Tag Archive | marriage

The marriage bed is a sacred place…

Did I get your attention? Don’t worry, this is about the actual bed. And how it’s not sacred anymore, because these are some of the things we have been finding in between the sheets, after retiring to our nightly haven: (are we the only ones?!?)

  • A golf ball. Oh, if I had a dollar for every golf ball in our bed…I would buy a taller bed.
  • A golf club. You would think we’d have noticed it before climbing in. You’d also think my parents would have seen our cat Tiger under the comforter back in the day when we searched all over and thought he had been raptured up early, but they didn’t see him either. Those comforters are sneaky.
  • chocolate chips, especially nice on hot days
  • desitin (real mood killer)
  • BBs for a gun (did I even spell that right?)
  • potato chips (okay, okay that was me)
  • several die-cast cars
  • various species of stuffed animal…which sometimes I just let stay. just the soft ones, you know.
  • banana peel
  • pine needles, blocks, and belt/imaginary pet lizard leash

Oh well. It’s nice to have a good laugh at the end of a long day. Adds an element of the unexpected, you know? 🙂

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How I Found Mr. Right

A group of girls and I have been reading a psalm a week together, via the internet. Last week we did Psalm 77. Familiar favorite? Me neither, really. Until last week. I really resonated with the first part, where he’s crying out, and desperate, and pleading with God. (Nevermind that David was probably fighting soldiers with spears in caves, and I am pining for my husband to get home. The point is, I get it.) The second part, though, was even better. Instead of staying there, he uses memories of the past to uplift his spirits again. He reminds himself of God in the past, so the future isn’t so scary.

Which made me think of the story of me and Todd. I have actually been meaning to write it out for a while. You know, while I still actually remember, and while we still actually like each other. And let’s be honest, things around here have been pretty redundant for a while (think: domestic version of Groundhogs Day) so it’s nice to have some different material to write about. I know I always loved hearing about how my parents met, so years later when Sam and Ty read this blog (they will read it, right, with interest?) this story is chronicled somewhere.

Speaking of parents, I used to wonder/hope/joke that how one found a spouse was genetic. What I mean is, as a girl I longed for same luck my mom had: namely, that God SPOKE to her in words and intuitions and told her, when she saw some guy (Dad) raking the yard, that he was “The One.” This is the sort of divine direction I sub-consciously expected (or consciously, come to think of it, as I journaled, prayed, and chatted with girlfriends routinely about the word from God we were all expecting on my future hubby.)

But back to my story, about my Mr. Right. Fast forward to college. The July before my senior year, in a whirlwind of events, I found myself engaged. Granted, there were no high-flying banners or rainbows appearing at the right moments, but I could not be more elated. I had met him through Young Life, where we were both leaders, and for nearly two years, harbored a secret, desperate, seemingly hopeless crush. For two years, only a handful of friends knew that I had fallen for my “team leader” (nevermind the lingo…point is, it’s off-limits in Young Life). We were very different – me: practical, detailed, and scheduled; him, a dreamer, idealist, free spirit…But after a two-year massive crush, when I realized (gasp) he liked me too, NO ONE could talk me out of anything. The six months we dated were a magical, disbelieving blur. Then we got engaged in New York City, at the top of the Empire State Building; he wrote me a poem to propose. Our little Young Life circle rejoiced with us. I still remember calling my friend Jen from the NYC hotel, my brother hugging me so hard in congratulations, the voice mail from our would-be best man, telling me he was so happy for us, and to be involved in our day…

Then, it’s odd, but in my mind there is about a four-month mental block. I remember nothing until my birthday, in October. I am standing in my dorm suite, putting on eyeliner, and I can’t get it on right because I crying. I just remember feeling so odd inside, and not knowing why I am crying.

Then I remember about two weeks later. Again, it’s odd…I have no idea of specifics – what made me upset – but I remember there’s a vaccuum next to me, and it’s after midnight, and I’m hiding my tears in a housekeeping closet so I don’t wake my roommate. pCrouched next to tupperware, phone trembling in my hand, I call my mom. I’m 21, and I’m busy and grown-up and mom hasn’t been needed for a few years, especially not in the middle of the night. But I didn’t know what else to do, so I call her and I am shivering, not from cold but from fear. I remember telling her I feel like I’m going to throw up, and I remember saying the words: I’m afraid I’m making a mistake. She asks why; I don’t know, or I can’t say. I’m just afraid I’m making a mistake.

It was about two more months of that – the crying for help at all hours, the fear, the nonsense logic, the tears out of nowhere, the not knowing what I’m thinking or feeling or need to do with it all.

There were so many awful things. There was a dress hanging in the closet – what would I do with it if…? There were tickets booked to an island – would we just waste them if…?? There were posters with glitter and clippy magazine pictures outside my dorm – would I just rip them off? And there was my friend who hung out with me every night, who struggled through every problem with me, who I genuinely cared for and enjoyed, what would life be like without him? But the most awful thing, honestly, was knowing I could never be happy, either way. I couldn’t be happy in this marriage – everyday it was more painfully obvious. We were too different. It didn’t feel right. But how could it ever feel right without him? No one would ever “get” me like him. I could never fall more in love with anyone.
I remember sitting in an airplane, unscheduled visit to home, and my stomach felt sick. It was like my whole wonderful life, all 21 years of it, were thrown upside down, splattered and jumbled against a wall. Peace, happiness, hope – gone. My friend Marty loaned me a book, “Peace Like A River,” to read on the plane. It was the only way I didn’t sob the entire two hours. It was the most scary, foreign place in my life. I had never been so confused. I’d never had a broken heart. And honest to goodness, I’m pretty sure up until then I’d never made a mistake.

From what I remember, all of the awfulness got worse and worse until one moment where hope started coming, the first little bit. It was a very specific moment, the one where I was sitting on the brown couch in the sunroom at home (remember the unschedule trip), and FINALLY, made a decision.

The best thing to do was to put a hold on the wedding.

I could do that. Just take a break. {breath of fresh air}. I have no idea why it was so helpful to me, the baby steps of breakups, but that is how it needed to happen. First, a break. Then, broken engagement. Soon after, just friends. But not permanent, yet… And you know the oddest thing? What I had been fearing so much, at each step wasn’t quite so horrible in actuality as I had feared in my head. Like giving back the engagement ring. I put on some lip gloss, and picked it up off the bowl where it had been sitting on my dresser, met him in the lobby and handed it back to him. Then we went and got ice cream. I know that sounds ridiculous. But it wasn’t that bad. Grace for each step – Jehovah Jirah. The Lord provides. And you know something else? That semester I had been dreading, the one I almost skipped…it was the best I ever had. I went on trips, I loved my classes, my friendships blossomed, the Young Life girls I had been discipling, well, they were suddenly a lot more interested in what I had to say about everything…Our friends (who probably saw this coming anyway) were supportive. The would-be best man, the next time I saw him, told me he was proud of us, and he knew how hard it was for us to do what we did…There are so many things I’ll never forget, like the letter my cousin sent me in my mailbox, the way my roommate held my hand when I cried, how my sister let me watch American Idol with her on nights I would have been alone. …

And then I graduated and moved home. And the life that at one point seemed destined to be so awful was actually really, really great. I taught middle school. (You’re supposed to read this as a positive:). I got an apartment, and found a great church. I ran a half-marathon. I got a new wardrobe, and made lots of new friends.

And in the process, I rediscovered a few old friends. One of them – you remember Todd, the would-have-been-best-man? 🙂 Well, turns out I wasn’t the only one who’d grown up a bit in the last five years. I had always enjoyed Todd in college, but as I was a bit distracted then, only a few things stuck out. One, he played guitar and had a tan all year long. Two, he was a pretty crappy on/off boyfriend to my friend Jen, and three, he was just so easy to be around. The more time we spent, the less I seemed to mind #2 (actually, it was quite convenient, come to think of it:), and more the list kept growing. He had character. He was fun, but didn’t party. As a single guy, he spent most extra time reading John Grisham, hanging out with high schoolers via Young Life, and playing soccer. Um, cute. The New Year’s Eve I saw him dancing with someone else, I knew it for sure. I had fallen for Todd. The fact that he almost wore a tux at my big day for quite a different reason was an afterthought, and a humorous one at that. And all that tragedy and trauma of a few years ago? I hardly remembered.

If I think of it at all now, the only emotion remaining is gratitude. GratefulI got out. Grateful I’m a better (humbler) person because of the suffering. Grateful for all the good that came out of it, in a million ways.

Of course, life isn’t perfect. There were quite a few moments (which will remain anonymous) during the first year of marriage that weren’t all bliss and euphoria. But a thousand times over, I love that I married the best man. He isn’t perfect, but he’s perfect for me. I love our boys…can’t fathom that I wouldn’t have THESE boys. It’s different from my mom’s, but mine, too, is a great story.

And like all the other great stories, there’s a few morals behind it. (Come on…you can’t be surprised – literature teachers always find the moral of the story:) These are the things I need to remember, my Psalm 77, my reminder when I’m frightened.

Often what seems like the worst thing ever is exactly what needs to happen.

Even when it feels like the end, it’s never the end. The best is yet to come.

Suffering produces character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint.

When I remember this story, and others like it in my life (less dramatic ones :), I know why God tells us constantly to remember. The same God who was with me next to the vaccuum cleaners and boxes in the closet while I cried is with me in the kitchen when I’m worried.

I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
(Psalm 77:11-13 ESV)

disclaimer: i sort of rushed the end part of this, the part where I do justice in words and paragraphs to all the wonderful things about dating my husband. Rest assured (Todd) it is coming. I just felt like this epic needed to end. Stay tuned for Part II!

my favorite song

Isn’t it funny some of the moments that you remember exactly? For the life of us neither Todd nor I can remember his proposal speech. Honestly, not even a sentence. And it was a good five minutes long. Isn’t that horrible? Speaking of, neither of us can remember meeting each other, or any of our first twenty or so conversations. Kind of “love at first sight,” but not really at all.

Yet somehow I have vivid memories of my mom telling me I used too much Soft Scrub to clean the bathroom sink when I was like ten, and the red sweater and gold earrings the girl wore when she sold us our townhome in May 2007 (sidenote #1: the exact WORST time to buy a townhome. sidenote #2: does anyone want a townhome???? recently reduced:)

Anyway, along those lines, while most of my wedding day is unfortunately a blur, I can tell you exactly where I was standing, what I was wearing, and the dinner I had the night Todd and I discovered the song to be sung at our wedding. I still have to stop what I’m doing to listen to the words whenever I hear it. The song is called “The Love of Christ is Rich and Free.” It was written by a Baptist pastor in 18-something, and the words are old and horribly out of date. I’m still not sure what one line means, and I’m an English major. Nevertheless, one stanza grabbed me the first time I heard it. We printed it on the front of our wedding program:

His loving heart engaged to be
Their everlasting Surety;
’Twas love that took their cause in hand,
And love maintains it to the end.

At the time I think I thought it was cute that it said the word “engaged” (get it? engaged, wedding?? haha). But there was probably more…those last two lines, about God taking “their cause in hand,” and “maintaining it to the end…” I think even as a giddy engaged 26-year old who was preoccupied with dress necklines and honeymoon shopping and dish patterns – even then part of me realized that this marriage thing was going to be difficult – bigger than us – and on some level I knew we would need some help.

Now I am no old person rocking on my front porch with my partner of fifty years. Actually, we have only made it four. Okay we are not even at four yet. (And if I am honest there were times I wasn’t even sure we’d be here.)

But now when I listen to those words (like last week at church while Sam and I were singing them) they are more than a hope or a vague promise you hope someone will keep. To me now, they are fact. These days I worry about asthma attacks and H1N1 and paying maternity bills and whether or not traces of peanuts find their way into chocolate chips. And of course I worry about whether I’m a good enough wife or mom or Christian or neighbor or – basically – whether I can hold it all together. But how silly. This same God who melded two selfish, bratty, completely opposite people (one of whom had a bad habit of throwing the car keys during first-year arguments), this God who time and again provided jobs and patience and sleep and cures from coughs and colic and toothaches, this God who never once let us go or let us down, He is still holding us. He must get impatient with me and my worries. I really should make myself listen to old William Gadsby’s “The Love of Christ” every morning while I’m brushing my teeth. I really should. God is holding onto us and our little family! Remember, Jessica, remember!!

“He loves through every changing scene…
Not all the wanderings of her heart
Can make His love for her depart.”

overheard

A blog I saw recently had a “overhead in my house” post. I thought that was clever, and decided to copy it after a conversation last night. I don’t know how it’s happened, but I’ve kind of become a hypochondriac. Todd is my default “doctor” to help me determine the best course of action for my condition(s). Here is a transcript from the other night.

me: “My ear is doing this weird ringing thing. Like I’m on a plane everytime I talk.”
Todd: (not looking up from computer.) “Did you swim today? You probably have water in your ear.”
me: “No, I didn’t. That’s not it.”
Todd: “I guarantee you’ll wake up tomorrow and it will be gone.”
long pause.
me: “I’m afraid it’s a tumor in my head.”
Todd: (finally looks up from computer. smiling. sort of.) “Everyday there’s something different wrong with you. Tomorrow it will be something else. Relax.”
pause.
me: Also, my toe is numb. Do you think they are related?
Todd: (gets up. long look. starts to go to the kitchen.)
me: Is that a no?
Poor guy.
ps. my ear is STILL ringing. weird!

the love song i won’t ever write

Sometimes I want to be a cool mom, so I listen to pop radio. Some of it’s not that bad and I kind of like it. Every once in a while I hear somebody I watched on American Idol, so that’s kind of fun when I actually know who’s singing the songs.
I’m not picking on these people, because I’m sure they all have very genuine, real romantic relationships. (?) But I do get the feeling listening to the “love songs” on these stations that they and I live in very different worlds. I mean, I guess it would be nice to be someone’s “soul sister,” to have someone watch my dance moves across a smoky club, and make someone so crazy in love they can’t breathe/sleep/be with their other woman (?!?!) without thinking of me, etc. etc.
But seriously people. seriously. Maybe it’s just me and my lame married love. Maybe we’re boring. But I don’t remember the last time I felt overwhelmed with millions of fireflies because of love, or drugged with love, or heart-broken when Todd leaves for work. Maybe it’s just me.
I guess that’s why I like country music. Say what you may about rednecks and lost dogs and trucks. At least in their world it’s okay to mention coffee and gas stations and laundry and – I don’t know – things I actually see in my day-to-day life.
That’s more along the lines with what I’d write if I wrote a song. Which I won’t because no one would ever buy it. And this is why. If I wrote a love song these would be some of the words:
~Thanks, baby. For not mentioning it when my eyebrows need plucked, my mascara is gloppy, and my hair is greasy. Thanks for always putting the toilet seat down. I didn’t even need to train you. Thanks for greeting me every morning with the same chipper kiss and “Good morning, baby,” no matter what bratty thing I’ve said to you the night before. Thanks for remembering birthdays and mother’s days and all the important days, and forgetting my PMS days, all the things I’ve said to you when you’re late, and how hard the first year of marriage was. Thanks for happily eating the same boring turkey cheese tomato sandwich 365 days a year without getting sick of it, and for gushing over store bought meatballs and canned tomato soup like they’re culinary art. Thanks that I’ve never had to switch a light bulb, read an instruction manual for anything, or replace an air filter. I think it’s so sexy when you dry dishes, sing in church, and put away the baby toys. I promise to love you forever even though you don’t always brush your teeth when you go to bed, even though fifteen minutes is thirty, and even though you’re lame on Friday nights, because we all know you put up with way worse. I look forward to more romantic moments in our future, like the three times we had dinner this month together after Sam was in bed, and when we fell asleep watching the NASCAR race. Yes, Todd, I love you, and our lame, boring, old people married life.
~So there’s my song. But that’s not very “hot” now, is it. Oh well… who needs smoky clubs and firefly feelings anyways..:)

The New Todd

I think it started when I asked him what he ate for breakfast. “A pack of crackers and a coke” was the answer, and something inside me died. No husband of mine will EVER eat crackers and coke for breakfast, I informed him. And that was the beginning.
We have always packed Todd’s lunches to save money. I am embarrassed to say that cost was the defining factor, and as anyone knows, eating crap is much cheaper than eating healthy. But as of Jan. 4 I decided (much to my husband’s dismay), Cheetos, Coke, Little Debbies, fruit on the bottom yogurt, cheese nips, doritos, yes, even “granola bars” (more sugar than granola) were a thing of the past.
I am excited about my revisions. And so far, so is Todd. Lucky for me, what he lacks in nutrition he makes up for in tolerance. Translation: After five years of bachelorhood (pickles and cereal for dinner – no lie), he eats anything I put in front of him with relish. (Not the pickle relish anymore, but the you-are-amazing-these-are-the-best-meatballs-ever relish.)
And in all honesty, who wouldn’t prefer homemade mini banana bran muffins with side of cheese cubes over those greasy crackers? And that fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, that is an imposter! Healthy my eye!! Modified food starch, careegan, high fructose corn syrup, red dye #5…are you kidding me??? Now we eat PLAIN vanilla yogurt with frozen fruit on top and a splash of honey. Yum! Of course my hubby still likes a crunch with his sandwich. We comprimise. Turns out Fritos and plain Lays have no preservatives, so I’m okay with them… Eventually I will transition him to a fist-sized serving of walnuts, but don’t tell him yet. Baby steps. And dessert? The biggest problem with dessert is that I keep eating them. I’ve frozen “peanut butter chocolate monster oat cookies” in the freezer. I would literally eat them for breakfast. And come to think of it, so does Todd now. Oh well. You can’t win all your battles. 🙂
I’d love to hear some of your healthy lunch options!

On Marriage.

For much of my adolescence/early adulthood I had an unhealthy obsession with “finding a mate.” Not necessarily my own (although that was intriguing too) but just the whole science behind finding the perfect “one.” My shelves were stocked with courtship/ dating/marriage books. I loved personality tests; give me ten minutes and I’d tell you what animal you are, and which character on “The Office” you should marry. I made my lists and questioned everyone I could on their opinions. I remember one time asking a 50-something friend what she thought the most important quality in a spouse was. I got a 50-something answer: character. Blah.
But I do seem to remember, a few months after rings and vows were exchanged, a telling moment when I began to understand. I have a theory that all marriages have that moment. You’re in the middle of an argument about something – could be sushi menus, could be finances – and suddenly, you get it. You realize in one fell swoop that it matters oh-so-little what fraternity he comes from, how perfect you look in your wedding photos, or how attracted you are to him in his pajamas. It suddenly becomes deathly, painfully, uncomfortably obvious that your happiness lies – so to speak – solely on whether or not he has some, well, un-sexy character traits. Things so boring and ancient you really don’t read much about them these days, unless it’s in that thousand-page book on the shelf. Things that probably didn’t make it on any list or in any romantic conversation. Things like patience. Honesty. Integrity. Willingness to forgive.
I picture this moment happening between Brad and Jennifer, and my neighbors: Marriage doesn’t discriminate. Its success requires these virtues in the most beautiful and the most wealthy. Considering how relatively little I contemplated these things, most days I think I lucked out. I think I’m realizing how sexy some good old fashioned holiness is.
So here’s to you, honey. Let’s keep working out those character muscles. I love you, and all those beautiful fruits of the Spirit. 🙂