Chocolate covered peaches, Coca-Cola, and a Date-iversary

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareMemories #CollectiveBias

Happy Date-iversary #ShareMemories #ad

Music. It has such a powerful connection in our lives. As a recovering Band Geek, I really shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve known this since high school. Music is powerful. When you hear a few words or a couple of notes from a song and you’re instantly transported to another time, another place. It evokes strong memories. Some songs can make you cry. Others can make you dance like nobody’s watching. This Summer, Coca-Cola™ has tapped into the almost mystical connection we have with music by adding song lyrics to their bottles, inviting all of us to “Share a Coke and a Song.”

Share a Song Bottles #ShareMemories #ad

Twenty years ago this month, I was smitten. I’m still smitten, but everything was all brand-new in May of 1996. After an entire school year of pursuing her, I finally gathered up enough nerve to ask Christy out on a date. I don’t know what I was nervous about. For all practical purposes, we’d really been dating for the past several months. But nothing was ever “official.” So when the time came to actually ask her out, my heart skipped about three or four beats, my forehead gathered tiny drops of sweat, and my hands shook like they’d never shaken before. I was nervous.

Of course, she said yes. And so we went on our first official date twenty years ago this month. We didn’t have smartphones back then, so we don’t really have any photos to document the event. But I promise you, it was a memorable evening. We did the traditional date night: dinner and a movie. I honestly don’t remember what we ate, but I remember talking to Christy with such ease and comfort that it already felt like we’d known each other for years. It was an amazing dinner. Then we went to the movie. It was the animated one about a boy and a big-huge peach. It was…

well… Continue reading “Chocolate covered peaches, Coca-Cola, and a Date-iversary”

Love notes. They're not as tough as you think they are.

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How Do I Love Thee

Cards and love notes. Those are a big deal. Right? Well, they might not be a big deal for you, but they’re a pretty big deal for us. It all goes back to when we started dating almost 20 years ago. And while we don’t really give as many love notes to each other as we have in the past (after all, I’m no Casanova – remember?), I’ve discovered a few cool ways to share that you care through the written word.

I think the thing that keeps many people from sharing notes with each other is the misconception that you have to write some type of long sonnet similar to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. You really don’t have to write anything long. Or even profound. Sometimes the effort is the most important thing. It could be just as simple as one of my favorite poems:

The gift of a getawayRoses are red
Violets are blue.
Some poems rhyme
Some don’t.

Try it. Write your own. It might be more fun than you think.

Of course, you don’t have to try your hand at poetry. And you don’t have to write some long piece of prose that will sweep her off her feet. Sometimes, the simplest of notes will do. You can grab them from a a book of quotes about love. Or the Internet. Or the Bible. Or a combination of the three.

What if you can’t wait and want to give it a try right now? Well, you’re in luck. Here are a few quotes that would be perfectly suitable for a little love note. You can put it in a card. Or on some fancy stationery. Or on a sticky-note (or on a bunch of sticky-notes). Or you can text it sometime in the middle of the day. Or you can write it on a mirror.

No. Really. Get a dry erase marker and write something on the mirror. It wipes right off. And then you could write another note the following day. And the day after that. And the day after that. And I think you know what I mean.

And what is a kiss when all is done? A rosy dot over the “i” of loving. – Edmund Rostand

Love conquers all things: let us, too, give in to love. – Virgil

‘Tis you alone that sweetens life… – John Hervey

Look at you! You are beautiful, my true love. Look at you! You are so beautiful. Your eyes behind your veil are like doves. – Song of Solomon 4:1 (God’s WORD Translation)

Or you could copy Ms. Barrett Browning’s well-known love poem, Sonnet 43. It would probably take up the whole mirror if you decide to go that route.

These are just a few suggestions. I’m sure you can come up with your own. So what are you waiting for? Valentine’s Day? Well, that’s a good idea. I’m sure you can come up with some pretty spectacular notes for that special day. But why limit love notes to only one day a year?

I’m no Casanova. But we can do better, fellas.

Hearts

You might remember the series of  guest posts that I published a year or so ago. They were written in response to this question: “What’s the most romantic thing someone has done for you?” You, Dear Reader, responded . Some pretty awesome posts were written. Here they are, in case you’ve forgotten…

 

See? Pretty awesome stuff.

You know what wasn’t so awesome? The amount of times I was told, “I don’t think I can write thing. [Insert Name Here] isn’t into doing anything romantic. I’m lucky if I get a card for Valentine’s Day.”

Unfortunately, there have been several seasons in our relationship where Christy would say that about me. I have had a lot of great ideas for romantic gestures. I just…well…I haven’t been very good at following through and carrying them out.

I have always struggled with forgetfulness. And I’ve had a perpetual inability to follow through on things throughout my life. That kinda comes with the ADD territory.

Case in point:
2015-01-14_04-31-22

That book in the photo? I bought it for Christy as part of a “12 Days of Christmas” series of gifts that I gave her last year. My thinking was that I’d fill in a page each day for the next 50 days (because there’s 50 pages in the book). Pretty neat idea. Right?

It’s still blank.

Not because I can’t think of anything to write. I can think of tons of things to write. I can come up with countless words to talk about what I love about my wife. She’s pretty amazing. But I still haven’t sat down and filled in the blank spaces on that book.

I need to fix that.

I’ve managed to discover all kinds of tips, tricks, and methods to help manage my ADD and get things accomplished. I’ll probably share some of those at a later date.

Things like this book and dozens of date nights I’ve conjured up in my head? They still suffer from poor execution. Throw in our busy schedules, three kids, and a limited budget, date nights and other romantic efforts have been put on the back burner. It’s easy to do. Unfortunately.

I’m not making excuses here. I’m merely sharing my struggle. Because there really isn’t any excuse. So I’m preaching to myself as much as anyone when I say this. There’s a reason hotels come up with a Man Proof Package  where everything’s taken care of and a guy just simply can’t screw it up. There’s a reason a co-worker of mine, who used to work at a pharmacy, has already reminded me that Valentine’s Day is approximately one month away (she was always amazed at how many guys were in a panic searching for last-minute gifts on Valentine’s Day evening). There’s this stereotype that is floating around that most guys wouldn’t know romance if it slapped them in the face. Unfortunately, many of us have unintentionally reinforced that preconceived notion.

We can do better, fellas.

Simple Date Night IdeasLet’s do better. Let’s start working at making this stereotype obsolete. We can’t wait until the evening of Valentine’s Day to start dating our spouses. Because practice makes better.

As you know, I’m no Casanova, but I’ve recently come to realize that it doesn’t require a giant production with enough candles to burn the house down and enough roses to awaken the entire neighborhood’s allergies to have a memorable time with your significant other.  I’ve also discovered some simple date night suggestions that I’d like to share on this blog.  And I hope to share some fun ways to say “I love you” along the way, too.

I’d like to build a nice resource here. One that will be helpful throughout the year. So keep checking back as we work to shatter this stereotype.

A lifetime of romance [Guest Post]

Christy and I have known Jon and Cindy for more than a decade. Cindy was at the airport when we brought Mihret home. She took some pretty amazing pictures. They have a similar heart for orphans and adoption. Oh – and they happen to have just started another amazing adoption journey. You really should check out 2000 Tutus, which is their fundraising effort. Who knows? Maybe you’ll buy a tutu

or two.

See what I did there? 😉

Cindy wrote a great post about romance. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You might laugh some more. Enjoy. I know I did. Thank you, Jon and Cindy for sharing your story.

 

Cindy and Jon - 25th Wedding Anniversary

My husband and I started dating just before Valentine’s Day.  Twenty-eight years ago.  Wow. That sure sounds like a long time ago, eh? Before you categorize us as those old folks who are about to impart marital wisdom, though, don’t. First of all, we aren’t that old.  Just so you know, we ancient ones have a one-year-old daughter waiting for us on the other side of the world.  Secondly, while we’ve learned a thing or two about marriage and relationships, either of us will be the first to tell you that we’ve probably got a thing or two left to figure out.

So back to that first Valentine’s Day.  It was our first “official” date.  It was wildly romantic.  It included flowers and candy, my favorite Mexican food and the company of a handsome young man who seemed pretty taken with me, as well.  It was perfectly perfect.  It was the beginning of the two of us spending every opportunity together.   Within weeks we were talking about our future. Within months we were shopping for rings. And on the following New Year’s Day, he asked me to marry him. On a beautiful fall afternoon in 1988, we sealed the deal.  Husband and wife.  Till death do us part.  No take backs.  We were so ridiculously giddy.

What is the most romantic gift I’ve ever received?  I could never answer that in a sentence.  I could never qualify one thing as the most romantic.  How could I pick? That’s akin to choosing the most significant moment in my life.  ONE??  No way.  For the same reason, I resist personality tests.  I prefer questions that have only one answer.  The ones where it’s based on interpretation?

Kill me now.

I can tell you we’ve lived a lot of life in the past 28 years.  Army life, wartime deployment, infertility, cross-country moves, childbirth, unemployment, loss of parents, international adoption.  These are just the biggies.  Each of these is a chapter of its own. And, as in any good story, the chapters are interwoven, with one pivotal moment evolving into the next.  In between are the everyday moments that fill you with such emotion that a chapter wouldn’t contain your thoughts.  And then you find yourselves nearly three decades down the road.  There was definitely romance at the start.  So where’s the romance now?  Wait.  Refresh my memory.  What is romance?  I’ll admit it.  I looked it up.  On a side note, back in the day, that would have meant touching an actual book.  We are that old.   Blessedly, the internet is at my fingertips because I probably couldn’t even find that book in a reasonable amount of time.  Anyway, if we’re talking the textbook definition of mystery and excitement associated with love, then, as the cliché goes, how do you keep the romance alive over the course of a lifetime?   In that regard, I can say that romance has managed to maintain its presence in our relationship in the company of one or all of these things: commitment, forgiveness, a healthy sense of humor and a willingness to take a leap of faith here and there.  And anything that falls into any of those categories qualifies as the most romantic gift ever.

Jon and Cindy Martens wedding

Let me explain.  That mystery and excitement? It definitely ebbs and flows.  It’s easy to earmark the big ones.  Flowers on holidays.  Dinners out.  Breakfast in bed.  Sweet gifts.  It’s definitely flowing on those days.  But those other things take work and a daily effort to keep on keeping on.  And those other things help you to claim that romance on the days when it’s ebbing a bit.  Like that first week of married life where we thought it sounded romantic and adventurous to drive through the night to Fort Lauderdale.   Round about 2 am, we discovered we were not drive-through-the-nighters.  Reality washed over romance in an ebbing sort of way.  Or the first Valentine’s Day after we were married.  Remember, the bar had been set high, so I had pretty hefty expectations. My sweet budget-conscious young husband came home with a little bundle of grocery store flowers accompanied by a frozen pizza with a coupon on the box for free tickets to the latest John Candy movie, “Who’s Harry Crumb?” Um, we’re ebbing here. Or the year he brought me a new blow dryer because I’d mentioned I needed one. Thoughtful, but ebbs-ville, dude. Or the year we were too sick to even consider a romantic dinner out, let alone breathe through our noses, and curled up on the sofa with our fellow runny-nosed little ones.  Blew right past ebbing on that one.

But I can just as easily name the times the romance flowed that weren’t accompanied by a gift or romantic gesture.  The day we were baptized together, incidentally on Valentine’s Day of the year we were married. The time he stuffed a tiny black puppy under his coat with an air of permanence and headed to the register to pay for her.  The card he wrote to me on our tenth anniversary, listing a significant life event for every year.  The willingness to go with me to a concert he knew nothing about just to make me happy.  The way he didn’t run the other way when I told him I heard God speak to me.

Out loud, people.

The obedience to pray about my crazy idea.  The tears in my husband’s eyes the night I knew he was in it with me. The night of our 25th anniversary in a hotel room in Florida…on the one “only us” vacation we’ve taken since becoming parents…he made sure we took the time to complete and submit our adoption application for our second adoption and our fifth child.  Mystery and excitement associated with love? You bet.

I think the frozen pizza story may be my favorite marital anecdote. I was so annoyed at his seeming lack of romance at the time.  Now it just seems silly.  There have been plenty of days since I would have knocked someone over for a frozen pizza and free tickets to any movie, let alone flowers on top of it.  More than his sense of romance, it showed a lack of my own.  Being married is hard work.  As much as we love each other, some days, I dare to say it’s hard to like each other.  But it’s still for keeps. No take backs.  This is where the commitment, the forgiveness, the humor and the faith come in.  Those things filter out our imperfect human ways and leave the one gift that’s always perfect, love.  Now that’s romantic.

p.s. If you’re wondering how we’re celebrating this year?  We’re grabbing Qdoba take-out, lighting the fireplace and curling up in our pajamas with a couple of our kids to watch a movie.  And we’re using a coupon.

Will loves Heather. Heather loves Will [guest post]

Will, Heather, and their kids used to live next door to us. We enjoyed getting to know them during the short time we were neighbors. When I asked Heather if she’d write something in response to my question about romance, I knew she’d have something awesome to say.

Glad to know I wasn’t wrong.

You can find out more about Will and Heather’s journey by reading her blog. And if you have a story to tell, I’d still love to share it. It’s not too late! Just let me know and we’ll get things started.

Thanks again, Heather, for sharing your story!

Heather Loves Will

Matt asked me if I would do a guest post about something romantic that Will has done for me, I was quick to say yes. I then began thinking about our ten years, almost eleven, that Will and I have been together and it was harder than I thought to come up with something. I don’t know if I would call Will a romantic all the time, but at least he tries. 🙂

Grinstead wedding photo

When I look back on the years that we have been together, I can think of many ways that he has made a great effort to make me feel special. I remember for one anniversary. He put together a scavenger hunt with clues he made himself and each clue that I found had a rose waiting. The last clue was waiting at a nice restaurant with him waiting for me for dinner. I remember the time that he stayed up late working on a paper for one of his classes and I got up the next morning and opened the laptop to check email and facebook and found about 50+ sticky notes all stuck to the screen and keys with something he loved about me written on each one. (I still have them) I remember the time he searched the internet for recipes that he could make and he cooked me a candlelight dinner and it was actually amazing! I remember the times that when I would have a rough day with the kids, he would prepare a bubble bath for me with candles and soft music. I remember the morning that he made breakfast in bed for me. And the list could go on and on.

As I was thinking about our years together, I also remember the not so good times. For a younger couple, I feel like we have been through some things that not many can say they have been through for our age. We have faced the loss of jobs, infertility, the loss of a child, several moves, deaths, etc. What some couples would not make it through, we did and those things made us closer. We have had our bad times but we have also had some really good times. We have gone on trips and have have been really blessed by God. Some of our best times are currently sleeping soundly in their beds with their blankies and their favorite stuffed friends. Whenever we have a rough day or a day of uncertainty, we tend to take a look at our precious children and all the worry goes away. God answered our prayers for children, so we know that God hears our prayers even if we don’t get the answers when we think we should or if we don’t get the answers we want.

Grinstead family

As I took a trip down memory lane in my mind for this post, I realized something.

My husband of almost seven years doesn’t always have to be romantic. There is something that means more to me than any gift or any romantic evening he could put together. Something that this world is lacking and needs more of.

My husband is my husband.

Duh, right? No really. He fulfills everything that a husband should. He loves me unconditionally, he still gives me compliments, he is a GREAT father, he respects me in front of our children, he takes care of me,  he comforts me when my hormones rage and my mood can go from happy to sad in seconds, he still has that sparkle in his eye for me even if I have gained some pounds since we met, he protects me, he provides for me, and the most important…..my husband loves God.

To me, that is more important than any flower arrangement, dinner out, bubble bath, or breakfast in bed. A husband that loves and serves God is something this world lacks, and I am so glad that I have one of those rare finds. He prays, he makes sure we are always at church, he is a leader, and he truly has a servants heart.

So to my Valentine, I have loved you from day one through the good and they bad and the ugly. Yes, we get on each others’ nerves and sometimes we just need our space from each other, but my love for you gets stronger with each passing day as we search for where God would have us. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for always loving me for who I am and for always supporting me in my decision and crazy ideas. I am so glad you are the father to our children and that you love all of us unconditionally. I believe that God brought us together for a reason and I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with you. Here is to many more years together filled with love, laughter, tears, heartache, mountain-top experiences, and fun.

I love you, Will Grinstead for now and for always.

A guest post about Motherhood, Romance, and Yearbooks

Christy and I met Jason and Rachel around two years ago – just a few months after we moved to Greenwood. Whether we’re serving together in our church’s Children’s Ministry or hanging out in Life Group together, I’m happy to say that they have become good friends of ours. And in a pretty cool plot-twist, we share the same wedding anniversary as Jason and Rachel do. We were married just a few hours apart! Pretty spooky, huh?

I am honored that Rachel was willing to share part of their story with you. I’m not ashamed to say that I may or may not have needed some tissues when I read the end of this.

**This post is part of an ongoing series in response to this question“What’s the most romantic thing someone has done for you?” You have a story to share? Let’s hear it! Shoot me an email at mattdantodd[at]gmail[dot]com and let’s get it started!**

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In the world, every day, 361,481 babies are born. Many of them – the best estimates (more like guesstimates) I found are around 81% – will stay with one of their natural born parents. They will see their mothers for the first time on their birthday.  For the rest of us, the adopted ones, we may never meet those that gave us life.  That is unless you are married to this man!

Jason and Rachel Long

Meet Jason Long. He is a steadfast husband, consistent father, and great provider for his family. We were married on 8/15/1998 in the tiny church I grew up in, in Reelsville, IN. We made a home in Austin, Texas for several years while he finished college and I worked. My husband is many things; however, a Romantic? Yeah, not so much. He is kind, loving, passionate about University of Texas football, and supportive of the kiddos and I, yet I still wouldn’t call him Romantic…except this one time.

On April 26, 2000 I only became a mama for the first time. It was a girl! A dream come true! Yes, she was healthy. Yes, she was smooshy and succulent and kissable and MINE! Yes, she looked…

wait a minute…

she looked LIKE ME. ME!

This was, at the age of 25, the first time I met someone that favored me. My steadfast hubs (after almost fainting at the joy that is childbirth) noted this in his engineer brain and saved it for what would become a single gallant act of Romance.

Now you know the back story, fast forward three years. Now I am 28, I have two kiddos and we are 5 years into our marriage. I am contacted by my bio-mom’s sister (that is only 6 years older than me, another fun story for another day) and the ball is in motion to meet my bio-family. I am so excited, I can’t stand it!!!!

Thhhheeennnn tttthhhiiinnngggss sssllllooowww dooowwn.

Although Auntie and I are ready to meet, bio-mom is still dealing with the trauma of “giving-up” her only child, me. I was a source of pain to this person and that broke my heart. I decided to let it rest rather than push another person to confront their past. I would leave it, hence causing myself this empty melancholy that I didn’t know existed before I knew there was hope to see her.

The Hubs gets to stand witness to this ordeal. I hurt, so he hurts. When a man of his level of wonderfulness sees his beloved in pain, there is but one option, sooth her. He didn’t try to fix it, but did do all that is within his power apply a salve of kindness. Unbeknownst to me Jason took a day off of work and went to Franklin Central High School were my bio-mom had graduated from. He used his sly cunning (or he just asked nicely) to see the year books from the three years that surrounded my Bio-mom’s possible graduation date.  He found her. He copied every page that had her picture on it, every club, and every candid, all of them.

He got home early from “work” that day. We had dinner, we did baths, we did stories; no big deal. After the kiddos were snug in their beds, he came to the table to talk. Now, this usually meant I had forgotten a bill or we needed to cut back here or there, but tonight was different.

He pulled out a manila envelope and with love in his eyes and tenderness (and maybe a tad of fear, because, really, at this point, my reaction could go either way) in his voice explained what he had done that day and why he had done it. He slid the envelope to me and I looked upon the second face that looked so much like mine. Tears were in abundance and I have never before and never since felt more “romanced” by someone then right in that moment.

Bravo, Jason, Bravo!

 

What is Love? [Guest Post]

What is Love Guest post

I met a little more than a year ago when she accused me of cheating with my chocolates. Me. Little ol’ sweet, innocent me. A cheater? Impossible. I still argue that I just looked so pathetic that the kind lady couldn’t help but notice that I needed help boxing those chocolates, but I guess I can see her point. You could say that I might have had an unfair advantage. But since all of us got to take some chocolate home, I think we were all winners that evening. So I’m pretty sure we’re past that controversy.

I really appreciate the thoughts Liz (@eternallizdom) shares on her blog, Eternal Lizdom. So I was excited when she agreed to write a guest post in response to my question, “What’s the most romantic thing someone has done for you?” I’m sure she’d love to hear what you have to say about her thoughtful response to this question. Feel free to either leave her a comment on this post or contact her via email at gentlemomlc [at]gmail[dot]com.  Thank you, Liz, for writing such a great response!

What about you? If you’d like to tell about something romantic someone has done for you, I’d love to share your story! Shoot me an email and we’ll get the ball rolling.

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What is the most romantic thing someone has done for you?

Eternal Lizdom

That’s a hard question to answer. While my mushy side sometimes wishes for grand gestures of demonstrative love like flowers and chocolates and fancy date nights and serenades, I have to say that I haven’t had a lot of that Hollywood type romance in my everyday real life. My husband’s proposal didn’t have a production crew and will never go viral on YouTube. No one leaves rose petals on the steps and we never light candles because we seem to always lose our matches.

I do remember a boyfriend when I was in high school that I accused of not having a fun and spontaneous side when he scoffed at our double date friends and I for dancing around in a public park wading pool at 10 p.m. When I challenged him and told him that if he really loved me he would jump in with us, he not only jumped in but laid down in the water. I have to admit to being pretty impressed.

But that relationship didn’t go anywhere. That love wasn’t really Love.

I’ve been married to my husband, Jeff, for 10 years now. I think we’re a pretty standard family. We live in the suburbs. We have 2 kids. We both work full time. We’re involved in our church. We pay our bills on time. We go to doctor and dentist appointments and meetings with teachers and play dates and kid events and activities. We try to schedule time for a date night when we can but that only seems to happen once every few months. We support each other in our individual interests (for me, it’s going out to dinner with friends and for him, it’s participating in Star Trek Attack Wing tournaments). We watch TV and sometimes have a movie night and we both like to read. We eat out more than we should and we’re both terrible about cleaning the house.

And I think all of that is about as romantic as it gets. For me, all of that adds up to something that is the most important thing and that’s choosing love every single day.

I believe that love is an action word.

When my husband clears the snow from my car, that’s love.

When I remind him to take his medicine, that’s love.

When he does the dishes or takes out the trash, that’s love.

When I cook dinner, that’s love.

When we have a disagreement and snip at each other and then we kiss and make up, that’s love.

There are few things better in my life than holding his hand or feeling his arms around me. We laugh together, sometimes at strangely inappropriate times. We find each other attractive – the “spark” is certainly not lacking. I know that he is plugged in to our family, he is committed to me and to our kids and to our marriage.

So it might not be something I can show off or something flashy or something that will go down in any books of romantic history. The most romantic thing someone has done for me? It’s my husband choosing to love me and making love an action each and every day.

That’s SO romantic!

Romantic Sunset
I haven’t always been the best at planning things for our anniversary. One year, I had to work second shift at the candy warehouse. Another year, I thought it would be kind of romantic to run a wedding rehearsal on our anniversary. Not sure what I was thinking about that one. We’ve gone out of town for a few anniversaries and those were fun. But those were generally BK.* I’m always open to great ideas that I can steal use.

There are tons of websites written by women for women about amazing date ideas and nifty knickknacks someone can make for her hubby and they’re oh-so-adorable (you have to imagine me saying that in the highest-pitched voice imaginable), but they really don’t help many guys come up with romantic ways to woo their significant others.

OK….they don’t help me. I’m just projecting here and assuming they aren’t much help to other guys, too. And most of the romantic tips I’ve read for guys talk about doing the dishes and taking care of the kids and stuff like that. I get it. That’s a great thing to do. But doing the dishes doesn’t qualify as celebrating your anniversary.

Does it?

Romantic Cafe

This has gotten me to thinking. I know. Scary proposition.

Surely there are some romantic dudes (am I allowed to say that word?) who read my blog. And if not, surely there are some ladies who have had romantic things done for them.

So let’s hear about them!

Guys: what’s the most romantic thing you’ve done?

Ladies: what’s the most romantic thing someone has done for you?

This is a perfect time to show off! You can share your experiences in the comments if you’d like. Please keep it PG, though. If it’s something really special, you’re more than welcome to write a guest post. Just email me about it and we’ll hammer out the details. Who knows? Maybe we could start a series or something.

heart

And no, I’m not fishing for ideas for our anniversary. I already have that taken care of, thankyouverymuch.

*BK = “Before Kids.” But you probably already figured that out.

Book Review: Tender Warrior

In a day like ours when books written to men roll off the presses like cheeseburgers coming through a driv-through window, Tender Warrior is a piece of aged and tender New York steak, seared to perfection and sizzling with juices that confirm just the right splash of seasoning.

Tender Warrior

The quote above, from Steve Farrar, presents a tall order for Tender Warrior, by Stu Weber. Because of this glowing recommendation, I chose to receive a review copy of this book with a heightened sense of anticipation. After all, who doesn’t love steak?I must say that after reading that quote, I had some pretty high expectations for this book. Maybe my expectations were too high. Don’t get me wrong. Tender Warrior is a decent book. I’d probably even say it’s a good book. But I was hoping to be able to say “If you only buy one book about how to become a godly man, this is the one. All others pale in comparison. I’m planning on giving it away as Christmas presents to every man I know.” In some ways, this book feels like any other book about biblical manhood that’s come out in the last twenty years. Because of that, it fails to live up to the expectations I had about the book. I readily admit that they might have been unrealistic expectations. But that didn’t stop me from walking away from the book a little disappointed.Maybe it’s because I felt a little bit like he was conducting eisegesis instead of exegesis when dealing with passages of Scripture. It felt like Weber took an experience of his own, gave it a scriptural allusion, then turned it into a universal truth. I especially felt this way when he discussed Adam and Eve’s experience. Of course, this isn’t limited to Tender Warrior. It’s a practice that is all too common in books about biblical manhood. It’s unfortunate that it’s also all too common in preaching in American churches, too.Even though I feel uneasy with some of the universal declarations that Weber makes, there are two sections of this book that I really do believe every man must read. The first is in one of the chapters where he discusses loving his wife. In it, he says this:

A woman….needs to know she is the top priority in her man’s life. In the early years of our marriage, I tended to look at my wife as my “partner.” I sang bass, she sang soprano. I was playing right guard, she was playing tackle. She was my executive assistant. She was my fellow worker. She was my fellow soldier. She was my wingman. But a woman doesn’t want to be a wingman. She doesn’t want to be a tackle. She doesn’t even want to be a junior “partner” in all your endeavors. She wants to be in your heart and soul. She wants to hear it from you and see it from you.
p. 138, emphasis added

So many of us have a misunderstanding of what it means to leave your family and cleave to your wife. We think a marriage is a partnership, just like described above. Weber helps set things straight about what that means. It takes effort. It’s not something that comes natural. I definitely need to work on that. You probably do, too.

The other area where Tender Warrior is strongest is when he talks about finding others to walk the journey with you.

Real men stand together. We need to start thinking that way. Real men need one another. Real soldiers love each other. p. 189

The warrior in us wants to be strong and needs to be strong. But we don’t want to admit to any chinks in our armor. We don’t want to admit to any vulnerabilities – the very element that is essential for true friendships. … Friendship requires honesty. Friendship requires trust. So it also – no way around it – requires vulnerability. I think that’s the bottom line of this no-friends syndrome among us men. And it’s spelled P-R-I-D-E. p. 188 & 189 – Author emphasis

I think this is where, on a whole, American churches have failed men. We’ve allowed a misrepresentation of manhood to continue to live in our communities of faith. There’s an unspoken (and maybe even spoken) teaching that to be a real man means you need to put on some type of front, proving how masculine you really are. We still encourage the “warrior” aspect of manhood in our churches, but how often do we really encourage tenderness? How often do we really encourage community amongst men? I know we say that’s what we need, but how do we try to foster that kind of community. Here’s what I see in a lot of our communities of faith: a bunch of guys who have no idea what it means to be the man God created them to be. And so we pretend instead of learn from each other. We go at it alone instead of learn to lean on and count on each other.

There’s a crisis in our country and there’s a crisis in our churches. No one knows what it means to be a man. So we’re all trying to figure it out on our own instead of learning from each other. And that’s where Weber really hits the nail on the head. The book is worth the read just for this chapter alone.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for an honest review.