365

“Hey babe, how are you doing?”

“Tired. Just want to go to bed.”

“Well,” I said to Lindsey, “I can do the blog then.”

She just looked at me. It’s late, she’s tired from a drive and then a flight, and we’re finally standing in the elevator heading up to our hotel room. She doesn’t want to think about it, and I’m pretty tired myself.

I looked at her and smiled, “It’s the last time we’ll have this conversation.” She looked at me, then broke into a huge smile and her adorable laugh.

This is post number 365. Counting our wedding day, this is the 365th straight post chronicling our first year of marriage. It’s been wonderful, fun, and yes, even tough.

But I’m not going to get ahead of myself. We have two posts planned for tomorrow, our actual anniversary, so I just want to take care of one thing. I want to say thank you.

I don’t remember exactly what I thought a year of blogging would be like, or what I thought we’d experience. But we have loved it. It has been a wear at times, especially late nights when we we’re both wiped out, but we wouldn’t change a thing. It kept us connected to family, it helped us communicate with each other, and it opened our first year up to others. We hope it did some good for our readers, but we’re not kidding ourselves, we’re not experts. In the end, I think this was great for us, and for that I want to thank our readers.

We’re no internet sensation, but we’ve had steady readership month after month. We’ve seen hundreds of people visit every day from all around the US and the world read about our silly little dates and our not so silly fights. We thank you all for the platform and the chance to share in our story. You’ve made it a special year.

THANK YOU!!

#365. Out.

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Breaking the fast

We’re at dinner with our community. Brian’s men’s group has been fasting for three days and tonight, they broke their fast together… with steak and potatoes.

I’m sitting in the living room with the wives, talking about TV shows and husbands and kids. I’m listening more than talking– beat from my week. It was quite a week at school, and there was very little else I had time for… including sleep.

Thusly, I wasn’t really around during Brian’s fast. When I was, I was grading, and not really present. So, I know we have a lot to talk about tomorrow when we get to look at each other’s faces and say more than a few words. Even so, I do have a few observations on Brian’s fast.

His group was fasting and intentionally praying through several things. Brian spent a lot if time in the Word over the last couple days. I saw it. And he was very calm and much more quiet than normal. He was also so sweet to me– even though I was tired and cranky and not very nice to him. He’s loved me well this week.

I expected Brian to be grumpy and complain a lot. I also thought he’d just try to sleep through much of it. I confessed this to him and he forgave me. I hate that I thought this of my husband. Instead of a curmudgeon, I got a sweet servant.

The men just came in from smoking cigars and the volume went up– I should probably get off my phone and go join my community.

Oh yeah– and my spring break started today. Bless the Lord! Couldn’t have come at a better time! More on that soon…

One year ago…

IMG_0136One year ago tonight Lindsey and I went to see Radiohead at the Frank Erwin Center. It was a great show for me, and a band I had wanted to see since I was 16.

It was just a few days before our wedding, and we had much more important things to be doing, yet my soon-to-be-wife loved me enough to go to a show that she had, literally, less than zero interest in attending. It was a good sign.

To see just how much she loved, check out a video from that night below:

My story

I’m surrounded by stories.

Brian and I, as part of the Story Team, spent much of the Verge conference this past weekend at the Story Team van as we collected the stories of what God is doing all over the world. The best part was sitting in the van, just listening. Story after story, God was faithful and got all the glory.

Then on Sunday, we met up with a lady who would like to be on Story Team. We told her all about the team, how everything works, and what our experiences have been like. More stories.

And for the past month, my kiddos have been writing stories and making books for a contest. The big reveal is at an event in a half hour (thank the Lord!). It’s been all about stories in class for weeks. We brainstormed, we planned, we drafted. Then we revised and edited and published. We illustrated and them bound these books– and in all this I say “we” because I have literally been involved the entire way with all 43 student books. Last night, I stayed up until LATE to get them all graded. So. Many. Stories.

And then there’s this blog– our daily recounting of the story of year one for me and Brian. It’s so close to the end of this part of the blog, but of course, nowhere near the end of our story.

I’m surrounded by stories, I talk about stories, I teach stories, I help with stories, I tell stories… and I’m living a story.

One of my favorite authors says this about story:

“And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”
Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life
 
I am blessed to help my students create stories, and to live even better ones. I am blessed to hear and write and edit stories of God’s grace and faithfulness. I am blessed to be living a good story. I am blessed to share my story here.
 
It’s not normal– this life of mine. But, according to Miller, it just means I found some meaning in life. And I have.
 
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.
–from “Blessed Assurance”

The four ways my wife has improved my life

We’ve been married 360 days, and I have a better life, and I am a better man, than on our wedding day. Here’s a look at the four ways my wife has helped that come to pass.

She helps me grow in faith: I know this is a bit cliche, but it really is at the top of the list. By encouraging me in my efforts to grow, walking alongside me in our programs at church, and supporting me all the time. We share the same goals, and she picks me up and encourages me when I fall short. She’s really been more than I could ask for in this regard.

Our home is awesome: I know she feels like it has a long way to go, but in terms of how I lived as a bachelor… well, let’s just say I feel spoiled all the time. The best part is I know she’ll keep on making it better and better, far more than I ever could.

I have more confidence because she loves me: This may be a bit more esoteric, but let me give it a shot. I no longer fear many of the things that I did before. I know that I have Lindsey’s support and love no matter what happens, so I feel more free to stretch myself, take risks, and try new things. Her love is a motivator and a liberator.

I’m more joyful:  It’s simple and straightforward, but it’s true. I love my life and my wife. I am truly blessed and I know it.

Finding our rhythm

In six days we will celebrate our one year anniversary. Obviously writing this blog forces us to be more conscious about our marriage is going, which is a good thing. In the course of thinking about our upcoming milestone I’ve been contemplating the normal things in our marriage.

By normal things I simply mean the rhythms of life. Today was a really great example of how we are simply learning to work out the simple things. An easy change in after work errands just because it was easier for us both, a division of labor cooking dinner and other house stuff that actually made us more efficient and saved time. Then finally after dinner the dishes were done by one of us while the other spent some time working. It was a good, quiet, productive night.

These nights are becoming more common, and that is great. It’s the sign that we are starting to settle into a rhythm. Lindsey is not fitting into my day, and I am not fitting into hers, rather we are establishing what our days look like.

Thoughts on Verge

I have twenty pages of handwritten notes from this weekend. Twenty. So, you can see the trouble I’m having tonight in attempting to convey what I learned over the past two days at Verge. If you want the long version, call me and we can meet for coffee or a beer, because I am still too tired to even try to write all of that out. You’re getting the “I can’t stop thinking about this today” version of Verge.

All of the talks at this year’s Verge were about Making Disciples. Content and delivery differed greatly, and my mind was a bit chaotic during the sessions, attempting to take in all of these great ideas and thoughts and truths.

Today, I kept thinking about family– specifically treating people like family. Yesterday, Dave Gibbons gave a talk where he shared that when we think of disciple-making, we should think “home”– specifically family. I should treat others the way I would treat family– invite them in, eat with them, share my things, live life together.

I started to think about the people who challenge my patience, or those who I think are living lives they shouldn’t. Jesus has called me to love these people, but sometimes that feels very abstract to me and I find myself not knowing how to love them. Treat them like family. I’ve been thinking a lot about this today– with specific faces coming to mind and then wondering how I would act towards that person if they were my sibling. It’s challenging, yes, but makes a lot of sense to me. I will continue to think on this.

Other things that keep coming to mind today are the stories I heard in the Story Team trailer. Normally on Story Team, we tell the stories of what God is doing in our own church. At Verge, we invited people from all over the country to come in and share.

The Airstream trailer was set up beautifully. At the far end, bright cushions invited the interviewer and guest to plop down. The narrow counter tops held framed photographs portraying some of what we do– a camera man filming a couple on a couch, or the story trailer/van from last year’s Verge conference. Vintage cameras and film filled in the empty spaces. Accordioned gray baffles lined much of the curved walls and black and white rugs covered much of the faux hardwood floor. A large microphone stand sat in the middle of the trailer, its long arm reaching towards the guest.

I spent much of yesterday in the trailer listening to the stories of women. They told of hardships and struggles, or the dark and messy parts of life. Then they would tell of prayer  and reconciliation and miracles and redemption. God is moving and he is doing amazing things all over the place. These were just regular women, but they told powerful stories they were ministering to my heart. They reminded me that nothing is impossible for God and even with weak faith in him, he still does great things. I have less fear today. I look at the future differently today.

The final bit of Verge that wouldn’t leave me alone today was the music. I sang the songs from this weekend’s many worship times over and over. I even surprised Brian by playing Propaganda’s album this morning as we did chores. Propaganda was a surprise guest last night, performing a song with the band. Brian is not used to me choosing to listen to rap. Today may have been the first time ever. But he speaks truth and writes thought-provoking and rhythmic lyrics. I really like it 🙂

I was missing my Story Team family today, after all the hang-out time we got this weekend. Brian and I met with a potential new writer today to share with her the vision of the ministry and get to know her, and all I wanted was to tell her about our amazing weekend and the trailer and the stories. Brian kept me in line, though. Glad I have him for that 😉