More than a cheesy post

It is rare that the hubs and I are both in front of the camera.
When it happens, this is usually the way it turns out.
I hope you can see in these pictures some of the many reasons why I love this man.
If you cannot, I’m afraid I can’t explain it to you.

Photo op… take 2
“Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live.”

Want more? Related Posts:
This Man
For the Father of my Children: A Prayer

For the Father of my Children: A Prayer

God, I approach the throne of grace filled with gratitude and thanksgiving.
When I think of what you have made from my ruin, I am overwhelmed in the best sense of the word.

Please hear my prayer before you now. May it rise up and be pleasing to your ears.
Thank you for blessing me with a strong man. Not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.

Thank you for his hands that provide, his heart that loves and his faithfulness of soul.

God, I want to be the woman who exceeds his expectations, compliments his nature and provides a sanctuary for him to return home to after a long day’s work.
Whenever my name is on his lips, may it be sweet like honey and evoke peace of mind.
I cannot do this without your help. I have tried. I am so ill-equipped, Lord. I am selfish and self serving. My ways are not your ways and left to my own devices, I will fail.

Please place your hand in this marriage.
In our coming and going.
In our conversation.
In every interaction.
Take captive every thought, every gesture, every action and be glorified through it.

Command my words. Remove my breath before I speak anything other than admiration for listening ears to hear. I release my inadequacies from having any power over my ability to show love for this man.

Prevent any and all resentment, bitterness, anger, unforgiving or hurtful thing from welling up inside of me with the potential to harm. I know that these things are not from you. They originate and feed in darkness. Shine your light brightly into every crevice of my being. Expel any and all wrongful accusations and doubts.

Graciously remind me that this man has fought for me in every way possible and would give his very life to protect me. May I treat him as the Champion that he is, building him up and removing any doubt of my loyalty, respect and deep appreciation for the man that he is.

The strength, passion and love that he bestows is, at times, difficult for me to accept. Strip me of insecurities and may I never take the rarity of his devotion for granted.

Open my eyes to the things I am missing.
Help me listen more and speak less.
Remove any toxic tendencies that would cause me to blame him for self inflicted wounds or those projected onto me by others.

Provide the words when needed to disagree.
May they be respectful and from a place of kindness and love.

God, I am not perfect, nor is he.
We are, however, perfect for each other.
May our love, friendship, family, parenting, faith and work, echo your promises and reflect your grace.

Thank you for these children who have been entrusted to us.
May we parent in such a way that they never question our love for you, our love for each other and our love for them.
May there be more beauty than pain,
more happiness than sorrow,
more thanksgiving than complaining,
more prayer than worry,
more fond memories than remorse,
more love than not.

You are faithful. You are lovely. You are holy.
May all the praise, honor and glory be yours in our fleeting time on this earth and continue throughout eternity with you, Jesus.

In your name I pray all of these things.
Amen

Flannel vs. Lace

Grab your favorite beverage and get comfortable because we are going to talk about sex.

Yep, I said it. S-E-X.

I cannot keep quiet about this any longer! Married people, you are missing it. You’re missing out on one of the main ingredients that makes a marriage solid.

If your upbringing was anything like mine, “the talk” involved a book with cartoon illustrations, words I couldn’t say without laughing and a very nervous parent who had never been more eager to get through a conversation.

Very little was said about it in our home and that made it all the more intriguing to me.

Yet somehow, when it came to this subject, I learned the formula;
Sex = Dirty, Unclean, Shame. It’s going to be incredibly uncomfortable and you should, “Save it for the one you love.” Huh?

I have talked to multiple women over the last few months. All of them have been married less than nine years. Eight out of ten of them are not having sex with their husband. And by not having sex, I mean one time or less per month.

There are lot’s of excuses, some are really good, valid reasons. When you have young children, especially a baby, the last thing that most women are thinking about is the thing that got them pregnant in the first place.

SO, have you gotten off track? Don’t know where to start?

Ladies…

  • Find a time in the day that works for you. It doesn’t have to be evening and it doesn’t have to be in your bed.
  • If you have a baby and it has been 6 months or more since giving birth, you should no longer be wearing maternity panties.
  • Have at least three pieces of lingerie that you actually put on for your man from time to time. Victoria figured out the secret and she has stores all over the place. I don’t care what your budget, your hubs will find the money. Go. Buy. Wear. Men are visual. Give your man something to think about the next day in his budget meeting. (Men are not looking at that one place on your thigh that is all you see when you look in the mirror. So, DON’T POINT IT OUT TO HIM!) One of the most unattractive things a woman can do is discuss her physical flaws with the man who thinks she’s a hottie. Work what you have! Everything looks better in lace.
  • Send him suggestive text messages every now and then. You may have spit-up on your shoulder and be in major need of a shower. That’s why you’re not going to FaceTime. You’re going to TEXT.
  • Praise him in front of others.
  • Be specific when you compliment his efforts and achievements. He wants to make you proud.

Guys…
You are not off the hook here.

  • Woo her.
  • Adore her.
  • Just because you said you loved her on your wedding day, doesn’t mean you never have to say it again.
  • Be affectionate with her without expecting to get it on. You might be surprised.
  • Leave a note on the steering wheel that you’re thinking about her.
  • Tell her she’s beautiful.
  • Look at her. Listen to her. Affirm her.
  • Be intentional about setting a date night. It doesn’t have to be flowers and candles, just some time set aside for building and growing your relationship.

When we marry, God gives us a license to explore, enjoy and play.

For some of us, we didn’t wait for the license. We didn’t do anything in the order that it was intended.

Right or wrong, here is my take on that…

I think the reason God doesn’t want us sleeping around and getting knocked up and/or contracting something that we can’t wash off, is because He knows how much it will hurt us. It’s a hurt not easily healed. He knows that we will carry the weight of shame and guilt with us, sometimes for a lifetime. He is protecting our heart.

The way He designed this whole crazy, beautiful, mysterious act is, well… kind of perfect. He knew what He was doing.

Please hear me when I say that, I wasn’t wearing white on my wedding day. I have felt damaged and broken for years and then something that can only be explained as a “spiritual awakening” happened.

This man, who I believe God chose and designed for me and me for him. He didn’t look at me with shame or disgust. He didn’t talk to me like a worthless whore. In fact, he treated me like his queen and now all that I know and have ever known… is him. When I close my eyes, he is the only one I see. He is the only one I want to see.

Ladies, some of you are shaking your head as tears run down your cheeks and saying, “You don’t know what I’ve done.”

You’re right. However, I know what I’ve done. I know what I’ve thought in my mind about doing, which Jesus said is one in the same. And I am here to testify that nothing, NO ONE, is beyond redemption.

Right now you’re saying in your mind, “BUT…”

There are no buts in forgiveness, Darling. Strike that from your vocabulary where needed.

Some of you reading this have given your body away in hopes of filling up the emptiness that you feel. Others make a living by taking your clothes off and spinning on a pole. Some of you are helping them make a living by going and watching them spin on a pole. Though I do not condone this (just as I do not condone past behaviors of my own), I have known some “professional dancers” who have a bigger heart and purer motives than many Christians. I am confident that there is no condemnation in Christ. Nothing will fill a void like His grace, mercy and love. Nothing.

Some of you had someone force themselves on you. Whether you were a child when it happened or an adult, it’s not your fault. Regardless, you feel stained. I am here to tell you that the blood of Christ is better than any bleach out there and He will make you new. Brand new. He is in the business of restoration. He makes beautiful things out of our pain. If we let Him…

I was talking with a friend not long ago who was an exotic dancer and professional escort for several years. She now has a hard time even thinking about being intimate with anyone, let alone her husband. Her exact comment was, “I’ve done everything and it was dirty and wrong. I have no desire to do those things with my husband. It just reminds me of who I was and what I used to be.”

Let it go.” Sound too simple? Well that’s because it is simple. Not to be confused with easy.

This man, who is being punished for something in the past that he was not even a part of, loves you and wants you, just the way you are.

I encouraged her and will encourage you, that every time she closes her eyes and sees things that seem to be tattooed in her memory, to picture it going through a shredder. Find something to replace it. It doesn’t have to be sexual. You may have to repeat the shredding over and over and over again. Eventually your mind will be transformed.

When those visions and memories creep in and give you that sick feeling, know that it is not from God. It is not from the One who created you with great purpose. The One who designed you from scratch. The Master’s hands formed you from the beginning and they are on you still.

None of us are beyond the reach of our Savior.

Now, I know I am opening myself up to some major criticism, judgement and misinterpretation… I’m okay with that. I’m not an expert. I do think that we should feel the freedom to talk with our spouse about sex, intimacy and our body without acting like it’s a four letter word.

Can we do that? Can we stop projecting shame onto others? Can we who are married, make an effort to remind our spouse why they would never want to look anywhere else for sexual intimacy? Can we see ourselves, our bodies and our marriage through the eyes of the One who created it all in the first place?

Can those of you who are not with someone right now, look ahead with great anticipation, eager to experience sexual intimacy and all that comes with it, the way God intended it to be?

Try it… I dare ya!

This Man

Okay, okay, I get it. You want the story. The Chris and Joy “Happily Ever After” story.

An entire book could be written on this subject alone… How we met when I was just 16 and he was 18 and though it would be years before we would consummate what had only grown stronger since that first meeting… our lives… from that day… would never be the same.

And those of you who know me well are right, I cannot get much further into this blog world without talking about the man who stormed the gates of hell, picked me up and carried me home.

More times than not, when I don’t do something, it’s rooted in the fear of failure.

In this case, it’s the fear that I can not do our story justice through my menial writing ability. That I do not have the words to paint an accurate picture of the way that God used this man to change the course of my life. That because of him, I have been redeemed. And because of his faithfulness and pursuit of my heart, I have a better grasp of Christ’s love.

The man that I see when I look at him is one who has sacrificed much and fought tirelessly. This strong and beautiful man has saved me from myself more times than I probably even know. He saw promise in the brokenness. He was able to see what I could not see and he has spent the last decade helping me uncover and bring into the light who I really am.

Christopher is the first man, the first human being that has ever had a front row seat to my heart and soul. It’s a scary thing. He, however, sifted through the lies of darkness, broke down the walls of self loathing and established residence. It was no easy task. His persistence paid off and after, not months, but years of diligently championing my heart, I began to see what he saw. Possibilities from within.

There is a song called Bless the Broken Road.
The first time I heard it while driving, I had to pull over as the tears kept flowing, stinging my eyes and blurring my vision.

Here is the part that most resonates with me…

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You’ve been there you understand
It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

Now I’m just rolling home
Into my lover’s arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

Though there is so much more to the story…so many details and tangible evidence of forgiveness, struggle, passion, pain and beauty… the truth that I know, that I will always know, is this…

God created me. And while forming and shaping my being, He already had Christopher in mind. He then made him to fit me exactly. Or maybe vice versa…either way, we are like puzzle pieces… Each completes the whole. We were created with the other in mind and God’s hand is on us still. Of this, I am sure.