Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hair Envy

"You have great hair! Is it naturally curly?"

My heart leapt with joy at the flight attendants compliment and I discreetly pumped my fist in the air after answering her.

"Did you hear that?!" I hissed to my husband as we boarded the plane. "Someone finally complimented me on my hair instead of you getting a compliment on your hair." It was a small victory to write down in the books.

I couldn't remember the last time it had happened, honestly. He gets compliments all.the.time. And these are the problems you run into when you marry a man with long, luscious, blonde locks *sigh*. I certainly didn't anticipate him stealing all of my hair compliments when we entered into our relationship. And I certainly didn't anticipate all the other weird parts that come with long-haired men.  Sometimes I even threaten a little Delilah action in the middle of the night...

He loses hair ties. He breaks hair ties. We share hair ties. We've bought more hair ties since being together than I've bought in five years (or something like that).

Things I didn't anticipate.

Sometimes, when we're running out the door, he rushes back into the bathroom to fix his hair. It wasn't pulled up right, so he needs a mirror to re-do it. I get it. I do it, too. But, that was my reason to be wasn't supposed to be my husband's.

There's hair in the drain. Hair on the floor. Hair in the food (just kidding, that's usually mine). It's a good thing I am brunette and he is blonde because I always know who is to blame.

He often flops his Fabio hair in my face when he turns, or bends down and stands back up, or leans forward than sits back up. He swears it's not on purpose, but I'm convinced he wants me to be aware of how great his hair is and acknowledge it. I mostly get concerned when he adopts these same mannerisms around strangers and whips his hair back and forth. "What are you doing?!?"

He loves braids.
He likes it when people play with his hair.
He thinks I'm jealous.

Things I didn't anticipate.

But, it's okay.
Even with his compliment stealing, loose strands everywhere, drain clogging, and breaking of hair ties... I still love him. And his hair is beautiful.

Mostly it's just funny. Something to laugh about and (occasionally) be annoyed by. Because it's all worth it. And now we're one. Unified. One braid, under God.

Things I didn't anticipate, with a man I didn't anticipate...
But it's always better than what I hoped for and imagined.
And it's always full of surprises.

I couldn't imagine anything more perfect.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It's Just Different

"It's just different."

They were words I muttered too often as I doomed myself to a certain loneliness as a single lady. In my mind, the moment a friend got married, there was just no way that we could ever connect in the same way we had before. I would still be single and they were now married. We were too different. Obviously. It's as though sex changed everything. Or a life partner. I don't know. I just knew that they would never understand the fullness of my emotions. We were in different life stages now.

Woe is me.
And so I isolated myself further from people as we got older. Before long, my options for friendship consisted of the few late twenty-somethings that were single or the young twenty-somethings that definitely couldn't understand my plight. It's as though just being around married people served as a reminder that I was very much single. Always the third wheel. Who wants that?

But now I've crossed over.
Initially I felt a disconnect (even though I probably only created it in my mind). Single people won't think that I can relate to them anymore now that I'm married. I convinced myself.  It's just different. They might even dislike me now!

And I get it.
But I don't.

Because I've been there.
The last decade of my life of struggling through the ups and downs of being single, owning single, loving single, hating single... those years aren't lost. I just maybe have a bit more hope in my cynical nature than I used to. But the years were real. And, it's not that different. I'm not that different.

Maybe I have to spend money differently, or adjust to a bedmate, or learn better communication skills, or how to be an introvert with someone right beside me.... but it doesn't mean that I have to spend every waking hour with my husband. It doesn't mean that I don't want to have conversations, friendships, adventures with people outside of him. It doesn't mean that I can't possibly understand the frustrations that result in being single... whether that's through my own stupid expectations or the ones I feel like the Church or society is placing on me.

Because I do.
I get it.

And my point is that I fear it's far too easy for us to isolate ourselves from others for one reason or another, especially as a single person. There are always a lot of excuses for not making an effort, for not reaching out, for not accepting the reach outs.... and one of mine was: but they're married. And now, I just think: SO?

So what.
I fear that I spent too many years pushing a way, running from, believing this lie that I had to live in solitude because others wouldn't understand, believing wholeheartedly that they could no longer relate. How can my friend who has been married since she was twenty, who is birthing children, possibly get it?

I bet she could.
If I had given her a chance.
Because we aren't that different.
Because those don't have to be the things that define us.

I'm still broken and I still need people. People that the Lord places in my life who remind me of His love, His grace, His faithfulness and goodness. People who are older, people who are parents, people who are younger....sometimes even children. People who are in a different life stage than me (*gasp*). And together, as we live in community... refining happens. Together, as we share life... we grow. We start to look a lot more like Jesus when we graciously open ourselves and our hearts up to those who are "different" by allowing them to know us and seeking to know them.

It's not that different.
It is.
But it isn't.
Not enough to separate us from each other when all we're really craving is to be known and loved.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Thursday, October 16, 2014

No One Warned Me

Last night I made:

Pork tenderloin
Mashed potatoes
Homemade rolls
Chocolate Chip Cookies
(we'll consider potatoes a vegetable right now)
And I wore an apron with nothing on underneath.
Just kidding.
But, I could have.

I'm a wife now.

I'm amazed by how quickly food goes now that I live with a man. I used to make a pizza for myself and eat leftovers for a few days... and now I'm lucky if we get leftovers at all. 

Things no one warned me about.

There's someone who now sleeps in my bed but rarely goes to sleep at the same time as me (partially because I'm a grandma and partially because he's a night owl who requires less sleep than I do). Now I must learn to fall asleep to a small reading light in my normally pitch black room. No one told me about this before I said, "I do".

Despite what everyone makes your virgin self think the days before your wedding, you don't just have sex all the time as a newlywed. I actually think people are scared to come over, to invite us over, to call, to text, to email...because it might interfere with our sexual escapades. Perhaps I'm not like the rest of the newlyweds in the world, but we truly have lots of time for other things in life. Including friendships. We actually even like to hang out with other people. Crazy, I know.

I made a trip to Target by myself the other day to pick up a few items of necessity. On a normal occasion, I might have wandered through the clothing section and at least thought about purchasing a new item or two for myself. As I walked in the door, I looked longingly to my left and quickly veered right. I hadn't discussed unnecessary financial decisions with my husband and I couldn't very well spend $30 on an article of clothing and then be upset if he did the same (because, let's be honest... I'd probably be upset about his super unnecessary purchase). While everyone warns you about the financial stresses in marriage, I didn't really think about the fact that even smaller amounts of money warrant a bit of discussion. So much for my boyfriend cardigan spontaneous purchases.

So, life is different.
No one can possibly warn you of all the ways it's going to change, either. What's weird for me probably isn't weird for the person next to me... and what I find easy, someone else might find incredibly hard.
It's a good different, though.
There's just learning period, a transition time that's necessary.

You don't brush your teeth at night every night?
But I don't really ever floss?
Let's agree not to judge the other's personal hygiene habits too much...  yet. We're both mostly... clean.

Things no one warned me about.

We're all really good at speaking from our own experiences. The things that work for us and the things that don't work for us. I think that sometimes I got really good at assuming those things would often apply to me and my marriage. Or, I forgot that the overarching lessons in marriage don't always apply to the day to day.

And so we learn.
We grow.
We communicate.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes! Why wouldn't I be?"
"You're just sort of quiet."
"I'm sorry, I'm not used to being around someone allllll.the.time. I'm great. Truly."                                                                                                        "Okay. Just wanted to check." 
And then we move on.
We laugh a lot. We roll our eyes a lot.

But mostly we're just thankful.
Even if no one really warned us.
Each day we get to wake up and choose to love each other, bad breath and all.
Each day we get to decide how and if we'll serve the other.
Each day we get to choose our words carefully.
Each day we get to put action to our desire to be an example of the Gospel in this world.

Once again, I'm thankful that the Lord is strong when we are weak.
Once again, I'm thankful that He is sufficient.
And I'm thankful that both of us need Him first and foremost, before we can ever lean on each other.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The 'Nevers'

Spending a decade watching a flurry of weddings/marriages before my own lends itself quite easily to a lot of misconceptions.

There are a lot of 'nevers' mentioned as you attend wedding after wedding.  I will never, ever do that...(you know, flowers, dresses, decorations, colors, themes, songs, etc., etc., etc.) and then, of course, there are the list of things you truly love and want as part of your special day. That list is often a lot smaller. At least it was for me.

Then there are the 'nevers' that arise when you think about being married to someone. I will never talk to my husband about going number two, was one of mine.

If there's one thing I've learned about wedding/marriage 'nevers', it's like most things in life: never say never.

I quickly became a person who:
  • had an outdoor wedding when it was probably too hot
  • had my bridesmaids buy dresses that they'll probably never wear again
  • didn't allot enough time to get ready on my wedding day 
  • had a ceremony that was longer than 15 minutes
  • spent more money than I wanted
  • rushed out of the reception too early (but I at least I didn't stay too long...?)
  • ...which then caused me to not see all the people I wanted to see/talk to
  • had sparklers (but, I don't think the smoke was too bad...) 
  • had reds that didn't match 
  • saw friends and family the day after the wedding
     And then, in marriage, I was suddenly a person who:
    • had to tell my husband when nature called (you sort of have to when the room on your honeymoon looks like this, with only a towel to barricade any possible view of my toileted self). 
    • wants to be around my spouse at all times, even when it means watching the Dallas Cowboys play at Buffalo Wild Wings for several hours. 
    The point?
    Never say never
    You never really know how you're going to act, what's going to be necessary, what makes the most sense, what doesn't even matter... and yet, too often, we are people who are highly opinionated upon our righteous thrones of judgment. Especially a lone single ranger in the midst of many married friends. You get a lot of time to decide what's "good" and what's "bad". Most of the time I was just wrong. 

    I remember thinking how weird and awful it was when I saw a bride and groom the day after the wedding. "Don't they know that all we're thinking about is the fact that they just did it? Don't they know how awkward this is?!" My little naive brain would think to myself (and probably share with a few others, of course). And yet, I suggested a brunch with our families the day after the wedding. A special intimate time with them, to share in the joy together, to wrap up any loose ends before heading out on our honeymoon, to laugh, to actually get a chance to say good-bye and thank you. I wouldn't have had it any other way. 

    Be wary of letting your nevers get in the way of life and wedding bliss. Be wary of letting your pride (even over the littlest things) affect your joy. Nothing really has to be a certain way. You get to decide how you handle the last minute cancellations, the time flying by too quickly, the dresses that you love but know aren't practical for anything more than a wedding. 

    It's a good day. Even when it all doesn't come together exactly the way you wanted it or even when things happen that you never wanted... it's okay. And marriage continues to be a beautiful thing, even when I'm sharing parts of myself that are no where close to sexy and even when I am doing things I don't love. There's something powerful about being known, even the ugliest parts of me...and there's something wonderful about seeking to enjoy the things my husband does. 

    But it's rarely what you expect. 
    And so, I pray above all else, that when people look back at our wedding that they don't care about the colors, or the flowers, or the swarm of mosquitos, or the sound not working, or the ring bearer crying in terror as he ran down the aisle, or a bride and a groom. I pray that they remember the goodness of the Lord. That they remember the Lord's faithfulness. That they remember a night where we got to worship, to celebrate, to acknowledge what the Lord has done. A night filled with reminders of God's redemption in all of our lives, as we look to Him. 

    And I pray, above all else, that when people look at our marriage... that they see a man loving his bride as Christ loved the Church. And a woman respecting her husband and treating him as better than herself. A marriage that reflects the Gospel. 

    The 'nevers' only really matter when they're in direct opposition to what the Gospel calls us to. 

    I pray that all of you are better than me at keeping all of this in perspective. 
    Very little matters in this world... very little about your wedding and your relationships (and your life) matter if Christ isn't at the center of it all. Actually, none of it does without Him. 

    Your entries will remain anonymous

    Sunday, October 12, 2014

    Ending the Silence

    I’ve been silent.
    Unsure of where to go, how to write, what to write.

    I have spent the past few years exposing my ugly truths, feelings, experiences about the pain of my singleness… and now I’m just like most other 30-year-olds: married. Boring. 

    I have written about my broken heart, my crazy episodes, my thoughts concerning somewhat controversial things… and lately I've just felt at a dead end, with nothing new to write about. Because, while marriage certainly isn’t the end goal…I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel more whole now.

    © Catherine Rhodes Photography 2014
    I’ve survived 15 whole days as a Mrs. and while I’m sure I’m in the midst of the "honeymoon stage", life suddenly feels a lot more like it should.

    Can I tell you a little about my wedding?
    Can I tell you a little about the days right beforehand?

    I wasn’t aware that the days leading up to my wedding would be so filled with people, tasks, things… and that I wouldn’t really get a chance to spend much quality time with my husband-to-be. As more people arrived, and as the big day grew closer, the less time we got together. Occasionally I thought, “What is happening?! And why is it happening so quickly?!”

    I was overwhelmed by the people. Overwhelmed in a good way. People just came. From all over the country, they came. They sacrificed time and money to be there. They drove long distances. They left their babies. They took time off of work. They woke up early and stayed up late. It cost them all something. No “Thank You” note can ever repay them…no words will ever do it justice. I often got a bit watery-eyed as I humbly acknowledged again and again that they were here just for us. 

    On our wedding eve, we, like most folk, had our rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Our rehearsal dinner was filled with words of goodness as we tried to thank people for their kindness and support. What caught me off guard, however, were the words others spoke about us. While I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I wanted to marry this man, that night was filled with even more affirmation as man after man stood up to testify of my future husband’s impact in their life. One groomsmen let these 60+ people know that the man I was marrying was a man of action. A man who sits at a table and discusses how he ought to be different and then actually seeks to make that change happen. A man who truly applies Scripture to his life, a man who longs to be radically changed by the gospel.

    © Catherine Rhodes Photography 2014
    I got to marry that man the next day.
    I’m quite sure I wept the entire time down the aisle (and fortunately my dress was equipped with pockets to store away tissue).

    I don’t know how I got here.
    I didn’t do anything “right”.
    I didn’t do anything to “deserve” a man that exceeds my wildest dreams.
    I didn’t wait well…and I certainly didn’t wait patiently.

    I kicked and screamed and pleaded with the Lord over and over again that He might take this desire from me. I tried taking things into my own hands too many times. I tried waiting, for at least a few seconds at a time, until I freaked out again. And again. And again. 

    But here I am.
    We’re 15 days in, and it’s still so good. It’s so fun. It’s exactly as it should be. And not because in marriage my purpose is complete… but because in marriage, I’m being constantly sharpened and challenged to be more of who the Lord has created me to be. In marriage, I now have a man who doesn’t just write or talk about how he wants to be different… I have a man who makes the effort to actually be different.

    How could I not feel more whole?
    How could I not feel blessed?
    How could I not feel humbled by the Lord’s goodness in my life as He continually gives more than I could ever deserve?

    I’m going to continue to write—hopefully more frequently again. Not because I have anything worth reading. Not because I stand a chance at becoming anyone famous. Not because my story is unique or challenging.

    But, because I still believe in second chances. I still believe in hope. I still believe in a God who redeems the unredeemable and a Savior who has paid it all.

    And so I’m ending the silence.

    Your entries will remain anonymous