Posts in Letters
A New Series To Start

For weeks and months now I’ve been writing Letters To My Son, a series of answers to his question, posed a year or so ago,  “Mom, what should I look for in a wife?”

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

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

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

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

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

And you want more for yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

and my niece, Brittany...

I am embarking on a new series.

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

While the Letters were written for men about women,

this new series will be written for women about men.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From my heart,


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

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



Dear Matt,

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

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



Dear son,

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

This is what dating is for!

1. Take it slow

2. Have fun

3. Become friends…

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

4. Stay pure 

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

5. Does it ‘click'? 

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

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

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

7. Do you have peace?

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

8. “Will you marry me?”



LETTERS TO MY SON: a note from dad


Dear Matthew,

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

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

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

I love you,


Dear Son... and other Dudes reading this,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a huge difference.

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

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

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

1. He is leading you

2. He will protect you

3. He has promised to guide you

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

My advice? 

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

What do you hear in the silence?

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

Or are you just afraid...

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

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

Too many soul-probing questions without definitive answers?

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

So here’s my list of mom-made advice:

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

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

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

From my heart,


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

  • How this looks in real life?
  • Do you have a question about what I mean? 


Dear Matthew,

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

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

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

Why do they do it?

What are they saying?

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

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

Five Things Every Woman Longs For:

1.  Every woman longs to be desired.

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

2.  Every woman longs to be loved.

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

3.  Every woman longs to be cherished.

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

4.  Every woman longs to be protected.

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

5.  Every woman longs to be led.

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

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

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





Dear Matthew,

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

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

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

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

This is what I know:

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

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

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

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

From my heart,


Do not let sin control the way you live;

do not give in to sinful desires.

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

Instead, give yourselves completely to God,

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

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

Romans 6:12,13




Dear Matthew,

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

This week I want to tell you how.

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

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

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

Words like:

You shall not commit adultery. Exodus 20v14


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


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

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

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

It takes a man to follow this kind of advice.

It takes strength, determination, moral muscle.

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

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

From my heart,


And girls… do not settle for anything less.



Dear Matthew,

Today I just want to tell you a story.

Once upon a time there was a beautiful maiden. She was the delight of her father and the joy of her mother.  She was extraordinarily intelligent, a voracious learner, a lover of God, a passionate follower of Jesus. And she loved people.

She really loved people.

Hurting souls flocked to her for warmth and care and she never failed to give. Sometimes she brought the broken ones to her father and mother and said, “Here’s one for you to fix, won’t you pour some wisdom into this failed one?”

One day this Beauty went away on a Grand Adventure. She left her love-filled home to seek her fortune and her calling in a place that cried out for all she had to offer.

Her parents prayed… and cried… and prayed yet more. To let their delight, their joy go into a world filled with so much bad frightened them.

While she was in that land away from home… the beautiful maiden met a boy.

Messages flew back and forth between the beloved girl and the mother and father way back home. Hers filled with descriptions and wonder and feelings and hope. Theirs weighted with dire warnings, lessons, reminders, and worry.

One day the father mounted on the wings of the wind and flew to where the daughter lived and loved. He brought a thick black Bible, an arsenal of words, and a fierce scowl.

The boy came trembling but true. He shook the hand of the father, looked him in the eye, and assured him of his faithful following after the King.

A pause…

They sat… They talked… They even laughed a time or two.

And then the father said this.

For more than two-score years I have protected my daughter in every way. I watched over her when she was just a babe in her mother’s arms. I provided for every need before she had it. I have loved her and taught her and poured the best years of my life into her. I have prayed over her and for her and with her.

I ask just one thing of you: Guard her purity.

With that warning, the father mounted his flying steed with a swish of his cloak, and returned home.

The boy did what the father commanded. He watched over the beloved daughter. He cared for her and loved her and won her heart.

And he protected her purity.

When the day came for the father to give the girl-turned-woman to the boy-turned-man in marriage, a great celebration took place in all the Kingdom.

With the greatest joy, the father and the mother who had loved their girl with so much hope, embraced the one who had honored the King by protecting their daughter.

And every day they thank the King for that mighty man. And they pray for him and they believe in him and they love him as their own.

May Steve and Rebekah live happily ever after.

The End.

And so my son, may you do the same when someday you see a daughter of the King you want for your own.

May you protect her purity with the fierceness of a warrior.

From my heart,







Dear Matthew, Today, instead of writing you a letter about who you should marry or how you should act,

I’m keeping it simple.

Because what I want to talk about today has nothing to do with her and a whole lot to do with who she will become...

if you will be this kind of man.

And you’ve watched this all your life. This being— this doing that leads to being.

Since 1975 your dad has made a choice every single day that has led him into a life rich with wisdom. Count that, son, 38 years!

I’ve posted this before, but am absolutely certain that this needs seeing again. You and your Jesus-following friends who have set your faces to honor God, to know Him and love Him and lead others to do the same—

you need this.

This is not just another rule to follow.

This is a decision your dad made and stuck to… for a long, long time.

It is why I trust him. Why my respect for him has grown over 34 ½ years of marriage.

Why that respect turned into love so great I can’t see the keyboard as I type these words to you…

And why you need to read this again.

I love you!




Dear Matthew,

Christmas is just a few short days away. Presents lie wrapped and waiting under the tree. Cookies on platters, lights and bows and boughs tucked into every available space.

Our home is radiating anticipation.

And that’s why I want to talk to you about this unique need of every woman.

Dare I say it? Dare I mention the religiously political incorrectness of a woman wanting what she does not have? Of wanting presents? Pretty things? Thoughtfulness?

Isn’t she supposed to be sort of self-denying and esoteric? A modern day monk-like creature who recycles and reuses and wants nothing?

But these letters are about loving and truth and knowing, not about pretending.  And one thing I know...

all women love to be given gifts.

Even the Apostle Paul got this. The man who once went after Believers, squelching passion, persecuting a faith that threatened his rightness. A warrior kind of man.

Paul wrote this:

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives,

exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting.

His words evoke her beauty.

Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her,

dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.

And that is how husbands ought to love their wives.

They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.

Ephesians 5:25-33      

The Message

A man who wants to make a woman feel loved gives.  

A lot.  


Here's how:

Uniquely Study her, know her, notice who she is. Your dad buys me books, especially old books. He knows I love stories and biographies and poetry and flowers and silver and anything shiny.

Surprisingly -  A single rose for no reason at all, something you just saw that made you think of her, a gift certificate to a favorite place because you know she’ll “have nothing to wear”. Just the idea that you were thinking of her is enough to melt a woman’s heart. We know how busy life gets, we understand that you’re caught up in the rush to achieve and advance and provide— so when you stop for a moment and just give something for no reason, something melts inside our hearts. We respond.

Extravagantly - Every Christmas I watch your normally frugal brother lavish gifts on Tammy. He blows his budget, empties his wallet, and gives all he can to shout love to his wife. Don’t you think Tammy lives for those moments? And remembers when times are tight and there’s not enough left for extras? And feels cherished? Affectionately - Sometimes your dad gives me something that makes no sense to him. He just knows I light up when he gives me Marco Polo tea, or another book by my hard-to-find favorite author who died so long ago nobody reads her books anymore. Who goes ballistic over a used paperback about a missionary in China?Yet I know that he knows that I will. And so he gives me what he knows that I want. And I love that he does. Willingly - If a man is loving on and giving to his girlfriend/fiancé/wife  because he wants to, she’ll sense it. Women know things by watching and sniffing and filling in the gaps and picking up clues men don’t even realize they give. A man who gives because he wants to is showing a rare from-the-heart kind of love that sweeps a woman right off her proverbial feet. Irresistible! 

So give!   Uniquely,    surprisingly,    extravagantly,    affectionately,    willingly.

It’s a godly and bold and beautiful way to love a woman.

From my heart,



Make Her Feel Safe

Dear Matthew,

I woke up this morning feeling safe.

Pushing back the thick down comforter, I slipped out of bed while your dad slept soundly. Jackson led me excitedly to the laundry room as he does every morning, where I filled his bowl with 2 scoops of dog food, which he wolfed down as if he was afraid he might starve. I get the impression that he’s just not sure if I’ll remember to feed him one of these days and so he starts off every morning on a mission to remind me. Just in case.

And I think I used to be just like our dog.

Unsure that anyone would love me enough to take care of me every day.

Always. No matter what.

Would this be the day when Phil would stop loving me?

Would he be too busy to care today?

Too distracted to remember my presence?

Too enamored with all that the world outside our little home offers to notice me?

And so I’d wake up every morning asking those same questions, just a little fearful, hesitant. Watching to see if what I feared would come true. Feeling that maybe I needed to remind him that I’m hungry for his love, for assurance, for that pat on the back.

And every day for 35 years your dad has just loved me. Again. Until I finally feel safe and secure and sure that yes, today he’ll still love me. No matter what.

Matthew, I want you to understand that every woman, in her own way, enters every relationship feeling just a little unsafe… and that she’s looking to you with just a hint of fear behind her eyes… and that you can either fuel those fears or choose to go on a mission to make her know she's safe with you. No matter what.

And so, my dear son, in case you’ve missed the clues while growing up in this home where love has made your mama feel safe, I’d like to make another list.

This is how your dad did it:

  1. He tells me he loves me. Over and over and over again. Using words. Lots of words.
  2. He is affectionate with me. Ruffles my hair, holds my hand, sits close.
  3. He looks at me when I talk. Not over my shoulder or out the window- at me.
  4. He stays aware of me, choosing to see my beauty and look away from other women.
  5. He lets me be who I am, never hinting that if only I’d do more or be different he’d love me better.
  6. He never yells at me— ever.
  7. He prays with me whenever he senses that fear again.
  8. He seeks out my advice.
  9. He guards me from bad guys- locking the door, looking around, letting me know that he’s on it.
  10. He pays the bills. On time. Every time.
  11. He goes to work. Every day.
  12. Sometimes he empties the dishwasher…

I could write a whole letter on each of these dozen ways your dad has chased my fears away. There are stories and reasons and Scripture and so much more to say about making a woman feel safe.

This is how a man loves a woman, Matthew. Every day. For a lifetime. Starting now.

I love you!



 Be strong and courageous!

Joshua 1:8

Speak truth, each one of you...

Ephesians 4:25

My dear son,

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

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

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

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

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

Women long to be led. 

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

Did he just ask me on a date?

Or are we hanging out?

If so, why?

Does he want another buddy?

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

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

The guessing game just drives women crazy!!

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

There is risk involved, great risk!

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

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

You will have led like a man.

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



 Am I right girls? 


Dear son, For the past several weeks I’ve been describing to you what a beautiful woman does and how she speaks and what she thinks. And I’ve let you in on some of those ugly traits every woman struggles with too. Things like shaming and manipulating and trying to control. I guess I’m trying to clear the fog in so many young men’s minds, to help you think clearly and well when it comes to women and wives and all that no-man’s-land in between.

Today I want to tell you where these women are hiding. Because I think that many men have no clue where to find women of worth and beauty. And so I’ve made a list, knowing men’s penchant for clarity and brevity and my tendency to talk in circles.


  1. At church, first of all. They’ve dressed, done their hair, prettied all up and come to where they know they’ll be safe to meet God.
  2. In serving roles. Peek your head into the kitchen or coffee areas for the serving beauties. These women are others-centered, willing to get mussed up for the purpose of enhancing all our lives. They’re engulfed in aprons, covered in glory as they bustle about creating community by making coffee and serving it up hot and strong.
  3. At the front door. The greeters are warm and bold and looking out for people who need the hope of a good welcome. These are the ones who are not afraid to leave the safety of their circle of friends in order to bring others in.
  4. In the prayer room. These are the ones overflowing with compassion. They believe in grace and long to wrap others up tight in the Father’s love. These are the encouragers, the pray-ers, the people lovers. If mercy mixed with wisdom is your idea of heaven-on-earth, mosey on over to that prayer room!
  5. In the kid’s areas. These women are fun! You’ll see unedited laughter and abounding energy as the women chase kids around with the love of God. They are not worried about a broken fingernail! They’re too busy arranging a heart full of fun for every child who walks into their hearts.
  6. On the floor with toddlers. They slip off their heels, pull back their hair, and make life safe for insecure little ones. These women are not going to “ewee” at runny noses or stinky bottoms. Instead, you’ll find them rolling up their sleeves and opening up their hearts to embrace the potential of the future.
  7. Holding babies. I gotta tell you, there are raving beauties in the baby section of our church! With the softest smiles and a lovely way of swaying back and forth, these women/girls are covered in glory. You’ll see warmth here, tenderness, the softest of women. If your idea of beauty is a woman who is gentle and sweet, patient enough to handle your manliness, take a good long look at the women in the nursery.
  8. Out on a cold, rainy night to help with the middle schoolers and high schoolers. What you’ll see in here are the women who remember the angst of these years. They’re filled with wisdom and an ability to see right through people’s pretend. These women will be magnificent managers, able to handle the stresses of too much to do. They’re warrior women, unafraid of the potent mix of hormones and testosterone that makes these kids crazy at times.
  9. Sitting next to old people and weak people and less-than-perfect people. Look around on a Sunday. Then look again. See that beauty sitting next to the white haired lady? Or the one with her arm around someone who doesn’t smell right? Can you see her beauty? She’s the kind of woman who will never make fun of you when you can’t seem to get it together. Instead, she’ll see who you really are and ignore the messy stuff. She’s too busy loving to get her feelings easily hurt and too full of love to hurt yours.
  10.  At school. A woman who craves learning will never grow old and crotchety. She’ll keep growing and changing, delighting in the newness of every discovery. This kind of woman will keep you young, she’ll surprise and delight you with learning about life.
  11.  Through Missional Communities. Friends have friends who know friends who know you. Women involved in community and committed to missional living are beautiful! They get the whole dynamic of doing life together in a way that is bigger than our own pressing needs. These women bring meals, offer hope, think creatively, choose authenticity.

Notice what I don’t mention. No bars, no parties, no online dating serves. No juveniles eyeing each other at the mall. No hook ups or set ups or blind dates or weirdness.

Every place I’ve listed includes a description of the kind of women you’ll find there. They don’t wear placards trumpeting their beauty though. In fact, you may have to peer through messed up hair and smeared off lipstick to take a second look. These women may have started their day all prettied up but I guarantee you they’ve let all that go in the process of letting all their loveliness spill onto other’s lives.

Matt, I think its time you and your buddies took another look around for beauty. You might be surprised at where you find it.

From my heart,


LETTERS TO MY SON: the needy woman

Strength and dignity

 are her clothing,

and she smiles at the future.

She opens her mouth in wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Proverbs 31:25


Dear son,

So far I’ve talked to you about three kinds of women to avoid: the Manipulator, the Shamer, and the Drama Queen. Every woman I know has these tendencies, including me. These are ways women turn to in order to cope with past hurts or present helplessness.

But we don’t have to become entrenched in manipulation. We don’t have to give in to drama. We can stop it in its tracks if we fully entrust our lives to Jesus. We can humble ourselves, confess our sinful leanings and become beautiful.

But there is one more kind of woman I want to warn you about. I’ll call her the Needy Woman. And I’m not saying no man should ever marry this kind of woman. I’m warning you specifically because of your vision and calling to spiritual leadership in the church. The Needy Woman will engulf an enormous amount of a man’s time and attention in order to bring her to a place of spiritual and emotional dependence on God.

In many ways I was this kind of woman when your dad married me. I was barely 19 years old, mature and responsible on the surface, but dependent and needy whenever my carefully constructed corner of the world hit any sort of turbulence.

Your dad patiently led me into a deeper walk with God, never shaming me for my fearfulness or social inadequacies. But he also did not let my neediness hold him back from fulfilling the ministry he was called to.

To be honest, dear son of mine, I did hold him back. I cried when our monthly calendar planning outlined too many nights alone. I complained about his distraction, got my feelings hurt far too easily. I tried too hard to control a man who was born to lead, not to follow my ideas of a hunky-dory life.

In God’s unexplainable kindness, He matured me by constantly stretching me beyond myself. I wanted to be independent but I had no idea how to depend on God for my strength.  Then when disaster struck and I was diagnosed with progressive hearing lost and told I’d be deaf before long, I fell completely apart. And you know my story because you’ve heard it a hundred times.

God used that diagnosis to bring me into complete dependence on Himself.

To need Him alone. 

No one else could come close to bringing me the relief I needed from the fear and dread I felt at the prospect of going deaf.

That’s why I want you to avoid taking on the responsibility of a needy woman. To stop yourself from assuming that in your great strength you can help a woman whose helplessness may seem so appealing at first.

And though our marriage is strong and my respect for your dad is immense, it could have gone a different direction. Your dad, great spiritual leader that he is, could not have made me strong. He pointed me in the right direction, but I had to go there all by myself. And frankly, the only reason I followed that path to utter dependence on God is because in my failure I saw a terrifying glimpse of who I would become if something didn’t change immediately.

So, from personal experience, let me leave you my list of signs of…


  1. The needy woman is reluctant to go any where without you by her side.
  2. The needy woman always needs more time with you.
  3. The needy woman has no long-term goals of her own to drive her days.
  4. The needy woman gets her feelings hurt frequently.
  5. The needy woman will pull you away from friends and family and want you all to herself.
  6. The needy woman is easily intimidated by strong women.
  7. The needy woman is often critical of people who are different than her.
  8. The needy woman often appeals to a strong man’s strength, but will suck him dry.
  9. The needy woman resists suggestions to broaden her world, preferring to avoid adventure and remain in the confines of her safe structure.
  10. The needy woman requires vast amounts of reassurance, never having enough encouragement to fill her empty reservoir.

Please note, dear son. A needy woman is not bad. She is usually sweet and gentle and full of grace. But your calling will require a wife who is willing to let you go, just like I had to learn to let your dad go. Just like Tammy has to let your brother go. Just like most women of hard driving men have to allow their men space to follow their vision fully.

I love you, Matt, and am praying that you lean on God’s wisdom as you live your life. May He bring you a good and godly wife in His perfect timing.

From my heart,




LETTERS: the drama queen vs. the kind wife

Strength and dignity

 are her clothing,

and she smiles at the future. 

She opens her mouth in wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 

Proverbs 31:25


Dear son,

Can you imagine what it would be like to wake up next to a woman every morning for the rest of your life who “smiles at the future”? A woman who so fully trusts God that even when life is hard and not what she wants, she could find hope and rest? And then spill that bright vision of possibility all over you… and your children… and everyone who steps into her circle of relationship?

Can you imagine what it would be like to live with a woman who is fascinated by you? Who knows who you are with all your flaws and failures, and focuses on the good? Who watches when you mess up and instead of condemning or correcting or sighing or exploding, wraps her arms around you and loves you as you are right then and there?

Can you imagine?

Is that even possible?

Yes, Matt, I believe it is. I believe that a woman can choose to be kind. She’ll mess up sometimes, no doubt, but I believe that God has given every woman who fully gives her life to Him “everything pertaining to life and godliness”. (2 Peter 1:3)

Which means, no woman has to give into all those surging emotions we are born with. We can choose, instead, to bring those wild feelings to the Cross and let God help us work through to wisdom.

It’s not easy. But it’s doable because we serve a Redeemer who never stops redeeming all those raw, wounded, stubborn, self-willed parts of us as long as we let Him.

That said, my dear son, watch out for any woman who has not chosen that path of full surrender. She may be nice and charming and alluring and compelling, but if she’s not fully submitted her will to Him she has the capacity to make your life miserable.

How will you know?

A woman who is still determined to protect herself will be all about herself.

A woman who is determined to submit herself to God will be all about others.

It’s that simple.

Now here are my lists…


  1. The Drama Queen always brings the conversation back to herself, her stories, her accomplishments, her feelings.
  2. The Drama Queen decides how much attention she needs from you and lets you know in no uncertain terms if you’ve failed to give her what she needs.
  3. The Drama Queen is thrilled with your successes because it makes her look good, but she’s intolerant of any areas of your life that she deems less than worthy of her approval.
  4. The Drama Queen justifies explosions or sulking as a means of punishing you or others.
  5. The Drama Queen thinks the world revolves around her needs and therefore your life must revolve around her needs.
  6. The Drama Queen can be incredibly generous, but in the end, all her giving is with the expectation of attention and recognition.


  1. The Kind Woman is all about you. Whoever she’s with gets the full focus of her attention and interest.
  2. The Kind Woman does not demand more than you are able to give, though she may gently and honestly bring her needs to your attention.
  3. The Kind Woman waits a while before she acts on how she feels. She is distrustful of her own emotions and hesitant to make judgments based on how she feels. Instead she brings her feelings before the Father and asks for wisdom.
  4. The Kind Woman is not critical. She sees you in the best possible light, openly admiring the man you are.
  5. The Kind Woman adapts herself to you while remaining fully who she is. She brings her beauty to your vision and enhances your life while delighting in her own.

I do believe such women exist, Matthew, and here’s why: I know these kinds of women. They’re not perfect, but my goodness, they’re wonderful to be around. They are women like your Grandma Ruth. They can often be found serving somewhere behind the scenes— stroll through the children’s area at church and you’ll find a whole bevy of Kind Women. Women who are willing to wipe bottoms and corral kids with a smile on their face. Sometimes you can spot a kind woman loving on “the least of these”, people who are different or annoying or less than ideal.

May I respectfully offer one more word of caution?

Kind women are not always beauty queens. They are inclined to be understated rather than flashy. Their beauty may take a second look to discover. I have seen so many of these kind women emerge into breathtaking beauty by the love of their good husbands. There is something about a man finding you worth pursuing that often causes a woman to do more to enhance her beauty, to do her own version of a makeover in recognition of a man’s love of beauty.

You know I am praying for you, Matt, and for the other men who are in this process of preparing for a wife. Be wise. Be kind yourself. Pay attention. Don’t be passive. There is a woman out there just waiting to join her future to yours.

From my heart,


LETTERS TO MY SON: the shamer

Strength and dignityare her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Proverbs 31:25 NASB

Dear son,

Last week I wrote about four common flaws every woman leans towards when she relies on herself rather than on her Father in the realities of relationships.

These are ways of getting our way.

And I know this because I am a woman and I have utilized every one of these methods to try to get what I want. And it’s not pretty, I know. I’d much rather pretend it isn’t so and talk about beauty and helping and all those wonderful things a woman brings into a man’s life.

But I love you too much for that. And I see a certain naiveté that worries me sometimes. And maybe all men are that way, innocent to the way women are and the way women can be. And so today I want to tell you about another kind of woman: The Shamer.

The Shamer:

Women are idealists. Dreamers. Happily-ever-after believers. Inside these active brains of ours, we plan and project and imagine. And in the process of all that story writing, we create a value system that we believe is absolutely right and good. A way things ought to be.

And mostly that’s good.

But sometimes, when a woman marries a man with somewhat different values, instead of accepting or even embracing that different set of values, the woman works to change the man.

She believes that she is right. And he is wrong. Very wrong.

Let me give you an example I watched unfold:

A woman I know held firmly to a strong work ethic. She had goals and ambitions and dreams about a financially secure future and successful kids and a perfectly ordered life. This woman threw herself all-in to this ideal dream, willing to work hard to make it happen. 

But her husband had different values. He had ideas about a bohemian lifestyle, of following Jesus here and there and wherever. Savings and future and success were nowhere on his radar screen. He wanted to see the world and stay in youth hostels and pick up a little work here and there.

Both of these people were right.

Good ideas, admirable values.

Over time a deep animosity developed between these two wonderful people. The women grew bitter about her “lazy husband” with no ambition and few goals. The husband grew resentful of a wife who always seemed to push too much and to want too much and could never just relax and enjoy the moment.

And over time, this woman got tired of pushing her husband where he didn’t want to go.

So she began to subtly shame him.

At the root of her shaming were two things: a lack of respect and a determination to have her way.

Did she love him? Yes.

Did she respect him? No.

And so, my son, I want you to know what this shaming method looks like in a woman.

  1. A shaming woman is always right.
  2. A shaming woman is often deeply spiritual, drawing ideals from teachings she has heard and seminars she has attended and books she has read and people she admires.
  3. A shaming woman lives what she believes and expects her husband to live what she believes as well.
  4. A shaming woman is quick with “ought-to’s”.
  5. A shaming woman starts by prodding a man along.
  6. A shaming woman draws others into her circle of idealists, using words like “everybody” or “most people” to add weight to her arguments.
  7. A shaming woman jabs subtly in public.
  8. A shaming woman sets up a man for failure so she can say, “I told you so.”
  9. A shaming woman withholds praise and admiration.

Just writing these words makes me shudder, Matthew. No mother wants this for her son. And yet here I am, recognizing some of these very ugliness’s in myself.

I want better for my son, I want better for my husband.

There is no perfect woman. But if a woman will be honest enough to allow the Spirit of God to convict her of wrong doing and wrong thinking and wrong speaking, and if she will then be brave enough to confess her wrong, humbly and without excuse— that is a truly godly woman. Not perfect. But a woman after God’s own heart. One worth pursuing and loving, one who is safe to bring close to your heart.

And so Matt, three questions to ask yourself while you are getting to know her:

  1. Does she speak openly and comfortably about her own imperfections?
  2. Do your values match up? I’m not talking just about the really huge things here like integrity and purity. I mean the everyday values we all have... How we wish to live our lives and what we hope to have in our future.
  3. Is she generous with her admiration and words of affirmation to you?

I love you, Matt. I am so proud of the man you are and stand on tippy toes of anticipation to see the man you will be. Hold out for a woman who sees you as you really are and is delighted with the direction you are choosing for your life.

From my heart,





WHY I ALMOST DIDN'T GET MARRIED: by allison vesterfelt

I knew Ally (Spots) Vesterfelt when she was just a gangly little girl who played Barbies and house and horses with my daughter, Rebekah. She comes from a home rich with wisdom and overflowing with love and she’s grown into a woman of beauty all the way through.

Last week I saw this post on her blog and I knew I needed to show it to you..

I want you to be encouraged, dear women who read this. I want you to see that God brings together broken people and makes something wondrous out of the messy process of becoming one.

Sometimes the truth is sharp and we get poked by what we wish wasn’t true about ourselves. But God’s way is never to hide or pretend. Instead, Jesus audaciously argued that the truth will set us free! 

And so, my dear sons and daughters, read carefully. There is truth here that will free you for all the beauty God has designed for you to relish.

From my heart,


WHY I ALMOST DIDN'T GET MARRIED: by allison vesterfelt

It was a Monday afternoon — "Black Monday" as we would refer to it later, half joking, half still stinging from the pain of it all — that I told my husband I was sorry, but I couldn't marry him.

This is the part of the story we don't like to tell.

We had argued. Over something dumb, but it always starts with something dumb, doesn't it? Before we knew it, it had escalated from "something dumb" to cheap shots we were taking at each other, making sure no one person walked away feeling more pain than the other. We drudged up all the good stuff. All the insecurities, all the history, all the previous grievances and baggage. No stone left unturned. No rules. Just ammunition.

And at the end of it all, I just said it. I can't marry you.

It wasn't a threat. It wasn't more ammunition. It was real, genuine concern for what loomed ahead of us the next few weeks, months, years. Our lifetime. It was fear rising up, like last night's spicy dinner in the back of my throat. Fear that we had misread the signals, that I had mis-stepped somewhere along the way, fear that, if I didn't hit the breaks, we would spend a lifetime like this.

Fighting. Hating. Taking swings at the person we loved most.

"I give up." I told him.

These were the words coming out of my mouth, but the thoughts racing through my mind were about the hundreds of invitations that had already been delivered to people all over the country. They were about the dress, made from expensive fabric, that had already been measured to suit my body perfectly. They were about my parents, and his parents, and each of our siblings.

We hadn't "tied the knot" yet, but our lives were already knotted together, intertwined with memories and loved ones and shared relationships and experiences. If we called it quits now, there would be so much unraveling to do.

In my mind, I was untying all of the knots.

I was peddling backwards, mentally undoing all that had been done.

He wasn't. He was moving toward me. His expression softened. He reached for my hands. He looked in my eyes. "I'm really sorry," he said. "I was being really selfish. We can work this out," he promised. Gently, he grabbed my face in his hands and, as tears streamed down my cheeks, he said,

"Will you please trust me?"

I did. I trusted him enough to go to dinner with him that night, where we sat for hours and talked about what had happened, why we had fought the way that we had, and how we would prevent a fight like that from ever happening again. I trusted him each time he moved forward in humility, enough to follow suit. I apologizing the way he had, offered forgiveness the way he had, softened my expression the way he was, confessed my insecurity, just like him.

Less than a month later, we stood at the altar and said "I do," and each breathed a sigh of relief because we had made it.

We were married.

What I didn't know, or at least didn't think about, was that Black Monday wasn't the last time we would fight. Not even close. It wasn't the last time we would drudge up old baggage and hit each other below the belt. It wasn't the last time we would, almost unknowingly, try untying emotional and physical knots that bound us so securely, beautifully and painfully together.

It wasn't the last time we would try to protect ourselves before the other.

In fact, it was more the first time than the last.

It was the first time we would choose to stick it out, even when it didn't feel good. It was the first time we would trust each other enough to humble ourselves in the heat of a moment. It was the first  time we would apologize, trusting that if one of us went first, the other would soon follow — or that if they didn't, it was because they were hurting, not because they were mean.

It was the first time we would give the other space to be imperfect.

Our first chance to practice the art of grace.

Each time we do it we get better, the way an infant learns to walk, first scooting, then crawling, then pulling himself up on the corners of coffee tables. Sometimes he falls, and he hits his face on the edge of the table. When that happens, he cries, because it hurts. But a few minutes later he gets up and tries again, because, well, this is the only way.

It's the only way to discover all this big, beautiful world has to offer.

"I can't promise you that we won't fight," my husband told me that night at dinner.

"I can't promise you that I won't mess up, or that I won't hurt you, or that I won't do something to make you really angry. In fact I can promise you that I will do those things. What I can promise you is that you can trust me. I pick you. I won't ever give up on you."

And we've been learning to walk ever since.

Allison Vesterfelt
Writer, Blogger
(Allison is a writer and thinker who is becoming brave enough to live and tell the truth. She loves her job as the Editor-in-Chief of Prodigal Magazine, where she gets to help people live and tell good stories. She has one foot in Portland, OR, and one in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her forthcoming book, Packing Light is due to release in September 2013. She also loves being married to her husband Darrell.)
LETTERS TO MY SON: the manipulator

 Strength and dignityare her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Proverbs 31:25 NASB

Dear son,

These words of advice from King Lemuel’s mother to her son hold a wealth of wisdom. She is painting a picture of a wife who “will not hinder him but help him all her life”. In fact, this kind of woman “will greatly enrich his life”. (Proverbs 31:10,11 NLT)

And that is what I want for you, Matthew— a wife who will greatly enrich and bring help and delight into your life.

But there are other kinds of women, dear son. Women who hinder. Women who bite. Women who cannot be depended upon because of hidden ugliness.

For the next few weeks I want to help you learn how to spot some of the subtle attitudes common in women who hurt rather than help their men.

And I know these things, dear son of mine, because I recognize them in me.

These uglinesses I am about to describe are common to every woman. But we each have choices to make— will I give in to my urge to control and manipulate and demand and punish, justifying my sin and blaming others? Or will I fall on my face in deep repentance and beg the Father to take my brokenness and make me beautiful?

Here are the four most common ways women “hinder” (NLT) or “do evil” (NASB) to men:

  1. Manipulation
  2. Neediness
  3. Drama
  4. Shame

The Manipulator:

Every woman falls into this trap, Matthew. It is our default mode when we don’t get what we want, or when we suspect we might not get what we want, or when we want to make absolutely sure we will get what we want when we want it and then some.

And honestly, it works!

We do this so subtly that most men have no clue what’s really going on. They just feel a vaguely uncomfortable sense that something is not right. It’s confusing, I know, but if you will pay attention, the patterns are not hard to spot. Here are my own observations:

How to know when you’re being manipulated:

  1. Manipulation almost always involves extreme temperatures. Hot, volatile anger or cold, rigid bitterness.
  2. A manipulator leaves the targeted person confused. He knows something is wrong but he cannot for the life of him figure out what.
  3. The manipulator focuses on one flaw in order to justify her anger.
  4. She’ll often make a big deal out of a minor mistake in order to get what she wants.
  5. The manipulator does not understand you. She does not give grace to cover over your less-than-idealness. She wants you to change, to be who she wants you to be.
  6. Sometimes the manipulator will crumble in a heap of feminine despair. “I’m so bad nobody loves me…” But she wants your sympathy, your encouragement, not your honest evaluation and certainly not true repentance.
  7. The manipulator will use her sexual allure to get you and keep you before you are married.
  8. Then she’ll use your sexual hungers to control you by requiring you to jump through her hoops before she’ll give herself to you.
  9. The manipulator is not straightforward. She cannot tell you exactly what is wrong, nor will she accept her own responsibility in conflict.
  10. 10.  The manipulator often tries to separate you from your friends. But sometimes she will try to endear herself to your friends. Confusing, I know.

Matthew, it takes time to identify manipulation. It is a subtle sin. If you are alert and you give yourself time to live life together, to walk through conflict, to experience ups and downs, to be less than perfect, you will be able to spot it.

Trust your own warning signals. If you often feel guilty and confused after a conflict listen to that caution. Ask the Spirit of God to give you insight below the surface.

And ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does she like you exactly as you are? Or does she like the general idea of you but wish you would change?
  2. Can you be fully you in her presence? Or do you find yourself quieting down, being careful, withdrawing a little?
  3. Does she get mad at you a lot? Does she withdraw into a cold shell of indifference? Does she rage?
  4. Does she entice you and then push you away?
  5. Do you feel subtly pushed by her? Is she trying to move the relationship forward faster than you are comfortable with?

Part of me wishes I didn’t even have to talk about this. Like I am unveiling ugliness and exposing you to what I wish I could ignore. But I love you too much for that, Matt. And I want so much more for you. I want for you a wife who will be your helper, your partner, your friend and your joyous lover.

Be wise, my son. Listen to your heart. Listen to the Spirit. Ask for wisdom and then wait for God’s clear answer. He promises to give generously to those who trust in Him.

From my heart,


PS: Dear girls who are listening in,

I laid awake last night worrying about the two young women who wrote to me yesterday with sadness lacing their words. They felt defeated and discouraged by my description of the manipulative woman, seeing far too much of themselves in that list. I vascilated in those middle of the night hours between feeling a heavy ache for their shame and a holy anger at the evil one who would twist my words to tempt these precious women to defeat.

How dare that enemy of ours suggest to these girls that they are incapable of redemption! How dare he shame them into hiding, suggesting that no godly man will want a woman who is struggling her way out of this sinful pattern!

But he did and he does and that makes me so angry!

So here’s what I want you to hear:

In no way do I mean to imply that if you fall into this common trap of manipulative control, your boyfriends should dump you! We’d all be single if they did that! Is there a woman alive who does not see herself somewhere on this list? I’m still, after 4 decades of walking with Jesus, seeing my patterns of manipulation come back and bite me. And yet my godly husband loves me and leads me and often times calls me on my not-so-subtle attempt to control.

At the same time, may I gently advise you to take your fears to the foot of the Cross, allow Jesus to cover those patterns of sinful manipulation, and confess those doings as wrong? That’s the only way to freedom. Then lets gather our closest friends around to help us be women of truth. We have got to be honest with each other and with ourselves.

And dear girls, please don’t let the enemy shame you any further. His grace is able to change even the most deeply rooted tendencies. Isn’t that the whole point of His death for us? He is a Redeemer!

I love you dear seekers of His heart,



Welcome to Letters

Several months ago, my son Matthew asked me a question: Would I do for him what I had done for his older brother many years ago? Would I write down specific advice as to what to look for in a wife?  These letters are my answer.

As I write these letters to my son I invite you to listen in. To think, to ponder, to question. We’ve started a conversation here, one of those intimate talks between people who believe the best for each other, whose lives are intimately intertwined in hope.

From my heart,

Diane (aka Mom)

Join us on every Monday for a fresh Letter to My Son.

For the next few weeks we are shutting down He Speaks In The Silence in order to do some much needed rearranging and redecorating. While a team of talented artists color and create a fresh new design, I will be doing my own version of this update— with words.

Join us in October for our relaunch. On our first day back I’ll be explaining what’s ahead and how you can step a little closer into our community of listeners.

From my heart,


P.S. Why don’t you click on the subscribe button on the right of the page so that will be delivered to your inbox the moment we restart and every time we post?