Because You Want To Be Called “Daddy” – A tribute to all dads.

Dear “Daddy”…

As Father’s Day draws near, it reminds us all to stop and pay tribute to our father.  Every single one of us has a father.  We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t ;) !

Fathers deserve a little recognition and “thanks” for what they’ve done for us, but DADS deserve more.  It doesn’t take a lot of effort, sacrifice, or commitment to be a “father”.  Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a “father” as this: a man who has begotten a child. The definition of “daddy” is this: a father.  Merriam-Webster, while your definition of “daddy” is true, it’s not accurate.  DADDY is not a synonym for father.  They are totally different.  And you, DADDY, are more than just a father.

A man becomes a father after biological reproduction.

A man becomes a DADDY by choice.

Fathers DayHaving your child call you Daddy is a privilege earned by love, hard work, sleepless nights, commitment, encouragement, quality time, and sacrifice.  YOU are a Daddy because you have chosen to be one.

You uncomfortably sat through the ultrasound visits…because you want to be called Daddy.

You helped pick out the name, even though your contribution of “Hulk” or “Hogan” got shot down quickly…because you want to be called Daddy.

Father's Day

(photo credit: Leslie Tate)

You spent hours in the floor, cursing Graco under your breath, as you assembled baby gear…because you want to be called Daddy.

You were there in the delivery room, coaching and encouraging, as you witnessed the miracle of your child being born…because you want to be called Daddy.

Father's Day

(photo credit: Paperlily Photography)

…or maybe…You signed one million papers, raised what seemed like one million dollars, and waited what felt like one million days to finally hold that child in your arms and welcome him into your home…because you want to be called Daddy.

Father's Day(photo credit: Hannah Wood)

You traded in that Georgia red, lifted up, F-150 to buy the four door sedan…because you want to be called Daddy.

Father's Day

You swallowed your pride, strapped on that baby carrier, and wore your child on your chest…because you want to be called Daddy.

You fought back the urge to vomit and pushed through that diaper change…because you want to be called Daddy.

You canceled on the guy’s poker invitation, fight night, or pick up game to spend time at home…because you want to be called Daddy.

Father's Day(photo credit: Christy Martin Photography)

You learned the words and can sing along to Dora the Explorer, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Bubble Guppies…because you want to be called Daddy.

You take off work to be at pre-school’s Donuts with Dad and you leave work early to be there for the t-ball game…because you want to be called Daddy.

You kiss boo-boos, give baths, brush teeth, clean up toys, and go on special ice cream runs…because you want to be called Daddy.

Father's Day

You go to work, provide for your family, and sacrifice financially…because you want to be called Daddy.

You cuddle, love, support, protect, guide, discipline, teach, and listen…because you want to be called Daddy.

I know you don’t do all of these things because you HAVE TO, because you’re their father.  You do it…and more…because you WANT TO.  Because you’re their DADDY.

And because you’re AWESOME!

Happy Father’s Day not only to a father, but someone who chooses, EVERY DAY….to be a DADDY.

Father's Day

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Let Him Lead

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.” Ephesians 5:22-24 (The Message)

So….your husband isn’t the spiritual leader that you want him to be…that you need him to be.  How dare he??!! Doesn’t he know that he is supposed to LEAD you and your family as the head of the household? Well, he obviously isn’t capable and just isn’t a natural leader.  Good thing you’re here to pick up the slack and do the job for him.  Geez! Your instinctive leadership abilities and your greater faith in Christ is way more qualified to be the spiritual head of the household.

I hope you are sensing my sarcasm at this point.  But…isn’t that true to what you may have thought internally at times?  I know I have.  Guilty as charged!  We “women” can be a bit cray-cray at times.  We like to take charge, take control, lead the way, tell everyone what’s best for them, and DO IT ALL.  Then we like to complain about how much we do;)

Let him lead

Even IF you are natural born leader.  Even IF you are the extrovert in the marriage.  Even IF your faith walk with Christ is more mature than your husband’s…God says it’s THE HUSBAND’S job to be the head of the household.

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” 1 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV)

That’s a tough pill to swallow for many “take charge” women (like me!) I knew when I married Michael that scripture says to submit to him as the head of the family.  I wanted him to be the spiritual leader immediately.  It didn’t happen that way.  What happened in our marriage…and is maybe happening in your marriage…was this:

I wanted him to lead…BUT I WAS GETTING IN THE WAY!!!

Yes, I was a big reason my husband wasn’t stepping up as the spiritual leader.  Are you the reason why your husband isn’t assuming his role as the head of your house, too?  How could that possibly be?  If you want your husband to be the mature spiritual leader that you feel comfortable submitting to…it has to start with YOU! Not HIM! If you want God to bless your marriage, you have to let your husband lead.

If you want your husband to lead…give him the room to do it.

Let him lead

DON’T: 

*Don’t try and manipulate him by using tactics to “trick him” into doing something.  Just be open, honest, and ask.  Don’t pout when he says “no”.

*Don’t be his “Holy Spirit” by offering him suggestions on what he needs to change, what should be convicting him, or what you think he needs to do.  The Holy Spirit can do a better job in that department if you pray and ask him for help.

*Don’t guilt him and play the game of “I’ve done _______ for you!  I expect you to play fair and do ______ for me.”  Marriage is not a competition that keeps score.  Give more than you take.

*Don’t believe that his way of doing something is the wrong way just because it’s not how you would have done it.  Let him load the dishwasher without correcting.  Don’t hover over his shoulder and give tips when he changes the baby’s diaper.  Allow him to do the chore without any mumblings of “how you could do it better” or that “his way is just stupid”.  Give him praise.

Let him lead

*Don’t put a time limit on his decisions.  Be patient. Give him the room and time to decide without your nagging.

*Don’t make plans or decisions continually without conferring with him first.  In the first few years of marriage, I wouldn’t talk to Michael about going away for the weekend to visit my family, I would just tell him.  I also took dance classes in an area Michael felt unsafe for me to go.  I undermined him and went anyway because I was a ‘big girl’ and he wasn’t my dad.  Yikes…that’s one way to rob your marriage of God’s blessings.

*Don’t have the final say on everything…especially if it is something that betters your family.  A friend of mine said they were searching for a new church and her husband wanted to try a few different ones out.  I encouraged her to LET HIM decide the church they go to, even if it wasn’t her favorite, because if the husband is comfortable in a place of worship and chooses the place of worship himself, he will be more confident to lead his family to church every week and a more confident leader at home.

Let him lead

DO:

*Pray for him and his heart to be able to hear the Lord.

*Give him praise and confidence by speaking words of life into him.  “I believe in you. I trust you. I respect your decision.  You are always so good at ______.”

*Respect him and instill trust in him.  Women need affection, love, and safety.  Men need RESPECT. When he makes a decision, respect it by not trying to talk him out of it only to do it your way.  If it doesn’t make a difference concerning your family’s safety and well-being, then it will be O.K.!

*Love him through actions.  Find out what his Love Language is, and speak it. Michael’s is “words of affirmation” and “physical touch”.  I need to do better in “words of affirmation”, but when I AM speaking his love language, I send him encouraging texts or emails and verbally speak things out loud about how fabulously awesome he is;)

Let him lead

*Ask God for patience, wisdom, and self-control on your part.

*Think before you speak.  Give yourself 3 seconds before you say what you want to say.  When he talks to you, listen to his heart, not just what he is saying.  Usually if he snaps over something small and insignificant, there’s something greater happening in his heart.  It’s not always about YOU.

*Submitting is following his lead WITHOUT letting him know you would have rather done it differently.

*If he is not a Christian or is spiritually unresolved, then you can lead him to Christ in your actions, not just words.

“Likewise, wives be subject to your own husband even if some do not obey the word, they may be won over without a word but by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.  Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.  For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands.” 1 Peter 3:1-5

Let him lead

Wives, if your husband does not know Christ and right now, seems to have no interest in getting to know him,  don’t give up.  Keep praying.  Keep seeking God in your own walk.  Keep going to church, alone, if you have to.  Teach your children about God.  Don’t let his weak faith pull you down.  You are planting seeds in his heart that God can grow in his time.  Do not get tired in doing good.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Warning: If your husband is physically abusing you, putting you or your children in danger, asking you to partake in illegal acts, or to do something that is against your faith and against God, then you are not under submission to him.  Immediately seek help.

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.

No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.” Ephesians 5:25-33 (The Message)

Let him lead

So…you want your husband to change and be the leader?

START WITH YOURSELF FIRST!

(P.S. I would like to say that once I started applying these Do’s and Don’ts to my marriage, things got a lot less stressful.  Michael TRULY stepped up as the spiritual leader and I am so proud of him for growing in his faith walk.  God can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.  Just leave it up to God and do what he asks YOU to do as a follower.)

(P.S.S. The cute couple in the pictures are Brooke and Jesse, friends and clients of mine.  That is not my husband and me;)

I Live For The Applause

“I live for the applause, applause, applause

I live for the applause-pause

Live for the applause-pause

Live for the way that you cheer and scream for me

The applause, applause, applause.”

Man.  I love that song.  Lady Gaga’s voice has been stuck in my head for a week now.  Every time I hear it the first thing I want to do is dance.  Or make up a killer routine.  (For those who don’t know me personally, I used to dance, cheer, and choreograph.)

Applause-5

The second thing I do when I hear that song is think about how I used to…

Live for the applause.

And still battle now not to…

Live for the applause.

Applause-2

I like winning.  I like being the very best at anything I do.  Some people call that “being competitive.”  My dad called it “being an Armstrong.”  It was my life.  Win…or…well, that was the only option for me.

In school, I wanted to make straight A’s.  In cheerleading, I wanted to be better than I was the week before.  In track, I wanted to run faster.  In pageants, I wanted the crown.  I wasn’t a cut-throat competitor whom everyone hated (I think!), but I liked the applause.  It gave me joy.  It gave me worth.

Applause-3

Fast forward to college graduation.  School was over, cheerleading was over…marriage was beginning and so was a new job. Without me realizing it was happening, my sources of joy, praise, and worth were vanishing.  There was no one to clap for me or for my accomplishments.

My job consisted of office work.  Not very glamourous.  No one gets a trophy for filing papers and doing inventory.

My role as a wife consisted of household chores and cooking dinners.  I never remember Michael coming home and crowning me “Queen of the Dirty Clothes” because I totally rocked that laundry.

Applause-4

Where were my “thank you’s”, “you are so great at that”, or “no one else can do that job like you, Paige!” ???

Yea, NOWHERE! That’s because I was in the real world doing what I was EXPECTED TO DO.  I lived for the applause.  I wanted the applause.  I was used to the applause.  There was no applause and I was searching for a source.

Something changed.  Something in my heart and spirit got turned upside down, and Jesus showed me where my true intentions were.  I wasn’t doing my daily tasks with joy and thanksgiving simply because it was HONORING CHRIST, I only did them in hopes someone would notice and thank me for it.  If nobody noticed, I felt the urge to tell them.  (like for real…WHO CARES???!!!)

Applause

It’s truth found in scripture like these verses below that I had to ingrain into my mind, and let them transform my heart, which allowed my actions to be pure and honorable, without ulterior motives.

Galatians 1:10 
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
 
John 12:43
For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
 
Colossians 3:23 
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
 
Romans 12:1-2 
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
 
John 5:44 
How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
 
1 Corinthians 10:31 
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
So whatever you DO…whether it’s file papers, sweep floors, wipe down countertops, fold clothes, cook dinner, change diapers, scrub toilets, take out the trash…DO IT ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD.
Applause-6
I realized that if I only did something because I was hoping to get a THANK YOU out of it, I was doing it for the wrong reason.
Now, I have to remind myself when I’m picking up toys to do it because God has given me this blessing, and it is mine to take care of.  To whom much has been given, much is required.
Applause-7
I look to Christ for my source of JOY and WORTH because you know what, I am his daughter, and that makes me ROYALTY.  It wasn’t until I knew WHO I WAS IN CHRIST that I handed over the fight to prove WHO I WAS TO OTHER PEOPLE.

How Expectations Can Ruin a Marriage

If I could give advice to an engaged or newlywed couple right now, I would say:

“God didn’t create marriage to make you happy.  He created it to make you holy.  God chooses marriage in the bible to show the relationship between Jesus and the Church.  The bride represents the church, and the groom represents Jesus.  The relationship between the two is meant to grow, stretch, develop, and strengthen one another to be more and more like Christ…to be HOLY.”

vacation2012-94

I would also tell them:

“Don’t expect anything out of each other beyond the requirements to love each other unconditionally and seek ways to build up one another. Focus on your walk with God and ask him to show you how to love your spouse better.  Don’t put your focus on what the other person can do for you.”

vacation2012-96

You see, Michael and I got married straight out of college.  We knew it all.  Really…WE KNEW EVERYTHING.  We were Christians, about to receive a college degree, and had jobs and a house already lined up.  All we needed was pre-marital counseling…because that’s what Christians do…duh! ;)  We were ready to be ADULTS! (can you sense the sarcasm?)

The biggest impression that pre-marital counseling left on me was the quiz on what “chores” we each thought the wife and husband should do in the home.  Mowing the lawn.  Washing the dishes.  Cooking dinner.  Paying the bills.  Doing laundry.  Raising children.  You get the picture.  Can you see where this is leading?  Let me just say it – PERFORMANCE BASED ACCEPTANCE.

averyfall2011-6

It started out great, except for the fact that a lot of the “chores” and “responsibilities” that fell under my category weren’t executed often.  Or the way Michael wanted them done.  The things that I expected Michael to do, I’ll give it to him, he was pretty darn good at.  Where did that leave me? Feeling guilty, worthless, unaccomplished, incapable…and unloved.

Frustration surfaced.  Throw in bad communication (silent treatment, eye-rolling, sleeping in other bedrooms) along with the disappointment of unmet expectations and we were digging ourselves a big hole.

Did we love each other? ABSOLUTELY!!! Were we showing each other how much we loved one another? Not 100% of the time, and not the way we needed it.

blueridge-17

You see…I felt like Michael loved me more and was proud of me when I accomplished my list of chores.  When I failed at them, I truly believed that I was not a good enough wife for him.  It was a constant competition between us of: “Look at what I did”…”But look at how much I’m doing over here”… “I go to work all day so you can stay at home”… “I’m raising our daughter and you have no idea what it’s like!”

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Does that sound familiar?

We had expectations.  These expectations were not met because we are human and we fail.  This “performance based acceptance” was setting us up to lose.  Every time.

reveal

Because I was not standing firm on the truth of who I was in Christ, I gave the devil a foothold to grab onto. The lies starting to pour into my head: “I’m not good enough for him.  He needs a better wife.  I can’t do what he’s expecting me to do.  He only loves me when I clean the house.”  They got worse: “I could’ve done better.  I don’t deserve this.  He’s made me settle and stay at home when I have more talents than this.  I can do this all, alone.”

It makes me cry to think I ever thought those thoughts, and then believed them.  That’s what the devil wanted.  He wanted to ruin our marriage.  And he wants to ruin yours, too.

By the grace of God…HE intervened…and through a series of events including starting a new church, meeting some great Christian mentors, and joining a women’s small group called Warrior Wives (coincidence…I think not), God started healing our hearts.  And our marriage.

charlotteandfamily

We needed a mind change.  A heart change.  An attitude change.

We needed JESUS.

The good news I can share with you now, is that going on 9 years of marriage, we are stronger, more loving, more affectionate, closer to Christ, and proud to say that God was the only reason our marriage is a million times better now than what it was 4 years ago.  Praise God!

The expectations have vanished. The cool part about it is that we actually go above and beyond what those original expectations were in the beginning to help each other out. We realize we are a TEAM…we are not each other’s competition.

We both have learned to put GOD first in our heart and look to him to fill us up with LOVE, JOY, AND PEACE instead of looking to each other.  We both have learned what each other’s love language is and try to practice it every day.  We both know that marriage takes work, and God can heal ANY MARRIAGE if you just put it in his hands. Some of the same struggles poke their ugly heads back up, but we know how to handle them and how to communicate through it and how to keep showing our love to each other.

familypurple

The power of forgiveness is life changing.  I thank God for what he has taught us.  The path we were on and our actions brought a lot of hurt into our hearts.  Had we known in the beginning what marriage was really created for…HOLINESS…not happiness…we might have avoided some of the heartache.

So that’s my encouragement to new couples.  Don’t expect anything but love.

My encouragement to couples who are in the middle of the mess…SEEK GOD…SEEK COUNSEL…HAVE FAITH HE WILL REDEEM YOU AND YOUR MARRIAGE.

Don’t give up hope and don’t give up on each other.  You’ll miss the blessings on the other side.

sunset2010

1 Chronicles 28:20 “Be strong and courageous, and do the work.  Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord God, my God is with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.”