Us

We tend to spend much of our time these days thinking. We take in the world around us, process it, talk about it, and try to explain it on this blog. We analyze situations, discuss how they affect us, and try to give you something decent to muse as you meander throughout your days.

Because of this, and a few internet-induced lucky breaks, we’ve assembled a following who, by many email accounts, consider us to be relatively wise for our ages and maybe even mature in our relationship. This text conversation from yesterday is a reminder that things aren’t always as they seem (nothing was added or taken away for dramatic effect, just so you know):

Jen: “Did you take the Buckies (that’s Starbucks) bag in exchange for a free coffee this morning!!?!?”

Kyle: “Duh”

Jen: “Well that’s better than me. I bought a coffee! 🙁 The whole time I was drinking it I kept thinking how I was drinking our house fundie 🙁

Kyle: “From where?!?!?!?!?”

Jen: “Buckies!! 🙁 🙁 I found $3 in my purse and I used it for personal gain! 🙁 🙁 I’m sorry!

Kyle: “I am so irate right now!”

Jen: “Nooo!”

So enjoy our posts, yes, but know that we’re real, and really REALLY weird sometimes.

🙂

Triumph of the Will

At our new church in Dallas, we take communion every week. It’s part of the service; they pass the elements around at the end and the whole congregation takes communion together. In the Methodist church I grew up in, we used to take communion at the altar, leave our tiny clear cup at the front, and go back to our seats.

When you take communion in your seat, there’s a significant problem that presents itself but only if you’re five years old at heart. We discovered early on (by the example of grown men around us, might I add) that the tiny little cups, with only a little bit of force, will crack and crumble, making the sound of a tiny car wreck in your hand. I kid you not- it’s not like our services are full of junior high kids- and yet every week after communion (usually during the prayer) you could hear one crumble. Then two. Then four or five more. Until everyone in the congregation had somehow lost control of their ability to act like adults. And which of the two of us couldn’t not squeeze our cup to smithereens? Me.

Right, so I’m the wife and I’m supposed to keep my husband from acting like a child in public, which I do. Often. But when it comes to that five minute time span between communion and the end of church, all bets are off. The first time it happened, Kyle glared at me with a look of surprise and confusion. The second and third times? Disappointment. I know I know I know! Just don’t squeeze the cup. It’s like the marshmallow test where you put a kid in a room with a marshmallow for something like 4 minutes and he’s pulling his hair out, writhing in his chair, in agony over how long he’ll have to wait until the marshmallow is his. I am the marshmallow kid.

Since those first few times, we’ve learned that if I simply hand my cup to Kyle when I’m finished, he’s adult enough for both of us and we can leave without glares from the elderly and church pastors. It doesn’t happen very often with this kind of thing, but every week when I hand him that cup, it feels good to trust him with something I’m really terrible at.

Where I am weak, he is strong.

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Taking Initiative

We were perusing Urban Outfitters the other day, looking at all the bizarre clothing and odd, miscellaneous treasures when I happened upon this strange book.

It was a book about a crazy guy named Banksy, who actually created a documentary we watched a few weeks back. This Banksy character is a graffiti artist from Britain and he’s a lot stranger than I’ll ever understand, but he’s not really why I’m telling you this story anyway.

As I flipped through the book, what I saw were various forms art, most of it abrasive, but some of it awfully beautiful. I turned page after page, studying what made this guy and his entourage of spray-can wielding friends so good at their craft. They talked about how much the enjoyed painting and making semi-controversial (okay, mostly controversial) political statements. They talked about the beauty in their art because of how public it is. Then I happened upon this quote:

Most people in life never take initiative because nobody ever told them to.

I put the book down and just walked away.

We are a country (maybe a world) of people very content to do exactly what people tell us to do. It’s so much easier that way, isn’t it? Someone gives us a task and we either complete it the right way or the wrong way, but if we do it the right way and the end result turns out to be wrong we can just point a finger and say, “she told me to do it this way, it’s not my fault.”

We love that phrase. I love that phrase. “It’s not my fault.” It feels good to say because we get to scrub ourselves clean of that grimy feeling of guilt.

Marriage is so other from that though. There isn’t a “hey, here’s what to do to have a good marriage.” You kind of just wing it and trust God and hope you pick up enough along the way to make everything work well. To have a good marriage (and I speak from observation and not necessarily experience) you have to take initiative because the minute you sit back and rest on your laurels is the minute sin sneaks in and creates a crevice.

So I hope, for Jen and I and for our readers, that we are a group of people who always takes responsibility for our actions, for everything we do.

To Read or Not to Read?

Confession:

We learned something this week in small group that we didn’t know before: some couples actually read scriptures and books together.

I know it sounds lame to all of you who have perfect marriages or huge expectations of the future, but it was so bizarrely foreign to me. I love my husband, and I know we’re one flesh now, but reading together and praying about it? Definitely a new concept and not something I ever thought to ask or require of my husband.

My perception of marriage and my spiritual life have always been two different things. I know that marriage doesn’t last beyond this lifetime because the Lord will complete us in eternity, and so I always thought that my spiritual life was my own. That I was responsible for having my time with the Lord daily, for praying about what was on my heart, and for encouraging my husband to do the same. And yet some consider it a Biblical calling to read and pray together with their spouses.

I’ve never read anything in the bible that specifically calls for it, but maybe I haven’t read far enough or paid enough attention. I wanted to ask our readers- do you read and pray with your spouses? Singles, is that something you hope for in your future marriage?

What are we called to share in marriage?

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Silence is Actually a Virtue

Some time ago, we had to implement a rule. We don’t often issue strict rules within our relationship, but some battles require it. That list would include the, “We have to pray before game nights because Kyle can’t control his competitive spirit and makes board games zero fun for all.” We conquered that season, but only by the marvelous grace of God. This most recent rule was for me.

I can sometimes be critical. This characteristic manifests itself most in certain situations:

1. When I’m really hungry and my body starts to physically shut down because the meal we ate six hours ago suddenly seems like six days ago.

2. When we’re running late for something or going somewhere I don’t feel like going at the moment.

3. When my husband drives on an empty tank of gas.

The first two are beyond Kyle’s realm of understanding or control. He doesn’t enjoy them by any means, but he also does a pretty good job of diffusing the situations. Yet when it comes to nagging him about how much gas is left, I am the continual dripping on a rainy day. The wife that makes him wish he was left in the desert to die.

The new rule: I’m not allowed to say anything about how much gas is in the car until we actually run out.

Simple enough. And I’m getting better at it. But for the last 6 months, there have been times when I was literally writhing in the car, hand squeezing the door handle, feet squirming, trying to keep from saying something. I’ve tried holding my breath, turning off the AC to save the fuel, picturing pedestrians getting run over, praying- and I still couldn’t squelch the urge to scream, “Pull over RIGHT NOW!!! We aren’t going to make it!!!”

And yet somehow during the last few months, I’ve started to notice a change in my own heart. Not about the gas issue- I think I’ll always be doubting in my heart- but about the way I speak to my husband. This rule we implemented has taught me that I actually have self control with my words. That I don’t have to say every single thing that comes to my head about what Kyle has done wrong or what I’d rather him be doing at the moment. I can actually be silent! Even if it’s by self-implemented physical force. (I once almost pinched my lips completely off.) But the things it has done for our marriage are countless. Anger in my heart is still there, but it stays there until I can pray it out. Until I can talk to Kyle about it later if it’s something that’s really bothering me- which it usually isn’t. So many arguments are dispelled before they ever start, all because I didn’t open my mouth.

I know this is merely a season and that something new will arise that we will have to combat together, but for now we are really enjoying the joy the comes from long practices of discipline. And we’ll be even more confident in the next battle.

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The Trouble With Time

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The thing about time is that there’s often not enough of it and even more often too much of it.

See none of us are unfamiliar with not having enough hours in the day to work and play and create and enjoy those around us. We often can’t write all the letters we want to or listen to all the music we want or go on all the dates we have planned out in our heads. So we have to choose and that’s precisely what makes this whole orbital ride so exhilaratingly fun.

The too much part though, that’s trickier. I’ve been learning since we wed last June that the values I want to grip tighter and characteristics I desire to fully develop are only properly cultivated over months and through consistency.

The problem with that is I want to be sanctified right now!!

The process is beautiful, I must admit. The day-in and day-out of God leaning on both of us that we might be crushed under other-worldliness to the point that we have no other choice than to become more like Him, well, it’s wonderful. It hurts too.

I want to be a better husband right now. I want to lead more fully today. I want my selfishness to melt before I go to bed.

That’s not how God, or marriage for that matter, works though. I think both are intended to frustrate us and sever us in this otherwise holy way so that our behavior isn’t altered but rather our lives are changed.

For it is only through redemption that we are anything other than what we used to be. And redemption took a couple thousand years to come to fruition.

I think I can wait a few more months.

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A New Approach

The last few weeks around here have been pretty nutso. With Kyle launching his new blog, our nights are generally full of very brief dinners, working on our own things, and making it to bed at very different hours. It’s such an exciting time and we’re so much more grateful for the moments when we do have uninterrupted time together. But some days, unless we make an extreme effort, our only real communication would be through our blog.

Because I struggle with being selfish, I assumed that it would be much more difficult than it has been. It’s actually been a huge joy to watch him work so diligently on something he’s so passionate about. But sometimes I think of things I’d like to share with him or things I want to tell him. By the time we get to hang out, I’m either too delirious in sleep to remember it, or it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten it completely. So for the past few weeks, my mornings have looked exactly like the picture above. My coffee, my oatmeal, and a small notebook.

They aren’t lengthy or profound, but I’ve been writing short letters to Kyle every day telling him what my days are like, what I’ve been seeking the Lord about, and whatever else is on my mind that moment. It’s a small snapshot in time, more heartfelt than a blog post and often more eloquent than our conversation. I leave the notebook in random places where he’ll eventually find it after work and hopefully read it. I think it’s more fun for me than it is for him, but I’ll take it. Of course it isn’t an excuse to replace real conversation- we still sit down to dinner when we’re both home and date nights are still in place- but it’s a joy for me to know that Kyle is seeing my heart. Even through the pages of a notebook.

I know there will be times when we’ll have to adapt. I’ve heard through the whispers of young women that the first few years of having children can get very lonely while spending hundreds of hours awake at night, feeding, changing, and rocking. When that time comes (God willing), we’ll adjust again. Kyle might prefer leaving me voice recordings with his new podcast equipment and my letters might be shorter and written in chalk. But we’re learning, little by little, that less time together isn’t a death sentence for our marriage. If anything, it’s a challenge in creativity. And we will never say no to a challenge like that.

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Under the Rug

About three years ago, Kyle built me an art desk. It was based off one of those really awesome ones you see in the Pottery Barn catalogs with two bookshelves underneath for storage and a nice desktop across the two of them, the perfect height for stamping or tracing or writing. It’s definitely my favorite piece of furniture, and it was amazing to see what he could do and give him suggestions along the way. While working on the desk we learned two things:

1. Every couple should be forced to build a massive piece of furniture together before they get engaged.
2. No couple should have access to power tools or sharp objects while working together on any project.

We still aren’t sure how these coincide, but we aren’t willing to try it again any time soon.

In the last few months, due to space constraints and changing needs, we broke down the desk. We’re currently using the two bookshelves in separate places, but had no idea what to do with the massive and weighty desktop until we move to a bigger place. Because I stuffed our under-the-bed space full of scrapbook paper and crafties, we had to find another inconspicuous spot. One of us had the idea to store it under the couch, the main focal point of our living room. If it was any bit bigger in any direction, the thing wouldn’t have fit. But as it were, no one can tell it exists. Including us.

Sometimes Kyle and I will disagree about something so strongly that we can’t see straight. Those times are getting fewer and farther between as we learn to pick our battles, but there have been a few occasions when we’ve had to agree to disagree. The issue seems to disappear, and yet it’s only hidden under a big piece of furniture. We’re pretty good at hiding it, but it’s always there, waiting to be discovered the next time around.

I was vacuuming the rug a few weeks ago when I scooted the couch just enough to where I could see a bit of the desktop sticking out. I swept around it and kept on cleaning, but I know it’s only a matter of time before I’ll forget it’s there. I can keep it hidden all I want, but at some point it’s going to catch the rug and trip me up.

And that is the irony of it all.

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The Man I Married

As great as my husband is, life doesn’t really offer many opportunities to brag about him in front of other people. So when we had a friend come stay with us this past weekend and he asked whether or not I would ever start my own blog, I knew this was my chance.

You see, what Kyle says about me is true, though not only in the world of crafting. I’m not quite sure what I’m lacking, but I know it’s something very key to being successful in a business or a blog. I’m the reason we have piles of magazine clippings that will never be organized and a kitchen that will remain 90% painted until we move out. My brain is constantly churning, but focusing that energy is like inventing the atom bomb all over again. If I were to set out on my own, I’d definitely need him there to push me and keep me focused. The reason Our Marriage Project works? Because he keeps me on task and sometimes ties me to the desk chair until I produce a post. Besides the fact that it’s physically impossible, I just don’t like the idea of tying myself up in one particular thing. Call it immaturity, lack of discipline, or just general zooiness; I don’t naturally have everything it takes, but Kyle knows how to bring it out in me.

I was in the middle of bragging on my husband, speaking each word with genuine adoration, when I looked over at him. At that moment, his moment to shine, he had a cup hanging out of his mouth. Not as in he was taking a drink, but he was biting the lip of a cup, hands free, so it protruded outward from his face.

You can only imagine the amount of pride I had at that moment. It provided a good laugh, but sometimes marriage makes a fool out of you. As soon as you think you’ve got your spouse figured out, they do things that resemble a 6 year old. And then there are days when you’re the 6 year old and you’re more confused than anyone.

To my God-fearing, book-reading, cup-eating husband: thanks for bringing out the best in me. If the cup starts to leave a crease on your forehead, we’ll be forced to work on your table manners. Until then, shine on.

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