Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Thousand Splendid Suns

I must warn you, this post will give away details of the book so if you are reading or want to read it, don't read this post.
While reading a blog, written by I can't remember who, she mentioned the book A Thousand Splendid Suns written by Khaled Hosseini who also wrote The Kite Runner which I have not read. She was looking for the next "it" book. She read the Twilight series, as did I, which left us both thinking about it for days and even weeks after completing the series. So, she was looking for the next book that could hold a candle to Twilight and found it in this novel. The hubs happened to be at the library when I read this so I asked him to pick it up. I had no idea what it was about and when I read the inside leaflet of the hardcover, I wasn't sure I was going to like it. But, the reviews were amazing. So, I picked it up and read over 170 pages in the first day.
I love to go through my books with a highlighter to save the sections that really appeal to me and found myself quite frustrated because I can't use a highlighter in this book that has to go back to the library. So instead, it has lots of yellow, sticky, flags sticking out of it.
To give you a brief idea, the book is about two different generations of characters growing up in Afghanistan and crosses the Soviet invasion, the reign of the Taliban, and post-Taliban. The author has a magical way of hiding historical fact in his glorious writing and really gives you a feel for how hard life was and is in Afghanistan for the people who live there.
The first part of the story revolves around Mariam Jo and begins in her ninth year of life. She is a child that was born out of wedlock so she and her mother are a disgrace to their family and the family of the man that created her. Mariam Jo's father keeps her and her mother stowed away in a very small home outside of both major nearby towns but he comes to visit once per week. He is a wealthy man but has supplied them with only bare essentials. What I find ironic is that it is common in the culture, at least in the 50s for men to have more than one wife and this man, Jalil had two wives and ten other children all living in his home. The first sticky in the book is in regards to Mariam Jo and her father.
"When it was time for Jalil to leave, Mariam always stood in the doorway and watched him exit the clearing, deflated at the thought of a week that stood, like an immense, immovable object, between her and his next visit. Mariam always held her breath as she watched him go. She held her breath and, in her head, counted seconds. She pretended that for each second that she didn't breathe, God would grant her another day with Jalil."
Despite her mother's anger and rantings against Jalil, Mariam was a small child hopelessly longing to be with her father. You will suffer with her as she learns that everything her mother warned her about is true. Her father is ashamed of her and she is a disgrace. Her life alone with her mother is the best her life will ever be, at least in the first portion of the book. As part I draws to a close her mother has already committed suicide and her father has forced her to marry a fat, smoker, near his fifties, though she is only fifteen. At first she is scared, homesick, and misses her mother but a slowly she begins to connect with her husband. She finds herself full of hope and love when she gets pregnant with her first child but it's shattered when she loses this child and eight more and her husband becomes abusive. In their four years together he has kept her isolated, unable to be friends with the woman in the neighborhood because they are "modern" and forces her to be covered from head to toe when she leaves the home. When he entertains his male friends, she must stay in her own room; she doesn't share one with her husband.
The second sticky is the last in part I and I've come to the point where she is completely incapable of doing anything that pleases her husband. She has been accused of being incapable of preparing a decent meal and ruined the rice. Her husband has strewn it everywhere and storms out. When he returns he forces her to chew a handful of pebbles, breaking two of her molars, to inform her of how badly her rice tastes.
"Good," Rasheed said, His cheeks were quivering. "Now you know what your rice tastes like. Now you know what you've given me in this marriage. Bad food, and nothing else."
I'm just about finished with part II and I promise it's a bit more hopeful than part I but in many cases, not. The the hopelessness of the history of this country is almost hidden in the background because of the powerful bonds the author shares with us. It's an amazing book and for a woman who isn't college educated or up to par on history, I'm smarter for it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Small Things Part III

Tyler has a "girlfriend" and we have a discussion every single day about this relationship. He's approaching fourteen and I set my expectations and boundaries very clearly. He is way to young and immature of mind and emotion to be holding hands and if I ever catch his lips on hers, his butt is mine! And, in my opinion, a true gentleman has the utmost respect for all girls and woman which is why when Tyler deleted one of Karli's favorite shows from the DVR list he was in big trouble. It's petty, immature, and disrespectful! TV is unimportant so I did have a chat with Karli about not getting so upset about it, it's just TV, it doesn't matter but for Tyler to take action just to spite her is unacceptable and not the way the Lord intended us to treat each other.
God's word is very clear, men and woman alike are to keep their eyes, thoughts, and actions pure. So, we talk about things every day so the boundaries stay clear and ensure he doesn't get too close to crossing them. Temptation is not fought while holding the cookie jar, you have to lay the temptation at the alter before you even get near the cookie jar.

Without giving away all our secrets, Tyler understands that he will reap in his marriage what he sows as a young man. I've been teaching him to open the door for me, for his sisters, and I encourage him to treat Jessie the same way. To carry her books and/or backpack and to know that he can be a true gentleman without crossing those boundaries. In the end, she will respect him more for this. We talk about how girls might behave if they don't feel loved at home to ensure that he and Jessie both are not seeking false intimacy and love in places outside the home. When he asks if he can go the movies with her, it's a rhetorical question because he already knows the answer is absolutely not. He knows he won't be wondering around the mall with her, or any of his friends for that matter, any time soon. I will allow him to attend a dance after school for now. But, when it comes to high school, you bet your bottom dollar I'll be a chaperon! The principles and foundation of a Godly relationship and eventually marriage have been clearly defined for Tyler since birth and I trust that when he achieves the age of maturity he'll be capable of making good decisions. Let's be honest though, teens are completely incapable of determining consequences and it's my responsibility as a good parent to form guidelines and boundaries to keep him from being faced with temptation that he is just not mature enough to handle. I'm not yet confident in his ability to say "no" to certain things yet; not because I don't trust him but because he just isn't ready.
Last week, Tuesday he informed me when he came home without his sweatshirt that it was because Jessie was wearing it. "She was cold" is all he said. Well, being that I'm teaching him to be a gentleman and all, I actually think it's okay but I could be wrong here. So later he tells me "I learned that each person has their own unique scent. Jessie said I smell good and it's not the Axe mom, so maybe it's that, maybe she's attracted to me because of my unique smell." Ah, yes, the small things, the small moments. I do adore them. I think he's just cute as a button although, he'd die of embarrassment if he ever heard me say that. For now, I find it to be harmless and having been a teen myself, not all that long ago, I'm happy with the boundaries we've got in place. I think we've given Tyler enough freedom to be himself but not enough room for him to make mistakes that can't be undone. Not to mention, the hubs has a really keen sense when things are off or wrong so that combined with prayer and mother's intuition leaves me feeling pretty confident in my decisions. I find it funny though, there are some that will have the opinion that I'm way to harsh and still, others who think Tyler shouldn't even be allowed to consider a relationship with a female at this point in his life. But, for our family, I think we've found a balance and as long as the hubs and I are in agreement, what more could I ask for? I do have a sneaky suspicion though that raising a teenage boy is going to be a cinch compared to my girls. I wonder if I'll still appreciate those small moments then? Wonder if the hubs will? My poor hubby, I don't think he has a clue what he's in for! The hubs has been telling me for years "don't sweat the small stuff." I think I've arrived, but there could soon be a day when I'll be giving him a dose of his own medicine. Let's hope not.
Tyler is struggling a bit in school, still getting acclimated to the new school, finding his place there and building upon the friendships he's made this year. His grades have slipped a bit. Tyler just got his braces on Tuesday followed by a fresh haircut. I'm hoping that combined with a new season of sports and more extra curricular activities that his self esteem will be boosted over the next couple of months. He plans to try out for the football team to play in high school next week which I think is a great idea. The team practices and works out in a weight room all summer. So if he's a part of the team then on that first day of school he'll feel more confident, will have formed stronger bonds with friends and made some new ones. So hopefully he'll enter that first day already feeling like he's a part of something. I'm a firm believer that the more involved kids and parent's alike are in school the easier it is for kids to feel free to be themselves and feel accepted by others and the bonus of that is, better grades! It took me until my thirties to not be hung up on other people's opinions and not care whether I belonged or not so I don't expect him to get it at this point. I remember all to well how tough high school really can be.
My husband will continue to keep Tyler in prayer and seek the Lord's divine intervention to help him seek healthy friendships, to feel confident, and perform well academically.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Small Things Part II

There are tons more small things like the way Mallory squished herself onto the dining room chair with Tyler to eat her ice cream and he didn't mind. The way I caught Mallory in my rear view mirror checking out the scenery out the window and fiddling with her hat. I love watching each of them, when they don't they're being watched. The way Hailey goes from child to child each morning confirming they are still her "best friend." The way Tyler rides his bike up on the days Karli stays after school for book club so Faith doesn't have to walk home alone. They way Faith helped me make dinner, had no idea what she was doing, and it still tasted good. The noodles were totally stuck to the bottom of the pan though. And, the way she asked if there was anything she could do to help clean up, even though she helped me make it.

One thing I often don't appreciate is how ridiculously long it can take Karli to get something done. Tuesday after book club we had dinner and between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. she had to get her room cleaned up, put her clean clothes away, and make sure she got done any homework she had. Her room wasn't really messy, her bed needed to be straightened a bit and she had a few items of dirty clothing on the floor, no biggie. I know how ridiculous it is for a child to straighten her bed before she sleeps in it but whatever, leave me alone. She didn't have any pressing homework, just working on a few things that are due later in the week, I love that about her, but it still took her all three hours to do it. I'm a zip, zip, boom, boom kinda person that doesn't mess around so I can't relate to this poky mentality of hers but I'm really starting to appreciate our differences and encourage her to do it her own way. This makes it very hard for me to not lose my cool when it's five minutes before we need to leave for school and she's still in her p.j.'s and she's been up for an hour and a half. But, I love her and everything doesn't have to be done the way I would do it. Seriously though, she does keep a hairbrush in her backpack because she almost always has to brush it on her way to school. Sheesh!

A bit more on Tyler tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The end of my childhood...

Writer's Workshop, sponsored by Mama Kat.

Well, I guess it comes to no surprise that, that moment would be when I was the ripe old age of seventeen and gave birth to my first child. Yeah, yeah, I’ve chatted about it from time to time here on the good ole’ blog so you all already know how young I was. But, I thought I’d delve a bit deeper here.
Although we didn’t attend the same high school, I still consider the hubs to be my high school sweetheart because well, I was in high school after all. One summer the not-the-hubs (at the time) was expected in the Washington D.C. area for a family wedding and decided he wanted to bring me along. The week before, I was expected to go on vacation with my family; camping in Tennessee. So the not-the-hubs came with me on my family vacation; sounds like a good plan for a sixteen-year-old in love no? Anyway, we camped with my family then took a Greyhound to the D.C. area. It’s about an 8 hour drive that literally took 24 on that God forsaken bus! Not fun times I tell ya. I’m positive that vacation is what clinched our future together, okay it’s when Ty was conceived.
Skip ahead to the fall of 1994, I was in my senior year of high school and just broke the news to the not-the-hubs. That same night I HAD to tell my mom. I’ve never really been very good at keeping secrets. Apparently, it wasn’t a secret at all, she knew before I did and was just waiting for me to tell her. Dad who was already sleeping was stirred and knew something was up, but mom covered for me until the next day. So dad gets home from work the next day and we decide we need to fill him in. We ask him to sit down and he says, of all things, “what for, she about to tell me she’s pregnant or something.” Uh, yeah dad, you stole my punch line!
My parent’s made it clear this is not what they had hoped for but I had their full support behind me. My mother-in-laws reaction has been erased from my memory. I can’t honestly remember a thing she said. But, she was nice to me, supportive when we got married and she’s always been one to tell me like it is, none the less, I’m sure she felt the same as my parent’s. It wasn’t so much what they said but let’s be real, this was their worst nightmare!
There was a lot of nausea, a wretched kidney infection that kept me in the hospital for a week and out of school for the remainder of the pregnancy (my doctor was a saint), lots of nights begging Todd to stay instead of running free with his friends, one really bad Chinese dinner where it wasn’t just nausea, and a couple of baby showers. I got so thin in the beginning, the girls at school started to tell me I looked good! If only they knew!
While lying in that hospital bed, the not-the-hubs proposed to me and asked if he could be the hubs. It was Valentine’s Day. So Tyler was born in May, I graduated high school (with honors might I add) in June, and we were married in August of 1776, I mean 1995.
I will never forget the instant, unequivocal, unconditional love I felt for that boy and still do today, both of them actually. Todd was quickly ushered out of the room before his head hit the floor but he returned shortly. He didn’t leave the room quick enough though because dad who was waiting very impatiently outside the door had been informed that the baby was born so he thought he’d let himself in. For you moms, having just given birth no more than three minutes ago, having your dad storm the room is not the perfect timing. Thank God for those sheets that hung in front of the doors! Shew, my dad was spared a lifetime of his own nightmares.
Tyler was perfect but, my butt was still huge, I felt like the” well” that fed the kid would hurt for the rest of my life, and I just may never be able to sit again. But, Tyler was perfect. Our parent’s were perfect, except for when they overstayed and/or turned a short visit into a houseful of guests which often included a meal as well. They did it out of love though, this I know.
My fiancé’, our new baby, and I lived in the basement at my parent’s house until after the wedding when we bought, you guessed it, a double wide! Actually, it was only a single but I couldn’t resist. My life sounds like a country song for pete sake! It was our home and we really loved it. Too bad that was all we loved. The rest really isn’t even worth mentioning because it was just pure misery. Fighting over who’d change the diaper, I worked, Todd didn’t. We had no idea what the heck we had gotten ourselves into and we were a hot mess. This was definitely the most trying time of our marriage. I wanted to quit and throw in the towel each and every day. I thank Jesus daily for Todd’s persistence, strength, patience, and perseverance. I also thank Him daily for finally getting a hold of our lives. I can just imagine the mess it would be had we been left to our devices.
Tyler was a strong-willed little bugar from the very start. Full of life and energy and the eagerness to touch everything he was supposed to. To find out what all the rules were so he could intentionally break em’ all. Thank God that all changed after he turned five. Since then he’s been such a sweet boy with a sweet spirit and a tender heart. He’s been one we could always talk to. Enforce consequences when he breaks the rules but he responds quickly and reverts back to the proper path. He truly is a good boy. He’s naïve for his age, not a bit street smart at all, and I think he’ll always be a mama’s boy. I don’t mind a bit!

The Small Things

When I first left my full time job years ago to stay at home with the kids, I was anxious, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, and really lacked the confidence that it could even really be done. I thought for sure I would screw them all up and in some ways, I'm still afraid I have. The hubs worked 12 hours per day, 7 days per week. I won't lie, the days were looooong; I couldn't wait for Todd to get home. The weekends, worse. I spent a lot of weekends hanging out at my parent's house so I could still at least be surrounded by other adults. Mind you, at this point, I just had Tyler, Faith, and Karli and the idea of having another, let alone twins, was non-existent! It just wasn't gonna happen people!

I realize now in looking back, I was young and naive and all that propaganda but the bigger picture is I was selfish. I didn't want to put for the effort it took to play games, to keep them from arguing, to give them an outlet to release their energy, and I sure didn't want to cook dinner. I didn't mind doing everything else that was necessary around the house and at the time, I even preferred it to getting on the floor with my kids.

With the birth of the twins, after the fear of never shutting my eyes again disappointed, I was so full. I had so much peace and so much joy. We had very little in terms of a house and fortune and well, not much has changed there, but the Lord has been faithful to supply our every need and we really have what's most important, a strong bond, a biblical foundation and Christ as the center of our lives. Over the years, I have become more and more domesticated, as the hubs likes to put it. I take the brunt of the responsibility for almost everything that makes our home function. I'm the wife and mom and really am aware that ministering to my family is the calling that is first and foremost in my life. Don't get me wrong though, the hubs is pretty fantastic and very reliable, even in a pinch.

The more I pray for my husband and children, the more I am filled with this supernatural love. An even bigger desire to care for each of them, to spend time with them, and notice and appreciate all the small stuff. The joy of the Lord is truly my strength. My eyes have been wide open lately, so I thought I'd share a few of the small things with you. I think I'll have to break it into a few posts though because there's a lot.

Saturday, it was just the girls and I, the hubs was at school and Tyler spent the day with my brother and sister-in-law. We headed to Sam's Club to do our grocery shopping. We headed first toward the restroom and walked past a lady handing out samples. She asked Hailey if she wanted it and if she liked peanut butter and chocolate. Hailey was being shy, so she said no. The lady thought Hailey must have come in on a spaceship, and said nearly as much to her. Faith walked away saying "oh nice, nice thing to say to a child, that was inappropriate." She's so protective but it fills my heart. So, as we continue to the restroom Hailey hears this lady continue to go on about her sample and says "it taste like a candy bar." I caught her saying this earlier when we first entered but didn't catch the second time around but Hailey must have because she said quietly to herself "candy bar, I should've said yes." It still cracks me up today. She's such a funny girl! So I didn't take her to get a sample of the candy bar/energy bar thing they were giving out but they did have some samples of strawberry shortcake whipped up that she loved. My girls LOVE shopping on the weekends because they always leave full. It's a thing about Sam's Club they picked up from Grandma Ofiara. Yeah, we're a goofy bunch. It is such a
small moment and would have gone unnoticed this time last year but I'm grateful for the small things.

It is praying for each other that really connects us and I'm so glad to finally have the full revelation of that in my life.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tagged and a miracle event

Tagged by Love's Story!
Here's how it works:
1. Go to your Picture Folder on your computer or wherever you store your pictures.
2. Go to the 6th Folder and then pick the 6th Picture.
3. Post it on your bloggy and tell the story that goes with the picture.
4. Tag 5 other glorious peoples to do the same thing and leave a comment on their bloggy tellin’ about it.

This is a moment from the annual banquet for Crossroads Crisis Pregnancy Center her in Rochester, MI. I had the pleasure of having my name dropped in a hat when they were looking for a photographer for their annual Walk-a-thon this past summer and I was asked to come back to photograph the banquet. The annual banquet is a big fundraiser for the center and they had over 750 guests! It was an amazing and blessed event. The key-note speaker was none other than, Nick Vujicic!

You can read Nick's story here: http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/.

And watch this incredible Youtube video here...

Nick is a phenominal man of God and a true blessing to every person he encounters!

The Crossroads Crisis Pregnancy center's work is so important to me because of how my family began. I was fifteen when I met my husband and we began to date. At the age of sixteen, I came home with him one evening to inform my parent's that they were expecting their first grandchild. Married at the age of seventeen and the rest, as they say, is history.

I can't explain why, but abortion was not an option for me. But, this isn't the case for so many woman and teens who face the trauma of an unexpected pregnancy every day in this city, state, and across the country. I had two warm and supportive families to turn to, mine and Todd's. When they say "it takes a village" it isn't merely a cliche. I'll continue to contribute my prayers, time, and talents to an orgization that is so near and dear to me and stand alongside them as they nurture one soul at a time.

The center is in existance for this reason...

They are an organization of people who care about you! As an organization of concerned Christians, they are committed to helping you deal with the critical life issues surrounding your pregnancy. Whether you are single or married, whether your pregnancy was planned or not, whether this is your first pregnancy or not, they are there to help. They offer physical, emotional, and spiritual support to all regardless of marital status, religion, gender, age, or race.
The trained staff and volunteers can provide you with:
Pregnancy testing
Limited ultrasound
Pregnancy counseling
STD Information
Abortion Information
Fetal development information
Prenatal health care info.
Adoption information
Medical referrals
Childbirth and infant care training
Assistance with maternity and baby
clothing and other needs
and perhaps the most important,Post-abortion counseling

To make a donation to The Crisis Pregnancy Center click here: http://www.crossroadspregnancy.com/donor/.

So who do I tag...

Leslie over at My Happily Ever After.

Erica over at Talk a Walk in My Shoes.

Circle of Life.

Wendy at Everyday Miracles.

And, Melissa over at Home is your story begins.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Humble Beginnings...

My parent's took off nice and early for the airport this morning; they're headed for Okinawa, Japan. Man, I can't tell you how happy I am for them. I didn't grow up in a family where we traveled to amazing places or crossed continents so this is super huge for them. I have a younger brother in the United States Marine Corp. Ooohrah! Gosh, gets me every time! I can't talk about him without welling up. I'm just so gosh darn proud! Anyhoo, he is stationed in Okinawa with his wife Lisa, my niece Alyssa, and nephew M.J. (Murray John Young III, I know, amazing).

Both my parent's worked growing up; we were a typical working class family. We spent our winter and Easter breaks off school at the babysitters house; not Disneyland. I know, I'm so deprived, right! Actually, no. My parent's spent every dime they earned to clothe us and keep us in the extra curricular activities we chose like soccer, football, and dance. They attended every soccer and football game and as I got older and became a cheerleader they'd come watch me cheer and wouldn't dream of missing a competition for dance or cheerleading. We didn't travel much and when we did, we camped. So packing up the family, being allowed to bring a friend along, and stay a few days in Chicago for a dance competition was incredible. We didn't stay in hotels! And who cares if we brought along my loud cousin who was so proud of me you can hear her screaming my name in every single video. And who cares if she used to come with my mom to pick me up acting like a physically handicapped person to embarrass me. Not that being physically handicapped should be but I hope you get my point.

I couldn't appreciate just how much of themselves they put into giving my brothers and I everything we wanted. In last week's sermon, Pastor talked about how when you buy something you are giving a piece of yourself and your life away for it. You are trading a part of you to own something in return. Just like Christ did for us, he paid with his own blood for our salvation. They put their blood, sweat, and time away from us into their work in exchange for a paycheck then put all of the money they earned into giving us everything we needed, wanted, and then some. I truly didn't fully understand that until this morning thinking about how much this trip to Japan must mean to them. Not only are they going to visit their son and family whom they haven't seen in nearly two years but they are leaving the continent. That's just crazy to me.

I'm sure both my brothers would agree that our favorite memories of growing up include our camping trips and next in line is probably dinner time. We drove my mother crazy but we laughed until some of us peed or fell out of chairs. Sadly, mealtime with my own children is much the same, only, what's sad is it totally drives me nuts! You shouldn't screw around at the dinner table! And, wouldn't you know it, Dad is still the ring leader of the circus.

My bond, respect, honor, and appreciation for my parent's has grown leaps and bounds in recent months. I can't even articulate my thoughts properly. As a parent myself, I know now how much of themselves they have vested in us. Looking back, I've been a pretty ungrateful brat. And yet again, they have opened their hearts and home to us. Not do we just live here, but they insist it isn't their home but our home. And you know what, it is home. I know we are exactly where we are supposed to be for this season and there is so much grace upon us. Who knows mom and dad, you just might become born-again Christians! Yes, they believe in God but not religion, not that I blame them. I don't believe in religion either.

So it's no wonder that when my husband and I had to chose between our annual trip to Florida in March and a handful of weekends of camping this summer, we chose camping. The kids chose camping. Florida is amazing, it's my favorite place. Standing on the shoreline of the ocean in the warm air, and the sun on my face is absolutely my favorite place. It makes me so happy just thinking about it. Walks on the beach every morning, spending the day with the kids in a pool that has a temperature set at 90 degrees, sunsets, eating out, shopping, sand castles, and watching the kids play in the waves, and sadly the kids smashing the sand creations that others have left behind. Man, it's a priceless week. But this year we're going the humble route and we'll have just as much fun and create the kind of memories I have from my childhood.

Out of everything we've endured and lost and learned over the last 8 1/2 months, the camper is one thing we've held onto. The kids truly love it and the time we have in the parks away from home, tv, and video games. Not to mention, the marshmallows! It's been 8 1/2 months since our family has had some time to just hang out alone so Faith was kicking and screaming after my parent's left. She'll miss them but is really excited to see what it will be like with just our family in the house. Karli was in tears, Mallory and Hailey were just excited to get ahold of the markers they got yesterday, and Tyler I think was walking in his sleep. We all can't wait for them to arrive safely so they can call us on the web cam and we can see em' hanging out in Japan with my brother and his family. You know what else is really funny, of all the things my brother could have planned for them to do during their visit, they are going camping! My mom doesn't yet know she'll need some leaves and to search for the hole in the ground that serves as a restroom but oh well...kidding!

Murray, Lisa, Alyssa, M.J. - miss you and love you guys so much! Have a fantastic couple of weeks and soak it all in! Mom, Dad, be safe and may the Lord's protective angels keep you surrounded! Love you guys!

And I have to say to my brother Kevin and sister-in-law and friend Erica, that after what I've endured I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that everything will be okay! I'm equally as proud of the two of you. The Lord is faithful and all your dreams will come true! If I spend the rest of my life lifting you up in prayer, you will have it all! I love you both!

Muah! xoxo - Kari

Monday, March 2, 2009

Habby Birthday Hubs!

Today is Todd's birthday and I just wanted to share a bit of him with all of you today; a few of things I love most about him.

In reading through Mark this morning a scripture jumped out at me. It's one I've read before, blogged about before, and one that should set a standard of living for Christians. Mark 11:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. Todd definitely has a servants heart. I think it's the virtue that always stands out most in my mind when I think about Todd's character. He is truly selfless. In order to be a great leader you must first be a servant. My husband has clearly demonstrated this Christ-like character in our home and set a wonderful example for our son to follow.

But, what does the bible say about a virtuous man? Many of us know Proverbs 31 or have at least heard it once or twice; the virtuous woman but what about men. What does the Lord consider to be virtuous in a man?

A virtuous man will always accept the Lord's plan for his life. Todd and I have been through some pretty steep trials in our marriage and life and through the highs and lows he has been a solid rock. It does not mean he is without sin or that he's obtained perfection but he gracefully accepts his flaws and brings them to the throne.

I think because of Todd's attitude the Lord has always had an abundance of grace upon him. My dad likes to say "Todd is the only person I know who can fall in a pile of crap and come out smelling like a rose." As I grow older and even more so during this season of living with my parent's again, it's become abundantly obvious that this is the attitude my father has always had toward my mom.

A virtuous man will be know for his honorable character. Others will speak highly of the virtuous man's honorable character. They will respect him and his judgment. Even the unsaved will speak well of a godly man. They may not like what he stands for, but his honorable character will be known. He will be known for his honesty, integrity and his willingness to help others.

The virtuous man will control his eyes and thoughts against lustful glances and ideas, abstain from evil works, and will be willing for the Lord to examine his life. Willing to have his life open for inspection by God and man; knows the Lord will examine his every thought and action, and he acts accordingly. The virtuous man will not be controlled by his heart's desires. Todd does not follow his heart but leads it. Todd has dreams of his own but the weight of providing for his family first and foremost has caused him to be diligent and patient and unwilling to take unnecessary risks so that the Lord can bring those dreams to life in his perfect timing.

Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

The virtuous man will not work at getting even with those whom he feels has done him wrong. He will not be glad when trouble overtakes those he has had a conflict with. Todd will always be the first person in my complaints to stop me in my tracks and tell me to pray for them.

And finally, the virtuous man will not try to hide his sins. Todd will also tell you that the power of sin is in it's secrecy. Not only does he confess his sins to the Lord but he shares his secrets with me. Both of us as a couple have had many a conversation with other couples where we've shared our mistakes, our sins, and our pitfalls to help other couples work past their hardships. I guess this also goes back to accepting God's plan for our lives. Every trial we have endured, be it the Lord's will, due to submitting to temptation, or making mistakes, has shaped us into the people we are today. It's all a part of our testimony. There are things in our lives that make no sense but if it's something Todd or I must endure in order to help another down the line then it will have been worth it. The Lord uses everything in our lives for his glory, if we let him.

Todd is the spiritual leader of our home. He prays for me and for our children. He is an excellent provider and puts our needs above his own, always. Todd is a man of great character, a man of his word, and the most selfless person I've ever known. He is full of integrity, ambition, and charm. He can talk an Eskimo into buying ice cubes and leave the man feeling like he got the best deal in town and like he's made a new life long friend. Todd listens to what people around him are truly saying and guides them to the biblical principles that can help them and provides books and tools to help them along the way. If he knows a man whose marriage is in trouble, he doesn't jump on the complaint bandwagon with him, he'll uplift the man, his wife, and their marriage to help him see that it's worth fighting for. Yes, the hubs is an honorable and virtuous man. He sets a high standard and a solid godly example.

What I adore most about Todd is how deeply, unconditionally, and profoundly he loves; not just me but our children and those around us. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, kind, not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth win out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. These verses epitomize Todd's character in our marriage. And, I've gotta be honest with you, I have no idea how he's done it for this long and with such patience because Lord knows, I am not that virtuous. What's really awesome about him is, he'll read this and be like "whaaaaaaat????" he's so humble he has no idea just how awesome he is!

Thank you Todd for everything you are! Happy, Happy Birthday!