Criticism

Whenever I write a long post or put a story together I always send it to one or two of my friends who are smarter than me (wife included) for them to edit.

NOTE: If I’ve never sent you a story don’t be disappointed, you wouldn’t have wanted to read it anyway. All my friends who I’ve brutally asked to sit through 3,000+ mangled words are nodding their heads in agreement right now.

Anyway my friends do a great job helping me edit, showing me where my stories lack, and secretly erasing my lame Justin Bieber references without telling me. All for my own good of course.

I struggle with this process sometimes though. It’s kind of ironic actually, I ask for constructive criticism, they provide above and beyond that, and I silently scream at them in my head when they return it to me:

“Well who died and went and made you Hemingway?!?!”
“Yes, I understand the origin of the semicolon!!!”
“Of course I know it’s ‘their’ and not ‘they’re’, I was just in a hurry, OK!!!”

Then I calm down and realize what a benefit their time and work are to me. They’re vital to the process (see I know how to use it).

Essentially, I asked Jen to be my life editor when I married her. I asked her to come into my world and help clean up my mess so my life’s story, not just the one I’m typing, is more of what the Lord wants it to be. Even as I’m silently screaming at her in my head.

Who’s your favorite author?

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More Friends

We don’t really understand it. Maybe it’s the way of the south, maybe it’s just Dallas. Maybe it’s our charm, though we seriously doubt it. But we know that God is answering prayers left and right in the way of friendships and new beginnings.

Last night we went to dinner with a couple who invited us out to eat after meeting us one time. Okay, Courtney invited me after we met at a girls night and the husbands were forced but went with decent attitudes and smiles. I think a wonderful time was had by all (at least it was on our part) and we seem to be meeting all kinds of friends we’ve long prayed for.

It’s amazing how many people have stepped out to help us get involved with church, who have invited us to hang out, who have taken an interest in our lives. Coworkers, friends of friends, people we accidentally serve with on Sundays. It sounds great and we all know it’s what we’re supposed to do, but it’s so difficult to add new people to the mix. To expand your small group. To open your heart and your schedule to new people when they’re already so full. So today we pay tribute to the truly hospitable strangers who are becoming less strange and more familiar. Sort of like our new home.

Thanks to all of our new friends who challenge us already. You are salt and light.

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Love the stranger, therefore, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 10:18-19

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Camping is Intense (get it?)

I went camping this weekend with three of my better college friends. They’re the kind of guys it’s easy to rekindle (no pun intended) good conversations with around a weekend of hiking and other manly things (like driving 20 miles from our campsite to watch the Oklahoma State game at a Buffalo Wild Wings). They’re also the kind of guys who aren’t ashamed to borrow camping supplies from their girlfriends/wives, so we didn’t have to go far in the conversation before humility came up.

Anyway, here are 7 unsolicited thoughts on marriage from 4 guys who have been married a combined 36 months. Grains of salt and such…

1. Pursue who you actually like – file this away under the “don’t over-think it” category. The idea of liking someone is fun, but it’s vastly different from actually liking who that person is. Especially when you have to get to live with them 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

2. Continue to romance – This is something we all admitted we struggle with. It’s just so comfortable to fall into the “let’s just hang out, cook dinner together, and read every night” routine. Romance is different. It’s emotionally strenuous. It’s necessary.

3. Learn how she learns – As the male is the de facto leader of the pack, it seems to us that to understand the way your wife learns things is an effective way to lead her to the places God would have for both of you. Then again, we also gleaned hours of entertainment from burning plastic spoons so maybe “us” and “leadership” need to get reacquainted.

4. Ask “why am I doing this?” – This goes hand in hand with #3. In fact, I think asking “why am I doing this?”, honestly answering, and changing our actions based on that answer would solve 75% – 99% of all marital fighting. But we’re human so it’s not always that easy.

5. Love her generously – All four of us commented multiple times about how wonderful our wives/girlfriends are about submitting to our leadership and playing the beautiful role God would have for them in the relationship. It’s easy for us to take this for granted and yet in today’s world where women are idolized for all the wrong reasons it’s up to us, as guys, to lavish our girls with praise for their humility and honor.

6. Be consistent – The most difficult of all these if only for the longevity needed to accomplish such a task. It’s funny (and not funny) that 35 years of consistency can be thwarted by 1 minute of indiscretion. Success = prayer + humility.

7. Protect at all costs – The tie that bound this weekend was how much we, as Christians, come under attack. And the (sometimes) humorous punch line was that these attacks aren’t always from who we would deem “enemies.” During one of our long talks, one of the guys said, “Satan works in creative ways” while we all nodded in agreement.

As we stared at the fire’s embers deep into Friday and Saturday night, we thought about how to protect our marriages, protect our wives, and protect our hearts from spiritual warfare. We went camping to have a weekend with the boys and it turned out (as it usually does…) to be all about the girls. I think God was laughing at us and smiling too.

I think he likes camping trips to be like that.

What would you add to this list?

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Link Love

[Starting clockwise from the top…you can click on the pictures OR the links below]

A great new e-book from somebody creating art. Who doesn’t love a blog called ‘messy canvas’? Isn’t that kind of the point of this whole thing? Have at it…

Some of our best friends have a blog (yes, they’re awesome, thanks for asking). If you haven’t checked it out, this was one of my favorite posts of September.

A pretty intense story about an entrepreneur who thinks he’s a cross between Zuckerburg and Jobs. He’s trying to take over the world (maybe literally) and he’s really bizarre.

We’re headed to see Big Tex today. Major fist pumpage going on in the Porter household. Fried margaritas for everyone! You guys have a good weekend.

Photo Attribution: Canvas | NYT

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Stillwater…and such

It’s Labor Day. I’ve always found it ironic that we don’t work on Labor Day, no?

In case you missed it last week here’s my college football preview and (not to be outdone) Jen’s. Hers is high comedy, possibly the highest form of comedy I could possibly glean from a blog.

By the way blog isn’t in predicted text for Word in case anyone was wondering. This is 2010 and not 1020, correct?

We’re driving home today after an awesome 4 days with some of our oldest friends and both of our families. We miss Stillwater, Jen is starting to obsess over Dallas and I suppose I’ve lived worse places than one where I’m 20 minutes from watching every Josh Hamilton at-bat my eyes can handle. But we do love Stillwater.

There’s just something so magical about it, as if it continues to progress economically but the spirit of its people is frozen in time. It’s a slow place so not much changes, which is ironic in a town where the populated turnover is at least 50%.

Maybe we’ll retire there someday. I just started my career like 19 months ago and I’m already speaking of retirement, this cannot be good. Or maybe it will just be what it has been to us. Not the place we grew up but, at the same time, the place we grew up.

I could get into a lengthier-than-you-care-to-read post about the ways in which Stillwater and the people I’ve met there have affected me but I’ll spare you. It’s non-working Labor Day, remember? But I will say this, some special moments in my life went down there, things I’ll never forget. It’s one of those places that gets inside you and every time you sit down to really think about the memories you made  something wells up within your being that you can’t explain with words or thoughts. It’s just this overwhelming sense of goodness. Maybe I’m the only one experiences it but I hope not because it makes me feel like I was alive when I was in that place.

What town or city or place or thing makes you feel nostalgic like that?

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T Free

I love technology. The things you can do with a phone or a computer remain relatively unfathomable to me. I actually probably love technology a little bit too much (when a person can conference call/stare at another person halfway around the world on a device no bigger than a brownie, how can I be blamed?) so Jen has to reel me in sometimes. Of course, she wishes we still lived in the 1920s and churned our own butter…but that’s a different post for a different day.

Anyway, yesterday we went to the lake with a small mixture of old and new friends. We played on the jet skis, went tubing, got sunburned, ate a ton of food, and sat around in hammocks and chatted about our lives. Basically if you could create the ideal day at the lake, this was it. At some point late in the afternoon we headed in from having our bodies flung about the water on a giant raft Chuck Noland would have killed a man for. My friend and I were chatting back and forth and he said “isn’t it like the best thing ever to not have your phone with you and not have anything to do or worry about?” “Yeah,” I exclaimed, “it feels pretty good.” It did too, it was the perfect end to our summer (I know Summer isn’t technically over until the end of September but for me it’s over next Saturday because I measure seasons by sporting events…and college football starts next Saturday…judge me).

I could go on and on about technology and its pitfalls and how it sucks our souls clean of every good thing, but I would just like to encourage you to do this: take a technology-free day, or at least half-day. No phones, no computers, no iPads, Kindles, anything. Just you, some friends, some family, some good food…and just enjoy being alive.

We used to do fast from technology on Sundays (though writing on this blog has temporarily killed that) and we enjoyed it to the point that we looked forward to that day more than any other day of the week. It was refreshing. So stop reading this and go get some sunshine! We encourage you to do something similar. Your iPhone won’t break up with you while you’re gone. Promise.

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To Have a Friend

Moving to a new city proves to be more challenging in some areas than others. I’ve decided which supermarket I like best, I know how to get to my favorite thrift stores, and can even go most places without a map. Our apartment is shaping up, the days are proving to be much less mundane, and I’m starting to feel more at home all the time. However, we keep coming back to this one tiny issue: We really only have a few friends here.

When we left Stillwater, we were in the middle of everything. I worked for a church, which connected me immediately to 150 volunteers, 9 staff members, their volunteers, and every person who came through our doors on a weekend. Kyle had great community within his work. Our weeks would usually be full of softball or basketball games, coffee with friends, evenings at the church, or great conversation with roommates over dinner and wine. And while we knew a few people coming into this great city, it still provides a stark contrast to the fellowship and friendship we had in our recent past. Here’s a synopsis of our friend making so far:

–       We see a fun looking couple on the street walking their dog. One of us says, “Ooh they look really cool.” The other agrees.

–       We drive by an old woman working in her garden. I say, “Oh Kyle I bet she’s so sweet. I want to be friends with her.” She keeps digging. We keep driving.

–       We shake hands with people sitting next to us at church. But only on the weeks they make us. We make eye contact, sit back down, and one of us says, “They look like a fun couple to hang out with.” The other nods. End of discussion.

–       One week at church Kyle leaves to use restroom. Comes back with fly open. Negates everyone who sat close to us that week as possible future friends.

–       The next week we arrive at church and I realize I’ve forgotten to brush my teeth. Knocks out another 10-12 fun looking couples. Almost literally. No discussion that week.

And the list goes on. We find ourselves surrounded by possible community and fellowship everywhere, and yet it seems very out of reach. So we continue to play “I Spy” with unsuspecting Dallas residents while we wait for small groups to start at church in September. And hope that none of them sat by us for examples 4 or 5.

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Thoughts From This Week

I’m thinking about maybe turning this Thoughts From The Week thing into our Sunday post much like we post links to other awesome blogs/sites/products/stories on Saturdays. Weekends are weird on blogs (people don’t read nearly as much) but we’ll try to keep things fresh and original over here. Try being the key word there. Onto a few things I thought this week:

  1. We played tennis yesterday, it was a train wreck in the same way experiencing Lindsay Lohan is a train wreck: dramatic, hilarious, at times enjoyable, and an intense desire to bathe afterwards.
  2. One of our friends (this girl) came down to have brunch with us on Saturday (well she didn’t solely come down to eat and talk for 2 hours with us, but we don’t have a lot of friends down here so just let us imagine it that way!) and it was awesome. We talked about theology, weddings, sports, travel, and food…you know, the types of things old friends should talk about, it was like an excerpt from Eat, Pray, Love and I was James Franco (in my head anyway).
  3. The new Ray LaMontagne album is fresh (I’m trying to branch on my descriptive adjectives…forgive me).
  4. Why is shopping for groceries the married couple equivalent of the Peloponnesian War? Should it really be that difficult to select a group of edible products you can both agree on for a given period of time (in our case 7 days). I feel like I have to armor up like Brad Pitt in Troy every time we walk in Kroger. I should really probably take it easy on the movie star comparisons….
  5. Groupon is doing for date nights what Dungeons and Dragons did for the 18-25 year old geeky American male. It’s a revolution.

Enjoy that Sunday afternoon nap  I know you’re about to take…

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TFTW

Thoughts From The Weekend (in case you were wondering):

Marriage:Dating as PF Changs:Chili’s – Chili’s is fine, and it’s good to go there with friends and eat decent food but then when you go to PF Chang’s you find yourself saying things like “wait, why did we go to Chili’s? We never want to go back to Chili’s, we just want to stay at PF Chang’s forever. How is Chili’s still in business?” And thankfully, since this is a hypothetical SAT-style statement, you do in fact get to stay at PF Chang’s forever…despite the real-life monetary difference

The list of “places I would lobby for us to live at if we ever just randomly stopped paying rent and got evicted” goes something like 1. The 13th fairway at Augusta National 2. Barnes & Noble 3. Aspen Coffee and 4. Either of our parents homes…

We had friends in town from Oklahoma this weekend. I told Jen tonight “it was nice to interact with other human beings today…” Maybe this blogging/writing thing is affecting us more than we realize? Mix in a trip out the front door?

I just realized I made my visiting friend sleep on an unwashed quilt we bought from Canton that may or may not be from one of the last two centuries…oops

My sister and I thought of a new family slogan as we were swerving all over the highway tonight while my mom was yelling at the top of her lungs (on “accident”) into her phone at the person we were trying to meet up with and everyone else in the car (including the swerving driver) was trying to iPhone/GPS/become a cartographer real quick and map a Cheesecake Factory for us to go to: “The Porters – A Lot More Stressful Than We Should Be” – If that doesn’t inspire strong community and deep relationships then…well…I give up. Oh, and we ended up at a tiny Mexican restaurant in a mall right next to like 120 ice skating kids under the age of 7. Good times all around!

And last but not least…Congrats to some old friends on a new undertaking.

See y’all back here tomorrow, enjoy a relaxing Sunday!

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