her but don’t approach her because you’re afraid of rejection. Tell her. More than once. Tell her honestly and vulnerably. That’s actually strangely exciting for a woman.

And one last word: go slow. Seducing your wife to her fullest freedom is a form of art. It takes time, it takes learning, it takes practice.

But hey, you’ve got the rest of your lives!

From a heart that wants the best for both of you,

Mom

 

(image by Hillary Kupish)

Posted
March 20
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Features, Glimpses
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LESSONS I’M LEARNING THE HARD WAY

(image by abi porter)

 “One of the true hazards of writing is that you yearn to write deeply honest things that rise up from lessons learned the hard way… then you have to learn those lessons the hard way.”

~ Shauna Neiquist in Cold Tangerines

This week I have been unpacking. A little early perhaps, as Firwood Cottage is not move-in ready just yet, but life does not wait and I’ve got things to accomplish. And so I pad about in stocking feet on a floor still hardening, trying to figure what to do with Too-Much-Stuff.

Way too-much-stuff. 

Which leads me to worrying. Where will I put it all? What should I get rid of? Those dishes I’ve had since our early years that I still like but don’t need? That pine hutch that takes up so much space and sticks out so far into a room too small but would be perfect for our too-big TV.?

I ask Phil.

Eyeing my too-big stack of pie pans waiting on the kitchen counter for a place to live, he answers honestly, “You don’t need pie pans. You don’t bake pies, Di.”

And just that fast I’m ruffled and annoyed and ready for combat. Because, you see, Phil’s mom made pies, and so did mine. Delicious, memory-making, mouth-watering pies: rhubarb, French apple, Boston cream, cherry- with real, straight-from-the-tree, pitted-one-at-a-time cherries.

Real women make pies. 

And now I’m not worrying about my too-much-stuff anymore, now I’m feeling my identity crumble the way my once-upon-a-time pie crusts did. Before I stopped making pies.

I live with an image of who I wish I were, of the woman I want to be: The woman with a perfectly ironed apron tied around her perfectly tiny waist, pulling a perfect pie out of her perfectly clean oven to feed her perfect family in her perfectly tidy-all-the-time house.

And then I look at me. Covered in dust from pulling boxes out of a disastrously dirty garage. Disheveled and discombobulated over too much stuff with a mind that can’t stop writing words when really I should be figuring this out.

And I don’t make pies.

Which I could excuse away if I could just keep my house perfect, but I can’t… or at least I don’t.

I want to, you see, but I live with two big men who live big lives.

My son, saving for his future, rushing off each morning, returning late every night, building, dreaming, doing, working… and messing up my tidy little house.

And Phil, that man I love, the one who reminds me that I don’t make pies— whose list is always too long and whose life is always too full. The one who dreams big dreams and packs life tight and invites me to join him in his journey.

How in the world am I going to live in this little house with two big men… and their piles of Too-Much-Stuff?  Too not-very-tidy men whose image of who they are is not in the least tied to how perfectly kept this house is. 

I go to sleep under the itchy wool of all my worries, waking up wound tight, uptight. It is dark, rain washing the coming day like those German hausfraus of my growing up years, who scrubbed the front step first thing every single morning, their own beauty all caught up in the cracked concrete.

Is that me?

Do I really believe this house is too small? Or is it just right? In our budget, with room to spare— for being generous, for living free. Just the right size for doing life different, the way God is calling us, the way we are longing to live in this fun, no-pie-baking chapter of our lives together.

For this former ugly-house to become home, our home— home for my two messy men and me— a woman learning to be who I am, learning to let go of who I am not— I am going to have to do more than unpack a few boxes. In fact, in order for Firwood cottage to become a place of rest and refuge, a place for refreshment and fun and good times, I am going to need to hang on to truths I know, but too soon forget.

  1. That real women aren’t perfect.
  2. That real women don’t expect perfection from themselves or those they love.
  3. That real women aren’t afraid to let go of the past because they’re so excited about future hope, they hardly notice old glories.
  4. That real women always make room for more life.

And that, my dear girls, is what living my life “hid in Christ” is looking like right now.

Messy, confusing, satisfying, exhilarating, daring, unconventional, and clinging close to the One who promises to finish this project of remaking me into a real woman.

And so, I ask you the questions that woke me up this morning:

Can we… women fitting ourselves tight in the Shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91), learn to be who we are by simply coming in close to who He is?

Can we… women of such worth, such intrinsic value, (Matthew 6:19-34) stop trying to be perfect in order to learn to be holy? Wholly His, caught up in Him? Lost in His perfection?

Can we… women set free, (Galatians 5:13-15) give others room to become who they are? Letting go of tidy theories, those expectations that tie them tight and choke the life out of every one of us?

Can we live large and small at the same time?

From my heart,

Diane

P.S. Are you like me? Do you cling to an image of who you wish you were but in honest moments, realize you’re not? And that, indeed, you’re not meant to be? 

Please grace us with your stories, your wisdom, your struggles… we learn from each other…

P.S.S. I gave my pile of pie pans to a friend who makes pies…

 

Posted
March 14
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Etc, Features
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WOMEN’S NIGHT IN PRAYER

What if…

God were to call on women to gather together to pray for their family, their friends, the people in their lives, the people they love?

What if…

God were to call an army of women to engage in intense, purposeful prayer?

What if…

hundreds of women answered that call and came together all at once to pray in one massive all-at-the-same-time gathering?

What if…

every daughter, son, husband, friend, neighbor and work associate of every one of those hundreds of women got saturated in prayer?

What if we prayed all night?

What would happen?

Several years ago a group of ordinary women set out to find out what would happen if we had enough faith and determination to venture out of our comfortable beds and pray all night for the people in our own circles of influence.

We were excited, a little nervous, and filled with the hope that God would show Himself to us in tangible, powerful ways.

In ways that made sense to us, in ways  that we could understand.

And He did!

Since that first Night in Prayer, nine years ago, the number of women who come, pajama clad, with pillows and goodies and hearts full of faith, has snowballed.

Women want to come! They bring burdens too great to bear alone: people they love who need Jesus, messy relationships they cannot fix, co-workers who are cold to the Gospel, teenagers taking terrible risks.

We walk in the door, every one of us, with a great burden to see hearts rescued by the Redeemer.

We have seen those Impossible Prayers answered.  Really! We have seen our own minds and attitudes and thinking changed dramatically. We have seen healings of bodies and perhaps even more miraculous, healings of relationships.

More than anything, we have experienced Jesus in a way we never understood possible.

This year would you join us?

We are gathering at midnight on April 4th, through 6 A.M. the next morning to pray all night together… for those we love, for ourselves, for God’s kingdom to come crashing into our messiness here and now.

We’ll be gathering both on the Westside and at Bridgetown and at Sunset this year. I’ll be leading on the Westside and Tammy and her team will guide you at Bridgetown, while Carmen and her crew oversee the women at Sunset.

Will you join us?

I love the LORD because He hears and answers

My prayers.

Because He bends down and listens,

I will pray as long as I have breath!

Psalm 116:1,2

(NLT)

Filled with His hope,

Diane

Click Here to sign up.

P.S. If you’ve been to a Night in Prayer in the past, would you leave a comment here? I think your stories might just give some women the courage to come…

Posted
August 5
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Charming, Features
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HE’S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: One More Reason Women Don’t Want Sex

Dear girls,

A few weeks ago I started a conversation about the reasons women no longer want sex. Then, as woman-talk so often does, we got sidetracked. Off on the bunny trail of why I am still in love with my husband after thirty-five years and that secret key for stressed out mamas and other women who work too hard.

So today we circle back to those 3 Reasons  I hear over and over again from women who finally admit that they’re really not all that enthusiastic about initiating and welcoming intimacy with their husbands.

And for those of you who are not yet married, please pay attention! These are obstacles every woman faces at some point in real life. Decide now that you’re going to overcome those glitches because you place imminent value on a healthy sexual relationship with that man who trusts you to meet his needs.

The first reason for no longer loving sex had to do with disappointment in your lover’s romantic efforts. I urged you to remember that he is not your Prince Charming.

Your husband cannot and will not fulfill that gaping hole of need every woman feels.

And gracefully loving him even when he falls short of your ideal is just the way Jesus loves us. It’s not too great a jump to conclude that…

Choosing to pour sexual love on your husband is an act of grateful, grace-filled response to your Redeemer’s tender love towards you.

The second reason we talked about has to do with circumstances.  Overwhelming fatigue, pressure, the realities of too little sleep and not enough space to breath. Pregnancies and nursing babies and teenagers right down the hall who seem to have sonic ears— not exactly how blockbuster movies portray passion.

That’s when commitment comes in. A woman’s commitment to care about her husband and care for herself even when it’s not easy. The comments and ideas that came in for this post were filled with practical wisdom and delightful dashes of humor.

Today, I want to finish this conversation by talking about the third reason women don’t want sex:

“Your body isn’t beautiful like the airbrushed, half starved, breast enhanced women in the movies. You’re so intent on hiding the parts you don’t want him to see that you fail to recognize your own inherent sensuality… You don’t want him to see you unclothed because you’ve lost the freedom your beauty brings. The naked and unashamed of the Garden is long gone.”

Beauty. It all comes back to this, doesn’t it?

In order to feel sexual, we need to feel beautiful.

We know that men respond to a woman’s beauty. But do we fully realize how much a woman responds to a man’s response?

As the wife of a pastor, I’ve had a front row seat to a lot of weddings. During the engagement the bride-to-be gets more and more beautiful. She stops biting her nails in order to show off her ring. Starts an intense exercise program in order to fit into her wedding gown. Goes and gets her make-up done and her hair-style updated. Everything for the Wedding Day.

And indeed, on that day, she is absolutely beautiful. Always.

But my favorite thing to watch is when she comes home from her honeymoon.  That’s when her beauty blossoms. No amount of make-up or money can give anyone that slightly seductive swagger a newly married woman carries off.  She wears a certain sort of grin just won’t go away. Kind of a cat-got-the-mouse look, and with a swish of her tail she let’s all the world know that she’s lovely. Beautiful.

Why? Because that young bride is responding to the response of her enthralled husband. He saw her as she is and he loved what he saw and she knows it!  She feels beautiful because she sees her beauty in her husband’s eyes.

And that, my dear girls, is exactly what each of us needs to recapture if we’re going to fully respond to our husbands. We have got to see our beauty from his eyes.

Don’t judge your beauty by what you see in the mirror. The mirror is not the truth. In the mirror you see only your flaws, not your beauty.

Don’t judge your beauty by the magazines or movies. Those pictures are not the truth. They’re airbrushed and positioned and faking reality. No one looks like that in real life.

Don’t judge your beauty by others. You risk insulting the One who made you by wishing He’d done it different. Psalm 139 says He “formed you in your mother’s womb” and He likes the form He made.

But, you say, I’m not a beauty. I’m plain or plump or flat-chested. My skin is bad, my hair is limp, my eyes are droopy, my legs unshapely. You’re not being modest, you’re being honest. Shouldn’t you just settle for the truth as you see it and ignore beauty? After all, there’s more to being a woman than being beautiful, right?

Here’s the problem with that way of thinking: You and I need to feel beautiful in order to act sexual.

Ugliness and sensuality just don’t work for us. No amount of reasoning about how smart we are or how much we’ve accomplished is going to compel us to actively seduce our waiting husbands. That’s just not the way a woman is wired.

So what to do?

1. Decide in your mind that God made you beautiful. Elohim, the creator-God crafted you uniquely. He is not bound by time or culture. He is undeterred by what color hair or skin or shape of figure is currently in vogue.  He is able to see the way He made you as a reflection of His own creativity. His beauty.

In order to think right, we have got to come to an intelligent agreement with God about how He made us. Our minds inform our emotions. When I decide with my mind that God made me beautiful, I begin to feel beautiful.

2. Uncover the beauty God made in you. Sometimes we have got to peel off layers of ugliness we have allowed to coat our real selves. Unhealthy lifestyles disguise our beauty under the consequences of overeating and under-exercising. Time to get out the Nike’s and breathe in fresh air.

Most often uncovering our own beauty just means we need to pay attention to our good parts.  I once read an interview of make-up maven Bobbi Brown that fascinated me. She has made a fortune on women who don’t like the way they look. Her personal philosophy? Stop trying to cover the parts you don’t like and simply enhance your best features.

3. See yourself through your husband’s craving. Your husband needs to see you. He is not looking for perfection, hasn’t noticed those sunspots or saggy breasts. What he needs from you are glimpses of inviting beauty. Uncover just enough to give him what he needs, then allow yourself to respond to his response.

God made a point of the unashamed nakedness of the first married couple. He noted their ease with each other, their lack of hiding. Sin changed their perspective. Satan is the one who turned Eve’s eyes away from Adam’s response and onto her inadequacies.

It’s time we take back our beauty and own it, girls! It’s time we recapture that sensual swagger that somehow got lost by the lies we’ve come to believe.

It’s time to be beautiful.

From my heart,

Diane

PS: Can you tell us about your honeymoon? Did you see that delight in his eyes and feel more beautiful than you’d ever thought possible? Dare you show more of yourself now that your body no longer lives up to those pre-wedding-work-out expectations?

And for those of you whose husbands did not make you feel like the most alluring woman in the world , can I just say I am so sorry. There are men who inadvertently hurt their wives by what they don’t say… it might be time to sit down and share your heart with him, letting him know how much you need to feel beautiful in order to respond beautifully.

Posted
December 3
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Features, Letters
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HOW TO LOVE A WOMAN: part one

 Be strong and courageous!

Joshua 1:8

Speak truth, each one of you…

Ephesians 4:25

My dear son,

I’ve been writing for a long time now my answer to your question, “Mom, what should I look for in a wife?”

I’ve talked about gentleness and joy, strength to serve, and strength in God. I’ve also written hard things about tendencies that ought to raise red flags before you decide for a lifetime.

Now I sense a need to write some instruction for you and your men-friends about how to really love a woman.

I want you to know beyond what you see, to delve a little deeper into the way God crafted His Eves. We’re so entirely different than men that it’s not only possible, but probable, that if you treat a woman just the way you want to be treated, you’ll get it all wrong.

And so, from a mom to her son, some advice…

Women long to be led. 

We really do. The number one complaint I hear over and over again from beautiful young women is how uncomfortable they are with the lack of clear relational direction they get from guys.

Did he just ask me on a date?

Or are we hanging out?

If so, why?

Does he want another buddy?

Or could he possibly be interested in me as a woman?

Am I supposed to pay when we go out for coffee? Or is he?

The guessing game just drives women crazy!!

When a woman is left to guess at what you mean when you haven’t been entirely clear she feels confused… and just a little bit resentful.

Delightfully joyful women become subdued, peaceful women turn anxious, shy women withdraw, while others assume more than you meant. Not good.

BE CLEAR! 

If friendship is all you’re after, say it right up front.

I enjoy your company, I’d just like to be friends with you.

or

You’re fun and interesting, could we hang out sometime just as friends?

or

I’ve enjoyed talking to you, would you go out with me so we can get to know each other better?

or, in the words of your father more than 35 years ago:

Diane, You’re a beautiful woman and I want to know you more, but I don’t date just to date. I’d like to take you out with the purpose of getting to know each other with the future in mind. Would that be okay with you?

To which I could barely croak out a yes, as I started making plans to elope.

Seriously, Matt, I think I fell in love with your dad in that moment of clear, gentle leadership. And that’s the way he’s been leading me and loving me for all our lives together.

It isn’t easy, I know. I’ve agonized with you, and your brother before you, over the sheer terror of transparent leadership.

There is risk involved, great risk!

You could get laughed at (unlikely), rejected (possibly), or hurt (it happens).

You will have risked and won or risked and lost but you will have been honorable and forthright and courageous.

You will have led like a man.

Praying for courage and honesty for you and all your friends,

Love,

Mom

 Am I right girls? 

Posted
August 29
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My Heart
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GENERATIONS… what every woman ought to know

More than three decades ago a family of six moved into a home around the corner from our tiny house on Trevor Drive in San Jose.  They were just back from the mission field with four teenagers, each of whom quickly rose to leadership in our church’s youth group simply because they were so compelling and cheerful and genuinely godly.

I was pregnant with our first son, reading books and studying methods and just generally terrified that neither of us had any idea how to do this whole parenting/raising children/ life of faith task. This family waltzed into our lives at just the right time to give me courage and hope that maybe we could someday have what they had so beautifully built in their family— an honest-to-goodness Jesus centered home filled with passionate-about-Jesus people.

Bill and Laurie Keyes showed us the way ahead. They inspired us and taught us and encouraged and trained us. They met with us and answered questions, allowed us to poke into their lives, opened up their hearts to us to show us that they were real.

And they poured wisdom into us.

Our four kids grew up on “the Keyes say…” Their words became cornerstones for the way we arranged our lives. Validation for why we did what we did and why we didn’t do things a different way.

Their wisdom made sense to us.

So you can imagine my deep-down delight when they agreed to come and share some of that wisdom with you!

On Saturday morning, September 29th, Bill and Laurie Keyes will speak at Generations… what every woman ought to know.

If you are like I was all those years ago, a woman seeking wisdom, hope, encouragement, courage. If you long to build a house on the Rock and need the keys to know howyou will not want to miss this!

The Details

When? September 29th

What time? 9-11 am

Who? Women of any and every age

Childcare? No

What? A lovely light bit of food and drink

Where? Solid Rock Westside

Why? Because there is just so much we women need to know… and Bill and Laurie Keyes have so much wisdom to bring into our questions.

Come! Bring your mom, your sister, your best friend. Bring any woman you know who needs real life wisdom. Because that is exactly what Bill and Laurie do best. They show how to do life wisely.

Really, girls, this is one you absolutely do not want to miss!

From my heart,

Diane

 

 

 

Posted
March 26
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Etc
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RED, GREEN, YELLOW: how marriage is supposed to work

I received this delightful note from one of our women who is a teacher in a school in Salem. I was struck by the wisdom of a child.

I’ve added a few comments of my own to his essay… not that it needed one bit more! I think this little guy pretty much says it all.

Hi Diane

I have so enjoyed reading your blog on marriage lately.  I’ve also been listening to Mars Hill’s sermon series on marriage.  And then yesterday, I came across one of my middle schooler’s art projects while grading.  The assignment was to create a sculpture that represented a human relationship, emotion or attribute.  He chose marriage.  And he is in 6th grade.  My heart was so glad, after reading his essay on his sculpture.  I don’t work at a Christian school, so to hear this from a child was priceless!  Just wanted to pass it along to someone who appreciates what God does through marriage as much as I do!

Art and Primary Spanish Teacher

Abiqua School

The reason behind this sculpture is happiness or marriage.

This is a feeling that first time marriage people will never forget. This feeling for most people is the best feeling they will ever feel in their lifetime.

In the painting you may see that if you picture their faces together as one,

they look half and half.

That is what married people should commit to.

I chose red as a color because red represents all of the arguments and problems and miscommunication that will be a part of marriage but the two people will stay strong and carry on.

I chose green as a relaxing color because you now work as a team and everything you do is now one.

I chose yellow as a color because it represents how much you want to do this and how enthusiastic and happy you are about your decisions.


Red, green, yellow.

Red because conflict is a reality when two people choose to become one. Because becoming one takes a whole lot of dying to self and forgiving and covering over all those irritants that threaten to undo us. And because for most of us it’s an embarrassingly messy process. And life intrudes and things go wrong and we have a million opportunities to choose- grace and mercy or disapproval and rejection?

Green because a great marriage creates a space that is so restful and refreshing that a whole family- and indeed an on looking world- can find peace and hope and rest there. And because green is a symbol of growth and newness and that’s what a God centered marriage between two people creates in this whole crazy process of becoming one.

Yellow for the sheer joy of participating in a miracle. Like my daffodils blooming in the midst of a dreary day, a marriage done right brings delight to everyone who gets to glimpse this outlandish idea of God’s.

And I think that’s enough said…

From my heart,

Diane