What She’ll Mean

You’re nervous about getting married, you don’t know what she’ll mean to you…                                                                                                      – Betty Draper (Mad Men)

You can’t either. You can’t know what she’ll mean in the future, it’s impossible.

Jen is my most intimate friend. She’s also my most amiable companion. She’s my favorite person to be with and talk to. We’ve always been close but the depth to which our love has plunged, while probably not externally visible, is something I never expected.

I guess I don’t know what I expected when I stepped into marriage. I thought it would be fun and I thought it would be a little weird to live with a girl. I thought it would be nice if we both had jobs (apparently an irrational assumption on my part) and made a little bit of money. I knew it would be difficult and refining. I just never understood the level to which love could be taken. How could I?

The best way I can explain it is that now, when Jen walks through a room, and I’m sitting there reading or twiddling my pinkies or thinking about OSU, when she walks through that room, I feel something stir within me that says “I care for that girl.” Not “I love that girl” or “that girl is awesome” but my soul cares for and wants to protect her sanctity and the essence of who she is.

I didn’t know it was going to be like this, somebody should have told me.

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Jen Interviewing Kyle

10 for Kyle

1. If you could choose to either stay indoors or outdoors for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Oklahoma climate. And wind. I choose outdoors, mostly because I’m scared my father-in-law might read this and I like my dignity.

2. When is the last time you cried? When OSU lost to Te….just kidding. Those “My Wish” segments on SportsCenter (not to be confused with SportsMentor) always get me. The problem is I’m usually on the treadmill when I see one so it all ends in a messy, slobbery conveyer belt-related accident.

3. We all know you want to be a writer. If you only had one book to write and publish, what would it be about? Wooow. I struggled with this. One book, for the rest of time. I’d have to say I’d go back in time to the 1992 Olympics and cover the Dream Team behind the scenes. That’s the one book I’ve been wishing had been written so why not write it myself?

4. What’s your favorite website or blog right now? Tie. Today’s Letters and Art of Non-Conformity. What can I say? I’m a sucker for nostalgia and world domination.

5. If you could choose to have a second home anywhere in the world, where would it be? You live there 3-4 months out of the year. With me. If I like it. Georgia, it’s not even close. Me and Georgia are besties.

6. If you could start and run a non-profit, what would it be? I’ve told you and you just laughed at me. So I’ll tell you again. I’d start a TOMS-model baseball glove company for poor kids in the Caribbean and Latin America. I can’t wait until 2025 when we make our inaugural baseball glove drop in the Dominican Republic and you’re sobbing your eyes out because of how cute all the little kids are running around with their new gloves. I’ll start running around the country like a maniac, screaming, “WHO’S LAUGHING NOW?!?!”

7. What are you most looking forward to in the next 45 years of marriage? Kids. Duh. As long as the first one is a boy. No pressure. Seriously though, to be refined and made more like the Lord because of you and your character. And kids. Oh, and I thought I told you I’d give you 60, what happened to the other 15?

8. On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad do you want to own a dog this week? 5, but only because 600 sq. ft. does not = good times with a dog. I’ve already got him named though.

9. If you could be invisible for a week, how would you use your superpower? I just sang “If I Were Invisible” in my head…somewhere my mother and Chelsea O’Teter are rocking out to Clay Aiken’s latest. Thankfully I am not at either of those somewheres. I’d roam the White House for a few days, maybe jump on AF1, see what goes down there, then I’d swing by NYC to watch Seth Godin work for 24 hours, and finally I’d end up in Dallas and romantically watch you exist for two full days. Is that a good answer?

10. What’s your favorite meal that I cook? Pappasi….uh….homemade pizza?

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A Letter

Dear God,

Yesterday at church I was helping out on the parking team and I watched a girl get out of her Infinity and walk into church wearing her TOMS shoes. The girl is probably a really sweet girl with a much bigger heart than mine but for a moment she was the object of my own self-aggrandizement. I patted myself on the back, not because I don’t have an Infinity (I can’t afford it) or a pair of TOMS (I look like a clown in TOMS), but because I don’t want them.

Then I realized that I don’t want a new house either, my 600 square-foot apartment will be just swell, thank you very much. I realized I don’t want a limitless gift card to the Nike and J. Crew outlets or a lifetime supply of Southern Tide or Vineyard Vines shirts. I realized I don’t need a new iPhone, in fact, God, I don’t even want a new iPhone.

I realized that as much as I would love to watch Oklahoma State go 12-0 in football some year and play for a title, it’s not that important in the grand scheme of things.

God, you made some really intelligent people who created this thing called the iPad. Apparently it makes Bible-reading much easier, but I don’t want one.

I got to thinking about it and I don’t really think sports are all that important either, which implies that fantasy sports are even less important. I realized I love sports, but sports don’t love me, and sports don’t actually matter eternally.

Oh, one more sports note, thank you for making that tract of land us humans named “Augusta” but I guess it’s not really that wonderful, you know, relatively speaking.

I realized that I don’t really want to be wealthy someday, or famous, or even moderately well-known. I don’t really care about those things. They’re vices, mostly. I don’t have much desire for power or what our depraved culture labels “success” for my marriage or family.

I realized that all I have any yearning for is you and my community of family and friends. I patted myself on the back a few more times at church last night for all these realizations. I’m so holy.

After I realized all that, I realized something else:

Every word I speak and action I take…
Every Tweet I proclaim and ‘like’ I click…
Every email I send and website I visit…
Every magazine I read and meal I eat…
Every phone call I make and conversation I have…
Every TV show I watch and thought I think…
Every single day I live, my life…

Says something vastly different from what I wrote above.

We’re worlds apart, you and me. Thank you for relentlessly shattering me with your grace.

Your son,
Kyle

P.S. Thanks for my wife Jen, she’s pretty cool. And she’s always reminding me of how unworthy I am before you. Do you think you could maybe, you know, get her to be a little less sweet about it though, it makes getting mad at her pretty hard. Thanks.

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SportsMentor #2

SportsMentor2 from Marriage Project on Vimeo.

It’s a lengthy little flick but you won’t regret watching it. If you only have a few minutes fast-forward to the 4:22 mark where you get Jen’s first NFL/gambling moment ever. If you only have a few seconds fast-forward to the 7:47 mark where Jen just dresses down the entire world of sports because of one guy’s name.

Oh, and if you missed the first one, it was a classic.

*Correction – The Cowboys play the Bears this weekend, not the Bengals as I stated in the video. My bad.

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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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Football Season…as a Married Man

Well my perspective has changed, marriage and such. As a mid-20s single “adult” male the first week in September used to mean 18-weeks-too-soon in-depth Heisman analysis. It used to mean watching College Football Live so much I actually wanted Lou Holtz to have a medical “accident” debilitating enough for him to not be on the air anymore but not serious enough to threaten his life. It used to mean waking up at 9 AM, riding my bike with my friends to our tailgate, and not riding it home again until at least 9 PM. This year? Things are a little different…

The 5 reasons I’m fired up for my first college football season as a married man (in reverse order of course):

5. Waking up at 11 AM for the obligatory Wisconsin vs. Northwestern game on ESPN2. I’m excited for this because I can’t wait to watch two unathletic Big 10 teams that have a 293:4 run to pass ratio “battle” to a 9-6 “thriller.” I’m also excited for this because I know my new wife of 3 months will faithfully cook and serve me smoked Brazilian sausage and freshly imported Norwegian eggs for breakfast as I turn my body into a corpse and stare at games for 19 straight hours.

4. Road trips to Stillwater to watch OSU go 7-5 for the 29th year in a row (I just erased the Bob Simmons years). I can’t wait to hear things like the following:
“Ugh, Weeden’s eyes just aren’t as pretty as Zac’s were, do we HAVE to go to this game?” “Jen, he has 29,302 passing yards through 4 games…let’s cut him some slack.”
“Wait, why are there eleven teams in the big twelve next year?” “Um, because Nebraska hates the forward pass and wants to run the ball a hundred times a game with the likes of those Big 10 teams I mentioned in #4.”
“Is there going to be food this time?” “Yes Jen, there’s always food.”
“How old is Gundy this year? He has such weird hair.” “I know he does, and he’s 43, let’s get over the “I’m a man”  thing, please.

3. Because we’ll undoubtedly have the “will you choose your love for me and take me to Canton for antique searching or your love for this barbaric event of sport and stay home and be numb all day?” conversation. And I’ll probably feel bad and give in and while I’m gone Ryan Mallett will throw for 900 yards as Arkansas beats Georgia in 9 OT in the greatest college game of all time and Jen and I won’t talk for 2 days. The part I’m looking forward to is 10 years from now when we look back and laugh about it (although mine will be one of those nervous “nobody knows if I’m a lunatic or not” laughs because I’ll still be a little bitter about it).

2. Conversations like this:

Jen: “Why are you holding a magnifying glass up to the computer screen so you can illegally watch Villanova and Miami (OH) play a meaningless game in September?”
Me: “Because I’m in a fantasy football keeper league and there’s a guy ‘Nova has that I might want to draft next year. I’m checking him out, is that a problem?”
Jen: “I thought you had your draft for that yesterday”
Me: “I did but my team stinks so I’m already looking forward to next year.”
Jen: “You’re already giving up, that’s awesome. Didn’t that cost us $40?”
Me: “Yeah…sorry…except that I’m not since you DON’T HAVE A JOB!”
Jen: “That’s mature, that was my CRAFTING MONEY FOR THIS MONTH!!!”

I promise we’ll have that conversation at some point this season. Promise.

1. We live 10 minutes from the Cotton Bowl. You can bet your fried stick of butter we’ll be killing the Texas State Fair that weekend. I’d rather stab myself in the forearm than go to that game and cheer from either team but we’ll probably eat our weight in fried foods. Can’t wait.

My Picks:

Title Game: Florida over Boise St. (that pick is about to get real on Saturday when Boise plays VT…oh and John Brantley is a better QB than Tebow…yeah, I said it)

Heisman: Jake Locker, Washington

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Why Girls Look Forward to Football Season

We’ll be doing a little 2-part college football “preview” today and tomorrow on the blog. I say “preview” because it’s basically nothing more than a snapshot into both of our (sometimes disturbing, usually entertaining) perspectives of sports. Without further adieu, 5 reasons I (as a girl) am looking forward to college football:

1. Looking Cute – As a twenty-six-year-old married woman, I’m a little bit past this stage, though some would debate if I ever actually took part. But I’ve seen other girls do it, so here goes. Football season means dressing up in your school colors with as many cute accessories as your earlobes, neck, and wrists can handle. For those from the south it means cute dresses with cowboy boots, big curly hair, and anything you can find in direct contrast to the game of football itself. It means sitting with your girlfriends and talking about anything but sports, or sitting by the cute boy you have a crush on and pretending (or not having to pretend) that you need him to teach you everything he knows.

2. Cookouts – Otherwise known as “tailgates,” this tradition finds many a girl cooking up her favorite meal for the boys or, again, talking with her girlfriends about anything but sports. It marks the beginning of a new season (I’m talking autumn, not football) and enjoying the out of doors and the clean, crisp air. It means new possibilities (no, not for the Heisman- don’t kid yourself) and a time where friends and family trump everything else. The holidays are approaching, and with them, another new year full of opportunity and blessings. Fall is great indeed.

3. Perfect Weather – There’s the old saying about the “fair weather fan,” but I, my friends, am truly a fair weather fan. My body can only enjoy football when the temperature finds itself between the degrees of 65 and 75. Anything beyond that on either end of the spectrum and I’d rather watch indoors. Or sometimes I’d be okay with not watching at all. This leaves me with about two games per season that I can enjoy without complaining. Which means two games that Kyle can enjoy. Period.

4. Boys Being Boys – Yes, we roll our eyes when you try and throw the football further than your friends and get it stuck on top of a campus building, but we secretly find it kind of cute. We make you behave in public every other day of the year, and this is the one time we can let you be yourselves. It’s actually pretty fun to watch you run around like children and rattle off sports stats, even though we tune them out. So enjoy it. Because as soon as we get in the car, the fun is over.

5. Football Players – Yes, we notice them. Usually only the quarterbacks because they’re on T.V. the most and they get the ball every play. And because they’re the cutest. We may pretend we don’t care about football, but sometimes the quarterback is the only thing that gets us through the game.

My picks: (I just looked at Kyle and said, “What am I picking?)

Title Game: Alabama and LSU. I have no reasoning for this. But LSU will win.

Heisman: Brandon Weeden. Because he’s literally the only football player I know this season. And I probably would have misspelled his name if I hadn’t looked it up. See #2. I’m my own worst nightmare.

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Till Death (or OSU) Do Us Part…

In lieu of our semi-redneck, somewhat windy, extremely sweltering wedding ceremony we thought a few of you might not have been able to hear (or pay attention to) our vows to each other. Or maybe some of you weren’t there and would just like to read them…

We decided some time ago to write our own vows. The rest of the wedding was homemade, why not the ceremony? Another moment of full disclosure (MOD, if you will) – I wasn’t aware that when you write your own vows you have to read them to each other, I thought you repeated what the pastor said until my brother and sister pointed out how awkward it would be for the pastor to say “Jennifer, I love you.” Thanks guys.

Anyway, we tried our best to write to each other, from deep within where only our love for the Lord resides. Here’s what resulted:

Kyle
“In centuries gone by men have fought wars over love.
Men have sailed the raging seas over love.
And men have gone to the grave, over love.

So I stand before you today
With a seemingly easy task
To simply profess my love and commit my life to you.
And yet, it is so much more complex.

For in the days and years to come
That profession will become a realization
That through each other
Sanctification in Christ will come to fruition.

Because of this it is my honor to protect and provide
My passion to lead with integrity
My desire to plan and to pray
My duty to pass on wisdom to our kids
And my honor to humbly love.

I know there will be fights
I know there will be struggles
I know what lies ahead.

But I choose you
And I want you to know
Even though I don’t understand how marriage works (what guy does?)
I DO understand the magnitude of it all.
I understand that Christ is enough, for both of us.

So I promise to choose you over OSU games
Promise to love or sons even if they hate sports
Promise to revel in arts and crafts with our daughters
Promise to let you be free and to guide us with wisdom
Promise to always write to you and date you and cherish you.
I promise to always climb through your bedroom widow to kiss you, tell you stories and make you laugh.

I commit myself to you
Mind, body, spirit, and soul
You have all my love, for the rest of time.”

Jen
“You make me more of who I already am. By your side, I am more confident, more creative, and more secure in Christ. I know I can fight any battle, but trust you to lead me through them.

Your discipline is something I have never known. It makes me more confident in you than you will ever know, and I will trust you with everything in me until the Lord is finished with me on this earth.

I will strive all my days to make you proud of me, to raise your children as ambassadors for Christ, and to honor you with my words in all situations. While my identity does not hinge on the words you say, you are continually shaping how I perceive this world and where I put my focus. So go forth this day, knowing that my confidence is in Christ, but that every word you say is truth to me.”

For those of you wondering, “when will this ever end?!?” you’re in luck. This is the last wedding post you’ll have to endure. Tomorrow, it’s all about you guys, the readers. We’re having our first giveaway. See you then…

Kickin' Back
Kickin' It
Ignoring me...as usual
(Some of) The Boys
(A lot of) The Girls

As always, pictures taken by Shari Hatfield…we can’t recommend her blog highly enough.