Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

How Pop Culture Saved My Marriage

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Every once in a while a film gains popularity not just for its entertainment value, but also for how it helps us grow. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002, written by Nia Vardalos) has helped me to be a better wife.

 

The Problem

Early on in my marriage I discovered something about my husband that baffled me. He used Windex to clean non-glass surfaces!

This was so foreign to me. I was raised in a home where we cleaned tables and counters with a dishrag and the Windex was strictly for cleaning windows and mirrors.

My confusion and frustration with his liberal use of Windex was not just because it wasn’t the “right” cleaner for all those jobs. It also seemed to me that using Windex added unnecessary steps.

Getting out the spray-bottle, spritzing it on the surface, and then wiping it off with a paper towel seemed like a lot of fuss to clean a surface that just needed a little wipe-down with a dishrag.

I tried to come to terms with this practice of his, but the conflict was made worse when he decided to try a different brand of glass cleaner to save money. That alternative brand was so heavily scented that I lost all sympathy with his choice to clean everything with glass cleaner.

I dubbed that off-brand, ‘The Death Spray’ and I prohibited my husband from using it in my presence.

Eventually he managed to use up The Death Spray and when he did, in my own way, I actually welcomed the return of good old Windex. We had reached a bit of a truce about this cleaning conflict.

 

Seeing Clearly

The real breakthrough for me with the Windex issue came when we saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The father in the movie used Windex for everything–including physical ailments. Anytime someone had something wrong, the father urged them to “put some Windex on it.”

Seeing this over-the-top, yet sincere insistence on using Windex put my husband’s use of it in perspective. The movie character went way beyond what my husband ever proposed doing with it!

I mean, my husband was just adding a couple of surfaces to the glass-cleaner’s usage. He wasn’t trying to pass it off as a cure-all!

And so finally, I relaxed more about my husband using Windex to clean non-glass surfaces.

 

Set-Backs

Since those days we have expanded our repertoire of surface cleaners. We have used all-purpose surface cleaning sprays and antibacterial surface wipes extensively.

In my view, Windex is still best for windows and glass only. And I even got my husband to go along with using the all-purpose sprays instead of Windex on tables and counters!

I thought we had reached a point where he no longer felt the need to use Windex for “inappropriate” cleaning scenarios.

But I was wrong.

Since moving to Texas I have favored the antibacterial wipes over all-purpose spray cleaners, so we don’t have any all-purpose spray cleaner in the house.

So…the other night I asked my husband to wipe down a table and he, by default, reached for the Windex and paper towels.

“But honey, we have the antibacterial surface wipes for that!” I insisted.

He looked at me with that deer-in-headlights look that always means I overreacted.

I paused, remembered the perspective on Windex I gained from watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and then I relented.

So, you see, that movie has made me a better wife! And that is how pop culture saved my marriage.

 

Married Half My Life: Anniversary Thoughts

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On May 20, 1995, when I married my David 19 years ago, I was 19 years old. I’ve been married to that guy for half my life now!

It blows my mind when I think of it like that–married half my life!

(For a fun post about my groom saving a turtle on our wedding day, click here: Link to Turtle Story.)

Of course, we’ll have to have a big party for our 20th anniversary next year or a second honeymoon or some such. But this milestone right here, to have reached the point where I’ve been married for as many years as I was single is a pretty big deal to me.

Tink is 10 years older than I am, so he has reached (or will reach) most milestones in life before I do. But this is one where me being younger means reaching this milestone earlier in my life than he will. (He was 28 when we got married and he is 48 now, so it will be another 8 years before Tink will have been married to me for half his life.)

This milestone is significant to me because of the commitment it represents. Naturally, I meant it when I said, “until we are parted by death.”  The commitment I made was for keeps.

But at 19 years old, it was hard to think about much beyond the elation of having snagged a seminarian and convincing him to marry me. I was just so eager to be married in the right-now of it.

I could see ahead a little to being married to a pastor, sharing the highs and lows of parish life together. I could picture having little Tinkers running around our home.

At 19 years in though, there is so much that I could not have imagined. I never saw years of infertility problems coming. I didn’t anticipate the moving around the country that we’ve done. I didn’t expect to be such a depressed mess.

But I also didn’t know how hard we could love despite all of the pain and change in our lives. I didn’t know how very tightly we would cling to one another through it all.

I didn’t know love could be this big.

Oh, there was a lot of excitement to our love before we got married and it was consuming.

But to be here, twice as old and to only just now begin to really understand how big love can really be?

That a guy would stick with me even when it looked like I could never provide a child for him? That I would stick with him from state to state for this ministry life? That he would stand with me in the throes of depression?

And even after all that, we still can’t wait to tell each other about our day? And we still laugh together every chance we get?

Half my life later and it feels like we are just starting to discover what this marriage commitment really entails. And I know now that I still can’t know what will be next for us in life.

And if we live good long lives I hope that half a lifetime later from now we are still surprised by our love.

Happy Anniversary, David James Tinker! I love you forever! You’re the best!

For a fun list I wrote in honor of my 19th anniversary, visit Life & Liberty and read the post, 19 Ways to Honor the Ones You Love. (Click the title to read that post.)

Life is Too Short to Mess Around About Hearts and Love

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Life is short. It’s just too short…

We had a heart scare this week. When my son and I got home from homeschool co-op on Tuesday, Tink (my husband, aka David Tinker, but I call him Tink) was complaining of chest pains.

And life is too short to mess around about hearts and love. So I drove him directly to the ER to get checked out.

After an overnight stay at the hospital they found no signs of heart attack and no blockages of any kind. The cardiologist suggested stress as the most likely culprit for the chest pain. Stress management then was the order of the day.

And while stress management isn’t the easiest thing to master, it’s way better than dealing with a life-threatening heart condition.

I tried not to be too worried as we were getting Tink checked out. I mean, we both knew that we were erring on the side of caution. But still, when there was enough doubt that the doctor wanted to keep him overnight, it did make me think about how short life is…

I think there was part of me at 18 years old that already knew that life was too short to mess around about hearts and love. And that’s why I didn’t mess around about how I felt about Tink–then a seminarian on the verge of his ordination and about to begin pastoring his first church.

Let me back up a bit and give you a little more context for these hearts and this love…

I was 15 years old, a sophomore in high school, and he was 25, a second-year seminary student when we met.

Our little church in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio was a frequent wayside rest for Lutheran college and seminary students. And part of my family’s ministry was to extend hospitality to students for however long or short a time they were with us.

So, when Tink came to my church as a guest of our college-aged church musician, we did what we always did and invited them both to lunch. And whenever Tink came back to visit my church, we included him in our lunch plans.

It was no big deal really. I mean, this was just our thing. I was comfortable talking with these students because I had been practicing for so long. At points I felt more comfortable talking with them than people my own age.

Tink’s initial visits to my church were related to an assignment for one of his seminary classes. He even interviewed me for the assignment and quoted me in the paper he wrote about it!

Around Christmas of that year we started writing letters to each other. Even though he was in seminary only 20 minutes from my house, we didn’t see each other very often because he ordinarily had field work at another church. The following year Tink went all the way to Miami, Florida for his seminary internship. Our letters throughout this time were our primary means of connection.

Tink came back to Columbus for his final year of seminary classes during the summer that I was 17. I was on the verge of my senior year of high school. He called me to help him move in. By this time I had developed feelings for him, but I knew he was way too old for me and it could never be. So I helped him move into his apartment and tried to play it cool.

I didn’t see him again until November of my senior year. He showed up at my church to preach while our pastor was on vacation. I had no idea I would see him that day, but all my feelings for him rushed in on me.

But then he told me he was leaving again. He was going to Mexico City for a seminary cultural immersion experience and he would be gone for weeks again.

I finally had him back after intermittent contact and there he was leaving me all over again. I just thought it must be for the better because what was I doing having feelings for this seminary student on the verge of entering the ministry?

Then in January, I turned 18.

And later in January, Tink came back to Columbus after his trip to Mexico City and he started coming around more. And instead of letters we started having phone calls. And instead of chaperoned lunches with my family, we went out to dinner just the two of us.

We had always talked easily but then we were talking endlessly. And we had this recurring dialog wondering what life would be like when we couldn’t see each other when I was off at college and he was away at his first church being pastor somewhere.

And it was more and more obvious to me that this was becoming more than “just friends.”

And I knew life was too short to mess around about these hearts and this love between us.

So, one Sunday afternoon–20 years ago this month–I got bold. Tink had come to church and lunch with us and was hanging out at my house with us just talking and talking. The feelings were so obvious and I was so frustrated that he would not broach the subject.

I had to go to work that evening, but I was so tired of dancing around about our feelings that I felt an urgency to tell him how I really felt. So, right before I left for work, I looked him in the eye and I just blurted out the line that will live in infamy:

“Dave, I love you, and I want to marry you!”

And he didn’t say it back. And he started mumbling something in Spanish! I mean, we both knew some Spanish, so we sometimes did that for fun, but this was not a time for that!

I left for work with no clear picture of how he felt about what I had said.

I was so out there. I mean, it’s one thing to be the first one to say, “I love you,” but I went and tacked on that bit about marriage too!

I worked my shift in a daze, just totally shaking my head at myself. But hey, life’s too short, right?

As my shift was ending though, guess who showed up at my work place?

You guessed it! It was my David.

I wasn’t sure whether to be nervous or excited. Was he coming to let me down easy and tell me I had imagined what I thought was between us, or was he coming to admit that he felt it too?

Finally, he said, “I just had to come and see you and make sure that the world is real and make sure that you meant what you said to me!”

And I clocked out of my shift and we went out to the parking lot to talk it over. I reiterated my sentiment and waited for him to respond in kind. But he still hesitated.

“Just say it!” I demanded! I wanted him to tell me that he loved me too! I needed to hear him say it.

He nodded his head.

That was not enough for me.

“Just say it!” I demanded again.

And finally he said it and there was no more messing around about hearts and love from then on. Which is really good, because life is too short.

P.S. It turns out that Tink actually made note of the exact date in his Pastor’s Desk Diary in 1994. He noted it simply as “Jennifer Day.” (See photo below)

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My Interview with Sarah Bessey about Jesus Feminist

In my last post I mentioned my friend Sarah Bessey and her new book, called Jesus Feminist. I recently had the opportunity to interview Sarah about the book for Life & Liberty!

>>>Click here to listen to the interview.<<<

Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist

Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist

I’ve known Sarah Bessey for more than a decade, since before either of us had kids, before she had her blog and waaaay before she signed a two-book deal with Howard Books. But a decade is a long time and now here we are with her having just released Jesus
Feminist
, her first book.

As an old friend I am super excited for Sarah getting a book published. And as a woman of God, I resonate with the particulars of this book. I read an e-version of the book from Net Galley and was moved deeply by the beautiful vision that Sarah casts for the mutuality that is possible among God’s people.

Sarah coined the term “Jesus Feminist” and it boils down to the idea that being a follower of Jesus has led to an understanding that women are people too. My own study of scripture affirms this conviction as Jesus and the gospels routinely lift up women.

I credit Sarah with helping me see feminism in a positive light. You can read more about why I identify as a “Jesus feminist” in my previous post titled, I’m a Jesus Feminist Because I Don’t Have to Be One.

Jesus-Feminist-CoverSarah lives in Canada (her homeland) with her husband Brian and their three “tinies.” She’s a non-denominational charismatic and just overflows with the love of Jesus in every aspect of her life.

Sarah calls herself “a liberal to the conservative and a conservative to the liberal” and she often takes what she refers to as “the third way” on difficult issues. Her writing–on her blog (sarahbessey.com) and in the book–is both poetic and prophetic.

It’s an excellent book and I highly recommend it for anyone who cares about the church and the movement of God in our world. This book would also be ideal for a group study or a retreat. Click the book cover to learn more about the book and to order yours from the Life & Liberty Amazon store.

Disclaimer: Links in this post will take you to the Amazon store at Life & Liberty, an online magazine where I am a contributor. Any purchase you make there will help support our work at Life & Liberty.

Stuff You Learn After You Say “I do”

My husband saved a turtle that was stuck in the middle of a busy highway.

I thought I knew my husband pretty well before our wedding day. But no matter how much you think you know a person, there will always be those quirky things you never saw coming.

We were friends for quite some time before we ever got romantic. We got to know each other quite well through letters we exchanged as friends. The friendship eventually became so obviously more and we finally confessed our true feelings for one another. We went from “just friends” to practically engaged pretty quickly, but a year-long engagement gave us even more time to get to know one another.

My beloved had been in Seminary when I met him, and he was ordained by the time we were married. So I knew going into it that I was marrying a pastor. He had seen me at my worst, I knew of his vulnerabilities. We both recognized that we were the youngest child in our respective families and had a sense of the challenges that would present for us. We talked for hours about faith, hopes, dreams and more.

Then on our wedding day, after the reception, on the car ride back to my mother’s house, there I learned something about my new husband that I was completely unprepared for.

On a country road he suddenly slowed and became very tense. I was worried that something serious was wrong with the car.

“There’s a turtle,” he said.

“Oh.” Imagining the turtle to have been safely camouflaged in the grass, I was bewildered how he even saw it. And I couldn’t understand why this sighting had such an effect on him.

He sensed my confusion, “It’s in the road,” he said.

So that’s how he saw it! I still didn’t understand what that had to do with him.

“Turtles are slow,” he said.

I nodded.

“I’m afraid he’s not gonna make it across.”

“Ohhhh!” I was beginning to catch on. This was starting to be really sweet.

“So, I, well… would it be okay if I saved it?”

How could I be so oblivious?

“Do what you have to do!”

And he did. He pulled the car over to the side of the road. And in his wedding tuxedo he walked out in the road and picked up that turtle and put it safely in the grass.

As he headed back to our car, other cars began to drive up. They saw my groom on the road and me in my wedding dress waiting in the car. They stopped to check on us. But all was well now, he explained, because he had saved the turtle.

The other drivers honked their congratulations and rejoiced with us in our new marriage and in my husband’s valiant deed.

The thing I learned about my new husband is that he is the kind of guy who will save a turtle. And I loved him a little more that moment, confident I had chosen well to get my life knotted up with his.

This month, on May 20th, we will celebrate 18 years of marriage. Almost as if to mark the occasion, my husband saved another turtle just the other day. And I loved him a little more in that moment too. Each day since we were married I continue to learn new things about him and find new things to love about him. I continue to be so grateful to have our lives intertwined.

Happy anniversary, my love!