Category: Marriage

Tripping Our Way Towards Gender Equality

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On the way home from dinner tonight, Aly was telling us how a classmate gave her candy in celebration of Polish Girl’s Day.

Isn’t it so fun that girls in Poland have their own day? But that got us wondering– is there a Polish Boy’s day too? And of course, since it is International Women’s Day, I was quick to tell them all about it and the kids were intrigued. Why did such a day exist? What about an International Men’s Day?

These kinds of conversations are some of my favorites to have with the kids. I love their natural curiosity and how unhindered they are in talking about the world as they see it. I’m also curious as to how they perceive the world. I know the version of the world I’m trying to point out to them; but as we all know, it doesn’t always translate how we hope.   (more…)

Date Night In: Puzzlemania

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One of my goals for this year is to be intentional about spending time with Jake. A big way we do this is by setting aside Friday nights for Date Night In.

We’ve done a variety of things for Date Night In, but if we’re not intentional about thinking up something creative to do, we end up on the couch snuggling and watching Netflix. While this is not a horrible way to spend a Friday evening after a long week of work and school, it’s always a good idea to change things up.

Date Night In Idea #1: Puzzlemania

This may sound lame to some, but listen– it’s NOT. (more…)

Review: Keep Your Love On

Jake and I aren’t really marriage book kind of people.

It’s not because we don’t need them (I’m sure we do).

It’s not because we don’t value our relationship (it’s an incredibly important priority).

It’s mostly because we don’t find marriage books to be very… well, interesting, and also because they tend to be fairly predictable. I’ve read a couple since we’ve been married, mostly during the first year and what I’ve found is that they generally have more of a role of cheerleader than provide sizable amounts of new information.

I received an email a few weeks ago about reviewing Keep Your Love On: Connection, Communication & Boundaries by Danny Silk, leader at Bethel Church in Redding, CA. At first I was going to say no, because, well, I was reading Harry Potter, and we’ve already established how I generally feel about marriage books.

But then I said yes.

Maybe because I hadn’t read a marriage book in a while. Maybe because this book had been out for only a month and it had a crazy number of amazon reviews. As I’m writing this, it already has 493 reviews on amazon, 93% of them being five stars. This impresses me. It’s not easy to get that many amazon reviews so quickly. So I gave it a chance.

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Keep Your Love On! is a book that focuses solely on keeping the relational connection between the husband and wife strong. And while each person has a indispensable role, this book focuses on what the reader can do, despite how the other person responds or doesn’t respond. Danny helps the reader understand what keeps the connection strong, and also what weakens the connection.

Connection

Every relationship has one of two goals: connection or disconnection.

In relationships, we choose to behave and speak in ways that foster connection, or in ways that distance ourselves from others. Most of the time we don’t realize what we’re choosing. Sometimes, well, a lot of times, we do what we’ve learned. How our parents treated or didn’t treat one another is a huge influence in how we’ll react towards our spouses. Danny shares some helpful stories and walks us through some important questions to help us understand how all of that plays out in our lives. One of the key points throughout this section is we can only control ourselves. How we respond to our spouse is of utmost importance in our connection.

Communication

Danny opens up this section by explaining the 3 styles of communication: passive communication, aggressive communication and passive-aggressive communication. Knowing how you communicate is the key to learning to communicate better, with a focus on keeping the connection between husband and wife strong. He then builds from there, discussing how to have an effective conversation, what the goals are, what needs to be in place for both parties to feel understood and also to “keep the love on” during all of it.

This section was full of really insightful pieces of information that I somehow didn’t ever learn or perhaps learned and then forgot. Jake and I don’t do disagreements well. We both are so hard-headed and sometimes choose the desire to be right and “win” the conversation over the common good of the relationship. Some of you are laughing. Big shocker, I know ;).

One concrete thing I’m taking from this section is being applied to all my relationships, including my kids. Say what you need. And ask others what they need. My kids are totally passive, which probably reflects my passiveness at times. I would rather hint at what I need “Wow, I’m tired.” instead of “Jake, do you mind if I take the next 30 minutes off to read in a quiet place?”. Or, one of the kids will say, “I guess I’m just going to have to walk around like this all day (with her pajama dress stuck on top of her head).” and I’ve been a broken record saying, “Can you please tell me what you need?” instead of just helping her take it off. It sounds little, but I think it’s important to realize that I can’t read their minds, and that they can’t read mine, so it’s better for all of us if we’re explicit with our needs. I feel like this would probably solve half of the world’s problems. 🙂

Boundaries

Finally, Danny finishes up with a section on boundaries- basically choosing who you share what level of intimate information with as well as with who you spend how much time.

Overall, good book! Easy read, not too fast, no fluff. My only dislike about the book is the underlying goal of the reader to become a “powerful person” by choosing to be and do various things throughout the book.  I think he is using it in a “powerful in self-control” way, but the whole power metaphor sits wrong with me.

Anyway, If anything else, this title is a fantastic one to throw out there when you and your spouse are in a little tiff. Just look at them, smile warmly and say, “Hey baby, let’s keep our love on.” 🙂

My Epic Birthday Date

On Friday, Jake surprised me with an EPIC 11 hour date and it was FANTASTIC. I told him at one point that if we weren’t already married, I would have expected a marriage proposal by the end :).

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Because I turned 32, Jake planned 5 dates for just the two of us (us being math geeks, 2^5=32).

Date One

Jake took the little kids to the library as he normally does on Friday mornings (giving me the morning “off” to do whatever I want: writing, reading, crafting, etc.). At 11:00a I got a text from him, telling me that he was almost home and could I run up and get a paper by his bed. It was  an invitation to a date.

Put on your comfy clothes and join me for a party of two lunch at the official birthday place, followed by a fun board game.

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We ate at Nitty Gritty which is THE birthday restaurant here in Madison (balloons, free drink, free desert) and then played a board game at I’m Board (our favorite board game store where you can hang out in their back room and test out board games). We played Villagers and Villains, which was pretty fun– we tied!

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Date Two

Get your work clothes on, get hydrated, and create at a Walk in, Make art studio with me.

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Afterwards, I found ANOTHER birthday invitation, this time inviting me to Sonic (yesssssss) and then to Fired Up Pottery, a make your own art store. We designed a glass piece (a swoop bowl) to be fused, and I just picked it up today. It turned out SO WELL, don’t you think?!

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Date Three

Bundle up for the cold and put on your hiking boots. Let’s walk on water together and view the 1753 sunset from Lake Mendota.

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I’ve been wanting to walk on the lake all winter, but just hadn’t gotten around to it. Jake made it happen! We had so much fun hiking out from picnic point so we could sit on a sleeping bag and watch the sunset from the middle of the lake. So romantic and fun!

 

Date Four

Time to get fancy. We’ll explore narrative in the Storybook exhibition.

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We headed to the Museum of Contemporary Art downtown, and it was a great time. My favorite part was viewing a collection of art work done by art teachers of the Madison School District. Their work was INCREDIBLE. I’ve decided that my current favorite kind of artwork is mixed media.

 

Date Five

Dinner for two downtown, then home for the afterparty.

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We ended up going to an Indian and Nepali restaurant. We ate the most delicious garlic naan with our main courses (I can’t even remember what I ordered but it was really good too). By the time we got home it was nearly 10:00p and we were EXHAUSTED. Jake had arranged for the kids to be at various houses for the day/night, so we had a kid-free house (which, by the way, was incredibly weird and fantastically relaxing). The next morning we woke to an alarm so that we could pick up all the kiddos by 9:00a, also unusual and I must admit I prefer being awoken by a child :).

By the way, how generous are those families who watched our kiddos and kept them overnight? I feel SO LOVED that people would say yes to that! They made our day/evening so wonderful!!! It takes a village, people, especially when family is a day’s drive away!

Thanks to my love for planning a great day and night!!

Just How Married Do you Want to Be?

A few weeks ago I asked for suggestions on Facebook for some favorite books about marriage. I received a whole slew of comments– most of them I had heard of before, but one in particular piqued my interest with its title.

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Just How Married Do You Want to Be?: Practicing Oneness in Marriage is a book written by Jim and Sarah Sumner (IVP) who I find to be a fairly unlikely couple (PhD theology student meets former stripper turned Christian- you guess who is who!). The authors’ goal of this book is to encourage and inspire Christian couples to live a biblical marriage (p.14). While I typically halt at anything labeled “biblical” (I’ve come to recognize that word as being one that people sometimes use to “show God to be on their side”), I decided to proceed with caution because this book was recommended by a friend I trust, and because it was published by IVP. 🙂

I ended up liking parts of it, being totally intrigued by others, and downright not liking some sections. So, all in all, I’d say that’s a fun read!

The most interesting thing to me was their theological framework for understanding marriage, especially as it relates to Ephesians 5:21-33.

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Instead of coming at it from a complementarian perspective and translating “head” as “leader”, or an egalitarian perspective and translating “head” as “source”, they come at it from head meaning a physical head (which is what kephale means). So, the man is the head of the wife and the wife is the body of the man. Just as Christ is the head of the church and the church the body of Christ.

I think this passage in Ephesians gets interesting when you realize what words Paul DIDN’T use when saying the husband is the head of the household. He didn’t use oikodespotes, which means master of the house. Paul didn’t use archon, which meals ruler.

This illustration in Ephesians seems to be saying more about the relational connectedness between a husband and wife and Christ and the Church then it does about who holds the power of the home.

The implications of this are interesting:

1. Our lives would ideally communicate our oneness. Both with our spouse and with Christ. Do people view my relationship with my husband as characterized by “oneness” or are we seen as two individuals who are very much doing our own things and constantly trying to figure out how to get our own way (or is one person getting their way while the other spouse just does whatever the other one wants)? Do people view the church’s relationship with Christ by “oneness” or a bunch of people figuring out how to live the life they want while also ending up in heaven at the end?

2. This interpretation would give us another dimension of our relationship with Christ to explore. Christ is our Savior (He saved us from our sin). Christ is our Lord (He leads us and we submit to Him). Christ is our Head (He is an intimate part of who we are- our identity).

All this and much more is found in Sarah and Jim’s book- I’m not 100% convinced that this is a good interpretation, but I’m thinking through it, praying through it. and keeping my mind open to it! Any thoughts?

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How We Will be Celebrating 10 Years of Marriage

Jake and I finally nailed down where we’re headed for our 10 year wedding anniversary.

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Not Paris (been there, done that ;)).

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Not back to Kenya (I wish).

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Not a cruise in the Bahamas (although that was my choice #2- ha!).

Nope, we are headed to Chicago for the Justice Conference 2015! While it may seem like an odd way to spend celebrating 10 years of marriage (and boy do we have a lot to celebrate!), we decided what better way is there than spending a weekend focusing on reorienting and reenergizing ourselves towards gospel-centered justice? The perfect nightcap to a decade of marriage.

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Jake and I sometimes remember (in the car on long trips after the kids have fallen asleep is when this kind of conversation typically comes up) a very specific conversation we had before getting married (or maybe right after) in which we vowed that we would never become the couple whose faith lived out means just comfortably teaching a sunday school class every Sunday.

Friends, we don’t even teach a Sunday school class.

And in many ways, we laugh because we couldn’t even imagine then what we know now about where our lives were headed. We’ve travelled the globe (but mostly the U.S.) for advanced degrees, we’ve had lots of kids, we’ve jumped in and out of a lot of various projects, lending a hand in ways that have been very ordinary and quite simple. We know now that to choose one thing means not choosing another. And for the most part, we’re happy about what we’ve said yes to and making peace with those things to which we’ve said no.

But after we laugh together, we quietly look back out the car window, deep in thought. I think both of us feel that twinge of regret over the tiredness, the lack of big opportunities, the routine, the distractions. Our minds wander to the “what if…?” and “should we be ….?” and “God, what’s next for us?” We silently reflect and pray until the sounds of a restless child needing a pillow or water or a comforting hand interrupt our thoughts and bring us back to our very present (and good) reality.

So, instead of laying on the beach of some warm sandy island with cold drinks and good books in our hands (I wonder if the Justice Conference gives refunds…), we’ll be sitting in the beautiful Auditorium Theater on June 5th and 6th, listening to some dynamic speakers recast vision for our lives -to be consistently oriented towards seeking God and living out faithful righteous (justice!) lives. The speaker line-up looks amazing: Dr. Cornel West, Eugene Cho, Lynne Hybels, Amena Brown, Bob Goff, and more. I’m excited about using this time to prayerfully dream toward the next 10 years.

Here’s to many more decades of living out lives that are oriented towards love, justice, and hope. Anyone wanna meet us for dinner on the 5th? 🙂

Chicago MP Prop Video from The Justice Conference on Vimeo.

Who Wakes Up with the Kids?

For all my married amigos, I have a so serious question–

Who wakes up with the kids in the morning?

And how do you decide?

We’ve used rock, paper, scissors. But perhaps we shouldn’t leave such big decisions to chance.

We’ve said that whoever goes to bed first has to get up with the kids. **laugh** I have a hard enough time making myself go to bed how it is. This idea was not in the best interest of anyone in our family.

We’ve resorted to both of us laying there as kids crawl all over us after their cute alarm clock turns green at 6:30 and they come bounding into our room (which is actually 6:40 in real life, shhhhh, don’t tell them). Whoever gets tired of getting elbowed in the stomach and head sat on first, wins (or loses?).

Okay, well, actually that’s not exactly true. Jake has been getting up with the kids a lot lately. But since we’ve been sharing a lot of “jokes” about me not getting up, I’ve decided to come up with a better way of deciding. So share all of your best decision-making strategies for this incredibly important question!

 

Happy Birthday to Me!

On Friday, Jake and the kids created a Link: Legend of Zelda birthday experience. It was so fun that I had to share it!

First, I came downstairs to see this at the bottom:

Next to it was a heart cupcake.

Then, I had to “battle” each person to receive my next heart cupcake (If you’ve ever played Link, you know that when you defeat an enemy, you often get a heart to add to your life meter.).

Jake and each of the kids had a sword of some sort (a wand, a toy screwdriver, a wii remote, a wooden rod from a chair), and after I defeated them, I had to find a cupcake that they hid. It was really cute!

Then, at the end, I was awarded with a Triforce cake.

Oh, and I can’t forget Jake’s favorite part- I had to wear elf ears! (Back story: Jake is convinced I come from a mixed line of hobbits, dwarfs, and elves because I have pointy-ish ears, have big feet for my height, and my dad is barrel-chested with a thick beard. But whatever.)

So fun! Jake gets 50 extra bonus points because I jokingly said that I wanted a Link cake the night before my birthday. Apparently he schemed up this idea and went to the grocery store without me knowing that he was gone. I know, how does that happen? Anyway, it was so much fun, and I loved that the kids got to play too. Asante commented that it turned from being a boring birthday (“because you just woke up with us and got us breakfast and that was it”) to being the best birthday ever.

Here’s to my last year before the big 30!

What is Vision?

Good question, right? We think about companies having vision statements, but we don’t often think about having personal or family vision statements ourselves. Andy Stanley says that “visions are born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between what is and what could be” (17).  What keeps you up at night? What do you find yourself daydreaming about? What is it that creates in you a holy discontent– that thing, maybe injustice, that you see and feel like you MUST do something about? “Visions form in the hearts of those who are dissatisfied with the status quo” (17).

Some things to remember when thinking about our visions…

….they always begin as a concern about something. What has grabbed your attention? What are those things that God has been bringing back into your mind again and again?

…the vision’s end is never us, but God. I know, sounds cliche, but I think it’s important to remember. It’s not about fame, money, or significance. It’s about advancing God’s Kingdom and bringing Him glory.

…just because we have a vision doesn’t mean we should immediately advance on it. Sometimes God needs us to wait for one reason or another. It’s helpful for me to think about this through the image of pregnancy. Just as a baby doesn’t have a high chance of survival when s/he is born 3 months early, neither does our vision. Allow God to do the work He needs to do to mature it in us.

How do we know if our vision is from God or from ourselves?

1. “A God-ordained vision will eventually feel like a moral imperative.” If we don’t follow through with our vision, we’ll feel like we’re being disobedient.

2. “A God-ordained vision will be in line with what God is up to in the world.”

So, here are the reflection questions for this stage in the experiment. Jake and I will be working through them over the next month or so.

**In one sentence, describe your vision for the following areas of your life- career, family, ministry.

**Are you living with a tension between what is and what should be? Do you have a holy discontent? If so, what is it that bothers you and how do you think it should be?

**How does your vision line up to what God is already doing in the world?

[thanks to Andy Stanley’s book, Visioneering, for these great thoughts and questions]