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Date Expectations

coupledateYou know dates? Like in the movies?

I’m talking about the kind where the people hold hands and gaze soulfully into each others’ eyes, while talking about feelings. Yeah. I’ve rarely had one of those.

In fact, Chris and I were already dating for a couple of weeks before we even had our first date date.

We’d been getting along fine taking walks through my apartment complex or sitting in his truck eating Wendy’s. But somehow, dinner at a fancy restaurant (we were college students, so fancy was like Mexican or something) seemed different.

I was 19 and melodramatic and so I started thinking, “We’re sitting here awkwardly, not talking. Maybe we’re incompatible. Maybe he doesn’t like me any more. Maybe we don’t have chemistry!” Chris was probably thinking nothing. Because not-talking was normal for him. I just didn’t know that at the time.

But I shouldn’t have been surprised, because my favorite fictional guys are always dark and angsty: the silent, mysterious types, with deep inner brooding.

Favorite Jane Austen hero? Mr. Darcy.
Favorite X-Man? Wolverine.
Favorite Disney prince? The Beast. (But then he had to go and turn into that annoying prince. I’m sure Belle was disappointed, although she hid it well.)

I mean, I’m not saying my husband is silent and angsty… but I do have a type. So.

What movies don’t tell you is that when you go on a date with Wolverine, he doesn’t talk a lot. In fact, if you try to get Wolverine to discuss his feelings, he actually gets a little surly. I’m just guessing about that, though.

Back to Chris and I. After lots of semi-silent dates, Chris asked me to marry him on the day before Valentine’s. Which I’m REALLY glad about. Because I hate cliché sentimentality. And it’s so hard to get a dinner reservation on actual Valentine’s.

So last night we went out to a new Mexican place to celebrate our engagement anniversary (if that’s a thing). And not much has changed since that first date. We’re still eating Mexican (although, this place was way more upscale than the little hole-in-the-wall where we started). And we we didn’t talk a lot about feelings (trust me, I tried).

But the silent, mysterious guy I’m on a date with… is my best friend. Turns out we’re very compatible. And the lack of verbose conversation is more companionable than awkward now. I mean, we actually have our best conversations while the kids are trying to shoot us with Nerf guns, anyway.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to quit using dates to try to talk about feelings.

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On Lent and Liturgy

A friend suggested I blog about Lent. And you know, I’ve never been asked to blog about something specific before. It’s a challenge: like Truth or Dare, except I’m going to tell the truth AND take the dare.

I grew up in a very non-liturgical church culture. It was like we were so anti-tradition, that if we did something two years in a row, we got a little freaked out. Because if it wasn’t spontaneous, it wasn’t spiritual, you know?

But if that were true, we’d only read the Bible through once and then be done. So obviously, a good thing can be done more than once and still be good.

So, Lent. (If you’re all, “What is this Lent of which you speak, go read Wikipedia. They know everything.)

I think Lent could be awesome. Or it could be a waste of time. Based on your heart.

Participating in a spiritual ritual to earn God’s favor, lose some weight, fit in to the community or please your mom has about the same value as a New Years Resolution.

On the other hand, engaging in an activity that has a rich spiritual heritage and is founded in the truth of the Word can be life giving, if your heart is focused on Jesus.

What concerns me about Lent (or a 21 day fast or whatever tradition), is when we do it because we think the act itself somehow fixes us. Like it will keep us on God’s good side or whatever. That’s wrong and messed up.

It would be like if my husband and I celebrated Valentines Day to stay married. Imagine if we said, “Yeah, things have been rough lately. We haven’t actually talked in weeks and we’d rather watch TV than kiss. But when Valentines roles around, that will patch everything up.” Anyone would tell us that was crazy and we needed help.

For a marriage, Valentines can be a great reminder of our love. The holiday can give us an extra excuse to stop and enjoy each other. It can even help our hearts re-focus on our relationship. But it can’t create something that’s not there.

In the same way, liturgy can re-center our hearts on Jesus and remind us of His goodness. When it’s a tradition that comes around at the same time each year, we can look forward to a time set aside for the Lord. It’s even beneficial to engage in a spiritual discipline with other believers and grow our sense of community with the family of faith.

But if your heart isn’t focused on Jesus? Eh. You might as well just go eat that chocolate.

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Valentine’s Blues

Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone and Chris and I have kept true to our tradition… a tradition of lousy Valentine’s Days.

Chris asked me to marry him the day before our first Valentine’s, so I wasn’t expecting a huge blowout. I mean, it’s pretty hard to top a proposal and sparkley ring, next to a waterfall. Still, it was an interesting Valentine’s, and definitely what started our bad V-day luck.

Chris’ parents had graciously gotten us tickets to a romantic Valentine’s dinner at Old Washington, a historical village/inn in their town. Unfortunately the place had kind of overbooked, so they had multiple couples at each table. We sat with a sweet old couple, who were Christians. The husband had been a Gideon (you know, Bibles in hotels). They were thrilled to have a nice young couple to talk with all night, but somehow it lacked the romantic evening feel for us. The food was excellent though!

The next year, our first Valentine’s as a married couple was proceeded by a week in Mexico City, where we were checking out an opportunity to take on a Missionary position there. I cried the whole week. That is, until Chris told me he didn’t think God wanted us to move there… then I perked right up! Well, in retrospect, it’s good I cried all week, because God has us right where He wants us and it isn’t Mexico City.

So we spent the actual holiday flying home from Mexico. Not an ideal romantic time, especially when we got stuck in Chicago because the windshield wiper on the plane was broken. We actually succeeded in ruining someone else’s Valentine’s that year, because our friend Heather, who was supposed to pick us up in Milwaukee, was so nice as to drive down to Chicago to get us. Chad still asked her to marry him later, and hopefully they’ve had better Valentine’s since then.

Isaiah was only about 2 weeks old for our 3rd Valentines. Chris’ parents were visiting us and offered to babysit so we could go to dinner. The thing was I only had a 2 hour window until Isaiah needed to eat again. We didn’t count on everyone else wanting to go to dinner that evening too (What, did they think it was Valentine’s or something?!). After discovering that every restaurant in town had an hour wait, and with my 2 hour window shrinking rapidly, we settled for a coffee shop and picked up some Wendy’s on the way home.

We were starting to discover that Valentine’s Day just didn’t work for us, so the next year we decided to beat the crowds and celebrate the Sunday before. Chris is a huge roller coaster fan and I had never been on one. He decided the perfect romantic outing would be my introduction to the Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. I hated it. He made me ride it 6 times, thinking if I rode it enough I’d come around. I still hated it. Somehow, the fear of immanent death by flying out of a roller coaster was not my idea of a romantic afternoon, even if it was right by the ocean. Still, I got cotton candy, so it wasn’t all a waste.

Last year, Valentine’s landed on a Wednesday. We had church on Wednesday nights, so we weren’t able to go out for dinner then either. I think we just went out another night, but the actual V-day was still unromantic.

So this year, we had everything set. We had the lovely Vic scheduled to watch our kids. Chris’ mom had sent us money to go out to dinner. But you can’t fight nature. My Grandpa passed away (he was 90!) so the kids and I left on Wednesday for Wisconsin. I spent Valentine’s Day at a funeral and Chris spent it sick in bed from a cold he’d picked up somewhere. I think this year tops them all, especially as we weren’t even together.

So we’ll go out for dinner a week late. I told Chris, “Our hearts don’t know the date.” In spite of all our Valentine’s Day woes, I’m the happiest woman alive… because I’m married to the man of my dreams. That makes every day Valentine’s Day!

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Springtime… for Cali!

Spring is in the California air! For all of you poor people who are still stuck in winter, I thought I’d tell you what a beautiful day it is out here on the West Coast! The sun is shining, the air is warm, the trees are budding (I would assume… I haven’t checked), families are out riding bikes, and love is blooming around us. It’s no wonder it costs so much to live in CA; they charge us extra for the amazing weather!

Speaking of love blooming, Isaiah gave his little girlfriend a box of chocolates for Valentines. Isn’t that the cutest? Of course he had a little help from his dad, who is teaching Isaiah how to be a gentleman and how to treat a lady. He had a little valentine treat for his nursery teacher, Rosalina, too. After church, he told me, “Mommy, I gave a p’esent A-E-Ana. I gave a p’esent Lina.”

Isaiah’s conversation skills are expanding. I got him out of his bath the other day and when he saw his Thomas underpants, he exclaimed, “Oh yes! Big boy pants! I don’t want a baby diaper.”

He has always hated talking on the phone, but recently he has been more interested. The other day I got off the phone with Chris and Isaiah said, “I want to talk to Daddy!” So I called Chris back and Isaiah actually talked to him for a bit. This weekend he talked to his Grandma and his Papa and Gran on the phone too.

Leah is getting to be a little chub. Her legs are so fat and adorable. I love them! At her last doctor visit she was in the 75 percentile for height and weight. So that means that even though she was 4 weeks premature, she has caught up to and even surpassed many of her peers.

She has the most amazing smile. Even when she is crying in her crib, as soon as we go to pick her up, she gives us the hugest smile. She smiles with her whole body. Her cheeks crinkle up and she waves her arms and kicks her legs. One smile from Leah and all your problems seem to vanish. It’s her little baby ministry.

Leah is becoming interested in toys. She likes to grab them, look at them and try to chew on them. She is a very oral learner. She chews on her fists all the time and she is pretty happy to chew on anything else we put in her mouth too.

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