When I was in middle school, I watched the show “Home Improvement” and was smitten with Jonathan Taylor Thomas. He played the character of the middle child. I didn’t need wallpaper in my bedroom because cutouts of JTT’s face covered every inch. I was in love. He did not, however, feel the same way toward me. Never once did he write me back. Never once did he fly out to West Virginia in a helicopter and whisk me away as I dreamed he would – not even after I counted his freckles and sent him hand written, original poetry. In spite of his silence I faithfully read and clipped every JTT article. One morning my mom pointed out to me that the cast of Home Improvement was on the cover of The Parade, which is an insert in the Sunday Washington Post. I never really noticed The Parade before; but considering their intriguing content, not only did I peruse the insert that day, I continued to peruse it every week.
My house feels like a home. Countless number of people have commented on how at ease they’ve gotten when they’ve come over. It is a house of peace and rest. (One time a woman told me that upon entering our gate it felt like entering the twilight zone because such a different feeling came over her!) Regularly touring bands will swing by our house for a place to crash for the night; they can do laundry, they can shower. With one hand they can work on the puzzle on the kitchen table and with the other hand they can pet the basset hound at their feet. I’ve never asked anyone to take off their shoes before entering. In fact, before we got the incredible iRobot Roomba, I was embarrassed for a guest to take off his shoes as he’d probably end up with stray pet hair under his feet. Try as we might, Brian and I – to this day – have still not worked out a manageable house cleaning system where we can maintain each room on a regular rotating basis. But one thing we have in common: we both have hearts that want to use our home for ministry. We long for our abode to be a place of physical and spiritual relief and rejuvenation.
About two years ago, the neighbor that hates me invited me to an upcoming jewelry party. Every time this neighbor walks up to our fence to make small talk I get knots in my stomach. It never feels small. I know she isn’t entirely fond of us being her neighbors, so even the smallest talk feels very, very heavy.
A jewelry party, you say? I supposed an appearance and a small order might help the neighborly relations a bit; so on the day of the party, Sherri, my ‘chipped-mug’ friend, accompanied me for moral support (just like any good girl friend would join you, say, to a public restroom). (Clearly the ‘chipped-mug’ description deserves an explanation. You’re right. Stay tuned.)
When little girls dream about the future princes they’ll marry some day, they spend a lot of time dreaming about the wedding, the dress and the location. Sometimes they even dream about what it will be like to care for their husbands-to-be, with selfless joy and unending patience. And I was no exception.
What I did NOT spend much time dreaming about was the moment that I would get to introduce my future prince, the one, to my family. And not only did I not prepare myself for it, I did not prepare my family for it. And when I say my family, I mean I didn’t prepare my brother Donovan for it.
Yesterday one of my coworkers hobbled into the back room and I was curious. Hairstylists have lots of reasons for hobbling: foot pain, leg pain, back pain, oh, and the dreaded hair splinters. Did you know that last Saturday I actually pulled four hair splinters out of my right foot?
But she didn’t have any of the above. “Plantar wart,” she sighed.
Oh, man. Once upon a time I had a plantar wart.
It all started at the age of 17. This curious visitor on my toe just wouldn’t cease to make his presence known. I had tried declaring war on him on my own, hedging away his filthy black roots. But if you’ve ever had one you know that the deeper you go the harder the warfare is. Plantar fights back with pain, so I’d always surrender just shy of victory.
If I could go back to myself on my wedding day and give myself one bit of advice, it would be this: keep a quote journal. Granted, other sorts of wisdom would have helped me to navigate our marriage with fewer bumps in the road. But I want more than just to avoid the pain; I want to recall the blessings and the silliness with vivid detail. Isn’t it the memories of the good stuff that sort of slip away when times get tough? I should have been keeping a quote journal to remind me of all the moments that left me feeling like I was on some sneaky sitcom, to remind me of Brian’s sweet and unexpected compliments. On some of my more average days I hope to remedy this error by blogging some of my favorite marriage memories. Poor Brian.
You see, Brian’s charm has always been in his inability to hear himself before he speaks. There’s a definite lack of filter there. Most of us never wonder, “What’s Brian thinking?” And it’s not that he’s constantly blabbering on about his opinions, loving the sound of his own voice. He doesn’t need to use that many words to sum up what’s on his mind. And at this point, I’m not sure I’d enjoy him as much if he did have a filter. This quality was one of the first things that I appreciated about him. While many men would hold their tongues, watch their language or apologize, “Pardon my French,” Brian never held back. His colorful and offensive vocabulary just proved that his intentions weren’t to pretend his way into my heart.