This post has been written, but not published, for over a month. The idea has been percolating in my head since the summer. I’ve held onto it because it actually frightens me to suggest what is set out below. I will become accountable to my words. But as time passes by, the longer I wait, the more I feel an urgency to make this happen…
A few years ago, John-Mark went away for a couple weeks. I had a friend over to cook for me because – for fear of repeating myself – I don’t. When this friend asked for items to aid with the preparation of the meal, like oven mitts, baking sheets, or serving dishes, I was at a loss to find them. Did we even own any? When she used the stove top, it emitted a noxious odor from something that had spilled over from a previous meal from who knows how long ago. When I went to set the table, I was embarrassed to see that our cutlery drawer was unorganized and full of crumbs, as if someone buttered their toast directly over it, for weeks. How had I not seen that before? My excuse for all these things, which I repeated to my gracious friend ad nauseum that evening, “This is a man’s kitchen.” Continue reading →
Today I am celebrating my 15th wedding anniversary to a guy I am totally in love with. Like so much in love, that if someone asked me whether I had to choose between $10 billion or John-Mark, I wouldn’t even hesitate to say John-Mark, only John-Mark! And then, if they upped the price to $11 billion? Same answer, but I’d hesitate slightly.
Even though he’s so priceless, I still did not get him a card or a gift because that’s what happens on your 15th anniversary. You’re OK without that stuff (although if J-M snuck me a little something, I’d not turn it away).
Plus we did “JUST go to Costa Rica, HELLO.”
That’s me quoting my teenage daughter, when she heard we’re heading out to dinner at a swanky restaurant. That’s because our friends gave us a gift certificate for marrying them at an impromptu ceremony. Remember that? It’s also because we’re indulgent. First a tropical vacation and then dinner out? So. Weird.
I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to post an old entry from four years ago. Not because I’m lazy and it’s easier to recycle old entries, not because I’m late for dinner and really should change into something besides shorts and a tank when patronizing a reputable establishment… but because in our 11th year, I discovered a life-changing truth about marriage that keeps me thrilled to be married to this guy 15 years later.
Have you ever noticed that my Happy Birthday cards turn into Thank You cards? I go to give you a birthday blessing and I find myself thanking you for all you do for me.
Our relationship is very one-sided in many ways, I know. I can’t believe all the things I get away with. I can’t believe I NEVER cook. And while a lot of friends say their husbands cook, it generally means they share the responsibility with their husband. But when I show up at a potluck, of which we’ve attended several in the past little while, and people ask me either what I brought or how I made it, I just say, “Ask John-Mark.”
And they’re all, “Wow! Even church dinners!”
I might as well admit that I don’t ever do the laundry either. I remember at one point you trying to unload that chore on me. I would drag it out, maybe tackling a load when I had some free time. When you ran out of undergarments consistently, you re-adopted the chore. I just happen to believe that folding laundry is the excuse you need to watch Dukes of Hazard reruns – enjoy!
When my friends complain about their husbands never helping around the house, I can’t relate at all. In fact, I will most likely take the husbands’ side and suggest that maybe their husbands have other ways of contributing to the homestead? Like facilitating good conversations around the dinner table? Maintaining the family social calendar? No?
You’re turning 38 today. This came as a relief to all of us, after last year’s birthday, when my Mom sang you her favourite cheery birthday song:
A Happy Birthday to you!
A Happy Birthday to you!
May Jesus be near,
All of the year!
A Happy Birthday to you!
A Happy Birthday to you!
The best one you’ve ever had!
Except she accidentally inserted “last” instead of “best” in that final verse, which unnerved us. Here you are one year older and her, not a bit of a prophet.
You’re slightly younger than me and you never hesitate to rub it in the other eight months of the year when we are separated by one number. But you, my dear, have aged quite significantly in your own way this year. You got yourself a sleep apnea machine. I was getting worried listening to your halted breathing at night, with pauses up to several seconds at a time! You went for a test at the sleep clinic to discover that your heart would pause consistently and dangerously in your sleep. Scary stuff! So they sent you home with a CPAP machine and our lives will never be the same. I find it hard to believe that side effects of this machine are supposed to be a healthier, longer life simply by being transformed into an 80-year old robot every night.
But this year has been a great one, hasn’t it? I’ve loved watching you embrace ministry with passion, getting excited about seeing people move closer to Jesus. This is something on your brain all the time. You even had a dream about it, getting uncharacteristically charismatic, running up and down the aisles of the church and yelling at the congregation, “Is Jesus engraved on your hearts?! Well, is he?!” Aren’t dreams reserved for unicorns and chance meetings with fav celebrities in space? Anyway, I suggest you try your dream out next Sunday and shake things up a bit.
I love your strength of character. You have really great, healthy boundaries. You never hesitate to show love and respect to others, but are not taken in by manipulative behaviour or excessive demands. You are steady and calm when emotions escalate and are always willing to engage in reasonable dialogue. I just wish once in a while you’d let me buy a great pair of shoes even if it’s not in the budget.
Although you’ve earned the nicknames, Spock and Stoneface, in the past, it’s not that you’re without emotion. Recently, on a family trip to Toronto, Sophia asked you questions from her Coke or Pepsi quiz book. This is the ultimate pre-teen girly book with “tons of questions for you and your friends to answer!” We were all interested to know that, given the choice, you’d go for a mountain ski resort vacation over an African safari. We were delighted to learn that you’d choose flying instead of invisibility as your super power. When Sophia asked what makes you cry,” you said, “When people are honest and real about the pain in their life.” There was a moment of silence and reflection in the car before Sophia carried on, “So rock and roll or country music?”
Know what else I appreciate? How supportive you’ve been during this whole fast! For the past 36 days, you haven’t complained at all about making dinner for the family minus one. You’ve encouraged me to seek the Lord about this and listened as I babble on about what I’m learning or wishing I was learning. You’ve prayed with me too. I know it’s a huge inconvenience to you, since you believe so strongly in family dinner… but you’ve understood it’s importance to me and have been such a wonderful support, keeping me accountable and strong. You are such a gift to me. And on your birthday.
Tonight we’ll go to your sister’s home to celebrate. You share a birthday with her son, Edmund, who turns 4 today. My biggest birthday wish for him is to turn into a Godly man… just like you. I’m relieved it’s not a potluck, because I’d hate to make you prepare food on your birthday.