Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Marriage Musings

Since I am obviously an expert on marriage by now, I thought I’d offer up some thoughts. 

I have a friend who I can send on an hour-long rant by simply uttering two little words: love languages.  She will groan and roll her eyes and talk about how this phenomenon has forever stained relationships.  However, there are also those who will swear by this book.  They say things like:

“I never really knew who I was until I read this book!”
“This made my marriage last 3 years longer than it would have otherwise!”
“Now that I know my wife’s love language, we never fight!  In fact, we never even talk because we just get each other!”

Well I too wanted to never have to talk to my life partner, so I looked into it.  On their website, they have a convenient quiz that will, of course, change your life forever by telling you which your love language is: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, or receiving gifts.

So I took the quiz.  It told me my love language is quality time.  Well, I do enjoy spending time with my beloved, so I shrugged and sent the quiz to him.  After thinking about it, I realized that yes, I am often begging my housemate to spend more time with me.  YES! I thought. All my marriage woes are solved before they have even begun!

I encouraged him to take the quiz so I would know how to make him eternally happy as well.  He took it and his love language is…drumroll please… quality time.  Hmmm…

Well why do we need to talk then?  Shouldn’t we be so in sync that we spend all of our time together and never need anything or anyone else?  Needless to say, this is not the case, so it got me thinking.  And for me personally, here is what I think my true love language is: all of the above. Hold on to your hats there, friends!

Sometimes, I absolutely love when my mr. strokes my hair.  Other times, it’s super annoying and I swat his hand away.  Sometimes, when he makes dinner for me, my heart melts.  Other times, I want to tell him he was supposed to cook the potatoes before putting them in the soup (okay, I have said this). 

One day, a cheesy note will bring tears to my eyes.  The next day, I will roll them upon reading.  A well-thought-out gift can make my whole week better, or it could… you know, not.  Maybe I’m one of those crazy confused women the movies portray, or maybe I just like a lot of variety in my life.

Either way, love languages are definitely no magic solution.  In my mind (and in my marriage), love just naturally produces all of these things, and I enjoy them as they come.  Yes, sometimes I need one more than the other, but at the end of the day, I really need them all.

High maintenance, I know.

What do you think?  Do love languages make you vomit or swoon?  

Friday, October 21, 2011

True Love

Reason # 879,431 that I love my significant other:

We have a cat (don’t judge).  This cat is sometimes more angelic than you would believe, and no matter how much you may dislike cats, you would fall in love

Other times, she gets locked in the bathroom and we pretend we don’t know her.  Last night, she chewed through the wire of one of our speakers.  That was one of those times.

So today, I have a wonderful day off work.  I plan on sleeping in and lounging all day.  The man of the house still has to work.  After getting ready, he picked up the cat (not in the angelic mode today) and quietly shut the door to keep her out of the bedroom (and from eating my hair while I sleep).

This sounds so simple, but I guarantee I fell asleep smiling. 

Boys, it sounds stupid, but please do these things for girls.  It was so darn thoughtful and I’ve been sending happy loving vibes his way all day because of it.

Just wanted to share my fantastic morning. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lovely in Our Differences

Picture this, Northwesterners: You climb a tall tree and can see for miles (many, many miles) in Every. Single. Direction.

Picture this, Midwesterners: You drive in any direction for 15 minutes and experience an elevation change of at least 1,000 feet.

Crazy, isn’t it?  I have found that people who have lived here in the northwest their whole lives have this odd mixture of disdain and fascination with the Midwest.  They ask me questions like, “Have you ever slaughtered a cow with your bare hands?” or “Did a blizzard ever wipe out your entire family?”  

In case those very same questions were burning in the back of your mind, the answer to both of these is no.  However, in my short time of living here, I have found a lot of differences between these two regions.

*Before you read, yes I am purposely making broad generalizations.  It’s so much more entertaining that way!*

1. Food 
In the Midwest, you eat meat.  Real men eat meat and potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Grandmas bake apple pies, you eat fried foods at the county fair, and if you’re in a big city, you go out for chic drinks with friends (if you’re in a small town, you share those drinks in the back of a pickup.

In the Northwest, you eat vegetables.  Preferably organic vegetables that you grew in your backyard.  If you eat meat, it must be free range, organic, fed at a banquet table with all its friends, and in very small portions. Grandmas bake tofu cookies and you go out for coffee with friends (or beer if you’re a man.  Always a local brew, of course). We went to the Portland Saturday Market and saw a booth selling cotton candy made with organic free-trade sugar and all-natural fruit juice dyes. These people are serious.

2. Weather

In the Midwest, you’ll wake up on a beautiful October day and it will be 75 degrees outside.  You will fall to sleep with a blissful love of fall, and wake up early to scrape the frost off your car.  You go to the beach and the park and shopping in the summer, and you go to work and back home in the winter (if you can get your car to start and the roads aren't covered in ice and snow).

In the Northwest, you’ll wake up on an October day to lower 60’s with a light drizzle on and off throughout the day.  You will fall asleep to the pitter patter of raindrops and wake up to upper 50’s with clouds in the morning and a light drizzle in the afternoon.  That’s about it.  It’s predictable and consistent, 2 foreign words to Midwesterners.  In the summer you go to the ocean and hiking and running on the Nike trail.  In the winter, you go hiking and skiing and running on the Nike trail.

3. Mailboxes

In the Midwest, people have mailboxes.  In front of their houses.

I don’t know if this is a city-wide or region-wide thing, but where I live, there are community mailboxes where you get a little locked slot.  No house has a mailbox.  Can anyone explain this to me???

I joke, but I love all of these things.  I love hiking, I love sunshine, I love apple pies (only my grandma’s, of course) and all-natural cotton candy.  I have had so much fun getting to know my new home, and the Midwest will always have a special place in my heart.  There are many other differences, but these have by far been the most noticeable.  What categorizes your area?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Road Trip!

I’d like to invite you all on a journey.  It won’t always be fun, but the destination will be so worth it. We might have to shed a few tears together, undoubtedly climb some major mountains, but hopefully we’ll be able to laugh together and definitely grow together too.

The journey is this: get rid of debt!  My companion and I committed to this Monday night at our Financial Peace University class, and I’d like to invite anyone who wants to come alongside us with your own struggles or stories. 

First, let me boost your confidence a little.  See, people don't believe us when I tell them we have a ton of debt.  Allow me to blow your mind a little: in this wonderful marriage, there is one car, one cat, one little apartment, a lot of love, and over $100,000 in debt.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Feel better now?

Now everyone keeps telling us that the plus side is that this debt is good debt because it funded our education and doesn’t count against our credit as long as we keep up payments.  But these people are dumb.  There is no positive side to debt, and though I don’t regret going to college to acquire it, I certainly do not plan on making friends with it.

We don’t make a lot of money, but we WILL get out of this!  I’ll keep you all updated on our progress, and if you have any tips or stories to share along the way, please do!  Our only tip at the moment is that we are refusing to live the way the rest of the world tells us, starting now!  We won’t buy anything (including a car shocker shocker!!) unless we have the money for it.  Thanks for joining us!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Churchin It Up

Another of the many blessings the hubaloo and I experienced since moving to Oregon was a church.

This was something we had been praying about for a very long time, even before we moved.  But once we got here, the search was on because neither of us wanted to go too long without church, plus… we need friends baaaad.  So we tried a couple in the first few weeks, and failed miserably.

The first one we left without ever entering because we sat in the parking lot for 10 minutes watching everyone enter, and they were all older than our parents (don’t judge us).  Neither of us have a problem with the “mature” generation; I actually strongly desire a church with a good older presence because they are the wisest of the bunch.  That being said, we didn’t feel the church would be especially “relevant” to us, or however that is said in a politically correct way. 

At the next church we went to, they not only sang happy birthday to someone in the middle of the service, they also spent a full 30 minutes airing their (and all their friends, family, and distant relative’s) dirty laundry.  Alas, we are no good at church shopping.
So finally, we found a hipster church that still had a good foundation of those older and wiser than us young’uns.  But it was far away and too large for my better half’s tastes.  

We began investigating two church plants- one being planted by the hipster church much closer to where we live, and one even farther away but being planted by someone who attended the seminary at my dear alma mater.

Now let me give some context.  For several weeks prior to this stage of the process, I had been struggling with some pretty big things.  I was reading Shane Claiborne’s book TheIrresistible Revolution (highly recommend it) and feeling incredibly discontented about my life.  I was really unhappy with the church as a whole, as well as my own goals and the direction I felt my life was headed in.  I wanted to get my hands dirty and really live the gospel.

Well, we emailed and facebooked (not a real verb yet) and dined with people to discover more about both churches.  One of the pastors explained what his church was all about, and it literally spoke directly to the frustrations I had been feeling. 

The church is in a not-so-great area of Portland, and it exists mainly to serve the community.  There are very few preconceived notions about what “church” should look like, they just want to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  And though the mr. wasn’t sharing my hesitancy about church finances and politics, he found this church provided him with a much-needed sense of belonging, as they were looking for people with his specific talents.

We feel so lucky to finally be involved, and in the spirit of camaraderie and non-horror movie longings, I WILL befriend these people!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Identity Crisis

I transition well.  This is not a braggart statement, just a fact.  When I moved 500 miles away from home to go to a college where I knew absolutely no one, I cried when my parents drove away, and that was about it. 

I was so ready to move on, to become the person I thought I could be, to grow up.  And I did.  In high school, I was sort of socially awkward (contain your shock please), but in college, I had the best group of friends ever.  They make the friends in Friends (the TV show, keep up!) seem like mere acquaintances.

I got involved and was pretty well-known for being a hard worker and a leader in academics and in the workplace.  My last year especially, I felt like I had become exactly who I wanted to be, finally.

Then I moved again.  Except for a brief period the very first week, I transitioned well again.  But. Now that a couple of months have passed in this new place, I am re-evaluating where I am.

My hubbers and I are part of a new church plant in one of the neighborhoods in Portland.  We have been meeting with the pastor and the core group about once a week to get to know each other and set the foundation for the church.  And last night at one of these meetings, I realized I have no idea what my identity is.

I know WHO I am, of course.  This is more a question of what my place is.  All that hard work defining myself in Chicago gone down the pooper, I know.  Let’s have a moment of silence for the loss and move on.

So I looked around and saw SO many talented people.  The singer, the financial person, the painter, the building guy, the landscaper, etc.  These people have got it figured out (not really I know, but it sure seems like it).

And all of the places I might fit in have already been filled by people far more talented and qualified than I.  So what is my place in this church?  What is my place as a friend here, when almost all of my friends are long distance?  What is my place in the workforce, or as a young wife? What is my place in this thing called adulthood?

That’s what I’m working through now, friends.  Am I the only one dealing with a bit of an identity crisis after so many changes?

Though I have zero answers (just a lot of questions obviously), I do know this one thing: I am an absolutely beloved daughter of God.  And though that doesn't answer all the questions either, I’m trusting that for now it answers the ones that really matter.