Monday, November 24, 2014

Fat Days

The holidays draw closer and my waistband gets tighter.

Is it socially acceptable yet to wear elastic waistbands everywhere you go? Are maternity clothes viable options for women who just want room to expand two to three times a day?

I guess you could say I got married and “let myself go”. Or, at least some days I feel like it. Tighter clothes, more pounds, feeling self-conscious…fat days are upon me.

I’ve been here before.
I don’t want to return.
BUT… the holidays are here. How can I deny myself turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and the endless amounts of cookies from just jumping in my mouth?!

I told myself that I would do something about the weight gain after the holidays, but I realized I should probably start before then if I don’t want to be wearing sweatpants for the rest of my life (because, if we’re being honest, I’m too cheap to buy new clothes—especially in honor of gaining weight).

It doesn’t mean that I don’t get to enjoy the holidays…but it does mean that there’s a need for discipline that I like to forget about. Last time I lost weight, I decided to just do it and I stuck with it. Sheer determination. And grace during the times that I mess up. Two steps forward, one step back. But, it’s possible.

There are a lot of days in between Thanksgiving and Christmas and I don’t have to eat like a pig every day in between (nor should I). I don’t have to wait until the New Year to make a resolution, either. I can start today; a random day in November, four days before Thanksgiving.

That sounds nice.
I don’t have to keep gaining weight until January and then start losing weight. I can be disciplined. I can have self-control. I can still eat yummy things, but learn how to eat them in moderation. I can enjoy the holidays and not hate myself the entire time. I believe it’s possible. Even with a fat day here or there in between. 

Because as I eat and grow and let myself go, I begin to see a direct correlation between how I feel about myself and then how I interact with the world around me… as though it’s everyone else’s fault that I’m slowing inflating over time. As though I had no control as I pour large amounts of butter over my popcorn and shove rolls in my mouth.

If I really don’t like how I look or feel and if there’s something to do be done about it? I want to do something. I don’t want to whine and complain and feel sorry for myself, all while feeling bad about myself. Instead, I need to move my body and eat better. I just have to do it. One day at a time. Even on the fat days. 

When I start to trim away the excess things in my life, I start to feel like more of who I am supposed to be. More of who I was created to be. Never skinny, mind you… but healthy, confident, vibrant.

I’ve been there before.
It feels within reach.
I want to return.

And so today, we begin again.

Wish me luck.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Parasitic Marriages

Do you know what an anglerfish is?

They are these fascinating creatures that live deep, deep in the dark sea and I only know about them because of Finding Nemo. Many years ago, I decided to see if that light-guided gross-looking fish was real… and it is.

What’s most interesting about this fish is not that they have translucent teeth or that they can swallow prey up to twice their size… but the relationship between the males and females. The male is smaller than the female and when one encounters a female, it will use its teeth and latch onto her. Eventually he is fused to her—he is connected to her “skin and bloodstream and losing his eyes and all his internal organs except the testes”. A lady anglerfish can have up to six or more of these males latched onto her.  (

That’s crazy and gross and weird and PARASITIC.
When I read it to my husband, he was appalled at the male’s lack of ability to do anything for himself. He may have even commented about how opposite to marriage it was, which of course left himself wide open for a jab about how men are absolutely the inferior species and I should probably write a blog on it. Our banter continued… and now, here I am… writing a blog.

As I think about it (and since over-thinking is what I do best), I’m not sure we ladies are as different from Mrs. Anglerfish as we think we are. Maybe he’s not latching onto us with his teeth and literally becoming fused to us… but, he kind of is (whether he knows it or not). We get married and we become “one”.

It isn’t long before we start raising our eyebrows when he starts acting up in public, making comments under our breath when his stories go on too long, correcting him when his information is slightly inaccurate. Over time, we might find ourselves with a blind husband who is lacking passion and only seems to care about sex (sound familiar)? 

That’s crazy and gross and weird and PARASITIC.
And yet, sometimes, I think we do it.
Sometimes, I see myself starting to do it. When my husband yells randomly and spontaneously and I fear for my life for a brief moment, I scold him. When he tries to be close to me when I’m feeling particularly introverted, I push him away. When he says something to someone that I think sounds weird or wrong, I widen my eyes at him with a warning look. And I can’t help but wonder if those “little” things might increase over time and eventually I’ll be serving to suffocate his soul and spirit.

I’m this controlling woman who thinks things ought to be done a certain way (my way)…and when he doesn’t do everything that way…………

Fortunately, I married an opinionated man who is free-spirited and unwilling to mold himself to my petty expectations and demands. A man who is quick to call me out on my controlling nature and urges me to see the beauty in allowing him to be exactly who the Lord created him to be—boyish-ness and all.

I laugh more.
Enjoy life more.
Let loose more.
And when I don’t, he quickly snaps me out of it or we dialogue about it until we can reach a common ground.

In the end, I’m reminded that those things that I can’t control are a lot of the reasons why I love him. I don’t want to break him, change him, or drain him. I don’t want him fused to me, I don’t want to lose him as he dies a slow death of foregoing his identity as we become one.

I want him to remain him.
And me to remain me.
And be one, as two individuals saved by grace, united in Christ--growing toward Christ.
But never controlling.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

On Marriage

“How’s marriage?!”

It’s a question I get a lot now. Sometimes it feels like the question that a waitress asks you right after taking your first bite of food in a restaurant, “So how does everything taste?”

Gosh lady… I barely have my taste buds on this enchilada. But it’s great. I’m going to tell you it’s great because it’s too awkward and too late to offer anything other than that. I chose enchiladas and, goodness, they’re going to be good (even if they aren’t my favorite).

Marriage, while I do actually think it’s great… still feels a bit premature to give any sort of  “accurate” analysis on. Or else it just feels discounted. I can only think it’s so good because we’re newlyweds and we’re in the honeymoon phase. But, really… I get it…  my taste buds are barely into this marriage.

Before I got married, my roommate and I had a running verbal “Pro/Con” list about marriage. As I transferred from single into a dating relationship and then into an engagement, I felt pretty insistent that the “Pro” list should be longer (even if I never admitted it aloud). Because, who wants to walk into a life-long commitment thinking that the cons are going to outweigh the pros?

I’m happy to announce that the pro list is still longer and I’m not making them up or searching for little things to stack up against a long list of cons. In fact, my con list is pretty short. I imagine it’ll grow with time… but I’m also imagining the pro list will grow, too (I hope?).

But, so far, marriage is great. Better than I thought it would be, actually.
We still disagree on how to spend money or if we should spend money.  He still wants to cuddle as we fall asleep while I want room to thrash around and change my position at least 10 times in a minute.  We are still learning the art of communication and how our tones can come across to the other as negative and insulting. We’re learning how to have friendships together and also separately. We’re learning not to assume things.  We’re growing.

© Catherine Rhodes Photography 2014
I realize I’ve still only had a taste.
And maybe it’s just because we’re newlyweds and we’re in the honeymoon stage… but I’m content with what I ordered. I wouldn’t have chosen anything else off the menu, even if I had a wait a while for it to arrive. I hope I’m savoring every bite.

Thanks for supporting us, encouraging us, and loving us as we jumped on this lifelong journey of learning to love each other better each day. Thanks for asking. Thanks for caring.

It’s good.
Truly, truly good.
It’s almost like life can sometimes even be like a fairytale.

We’re thankful for these moments, even it it’s just because we’re newlyweds or because we’re in the honeymoon phase… we’re thankful for easier times and pray that these moments would serve to root us in the Lord and in each other as we inevitably face harder times.

And that’s “how being married” is…

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Fight

I know I’m really great at making it seem like I have the perfect marriage and that I’m married to the perfect man. I don’t mean to… because it’s not and he’s not… and I’m certainly not.

So… I guess it’s time to share a little bit of our ugly.
I guess it’s time to tell you about The Fight.

The Fight we had four days before we were to be wed. The Fight that made me wonder, “Uh oh…”.

It involved a suit.
A tie.
An undershirt.
Shiny, shiny shoes.
Don’t forget the belt.
And some money.
Lots and lots of money.
Oh. And my credit card.

Now, under different circumstances (like ones where we are sharing a bank account and had thoroughly discussed things ahead of time), I might not have balked my head when dear Mike rung up my husband’s total at the check-out counter. But, circumstances weren’t different…and so I balked.

It wasn’t so much vocal as it was through clenched teeth and glaring eyes as I tried to "not speak speak" to my to-be-husband that he should double check why in the world it was costing this much money. Did you know that men can’t read minds? Even when we’re seething?

So instead, he whips out the card and swipes away.
Five minutes later we were in a nearby department store searching for undershirts that don’t cost $50000000 because of the way the keep the sweat off your body.

We tried to communicate.
“Debbie, you need to use your words. You didn’t say anything back there so I figured you were okay with it…”
“Why would I EVER be okay with you spending that much money on all of that? I can barely buy myself a new toothbrush because I don’t want to spend money.”

We never yelled.
We were in public.
With my mom and my aunt.
Of course.

My anger wasn’t ceasing and so his only solution was to run off to return everything. He had to make it better, and I was giving him n.o.t.h.i.n.g. to work with.

I called behind him.
His impulsive desire to do something drastic because of my irrational reactions caused me to pause.

He really wants this.
It’s our wedding day.
My dress cost more than this.
We can afford this.
We are getting married.
Our lives are becoming one.
My money isn’t mine anymore.

With tears in our eyes, in the middle of the department store, with my mom and aunt wandering around awkwardly waiting for us to “work through” our spat… we came to some sort of understanding.

His ability to spend extravagantly for our wedding didn’t mean that this was the way he was going to spend money our entire lives.  This was a once in a lifetime celebration.

Plus, there was the fact that I was the one who handed him the tie… so why wouldn’t he assume that I had (a) seen the price and (b) approved it? (Unfortunately I had seen a bunch of ties on sale for $15 and when the sales rep handing me this beautiful tie I had just assumed it was from that rack…. Yes, I’m quite sure I was conned).

© Catherine Rhodes Photography 2014
So we worked it out.

He kept the suit. 
But it was ugly. Not the suit. The situation. 
I was a ball of tears, humiliated that just days before our wedding we were in such a predicament in front of my family.

Surprisingly enough, they told us they were actually impressed with how we handled the situation when we tried profusely apologizing to them for our ridiculous behavior.

We almost laugh about it now. 
You know… 40 days later.
But really, it feels insignificant. And, true to his word, while he spends money more quickly than I might, he isn’t an excessive spender. And, he does love those new shoes- so much so that he wore those shiny guys to work at least once or twice this past week. He insists that he’s not trying to prove a point and that he truly just loves them… but I’m not entirely sure.

That’s The Fight.
I’m not na├»ve enough to think that we’ll never have another… but I am relieved to know that I have married a man who can remain level-headed, who will talk through things, who will seek to place me and my desires above his own in the midst of conflict.

Even if he does like expensive things.
And even if I’m cheap.

It somehow all works out in the end as we learn to extend grace to each other and as we seek to love each other the way Christ loves us, imperfections and all. 

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Pregnancy & Children

It’s been almost 40 days and I’m not pregnant. I don’t think. 

Sometimes I pat myself on the back for the accomplishment, but then I wonder if it’s really an accomplishment at all.

Realistically, it could probably happen at any moment. Not because we aren’t being proactive and preventative and all that jazz… but because we aren’t being as preventative as we could be. I’ll let you figure out what that means.

As we talk about our future, our “plan” is to wait at least two years. This is for all of you who are already wondering when we’ll start “trying”. I mean, I’m old and my child-rearing years are upon me and now that I’m married we oughta start pushing them out… right?

Realistically though?
I wouldn’t be all that sad if it happened sooner. In fact, there’s a small part of me that hopes pregnancy is right around the corner.  Not because I’m itching to have children. Not because my maternal clock is ticking. Not because I’m excited about any part of actually delivering a baby . And no, I’m not planning an unplanned pregnancy behind my husband’s back.

I get excited about a baby because I’ve been pretty awestruck and humbled by how miraculous they are. I get excited about the Lord’s timing in all of it and Him deciding when and/or if. I get excited about me being pregnant because I know it isn’t something that’s promised to me. It’s this gift. And I want to cherish it… even if it’s unexpected and unplanned to us.

And so no, we aren’t “trying” and no, we are “not not trying”… but, that doesn’t mean it won’t or can’t happen (I’m quite all right having to post next week with a pregnancy announcement, if it happens). But it doesn’t mean that it will happen the moment we start trying, either. We’re okay with that.

I fully believe that children are in our future, whether they are biological or not. I do believe (and sincerely hope) that part of our story will reflect God’s heart for us as we long to love His children as our own. It’s perhaps an even more beautiful picture of the Gospel to me than any other imagery: adoption.

We’ve been married 40 days and we’re praying about adoption. Praying that our hearts would be opened to the Lord’s leading as we consider the possibilities of everything this might entail. Praying about when. Praying about where. Praying about how. Praying.

Praying about children.
Beautifully annoying children.
Children who Jesus asked us to care for.
Children that Jesus insisted upon letting come to Him.
Children who need people to be their mothers and fathers, their brothers and sisters, their aunts and their uncles.

Children who are much like us; in need of love, in need of a Savior.

For me, I can’t read the Gospel and not be open to adoption.

I may never have biological children… but I’m walking in faith that someday I will have my own children. 

I can’t wait until He reveals who they are to us and the day when finally get to meet them. Because children are a miracle. Biological or not.

It’s been 40 days and I’m not pregnant. I don’t think.
And I’m thankful that the Lord’s plans always continue to be better than our own. Whatever that may mean.

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