Saturday, January 29, 2011

what if?

In an effort to stop wasting our time in the evenings, my man and I have started turning off the TV (a GREAT first step, by the way) an hour early and spending some time together, and then with God. Both have been really great. I'm making an effort to be more diligent in studying two very important things to me, one being my husband.

And my iPhone is helping me do it. Naturally. I downloaded an app called "What if?" and R and I are going to spend some time in the evenings asking each other questions. We tried it out the other night and had some very weird conversations. Most of the time, the questions are ridiculous. All of the time, our answers were different.

Here are a few of our favorites. I suggest you ask your spouse or friends the same questions. And please tell me how it goes. I hope you have as much fun as we do.

"If you were suddenly transformed into a bee, and you had to sting one person, but then you would die, who would you sting?"
R (my man): I don't hate anyone so much that I would die just to inflict a little bit of pain on them.
M (me): I would sting you.
R: Thanks.
M: That way, at least you would be with me when I died.
R: Oh. That's sweet, I guess.

"If your family were on a sinking ship, who would you give the last life jacket to?"
R: You, of course.
M: Aww, thanks babe. I would give it to you, too. But then, I would hold on to you so I didn't drown. I couldn't support your weight if I had the life jacket, but you could probably support mine, so this is the best chance we have of both surviving.
R: I think you're missing the point.

"If you had to give one historical figure a back massage, which one would you pick?"
R: Umm...
M: I'm uncomfortable with this question.

"If you were planning the perfect date, what would it be?"
M: You wake me up REALLY early in the morning and have a bag packed for me (all of my favorite clothes, please). You drive us to the airport and, when we show up at our gate, I realize you're taking me to New York City! We would get there in the afternoon, just in time to check into our hotel and get dressed. Then we'd go to a Broadway show and then get dessert and drinks at a restaurant we'd never go to at home. Then we'd sit on a bench and people-watch, making up whimsical stories for everyone we see.
M: Your turn.
R: Um, we would go to a REALLY fancy hotel and then... you know. Then, we would have breakfast.

My husband and I are different. I already knew that. I just wanted to make sure you knew it, too. Now that that's settled...

What are some creative ways that you and your family spend time together?? I'm not sure how long this game will last, so I'm thinking we may need a backup plan.

Friday, January 21, 2011

the bitter barn

Oh, it's been two weeks again. I really do try to be consistent here, but, frankly, my life is inconsistent and I just can't help that. Try as I might.

To be honest, part of the reason I've been neglecting the two of you is that I've been in a foul mood. For approximately two months. I can't blame it on the usual suspects. (You know.) So I've spent the last couple of weeks begging for forgiveness from my man and asking that he would please not "forget" me at Walmart and never come back. He promises he won't. But even I have bugged me lately. I'm my very own buzz kill.

(Note: It's okay for me to admit all of this, right? I really hope there aren't rules about discussing wild mood swings here. I'd love to be cheerful and crafty all the time, but my world is not always cheerful and rarely crafty. Are we still good? Ok. Good.)

The more time I spend in the bitter barn, the more I'm learning the importance of asking for extra grace. Everyone has friends or family members whose care instructions would say: "Extra grace required." You know the one. Yes, that one. That person has always kind of irked me. I don't have a lot of patience for that one.

Well, I'm that one right now. (This always happens. It's how God teaches me things. Characteristics that drive me nuts in others are inevitably going to become a part of me, even if only for a season, so I'm forced to... um, get over myself.)

I've had some stuff come up recently that has apparently gobbled up my reserve of peace and energy. I've had to deal with some really hard things that have left me feeling a little lost, frankly. I've been walking around with a dark cloud over my head, sighing and saying things like, "ho hum..." But my people have stuck with me, and I'm so thankful. They're teaching me why it's so incredibly important to let grace pour out of me when I interact with people who are just plain grumpy. (Much like me.) Because the truth is that I have no idea what they're going through. I can't know what's going on in their life and what they're struggling with behind closed doors. They may have just had the worst day or gotten the worst news. I want to make sure that I'm a source of extra grace in their life, and not a source of judgment or anger.

This has been a really weird but good lesson for me. I'm generally a half-glass-full kinda girl, but this season of wanting to throw that cup of water on someone's face and smash it on the floor has given me insight into what it means to see difficult people as people who have probably walked through some junk and just need me to love them even more.

So, on behalf of cranky people everywhere, we're sorry. Please be nice to us anyway.

To lighten the mood... this is why I want a dog.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

lesson learned

I don't do resolutions. Not for New Year's, not for birthdays, not for new eras. I would, were it not for my raging authority issues. As soon as I resolve to do or not to do something, I become pretty determined to sabotage my efforts. Don't ask me why. I just don't like being bossed around, I guess.

It's just like the Yoga fiasco. Had I not made a public declaration of my intents, and had I not made a list of my goals with a deadline, I probably would have been able to accomplish all of those goals with little effort. But we all know that's not what happened.

My stomach, legs and arms are still flabby, if you're interested.

I learn a lot more in the situations and seasons I find myself in on accident than in those I resolve to experience. I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda girl, so my "accidental" life experiences are the majority of my experiences. So, instead of listing the things I want to do or achieve in 2011, I'd rather write down the things I learned in 2010 that I just stumbled, tripped and hokey pokey-ed my way into.

1. I can be a writer if I want to be. That terrible sentence is just but a nugget of the writing fiend I obviously have a lot of work to do to become. Yikes. This is turning into the worst-written point of all. That's irony, right? Or a metaphor? Or maybe it's a onomatopoeia. Nope, that's what comic book writers use when Batman punches someone, isn't it? Anyway, I like to writes good.

This year, I decided not to give up on my dreams. Call me hokey if you must, but I was actually very close to walking away from what I think I've been called to do in this life because I was pretty sure it was an impossibility. I had a LOT of excuses, but it turns out, I didn't really like any of them. So, in 2010, I learned that giving up on my passions just isn't an option. It will take work and will be inconvenient, but dreams are earned. They aren't usually dropped on your lap with a *POOF* *BLAM* *POW* of fairy dust. My life is filled with very little fairy dust, but I will make up for it with persistence. And begging, if that's what it comes to.

2. I don't want all my kids to look like me. Adoption is something I've had on my mind for years, but until now was just a seedling. A giant adoption tree exploded in me this year. Weird visual. Sorry.

I have always thought it would be magical to have a child that was a miniature version of me - and it still sounds kind of nice. But after this year, it seems a lot more magical to look into the face of a little one who doesn't have a momma and vow to love them, squeeze them and cut up their chicken nuggets for the rest of their life. Or maybe until they're like 6. Then, they should probably learn to cut their own nuggets. But the squeezes are forever. The point here being that I can't imagine a bigger adventure and one equally agonizing and blissful than adoption. I don't know when we will be able to start the process, but my heart is already clearing space for a few sets of bunk-beds.

3. I like living in the 'Hood. This is big for me. I always thought I was flexible, patient and kind to everyone I met. But my world was small. I'm the product of a largely middle-class childhood. My parents were and are awesome (Hi, Mom and Dad!), we had what we needed, mostly had what we wanted and they loved us really well. I had experienced poverty and addiction and brokenness on short-term trips and conversations in college, but I had never been close to it.

When my hubby and I moved to Dallas, we got a taste. A huge mouthful, actually. And I freaked. But now, I'm in love. Taking short jaunts into the 'Hood when I was younger was a shot of reality, which was needed and good. But living here, loving our neighbors and being so generously loved by them is a constant IV drip of reality. It has given me perspective that I wouldn't have gotten otherwise, and I'm so thankful.

4. I'm a lucky woman. I've always loved my husband. But, this year, I LOVED him. For real. We've been married for 3.5 years, and they have been really hard. People talk about the honeymoon stage of a new marriage lasting through the first few years, but our honeymoon was over when we landed in Dallas after one carefree week in Kauai. We printed our pictures, and then real life came rudely barging in.

There have been a lot of times that we've both considered throwing in the towel and walking away. A lot of times. Somehow, we didn't. We've spent much of our marriage trying to convince each other, and ourselves, frankly, that walking away would have been a huge mistake. I have no idea if I've convinced him yet - I wouldn't try to speak for him - but he has convinced me. There's no way for me to compare, really, but I'm pretty certain that I'm the luckiest girl to have nabbed a man who:
has a secret dance with me. No, it's not dirty. It's just ours.
can sense when I need a bowl of ice cream, and who NEVER makes me scoop it myself.
will race to meet me at the door with a hug when I get home, and who mopes like nobody's business when I'm too slow to run to greet him. (For the record, it's usually because I'm tangled up in my pajama pants.)
has vowed to drop out of school or quit his job if it meant choosing between his dreams and our marriage.
makes being a grad student's sugar mama really easy by making dinner and cleaning our house when I work late nights - or regular nights.
understands my heart and doesn't feel the need to hesitate when it comes to telling me he loves me or making sure I feel beautiful and secure.
sees my passions and supports my pursuit of them, even if it means my head is almost always in the clouds.
has met every challenge our rickety house has thrown at him with patience and these really great, strong hands. There's something about a guy with a tool box, right?
This year, I looked at my husband objectively, beyond our past hurts, and finally let myself see how ridiculously he loves me. And it seriously makes me wonder if other married couples have dance parties. I really hope so.

5. I probably won't live forever. This year, I got a swift kick in the invincibility complex. You can read about it more here. I was given a very clear reminder (as in, it could be printed out in my EKG) that my life is fragile, and my heart is kind of spazzy. There is no guarantee for good health or more time or a second chance. I learned that NOW is the time to live the way I always assumed I would live later.

Dealing with this and wrestling with my significance here has brought me to a place where I can love wildly and without so much worry about perceptions, or perhaps unrequited friendships - probably my worst phobia, right behind butterflies. At the end of this thing, I'd like to be able to say that I gave everything and expected nothing. I want my life to be sprinkled with grace and pleasant surprises. Don't get me wrong... I'm not there yet. But I learned this year that it's more important that I put everything out on the table and risk embarrassment and vulnerability than to be lying in a hospital bed feeling like I'd missed the boat.

6. I found my first legitimate gray hair. This was not a lesson. This was just a bad day.

What did YOU learn in 2010??? Tell me, please!