35 Reasons I'm Thankful for my Husband

There's a tradition in Aaron's family that goes like this. Before the cake is cut and served, or sometime during dinner, everyone present takes a moment to talk about at least one thing they are thankful for in the birthday person, and to bless them or pray for them for something to be added in the year to come.

It's an awesome tradition, I loved it from the moment I learned about it, and yes, you may borrow it. I don't think any one here will mind.

Since today is his actual birthday, and he's turning 35, well... I think you get the idea.
  1. His smile, the genuine one, where I can see the little boy inside looking out through grownup eyes.
  2. His outstanding cooking.
  3. The way he uses words to empower and strengthen people.
  4. He chooses to build up, never criticize.
  5. The way he teaches, seeking to expand minds rather than just insert knowledge.
  6. His very unique/odd/grotesque? sense of humor.
  7. He can fix almost anything.
  8. His "firm grasp of the obvious."
  9. How gently and surely he holds our children, even when throwing them around during a wrestling match.
  10. The way he wakes up early every morning to go to work and take care of us.
  11. The way he reassures me whenever I worry that he's pushing to hard and taking on too much that he's strong, and he can take a lot, and he's happy to.
  12. The way his chest hair and temples are starting to turn gray.
  13. He plays a mean stereo. The music when he's around is always interesting.
  14. He's never found something that he can't do if he wants to do it.
  15. That he values character over accomplishment.
  16. That he loves without repentance. If he chooses to love someone he will not turn back.
  17. He doesn't complain.
  18. He enjoys making the people around him happy.
  19. He is patient, even with me.
  20. He considers it a privilege to be the guy people call when they need help.
  21. He is confident and self assured in a way that doesn't need other people to know or praise what he's done.
  22. He's always ready for an adventure.
  23. He can build anything you can imagine and many that you can't.
  24. He relates to people where they're at, and on a level that they can understand.
  25. He doesn't hold grudges.
  26. He appreciates beauty.
  27. He's curious about everything.
  28. I'll take just one of these to mention how much I like what he looks like without his clothes on. He's kind of hot. (Children avert your eyes.)
  29. The way I feel when his hands are on me.
  30. He looks pretty good clothed also.
  31. His appreciation of absurdity.
  32. The way his mind works in completely different ways from anyone else.
  33.  How he can cut through a seemingly complex issue to what's really important.
  34.  He doesn't spend hours watching sports.
  35. I know I can trust him.
Happy Birthday Aaron, I love you. I pray this year you would see the desires of your heart fulfilled.

Oh, and happy Love Thursday everyone else.


    Weekends are Eventful

    So, all week we sit around at home and do stuff like school and house work and, well, work. Then comes the weekend which is often very full and eventful and we are never home and I want a weekend come Monday to recover from the fun we had.

    This weekend started with Aaron's birthday party Friday night. I remembered to take pictures of the cake before it was devoured this time.

    Aren't these flags cute? I got them on Etsy.com of course, Lady Bug Suebee's shop. They are fabric and will last for many parties to come. I think I'll get a few more and have decorating taken care of from now on.

    His idea of a good time is to make some insanely good food for all of his friends and family to come and eat. In this case, north African style roast lamb, and jerk chicken.

    I forgot to take pictures of all the food spread out. Or the cooking, or everyone sitting around the fire. Bad at photo blogging, better at enjoying things, I hope. This is the view of Beema's house from the fire, and one of the many dogs.

    I did get the cake ceremony.

    One of these days I will post the recipe for this cake. I invented it just for Aaron one year, because of his love of all things key lime flavored. It's very labor intensive, due to the zesting of an entire bag of limes per recipe, but really, really good. With the exception of key lime cupcakes a few years ago, I've made him this cake every year since.

    Then there was work to finish. I finished the quilt I was working on late into the night, talking to my SIL, and gave it away to Hannah as a very belated birthday gift. I forgot to take pictures of that too. Someday.

    Then the girls all got henna tattoos Saturday morning. Which I also have no pictures of. Aunty Kallee learned the art of henna in India, and now does henna for parties and stuff. Unless you're her nieces, then you can get henna'd for free.

    We always spend the night at Beema's, so Saturday was spent cleaning up from the party and making food for the next one.

    Sunday Hannah, our big girl, threw a party. You see, when her dad died, she inherited his house. He'd been sick a long time, and there are sad memories there. So she decided it was time to make what is now her house into a happy place, with good memories again. Thus the party. It was an honor to have fun together for such a worthy cause.

    And we did have fun.

    All this, BTW, is an explanation of why I so rarely post on Mondays anymore. I'm too tired to think, let alone write. I'm just trying to recover from all that running around and leaving home and stuff.

    Weekends are good, and full of fun things and people we love. I'm grateful for the blessings, even when worn out by them. 


    Mommy hugs can fix unlikely things

    Last night the Girl wet the bed again for the first time in weeks. (This is why I don't use my kids real names BTW. In case you ever wondered.)

    It's also the first time in weeks that I've completely forgotten to go in after she's asleep and give her an extra hug/jostle her around a bit.

    She never wakes when I go in. But somehow, that I do makes all the difference in her sleep patterns, and keeps her from wetting the bed.

    Odd don't you think? It makes me wonder what's happening in her little head.

    I know the obvious answer. I've done the research. Bed wetting has to do with a combination of bladder size/strength, sleep cycles, plus a mysterious hormone/chemical that's thrown into the mix. We have lived with bed wetting for a long time. If there is something written about it, I probably own the book. So on some level, I know that when I go in I disturb her sleep cycles, perhaps knocking her out of deep sleep where she sometimes gets caught and into the other sleep cycles. That could be the difference.

    Except, it doesn't seem to matter when I go in, so long as it's not after she's already wet, just that I do it. I can go in right after she's fallen asleep or several hours later. What matters is that I go in, and hug her, and move her around a bit and adjust her blankets. She claims to have no memory of any of these nighttime movements, though she frequently hugs back in her sleep.

    So I'm back to, "What happens in my little Girl's head?"

    Whatever it is, I'm glad the solution is a simple one. I may not understand why it works, but it's nice to know that there are some problems that can still be solved with a mommy or daddy hug. Even the unlikely ones. (The Boy is an entirely different story.)

    I just hope I don't have to follow her to college and wake her up there too.


    One Thousand Gifts-Week 47

    holy experience

    The way the Girl sings her bed time prayers now in imitation of Gregorian chants.

    Bouncing blond curls.

    Little's china doll lashes.

    Funny shows to laugh at while I sit and quilt.

    Baby kicks in my ribs.

    Long, late night talks with our big girl.

    Laughing together.

    Lemonade, especially when we all make some together.

    When Aaron smiles.

    Long toddler legs sticking out under shorts.

    The smell of a wood fire.

    When family is together.

    Being able to laugh at things that are irritating but can't be controlled. Like toddlers who stay awake all night.

    Polka dots.

    Phone calls with distant friends.

    Hair cuts at home with people gathered around talking and laughing.

    Aaron teaching the Boy for the first time how to shoot a BB gun at a target.

    The way he read the whole manual in the car to make sure he learned everything.

    The way he handed it to me saying, "This part is a message for parents mom, so you should probably read that so you know what it says."

    My FIL laying his hands on the belly that finally begins to look pregnant and blessing this baby.

    The gratitude community is here.



    It's the kind of day where I can't tell if the tears that keep creeping up are from hormones, or from  exhaustion, or from legitimate issues, or all three. It's been the kind of week where we push hard until 2am just to get this finished, because it has to be done. Only tomorrow brings something equally urgent and it's push hard until morning again. Just when I think we're done that, there is more to do after all.

    Today I have yet another thing to finish. Something I put aside for the sake of other urgent matters all last week and just looking at it now makes me want to cry. I am done. I haven't got anything left. My reserves are exhausted and I am not only used up and wrung out but frustrated by what feels like my lack of ability to do something I should be able to do.

    In these moments I forget the constant pushing, the endless doing of the days prior, and instead berate myself for not being in top form today. For not being able to push past yet one more thing and see it to completion. I keep trying, and crying tears of frustration, when I should just take a nap. And then I'm still not finished and children are needy, and the neighborhood is in my house again and I realize that today has been a total waste.

    Just when I'm at the lowest he calls, and he says, "I say this all the time, but it bears repeating. You are amazing. You are doing a fabulous job. I can't think of anyone else I would rather do this with. You consistently amaze me with the quality of work that you can produce, and you do it all while still taking care of our children and making sure they are happy and well cared for. You're doing a good job hon."

    Then I cry some more, and harder, thinking of the wasted day and the work undone, before I let the words sink in, and the tears wash me clean again.

    Sometimes he just knows the exact right thing to say.


    Could China's "Gendercide" end up changing it's gender roles?

    So, there are a lot more boys than girls in China now. Everyone knows this. Though it's hit the news again recently. China's government is even concerned enough about the disparity to start trying to convince citizens to allow more girl children to be born alive. Though they're not likely to be successful in a culture where the idea of the value of sons is so deep seated and long standing.

    I can't help wondering however if there is something that will change China in it's perception of gender roles after all. Let's think about this for a moment.

    Yes, bad things are likely to happen. More women trafficked into China, higher prostitution rates, and the kidnapping of girls to be raised as child brides for those who can afford to do so. These are horrible and should not happen.

    However, consider this. Assuming all things stay equal and the rule of "law" in China continues, in 20 years, those boys will all be men and looking for wives. Only, there will not be enough women for all of them to marry. Parents of girls may suddenly find themselves in a position of considerable influence. Suddenly, having a daughter, rather than a son may be a good thing. Each girl could have more than 10 men vying for her hand.

    This could be competition considerable enough that the old ideas of a woman's parents paying a dowry no longer apply. The onus will be on the family of the man to prove him eligible for a change. Women will be able to choose, more than they ever have before in China, whom they would like to marry. Parents of women will be in the seat of power, with all the chips.

    Consider what this could do, in a generation or less, to a culture that weighs everyone, especially girls, on their commercial value to the family.

    I can't help wondering if the corner that China finds itself painted into may not be the exact kind of trap necessary to change a centuries old deep seated gender imbalance. It could happen in fewer than 40 years.

    Could it be that, setting aside the tragic, evil past of gendercide, the current gender disparity in China could be a good thing in the long run?

    I certainly pray it is so.

    What do you think?


    What is Worship?

    Aaron and I have some ongoing discussions, the kind that haven't ended yet and we've been at it for all 10 years of our marriage. One of them is our discussion of church songs and how people tend to give more thought to what kind of toaster to buy (his words) than what it is they are choosing to teach through song words on a Sunday morning. Songs usually get chosen for the tune and the beat and the popularity, but what about what they teach?

    I tell you that so that you will know that this post I guest wrote for Brooke, Now is the Time, is as much Aaron's as mine since it comes out of the endless discussion we have on the subject as we try to understand together what is worship, what is prayer, and what place do songs and music have in that? So go ahead and go read it if you'd like to know a bit of what I think about such things.


    For my daddy

    Happy Birthday.

    Thank-you for always being a good dad to me, even when I couldn't see it, and didn't thank-you.

    Thanks for not being in a hurry when I you were tucking me in at night when I was little, and taking the time to talk and answer all of my questions.

    Thanks for the swinging rides on your arm, even when I was really too big and it almost broke you to do it, but you did it anyway.

    When mom and you split up I was so angry, and I blamed you. I directed all of my hurt and anger and confusion in your direction and happily believed the worst of you, in every possible instance.

    Oh the fights we had. The yelling, and crying, {mine}, and the red faced barely repressed fury, {yours}, as we both said things that really hurt each other.

    But through all that you still did your best to be a dad to me. You came to all my concerts, and praised all my accomplishments. You offered advice where you could, though I spurned much of it, and you were there. In spite of it all, you were there.

    You drove me and all my stuff to university the day I left. You wrote a check for my first months rent without even blinking, because I hadn't even thought about that detail yet.

    You drove AJ and me all the way to Washington because I won free concert tickets, even though we both bickered with you and yelled much of the way.

    You were a place to stay in the in between times, when didn't have any other place to be.

    You drove me on a crazy 12 hour trip so I could meet Aaron's plane when he came back from India, because he was so sick, and I was so afraid he wouldn't be able to come and see me before going straight home to see a doctor. We weren't even engaged yet. And then you drove all through the night to get back home again so I wouldn't miss work.

    I can't remember how many times you drove out with your van to help us move our first few years of marriage, spending all your visiting time loading up furniture dropping it off again, and helping me clean up after.

    Then you helped us move all the way to California, and drive down to visit almost annually after that. We had a fight one of those times, and I said things I regret, but you came back the next year anyway. You are a really great grand-dad to my kids, and they really love you.

    For years I wasn't able to see all the ways that you have been a good dad to me. I had so many filters of anger and hurt and couldn't see past those to what was really there.

    I'm glad I've grown up enough to be able to finally recognize the good, and to focus on it. You said I would understand once I became a parent, and you are right, I do. I can now see that you were only human, and you did the best you could with what you had. You gave me your best, even when I spurned it, and you have continued to give.

    I have often questioned your judgment, in the way you continue to open your home to all those guys straight out of jail and rehab, with their many addictions and problems, and the way you keep letting them come back when they need to after trying it on their own in the big bad world and falling on their face again. I don't think I would have the patience, or the capacity to forgive that many lies, and that much money owed and that many cons attempted as you do. But I've realized that if you didn't have that capacity I don't know where you and I would be today, because you dealt with a lot of crap from me, and still gave, when I really didn't deserve it.

    So thank-you dad, for all you have done, and continue to do. I'm sorry it took me so long to see how blessed I am to have you for a dad.

    So today I'm saying Happy Birthday, but more than that, I'm thanking God for giving me you for a father. You have truly been a blessing to me.

    I love you. Happy Birthday.


    Big Day for the Boy

    This was taken just after the Boy was baptized yesterday. Here in CA that kind of thing usually happens outside, and there may just be a Mexican food buffet to eat when it's all done.

    I'll let him tell you why. This is what he read before they dunked him.

    Baptism tells the story of how how first your spirit was dead and then it was alive because you are then one of God's children and you are free people. Jesus died and came alive again so he could put his spirit in you you and give you his life.

    I am alive right now, the Holy Spirit is alive in me and I just want to show that I am alive and that I'm one of God's children.

    What it means to be God's children is to teach the whole world about God and about who he is by loving them and being kind and patient and helpful. By doing what he tells you to do to fix the broken world.
    That pretty much sums it up, don't you think?


    It's not about forgiveness, it's about freedom

    Have you ever tried to explain Good Friday to someone with no church background?

    If you went to Sunday school and learned the standard story you probably said something like, "Well, we were bad and God wanted to forgive us because he loves us, but he's too perfect and holy to just let us come back to him. Someone had to pay for our mistakes. So he sent his son Jesus and he didn't make any mistakes. So God arranged for him to be killed, in our place, because we deserved to die. Only because he was perfect and died for us, he didn't stay dead, God raised him up from the dead, and now we get to be with God too because that made it so he doesn't have to punish us any more."

    If you said that to someone who hasn't heard anything about the gospel I'm guessing the response you got was something like, WTF?! Literally. Then, if the person was intelligent, they would point out all of the things that are wrong with that story. "If God is so powerful," they might ask, "Why would he need to do all that in order to forgive someone? Why can't he just decide to forgive and then do it?"

    Then they might ask, "What kind of messed up kind of love is it that you say you love someone but when they don't obey you you have to kill them? So in order to not have to kill them you kill someone else instead?"

    These are the questions they might ask, and they would be right to ask them. Because really, even though the above version is what a lot of us come away with from Sunday school or church, it is messed up, and it's missing the entire point.

    Let's start with forgiveness. If you think that the cross was about forgiveness you haven't read much of the Old Testament. God keeps forgiving, all the way through, without any mention of a cross. Don't start about sacrifices either. He specifically says, again and again, that they are not the point(Is. 66:3-5, Is. 58), and aren't why he forgives. Let's visit the book of Isaiah for a moment for an example of this. "I, even I, am the one who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins."(Is. 43:25)

    Or listen to the psalmist say, "For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in loving kindness to all who call upon You."

    And think about all the times when Jesus forgives people, long before the cross, and the response from those people who knew the law and the scripture better than anyone. "The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, "Who is this {man} who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?""

    No forgiveness isn't the issue, and first century Jews recognized that, even if we don't. So what was the point of the cross?

    Well, let's listen to the opinion of a 1st century Jew or two who followed him about what Jesus was up to shall we?

    John wrote, "The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil." (I John 3:8)

    Paul said, "In Him we have redemption through His blood...And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, ... But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus," (Just read the 1st two chapters of Ephesians to follow that. There is so much more but I have work to do and you don't have all day to read this to let's just start with these examples.)

    Not to forgive us, it doesn't say, though forgiveness comes up over and over again, but to redeem us, to destroy the works of the devil. Redeem isn't the same as forgive. Redeem is what you do to get a slave out of slavery, to get back something that you once had, and in our case, to rescue those who are trapped and enslaved out of death and into life. It's a merchant type term that has to do with ownership and purchase. Redeem is to buy back.

    It's an important distinction, please don't miss it. God has always forgiven and been able to do so. No, Jesus and the work of the cross was to set us free. Sin has always been merely a symptom of our enslavement, our deadness. We were dead, we were enslaved, we were without God's spirit in us. Jesus bought us back, that day on the cross, his life for ours in a sense. But it was more than that because it says that he fought our captor and he defeated him. He won our freedom. It was not because of our sin that we couldn't be with God, it was because of our slavery.

    You see, when God set us here and carved out a place from the useless and chaotic earth for us to live, he set us a task. We were made in his own image to subdue the earth, to occupy it, to redeem it. We instead became enslaved, unable to do our task, without the life of the Spirit of God in us, dead and weak, and vulnerable.

    Jesus was what we were meant to be, he fought and won where we failed to fight and died. God didn't send his son to die so that he doesn't have to punish the rest of his children. He sent his son to fight and rescue those of his children who were lost and enslaved by his enemy.

    That's what we remember that Jesus did this day. He fought were we could not. He won where we lost. He bought us with his own blood, and in that battle, it says, he descended into Hades, fought and won, and set us free. "I am the living one and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore and I hold the keys of death and Hades." (Rev 1:18)

    I hope you will remember this today and tomorrow and Sunday, and all the days to come. Most especially, I hope you will remember this when you try to explain what Jesus did to a person who has never heard it before.

    Image by hour of the wolf and used under the terms of a Creative Commons license.


    About a Boy

    I did not know boyhood could be so sweet, that my heart would melt like this again.

    I mourned the disappearance of baby curves that dissolved into hard lines and sharp angles, all elbows and knees jabbing into my lap. He was my first. I wept just staring at his newborn face that first month after he was born. I fell totally in love.

    But when I reach out to smooth a cowlick and he catches my eye with a shy smile that thanks me for seeing him, for that touch that means more to him than it did to me, I see that heart of his looking back at me and feel a thrill of joy that he still loves me, as he did when a toddler and I was his whole world.

    One day, not too distant, he will see my flaws and they will shout louder than my strengths for a while. My feet of clay will finally show through and he will have to learn to love me again as the flawed human being that I am. He will understand that I am not as perfect or wise as he may have once thought and our relationship will change, and be, I hope, more real as a result.

    But that little smile he gives me, the one that says without words, I love you mom, you are the one I want to notice me, it gives me hope for the rocky road ahead. We can navigate our way through it, I think, without losing sight of each other.
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