Ty’s Wife Posts

Love in Reality

Remember before you were married you thought it was going to be different?

Remember when you thought that being married would just be pure bliss, provided that you found the perfect person? You’d probably hate each other at first because you didn’t know each other well enough. You’d both be strong-willed and wouldn’t want to give in to the other, but then suddenly, after so much butting heads, an especially tense interaction, and hating each other, a rainstorm comes. You find yourselves stranded in the middle of the storm, and in some strange change of heart, you both realize that you were always meant to be together, and how could you not be completely wrapped up in each other’s arms right this very moment – never to part! You kiss in the rain until the end of the storm and return to your lives with one small change — you love each other deeply and so completely that you will never ever fight again, and you will just smile at each other ever after. Happily.

End scene.

Right?

I saw this advertisement the other day. It was for some contraption that you can use to make the sound from the television louder only for you. Pretty much wireless headphones, to be honest.

But then the tagline said, “{insert product name here} SAVED OUR MARRIAGE!”

Hold up.

Your shared TV watching experiences were so out-of-control-lose-my-mind-can’t-maintain-my-cool difficult that your marriage was almost lost?

What happened to the rain? The smiles? The happy?!?!

Okay, so the statement was a little insane. I hear you. It’s kind of like those infomercials that take something super simple and make it seem like it’s totally destroying your life. Kind of like the Friends episode where Joey is on an infomercial for the Milk Master 2000.

{Those darn cartons are so flingin’ flangin’ hard to open!}

But I digress.

Didn’t the movies make love sound like it was easy, once you found the “right one”? I mean, really, the work came upfront, right? It’s just so hard to find the right one — what with all the blind dates, girls’ night out at the bar (hoping to be interrupted by a tall, dark, handsome stranger), and catastrophes that await the single woman on her way to eternal bliss! But once you found true love, it was pretty much unicorns, rainbows, and laughter from there on out.

Ah, love.

Movies told you so much about love.

They showed you what it was like to wake up next to someone you love. You both wake with a gentle breath in the morning glow of sunrise. You roll over sleepily to look lovingly at the love of your life, who is staring at you through the haze of slumber. You, of course, look magnificent with flawless skin, bright and dewy eyes, and perfectly messy hair. Your subtly seductive glance and quietly muttered memories of last night’s most romantic activities lead you both to another spontaneous round of blissful love-making. It ends with you and a cup of coffee staring out the window wearing his button-down shirt from last night – which fits you just perfectly in all the ways it should.

Your day is full of life, joy, and productivity. Not to mention sweet, perfectly-timed communication from your love. Perhaps a flower delivery. You gab with your girlfriends at work over how amazing he is, and they gush with the perfect blend of  adoration and jealousy.

You end the day by stopping by the local farmer’s market, where of course, your soul mate picked up those flowers that were delivered to you that very morning. You complete the evening by cooking up a six course meal a la Bree Van de Kamp, while wearing your ruffly apron, which is really just for show, because let’s be honest. You don’t get messy.

Option B is that you order Chinese and eat it with chopsticks on pillows on the floor by the fireplace right out of the box, which apparently, is equally as full of love as the Van de Kamp masterpiece in Option A. The fortune in your fortune cookie speaks directly to your souls, and inspires a wonderfully magical make out session in front of the fire.

The next morning greets you with breakfast in bed, which is, it goes without saying, eaten while looking as though you’ve just stepped out of the hairdresser’s chair and had Bobbi Brown apply your “I haven’t put on makeup yet” makeup. It probably even has a single gerbera daisy in a vase in the corner, opposite your orange juice.

Right?

Funny.

Because the way I wake up next to the love of my life has turned out to be very different.

The alarm blares at an ungodly hour (any hour). I roll over to turn it off with the wrath of the Hulk. I roll back exasperated with my arm over my eyes due to my frustration that morning has arrived too soon yet again. I turn to greet my husband, only to be face-to-foot with a child. After rearranging tiny limbs, wondering when they arrived in our bed in the first place, I reach the love of my life.

We kiss once, and then make a pact not to do that again until we’ve both rid our mouths of the smell that moved in overnight.

Instead of perfectly messy hair, I look as though I’ve battled a tornado. And probably lost. I am not in a button down dress shirt because my husband is a whole twelve inches taller than I am and it would look the same as if I were a child wearing my daddy’s work boots that come up to my knees. Not. Attractive. Instead, I’m in a baggy shirt and workout shorts. Mmm…much better.

There are breakfasts to be made, toilets to be scrubbed, and laundry to be folded. No time to linger in bed seductively. That’s all if Ty hasn’t selflessly woken up before me to leave for work at the crack of dawn.

Our days are filled with text messages full of information and plans, if we get to text at all in the craziness of life. I’m lucky if I’m in different clothes before Ty gets back home from work. I’m even luckier if I have something to show for my hard work during the day.

I brave the grocery store with children in tow because our refrigerator is empty, and these crazy people need to eat again. Did you know that people expect to eat three times a day? The little ones want to eat 7 times a day! The experience is nothing like skipping through the farmer’s market.

Instead of Bree’s china, we usually eat off of plastic plates. Or on a bad day, *gasp* paper plates.

If we order Chinese, our fortunes never apply to our romantic life. In fact, they rarely even make sense. We do learn one important Chinese word, though, like “fish”, “tree”, or “branch”. And we’re eating that crap with forks, because eating fried rice with chopsticks is enough to drive me mad.

And let me tell you something important.

Breakfast in bed = crumbs in my bed.

Love in reality is very different from love in the movies.

Love in reality expresses disagreements. Sometimes loudly.

Love in reality makes sacrifices graciously.

Love in reality hurts sometimes.

It’s early morning bad-breath kisses.

It’s no makeup and ugly pajamas.

It’s paper plates and plastic forks.

It’s laughter and joy, and pain and tears.

It’s going on adventures together, and not caring how the trip goes, or where you end up – as long as you end up there together.

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It’s waking up every morning and standing together and being present in the reality.

It’s going to bed in utter exhaustion and laying side by side knowing that together you contributed something wildly important to this world, simply by being together.

Love in reality is wearing wireless headphones because you’ve grown old together and one of you can’t hear Jeopardy anymore, and the one who still can will soon lose their own hearing due to the increase in decibels.

I can only hope that we get to be together so long that someday one of us needs those stupid headphones. I hope it’s me. I can definitely pull them off better than Ty can. His head is much bigger than mine.

 I see you marriage-saving wireless headphones.

You do what you do.

Operation Escalones {#12} – Tat It Up!

Operation Escalones {#12} – Tat It Up!

Last weekend, I crossed something off my bucket list, and off of my to do list.

It’s something that surprised more than a few of the people closest to me.

I got a tattoo.

It’s on my foot, and I’m absolutely in love with it.

But no one knows what it means, so that’s what this post is about today.

The words on the arch of my foot read “ezer kenegdo“. It’s Hebrew, and it’s what God called woman when He created her, long before her name was Eve.

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‘ezer in Hebrew is commonly translated as “helper” or something similar, but in my study of the word, it seems that the more accurate translation is “power” or “strength”.

“Therefore, could we conclude that Genesis 2:18 be translated as ‘I will make a power [or strength] corresponding to man.’ ” (source)

It’s important to me that you understand that I did not get this tattoo because of how this term applies to me simply as a wife and a mother, but also how it applies to me as a woman.

The following, bolded text is an excerpt from the book “Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul” by John and Stasi Eldredge. It’s long, but it’s what really sparked my interest in the term ezer kenegdo.

When God creates Eve, He calls her an ezer kenegdo. “It is not good for the man to be alone, I shall make him [an ezer kenegdo]” (Gen. 2:18 Alter). Hebrew scholar Robert Alter, who has spent years translating the book of Genesis, says that this phrase is “notoriously difficult to translate.” The various attempts we have in English are “helper” or “companion” or the notorious “help meet.” Why are these translations so incredibly wimpy, boring, flat…disappointing? What is a help meet, anyway? What little girl dances through the house singing “One day I shall be a help meet?” Companion? A dog can be a companion. Helper? Sounds like Hamburger Helper. Alter is getting close when he translates it “sustainer beside him.” 

The word ezer is used only twenty other places in the entire Old Testament. And in every other instance the person being described is God himself, when you need him to come through for you desperately.

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you…Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. (Deut. 33: 26, 29, emphasis added) 

I lift up my eyes to the hill — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Ps. 121:1-2, emphasis added)

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May He send you help. (Ps. 20:1-2 emphasis added)

We wait in hope for the Lord, He is our help and our shield. (Ps. 33:20, emphasis added)

O house of Israel, trust in the Lord — He is their help and shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord — He is their help and shield. You who fear Him, trust in the Lord – He is their help and shield. (Ps. 115:9-11, emphasis added) 

Most of the contexts are life and death, by the way, and God is your only hope. Your ezer. If He is not there beside you…you are dead. A better translation therefore of ezer would be “lifesaver.” Kenegdo means alongside, or opposite to, a counterpart.

You see, the life God calls us to is not a safe life. Ask Joseph, Abraham, Moses, Deborah, Esther — any of the friends of God from the Old Testament. Ask Mary and Lazarus; ask Peter, James, and John; ask Priscilla and Aquila — any of the friends of God in the New Testament. God calls us to a life involving frequent risks and many dangers. Why else would we need Him to be our ezer? You don’t need a lifesaver if your mission is to be a couch potato. You need an ezer when your life is in constant danger. 

Picture the character Arwen in the mythic motion-picture trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. Arwen is a princess, a beautiful and brave elf maiden. She comes into the story in the nick of time to rescue the little hobbit Frodo just as the poisoned wound moving toward his heart is about to claim him. 

ARWEN: He’s fading. He’s not going to last. We must get him to my father. I’ve been looking for you for two days. There are five wraiths behind you. Where the other four are, I do not know. 

ARAGORN: Stay with the hobbits. I’ll send horses for you. 

ARWEN: I’m the faster rider. I’ll take him. 

ARAGORN: The road is too dangerous.

ARWEN: I do not fear them. 

ARAGORN: (Relinquishing to her, he takes her hand.) Arwen, ride hard. Don’t look back. 

It is she, not the warrior Aragorn, who rides with glory and speed. She is Frodo’s only hope. She is the one entrusted with his life and with him, the future of all Middle Earth. She is his ezer kenegdo

That longing in the heart of a woman to share life together as a great adventure — that comes straight from the heart of God, who also longs for this. He does not want to be an option in our lives. He does not want to be an appendage, a tagalong. Neither does any woman. God is essential. He wants us to need Him — desperately. Eve is essential. She has an irreplaceable role to play. And so you’ll see that women are endowed with fierce devotion, an ability to suffer great hardships, a vision to make the world a better place. 

– Stasi Eldredge, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul

This is the conclusion I’ve reached in all of my studies.

The woman was created to be a warrior. She was meant to be a warrior because the battle for souls, for our husbands, for our children is fierce and the mission is monumental.

It doesn’t wait for a woman to become a wife or a mother. It begins because she is female — from the beginning.

God created a team — man and woman. They are the perfect complement to each other. Each has their own special skills, callings, and expectations, but their mission is the same. In order to win the war, all soldiers must fight with their own specialities.

If each soldier gets concerned with being just like the other, the division will destroy the team. They need to be confident of their calling, secure in their mission, tasks, and skills.

My tattoo is on my foot because I never want to forget that I am in a battle.

I’ve been called to fight for the souls of all men, women, and children.

More specifically, for me…I am a partner with Ty in a battle for the hearts and souls of my family.

I am a woman.

I was created to fight. To be a warrior in a battle of all battles.

An ‘ezer kenegdo.

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Do you feel like you are in a battle? Are you ready to be a warrior? Do you have any tattoos that have any special meaning to you? I’d love to hear about them! 

For more explanation of the term ‘ezer kenegdo, see this site here. Carolyn was the speaker at our women’s conference this year, and she blew me away.

On Ty’s Birthday…

On Ty’s Birthday…

Yesterday was Ty’s birthday and he turned 28. So today, in honor of him…

28 reasons (among the million reasons) why I’m totally in love with Ty.

1. When he gets home from a long day of work, he always has enough energy to play sports with the boys in the loft. And I mean…PLAY sports. The ceiling sounds like it’s going to fall in. The light fixtures rattle. And laughter abounds. He announces them like they’re playing at Madison Square Garden, and they l-o-v-e it. He also makes our kids shake hands at the end of every game they play with each other, win or lose, and tell each other that they had a good game.

2. He arranges his schedule at work to be at any and every event. He doesn’t miss any friends’ birthdays, other kids’ birthdays, dinners, school plays, and even makes time to have lunches at the park in the middle of the day.

3. He never says “no” when I ask to go out for a girls’ night.

4. He takes me on dates regularly, and knows exactly what to plan!

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5. Both of us love to watch the same shows, so we never have to suffer through each other’s shows. And we get to snuggle up on the couch and watch our shows together.

6. He does bedtime with the boys. This has always been one of the sweetest things he does. When he suffers through whining, fighting back against pajamas and teeth brushing…it’s just such a blessing to me. At the end of the day, adding this last battle to the rest we’ve fought throughout the day is sometimes so overwhelming. Plus, he gets the sweet time when they snuggle. Bonus!

7. He volunteers his time to many different causes and people. He’s very generous with his time.

8. He gets up early to go to work when the rest of us are still sleeping so that he can come home earlier at night so that we actually get to spend time together as a family.

9. He takes out the trash. I hate taking out the trash.

10. He loves to travel as much as I do. We love going places, and he makes it a priority to take us all over the place to see new things, visit family, or have fun. Whether it’s with the kids or not, he is a great travel partner. He tries things, takes tours of local attractions, is adventurous, and goes with the flow no matter where we are.

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11. He takes us to church every week. I love that he makes it a priority, and I never have to ask if we’re going. The ways that our lives have benefitted from going to church are immeasurable.

12. In that same vein, he took the initiative to join a life group through our church. We have met weekly for 2 years, and if we are in town, we don’t miss. That is a big commitment for him to make while owning his own business, and he makes it happily. This group has been huge for our marriage and our family.

13. I don’t work. He works so hard because it’s important to us that I stay home with our kids. We have never wanted for anything, and he sacrificially works hard and shoulders the burden of providing for our family alone.

14. He takes our kids on bike rides, golf cart rides, wagon rides, skateboard rides…and carries them and their gear back when their “legs get tired!”

15. When we watch sports, he explains the rules, the players, the teams to our kids. They love to learn fundamentals, strategy, and outcomes of the games we watch. He explains the players, who they are, what they do. Most importantly, he teaches them about being a good sport. Sportsmanship is the most important part of playing sports to us, and he makes sure that they see good and bad examples of sportsmanship. He also explains the good choices that some of the players make off the field, and how that makes him respect them even more. This will be such a huge part of why my kids will become Spartans.

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16. He reads the Bible with our kids every night.

17. Every two years, my mom’s side of the family has a family reunion where we all stay in the same house for a whole week. We play games, do puzzles, do crosswords…are total nerds, and he participates happily. He loves my family so deeply, and is so excited to go. Who can say that?!

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18. He has a strong relationship with my parents. It’s amazing to say that he can talk to my parents to give or get advice, and makes plans to hang out with them just for fun for no reason.

19. I make no money. But he never EVER questions how I spend it.

20. He gives legs to any idea I have with no objections, and with an open mind and wallet. :) 100 scrabble tiles on the wall?  No problem! (see it here). Drive overnight to Colorado just for a day? What time do we leave? Sometimes it’s even his idea!!!

21. When I start planning a party in my over-the-top way, he steps out of the way and lets me do my thing. And then loves it when it all comes together.

22. He is a man of integrity. Even when it costs him, he does the right thing.

23. He is involved in our community. He is the president of the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce where we live, he’s the president of Paladin Sports Outreach (check out the website here), and he sits on the board of directors for the Youth Leader Summit (a conference started by a close friend in Minnesota for youth workers).

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24. He always get in the pool with my kids when I don’t want to – usually because it’s freezing!

25. He randomly leaves me notes telling me how much he loves me.

26. Before he leaves for work in the morning, when I’m still asleep, he comes to my side of the bed and prays with me.

27. About a year ago, he gathered a group of men together to meet about being better husbands and fathers. They call it their “Courageous” group. If you haven’t seen the movie “Courageous,” you should. Watch it with your husband. It’s awesome. With an idea from the movie, they had a ceremony where they wrote out resolutions to their wives and their families and had a big ceremony to present them to us. They sent a driver to collect all of us to take us to get manicures, and spent all day making us a 4-course (and delicious) meal. Seriously…I love that man.

28. He is a gifted teacher, who loves passing his knowledge on to others. He has been asked to speak throughout his company to other agents who are just starting out to give them some advice on how to be a better insurance agent. He’s been to many different states to do this, and it’s so cool to see how many people have benefited from what he knows.

Now do you see? He’s pretty amazing! Thanks for letting me brag today!

Happy Birthday, Ty!

A Woman of Influence

A Woman of Influence

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the women’s conference at my church. It was awesome to be in the presence of so many women who are seeking God, too. This was the weekend that we released the Chinese lanterns into the sky (see the picture here) and it was just awesome.

This month has been taxing, to say the least. I’ve had a couple of my close friends receive devastating news, I’ve been super busy and so has my husband, and we’re in the middle of moving my husband’s office to a new location. Not to mention that just plain ol’ normal life is happening all around me at what is seeming to be a breakneck speed!

With all of this, I’ve been struggling to be a good mom, good wife, good friend, good citizen…just struggling to stay awake, really. How’s that for honesty? Ha!

I have been feeling really insecure about my performance as a wife and mother in this season of life. Like my contribution to my family has been small. Coincidentally, the topic of the women’s conference all weekend was about exactly this — He’s funny like that, isn’t He?

In trying to be a good wife and mom, I’m concerned about how I am doing at being a Spartan mother to my Spartans, which is what I so long to do. On top of that, I’m so acutely aware of how much need there is around me, and I worry that I’m not contributing enough to fulfill those needs for other people. I want my children to think outside of themselves and be constantly looking for ways to be Jesus to other people, and it’s important to me that I model that for them.

But what can I do about all of that when I’m just trying to keep my head above water?!

That’s where the conference really hit home for me. The pastor of our church, Cal Jernigan (I’m pretty sure the only man in sight for the weekend, since the rest had fled at the sight of the wave of estrogen that descended upon the church) spoke about the incredible calling God has for women.

And I’d like to share a little bit of that with all of you! It was a message of hope for me, and I hope it is for you, too.

Cal started the weekend by asking a very simple question. I’ll ask it of you, too.

What influential woman (past or present) would you most like to meet?

Got your answer?

I thought he was going to start naming some characteristics that most influential women had in common, or what it was about them that made them so influential in the first place. I thought he’d fire us up with some good attributes to aspire to in our quest to becoming women of influence.

But he didn’t.

He hit us with another question. A question that was answered by men.

“Who is the most influential woman you have ever met?”

And do you know what an overwhelming majority of them answered? Their mom, and (if they had one) their wife.

Hold up. What?

A man stood up on that stage and told a room of 1,000 women that they are the biggest influences on the men and children in their lives, and that our influence is not to be understated or undervalued. He pointed out that no man in the world has given more value to women than Jesus. He gave dignity to women who had been stripped of all dignity. He trusted women first with the news of His resurrection because of their wisdom and intuition.

Wow.

It is important for me, and for all women, to understand our influence — even that we have influence at all. If this gift is misunderstood, it could be misapplied. If I influence no one else, I am influencing the very children that God trusted me to raise, and the man He chose to be my partner to help me do it. It is my job to guide these boys into men and to honor and support the man whose job it is to model what that growth looks like.

It’s not that I don’t have influence or that I won’t make a difference. It’s what I do with that influence that matters.

It’s not a question of, “Will I or won’t I have influence?”

It’s a matter of, “How will I use the influence I have?”

So in this season of my life, I’m finding that it’s important for me to recognize that my family is looking for someone to encourage, support, guide and champion for them. And I’m the influence that is shining the brightest.

Am I pointing them to Jesus?

Am I full of forgiveness and grace? Are my words kind and my hands loving? Is my attention focused? Do I rejoice in both times of trouble and times of gladness? Am I teaching them to be determined and dedicated?

In short, no.

Oh, but how wonderful that we have Jesus! He is able to draw my family to Him if I am humble and willing to acknowledge my own weakness and inability. Jesus can use us any time and any place. Even if it’s just that I can make lunch with a smile. Maybe that’s exactly what they need become Spartans this week.

We have influence, no matter who or where we are. It’s what we do with it that matters.

Influence

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Just out of curiosity, how would you answer that question?

What influential woman would you most like to meet?

Leave it for me in the comments!  

P.S. One of mine would be Mary (the mother of Jesus). Can you imagine?!