3 is Better Than 2

“There are three kinds of people in this world. Those who are good at math and those who aren’t.”

My friend recently posted that quote on Facebook, and it made me laugh because I’m a journalist married to a mechanical engineer. Math isn’t my favorite subject.

And while I chuckle because that quote just doesn’t add up, it reminds me of another quote that doesn’t seem to add up either.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 – “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

The verse and several verses leading up to it seem to be explaining why two is so much better than one. And then all of a sudden it jumps to three and leaves me thinking, “Huh?”

After studying it more closely, this proverb applies to marriages. Companionship makes life better. Husband plus wife equals two, and two is better than one. Two can be more productive in work. One can take care of the other when he or she falls, and together they keep each other warm. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-11) Two is good.

But really, marriage is full of tension with various demands tugging each of us in multiple, sometimes opposite, directions. Children, school, work, housework, volunteer positions, extended family, friends, neighbors, and all the hobbies and activities we want to enjoy — these all can pull us away from each other and cause a marriage to unravel.

So yes, two is good, but two isn’t enough. Two can’t become a strong cord that’s not quickly broken, as the passage suggests, unless another one is added. Three is better than two. But how, in a marriage, do you get two to equal three?

For us, the One that makes our marriage a cord of three strands is Christ Jesus. He is Immanuel, God with Us. He is the third person Who braids our relationship together into something much stronger and much more satisfying.

Weaving Christ into our marriage translates as praying for each other daily. Usually we pray for each other out loud when we are together at the end of the day. Often we pray for each other on our own during the day. This spiritual discipline is something I greatly appreciate in my husband. We have not always done this, but making it a regular habit has truly transformed our marriage for the better.

A few years ago, my husband spent 10 days serving as a short-term missionary in a very remote jungle village in Nicaragua. No e-mail. No cell phone. No texting. Zip. So we had no contact with each other during that time, and it was extremely difficult to be apart. What comforted me most was knowing that Michael was praying for me at a specific time every day, and I was praying for him at that specific time, too. Our prayers for each other connected us when we could not connect otherwise, and that was so powerful.

But I couldn’t just pray for him at that one set time. One by one, worrisome thoughts came to me throughout the day every single day he was gone. What if he is sick? What if he is injured? What if he is in some sort of danger? What if I never see him again? My imagination could so easily run wild with all the unknowns! Those what-ifs were relentless and could quickly make me feel vulnerable and powerless — especially since we were thousands of miles apart and I was home with 5-year-old and 2-year-old in the middle of a cold January in Minnesota.

So one by one as they crept into my mind, I grabbed each of those what-ifs and dragged them to Christ Jesus in prayer. And you know what? He conquered the what-ifs for me. He victoriously and faithfully gave me peace — a peace that passed my understanding and a peace guarded my heart and mind (Philippians 4:6-7).

Prayer is a mighty powerful tool, and it is especially powerful when we pray God’s own words back to Him. His Word is alive and active and sharper than a double-edged sword; it can judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Praying God’s Word helps me keep my prayers for my husband aligned with God’s will, rather than my own selfish desires.

So how and when do you pray for your husband? Do you use Scripture when you pray?

Whether you are already praying for your husband or not, here are some excellent, Scripture-based resources to strengthen your prayers for him.

Renee Swoope: Praying from My Husband from Head to Toe

Revive Our Hearts: 31 Days of Praying for Your Husband

Also, Ann Voskamp has this exceptionally helpful post on prayer over at A Holy Experience: Seven Ways to Keep Your Home Strong, which includes seven ways to build a house of prayer.

Happy Birthday!

My handsome hubby turns 37 today, on Easter, and I thank God for him!

I’ve celebrated 20+ birthdays with Michael — I wasn’t even in high school when we first met. Neither one of us can ever remember celebrating his birthday and Easter on the same day. Seems like all the more reason to celebrate.

Happy birthday, Michael! I love you!

Happy Easter to all!

15 Reasons I Love This Man

NOTE: I am reposting this in celebration of our anniversary this week.

This is my man. The love of my life, truly.

When I first met him back in 1987-or-so, during a middle school church youth group trip to the swimming pool, I don’t recall being very impressed with him. He was about 13 then, exactly the same age as my older brother, and most boys that age just aren’t very impressive –especially when you are the 12-year-old younger sister of one such creature and especially when they are both showing off on a diving board.

However, by the time we met again in high school, things had changed. We started dating my sophomore year, and the rest is pretty much history. In fact, today happens to be the 15th anniversary of The Day. The Day we hiked into the Olympic National Forest together. The Day we only briefly glanced at the stunning Sol Duc Falls. The Day he dropped to one knee, pulled a sparkling ring out of the front pocket of his blue jeans and boldly asked me to marry him. 

I said “yes” right away, because I already knew then what I know now. He is a phenomenal person. I am so proud of him and so honored to be his bride of 14 years.

In honor of The Day, here are 15 somewhat-random reasons why I love him:

1. He loves the Lord and genuinely seeks to follow God’s will. He has a servant’s heart, and he is passionate about serving the Lord. He even courageously went “to the ends of the earth” to serve on a short-term mission trip.

2. He loves me. And he tells me so. Even when he was far away in Nicaragua, out of cell phone and e-mail reach for 10+ days, he made sure I knew he was thinking of me. In advance, he hand-wrote 10 little love notes and had them delivered to me — one each day we were out of contact — along with a red rose. It was terribly romantic. The elderly flower delivery guy at the grocery store still remembers me and all those roses! During one delivery he commented, “Either he’s in a lot of trouble, or you’re one very special lady.”

3. He tells me I’m beautiful, and he treats me like a lady.

4. He’s an amazing daddy who loves his little girls, plays alongside them, reads to them, watches them dance and tells them how beautiful they are.

5. He’s way smarter than me. He is so much better at math and science and anything mechanical, which tremendously compensates for my serious shortcomings in those areas. 

6. He plays guitar. He’s very passionate about music, and he uses any spare moment to pick up either his acoustic guitar or his electric one and strum merrily along.

7. He sings. A lot. And loud. Lots of my readers know that he sings at church and some know that he sang “When You Say Nothing at All” to me at our wedding. (Insert collective “Awwww….”) But he also sings nearly without ceasing, in the garage, in the van, in the kitchen, at work. He sings such a variety of songs and jingles — old, new, country, rock, alternative, Christian, etc. He even has goofy, made-up songs to annoy me and the girls. 

8. He’s a very likable, natural leader. He’s always leading people and projects, getting things done at work, at church, at home and even on the boat! He even leads conversations quite frequently, and people really like him. My entire extended family seems to really, really like talking with him about all sorts of topics — from boat motors to politicians to theology. Sometimes I even wonder if they like him better than me!

9. He works hard at his job and cares about doing what’s right more than he cares about making money.

10. He’s a big-picture, visionary kind of guy. He can see the potential in people, things, and projects, and he doesn’t get held back worrying about details.

11. He encourages (sometimes pushes) me to do try things I’d never, ever dream of trying on my own, like sailing in the Gulf of Mexico and ice fishing.    

12. He uses his mechanical engineering talents to repair stuff like cars, home appliances, boats, snowblowers, lawnmowers, bicycles, and toys.

13. He compliments my cooking, and even in the process of losing 65 lbs., he saved up his entire daily carb allowance to eat just one of my chocolate cupcakes after dinner.

14. He grew a cape and took on “super-hero daddy status” when our firstborn arrived by C-section. He changed nearly every diaper while we were hospitalized, and he helped with night-time feedings, laundry, meals and countless household chores while I recovered. He was also a huge help when our second child arrived, entertaining the big sister, washing dishes, and folding piles and piles of pink laundry.

15. He’s creative and constructive, so he builds things like furniture, kid-sized canoe paddles, boat seats and tiller-covers. And he constructs things like backyard playsets, patios and finished basements.

I could think of many more reasons why I love this man and why I am so thankful God put us together as husband and wife. I could also say “he completes me” and “he makes me want to be a better woman” and about a dozen other movie lines from romantic comedies, but I’ll spare you those!

He’s my best friend, and I love him dearly. I am so glad he popped “the big question” 15 years ago, and I am so blessed to be his wife!