Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fibular Hemimelia - Portrait of a "Real" Man

One day it occurred to me that in all the blogs, he hasn't had much space.


 He will probably more than likely kill me for the above picture, but I think it's pretty great.

Chip Ingram has a lecture series called "House or Home" in which he paints a picture of what a "real" man looks like as opposed to the not so flattering ... not so responsible ... not so godly images of men plastered in the media. I suppose it's hard to be a man ... especially in 2012.  Today, a man is defined less by his morality and more by his check book ... not to mention his appearance, his golf swing, or his female conquests.  What's a man to do?  Well, my man (I know you're grinning by now) uses the Bible as his mirror and not the world --and the result is a pretty good lookin' guy!

When he married me in 2003 after quite a fabulous, albeit whirlwind courtship, I'm not so sure he knew what he was in for!  Now don't get me wrong, he was a gentleman to be sure.  On our second date, which happened to be my birthday, he asked, "The sky's the limit; where shall we go?"  Seeing as it was my 29th birthday and I had already begun the list of things to do before old age set in (you know, 30!), I picked something from my list!  I responded, "I want to see the Mississippi River --and my only catch:  you've gotta have me home in time for Sunday School!"  After an eight hour drive to Nashville, I could just make out the River through the darkness.  What could I see for sure?  This guy in his faded baseball cap and shined up pick up truck was sweeping me right off my feet!  Four months later ... we ran away, Vegas style, and just got hitched!  (Oh, and by the way, he got me home in time for church.)
(Can you see that big grin --and the fact that he's peeking during the prayer --now that's a real man!)

Fresh from the plane and the Excalibur Wedding Chapel, life got complicated.  The Mississippi man became step-dad --and this little guy:


who was busy taking care of his Momma:  

came with a list of challenges from the start.

Most people, I don't image, expect the kind of  challenges we faced that first year of married life!  God knows what we can handle with Him --and what we need to experience in order to grow in His likeness --and that year certainly provided much opportunity to grow!  Six weeks after the wedding, Josh was diagnosed with a brain mass; five months after the wedding, I found out we were expecting Ethan; and eight months after the wedding, Freddie was diagnosed with the exact same brain mass as Josh.  Yep, two brain surgeries and a baby (who we would soon find out came along with quite a few challenges of his own, too)!
Now, do I think it's pretty crazy that Freddie and Josh would, within six months, both be diagnosed with a cavernous angioma?  Yes, that's an understatement and what the doctors called pretty astronomical odds.  It certainly put life into perspective and my love and need of them both was (and is) overwhelming.  More than anything, however, this time in my life was the beginning of my dependency on the Lord --and my realization that His plans, despite my finite understanding of them, are always best!

When real men get married, they do it for life; they allow those vows to resonate.  Because sometimes it's not health, it's brain tumors or fibular hemimelia; and more often than not, it's poorer rather than richer --at least in terms of finances. We have made what God calls a covenant --an unbreakable promise --like the one Christ made to return for His church --and it simply can't be broken.  I can read some of your thoughts --that's quite a risky thing to say in print --on the Internet --that's kinda like writing with a Sharpie.  Well, our marriage is written in permanent ink because that man of mine --he's first of all, a child of His --the one who established marriage, who knew it wasn't good for us to be alone.  And every day when He loves us and He forgives us, He reminds us of the definition of UNCONDITIONAL love --and He gives us the strength and courage and perseverance to love each other despite ourselves --because it's not about ourselves --it's about HIM!

It doesn't take real men long to fall in love, not only with their wives, but with their children, too.  Suddenly, improving his golf swing became replaced with improving his T-ball swing instead.

Oh, and when that little girl came along ... all that was left of his heart was simply surrendered!  Admittedly, he has the ability to take her from this little princess:

 To this tough little football fan (How 'bout them Cowboys!):

A real man has muscle --and my man has used his mightily this year.  Not only has he carried a little boy in a fixator and now in a cast, but he has certainly carried me.  He has carried me through doubt and fear and sadness and joy and never once complained of an aching back. Over the last 8 years, I have watched him carry the weight of a youth ministry at church --and at home. I've listened to him read the Bible to our children and other people's children too many times to count and heard countless prayers in a youth filled church classroom and in our children's small bedrooms, too.   That's right --real men pray; real men study; real men repent; real men recognize their need for help from the only One who can fill them with strength so that they, in turn, can strengthen their wives and children, too!

If you haven't figured it out yet, I love this man.  I prayed for him specifically --for a man who would first love God and then love me and Josh (we were a package deal)!   He has been with me from this:

to this:

to this today:
(I need to remind him of the grin from the wedding picture!)

 If you are blessed enough to have a real man, thank God for him, encourage your sons to be like him, stop nagging him and start supporting him through submission, pray for him --for he will stand before God one day to give an account of the way he's directed your family.  Chip Ingram said that when he was a child, his heroes were firemen and policemen and doctors --men who did heroic deeds and saved lives.  Today, our boys idolize rock stars and basketball players --men who've figured out how to get paid for playing well.  My boys, however, have a hero in the house --and it's not on the television.  He's God's Warrior, a husband, a father, a son, a son-in-law, a brother, an uncle, a teacher, a friend, a REAL MAN! (now be careful ladies, he's mine!)