Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Pump Up (Part 2)

So we were coming along.  He was now ordering my food for me at restaurants.  Now that is a manly thing to do.  I felt more attracted to him already.  Look at him just telling the waitress what I want.  It looks like I have no brain of my own, but who cares what she thinks, I have a manly man who orders for me, and I like it.  He’s so strong and assertive and knows the favorite flavors which entice my palette.  Oooo, he’s so debonair when he orders for me.

Hmm, what else could I do to encourage his manliness and leadership position that I was trying to hand over to him?

I realized I needed to stop telling him to ask my father before making huge decisions for our family.  My husband is wise, smart, cautious.  Sure, he should seek council before making huge decisions, but who he seeks advice from should be up to him.  I was always saying, “Call my dad,”  “Ask my dad first.”  I would encourage him to talk with whomever he trusted.  If that ended up being my dad, then great, but it would be my husband’s decision with whom he would ask.

And now for the major decision I decided to hand over to him. 

“Dan, I want you to decide where we are going to move,” I said, and this time I meant it.

“Are you sure?” he asked me.

“Yes, Dan, I am sure.  There is no one I would trust more.”    

He could probably decide the best place for me and the kids better than I could.  And it would be okay; he could be trusted.  And so I handed over the biggest decision for my life at that time.  Surprisingly, I felt a little bit relieved, and at the same time, I felt a little sorry for him to have to be in charge of such a major decision to make, but I could tell it was what he wanted.  What he needed.  Now lead, my hunk of a man.  Lead.

I could have sworn at that moment he sat up straighter, raised his shoulders, and lifted his chin.  The manliness was flowing back into him.  I think his muscles even swelled beneath his shirt because it looked like his shirt got tighter.

And his top shirt button popped open revealing just a little bit more chest hair.

There, before me, sat the man whom I chose to lead this family, all tall and proud, and ready to lead.  All.  Pumped.  Up.

I would have to say, leadership makes a man more sexy. 

And more muscular.

You know, allowing a husband to lead is a process.  It’s like learning a new dance.  Toes will be stepped on.  Limbs will fall out of place.  Sometimes he will be going one way, I another.  But after time, our steps will align, and we will create, hand in hand, a dance that is just right for us.  An elegant, beautiful, time tested dance of love.  Together.  With his leadership prompting my every next move.  And me feeling safe and secure knowing that he is my lead.

Oh to learn life's dance with you, my husband.
Our unique, beautiful dance of love.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Pump Up (Part 1)

It was time to pump him up.

Okay.  Okay.  The problem before me became as clear as day.  I had seized control over the leadership of our family, and it wasn’t good for me, for him, for our kids.  So how could I encourage my husband’s leadership of our family?   What was I willing to give up and let him be in charge of?

Oooo, this was hard to do.  Give up control?!

Yes, I would do it.

I started to think of things to hand over to him.  I would put him in charge of something, and I would not question or change his decision. 

But what would I be okay with handing over?

We were sitting at a restaurant getting ready to order.  I sat fumbling aimlessly through the menu.  I sighed deeply, frustrated at not knowing what to order.  “Do you know what you want?” I asked him.  “Yeah, do you?” he asked me back.

“No, I don’t know what I want," I responded. “Every time I order something I don’t end up liking it,” I sunk my face back into the menu waiting for the perfect meal to reveal itself to me.

We were very familiar with this scenario. 

I wouldn’t know what to order so I would ask the server their favorite thing on the menu.  Then I would order it, and, of course, not like it.  What I really wanted to do was ask the server their favorite item and then order anything but that item.  Maybe that method would work better, but I just didn’t have the heart to do that to a waiter.  “Okay, I will have that,” I would say after the waitress or waiter was finished describing their favorite meal to me.

"Janna, you don't have to order what the server suggests if it doesn't sound good to you."

"Dan, yes I do.  Have you seen When Chefs Attack?  It is worse than When Animals Attack."

So I would end up with a meal I didn’t care for, and do you know what my husband would do?  Now this might be the most romantic gesture ever.  He would trade his meal with me.  “Thank you, Honey,” I said as I looked at him, so impressed with his selfless love.

“You love me,” I said as he passed me his plate.

“I love you,” he said as he slowly lifted a fork full of flavorless food to his mouth. 

What love, yes.  But he began to get tired of eating gross meals, so right then and there, as I was staring at my menu, an idea popped into my head.  “Will you order for me?” I asked him.  He looked at me surprised.  “Are you sure?” he asked me, looking interested at this idea of ordering for his woman.     

“Dan, I always like your food.  That’s why we always end up trading.  If you order for me, we can both eat a delicious meal,” I responded.

The waitress approached.  "Are you ready to order?" she asked, looking at me.

"I will handle this," my husband said in a deep, suave voice.  His hand reached over the table to rest atop of mine.  Chills ran up and down my spine.  "Oooo," I sang in response.  "She will have the blah, blah, blah, blah," he said in French.  "Oh," I found myself blushing, "What did you order me?"  "Shhh," he pushed his finger against my lips, and then he raised my hand and pressed his lips against the palm of my hand.  Oh my.  Handing over leadership could be very interesting.

Our food arrived.
For him- chicken burrito.
For me- chicken burrito.

"Dan, you ordered us the same thing," I said, puzzled.

"Yeah, just in case we have to trade."

So my husband orders my food for me, and I find him to be very capable, masculine, and sexy when doing so.   

But now....well, now we have a different problem. 

Whenever I go to a restaurant without him and the server asks me, “What would you like?” I stare at them blankly. 

Oh no.  Oh no.  What do I want to eat? 

“Hold on.  I need to make a phone call.”

Monday, September 19, 2011


The Woman

I wish he was more assertive.

I wish he knew what I want, what I need, without me having to explain it to him.   

Actually, why can’t he read my mind?

I wish he would take charge and lead so I wouldn’t have to.

The Man

She tells me to lead, to rise up, to be the man.  I step forth, displaying my manhood, attempting to direct.  As I place one foot forward, I glance back to see if she will follow.  She stands, arms folded, a light shaking of her head back and forth, her pointer finger raised, directing me the other way.  I back behind her, taking my place at the rear.  She really didn’t mean it when she told me to lead.  And she wonders why I won’t lead.  Why won’t she let me be the man God made me to be?

It was as if scales let lose from my eyes, and I began to see the problem might partly be me. 

My husband felt uncomfortable making decisions without asking me first, even decisions that did not pertain to me.  It is one thing to ask someone’s opinion; that is sweet, thoughtful.  But I could sense his lack of assuredness in his overall decision making. 

Our family had a man who was afraid to lead and I wasn’t helping the situation.

I had pushed myself into the leadership role and what resulted for me was insecurity, fear, a lack of confidence in my man, resentment, and a disdain for the present position I held.

And so the battle waged within me, the woman.  On one hand I desired to be taken care of, rescued, captivated, and on the other hand, I demanded power, command, control.


I feel so uncomfortable without it.

Control over circumstances, over my children, over my husband, even over God.

Can I help you come up with the answer to this prayer God?  I have a few ideas you may find really original.  May I enlighten you?

Really?  Really?!

My word, Janna.  Sometimes I need a good slapping across the face.  Whatever happened to wearing the dainty white gloves that you remove and slap a face when needed?  I remember being with a friend once.  We were doing something big, something emotionally draining, with great urgency.  I was emotionally exhausted, and I broke.  “Christi!  Christi!  I should have said this….  I should have said that…  Christi!!!”  She looked at me, raised her hand up and WHACK! slapped me across my face.  “Calm down, woman!” she said.  I stood there in disbelief staring at her, but you know what?  It was exactly what I needed.  Perspective.  Life isn’t all about me.  Actually it is hardly about me and the sooner I accept this, the better off I will be.

I had married my husband because he was a manly man.  I never doubted in his capability of taking care of me and the children we would procreate together, and I didn’t doubt his ability to lead.  I was attracted to his subtle, strong leadership, the very one I had ended up stifling.  My friend wrapped our relationship up better than I could, “Janna, Dan leads, and always has, in a quiet, respectful, honoring, discerning way.  It is what makes the two of you such a balanced, harmonious union.”  I think that somewhere along the way, I subconsciously snuck in there and began to take control. 

Something tells me he didn’t give up his leadership.

I think it had been hijacked.

 By me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Following the Leader

The leader of our family was strong, assertive, and bold. 

And who was this fearless leader?

I shift my eyes to and fro looking the other way to avoid the answer.  I look over my shoulder to shift your attention elsewhere, but still I feel the heat of your eyes.  “Who me?”

Like a little girl setting up her playhouse, not a plastic one, oh no, but a playhouse of the fanciest kind.  The one with the mahogany furniture shipped from India.  Rooms lined with cheery wallpaper adorned with flowers.  A toilet whose handle turns.  And a doorbell that really rings! 

Life in the playhouse.  Carefully orchestrated by mommy doll.  A wake up kiss for daddy doll each morning before he rushes off to work.  A welcome back kiss each afternoon when he’s returned.  A small role for daddy doll.  But aren’t boy dolls always played less with than girl dolls?  I remember only needing Ken when there were chores to be done or things to be fixed.  Mamma doll is pretty self sufficient and independent these days unless the dollhouse toilet is clogged or the garbage disposal is stopped up.


We had recently visited two different places on two separate trips.  Our first trip.  Our second trip. 

“Well, Dan?  What do you think we should do?” I asked my husband.

He hesitated.

“Janna,” he began in a serious tone, “I’m afraid to say,” his eyes focused straight forward.

“What are you talking about?  Why would you be afraid?” I asked, confused.  I took my hand and gently turned his face toward me so I could look into his eyes.

“Because I don’t know if you will follow,” he answered.

I hesitated before responding. 

Wow.  He fears leading me.

And deep down I knew why. 

Sure at first I wanted to argue, “What are you talking about?”  “How could you say I wouldn’t follow?”

But as history commonly repeats itself, both of us knew I wouldn’t be voted “the most likely to follow her husband”.  Oh, sure, I can follow.  I am actually pretty good at it.  I can follow my dad, I can follow my friends, I can follow Oprah, but as for my husband, now that was a different story. 

You see, when it came to my husband and decision making, well, I could sense an uncertainty in him.  And I could feel it as strong as an Indian tribal man can sense the presence of an upcoming rain. 

And it made me feel very insecure, lacking trust in his role as leader of our family.  So.... long story short, I took over.

Now whether or not my husband's lack of confidence had to do with me, how he was raised, or the temperament he was born with; it didn’t matter.  There were definite things I was doing that hindered his leadership of our family.  And there were things that I could do as a wife to encourage his leadership over our family.  I just had no idea what those things were.

“Maybe we should sell the house during such a high market,” my husband mentioned to me a long time ago at the peak of home sales.

“Ask my dad.  He will know,” I answered.  “We can’t make that decision without talking to him,” I added.

To leave and to cleave.

Oh I leaved.

And yes, I cleaved. 

I got married and leaved my parents’ house.

And yes indeed, I cleaved.  I cleaved to everyone but my husband.

So I sat here before my husband who was afraid to tell me his desires.  My brain started reeling, searching for words of  comfort to him.

“Dan, I want you to make this decision of where we move to,” I said to him while biting my lip at the end of my sentence.  I was surprised at what I heard coming out of my mouth, and before I could take it back he said,

“No you don’t, Janna.  You don’t want me to decide.  I know you too well.”

And he did. 

I knew he was right.

Gulp.  I think we have a problem.
I am the mamma doll.

 See.  Here I am overpowering my husband.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Best for her Family

It was the last dinner before an early departure the following morning.  A barbeque outside on the back patio seemed fit; a beautiful, sprawling property the view.  Their three sons ran throughout.  Two dogs following close behind.  It had been a wonderful weekend.  Our minds would be busy pondering this place and its way of life for the ensuing weeks.

That night I lay in bed absorbing it all.  Soon we would need to start making decisions.  Only six months left on our lease, and then it was decision time.  If only decisions could be made for you.  I wear the same pair of jeans every day just so I don’t have to decide on something else to wear.  Nothing but my Mom Jeans, of course. 

It was true; I loved this place.  It seemed perfect.  The rolling hills, the picturesque neighborhoods, the idea of owning land, and most of all, I loved the possibility of living close to my cousin and her family.  I imagined carrying a green bean casserole topped with those crispy onion rings up to her front door on Thanksgiving Day.  I fancied the thought of hay rides before dinner.  In the winter we would all pile on a sleigh, covering ourselves with thick, flannel blankets while being pulled by horses along icy roads as small, white snowflakes found their resting place upon our eye lashes.

Could this be the place?  Because I thought the first place we visited was.  But this was my first cousin I would live near!  “Dan, I am tempted to choose this place so that we could be close to this family.”  In moving we would be leaving our family, friends, everyone.  But this, well this here was our family in a wonderful place to raise our children.  Oh, to move away and still live near family!  Just the very thought overthrew my emotions with excitement.  Now calm down, Janna, we have some things to think about.  Ah yes, I did have an inquiry, and an important one at that.  Should major life decisions be based on others?  What if we moved to be close to someone and they decide to get up and move themselves?  Or what if you move near someone and your lives don’t even cross and you end up never seeing them?  Heavy expectations on relationships, maybe not.  

I knew deep down that my cousin, as much as I loved her and her family, couldn’t be the deciding factor.  We would need to make a decision based on whether or not this place was best for our family. 

Best for our family

Gosh, I wasn’t used to thinking of us as our own entity.  Our past choices for our family had always involved others, the extended family members.  

True, this was the perfect place for my cousin and her family.  And sure, they sacrificed a lot to be here, but they were pleased with their decision never-the-less.  Sacrifice.  Hmmm, something to consider.  We would also be making large sacrifices in our choice to move.

My thoughts drifted back to one of my conversations with my cousin.

“It has been a couple of years, do you still miss your people?”  I asked her sincerely.

“I do.  We had such a wonderful group of friends.”

“Do you have that here?”

“Hmm, I have prospects,” she answered.  “It takes time to form deep relationships, years.” 

I was intrigued.  She left her mom, dad, husband’s parents, cousins, sisters, friends.  She left everyone.  And here she sat before me saying she was content with her choice.  How could this be? 

Because she knew it was best for her family. 

Best for her family.

Was this the epitome of what a wife and mother is?  Someone who sacrifices what she wants and desires for the benefit of her husband and children? 

“My husband thrives here.  He is different.  More at ease and happy.”

This was a good mom.  This was a good wife.  And she was a great example to me. 

So much to ponder.  It felt like layer upon layer of understanding was being added to my core.  I was learning who I was, who I wanted to be, who I was to become.  And it felt very uncomfortable, as growth always does, but I knew it was what I needed.  To grow.

As we came to the end of our visit, I was sad to have to say goodbye.  I hate goodbyes.  I wondered if we would be moving here someday.  I wondered what could become of our relationship if we did.  My heart smiled to think of the possibilities. 

The next morning we woke early and began packing up our things.

As we walked out to the car with baggage in hand, we heard clamoring from their horse arena.  There was my cousin’s husband working hard breaking in a horse; his cowboy hat and chaps finishing off his mannish look.  He glanced over, jumped down from the horse, and while he walked closer to us to say his goodbyes, I briefly glanced over at my husband.     

He was staring at the chaps.

And I knew what he was thinking.

I wanted him to have them too.

He can wear them while he is roping things.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


“What are you guys thinking of doing?” my cousin asked us over a breakfast of fresh scrambled eggs from their chickens.

“We want land.  If we are going to move out to the country, we might as well own some country,” my husband answered.  “For the horses,” I piped in.

“Ah, you are going to have horses, huh?” my cousin inquired.

“Of course,” I replied, smirking a little.

There are certain things that come with country living.  Land, of course, a porch, a tree swing or a tire swing- either will do, and horses.  You have to have horses. 

Horses, such beautiful, amazing creatures.

“Well then, we’ll drive you around some neighborhoods with properties you might be interested in.”

We pulled up to a beautiful two story house.  White framed windows.  An archway covered with vines leading to a pathway into the backyard.  Behind the house a gigantic plot of land, a horse arena included.

My heart leapt with delight.

A horse arena??!!!  Well, now, what could be more perfect for my horses?

A place to run, jump, and, best of all, do their tricks!

As I stood there staring at the arena, I began to think about horses and me.  And how we went together so well.

In my daydream I was riding one.  I was riding real fast and was jumping over things like barrels and sticks and stuff like that.  I did look amazing, but when I looked closer at myself, I looked, well, uncomfortable. 

The bouncing of the horse was so jarring, and I was holding my bosom to give it the support it was crying out for.  Ouch.  My teeth chattered as they continually banged together violently.  I wasn’t looking that amazing anymore. 

And my legs were sore.

I know I have this romantic idea of riding up on a horse and looking all beautiful when doing so, but….

Do I even like horses?

I think I do.

Maybe I do.

Maybe I really love them.

Hey wait a minute, what is that long thing hanging off of the horse?  Oh that is weird, and whatever it is, it is almost touching the ground. 

Oh Lord!  I am calling out to you because I can’t handle what I see! 

“Oh, well that was our first course in sexual education," I recall Jeff, my second cousin once removed, telling me.  "All of us kids would sit along a fence and watch on as Daddy attempted to mate the stallion and the mare.”  Barf.    

Okay, maybe I don’t like horses.

Maybe I really don’t like horses.

And maybe I never want to ride one or see one again.

Keep it simple.


Not simple.

Another mouth to feed.

Lots of poop.

And they can’t be potty trained like my sister-in-law’s cat.

Let’s scratch the house with a horse arena idea.

This called for a redirection from horse arenas to looking at houses with grassland.  Fields of green to play as the backdrop to lazy Sunday afternoon picnics, big oak trees to build tree houses, and chicken coops so that I could fetch my own eggs while saving money.

I am not a horse girl.

I am just a farm girl.

I think.