See that purdy thang right there? Well, they both are purdy, but I am focusing more on the beautiful lady. Yes, her! Why she would be my beautiful mother-in-love. Gorgeous, right? That’s obvious, but not my point here. That beautiful women right there celebrated a WONDERFUL birthday over the weekend, but you wouldn’t believe me if I told you her age. I promise. (She’s found the fountain but she hasn’t shared it yet. I’ll keep you posted.) Anyways, the big surprise was all six (yes, SIX) of her boys heading in from all over to surprise and celebrate the one lady responsible for loving and raising them. Really, responsible for so much of their lives (then and now). Awesome, right? Yes, the idea was just splendid and MORE THAN deserved. Goodness, more than. Well, in the end it was executed perfectly, but missing one thing: my husband. He did not go, GASP, but stay with me. He had reasoning. Although trust me, I panicked too.
For weeks these boys, well they planned and planned. Joshua added in his two cents, stay along for the ride, but inside, he said all along he felt like it was the wrong call. Not in general, but for our family, for our current season, for him… as a dad and my husband. But he ignored God’s tugs for fear of disappointing his mom, his parents, and his brothers. Joshua is not one to disappoint. This man is a wee bit of a perfectionist and his heart ALWAYS wants to keep peace and happiness for everyone- even if it has meant over the years ignoring God and himself. A journey I am JUST discovering from him. A journey he is walking currently.
So, rewind to Thursday night (the day before said departure) when Joshua comes home from work and tells me that he isn’t going. Ummm, all of the wives and DILs are with me when I responded immediately, through sarcastic (this is just crazy) chuckles, that he was… Welp, that didn’t work. He didn’t budge. He instead said he was telling the others. Okay, now, cue my desperate tears. (Crying always works, right, ladies? DON’T deny it. We’ve all gone there in our desperation. I was desperate.) I didn’t understand why, I didn’t want to get blamed, and I didn’t want hurt feelings ANY WHERE. People pleaser much? I insisted it was too late. Yet he started to explain why, which in the end was for all of the right reasons, so while I was still horrified on how it would play out, I calmed my sobs and uttered my support for him. Y’all, this was HUGE. My husband is not a rift creator. He isn’t one to step out from a crowd. He is NOT ONE TO SAY NO, especially if it could upset people. Ugh, truth: we both are awful at that, and our marriage has suffered, it has. So, while I was shocked by this “new” stance, I was also proud. I knew it wasn’t Joshua, it was God in Joshua, which was why he showed no fear or regret. He wasn’t doing it to hurt or disappoint, he was doing it because it was what was right, for us, for his family.
Now, why did Joshua make a different choice, especially so late. The truth, from his mouth, was he felt he needed to step out from the beginning, but he kept silencing it. Why would he need to step out from celebrating his sweet mama’s birthday? Well, because we, his family, had just had one of those “months”. You know the type, where “when it rains, it pours”. March was just taking us through the ringer both financially and emotionally. Work travel for Joshua, longer work days for us both, and endless “to-dos”. We were maxed. Then, Josh’s car broke. That was hundreds to fix. Then bumps arouse on our road towards becoming “Foster Parents” with the Physical Exams- which are required by everyone in the household. My boys passed with flying colors, but to no real surprise… I did not. Cue the beginning of our journey through medical loop holes. Ones desperately needed, approval or not, because let’s face it, I don’t need to just be healthy so that I can help others, I needed to face these things and become healthy for my beautiful boys now. So we started the journey running around from specialist to specialist, which takes us both. Joshua often taking off to meet up and grab Brent or wait with him in the office while I had scans performed, more out of the ordinary stress. We nearly met our deductible in ONE month, y’all, one. So, Joshua started to see his wife worry. Joshua started to see his wife well up with tears when the bills arrived, full of guilt. Joshua started to see his wife cancel future doctors appointments, so that her family didn’t have to suffer financially. Joshua started to see his wife put her desire for fostering to the side. He saw her willing to push pause, painfully, well for the two boys already in her arms. Joshua saw that this two-day trip was calling for money to be floated. Money needed to pay medical bills, to pay car bills, Money needed to take care of his family. (These are Josh’s words, not mine.) Y’all, that’s when you know you have a good husband… when you don’t have to make a scene for them to see you, to see your needs, to see your anxiety, to see your disappointment, to see your need for them- even if you aren’t asking. So, all at once Joshua made a choice. Not choosing one worthy over another, gosh he loves us both, but he looked at his current season and he did what he is called to do, he chose his family. Y’all, CUE MY FLOODING TEARS.
Now, in their defense, Josh’s awesome brother’s banded together and absolutely wanted to pay for Joshua, but God said no, even against his wife saying yes. Ha! For Joshua, it was far past being just about the money. God has opened his eyes to a whole new journey. God convicted Joshua about his choices. So Joshua made a choice and he stuck with it. The best part, he did this, he chose not to go, BECAUSE of his mom. This was where she SHINES, y’all. Joshua chose his wife, because of his mother. Because when he saw his wife, he saw his mother and he knew nothing would make her prouder than seeing all of the things she worked so hard to instill, play out in her grown son. To see him obey God, well, above all. He assured me that he knew he’d see her soon and that they both (introverted and quiet) would celebrate her, in their own beautifully similiar fashion, and she’d be JUST as overjoyed, if not more. He knew that this decision was not only pleasing God, but it was the best gift he could give his mama. It was living the gifts she gave him. So, off he went to explain to his parents why he wasn’t coming. To tell them that their lives, their choices, well, they had left their mark, beautifully, on how he formed his. Off he went to thank them for the gifts they taught him, gifts planted by their lived out choices. Off he went on his new journey, not phased by his wife’s desperate tears, not phased by anything. Off he went confidently down a path he said was all about choices. OBVIOUSLY, I do not have to tell you that his parents not ONLY fully understood, but they stood proud of him.
LADIES, I just cannot. I called my mom and just wept, which led to my mom weeping. A mother overjoyed and at such peace over the man who held her daughter at night, who would care for her daughter each day forward. Both a mom and woman who too knew what it meant for a man to boldly choose his wife. This wasn’t about the money or the trip, no, it wasn’t about any of that. It was about a man growing up and fully delivering on the choice he made back in the Fall of 2010. It wasn’t about being gone for a few days, it was about recognizing our season and answering his call.
So I leave you all with something from Jen Hatmaker’s new book (releasing 08/18) that so beautifully explains what my husband did. I could hardly read it through my tears, but he really did make a choice “For the Love” of both of the women in his life. He honored both of us and celebrated both of us by missing a surprise party- go figure. I stand forever grateful for the man she raised and the man she released (gah- I can’t imagine that day, I can’t.) to become my life love. Her gift does live on, every.single.day, in the choices of my beautiful husband, the one she raised for me.
“Thousands of times during a life built together, you walk up to a moment and choose: I choose your happiness, your health, your well-being. I choose to build you up rather than strip away. I choose you over the Fake Shiny Other who promises something better. I choose forgiveness because otherwise we are hopeless. I choose to believe in you. I choose this life we’ve built, these kids we’ve created, this legacy we’re forming. I choose God in you and me, making us more like his son, writing a lovely story with our life together. I choose you and I could choose you all over again.” -Jen Hatmaker
Joshua, thank you for choosing us, thank you for choosing me. Even when I don’t ask (hello pride). Thank you for protecting us, for loving us, for making HARD choices for us. The month of March tried to run us through the ringer, but I know that with you, I wont ever have to take on ANY season alone, because your love cloaks me, your arms protect me, and your choices (God led) carry me. I love you. My choice is you too, always has been, always will be. Whether that’s climbing up hill, desperately seeking out the shore, or daydreaming together in the valley. XO
“…This weekend, you were my gift. I wanted to be there, but inside, I knew it just wasn’t the right call for our season. I heard God calling me to make a decision for my family, the same way you always made all of your decisions for yours. Mom, this weekend is living proof of your impact on my life. When I choose Erin, it’s because I see her and think of my mom and how my mom, like my wife, needed someone to choose her, the same way she always chose her family and her husband. Choices. Mom, you have helped me make choices. God centered, family based choices. They aren’t always easy, but they are what is best.” -Josh, in a beautiful email to his mama thanking her for his gifts.