Our Story

Last night we had to tell “our story” in our couples small group. In leading up to the night, we spent some time going through the highs and lows, telling stories – some of which I wish I didn’t remember! I struggled with how to tell the story.

Not all of our story is pretty. Some of it was downright ugly. It’s all too easy to fixate on those moments. I have this desire to make our story be something that it’s not. I want to cover the mess and make it a storybook romance. But then it wouldn’t be true, and it wouldn’t be real.

Maybe it’s actually more romantic and beautiful with the mess. We are two real people with real baggage and real sin. And yet we have come together and had some of the best times of our lives. We’ve taught each other how to love, how to fight, how to forgive, and how to trust. We are a work in progress, but looking back, we can see so much progress.

We were young, naive and imperfect when we got married. Now we are old, stubborn and still imperfect. We thought we knew what love was when we stood in front of the people and said I Do.

We know now that love is so much more than romance and passion and fun. It’s fighting for the other person when they’ve lost the will to fight. It’s being a safe place when the other is scared and lost. It’s giving grace when you just don’t want to because you know you are right. It’s forgiving the other person for not being perfect. It’s learning to love the other person’s faults and shortcomings. It’s laughing and being silly. It’s creating your own family. It’s long road trips and getting lost. It’s loving others together. It’s moving to another country where you only know each other. It’s grieving together and rejoicing together.

I don’t mean to be dramatic. Most of our marriage has been A+ material. We have a ridiculous amount of fun together, and we really like being around each. I love my sweet husband more than anyone else in the world (Fred is a really close second, but he pulls my hair and pukes on me so….).

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers out there.

 

 

10 years

We celebrated our ten-year anniversary this past weekend. I would say we blew last year’s celebration of breakfast at Starbucks out of the water this year. We spent the weekend in northern Rwanda – at the foot of the Volcanoes National Parc – the most beautiful place I have ever been. And we spent it with two of our closest friends who came all the way from Chicago to see us (and some baby gorillas may have sweetened the deal).

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We did not have a chance to exchange gifts or write cards this year. Life is just too busy sometimes. While P&L were stalking baby gorillas, we drove up to a fancy lodge and went for a hike. of course, a hike in Rwanda is never a solitary affair.

We hiked to the top of a peak and shared a snack. We gave apples to two of our “guides” – they had never had apples before!

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We met lots of lovely folks with whom we exchanged email addresses. Fabian has been emailing me all week – he’s preparing for his school examinations this week.

Tejean showed us him home and his cow.

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John, an orphan, showed us the teeny tiny light he uses to study by. I couldn’t even take a picture because it was pitch black in the home with just the tiniest little light. One of the most humbling moments of my life.

We finished back at the lodge and enjoyed some tea and cookies.

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It was not the most romantic of adventures, but it was memorable, and very much “us.” Ten years is a long time. We were babies, and we didn’t know what we were doing. We were in love, but we didn’t know anything about love. We didn’t yet know the trials that would come our way. We bounded forward with idealism and plans. I think that’s the way to do it. I don’t think anyone would ever get married if they really knew how challenging it would be, but then they would miss out on one of life’s best joys.

To know and be known by my husband is pure delight. To be confident in his love and trust at all hours of the day and night. He makes me feel safe and loved. He allows me to flail and flounder without (too much) criticism. He greets me with a smile even when I haven’t been so nice.

I’ve never met anyone who cares as much as BB does. He cares about everything, and it sometimes drives me crazy. He makes me madder than anyone, and sometimes he drives me to eat a lot of chocolate. He challenges me to learn how to really forgive.

These ten years have flown by and yet I feel like we are still just kids trying to figure out how to do life. I love my sweet, humble, aggravating, patient, loving, not funny BB.

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Happy Birthday BB!

Saturday was BB’s 35th birthday.  Unfortunately for him, I was up all night sick on Friday night, and sick and pregnant trumps birthday every time.  He says it was his favorite birthday ever because no one required him to do anything, there were no plans, and he got to do whatever he wanted [which was work and watch Parenthood].  So noted for next year.

In other good news, Christmas music and movies are fair game now that we are past the birthday.

Now that I am recovered, I can write my birthday blog post.  In honor of my sweetheart, here are 35 unique things that I love about him.

1.  See opening paragraph.  His birthday dream is for no one to talk to him so he can work all day.

2.  If given his way, he would eat all his meals over the sink in the kitchen without utensils or plates so as to avoid having to do dishes (or talk to anyone – see no. 1, no talking is a big thing for him).

3.  He packs his lunch (and often dinner) every day of the week.

4.  He needs to eat at least one serving of peanut butter a day (preferably more).

5.  He has the will power of a Navy Seal.  I don’t think he cheated once in seven months of fasting and would have kept going if I had let him.

6.  Sweets are not his thing.  He will eat one bite of an ice cream sandwich and then out it back into the freezer.  Thus, it will take him two weeks to eat one ice cream sandwich.  He will often look for something I baked weeks later and be shocked that there is nothing left.

7.  He rides his bike to work.  I find that adorable.

8.  He ran the Chicago marathon in tiny hot pink shorts so that it would be easy for me to find him.

9.  The first CD he ever bought was Lionel Richie’s “Hello” because he had a crush on a girl, and the song Hello made him think of her.

10.  He’s still basically only wearing seven items of clothing and hasn’t purchased a single thing for himself since the fast began in February.

11.  He’s ridiculously smart, but he hates to read.

12.  When he works from home, he wants me to sit next to him (but not talk, obviously).

13.  Two years ago he led a week-long VBS at our church as the lead singer of a New Zealand rock band (we were into Flight of the Concords that year) complete with accent, and there are still people at church who think that he is from New Zealand (or England – people aren’t great with identifying accents).

14.  When we went on our first date, BB said we needed to discuss two things before we went any further as a couple – first, I would have to take his last name should we marry, and second, I would need to be ok with our nine year old son spending two weeks at summer camp in Maine.  I agreed to both since I liked the idea of having a new name and wasn’t particularly attached to our fictitious kids at the time.  [Luckily I don’t have to worry about the camp thing any more since there’s no way BB would spend that kind of money on camp now even if we ever had it!]

15.  Also when we were dating, BB’s friend Steve (the Prophet, as we call him) prophesied that I would break his heart.  BB was quite distraught and got him to change the prophesy to “break his heart or marry him.”  Both have come true.

16.  When going on vacation, especially international trips, BB refuses to make any reservations for lodging until the last possible moment (i.e., we are tired and need somewhere to sleep).  He really does not like to commit to reservations for anything.  This has made for some fun times, to be sure.

17.  Oh my.  Only halfway through.  This was sort of a big goal, eh?  It took BB three months to read the first Harry Potter book because “he just couldn’t get into it.”  What is wrong with him??

18.  BB has an opinion about everything.  Seriously.  The words “whatever, I don’t care” have never come past his lips.  Seriously, ask him about clothes, shoes, furniture, work, church, food, surprise parties, pets, child-rearing, breastfeeding, weddings, hair length, coming of age movies.  He has a formed opinion about anything you can think of!  It’s frustratingly charming.

19.  BB lives a charmed life.  He can leave late and arrive on time.  He can miss a deadline to learn that it was extended.  He can lose $10 and find $20.

20.  He has a Facebook account, but I am not his friend.

21.  He believes in me to an unreasonable level.  I’m starting to believe him, and it’s getting risky.

22.  He is an amazing uncle.  He will play with his nephews for hours on end, is determined to learn about them, and has written songs for two of them so far (the rest are in the works.)

23.  He never gives up.  He will work on a project until it’s perfect.  He sees the best in people and truly believes that they will reach it.

24.  He loves Jesus.  So much.  His submission to God is commendable.  His love for the Lord pours out in his love of others.

25.  If he really has to hang out with other humans, he would prefer them to be homeless and/or immigrants.

26.  He cooks, cleans, mops, does laundry, walks the dog.  But he will NOT go to the grocery store.  He would rather starve.  In the extreme circumstance where I convinced him to go (I think I did once), he refused to take a list because “it’s like you’re telling me what to do when you’re not there.”

27.  He has a lovely singing voice.  Still makes my heart melt after all these years.

28.  BB has fiercely close friendships (although you wonder how since he prefers to not talk to people…).  He still has extremely intimate friendships with guys from growing up, high school and college.

29.  He once tried to compliment me by saying that I looked like a Jordache ad.

30.  He was kind of a chauvinist when I met him [he would tell people that he married me for my “young womb”], but now he’s a total feminist and will tell you why it’s wrong to ask a woman to cover up while she’s breastfeeding and why there’s nothing wrong with boys wearing pink.

31.  He has endless energy and is always up for the wackiest of ideas.  He’s creative and spontaneous.  Always keeps me on my toes.

32.  BB is so kind.  He couldn’t hurt a fly.  He has a sweet spirit and loves to do things for people.

33.  He is hilarious.  Makes me laugh every single day.

34.  He’s super hot.  It’s not everything, but it goes a long way.

35.  He loves me just the way I am.

My darling BB, I love you dearly and am so glad you were born.  Halfway to 70!  Not bad…

First came love, then came marriage

BB proposed to me on a Sunday afternoon in May of 2003. I reluctantly went to his apartment after being really mad at him for ditching our previously scheduled date that morning. When I arrived, he was standing in the middle of his apartment in his tuxedo. There was a chair surrounded by flowers. I could not have been more in shock had an elephant been in the room.

He told me to sit down. I started laughing in a really unattractive, uncontrollable way. He got down on one knee and said words I cannot remember. He popped the question, and I said “what?!?!” Then he whipped out a ring! I could not believe he had a ring. That was the most shocking part. I figured he had just come up with the idea to propose that morning (he’s not much of a planner). Eventually I got around to saying yes in between hysterical hyperventilating.

We were married exactly 5 months later in a gorgeous outdoor ceremony at my grandparents’ house and had our first fight as a married couple on our way back down the aisle and our second on the dance floor. It’s been marital bliss ever since. (You buyin’ it?)

Oh my. It’s been a road. It’s still a road. But I would do it again in a heartbeat. He is the love of my life. I love him for who he is and who he will be. I literally cannot wait for him to come through the door every day. I need to tell him every moment of my day (he loves that!!). Nine years ago I barely knew him, and today I’m still excited to learn more. He is endlessly interesting to me and makes me laugh constantly (not always with him, of course). I feel pity for all other people who are not married to him.

Happy anniversary to my knight, my hero, my lover, my friend.

Anniversary posts – Before Dating

We interrupt this last series of serious posts for a little lightness this week.  Thursday is our nine-year anniversary, so I will have a few posts about my sweetheart.  I think he needs a blog name other than DH.  Not that most of you don’t know who we are, but I don’t want people to be able to google his name and find all of his personal info on this blog.  He’s very important, you know.  Hmmm, what should I call him?  I kind of want to call him Prince because that’s what I often call him around the house.  But does that make you think he’s a slightly adrogynous pop singer? Or an entitled, spoiled monarch?  Perfect!  Prince it is.   Just kidding honey!  OK, it’s decided.  From here on out, BB will refer to my sweet, darling, nameless husband.  For those keeping track, Lucy is our dog.  She’s a terror and deserves a series of posts of her own.

For our first anniversary post, I’m going to take you back in time, to the time BD (Before Dating). BB and I were both students at the music school.  I was a new freshman having moved from a small farm town, and I had my heart set on becoming an international opera star.  BB was a mature (in my mind), older, first-year graduate student who wanted to be a classical singer but didn’t like opera.  Because BB had not studied music in undergrad, he had to take a lot of intro classes, thus putting us in the same classes.

I can’t say for sure the first time that I met him.  This memory has not been engraved in my mins.  I can tell you when I first realized he was super hot.  It was a really cold, snowy Chicago day, and I was standing in the school lobby.  BB came in wearing his big puffy down coat with his bright blue Reebok hi-top shoes and his 1985 stone-washed jeans (yes, it was 2001), which were rolled up since he had just gotten off his bike.  He pulled off his hot pink stocking cap to reveal his hot mess of thick brown curls sopping wet from a shower and a sweaty ride.  He bent down to get a sip of water, and it was lust at first sight.  You just had to be there.  I wish I had the technological ability to figure out how to post pictures to this blog, but I am a literary type and can’t follow directions.

So when did I determine that he was a lot of fun to hang out with?  BB’s closest friend in those days was also new to this music school and was a year ahead of me.  We’ll call him Nisky, because that’s what BB still calls him.  Nisky and I were friends as well so it didn’t take long before the three of us became friends.  In one class, the three of us generally sat together in the back.  Now, this class was awful and boring. To pass the time, BB and Nisky would pass inappropriate, vulgar drawings back and forth to each other to try and get each other to laugh out loud.  Often, these drawings would also end up on my desk as they attempted to break me.  I have always been a sucker for potty humor.

Another thing you have to understand about BB is that, at this time, the music school was not filled with your typical cool kids.  We were dorky, artsy types.  Not generally jocks.  Not particularly attractive or charming.  BB, former frat boy, having come from a normal four-year “real” college experience at a big university in the Southeast that had an actual football team, with brothers in San Francisco, old enough to drink alcohol, and having traveled Europe three times over, was the coolest thing I had ever seen.  Guys like that did not normally talk to me, let alone pass graphic drawings onto my desk and tell me that he thought I was the smartest person in the whole class.  [I know, he was pretty smooth.]  By the time I went home for Spring break my freshman year, I told my mom that I was going to marry him.

But that wasn’t all that was unique and charming about BB. Midway through the year, he invited me to attend a weekly Bible study at his apartment.  [Again, this guy is smooth.]  At the time, I was a recovering Catholic.  After 12 years of Catholic education and no real happiness or joy found there despite a lot of effort, I had sworn off religion for the joys of college freedom.  However, when a super hot older guy invites you to his apartment, you go no matter the pretext.  [If a future daughter is reading this, you should definitely NOT go, even if it’s for a Bible study; just ask your father about his motives.]

At those Bible studies, I really got to know BB as a person.  I got to see his heart.  He would open up to Romans and preach for an hour straight.  There were about 3-5 regular attenders.  Most of the attenders were Christians so maybe it wasn’t revolutionary stuff for them.  But I was hearing the gospel clearly for the first time, and I liked it.  Before long, I was home re-reading passages myself.  BB started giving me rides to the study, which gave us time to talk.  I was getting hooked on two beautiful men who changed my life.