Strange Boat

It’s amazing to me how anyone stays married these days.

I mean, really, why even bother with marriage in the first place? The process of getting married is expensive, the process of getting a divorce is expensive, so why put yourself through that? Why not just live together until you’re finished with one, then move on to the next one? Aside from minor disagreements over who bought which CD in the collection, the latter option is clearly the abbreviated way to go.

This is what I wonder each time I’m tempted to (and sometimes follow through on) throw inanimate objects at Bryan. Why do I bother? Why does anyone bother? How does anyone in the world find the strength to stay in a relationship when it’s not going the way they want it to?


If I can have fantasies of leaving in defiance, of taking my children with me to a hotel, of being so right there is no rightness left for him…. If I can become that close to walking away like Brad Pitt, yet I don’t, why not?

I know people who don’t believe there is one person who can grow with you throughout your life, that we change too much and no one person can change with you. They believe we get married, have a few babies (or maybe not), build a career, then we outgrow that husband like a wool sweater in the drier – it was a great sweater while it lasted, but how unfortunate that it’s just not useful anymore. Someone at the Goodwill can make use of it; I’m going to Macy’s for a new one.

I can see that. I can see how easy it is to want that. I can see how infuriating it is to have the same fight over and over and over again. Maybe the object of the fight is different, but the fight is still the same: I want it done my way.

It just gets tiring. And old. And bothersome.

Pretty soon you just stop having the fight – you go straight from the point of early disagreement to shut-down mode, skipping the heated debate in between. Why bother? It all ends up the same so you might as well save your energy for something really interesting. I can see moving on from that to the new sweater.

I have been there. I have felt that. More recently than I’d like to admit.

We are crawling out of our hole. We still fight bitterly, but we fight to the end until tenderness overtakes tension. We end in kisses rather than silence. We intervene with humor rather than pushing through with pride.

I’ve started reminding myself of the song we played at our wedding – the only song in our ceremony. It was the song I listened to as I walked through the grass to meet Bryan under the ancient wisteria tree. It was dusk. It was beautiful. It was perfect.

We are strange, anyone who believes in Covenant. We take on an unknown life, head in an unknown direction, with an unknown end. But we go in the hands of a God who demonstrates what it means to love the imperfect.

And THAT’S why I bother.

Spoiled Rotten

Let me just pause and take a moment to acknowledge that I am spoiled rotten.

For all his faults – including, but not limited to, being the occasional ass – Bryan really does go hog wild when it comes to making my life easier (except when he hands me the phone for a long distance call then leaves me in a small enclosed space with a crying baby and a screaming toddler who is jumping on the bed. That’s not easy).

Maybe I just need to read that book about the five love languages that everyone talks about because I may not get foot massages every night, but he provides for me in countless ways that I never knew I needed.

And I’m okay with spending money on me because my man Brings It Home.

Bringing it home is especially useful on this, the day my washing machine decides to go on strike. Despite the fact that I secretly stalk the appliance department at Fry’s for new domestic toys (does that sound dirty?) while Bryan is geeking it out in the video equipment isle, I had nothing to do with this breakdown. She just quit spinning.

I will make the obligatory call to the Sears repair guy, and it will probably just need a belt replaced, but I will forever know that I was THIS close to getting a new machine.


My friend relayed a story to me last night about one of her childhood friends whose husband just checked into a 90-day program for drug addiction. Together they have three children.

Their youngest is only three weeks old.

As the friend who is closest to all the tension that lies between Bryan and I, who has been my sounding board and, at times, our mediator, she told me this story as a loving reminder of all we have to be thankful for in the midst of our complicated lives.

I love my friend for this reason.

She is able to empathize, to listen, to offer encouragement, to validate. Then she’ll turn me around, bend me over, and give me a solid kick in the ass for good measure, just to keep me from wallowing and feeling indignant.

I love that.

Sexy Is…



When I asked Bryan if he could show me how to add book cover images to the sidebar of this website you would have thought I just handed him four backstage passes to a U2 concert.

He loves me dearly, but I think he wants to pull my hair out when he tries to show me geeky computer stuff and I whine, “I don’t have room in my head for all this, just do it for me.” So when I asked him to show me html code for customizing my blog, he gazed at me with stars in his eyes.


Yesterday afternoon when Bryan said, “What do you think about going to the pool?” I thought about jumping him right there on the spot, I was so turned on.

It’s not easy being spontaneous and adventurous with two small children, a dog, a mortgage, and a husband who likes routine, but I bloody my fingernails clinging to the Free Spirit within me who is hungry for some attention. I feed her a few random trips to the mall or the occasional night out with the girls, but those usually just involve me, or me and the kids. Nothing satisfies her cravings more than when Bryan is excited about being a Free Spirit, too.

The second orgasm came when he suggested we grab some pizza for dinner before heading home. Whoa. This is a man on the South Beach diet offering to buy me a pizza even though he gets a salad. No man can touch me the way a pizza can. Yet, I felt loved and cared for, not by the pizza, but by the scrumptious man who bought it for me.

I guess after four years we’re finally learning to speak each other’s language!

This post is going to be ALL ABOUT BRYAN, and what a great husband he is.

I do not give compliments well, that’s all there is to it.

Bryan told me that should be the first line of my very next post because I keep neglecting to mention all the fantastic, thoughtful things he has done for me this week. Not to mention all the fun we’ve had.

He has a point.

I tend to use my writing as a voice for the angst within, and there’s nothing very interesting about resolution: no suspense, no climax, no tension, nothin’.

So this post is dedicated to the one I love.

Tonight we saw The Violent Femmes play at Zoo Tunes, which is a great outdoor venue on a green lawn with blankets and picnic baskets and wine smuggled in tinted water bottles. Kids are running around everywhere, because kids under age twelve get in for free.

FREE, I tell ya.

In the words of Bob the Tomato, What more do you need to be happy?

There I was, sitting on my blanket, leaning against my picnic basket, listening to great music, reading the book Bryan bought me last week – the book he gave me as a sweet, unprompted gift; the book which he found while browsing Barnes and Noble because I was late picking him up for LAST week’s Zoo Tunes concert (Patty Griffin – talk about musical diversity!); the book which I LOVE and can’t put down – so I was sitting on my blanket enjoying the evening with my husband who was so gracious to me after I forgot the tickets and we had to drive all the way home after I had picked him up from work so we could theoretically get to the zoo early for a good spot, and we actually didn’t get there until ten minutes before it started and had to sit way in the back… and I was content.

The evening could have gone very very bad.

Jokingly, Bryan said, “You have the tickets, right?

Dramatically, I slammed the steering wheel and growled, “FUCK!”

I guess he thought I was kidding, you know, like “Oh no, I thought you had the tickets, ha-ha-ha,” but no, I really meant FUCK!

For the next hour as we made the round trip-and-a-half through evening rush hour traffic to get the tickets I said “I’m so sorry,” with, I believe, twenty-six different inflections and nuances because ONCE could never be enough in Zug Land when you’re an hour late for a show.

But darn it if that Bryan didn’t just blow my Keens off when he says to me, “Don’t worry about it, babe. I’m just enjoying the time I get to spend with you.”

And here’s the best part: HE DIDN’T SOUND LIKE A COMPLETE CHEESEBALL WHEN HE SAID IT! He really meant it. He wasn’t saying it through clenched teeth as he really thought to himself, “I need to set up a color coded charted and timed system to ensure this doesn’t happen NEXT week….”

He was very sweet, and I finally relaxed, and we had some of our best conversation of the evening during that drive.

It was pretty surreal to see Gordon standing there right in front of me as he sang (well, not RIGHT in front of me, more like at the other end of a football field, but still, it was surreal). He just has one of those distinct voices that you think is make-believe – kind of like Elmo or Grover – and to see that a real person makes that sound was, well, surreal.

I had the same experience the first time I saw Stevie Nicks sing.

The climax of the evening came during ‘Add It Up,’ the song that was The Femmes’ greatest – their paramount, if you will – which of course they saved for the last song of the evening, at which point all bodies leaped (leapt?) up from their picnic blankets to dance.

Tattooed bodies, magenta hair, average thirty-somethings with kids: they all danced. Children danced hand in hand with their parents, doing the jitterbug, or the twist, or some such dance.

Have you ever heard the words to ‘Add It Up?’

Watching the children dance with their parents, Bryan says, “I think I’m scarred.”

Close Calls and Other Lessons In Grace

The other night a friend of mine told me a story about a “terrifying yet amazing thing” that happened to her toddler. After not hearing from him for awhile (we all know what happens when a toddler is too quiet) she stuck her head out the back door to see what he was up to. He was standing in their fenced-in back yard pointing at the gap between the fence and the house.

“No, Isaac,” she said. “Come away from there.”

The gap was big enough for him to fit through, and my friend’s husband had been meaning to close it off.

Just then her doorbell rang. It was a neighbor inquiring whether there was a little boy who lived in this house. The man had seen a young toddler walking down the shoulder of the road in front of the house next door, and wanted to be sure he was safe.

Just then, my friend’s son, Isaac, came trotting around the corner.

“Yup, that’s him,” said the man.

Horrified, my friend realized she had stuck her head in the yard just as her son had returned from his streetside adventure.

I think all parents have near-miss stories like this one.

The potential for this incident to end in tragedy was not lost on my friend, but she expressed how faithful God is to watch over our children even when we can’t or don’t. She would not allow herself to dwell on the possibilities, nor would she allow her husband to beat himself up over not having fixed the gap sooner.

God had shown them grace, and they did not take it for granted: the gap was fixed immediately.

I was impressed by this take on things. She had started the story off by saying, “I need to tell you something really scary that happened to Isaac, but it was also really cool.”

I was intrigued.

As it turned out, the Really Cool part was the ability to recognize the presence of Grace in a preventable circumstance.

It made me think about me and Bryan, and all the bickering we’ve been doing lately. I played out the scene in my mind as it would have happened had the same thing happened to us. I dare say neither of us would be so gracious.

Bryan would have blamed me for not having some sort of system in place to make sure Things Get Done around the house.

I would have blamed Bryan for not having time to Get Things Done around the house.

Neither of us, I believe, would have been able to let go of the fact that the gap SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIXED a long time ago.

Neither of us, I’m certain, would have been gushing on about how amazing it is that God protects our children when we should be perfectly capable to do it ourselves.

This is how we struggle. How do we show each other grace – how do we recognize God’s grace? – without sacrificing the need to be good stewards of the things God has given us?

Bryan and I are pretty hard on each other. I know I feel the heavy hand of high expectations, and I dish out a pretty good dose of justification. Just the other day after reporting the nail polish incident to him at work, his first question was, “Where did she get the nail polish?”

Because of our struggles lately, this was a loaded question. In my mind it implied so many things: Why was the nail polish on the dining room table anyway? Why did you let so much time go by without checking on Ruthie? Why weren’t you able to make the salad during the kids’ nap time? Don’t you think you’re taking on too much by babysitting someone else’s toddler?

Bryan may have thought these things, and he may not have. But history begged the possibility of both the questioning and the track record prompting the questions.

In the end, what I long for is graciousness: the ability to give it freely, and the ability to see it when it’s given freely to me.

Happy Anniversary

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time marches on — that I would find myself on this, my fourth wedding anniversary, cleaning the house, paying bills, and thawing meat for dinner.

I’m not much of a romantic, but I somehow still envisioned that this day would feel special, magical, because this was the day I chose to leave Self and enter Other. On this day I sacrificed my vision of the future in order to follow the vision of one man, and for a 29 year old independent woman, that was a big deal.

What I see now after a morning of pondering the current ebb of our relationship, is that the magic lies in not the emotional feeling of the day, but rather in the choice to love even when one needs friends to remind her of why she first loved in the beginning.

And to the one I love I say happy anniversary, and I love you even more today.

Drunkard’s Prayer

Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist of the band Over the Rhine canceled their national tour for the OHIO album a couple years ago because the stress of their work was taking a toll on their marriage. They stated in the liner notes of their most recent album, Drunkard’s Prayer, that they needed time to figure out if being together was something they were still committed to.

“When we came home from the tour,” they wrote, “we bought two cases of wine and decided we were going to put a bottle on the kitchen table every evening and start talking until nothing was left. The idea was not to get plowed, but to talk face to face deep into the night.”

Out of that experience came the song, Born, plus a whole host of other beautiful melodies on Drunkard’s Prayer.

Two kids, depression, his career, and pastoring a church on the side has taken a toll on us. We are broken, and I feel as if nothing can fix us.

Religion says God will fix us, but the Bible says I am arrogant and stubborn and must let go of my anger.

Religion says God will make me feel better, but the Bible says I need to humble myself and ask Bryan to forgive me.

Religion says I deserve to be happy, but the Bible says we are children of grace who have been given a new voice to praise the Most High God.

I am nobody. I am a lump of clay who shakes her fist at the potter.

I’m tired. I give up. I will let go of my resolve and listen for the Still Voice to whisper again to me – I hope I can remember what He sounds like.