November 9, 2011
Last night, I gave you 15 minutes to talk to me about anything; I promised not to interrupt. Your excitement for this opportunity grew over the few days that you knew it was coming. Still, we both agreed that I wouldn’t last the entire 15 minutes–I’m the worst listener in the world. When you talk, I either interrupt you or think about something else (I actually do try to listen). As for you, you love to talk (I’m not saying this is a bad thing). You would have no trouble telling me about your day for a full hour, while my report of my day fits into one sentence.
So, after much anticipation, we sat down for your 15 minutes of free, uninterrupted talk. And then . . . silence. “This is your big chance. Talk to me about whatever. I’ll just listen,” I said. “I don’t know what to say,” you said. More silence. Then, the kids started crying. (I never promised they wouldn’t interrupt.) After I checked on them, we started over. “Okay, what do you want to talk about?” “I don’t know! I guess I’m a little tired right now.” I ended up interviewing you for most of the 15 minutes. I asked you questions about your day and the girls and how you’ve been feeling since you had the baby, and you gave me answers like “Fine,” “We’re doing well,” and “I’m feeling great.” It was surreal. Was this payback for all the one-line answers I’ve given you? Toward the end of the 15 minutes, though, things started flying out of you. Maybe you just needed to warm up. Then, the timer went off (yes, I set a timer!). We continued talking. After a while, the conversation died down and we both nearly fell asleep on the couch. I think I’ll try this 15-minute thing again when you’re not so tired. Maybe we’ll start the timer after you warm up. What the heck! Maybe we’ll try it without the timer!
“He who answers before listening–that is his folly and his shame” (Prov. 18:13).
November 8, 2011
With the little ones ruling our house, I daily anticipate the time we spend together after they’re in bed. (I love our kids and hanging out with them, but I also like having time just for us.) While most of our evenings consist in caring for our newborn or knocking stuff off the to-do list or cleaning, sometimes–just sometimes–we simply hang out. And when this happens, I feel a little nastolgia for our first year of marriage, when we hung out every evening, delighting in each other, while the dishes piled up and the to-do list grew. Last night brought me back to that time. We’ve been working hard lately, so I wanted to give us some rest. I told you that you could pick any movie you felt like watching and we’d watch it together. You chose Captain America. To my surprise, our newborn fell asleep before we put the older ones to bed. So, we snuggled under a blanket together and watched a science experiment from Brooklyn save the world from a monster even Hitler feared. For all I cared, we could’ve watched Tinky Winky and Laa-Laa roll in the grass to the coos and giggles of a creepy sun-baby. I enjoyed just being with you. If this act of love blessed you the way it did me, then I’d consider it a huge success.
November 7, 2011
Yesterday, I left church between services to pick you up for the second morning service. On the way home, I stopped at the grocery store to buy coffee for you and bagels for you and the girls. Unfortunately, I locked the keys in the car. So, I called someone from church who graciously drove to our house, picked up the keys, then drove them to me. We ended up being 15 minutes late for church. But, you loved that I bought you coffee and a bagel. In fact, you told several people at church how sweet I was to do that (I got a little embarrassed). It’s interesting–you seem to appreciate the small acts of love just as much as or more than the extravagant ones. Maybe I should save my energy and do something small for you every day!
November 7, 2011
On Saturday, I told you to go shopping with your mom for the day (that’s right–the entire day) while I took care of the older two girls. While you were gone, I took them on a daddy-daughter date. We went on a bike ride to a local hamburger place. They watched a puffer fish in an aquarium as they waited for their food (“Hey, that fish has pokey things all over it just like on Finding Nemo!”), then they wolfed down some chicken strips and fries, spilling two glasses of water in the process. Afterwards, we went to a nearby park where we played hide and seek. We had a blast! When we met you at home, we were expecting you to be excited out of your mind because of all the clothes you bought. You weren’t. Don’t get me wrong–you were very grateful for the chance to have a shopping day with your mom. However, you and your mom never got to go shopping. You were understandably bummed. Then, I felt bad as I told you about my amazing day with the girls and we both wished that you would’ve joined us. For this act of love, I guess it’s the thought that counts.
For my final prayer session (see day 34), I asked God to unite us so we could together have an impact on the world. I prayed that God would give us the grace we need to raise our kids in him and to love our friends, family, and the rest of the world. I want our marriage to serve as a witness to our kids and to the world that God is great and that a good marriage is possible! I want to spend our energy not on keeping our marriage tolerable, but on loving and serving each other and then together loving and serving others. We actually know some couples like this (unless they’re good at hiding things). We’re blessed to have one of them mentoring us.
PS: I (finally) organized my books (see day 20). I realize I took 18 days to finish, but in my defense, we were gone six of those days for a wedding. Now, all the books are either on the bookshelf or on my desk.
November 4, 2011
When I came home yesterday, you looked absolutely exhausted. “I think after the girls are in bed, I’m going to take a shower and go to sleep,” you said. I thought that sounded great. So later that evening, I put the kids to bed while you took a shower. The kids were easy (I don’t know why you were so worn out from watching them all day, haha!). After your shower, I suggested that you relax and watch the second episode of Once Upon a Time. While you sat down to watch it, I made you a cup of hot chocolate (you seriously love chocolate!). Then, I asked you if you wanted a massage while you watched your show. You looked confused, checked my temperature to see if I was sick, then said “Sure, but what got into you?” Apparently, I haven’t made it too obvious that I’ve been programmatically doing kind things for you. That’s good! So I gave you a foot, leg, and back massage. You said your relaxing evening was just what you needed.
For my fourth prayer session on my day of fast (see day 34), I prayed that God would help me love him more. That he’d give me the grace to desire him with all my heart. That I’d not turn to the things of this world for satisfaction, but to him since he’s supremely satisfying. As C. S. Lewis said, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” Or, as St. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” May I be willing to give up everything to find satisfaction in the only one who can give satisfaction. God, I love you; help me to love you. The more I love God, the more I’m able to love you, my dear.
By the way, last night after your massage you asked: “Why haven’t you written me love notes lately? So you give me three love notes in the past few weeks and you think you’re done?!” I guess I need to add more love notes to my daily acts of love–or else!
November 3, 2011
Last night I planned on listening to a sermon with you on the Song of Solomon. I thought it would be good for us to reflect on healthy intimacy. You liked the idea, but said you were just too tired. So instead, we watched the pilot of Once Upon a Time while snuggling and holding hands. Instead of listening to a sermon on intimacy, we practiced intimacy.
For my second and third prayer sessions on my day of fast (see day 34), I confessed and repented of my marital failings. Here’s an inkling of those failings. While God never changes, I constantly flip back and forth between putting myself first and putting you first. Lord have mercy on me. While God is wise and his word is truth, I often go against sound judgment and I’ve even lied to you before. Lord have mercy on me. God is full of love, grace, and goodness; I fall prey to selfishness and lust, I keep a record of the wrongs you’ve committed against me, and I’m often just plain evil to you. Lord have mercy on me. I often think of our marriage simply as an end in itself, rather than something that God can use for his glory. What’s worse, I typically seek my own glory (I want praise for what I do!), not God’s; accordingly, I serve myself rather than you. Save me from my heart, O God! I confessed to God these and many of my other sinful acts and dispositions and asked him to pour on me his mercy and grace.
Thank you, God, for loving a wretched man like me! Once upon a time I was lost. You chased me down. You transformed my heart. Now, I am found, having being adopted into your family. In spite of this, I’m inclined to my wretched ways. May you turn my heart more and more toward you. And as a result, may I love her as you love me.
November 2, 2011
If I don’t increase in love for you through the course of this year, I’ll consider my project a partial failure. Although I think it’s important to express my love for you, I desire more to increase in love for you. I want my heart to change. Toward this end, I fasted for 24 hours yesterday and prayed for our relationship through six ten-minute sessions. In the next several posts, I’ll write about what I prayed for in each of those sessions (though I’ll continue writing about my acts of love).
For the first session, I focused on the character and glory of God. I prayed through God’s attributes following J. I. Packer’s Knowing God. I praised God because he never changes, he’s majestic and wise, his word is truth, he’s full of love, grace, and goodness, and he judges and pours out his wrath on the wicked. I acknowledged that I need to submit to his authority and control over my life and our marriage. God is king. May he be king over my heart. I also prayed that God would receive glory through our marriage, and that I would desire his glorification above all else. Less of me, more of God.
November 1, 2011
On the way to our Halloween festivities, I took you to our favorite local coffee shop to buy your favorite drink–a dark chocolate mocha. Your reaction to this act of love was strange. You looked at me with big, affectionate eyes, held my hand, and said I’m the best husband in the world. Then you drank your coffee with a big smile on your face, acting a bit giddy. By your reaction, you’d think I just risked my life for you. When I sent you a love letter through the mail or brought you roses after searching ten different stores in the middle of the night or washed and massaged your feet, you smiled, thanked me, and went on your way. But I buy you a coffee and suddenly I’m the best husband in the world? Hold on, because you’re getting dark chocolate mochas for 332 days straight.
October 29, 2011
Since our Lord commanded his followers to wash each other’s feet, tonight I washed yours. While you were sitting on the couch, I knelt by your feet with a pot of warm water and a towel and washed your feet. Afterwards, I massaged them with a lavender salt scrub. You’re becoming very suspicious of my kind acts. At the least, you think my sudden change in behavior is bizarre. I explained to you that I’m trying to show you I love you and you said you’re fine with that!
I have to say: it feels weird writing this blog without you knowing. Sometimes, you walk in the room when I’m on it. My heart races, I sweat, and I get a pit in my stomach. I just hope I can keep this blog a secret because I want to see the look on your face when I tell you about it. I hope it ends up being the blessing of all blessings for you.
October 29, 2011
Having a newborn around makes it nearly impossible to go out on a date. So, yesterday I took you on a date without us leaving the house. In preparation, I watched the kids while you got ready just like you would for a real date. Then, I picked flowers for you–yes, I resorted to picking flowers; see day 2. You laughed at them because they paled in comparison to the roses I brought you last week. I suppose you’re beginning to expect great things from me. After we put the girls to bed, we sat down for our date, which involved watching Jane Eyre (2011), eating dark chocolate and popcorn, and drinking sparkling pink lemonade. Oh, it also involved our newborn who wanted to coo more than watch the film (how uncultured!). At the end of the night, I got a kiss. Though our date wasn’t earth shattering, I think it made you feel special.