Posts in Charming

 (image by Hillary)


And the man and his wife were both


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:


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


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,


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



For the next few weeks we will be reposting from He’s Not Your Prince Charming, reaching way back in the archives to remind and reteach and rethink what we’ve been learning together. I have asked my blog team to help choose their favorites, and I am hoping you will add fresh comments to shed new light on these posts.

In the meantime I will be writing ahead for the new series, studying, reading, thinking, and praying about what to say and how to say it. Any suggestions and thoughts about what you’re wondering about will be most welcome— after all, you are my girls! 

From my heart,


Dear girls,

Last week I ended my letter to you with a sort of wish… a prayer… a benediction:

May this be the time of our lives to tell a different story, a story of a love so great we overflow it onto that man who cannot be enough.

May this be the year we learn what it really means to find all that emptiness filled up with Him.

And one wistful comment, left by a woman willing to be honest, caught my heart:

Oh if I could have internalized this lesson years ago… I hear it over and over and over, from so many women. Jesus is enough and should be enough, so why isn’t he enough for me? I want him to be enough, but the flesh screams more.

And then another one, from a woman named Anna, in response to a post I wrote about my dad last week:

Diane, this is a beautiful story. Almost one a child dreams about. But what about us who didn’t have this kind of Father?

I so desire to be this kind of woman but have failed over and over and that has left me defeated. The word “Father” also has never set right with me. I know we are to see God as our Father, but I have never known what a real Father looks like.

How do I get to this similar place as you or do I just accept that this is not the woman that I am?

And here is what I wrote in response…

Oh Anna, do not swallow the lie that you are not this woman! Because it’s not about you… or me… or even my dad.

Meeting God early and with delight-filled expectation is about Him!

And I’ve been wondering what to say to all the Annas of the world ever since.

How do I describe the rest my uptight-self receives every morning when I wake to His presence?

What words do I choose to open my heart wide enough for real women to peek into this mystery? That He comes to meet with me in a garden so rich, so beautiful, so home, that I cannot stay away.

Because that is why I wake up early. And that is why all throughout the day I run back into Him, relishing quiet moments to hear. That is why the silence is my friend.

Because He is there, bidding me to come, to listen, to know.

And I want all the Annas of the world— wounded, shame-filled, wishing for more— to see the way back to that garden.

To Him.

And so, for the next little while, for however long it takes for me to stumble out the words, I want to write about the how. Because even though I don’t believe in formulas, and even though 10-steps have not gotten me anywhere but frustrated, I know you need more than theory.

You need to know how.

How to find so much peace in His presence that you no longer demand life all lined up just so.

How to stop trying so hard to be more than you are, and instead losing yourself in who He is and finding to your own surprise that just being with Him begins to make all your ugliness beautiful.

How to fill so full of Jesus that you no longer crave the attention of a man who would devour you with his own need. And how to then overflow the love you find there onto a man who doesn’t deserve it any more than you do.

And so, if you will allow me to, I’d like to take you by the hand, as a woman older and maybe a little further along the path, and lead you to that place where I have found the satisfaction and rest my soul— your soul longs for. We'll keep talking about relationships- about loving a man well and about being well-loved, but I think we need to talk more about the how of finding all of your enough in God.

So please come on over next Monday. Bring your friends, your honesty, your wide-open heart. Brew a cup of tea, settle in for a good, long conversation for the next few weeks. Let’s find this thing we’re craving together.

But before then, here is what I told Anna about how to begin every day relishing the presence of the One who satisfies every need:

Here’s what I suggest (way too simplistic, but all that will fit here)

1. First ask God to make you want to… really, deeply want to experience intimacy with Him.

2. Ask Him to begin to wake you. Really! He will, I know by experience. But you’ve got to be ready to listen, to do that hard choice of getting up on the faith that there’s something for you.

3. Thank Him over and over again when He does. Fill your mind with recognition of how great He is and how much He loves you, reminding yourself how much you want Him.

4. Go to bed every night with Him on your mind and in your heart. (a short Psalm works wonders to put you to sleep with Him tucked all around you.

5. Then… start all over again.

I know that, given time, mixed with many failures, and more time, you will someday LOVE your mornings with Him.

That’s a strong way to start, girls. But there’s more, so much more to talk about.

And remember, your stories really are giving the rest of us hope. I keep hearing it— that by sharing your brokenness and your wantings and the ways God has met you with His amazing grace, more and more women are finding hope. Keep those comments coming!

From my heart,


P.S. Want some really great Scriptures to ponder while you wait for next week? I love this one:

Hosea 6:3  

Oh, that we might know the Lord!
Let us press on to know him.

He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn 
or the coming of rains in early spring.

And this is worth pondering long:

Hebrews 10:22,23

Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him.

For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean,

and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm,

for God can be trusted to keep his promise.


For the next few weeks we will be reposting from He’s Not Your Prince Charming, reaching way back in the archives to remind and reteach and rethink what we’ve been learning together. I have asked my blog team to help choose their favorites, and I am hoping you will add fresh comments to shed new light on these posts. In the meantime I will be writing ahead for the new series, studying, reading, thinking, and praying about what to say and how to say it. Any suggestions and thoughts about what you’re wondering about will be most welcome— after all, you are my girls! 

From my heart,


(image by Hillary Kupish)

Healthy people do not need a doctor— sick people do.

I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.

Mark 2v17

God blesses those who realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.

Matthew 5v3


It is early.  Deep dark, winter cold…quiet and still and… welcoming.

No alarm clock woke me, just a quiet whisper… an excited urging… an expectant sense of something more, of something I need.

Something I want.

And this: the certain knowing that Someone wants me by myself… for Himself.

That He has something to say… to me… today.

And that if I don’t get up I’ll miss it.

I’ll miss Him.

And so, hair wild, barefoot and barely awake, I shuffle to the kitchen to start my tea. While the kettle heats, I make my place: furry blanket, shiny tea cup, pretty napkin, scented candle.

Like a fort for a grown-up girl, this is my tucked-in place, my refuge before the day begins.

And He’s there, I know He is, with a knowing that cannot be explained and will not be denied.

I relish my first cup with Him. Heart open, mind still half asleep, I sink deep, listening.

I bring no list, no worries.

I don’t pray.

I just listen… and sip tea.

And after a while I open His Book of Words to the place I left off the day before, reading, listening, talking, asking, taking notes.


It didn’t used to be this way for me. For years and years I got up because I had to. Because someone told me I should. Because I needed to be disciplined and do my duty and do it right and do it every day, no matter what.

Because I like rules and this was rule #1: A good Christian reads her Bible every morning. Amen.

And so I’d be up when the clock said seven and I’d put in my time. No yearning, no feasting, no wanting, never listening. Just a list and my Bible and the clock ticking.

And sometimes I’d miss and feel terribly guilty. Ashamed. Less-than. So I’d resolve never to sleep in again, never to miss my “devotions”, lest I mess up somehow and miss the mark.

That went on for years.

Until one morning. A morning seared into my soul as if it were yesterday. Not a memory so much as a mark on the inside of me. Forever I will call it The Morning After.

That morning I woke up early too. Mind racing, questions clamoring for answers, I snuck quietly into the living room while three children slept, hoping they’d sleep a little longer than usual.

Desperate to hear.

The night before, at my husband’s urging, I’d met with the elders of our little church in Santa Cruz. In a cramped back room they’d prayed for me, prayed over me, anointed me with drops of less-than magical oil and asked God to heal me.

For no reason any doctor could find, my hearing was failing. And I was terrified… and angry… appalled that the God I had dutifully served would allow deafness to swallow me.

I’d come to these men wanting healing, willing to beg God in their presence as I’d been begging Him every day for months.

And as they prayed, something happened.  Something magical and mystical and biblical and wonderful— I heard God.

I mean I really heard Him. Not an impression, not an idea or a quote that somebody else had said about Him. I heard Him.

I heard words.

Not the words I wanted to hear, in fact, the words He gave me sounded much like the ones my dad had used when, as a little girl, I’d panic and he’d calm me with a stern sort of love. Nothing sweet or quaintly Christian.

To all my begging for healing, for ears to open wide, for the deafness threatening my world to go away— for the healing I knew He could do if only He would… I heard this—

Diane, it’s okay. It’s okay, Diane, it’s okay.

And let me tell you, girls, those were the most beautiful words I have ever heard. Rich with knowing, dripping with the kind of love I had only dreamed about, His words enveloped me in… glory.

In that moment of NO, I felt more joy than I’d ever felt before. It was okay! Gloriously, beautifully, magically okay.

I floated home from that impromptu prayer meeting, holding His words close in. I’d heard Him, really heard Him. He’d called me by name.

God spoke, He speaks… to me!

That is why I was up in the dark hours on that Morning After. I had to know if it was true, if I’d heard what I thought I had… or if I was just overwrought and delusional, a pathetic mess.

And that, my dear girls, was the beginning— the first morning of my love affair with the Savior. Because He met me there, filling my heart with more words— stern words, truth words, words about life and joy and trust.

He wrapped me in words and drew me into an intimacy I’d never known possible.

By the time the children got up and Phil started coffee, I was ablaze with joy. Spilling with hope, feeling so loved and known and cherished and full.

And every morning since it’s been the same. Quieter, for sure, less drama and more restful entering in. I come to meet Him, to talk and more than anything else, to listen.

Every morning, with the house all quiet, I come to Him— the One who knows me, all of me, and still wants me for Himself. I open His Word and let His words speak deep.

Sometimes, to tell the truth, I can barely hear Him. On those mornings I wait. I sip tea, I make another pot. I read further or I read it again. And slowly, if I’m willing and wait long enough, He quiets me enough to hear.

Because He is always speaking. Through His Word and around His Words, using words to love and teach and reveal and convict and set free. But sometimes I cannot hear… and always I hear imperfectly, like the deaf woman I am.

I know this post was a bit rambling again… but next week I have less mystical, more practical thoughts to share with you.

For now, know this:

  • God speaks… really says things… to you and to me.
  • He speaks mostly and most clearly through His Word.
  • We hear best in the quiet, and it’s up to us to clear space for that restful listening.
  • He speaks loudest to those who come in need— the ones, like me, who fail and cannot get up. The broken and thirsty, the desperately repentant.
  • He wants to be felt— experienced, heard, seen. He has sent His Spirit to make sure that happens. And He has given instructions to pave the way, with guidelines to keep us from getting… sort of… well… weird.
  • If you can’t seem to hear Him yet… be patient. He knows you want to and He’s helping you even now. Nothing happens fast in His Kingdom. Just let Him bring you close and teach you.

From my heart,


P.S. If you’ve heard Him, will you say so? Will you leave us a note to encourage those who are still wanting to hear but frustrated in the silence?

And if you’re one of the many who’ve told me you’re still waiting… will you leave just a simple message so I can pray alongside you?

Just your name is enough… and maybe “still waiting”.




HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: have a little fun


For the next few weeks we will be reposting from He’s Not Your Prince Charming, reaching way back in the archives to remind and reteach and rethink what we’ve been learning together. I have asked my blog team to help choose their favorites, and I am hoping you will add fresh comments to shed new light on these posts.

In the meantime I will be writing ahead for the new series, studying, reading, thinking, and praying about what to say and how to say it. Any suggestions and thoughts about what you’re wondering about will be most welcome— after all, you are my girls! 

From my heart,


 repost: 11.2013

So I recommend having fun,

because there is nothing better for people to do in this world

than to eat, drink, and enjoy life.

That way they will experience some happiness

along with all the hard work God gives them.

Ecclesiastes 8:15

Dear girls,

This post really ought to be addressed to me, Dear Diane… because having fun is so foreign to me that every time I read these words from the pen of King Solomon, I have to stop and ponder.

What does he mean?

Hard work, I understand. Schedules and lists and budgets, I can do. I’m all about neat and tidy rules with ought to’s and shouldn’ts.

But fun?

As in play?

As in non-productive, non-achieving, no-point-to-it hours spent accomplishing nothing?

I don’t think so.

Until a couple of years ago Phil and I had all but given up on fun. We’re just so different. And so we stopped having fun together.

And then we hit a crisis. For reasons we could not understand, we were hurting each other’s feelings and rubbing each other wrong and just generally having trouble getting along. Every conversation turned into some sort of conflict.

What was wrong with us?

And I’m sorry if you think pastors and their wives are always nice to each other. That we always practice what we preach. Or that love and passion are enough to overcome anything… because those are the makings of fairy tales, not real life.

At least not my life.

The constant conflict led us to seek help from the wise couple who had mentored us throughout our ministry. Not exactly counseling, but wise counsel. We flew to their home across the country, determined to get to the bottom of what was wrong.

What they said stunned me.

Your husband needs to have fun.

They went on to explain him to me and me to him. Using personality tests and years of Biblical wisdom, they pointed out our differences and made us see those differences as good.

But mostly I learned that Phil needs to have fun. A lot of fun. Frequent fun.

And I don’t. At least not the fun defined by most people.

I mean, who really thinks it’s fun to curl up all day with study books and dream about how to write a book about suffering so that women will understand and be able to teach their children and maybe avoid the pit I fell into when suffering about strangled my faith?

Yeah. Fun.

And so I set about trying to learn how to have fun. Or at least help Phil have fun. It was tough.

I tried to find a book about fun. Fun for Dummies. No luck. And if you’re a writer reading this and you know anything about how to have fun, here’s a definite felt need, at least by me.

I observed fun people. They laugh a lot. Out loud. My laugh is all inward, a snicker at best. When I try to laugh like they do I sound like a seal. People look at me strangely.

And I realized that in all those wonderful family times when we go around the table telling the birthday person, this is what I like about you… no one has ever told me I’m fun. Because I’m not. Ever.

After much studious thought and a week of serious pondering, here I am writing a list.   I’m hoping you girls are going to help me out, because this is one topic I know next to nothing about…

Six Ways To Love Your Husband With Fun:

1.  Recognize a man’s need to have fun.

I know that sounds simplistic, but I’d been married nearly 30 years without really honoring my husband’s need to have fun. My man-boy has an inherent need to play, to hoop and holler and immerse himself in something that doesn’t impact the history of the world.

2.  Give your husband/fiancé/boyfriend permission to have fun. Our world, especially the church world, admires men who achieve. Hard working, smart, disciplined men are admired and promoted. No one ever wrote a biography about a man because he was fun. I think we women need to change that up a bit. To stop shaming him and start affirming the productivity that results from a restful day of fun.

3.  Budget for fun. What if, at Christmas, instead of giving him clothes or books or something he needs, we decided to give him a fun experience? Wouldn’t that say wonders about our recognition that a man is still a boy and needs some hours to play?

4.  Choose to dive into his way of doing fun whether it feels fun to you or not.

This summer Phil and I went to Victoria, B.C. for a romantic week together. He spent most of an afternoon wandering the Butchart Gardens with me, trying to act interested, masking his aversion to yard work. Then we had high tea at the Empress Hotel. Not exactly the stuff he’d spent dreaming of.

On our way into the hotel he spotted a float plane taking a nosedive towards the bay. Landing on the wild waves, I thought for sure that thing would tip over, drowning all it’s risk-taking passengers.

Phil turned to me and said, “Di, let’s do it!”

No way. Not me. Feeling magnanimous, I suggested he sign up and I’d sit and sip tea. In fact, I’d even pay for his ticket out of my small stash of money meant for clothes and all things girlish.

But he wanted me to go with him- to be his friend and partner in adventure. I think I shocked us both when I agreed.

What followed was one of the most thrilling evenings we’d ever spent together. Once I got over my racing nerves, I felt like I was a princess flying over my kingdom. Enthralled with the countryside, the islands, even a small castle surrounded by the sea, I loved it! And most of all, Phil loved that I did something I didn’t want to do in order to be his companion in fun.

5.  Keep trying until you find a way to have fun together. One friend of mine rides bikes with her husband. Another hikes. My grandmother became an avid baseball fan, shouting down the refs when her favorite team stumbled. And she fished- clad in waders up to her chin, she shared my grandfather’s fun on the edges of the Snake River.

6.  Act fun— like you’re having a blast. Tell yourself you’re having fun. Decide to have fun. Free your mind to have fun even if your work isn’t done and the circumstances aren’t just right. I know that sounds insincere, but I firmly believe that we have a great deal of control over what we decide to enjoy. And being a fun woman may just lighten the flavor of your presence for the  man you love.

Now, I told you this is an area of deficiency for me. I need the born-fun women to fill in the blanks for those of us fun-challenged women so that our fun-needing men will have fun with us.

Please, please, please, give us fun ideas…

From my heart,




HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: every woman wants more


For the next few weeks we will be reposting from He’s Not Your Prince Charming, reaching way back in the archives to remind and reteach and rethink what we’ve been learning together. I have asked my blog team to help choose their favorites, and I am hoping you will add fresh comments to shed new light on these posts.

In the meantime I will be writing ahead for the new series, studying, reading, thinking, and praying about what to say and how to say it. Any suggestions and thoughts about what you’re wondering about will be most welcome— after all, you are my girls! 

From my heart,


repost 01/14

Dear girls,

Yesterday I listened at length to three stories. Three women needing a moment to be heard. Good women, normal women, seeking-after-God women.

The first story was beautiful. Over and over she said it, her face radiant with joy, tears welling up, I can’t believe it! I just can’t believe it’s real.

Just the day before her boyfriend had asked her to marry him in one of the most romantic proposals I’ve ever heard. There was music and dancing on the beach and candles and a photographer. A ring just like she wanted but the diamond switched out— bigger and brighter, a startling declaration of his love.


The second woman’s crystal blue eyes brimmed with a different kind of tears.  Her husband of just a few years isn’t romancing her at all anymore. No dates or surprises or declarations of perfect love.

He goes to work, comes home, takes her to church on the weekend and starts all over again on Monday.

And she’s more than a little disappointed— she’s mad. She wants more, needs more, hoped for more from this man she pledged her life to.

The third woman grabbed my arm just as I was leaving church. “Can we talk?” More tears pooling in huge blue eyes. When we settled into two black plastic chairs, her angst came pouring out.

Haunted by a not-so-good relationship in her past, she’d grabbed hold of redemption and risked her heart on one particular good and godly man in the church. They’d become friends, then wondered if there might be more. When he’d made it clear that friendship was all this would ever be, she was devastated. Rejected. Remorseful. Months later, she just cannot let it go.

Three very different stories from three women so much alike. 

And aren’t we all really alike?

Every woman I know wants the same thing: To be known and loved and valued and cherished and wanted… forever. 

We’ll do just about anything to get it.

How many of us have embarrassed ourselves? Given away our bodies? Worked too hard to impress? Ranted and raved and insisted? Sulked and withdrawn and simpered?

Our wanting wears us out.

And our wanting pushes him away. It scares the boldness out of brave men, shutting them down and making good women the butt of backroom jokes between harried husbands and ex’s of every age.

Three stories, three good men.

And three women who honestly, really hope that a good man will fill that aching, endless hole in their hearts.

And he won’t.

Because he can’t.

And he doesn’t actually want to anyway.

Because way back at the Beginning, God did not design a woman to be the object of a man’s attention.

She’s not supposed to be his everything. He’s not supposed to spend his every waking moment thinking about her, dreaming about her, planning the next romantic date or making her feel loved.

I know, shocking, isn’t it?

And of course you know that, girls. But we forget. Everyday I forget. All of us forget. And we shame each other for our forgetting. We gossip and giggle about another woman’s ridiculousness. When all the while we’re all the same. Needing, wanting, wishing for more.

In the Song of Solomon there is another story. This one is of a woman getting what every one of us want:  romance, passion, attention, friendship, commitment, ecstasy and intimacy.

But she wants more. Seriously!

One night he comes to her and she can’t be bothered. She turns him away and pretends she’s sleeping, then she changes her mind and calls him to come back.

She wants him now. Right now. And she’s kind of miffed that he isn’t there where she wants him, when she wants him, because she wants him.

Every time I read that part of the story, I know I am that woman. Because, you see, I’ve been well loved for 35 years.

My husband has showered me with gifts every Christmas. He’s worked when he hasn’t wanted to. He’s listened endlessly to my confusing swirls of struggling emotions, pretending to understand when I can’t even figure myself out.

He thinks I’m beautiful, wrinkles and aging and all. He’s a strong spiritual leader, a selfless lover, a good friend, a committed provider. He gives me romance and attention and time.

And it’s not enough. Seriously.

I want more, I always want more. I am a bottomless pit of more.

And so are you. So is every woman.

But there is this one man…

He is rich, compelling, fascinating, so alluring I cannot stay away. And he claims to be enough, promises to satisfy that endless craving. He claims to love me with a love that will never lessen, never let go.

He says… he says he will never, ever leave me. No matter what.

This is a story I want to be fully my own, always. To be that woman whose eyes shine with the love of one who is enough.  Because my good and godly husband cannot be that one. If I try to force him there I’ll bury him under my own endless need.

I know that, and so do you, my dear ones.

May this be the year we learn what it really means to find all that emptiness filled up with Him.

May this be the time of our lives to tell a different story, a story of a love so great we overflow it onto that man who cannot be enough.

May this be the year we learn who our Prince Charming really is... living happily ever after… forever and ever… in His arms.

From my heart,


P.S. And you? Are you getting it? This message of He’s Not Your Prince Charming? If He is and if you are… will you email me your story? I’d love to collect stories and post them here. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: your stories give the rest of us courage.



For the next few weeks we will be reposting from He’s Not Your Prince Charming, reaching way back in the archives to remind and reteach and rethink what we’ve been learning together. I have asked my blog team to help choose their favorites, and I am hoping you will add fresh comments to shed new light on these posts.

In the meantime I will be writing ahead for the new series, studying, reading, thinking, and praying about what to say and how to say it. Any suggestions and thoughts about what you’re wondering about will be most welcome— after all, you are my girls! 

From my heart,


 repost 06/13

Dear girls,

I sit, this morning, in my “summer office” on the back deck. Surrounded by books and bits and pieces of notes I’ve jotted on scraps of paper, my Bible open and your comments ringing in my ears, I linger over a delicious pot of Singaporean tea as I ponder what to write.

How do I answer your cries of grief and longing, shame and wishes?

"… it seems that we have approached from all angles and I still don’t enjoy or desire sex, at all. I know I’m not the only one!"

"… my husband’s needs are being turned down by me because I am just so tired!"

"… I can be really tough/resentful of my hubby when he fails to live up to my expectations of him being my knight in shining armor who saves me from our kids, which then leads to zero sex drive on my half."

Oh my daughters! Surrounded as we are by messages and images and lyrics wrapping our womanly worth in our sexual allure, your honesty gives me an agonizing glimpse into your soul.

So many of you are haunted by a sense of loss, of being less-than, of inadequacy.

Just a few generations ago women were fed a different sort of lie:

"To the sensitive young woman who has had the benefits of proper upbringing, the wedding day is, ironically, both the happiest and the most terrifying day of her life. On the positive side, there is the wedding itself; on the negative side, there is the wedding night, during which the bride must “pay the piper”, so to speak, by facing for the first time the terrible experience of sex.

At this point, let me concede one shocking truth. Some young women actually anticipate the wedding night ordeal with curiosity and pleasure! Beware such an attitude! One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL GIVE GRUDGINGLY. Otherwise what could have been a proper marriage could become an orgy of sexual lust."

(written by a “pious” Pastor’s wife to young women in The Maddison Institute Newsletter, Fall 1894)

Note the date- barely over a century ago!

And now?

Aren’t we living in the age of sexual enlightenment? Didn’t your parents fight the sexual revolution and win?

Aren’t we living free? Throwing our inhibitions to the wind as we indulge ourselves in sensual pleasure?

I don’t think so.

In fact, your letters tell me a different story. No less heartbreaking than the young brides a hundred years ago who viewed the wedding night ordeal as paying the piper in the terrible experience of sex.

Now 'pious' women believe a different lie: That sex just isn’t all that great most of the time.

In fact, a survey by the National Opinion Research Center seems to confirm that conclusion:

“Nearly one-quarter of American women never achieve orgasm and another half only climax occasionally. This means that almost three-quarters… go without orgasms either some or all of the time.”

(Intimate Issues, Dillow, Pintus)

How in the world do I line that up with the Song of Songs?

One hundred and sixteen verses smack dab in the middle of our Bibles so filled with erotic passion and unabashed pleasure between a young bride and her husband that unmarried Jewish men were banned from reading it!

Everything’s there- technique, adventure, disguise, fantasy, teasing, vivid description… all inspired by God!

Which leads me to conclude that the truth about sex is far different than the lie perpetuated in the nineteen century-

Lie #1: That sex is a terrible ordeal, and thus should be given grudgingly and seldom in order to have a “proper marriage”.

Or the lie of the twenty-first century

Lie #2: That sex is not all that great, and thus can be given grudgingly and seldom because its not all that necessary to a great and lasting and satisfying marriage.

Here, my dear girls, is the truth about sex:

  • Sex between a husband and wife is meant to be great. Amazing. A mystical and magical intertwining of hearts and bodies in a powerful explosion of pleasure that creates intense feelings of love for a lifetime.
  • Sex between a husband and wife is meant to happen often. Not as a special occasion when all the moods line up and kids stay away and there’s plenty of energy left over at the end of the day.
  • Sex between a husband and wife is meant to be an act of intimate worship. Together. God is in that room! Watching, pleased, waiting for your expression of gratitude for such a surprising and soul-satisfying gift.
  • Sex between a husband and wife is meant to be protected. It is fragile. Vulnerable. A target of all three of our enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. When sex is rare or gets perverted or causes pain or incites dread, something is wrong!
  • Sex between a husband and wife is meant to be for you. Yes, you! You need sex. Your soul needs sex. Your emotions and moods are modified by sex. Sex is meant to make you happy, relaxed, free— to realize your own beauty, to relish your own body as you give yourself in abandon.

One of my favorite comments said this: "I need to see this topic with fresh eyes…"

Yes. We do. We must.

As women who are learning to listen to God, who are longing to be close to God, who are craving what He wants for our lives… we need to see the topic of our sexuality in marriage through the freshly washed eyes of Scripture.

Yes, we wish to be godly, giving mothers.

Yes, we wish to use our gifts and talents to honor God.

Yes, we wish to bring justice to far away places and hope to our neighbors.

But I think its time we audibly add another wish—

We wish to fully and frequently embrace our husbands in the intimacy of sexual passion— for our sakes and for his.

For God. For glory. For joy.  

And because this is so vital to the health of our souls as well as our marriages, I’ll be covering all five of these truths in coming posts. If you have any questions, please send them either via the comments (anonymous is just fine on private topics like this) or to I’ll try to answer in future posts.

From my heart,


P.S. Can you help me with this conversation? Sitting here all alone I feel awfully vulnerable. Your comments- whether the words are about your story or your longings or your questions… help me to know that I can keep talking to “my girls” about intimate issues.

HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: how to forgive the little stuff


For the next few weeks we will be reposting from He’s Not Your Prince Charming, reaching way back in the archives to remind and reteach and rethink what we’ve been learning together. I have asked my blog team to help choose their favorites, and I am hoping you will add fresh comments to shed new light on these posts.

In the meantime I will be writing ahead for the new series, studying, reading, thinking, and praying about what to say and how to say it. Any suggestions and thoughts about what you’re wondering about will be most welcome— after all, you are my girls! 

From my heart,


repost 09/13

Dear girls,

Last week I said: I think its time we all moved past the resentment that makes us crabby and cranky and cold to our men.” 

We talked about the need to forgive, to let go of the anger that controls our spirits and contorts our view of conflict.  And I’m not just talking about those horrendous offenses that leave women mortally wounded. Because it is often those less-than –earth-shattering irritations that we forget need to acknowledge and forgive in order to heal up properly. Kind of like paper cuts that render our fingers hot and throbbing but don’t actually send us to the emergency room.

The little stuff.

This week I promised I’d show you how to forgive, but first I need to tell you what forgiveness is not. Because if we lump forgiveness in with all the other ingredients of conflict resolution we end up with a messy goop of impossible expectations.

Here’s what I don’t mean by forgiveness:

1.  Reconciliation:

Some relationships cannot be immediately reconciled by simply pardoning the person who hurt you. Abuse, for example. Or unfaithfulness. There are wounds that go so deep that only major surgery can heal them.

2.  Condoning:

Forgiveness is not the same as making excuses. Last week I wrote:

Make believe doesn’t work here girls. You can’t pretend he didn’t mean it or it doesn’t hurt or you’re not mad… That’s just stuffing it and as we all know, that ugliness has a way of either seeping out of our pores or blowing up in our faces… And making excuses isn’t effective in the long run. He’s tired, pressured, stressed… but that can only go on for so long and then what?”

3.  Forgetting:

“The only way for the ‘forgive-and forget mentality’ to be practiced is through radical denial, deception, or pretense.”[1] It is not possible for us to forget, only to choose to “not remember” over and over again.

So, now that we’ve cleared away some of the debris attached to the concept of forgiveness, what do I do with all those bitter feelings that crop up when that husband or boyfriend or parent or friend wrongs me?

Here’s where to start:


1.  Be honest with God. No playing pretend games or shaming yourself for feeling the way you do. Tell Him all about it. Be specific. What exactly happened, what exactly do you need to choose to forgive? Say it out loud.

2.  Ask God for help. Only He can wrestle my immensely dominating will into sweet submission. Forgiveness goes against the grain of every base instinct we have.

3.  Trust God with the outcome. Anger is a means of control and of protection. To release this weapon requires that I entrust myself (my feelings, my heart, my future) into the hands of the only One who can keep me safe in the midst of all the hurt this life entails.

4.  Untwist the lies. You have an enemy who works with the offenses of others to smother us with untruth. Satan cannot stand our reflection of God’s beauty. He will use the hurts of others to try to convince us that we are ugly and awful and less-than. We need to separate those enemy-fed lies from what actually happened.

5.  Repent of my reaction. No one can make me angry. Anger is always, always, always a choice. What I do with that anger is my responsibility. We mess up relationships by getting on that roller coaster ride of you-hurt-me, so I-hurt-you-back, but you-started-it! The only way off is through recognizing my wrong response and repenting.

6.  Choose to forgive with my will. My long time mentor, Muriel Cook writes:

The world says, “If you don’t feel like doing something, don’t do it, because it’s not honest.” I’ve learned a secret: if I operate with my will, my emotions will eventually follow. But if I follow my feelings, my will goes along.[2]

7.  Act out forgiveness with my actions. Then Muriel illustrates her point with a story I’ve told my own daughters over and over again:

Let me show you what I mean. Every morning when the alarm goes off, my will and my emotions have an argument. My will says, “You’ve got to get up. You have to go to work today.” My emotions respond, “Oh, no, I can’t. I don’t feel good.” I never feel well in the morning. Now I have a decision to make. Am I going to stay in bed or get up? If I stay in bed, my will stays in bed too. So I get up with my will, go to the bathroom, and brush my teeth. My emotions still protest. It is only after I take a shower, drink a cup of tea, and start moving around that my emotions catch up with my will and I’m a whole person.

We do something similar when we forgive. We use our will, for Jesus’ sake, because He asks us to, and sooner or later our emotions follow.

That’s it girls. Forgiveness does not require years and years of professional counseling. It is not a process as much as it is a heroic act of our wills. The process part is the sluggish following of our feelings to catch up with what we choose to do with our wills.

If you’re finding yourself reacting to your man in unfriendly ways— snapping and snarling or withdrawing and colding him out, might the real cause be an unforgiving spirit?

Take this list with you and go on a long walk with the Father. Pour it out to Him. Let Him clean off the grunginess of unforgiveness. Let Him renew your love for your husband or your boyfriend or that guy who hurts your feelings. Let Him wash all those hurts away and leave you sparkling with the joy of your freedom.

From my heart,


PS: Here’s what we need: How do you act when you’re mad at something minor? Or have your feelings hurt. Can you tell us stories, even laugh at yourself? You might help us to be a little more honest with ourselves…



[1] Dan Allender, Tremper Longmann, Bold Love

[2] Muriel Cook, Shelly Cook Volkhardt, Kitchen Table Counseling


For the next few weeks we will be reposting from He’s Not Your Prince Charming, reaching way back in the archives to remind and reteach and rethink what we’ve been learning together. I have asked my blog team to help choose their favorites, and I am hoping you will add fresh comments to shed new light on these posts. In the meantime I will be writing ahead for the new series, studying, reading, thinking, and praying about what to say and how to say it. Any suggestions and thoughts about what you’re wondering about will be most welcome— after all, you are my girls! 

From my heart,



Dear girls,

Last week we talked about all those differences that can make life and love so difficult. We talked about the three ways most of us women cycle through solving these conflicts of personality and values.

First we try to ignore that difference that’s irritating us.  Maybe if I don’t think about it, it will go away.

Only differences don’t go away. Instead they grow and chafe and loom larger and get blown up bigger.

Sometimes we convince ourselves that by clinching our teeth and determining to “overlook” it we’ll be okay.

Only differences cannot be overlooked in real life. That might work for dating but the very daily-ness of living with a man, day in and day out tends to aggravate those differences.

And then what we all seem to resort to when nothing else works: we take out our relational wrench and fix it.

Only it doesn’t work.


In fact, I think many of those conflicts sited as “irreconcilable differences” are really just differences with a fix-it wrench doing deep damage.

Because, dear girls, your men don’t need to be fixed.

Just ask him.

Ask any man why he fell in love with his wife or fiancé or girlfriend and not one of them will tell you he loves her because he hopes she will fix him.

Help him… maybe. Challenge him…perhaps. But mostly what you’ll hear is something like this:

I married her because she likes me. 

Think about that for a minute because here’s where things get strange:

I did not marry Phil thirty-five years ago because he liked me. I married him because I liked him. 

When, just a few minutes ago I asked Phil why he fell in love with me, he listed all sorts of lovely reasons. But woven in there every phrase or so was something along the lines of: you understood me, you fit with me. 

My man’s way of saying, you liked me, and that made me like you even more, and think we could have a really good life together.

Because girls, that man of yours doesn’t want you  to  fix him— he wants you to like him.

When you and I set out to fix those differences that really bother us… he doesn’t feel liked.

When we heave a great sigh of not-so-subtle disappointment over yet another Sunday afternoon with the annoying noise of a football game drowning out our yearning for romance… he doesn’t feel liked.

And when we hint and poke and suggest and remind him again… he doesn’t feel liked.

It's like he needs. Great gobs of like. Loud like.

He needs you to like him whether he’s messy or manically neat. Whether he’s cool or… kind of dorky. Pudgy or buff, hairy or bald, pushy or polite, successful or out-of-work and out-of-steam.

Deep down he yearns to be liked just as he is, right now, today.

And you can do that, dear girls. You can like him. Yes, you can. It’s a choice we make.

But you’ll have to remember this: He’s not your Prince Charming.

He’s not supposed to be.

That place in your heart is carved out for God alone. He’s perfect. Everything you ever wanted and so much more.

And when you know that… you can look at that man across the table and just like him. A lot.

And all of a sudden those differences aren’t so bad. They don’t disappear, but they certainly start to shrink. You’ll start to wonder what you were so worried about way back then in those conflict-riddled days. You’ll see that you over-did it, that you made your relationship too much about you.

How do I know?

Because I’ve tried all three ways of dealing with those difficult differences between the two of us.  I’ve stirred up conflict, sent my man cowering into the corner of the roof, been that irascible, unsolvable, hard-to-please woman.

All because I forgot…

That Phil is not my Prince Charming. He’s the man God gave me to love, to serve, to help, to partner with— to like, for the rest of our lives.

And that's what this series is all about. Next week I'll show you what I've discovered about the four ways God asks women to love their men. And then we'll talk about how to do that in a way that makes him feel really, really liked.

From my heart,


P.S. Here’s your chance, girls. Tell us what you like about him. Your boyfriend, your fiancé, your husband… make a list and let us see it. And then tell him. I think you’ll be amazed at how much he loves being liked.


(image by Hillary Kupish)

Like apples of gold in settings of silver
is a word spoken in right circumstances. Proverbs 25:11

Dear girls,

I started this series, He’s Not Your Prince Charming, so long ago I cannot seem to find it’s beginning. It has been a revealing and satisfying journey for me to share with you things I have learned and am still learning after 35 years of marriage to a good and godly man.

I’ve written to you about the beauty of a woman’s sexuality, about attitudes and admiration and freedom and friendship. I’ve told stories, attempting to be honest, trying to present truth with hope and just a tad bit of real life hilarity.

And I’ve heard your stories. You have given me the greatest gift a woman can give to a friend— your truth.

I’ve laughed and I’ve cried and I’ve worried. Sometimes I’ve smiled so wide into my computer that my husband has wondered what in the world I’m so excited about! I just keep telling him these are my girls

That’s who you are.

You’ve listened and you’ve passed my words to people you love. Sometimes you’ve disagreed or pointed out holes in my thinking. You’ve added your own hard earned wisdom of how to do holiness in real life. You’ve counseled each other… nothing thrills me more!

Here is what I hope you have learned as we’ve talked:

  1. That no man can satisfy that deep craving every woman has for intimacy and worth and validation and beauty.
  2. That Jesus is the one you’re craving.
  3. That He wants to draw you near in your brokenness more than He wants you to be perfect.
  4. That He craves you too. Will I ever get over the wonder?


  1. That loving a man is an act of worship, by faith, in the One who calls us to love passionately, purposefully, beautifully.
  2. That loving this way will take everything we have: our intelligence, our willingness, our creativity, our intuition and our wisdom.
  3. That loving this way is a calling, an honor, and a choice.
  4. That loving a man well can only come out of a place of being loved well by the One Man who fills your heart to overflowing.

And more… that God specifically urges wives to love their husbands by being…

  1. his lover
  2. his friend
  3. his partner
  4. his admirer

A couple of weeks ago, my blog team met and spent a long evening talking about what’s next. And though we could keep talking about how to love our men forever and ever… we realize that our lives are rich with relationships that need our focus. We have friends, parents, sons and daughters and roommates. And each of us is intent on drawing closer in intimacy with God in a way that is authentic and life changing.

With those priorities in mind, we have come up with a new series called simply WORDS. My focus will be on sharing with you what I want my girls to know. Things that I want to pass on; truths and wisdom I am learning or have learned that have made all the difference in my world.

For the next few weeks we will be reposting from He’s Not Your Prince Charming, reaching way back in the archives to remind and reteach and rethink what we’ve been learning together. I hope you will add fresh comments to shed new light on these posts.

In the meantime I will be writing ahead for the new series, studying, reading, thinking, and praying about what to say and how to say it.

And, drums roll… writing my first book. My dream of publishing a book is finally coming true. No doubt I’ll be sharing snippets here and there as I chip away at it for the next few months.

From a heart overflowing with love for each of you,


P.S. If there is a topic you’re longing for me to address, please let me know in the comments. My own list is growing…





(image by Hillary Kupish) 

… thoughts on submission from a strong willed woman 


submit yourselves to your own husbands

 as you do to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:22

For many months I have danced around the S-word. Rather than engage in controversy, I have chosen to be careful, to sneak in the occasional benign reference to an idea so seemingly archaic as to be seen as obsolete by many. A concept agonizingly riddled with conflict.

I’ve been careful for two reasons:

One, because historically women have been battered by bullying men and sanctimonious women with this word… and

Two, because women, in their struggle to wrestle culture’s thinking back into sanity, have been biting back, over the last couple of decades, with such militant ferocity.

And I, being a teacher and encourager to real women I know and love, have absolutely no desire to wade into either the sanctimonious or the ferocious.

Plus, I am a bit of a coward when it comes to conflict.

And so, today, I hesitantly nudge open the door to begin a discussion. Not a lecture. Not an argument. Not even a clearly defined teaching about what God meant or what He means and what every-single-wife-in-every-single-situation-really-ought-to-do.

Instead, I’ll simply tell you a story.

When Phil and I bought the house we lived in for the past 11 years, we made a hasty decision: an unfortunate combination of me not wanting to live in a rental while we belabored where to live, and him being influenced by outside pressures.

Practically from the day we moved in I’d been talking about selling it. Too big, too look-alike suburban, too much to maintain, too little actual space to accommodate our family gatherings, too expensive.

Yet every time we looked into selling it, putting pencil to paper to make sure it made financial sense, I reluctantly agreed with Phil. We needed to hang on to the house I didn’t like. Though he would have sold the behemoth house to make me happy, we both knew it was not the best decision and so we stayed.

I submitted. Not because Phil forced me to, but because he painstakingly and lovingly led me to see the wisdom of staying put.

Then one day the pencil on paper lined out a different scenario. A window of time in which the combination of our rising equity, low interest rates, and a multitude of must-sell houses on the market compelled us to start looking at what was out there.

I envisioned purchasing an old cottage, neglected but adorable, waiting for me to restore it to its former glory. We agreed that increasing our indebtedness wouldn’t be financially advisable, but that didn’t worry me. Our price range was generous enough to make me confident about my vision of home.

Then a friend told us about a house for sale. He told us to drive by it, see what we thought. He quoted us a price way under our allotted budget. The location was wonderful. I could hardly wait to see it.

Driving slowly down the street, I was charmed. Quaint cottages, huge trees, an area settled over a 40 year span, and the name of the street— Firwood Road—so enchanting!

The house, however, was ugly.

I mean really ugly. As in creepy ugly. As in this house was never anything but ugly. It was built ugly in an era of ugly with nary a hint of anything but ugly.

I was relieved to hear Phil agree with me. No Ugly House for us.

But then, over the next few weeks he started to change his mind. Putting that dratted pencil back to paper, he began to dream a different dream— the dream of financial freedom, of life really truly within our means.

The Ugly House kept coming up in our conversations about what that might look like. And I kept saying,

“No way, there is nothing redeemable about that house. It is just ugly. It has always been ugly. We don’t want ugly— I don’t want ugly.”

We bought the Ugly House.

We didn’t buy it because I heroically surrendered. I didn’t suddenly shrug my shoulders and give in. We bought it because, over hours and hours of talking together, my vision of our life began to change. I caught a whiff of what that kind of financial freedom might mean for our future, which, in turn, ignited my own dreams.

What might it look like to live with less? To be able to give more?  To be free to be generous even though we’re not rich. What might it look like to be able to close up our little house at a moment’s notice so we could run into adventure?

I got excited.

Then the friend who started this whole thing, along with a brilliant young designer we know, put more pencil to paper; moving walls, finding deals, figuring out how to transform the Ugly House into a cute cottage on our budget.

I got more excited.

We talked endlessly— using up whole forests of paper as we adapted the idea to suit us both.

He heard my soul-desire for beauty.

I saw his soul-craving for freedom.

We combined our individual desires out of love and respect for each other.

I realized in one of those rare moments of lightening strike revelation just how heavy a burden my husband had shouldered in order to enable me to do what I wanted to do: stay at home to focus on raising our children. And then, with an entirely empty nest, he let me quit my part-time job in order to pursue my dream of writing.

That enlightenment made me think long and hard. It gave weight to his vision for financial freedom. My respect for his sacrifice changed my approach to this next season of life.

And now we are getting ready to move into the Ugly House that isn’t ugly any more.

I’ve renamed it Firwood Cottage, an apt moniker that encompasses what it has become. Oak wood floors, fine wide baseboards, a refrigerator that harkens back to another era. I love this house! In fact, I am convinced it is going to become my all-time favorite home.

What seemed a sacrifice in the beginning has become a grand adventure.

Did I submit to my husband? Yes.

Was it easy to get to that place? No

Did I just roll over and give in? Of course not. 

Did we both have to let go of some strongly held opinions? Uh-huh. 

Did we reach a fairy-tale conclusion to our differences? NO! 

We had to chop off the much wanted great room drawn into our plans in order to afford the 5 foot soaking tub and the shiny sink I just couldn’t live without which made absolutely no sense to Phil. We’ll be saving for a long time to add that family gathering space back into our plans.

But we’re on the same page, making similar sacrifices, determined to embrace a simpler, smaller, living-within-our-means life.


And that is what submission looks like in the marriage of two strong-willed, yet strongly committed people— compromise, communication, conflict, coming to new conclusions.

Submission is so much more than merely giving in.

Submitting to my husband is messy, fraught with mind-changing, mistake-making decisions.

Submission to my husband includes embracing, envisioning, rethinking, probing, questioning… my husband’s ideas.

And yes, I believe that submission is mutual…  yet in the end it is my honor to choose to submit to the man I married, to follow in the footsteps of the “great women of old” who choose to submit to their own husbands because of their ultimate trust in God. (I Peter 3)

My take on submission may be different than yours. My circumstances most certainly are. And yet, in the end, we are simply sisters— women connected by our passionate love for Jesus, each of us trying to work that out in our own lives.

And maybe that is why, just a few minutes before God nudged Paul to write those words urging wives to submit to their husbands, He made sure he scribbled this:

“Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do.” (Ephesians 5:17)

From a heart still learning what this all looks like,


P.S. How about you? How are you learning to act thoughtfully about submission to your own husband? And for those of you not yet married, have you thought about this? Does the idea of submission scare you? Have you seen this in someone's marriage that makes sense to you? I'd love to hear.

HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: on arguments and admiration

(image by Hillary Kupish)

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I got in an argument with my husband.

I know that might shock you. Pastors and their wives don’t fight, do they? With all that training and talking and generally being super heroes in the spiritual world, how could they possibly lower themselves to ugliness?

We do. And we did.

But the possibility of coming out the victor in a scuffle with a professional communicator has a probability factor of practically nil. And so, frustrated with my inability to wrestle him into agreement, I decided to write it down— to make a list of all the things I was mad about.

If I couldn’t out-talk him, I’d try to out-list him.

First, I decided I’d better read my bible.

After all, we all know that winning an argument with a preacher requires Scripture. I’d come locked and loaded. Clearly, I needed God on my side in order to sway him.

But this was a Monday morning and somehow I’d left my bible at church the night before, so I rummaged around the bookshelves until I found a different bible—an Amplified Bible.

Ah ha! Just what I needed to amplify my message of frustration to my man!

This, my dear girls, was way before I learned that God speaks to His children if we will only listen. I wasn’t listening. I didn’t know I should be. I’m not even sure I would have if I’d known.

I was just mad.

Retrieving the barely used bible, I sat on the sofa, ready to load up on I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong verses. And just as I did, a big chunk of pages fell out, spilling God’s Word, quite literally into my lap… to Ephesians 5:33:

However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self;

There it is! Surely, this must be the Lord giving me what I need to pound some sense into that man of mine…

I kept reading…

and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly].


I put my pen down. Tore up my list. Got on my knees and wept.

My husband didn’t need a list of what he was doing wrong in order to love me the way I wanted to be loved… 

He needed a list of what he was doing right in order to be loved the way he needed to be loved.

And that’s just it, isn’t it? The moment we launch a crusade to bring all his manliness under our control so that we will be loved the way we want to be loved, we lose all possibility to be loved… or lovely.

But when we finally get it, when we get sick and tired of trying to lasso all that wildness, when instead we set him free to go and conquer his world, his way— something unexplainable happens— we fall more deeply in love with the man that he is.

We don’t feel more loved… we feel more love.

After years and years of being surrounded by women… of leading and teaching and counseling and loving women… of being a woman, I have become convinced that this is the one beautiful, mystical silver thread of sameness that runs in every woman’s veins—

We respect and therefore we love. 

Somehow, I think, if we understood this better… if we became convinced of the truth of who we are and who we are made to be, every one of us would pay close heed to this tiny tidbit of truth tacked on as a seeming afterthought to God’s pointed command for husbands to love their wives.

It’s almost as if God is trying to tell us something…

And too, I believe, if our men knew this about us… I mean really understood that our love for them is intangibly tied to our respect for them… it would make a difference in the way they live the every-day with us.

And so, my dear girls, don’t you think it’s time we focused our minds on honor; preference, admiration, respect… maybe even a pinch of… veneration? Knowing all his flaws and failures, eyes open to who he was yesterday and will probably be again tomorrow, might we dare let go control enough to just flat out admire him?

To see him through eyes free of bitterness for who he hasn’t been, for what he hasn’t done, for all those things that disappoint down deep?

Because, the truth is, when I purpose to notice those things about him that make me prefer him, when I regard him through the filter of honor, that’s when my chest fills with those feelings of love. 

And so, my dear sisters in this struggle to get it right, here is our own list…


1.    Respect him

2.    Reverence him

3.    Notice him.

4.    Regard him.

5.    Honor him.

6.    Prefer him.

7.    Venerate him.

8.    Esteem him.

9.    Defer to him.

10. Praise him.

11. Love him.

12. Admire him exceedingly.

And my prayer:

That… we would become a rare remnant of women skilled in the art of admiration.

That…  we would do it on purpose, not mindlessly burying our heads in the sand, but mindfully choosing honor anyway.

That… single women would gift their brothers with golden words of sincere regard.

That… married women would grace their husbands with exceeding admiration, showering them recklessly with words and gestures and expressions of approval.

And that the men God has gifted us with would see themselves thru the eyes of the One who created them and is crafting them into His ideal…  because we do.

From my heart,


PS. Some of you are great at this. Most of us are not. This week after Valentine’s Day might we focus on this aspect of loving our men?

And can you sneak in here and tell us how you did?

And for any men who dare sneak a peak into our place here, would you tell us how your wife or girlfriend or just-friend purposely gave you the gift of great respect? We want to learn.



(image by Hilary Kupish)

Dear girls,

For too many years I spent all my relational energy loving my husband the way I wanted to be loved. After all, doesn’t the Bible tell us to do unto others as we want them to do unto us? 

So I did unto him in the hopes that he’d do the same unto me.

But it didn’t work. Because Phil was too busy doing unto me what he wanted me to do unto him.

And, in truth, we got into a lot of crazy-cycle struggles over this well-intended-but-doomed-to-failure way of thinking.

So I started over.

First, I let the truth sink deep that my handsome, godly, charming, and ever-so-strong man was not and would never be my Prince Charming.

Then I began the long, slow learning that all my hopes and dreams for a love that satisfies can really, honestly be known in Jesus. I drew close. I heard. I began to feast on His love, to see His affection for me—for the me I really am.

And though we all sigh and swoon when someone sings a song about loving every part of me just the way I am

… it’s not true… or possible. Because no man will ever love any one of us just the way we are…

Except One…

And now I am learning something new. Something no one ever told me.

I am learning how to love a man the way he wants to be loved.

And so, for the next several weeks, I will attempt to unlock the mystery of loving a man in a way that actually makes him feel loved.

As you read my list, remember this: every man is different. Same species, vastly different variations. This is my list for my man: a good man: a following-after-God man.

And remember this too: I am writing about marriage. Which puts #20 (for most husbands, most of the time) right there at the top of the list.

Twenty Ways Of Loving Your Man:

  1. Respect: Respectful words, facial expressions, gestures, actions.
  2. Encouragement: That strong undercurrent of belief that brings courage to a man who wars for his family every day.
  3. Friendliness: A woman by his side who likes him.  A lot.
  4. Freedom: To be who he is right now and who he wants to be someday.
  5. Acceptance: Of who he is and who he isn’t.
  6. Space: To breathe deep, to spread out, to be a man in a woman’s world.
  7. Loyalty: Fierce by-his-side belief in him.
  8. Forgiveness: For all those every day mishaps that make you crazy.
  9. Fun: Laughter, light-heartedness, surprising joy.
  10. Intrigue: Mystery and mystique without drama and confusion.
  11. Agreement: As in the antithesis of constant conflict.
  12. Help: To make his life better, easier, more fun and more fulfilling.
  13. Adventure: With you by his side… or at least in the sidelines, cheering him on as he meets the dare.
  14. Food: It’s still the way to a man’s heart.
  15. Understanding: A refuge for real relationship.
  16. Mercy: When you don’t give him the tongue-lashing or eye-brow raising he deserves.
  17. Grace: When you do give him the warmth and welcome he doesn’t deserve.
  18. Submission: Pouring all of yourself into his mission.
  19. Solutions: because fixing it is the way a man takes care of his own.
  20. Sex: lots and lots of warm, welcoming, fiery, consistent, memory-making, always-available sex.

And so, my dear girls, we begin another series. Starting next week I’ll be posting every Monday one word about loving a man in the way he really wants to be loved. The way, I believe, God designed you, uniquely, to love your man.

From my heart,


PS: This list is incomplete! Can you add what you know? Show this to your husband or your friends and ask them? I’ll be rearranging this list and adding yours as I delve into this next series.

PSS: Jay Payleitner has written a book I go back to again and again called, 52 Things Husbands Need From Their Wives. It’s insightful, funny, encouraging, convicting, and wise. Read it if you’re in need of inspiration.


(image by Hillary Kupish)

Tomorrow my son’s long anticipated book, Loveology, will appear on the shelves of bookstores.

Today I sit at a coffee shop in Portland with my own copy in my lap and marvel.

This is my son— the one I taught to form letters and read words. The same boy who, in ninth grade, agonized to meet his page quota for a paper on Silas Marner. Not because he couldn’t do it, but because he fought his teacher’s insistence that papers must be long and wordy.

This book isn’t wordy.

Instead, John Mark has broken the worn-out publishing paradigm that insists that more is better. He has written a treatise on marriage for a generation that reads fast—to the point, crystal clear, wise, and raw.

For the first chapter of my reading, I did what I always do. I got out my pen to underline the most important points; my way of remembering what I, as a way-too-fast reader, need to take with me.

I underlined nearly every sentence.

Then I started taking notes. Along the margins, in my notebook. Arrows and circles, numbers to follow along more closely… I found myself treating Lovelogy like a workbook.

Pretty soon I stopped reading it for a review and started reading it for me.

For my marriage.

For my understanding of the Father’s intent when he made Adam one way and Eve another and then told them to go and do their task to change the world.

And then, about half way through this book, I had to stop and close it tight for a while.  Because through these words my own son put on paper, the Father began to speak deep into my heart about things I thought I knew but didn’t.

About men. About marriage. About God. About me.

And also…

About purpose, about pleasure, about the point of it all.

And then I had to grieve, just for an honest little while.

Because I didn’t know this plan for marriage 35 years ago when I married Phil. I knew some, but not nearly enough. And if I had known, really understood what marriage was all about and what marriage was for, I would have done those first years differently.

Why didn’t anybody ever tell me?

That marriage is for more than my own happiness.

That my success as a wife is not measured by my success at making my husband happy.

That marriage is about achieving something far beyond ourselves, something that can and should and will, if we let it, change the world.

And that is what my son’s book is about— a plan from God to change the world.

I’ve gushed more texts to John Mark as I’ve read his book than is seemly— I can imagine the rolling of his eyes as he dismisses his mom as slightly manic.

But I’m not sure he’ll ever be able to fully understand how fairy tales shape a woman’s heart. And how crushingly sad a woman feels when she realizes she didn’t marry Prince Charming after all. Or how embarrassingly bad a woman can behave when those dreams don’t carry her away on the white steed of her imaginary world.

My first years of marriage were not what they should have been because my view of marriage was not what it needed to be. I married a good and godly man and still managed to shame him for being less than I needed.


Because I thought about marriage mostly wrong and so I did marriage mostly wrong.

Loveology is the right way to think about marriage. God’s way.

Steeped in Scripture, filled with background and history and explanations and word studies, this book fully explains. John Mark makes sense of the mystery Paul talked about while exploding the myths most of us believe.

I needed this book.

You need this book if…

  • you hope to get married some day
  • you are afraid to get married
  • you want your sons and daughters to go into dating and marriage with God’s wisdom to guide them
  • your marriage failed and you want to understand why
  • you’re unhappy in your marriage and want to know what to do
  • you want hope
  • you want truth

And most especially, read this book if you’ve been following these He’s Not Your Prince Charming posts.  Because John Mark explains all the why’s and what’s and how come’s that keep haunting your misplaced dreams.

From a heart

… bursting with pride in my son,

… humbled by my own brokenness,

… thankful for the faithfulness of my husband,

… and hopeful for the next generation,


PS. Who’s going to the Loveology event in downtown Portland this weekend? Let us know in the comments and look for me, I’ll be there!




I wake up ready to write. Words are on the tips of my fingers as I rummage around for tea things and my Bible and all the pens and odds and ends that make up my morning time of listening.

I know what I want to say, where to go with this post about the how… how to really, honestly make Him— Jesus, the Redeemer, the Father, the Spirit, the I AM— my Prince.

How to find all my peace and satisfaction and balance and wisdom in Him.

How to love Him in real life.

And then something comes up. A conflict I can’t control. Two people I care about at odds. Both right, both wrong.

I want to fix it… I would if I could but clearly, I can’t.

And so I get mad. Furious inside. No one’s here to hear but none-the-less I’m silently ranting and raving and bashing heads.

So much for writing. So much for anything.

I sweep the floor, clean the sink, anything but write. All the while I’m talking to an invisible someone, no one, scolding and telling and setting them straight.

A crazy lady.

Tired of my own out-of-control emotions, I step into a hot, steaming shower intent on washing away the dirt and grime and product in my hair and on me.

That’s where I am when I hear His voice:

Di, are you really angry? Or is this fear? 

What are you afraid of that I cannot handle?

It takes another hour to let myself fully hear His words. Because…

The anger feels good… the fear feels real… letting go feels unsafe. Or untrue. Or something.

And then I remember one comment left with a question I couldn’t really answer and it’s been bothering me ever since.

I know that I am writing this on a good day, so do you have any pointers on how to stay focused on the real prize of Jesus’ love when my mind starts to run wild?

And here I am with my own mind running wild and my emotions drug along behind in a chaotic chase to nowhere. On this not-good day I wonder, where is that bone-deep peace? How do I get back to that place?

A friend texts me. She knows enough to be on the look out, to be listening for me.  And sometimes that’s just how God speaks His peace, through another who is in a better place to hear. 

Read John 6:30-43. I think there might be something in there for these guys…

I read these words and they’re for me, I know it. I need this. Peace begins to come before I even know why. I read again.

The story is about a group of honestly seeking people, asking what to do. Like me. Like you.

And Jesus cuts through all the mix of emotions and motivations and sides and says it simple:

 “This is what God wants you to do: Believe in the One He has sent.”

Just believe.

I know enough to know what His choice of words is about. I’ve studied this before.

Believe means trust. Or entrust.

And suddenly it’s all clear, His voice so loud it stops all my crazy-lady ranting.

He wants me to so fully and entirely entrust this conflict to Him that I let go of all need to control. To be right. To tell everyone what they-ought-to-do-and-think-and-say-and-feel because I said so and now let’s all be happy.

Because my way won’t work… and I know, after all these years of watching Him, that His way will.

Maybe not exactly the way I want it to, maybe not all neat and tidy and happily ever after, but somehow, someway, He will triumph.

Chaos and churning calms and I enter that oasis of quiet. Rest. Peace. A chest full of joy.

Nothing has changed. Everything has changed. I have changed.

Not because I followed ten steps or imagined what I wanted.

But just because He spoke.

And that, my dear girls, is the answer to the question I didn’t know. When bad days come and I am a mess, when I cannot or will not and don’t even want to cleave close because all my way seems safer… He speaks even then.

That, my dear ones, is grace. Amazing grace.

Being intimate with God, being close to Him, hearing from Him, isn’t about me following a certain set of steps or rules. It isn’t about me getting it right.

I shake my head in wonder. Who loves like that? Only one… only Him.

And yet, the truth is, I must obey. I must take at least one small step in the direction He says. I must choose. He won’t do it for me unless I take that tiniest step towards Him.

A pithy quote I retweeted this week becomes more than pith…

There are no "little obediences." Every opportunity to obey prepares us for greater challenges of faith in the future. -Dr Bruce Ware

Today’s messy story prepares me for tomorrow… and all these years of yesterdays prepared me for today.

I’d heard Him before and so I knew it was Him. I’d heard these same words from the Word before and delved deeper because I hadn’t understood and so when I needed them just now I knew what He meant.

Every single morning when you choose to get up earlier than you want, to deny yourself the warmth of bed and make room to hear by pushing your nose into His Book and staying there with wide open ears… those are the “little obediences” that prepare you for the greater challenges of faith that real life brings to every one of us.

Even when you feel nothing.

And now I’ve told you a story instead of giving a list. Instead of telling you how as an expert, I’ve shown you how in my own mess.  Because this is truth.

This is how He meets me, how He speaks. Right into my world where people do conflict imperfectly and I cry and rant even when no one’s here to hear.

Right here in my not-so-happily-ever-after life, the one I can’t seem to fix to my own satisfaction. He brings me in tight and let’s me be me… and makes me more than I am.

He is enough.

And that’s what I mean by he’s not your Prince Charming. No man can do this. Not even my godly, good man who has loved me so well all these years.

And truth be told, I’m glad he wasn’t there in my mess. I would have scared the guy half to death.

From my heart, still learning, still listening,


P.S. There’s more, so much more, but this is what comes first. Brokenness, obedience, daily-ness.

Will you help continue this conversation with your own stories… and keep the questions coming, I’m listening.





HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: what women really want #7

Dear sons,

There is a story in the Bible just for men.

Well, maybe it wasn’t originally meant just for men, but it’s so typical, so like what happens every day between men and women, that I think every man should know this story and learn, lest they follow the same path and wreck the same havoc with the same mistake.

Here’s what happened:

A man took over a struggling business. For three years this man threw himself wholeheartedly into his work. He put in long hours, stayed up late worrying about what might happen if he failed. The man worked every connection, every possibility, every person he knew to come alongside him. He exerted his considerable leadership abilities, convincing the brightest and the best to come on board.

And he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. His company’s holdings increased, making it the largest company in the world. He was lauded and applauded everywhere he went. Wealth poured in. People praised him.

He’d made it.

One day, the man decided to throw a party in celebration of his success. He invited everyone who’d contributed, from the most influential of investors to the lowliest suppliers. His entire board was there, each one looking smug and satisfied with the wealth of their holdings.

The press reported on his party with praise-filled reviews: “a tremendous display of the opulent wealth and glory of his empire.”[1]

Part way through his party, and more than part way inebriated, the man sent for his wife. He wanted her to strut her sexuality in front of these business associates. To let the men there know that his success in the bedroom reflected his success as a man.

When she refused to comply, he went ballistic. He said things he shouldn’t have. One thing led to another and he ended up wallowing in his own mess. One of those stupid things a man wakes up to regret.

“But after Xerxes’ anger cooled, he began thinking about Vashti…”[2]

Every time I read the story of Esther, I get stuck at the party scene. Something went terribly wrong and its what goes terribly wrong too often.

Somehow this whole group of smart, successful men managed to misinterpret the words of a woman who no doubt wanted to help. She knew he’d wake up the next morning embarrassed by his own lack of judgment.  In reality, this wife’s refusal to make a fool of both of them was for his own benefit as much as hers. And she wasn’t in a position to whisper politely in his ear.

And so, here are some things I think every man ought to know about what every woman wants… ways to help you avoid the mistakes made by Xerxes. Though I seriously doubt any of you would be quite so off-the-charts foolish as he was, still… he misread his wife and lived to regret it. Keep these questions tucked in for when you need them— it might just make all the difference.

Three questions to ponder:

(before you do/say/start something you’ll regret)

 1.    What does she want for you?

Too many men think that women just want something from them. The reality is that good-hearted women, even when they come off as bossy and difficult to please, always want the best for their men.

Is she hinting and poking and suggesting something over and over? Instead of batting her words away like a pesky fly, take a moment to listen. She just may be on to something. Something that will improve your own life and relationships and ability to succeed.

A wise man actually asks her what she’s getting at. Nicely. Then he takes her words and thinks about it. She just may be on to something.

2.    What worries her about you?

If you have a woman in your life who frets over some hidden flaw of yours, you are the luckiest of men.

I know it’s hard to see it that way, but here’s what most men don’t get: Women have a unique ability to see every one of your flaws and still admire who you are.

The reason she’s worried is because she knows and dreads the consequences you so blithely brush off. She’s not nagging simply because your flaw irritates her— she’s fussing because she knows your flaw may well sink you on your path to success.

And she wants you to succeed! A woman admires a man who is good at what he does and she knows she can help you.

When she corrects the way you relate to your kids or acts appalled at how you treated the barista behind the coffee bar, it’s because she cares about you. She knows that in this world a man’s success depends, at least in part, on how well he relates to people.

A wise man listens to all those worries and takes heed. Like a warrior consulting his scouts, he pays attention. Then he takes her worries to God and humbly listens.

3.    What is she trying to fix for you?

It is instinctive in a woman to fix. She can’t help it, she can’t stop it. A good-hearted woman cannot fathom twiddling her fingers while one she loves suffers or might suffer or once suffered.

That’s why she offers advice so much— not because she thinks you’re less than adequate, but because she wants to help. She wants to offer her own strength to make you shine.

To make life better.

The problem is, most men interpret all those hints and suggestions and ideas for improvement as nagging.

It’s not. At least that’s not the way she means it.

And neither does it have anything to do with disrespect. Women offer each other advice all the time. It’s the way we love, the way we tuck our people in and make their lives more bearable.

A wise man sees the big picture and interprets all her fixing as her way of loving. He listens, hearing her words and all the loyalty behind them. And every once in a while he thanks her for being so passionate and fierce and wise and caring.

My advice to every young (and not so young) man is to regularly sit down and invite the woman who loves you to answer these questions honestly. Make her a cup of her favorite coffee, sit out on the back porch, and lean forward to listen.

She loves you. She cares how you come across. She’s probably more aware of how people respond to you than you are. Give her half a chance and she’ll coach you well and wisely.

From my heart,


PS: Girls, can you give us advice on how to say it right? How to be both respectful and honest with these men we love?

[1] Esther 1:4

[2] Esther 2:1

HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: what women really want #6



We’ve browsed through magazines, linked onto websites, and made our wish lists. Clothing sizes, shoe preferences, colors and particulars. Everything we think our men need to know in order to give us a Christmas to remember.

Now, armed with ideas, men are heading to the mall, determined to get that one thing they hope will make a woman happy.

And so, I have a list of my own to give the men who love the women I care about. It won’t break the bank or your back, but it will give her exactly what she really wants from you this Christmas.

Ten Things To Give The Woman You Love For Christmas:

1.  Your Attention- full and undivided.

Uninterrupted by cell phone rings and texting dings. She knows you can’t give it all the tim e, but for Christmas won’t you try? Do it on purpose.

2. Your Eyes- it’s the stuff of romance.

When a man looks into a woman’s eyes she knows he sees her. But it doesn’t have to be Hollywood mush. Just a moment of linking up, of homing in on the window to her soul. Dive deep. There's a person of unique value in there. Look for what she cannot say.

3.  Your Touch- purposeful and affectionate.

A way of showing her you connect with her. Women crave those brushes of love against their skin. To run your fingers across her heart, you'll need to step into her space and bring her into yours.

4.  Your Stories- give her a memory, a picture in your mind that you’ve tucked away somewhere of her being who she is and you loving that part of her. Tell it well and she’ll know for a moment that you really do know her.

5.  Your Hope- she sees everything not right with the world she’s trying to create for those she loves.  Tell her it’s okay, that perfection isn’t perfect, that love is messy and so is real life and you love her no matter what.

6.  Your Honor- What is the thing she does remarkably well? Have you told her? Have you told her in front of others? It’s not a woman’s way to brag about herself. Can you be her trumpeter?

7.  Your Depths- Give her those hidden hopes and dreams and thoughts and observations that will never be part of a quick phone call. She wants to know you way deep down inside.

8.  Your Help- Christmas can be overwhelming for a woman. So much to do and so many glossy pictures of others doing it better. Get up and help her. Lend a hand. Make life a little easier for her so she can be who she really is. And jump in before she gets crabby about all the work, she hates herself for being like that.

9.  Your Generosity- Can you choose in the midst of the pressures of real life to give a little more extravagantly than anyone would expect? Add a flourish. Make her coffee and cover it with whipped cream. Buy her something she doesn’t need. Bless her.

10.  Your Love- That’s what she really wants.

Every woman I know wants to be loved. To be considered better than average in a world that measures our success by means we’ll never attain.

To be  held in a place so uniquely special to you that you’re willing to give your attention, your eyes, your touch, your stories, your hope and honor and depths and help and generosity just to be sure she knows how much you love her.

We want to feel loved.

You have it in your power to give that kind of love this Christmas to your wife or your girlfriend, your good friend, your mom.

Will you?

From my heart,


P.S. How about telling us that one remarkable thing you love about her? We’d love to hear— I’d love to hear!

Dear friends,

Since God loved us that much,

We surely ought to love each other.

I John 4:11


HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: what every women really wants #5


(part two)

Dear girls,

I wrote last week about what every woman wants— faithfulness. And though I may use implication here to dance around and hint and subtly imply, God isn’t quite so shy with His words:

May your wife be a fountain of blessing to you…

 Why spill the water of your love in public, having sex with just anyone?

Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman,

or embrace the breasts of an adulterous woman?

And then, as He often does, God answers His own questions. He gives both husbands and wives the way to avoid what He terms “incredible folly”:

Drink water from your own well— share your love only with your wife.

You should reserve it for yourselves.

Don’t share it with strangers.

Proverbs 5

And so, my dear girls, we need to talk about our part in the faithfulness we want forever. Because to “just say no” to the pulsing need and power of his sexuality is not God’s plan— nor is it enough.

God created marriage as a safe place for a man to entrust his sexuality to a woman whose desires are cultivated by his.

The beauty of His story is evidenced in the way a man responds to the unveiling of a woman’s body. And then the desire a woman experiences when her husband  responds.

An enticing dance between two entirely different and uniquely created people who want the same thing— union, completeness, satisfaction, love. 

Last week I wrote to the men about how to be faithful to their wives. And yet even as I was writing, I realized that this cannot be the responsibility of men alone. We, as woman, have a role to play in our husband’s faithfulness. Just as he does in ours.

And so today I want to argue last week’s points backwards. To talk to you about partnering with your husband so that he doesn’t have to fight “every man’s battle” alone.

Three Ways To Help Your Husband Be Faithful:

1.  By focusing on him.

When life gets busy and kids and careers and all the gazillion realities of real life for real women overwhelm us, our men generally get back-burnered.

They’re strong, they’re independent. They can take care of themselves.

And so we forget what we knew when we were first connecting— that our men need times of our full attention. They need us to see them. To pick up on the subtle hints that maybe their world is running a little ragged.

They need us to notice the victories of every day. To applaud their strategies, to recognize their contribution to a better world.

Our men need us to be proud of them.

Because, frankly, most of our men are being sent the message that they’re insignificant, insufficient, inept and unnecessary. And sometimes, unknowingly, we add to that pile of inadequacy by simply not seeing them.

2.  By delighting him and delighting in him.

Thirty-six years ago when I was doing everything within my feminine powers to capture Phil’s heart, I had this science of delighting a man down pat.

Did I flirt? You bet I did. Did I make him smile? Yep. Did I hang on his every word, rub his shoulders, dress myself attractively, wear shiny lipstick? Of course I did!

I wanted Phil to want me because I wanted him. And I still want him. I want all of him. I want only him.

Maybe it’s time we resurrected the art of alluring our husbands. Of enticing them to laugh. Of making them feel as good as they really are.

And while we’re at it, why don’t we remember what it was about him that got our attention in the first place? It’s still there, buried under the responsibilities and pressures of the battles he fights every day. And maybe we’ve lost sight of him because we’re too busy trying to remake him into our BFF.

Paula Rinehart, one of my all time favorite writers for women says, “If you hold up a negative lens, you’ll see what you expect to see.” And, “men aren’t women with big feet and beards, they’re completely other.”

She’s right, you know. These other creatures with beards and big feet will never measure up to a woman’s standard of perfection. They’re not supposed to. If we’re to delight them and delight in them we’d do well to remember that.

3.  By pursuing him.

My mother diligently taught me not to chase men. “Run just fast enough to get caught” was her 1950’s mantra. But when it comes to marriage, her dating advice runs on empty.

Husbands want to be pursued. To be sought after and admired and yes, he wants to know you’re aroused by him too. Your husband wants to be wanted. Of course he does.

And here’s the sad truth, girls: There are always women waiting in the shadows to pursue your husband.  

A wise woman who values her home knows this and makes sure she’s not simply using her husband as a garbage-taker-outer and kid-watcher.

A wise man who values his home knows this and sets high walls around himself to guard his purity.

A wise couple talks about this. They ask each other questions. They choose to focus on each other. They choose to find delight in each other and to give the other delightful memories. And they are both so busy pursuing each other that there’s really no room for anyone else.

That is what faithfulness really is: two people investing in each other to such an extent that nothing and nobody can wiggle into unseen cracks. Not babies or teenagers or anybody else. Ever.

From my heart,


PS: Okay, let’s hear it. Can you shake us out of our stupor and remind us how to focus and delight and pursue our husbands? Can you tell us how you are helping each other to remain faithful?

PSS: Just to be clear— a man or a woman is always completely and irrevocably responsible for his own faithfulness. We can join each other to fight against unfaithfulness, but it is ultimately always a choice a man or a woman makes.

Adultery is never, ever in any way the fault of the other.


HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: what every woman really wants #4


Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman,

or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman?

Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.

Rejoice in the wife of your youth.

She is a loving deer, a graceful doe.

Let her breasts satisfy you always.

May you always be captivated by her love.

Proverbs 5:20, 18-19

Dear sons,

Just a few weeks ago when I asked women to write and tell me what they really want from a man, I got so many responses I had trouble reading them all. Some funny, some sad, some silly, and many wise words of what women want and hope for and need in order to thrive.

Yet there was one thing I didn’t hear from even one woman, and it surprised me. Because I know that it is what every woman wants more than anything in a relationship with a man.

One thing without which every relationship is doomed…

One thing that is critical for the happily ever after…

Every woman, every single woman without exception, wants her man to be faithful.

Hers and hers alone from this day forward and forever.

So why didn’t anyone happen to mention faithfulness? Not even one?

I think I know. Because I am a woman too and it’s what we hardly dare talk about. As if merely mentioning the idea that my man might possibly choose someone else might jinx us.

It is the unmentionable, unimaginable, too-horrible-to-think-about worry of every woman.

Every single woman. 

My dear sons, I have scraped the wounded hearts of too many women off the floor. Soaked my own skin with their tears. Carried the weight of pain they were never meant to bear.

All because a man found it irresistible to slip between the sheets with a woman who had convinced him he was irresistible. Or because a man felt that somehow his own pulsing needs were more powerful than his promise of forever.

And no woman ever recovers that part of her soul that is lost when the man who chose her chooses another.

Good men fight every day for purity. Not for perfection, but for the strength and courage to “contain his own vessel in sanctification and honor” (I Thess. 4:4).

Yet I would like to suggest that faithfulness is more than simply staying out of another woman’s bed.

Faithfulness, the way a woman defines it, means staying wholly devoted to your wife through good times and bad, not matter how she is or how she looks or how you feel.

And so, my sons, may I offer you…

Three Ways To Stay Faithful To Your Wife:

1.    By focusing on her

Every woman knows she’s not The Most Beautiful Woman In The World. We are surrounded by the marketing magic of men (and women) who exploit the magnetic pull a woman’s body has over men.

Then we look in the mirror.

But when a man, a good man, looks at his wife and tells her she is beautiful, when he lets her see the sexual pull she elicits from him, when he uses his eyes to rebuild the beauty she thinks she has lost… something magical happens in her insides.

She feels beautiful.

The mirror doesn’t matter as much as what she sees mirrored in your eyes. She stands a little straighter, acts a little sexier, tries a little harder because you’ve given her what she really wants— you’ve given her your whole-soul faithfulness.

2.    By delighting in her

Every woman longs to be captivating. She wants to be so alluring, so lovely, so clever that she pulls you in to a cocoon of oneness with herself.


A good man gets that. He understands that to remain fully faithful he must choose to remain captivated by his wife for the rest of his life.

No matter who else vies for his attention, no matter how much she changes, no matter that three kids have wrecked havoc with your once orderly home— NO MATTER WHAT!

To remain faithful, a man must remind himself every day how delightful his wife really is. And if he’s really wise, he’ll say it out loud.

3.    By pursuing her

Every married man, at some point, figured out how to pursue a woman. Some better than others.

For some men, that act of pursuit is something of a game. A battle to be conquered. A woman to be won.

For others it is more like a chore that needs doing in order to get what he wants.

Either way, may I suggest that just because she wears your ring does not mean you’re finished?

Women are, by nature, responders. God made us that way. Part of what a man gets when he pursues is this magnified response a woman emanates when she is being pursued.

Stop pursuing her and she stops responding. Keep pursuing her and she’ll flirt and give and be the delightful woman you want.

Pursue her heart. Ask her questions. Give her gifts that mean something. Carry her burdens. Share your fears. Lighten her load. Open her door. Keep taking steps towards this woman you’ve pledged your life to.

If you will do this: If you will focus on her, if you will delight in her, if you will pursue her heart, her soul, and her body— all of her— and if you will keep on doing it every day for the rest of your life, then you will be a faithful man.

To you faithful men, THANK YOU. Keep at it. You are our heros.

From my heart,


P.S. Girls, can you tell us how your man is delighting in you and focusing on you and pursuing you?

And men, can you chime in here? Women are reading this who want to know— how can we help? Has your wife helped you to remain faithful? Can you tell us how?

More on this next week...

HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: what women really want #3


Dear sons,

Way back in the Garden when God made a man, He set inside him an urgent vision. A job. A calling. A vision that would make his life matter, that would take all that he is and more.

The first Adam set about his task with nary a hint of distraction or delay. One by one he studied each animal God had made, then labeled and classified and named them. He set about stewarding this earth he’d been entrusted with, determined to do it well. A mammoth, idealistic, calling he could not accomplish alone.

And so God made woman.

He saw the good in the one coming alongside the other to help. Not to compete with him, but to complete him. To achieve together more than they could possibly attempt alone. God set the two to discover their unique calling and chase after it— together.

Every woman has a burning, a passion, an urging inside to help.

From that time until now, this race of Eve has been marked by her own urgent calling to help.

To see what needs doing and get it done.

To figure out a way to make it work.

To make her life matter by making life better.

A good woman carries all that capability into every relationship, but most especially her relationship with the man she loves. But if she is going to join her life and all that helping with his, she needs something from him as well. Because nothing frustrates a woman more than a man whose reluctance to allow her to help stifles her God-given calling to come alongside and make life better.

And so, here, dear sons, is a simple path to unleash all that gift of help she is offering you.

1.    She wants you to have a goal worth pursuing.

A man sitting on a sofa, fiddling with controls on a game that isn’t real because he has no honest battle of his own to fight is not what a woman wants. What she wants is a man with a vision big enough to involve her. She wants to see him dream and then set out to make that dream real. She wants that dream to be about making life better. For her, for him, for someone out there in the world who needs something better. Whether it means a better cup of coffee or a more beautifully designed bag. A woman will go to great lengths to help a man who has the temerity to dream.

2.    She wants you to have a plan.

You don’t have to have it all charted out in 3D. She just wants to know that you’ve got the moxy to go after what you want. Because some men don’t and their women end up having to push and prod and suggest and make endless lists just to get them moving. No woman wants that. She needs to hear that you’re not giving up, that you’re trying to find a way to do whatever it is you’re dreaming about.

And let me tell you, most women can help you with that plan. It is instinctive to a woman to map the way ahead. We love to find a way to make real life happen. We’re good at it and we know it and we wish you knew it too.

3.    She wants to help you.

I don’t know why men so often eschew the help of a woman. I know pride has something to do with it. I suspect that we women inadvertently say it wrong and leave you feeling the need to draw away from what you perceive is a lack of respect.  May I make a motherly observation? Your whole life will be better if you’ll just get over whatever it is that holds you back from asking her to help you.

4.    She wants you to invite her to help you.

For far too long women have been given the message that they’re too much. Too much trouble, too pushy, too forward. And so sometimes she pokes. Hints. Rolls her eyes in utter frustration.  All those suggestions she makes are because she knows she can help and she senses you strong-arming her away. What your wife or girlfriend needs is to be invited into your story. She wants you to scoot over and give her a place at the table. To ask her advice and listen.

5.    She wants you to value her contribution.

A simple thank you will do. Better yet, give her credit when things go well. Acknowledge her abilities, her wisdom, her unique contributions to making your life better, your vision clearer, your job easier. She doesn’t need her name in lights— but oh how she hopes you will light up with gratitude for all she is being and doing and giving up to help you.

It seems simple: Your woman has help to offer.

You accept it.

You let her in.

She helps.

You both benefit.

The whole world benefits.

Done deal.

From my heart,


P.S. Men- Can you tell us here how the woman in your life has made it better? Give her credit? Show us how?

Women- What are some of the ways a woman can help a man? Have you had the thrill of working together to do what neither of you could do alone?

HE'S NOT YOUR PRINCE CHARMING: what every woman really wants #2

My dove is hiding behind some rocks,

Behind an outcrop on the cliff.

Let me see you;

Let me hear your voice

For your voice is pleasant and you are lovely.

Song of Songs 2:14

I promised, in this series, to write about what a woman really wants. Knowing, as all women know, that…

what we say we want and what we really want are rarely one and the same.

And that’s not because we’re duplicitous and deceptive at our core, but because we know well enough that…

what we really want we rarely get.

And yet, I have come to see, that good men…

men who have set their hearts to follow God courageously and honestly…

possess a soul-deep desire to give the women they love everything and anything she really wants.

So why is it that that rarely actually happens in real life? Why do men despair of ever really understanding the complexities and disparities of the women they love?

The answer, I have come to believe, is not because men are dense, nor because women are unknowable.  The real reason women often confuse and intimidate men is because…

he doesn’t hear her heart.

Instead, he hears her words, mixes those uniquely feminine phrases with a smattering of mysterious female metaphors, adds his own male-mentality basd assumptions…and comes to the wrong conclusions.


Misunderstanding, messy conflict, melt-downs, marriage counseling.

And so, dear sons, here is my fumbling attempt to help you hear.

How To Hear The Heart Of A Woman:

 1.    Hear her shame…

Every woman I know harbors hidden shame in her heart. No matter how successful or competent or got-it-all-together she may appear, deep down inside lurks an ugly, seething, never satisfied monster of accusation.

Psychologists use words like “the voice on your shoulder”. Some blame her mother for all those words of correction. Others think her father failed to affirm her enough.

Spiritual counselors tend to blame Satan. The Accuser who stands outside a woman’s heart, ready to fling fiery darts of guilt her way.

Men, it seems to me, are more able to shove those prickly, probing suggestions of shame aside. They shake their heads, straighten their backs, and turn away.

But women, in our deeply sensitive knowing, take those thoughts and see the truth inside.

We’re not good enough, and we know it.  Not thin enough. Not nice enough. Not giving enough. Not doing enough.

Not enough. Never enough

The man who dares look deeply into a woman’s heart will see all that not enough and spend the rest of his life slaying the dragon.

How? His greatest weapons are his words.

Words of assurance.

Words of encouragement… of courage.

Words of approval.

Words that bring value… and knowing… and seeing… and worth.

Not just I love you, but…

I love the real you.

Yet, dear men who dare to read this, I in no way wish to communicate that every woman is driven primarily by a confusing bundle of guilt-driven shame. Not at all.

Shame is there, hidden under layers and layers of self-protective coping mechanisms that enable women to thrive. But there is so much more to knowing a woman…

2.    Hear her hopes…

Undeniably the strangest compliment I have ever received from another woman, came from a former prostitute. I’d been teaching a bible study through the story of Ruth and this woman listened on the edge of her seat, voraciously feasting on the truths in God’s Word.

One day she grabbed me by the shoulders to be assured of my full attention and said, “Diane, you and I are sooo much alike!”

At first I was taken aback. What in the world did I have in common with this woman from a world so different than mine I could hardly fathom the distance? Yet, listening through all my too-long hours of teaching over the course of several weeks, this woman heard me. And as she recounted our similarities, I couldn’t help but agree— we were like two peas in a pod.


She shared my hopes.

Every woman comes to life with a hope chest filled with maybe’s and dreams and wishful thinking. For far too many, those hopes are dashed by the men in their lives with great big buckets of logic and realism.

My dad fed my dreams with healthy doses of you-can-do-it with great handfuls of if-you-work-hard-and-smart-enough reminders. I wish every woman had a dad like mine.

My husband took over where my dad left off, letting me know he believed in me, saw potential and talent and worth. He has generously allowed me to try, to explore, to learn and grow into who I really am. I wish every woman had a husband like mine.

Men, may I challenge you to….

Listen close to her heart and hear her hopes? Helping her  believe that dreams come true even when so many don’t?

And then to…

Mount your white steed, pull out your shining sword, and join with the women you love to help vanquish those relentless messengers of shame?

Because if you will do just those two things, if you will love her through her shame and listen to her hopes…

She will believe you see her and know her and hear her heart. And that,  my dear sons, is the way to love a woman.

From my heart,


P.S Your  comments are teaching us! Will you women add your thoughts here?

How can the man in your life hear you fully?

Be nice, be short, be clear. There are God-loving men reading your words.

Has your husband or boyfriend already figured this out? Can you tell us how and what he does to connect with you in a way that makes you feel heard and known?