Posts tagged the front door


Dear Matt and Simona,

We’ve been talking about the Front Door, this vision of what kind of life you want to build together. But I think that rather than dish out more advice, I want to tell you a story.

This is a story being lived out right now, one that belongs to both you and me. It is a story of a love that has stretched and grown, endured and triumphed, changed and adapted until it’s ending beckons like a treasure of gold at the end of the rainbow.

My mom and dad— your grandparents— are writing the very last pages of a story that has stretched past 64 years. Papa suffers a terminal illness. Grandma is frail. Yet as we visited them this week, we saw a continuous cycle of one living for the other.

Mom is watching over Dad, feeding him, helping him, fetching and carrying and lending her strength for the daily challenge of living. Much the same as she’s been doing since she first said I do as an 18 year old girl-bride.

And Dad, whose days are a continual struggle for breath, is determined to get Mom settled and set up so that when he goes she’ll not have to worry.  Rather than lie still and breath easier, he’s duking it out on the phone with Medicare and insurance and all the complicities mom would not be able to handle on her own. He’s organizing the celebration of life he knows she won’t want to plan once he’s gone. Moving from his beloved mountains so that she’ll be nearer her daughter and closer to the assistance she’ll need.

Their's, we both know is a rare sort of story.  What I’ve been asking myself all week is why?

Why are they still married, still happy, dreading their coming separation, grieving each other’s suffering, using their remaining days seeking the well-being of the other? 

And somehow, I believe, if we can grasp the why, all the rest of us might have a fighting chance to share in their story of a love that lasts a lifetime.

For the life of me I can’t come up with a list. Only one word runs through my mine as I watch and listen and ask God for the secrets these two seem to know without words.


That’s what your grandparents are doing, Matt. Every day they decide. Then the next day they decide again. And again.

For 64 years they have decided.

When things go wrong and life gets stressful… they decide. To not blame the other, to get a grip on their anger, to be nicer than they feel.

When one messes up and the other feels the effects of that mess up… they decide. To forgive, to give grace, to find the strength to un-remember the offense.

When Papa’s vision for a secure financial future meant mom had to mend her underwear because his strict budget wouldn’t allow the extra expense of buying pretty things… she decided: To turn the whole story into a family joke and bring it back to his wise financial choices that set them up for the retirement of their dreams— and as much new underwear as she could ever want.

When my mom’s passion for history and love of creating beauty led her to start a business restoring and selling antiques… Papa decided: To put his skills to work for her vision that had nothing to do with his interests, and to assign himself the less than lucrative position of COR (Chief of Repairs).

And now, this week, I help them dismantle the house that has held their best dreams, the one that perches on a ridge overlooking the Sierras.


Because they decide: To do what’s best for the other. To make the best of the worst. To let go of what will not go with them so they can hold on tight to each other just a little longer.

And so, my dear Matt and Simona, if you want to write a similar story…

Decide to decide.

Decide to be kind when you feel a surge of nasty.

Decide to be affectionate when you feel like pushing away.

Decide to be friendly when doing so feels fake.

Decide to pinch pennies, to give thanks, to be gracious, to let the hurt heal without drama, to go places and do things you don’t particularly enjoy…


And if you do, maybe someday your daughter will do what I’ve been doing all week: revel in your love for each other, drinking it in like a hummingbird to nectar, watching and learning and deciding…. to decide.

From my heart,


P.S.  For those who are listening: What do you need to decide about today? Can you leave us your words to help us direct our thoughts?

(image by Hillary Kupish)



“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD, trust in Him, and He will do it.”

Psalm 37:3-5 NASB


Dear Matt and Simona,

Welcome back! Your honeymoon is now a memory; an oasis to look back at in the midst of the daily crush of bills and schedules and errands and work and that seemingly fruitless fight to keep up.

And so today I want to talk to the two of you about the way into this life you are forging. About the front door and the welcome and the vision of what lies ahead. Because if you get this right, if you consciously wipe the mud off your shoes and purposefully choose to tread carefully, you will experience a welcoming transition into your new life together.

Today I want to talk to you both about vision. Because I have seen that the surest way to the oneness you both want is shared vision.

Vision is the thesis, the purpose statement, the framework for who you want to be and how you want to live.

And the best way for two people to walk as one with the least amount of chaffing is to both know where you are going.

But here’s the problem: you both want different things.

Of course you do! Just like every one else I know, just like your dad and I. Wanting different values to be the shaping factor of your vision for the future is normal.  And sometimes, when you each bring those different purposes to the front door trying to fit them in takes some thorough thinking.

You saw this in action while planning your wedding.

Simona, you envisioned elegance and intimacy, a time to relish those who are close to you. You saw your wedding as a suspended moment of beauty, of love expressed in hushed reverence.

Not Matt. He saw a party with every friend, every potential friend, every person who has ever brought delight into his life. He didn’t care so much about beauty or elegance or hush… he wanted fun and dancing— to shout at the top of his joy that he is in love!

And together, with a few tears, a bit of tension, and many long talks, the two of you found a balance of both.

Your wedding was beautiful, elegant, with hushed moments of sacred sweetness.

And your wedding was fun.

John Mark teased his little brother with a hilarity that brought an instant relief to the tension of so much intimate emotion spilling down your faces. We laughed and we cried and we danced in that hopping up and down joy Matt’s D.J. friends played for us.

Now, how to do that for the rest of your lives?

As usual, I have a list:

How Two People Form One Vision From The Dreams Of Both:

1.  Take time deliberately.

You are embarking on a quest to discover what God is envisioning for two people who are now tasked with the daunting process of becoming one.

You’ve been pursuing each other with marriage in mind and now that you’re married you need to keep pursuing each other but with a different end in mind:

Now you’re pursuing each other’s vision for the two of you.

 2.  Ask questions relentlessly.

The hardest part about knowing another’s heart is our self-centered tendency to assume we know more than we do— and the only way I know to learn about another is to ask questions.

Then ask again. Then ask to explain. Again.

Ask in order to discover. Ask in such a way that the other can answer honestly, without having to over-state or justify or defend what may seem silly or impossible.

And remember:

Neither of you want to play the role of cold-water-reality-evaluator of each other’s dreams.

3.  Dream fearlessly.

A dream, for a follower of Jesus, is simply that seedling of desire hidden deep inside, waiting to be cultivated into fruition.

Be slow to squelch those seedlings. Instead, listen, give hope, offer courage and help.

And don’t be too quick to filter one another’s dreams through the lens of your own plans.

God has this delicious way of tantalizing us with just a bite of possibility… and then shaping it through the long wait.

 4.  Pray expectantly.

Dreams don’t just happen because we’ve talked about them.

Dreams become reality when the both of you, together, clasp hands and pray.

… when you trust and hope and work together faithfully.

… when your delight in God, together, becomes bigger than what you hope to do.

… when you open yourselves up to His shaping of your dreams and then get the thrill of partnering, together, with Him in the doing.

That is the way to live— as chasers after God, together!

5.  Listen closely.

Some of us have a hard time articulating our dreams and ideals for the life we hope to live. Strangely, it is often the talkative ones who can’t quite say what they mean. And then it is the quiet listeners who are given an uncanny gift for hearing what the other can’t quite say.

However it works for you, it is your honor to listen both to what the other is saying and what you perceive the other is meaning.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard a wife clearly state her husband’s mission while he’s looking blank about what to say.

She knows him better than he knows himself and she believes in him and his vision and so she uses her gift to put that vision into words for him.

I love that!

 6.  Write it down purposefully.

Even the prolific Apostle Paul didn’t see his vision clearly. You remember the story- he has a dream of a man gesturing him to come. Scholars call it The Macedonian Call. When he gets to the spot he was supposed to meet this man, he turns out to be a she— a woman by the name of Lydia.

In the male-dominated world Paul lived in, that had to mean disappointment. But he wrote out the whole story and because he did we get to see a pattern of the way God works.

By writing it down you will begin to see the pattern God uses to lead you throughout your lives together.

After 36 years of doing that, your dad and I are no longer surprised or caught unaware of God’s leading. We know the pattern.

7.  Wait patiently.

When we had a dream of starting a church we had to wait 7 years to see it happen. I had a dream of writing my story into a book over 20 years ago and I’m just now finishing it up.

Most dreams take a long time to percolate, to be refined and revised and prepared for and achieved.

That’s normal. It’s the way things work in the kingdom of God’s eternal way. He’s just not in the hurry the rest of us are.

Can I just tell you how much fun it is for me to sit on the sidelines, watching the two of you become one?

Simo, I dreamed of a woman like you for my boy. A woman who would let him be who he is while helping him to be so much more.

Matt, I dreamed of the day when you would launch out with a wife at your side to make your unique mark on the world— together.

From a heart bursting with joy for the adventure I know is ahead for you,


P.S. Stories anyone? Have you been helped in your vision? Either to articulate it more clearly or to actually go for it? Has your husband or wife taken up your dream and helped? I love this stuff.

(image by Hillary Kupish)