A Contrast of Centuries

Recently a friend said to me, “I have to confess that I really love reading your blog, mostly because it helps me realize that I’m not completely crazy.” And isn’t that what friendship is all about? You find people who are rather similar to you, mostly because you’re encouraged to find that insanity dwells in us all. I’m not the only wife who has cried over a failed lobster night, nor will I be the last.

Sometimes I find solace in the written word, and while it should be the holy Bible, this week it manifests itself in a work of fiction that has been a source of giggles and encouragement to me in the last 11 months. Though its pages reflect the early 1800’s, the content is quite similar to today. It simply goes to show that we have been the same for all of eternity; ladies, let the crazy live on. Here, a contrast of my heart and another 200 years earlier.

I’ll just say it: sometimes the blog gets in the way of our marriage. Yes, I am so excited that Kyle is doing what he loves and having a great time with it, but sometimes I hand him his dinner plate and expect to sit at the table, only to watch him take it directly to the computer, put on his headphones, and eat there. To be fair, that only happened once. You can all imagine why.

February 16, 1837
Our honeymoon ends today. There hasn’t been quite as much honey in it as I expected. I supposed that Ernest would be at home every evening, at least, and that he would read aloud, and have me play and sing, and that we should have delightful times together. But now he has got me he seems satisfied and goes about his business as if he had been married a hundred years.

Even as I write these things, I feel rather ridiculous, but such is the heart of a woman. Sometimes Kyle and I have discussions on how I don’t necessarily have to hang out with him all the time, but I just want him to want to hang out with me. If you’re a man, go back, try to process that, and then give up.

Then in the evening he goes and sits in his office and studies; I don’t mean every minute, but he certainly spends hours there. Today I got a letter from Mother, which made me cry at once. He came and embraced me and I told him I was lonely and hadn’t been used to spending my evenings all by myself.
“You must get some of your friends to come see you,” he said.
“I don’t want friends,” I sobbed. “I want you.”
“Yes, darling; why didn’t you tell me sooner? Of course I will stay with you if you wish it.”
“If that is your only reason, I am sure I don’t want you.”
He looked puzzled.

I’m sure no one else has ever had these conversations, just me and little Katherine. My heart immediately wonders if I am being unreasonable and selfish, but I just can’t help but feel these things. I often think back to our dating relationship and think about all the letters we wrote one another, all the nights we spent talking over coffee, on walks, listening to music. And in my head, nothing should have changed, though I know this life is always evolving.

Am I unreasonable and childish? What is married life? An occasional meeting, a kiss here and a caress there? Or is it the sacred union of the twain who walk together side by side, knowing each other’s joys and sorrows and going Heavenward hand in hand?

And thus wages the battle between the poetic souls of women and the practical hearts of men. It must happen, I suppose, in order to get anything done and maintain all the order in the universe. Otherwise the world would run completely out of coffee and paper, and no one wants to live in a world like that.

It’s the Little Things

Lots of places to go with a title like that, huh?

It has come to my attention (who starts a sentence like that outside of British Parliament?) in the last few days and/or weeks through a bit of gentle appropriate reminding by my wife that I am failing.

I am failing to create time within our marriage to converse and grow. I am failing to carve out special moments for the two of us to share. And I am failing, mostly, to grasp that our wedded bliss is about something other than my day-to-day happiness.

Not abject failures, but failures nonetheless.

The good news, for me, and for any of you XY’s out there, is that I’m (we’re) close.

10 minutes of turning my phone off and being locked into what my wife is saying here. 15 minutes of shutting the computer down and cooking a quick dinner with her there. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with a wife whose attention span rivals that of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, so she doesn’t ask for multiple-hour-long blocks. She just wants me, the person she married, to be here, the place we live for short amounts of memorable time together.

Like I said…the little things.

Three Pictures from the Weekend

Babies, babies everywhere. I think we probably know about 25 people who are set to give birth this year, and this weekend produced two babies within our circles. This one I get to post because we’re related, whether he likes it or not. He belongs to my cousin and his beautiful wife- I can’t wait to meet him and whisper in his ear that he’s got it really good and to enjoy life while he can. That’s my favorite thing to do with babies. Welcome to the world, little Logan David. Being alive is hard sometimes, but we’re cheering for you.

This weekend, I sewed a dress. It had pockets and sleeves and it almost has a zipper, which makes me so giddy I can hardly stand up straight. I’m on the last page of instructions, and while the pieces don’t match up the way they should, I will not be deterred. I had only two goals in mind when starting this project: 1) Don’t spill anything on it and 2) finish. So far, so good.

Last night we had a smorgasbord of raw and roasted veggies for dinner including our favorite summer snack: salsa. It’s a very secret recipe that’s only secret because it changes every time we make it. Last night we used tomatoes, carrots, bell pepper, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and salt and pepper. Chop, chop, chop. I see this in our future every day until all the vegetables dry up for the winter.

What’s a moment from the weekend you wish you would have captured in film?

Sunday Letter

Dear husband,

Thank you for my new phone. This game where I yell out, “Whose number is this?” and you use the search feature to check my Google contacts is pretty fun. Maybe eventually I’ll put them all back in my phone, but for now I’m really enjoying the guessing game behind it all. I’m still not sure where we got the idea to switch phone companies, sell our old phones, change our minds, and switch back, but it’s been a good week for life lessons. I’m sorry you have to wait until November to get a new one, but by then you can tell me about all the new bells and whistles and fancies it has, and I’ll pretend to be jealous. I’m still not sure what higher power kept you from taking this phone yourself and giving me the less desirable one; that’s something I would have thought even Jesus himself wouldn’t have been able to overcome in you. Thanks for being selfless.

I still can’t believe that Zeb and I had the whole night to ourselves this week. I could have sworn you were going to be home for my fancy dinner, but it was sort of fun to eat it all myself. Thanks for bringing the Sonic drink at midnight as a peace offering. I’m not even sad that it kept me up until 4am- it was worth every drink. For our next fancy dinner I think we’ll just have salmon. Unless you’re up for cooking the lobsters.

I had so much fun with you last night. Thanks for cooking fajitas and taking me for ice cream while we listened to Robert Johnson and the sound of planes landing so close by. It was just the perfect mingling of two separate centuries, mixed together with all our thoughts and the faint scent of mint chocolate chip.

Cheers to being your bride-

Jen

The Adventures of Zeb

Welcome to the adventures of Zeb. Zeb is, of course, the lobster I killed last night after lots of prayer and a glass of wine. Okay, two glasses of wine. I would have been able to do it minus the vino had Zeb been dead upon purchase. But if you buy a dead lobster, let’s be honest; there’s really no reason to name him.

After much research on the subject of boiling a lobster, I realized two things. One, I can do this. And two, researching anything online leads you to some pretty interesting websites. See below:

Some say that you can ‘hypnotize’ a lobster by rubbing the top of its head or its abdomen, thereby pacifying it before boiling. The theory is that the adrenaline produced by a frightened lobster adversely affects the texture and flavor of the meat. I have never seen or tasted any evidence of this, but if you want to cover all possible bases, go ahead and hypnotize your lobster.

I made fun of this guy in my head until I actually tried to boil Zeb. It was then that I realized that his lifeless little body wasn’t so lifeless, and hypnosis would have been my best friend. For when I put him in the boiling water, he began to squirm and proceeded to use his tail to grasp onto the side of my not-so-lobster-sized pot and pry himself out. Even writing this, I’m feeling squeamish. I gasped heartily, grabbed the tongs, and tried to maneuver him back into the water. There was lots of splashing and wrestling, and right before I passed out, Zeb relinquished. At this point I debated on a third glass of wine, but decided against it for the sake of my lemon butter. I set the timer for ten minutes (the standard time I gathered from about 15 different sites) and proceeded to wait.

After taking Zeb out of the water I started to dig the meat out. This would have been much easier had I owned a lobster cracker, but after multiple trips to several stores I settled on my kitchen knife and a pair of scissors from Hobby Lobby. It eventually yielded acceptable results, though I soon began to realize why no one bothers to cook lobster. It’s not because it’s difficult to prepare, but because it takes so much work to eat. I’m not sure who decided to make this a worldwide delicacy, but if he’s still alive I’d like to talk with him. It really was delicious with the amazing lemon butter and savory meat, but in the end, all you really have are bits of shell and a wine cork that smells strongly of lobster.

Rest in peace, Zeb.

Lobster Day

Today is “clean out the pile of crap in our bedroom that we meant to donate months ago” day. I have a love/hate relationship with these days. They’re so hard to get started, but once you’re on a roll, you want to get rid of EVERYTHING. Fortunately for us, we’re able to hand all of our goodies to a family that’s having a garage sale, they keep the money, and we never see our stuff again. (Thanks, Jen!)

Today is also “let’s learn how to cook a lobster” day. I don’t really know what happened- I think I read too many Martha Stewart Living articles on how to have the ideal summer party. Tonight’s party is just going to include the husband and I, but maybe if I perfect this lobsterness, we can have the ideal summer party too. As long as our lobsters don’t have us for the party first.

What are you learning today? Has anyone ever cooked a lobster?

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The Gospel in Unlikely Places

You know the old saying, “You never appreciate how many great mentors you have in your life until you ask them to write blog posts for your marriage blog?” No? No one? Well we’ll call it a new phrase then.

Walk into the Hebrews coffee shop in tiny Perry, Oklahoma and it’ll feel less like a small town and more like an uptown cafe in a much larger city. With towering front windows that look out onto the courthouse lawn, massive ceilings, and local artwork covering the exposed brick walls, I sometimes giggle to think that this little town barely knows what hit it. I (Jen) had the great pleasure of working with Tina at our church in Oklahoma until she and her husband followed God’s calling to an unlikely and often forgotten place: small town Oklahoma. Three cheers for their courage and all they’re doing to advance the gospel in small places. Try not to smell the coffee and muffins as you read. I dare you.

Someone asked us at the counter last week if opening up a coffee shop had been our lifelong dream. Brian and I just looked at each other and smiled a secret smile that 28 1/2 years of marriage lets us do. The short answer was, “No, it wasn’t our dream. It was God’s plan for us.” Our education background is education and psychology. We’ve taught school, worked in career services at Oklahoma State University, and most recently, LifeChurch.tv. Our restaurant experience together totals 1-2 years tops–mine at Hardee’s the summer after high school, and Brian’s at Eskimo Joe’s.

For the first 21 years of our marriage, Brian and I did not follow Christ. We re-committed our lives in 2005, and since we were such late bloomers, we both prayed boldly that God would use us however He saw fit. We acknowledged that our lives no longer belonged to us and we were willing to answer His call, whatever that might be. God answered our prayer by putting us on the fast track to living a life for Him. We started attending LifeChurch.tv in Stillwater, began volunteering after 6 months, joined a lifegroup for 5 months, then led one the next fall. During this time, God was working behind the scenes, and before we knew it we became employeess at LifeChurch.tv in jobs that neither one of us applied for.

Several months after starting his job in Edmond, Brian felt God calling him to plant a church. He was commuting back and forth from Stillwater every day–a forty-five minute drive each way. Brian and God had many conversations during his commute. It took a handful of months, and many conversations for Brian to accept this calling from God. You must know that he is introverted by nature and he’s also a high “thinker” on the Myers-Briggs personality scale, so while all this was going on, he was keeping it between himself and God. In my little world, I was just getting used to joining the workforce after 11 years of homeschooling the kids and working from home. This change was a major adjustment for me and for our family as a whole.

Needless to say, when Brian finally decided to share what God had put on his heart 6 months earlier, the timing was not great and the declaration was met with tears…many tears on my part (By the way, I’m a high “feeler” on the personality scale–yes, opposites do attract and marriages can work!) However, God knew what he was doing and he had put us right where He wanted us. We continued to work and grow in our relationship with God and in our positions at LC.tv, literally soaking up all we could from the amazing environment we found ourselves in 7 days a week.

Fast forward 2 years. I got over the tears for the most part. God helped me get on board when he gave me a double SOS during a fast–Surrender, Obey & Submit and Serve Others Sacrificially. He let us know that planting a coffee shop along with the church would be our passport into the community. We discovered that He brought us to Perry to build relationships (through HeBrews, the coffee shop we now operate), change lives (which we have seen and continue to see over and over), unite churches (we have a growing relationship with a local church and share distribution in their food ministry), and transform the community (this one is on the horizon, and is multi-faceted; God is moving and stirring us with His work and plans at present).

Looking back we feel like God was preparing us all along to work side by side, even when we weren’t following Him. We taught school together, worked at OSU together, worked at LifeChurch.tv together, and now spend nearly all of our waking hours working side by side at HeBrews doing the work God has called us to do.

Our days are long, but fulfilling. We get along without tension or irritation 97% of the time. (The other 3% might be a different blog post altogether!!) In the year HeBrews has been open, we have shared in life-change stories told at the counter, at a table over a cup of coffee, or in the experience room during one of our two weekly church services. Whenever we wonder if making mochas, baking blueberry muffins, or mopping floors is really what God wants us to do, all we have to do is reflect on stories told, or listen to people right in front of us, and anticipate the stories that have yet to be told.

Build relationships, change lives, unite churches, and transform the community. That’s the vision God has given us here. Staying laser-focused on His plan for us requires us to remember Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light for my path.” One step of obedience at a time while he reveals each step through His word, His people, circumstances and prayer.

No, we didn’t have a lifelong dream to open a coffee shop or plant a church, but God had that dream for us. He knew long before we gave our lives to Him what He had in store for us. Now it is our privilege to carry out those plans each morning at 6am as we make our way down to HeBrews to serve the people in Perry…the people He has called us to serve.

Honesty = Best Policy

Can I revel in a moment of transparency right now?

Well you can’t really stop me so here goes…I was supposed to write the post today. I was supposed to come up with something witty or enlightening or maybe spiritual and post it for all our readers to sift through.

Jen and I usually trade off (or try to trade off) doing the posts every other day and today was my day.

But I got distracted last night and woke up really late this morning. I was watching the Thunder and “I’ll write the post after this shot” turned into “my gosh it’s 1 AM and I’m completely exhausted” and well…here we are.

So I apologize for those of you coming today for something deep and to those of you who are coming for the first time wondering “who is this joker who won’t stop pontificating about the post he should have written in the time he could have actually completed a real post.” I apologize.

And as reparations for my misdeeds I offer you this, the culmination of my Monday night Tuesday morning.

In Love and War

Last Wednesday, as we walked into church for our congregation’s monthly prayer meeting, Kyle and I were in the midst of a domestic dispute. I can’t quite remember what it was about- I was probably irritated about not having eaten dinner or Kyle was upset because I seemed distracted by the fact that he was texting while telling me a story. Either way, it was something really mature. We walked in a few minutes late (because there’s always plenty of seating at prayer meetings) and both sat down in a huff, arms crossed, ready to address the triune God in all his glory. Almost immediately the pastor stands up and says, “Father, thank you for this time for us to gather in your name. Please bless our time together, heal broken marriages…” at which point I feel my husband’s strong finger poking in my back. This brought on some very serious giggles, followed by a snort, which was followed up with stares from the ones who were actually mature enough to attend the prayer meeting.

Sometimes I’m not sure what we’re doing. I honestly think we both had very realistic expectations going into marriage. But sometimes I think our expectations were of what our marriage should be. Not what we thought it would be. When you’re dating, it actually seems very realistic to think you’ll spend lots of time talking, dreaming, and gazing into one another’s eyes in marriage. That’s what you do when you’re dating. It’s easy to think that’s what marriage should be like because it’s all you know of love at that point. You think you’ll never argue over finances because you were each great at managing your own. You’ll never get tired of being together because you always had the opportunity to go home.

Well, my friends, we’re still working on all these things. It’s difficult for me to be realistic about our time together because I genuinely want more of it. It’s difficult for Kyle to relax a little on finances because he genuinely wants to buy a house in the semi-near future. When these things are matters of the heart, we realize that it’s about more than compromise.

And some days, changing the heart seems like the most impossible task in the world.

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