What does a spiritual leader look like?

4227948405_217e50071a_bAwhile back, I was reading at a prominent Christian mom blog. A particular and common topic brought on a myriad of thoughts; I came over here to write them out, unsure if they would ever be published. I have been thinking about it a lot, though, so I decided to go for it. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.   

The question was posed, “What questions do you have regarding your marriage relationship?” The readers were supposed to leave their questions by way of comment to be answered in future posts by a mom and daughter.

The overwhelming majority of questions dealt with how to handle a husband that isn’t the spiritual leader he should be.

This question at once resonated with and unsettled me. Of course, I have felt and wondered about this same thing at times, but there has been a huge change in how I think about this matter in the last few years. Besides that, it didn’t look as pretty coming from other women as it did from myself.

So… what does a spiritual leader look like?

There are three major thoughts that come to mind regarding this issue, but I’m just going to start with one of them. (I don’t want to be blacklisted by my gender!) = )


According to the Bible, one of my major roles as a married woman is to be the keeper (despot) at our home. Not just the figurative, emotional part of the home… the home: the toilets, rugs, baseboards, pantry, schedules, sleeping quarters, etc.

I don’t know about you, but I was no ready-made homemaker when I got married. In fact, quite the opposite… minus a hundred thousand. I am and always will be everlastingly grateful that my husband was patient with me regarding this. After six years, I’ve come a long way, but I have so much farther to go before I will even close to consider myself equal to most of the people I know.

Don’t you think that we as women might just be a little bit hard on our guys regarding this “spiritual leadership” issue? I mean, most guys don’t have any experience at spiritual leadership when they get married. So they gave a devotion in teen group? Were a prayer leader at Christian college? Led a discipleship group in their church? That no more prepares a man to “lead” an emotionally charged, newlywed girl/woman, then a high school cooking class prepares a woman to feed a gargantuan, hungry man… every day, on a budget.

How would you like for your husband to comment every time you left dishes in the sink too long? or were impatient with the children? or didn’t put much effort into making a nutritious, filling dinner? or for that matter, slept in and didn’t read your Bible? I know some women experience this regularly (thankfully, I’m not one of them); I doubt it’s a pleasant or inspiring experience.

Here, simply put, is my first question regarding husbands, wives, marriage, and spiritual leadership.

Are we too hard on our husbands regarding their God-given marital roles while giving ourselves unending patience and grace?

More than likely, yes.

A relationship has an atmosphere. Criticism and impatient waiting don’t mix well with love and support. Patience and grace can create an environment where small steps are encouraged, not avoided for fear of failure.

Besides that, we wives probably have enough work to on with ourselves for a while. When you take your eyes off of someone else’s faults and begin to concentrate on your own, things really do brighten up.


Has anyone else noticed this widespread dissatisfaction? What are your feelings on the matter?

The Date I’ve Been Waiting For!! (A very happy anniversary)

Paul and I got to go away the week before our anniversary on a big date!

By ourselves.


Here are the pictures I took!

First of all (by my request, believe it or not), we went and played golf. (which basically means he plays golf and I follow him around and pretend like I’m keeping score. I don’t play golf.) We used to do this when we were first married, but by the time our second child came, it just didn’t work anymore. I dearly love being outside, and it is so pretty on golf courses!

It was so relaxing and beautiful; I wish I could have taken better pictures so you could see all the trees and flowers.
It was so relaxing and beautiful; I wish I could have taken better pictures so you could see all the trees and flowers.

Next, we drove to our hotel.

Hotel Indigo. Very cool.
Hotel Indigo. Very cool.

Paul had already gone and looked at it that day, just to make sure it was what he wanted. Isn’t that sweet? I had never heard of it before, but it was amazing. The interiors were so beautiful, colorful and thoughtful. I love looking at interiors and design stuff; so this place was a feast for the eyes. Not too stuffy, or ritzy-we’re making you pay a whole lot of money so you can feel cool that you stayed here- just really, really fresh and creative. Again, I wish I could take better pictures so you could see how fun it was.

A lovely modern entryway. The little "window" helped to keep it light and bright.
A lovely modern entryway. The little “window” helped to keep it light and bright.
Super cool accent wall.
Super cool accent wall.
A floor to ceiling white panel made a lovely addition to your normal hotel closet.
A floor to ceiling white panel made a lovely addition to your normal hotel closet.
This chair was covered in a terry-like fabric ~ so comfy!
This chair was covered in a terry-like fabric ~ so comfy!
A fun bedside table
A fun bedside table
Very bright, happy bathroom. I had a lot of fun in there taking my time getting ready. = )
Very bright, happy bathroom. I had a lot of fun in there taking my time getting ready. = )

After cleaning up from golf, we went to dinner: P.F. Chang’s. I had never been before, and it was delicious. I’m determined to recreate their candied ginger for sweet sour and chicken. I’m pretty sure it was the key. = )

Anniversary date 005
We tried to take a picture of ourselves by this horse, but it turned out pretty bad and got deleted immediately.

Dinner was great, but conversation was even better. I love spending time with Paul.

After that it was sleep. sleep. and more sleep.

And then I woke up, and went back to sleep.

And then I woke up again, and just stayed in bed because I could. ***Wonderful***

Finally, we got up; got ready; realized we had missed breakfast by an hour and half, and headed to a fun mall nearby.

First order of business: have soft pretzels and strawberry lemonade for breakfast. = )

FreshBanner_HandcraftedNext up, Anthropologie!

This store is arranged so beautifully, smells so good, and everything you see is creative and interesting.

This picture totally cracked me up; I couldn’t pass it up.

A big man sitting in a small, chic little chair. He tried to look at some stuff, but eventually just sat down to wait for me.
A big man sitting in a small, chic little chair. He tried to look at some stuff, but eventually just sat down to wait for me.

After we left the mall, we made our way to an amazing barbecue restaurant downtown. Mm-mmm.

We had a lovely drive around downtown after lunch, looking at old houses, shops, and parks.

When we got home, we were greeted by four very excited little girls and two tired, but cheery babysitters. (Let me just say, these girls were like the queens of babysitting! They did laundry, took the girls to the park, played the Big Bad Wolf {a current favorite activity of the girls}, cleaned up a middle-of-the-night accident, made omelettes for breakfast, taught the girls how to make paper snowflakes…) I was impressed! They even made us…

Anniversary date 018an anniversary cake! Complete with two mini cakes for the girls. How fun!

Anniversary date 017
The missing icing wasn’t because of the decorators; Sophia had been taste-testing.

All in all, it was a lovely getaway. So thankful for time to just hang out with my Bud.

So for all of you who wished us a Happy Anniversary…

… it was. (and thanks!)

Think about yourself for once

photo credit
photo credit

This post was written a few months ago and has been tweaked here and there. I thought I would include it as part of this “anniversary week.”

Confession time here (and it’s painful because of pride), God has been convicting me lately regarding how I think about my husband.

I tend to be one of those “exhorters,” you might call it; very willing to talk about faults; always wanting to spur people on to that next step of sanctification. But the truth of the matter is that lately, it’s just been mean-old criticism.

I think the thought process started when it dawned on me, “Would you want him to be like that about you?” (Immediate NO!!) Why are you thinking about his faults? You want him to dwell on your good points.

Oh yes! Yes, I do!

I want my husband to think about my strengths, to reflect on all the things he loves about me. To be willing to help me and speak the unpleasant truth if I need it, but if I’m honest… I want him to think of me as amazing! And for the most part completely ignore that I’m a complete mess, can’t keep clean laundry in the drawers to save my life, can’t figure out how to make a good meal when people come over, can’t keep my counter cleaned off, and the list goes on.

A gracious light is shining into this dark compartment of my heart.

I’ve actually been thinking about myself more; seeing my selfishness, my laziness, my lack of devotion to Christ. Replacing my criticism of others with the Holy Spirit’s promptings about my sin has opened up the door again for love.

I’ve begun to see Paul differently. Admiring his strengths, thankful for his leadership, loving his company… does this guy even have any faults?

All along, it wasn’t really him I was seeing and criticizing… it was myself. But it’s so much more enjoyable to blame other people for our inadequacies!

Have I praised my husband yet on this blog for being patient with me? Oh yeah… several times. I’m so thankful for him. If I was him, I would have kicked me and my attitude to the curb a long time ago.

So here’s my word of experiential wisdom for all the oppressed, neglected housewives of America… just think about yourself for once! = )

The awkward blue belt for the cute maternity dress story

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photo credit

Do you like surprises? I LOVE surprises. Always have.

One of the coolest surprises I’ve experienced in my adult life are the things that make you feel loved. You know, like really loved. Like how you imagine that girl feels in the movies when the guy takes her hand, or meets her in the middle of a field and professes his undying love, or brings her flowers when she’s stuffy and sick.

When I imagined being married and experiencing things that really made me feel loved… I probably thought of candlelight dinners, snuggling, dancing to soft music in the living room, holding hands while we drove down some random road. But after being married for even only a year or so, I realized that it was totally different things that really made me feel loved.

We became pregnant very soon after we were married. There were a lot of reasons that this was exciting, but one of them for me was the chance to finally wear maternity clothes! I had been waiting my whole life! Seriously, I was the girl that would always look at the maternity section first in catalogs and daydream about browsing through maternity stores when I passed them in the mall. A little weird maybe, but that was me. Little by little, I began to pick up pieces; but one day, I found IT. The cutest blue maternity dress ever. At Target. Ridiculously priced. But that was okay because my sweet brother had given me a gift card. Happy sigh.

Okay, I can tell you’re needing some help picturing how cute this dress was. It was a solid blue; smoky, pearly, grayish, very wonderful medium blue. Knee-length with a pretty collar and buttons all the way down. Classy, but cute. (No elastic anywhere!) And… it had this awesome blue belt for right above the belly. I love belts! I love bows! I love knots! I couldn’t wait to get home and try it on for Paul.

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And that’s the end of happy Act 1. Let’s just say, the dress looked great; the belt looked horrid. But maybe I was just doing it wrong. It had to work, it was so cute! I tried everything I could think of and it all looked awful.

So I went to Paul with downcast heart and mopey face. I explained my frustration and how I just couldn’t get it right.

Then he started trying. Yes, him.

He tied it in the front. He tied in the back. He tied it on the side. And for good measure on the other side, too.

He tied it in a bow. He tied it in a knot.

He tied it above, below, and across my belly.

And somewhere in the middle of all that… I began to feel really loved.

At first, embarrassed. Then worried that I was taking too much of his time. But then I looked at his face, all concentrated. And I knew that he cared.

Something that was so small, so ridiculous, so impossibly removed from the important matters of the world, mattered to him in that moment. He gave me his time and creativity and didn’t make me feel even slightly silly.

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photo credit

We never did figure it out.

I ended up wearing the dress without the belt and it was just as cute. Paul doesn’t remember this happening; even though I’ve told him about it three or four times since then. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

What a surprise, that you’re husband fooling with getting your belt to look right for fifteen minutes could make you feel so loved.

But it did. And I love him.

My favorite person ever

I think this is my favorite picture from our wedding.
I think this is my favorite picture from our wedding.

Ready for a riddle?

Who is 6 foot 2, going bald, easy to please, loves people, hates coleslaw, cheers for Duke and the Yankees, incredibly handsome, enviably smart, and gives the absolute best hugs and horseyback rides?

If you guessed my favorite person ever, you’re right!

Six years ago today, I got to marry him. It was pretty cool that he even asked me.

Since then, life has not been a bed of roses, or a bowl of cherries, or a walk in the park, or whatever you might call it. But it’s been amazing.

I have learned an incredible amount from him and been shown more love than I could ever deserve in one hundred lifetimes.

It all started out with us making milkshakes together on Wednesday nights at a camp in Arizona. Now we have four little girls and an amazing assortment of memories.

Paul, aka Bubby, I am so thankful for you. Your love has taught me more than I could tell. Marriage to you has been one of the greatest gifts God ever gave me.

I remain the Founder and President of your official fan club.

All my love,


Homemade salad dressing out of WHAT???

Let’s suffice it to say, this post will not be categorized in forgettable memories.

If only he knew
If only he knew

Just a couple of months after being married, we were invited to an older couple’s home for golf and dinner. Golf for the guys and hanging out in the kitchen for the girls. She prepared this fabulous meal as I watched and helped, trying to soak up everything I could learn. At one point she made this homemade salad dressing; just pulled a few things out of the cupboard and fridge and voila! a delicious dressing. I was amazed. Well, the meal was lovely, and I was inspired to become a culinary diva who could whip up my own salad dressing and make it look so easy. Because, honestly, you have to be a culinary diva to do that, right?

home sweet home
home sweet home

Fast forward a month or so. It was late morning and Paul was coming home soon for lunch. I had prepared some kind of sandwiches??? I think??? and had also decided to make a little salad in some bowls to go along with it and be kind of special. Aww…so sweet. Well, I realized that all I had was lettuce; and I was kind of suspicious whether it even was lettuce. I remember buying it at the store and thinking “is this really it?” Okay, I knew what lettuce was; we had plenty of that growing up; I just had never been the one to pick it out and yeah…I bought cabbage. So I’m ripping off these “lettuce” leaves into the bowls thinking…this is cabbageno, it’s lettuceuh, I don’t think sowell, it’s all I have so we’ll just go with it. ***Ninety-nine percent of the time a “just go with it” mindset is great(!), but not always.*** And definitely not when it comes to substituting raw cabbage in a salad for lettuce.

But, I stray from the real story: the salad dressing. Looking at my bowls filled only with some sort of green shredded something, I realized, this is pathetic! I don’t even have any salad dressing! Lightbulb!!! I could make one the way my friend did!

A quick glance through my cupboards and I knew I was going to have to get creative. Genius that I was, I dumped a raspberry crystal light packet it into a bowl, added some olive oil, salt and pepper, and stirred it around. (Yeah, the little packets that you mix with a whole gallon of water to make lemonade. Like I said, genius!) Hmm…it didn’t look as delicious as the one my friend made. Yikes, it didn’t taste like it either! But, sometimes, you just have to go with it. ***No you don’t!!!!*** So I drizzled it over our ridiculous bowls of “salad” and hoped for the best.

Do I have to write the rest of this? Well, the mix and olive oil separated and became all at once slimy and gritty. Our cabbage became a bright hot pink color. The taste was…atrocious, or was that the raw cabbage?

A failure in every sense of the word. My husband was actually really nice; I mean, he laughed at me, but who wouldn’t? That was probably one of the moments where he began to realize what he had gotten himself into.

We definitely bought a whopping bottle of amazing store-bought ranch on the next grocery run. And the cabbage ended up in the trash.

My superhero who has survived it all
My superhero who has survived it all

Since then, I’ve come a loooong way. It’s amazing what scrutinizing cookbooks, asking questions, experimenting and making mess after mess, and reading on the internet can do. Have I mentioned my husband is patient? There’s still a loooong way to go; I get nervous if other people are at my house watching me in the kitchen, but whatever, one of these days maybe I’ll get over it.

Want to make me feel better by sharing your first food flop?