What’s in a Year?

Somehow I’ve managed to live my life in one year increments. Ever since high school, there’s either been a job change, a house change, or a change in marital status right around once a year. I think it has something to do with the structure of academic semesters and summer holidays, but breaking yourself of that pattern as an adult can be quite difficult. I call it the one year itch, Kyle calls it baffling, but my desire for something new is satiated in semi-major life changes every 365 days or so. And yet I sit here in our little apartment and feel nothing major occurring within my heart or outside of it. After completing a full year of blogging once a day, we’ve both started to wonder what the next year will hold. It’s funny how there have been days I haven’t been able to think of a single thing to write, and now I’m inundated with enough ideas to fill up a month’s worth of posts. My darling journal will finally see some action once again. Or at least more action than the scotch taped pictures I find from catalogs to fill its pages.

I know I said back in January that Genesis and I were finished with our meet and greets, but I’ve started a one year bible reading plan. Two people inspired me in this recently- Chelsea is on track with day 140 something and Nathan is in the second year of his one year plan. I figure that I’ll either succeed or I’ll fail, but I’ll just push through, even if it takes me three years. The fact that I’m already on day 8 offers me a little encouragement, plus it’s been really fun. Come on bible, let’s focus.

The husband has started a blog project in the world of sports, and even though it’s not an every day project, he ends up blogging sometimes 2-3 times a day. This, as we’ve discussed, will either be a two year fun project or someone will eventually pay him money to do it. It’s unfortunate for him, but I’m not the type of wife who can be patient for more than two years while her husband works a part-time job without getting paid for it. I might not even be that patient if he was getting paid for it, but that’s really just showing you too much of my heart.

Sometimes we want to do things like open a snow cone stand (Dallas has a shocking lack of them) or spend all our savings on a mobile living space and travel the country (that’s only me) or start our own businesses or write a book or move to another country just for fun and blog about it as though everyone wants to read it. But for now, our hearts are rather settled on taking it easy and figuring things out one day at a time. Maybe living life one year at a time has decided it isn’t for me.

Or maybe it will just become a two year itch.

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Let the Countdown Begin

Sometimes we look at the past year and wonder how it’s gone so quickly. Other times we wonder how we’ve only been married for one year and not ten. With eleven days left to go in our “Julie and Julia” blog project, we’ve got a bittersweet feeling that comes with the end of any era. We’ve been praying about what to do with this thing since January, and we both feel like the Lord has given us much closure in moving on, in letting it be a digitally tangible example of how we lived, what we ate, and who we met during our first year of marriage. The husband is already on to new projects, and the wife can’t possibly stay out of writing for long, though God only knows when she’ll commit to doing anything for longer than a week. We pray for that daily.

All that to say, we’d like to use this post as an opportunity to answer questions about marriage, about blogging, about anything you’d like to know from us (silly or not). If no one participates, it will just be like every other post on this blog. But at this point, with eleven days left, we’ve really got nothing to lose!

Have at it: If you could ask us one question, what would it be?

The Words We Speak

I think a lot about words. In fact, I spend most of my days thinking about words: the ones I read, the ones I try to write, the ones I want to say to people. Words are, in many ways, are the currency by which we trade ideas, thoughts, and even feelings.

So why is it that so often I find my movements, the things my body and my eyes and my hands and my feet and my mouth do, stray so far from the words I write and think?

I write that I love my wife and yet the words I say to her belie that. I think I’m disciplined and yet my ability to hit find the “snooze” button without touching the “OK” button on my iPhone is unparalleled. (Seriously- if that were an Olympic event I’d be representing the U.S. every four years). I blog on here that I am this or I do that and yet, nine times out of ten, I find my actions betraying that which I believe.

Paul wrote on this extensively in Romans, I know, it just seems so…other…to me that I, in all my humanness, am unable to overcome such things.

We are taught from a young age that we can overcome, that we can be stronger than the strength of the world, that we can outlast the daggers of sin and shame.

Which is why it seems so foreign to me that I need God in such a simplistic way, and yet I do. I always do.

Signs of Spring and a One Hour Chronicle

Last night, as the evening storm approached, I walked out to the dumpster, the day’s trash in hand, waiting to be Dorothied to Oz. The back alley at work smells strongly of rotten milk and whatever industrial cleaner they use to cover it up. For quite some time, it caused me to think I had lost my sense of smell, no longer able to tell the difference between freshly clean or freshly putrid. The truth is, I have been praying for rain for a month. While I’ve slept through a few storms in the last few weeks, seen a few signs of lighting in the distance, I have yet to see a full blown storm with my own eyes. And until I smell the damp air, feel the rain on my skin, see the navy colored skies swirling around me, I can’t quite believe it’s actually spring. And now it’s started to pour.

As I make a mad dash to my old red truck, my shoes filling more with water with each step, I can’t help but giggle inside. I pull myself up into the cab, unable to jump in for lack of mobility in my yellow pencil skirt, kicking off my soggy red flats to let my feet dry. As I pull out of the parking lot, I crack my windows enough to let in the cooler air while only letting in a few drops of rain every now and then. I pull my hair, now damp and clinging to my skin, into a loose bun. I turn up the radio to the local blues station, taking in the gray hazy sun and cars and sounds of tires on water. Even seeing the new cars with air conditioning, windows up, perfect paint jobs, interiors untouched by the falling rain, I can’t help but remember that life is nothing if not felt; From the heat and humidity of the day to the drops of rain on my cheek to the sound of old blues music, which comes from nowhere if not straight from the heart.

I pull into a space across the street from our little red door, walking confidently through the now slowing rain, keys in hand, thunder all around me for miles. I notice our old man neighbor sitting in his car, give a nod and half smile in his direction, and unlock the door. Twenty minutes later, in the same soggy shoes, we leave for a date night dinner. Old man neighbor walks in the red door, gives us a quick hello and a, “It stopped raining, it’s safe to go outside now.” I pause briefly, though only in my head, struggling not to pause in the physical, and secretly hope he didn’t mean to use the word safe. I quickly wonder if he might possibly be a witch, the melting kind of witch, though all my knowledge of sorcery from the children’s books tells me he would have to be a warlock. And with that, my mind is on to dinner.

It’s hard to find a restaurant that will open its patio for dining when there is lighting in the area, but all the storm lovers know that this is the best time to be outside, the scent of the storm lingering, the clouds parting just in time to display the sunset, the pink sky in all her glory. We were seated at a yellow table, sound of dripping gutters and damp streets in the background. In the distance I see a man smoking a cigarette on his front porch. I observe him, wondering what he sees from that porch, what his house and heart are like on the inside. What a strange way for us to meet in this life, me and this man. To me, he is just the man on the porch.

And to him, I am just the girl in the yellow skirt. If I am anything at all.

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On Decisions

If there is a more easily distracted person on the planet, I know not who it would be.

Ever since I was quite young, I’ve found myself always looking toward the next thing. The moment I get bored with something, I start looking for something else to do, usually to the chagrin of family, friends, teachers, and employers. Sometimes it takes ten minutes, sometimes a year, but eventually, the only excitement my heart finds in my tasks is thinking about the next one.

Sometimes it affects me in small ways. Only half the dishes are finished when I get the divine inspiration for a new skirt that gets laid aside when I run out of thread which leads me to Joann’s to buy more where I get the inspiration to make some new pillowcases which leaves the skirt in my unfinished project box. The pillowcases take me longer than planned, which leads to me thinking about cooking dinner which leads me back to the fact that our dishes aren’t all clean and that I need to get food from the store. This leads to half a table of dinner and half a table of random sewing projects.

And sometimes it’s much bigger than that. I get a job that’s exciting for a few months and then it becomes monotonous. I start thinking about the next step which leads me to questions like, “What if I went back to school? What if I had a child? What if I started my own business? What if we moved to [insert state or country of your choice here]? What if I wrote a novel?” usually all in that order and within a five minute timespan.

My husband is so driven. He sets his mind to something and he sticks with it, seeing it to fruition with discipline and unshaken devotion. I. Don’t. Understand. It. I only wish I could decide on any one thing and finish it. As it is, I feel destined for nothing but a swirly, unsettled life.

Oh, to have a heart less restless.


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A Case for Very Small Mirrors

Some time ago, something happened which has made getting ready in the mornings much faster and much more enjoyable. It was quite on accident, and I didn’t even really notice until just recently. We have not one full length mirror in our house.

We have a few mirrors scattered throughout our little space, but none that help at all with full wardrobe decisions. If this had happened with my knowledge, if I had broken the one I had or if a mirror bandit came in and stole it, I would have been quite upset and gone out to buy a new one. But as it is, I don’t actually miss it.

In exploring this more, I have found a few things:

1. Getting ready is much more enjoyable. I spend much less time trying things on. In fact, I have found myself doing something I never did before: pulling something out of my closet, putting it on, and wearing it for the rest of the day. For guys, this sounds ridiculous since you do this all the time, but there isn’t one girl out there who hasn’t piled her bed full of tried-on clothes, only to find that nothing in her closet is acceptable.

2. I don’t really care if I don’t look perfect. This could be a combination of phenomenons. For one, I am married, so I just care a little less about trying to impress people, boys specifically. For another, I have now worked two jobs in a row that allow me to wear jeans to work. I will never go back. Also, the less often I stare at myself in the mirror, the more I like the way I look.

3. I don’t always want to run out and buy new clothes. This is quite fortunate, considering my vow to buy used clothing is still in effect for another few months. I’m not even sure I look good in skinny jeans, but having them on means that I’m clothed. And that’s really all that matters.

I once heard a quote that has come to mind quite often in the last few months. I can’t remember the words exactly or even who spoke them, but they were something to this effect:

“Any time you’re worried about what to wear for a certain occasion, just remember: Everyone else will be too caught up in what they’re wearing to even notice.”

And that, my friends, seems to always ring true.


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What Wisdom Is

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. -James 3:13-18

Sometimes as a wife, a friend, a sister, I try to give the best advice I can. It’s always from the heart and I almost always have something to draw from: a past experience, a broken heart, a book I’ve read on the subject. But more often than not, my well-intentioned “wisdom” is tainted with a little bitterness, a little pride, a sprinkling of selfishness. And suddenly what the world would call wisdom is blown away like ashes.

Our small group at church is reading through James together and this is the verse that has found me most unprepared this week. Wisdom is wisdom, right? Isn’t it good to be full of wisdom, even of the earthly kind? I’m finding more and more that the things out of my mouth are more what I think to be true and what I feel at the moment than what the scriptures say. And God doesn’t call that good intentions- He plainly calls it demonic.

For this week I wish two things- to think before I speak and to pray before I think.

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A Daring Adventure

I was reading a blog post a few days ago on the topic of marriage. It gave really basic advice like “Focus Your Attention,” and “Take Care of Yourself,” and “Share Your Feelings.” La-di-da. All very basic but helpful things if you’re starting out on page 1 of marriage. But the author quoted something that I found pretty interesting.

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

With a secular heart, and even believers have them, we often believe that our adventure has to be daring, that it has to be dangerous, that it involves activities like mountain climbing, sailing the open seas, and taking stints in foreign cities. I’m all for traveling and would love to do more of it, but is that the greatest adventure our lives will hold?

Some days when I’m washing dishes, life doesn’t feel so adventurous. But then I look around and think about how we got here and all we’ve done in the last year together. We moved to a new city. We’ve blogged every day for 8 months. We’re always making new friends, working harder to love one another, and we are constantly learning new things. And I’m pretty sure that having kids is going to be one gigantic adventure after another. Perhaps the scenery looks the same every day, but isn’t there some adventure among the mundane?

Imagine what adventure was to Helen Keller. She never even saw the mountains or the open seas, and yet the smallest discovery filled her world with light and excitement. The taste of a new food. The smell of spring and the sun on my face. The dripping of the faucet. When you close your eyes to the world and all of its expectations, most everything is an adventure.

So, dear readers- is this the world’s largest cop out in the name of marriage? Do you see your daily life as a daring adventure or nothing?

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Also, some posts you might have missed over the weekend:
Your Weekend Coffee
A Sunday Letter (snow edition)

What I listened to while I wrote this post: On My Mind- Leona Naess

3 Things I Value

I stopped trying to follow 928 blogs every day. It was killing me. I’d try to read all of them but if I couldn’t do that then I wouldn’t read any because I was so overwhelmed. I was overstimulated with information. So I pared that down to about ten (plus my own new one!) and if I don’t read one day it’s OK because I can easily catch up on all of them in about 30 minutes. I would suggest that all our readers do the same (as long as OMP is one of them) but this wasn’t supposed to be a post about social media etiquette.

One of those blogs I read is written by a guy named Chris Brogan. If you haven’t heard of him he’s probably one of the five most brilliant social media minds in the world right now. His business ideas are outstanding, his discourse concise, and his follow-through unparalleled. The kind of guy who makes you wonder what you do with your 24 hours every day. Anyway, he has this thing he does every January where he picks 3 words that are going to represent his year. They can be any three words, he just has to understand what they mean and how they relate to the work he does.

I thought it was a pretty good idea so I told Jen about it the other day but I gave it a slight twist.

Me: “If you had to pick three words to describe me in 2011, what would they be?”
Her: “Uhh, Oklahoma State, writing, and why are you asking me weird questions?”
Me: “That was eleven words and only two answers.”
Her: “Just go put your headphones on.”

OK, I embellished the last part just a hair, but sometimes it feels like that’s how our conversation goes…

Really though, what I wanted to get at is what three things I’ll do my best to value for the next 365 days (and beyond that, what I’ll value for the rest of my life).

So we talked and here’s what I came up with for the three values I’ll keep closest to my heart in 2011 (and beyond):

  1. Integrity – This has always been my big one. I’ve always felt a sort of tug on my heartstrings when I know I’m not in line with what the Lord would have for me whether anyone is watching or not. I have to say my vigor towards this has been dulled by the sandblaster that is Western society over the past few years but my knowledge of it never waned. Praying my head and heart meet up again soon.
  2. Discipline – It’s something I struggle with. I have so many friends whom I look up to in this area that I sometimes feel less than adequate in my pursuit. It’s a dull pain too. There’s nothing sexy about going to the gym at 5:30AM every day (not that I would know). There’s not a lot of fun to be found in eating what’s right rather than what’s tasty. Even to sit down with the Word sometimes feels like a grind. The journey is good and worthy though, one I should (and sometimes do) revel in.
  3. Wisdom – Andy Stanley did a sermon series a few years ago entitled “the best question ever.” I’m not a real big topical sermon guy but he nailed this one. He said we should simply ask ourselves in any and all situations, “what is the wise thing to do in this situation?” It’s a simple concept with a profound effect.

A father tells his son in Proverbs, “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you.  She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.” [my emphasis added]

So these are my three things, for better or worse. Jen said they were all such boy things to say or something like that…I wasn’t listening. Boys. You know.

What are your three biggest values?

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January Observations

A few observations from the past few weeks:

Having a marriage blog is like having a child.

When we signed up to do this for the entire first year of our marriage, we had no idea it would be like adopting a baby on day one. First of all, I’d like to say that I realize the demands of motherhood are far greater than those of blogging. Yet we find ourselves awake at ridiculous hours, often saying things like, “It’s your turn. I got the last one,” or “Do you have any brilliant ideas?”

It’s your turn to change the diaper.
How do I make this child stop crying?
Sometimes I just want to go to bed.

People often say that having a puppy is great practice for having a child. Sure, puppies are fluffier and cuter than the digital underground, but we’re still trying to figure out how to take care of our marriage blog. We’ll stick to this for now. Thanks.

January is already promising a fun few months ahead.

The holidays are over and plans have begun to reinstate normal life. Some things I’m looking forward to in the next few months that aren’t all about normal life:

French cuisine night
Wine and cheese tasting night (hosted by yours truly)
A painting class
A wine and cheese class (taken before I host the party, lest my guests leave with no new knowledge and curse me in Italian)
Weddings and babies. Those are kind of real life. But really fun.

Watching my husband enjoy his labor is more fulfilling than spending time together.

If you know me at all, you know I enjoy being around people. This is unfortunate for my husband because it often falls on him to be my people. Yes he loves me, but he sometimes finds my constant hand holdings and kisses a little annoying. I know. I don’t get it either.

That being said, the last few months have seen a shift in our relationship. Kyle has been working non-stop on a certain project for a while now, and rather than wish we could be spending time together, I’ve found myself excited to watch him work. I don’t just sit and stare at him (no marriage could take that) but watching him come up with new ideas and actually enjoy his labors? It’s priceless. And our time together is even more enjoyable.

What’s something you’re looking forward to in January? We know you’re all creative- let’s hear about it!

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