Posts in Our House

OUR HOUSE: The Bedroom

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children

and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us

and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

Ephesian 5v1-3


Dear Matthew and Simona,

I sit in my tiny cabin in the woods and I wonder what you’re thinking as I write these words about intimacy and sexuality. Are you understanding the depth and beauty of intimacy? Do you get the need for purity?

You’ve both been so patient… and encouraging as I’ve stumbled my way through writing about The Bedroom. These are words I want to say, words I know need saying— but still… it feels awkward and just a little uncomfortable.

Matt, with your wide-open way of guileless transparency, you invited me into the fringes of your conversations with your dad about every man’s struggle. Listening to the two of you talk only increased my respect for you— for both of you.

I got to listen as you and your dad talked about…

why to stay pure and…

how to keep yourself pure and…

when that commitment to purity got hard and …

what to do then.

I think sometime last year when you and Simo were engaged we started talking about purity beyond virginity. About staying pure when you’re married and actively invited into a full expression of sexuality. I remember the look on your face that meant, What in the world are you talking about, Mom?

Somehow we get the idea stuck in our heads that purity and virginity are one and the same. That marriage solves the struggle. Not true.

Not even close.

In fact, I would argue that the giving away of one’s virginity opens the door to a life long struggle for purity. Because sex is just so great, so satisfying, so right and good and… okay, you know what I mean. And because of that something in us always wants more.

Yet God’s design for sexuality always requires intimacy. And intimacy takes work.

Intimacy is inconvenient.

Intimacy begs for humility and consideration and an extra shower and…

More effort than sometimes you’re up for.

And in creeps the temptation to take a short cut. To forego intimacy in favor of pornography… and masturbation… or fantasy… or to be in some subtle way less available to each other because all the giving implicit in the intimacy part of sexuality just seems exhausting sometimes.

What then?

What do you do when you want sex, need sex, crave sex… but things aren’t working for the two of you and you’ve not enough energy to solve it all right now.

That’s real life. Normal life. Less-than-ideal-life.

Here’s my list of…

What To Do When Real Life Interrupts Real Sex:

1.  Surrender your body to God, allowing Him full control over your sexuality— whether that means you want more from your spouse or you’d prefer less.

2.  Be careful not to hold back on sex as a sort of barometer of your relationship. In other words, be willing and warm even when the other is being a little… unlovable.

3.  Make a covenant with each other to be committed to fully meeting each other’s sexual needs. Which means masturbation is out. You’ve got each other for that now. Don’t be embarrassed— you love each other.

4.  Talk about that. Be honest. Be kind. Be welcoming. Laugh a little. It’s not the loving thing to do to be silent or subtle about your need and then try to meet it yourself.

5.  Be creative in sexually loving each other when real life makes real sex challenging or impossible. This is your way of honoring each other’s genuine need for sexual expression within the safety of just the two of you.

6.  Never, ever, ever, look at pornography. Ever. That’s not real. It will sicken your appetite for satisfying sexuality. It will destroy your confidence in each other’s ability to delight and satisfy.[1]

7.  Stay faithful. Don’t even let your mind go there— banish lustful imagination or fantasy. If you’re attracted to someone else, avoid them like the plague. Focus on each other. Flirt only with each other. Keep wooing and wanting and watching out for each other.

You both want that rare and beautiful treasure: a lifetime of love. Never give up on that. Do what it takes. Stay faithful.

Give and give and give and then give just a little more.

Keeping your selves pure and your bedroom vibrant is an investment in the future of your relationship, in the future of your family, in the writing of your story.

From a heart that wants so much for you,


P.S. For those who are reading:

What can your husband do to open up this area of your lives for an honest clearing of the air?

What can your wife do to show you she means it when she says she “wants all of you”?


[1] If you do get caught in that hard to avoid web of porn, get help. Seriously, don’t try to undo it on your own. At our church and at many others there are groups of men— and women, who meet together for accountability and freedom over the death lock of pornography. Be brave enough to join them.


(image by Hillary Kupish)


OUR HOUSE: The Bedroom #4 Dear Matt and Simo,

I used to think that communication was the key to a happy marriage. Isn’t that, after all, what the experts say? And so I set about to communicate with a capital C. Every grievance, each oversight, any hint of bump up against my ever wary feelings— all very carefully communicated lest we miss out on the kind of marriage we both wanted.

It didn’t work.

Instead of bringing us closer, my determination to tell all drove a wedge between us. My constant “nicely said” rebuke left Phil feeling defensive and brittle around me. I was building a wall between us and for the life of me, I didn’t know why or what to do about it.

Until I noticed a pattern.

Every time we made love, the wall fell down… at least for a while. My feelings stayed temporarily safe from that tendency to make a big deal out of everything, and your dad just got nicer, with a certain sweetness that made him easy to live with.


And I began to wonder if maybe communication might not be the only key to a happy marriage. In fact, I began to suspect that intimacy— safe, satisfying, sexuality at it’s best— might be at least as important as all that talking I’d thought we needed.

Years and decades later, I’m sure of it. And because I now believe that the quantity and quality of your lovemaking bears a direct reflection on the quantity and quality of your communication, I have some advice for those just figuring it out.

For the men:

Respect the role beauty plays in her sexuality. If you can help her know her own beauty, see herself through your eyes, and shield her from the biting criticism she sees in the mirror, she will respond with the passion you know is in there.

How To Respect Your Wife’s Need For Sensual Beauty:

  • Tell her she’s beautiful. Often. More than you think is necessary. Be specific.
  • Smile at her, admire the way she swings her hips when she knows you’re looking, tell her what that does to you.
  • Shower her with the feminine beauty that she craves. Bubble bath, perfume, lotions, candles.
  • Make room in your budget for pretty things: underwear, lingerie, fresh sheets. Beauty matters— to her.
  • Keep your office out of your bedroom and your clothes off the floor. Help her create a haven in your room- a place not for work but for play.
  • Give her time to cultivate beauty. A woman who works all the time and doesn’t take time for beauty is not a woman who is thinking about her sensuality.
  • Beware of crass humor, it’s a sure turn off for women. Instead, lighten the tone of your romance by laughing with her.
  • Clean yourself up so that she wants to be near you. Take stock of what you look like and smell like from your teeth to your toes. It matters.

For Women: 

How To Respect Your Husband’s Need For Sex:

  • This is not some sort of base animalist urge, but a God given need for intimate physical expression.
  • Tell your husband that you are always available, that you always want him even when sometimes you don’t feel like you do.
  • Determine to partner with your husband in his fight for purity, it’s your battle too. Let him know you want all of him, always.
  • Be the willing, eager recipient of all he has to give while you guide him in giving you pleasure too. No man wants to make love to a martyr. His pleasure increases exponentially with yours.
  • Save your energy for sex. Budget your time, your day, your availability so that he knows you’re willing and waiting and eager.
  • Seduce him on a regular basis. A phone call, an invitation, a note.
  • Fill his memory with sensual pictures of your sensuality for when he doesn’t have you near.
  • Cultivate your own sensuality. You are made for this, biologically and emotionally. Own that. Enjoy it.

And remember this: When all is well and vibrant and satisfying in the bedroom, all those annoyances and bumps that happen in real life just don’t seem to matter as much.

And this: If it’s not working, don’t give up or pull away. Get help.

From my heart,


P.S. Thoughts? How can your husband bring beauty into your sensuality? And how can your wife respect your sexuality? It’s high time we started talking about this area of intimacy.

(image by Hillary Kupish)

HOW TO BE FREE... indeed

OUR HOUSE: The Bedroom #3

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

John 8v36

 Dearest Simona,

On Saturday Jude and Mo and Sunday spent the night. We had our usual fun with Pops: eating quesadillas and popcorn, trekking out in the dark to walk to the park around the corner, watching The Apple Dumpling Gang.

As I puttered and ordered my home, I relished their laughter over the silly innocence of the Wild West as Disney depicted it. Simple, harmless, fun.

The next morning they each took their turn in the bathtub. Sunday first, with pink bubbles and Amma’s lotions. A girl in all her glory, beautiful and sure of it.

Then the boys. They wanted G.I. Joe’s in with them, asked for the green bubbles that smell of pine trees and adventure.

I poked my head in just to be sure the water stayed in the tub, and they hardly noticed me. Jude, I’m sure, was dreaming up a story. There were battles to fight and bad guys to vanquish.

What struck me as I bustled about getting ready for church was this: they are free. Free of inhibition, free of shame, free of that pressing need the rest of us feel to be perfect, to measure up, to conform.

If I could only hold these moments forever. Just pause right here in this place of innocence, of freedom.

Because I know what’s ahead; the hurt, the bruises, the embarrassment, the mockery.

The world of boys becoming men is brutal.

I watched it with my own boys.

How John Mark’s passionate enthusiasm was made fun of. How Matt’s gregarious greetings were sometimes met with sullenness and how he learned—the hard way— to restrain his joy, to hold back.

I ached as only a mama of boys can ache, over how the assault on my sons bound them with cords of shame. How, too often, they seemed pressed into less than who they were made to be.

And I ached for Sunday too, because I know that…

The whole world seems to conspire to steal a woman’s freedom.

I remember when my daughters knew their own beauty— when the mirror reflected loveliness, not flaws. I miss those days when my daughters knew they were princesses and warriors all wrapped in one, fearless and free.

What happened to my girls? To my sons? To me?

What happened to the freedom that marked us as children? Where did we lose our firm belief in our own beauty? When did we lose sight of our strength and begin to cower under the gaze of a merciless world?

And more important:

How can we get our freedom back? 

Because, my dear daughters, that is what our husbands need from us more than anything else— freedom.

Freedom to love and be loved, freedom to find our own strength, freedom to be ourselves without inhibition.

And I know it’s complicated; I realize that simple steps don’t work. But I also know that it is up to us to clear the obstacles in our path to freedom. First we ask God to show us, to give us insight into ourselves and what is holding us back. Then we obey…

1.  Forgive freely because nothing binds us tight like bitterness. Forgive every man who has hurt you lest you build walls that no man can penetrate. Forgive your husband for not being what you’d hoped he’d be. Forgive yourself for not being perfect enough or skinny enough or simply enough.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving the other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4v32

2.  Encourage freely because to give words of courage to your husband and to yourself is to set the both of you free of unrealistic expectations. Telling him that you love him, that you like him, that you love his touch and welcome his body, that you’re so glad he’s yours… those are freedom words.

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love.” Ephesians 5v1

3.  Give freely because in giving we receive. When we give without holding back, with passion, with generosity—that’s when we receive. Give and give and give until he’s satiated with your loving, and you’ll know that freedom of absolute abandon.

“…Freely you received; freely give.”Matthew 10v8

 4.  Give sexually because when you freely embrace your own sexual passion, he is set free to be who he is. He knows that when you give with abandon, you’re loving him, enjoying him, wanting him. Nothing speaks courage to a man like a woman who wants him.

“Come together again” and again and again “lest Satan tempt you…”

I Corinthians 7v5

Your freedom is the key to unlock courage in your man.

The man whose wife is sexually, emotionally, and spiritually free knows a boldness of soul that releases his own inborn manliness. He becomes that little boy in the bathtub— able to conquer, eager to explore, fearless.

Against the backdrop of your freedom, he becomes free again. Free to love with abandon, free to feel intensely, free to pursue and respond, free to fail and to risk and to try again.

Praying, and hoping, and wanting you and every woman to know freedom,

From my heart,


P.S. I want to wrap every girl-woman and every boy-man close and hide them in the safety of a mama’s love. But I can’t. My arms aren’t big enough. The real world is too big, too unsafe for unsuspecting innocents.

But I know who can.

I know the One who keeps us safe, loves us sure, likes us as we are. He’s the One who relishes geekiness, infuses souls with warrior like strength. The One who sees our beauty and celebrates our loveliness.


Can you tell us how He is setting you free to love with abandon?


(image by Hillary Kupish)


OUR HOUSE: The Bedroom #2

And you husbands

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

He gave up his life for her…

In the same way,

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

This is a great mystery

Ephesians 5v25,28,32


Dear Matthew,

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

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

And now you’re a man— and a husband.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six Ways To Set Your Wife Free:

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

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

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

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



(image by Hillary Kupish)


OUR HOUSE: The Bedroom #1

Eat friends;

drink and imbibe deeply,

O lovers.

Song of Songs 5v1


 …drink your fill of love


Dear Matt and Simona,

God likes sex.

He approves, He smiles, He delights in seeing His created ones drinking deeply of this gift from Him.

In fact, He likes what He made so much that He dares use it as a metaphor for the intimacy He invites each of us into with Himself.[1]

But here’s what worries me:

Lots of married couples act as if sex is really not that big of a deal.

They don’t talk about it much, don’t try that hard, don’t wonder why they’ve settled into a less-than-terrific routine of barely enough and barely good enough sex to satisfy either of them.

And I think that makes God sad.

Because He makes a big deal about sex. Good sex (the married, mutually satisfying kind) and bad sex (the adulterous or manipulative or enslaving kind) are woven throughout the narrative of God’s story.

In fact, mid-way through the Bible, He stops and writes a whole book about sex. (The Song of Solomon) As if to say, “Really, you guys, this is what you need!” Yet sadly, throughout history, people have blushed their way through the Song of Solomon, trying to pretend that He didn’t mean sex… surely!

And of course, the two of you know this. You are imbibing deeply, the honeymoon isn’t over, you’re delighting in each other and learning the language of a love you hardly knew possible.

But just in case… just to store away for another day down the road when you’re tempted to minimize intimacy because life gets in the way… I want to remind you…

Why Sex Is Really A Very Big Deal

1.  Sex creates intimacy. Sex creates a mystical moment of intimacy so intense, so momentarily out of control— that your hearts burst with the wonder of it. Together.

2.  Sex releases hormones. Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, all of which flood your bodies with feelings of love during and immediately after sex. Which means that frequent, passionate sex actually keeps you feeling in love with each other.

 3.  Sex makes you nice. The vulnerability, the satisfaction, the ecstasy of sex, all combine to leave the both of you feeling… nice: full of grace, uncritical and kind.

 4.  Sex keeps you loyal. Two, now forged into one can take on the world! A woman who gives that kind of passion, a man who gives that kind of pleasure— there’s no stopping them.

 5.  Sex is thrilling. That unrestrained passion between a man and a woman who have pledged to be with each other forever is better than any other rush life has to offer.

If someone could market a pill that created intimacy, released mood enhancing hormones, made people nice, kept couples loyal, and guaranteed a rush of out-of-control but not-life-threatening thrill… they’d be rich!

And Someone has.

So please, my dear son and beautiful daughter, make sex a big deal.

A really big deal.

When it’s less than great, get help. Take someone you feel comfortable with aside and ask questions. Read books. Keep at it. Don’t stop. And whatever you do, never, ever let life get in the way of this gift God has given the two of you together, forever.

From a heart that wants your love to last and thrive over a lifetime,


For those who are reading: I will be writing about sexuality and intimacy for the next several weeks. If you have questions that you think I may be able to answer, please email me at

Some great books:

1. Sheet Music by Kevin Leman

2. Intimacy Ignited by Dr. Joseph & Linda Dillow and Dr. Peter and Lorraine Pintus

3. Intimate Issues by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus (for women)

4. Intended For Pleasure by Dr. Ed Wheat


Do you know of others? 

(Image by Hillary Kupish)




[1] see Ephesians 5v21-33


FRIENDS: Who To Keep and How To Keep Them

A friend loves at all times…

Proverbs 17v17 

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin…

Proverbs 18v24

Dear Matt and Simona,

When your dad and I married, we had no small amount of difficulty with friendships. Most of my friends were in college, most of his well into their careers. I was the first of my friends to marry, he was among the last of his to tie the knot.

Soon after we were married, a couple of my friends set about to set me straight. I was no longer acting the way I had before and so they assumed I wasn’t being me.

What they couldn’t see was that the once shy-me was gaining confidence. I was growing up, struggling to break out of my shell, wanting to learn the art of open-hearted womanhood. Being married to an extrovert, I pushed myself to try to be more like him, to break out of the bars I’d hid behind.

And, no doubt, I did it awkwardly. Being warm, open, affectionate, encouraging didn’t come naturally. I had to work hard at it, to watch and learn and get up my nerve to push beyond my reserve.

These friends didn’t like the way I’d changed, felt I ought to be someone I no longer was.

And that hurt.

I felt scrutinized, condemned, misunderstood.

And so I more or less decided to do without friends. After all, we had each other, and wasn’t that enough?

And the answer to that question is NO! It’s not enough to have each other. In fact, I would argue now that we needed friends in order to be better friends to each other.

Now I know that the problem wasn’t having friends, but the kind of friends I had. No one told me that all my friendships would change on our wedding day. And so I wasn’t prepared, didn’t know what to do with what was no longer working.

I want to share with you some things I know now that I didn’t know then.

1.  Keep friends who help you love each other better.

There are friends who demand too much of you, leaving you limp and depleted after too much time with them. Or whose caustic attitudes you catch, whose bitter viewpoints come out in the kind of sarcasm that rubs off on you.

Listen to each other about this. If one of you comes back crabby or distant from an outing with a friend, that may be a clue to be concerned about.

May I suggest that you ease away from such friends? That you protect your friendship with each other rather than allow people in who may leak their toxicity onto your love?

2.    Keep friends who help you be better.

I have a circle of friends now who make me want to be kinder, braver, stronger, gentler. We laugh and joke and cry and open our hearts to each other, but each of us knows that there are some topics that are off limits.

I have never heard any of them criticize or complain about their husbands, nor would they me allow me to gossip or vent or generally give in to ungodliness.

After I’ve been with these women, I come home ready to love my husband better- I come home more encouraging, more understanding, more willing to serve with flair and beauty.

3.   Keep friends who allow you room to grow and change.

A man or a woman who stays forever the same is pitiful, stagnant, uninteresting. Yet it is not uncommon for friends to want you to stay the same because change is also threatening. You need friends who give you room to change your ideas, your approach, your interests, your level of commitment.

Growth and change create beauty in you. Friends who allow that beauty to emerge without insisting on controlling you are treasures.

4.    Keep friends who get that your best friend is now each other.

Being best friends takes time. It takes talking, playing, doing life side-by-side. It requires planning, waiting, being there when the other needs you.

To stay best friends will require that you don’t leave each other alone too much. Which in turn will mean that your other friends will need to give you lots and lots of room to say no without lengthy explanations that come under their scrutiny.

Hang on to those friends who want more than anything for your friendship with each other to stay strong.

And remember this: 

No one gets to come through that Front Door without your invitation.

You decide who to welcome into the Entry of the house you are building together.

Some friends will come often, some every once in a while, and some will not survive the changes that your marriage brings. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you— or them. It’s just the way of life. A natural consequence of growth in you and in your friends.

Some friends are for a short season, a few are for a long time, but the two of you… are friends forever.

From my heart,


P.S. For those who are listening: Do you have friends who help make your marriage better? How do they do that? What would you advise for those who want to say friends after marriage?


(image by Hillary Kupish)


Dear Matt and Simona, Last week I wrote these words:

“Your giving of yourselves to each other before God is unleashing changes in the fundamental essence of who you arehow you livewhat you do… and what you don’t do.”

I reminded you that “Paul called it a “profound mystery”, this loving and leading, this two becoming one, this dance to the sometimes discordant music of romance and real life.”

And then I paused… because our house feels so empty without you.

Our Christmas tree is too perfect. Not one discordant peep of your crazy Santa ornament collection to offset all that shiny and silver.

Did I really dream about this day-of-the-perfect-tree?

Because I am learning now that just as sometimes the steps to this dance are confusing for the two of you, it can be confusing to those who love you too.

This idea of your not-the-same-as-you-were-ness is unsettling…

to the parents who taught you to walk…

to the sisters and brothers who ran and played and prayed and poured into you…

to the friends who learned to lean on you before you became we.

The writer of Hebrews wrote that “Marriage should be honored by all…” but in real life the mystery of how can lead to mistakes.

No one has this figured out perfectly.

So… since I am writing these letters to help the two of you live wisely and well in this new thing called marriage, I am asking myself some questions. Because… it’s one thing to believe all these truths about oneness in theory… and quite another to know it in the space that is left empty by reality.

How do the two-of-you-who-are-now-one handle all the people who love you and want the two of you to remain two… and the same?

How does this new entity that is MatthewSimonaComer (MSC) open the Front Door and welcome all these people into the entryway of your home? And how can you do this welcoming without allowing anyone to hinder you from what you are becoming?

And I’ve mulled and I’ve pondered and I’ve made a list lest I mess this one up by inserting myself into the equation. Because I am one of those people; missing those Santas on my tree, knowing those years are over… and not yet fully seeing what will be.

Ways to Be Wisely Welcoming:

1.  Establish the new you.

You are a new family, just the two of you, a whole new line of generations. When your family tree is drawn you will sit at the top, linked to each other. You will be connected to your families with a broken line.

Be that. Be MatthewSimonaComer. Don’t apologize or pretend about this new reality. Be together. Talk together. Sit together. Establish in every one’s minds this new entity.

2.  Chart a new way.

Now is the time to start some of your own traditions. Some will involve family and some won’t. That is for the two of you to decide together. You get this chance to forge your own new ways of doing things. Have fun with it!

3.  Teach and train.

One of the wisest relational bits of advice I have ever heard came from your son-in-law, Steve. He puts it this way:

You teach people how to treat you.

In other words, you dare not be a passive pushover. It is your job to lovingly teach and train your family to see you as this newly defined entity.

4.  Be patient with the process.

To resist change is an instinctual human defense mechanism. It may take time for some of your people to adapt themselves to this new you. They didn’t expect it. They just thought you were adding someone to their fun. They had no clue that everything changed the day you said, “I do”.

5.  Tell them why.

Otherwise you run the risk of deeply hurting and inadvertently alienating people who love you.

Explain that you’re still figuring it out, that you love them, that they are important to you, that you need time to readjust your rhythm while you learn to walk as one.

Make sure they know—and that you know they know— that you are not rejecting your heritage. Instead, you are building on the foundation your family painstakingly laid for you.

6.  Reach out.

In order to make all this easier to swallow, you’ll need to be the ones to initiate relationship with family. It is up to you to reach out.

The people who have loved you the longest are waiting for permission to step into your new lives as MSC.  This oneness can be uncomfortable for those who don’t know their place.

And one last thing to remember…

Family Is Forever

Many, if not most, of your friends will eventually fade out of your everyday life. They’ll move or you will. Their values won’t fit well with yours. You’ll slowly grow apart. You’ll change jobs, move, go to different churches, develop new interests.

But your family… they are in your life right up until they go to be with Jesus. They are the ones who will be there for you when the chips are down, when you make mistakes. They are not only your past… they are your future.

Remember that, Matt and Simo. As uncomfortable as the growing up is, as hard as you may have to struggle to get them to see you as no longer two but one, as much as they might drive you nutty— these are the ones who will love you no matter what.

Merry Christmas dear ones.

From my heart,


P.S. To those who are reading: 

Can you tell us how you’ve learned to welcome family into your marriage without losing your new identity as two-become-one? What does that look like?

Disclaimer:  I know that there are families that become so toxic that being close can threaten the health of your marriage. That’s not what I am talking about here. If that is our reality, I urge you to seek godly counsel as to your best course of action. Don’t wait until your family’s dysfunction destroys your love.

(image by Hillary Kupish)


Dear Matthew and Simona, This is your first Christmas.

Not ever— but together… as two who are now one.

All the other Christmases you’ve experienced have been about Matthew. Or Simona. Or Matthew trying to catch Simona… and Simona (in the words of my less-than-subtle mother) “running just fast enough to get caught”!

This Christmas is not about any of that. The wedding is planned and accomplished, photographed and photo-shopped. The honeymoon is over and done with remnants of beautiful memories tucked away in boxes.

This Christmas is your first as ONE.

It is about the ONE you are becoming; the forging of Matt into Simo and Simo into Matt. This Christmas is about becoming MatthewSimonaComer. MSC.

How can it be that one ceremony, a few words of promise, a signature on a document, can change everything? Can change you?

Can change Christmas?

When each of you chose to entwine your life with the other, it was more than merely an act of commitment—those vows you spoke were a decision.

Though you could not have fully understood all the implications of that decision, the dawning of what it meant is now changing the way you do life.

Your giving of yourselves to each other before God is unleashing changes in the fundamental essence of…

who you are

how you live

what you do


what you don’t do.

This ideal of two becoming one has chafed for centuries. It’s never been easy. In fact many take issue with this idea. Because, let’s be honest, this two melding into one is…



inconvenient and uncomfortable.

Two becoming one goes against the grain of all that independence and individuality we fight for so furiously.

Two becoming one is fraught with giving up… giving in… working it out, choosing.

Jesus said it succinctly:

“Haven’t you read… at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said,

‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?’

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Matthew 19:4-6

The joining of Matthew to Simona and Simona to Matthew is both a mission and a mystery.

Somehow, in some way we can only see in snatches, the blending of the two of you into ONE hints at the bending of God come down— His mission, first glimpsed by Mary with a babe in her arms.

This blending of the two of you mirrors God’s love-fueled determination to set His bride free of all that came between His heart and ours.

And more…

This forming of something beautiful in the blending of two into one hints at the mystery of a God who created us with the capacity, the need, to live in Him.

To be ONE with Him.

Paul called it a “profound mystery”, this loving and leading, this two becoming one, this dance to the sometimes discordant music of romance and real life.

My dear son and daughter, may I just ask you to take a moment and think about that? To ponder that profound mystery… to allow yourselves to see who you are becoming?

And more:

Will you give yourselves grace when this forging is harder than you’d thought it would be?

This losing of yourselves to find who you really are— together— is never easy; it takes time, it takes talking, it takes thinking through.

And it takes forever.

Loving you both, and loving the emerging of who you are,


From my heart,


P.S. To those who are listening.. Is it worth it? This work of giving up and giving in and giving to each other? Are you learning to be who you really are in the midst of becoming One? Can you tell us about it? Your stories make truth real.




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)


Marriage To A Leader

Dear Simona,

You married a man with vision. So did I. They are a rare breed, these men who dream big and push hard to achieve.

There are many men who dream… and talk… and wish. But just a few who pour every ounce of who they are into pursuing excellence, into gaining the goal. And fewer still who first corral all that drive to kneel at the foot of the Cross and give it up to God.

Matt is one of those. And you, my dear Simona, are called alongside him to help. You are what the Hebrew Bible calls, his ezer, translated weakly into English as “a helper suitable for him”.[1]

That makes is your role in Matt’s life a mirror of God’s role in our lives: “The LORD is with me: He is my ezer.”[2] Just as God chooses to come alongside and help each of us, He asks you to come alongside and help your husband.

To quote Matt’s big brother:

“A helper is an equal— Genesis uses the adjective suitable, meaning “on the same level”…A helper is not an employee— someone who works for you… it’s one who comes alongside as a partner in a project, as an ally in a war.” (Loveology pg. 61)

An ally in a war: you are his right hand man— not so he can bark orders at you, but so he can consult strategy.

He needs you: your wisdom, your help, your presence. He needs your innate female instinct for articulating the vision you both share.

But here’s the truth: Being married to a man with big vision and the drive to make it happen is an all-consuming assignment.

In his quest to conquer, you will play a vital role. You cannot afford to sit passively on the sidelines and watch. Because being the ezer of a warrior, a visionary, an achiever, requires more of a woman if your relationship is going to thrive.

And I’ve seen what happens when a woman, a wife, doesn’t understand this. I’ve seen the confusion, heard the plaintive cry of loneliness, the words of frustration that leak out, unbidden. I’ve watched as good men and good women draw away from each other— not because they want to, or planned to, but because they don’t know. They don’t get it, don’t see the paradigm that is vastly different from that shown on silly sitcoms.

Being married to a leader can be lonely… I have spent innumerable nights alone while Phil led meetings and band practices, or flew off into the wild blue yonder while I stayed home to hold our lives together here.

Being married to a leader can be frustrating… When he gets it wrong and gets criticized and you know his heart… and you grow claws in your instinct to protect him.

Being married to a leader can be isolating… when you know things no one else does and you cannot tell anyone. Because being trustworthy is more important than telling all… and because if you open your mouth someone else’s story, whose story is not yours to tell, may come bursting out.

But mostly, my dear daughter, being married to a leader can be the most satisfying life imaginable.

You are invited to play a role in a story that is bigger than you would ever experience on your own. And you get to do it by his side because you believe in him and because his dream becomes your own.

But you are not a passive participant in this story. You dare not be. Instead, you face choices, three that I can see. And I want you to think long and hard about which you will choose.

Three choices faced by every woman married to a leader:

1.    You can make the dreams too hard for him… and he’ll forever resent you for squelching his drive to succeed.

I have seen this happen too often. When a woman cannot get behind her husband’s vision— often times due to his inability to express it well, and she doesn’t understand, or worse, misunderstands and takes his drive as a personal assault on her own self.

Resentment flairs. He withdraws. She complains. He either gives up his dream to make her happy, or forges ahead and wears her dissatisfaction like a disgruntled bear.

2.    You can pursue your own dreams to the exclusion of his… and you’ll live separate lives.

Don’t get me wrong—I am a dreamer of dreams. I have more ideas I want to pursue and achieve than any woman could possible do in a lifetime. And more, I believe these dreams are straight from the heart of God. But I also believe that if I want to stay one with my husband, if I want to be an integral part of his life, I must choose to pour myself into his conquerings. To choose to play the role of his ezer, his chief of staff, his ever present consultant— and that’s a whole lot more than simply and passively “being supportive”.

I don’t want to live my life separate from my leader-husband. I want to be with him and for him and into what fuels him.

And I want him to know it.

3.   You can choose to hold your dreams loosely while throwing yourself into helping his happen… and he will honor you as his partner in the vision you share.

I believe that God has this wonderful way of weaving our dreams and vision into something altogether new and different and uniquely ours together. Your husband’s vision becomes yours and then gets altered and revised because your dreams and gifts come into play, making a whole new way neither of you saw at the start.

This is the way I want, the ezer way. Not easier, not by a long shot. But, I dare to believe, the way God intended on that day when He designed Adam’s solution to that not-good aloneness.

Here, at the start of your story, you have this rare and unique opportunity to set the tone for how you will adventure together.

Will you commit your drive and smarts and wisdom and creativity into making up for those lacks in your husband’s life?

Will you weave your dreams with his, joining him on the quest that is just beginning?

From a heart full of confidence in the One who crafted you beautifully,


P.S. This letter is intended specifically for a woman who is married to a leader—a leader of multitudes or just a few; a leader of thoughts, of design, of creativity, of business… that unique breed of men who cannot help but lead. Are you married to such a one? Can you tell us how that makes your role unique? Challenging? Good?


[1] Genesis 2:18 NIV

[2] Psalm 118:7

(image by Hillary Kupish)


How To Lead A Woman Well

Husbands, love your wives,

just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

Ephesians 5v25-27

Dear Matt,

On the day you took Simona as your wife you made a whole string of promises. You covenanted before God and a whole crowd of friends and family to hold her close, to love her faithfully, to care for her no matter what.

You promised to love skillfully and persistently— purposefully— for a lifetime.

And then, because you hold the teaching of Scripture to be true and relevant, you promised to take the lead in your relationship.

Not to dominate her— but to take the initiative, to grab her hand in yours and chase after God’s assigned tasks[1] together.

To lead a woman well is an art form that takes skill, patience, practice, humility, and clear thinking. And respect, lots and lots of genuine, bone deep respect for who she is and what she wants and how God designed her.

Take a peek at Psalm 139 if you want to begin to grasp how intricately He wove together this woman who is now your wife. Let the words sink deep. Let God’s value of her marinate your heart.

And see this: Simona is different than you. Vastly different. When God saw that it was not good for man to be alone, He was not just talking about sex!

He also meant that she- woman- Simona- would fill up places in you that need filling. That she would help, come along side, make up for your lack.

You need to understand that her differences are not a threat to your vision of what you will do with your life. On the contrary, those differences are exactly what God intends to use to hone and craft your future. He will use her differences to make you more usable and more useful— together.

And so, my son, here are some things you need to know about those differences:

1.  You have different gifts.

You know this. Of course you do. But what I see as a harmful tendency too many ascribe to, is thinking that your “better half” should have all her gifts PLUS all of your own strengths. As if your gifts are the bottom line of normal and hers are the extra that you admire.

It doesn’t work that way.

Her gifts may very well inconvenience you at times. Just as your gifts may create some uncomfortable moments for her.

Learning to live with and step aside for each other’s different giftings is a beautiful way to honor the God who gifts every one of us.  

2.  You hold different values.

I love order. To walk into our room and see everything in place: the bedspread even, pillows puffed just so, closet door closed, pictures lined up straight… bliss.

When we were first married, Dad loved that I brought order from the chaos that had plagued his life as a single man. But within just a few weeks he made a shocking discovery: sometimes my value of orderliness means doing what doesn’t make sense to him.

Like making the bed when in just a few hours we’ll be back in it. Why bother?

Suddenly, my offering of order began to seem more like a compulsion that made more work for him.

And me? I fell in love with his big, warm, loud embrasure of life. Except when it sometimes collides with my desire for order. Or quiet. Or more people than my introverted nature can handle with grace. What then?

We’re still figuring it out. But now we know this: Your different values, combined and interwoven, will create your own unique way of doing life. Not like yours. Not like hers. Like yours together.

Learning to live with and honor each other’s different values creates a whole new and fresh way of doing life better.

3.  You go at a different pace.

Some people are sprinters. They run fast and hard, then collapse, all out of breath.

Others are joggers. They just keep going, one foot in front of the other, at a reasonable pace.

Some are hurdlers. They face obstacles and figure out how high to jump, finding exhilaration in the conquering.

Others are good at hills. The challenge of pushing hard as long as it takes, the glory of reaching the top, that’s what stokes their fire.

Here is the key in marriage: allow each other to go at the pace that works best, rather than forcing each other to go at the same pace.

This takes team-work. And understanding. And graciousness.

Learning to accommodate and honor each other’s different paces creates a satisfying run for both of you.

As a leader, Matt, you would be wise to take into account all three. To ask yourselves some questions and to be patient while you figure it out.

Questions like…

  • Am I stewarding my wife’s giftings even when doing so means stepping aside sometimes?
  • Am I willingly honoring her values in order to create a life in which we both thrive?
  • Am I learning her pace and explaining my own so that we are both running well and free?

Your dad does these things with me, Matt. It’s not the way we were taught, but it is the way we have learned… albeit slowly and sometimes painfully.

And because he has chosen to steward my gifts, and honor my values, and let me go at my own pace, I am, at this point in my life, thriving like never before. His love has created a safe place for us both.

I hope and pray and know that you will do the same for Simona.

From my heart,


P.S. Is the man in your life understanding his privilege to steward your gifts as well as his own? What does that look like in real life?


[1] Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

(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)




How To Start Your Story Well

part two

Dear Matt and Simona,

Last week I gave you a peek into the mistakes your dad and I made in our first year of marriage. Nothing fatal, not enough to make us give up, but hurtful mistakes none-the-less; errors in our way of doing our new life together that took a while for us to figure out.

I gave you two pieces of advice, things we wish we’d understood and implemented early on in our marriage. And today I have two more.

1.  Say no to others so that you can say yes to each other.

This is going to be as difficult for both of you as it was for us. Anyone who loves people and values relationship will struggle with sorting through and prioritizing… which in real English means being realistic and disappointing people whose favor you care about.

There is this pervasive message heralded in magazines and conversations and just about everywhere in our culture— that we should be doing more. Work faster, network smarter, connect frequently, know everything… and of course, Just Do It!

What happens in real life with all that over-doing is a weakening of relationships. You only have so much time to go around and so you end up parceling it out in tiny, unsatisfying tidbits.

Here is a better way: sit down together and create a matrix for how you will decide to use your time. I’ll be writing more about this later, but for now just start talking about it— patiently. Look for time wasters. Figure out what “fills your bucket” and what drains you— or who drains you.

Guard yourselves from those time-wasters and soul-drainers. Let your friends know that you cannot say yes without first checking with each other— that’s what married people do—without apology. It’s not confining, it’s fun!

You are now we.

2.  Be patient. With yourselves and with each other.

Resist the temptation to expect perfection—from each other or from yourselves—in all areas of your life:

  • Sexually: You’re learning. And there’s a lot to learn! Be patient with the process, enjoy the process! Keep reading, keep trying, keep talking, keep laughing.

(more on this later)

  • Time management: It’s a whole other world now of taking each other into consideration as you plan your days. Be patient with each other’s mistakes.
  • Conflict: Be persistent in talking to each other about why his not doing what he said he’d do… or how her not being available when you want her… is creating stress. Figure it out. Be nice. Try again.
  • Home: This is a whole other area neither of you have had to factor in before. Dorms and roommates are hardly preparation for making a home. Be patient, go easy on each other. Avoid bossiness or criticism and instead work together with a mutual goal of creating a space that is a refuge and delight for both of you.
  • Family: You are not the only ones making adjustments. Your families are trying to figure out how best to fold you into their changing dynamic. They may intrude on your space too much, or seem less than happy with you… give them the gift of patience as they struggle through to a satisfying new paradigm.

Talk to them! Be gentle, not rejecting. Let them know you’re both trying to figure it out, that you value them, that you need more time together to forge this new family into something satisfying and right.

(more on this later)

  • Emotions: Change of any kind wrecks havoc with moods, feelings, reactions, energy. That’s normal, plan for it. What you want is to learn to recognize that the tension you may be experiencing is not the other’s fault. It is just part of life— the underside of change. And you want to allow each other the luxury of not being “up” and “on” all the time.

Her moodiness does not mean you have failed to make her happy. His crankiness isn’t your fault.

Learning to stay emotionally connected and yet mood-independent takes time… and patience. 

  • Communication: This is a challenging one. There is the whole male/female language barrier, as well as completely different family approaches to solving conflict. Add two different personalities, throw in various but not always the same values, and you’ve got some learning to do. Be patient! This one is going to take a lifetime.

You’re going to blow it. You’ll need to apologize—a lot! That doesn’t mean your relationship is fatally flawed, just that it takes a tremendous amount of time to learn to talk and listen and ask questions and respond well. Give each other a lot of grace in this area. Give each other room to grow, room to grow up.

(lots more on this one later!)

A lot to think about, I know. But do the thinking now while life is fresh and your story just started. So much better than looking back with regret at your own blunderings!

I love you both!

From my heart,


P.S. For those who are reading: Have a good story about any of these areas? Or some practical advice? We’re listening!

And join us on Instagram @hespeaksinthesilence for our #norushnovember challenge as we take some time to slow down and enjoy the little moments this month! 



How To Start Your Story Well

Part I: Coming Home

Dear Ones,

You’re back from your honeymoon, glowing with that newlywed smugness of two people who have shared what no one else ever will— that look that says you’ve a secret you’re bursting to tell. You have no idea how happy your happiness makes me.

These are good days. Rich with discovery, bright with hope for the future. You’ve found each other, loved each other, sorted through the questions, worked through barriers, and now you’re writing history.

What story will you tell? 

Thirty-six years ago, your dad and I were right where you are: just enough money to pay the bills if nothing went wrong, a pretty little place to call home, family and friends in abundance, and a job at a church that demanded time with a voraciousness that left us with no margin.

And we made mistakes. Lots of mistakes. Our first year was one long, heated hurt feeling on my part… and one long, heated frustration on your dad’s. Though to be fully transparent, in between the hurt feelings and frustrations we managed to cram in a whole lot of passionate, life-giving lovemaking.

And maybe that is why I am writing these letters to the two of you. Because I want more for you. I hope you’ll write a better first chapter to your story than we did. I hope you’ll look back on this year and remember the passion with a minimal amount of frustration and hurt feelings.

To my idealistic surprise, being a good person was not enough to have a good marriage. I tried so hard to be good, and so did your dad. But there was so much we didn’t know then, lessons we’ve learned the hard way. Lessons I want to pass on to you. Today I’ll give you just a few.

How To Start Your Story Well:

1.  Take time

For most of us, that first year of marriage is like learning to navigate a new world while blindfolded. We end up bumping into things. And people. And each other.  All those resultant bruises act as attention getting signs to get us to slow down, to proceed cautiously, to pay attention. Once you’ve learned where the sharp edges are, you’ll be able to breeze through most days without so much as a bump.

I wish we had purposed to take our first year slow. To do less. To expect less.

To just be… with each other… alone.

We should have spent more time paying close attention to each other, making room for the differences that rubbed wrong, allowing space to study each other, to know each other.

I think you will struggle with the same. You both love people, have a gazillion friends, have iPhones that won’t quit buzzing, and more plans that any two people could possibly accomplish.

And that’s good, great, healthy. But can you just put it all on hold for a bit? Expect less of yourselves? Expect less of each other? Just for this first year?

Because paying close attention to each other takes time at first. If you’re not careful you’ll misinterpret each other, take things too personally, get your feelings hurt and your nose pushed out of joint. Or you’ll stumble blindly forward, clueless to the damage your heedlessness is inflicting on the one you love more than life itself.

To that end, I have a second piece of advice…

2.  Check in

When we were first married, many of our misunderstandings happened as a result of un-communiction.

We were up late most nights, a requirement of a pastor at a megachurch in the 70’s. Being busy was proof of value— or so we believed. We’d fall into bed too tired to talk, then be up and out the door for work with barely a chance to think, let alone converse.

We saved most of our communication for our one day off together… and ended up arguing our way through that day, knowing we’d have no time to resolve it during the week, knowing that if we didn’t get the hurt cleaned up now, it would only get worse.

Not exactly a tasty recipe for a healthy relationship.

Out of that failure, we began to see the need for a daily time of connection. Not a long, how are you feeling about life kind of conversation, but just a few moments to go over schedules, know how to pray for each other, look each other in the eye, value each other’s time, and accommodate each other’s reality.

We take each other’s temperatures: Is he stressed about that meeting? Feeling pressured by her to-do list? Should I back off my expectations?

In those few minutes we keep Paul’s advice to his friends in Ephesus in mind:

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,

entreat you to walk in a manner

worthy of the calling with which you have been called,

with all humility and gentleness, with patience,

showing forbearance to one another in love,

being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Ephesians 4:1-3 NASB

I have more to say on this matter of beginning your story well but I think maybe that’s enough to chew on for now.

I hope you will spend some time together this week talking about practical ways to slow down your schedule in order to take the time to know each other, and carve out a time to connect every day so that you’ll work together in this new reality.  It won’t happen by accident. You’ll have to be intentional about starting your story slower and with a greater understanding of each other. But, oh it’s worth it!

I’ll be back next week with part 2 of How To Start Your Story Well.

From my heart,


P.S. For those who are reading:

Have you figured out how to do this? What rhythm is working for you? Your ideas will help strengthen the relationships of others who are trying to get it right.




(Image by Hillary Kupish)


And the man and his wife

were both naked and



Genesis 2:25


Dear Daughter,

One of my favorite things to watch is a woman freshly home from her honeymoon. A transformation takes place in that week of intimacy, a metamorphosis. She stands before her husband in all the glory of her wedding finery, sees her beauty reflected in his face, gives herself with purest abandon to his love, and emerges someone else entirely.


There is a swagger to her step, a sort of flirtatious look of confidence, a knowing. As if she’s got a secret just bursting to be divuldged.

She belongs. She is known. She is cherished. She is loved.

Simo, hang on to that. Because that is truth— he loves you, he cherishes you, he is captured, intrigued, irresistibly drawn to your beauty.

But there is an enemy who would convince you otherwise. A sneaky serpent who uses subtle strategies to steal the freedom of a well-loved woman. One who knows that a woman who dances in the reflection of her husband’s love is a dire threat to an enemy hell-bent on destroying beauty.

It started long ago. On that fateful day when Eve shared the forbidden fruit with Adam, shame was born. A new emotion, powerful enough to send her into hiding.

…then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Genesis 3:7

… and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid… Genesis 3:10

And every woman since has felt those cords of shame tighten around her freedom. Call it inhibition. Call it embarrassment. Disinterest, angst, or ambivalence.

We blame the beauty industry— an easy scapegoat with it's distorted images of haughty, airbrushed, photo-shopped fakery.

Or we blame men— we’re sure they’ve elevated a certain standard of gorgeousness that is unobtainable by the average woman, or at least by ourselves.

We look in the mirror and see everything wrong:

Not thin enough, not curved enough, not firm enough, not soft enough…

Too big, too small, too tall, too curly, too straight, too much, too little…

And those cords of shame wrap tentacles so tight we can scarcely breathe, let alone glory in our own bodies or relish the response of a husband who loves us.

And in our shame, we hide. 

But Simo, it’s all a trick. A lie. A strategy to destroy what God said was good.

Give into this lie and you’ll live a life of less-than. You’ll struggle and wonder why, you and Matt will misunderstand each other. You’ll hurt. You’ll pull away, so will he. You’ll miss out on the wonder of being that woman who knows she is pursued, sought, cherished.


And so, since I love lists, here is one for you, dear one. A way to combat the lies that would bind your beauty with cords of shame.

How To Be The Beauty You Were Created To Be:

1.  Believe that God crafted you beautifully.

He used His artistry to weave you together in your mother’s womb in just the way He wanted. Dare you honestly say you think He messed up? That He made one woman more lovely than another? That somehow He wasn’t quite on the job when He made you?

2.  Acknowledge that beauty is not perfection. 

Authentic art includes contrast and proportion, texture and shading. An artist chooses from a wide variety of medium to tell a uniquely compelling story. Copy-cats are considered fakes in the world of valuable treasures.

When women determine to fit themselves into a mold of someone else’s making they only hurt themselves.

3.  See your beauty through your husband’s eyes.

When you uncover yourself to him and he responds with enthusiastic arousal, he is adding an exclamation mark to your beauty.

Drink it in. Let the truth of his response sink deep. He sees your beauty.

Choose to neither hide nor deny what you see reflected in his eyes.

Allow yourself the luxury of responding to his response.

4.  Never compare your beauty to another’s.

It doesn’t work that way, anymore than comparing a Rothko to a Rembrandt. Relish your uniqueness, flaunt it, be who you are. Like who you are.

5.  Give your beauty freely to your husband. 

He needs to see you, to feel your skin, to run his hands over your softness. To hide from him is to rob him of the one of the greatest joys of marriage. He loves what he sees, let him feast his eyes on your loveliness.

And not just now, when you’re young and lithe and tan and wedding-day slim. He needs to see you when you’re 9 months pregnant, and 4 months post-partum, when you’re wrinkling and aging, when you’re surely no candidate for a beauty contest.

Because He sees what you cannot— that you are beautiful by being who you are.

6.  Guard your beauty. 

Like a lovely garden of the finest flowers, a woman’s beauty must be cultivated and maintained. Neglected, we go to seed. Nourished, pampered, smoothed, and cared for, we flourish.

My dear daughter, to be naked and not ashamed in the presence of your husband is to enjoy a place in which freedom and beauty reign. Do all you can to stay in that holy place, to guard your heart against the lies that slip in unnoticed.

From my heart,


P.S. For those who are reading:

Men, are you getting a glimpse into the soul of a woman with these insights? Pay attention, the woman you love is struggling to see her own beauty.

Women, is this new to you? Have you bought into the lies? Can you share your stories and strategies with us? 


(image by Hillary Kupish)

INTENT: goal, purpose, design, plan, aim

Dear Matt and Simona,

You’re married!

After months of planning and preparations, endless lists and endless work, the wedding is over. The two of you stood before friends and family, before God Himself, and said, “I Do.”

The wonder of your wedding day is still sending ripples of delight in my mind, memories I will cherish for a long, long while.

Simona, your elegance cast a magical beauty over the entire day. Matt, your laughter lit the night with joy. Could your grin have gotten any bigger?

We waved you off with our blessing and our prayers. And then your dad and I turned to each other, grasped hands, and prayed. We asked God to fill your night with the joy of discovery. To fill your hearts with confidence. To fill your minds with pictures of beauty. To fill your honeymoon with memories you will both relish forever.

And we prayed that you would both remember what we’ve told you:

That the purpose of your honeymoon is to know and be known. It is the beginning of a lifetime quest for two people to so understand each other that they begin to think as one. To meld bodies and lives and hopes and dreams into an unbreakable bond of wholeness.

To become one.

And to that end, it is a set apart time.  This is not simply a vacation. Not just an expensive adventure.  If you get a little sightseeing in on the side, great! But you’ll have lots of vacations and only one honeymoon.

Your honeymoon is a time for the unveiling of yourselves to each other. For undressing, and uncovering.  It is a long anticipated choosing to be “naked and unashamed”.  To be before each other just as you are, without masks or covering.

You have both waited for this— have guarded yourselves and each other in anticipation of a lifetime of unrestricted passion. You love each other. You want each other. You have waited for intimacy on the promise that this gift is best unwrapped under the covenant of forever.

Forever begins now.

But a great honeymoon doesn’t happen by accident. Like most things of high value, you will have to be intentional about this time. You will not want to squander the potential of this beginning.  And so I have put together a short list of ways to purposely create an environment in which you will both thrive. A list of guidelines in order to intentionally write your history well.

Six Guidelines For A Great Honeymoon:

1.  Guard these days

That may mean you’ll need to turn off your phones. Do not return texts. Don’t like anybody’s pictures or messages or requests. Instead, turn all your attention to each other. Too soon you’ll be stressed by the tensions of all the other demands on your time. Now is the time just for one another.

2.  Give yourself completely

It takes a tremendous amount of trust to unveil your real selves to another person. To not pretend. But those who do will have the reward of a love that is real.

Two cannot become one if there is hiddenness.

This is the time to tell each other what hurts deeply, what gives you courage, why you fell in love and what you hope the years ahead will hold.

And it is a time to be all about the other. To coax and allure each other into a safe place.

3.  Laugh a lot

Instead of taking yourselves too seriously, allow room for hilarity. Sex is fun! Sure, the timing can be complicated, but learning is the best part. Be gentle with each other, be friendly and affectionate, don’t try too hard to imitate the movies- sex just isn’t always so hot and instant, especially at the beginning. Have a blast learning to get it right.

Then bask in the rush of emotions that will have your redefining the word happiness.

4.  Affirm each other frequently

You both need to hear the unedited pleasure of each other. Don’t hold back, say it, show it, tell each other what makes you feel like you’re coming out of your skin with the joy of it. And then say it again.

Please, please, please do not allow even one discouraging word to shadow your intimacy. If you have a mean moment, apologize immediately.

This is a sacred time, honor that.

4.  Spend time alone with God each day

As absorbed as you are with each other, you’ll be in danger of imposing too much need on each other unless you each spend time alone with the One who is your “life that is truly life.” Honor each other’s individual-ness by giving each other space to be alone with God. Then come together and share what He’s telling you. This is the way to greatest intimacy.

And one last word of advice:

6.  Have Fun!

Flirt, rest, jest, tease, talk, sleep, eat, indulge, play! Be lazy. Relish beauty. Find gifts for each other. Write notes. Tell stories. Crack jokes. Swim in the ocean, splash in puddles. Saturate all your senses with the pure joy life.

My dear son and daughter, take these days as the gift that they are. You are free, you are healthy, you have plenty, you are loved.

With much love and hope for the two of you,


P.S. For those who are reading: Do you have anything to add? Or any questions to ask?

Let’s start a conversation for a few weeks on what you hope, what you wish, what you’d do different in order to intentionally write the story of your first days as husband and wife.


(image by hillary kupish)

Our house is a very, very, very fine house

With two cats in the yard,

Life used to be so hard,

Now everything is easy cause of you…

I’ll light the fire,

You place the flowers in the vase that you bought today.[1]

(still my favorite love song…)

 Dear Matt and Simona,

Saturday was your wedding day. A beautiful, romantic day you have both dreamed of for many months. Today the two of you are flying across oceans and mountains, glaciers and jungles… to a place just for the two of you. Alone.

And I sit here in my tiny cottage in the woods trying to condense all that I want to say into these few words on a screen. I type and I delete. I walk around the block and think of too many things I want to say. I try again.

And there is only this:

A love that lasts a lifetime doesn’t happen by accident.

It is not a romantic ending to a good story. It is not in the stars, not because you found the One. The kind of love you hope for isn’t because of good luck or good personalities or good timing. It does not wear out or go away. No one falls out of this kind of love.

A love that lasts a lifetime is a love that is lived on purpose.

It is a love that is gone after. A love that is done daily. A love that is thought about, sacrificed for, worked towards.

Even on bad days. Especially on bad days.

Yes, love is a gift. But perhaps more, real love, the kind of love that all of us long for, is a skill. A vocation. A calling.

And that is why I am writing these letters. Because I dare to believe that this is a kind of love that is possible. I believe that you two and anyone else can have a love that lasts for a lifetime. I believe that any of us— all of us— can become excellent lovers.

And more, I believe we are called to do this kind of love.


For the rest of forever.

That is what these letters will be about. The doing of real love. The craft, the skill, the expertise it takes to navigate real life and cultivate true love. I want to pass on what I am learning about how to “walk in the way of love” (Ephesians 5:2) so that when you are both old… with all the inherent greying and sagging and wrinkling and slowing that old age brings… you will still be in love.

Because I believe it’s possible, this whole-life love. Maybe not normal, but possible. And I don’t believe it has much to do with luck, though no doubt about it, some people have an easier time at it than others. And though I may have started off life as a dreamer, a romantic, a head-in-the-clouds innocent… I now have three plus decades of church ministry under my belt and all the inherent sad, tragic, disgusting, horrifying real-life-marriage stories to off-set my fairy tale take on life.

And I believe more than ever in the theory of redemption:  that our God is a fixer of broken things. That your mess-ups and mistakes do not define you.

Nor is all that messiness a predilection for future failure. I read it in God’s Word and I see it in real life.

I have seen people tuck their broken, repentant, honest selves right into Jesus. I have seen Him exchange their sorry state with His glory, with His beauty. I have seen—close up—two people collide and fall on their faces and call out to God. I have seen the beauty He brings out of the ashes of fire-ravaged lives. How He melds two people into one.

And I am one of those: broken, selfish, spoiled, self-indulgent, and… redeemed. And so is your dad. You know that.

God doesn’t automatically make repentant, dependent people good, instead He fills them with God. With Himself. And then He slowly begins that painstaking process of smoothing off the ugliness. Something like the way He used glaciers to craft great swaths of smooth tundra, so slowly the movement is almost imperceptible.

The key, I have come to see, is patience. Patience with each other first, but also patience with yourself. We learn to love well. God Himself trains us in the way of love. Scripture is filled with wisdom to get us started and then to stretch us further until His way becomes, if not natural, at least a whole lot easier.

So, before the letters even officially begin, let me leave you with just a couple of things to tuck away.

  1. A love that lasts a lifetime is possible.
  2. A love that lasts a lifetime is not natural or easy or automatic.
  3. A love that lasts a lifetime requires the humility of daily brokenness before God.
  4. A love that lasts a lifetime involves skills that can be learned.
  5. A love that lasts a lifetime takes a lifetime.

And this...

A love that lasts a lifetime is worth it.

From my heart,


P.S. While I am writing these letters to my son and new daughter, they have agreed to let you read along. What I am hoping, is that you will bring your stories and wisdom and questions and comments with you. I get tired of talking all by myself. So please, let the conversation begin.

[1] Published and recorded in 1970, by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I’ve been whistling this one under my breathe for longer than you’ve been alive!